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She’s played live in-studio on KEXP Seattle with her band Laughing Dogs and again with Mike McCready of Pearl Jam in April of 2012.

Her music has taken her up and down the coast and then some, but Ellensburg-raised singer/songwriter Star Anna will grace the Tiny Stage at the 420 Building as part of the Ellensburg Community Radio Tiny Stage Concert Series one more time on Oct. 21.

Sometimes in the business, home is where you hang your hat. But to Star Anna Constantina Krogstie Banford — Star Anna to her fans — Ellensburg is home and the chance to play on the Tiny Stage is something special, she said.

“Ellensburg is absolutely my hometown. There’s a lot of people here I still enjoy seeing and playing for,” said Star Anna, who lived in West Seattle and had regular bookings at SeaTac International Airport.

“The Tiny Stage is an acoustic set. I’ll probably work up a couple of covers I haven’t played in a while. I wish I had a whole new set. I’ve been working on a lot of new songs with a garage band with more sound than I can do in an acoustic performance.”

One new song she just might serve up in the 420 Loft is called “Follow My Instincts.”

“I’ve been playing it with my garage band with a completely different feel,” she said. “It’s been interesting to take that kind of a song and work it into an acoustic version.”

Her music is a little Americana with a country bite that she delivers in a bluesy, strong, raspy voice like walking down a gravel road. She grew up listening to the Wilson sisters and Heart, the Indigo Girls, loves the versatility of Elvis Costello.

Those influences helped shape her own songwriting and delivery. Years of playing in Seattle clubs and theaters delivered her to the edge of The Big Time where she’s been among the most impressive acts on the Northwest music scene for the past 25 years.

“With Laughing Dog, we did variations where we did acoustic shows and a guitar player or we’d do a full band. Versatile is good, like Elvis Costello. He’s all over map and I love everything he does, but sometimes it’s hard to put things nice labeled box,” said Star Anna, who is in a near-constant state of performing and recording.

“I move fast with one aspect of what I’m doing and ready to move on. I like to play differently. I do like the simplicity of singing and songwriting. I remember when I went solo for the first time, ‘I’m like oh my gosh, this is so easy.’ It was only about me and my guitar and that’s it.”

It’ll be just a woman and her guitar on the Tiny Stage, but she knows how to work a room with her stage presence. The somewhat shy, humble personality evaporates the second she starts to sing and her stage presence becomes utterly commanding.

“Star Anna was one of our very first tiny stage performers and helped launch the concert series,” ECR board member Mollie Edson said. “We know how good she is. She can hold the stage and she was very gracious in accepting our offer to play.”

In a different time, the Tiny Stage Concert Series used to cram 60-70 people upstairs in the 420 Loft for the live performances. But in this day and age of the COVID-19, musicians and promoters are taking precautions to keep it safe and still keep the music going.

They are asking concert-goers to wear a mask if they want to come upstairs. They’ll even provide one if they don’t have one, Edson said.

“I look forward to getting the band together once people can get back to being around each other. But for now, masks indoors just make sense,” Star Anna said. “When I play, people come to see me and I don’t want to participate in a situation that puts them in jeopardy.

“I got to make a living, but this is something I’m not willing to compromise on at this point. I want everybody to be safe.”

In a lot of ways, her new song, “Follow My Instincts,” is about living in a pandemic world, giving new credence to her song “Alone in This Together,” she wrote years back.

Star Anna is one of the most dynamic players to come out of Ellensburg, having appeared with the Seattle Symphony Orchestra (Oct. 26, 2012) where the orchestra performed two of her songs, arranged by Scott Teske, and a piece composed by Teske with lyrics by Star Anna.

In 2016, she performed the entirety of David Bowie’s classic “The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust” backed by the Synergia Northwest Orchestra at the Neptune Theatre in Seattle.

The singer-songwriter alludes to hard living with her world-weary, head-turning voice and fans will have a chance to hear it all again on the Tiny Stage in Ellensburg.

Rodney Harwood: award-winning journalist and columnist. Lover of golf and the written word. I can be reached at rharwood@kvnews.com

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