Aplscruf's Music Blog

Diary of a Married Groupie

Jackrabbit, Colt Kraft Band, Deception Past at Tractor Tavern 4.26.14

Jackrabbit at The Tractor in 2012

Jackrabbit at The Tractor in 2012

I’m looking forward to a night with Jackrabbit at The Tractor–and a Saturday night to boot.  Lately, it seems our favorite shows have been during the week, which makes for an exhausting night and a fuzzy work morning.  Saturday gives us a little time to relax and be prepared for a late show.  Yes, I am old.

Jackrabbit hasn’t played publicly since late last year.  We went to their private final show on a chilly winter’s eve, and it was a fantastic night of music and celebration.  The band was surrounded by their close friends and family.  Early this year, the girls, Moe Provencher and Aimee Zoe, took a sabbatical from Jackrabbit and cycled across New Zealand and Australia for three months. What an adventure! Not only did they travel on bicycles, but they played gigs at many stops along the way.

Jackrabbit’s frontman Tony Fulgham had his share of traveling around the globe for World Famous Inc. He wrote and directed a movie called Box Walk which is now showing at independent film festivals (most recently in Nashville).  Check out World Famous. The man is prolific.  How he has time to raise his adorable family is a mystery.

Deception Past is celebrating the release of another album Saturday night.  We saw them destroy it at The Green Frog in Bellingham last month. We’re anxious to hear some more great foot stompin’ country from them and to see how many people they can fit on their stage by the end of the night.

Colt Kraft Band is also dropping a new EP.  We haven’t see them before, and new music is always good for the soul.

Hope to see you Saturday!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

April 24, 2014 Posted by | Americana, aplscruf, Concert Season 2014, Deception Past, Jackrabbit, The Tractor Tavern | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Rodney Crowell at Silver Platters, Seattle, WA 3.31.14

Rodney Crowell at Silver Platter Records in Seattle

Rodney Crowell at Silver Platters Record Store in Seattle

After a busy day at work, “Operation Rodney Crowell” commenced.  I left a little early for our home in the ‘burbs, with the hope of beating some of Seattle’s rush-hour traffic on this Monday afternoon. My son Jacob–my handler and navigator–texted that he was on his way home from the high school.  I sent a note to his track coach excusing him early, stating that Jacob had a “family event” to attend in the afternoon.  I wasn’t lying.  Jacob and I are family, and we were going to an event.

On Saturday, just two days earlier, I happened to see a Facebook post on Rodney Crowell’s page that mentioned he was performing free solo shows in Seattle and Portland to promote his new album, Tarpaper Sky.  He was scheduled to perform at Silver Platters at 6:00 Monday, March 31.

Jacob’s first concert was in Coos Bay, Oregon in 2006 where Rodney and The Outsiders (including Will Kimbrough on guitar) played at an outdoor music festival. Jacob got to meet both Rodney and Will after the show.  At ten years old, this left quite an impression on the boy.  It was time to see Mr. Crowell again.

After topping off the tank, Jacob and I headed down the road to I-405.  Slow traffic in Bellevue was expected, but we soon found ourselves speeding over the I-90 bridge across Lake Washington, cruising by Safeco Field into the fray of Opening Night (sorry, Officer, I was in the wrong lane, and no, I don’t want to park here, I just need to pass through!), and continuing several blocks down First Avenue South, also known as the SoDo district of Seattle. Jacob’s eagle eyes spotted the Silver Platters sign.

I parked near front of the record store and I felt my nerves set in.  Jacob, donning his “handler” cap, told me to calm down.  I told him I wanted to be sure to tell Mr. Crowell everything I’d rehearsed.  “What’s the problem?” he said, “Just tell him we’re big fans, we saw him in Coos Bay, we know Will, and you’re going to write a blog about the show tonight.” Sure, I’ve got it down.  I can do this!  Sometimes, though, my shyness has paralyzing effects.

We walked into Silver Platters and I expected to see a big crowd, especially since Rodney Crowell and Emmylou Harris just won a GRAMMY for their Americana album Old Yellow Moon.  Both Rodney and Emmylou have churned out country hits for almost 40 years.  Although there wasn’t much of an advanced notice about the show, I believed the true fans would get their fannies down to SoDo to see him up close. Surprisingly, the store was almost empty except for rows and rows of new and vintage vinyl.  About a dozen people strolled the aisles, and a few more gathered near the little stage in the back.  I was almost relieved it wasn’t packed because I knew we’d have a great view of the stage and a greater chance to meet him afterward.  Selfish, yes.  Out of respect for Mr. Crowell, though, fans should have been lined up around the block.  Where were they? I felt privileged to be one of the few to witness this intimate solo performance, and I was a little indignant that more people didn’t make the drive to the show.

With our successful scheduling and navigation, we had enough time before the show to purchase an advance copy of Tarpaper Sky and receive a free poster.  I fidgeted for several minutes and pulled out my camera, checked my phone, assigned Jacob to book and poster duty and readied my journal and pen.

Just after 6 pm, Rodney sauntered up to the stage and strapped on his guitar amid hearty claps and whoops from the sparse crowd.  I noticed more people pushed in a little later.  I’m sure the increasing Seattle traffic hindered many people from attending the show on time.

Mr. Crowell’s a little shy, too, I suspect.  He acknowledged the audience, and with head bowed down toward the mic, quietly mentioned he wanted to play a few other songs first before diving in to Tarpaper Sky. He started with two songs from Townes Van Zandt, including a tender version of “Pancho and Lefty”, also famously covered by Emmylou Harris and the Willie Nelson/Merle Haggard duo.  With eyes closed, he tilted his head back to hit the higher notes.

He loosened up and and smiled as he started a third song that he said will be on his next album, as he’s trying to stay ahead of the curve.  I believe the upbeat song was called “Miss Claudia”.

A train horn sighed  in the background.  SoDo is an industrial area, and the tracks nearby run to and from the shipping docks, north and south to parts unknown. “I feel like I should play a freight train song,” Rodney chuckled, and the audience followed suit.  In fact, he said he just recorded a train song with Emmylou two weeks ago.  “Let’s see if I can remember it.” He plunked away at a soft melody for a few seconds, then sang “The Weight of The World” as the train blew past.  I’m looking forward to another album from the legendary pair.

He then moved on to a handful of Tarpaper Sky songs.

“Famous Last Words of a Fool in Love” was prefaced with the unseemly custom of older men trading in their spouses for younger women.  Rodney also quipped that his second wife left him for a younger man and a better producer, although he said he is a better producer in other ways.  Love is love, and he’s not here to judge, he disclaimed; he’s just here to observe and write songs:

Younger woman/Older man/Can we make this work?/Ah, you know we can/Famous last words of a fool in love

“God I’m Missing You”- Rodney shares writing credits on this song with his collaborator Mary Karr.  I found myself shaking my head in awe as the ache in his voice and mournful lyrics grabbed my heart:

You’re every curled rosebud/Enchanting my eye/Each turned up coat collar/And your gaze slides by/There’s a sanded down moon/In a tarpaper sky/God I’m missing you

“Frankie Please”- Rodney switched gears to roots rock. Lord, have mercy! I loved the playful rasp and yelp in his voice. I want to see him perform this with a full band sometime and include that rollicking Jerry Lee Lewis piano style so prominent on the album’s version:

You tore through my life like a tornado looking for a trailer park/And your white trash mishmash short of cash culture clash hit the mark

“Fever on the Bayou” -Collaborating with Will Jennings (of Titanic’s “My Heart Will Go On” fame), this song was twenty years in the making.  Jennings gave him the chord progression and melody, but Rodney struggled with the last verse.  He didn’t want the song to become some “Cajun cliche shit”.  Instead, he added some Cajun French lyrics in his own way, and finally produced this lively mixed-breed love song, which I cannot remove from my head.

“The Flyboy and The Kid”-A tender dedication to Guy (Clark, perhaps?) on the album:

May the wind be at your back/And the world sit at your feet/May you waltz across Wyoming/With a rose clutched in your teeth/May the answers to your questions/Fall like raindrops right on queue/May you set up shop in heaven/’Fore the devil knows you’re due

The store manager gave Rodney the signal, or “the hook”, as Rodney said teasingly, and it was time to put the guitar down.  I was disappointed the show didn’t last longer.  I wanted to hear some more songs from the album, and maybe a couple of my favorites from the past, such as “This Too Will Pass”, his ode to George Harrison.

We then formed an organized line while the manager told the fans he would set up a table next to the stage so Rodney could sign autographs on our advance copy of Tarpaper Sky.  Well, Mr. Crowell was ready to go right now, no table necessary.  Clickety-clickety, he shook up his silver liquid Sharpie pen. One couple stood in front of us.  He signed their CD while I fumbled around, trying to get my CD out of my purse and out of the plastic wrapper.  I looked up.  My musical hero stood in front of me and smiled.  My mind went blank.

I did manage to tell  Mr. Crowell my name is Lisa (after he asked, so he could sign the CD), and I then told him the last time we saw him was at Coos Bay in 2006.  He remembered the lovely outdoor setting.  I failed to mention that we knew Will Kimbrough, and how our family befriended him and hosted him at our home during his tour in January.  Will’s backing vocals, guitar and accordion make a guest appearance on Tarpaper Sky.  Good Lord. I couldn’t find my words.

I also brought Marshall Chapman‘s book, They Came to Nashville.  In one of the chapters, Marshall interviews Rodney about his journey to Nashville, his struggles, and eventual rise to fame.  I marked the chapter for him to sign with my blogger business card. I clumsily switched out the CD for the book, turned to the marked page (and stuffed my card in my purse instead of handing it to him) and watched as he fiddled with his pen, trying to get it to work on the coarse paper.  I whispered, “Good ol’ Marshall…”  That’s it, Lisa?  That’s all you’re going to say?

He then looked over my head at Jacob who towered behind me while Rodney reached for our poster.  “And you are…?”

Jacob also smiled sheepishly and searched for words (See, Jacob? I told you it was not going to be easy!).  I interjected with, “Oh, this is Jacob.” I turned around and looked up at him when I said his name.  Rodney, half-hearing the name, wrote, “To Jay” on the poster.  Too late to turn back now!

“Thank you for coming, Jay!” smiled Rodney.  Jacob nodded and smiled back.  He will forever be known as Jay to Mr. Crowell. Who are we to correct him? We giggled about that later.

I glanced back and noticed the line was probably 40 people deep.  Our time was up.  Other people were waiting impatiently for their turn to meet this legendary artist. We said a quick goodbye, and I hoped I remembered to thank him for signing our things.

Oh, for ten more minutes.  I would have told him how honored we were to meet him again, how amazing the new album sounds, how dumbfounded that more people didn’t show up to this Seattle show, how I hoped he would come back to Seattle with a full band, how Jacob raved about him and how he was so glad he came with me, how I wanted to write a blog and ask him questions about the songs he sang for us and take a picture with himI’ll save it for next time.

“Anything else to add, Jacob?” I asked, after I let him read my draft.

“He was pitch-perfect.”

That just about sums it up.

 

Official Release Date of Tarpaper Sky is April 15, 2014.

 

 

 

April 3, 2014 Posted by | aplscruf, Concert Season 2014, Rodney Crowell | , , , , , | 2 Comments

Hard Rock Rising 2014 The Global Battle of the Bands

I was invited to be a judge tonight, March 21, for Hard Rock Cafe’s “Hard Rock Rising 2014 The Global Battle of the Bands” in Seattle. Four local bands are competing in this fourth round. The competition will eventually move on to an international arena, which includes a global online vote.  The winner gets to play in front of 40,000 fans at a music festival in Rome.  Not a bad gig!  The show tonight is free, and all ages are welcome.  Come join us!

March 21, 2014 Posted by | Concert Season 2014, Hard Rock Cafe, Music, Seattle | , , , , | Leave a comment

McDougall, Massy Ferguson and Deception Past at The Green Frog 03/07/14

I’ve probably stated this a few times on previous blogs, but I must stress again that the smaller venue is where I really belong. Right there, right in the front of the stage, taking pictures, getting sweaty with the crowd, and sometimes even dancing.  We venture out to larger shows once in a while, but they just don’t exude the same kind of energy for me.  The collective energy of the crowd at arena shows is, at times, breathtaking; but I always feel like I’m up in a cloud, looking down, detached from the scene onstage so far below me.

I also like discovering new venues.  Maybe they’ve been there a while, but they’re new to me.  Discovering new bands can be hit-and-miss; but usually, if we know at least one of the bands in the lineup, we’ll have a good time.  Our night at the Green Frog was no exception.  

Deception Past howlin' at The Green Frog

Deception Past howlin’ at The Green Frog

Our music adventure on March 7 started with a quick drive to Bellingham, less than two hours north of Seattle. We checked into our roadside motel and caught a taxi downtown.  After visiting with our dear friend and purchasing his art in a little shop called The Lucky Monkey (part of Bellingham’s art walk), we walked over to The Green Frog.

Once again, the stars aligned.  A table opened up in the already-crowded venue right when we walked in.  It had a perfect view of the stage.  We nabbed it and saved seats for our friends who were arriving later.  This was our first time at The Green Frog.  Many bands who play Ballard’s Tractor Tavern drive north and play here the next night.  Hence, quality shows at a minimal cover.  The Green Frog has a great selection of beers on tap as well as a hearty selection of gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches (I had the Caprese, with mozzarella, basil and tomatoes) with options for chips, delicious home-made smoked tomato soup and salad.  The only drawback was the enormous drink line.  There was only one bartender trying to serve dozens of people.  It seemed a little cruel for both the patrons and the bartender.

Our new friends, Lynsie and Mike, who are visiting from out-of-state, arrived shortly after we ordered.  Later, local ‘Hamsters Lori and Kenny (of Lori Gras fame) joined us.

The first artist, Portland’s McDougall, was bloody amazing, considering he was a one-man show.  He had a fervent and confident swagger in his voice that reminded us at times of Jack White.  He switched off between an acoustic guitar and 6-string banjo.  McDougall sat in front of a kick drum bearing his name, with cymbals to the left of the drum.  He controlled them separately with each foot.  His quick and frantic playing style had me mesmerized.  His passionate vocals pulled us in and kept our attention.

McDougall

McDougall

The crowd cheered in appreciation after his two-part set.

Just after 9:30, Massy Ferguson, Seattle’s world-class, quintessential bar band, jumped on stage and dove in.  The band is heading to Austin for SXSW this week (I also posted a shorter version of this blog for MF on No Depression). The boys are pumped to play there again and will perform at least six shows at numerous venues around town. Check Massy Ferguson’s website for their SXSW schedule, music, merch and other information.

Massy Ferguson, L-R: Dave Goedde, Tony Mann, Adam Monda and Ethan Anderson

Massy Ferguson, L-R: Dave Goedde, Tony Mann, Adam Monda and Ethan Anderson

The talented band includes Ethan Anderson (bass/vocals/flute), Adam Monda (guitar/vocals/harmonica), Dave Goedde (drums), and Tony Mann (keys). They play serious rock ‘n’ roll with an Americana twist, but never take themselves too seriously.

"Prost!" Ethan Anderson of Massy Ferguson Toasts the Crowd

“Prost!” Ethan Anderson of Massy Ferguson Toasts the Crowd

Once again, they brought their rockin’ energy to a fully primed audience.  Unlike the Tagaris Winery show attendees (I’ll forgive them, though–it was 100 degrees that day), the ‘Hamsters came to party. Frontman Ethan Anderson commanded the rowdy crowd to get up and dance.  Dancing is required at every show, including, but not limited to: two-step, freestyle or air guitar.

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It didn’t take much encouragement to get the gang dancing.  The women of our group–Massy Ferguson virgins, obeyed Ethan’s words and joined the happy, dancing revelers.  Some eventually ended up on the stage as Guest Female Percussionists (a usual occurrence at MF shows).  I stayed on the dance floor, though, and captured evidence–uh, took pictures.

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Their set at The Green Frog included high-voltage songs spanning over three full albums, two EP’s and a couple of covers. They opened with a fantastic new song entitled “Backwoods in the Morning” and sprinkled in a few other songs throughout the night that will appear on an upcoming album later this summer.  Midway through the set, they played the poppy “Hello!”, the first track off their most recent album,Victory and Ruins, released in 2013.

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Near the end of the night, The Flute came out.  Ethan held it up ceremoniously as the audience cheered.  He dove into Men At Work’s “Down Under”, rocked the flute solo, and followed it with “Bum Drunk” off their Damaged Goods EP.  The audience danced and sang along in a wild frenzy.  Yeah, it was a great night, but it wasn’t over yet.

This week, I asked Ethan if he could provide “Five Fun Facts” about Massy Ferguson for those not familiar with the band.  He went a step further and provided…

Six Fun Facts About Massy Ferguson:

  • We have a Protestant, two Catholics and a Jew in the band (sounds like a joke, huh?) and once were in talks with a Muslim guitar player about sitting in  [an Equal Opportunity Employer, apparently-L.K.]
  • We attended rival Pac-12 schools (WSU, UW and Berkeley)
  • We have been dubbed by fans as “The Hardest Sweating Band in Showbiz”
  • We have played in Honduras and in San Pedro Sula – Murder capital of the world 2013 - and made it out alive
  • No shows on tour happen unless Dave gets a cup of coffee in the morning and right before the show
  • The only rule we have on stage is no tequila bottles allowed on the actual stage (can fill you in later but let’s just say it was an important rule established after our show at Circus Mexicus in 2008)

If you happen to go to one of Massy Ferguson’s lively shows at SXSW, please report back here and spread the word!

Set List (I’m missing a few songs–sorry, I was dancing):

Backwoods in the Morning

Bent

[new song]Wanna listen to the songs…45??

Powder Blue – Audience Participation/yelling “Powder Blue!” Meanwhile, Pat bought beer for each and passed them around

Renegade

Hello!

Long Time No See

Take It Easy-acapella chorus in honor of a recent Eagles documentary

Cut From The Vine

Down Under by Men At Work – Flute!

Bum Drunk

See other reviews of Massy Ferguson Here:

http://aplscruf.wordpress.com/2012/05/22/massy-ferguson-and-ole-tinder-at-barboza-5-19-12/

http://aplscruf.wordpress.com/2012/03/31/massy-ferguson-at-redhook-brewery-3-24-2012/

Deception Past, another quality Seattle-area country/bluegrass ensemble, filled the stage and the room with their big country sound.  Brothers Andrew, Joseph and Tyler James Pettersson shared the stage with 5 other skilled members of this large band.  It was getting late, but the people stayed danced for their entire set.  The energy from the Massy Ferguson show still filled the room and spilled over the joyful crowd.

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Most songs were boot-stompin’ and two-steppin’ numbers stemming from “Whisky Sunset” (2012 EP) and their latest album, “If You Know What I Mean…” (2013).  There was a sense of community as they invited the boys from Massy Ferguson to join them in a couple of covers, including The Band’s “The Weight”, to which the audience gleefully sang along.

After the rollicking set, we spent a little time hanging with the bands and purchasing some CDs for the road.  Check out Deception Past at their next show at The Nectar in Fremont on March 29.  Purchase some music here: http://deceptionpast.bandcamp.com/  Massy Ferguson has several shows coming up after SXSW, so check their tour list on their website.  Also, McDougall has some Oregon shows and one in Tacoma before heading south to California.

We’ll be sure to see more shows at The Green Frog.

March 13, 2014 Posted by | Bellingham, Concert Season 2014, Deception Past, Ethan Anderson, Massy Ferguson, McDougall, Music, The Green Frog | , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Honky Tonk Sweethearts and Country Dave at The Shanty Tavern 2.14.14

Honky Tonk Sweethearts with Country Dave Harmonson

Honky Tonk Sweethearts with Country Dave Harmonson

What better way to spend time with my sweetheart on Valentine’s Day than to see Honky Tonk Sweethearts at The Shanty Tavern in Lake City?

Walking into The Shanty Tavern is like walking back in time several decades. It’s as cozy as an old friend, though, with wood-wrapped walls, beer signs, one pool table, and a tired old L-shaped bar with a laminate top and brass rail.  We chose to sit at the bar for a better view, but there were several tables of various sizes separated by a wide aisle throughout the tavern.

We got there a little early, so we had time to chat with John Spacrotelli, a friendly Italian-American gentleman who charmed our hearts.  He’s been the the proprietor and bartender since 1961.  John poured us a couple of Manny’s pints, and with a big grin, asked if we were sweethearts. “Yeah, I guess so, we’ve been married over 25 years,” I said, smiling back at him.

“What?!” he exclaimed to Pat, with thick eyebrows raised in disbelief.  “Did you marry her when she was a baby?”  OK, I’ll take the compliment, although it was dark in there; he didn’t have an accurate view.  Mr. Spacrotelli said his own sweetheart is 10 years younger than him, so she keeps him feeling youthful.  And how much older is Pat? Two years.  I could see him doing the math.  How old is our son? Eighteen.  Hmmmm. Our bartender was so friendly and accommodating, it was hard to resist answering his probing questions.

John mentioned he came from a big Italian family, so we then got on the subject of traveling to Italy and compared cities we visited.  I dream of going back one day.  I think we’ll have to stop by again just to have a pint and a chat, and pick up where we left off.

L-R: Country Dave Harmonson, Marc and Gaby Bristol

L-R:  Robert Kahr (drums), Country Dave Harmonson, Marc and Gaby Bristol

We also spoke with Country Dave Harmonson before the show.  He’s looking forward to playing at some festivals this summer, including Pickathon in Oregon with Cahalen Morrison. Dave accompanies their band on guitar and steel.  Morrison and Dave also opened for Big Sandy at The Sunset in December.  Several festivals and dates are already popping up and filling with artists throughout Washington.  I’ll have to keep my eyes peeled.  Concert Season is here!

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Gaby Maag-Bristol, the bass player, is also a friend from our neighborhood.  It was nice to see her out at a show again, but this was the first time we got to see her play.  She said they hit the retirement home circuit that afternoon, but she enjoyed the gig because the patrons really appreciate their music and enjoy visiting with the band.  I said we’ll be there someday, too.   She added, “…and hopefully we’ll have people come visit and play for us!”

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On with the show!   Dave and Marc dressed in bright red satin shirts for Valentine’s Day. The bright red lights reflecting off their shirts gave the stage a crimson glow, a fitting color for the romantic eve.  The band’s sound was polished to a shiny glow, too.  They know their vintage country.  Marc Bristol’s smooth vocals belted out familiar tunes from Buck Owens, Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard, Charley Pride, and Hank Williams, along with some great original songs in the same classic line. Gaby and Robert kept the beat alive and kicking along.  Country Dave’s solo picking on both guitar and steel added so much complexity and depth to the songs.  Watching him play is really a treat.  We first saw him play with The Swearengens at The Tractor a couple of years ago, and I haven’t met his equal on pedal steel.

Meanwhile, the dancers showed up.  At first, just two pairs of two-steppers braved the open floor.  Then about halfway through the set, a big crowd came in and joined them.  About 10 couples were dancing, filling up the entire floor of the little tavern.  I enjoyed watching them spin and step.  A song would end, and they would hurry back to their seats, only to be drawn back again by the next upbeat country song.  I think someone was dancing to just about every song they played.  Great fun!

Country Dave and The Pickin’ Crew were up next, but we couldn’t stay around for Dave’s band.  The long work day took its toll, and we called it a night.  We promised to catch him some other time.

February 21, 2014 Posted by | aplscruf, Concert Season 2014, Country Dave Harmonson, Honky Tonk Sweethearts, The Shanty Tavern | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Brambles and Legendary Oaks – Sunset Tavern 1.18.2014

Legendary Oaks

Legendary Oaks

Although still exhausted from my crazy road trip from the week before and the sleepless aftermath of frantically writing the corresponding blog, we couldn’t pass up a chance to see some live music in Ballard.  Our neighbors invited us out to The Sunset Tavern January 18th.  They had seen Legendary Oaks before and thought we might like them, too.  The other two opening bands were unknown to all of us.  Check out the links of all the bands below and hear their music.  Watch their videos. Make a purchase and support our local musicians.

Day Laborers and Petty Intellectuals

Day Laborers and Petty Intellectuals

Day Laborers and Petty Intellectuals opened the show.  When I saw the name in the bill, I thought it might be a Tom Petty cover band.  I don’t usually enjoy cover bands, but I was willing to give it a shot this time, since it would be a comfort to sit back and enjoy some familiar music.  I was disappointed when I quickly realized they were not a TP cover band at all. This big band played original pop/folk (they call themselves a six-piece folk-apocalypse band) tunes and had an unusual narrative style that wasn’t hitting my sweet spot. Other audience members disagreed; many people seemed attentive and clapped heartily for them after each song.  Maybe I was having an off night.  Check them out for yourself.

The Brambles - Photo Credit: M. Kyle Moseby

The Brambles – Photo Credit: M. Kyle Moseby

The Brambles (aka West Coast Brambles–not to be confused with East Coast Brambles) were up next.  Their music definitely hit the spot for me.   They had a tight sound with a bluesy Americana vibe.  People danced to the nice two-step, upbeat tempo.  Some songs were more solemn than others, but it was a good mix of both. The guitarist, Omar Schambacher was amazing. It seemed he was dying for a chance to break out into a big, rockin’ solo.  We enjoyed watching him play.  Also, my husband enjoyed Vanessa Small, the lead singer.  She was “not bad to look at” according to P, in his usual subdued enthusiasm, and she had a great voice for Americana.

Next, the headliner, Legendary Oaks came out fightin’.  The lead singer, Craig Schoen admitted he had a good buzz on and dove right in.  Their music was loud and rocking with a psychedelic alt-country twang, sans fiddler.  Our neighbor informed us that the last time he saw Legendary Oaks, not only was Schoen piss drunk, but he chewed out his fiddler onstage for being completely out of key on a song.  Awesome.  They seemed to do just fine without her and filled the whole room with sound.

Right about the time Legendary Oaks took the stage, the dance floor shifted from two-step to a Bellevue up-scale club scene.  It was surreal. Women with up-dos and pretty dresses you’d see at cocktail parties or conventions sauntered in and proceeded to dance, Night-at-the-Roxbury-style, in too-high heels.  There was also a small bachelorette party that joined them. The band was obviously amused by this strange turn on the dance floor. Schoen was on stage screamin’, cussin’ and wailin’ on his acoustic guitar while the girls raised the roof and tried to look like their shoes weren’t mangling their feet.  Oh, we had a good laugh at the bizarre dichotomy!  But as Kevin Shinyribs Russell says, “There’s no wrong way to dance!” So I had to give the girls credit for getting out there and shaking it.  We certainly wouldn’t be shaking anything but the last drop outta the can of PBR this night.

February 13, 2014 Posted by | Americana, aplscruf, Concert Season 2014, Legendary Oaks, The Brambles, The Sunset Tavern | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Willie Sugarcapps at Eddie’s Attic, Decatur, GA February 1, 2014

Willie Sugarcapps L-R: Corky Hughes, Grayson Capps, Will Kimbrough, Savana Lee and Anthony Crawford
Photo Credit: Keith Necaise Photography

My husband Pat is a bona fide Willie Sugarcapps groupie.  I blame myself.   I’m seriously considering changing the name of my blog to “Diary of a Married Groupie’s WIFE.” A decade ago, I encouraged him to see some live music and get away from the TV. We started slowly, maybe a few shows a year.  Now, we go to a show every time we have a free weekend.  His enthusiasm for live music has definitely grown over the years, especially since we moved away from 10,000 seat arenas and planted ourselves firmly near the stages of small venues all over Seattle.

Willie Sugarcapps, a band that sprouted organically down in the muddy waters of Lower Alabama, is garnering some national attention.  Their self-titled debut album is hitting the Americana charts and showed up on many must-have lists of 2013, including #7 on No Depression’s Top 50 of 2013. Their song “Gypsy Train” landed a spot on the Grammy consideration list.  Every song on the album is a jewel, and each member is given an opportunity to shine.

Will Kimbrough, singer/songwriter and founding member of the Willie Sugarcapps, toured the Northwest as a solo artist in January, and also played songs from the Willie Sugarcapps album at his shows.  My husband and I were honored to be a part of his road crew.  It was definitely a highlight of my life, driving hundreds of miles up and down Washington State and spending quality time with one of my musical heroes.

Will Kimbrough at Adrift Hotel

Will Kimbrough at Adrift Hotel, Long Beach, WA

Kimbrough’s excellent solo album, Sideshow Love is also getting respect on the AMA charts and moved up to #31 this week.   The album will be officially released on February 14–a fitting day for this collection of love and lust. Join him at Nashville’s Basement for the party.  When he’s not touring solo, he’s playing with Willie Sugarcapps, mostly in the Southern states, and keeping close to home.

Back to my groupie husband…

Pat flew to Alabama on business last Friday and called me on Saturday, February 1, the day after he arrived.  I could hear traffic noise and chatter in the background, and knew he was driving somewhere with his work buddy Gary.

“Guess where we’re going?” he asked, in a teasing manner.  It was Twenty Questions time.

“I dunno,” I said, in my bored voice, “BBQ? Chick Fil-A? White Castle?”  No to all three.

“We’re going to Decatur, Georgia!” he exclaimed.  I could hear the excitement in his loud voice.  My heart skipped a beat, but I kept a nonchalant attitude.

“Oh? And why are you going to Decatur, Georgia?”

“We rented a car, a hotel room, and we bought tickets to see  Willie Sugarcapps at Eddie’s Attic tonight!”

“Holy Crap!” I yelled.  “You are officially a bigger groupie than I am! I cannot believe you’re driving to Decatur!”

Decatur, a suburb outside of Atlanta, was about 200 miles away from Huntsville–almost a four-hour drive.  They just spent all day flying to Alabama via Atlanta the day before.  Well, they didn’t have anything else to do today, so why not?

I asked Pat if Will knew they were coming.

“NO!  And don’t say a word to him or post anything on Facebook.  I want to surprise him.”

They still had a couple of hours driving ahead of them, but I told him to check in with me once in a while. Meanwhile, I was on pins and needles waiting to hear if they made it to the show and if they surprised Will.  I took a walk, wrote a couple of emails and washed the dishes.  Purple dish gloves on, hands on hips.  Hurry up, already.

Finally, I received a text:  “So sorry you missed this!  Playing Mr. Lee.”  Later, “Oh, Colorado! Two words: Holy Sh*t!!!!!”

My husband never gets overly excited.  Is not in his quiet nature to exclaim anything, unless maybe while watching a closely matched football game, but certainly not at a concert.  Even at The Troubadour, where we were so lucky to see Tom Petty, Pat only smiled and nodded once in a while; he let me do the screaming and cussing.  For him to frantically text me during the show (which is a no-no, by the way, but I let is pass this time since I had to live vicariously) I could only imagine how magical the Willie Sugarcapps show must have been.

After about a half hour into the performance, Pat stepped outside and called me.  He gushed and repeated, “Oh, Lisa, I’m so sorry you’re missing this.  Oh, my god, they’re so amazing!  Their harmonies and solos are just perfect. Everyone is blown away.  It’s the best show I’ve ever seen–better than Tom Petty! It’s such a small theater, the acoustics are incredible, and it’s packed with people!”

On and on he spouted.  I could only listen with tears in my eyes, so happy he was having such a moving experience. I thought back to a decade ago when he had little interest in seeing live music.  And now, he’s become “One Of Us”.

He also mentioned that they surprised Will.  Pat walked right up to him before the show, just like he imagined. Will turned around, and with a perplexed and surprised look said, “Pat?!”  and proceeded to give Pat a big hug. Awesome. Pat, the stalker-groupie.

The video below does not compare to the enchanting experience of the live show; but at least it paints a picture of some of the magic moments, like when Corky Hughes goes crazy on that lap steel and when Will shreds on his mandolin. I could tell they were having a fantastic time together.  I grieved that I wasn’t there, but was so happy that Pat and Gary made the trip.

Here is “Mr. Lee” at Eddie’s Attic from that night:

Pat also said he got to speak with Brigitte DeMeyer, with whom Will has collaborated.  She opened the show, and Pat was very impressed by her sultry voice.  She later gave Pat and Gary a CD for helping her walk to her car.  I can’t wait to hear it.

Later, I told Will how moved Pat was by the show, and how there is something magical about that band.

“Atlanta, in particular, felt like a step up and forward for WSC,” said Will. “The band is just trying to survive growing pains—mainly, that people want to hear us but we can’t really afford to go play for them.  I feel like if we could get out and hit all the cities, 2015 would be a big festival year for us.  But you know what?  It will happen in its own time.  This is no longer the world where you get record company backing when you have a great band.  You do it yourself as best you can.  You do Kickstarter, or whatever, and you try to step it up a notch.  I’m ok with things going along and going well.”

In other words, don’t expect a sweeping national tour anytime soon. If you do have a chance to see Willie Sugarcapps or any of the members of this band, please go and support them.  Become a groupie.  Check the flight schedules and plan a vacation around their show. Go spend some family time in beautiful Gulf Shores, Alabama and run over to see them play at The Frog Pond in Silverhill. You will not regret it.  In the meantime, be sure to pick up their self-titled album and a buy a few for your friends.

February 7, 2014 Posted by | Americana, aplscruf, Concert Season 2014, Eddie's Attic, Music in Atlanta, Will Kimbrough, Willie Sugarcapps | , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Will Kimbrough – Mud and Moss Tour – Day 3: Friday, Jan10, 2014 Lori Gras!

Will Kimbrough Plays Lori Gras! Bellingham, WA

Will Kimbrough Plays Lori Gras! Bellingham, WA

Day 3: Lori Gras! – Bellingham, WA Friday, January 10

Click [here] and [here] for Days 1 and 2 of the big tour!

We were all up and ready to head out of the house at 6:45 to meet Lori and Kenny.  First, we ate breakfast at a local diner before they showed up to make the exchange.  After many attempts to load all of Will and Sara’s luggage into Kenny’s car, it finally fit like a game of Tetris.  Off they went to Bellingham, the final tour destination in Washington.

Pat and I came home and collapsed for a few hours.  I tried to sleep, but I had way too many thoughts running through my head. I’m a perpetual list-maker.  I checked and re-checked my lists, making sure I had everything ready for this final leg of the tour.  I lay down, but kept popping up to add something to a list, make a phone call or send an email.  No sleeping for me.  Time to get up and re-pack.

Our son was also joining us for the show, so we waited for his return from school before heading north to Bellingham, about two hours away.  We didn’t leave until 3:00, and ran into heavy traffic through Everett and Marysville.  It finally cleared out just north of Marysville, and we checked in to our roadside motel around 5:00.

We were supposed to go to a wine tasting in Lori’s honor at Purple Space, an events space related to Purple Smile Wines, where Lori works.  We had to hurry and change; the theme of the night was all black with colorful beads and decorations to celebrate Lori Gras! (like Marti Gras, get it?).  It was party time.  After showing up a bit late, we ordered some delicious Mexican food from a local food truck called Jalepeno stationed outside Purple Space.  The two-story space was cool, with dark wood and iron railings.  Upstairs, the hosts served wine and ale, with a special porter brewed just for Lori with her picture displayed on the Lori Gras! label.

Jacob met up with Will again and spent some time talking music with him.  He enjoyed that.  I wasn’t really sure how to handle this weekend with the boy.  His birthday was the next day, the 11th.   I knew he would have preferred a sleep-over birthday party with his best pals rather than hanging out with his parents in Bellingham.  But the fact that he got to meet Will and talk shop changed his tune.  It made for a very special 18th birthday.

After mingling at the Space for about and hour or so, we drove over to the big party at Bellingham Yacht Club, a few blocks away. The downstairs room was set up for a bash with streamers, palm trees, a beer and wine bar and a hot food buffet. Will’s stage was in one corner, ready to go.  Couches and chairs surrounded the stage.  We milled around and found other people we knew. There is something familial about the music world.  Someone runs into someone else at a show.  They become best friends, meet other people at another show, and it becomes one big happy family.  I first met Lori, Tim and Kenny at a Todd Snider show in Sparks, NV.  Will played guitar for Todd as part of his band, The Nervous Wrecks.  After the second night, we met them in the hotel bar where they invited us to their after-party.  Will showed up that night with drummer Paul Griffith [see my blog of that show here].  I have since run into Lori and more friends at other shows, including Tom Petty and Willie Nelson.  The family tree keeps growing and thriving!

Will took his place in the corner and the audience was asked to please SHUT UP.  Thanks, Kenny! ha

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Set List for Bellingham Yacht Club Lori Gras! Celebration:

Piece of Work

Let the Big World Spin

Sideshow Love

Rocket Fuel

Trouble

Mud Bottom – INCREDIBLE SLIDE

Another Train

Mud and Moss – Will dedicated this song to Lori.  Her joyful reaction was infectious.  He actually wrote it that day!  Everyone was awestruck.  The lyrics were hilarious and very meaningful to our long and crazy road trip:

Lyrics for "Mud and Moss" written that afternoon!

Lyrics for “Mud and Moss” written that afternoon!

Wings – He wrote this for Jimmy Buffett – over the years, he’s written about a dozen songs for Jimmy

You Made Your Bed - The next four or five songs on mandolin, one blended into the next, crazy crowd dancing

Mandolin Jam!

Mandolin Jam!

I Don’t Like It

Mr. Lee

Glory Be

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Cape Henry

Nobody From Nowhere

Horshoe Lake -before this song, Tim introduced three ladies that surprised Lori. They were old friends of hers who came to the party.

Mud and Moss -encore- people wanted to hear it again!

When Your Loving Comes Around

Leavin’ Now

Lonesome Train on a Lonesome Track

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Magnolia Springs

He Ain’t Right

Soulfully -Jimmy Buffett also covered this

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Get Rhythm When You Get the Blues

I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry -Hank Williams Cover

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Everybody Wanna Go To Heaven, Nobody Wanna Die

Goodnight Moon and another segue to Wind Cries Mary

Encore - Yo Yo Ma!  - Going waay back to The bis-quits! More dancing ensued!

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Oh, what a fantastic night and climactic ending to the Washington leg of the tour!  People danced to a solo guitar and mandolin (Jake called it Old White People Dancing: stiff arms, stiff necks, stiff backs- ha); Lori laughed and cried and danced with husband Tim and her son Kai as well as several friends; we made new friends; we saw old acquaintances; people celebrated, partied, and toasted Lori’s 50th in grand style.  What a wonderful time for all.

The next morning, we met Will, Lori and Sara for breakfast at a coffee shop near the hotel.  We wished Jacob a happy 18th birthday.  Not a bad way to spend it so far, hanging out with Will after a glorious night of music and revelry.  Jacob was a big part of the show, and was one of the photographers, videographers and reluctant dancers.

Thanks to Kenny, Will and Sara had a car waiting for them to drive down to Portland to continue the tour.  We each purchased another CD, hugged it out, and wished them a safe journey to Oregon.  Pat, Jacob and I continued northward to visit our old friend Ralph and deliver a signed CD. Lori went home to her Seahawk nest and celebrated their big win against the Saints with her friends and family surrounding her.

Will and Sara continued their tour to Portland and Cottage Grove.

Sara was kind enough to send over the set list for the first show in Portland before returning to her home in California (another successful night!):

Set List

Secret Society - Portland, OR Saturday, January 11

Trouble

Mr. Lee

Mud Bottom

I Want Too Much

When Your Loving Comes Around

Let The Big World Spin

Sideshow Love

Soulfully

Hill Country Girl

Champion of the World

Three Angels

Wash and Fold

I am still reeling from this trip. My life feels like a heartbeat. There are moments, hours, and sometimes days of intense, vertical spikes of activity followed by a need to stay horizontal and buffer myself from the rest of the world until I can fall into a normal rhythm again.

My husband asked if my soul is full. Yes–overflowing.

Another pic for The Music Wall of Fame

Another pic for The Music Wall of Fame

Willie, Willie, Willie, get yo’self on home, boy…

January 19, 2014 Posted by | Americana, aplscruf, Bellingham, Concert Season 2014, Lori Gras, Music, Will Kimbrough, Willie Sugarcapps | , , , , | 6 Comments

Will Kimbrough – Mud and Moss Tour – Day 2: Thursday, Jan. 9, 2014

Will Kimbrough at The Royal Room, Seattle

Will Kimbrough at The Royal Room, Seattle

Day 2:  Thursday, January 9, 2014

The Royal Room – Columbia City (Seattle), WA

Click [here] for Day 1 and [here] for Day 3 of this rare tour!

After a brief night’s sleep, we got up early with bleary eyes and aching heads, knowing we had to hit the road as soon as possible to beat the afternoon city traffic and transport Will to his next destination.  Kenny and Lori stayed back for a couple more hours while one worked online and the other caught a few more zzzs.  We rounded up Sara, but first took a little beach walk to check out the pounding white surf until the incessant wind and sideways rain drove us back inside.  We were not looking forward to the long and wet drive home, so we stopped for a quick breakfast to gather some energy and load up on coffee.

Although it seemed like we got home faster, the rainy conditions on the road made it almost impossible to see more than a few yards ahead.  Pat braced himself with two hands on the wheel and soldiered on.  Mud bogs, muddy water, brackish rivers, moss on the trees and moss on the brains.  We kept our minds occupied by solving the world’s problems: Politics, the economy, and health care. Other subjects on this road trip included the music industry and being an almost-50-year-old in the biz, being a sideman and a solo artist, stolen instruments, raising kids, oil spills on The Gulf and their latent effects on our flip-flops (not to mention the rest of the ecosystem), genealogy,  geography of the South, hiking in the Northwest, traveling the globe, The Arctic, the history of explorers and slaves on the Gulf Coast, Viet Nam, WWII, WWI.  Sara was busy booking future shows, so she and Will checked dates in between discussions.  My brain shut off a few times as I cozied up to my pillow against the window. Eyes closed and comatose, I could hear muffled talking, the rain pounding on the windshield, and vehicles hydroplaning past us on the watery highway.

Hungry and tired, we made it back to the ‘burbs of Seattle in one piece.  Thank you, Pat, for your patience on the road and helping us arrive safely at each destination! Our son Jacob was home from school, awaiting our return.  Pat re-introduced Will to the boy who was thrilled to meet him again after all these years.  Jacob was only in fifth grade when he saw Will at the Coos Bay show.  Jacob’s first concert will hold a special place in my heart, as I remember with fondness how Will talked to him and signed his shirt. The boy even made little foam visors with hand-cut paper letters glued on the front that said “Will Kimbrough Americanitis” on one, and “Rodney Crowell” on the other.  He insisted that we wear them the entire show.  Afterward, both Will and Rodney signed the visors. I still have them tucked away in a cabinet.

Pat took Will downstairs and showed him our Music Wall of Fame.  Over the years, we’ve collected pictures, tickets, posters and set lists of our favorite artists.  Pat and Jacob framed them as art and gave them to me for Christmas.  It felt surreal to have someone, whose pictures are hanging on my Music Wall of Fame, standing in my family room looking at my Music Wall of Fame.

Sara also got to hang with us at home while Pat made a quick trip to the store for some apps.  We had about an hour and a half before it was time to leave for The Royal Room show.  Will disappeared for a bit and caught a short nap.  I wanted to sleep so badly, but knew I had things to do.  I needed to have a bite, too, and Sara and I enjoyed snacking and chatting before it was time to go.  I then freshened up and changed into nicer clothes for the show.

Let’s go! Back in the car, back on the road, back in the horrible rain and Seattle rush hour traffic.  We had to backtrack from our suburban home south into the heart of Seattle, and then up and over Pill Hill to Rainier Ave.  Over the hillside and through the ‘hood to Columbia City we go!

The Royal Room – a very hip, hipster place to see live music and eat some hearty food.  Open spaces, little tables, a generous bar, a large stage, an unusual oversized scary portrait on wall, dim lights and warm atmosphere completed the scene.  We arrived late for the sound check due to the traffic, but Will wasn’t worried.  Nothing seemed to bother him too much; he just went with the flow. He’s mastered “the art of the hang,” in Tommy Womack’s words.  He said he didn’t have much equipment, so the sound check would be quick.  We found out later, that even though the venue manager wanted Will there at 6 pm to load in and run through the sound check, he would not play until 10:00.  Oh, so late.  I don’t know why they wanted to wait that long.  It was a Thursday night, and a very rainy one indeed.  Greg Vandy of KEXP hosted the show as part of the “American Standard Time” Showcase, so there was a promise of a decent crowd and some airplay.  Vandy actually started playing Will’s music on his Wednesday show, “Roadhouse” a few weeks prior to this visit.

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Every person in our gang invited someone, and they all showed up!  I was so glad to see our friends Chuck and Dawn make it out on this dreary evening. Kenny, Lori and Sara also had some friends show up, and I’m guessing at least 50 people stuck around to watch the late show. Meanwhile, Will ran through his quick sound check and found several of his friends there, too, which made for a pleasant reunion.  Sara made dinner reservations, so we spent time catching up with our friends and eating a sizable dinner.  We enjoyed stew, salad, chicken and potatoes, and a gigantic squash lasagna that I had to share with the others.  The food was big, rustic and hearty, similar to the excellent food we had at The Adrift.  I was happy that Sara made reservations for us there, so we could stay put and not worry about hurrying back to the show from a different restaurant.

The Sumner Brothers, a duet from Vancouver, BC opened the show.  They performed an eclectic mix of minimalist folk and country music including a lively roots rock song near the end of the set.  The slower, quieter songs reminded me of  Small Sur, a quiet folk band from the East coast.  The brothers kept vocals to a low and growling pitch, with minimal guitar strumming.  A couple of other musicians joined them on pedal steel and electric guitar which added a richness to their otherwise austere sound.  One of the brothers had a peculiar way of hunching over a low microphone, to the point where the sound engineer tried to raise it up higher for him between songs.  He laughed and told her it’s supposed to sit that low.  His brother/partner also laughed and said, “It happens every time!”

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There was a long intermission, and finally Will took the stage around 10:00.  I was happy to look around the room and see that people stayed to support him.  Will’s humor was up this night, and he had the audience cracking up at his Red Dirt anecdotes.

Set List for The Royal Room, Seattle:

Trouble – Lots of cheering after this first song on mandolin, from Willie Sugarcapps 

Mr. Lee - I like the improvisations and short jams on mandolin

Let the Big World Spin - Switching to his Kay guitar (he said he uses Kay instruments on the road, and that his Mama’s name is Kay) to play this dark and dirty tune from Sideshow Love

Sideshow Love – Will admitted he “ripped off” Freddie Staehle’s drum patterns off Dr. John’s Gumbo for this title track from his new solo album.

I Want Too Much – Compared the poignant, love/lust song to The Sex Pistols.  Johnny Rotten wanted just enough.  Sid Vicious wanted too much.

Soulfully - Jimmy Buffett covered this beautiful song off Sideshow Love.

Gypsy Train

Mud Bottom Willie Sugarcapps - The Ol’ Dog River is the river of his childhood, where he and his friend JD (who now lives in Washington and attended the show) used to swim and dive.  The game was to dive down, past all of the layers of pine needles, bark and other flotsam, down to the cool mud bottom.  The water was a dirty milkshake color, and warm like “piss-mud soup.”

Hill Country Girl  A heartbreaker from his EP

I Don’t Like It – A Daddy song with a big Elvis finish at the end to celebrate The King’s recent birthday.  Thankyouverymuch.

Champion of the World

Wings - Another song he wrote for Jimmy

Brand New Song From Americanitis, and a nice surprise tonight.

Wash and Fold

Nobody From Nowhere - Daddy!

Piece of Work 

Horseshoe Lake

Oh, Colorado - Such a beautiful vibrato on this one tonight.  He mentioned the previous bands he’s been in, and said Willie Sugarcapps is the best one yet.

Magnolia Springs - Another addition/variation from last night’s set

Goodnight Moon – (Lori in raptures again) with a segue into a whispery version of Hendrix’s “Wind Cries Mary,” and a hush carried through the room as jaws dropped open.  After the last note was played, Kenny yelled, “Oh, My God!”

Although not as long as the night before, he played a quality set to a large, appreciative audience.  Will’s guitar prowess was on point again: jamming, sliding, and picking.  He seemed loose and able to live in the moment.  He introduced our gang and his friends to the rest of the crowd, gave his all to each song, and had energy left to joke around and spend time meeting those who stuck around after the show.  The life of a troubadour.  Sleep is for pussies.

After his set, we probably spent another 45 minutes or so talking to friends and making new acquaintances.  Greg Vandy, KEXP DJ, spent time talking to Will and the rest of us.  We also met some of Will’s friends.  Glad they could make the show and reconnect. Sara worked the merch table and also worked her magic with the Bumbershoot booking manager to try to secure a gig this year or next. She contacted the right people to make this show a success for Will.  Kudos, Sara!

We finally rolled in to the ‘burbs around 1 am.  We were amped up after the show and talked the whole way home.  I’m startin’ to lose ma g’s.  All this talkin’ and listenin’ for hours over the last two days with a Suhthen boy made the g’s disappeah off words like: workin’, fryin’, lyin’, lovin’, livin’, dyin’, drinkin’, drivin’, singin’, sayin’, and playin’.  Once in a while, he’d say a word or phrase born in the muddy waters of the Deep South that was almost unintelligible to us Northerners.

Sara also spent the night with us (sorry about the couch and Max the dog, Sara!) while Lori and Kenny found rooms downtown. They planned to pick up Will and Sara early the next morning to head up to Bellingham.  It was hard to get to sleep again after such a lively show, but I managed to get a few winks before crawling back out at 6:20.

Stay Tuned for Day 3: Lori Gras!

January 17, 2014 Posted by | Americana, aplscruf, Concert Season 2014, Music, Seattle, The Royal Room, Will Kimbrough, Willie Sugarcapps | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Will Kimbrough – Mud and Moss Tour – Day 1: Wednesday, Jan 8, 2014

Will Kimbrough at Adrift Hotel

Will Kimbrough at The Adrift Hotel

Pat and I had an opportunity to be a part of the road crew for Will Kimbrough when he toured Washington and Oregon in January. We felt so honored to help support this rare solo visit.  He is humble, easy-going, gracious and one of the nicest guys you’ll ever meet. Oh–and he’s one of the most talented and versatile artists in Nashville.

The tour formed around the 50th birthday party for Lori, our friend in Bellingham.  The ‘Ham is a beautiful college town just south of the Canadian border.  Lori is a huge fan of Will’s; so naturally her husband Tim and brother-friend Kenny planned her birthday bash, coined it Lori Gras! and hired Will to play for her at the party. From there, the search began to find other venues around Seattle and Portland.  Will’s agent Sara with Axecess Entertainment contacted me to help with the search.  We brainstormed back and forth several weeks before the tour.  I wrote a press release that coincided with a blog and album review which Sara sent to prospective venues as an incentive to get him booked. Check out my No Depression Blog for more info on Will and his new album, Sideshow Love. Meanwhile, Kenny worked on flights, ground transportation and hotels, and coordinated details with Lori and Tim. Pat and I volunteered to drive and use our house as a hub between gigs. It took a village to organize this tour!

This is the first time I have seen Will play the Northwest on a solo tour.  In 2006 he opened for Rodney Crowell at the Music On The Bay series in Coos Bay, Oregon where he played to a stunned and elated audience (including my son and me) for about 1/2 hour. All of the other times I’ve seen him, he played guitar for other bands without an opportunity to open the show. 

Will Opening for Rodney Crowell.  Coos Bay, 2006

Will Opened for Rodney Crowell. Music on the Bay Series, Coos Bay, 2006

Seattle is a tough gig.  If you’re not Justin Timberlake or a local musician, it’s hard to get booked.  Other ‘tween acts, like The Gourds from Austin (god rest their souls while on hiatus), and other veterans of the club circuit are scheduled to play every six months to a year in advance. Unfortunately, there are so many acts vying for limited venues on a short calendar, there isn’t room for outsiders.  Sara successfully booked Will for the dates he requested, with some promising exposure through KEXP, our local public radio station.

Day 1: Wednesday, January 8, 2014

The Adrift Hotel – Long Beach, WA

As part of the road crew, we were supposed to pick up Will at the airport Tuesday night.  The weather did not cooperate.  The East was slammed by a terrible, freezing Arctic storm.  The plane from Nashville to Chicago was delayed and eventually re-routed through Los Angeles. Will stayed there overnight, and then left bright and early Wednesday morning for Seattle.  Around 11:30, he showed up in the SEA Baggage Claim where we greeted and welcomed him.  Because of the re-route situation, not all of his bags came on the final plane.  Will remained calm–he’s used to this.  We finally located his bags among a giant maze in the unclaimed bag area.  After ensuring his guitar showed up in one piece, we loaded up and set off for Long Beach, Washington, a small coastal village in the southwest corner of the state.  We had a long drive ahead of us in the pouring rain.

Although he seemed a little tired from the flight and long haul to the Pacific Coast, Will was happy to be back in the Northwest. He honeymooned out here 20 years ago with his wife Jessica and enjoyed some great hikes and a stay in Seattle.  They also have some friends out here, transplants from The South.

We drove south to Olympia and found Fish Tale Brew Pub and settled on some great grub.  We all drank a toast to the upcoming tour and dug in.  I had a huge organic chicken salad with healthy chunks of chicken on spinach; Pat ordered a hearty stew, and Will wolfed down some delicious fish tacos.  We were back on the road within about 45 minutes.

Meanwhile, Lori, Ken and Sara were somewhere behind us.  Sara’s flight arrived around 12:30, so they agreed to pick her up on their way down from Bellingham.  We hoped to meet up with them at the hotel barring any more stops or traffic.

We continued our three-hour journey southwestward, in dark gray skies.  I felt my Vitamin D level drop significantly.  Halfway there, the population dwindled and the highway was lined with tall, moss-covered trees. Will said the tree-lined drive was similar to his journey through Sweden.  Not long ago, he went on an 18-gig tour with only a few days of breaks.  He spent hours and hours driving through the Swedish landscape and into little villages, getting lost and finding his way again.  He also spoke of the difficulty of solo European tours: loading instruments and luggage on planes and in vehicles, organizing long flights and transportation, etc. So much work for the reward.

We drove on.  The landscape flattened out to lonely mud bogs and brackish streams, and the tall trees were replaced by low bushes covered in chartreuse moss.

Part of Will’s genius is the ability to observe his surroundings and start some chatter that eventually leads to a stream of lyrics. Along the way, he spoke of the mud, the moss, the wind and the rain, the strong craft beer, the rivers and the sloughs.  He noticed the road signs: Aberdeen, Willapa and Hoquiam.  We’d later be pleasantly surprised by his descriptive words at the Lori Gras! celebration. Our long commute also reminded Will of his traveling up and down the great state of Alabama. Will’s parents live in Mobile, and are in need of his occasional assistance.  Nashville to Mobile, Mobile to Nashville.  Three thousand miles logged in the van just in December alone. During those lonely drives up and down I-65, his mind produced page after page of lyrics.  His “magic phone” has voice recognition, so he’s able to record his words and continue to drive.  The melody usually comes later, he said, after he’s organized his words into verses and a viable rhythm.

I tried to be as professional as possible on this trip; but inside my skin, I was a major fan-dork.  Here is a musical hero–the Americana Music Association’s Instrumentalist of the Year; on the Grammy consideration list for Willie Sugarcapps’ “Gypsy Train;”  and a singer-songwriter getting rave reviews for solo album Sideshow Love humbly accepting our offer of transportation and lodging.  Will By-God-Kimbrough is hanging with us for the next three days!  Holy Shit!  All cool and collected on the outside, a giggling married groupie moron on the inside.  My dear, patient husband handled all of the excitement in his own quiet way.

Pacific Ocean Surf at The Adrift Hotel

Pacific Ocean Surf at The Adrift Hotel

“Are we there yet?” I asked wearily.  So much driving.  So little visibility.  So much gray.  Kenny later re-named our first destination “Long-Ass-Away-Beach.” Finally, the salt air and GPS guided us toward our venue: The Adrift Hotel.  Just steps from the thundering Pacific Ocean surf, the renovated hotel was a beautiful sight.  We were so happy to have finally arrived.  But the day was just beginning.  Will still had a show to perform in just a few hours.  Loading out of the truck involved a couple of trips in sideways rain. We were instantly soaked.

There was just enough time to settle in and get dolled up for the show.  The rest of the gang caught up and joined us at the restaurant, right before show time.  We knew going in that this particular show would not have a big audience.  During a summer month, this place would be packed.  According to their website, the Adrift hosts bands every week.  The oceanside resorts in January are mostly vacant.  Some people come to the beach to watch the storms roll in, and it’s only a bridge away from Astoria Oregon; so we hoped to get a few more people in the door.  Regardless, WE would be there to support him and cheer him on, and we made sure to do just that.

We ate apps and dinner at Pickled Fish, the hotel’s upscale restaurant: kale salad, oysters–raw and fried, pork bellies, rustic bread, crab mac n’ cheese, and other amazing, tasty dishes. Will joined us briefly, toasted Day One (again) with a strong IPA and then set up his gear in the small venue separated from the restaurant by large rolling doors.

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Set List for The Adrift Hotel, Long Beach:

Another Train – From Americanitis, immediately got everyone’s attention.  Listen up, people!  Yeah, this guy’s from Nashville, and he will blow your freakin’ mind.

Piece of Work – My favorite song from Home Away , where it all began for me.  I heard him sing this on Jimmy Buffett’s Radio Margaritaville back in 2006 and wondered who that man was covering Jimmy’s song.  I soon learned Will wrote the song and Jimmy covered it! I then proceeded to purchase all of his music.

When Your Loving Comes Around - The first track from Sideshow Love sets the mood for the whole album.

Let the Big World Spin

Sideshow Love – Title track from his excellent solo album (see my review in the No Depression blog above)

I Want Too Much 

Nobody From Nowhere

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Trouble – On mandolin, from the new Willie Sugarcapps album.  He showed off his mad mandolin skills on this one.

Mr. Lee – Also on WS album, Mr. Lee was a neighbor from long ago, born in 1900.  Mr. Lee was always willing to give you a good piece of his mind.  The same piece, but a good piece.

All That We Can Do is Love

Three Angels – from Wings and a tribute to his beautiful family.  The song is played in the Flatted 5th, also known as the Devil’s Note, made infamous by Led Zeppelin and proclaimed illegal by a former Pope.

Horseshoe Lake – Pat’s favorite that Will co-wrote with Todd Snider while hanging with him in West Memphis, AR

Gypsy Train – Grammy consideration list for best Americana song from his new Willie Sugarcapps album!

Mud Bottom – “Tonight is dedicated to some good ol’ Northwestern Mud!” exclaimed Will.

Oh, Colorado - From Willie Sugarcapps.  Savana Lee sings beautifully on the record, and Will sounds like John Denver’s twin on his version.

Wash and Fold – A dirty ditty ’bout gettin’ clean? One of my favorite Daddy songs.

I Don’t Like It

Hill Country Girl

Glory Be – Another hand-clapping Daddy gospel tune.  Amen!

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Soulfully

I’m A Grownup Now

Champion of the World - a more upbeat take on this self-deprecating song from Home Away

I Don’t Have a Gun

Interstate

Lori capturing the moment

Lori Capturing the Moment

Goodnight Moon – This last song is Lori’s absolute favorite, and she was over the moon.  She used to sing this to her son before bedtime every night for years, until he outgrew the need for bedtime lullabyes, much to the dismay of any loving mom.  The tears flowed as Will tenderly sang and quietly played this sweet rendition. 

Twenty-five songs, just for us–and four other people.  Kenny said it felt like stealing.  A true professional, Will played his lil’ heart out like he was in front of an arena full of screaming fans.  Nope, just the nine of us.  We  sat back and watched The Alien at work.  He gets in a zone and fires up that guitar and mandolin like he’s from another planet.  He also used a loop pedal to record a riff, and then played live over it to add depth and harmony to the songs. It filled the whole room with sound!  We did our best to cheer, clap and whoop it up to show our support.  I teased Kenny because he could hardly speak after seeing Will perform this solo show for the first time.  “Kenny,” I smiled, “You just had a musical orgasm.”  The other newbies were awestruck, too, and purchased some merch on the way out. We closed the place down.  In Long Beach on a Wednesday in January, that meant 9:30.

We helped break down and pack up, and then headed back to the suite for a toast to Night One!  What a night!  What a set list! Will managed to play a song from just about every solo album as well as Willie Sugarcapps and Daddy.  It was an incredible day, but more fun was on the way.

Click [here] for Day 2 and [here] for Day 3 of the Mud and Moss Tour!

 

January 15, 2014 Posted by | Americana, aplscruf, Concert Season 2006, Concert Season 2014, Music, Will Kimbrough, Willie Sugarcapps | , , , , , | 3 Comments

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