Come join in on the fun Friday, April 7 at The Triple Door in Seattle for Massy Ferguson and Sweet Kiss Momma.
Massy Ferguson, Seattle’s American Rock darlings, will sell out The Triple Door again this year. You don’t want to miss their lively show, which usually involves audience participation. You might even have a chance to join them onstage during their big finale.
Lots of great music happening all over the world right now and an the near future! Here are just a few picks…
Will Kimbrough and Brigitte DeMeyer’s tour moves across The Pond. Paul Kerr of Blabber ‘n’ Smoke added his two cents to the stack of glowing reviews on this duo: https://paulkerr.wordpress.com/2017/03/01/brigitte-demeyer-will-kimbrough-mockingbird-soul/ See Tour Dates for a show near you.
Japandroids, a Vancouver-based punk band, invaded the West Coast, including a stop in Seattle this past weekend. They’ll head to Europe mid-April with a gig at Melkweg in Amsterdam before continuing the tour in UK into the first week of May. They return to Europe in June to play a few more gigs including Spain and Italy.
Oliver Gray , Americana music promoter (I hereby dub him Americana’s Duke of Winchester), is visiting SXSW. I’m looking forward to his take on the scene. Here is last year’s post: http://olivergray.com/south-by-south-west-festival-2016/
Jesse Dayton is heading West after SXSW to Seattle’s Tractor Tavern. The man is a beast on guitar and puts on an incredible, entertaining show. Jesse has a new album out called The Revealer. Here’s my review of his show with John Doe a few years ago: http://nodepression.com/live-review/john-doe-reigns-triple-door-seattle-wa. Dayton was featured in No Depression in October: http://nodepression.com/article/unsung-heroes-americana-music-jesse-dayton-real-country-music
John Doe will also tour this summer with a few stops up north.
Jeremy Nail was also featured in ND this month: http://nodepression.com/article/jeremy-nail%E2%80%99s-new-album-climbs-above-health-struggles
Dean Owens, a man from Leith–a Celtic Americana artist via Nashville–has a new album, a movie in the works, and a new single called “Julie’s Moon” on iTunes with a chance to donate through Marie Curie.Check Dean’s Facebook Page for more info and make a purchase to support this favorite Americana artist.
Kilkenny Roots Festival happens 28 April – 1 May in Kilkenny, Ireland. Always a quality lineup, many artists from America. Western Centuries, a top-notch country band from Seattle, will attend this year.
Massy Ferguson’s April show at The Triple Door in Seattle will be a sell-out event. The annual show is a must-see for Ferguson fans. We just saw them play a lively set in a suburban venue called Capps Club, just blocks from home. It’s nice to finally have some quality music venues outside of the city limits.
Speaking of suburban venues, McMenamins offers a variety of music throughout its Oregon and Washington properties. We are lucky to be minutes away from Anderson School where Fernando, McDougal, Jesse Dayton, Massy Ferguson, Ian McFeron, Sean Rowe, and Aaron Lee Tasjan have played–just to name a few artists since its grand opening over a year ago.
Jeff Finlin’s brilliant new album The Guru in the Girl is due in May, and I’m giddy with anticipation for the rest of the world to hear it. The album is a perfect balance of darkness and light; of regeneration; of love and loss. It embodies poppy folk songs to naked, soul-baring blues. The haunting title track stirs and elevates my soul.
I’m changing the format here for a bit. Life continues to bombard me; so instead of posting individual reviews, I will post several short reviews or links to artists who have caught my ear recently.
Atlanta’s Joe Smith and the Going Concern have a catchy new single out. Joe, originally from California, was heavily influenced by the punk scene, including John Doe’s X and Mike Watt. This new song, as the title suggests, has much more of a bluesy vibe. Check it below, and be sure to click on the other songs from previous albums to get the full punk flavor. Purchase their merch and check their Facebook page for upcoming events.
Will Kimbrough and Brigitte DeMeyer collaborated on a soulful new folk album called Mockingbird Soul. They will make appearances in Northern California this week, and will head to Europe this spring. Check their tour schedules on their websites. Oh, did I mention they moved up to #11 in the Americana Charts this week? Lee Zimmerman of No Depression recently gave their album a glowing review: http://nodepression.com/album-review/two-perfect-pair
Here’s a pic of the pair in Seattle a few years ago:
Jeff Finlin continues to amaze with his prolific artistry. He just finished recording a new album entitled The Guru in The Girl with Holland’s wildly talented Wild Verband. The record is now mastered–release date coming soon. I am delighted to say this may just be his finest work yet. Finlin fans will be truly blown away.
Finlin also spent most of February on a successful UK tour with Pete Bruntnell and Clive Barnes , selling out several venues along the way. I will defer, once again, to Paul Kerr of Blabber ‘n’ Smoke to wax poetic about their show in Glasgow:
Before he left for the UK, Jeff Finlin released a stunning video which brings to life his poem, “The Tantric Co-motion of Parvati on I-75” from his collection of poetry, Seduction of Radha. Finlin narrates. The video was beautifully directed by Verginia Grando.
Seattle’s Jackrabbit released the rock-driven Dead Man’s Song in December. Take a listen and catch a rare show in Ballard.
At the Tractor Tavern back in December, we met a nice fellow by the name of Mark who manages a singer-songwriter website here: http://singersongwriterslive.com/ On it, he lists Seattle-area shows at venues who cater to singer-songwriters. He includes artist links, and an easy-to-follow legend for those bands he’s seen before and recommends, to those whom he heard were worth a listen.
Support indie artists! Go see a show and be sure to purchase the merch!
Another year flew by. Another year of fantastic shows and new musical discoveries. This year in music took me from Seattle to England to Amsterdam to Portland to San Francisco and back. I’m grateful for the opportunities I had this year to see local bands and national legends. I also posted several online reviews to No Depression, the journal of roots music. Although we lost some musical greats, I am grateful I had the opportunity to see some of them over the years, including David Bowie and Merle Haggard. I’m also grateful for new friends and for adding lovely new branches to my musical family tree.
Now, on to the fun stuff. I thought I’d share a review in pictures, which includes shows and albums I reviewed. Check ’em out online, or find them linked on my feed to the right.
I started out 2016 with a review of Lookout from a sweet ‘n’ local indie-pop band Fine Prince.
Bizarre musical coincidences occurred all year. I was contacted by Jeff Finlin to post his video “I Killed Myself Last Night” from his 2013 album My Moby Dick, which led to an unexpected friendship and a realization that our mutual friends in music criss-crossed the globe. Jeff also had a ridiculously prolific year. He toured Europe twice, released a retrospective album called Life After Death – The Essential Jeff Finlin, published a poetry book, started a yoga for recovery organization, published 365 Days of Recovery Yoga, and will drop yet another new album soon.
Noam Weinstein released one of my favorite albums of 2016, On Waves.
Colt Kraft brought his ganja country sound and dapper sweaters to Darrell’s Tavern in Shoreline.
Peter Bruntnell,who toured the U.K. and Europe with Jeff Finlin and Clive Barnes this year, also produced one of the best songs and most scathing music videos of the year called “Mr. Sunshine” from his new critically acclaimed album, Nos Da Comrade. Now, it’s December, and the nightmare of greed and power continues on our side of The Pond…
Massy Ferguson played a final show at Jet Bar in Lynnwood before it closed for good. Massy wins for most shows attended this year. I lost track of how many times we saw them.
New York’s Sean Rowe blew us away in Bothell inside a tiny classroom-sized listening room at McMenamins.
A trip to Leavenworth for a Knight family reunion also reunited us with Alisa Milner and Ian McFeron, who played Icicle Creek Brewery. They got married later this year!
Vaudeville Etiquette, Seattle darlings, played The Sunset and all over Seattle this year.
A trip overseas led to meeting promoters and musicophiles Oliver and Birgit Gray of Winchester. Their Swiss Cottage and The Railway Inn are havens for many US and UK Americana artists, including a handful that we saw this year: Richmond Fontaine, Jeff Finlin, The Believers, and Fernando.
In Amsterdam, we met Erik and Jo, Wisconsin expats and owners of Jo’s Cafe in the Melkweg music venue. We didn’t see music on that trip, but we met some beautiful people who care about quality music and esteemed musicians.
We drove to Portland and watched Todd Snider’s triumphant return to his solo show. Rorey Carroll opened with her beautiful, biting folk songs.
Richmond Fontaine–another beautiful coincidence. As we were touring Europe, Willy Vlautin and crew were just days behind us. They also visited Oliver and Birgit in Winchester–they were one of the first American bands to ever play The Railway and Swiss Cottage as one of Oliver’s promotional acts years ago. We finally converged in Portland and witnessed Richmond Fontaine’s swan song. The band was breaking up. They’ve taken the rest of the year to do so, with a final tour in Europe just wrapping up in October.
Flight To Mars – Seattle’s UFO tribute band gets together annually for a great cause – Crohn’s and Collitis Foundation.
Will Kimbrough, Nashville’s prolific singer-songwriter-producer-session artist had a very busy year doing all that. Live At Coast was finally released; and Willie Sugarcapps, his Lower Alabama supergroup, also dropped a new album, Paradise Right Here.
David Corley came back from the dead (literally) to release his sophomore album Lights Out and tour Europe again.
Aaron Lee Tasjan, another acclaimed Nashville artist who just dropped a new album called Silver Tears, played a free show at McMenamins in Bothell to maybe 50 people. His clear vox and bluesy guitar licks sold us. The talented Brian Wright shared the spotlight and backed him. Where the hell was everyone?
John Doe — a new album, a new book on LA punk, a new video, and a new tour, including a stop in Ballard’s Tractor Tavern. A thrill to meet him. Always keeping things fresh and remembering his punk roots at the same time. Opening and backing him was Texan Jesse Dayton, guitarist extraordinaire, who also came back and played a duo show at McMenamins and dropped a new album.Click on individual pics for a closer look…
Ted Leo (of The Pharmacists) and Aimee Mann played Barboza, the tiny club in the basement of Capitol Hill’s Neumos. It was a Pharmacists Acoustic Greatest Hits Night, as well as a splash of new music with Aimee from The Both.
Fernando, who shares lead guitarist Dan Eccles with Richmond Fontaine, came to Hotel Albatross for a lovely solo performance. Two greats, Austin Lucas and Adam Faucett played sets later that night. Later in the summer, Fernando played an outdoor show with Dan at McMenamins in Bothell.
Massy Ferguson’s CD Release Party took place at The Triple Door, the day before we flew out to see Tom Petty with Mudcrutch…
Tom Petty reunited with his old band Mudcrutch and dropped a “2“! Better than the first album, with each artist getting his chance to shine, and more Petty-esque songs. He played The Filmore in San Francisco, and we had to go. Click on individual pics for a closer look. Tom’s also gearing up for a massive 2017 tour, celebrating The Heartbreakers’ 40th year anniversary!
The Swearengens, a favorite Ballard alt-country band, played The Sunset Tavern in July. I’m excited to see them perform once more at The Tractor’s holiday bash with Massy Ferguson and Jackrabbit on December 23.
The very next day, we came back to Ballard to rock out with surf instrumentalists Los Straitjackets at The Tractor. El Vez joined them on stage!
The B-52’s at Woodland Park ZooTunes summer concert series. Pass the tanning butter! Always a great venue for summer shows. They played all the hits to a sold-out crowd.
In August, Kevin “Shinyribs” Russell of Austin surprised us with a full band and backup singers, stepping up his game and into a funky groove.
The Believers, with Craig Aspen and Cynthia Frazzini, tore it up at Oak Harbor Music Fest Labor Day weekend to a huge crowd. They celebrated a 15-year reunion with their original band.
The Paperboys from Vancouver came late September to The Nectar in Fremont. They are always a joy to see, and bring a full band with brass, banjo, fiddle, and flute!
Jenny Whiteley went back to her roots on her latest album, The Original Jenny Whiteley (2016 Black Hen Music). The album was recorded on Wolfe Island, Ontario at the magical Old Post Office, and produced by multi-instrumentalist and humanitarian Hugh Christopher Brown (the man can do no wrong!).
Her father Chris and uncle Ken Whiteley joined her on the album, which includes original material interwoven with traditional folk and bluegrass songs, continuing her father’s legacy. They keep things simple, clean, and stripped down, all the while honoring the genre and letting Jenny’s rich, earthy vocals shine.
Dean Owens caught my ear this year when he released “Cotton Snow”, a song about the Civil War’s bloody Battle of Franklin. Find Dean in Nashville–or Scotland. He will release a new album soon called Southern Wind, a follow-up to 2015’s Into The Sea.
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all. I’ll leave you with Dean’s latest Christmas video he produced with The Whisky Hearts. He’ll play Edinburgh 12 December.
Jeff Finlin is on a hot streak lately, as prolific as ever. This year, he published a new book of poetry, a retrospective 20-song album dropping this month, earned certification as a Yoga-for-recovery counselor, started a RecoverYoga therapy and consultation program, has two books in the works regarding the program, and will produce a new album later in the year. Oh, and he’ll embark on a European tour, hitting The Netherlands and Ireland in November and circling back to the UK in 2017.
Aplscruf: Jeff, let’s start with your new organization, RecoverYoga, which you created to integrate the aspects of recovery from various forms of addiction or trauma with the practice of yoga. Is this something you can do from your home base in Colorado, or will you be training/counseling others off-site? Will you offer workshops? Do you have a book on the subject in the works, too?
Jeff Finlin: I can do RecoverYoga from anywhere. I’ll be doing workshops as well as counseling. There is one of two books that will be released next month called “365 Days of RecoverYoga”— It’s a 365 day reader.
The Seduction of Radha just published this summer. Please explain the meaning behind the book’s title as well as the common theme of seeking, restoring and uniting The Beloved throughout your poems.
The Seduction Of Radha comes from yoga and life intertwined with writing and creation. In the Bhakti traditions of Hinduism that focus on Krishna, Radha is the incarnation of “the feeling of love towards Krishna”. She is considered to be his original Shakti [the female principle of divine energy]. As I’ve been practicing and reading and living, I’ve been able to become aware of how these fields of energy manifest themselves in relationship to my life, if I pay attention. The book is basically about the courtship we go through with the opening of our hearts and the dimensions of love and awareness we allow within our lives, and how that seems to work in the end. Although the story is not over.
Finlin recently produced a captivating, spoken-word video of one of the poems from The Seduction of Radha, called “A Love So Contagious”directed by Erik Lunde of Lunde Creative.
Here’s what Folk Radio UK had to say: http://www.folkradio.co.uk/2016/08/video-premiere-jeff-finlin-love-contagious/
You have a retrospective album coming in September from Man In The Moon/Warner Records. Life After Death: The Essential Jeff Finlin is a 20-song collection from your extensive catalog. How do these 20 songs represent you, and was there meaning or a method behind picking each? Do some speak to you more than others, or represent the man you were at a certain period of time in your life?
I think in picking the songs, I was trying to be aware of the songs that stuck out as unique or different, somehow. It was also important that the record held together as a piece of work—that it had some flow and could stand up on its own rather than just being a collection of songs thrown together.
Order your copy today: https://www.amazon.com/Life-After-Death-Essential-Finlin/dp/B01I6MJE28
A brand new album in the works: The Guru In The Girl. Are you still in the recording process? What is your songwriting process? What inspires you to write? How do your songs stream in? Lyrics first, and then melody? Do they flow in together?
I’m still planning on finishing The Guru In The Girl—it’s just sitting there waiting on the right time. My writing process is very disciplined. I’ve written three-and-a-half books in the last six months. Book writing is different than songwriting or poetry. The latter of the two is more of a stream of consciousness to me at this point—it’s all action and no thought—just falling back on the muse and trusting that. As soon as it becomes intellectual, it’s over. Usually lyrics [stream in] first. I tend to be limited the most musically–basically I’m a drummer. There, I said it: The D Word.
You have two tours coming up, and will be playing with BJ Baartmans of The Wild Verband throughout The Netherlands. Have you played with him before?
Me and BJ go back a long way, and I recently hooked up with him again for the last tour of Holland.
After The Netherlands, you’ll be in Ireland with Clive Barnes and Pete Bruntnell. Are you looking forward to touring with them again?
I love touring with those guys. We have more than our share of fun. I also have one date with Pete in London next February.
Check out an article on Jeff, Clive, and Peter here: http://www.nottinghampost.com/peter-bruntnell-getting-fellow-folk-singers-jeff/story-28547885-detail/whatson/story.html#SdS3ZXPASe7WIWhf.01
Check Jeff Finlin’s website for store, tour, and other news: http://jefffinlin.com
Find him on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Jeff-Finlin-103176566463598/
Many of Finlin’s poems and lyrics cross back and forth between the earthly and the ethereal. Here is my favorite poem from The Seduction of Radha:
While In Prison
While in prison
On my pillow
In my orange jump suit
(there’s a reason the prisoner and the monk both wear orange)
I contemplate the hours and her face
Still doing time
I look for the key
To the lock
In the physical
Underneath the vulture screaming
marking my days on the bedpost
What would I do if I got out?
Talking to her behind the glass
I contemplate her body
Twisting in the loft
Of a barn
In the Midwest
In another life
this tornado of imagination loves itself
and loves love
waiting for the archer
to sling his arrow across the sky
only to penetrate
and flower as emotion
and a love that
is really just my own
incarcerated by itself
banging its love me cup
on the jail bars of life
only to discover
the key is in the lock
Another video from Jeff Finlin from his previous album, My Moby Dick, entitled “I Killed Myself Last Night”. Move past the disturbing title and discover a powerful metaphor for spiritual awakening – the killing of one’s former self. What remains is Love. Shot and directed by Jeramey Johnson, Stagwood Pictures. Find the song on Jeff Finlin’s previous album (2013), “My Moby Dick”.
Support the independent artists who venture to your city and play in small clubs and venues. Support quality music.
The Believers, featuring Craig Aspen and Cynthia Frazzini, are playing Oak Harbor Music Festival this Saturday, September 3 at 7pm. Originally from Seattle, they currently reside in Nashville and are coming back this week for the festival. They’ll join the rest of the original band, including: Dan Tyack, Stevie Adamek, and Garey Shelton.
The free, three-day festival begins Friday, September 2. The motto of the festival: “Inspire Our Community With The Power of Music”. Thirty bands of various genres are scheduled to play, and all ages are welcome. Food, beer, and arts and crafts booths will be available, too.
I’m looking forward to seeing The Believers play with a full band. Aspen and Frazzini played a beautiful set in Fremont in 2014 at private club. Check the review of that wonderful night here and see another video from The Believers: https://aplscruf.wordpress.com/2014/11/02/dusty-45s-and-the-believers-at-a-private-club-in-fremont-wa/
SC4M Festival is an annual Americana music festival in South Central England–Winchester, to be precise. This year’s Festival will prove to be a great success. It’s a guaranteed “No Mud” event, as all shows are inside The Railway Inn in two locations: The Attic and The Barn (not a real barn–but a larger room inside the venue). The line-up alone is worth a drool, including headliner John Murry and festival mascot Peter Bruntnell. The festival begins at noon and runs into the wee hours. Check the full lineup and schedule here.
I posted a more concise article for No Depression here.
Oliver Gray, founder and promoter of SC4M, is a language instructor, author, musician, and all ’round music lover. Over the last dozen years or so, he’s been dipping his toes in that river of Americana music and its related tributaries and booking The Railway with the genre’s best artists. The annual non-profit festival is going on its seventh season at The Railway. According to Oliver, he founded SC4M “not to make money…but simply for fun, and because if we didn’t bring Americana to Winchester, no other bugger would. We had to accept from the start that this would be a hobby and not a business. Over the years, if you add everything up, we have made quite a substantial net loss, but had a huge amount of fun and satisfaction.” Oliver and his wife Birgit even offer up rooms in their home to the artists in order to keep expenses at a minimum.
I had the pleasure of meeting The Grays in April:
The rain poured down the day my husband Pat and I were supposed to meet Oliver Gray in a little village on the outskirts of Winchester. After touring Winchester Cathedral and paying my respects to beloved author Jane Austen (i.e., crying my eyes out at her grave), we hired a taxi to take us into the village.
We were originally going to meet Oliver at a local pub, but due to the incessant rain, he invited us over to his home instead, as he didn’t feel like venturing out. He gave us his address. That’s it? There were no numbered streets or house addresses–only names in the style of manor houses posted willy-nilly in front gardens and near doorways (think of your favorite English novel: Wuthering Heights, Thornfield Hall, Mansfield Park, etc., but in an average, residential neighborhood)–it was nearly impossible for us to find his home. Our taxi driver gave up and drove off a few minutes earlier after cruising up and down the neighborhood and checking Google Earth. We were stranded. “It’s got to be on this street, according to the GPS,” Pat said. Frustration etched his voice as the rain dripped off the hood of his jacket.
I looked up, and a familiar-looking man crossed the street and approached us. After a tentative introduction to make sure we were indeed Lisa and Pat (and he was indeed Oliver), he guided us directly across the street and up a set of stairs to his lovely home. Their house sign was posted high, near some shrubbery–we’d never looked up. He sat us down, served us tea, and said, “My wife Birgit asked me how I came to know you, and I really don’t recall. Right. So. How do I know you?” Laughter ensued as we became acquainted with each other.
As a writer and lover of music myself, I found Oliver through a Facebook group called Rollercoaster Records. I noticed we had several mutual musical friends. When I realized Oliver booked The Railway, I contacted him to inform him we’d be in town on holiday in April and hoped to meet up or go to a show. Unfortunately, our Winchester visit was on a Monday, and we missed a few shows around town by a matter of days; but we hit a home run by spending time with Oliver and Birgit that day.
Back to SC4M…
Oliver has a lively article on his SC4M page regarding the formation of SC4M, the festival, and the various mishaps of being in the booking/promotion business including flaky agents, drunken behavior, and a near murder, just to name a few. Of course, even the worst incidents are canceled out by fantastic bands, sold-out shows, and life-long friendships with artists and patrons. There is also a section dedicated to the nearly disastrous 2013 festival, and other bits of lore that took place over the last decade.
I included a snippet of Oliver’s article, which includes the birth of SC4M:
“It was at the Tower Arts Centre in Winchester and it must have been February 2000. My friend Richard had begged me to come and see a guy called Peter Bruntnell.
“I had always had a strong prejudice against country music, with its attendant visions, in my mind, of soppy lyrics and redneck attitudes. It wasn’t rock. But Peter Bruntnell and his band did rock – like hell. The ridiculously young James Walbourne was simply one the best and wildest electric guitar players I had ever seen. There weren’t many people there, but that evening changed my life. Richard and I decided to become alt-country impresarios. Not to make money…but simply for fun, and because if we didn’t bring Americana to Winchester, no other bugger would.”
And so began Oliver’s foray into the world of promoting Americana music in Winchester.
“We also had the perfect venue, in the form of The Railway in Winchester, a cosy pub that has a back room that feels just like a Texas roadhouse, with black walls, a sticky floor and a sweaty rock and roll vibe….We certainly didn’t think we’d still be doing it [thirteen] years later.”
The Lucky Mascot Returns:
“If you look at the list of our shows, you’ll see that the first one (on May 1, 2003) featured, naturally, Peter Bruntnell. Well, it would have to. The Bruntosaurus, as he is affectionately known, has played for us over twenty times…Peter is officially designated as our lucky mascot. In our opinion, he is the UK’s premier songwriter, but far more importantly, he is an absolute legend as a person. Luckily, our audience shares our enthusiasm and any show he features in will always draw a healthy crowd.”
Recently, I asked Pete Bruntnell about his experiences playing SC4M:
“We’ve been playing in Winchester for quite a few years now thanks to Oliver and Birgit. It’s always one we look forward to what with the great atmosphere they create, and the cheese and wine back at Chez Oliver’s after. If every town had an Oliver I’d be a rich musician!“
Pete’s latest video, “Mr. Sunshine” is featured on his new album Nos Da Comrade:
Per Oliver, the 2016 lineup will be smashing with John Murry’s return to the stage:
“Since he more or less demolished the place two years ago, we’ve been gagging to have John Murry back, this time in duo format with Neil Quigley. Headlining in the Attic we have one of Winchester’s greatest success stories, This Is The Kit, featuring Kate Stables and Rozi Plain. A massive bonus this year is a solo slot from our special guest Andrew Combs, whom we love to death.”
John Murry gave an emotional tribute to the Grays:
“Oliver and Birgit Gray mean more to me than I could ever fully express in words (and I’m told that I have a way with those damn things, though I’m unsure as to whether those who say that I do mean that I use them artistically or that my use of them tends to get me in trouble quite often…). Everything they do, they do out of the love; the love of music, the love of art, and the love of the artist.
“Playing SC4M and Winchester and, in earlier days, Southampton, has always felt like a brief vacation from the pressures of touring while staying with the Gray’s. I’m certain that, if shows I have done have been good, then the ones I have done in Winchester must have been some of the best I have ever done. Like playing for family I have never really had, I have always wanted to give those shows more than I have in me to give, only to see the wry excited smile that creeps across Oliver’s face as he stands in the audience that indicates I have done well. He’s the finest musical barometer I have ever met. His taste is immaculate, his understanding of the art behind it all is immense, and his love of rock and roll is insatiable. He and Birgit have seen more amazing acts perform than most of us could see in multiple lifetimes. They are heroic to me. Sincerely. Not because they ask nothing in return for the love, hard work, and money they put creating and promoting each yearly SC4M festival, but because they do it out of a sense of duty and responsibility with a dignity and humanity almost alien to the selfish world we live in today. I’ve played large festivals on a few continents, but I have yet to play a festival as superbly curated and consistently amazing to both perform at and attend as SC4M, and I doubt I ever will. It is more than an honor to headline this year’s festival, it’s a challenge. I WILL make Oliver and Birgit dance or cry or something! I have to. They’d expect nothing less. From any of us.”
Murry rocked The Railway in 2013:
Meanwhile, back at Chez Oliver’s…
Besides booking The Railway throughout the year and the annual SC4M Festival, Oliver and Birgit also host intimate shows in a beautiful pine-wrapped outbuilding on their property called Swiss Cottage. It’s quite a treat to meet a couple who love music so much that they built a place for bands to play on their property. It holds about 30-40 people, and the top-notch musicians who are invited to play at either venue are also invited to sleep in the Grays’ home, just steps from the cottage. Money collected for the shows goes directly into the artists’ hands.
The Grays support not only UK and European artists, but also American artists. Some Americans have actually enjoyed much more success overseas than in the US. There are too many bands to list, but a few who played Winchester include: John Murry, Richmond Fontaine, Jeff Finlin, The Believers, Dead Rock West, Chuck Prophet, and Fernando Viciconte.
I’ve played Swiss Cottage, too–well, okay, I played a mean round of ping-pong in Swiss Cottage on a rainy Monday afternoon.
Craig Aspen of The Believers, a Seattle band currently residing in Nashville, recalls his experience of their short stay with the Grays:
“Simply put, Oliver Gray is a taste maker. The Believers included The Railway on our last tour to the UK, because Oliver was booking acts that we loved and had shared the stage with back home in the States. People like Chuck Prophet and Jesse Sykes.“I remember Cyd [Cynthia Frazzini] and I waking up very jet-lagged and rehearsing while Oliver and Birgit cooked dinner. After we ate, Cynthia went back to bed. Oliver and I went out for pints. I don’t care what anyone says, the best beer is made in England so don’t miss a chance to get out to the pub.“We ended up at The Railway on a double bill with our friends from LA – Dead Rock West. What a great night. And then we were ‘off’ to the next place the morning after and didn’t even get to see The Winchester Cathedral. That’s always how it goes on tour…”
The rain stopped. Oliver gave us a historical walking tour through the village. We strolled across the bridges of the twin rivers and arrived at the small train station to catch our ride home. Pat and I had a lovely time, and we were so pleasantly surprised by the Grays’ hospitality to a couple of Yankee strangers who shared their love of music.
If you plan on being anywhere near the UK in September, grab some tickets to SC4M Festival and go!
Support Oliver and Birgit and their unwavering commitment to bringing quality music to Winchester. Purchase Railway Tickets for SC4M here
See the complete SC4M lineup here
Support the independent artists who venture to your city and play in small clubs and venues. Support quality music.
A Massy Ferguson show always turns into one big audience-participation party, but this night was even more festive because each guest received a copy of their new album, Run It Right Into The Wall with the purchase of their ticket. Hence the official name for the evening: The “Everyone Gets An Album” Release Party.
A few weeks before the show, Massy Ferguson hyped it up online, blasting us with Facebook and Twitter posts, videos, teasers, pictures, and album review links. Paul Kerr, prolific writer of the music blog Blabber ‘n’ Smoke recently gave a thumbs up to Massy’s new album, calling it a “solid slice of gritty roots rock”. Check out his lively review here: https://paulkerr.wordpress.com/2016/06/27/massy-ferguson-run-it-right-into-the-wall-at-the-helm-records/
By showtime, The Triple Door was nearly sold out, with only a few empty seats scattered about the venue. People who purchased VIP tickets (a mere $16 more than regular admission) were also treated to a pre-show party and meet ‘n’ greet in The Green Room which included food, signed CD’s, and a cassette (yes, an actual audio cassette) of the new album. Dig out the boom boxes and find a pencil!
Ethan Anderson, bassist and frontman for MF, officially kicked off the night by reading a heartfelt speech about the conception of this album, calling it the record Massy Ferguson was born to write. He spoke of all of the steps it took to get to this point in the life of the band. He spoke of his anti-heroes–those bands who were on the fringe, who didn’t swim in the main stream, such as The Replacements, Wilco, Son Volt, and The Boss himself, back in his Nebraska days. They were his mentors, his idols–just out of reach. Some he literally just missed in a green room or on a stage. Their latest album sonically touches these anti-heroes, but as more of an homage–never an imitation. They have a signature sound, and this one hits all the marks that make them Massy Ferguson. Maybe it’s a little more rockin’ than their previous albums; but as Ethan said, “They always were at their best with rock first, twang after.”
Keeping a band together for ten years is quite a feat these days, especially when one is on the left side of the dial, trying to make ends meet–trying to make it. Roll the video…
Following the speech and video, Nick Foster Band, a seven-piece Americana ensemble, primed the audience for party time. Foster, on acoustic guitar and vocals, shared beautiful harmonies with Jazmarae Beebe. The rest of the band was equally impressive on soulful folk songs and full-bodied jams.
DJ Indica Jones kept the festivities going between sets with some great spins from 80’s and 90’s pop, rock, and hip-hop. He involved the audience in sing-alongs and let them finish choruses with songs like Bon Jovi’s “Living on a Prayer”. He danced along, grooving to his own beat.
The curtain rose and Massy Ferguson started their long set with five new tracks from Run It Right Into The Wall. All songs on the album except one were written by Massy Ferguson. The exception is “Firewater”, written by UK rocker Dave Woodcock (Dave Woodcock and the Dead Comedians). This up-tempo, jangling rocker fired up the audience as Adam Monda fueled them with his trusty #5 Fender. A makeshift dance floor started in the aisle.
They continued with some favorites, including “Renegade” and “Backwoods”, the latter receiving help from the audience as they clapped along to the beat.
Another new one, “Dogbone” includes a Creedence-inspired riff. During the song, Rainier tallboys magically appeared on the stage. While Adam dove into a psychedelic solo, Ethan rolled over onto the stage (with his bass, which is quite a feat), grabbed a beer, took a sip, and popped back up. The stage lighting matched the colors of their new album. Bonus.
Ethan interrupted the show to mention they have two new t-shirts designed by drummer Dave Goedde in the merch booth. Dave also designed the album’s cool cover. Ethan then threw two shirts out to the cheering audience before raising his Rainier for his traditional toast, in several languages.
“Every time I say Hello, you answer…Hello!” Ethan yelled to the crowd, and they happily shouted along to this poppy tune from Victory & Ruins.
Ethan later dedicated “Set The Sun” to a friend in the crowd who was having a birthday this evening.What a perfect way to celebrate.
“Lagrande” from the EP Damaged Goods featured Tony Mann on keys, filling in for Fred Slater. Tony just recently moved back to the US from Costa Rica, and was a member of Massy Ferguson from its inception. It was great to see Tony play with the band again.
“Atlantic City”, a cover by Bruce Springsteen, reminded Ethan of driving home with Adam after a late night in Roslyn, a tiny resort town east of the mountains. The audience sang along to the somber, repetitive chorus.
Massy Ferguson blasted back from “Atlantic City” with “Front Page News”, an angry rocker, and the dance floor spread into the aisles. They kept the momentum going with “Powder Blue” –always a great song to do near the end when everyone is primed to yell “Powder Blue!” at the top of their lungs on Ethan’s cue.
The last song, “Into The Wall” allowed the crowd to breathe briefly while nodding their heads to the pensive title track.
Ethan then invited the entire audience onstage, and soon the stage was packed with happy revelers and dancers. He handed his bass to another capable musician while he brought out his almighty flute, a bittersweet sign that the rowdy night was coming to an end. They finished their high-energy set with a cover of “Can’t You See”, but the flute malfunctioned. It was missing an end piece. A roadie tried to do an emergency repair, but it didn’t hold. Ethan tore that thing apart as the dancers and revelers continued on, not caring or noticing that the flute solo was abandoned.
Ethan Anderson might have missed his anti-heroes, but tonight, he and the band hit their mark.”They exceeded the hype!” said a friend when the party was over.
A few days later, Massy Ferguson revived the party and ran it right into The UK the rest of June and into the first week of July. The tour included shows in Bath, Brighton, London, and Scheffield, among others, culminating with a grand finale at Maverick Festival in Suffolk where they shared the stage with the brilliant UK-Americana artist Peter Bruntnell.
See their website for news, merch, and upcoming shows here: http://massyfergusonband.com/
Support the independent artists who venture to your city and play small clubs and venues. Support quality music.
I can’t keep up with the shows we’ve attended, nor do I have time to write full reviews, so I thought I’d do a brief summary of some artists to keep in your radar.
Vaudeville Etiquette, psych-Americana sweethearts from Seattle, threw a helluva CD release party on Saturday, May 7, at Neumos. What an absolute party it was. Their sophomore album, entitled Aura Vista Motel represents the polished versions of songs they’ve been playing live for months now.
Although I’ve seen them play several times, the energy they brought to the party was palpable. Their five-person band, co-fronted by Bradley Laina and Tayler Lynn, expanded to eight and exploded with sonic and visual delights.
Check tour dates for tons of shows coming up in June and July here: http://www.vaudevilleetiquette.com/#!tour/ck0q
Last weekend, we saw Ted Leo (sans The Pharmacists) in a solo show at Barboza, the intimate space in the basement of Neumos.
It was fantastic to see Ted Leo in such a small venue. We saw the full band at The Showbox back in 2007, but due to events beyond our control, we had to leave early. It was super loud, too, almost unbearably so. At this solo event, he politely asked the audience if he should turn down the amp on his electric guitar. It was a Greatest Hits Night, but he also showcased a recent project called The Both with Aimee Mann, who was also a surprise guest on a few songs. Their harmonies were gorgeous. In between songs, and even during some, Ted kept us in stitches with little anecdotes and forgotten lines. Afterward, he graciously allowed us to have a few words, even going as far as telling us to tell our college-aged son to do well on his finals and stay in school. Sweet!
Coming up this Thursday, June 9, is a show at Hotel Albatross in Ballard with Portland’s Fernando, Austin Lucas and Adam Faucett . Looking forward to their unique styles, blending alt-country, folk, and Americana.
Next week: Newlyweds Ian McFeron and Alisa Milner will play an outdoor set of their lovely Americana music on the grounds of McMenamins/Anderson School in Bothell on Thursday, June 16.
On June 17 we will attend Massy Ferguson’s release party! Super excited for this show. They always bring the fun. See my previous links or their website for more info. Also, their June UK tour dates are up!
Tom Petty and his band Mudcrutch play The Fillmore in San Francisco Sunday and Monday, celebrating their second album in 8 years, properly titled, 2. No Seattle dates, unfortunately.
We saw Mudcrutch in 2008 at The Troubadour in Hollywood: https://aplscruf.wordpress.com/2010/01/27/tom-petty-with-mudcrutch-at-the-troubadour-05-02-2008/
See my review of John Doe’s show at The Triple Door here: https://aplscruf.wordpress.com/2015/06/26/john-doe-reigns-at-the-triple-door-seattle-june-19-2015/
In July, a few shows to start off the Independence Day weekend with a Bang, including The Paperboys , the MexiCanadiAmericanaIrishFolk band, who will play The Tractor July 1.
The Swearengens, another Ballard Americana staple, will also play The Sunset July 1. If you time it right, you might see both the same night. Just hoof it up or down Ballard Ave.
On Sunday, July 3, those La Lucha-wearing surf rockers, Los Straitjackets will sell out The Tractor.
Down South and other far away lands, more great news:
Austin darling Jeremy Nail’s tour hits Nashville and NYC, among other cities. Fantastic Press keeps rolling in for this talented singer-songwriter.
Jeff Finlin’s new book of prose, The Seduction of Radha is now available. Check his website often for more good news, including new albums, books, and his new organization, Recover.Yoga.
Willie Sugarcapps keeps moving up the Americana charts and is getting great press for their new release, Paradise Right Here.
Dean Owens recently recorded a haunting song called “Cotton Snow”, about The Battle of Franklin. See Paul Kerr’s Blabber ‘n’ Smoke review which includes more information about Dean’s previous and current projects here: https://paulkerr.wordpress.com/2016/04/04/dean-owens-with-dave-coleman-cotton-snow-single-release-drumfire-records/
He also paid a heartfelt tribute to Muhammad Ali in the audio below. Watch his site or follow him on FB for upcoming projects.
Whew! I’m exhausted just thinking about it all. More fun is on the way, so it’s time to re-charge.
It was another one of those nights where we looked around and wondered where the hell everybody was. Why wasn’t the entire city stuffed in this old gym watching this talented band from East Nashville? It was a free show! Just walk in, that’s all they had to do! It was a Wednesday in Bothell, for one thing.
McMenamins, an Oregon-based hotel, brewery, and restaurant chain, recently opened another fine facility here in Bothell, a neighboring town about 30 minutes northeast of downtown Seattle. The old Anderson School property has been transformed into a beautiful hotel, a large restaurant, several intimate bars and outdoor spaces, a pool with a tiki bar perched above it, a movie theater, and music venues. One venue is in a classroom-sized space; another, an outdoor stage in the courtyard; and the main venue is located in the old gym–or maybe it was the old cafeteria. Regardless, you know the look: a big box with high ceilings. It’s a good space for wedding receptions or class reunions, but an awkward space when you, as a band, have to play in front of a paltry crowd of 25, seated ’round a few round tables. Unfortunately, this is where Aaron Lee Tasjan and his band The Stoned Faces were set to play.
It was a beautiful evening, and there were lots of people milling around outside, sitting near the wood fire pits and propane heaters, eating and drinking. Inside, the bars, booths, and tables were fairly full for a Wednesday. We ate dinner outside first, and made it just in time to see the band load in on the low stage at the front of the gaping venue.
The two-set show started around 7:00.
Aaron Lee briefly introduced himself and explained how he is from East Nashville, not that Other Nashville…and dove into the first set with E.N.S.A.A.T.: “East Nashville Song About A Train”. Here’s a similar version he played at Red Clay Music Foundry:
“Junk Food and Drugs” shows off ALT’s guitar pickin’ prowess:
“12 Bar Blues” not to be confused with George Harrison’s lil’ ditty, “For Your Blues”–This humorous song had to do with the twelve bars the narrator in the song frequented. Watch below as he sing-talks his way through each bar.
One cannot help but make comparisons to Todd Snider, his East Nashvillian neighbor and occasional stage partner. Influences are found in his humorous anecdotes, drug-saturated characters, and even in a few of the melodies. More than once, I leaned over to husband Pat and whispered, “This could be a Todd song!” But Aaron Lee has a voice and a skill on guitar that goes unmatched. His upper register has a clarity to it that gave me chills, and at times, reminding me of Rodney Crowell. His nasty garage riffs and blues-laced jams were dazzling–techniques likely honed from his days with New York Dolls and Drivin’ and Cryin’. This was a rock band at times, under the heavy influence of East Nashville.
During the short intermission, both Brian and Aaron Lee greeted their fans and seemed appreciative to those who did make it to the show. More people trickled in by the time they jumped back on the stage.
“In My Life” the Beatles cover, was the first song of the mostly acoustic second set. It was a sweet rendition–just Aaron Lee, his beautiful tenor voice, and his acoustic guitar.
The spotlight then shifted to Brian Wright, a singer-songwriter and skillful guitarist in his own right. His voice surprised me. It had a rich, deeper tone that evoked emotion.
Just like Nashville needs a train song, they also require a murder ballad. Brian’s ballad is called “Maria Sugarcane”:
Brian also gave a shout-out to the late great Guy Clark and covered a moving rendition of his song, “El Coyote”.
Brian stopped to take a sip of his drink. Someone yelled out “Whiskey?” He turned, with a comedic pause and said, “It’s almost summer. It’s tequila–I’m not a savage!”
Meanwhile, Aaron happily picked along in support, adding harmonies where required. Wright had a fan in the sparse audience who knew all of his songs and requested one he hadn’t played in a while. He obliged, and told her that when the song is over, she’ll either thank him, or he’ll have to apologize. He donned his harmonica and played seemingly without any foul-ups, since she let out a whoop and applause at the end, along with the rest of the crowd.
During this second set, more people wandered in and took their places at back tables or stood along the sides by the bar. Maybe a total 50 people attended. It was so surprising, considering there was no admission fee. The double doors were propped open, letting their bluesy, twangy sound flow into the courtyard.
“$66.00 Blues” was part of the Big Finish of the evening. They brought up the rest of the talented band and jammed their way into Tom Petty’s “Refugee” and back, topping off the the fine set with a big ol’ cherry.
Check ALT’s website for current merch, more information and updates regarding a new album dropping in October, and other tour news.
Check Brian Wright’s website for more info and purchase his new album, Rattle Their Chains.
Read more about Aaron Lee Tasjan and his band here:
- Aaron Lee Tasjan
- Alan Rickman
- Alejandro Escovedo
- Amsterdam Travel
- Ann Wilson
- Ayron Jones
- Ayron Jones and The Way
- Benjamin Doerr
- Big Daddy's Place
- Big Sandy
- black crabs
- Bob Dylan
- Brent Amaker and the Rodeo
- Brian Wright
- Brigitte DeMeyer
- Chateau Ste Michelle
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- Colt Kraft Band
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- Conor Byrne
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- Cristina Bautista
- Damian Brennan
- Darrell's Tavern
- David Bowie
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- Davidson Hart Kingsbery
- Deception Past
- Doug Fir Lounge
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- Dusty 45's
- East Nashville
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- Emmylou Harris
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- Ethan Anderson
- Fine Prince
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- Folk / Pop
- Fox and The Law
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- George Harrison
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- Italy Travel
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- Jimmy Buffett
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- John Mellencamp
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- Kilkenny Roots Festival
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- Los Straitjackets
- Luther Wright
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- Marshall Chapman
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- Massy Ferguson
- Mike Watt
- Murphy's Lagh
- Music in Atlanta
- Nancy Wilson
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- southern culture on the skids
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- TakeRoot Festival Netherlands
- The Avett Brothers
- The B-52's
- The Believers
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- The Brambles
- The Cardinals
- The Chris Eger Band
- The David Wax Museum
- The Fonda Theatre
- The Gorge Amphitheatre
- The Gourds
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- The Hi-Risers
- The Juliettes
- The Outlaws
- The Paperboys
- The Paramount Theatre
- The People Now
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- The Railway
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- The Royal Room
- The Satellite 4
- The Shanty Tavern
- The Showbox
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- The Sunmakers
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- The Tractor Tavern
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