Aplscruf's Music Blog

Diary of a Married Groupie

Two Big Nights: Big Sandy, Willie Nelson and The Gourds 8.22-8.23.13

The Holy Trinity: Roots Rock with Big Sandy, Country with Willie Nelson and Americana with The Gourds.  Two glorious, consecutive nights of live music rank in my Top 5 Best Weekends of All Time.  I’m not sure where they rank in the Top 5; I am sure I’ll post it when I figure that out.

Big Sandy and His Fly-Rite Boys

Big Sandy and His Fly-Rite Boys

On Thursday the 22nd I came home from a hot and brutal workout, and P was grilling two beautiful salmon tails along with bruschetta with fresh tomatoes and basil from our garden. YUM.  We ate leisurely at the table, and then P asked me a very important question.  Did I want to go to Big Sandy tonight?  DID I want to go to Big Sandy?? WELL!  I’d been thinking about that show all week.  I knew we were going to Willie Nelson on Friday, but we purposely took Friday off to relax and not feel rushed to get to the show.  Thursday evening would be optional for relaxing or going out.  I did not take long to decide; I got ready in record time.

We arrived at The Tractor early enough to get our favorite table (really, we should have our names etched in brass and attached to that little table), right up front, Stage Right.  I recognized some of my FB musician buddies wandering around, but I felt shy.  I wasn’t planning to write an official review this time, so it was hard for me to approach them without a business card or direct questions about the upcoming show.  Then I recognized a woman named Gaby in the audience.  She happens to work at our local grocery store.  I mentioned to her that I have a pic of her from last year’s show and that I wrote a blog.  She then went on to say she is also in a country/western band and gave me her card.  Not only that, but she is German, and we then had more to talk about because our boy was on an exchange trip in Hamburg at that moment.  I enjoyed getting to know her “other self” beyond her job at the grocery store.  I love to learn about people’s passions.  We’ll be sure to check out their show sometime, too.

Before the show began, I worked my way over to Big S to say hello, and see if he remembered my writing about his show last year (check out the link for a more detailed review of his show!).  He said, “Oh, yeah, yeah, thank you for spreading the word about us!” Or something like that.  I had a feeling he really didn’t remember me or my review.  That was ok, I was just happy to be there again, because I knew he would tear it up on stage.

The Rainieros with Liam Fitzgerald and Nickolas Streeter

The Rainieros with Liam Fitzgerald and Nickolas Streeter

The Rainieros (check out their link for a taste of their awesome honky tonk sound!) opened the show and played a nice set of Country/Western Swing, and the crowd filled in.  They left a semi-circle of dance space where a handful of two-steppers twirled around.  We enjoyed their country twang fronted by Liam Fitzgerald and tight sound with Nick Streeter on guitar.  I was so glad I decided to go and that P offered in the first place.  My place is in the audience.  My soul is only satisfied there, looking up at that stage.

Big Sandy was on next and the crowd once again crushed in around us.  I only wished I had my good camera, but knew it was in our boy’s capable hands as he toured as an exchange student in Germany this month.  My old camera worked, but the pics were grainy and blurry, unless I took flash pics; I hated to do that too often.

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Big Sandy had new Fly-Rite Boys along for the ride.  He had his left-hand man Ashley Kingman on guitar, a 20-yr vet, but the drummer and bass player, Kevin Stewart were new to us.  Big Sandy brings such a keyed-up set of in-your-face roots rock.  I just love it.  His smooth voice never falters.  I was in heaven!  I love the energy on the stage and in the crowd.  We share the yin and the yang.  In electrical terms, think of it as completing a circuit–the electrons flow in a circular motion (stage to audience, back to stage, etc.) until the circuit is broken (the music stops and the fans disperse).

Ashley Kingman

Ashley Kingman

Just as I remembered from last year, Big Sandy and his band poured their souls into each song.  Some songs started out with a quieter tone, showcasing Big Sandy’s buttery voice; but then he’d raise a hand, snap his arm out, and  the rest of the band would jump in and explode on the chorus.  My favorite song of the night was one I remembered from last year called “Jumping From Six to Six” which just rocked in that old Bill Haley style. 

He has a new album out now, celebrating 25 years of Big Sandy and Co. called What A Dream It’s Been, an all-acoustic record.  The album includes remixes, remakes and original tunes.  He’s currently touring the Northeast, and will make his way down the East Coast.  Check out his tour dates on his website and go, go, go!

We were starving by the time the show ended, so we drove to Dick’s for a late-night burger.  Always a mistake; I came home with a gut-bomb in the belly and had a rough time getting to sleep.  P wanted to stay up and watch a Seahawks football game, too; so when we finally went out, it was after 2:30.  Ugh.  At six am, the cats were up.  I finally crawled out about 8:00, not being able to fall back to sleep.

At least we had most of Friday to recover.  I stayed horizontal most of the day and just tried to relax.  We had to get ready around 4 or so for Willie Nelson and make sure we had time to eat before the big show.

We got to Marymoor about 6:00, found our seats (4th Row, Stage Right!), dropped off our sweatshirt bag and headed back to the food trucks.  We settled on the “Off the Rez” food truck for tacos and frybread.  The tacos were so delicious, made with a frybread base.  The seasoned meat, light sauce and cabbage rested on it like a tostada.  The frybread dessert included a cinnamon/sugar topping.  That hit the SPOT.

We saw our Bellingham friend L and her family atop the grassy knoll, with blankets, lawn chairs and lots of goodies.  It was great to see her again.  Her high energy and love for living every moment to its fullest is infectious.

I read that Marymoor can accommodate up to 5,000 people.  The venue filled up quickly as we finished the tacos and drinks.  I was glad we paid extra for seats so close to the stage; I wanted to absorb the band’s energy and soak in Willie’s vibe.

The Wild Feathers

The Wild Feathers

The opener was The Wild Feathers, a Nashville quintuplet.  Their country music rocked with three electric guitars, bass and drums.  The four guitarists lined up across the stage and nailed beautiful harmonies, akin to the old country boy bands, only with much more rock.   They seemed honored to open for Willie, too, and thanked him many times during their performance.  Pat purchased their debut album after the show, and we listened to it the rest of the week.  Their clear harmonies shone throughout the CD.  A cool marketing tool they used was to perforate the CD jacket and duplicate the CD on the other side. The song list and liner notes were the same on each side, except at the top left, it said “To Keep”, and on the top right, “To Share”.  After I got home, I carefully tore the jacket in half and shared the other CD with my friend.

After a relatively short break, the canned music stopped abruptly; I knew Willie Nelson was about to come out.  He walked on stage from a back curtain and I jumped up.  “Willie’s here!” I yelled.  He was joined by his “little sister”, 82-year-old Bobbie on piano, his buddy Paul on drums, Paul’s brother helping on other percussion, a bass player and the same harmonica player he had when Mom and I saw him at Puyallup Fair a few years ago, named Mickey Raphael.

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I cannot believe I was lucky enough to see Willie for the 3rd time in the last 6 years.  Although his vocals were more of a low, sing/talk style (I’m guessing he is preserving his vocal chords from the constant touring), his guitar playing was pure brilliance.  He played ninety solid minutes, non-stop, except to let his sister Bobbie play one song on piano.  Willie still stayed on stage during her song, and gently strummed his guitar after getting a sip of water.  He switched out his bandannas throughout the show and threw the sweaty ones into the audience.  I was just two rows back from catching a bandanna and a fan’s hat that Willie wore during one song near the end.  He played his classics: “Georgia”, “Crazy”, “On The Road Again”, a Hank song, “Of All The Girls…”, “Angel Falling Too Close to the Ground”, and a few newer ones—a funny one about not being Superman anymore, and his latest “Roll Me Up And Smoke Me When I Die”.  He finished the night with some gospel numbers and brought The Wild Feathers back along with his daughter to round out the chorus.

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Throughout the night, he pointed and smiled directly at people in the audience, blew a kiss (my way, but I think it was meant for the girl in front of me recording a song on her phone), waved, pointed to the sky, and just connected with us.  The man still has it.  I’m afraid if he ever stops touring, he’ll die.  Keep touring, Willie!  What a night. Gene Stout, Seattle Times music journalist, had nothing but love to share about Willie: http://blogs.seattletimes.com/soundposts/2013/08/24/willie-nelson-still-showing-brilliance-late-in-career/

Willie's Big Finish

Willie’s Big Finish

BUT, the night was still young.  Pat wanted to leave a little early to beat the horrendous traffic out of the Marymoor parking lot, but I insisted we stay to the very end.  Who knows if I’d see Willie again, and I wanted to remember him walking off the stage for the last time.

Well, I felt badly when we finally found the car and had to sit there parked for almost a half hour before people finally started moving out toward the road.  What a mess.  There are only two exits out, so the cars just pile up.  I apologized profusely to P, who absolutely hates sitting in traffic, especially since we wanted to try to make The Gourds show at The Tractor.

Once we got on the road, though, the traffic cleared out.  We made it across the bridge and to Ballard in less than ½ hour.  It was now about 10:45, and I knew The Gourds were on stage.   We found easy parking and quickly walked to the Tractor, after changing from flip-flops to cowboy boots and putting on my new Willie “Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die” T-shirt.   I threw my arms up in triumph when we reached the ticket table and The Gourds were playing their hearts out on stage.  We did it!  Two shows in one night!!  Pat quickly withdrew some more cash while I told our story to the ticket guy who was very impressed that we got to see Willie and THEN came to The Gourds show.  I felt more accomplished than after finishing a triathlon, I swear!  The triathlon of music!  Three shows in two days!  The Holy Trinity of Roots Rock, Country, and Americana!

Blurry Kevin Russell of The Gourds on Mandolin

Blurry Kevin Russell of The Gourds on Mandolin

We tried to move to our little table next to the stage, but alas, it was taken.  We got the evil eye from a girl (my double for the evening) when I tried to stay grounded near the table.  We gave up and worked our way to the other side of the stage by the brick wall.  They added a new sturdy bench along the wall, so we were able to stand on that and look over the crowd.  No one complained, so we stayed put.  We had a great view of the whole band, but my camera just could not capture the view that far away.  Blurry.  The flash did not reach that far, either.  That was ok, I just decided to enjoy the music.

Mr. Kevin Russell and Mr. Jimmy Smith played lots of covers and new stuff from their latest album, Old Mad Joy, but also played their greatest hits, including “Mr. Betty”, “Ants on The Melon”, “Shake the Chandelier”, “Burn the Honeysuckle” and finished the night with “Gin and Juice” on crazy mandolin while Max made the rosin fly off his fiddle.  Their accordion player Claude played a few, too, including lead vocals and keys for “Werewolves of London” during the encore.  Every Gourds show is a frenzied, religious experience.  Even though we couldn’t be up front with the sweat and glory, we still felt those musical electrons flow through us.

The Gourds: Max Johnston, Kevin Russell, Jimmy Smith, Keith Langford, and Claude Bernard

The Gourds: Max Johnston, Kevin Russell, Jimmy Smith, Keith Langford, and Claude Bernard

After the show we got to meet the drummer Keith for the first time.  Keith was very nice and personable.  I told him they sounded fantastic, but he said they were sloppy.  Of course, that’s what I like about them.  They’re REAL. They’re only sloppy because they are so caught up in the moment, improvising, picking, shouting, gyrating, and spilling their souls all over that stage.   Minimally processed.  All Natural.  Organic.  Their latest album is entitled Old Mad Joy and their music is exactly that.  Keith also told us about opening a couple of times for Willie Nelson, and how Willie told him a story of Paul and a drumming incident.  Keith already knew the story, but he felt honored to hear it from Willie himself.   We then briefly spoke with Kevin while P took a pic.  Kev’s such a sweetheart, although the pic of us scared my mom.  They have a busy touring schedule ahead of them.  They were headed to Oregon the next day for a festival in Helix.

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Here’s The Gourds setlist, reprinted from D Three Gourds’ FB Page:

The Gourds
Tractor Tavern
Seattle, WA
8/23/13

01. Trampled by the Sun
02. I Want it so Bad
03. Mister Betty
04. Right in the Head
05. Jesus Christ with Signs Following
06. Stab
07. Honduras >
08. Ringing Dark & True
09. Shake the Chandelier
10. Illegal Oyster
11. County Orange
12. Everybody’s Missing the Sun (Nils Lofgren)
13. Ants on the Melon
14. I Like Drinking > Lady (Little River Band) > ILD
15. Grievin’ & Smokin’ > When the Saints Go Marching In (trad.) > If 6 was 9 (Jimi Hendrix) > I Think I’ll Just Stay Here and Drink (Merle Haggard)
16. “Smoke a little dope, do a little laundry” (???) > LGO
17. Burn the Honeysuckle > Black Water (Doobie Bros)
18. Gin & Juice (Snoop/Dre) > Cupid (Sam Cooke) > Surrender (Cheap Trick) > Up on Cripple Creek (The Band)
E:
19. All the Labor tease
20. Werewolves of London (Warren Zevon)
21. All the Labor > You ain’t Goin’ Nowhere

Kevin Shinyribs Russell will be playing a solo show with Keith supporting on drums Sept. 5 for $10 at The Sunset, so we’re GOING.  We’re taking the 6th off to recover.  Check out the Shinyribs Bandcamp site here: http://shinyribs.bandcamp.com/ to listen to both albums and make a purchase or two. [Since this writing, we DID go to the Shinyribs show!  I will blog about that show asap.  Another fantastic night!]

After the show, we went to Hatties Hat next door.  It was ten till one, and we begged for food.  We quickly ordered the best BLT I’ve ever had, with buttered, toasted bread, fresh lettuce and tomato, thick-cut bacon and avocado.  We scarfed it down with some water and headed home.  In bed by 2:00.

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September 6, 2013 - Posted by | Big Sandy, Concert Season 2013, Marymoor Park, Music, Shinyribs, The Gourds, The Rainieros, The Tractor Tavern, The Wild Feathers, Willie Nelson | , , , , , , , ,

7 Comments »

  1. Wow! what a busy girl you have been. Great stories, wonderful reviews.

    Comment by thom | September 6, 2013 | Reply

  2. Thanks, Thom! Our shows seem to be in clusters this concert season! I’ve been working on another writing project most of the year, but decided to take a break and do some blogging. I’m about four shows behind…might just have to do a combo blog with lots of links. Looking forward to your blogs this fall, too!

    Comment by aplscruf | September 6, 2013 | Reply

  3. You have been busy! That’s so cool you got to see Willie again.

    Comment by Fannie Cranium | September 9, 2013 | Reply

    • Loved Willie. I called my mom several times during his performance and held up the phone so she could hear him.

      Comment by aplscruf | September 9, 2013 | Reply

  4. […] The Rainieros – Another tight country band with a Western swing kicker. Their latest album, Last Call received critical acclaim and was one of the top Americana albums of 2012. We saw them open for Big Sandy in August. […]

    Pingback by Concert Season 2013 Wrap-up « Aplscruf's Music Blog | October 11, 2013 | Reply

  5. […] for his rollicking show.  I just love his energy.  Here’s a review from last August: https://aplscruf.wordpress.com/2013/09/06/two-big-nights-big-sandy-willie-nelson-and-the-gourds-8-22-… We took our seats and meanwhile, I asked Pat to look up my first Big Sandy review from 2012, […]

    Pingback by Big Sandy and His Fly-Rite Boys at The Sunset 12.21.13 « Aplscruf's Music Blog | December 28, 2013 | Reply


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