Aplscruf's Music, Art, and Literature Blog

Star Anna and the Laughing Dogs at The Tractor 12.30.2010

Star Anna and the Laughing Dogs

Star Anna and the Laughing Dogs featuring:

Star Anna: Lead Vocals and Rhythm Guitar

Justin Davis: Lead Guitar and Vocals

Travis Yost: Drums

Keith Ash: Bass

Ty Bailie: Keys, Organ

Opener: Kasey Anderson

Tractor Tavern, Ballard


*Check out my post on Randomville for a more polished, condensed version.

Good Lord.  We weren’t even planning to go out that night, but we are so thankful we did!  Our neighbor and his wife invited us to go with them over a week ago, but I needed to get through the Christmas “experience” before thinking that far ahead.  I hadn’t seen or heard either band, nor did I have time to research before the day of the show, so I wasn’t very motivated.  Luckily, we had a slow and short day at work on the 30th, so I took a quick listen, and almost immediately fell in love with Star Anna’s voice and their country-rock twang.  She sounds a bit like Lucinda Williams without the slur, blended with Mindy Smith.

We had New Year’s Eve off, so I was out of excuses.  Let’s do it.  Our neighbors’ friends were also going to the show and agreed to take us all in their giant SUV.  We scored on parking in Ballard and found a two-buck lot just a block north of The Matador.  We got our names on the list at The Matador, and headed over to a little bar with swanky, expensive drinks, just down from The Sunset.

Our table at The Matador was finally ready about 8:30.  We were starving and chowed a day’s worth of Tex-Mex, chips and salsa, and margaritas.

It was getting late, and we didn’t get to The Tractor until almost 10:00.  I was trying to contain my anxiety as I thought about how we usually get to The Tractor by 8:00 or 8:30 in order to get our special left-of-stage perfect spot.  When we arrived, the place was packed, so we stood by the bar.  I had to crane my neck to see the opener, Kasey Anderson.  He was rocking the place, too, and I was disappointed I didn’t get to see his entire set.  He played two or three songs while we were there, and I tried to enjoy every minute.  We witnessed some great, energetic guitar solos from his lead, Andrew McKeag.

Kasey Anderson

I looked around the bar and saw Jeff Fielder, who opened for North Twin’s swan song earlier this year (I immediately purchased his CD afterward!) and then saw most of the ex-members of North Twin, including Tony Fulgham, Rebecca Young, and Tim DiJulio.  I believe some of The Tripwires were there, too.  I wonder who else was lurking in the dark tavern?

P scored again, as our favorite table cleared out after Kasey exited.  He grabbed it, motioned us up, and I explained to our friends how this was “our” table, as I caressed it and gently placed my drink on it!  I was also so happy I brought my camera this time.  I didn’t bring my notepad, but I survived.  I tried to just take some pics as well as some mental pics of the night.

The best shots were the ones I remember, the ones not captured in the camera’s lens.  Lead guitar Andrew McKeag with Kasey Anderson’s band had smiling grimaces and quirky body movements as he shredded his solos.  I managed to take a few pics of Star Anna, but she seemed shy to the camera and to the audience.  Her hair hung in her face.  The rare moments when she pulled her hair back out of her face, she let out a shy but genuine smile.  She has a beautiful, porcelain face with Elvis Presley eyes.  When she was hitting a high note, she raised up on her tip-toes and leaned forward into the mike.  Face to face, she and Justin stood close for guitar jams, and the two became a double-necked guitar monster of sound.

Justin had amazing solos, and fed body and soul into them as his guitar strings bent to his will.   Talented organist Ty Bailie sounded like Tom Petty’s Benmont Tench.  The properly attired bass player, Keith Ash had a strangely shaped bass whose brand we couldn’t figure out [see Comment below].  There was a blend of characters in the audience, from Ellensburg locals and students, the Ballard crowd, to gender-unspecifics, and, well, us: Bothellites??  No matter the cultural, sexual or geographical backgrounds, we were in united agreement that this multi-talented band ROCKED.  We were witness to something big; a band that was on its way to national stardom.  We were awestruck.

P grabbed a set list for me, and we purchased her first album, Crooked Path.

Set List:

High Water


Hawks on a Pole


Through the Winter

For When I Go

Don’t Go Yet

Truth is Gonna Burn


Spinning My Wheels

Bird Without Wings

Gold & Silver

Devil Don’t Remember My Name

Black Cat Blues

Space Beneath The Door

Wolves in Disguise

All Alone

After the show, our neighbor wanted to go meet the band, but I was shy.  He told me I should go, too, so I followed him over to the other side, where we got to meet Justin, the lead guitarist.  He was so thankful we came out for the show, and smiled his broad, friendly smile at us.  We thanked him profusely and loaded him with compliments on his guitarmanship and general awesomeness.  We tried to catch Star, but she was getting bombarded with other folks.  We worked our way back to P and friends, and I giggled like a schoolgirl.  He just smiled; he knows how much I love being a groupie and meeting the band.  We caught Kasey at the door, but we were being pushed out by the manager for blocking the entryway.  S introduced us, and I managed to spit out “…writer for Randomville!” before having to exit.

Dick’s on the way home.  Icy cars, icy roads.  Home after 2:00.  Soo worth it.

Happy New Year, everyone.

Ty Rockin' the Organ

January 1, 2011 Posted by | Concert Season 2010, Kasey Anderson, Music, North Twin, Star Anna, Star Anna and the Laughing Dogs, The Tractor Tavern | , , , , | 2 Comments

The Paperboys with Benjamin Doerr 12.17.2010

Benjamin Doerr

Tom Landa

Joyful Fiddler

The Paperboys featuring:

Tom Landa (Founder): Guitar, Jarana, Vocals, Piano, Bass

Geoffrey Kelly: Flute, Whistles, Bass, Percussion

Sam Esecson: Drums, Percussion

Kalissa Hernandez: Fiddle

Brad Gillard: Banjo, Bass

Nick La Riviere: Trombone, Bass

Kareem Kandi: Saxophone

Greg Lyons: Trumpet

Benjamin Doerr of St. Paul de Vence Opened featuring:

Benjamin Doerr: Vocals, Acoustic Guitar, Concertina

Alex Malloy: Bass, Vocals

Mike Sievers: Accordion, Piano, Concertina, Vocals

Tractor Tavern, Ballard


We book-ended 2010 with The Paperboys.  The band joyously rang in the New Year on January 2nd at The Tractor, and we saw them again on Friday, December 17th.  Not a bad way to end the year.

Friday evening started with a tour of Ballard’s side streets, our usual troll for a parking space.  Finally, after circling for 20 minutes or so, one opened just a couple of blocks from The Tractor.

P and I were hungry and wanted to try out the new restaurant called 5 Corner Market Bar & Kitchen, located on Market Street, where Lombardi’s resided for a couple of decades.  It is supposed to have amazing roasted meats as well as lots of beer on tap.  We could see from the street that other people agreed with the positive reviews, as eager diners were queued up at the door.  Impatient and hungry, we settled for our old standby, Hattie’s Hat.  I love the old mahogany bar and dim lighting in Hattie’s.  We snuggled up in a small booth in the bar and shared meatloaf smothered in Guinness gravy with steamed veggies.

We strolled a couple of doors down to The Tractor and were happy to nab our favorite spot, left of the stage, with a little table in front for drinks and camera.  As usual, the place was pretty empty, but people slowly entered in small groups.  We looked across the stage and noticed our favorite older couple (the man is a doppelganger of P’s dad), who have been there the last two times we saw The Paperboys, seated against the right side of the stage.   The crowd grew around us as 9:00 approached.

The opener, Seattle transplant Benjamin Doerr, entered the stage a bit late, to a large crowd of cheerful, noisy patrons.  His recently-formed three-piece band, called St. Paul de Vence, is named after a small French town in which his grandfather lived during World War II.  Benjamin Doerr assembled a concept EP called When Our Boys Have Been Buried,  songs that are musical interpretations of his grandfather’s experiences growing up and joining the military during The War.  Doerr played acoustic guitar, with two bandmates:  Alex Malloy on electric bass and vocals, and Mike Sievers on accordion, piano, concertina and vocals.  The songs are simple and heartfelt, and are a beautiful way of capturing his grandfather’s stories.

St. Paul de Vence

The Set List:



Way Down

She’ll Go

Hummingbird, Heron & Honeybee


War Love

When Our Boys Have Been Buried

The folk songs had that hint of French flavor as the accordion played such a crucial role in most of them. The song “She’ll Go” picked up the pace with fast acoustic strumming and keyboard.   “Hummingbird, Heron & Honeybee” included nice harmonies with the phrase “Fly Over Me” repeated.   Doerr introduced the song “War Love” by explaining that his grandfather had two insignia (pins) on his military uniform, but only one remained because he “…might have given one to a girl,” his grandpa told Benjamin with a wink and a smile.  Doerr said, “If an 85-year-old man tells you that, you’ve gotta write a song about it!”

Between other songs, Doerr spoke of his talks with his grandfather, and mentioned that when his town was freed from German occupation, “…his heart sang out–his heart sang out.”  It was a lovely, meaningful set of music; I only wish the noisy audience were a bit more respectful of his work and listened to the heartfelt stories he told.

During the intermission, I screwed up my courage and worked my way through the thick crowd to talk to P’s doppelganger and his wife.  What a nice couple!  I asked if they were related to the band, but they said they are only friends, but have gotten to know all of them and their girlfriends, etc!  The sweet wife seemed embarrassed when she confessed they follow the band around to different shows, and will be attending one in Tacoma on the 18th and Bellingham on New Year’s Eve.  I told the man we enjoy seeing him here, because he looks so much like my husband’s late father.  He said he feels like he’s the oldest one in the place.  I told him there is nothing wrong with that, and we hoped to be doing the same thing at their age.  The Paperboys were gathering onstage, so I let them go to enjoy the show.

The Paperboys

The Paperboys, a Vancouver-based band, have been lifting people’s spirits with their high energy shows for 16 years.  There is no way to pinpoint their music to one genre.  Their music incorporates such a wide variety of cultures, instruments and tempos.  On their website, The Paperboys try to explain who they are: “Call it Guinness with a tequila chaser while listening to an Americana jukebox.”  Tom Landa, the Mexican-Canadian lead singer, plays acoustic, electric and Mexican 8-string guitars.  On Tom’s right, his flute-playing Scotsman, Geoffrey Kelly, who plays several pipes of varying sizes and sounds.   Behind is the drummer Sam Esecson who keeps alive the various tempos, ranging from Celtic jigs to reggae beats.   On Tom’s left, his adorable, smiling fiddler Kalissa Hernandez who holds her own with upbeat Celtic solos, pop melodies or emotional songs of love.  The banjo/bass player Brad Gillard is versatile, and steps in with accordion or keys as needed.  A trio of brass rounds out the eight-piece band.  The sax, trumpet and trombone get their turn at solos near the end of the set.

Sax Solo

Trombone Solo

The Set List:

Zambonie (instrumental)


Country Life



America (played with capo on third fret)

Goodbye Berlin

Worms (instrumental)



McGoldricks (fiddle solo, then banjo and rest join in for rollicking instrumental)

Toenail Moon

Watchtower (Dylan cover)

Rain on Me

Oh Maria (medley on last two songs include covers of “Pass the Dutchie,” “I Wanna Be Sedated,” “The Gambler,”
“Three Little Birds” and others, kept at same tempo and key)


After a brief wardrobe malfunction during the first song (XYZ, Tom!) we settled in for a night of rollicking, uplifting Celtic/Latin/Caribbean/Folk/Pop/Americana/Canadiana/Rock/Polka/World Roots music!

All of their songs, save one, were up-tempo, upbeat, positive vibes.  My cheeks hurt from smiling all evening.   My favorite song of the evening was “California,” a cheerful pop song with flute and fiddle solos adding that Celtic rhythm.  The audience joined in on the chorus, “Califooorrrnia! Califooorrrnia!  I think I’ll stay here, I think I’ll stay here for a while.”  “Fragile” was the only song that had more of a somber tone, but any seriousness was quickly doused with the next instrumental, “McGoldricks,” which began with the fiddle solo and ended with the whole band joining in.  The whooping audience clapped along and stomped their feet to the music as it became more intense; the volume increased when each instrument joined in.

The encore included the last two songs melded into medley of various pop, country and reggae covers, and the audience was encouraged to sing along.  I loved how easily one song slid into another, keeping the same tempo and key.


Tom Landa’s smiling eyes and beautiful vocals,  and the band’s positive, upbeat songs energized the audience the whole night.  We left at 1 am feeling strangely refreshed and a little hungry.  A Dick’s Special and a milkshake solved our hunger issue.  We made our way home, fulfilled and happy.

Flute Face

December 26, 2010 Posted by | Benjamin Doerr, Concert Season 2010, Music, St. Paul de Vence, The Paperboys, The Tractor Tavern | , , , , | Leave a comment

New Mexico, via San Diego

New Mexico

Check out my review of New Mexico, a post-punk band from San Diego!  They ROCK!! The review posted on randomville today: http://randomville.com/wordpress/?p=9698

You can also check out their MySpace site or Bandcamp for more info.

(photos courtesy of New Mexico)

November 22, 2010 Posted by | Concert Season 2010, Music, New Mexico, Randomville | , | Leave a comment

Brent Amaker and the Rodeo at the Crocodile Cafe 10.22.10

Brent  Amaker and the Rodeo

The Atomic Bombshells

RA Scion

Head Like A Kite

Crocodile Cafe

Friday, October 22, 2010

Brent Amaker and the Rodeo


Last night was the most eclectic show I’ve ever attended.  Usually, bands are matched up with a certain genre or theme, but the show at The Crocodile, part of Seattle’s CityArts Fest, was something to behold.  Brent Amaker and the Rodeo, RA Scion, The Atomic Bombshells and Head Like A Kite took turns and sometimes combined their unique talents to entertain and energize the sold-out audience.

Before the big show, I had a chance to interview Brent Amaker (in character, mind you) via email, and posted it on randomville.  See the hysterical, R-rated interview here: http://randomville.com/wordpress/?p=9533

On the day of the show, we took time off from work in order to pack up, get Max to his doggie daycare, and make sure the boy knew his instructions for locking up the house on his way to his overnighter before we headed for Seattle.

We arrived at The Warwick Hotel around 5:00, after circling the block a couple of times to get on the right one-way street.  P said he got a good deal on a room, and the hotel clerk also gave us breakfast vouchers and free parking.  They’re remodeling and are trying to attract and keep customers.

We ascended to the 19th floor to the Queen Elizabeth Suite?!  OMG, it was gigantic!!  We had a separate dining area with a round table and four chairs, a desk and table by the window, then a sectional couch and TV.  There was also a bathroom and shower in that area and a bar/counter.  Our bedroom was through a door and also had a TV, large closet, giant bathroom with two separate vanities, and a jetted 2 person tub!  We stood there and wondered who we could call to join the party.

We went downstairs and had happy-hour appetizers and drinks Margeaux, the hotel restaurant.  We even got a bargain there:  bought two appetizers and got the third free.  We chowed on kalbi ribs, sliders, and bruschetta.  Yum!

We went back to our enormous suite and got dressed for The Rodeo, which, of course, included donning my black cowboy boots.  We hustled down a couple of blocks to the entrance of The Crocodile Café, right on time.  The security guys said no one was allowed in yet.  I pulled out my ticket and it said, “Doors open 7:00.”  He said slyly that they’d have to fire their intern.  Someone obviously goofed up.  So, back to the hotel we went.

We ventured back out right before 8:00.  This time, there was a small crowd forming at the door.  We moved in, bought a drink and sauntered over to a long bench on the left side of the stage.  The stage was about twice the size as The Tractor’s, and elevated about 4 feet.  There was a fairly large, square floor area and a small balcony.  P found his way up to the balcony, and motioned me to join him.  I’m glad I did.  He found a small, round table and two stools, right at the edge of the balcony, with a side view of the entire stage.  Perfect.  There was also a small bar up there, and other tables and chairs.

The crowd grew, and soon a hip-hop artist by the name of RA Scion took the stage.  He had a small turntable and another piece of equipment he used to change songs, sample, mix, etc.  He would get the song going, and start the rap.  He was really interesting and engaging, but the crowd seemed shy at first.  He had a good sense of humor, and begged the mostly white audience to please come in closer to the stage.  He kicked it up a notch and the audience finally crowded around close to the stage and waved their hands to the beat.  He picked up their energy and picked up speed.  It was interesting to watch the crowd grow and flow with the music.  P and I really enjoyed him.  He put out a very positive vibe.

There was a short intermission, and another man, Tilson,  introduced The Atomic Bombshells!  They are an old-fashioned burlesque act.  I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I just decided to keep an open mind and enjoy the evening.  I was actually thoroughly impressed and entertained.  Each girl had a separate act/theme, with names like Ruby Mimosa and acts called Hips Ahoy and “…better shakes than Dairy Queen.”  The first girl was all decked out in a red negligee, and had a big, curly blonde wig.  The strip tease ensued, 50’s style.  It was so much fun to watch her; I felt transformed to another era.  All the acts were tastefully done, playful and naughty, but never felt pornographic.  Lots of feather boas and fringed skirts and long stockings–and carefully placed rhinestone pasties.

After the fallen feathers, bras and stockings were picked up, the lights dimmed and a lone sign was placed on the edge of the stage that said, “Please Stand By.”  This is also the name of Brent Amaker and The Rodeo’s new album.  The background music was very dramatic and reminded me of a Hitchcock movie soundtrack.  The spotlights frantically swirled about, and then The Rodeo took the stage to the cheering audience.

Of course, Mr. Amaker was not present when his five cowboys started playing on stage.  He made a grand entrance by first having his attendant, Bunny Monroe, help him don his red satin cape while they stood on one side of the stage.  He strutted the middle of the stage in grand fashion as the cheers grew louder.  She followed him to the microphone, where he then removed the cape and gave it back to her in the usual Rodeo Ritual!

“Let’s get this show on the road!”  After a line of expletives from Mr. Amaker that would have made George Carlin proud, The Rodeo began their set of fast-paced, campy country tunes.  They added a cowboy percussionist and they have improved; the sound was tight and more complex.  The long set list included several new songs off their album (this was the CD release show, although I didn’t see any tables set up with their CD’s for sale—maybe it was on the other side of the room??) as well as some of our old favorites:

Captain of the Ship

Break My Broken Heart

Walkin’ In My Sleep

Girls Are Good

Tiger Inside Her

I’ve Got a Little Hillbilly In Me

Blood Dripping Blood

Man In Charge (With Bunny and Tilson)

Hammer Hits the Nail

I’m the Man Who Writes the Country Hits

Saddle Up



Sissy New Age Cowboy

Pocket Calculator


They really got the audience going by bringing out Tilson,  and he added some hip-hop flavor to one of the new songs.  While he was rapping, one of the girls also took the stage.  Cowboys, hip-hop and Bombshells.  You can’t get more eclectic than that.  The only thing missing was the ritualistic whiskey baptism.

Up next was Head Like a Kite, a small band with a very large sound.  I checked out a couple of their videos before the show, and I liked their style.  They have a great electric guitar sound mixed with synth, drums, and hip-hop.  Again, another genre-crossing band with a very danceable beat.  They were a bit loud for me, but kept the audience rocking and swaying to the pounding beat.  They were joined by a cowboy on percussion, an occasional Bombshell and other girls throwing Mardi Gras beads to the audience.  We stayed upstairs through the first enjoyable song, “She’s Wearing That Costume,” and then decided to mingle about down on the floor.  We were getting hungry at this point, so we reluctantly left after a few more songs.

We strolled up the block and hunted for open restaurants.  It was now approaching midnight.  We made our way to Tom Douglas’ Palace Kitchen and shared some delicious ricotta ravioli followed by Mexican chocolate cake with jalepeno marshmallow crème.  Oh, so good!

What a fabulous evening.  We got back to the room sometime after 1 am and collapsed, but woke up late the next morning and realized it was only Saturday!  I could get used to three-day weekends.

Check out cool pics of the show from Back Beat Seattle: http://backbeatseattle.com/wordpress/?p=34566

October 24, 2010 Posted by | Brent Amaker and the Rodeo, Concert Season 2010, Music | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Stevie Ray Vaughan B’Day Tribute 10.03.10

Hard Rock Cafe, Seattle WA

Ayron Jones and The Way

Stevie Ray Vaughan Birthday Tribute

Benefit Show for Seattle Humane Society

Featuring: The Chris Eger Band, Ayron Jones and The Way, The Satellite 4, Dudley Taft, and The Randy Hansen Band

Sunday October 3, 2010

Stevie Ray’s spirit walked–ROCKED–among the living Sunday night.  I got chills as I heard song after song played in honor and celebration of Stevie’s birthday.  Stevie would have been proud of the enormously talented local bands who covered his songs.

We were invited to attend the show via P’s friend who works for F5 Networks, one of the show’s sponsors.  Although Sunday isn’t my favorite night to go out, we couldn’t pass up a chance to watch some local bands get into the blues for Stevie and a good cause–The Seattle Humane Society.

We got to The Hard Rock a little early and grabbed a bite and a drink.  We shared a pretty delicious Hawaiian Chicken with steamed broccoli and cheesy potatoes.

We rushed upstairs to the party a little after 6:00.  The first band had already started, but we found a spot at a railing behind the dance floor about 20 feet from the stage.

The Chris Eger Band dove right into “Pride and Joy” and we were hooked.  Aww yeah, this was going to be a great night!  Chris skillfully rocked a purple Fender Strat and had a quality band, including an amazing B3 organist.  Other songs they covered included “Empty Arms”, “Leave My Little Girl Alone” (Chris dedicated that song to Mackenzie, the show’s organizer from www.randomville.com), “Cold Shot”, “SRV”, which was a tribute song, and “Crossfire”.

Chris mentioned at one point that he first started playing guitar at age 13, ten years ago.  Wait, he’s only 23, and he is out there shredding the hell out of that Strat!  We will definitely follow him to future Seattle gigs.

Next up was Ayron Jones and The Way.  I thought Chris Eger was doing Stevie justice, but then Ayron took the stage and absolutely blew us all away.  He also sported a Strat, but it had a different sound, closer to Stevie’s bluesy, gritty growl.   At this point, I put away my pen and notebook and just listened, awestruck.  I did remember the first song he blasted out of the water was “Texas Flood”.   From that point on, we stood with our jaws hanging open.  Ayron had stage presence, too.  He grimaced or smiled through his solos, depending on the mood of the song.  He jumped off the stage a couple of times and just hung with the growing crowd on the dance floor while he jammed out riffs and channeled Stevie as well as a Jimi Hendrix cover.   The killer move was when he played a behind-the-head guitar solo, with total accuracy!  I looked up Ayron’s MySpace page.  He is 23 years old.  Watch this kid become a monster in the blues world.

Satellite 4

After huge applause for Ayron and his tight band and a short intermission, Satellite 4 took their place on the stage.  The bassist was aptly played by  Johnny Horn of KEXP, and the B3 showed up with some ripping solos.  The lead guitarist played a Telecaster in a more jangly old-fashioned style.  He let the guitar do the talking while he ran through a nice set, including “Say What”, “Scuttlebuttin'” (Memphis-style, he said), “Rude Mood” and “DFW”.

Dudley Taft of Spike and the Impalers played next, but unfortunately we had to head home.  The boy was waiting patiently for his wayward parents.  I think we’re pushing the empty nest thing before the bird is ready to fly.

We had a fantastic night, but wished we’d stayed to hear the rest of the bands.  I own Stevie’s Live at Carnegie Hall CD.  At the end of his show, Stevie exclaimed to the cheering audience, “Thank you very much for making this my best birthday ever…for-ever.”  He would have been thankful for this amazing tribute on what would have been his 56th birthday.

Check out Randomville’s site for more information about the event and the bands:


October 5, 2010 Posted by | Ayron Jones and The Way, Concert Season 2010, Dudley Taft, Hard Rock Cafe, Music, Randy Hansen Band, Stevie Ray Vaughan, The Chris Eger Band, The Satellite 4 | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Toubab Krewe and Railroad Earth at The Showbox 09.25.10

Toubab Krewe

We were blessed with the talents of Toubab Krewe and Railroad Earth on Saturday at The Showbox.  Up to about a week ago, I’d never heard of either band.  I thought Toubab was the name of a rapper!  Wrong.  They are a genre-bending and continent-crossing band of artists who left us mesmerized with their unique sound.   I don’t know how to describe a band that can sound African and Country at the same time.  If they come to your town, just go.  Go and experience them for yourself.  Some of the instruments were foreign to me, but had such a siren-like quality.  I was drawn in and didn’t want them to stop.  Their percussion was precise, perfect.  The five became one as individual instruments blended into a frenzy of thumps, clacks and riffs that echoed around the cavernous theatre.   Listen for yourself here:  www.toubabkrewe.com.

We heard about both bands through a former student P knew when we taught high school.  They connected on Facebook and realized they were into similar music.  He and his girlfriend invited us for dinner at the Triple Door’s Musiquarium, then on to The Showbox.  They had seen both bands before and encouraged us to go.  We were very happy to see them and catch up on our busy lives.  I was also very excited to experience some new music.

Next up was Railroad Earth.   I downloaded some live music off their site www.railroadearth.com earlier in the week to get in the mood.  I enjoyed their bluegrass style.  They take it to the next level by adding and swapping a variety of instruments, including two very different acoustic guitars, mandolin, violin, electric guitar, bass, stand-up bass and drums.  They were also into very long jams, similar to Phish or The Grateful Dead. JamGrass!

Railroad Earth

September 26, 2010 Posted by | Americana, Concert Season 2010, Music, Railroad Earth, The Showbox, Toubab Krewe | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Willie Nelson at the Puyallup Fair Sept. 16, 2010

Willie Nelson & Family

Willie Nelson 9.16.10

Puyallup Fair, Puyallup, WA

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Willie still has it.  He played a sold-out show at the Puyallup Fair with a stripped-down band and new bobbed hairdo.  I took my mom, who wasn’t quite sure if she and/or 77-year-old Willie would still be living by the time the concert arrived!  I purchased the tickets (her 73rd birthday gift) back in March, so there was the possibility that one or both wouldn’t make it.

After a two-hour commute in rain, we made it to The Fair with an hour to spare.  We got lucky with parking; I think the rain kept the crowd away.  Mom held up pretty well as we slowly strolled to the Gold Gate.  We were starving and grabbed grilled chicken sandwiches outside the grandstand.  I’m not really sure it was chicken; there was absolutely no resemblance to chicken flesh.  Looked more like pressed and grilled styrofoam.  I took three bites, threw up a little in my mouth, and tossed it.  Ugh.  Fair food.  You’d think with the promotion of the best cattle, hogs, chickens, fruit and vegetables, that you would actually receive food from the local farms that participate in the fair!!  But I digress…

Our seats were in Section A, Row 4.  Sounds great, but not really.  We were pushed way over to the side, diagonal from the stage.  We did have a view of all of the musicians, and were probably about 30 feet from Willie.  We sat on the outside end of the aisle, which was convenient for us, because the seats were squished together.  The poor man next to us was very tall, and he had to remove himself from the aisle every time someone needed out; so I would have to get out, too.  Mom would turn sideways into the aisle, so at least she didn’t have to stand up and move every time.

By the time we got settled in our seats, we had about 15 minutes before the big show.  On time.  Although traffic was terrible, we still managed to plan ahead and get to our seats.  On time.  Apparently, many other people did not plan ahead, or didn’t bother getting to their seats until about 1/2 hour into the show.  We spent that first half hour watching not Willie, but the tardy idiots trying to count seats to the middle, only to figure out they were in the wrong section to begin with.  The security people were trying to help, but also became annoyingly in the way of our view.

Ok, enough bitching.  On with the main reason we drove two hours, put up with tardy people, and sat in drizzle: Willie!  The house lights went dim, the announcer/DJ from KMPS entered the stage to announce Willie Nelson and Family would be coming out in mere seconds.

Willie and Sister Bobbie on piano

Willie, his “little sister” Bobbie, a bass player, harmonica player, and snare drummer entered the stage.  The sold-out audience cheered and hooted.  I looked at Mom and said, “We made it!  HE made it, too!”  I felt relieved.   Willie sported his new gray bob and a black cowboy hat, t-shirt and jeans.  He had his trademark red, white and blue guitar strap and that little ol’ beat-to-shit guitar tuned and ready to play.

And play he did!  One and a half hours, nonstop.  Song after song he played with energy and style; a few words of greetings to the crowd, a short rest to tune up and get a drink while sister Bobbie banged away on the piano, and then on to the next tune.  He didn’t talk to the audience very often, but he certainly interacted with them.  He waved and nodded directly at them, recognized their carefully painted signs, and threw at least four bandanas into the audience, after sweating through each one!  Willie sweat!  Sweet!

Throwing Headband

I’m dying to see a setlist, but here are the songs I remember:

Whiskey River

On The Road Again



Angel Flying Too Close to the Ground (My absolute fave)

Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain

Mamas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to be Cowboys

Me and Bobby McGee

Always On My Mind

To All The Girls I’ve Loved Before

Good Hearted Woman

[Update: Here’s a post from the Tacoma News Tribune by Ernest Jasmin]:

Willie Nelson review and set list.

He also did a couple of Hank Williams and Waylon Jennings songs, some beautiful Gospel numbers, and a couple new songs: “You Don’t Think I’m Funny Anymore” and one he wrote after his doctor told him to “Shut up and go home!”

Willie mixed up some classic songs with different tempos, fancy guitar licks, and at times, lower vocals.  The songs were always recognizable, and he never missed a beat.  I believe some of the low notes were due to his not being able to hit those high, clear ones in the cool, moist air.  We could see his breath in steamy puffs at times.

His guitar playing, at times very raw and honest, is so interesting to me.  I love watching him move up the frets in “Angel Flying Too Close to the Ground” among others.  Sometimes he plays the blues, other times it sounds very jazzy.  Country jazz?  I guess.  I love it.  I said this before:  I think they should hang his guitar, strap, and braids (or locks of his bobbed hair) and bandanna in the Smithsonian.

Willie Nelson is an American Icon.  And my mom rocks for hanging in there till the house lights went on.  Willie’s lively performance and Mom’s multiple words of gratitude made for a very special night.

Willie's Bus

September 17, 2010 Posted by | Concert Season 2010, Music, The Puyallup Fair, Willie Nelson | , , , , | 1 Comment

The Dubh Linn Gate, Whistler, B.C.

July 23-25, 2010

Damian Brennan of Murphy’s Lagh

The Dubh Linn Gate

Damian Brennan of Murphy's Lagh

Damian Brennan performed two sets a night over the long weekend, and we were present for most of them.  We saw him for the first time last year at The Dubh Linn Gate.  He is an Irish troubadour, now stationed in Vancouver, and part of a four-piece band called Murphy’s Lagh.  When he came to Whistler last year, he brought along his lovely fiddle player, Shamma Sabir.  She was not along this time, apparently attending Fiddle Camp on Saltspring Island.  We didn’t expect him to be there at all, since he was not listed on the Dubh Linn Gate’s website when we checked the week before we left.

We have been coming up to Whistler for over a decade, with a few breaks here and there.  Every year there is a new source of entertainment.  Some years it was in the form of new babies, new spouses, new friends.  Lately, it’s been new music and outdoor activities.   We are part of a group of three families that head up annually for a week of relaxation.  Our family usually stays about 4 or 5 days over a weekend due to our work schedules, but we usually pack in an 18  hour day every day.  Unfortunately, we’ve missed a couple of incredible nights of fun when we left early.  Some old college friends also joined us this year.  They are new empty-nesters and were ready for some time to themselves and time to catch up with all of us. 

Day one, Friday

We made plans to go to the Dubh Linn Gate first thing, as soon as the kids were comfortable with their sitter.  We walked from the condo straight to the Dubh Linn to find our favorite Irishman entertaining a small crowd on the patio.  It was a warm, clear evening, so we were happy to sit outside for a while.

We sat pretty far away from Mr. Brennan at first.  I didn’t have my glasses, so it was hard to tell it was even him.  We first had to “initiate” our old college friends into our crazy Whistler world and ordered a round of  Naughty Nellies for all eight of us.  A Naughty Nellie (there is another politically incorrect Northern Irish name for them that will not be posted here) is made up of 1/3 pint of Guinness, a shot glass of 2/3 Baileys and 1/3 Jameson dropped into the Guinness and quickly (or slowly) gulped down.  I believe my husband can finish one in about 1.5 seconds.  Our old buddies were in awe, and ready to hang with us after that! 

And then things proceeded to get rowdy.  Damian remembered, somehow, that we were here last year and from Seattle.  He started making a game of it, and every time he yelled out, “Seattle!” we whooped in return.  We overruled the quiet and polite audience.  The hotel patrons who were there to eat and enjoy a quiet acoustical performance were sadly mistaken.

At 10:00 we had to move the party inside (live music noise rule), so we had a few minutes to get settled in our seats at the bar right across from the musician’s area and small dance floor.  We had such a great time heckling Damian and requesting ridiculous songs that he refused to play such as Like a Virgin or YMCA, or ones we wanted to hear over and over again.  He yelled at us, “You should have been here earlier, I already played that one!”  I yelled back, “But the traffic was terrible!”  He agreed, as he also drove in from Vancouver. 

He played many Beatles covers over the three nights we saw him including Blackbird, Norwegian Wood, Jude, Let It Be, Don’t Let Me Down, and more.  He also played lots of Van Morrison: Brown Eyed Girl, Gloria, to name a couple.  Neil Diamond was also on the list, and he got the audience singing along with Sweet Caroline…Bah, Bah, Bah!   A good table-pounding song.   The traditional Irish songs were lovely, but the ones that stirred up the crowd were the dirty and more lively ones, such as Alice (Alice? Who the F@#* is Alice?!), Irish Rover, Black Velvet Band, and Seven Drunken Nights (Hey, Wife!).  We stole the show more than once with our table-pounding, whooping and heckling.

At one time, he mentioned he enjoyed Seattle and played at Kells before.  We all yelled back, “No you haven’t!  You said you couldn’t get in there!”  He laughed and said, “Oh, that must have been Portland!”  I guess Kells in Seattle won’t call him or reply to his emails.  We’ll have to work on that.  [Update: Mr. Brennan wrote to his Seattle fans in late July and said Kells would, in fact, host him in November.  I verified with Kells, and they also will schedule him to play every 6 weeks in 2011]  He did say later that he played at the Owl ‘N’ Thistle in Greenwood.

We were also entertained by the audience members who would go up to the dance floor and try to dance.  This time, there was a very polished older couple who could really dance.  They did some Irish step dancing, ballroom and swing.   It was fun watching them swirl and step gracefully across the floor.

Damian and Tyler SpoonMan

Also, Damian called up Tyler, a very youthful bar tender.  He played spoons as an accompaniment to a couple of songs.  He was amazing!  He must be a drummer; he was able to keep up perfect time with tempo changes, etc.  We requested Tyler the next two nights and would chant his name until Damian called for him over the microphone.

Although Friday was supposed to be the “Ease into Whistler” night, we ended up closing down the bar!  We were one of the few groups left who stayed till the very end.  Damian actually asked us to come back, saying he needed us there! ha  I guess he enjoyed the banter.  I was hoping they didn’t blacklist us from the bar.  They enjoy our money, though.

Day Two, Saturday

Everyone was in for Round 2 at the Dubh Linn Gate.  We promised ourselves we’d take it a bit easy tonight.  Part of our group got there right on time, but P and I stayed back with one of the dads while he tried to get his daughter to bed.  We gave up waiting for him and walked down by ourselves.  We walked in and the rest of the party had already ordered drinks and a round of Naughty Nellies for us and were sitting closer to the front on the patio.  Our college friends showed up, followed shortly by our friend who finally managed to sneak away after his daughter fell asleep.  

We were greeted by Damian, “Seattle!  (Woo!) Seattle’s here, everyone.  They keep ordering drinks, but never seem to get drunk!”  And we replied as a chorus: “Woo!”  Every time things got quiet, he would yell, “Seattle!” Woo!

As the evening wore on, a bachelorette party came in and took up two tables near the front.  I immediately felt old as the attention turned to the young, beautiful 20-somethings.  They were all dressed up and ready to flirt and party.  I couldn’t help but smile.  They were so full of life and love.  They happened to be from the Issaquah area, and another table next to us was also from the Seattle area, so we were the official Seattle cheering section.  We entertained those around us by slamming the Nellies down.  Soon the girls joined in, and things got loud. 

Again, we had to move inside at 10:00.  We were getting tired after our long night last night.  We soaked up with some great soda bread and anther pitcher of water.  The bachelorette party moved on to another bar during the intermission.  We got to talk to Damian briefly and requested a few songs again.  He said it was different playing a solo show, but that was ok, he said…”I get drunker!”

Inside The Dubh Linn Gate


A dude in a utili-kilt, long, curly black hair and a nose ring did a little jig outside and joined us inside.  He danced with his buddy, danced with a couple other girls, then turned the hell out of his knee and down he went!  “Piper Down!” we yelled.  But it wasn’t so funny.  He stayed down for quite some time, and winced in pain.  Later, he got up with an “I’m ok!”  I hope he didn’t suffer any permanent damage, poor guy.

We had a phone call from our son.  One of the little ones woke up not too happy, so it was time to go.  We left early, but hoped to get a little more sleep that night.

Day 3, Sunday…Detox Day (?)

Summit of Whistler

We had a refreshing and relaxing day and afternoon.  Had a wonderful salmon dinner at the top of the mountain.  It was so beautiful and just the perfect temperature up there.  We rode the gondola back down and saw 6 black bears grazing through a sloping green pasture.

We had to walk through the village again on our way back home…right by the Dubh Linn.  Damian spotted us immediately when we stopped next to the low patio wall.  “Oh, look!  Seattle’s back…Seattle!”  “Woo!” we said in return.  He asked why we were so late, then realized we had the kids with us.   My teenage son smiled at me as he told me he thought we were all effing crazy.

We weren’t planning on going to go to the Dubh Linn that night (this was Detox Day), but after a 5 second discussion, we sent the sitter home with the kids less one, and through the patio gate we went!  We had one group sit in the family section with the little one, and four of us sat in the bar section, close to our friends.  We were in the back again, but the banter continued.  It was a Sunday night, and the place was packed, this time with an older crowd.  Damian introduced the Sunday crowd to his Seattle friends and told them again how we drink and don’t get drunk.  We ordered him a Nellie…again. 

There were a lot of children around, so he had to watch his tongue during the more colorful songs.  He would beg the parents to please cover their ears!  Two adorable little girls were standing on the patio wall and he would talk to them in between songs.  The parents would tell them what to say back to him.  He pretended they were his children at one point in order to get more tip money to pay for their dinner tonight, new shoes, etc.

At 10:00, we decided we’d better leave.  We lost half our group by that point.  We gave him one last tip, took a pic and said we hoped to see him in Seattle sometime, otherwise, we’d be here same time next year!  I shouted one more feeble “Seattle!” as we passed through the door and headed home.

[Update: Damian Brennan is to play in Seattle sometime in November at Kells and The Owl ‘N’ Thistle, as well as every 6 weeks at Kells in 2011]

July 28, 2010 Posted by | Concert Season 2010, Damian Brennan, Murphy's Lagh, Music, Shamma Sabir | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Avett Brothers at the Paramount 07.18.10

The Avett Brothers

We had a nice evening of food, conversation and music on Sunday evening.  We would have loved to stay across the street at the Paramount Hotel, but we needed to get home and go to work the next day.  We’ll bank that for a fall or winter retreat.  We drove in to Seattle about 6:00 and quickly found a little covered parking area east of the freeway on Pike.  We then hoofed it back toward the Paramount Theatre.  On the way by the theatre, I checked out the tour bus parked outside and happened to see The Boys walking toward it!  I was holding P’s hand and pulled hard to make him stop a moment.  He said he felt like he had a big fish on the line! There’s the band!! The light turned, and we had to keep moving to get across the street.  I had a fleeting feeling of running up the sidewalk and getting their autographs.  But alas, my shyness and sensibility prevailed. 

We decided to get some dinner at Von’s.  Our first choice was Machiavelli’s, a little Italian restaurant right next to the Baltic Room, but it was closed on Sunday.  Bummer!  Von’s was a good second choice.  They have some serious home-style grub.  I settled for a thick, open-faced turkey sandwich (the turkey was roasted and carved that day) with brown gravy and potatoes.  There was also broccoli and cranberry sauce on the plate.  P ordered a teriyaki pork dish, but it was a very small portion for him.  I shared some of my thanksgiving meal with him.  I also ordered a pomegranate cosmo and P had his usual Manny’s. 

Next to us (the tables were very close together) was a couple from Brussels.  P started up a conversation with them and they said they’d just arrived from an Alaska cruise.  They went on the same cruise we did a few years ago, so we compared stories.  They were nice and were happy to talk to some Seattleites.  

After they left, we met a couple from Nashville who had been up to Vancouver on business, then were taking a few days to explore Seattle.  They enjoyed it, but we made sure to point out that it rains here all the time!  We want to go to Nashville someday, so they told us about a bar we should visit called Tootsie’s.  They hadn’t heard of our favorite Nashville bands (Todd Snider and the Nervous Wrecks, Daddy, etc.) but we were interested in anything they knew about the city.  We gave them tips on touring Seattle. 

It was time to go to the show.  There was an opening band, and I wanted to make sure we didn’t miss a minute.  

Thao and the Get Down Stay Down

The opening band, Thao and the Get Down Stay Down was interesting and extremely sexy.  The lead singer was Asian- American, with long, layered locks, toned legs pushed into cute cowboy boots and a shimmery gray dress cut just below the butt.  She played a hollow body Gibson with lots of head-banging and jerking motions.  P forgot there was music playing for a few moments!  She was accompanied by a violinist (much more demure than she) and a drummer who played just about every percussion instrument during the show, including a tiny triangle during one song.  She also had a skinny, young bass player who kept the beat alongside the drummer.  Her voice reminded me of Beth Orton or KT Tunstall.  More female artists are going that somewhat annoying, yelping, Oh, Oh style, but it worked for her.  Her music was pop, rockabilly, pretty cool stuff. 

After a long wait in the restroom line, we got back to our seats sans water (the water line was ridiculous with only one concession stand for 3,000 people) and waited impatiently for the Avetts.  The crowd got restless and started clapping and chanting for the boys to come out and play.

Folk/Punk.  Only the Avett Brothers can take a perfectly good five string banjo and punk the hell out of it and bounce all over the stage!   Only the Avett Brothers can head bang with their cellist!  They can harmonize like the Oak Ridge Boys or scream like the Sex Pistols.  They are such an enigma.  Are they Folk? Americana? Punk? Bluegrass? Pop? Yup.  And they’re just…dreamy!  Such an entertaining night of music.   

The Avetts played most of the songs from their new album, I and Love and You.  It’s a little more mellow and more pop than some of their previous stuff, and also features a keyboard throughout.  They kicked it up a notch live, and brought the audience to their feet for the entire show.   They played a few of my old faves including “I Killed Sally’s Lover,” but beyond their live CD from 2005, I didn’t recognize other songs.  That was ok though, because each song was worthy of our attention.  I plan to pick up more albums soon.  Add them to the list.

flickr pics from Hilary Harris: http://www.flickr.com/photos/hilaryharris/sets/72157624540121692/show/

Here’s what the Seattle Times had to say:


[9/2010 – Update–I have since picked up their latest CD, I and Love and You and have fallen in love with them all over again.  I can’t seem to eject  it from my CD player in the car!  Check out the song “Laundry Room” to put you in a seriously romantic and nostalgic mood.  Dreamy, I say.]


July 20, 2010 Posted by | Americana, Concert Season 2010, Music, The Avett Brothers, The Paramount Theatre | , , , , | Leave a comment

The One Time I Didn’t Bring My Camera…


The Gourds at the Tractor Tavern, Ballard 07.13.10

The Gourds played one of their breast–I mean–best shows ever at the Tractor, and I did not bring my camera.  Big mistake.  I figured I had enough pics of The Gourds; we’ve seen them at least 5 times in the last few years.  But this time, the audience, including our neighbor who met us at the show, got more of a show than they expected!

We started with a pre-show warm-up by pigging out at Hattie’s Hat next door to the Tractor, using our will-call confirmation for a buy one, get one for half-price meal.  Not a bad deal.  And we were starving by the time we finally found a place to park.  I believe we arrived there around 7:45 or so after circling the block several times.

There were just a few people milling around when we arrived about 8:30.  We went directly to our favorite spot, and placed our drinks on the little table next to the stage.  We were able to sit on the table for a bit while we waited for the band and more people to arrive.  It was going to be another 3 1/2 hour standing marathon, so we were happy to be off our feet even for a few minutes.  We made sure to get lots of water that night, as it was pretty hot already.

Just after 9:00 Shinyribs (a.k.a. Kevin Russell) opened the show with a bang.  He brought out a different bass player and used his drummer from The Gourds.  Shinyribs’ music is a little different, much more of an old timey Southern revival style.  It moved me.  He would break into a rhythm of claps an repetitive whoops and get the audience jumping.  I felt so alive, so fulfilled.  He played some covers of old and new, including Leadbelly’s “We’s All in the Same Boat” and Sam Cooke’s “Change is A-Comin””  and a mandolin version of T Pain’s “Let Me Buy You a Drink”.  He also did a sensual song about the Sweet Potata, his favorite root vegetable, he said.

About two songs into the set, our neighbor S showed up.  He wanted to go with his wife, but they had trouble finding a sitter for their two boys on a Tuesday night; so he went solo.  Our boy was at summer camp, so we were free.  We were glad to have company that night, as none of our friends seem to have the time to GET OUT and see some live music.  S was relieved to finally get to a show.  He used to be a bouncer, so he would see a show every night of the year.  He is very knowledgeable about many genres of music.  I need to pick his brain sometime.  He listed several bands worthy of a night out, so I’ll need to take some notes next time we talk to him.

After a brief intermission, The Gourds came out; and the audience, now a packed house, responded with claps, whoops and cheers.  They played Old Gourds, New Gourds (off their album, Haymaker!) and “Gourds Shit” as Kevin said.  They also did a cover of a Waylon Jennings song and a few others that were either covers or songs I didn’t recognize.  The ones I did recognize were: El Paso/Mr. Betty/Burn the Honeysuckle/You Bought the Last Bottle to name a few.

It was quite an eclectic set, and the audience responded well.  I told P The Gourds are my religion!  I just feel like my soul gets a lift when I watch them play and stomp and gyrate on that small stage, and hear their chants, screams, growls and hollers.  I whoop back and clap along and tap my boot heels.  I never felt that way in church.  So maybe this is where I belong.

So on to that One Person at the show.   As I explained in the Old 97s blog, there is always One Person who stands out in the crowd and either makes for an interesting night or nearly ruins it, depending on the activity of said person.  This night, that One Person was directly to my right (what am I, a One Person magnet??).  P and S were on my left, near the very left corner of the stage.  I was enjoying watching the band and being up close to witness Max, the fiddler/banjo/slide player.  Out of the corner of my right eye, I kept seeing these hands of this very short woman flailing about, turning and twisting to the music.  She would then grab a beer, and continue her flailing, scaring the audience with the  beer sloshing through the air around her.  I tried not to pay too close attention, and just focus on the band.  Her little hands kept moving in my line of sight, so I nudged P and told him, “Look at the lady next to me…she’s a hoot!”  He peeked over me, then with eyes wide, leaned over to S to tell him to take a look.  I wasn’t paying attention after that; I just focused on the band and tapped along to their music.

There was another intermission as the band was deciding on the next song and tuning their instruments.  P and S talked to me about the lady next to me.  Apparently she had pulled her shirt down and was fully flashing  the band while standing next to me!  I didn’t even notice!!  That would explain their strange looks.   P was happy to get to see four real boobs the same night.  Good for him, I thought!  S said she must’ve just got ’em, because she seems so proud of ’em! ha

She then moved to the other side of the stage.  They told me to watch her, as by this time she was fully hammered, so the chances she’d flash again were imminent.  And yes, she did it again!  There was a photographer on that side of the stage who suddenly went from focusing on the band to focusing on her breasts!  We all got a good laugh.

The funniest part came when she finally pulled her shirt back up (it was a very stretchy v-neck), and a skinny young man approached the front of the stage and lifted his yellow T-shirt up and showed off his whole chest and stomach to the band!  Everyone laughed so hard!

The Gourds ended the show a bit earlier than usual, as it was a week night.  Jimmy, the bass player, sang one more encore song, then his strap broke, sending it sliding off to the stage floor.  He picked it up and had to rest it on his thigh to finish the song.  He placed it next to an old Gibson acoustic guitar and the boys gathered for a bow.  While they were scrambling to get lined up for the bow, the bass got tapped and fell into the side of the Gibson, cutting a hole in it!  Ugh! On that note, said Jimmy, they decided to end the show!

We arrived home around 1:00.  I was beat the next day, but dragged in to work a couple hours late.  We saw our neighbor after work that week, and as we were walking down our shared driveway, P pulled his shirt up and greeted him.  Tonight, S did the same thing!  I’m really hoping none of the other neighbors saw that.  They’ll begin to wonder about us…

July 17, 2010 Posted by | Concert Season 2010, Music, The Gourds, The Tractor Tavern | , , , , | Leave a comment