Aplscruf's Music Blog

The Gourds…For the Unwashed and Well-Read

Kevin Russell of The Gourds

We are going to see the Gourds at the Tractor Tavern in Ballard tonight.  I’ve spoken of them many times.  For more info, see www.thegourds.com.  For previous blogs, see “The Gourds” Category on right.

Looking forward to a foot stompin’ good time, as usual!

July 13, 2010 Posted by | Concert Season 2010, Music, The Gourds, The Tractor Tavern | , , | Leave a comment

Steve Martin’s Opening Band at Chateau Ste. Michelle

In a previous blog, I failed to mention that Steve had an opening act: http://www.abigailwashburn.com/


The above links will direct the reader to Abigail Washburn’s site and Gene Stout’s concert review of Steve and his opening act, Abigail Washburn.  She had us glued to our lawn chairs.  She had a beautiful, soulfully smooth voice, and was great on the banjo.  Her backup band, including fiddle and bass, added perfect accompaniment to her minimalist style.

July 12, 2010 Posted by | Chateau Ste Michelle, Concert Season 2010, Music, Steve Martin | , , , | Leave a comment

The Old 97’s Rocked the Showbox 6.30.2010

Ken and Rhett of The Old 97s

The floor of the Showbox at the Market was bouncing Wednesday night.   The Old 97’s brought energy, sweat and good ol’ rock n’ roll, Texas-style, to the stage.   It was a perfect ending to a cool Seattle June.

Before the big show, we arrived an hour early and hit the Pike Brewery across the street for a late dinner.  Service was slow for a Wednesday, but maybe the crowd was there for the show.

We made it to the Showbox a few minutes before the opening act The David Wax Museum.  The Showbox is a pretty big venue, so we wandered around for a bit to see if we knew anyone.  We ordered a drink and shuffled our way to the front of the stage.

It was a work night, and we decided to just wing it and see if we could make it through to the end of the show.  P knows me well; if the band is rocking, I will not be leaving until the house lights shine.  It was going to be a late night.  The David Wax Museum were not due to play until 9:00.  The Old 97’s would follow at 10:15.

The David Wax Museum

We enjoyed The David Wax Museum.  Their Mexican-infused folk was immediately interesting to us, and the audience agreed and gathered quickly around the stage.  They had beautiful harmonies and although only three were present for the show, they had a big sound.  The fiddler played another instrument I’ve never seen–an animal jaw!  It made for an interesting percussion, and when she ran the stick (or bone) across the teeth, it made a rattling, vibrating noise.  The lead singer, David, played acoustic and a little Mexican guitar.  They reminded me of The Paperboys from Vancouver, BC.  Very uplifting music.  We ended up purchasing their CD after the show and got to meet the band.

We decided to stay put during the intermission; we were only 3 people deep from the stage!  It was a standing marathon, but we knew that was part of the deal.  The Showbox, like the Tractor, has limited seating, so we just deal with the pain.  It goes away once the music starts!

We met a nice man D behind us with a vintage satin cowboy shirt.  We talked music, and had similar interests, including Dylan, Willie Nelson, Drive-By Truckers, Merle Haggard, Johnny Cash and of course, Old 97’s.  He said they are one of the few bands he would go out of his way to see.  We chatted with him for quite some time, and that made the intermission go by so fast.

Rhett Miller

We heard some hollering, and realized the band was about to take the stage!  The boys had plaid western shirts on, jeans and boots and pretty hair.  They strapped on their guitars and got to work!  Rhett Miller, the hideously ugly lead singer, grabbed his little red Gibson and bounced up and down to warm up for the first song.  The crowd started screaming as they started playing.  It was loud!  I’m glad I wore my ear plugs.  We were on the right side, and pretty close to the enormous speakers.

They opened with an energetic song, but I didn’t recognize it.  I have their Alive and Wired CD, but haven’t purchased any of their more recent albums.  That was ok for now, I really enjoyed all of their music that night.  I will eventually purchase their upcoming album, and hope to catch up on the others.  I have started a big list of future purchases!

The songs I recognized were some of my faves:

Barrier Reef/Rollerskate Skinny/Won’t Be Home/Curtain Calls/Four Leaf Clover/Stoned/Smokers/Doreen/ and finished the night with Time Bomb!

I’m sure there were others that I missed or didn’t know the titles.  I’ll eventually acquire a set list.

Murry Hammond

Murry Hammond, the bassist, sang on two or three tunes while rocking his salmon-pink Fender Squier.  His shirt kind of matched!  Loved the round glasses.  He was quite fun to watch.

And then there’s the jangly Fender Telecaster played by Ken Bethea.  Wow, the guy can play a mean guitar.  I love the sound.  It’s a combination of rock, rockabilly, alt-country, Texas, all slammed together.   The sound is as big as Texas.  He seemed so relaxed as he bent over and just let the music flow out.  Sometimes he would slam it in a half-Who-windmill style, or make stacatto sounds, or big power chords.

Ken Bethea

The drummer, Philip Peeples, was hard to see way in the back of the stage.  I could see his sticks flying on the drums, though.  He kept the rockabilly beat going at lightning speed.  I don’t think he gets the credit he deserves!  The audience did give him a nice cheer and applause during a big solo.  He must average 3 times as many hits than an average rock drummer.  Good stuff.

They took a brief intermission after thanking the sweaty crowd.  We all cheered and chanted for just a minute or so before Rhett came back on and stated that their exit was “fraudulent”.  He played a couple nice acoustic songs, then re-introduced the band for a rollicking version of Time Bomb, my favorite song.  It really got the audience boucing along in a frenzied state.

Rhett, Philip, Murry

The crowd varied in age, but I would say they were mostly 30 and up.  The Old 97’s have been around for 15 years, so I’m sure the many have followed their career.  They played Bumbershoot last year, and we saw them with Willie in 2007.

Overall, the audience was polite, but there’s always that One Person who has to make everyone around them pissed.  Luckily that one person at this show was short enough, so when she did shove her way like a lineman to the front, she wasn’t blocking the view.  Karma’s a bitch, girlfriend.

We didn’t let ourselves get too distracted with the audience, because the show was so energetic and exciting from beginning to end.  I loved how hot it got, the sweat, the bodies, the screaming and applauding.  I loved watching the band’s reaction to the crowd, and their exchange of energy with us.  It was all there, all I could expect, and more.

Old 97’s, thanks for making Seattle your first stop of your summer tour!

Here are some links, including full setlist and great pics from Three Imaginary Girls and The Portable Victoria:




July 1, 2010 Posted by | Concert Season 2010, Music, Old 97's, The Showbox | , , , , | 4 Comments

The Old 97’s

The Gorge 2007

The Old 97's

The Old 97’s will be at the Showbox at the Market Wednesday, June 30. I’m excited to end June with some good ole Texas rock/rockabilly/alt-country/genre-crossing music!! I’ll give a full report Thursday. If you are in the Seattle area, you won’t want to miss the show. Check out their energetic and raw Alive and Wired double album for a taste of their live show.

June 29, 2010 Posted by | Concert Season 2010, Music, Old 97's | , , , | Leave a comment

Steve Martin at Chateau Ste. Michelle 6.19.10

Steve Martin and the Steep Canyon Rangers

Sat June 19, 2010

Chateau Ste. Michelle Winery

Unlike our Gorge trip which was full of mishaps and long lines, this night was a very pleasurable experience.

Since the winery is only about 15 minutes from our house, we decided to take a taxi and beat the parking traffic. It was a smart move. We arrived about 6:00 and headed first to Redhook Brewery for a nice ale. We walked across the street to the winery and made our way quickly through the ticketing area to the amphitheatre. It was a cloudy, muggy day. We came prepared with rain jackets, a blanket and poncho in case it rained.  We purchased lawn seating, so we carted in some low lawn chairs for comfort.  We also brought some snack food and purchased some Indian food and bottle of sauvignon blanc to enjoy while settling into the show.

Steve Martin, a Wild and Crazy Guy, showed us what he can do with a banjo Saturday. The man can pick. He is so talented. I think he’s out to get Tracy Morgan’s EGOT (Emmy, Grammy, Tony, Oscar) collection. For those who watch 30 Rock, you’ll get the joke. Steve not only plays a mean banjo, but has a terrific backing band named The Steep Canyon Rangers, whom he “blames” his wife for discovering while visiting family back in North Carolina. Their band consists of another banjo, fiddle, mandolin, acoustic guitar, and stand-up bass. Most of the songs were instrumental arrangements, but others showed off the beautiful harmonizing voices of his band. They were so good together, and played off Steve’s great picking and sense of humor. Steve left most of the singing to them, unless he was interjecting some spoken words or participating in a couple of the more humorous songs.

He showed us a variety of picking styles. One was called claw hammer, and he even wrote and performed an arrangement for a traditional claw hammer song for his new Bluegrass album, The Crow.  [I have since purchased the CD and it was well worth it.  Steve wrote and arranged most of the songs.  I really enjoyed how closely the live performance matches this album. They are just as great live as they are on the album, except there are no jokes and sarcastic remarks in between songs!]

Oh, and it wouldn’t be Steve without the humor! He made several remarks between songs or while tuning the banjos (he had 4 banjos onstage, he said, so he could look behind him and remember what instrument he was playing). He wasn’t Wild and Crazy like his old stand-up comic days, but he would spend some time telling funny anecdotes or add some very dry humor to song intros.  Steve mentioned it must seem strange to see him playing banjo in a band instead of doing standup.  He said something like how weird it would be to go to a show and see Jerry Seinfeld playing the bassoon.  He bragged about being nominated for Bluegrass awards and a Grammy.  “That’s got to sting,” he told the other banjo player, who was feigning a hurt look.

Steve performed a song about Wally, his dog. The violinist made a “barking” noise and then a “whining” sound as Steve narrated that Wally wanted to play ball, but Steve didn’t have time for him. Finally, he gave in, and the chase began. It was a short number, but you could just imagine Wally running after that ball in a big, open field, banjo music blazing.

He said the band is traveling around in a bus for this tour. He recalled being on the road, and the instruments would come out, and they would tell tales of laughter and have a few tears…and then Steve said he knows this because he has called them from his private plane…and the banjo player said yes, that is all true, except he never calls!

He finished show with a Bluegrass version of King Tut! The audience roared and sang along. We moved up to the side of the stage and viewed him from the black screen. We were about 20 feet away. Steve fell into his old stand-up comic character once, and did his King Tut arms, much to the joy of the audience. His dog, Wally, joined them on stage during Tut and wandered around the perimeter and wagged his tail!

We had such a pleasant time. It was so relaxing to lean back in our chairs and soak in the beautiful music. The audience was quiet and respectful, yet very responsive and appreciative after each song. The sky was grey, but only let go of a few sprinkles toward the end of the evening. I have a new respect for Steve and his mastery of the banjo. Wow. Who knew??


Check out this blog from his Bonnaroo show in Tennessee for quotes of some of Steve’s humorous lines:





June 20, 2010 Posted by | Chateau Ste Michelle, Concert Season 2010, Music, Steve Martin | , , , | 1 Comment

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers at the Gorge 06.12.10



Tom Petty at the Gorge 6.12.10

The beautiful evening came and went.   Tom and the Heartbreakers played another amazing show with lots of new stuff from MOJO, old favorites, and a few surprises.   If I could only just focus on the show, and not some of the negativity that happened before, during and after, I would feel better about writing this. 

I decided to delete most of the bitching here and write directly to the Greed Machine, a.k.a. Ticketmaster, Tom Petty’s site (where they have concert reviews submitted by fans who attended the show) and LiveNation. 

We sent Boy to Grandma and Grandpa’s, and sent our very excited dog to his sitter.  Off we went, packed like the Joads. 

I always breathe a big sigh of relief when I get over the pass.  I feel claustrophobic on the Western side of the state.  It’s been cloudy nine months straight.  I feel like a big grey blanket is hanging over my head.  As soon as we hit Cle Elum, the bright blue sky opened up.  The little puffy, white clouds dotted across the vast blue canvas reminded us of the opener to The Simpsons. 

We stopped in Cle Elum for some good lunch at the the local Mexican restaurant, Los Cabos.  We then hit Safeway for some dinner food and campground snacks.

The rest of the drive was relaxing and very enjoyable.  We loved watching the temperature gauge of the truck rise to 83 degress as we drove through Vantage and across the massive bridge over the Columbia River.  The desert air does me good.

Cave B

Cave B Grounds

Cave B Tasting Room

As we neared George, we decided to take a side trip to Cave B Winery.  It is located just left of the Gorge entrance.  There is a nice tasting room and patio area, as well as a beautiful courtyard adorned with grape vines.  It sits right on the edge of the cliff overlooking the Columbia.  There is a small hotel and restaurant, and rooms are built right into the cliffside, partially underground.  We wanted to get a room there, but they are booked well in advance.  Instead, we purchased a couple of wine glasses and did some tasting.  I would recommend the riesling.  There were other whites that were equally delicious and sweet.  The reds were dry and velvety. 

We wanted to walk down to the hotel (I had a fantasy that we’d walk in and see Tom and the boys hanging out in the lobby – yeah, right!), but thought we’d better get to the Gorge and set up the truck.  We went all White Trash on this trip.  We brought our Explorer, a foam mattress, a ripped sheet for curtains, and a tent fly for shade attached to the hatchback.  It actually works pretty well!  It’s a little quieter sleeping in the truck than in a tent.  Someday, we’ll get the ’63 Bus fixed and roll it out to the Gorge. 

We arrived at the line for camping around 2:30.  We didn’t get to our campsite until 3:30.  Hence, the bitching.  I could understand if it were 6:00 and the last-minute crowds arriving.  We were not happy campers by the time we parked the truck.  We were thankful we were no longer in line, though, and quickly set up camp along a little fence overlooking the rest of the camp area.  We relaxed in our low canvas chairs for a bit before making delicious, icy mojitos with mint from our garden.  We also enjoyed sandwiches with a Cuban mustard sauce we purchased at Cave B.   After lots of water and some more food, we started packing for our treck to the amphitheatre. 

View from Campsite

We could still see people arriving on the road at 5:30, stranded in a long line of cars and trucks.  Not good.  They would not get to the show on time, guaranteed. 

We took a shuttle bus that dropped us off about 100 yards or so from the main ticket entrance.  I’m glad we took the bus this time, as it is at least 1/2 mile walk down to the entrance to the amphitheatre.  It’s pretty dusty, and one feels like cattle after awhile.  We again arrived at a standstill.  There were no lines formed; just mass humanity, hundreds of people just stopped.  We stood and shuffled forward toward the ticket entrance for about an hour in the sun.  It’s never been that bad in our 15+ years of coming to the Gorge.  Once at the gate, we made it through quickly with no other problems.  And no one peed or barfed on us, so we felt lucky.

By now, though, it was 8:00.  Joe Cocker was supposed to start at 7:30, but apparently they held up the show knowing most of the people were still waiting to get inside!  Right as we started down toward our seats, we heard him start playing.  He began with Leave Your Hat On!  What a sexy song.  He belted it out.  He had a great group of backup singers and a beautiful bass player.  They rocked the show with a short, but sweet set of about 5 songs, including a couple of Beatles covers. 

Joe Cocker

He could scream just like the old days, but looked like life and  food have treated him pretty well (or not, depending on how you look at him!).

 We enjoyed listening to him, but I kept looking at the left side of the stage and wondered how tenth row seats could feel this far back.  Tenth row center is definitely not the same as tenth row far left.  I couldn’t see a giant section of the stage, which worried and angered me.  We paid an egregious amount of money for these seats and there was no explanation or warning on the ticket site about obstructed views.  Again, we were unhappy, but we decided at least we could move in and out of our seats without having to climb over anyone. 

After a fairly brief intermission, the lights dimmed, the sun set, and Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers burst into their second night with Kings Highway.  I love that song.  I love Mike’s repetitive guitar riff and slide up the octaves at the end of the song.  Ahh, we made it!  We could now just sit back and enjoy the show.  All the annoyances of the afternoon drifted off, and we were ready to just listen, watch, and soak it all in. 

Tom in Blue

Tom was wearing a royal blue velvet blazer, a vest and dark shirt.  He had light jeans and brown boots.  His hair was cut at collar length and he had a beard.  Mike Campell had a dark blue shirt with white ovals on it, which I later realized were little galaxies.  His matching tie had moons, suns and stars on it.  I couldn’t see Benmont or Steve, the drummer;  just Steve’s drumstick and a cymbal.  Ron and Scott were dressed in darker clothes.  I believe Scott had a blazer or suit jacket on.

Here’s the set list, copied from www.tompetty.com



Tom and the boys were so energetic, still so dynamic.  I would get the binoculars out and just watch their interaction with each other, with the crowd.  They would make gestures or raise their eyebrows and smile at each other.  You could tell they have such a strong bond after all these years.  They were genuine; the real deal.  The new music from MOJO was readily accepted, and I can tell a few will become part of their classic hits collection. 

During You Don’t Know How It Feels, Tom would interact with Steve.  On Tom’s cue, Steve would hit the drums hard, stop, hit ’em again.  Tom would “direct” him by throwing his arms out to the side, hold them up, let them drop, and Steve would react with a loud bang.  The crowd would cheer every time.

Free Fallin’ was a nice, slow acoustic rendition.  Tom played his acoustic guitar under one spotlight.  The audience sang along, repeating the lines.  It was beautiful. 

Drivin’ Down to Georgia: I heard that one only once before.  I remember it clearly because it was the first time I’d seen him live, and it was at the Gorge.  It was May 5, 1995, and  I didn’t know it at the time, but I was pregnant with my son.  That song was so different, kinda southern bluesy; and I enjoyed watching Tom emulate a peach tree…Georgia peaches hangin’ from the tree. 

 I love the old favorites, but missed some of my personal favorites,  the ones that didn’t get any radio airplay, such as Wild One Forever, It’ll All Work Out, Blue Sunday or No Second Thoughts. 

Wish I had better pics to share.  Just too far away for my little camera this time.

June 20, 2010 Posted by | Concert Season 2010, Music, The Gorge Amphitheatre, Tom Petty | , , , | Leave a comment

Ode to Tom

Tom Petty

Tom Petty at the Troubadour May 2, 2008

O, Tom. Why do I love him so? So many reasons. Tom was my first. My first album I ever purchased. Damn the Torpedoes. The record’s label was misspelled: Torpedos. I would secretly sneak the record onto my sister’s brand new Technics hi-fi stereo when she was at work. Even the Losers Get Lucky Sometimes. I felt like a teenage loser. Flat-chested, too skinny, gap-toothed, awkward, shy. Tom spoke to me, to my teenage angst. I wanted to be the one he sang about in Here Comes My Girl, the one he watched walk…Uh! I wanted to be a Complex Kid, a Refugee, and feel the Louisiana Rain running down my face. I was in love with his music, his voice, his lyrics, his messages of love and love lost, his songs for the open road. Never dirty, no cuss words, just honest, straightforward, soul-touching storytelling.

Mom called him a Punk. She hated him. What did I see in that punk? He smokes (although I read he is now finally trying to quit), has long hair, not so pretty to look at. I remember a woman telling me, after borrowing my binoculars to view him at the Tacoma Dome show a few years back: “He is an ugly man!” My immediate response was: “But he has a beautiful soul.” His voice, while many find it not very appealing, I find it to be so unique. And his range, at one time, could span two, maybe three octaves. He can sing in a lower register and hit me straight in the soul. Other times, he can scream out rockin’ lyrics way up high in the scale, and I want to scream along, but can‘t hit the notes.
His band, The Heartbreakers, such a perfect accompaniment to his words. And that guitar. So unique, now so recognizable of the Great Mike Campbell. Mike also helped write some of the songs. And Benmont Tench on keys. Not many bands in the late 70’s were tickling the keys, especially the way Benmont could play. Stan Lynch on drums…no longer with the band, but check out Here Comes My Girl for a great intro in typical Lynch style. Ron Blair, original bass, later replaced with the late Howie Epstein. Now Ron’s back again, keeping the Heartbeat going.
It was hard for the Seattle radio stations to know what to do with Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, so they stuck ‘em on the New Wave station. Hard to categorize, hard to fit into a radio-friendly genre. Some of the songs did play on the rock stations: American Girl, Breakdown. Were Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers rock? Mostly. Were they southern rock? Sure. Were they new? Different? Talented? Unusual? Better than anything out there in the latter half of the seventies? Definitely.
Eight days to go…
[The following link is an excerpt from Damn the Torpedoes DVD]


June 4, 2010 Posted by | Concert Season 2010, Music, Tom Petty | , , , | 3 Comments

The Old 97’s

The Old 97’s will be shaking the Showbox shack Texas-style June 30th! Although seeing this band live is worth every penny, purchasing thru Ticketmaster made me feel victimized. The two tix were $22.50 apiece. Somehow, the total came to $71.85. Robbery.

Check ’em out: www.old97s.com

May 1, 2010 Posted by | Concert Season 2010, Music, Old 97's, The Showbox | , , , | Leave a comment

Steve Martin and the Steep Canyon Rangers

We’re in!  I purchased two tickets to Steve Martin, playing at Chateau Ste. Michelle Winery Saturday, June 19.  Lawn seating, but that’s ok with me.  We’ll bring our cooler with snacks, lawn chairs and a nice blanket.  We’ll purchase some great wine and enjoy ourselves!  BTW, Steve’s blog is hilarious.  http://www.stevemartin.com

April 23, 2010 Posted by | Chateau Ste Michelle, Concert Season 2010, Music, Steve Martin | , , | Leave a comment

Chateau Ste. Michelle Summer Concerts

Just when I was satisfied with my concert selections this season, I now face more decisions!   Tom Petty, The Avett Brothers, and Willie Nelson are in the bag.  Now I have to decide how low our bank account can go. 

Ringo Starr is performing at Chateau Ste. Michelle in Woodinville.  I attended Sir Paul’s Back in the US concert in Tacoma about 8 years ago.  There is a temptation to purchase Ringo tix and have the satisfaction of seeing two former Beatles.  How many more years will Ringo tour?  If I miss this one, will I forever regret that decision?  Will our bank account survive?  Ugh. 

Another tempting show is Steve Martin and the Steep Canyon Rangers.  Steve–what a talented, wild and crazy guy.  I’m sure his show is a mix of bluegrass and comedy.  Gotta love the banjo!

Decisions, decisions…

April 20, 2010 Posted by | Chateau Ste Michelle, Concert Season 2010, Music | | Leave a comment