Aplscruf's Music Blog

Los Straitjackets at Slow Food Roots Music Festival

Los Straitjackets, a Nashville surf band fronted by Eddie Angel, are coming to the First Annual Slow Food Roots Music Festival at the Stanwood Fairgrounds in Washington this weekend.  Yeah, I’m pretty stoked!

August 24, 2011 Posted by | Concert Season 2011, Music | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Damian Brennan at Dubh Linn Gate, Whistler, BC July 25 – 28 2011

Whistler

FOR A MUSIC-ONLY REVIEW OF DAMIAN’S SHOW, SEE RANDOMVILLE !

Every year, Whistler is a word that crops up in our conversations with friends sometime in late winter.  When do we go?  What will we do this coming summer? Bike? Hike? Paddle the river?  We have been taking an annual trip to Whistler with two other families over the last 12 years, with just a couple of missed summers.  Our friend’s brother owns a condo above Blackcomb and invites us to stay one week out of the year.  There’s room for at least 12 people, although that’s pushing it.  The kids are growing up, and we’re growing older, so we’re finding we need a little more space.

Five families attended throughout the week at various times.  We arrived on a Monday and stayed until Thursday, another family arrived Wednesday, and the rest arrived the week before.  One family stayed in a different condo and added a brother and some friends to their group.  The families keep growing, which only adds to the fun.  We always find something to do, although sometimes it takes us until noon to get out the door!

On previous years we took a Hum-V ride up the steep slopes, swam in Lost Lake, rode bikes on miles of dirt and paved trails, rode the gondola to the top of the mountain for a BBQ dinner at the lodge, swam in the indoor pool, to name just a few of the many summertime activities around Whistler.

Summer in Whistler/Blackcomb Village is quite a sight.  There are all kinds of kid-friendly activities in the village during the day, including putt-putt golf, bouncy toys, bungee rides, a trapeze, horseback rides, and a luge run.  There are also plenty of restaurants and shops around the two villages.

At night, the younger crowd comes out.  There are sometimes hundreds of people crowding the little cafes and bars all over Whistler Village.  This year, though, we just missed Crankworx, a huge downhill biking tournament that happened the weekend before we arrived.  Therefore, most of the young people left.  The village was pretty dead at night.  I don’t mind that too much, as it’s easier to get a table in a restaurant.  It is a little more difficult if you’re an entertainer in one of the clubs or bars.

Monday night, after a quick dinner, we were ready to go start our vacation. We walked the path down through the village to the Longhorn Saloon.  There were not too many people there, and we were able to play a bit of pool and catch up on our busy lives.  The saloon spokesman announced there would be a trivia contest, so we decided to play along.  Many of the questions on movies, music, and sports were from our generation (old!) so we ended up winning the contest!  Our prize was $50 in beverages and a giant plate of nachos that we could claim the next evening.

We then walked down to Dubh Linn Gate, located in the Pan Pacific Hotel, for some quality entertainment.

According to the pub’s website, Dubh Linn, or “black pool” is an Irish phrase “…given to the dark pool of water that still lies today beneath the proud heart of Dublin City. Located close to what is now the gate of the Guinness Brewery, the dark waters from this pool were the inspiration for Arthur Guinness’ ‘Perfect Pint’.  Guinness has been brewed in Dublin since 1759.”

The beautiful wooden bar and interior of the pub was crafted in Ireland, shipped over and re-assembled for an authentic Irish touch.  It’s easy to forget we’re in the middle of a Canadian ski resort when the leaded glass doors close and the sun sets.

Damian Brennan

For the third year in a row, we saw our favorite Irish troubadour, Damian Brennan.  He plays acoustic guitar at Dubh Linn Gate throughout the summer.   We befriended him after we bantered back and forth with him throughout his performances a couple of years ago.  There was such a big group of us; it was hard for him to ignore our raucous behavior! We sang along, pounded tables, and clapped to the beat of his guitar.  We attended his show night after night; and even on the quietest nights, he got a hearty laugh and a good-spirited heckle from us.

Crowd at Dubh Linn Gate

Brennan, originally from Belfast, Ireland, learned to sing and play music at an early age.  He became hooked on Van Morrison and The Beatles and knew that music would be a major part of his life.  Brennan moved to Canada in 1989 and has since performed as a solo artist, formed the band Murphys Lagh and Brennan and Sabir.  He studied traditional Irish music theory and currently teaches the Bodhran drum, tin whistle, guitar and voice on Skype and at music camps.

Bodhran Drum

There were seven of us Monday night, and we were ready to stir things up.  The rest of the gang saw him play the night before.  We walked in to a pretty quiet crowd.  He stopped and shouted, “Seattle’s here, everyone–Seattle!”  We responded with our usual, “Woooo!” and took a seat near the stage.

Brennan’s music is a variety of traditional Irish ballads, classic rock and pop, and our favorite selections of more bawdy Irish tunes, as well as a few jokes in between.  When we walked in, he was playing “Whiskey in a Jar,” followed by Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean,” then right into “Bad Moon Rising.”  We then requested “Alice (Alice?  Who the feck is Alice?),” which according to Damian, we can repeat, only if we use the word “feck,” which is the totally acceptable alternative to the other very offensive four-letter word.   He said his mum used to call him that all the time: “Get outta here, you little fecker, and go play in the road!”

We then ordered a round of Irish car bombs (take 1/2 glass Guinness, drop in a shot of 1/3 Jameson and 2/3 Bailey’s, drink it down in 1.5 seconds), including one for Damian to get things going.  He toasted the crowd, “Here’s to you, here’s to me/Friends forever we shall be/But if we should ever disagree/Feck you…here’s to me!

Naughty Nellies, a.k.a. Irish Car Bombs

Our other favorite bawdy song was next: “Seven Drunken Nights,” a little ditty about a husband who kept finding the boots, horse, head, uh, carrot, etc.  of another man when he’d come home after drinking every night of the week, and exclaim, to her, “Hey Wife!”  It’s a great table-pounding song.

He slowed it down a bit and dedicated the next song, “When You Were Sweet 16” to an Irish couple on their honeymoon.  Other songs that evening included:

Brown Eyed Girl

Wild Rover

Space Cowboy

Let It All Hang Out

I’m In Love With a Jersey Girl

Free Fallin’

Run To You

Drunken Sailor

Brennan ended the show with Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline” which got the audience singing along and pounding out, “bah, bah bah!”

We chatted with him briefly before grabbing a big slice of pizza down in the village and hailing a taxi home.

On Tuesday, after a day of play in the village and excellent home-made tacos back at the condo, we ventured out fairly late.  First, we went to the Longhorn Saloon to claim our prize from the previous night.  We thought we were full from our taco dinner, but managed to eat our way through the giant plate of nachos.  We ended up spending more than our $50 allowance, but we left happy and victorious.  Part of the party went home, as it was approaching 10:30 by the time we left the saloon.  I stayed with the guys.

Of course, we had to check in on Damian to see what he was playing Tuesday.  We walked in, and caught his eye.  Without missing a beat, he sternly said, “You’re late,” and continued right back into his song.  We laughed and took our seats on the side of the stage.  It was a quiet night all over the village, and Dubh Linn was no exception.  There was a small crowd, but another table of fairly young people on the opposite side of the stage, that eventually helped liven things up.

Empty Glasses

We bought another round of car bombs and one for Brennan, although he begged us not to.  Another toast, and into a nice acoustic version of Mumford and Sons “Little Lion Man.”

The Rattlin' Bog

The rowdy table on the opposite side of the stage requested a traditional Irish song, “The Rattlin’ Bog” but he said he didn’t know all of the words.  One girl confidently said she knew them, and came up on the stage to sing them.  He accompanied her while she brought the crowd to cheers with her version of the song, which was similar to “The Twelve Days of Christmas,” where each item in the verse is added to the next in the chorus.  It was great fun.

He also played “I Lost My Heart to a Galway Girl,” “500 Miles” (although this is a Scottish song!) and ended with “Gloria” followed by and encore of “Jude,” once again engaging the audience to sing along.

We walked home, late again.

We tried to sleep in, but with little kids impatiently waiting to come downstairs (we were snug in the hide-a-bed in the living room) it was impossible to do so.  We dragged around until almost noon before making a decision as to what to do on our last full day in Whistler.

2010 Olympics Ski Jump

Our little family decided to go to the 2010 Olympic Biathlon and Ski Jump Park that day.  It’s located a few miles outside of Whistler, down the hill about 5 miles.  There is an information building as well as tours of both  facilities.  The boys got a chance to shoot .22 rifles at the biathlon range.  Our son had a blast learning to shoot the very small targets.  We watched the Olympic biathlon on TV, and realized this was no easy task to cross-country ski, then drop down and shoot accurately.

Olympic Biathlon Range

Afterward we picked up some lunch at The Beetroot Cafe (very good selection of sandwiches, wraps and salads) and then I took the boy to see “Harry Potter VII, Part 2.”  I was drained after the emotional final chapter and we came home and collapsed.

One family had left that morning, and we invited another family, who was staying at a separate condo, over to dinner.  We barbecued hamburgers, chicken and hot dogs and feasted once again.  Our group was getting tired (they were on Night 7, while we were only on Night 3) and after a couple of rounds of “Apples to Apples,” they were in for the night.  I was getting antsy, though, knowing this was to be our last night before heading home early on Thursday.

I kept looking over at P across the table, when everyone else was ready to turn in.  He knew I needed to get out for a while.  I convinced him he needed to get out and get a good walk in tonight (he walks every day, but we drove everywhere today and needed to get a little exercise).  It was now about 9:30.  Finally, we got out the door and into the cool night air.

The weather, although we did have some clouds and rain earlier in the week, had cleared up this day.  It was a beautiful night for a walk.

We walked directly to Dubh Linn Gate and took our usual seat.  Brennan was on a break between sets.  Yes, we were late again, I exclaimed to him!  We’d had a busy day with lots of family stuff going on.  We were the only survivors to make it out the door that night.  We’d do our best to liven up the very quiet crowd.  We thought last night was pretty quiet, but tonight was tough.  It must be hard to try to crack jokes and play to an audience who isn’t paying any kind of attention or giving feedback except for a few claps once in a while.

He played some of the same songs, but added a nice ballad called “Four Green Fields,” which represented the four regions of Mother Ireland.  It was a beautiful rendition.  We helped rouse up the crowd when he played “Seven Drunken Nights” again, and yelled our loudest, “Hey, Wife!”  when required.

Although we found it more challenging to sing along with just the two of us, we managed to have a fun night and had a little chat with Damian after the show.

Thursday morning we dragged out of bed at 7:30 and headed home.  We were delayed almost two hours on the US border before finally pulling in to our driveway close to 3:00.

Late that evening, as we were drifting off to sleep, we received a text from one of our friends: “Hey, Wife!”

They’d gone back  to Dubh Linn without us.


August 2, 2011 Posted by | Concert Season 2011, Damian Brennan, Music | , , , , | Leave a comment

Randomville via Margaritaville, Huntsville and Nashville

SOUTHERN EXPOSURE: ROAD TRIPPING THROUGH ALABAMA AND TENNESSEE

I recently had an opportunity to take a trip to Gulf Shores, Alabama and Nashville, Tennessee.  Struggling in Seattle where we’ve had nothing but rain and gray weather for almost nine months, I was ready for some 90 degree heat and humidity and a chance to see some live music along the way.  My husband’s home office is in Madison, Alabama near Huntsville and the Tennessee border.  He was already there on business, so my son and I joined him later in the month.  I also had a chance to report on the music scene for Randomville.  

PART I:  GULF SHORES, ALABAMA

Alabama

Day 1:  Seattle to Atlanta, GA, then West to Smith Lake, AL

My son and I were up and out of the house by 6:25, and headed to my parents’ house.  Dad drove us to the airport without incident.  Traffic was easy.  I’d printed out my airline tix the night before, so we went right to the short security line.

I let the boy lead the way through the line, making sure I took off my shoes and had my little clear baggie of liquids (sun screen, shampoo, lotion, etc.) ready for the X-ray machine.  I looked up to see my 15 1/2 year old boy getting a pat-down.  WTF.  Then the TSA agents asked me to step inside the big blue X-ray box.  WTF again?!  I then entered the pat-down area.  A short woman, probably in her early twenties, told me she was going to pat me down.  “Do you feel comfortable with my patting you down?”

I could feel my eyes narrow, as I sarcastically said, “Uhh, sure.”

She paused.  “Would you prefer we go into a private location for the pat-down?”

“No, just get ‘er done.”

Did I really just say that??  Anyway, I let her pat me down there in front of god and everyone.

“I’m now touching your sensitive area…”  A quick swipe with the fingers around my bra.  I was wearing a tight t-shirt and  jeans.  I don’t know what I possibly could have been hiding in either location.

I was pretty pissed, but decided to stay calm so we could make our flight on time.  I had to choose my battles, and right now, I wanted to get to our gate.  End of story.

A young man outside the screening area  thought he was being singled out and profiled because of his his tattoos.  I told him both my son and I were patted down, too.

The boy and I got some great bagels and found our gate with about 1/2 hour to spare.  We called P and told him about our pat-down and X-ray adventure.  He laughed because after all his flying this past year, he’s never been subjected to that humiliation…Fer Freedom.  Yeah, right.

Our plane was very full.  We pulled out of the gate a little early, though, and made our way to the runway, and waited for 3 other planes to take off.  We were almost to the runway, when an interior ceiling panel came loose and drooped into the aisleway!  The flight attendant tried to quickly push it back, but then had to call ahead and ask a mechanic to meet them back at the gate.  We had to turn around!  Aargh.  Everyone groaned, then got out their cameras and phones and snapped pictures.  The lady next to me had it posted on her Facebook within two minutes!

Ceiling Panel of 737

Two mechanics and 45 minutes later, they got it fixed, which amounted to tucking the panel back in around the lip of the frame (a kid yelled, “I coulda done that!) and we were on our way again.  Because they had to go back to the gate, the flight attendants were required by law to run through the exit/seatbelt/oxygen routine all over again.  How stupid.  Sometimes one just needs to use the Common Sense Law.  Gawd.

After a smooth flight and no further incidents, we landed in Atlanta.  P was there to pick us up in the work van and we headed west to Smith Lake, Alabama to spend a quick night before our long drive to the Gulf.  Smith Lake is a beautiful, tree-lined lake that sprawls out with hundreds of miles of shoreline.  We were invited to stay in the company president’s home in a gesture of true Southern hospitality.  The home was beautiful with lake views from each window, large decks and screened porch, and patio areas suited for giant parties.  We had the whole place to ourselves that night, and thoroughly enjoyed our stay.  The loud chirping and hissing of cicadas were replaced with bird songs in the early morning.  I stepped out on the deck and felt the moist air hit my skin.  I felt like I’d just stepped out of the shower.  Steam was rising from the lake.  It was going to be hot, humid day today.

Smith Lake

Day 2:  Smith Lake to Gulf Shores

We cleared out about 9:00 and stopped in the small town of Jasper for a quick breakfast.  We stepped in a little local diner called Gabby’s.  We were looked up and down as we timidly took our seats at a small booth.  It was so obvious we were not locals.  P, who has been traveling back in forth to Alabama for the last 10 months, knew how to order.  How Y’All Doin?  Sweet or unsweet tea, or half-n-half.  Turnip greens and chicken-fried steak.  I stuck to an iceberg lettuce salad with sweet tomatoes and shredded cheddar cheese and a thin turkey sandwich.  The boy had his first taste of southern BBQ.  He loved his smoky, chopped BBQ pork sandwich.

Alabama Interstate

The rural road that led from Jasper to the Interstate was gorgeous.  We passed through corridors of 50 foot green trees of different varieties; the most recognizable being the beautiful pines.  Little farms and distant houses dotted the horizon.  Cemeteries were laden with a rainbow of flowers, which P pointed out are made of silk or plastic.  Each cemetery we saw was full of color.

Once we got to the Intestate, there were more small towns and churches lining each side of the highway.  The boy couldn’t believe how many churches there were and wondered why.  I didn’t really have an answer to that.  It’s just how it is in the South–the Bible Belt.  Many highways, bridges and side streets and buildings were all named after some famous and not-so-famous dead people: James K. Polk Memorial Highway, etc.

The buildings had a Roman/colonial look, down to the smallest farm house, with white columns, a triangular entry way over the door, brick facade.  Red clay was prominent in Alabama, so it was no wonder why so many buildings and homes were made of brick.  The highway had a reddish tint in parts.

We drove for hours, south to Gulf Shores.  It seemed to make a decent recovery from the horrible oil spill last year, although the spring tornado damage all along the interstate was enough to take my breath away.  People seem to move slowly forward here, though; some businesses re-opened, and damaged areas were getting cleaned up.  The devastation was phenomenal, and not just located in Tuscaloosa; we found pockets of damage all over the state.  I really don’t know how families fully recover, if at all, from such sudden and violent destruction.  We could only hope we helped out the economy a little by paying a visit to the local restaurants, gas stations and shops along the way.

Tornado Damage in Tuscaloosa

Gulf Shores and its sister town Orange Beach, are family-friendly, laid-back vacation havens.  This is not the place to be if you want to have a jet-set high-class experience in swanky nightclubs and posh restaurants.  You can head for Malibu or Miami for that.  We  stayed in a little hotel suite in Gulf Shores.  Most condos and hotels we noticed were pretty much the same, with hotels being a bit better deal because of the small living room, kitchen, and no added condo fees.

Gulf Shores View from Balcony

We arrived late in the afternoon and hauled a vanload of crap up to the ninth floor.  I immediately opened our sliding door to check out the spectacular view from our deck.  It was so warm and perfect.  I could hear the waves hit the beach and terns call each other.  Pelicans flew right by our window.  Little blue umbrellas and lounge chairs were set up in perfect rows.  The sand was white and went on for miles in each direction.

We were hungry, and it was already getting dark, so we thought we’d grab a bite before hitting the beach.  We crossed the street to Tequila West, located inside a hotel.  Although the atmosphere outside on the patio wasn’t so pleasant (smokers and lots of little kids running around and crying, cars driving by) the food was delicious, and the margaritas and tequila sunrises were strong.

We took a walk in the soft sand and stuck our toes in the warm Gulf water before heading to our room to finish unpacking.  Not a hint of a chill in the water.

Day 3-5:  At the Beach

After a restless sleep, we woke ourselves up with strong coffee, pancakes and ham cooked in our little kitchen.  We ate out on the deck and took in the humid, salt air.  We let the boy sleep in and finally hit the beach around 10:30.  We rented a couple of lounge chairs and umbrella from the quietly friendly beach attendant.  He informed us we’d get the use of them all day.

Lounging at The Gulf

We played in the calm gulf surf for hours.  It took a long time for me to even get a little bit chilled.  I would simply step out of the surf and hang out on the lounge for a few minutes before jumping back in the green-blue water.  Little finger-length fish swam around our legs, larger foot-long fish wove their way through the small groups of people.  We saw dolphins earlier in the morning.  Kids were playing with hermit crabs and a dad caught a jelly fish in a bucket.  Life was returning to The Gulf.

Hangin’ Out with The Boy

In the afternoon, we showered, had a light lunch and decided to take a drive along the long spit that paralleled The Gulf, from Pensacola, Florida to the east to Fort Morgan to the west.  We went east to say we made it to Pensacola.  Hotels lined the roadway, with a few public beaches in between.

We started back through Orange Beach toward Gulf Shores.

Forest Fire Near Orange Beach

A big fire started in the pine trees of a state park near Orange Beach that created a huge cloud of smoke over the town.  Luckily for us, the wind blew it away from Gulf Shores. We could see the cloud throughout our drive, and later found out the fire had burned over 500 acres before being contained and doused.

We were back in Gulf Shores and were starting to get hungry again.  We decided to check out Lulu’s, Jimmy Buffett’s “Crazy Sistah’s” restaurant.  It sits back on the canal in Gulf Shores, next to Homeport Marina.  It has open-air seating, live music, a couple of bars, and a sand lot for the kids.  There are also original arts and crafts booths and a souvenir shop.  The food was great.  We ordered an appetizer of smoked tuna and crackers, then had blackened fish sandwiches, oysters and shrimp.  We listened to a nice Jamaican steel drum band while we ate.

Lulu’s at Homeport Marina

The next morning, we went back to Orange Beach and checked out a really nice Italian restaurant called Villaggio Grille.  Although the air had a smoky smell from the fire, we were so glad we decided to eat here.  It was Sunday Brunch, and the waiters were so happy to see us.  I’m pretty sure the smoke caused a lot of people to drive elsewhere that weekend.   The staff bent over backwards to serve us, and the food was out of this world.  There was a bakery next door, and Villaggio coordinated with it for biscuits and desserts.  These biscuits were my favorite of the trip.  They were small, but flaky, buttery and sweet.  We then settled in for some amazing brunch food:  The boy had mussels (the waiter kept asking him questions to make sure he knew what he was getting!  We informed him that the boy knows how to eat, and is pretty much an omnivore!), giant shrimp, perfectly cooked and resting on a bed of homemade flat pasta.  I had eggs Benedict with sweet potato hash, country style, in big chunks.  OMG.  It also came with a blueberry muffin, that I saved for later.  P had seared Ahi tuna, and it was perfectly done.  We also shared a nice spring mix salad and two crab cakes–a feast!  We savored every bite.  We will definitely go back here someday, and I felt a little sad when we left, knowing that we wouldn’t be back on this trip.

Fort Morgan

We then drove west to Fort Morgan and toured the old Civil War-era fort.  It was  interesting, and reminded us the local forts on the Washington coast.  The boy enjoyed the tunnels and exploring the little brick alcoves.  It was really hot that day, though, probably close to 98 degrees.  We then drove around the neighboring village and saw some beautiful pastel vacation houses.

Quiet Living on The Gulf

I assume Spring Breakers were at Gulf Shores earlier in the year; but when we were there in late June, most of the visitors were young families.  Although most of the activities offered were for young kids (putt-putt golf, small amusement parks and zoo), we managed to find some quality entertainment for us and our teenage son.

The best venue in Gulf Shores is The Hangout, located right on the beach.  Over Memorial Day weekend, the place gets hopping, and the stage and crowds move to the beach for a big music festival hosting a variety of artists like Foo Fighters, Widespread Panic, Paul Simon, Grace Potter, My Morning Jacket and Cee Lo Green.

The Hangout includes an indoor dining area with large bay doors that open up to the beach.  A small stage on the premises hosts cover bands nightly.  There are a couple of outside bars, and a giant bar next to the dining area.  Kids are allowed to sit at the bar with their adults.  That’s how they roll in The South!

When we were there, we ended up going to The Hangout three out of the four nights we were at The Gulf.  It was enjoyable for us and our son had a great time.  There was a different band playing every night, and they played everything from Johnny Cash to Gnarls Barkley.  The Hangout keeps the youngsters occupied while waiting for their meals by participating in YMCA sing-alongs, massive foam parties, and pirates galore.  They announced people’s birthdays and anniversaries and made the birthday kids (and adults) dance for the rest of the audience.

After four days of sun and sugar-soft sand, we packed up the van and drove our sun-kissed, dark-white bodies north, with a brief overnight stop in Huntsville.  We then continued on to Nashville for a two night stay.

Tennessee

PART II:  NASHVILLE, TN
Loveless Cafe

Nashville, Day 1

First, a stop at the Loveless Cafe, just outside the city of Nashville.  We settled in for some authentic Southern food, complete with biscuits, home-made preserves, country ham and gravy.  Not only does this famous cafe fill up the stomach and the soul, they also host Music City Roots concert and radio show in the Loveless barn every Wednesday.  We were there for an early lunch, so we weren’t able to stay for the show.  At $10 a ticket, it would be worth a trip back.

Nashville

I was excited and admittedly a little anxious about this leg of the journey.  I had so much to see and so little time.  Although Nashville, known as “Music City,” is home to The Grand Ole Opry and Ryman Auditorium,

Ryman Auditorium
I didn’t feel like seeing a Patsy Cline tribute or any mainstream auto-tuned country acts on this trip.  I feel like some of those mainstream stars have lost some heart and soul by the time they get to that uber-famous level.  I wanted to see the musicians and singer/songwriters who played in the little clubs and divey bars.  The hard-working ones who still play gigs in town and drive to gigs all over the country.  Most of my favorite shows I’ve seen over the years have been lesser known artists playing in smaller venues.
Will Kimbrough
One artist I wanted to see if he happened to be in town was Nashville resident Will Kimbrough.  I’ve had the honor of meeting and chatting with him over the last few years, so I was hoping we could catch him at a gig in town.  He’s constantly touring, so it was a long shot.
I first heard of Will while listening to Radio Margaritaville several years ago.  Will plays and writes with Jimmy Buffett, so Jimmy in turn plays some of Will’s solo work on his online radio station.  Will is not only a very talented singer/songwriter with a list of solo albums, but he has also produced albums for various artists.  He was “Will” in Will and the Bushmen, the late 80’s alt-pop group, and he currently shares the spotlight with Tommy Womack in Daddy. Will has also played sideman for Todd Snider, Rodney Crowell, and most recently, Emmylou Harris.  He has been nominated and has won “Instrumentalist of the Year” from the Americana Music Association.  He is a self-proclaimed workaholic musician.  Will is so humble; I forget how great he is sometimes.
Will was indeed in town and would be playing guitar for Marshall Chapman at The Station InnMinton Sparks would open the show.
The Station Inn
The Station Inn reminded me of Seattle’s gritty, divey Tractor Tavern, only smaller.  The Station only holds about 100 people and has been around for about 30 years.  It is located in “The Gulch” district, a newly renovated area a few blocks off the main strip, where swanky, expensive restaurants and condos tower over the little brick tavern.  We walked into The Station, though, and felt right at home.
We found a nice old cushioned pew with a small table near the side of the stage and settled in.  We joined Will  for a brief chat before the show began.  We exchanged a beer-bottle toast and he welcomed us to NashVegas.  He said The Station Inn is the Bluegrass Capitol of the World, although this night would be a little different, as we were soon to find out.
Minton Sparks
The opening act, Minton Sparks, is a spoken-word poet and musician–a speaker-songwriter, she calls herself.  She was  dressed like a Southern Belle church lady, down to her little white patent leather purse and matching shoes.  Ms. Sparks had that Southern drawl where the words tend to linger on her lips before being gently released.  She could weave a story so well, and pull us into each character’s life.  A few times I had to pull back and remember where I was; I became mesmerized by each vignette.  Some were a little dirty, some were hysterically funny, and a couple almost made me cry.  Titles and words seemed so simple, but would twist and turn into something completely dark or more complex as the story progressed.  Some of my favorites were “Vicky Pickles’ Mama,” about a bikini-clad middle-aged neighbor;  “Suburban Snake Handler,” which was as dirty as the title implies;  and a yarn about meeting and talking to Minnie Pearl and spilling her soul to her.   Minton brought along John Jackson who played acoustic guitar and followed and adjusted his volume and tempo to match her characters’ mannerisms and quirks and jerks.

Marshall Chapman is a very busy singer/songwriter, author of two books, and recently simultaneously released a new album, Big Lonesome and nonfiction book, They Came To Nashville.

Marshall Chapman

She recently played the road manager to Gweneth Paltrow’s character in the movie Country Strong.
Ms. Chapman greeted us wearing black UnderArmour basketball shorts, an oversized black t-shirt, and bare feet.  Her gray hair was loosely pinned up into a crazy bird’s nest.  I liked her already, and she hadn’t sung a note.  She peered out into the audience and exclaimed, “Not bad for a Wednesday night in Nashville!”

Marshall’s latest songs are mostly folk/Americana, but her roots go back to rock ‘n’ roll.  Her songs, like Minton Sparks’ words, tell a story.  Some were more personal than others, such as “Tim Revisited,” and “Down to Mexico,” both written about Tim Krekel, her deceased friend and music partner.  She said sometimes the songs write her.
A few times in between songs, she would break out her latest book, They Came To Nashville, and read passages.  I enjoyed her story about asking Willie Nelson for an interview for her book; and after not being able to set a date with him due to his busy schedule, he invited her to travel around with him on his tour bus for a few nights.  Marshall also wrote a song about the experience called “Riding With Willie.” She has a very natural way of storytelling, and isn’t afraid to speak her mind and share a bit of her heart.  She strums to the rhythm of her own guitar; she is truly unique, and I completely admire her.

Will Kimbrough accompanied Marshall onstage.  Will’s guitarmanship was in fine form, although a bit subdued to match the folk genre and Station atmosphere.  He had some slow solos that showcased his total instrumental control.  He played a bluesy slide, and interchanged his two guitars to match the mood of the song.  The mostly quiet and polite audience responded with loud whoops and applause when Ms. Chapman introduced him after one such solo.
PART III:  NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE, DAY 2

The next night, we decided to check out Broadway.  The street is lined with vintage neon signs advertising honky-tonk bars and kitschy restaurants and shops.  You can find every imaginable souvenir mug, magnet, bedazzled t-shirt, and Elvis likeness.  Made in China.  If you look closely, though, you can also find the beautiful Gruhn Guitar shop filled with vintage Martin acoustics, Fender and Gibson electrics, banjos, mandolins, and Dobros.  We also stumbled upon Hatch Show Print, which has been printing show posters since 1879.  We found one for Wanda Jackson and Old 97’s and purchased them on the spot.
I loved walking down the sidewalk on Broadway and hearing different music from each venue spilling out into the night.  Every few steps was a different sound:  Mainstream country covers, tribute bands, bluegrass and karaoke.  There is no cover charge for most bars; the musicians survive on money left in tip jars.  We wanted to go to Tootsie’s, a tiny bar with good country rock, but it was completely packed–standing room only.  I wanted to stand outside and listen, but the sidewalks were crowded, and people were pushing to get through.
We moved to the next bar, called “Second Fiddle.”  It was a long, skinny bar, dark and dead silent, except for the county cover band trying to get everyone’s attention on this Thursday night.  The band was fairly decent; but not good enough to hold our attention for more than one drink, so we left.  We weren’t sure where to go next; we were a bit tired from our late night and from hoofing it all over the city earlier that day.
Layla’s
Then…the sound that captures my soul…old-timey, Outlaw Country!  We peered in the picture window of Layla’s Bluegrass Inn and saw the upright bass getting spanked, flying fiddle rosin, a frontman with a mohawk and tattoos, a rockabilly drum beat, and guitar player who looked and sounded like Ken Bethea of Old 97’s.  We were in!
Slim Chance Through the Chicken Wire
Layla’s was tiny half empty (or haf full, depending on how one looks at it), and half of the people were half-drunk.  We decided to catch up, and ordered Pabst Blue Ribbons and saddled up to a tall round table close to the stage.  The PBR slid down like water, and we ordered a couple more.
Slim Chance and the Can’t Hardly Playboys
That little band blew us away.  And their name, perfection:  Slim Chance and the Can’t Hardly Playboys!  It doesn’t get any better than that.  Within minutes after our arrival, they broke into a rollicking version of Cash’s “Folsom Prison Blues” followed by a Waylon Jennings number, Hank III and then my favorite train song, “Orange Blossom Special.”  Josh Headley almost caught that fiddle on fire during his rendition of that song.  They played a few more songs that were equally rowdy and a little dirty.
Bass and Fiddle Hamming It Up
Slim and the boys play at Layla’s every Thursday night.  I wanted them to come to Seattle and fire up The Tractor.  They’d fit right in.  I wanted to get up and dance, but instead, I let the ex-football player white guy at the other table get up and act like a fool.  I took a few pictures and the band hammed it up for me.  I could’ve stayed the rest of the night until they kicked me out; but we had to be responsible parents and get home at a reasonable hour, and try to act sober.

On our way out of town the next day, we stopped by Third Man Records,
Third Man Records
snapped some pics and purchased some t-shirts in the tiny storefront.  We were hoping for a tour, but they were busy that week.  It was pretty amazing just to be there and see the Rolling Record Store up close.  There are hundreds of vinyl records on sale from the many bands that are now on Jack White’s label.  Lots of cool souvenirs and shirts, too.

Rolling Record Store

I wish we had more time to explore Nashville.  I would have loved to see more shows at some of the other smaller, but well-known venues such as The Bluebird Cafe and The Basement, and also visit the historical United Record Pressing, but it wasn’t meant to be on this trip.
My Southern experience exceeded my expectations.  The Gulf weather was warm, the countryside was beautiful, and the people were friendly.  I embraced the South, and it embraced me.  And Nashville still has a heart and soul, if you know where to look.

July 14, 2011 Posted by | Concert Season 2011, Music, Randomville, Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Star Anna Update – CD Release Party at Easy Street Records

Freaking awesome show.  We fell in love with Star and the boys all over again.   A warm humid night, free show, CD purchased for under 10 bucks signed by the entire band…priceless.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

July 12, 2011 Posted by | Concert Season 2011, Star Anna, Star Anna and the Laughing Dogs | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Star Anna and the Laughing Dogs New CD Drops 7.12.11

Star Anna and the Laughing Dogs are releasing their third CD called Alone in This Together Tuesday, July 12.  The CD release party will be held at Easy Street Records in West Seattle at 7:00.  Can’t wait!

July 11, 2011 Posted by | Concert Season 2011, Star Anna and the Laughing Dogs | , , , , | Leave a comment

Randomville’s at Sasquatch!

Randomville, the online music ‘zine, is covering the Sasquatch Music Festival at the Gorge Amphitheatre!  They have day-by-day concert reviews as well as some pretty amazing pics.

May 30, 2011 Posted by | Concert Season 2011, Music, Randomville, The Gorge Amphitheatre | , , | Leave a comment

Star Anna, Dusty 45’s and Dead Rock West at Neumos 5.20.2011

Star Anna and the Laughing Dogs

Dusty 45’s

Dead Rock West opened

Neumos on Capitol Hill, Seattle

Friday, May 20, 2011

We tried to be Capitol Hill Hipsters on Friday night, but it just wasn’t happening; I wore cowboy boots, and P did not sport a full beard and black-rimmed glasses.  So we just played off being middle-aged parents with a night off.  We didn’t completely have the night off, as our boy was suffering from a bad cold and sore throat.  We spent pre-show time texting him to see if he needed something stronger than ibuprofen and nose spray, reassuring him that we would call him right before entering Neumos and would leave right after the show.

We escaped Bothell about 6:15 and hit the usual Friday traffic on I-5.  Quickly exiting at Northgate, we decided to wind our way there via Roosevelt.  I’m pretty sure the stop ‘n’ go traffic on the side streets was quicker than sitting on the freeway.  We arrived on Capitol Hill sometime after 7:00.  We were starving.  We paid the eight bucks to park in a lot and walked across the street to the Elysian Brewing Co.  We immediately got a seat next to the giant vats behind the glass walls.  I liked the atmosphere: not too hipster, a mixed clientele.  Who cared at this point; we were ready to eat and get some good brew.  Actually, I was warm and didn’t want anything heavy, so I ordered a mojito instead.  Good choice for a warm day.  It wasn’t too sweet, either.  P ordered a Loser Pale Ale, similar to Manny’s, only without the bite.  We had delicious food, too.  I had pork chile verde, and P ordered a lamb burger served with pita.  Both were tasty and satisfying.  The service was a bit slow, so we didn’t get outta there until after 8:00.

We walked a couple blocks down Pike to Neumos, only to find the first act, Dead Rock West, didn’t start until 9:30.  That was ok, we had room for dessert.  We got our wrists stamped, then checked out the bar next door briefly before going back out to the lively street.  Capitol Hill is a buzzing, bustling place on the weekend.  We enjoyed people-watching while strolling around looking for the perfect place to have dessert.

We found the perfect place: Poquitos.  We downed four churros, extra crispy on the outside and gooey on the inside, with warm caramel sauce complemented with El Dude (vanilla-infused tequila with horchata and kahlua).  El Dude Abides!

Stuffed, we then headed back to Neumos after calling our son one last time to be sure he was feeling ok.  He assured us he was feeling better, so we ducked in to find the place still almost empty.  That was ok with us; we found a spot on the right side of the stage and were thankful to have a place to at least hold on.  There was a balcony upstairs along the side, but it wasn’t open near the stage side, so standing was the only option.  I know, I’m getting old.

DRW Setlist

Dead Rock West, an L.A. band featuring Cindy Wasserman on lead vocals, rocked the house slowly with some smooth country rock.  We liked their style.  Neumos started filling in, and we stayed the course on Stage Left.  DRW just released a new album in April entitled Bright Morning Stars.   Their new album features some old-timey covers that date back a couple centuries, as well as a Jesus and Mary Chain cover called “God Help Me.”  Another song, “Green and Blue,” had an almost psychedelic feel.  “Ain’t No Grave” was my favorite song they performed.  I enjoyed her harmonies with guitarist Frank Lee Drennen.

Dead Rock West

Star Anna and the Laughing Dogs were on next, and the crowd thickened, but politely so.  No one crushed up near the stage tonight.  I recognized the woman next to us; she had been to one of The Tractor shows to see Star.  She was very friendly, and seemed to know the band.  She exchanged a bit of banter with Justin Davis, the guitarist, while he set up equipment.  I was cranky that we weren’t on the other side of the stage in front of Justin and Ty Bailie.  They’re so much fun to watch.  P said they always look like they’re having a great time.  And how could they NOT have a great time?  This band rocks, the lead singer Star is one of the most amazing, soulful singers I’ve ever witnessed, and they are about to release an album on Local 638 Records on July 12.

Star Anna Setlist

Star and the band entered the stage to shouts, claps and whoops from the growing crowd.  The audience obviously adored this band.  First on the set list was “Running Man,” a soul-bearing slow crush of a song.  Star is just so good at reaching within and pulling out her soul and sharing it with us.  It’s heartbreaking at times, and hits an emotional and sometimes spiritual button.  At the same time, she makes us want more, on some animalistic and base level.  I think P felt that Friday night.

P’s been pretty tolerant of my crazed passion to experience live music, and loves to go to shows, but not necessarily for the same reasons as me.  That’s ok, we always have a great time together.  But Friday, I think he felt what I’ve been trying to decipher in writing for years: he connected.  That’s how powerful Star’s voice can be.

Star Anna

She stopped about a third of the way through the set to announce the release of her third album, Alone In This Together, coming July 12.  She drilled it into us that her album will be released July 12.  July 12, got it?? My Neumos neighbor proudly announced to me where they’ll perform for the release date.  Not sure if that is public info yet…but I’m pretty sure we’ll be there, wherever it is!

She played “Time” from the new album, and I will be definitely purchasing a copy.  Her songs have so much power behind them, as well as an excellent backing band that know how to pull it all together.  She blasted into the bluesy number “For When I Go,” and we watched in awe at her gut-wrenching expressions, throaty vocals and her feet, lifting off the floor with each expressed note.  Ty churned out the blues on organ and Justin had blasting solos.  Just watch:

Her single,  “Alone In This Together” has recently been played on KEXP.  It also blew us away and we wanted to purchase that album NOW.  It’s hard to categorize it.  Country mixed with rock, bluesy, rootsy, and deep.  Just listen.  Just go to a show.

We missed Dusty 45’s altogether.  That was okay, we’ll catch them next time.  We were in a trance-like state both from watching Star and from being up since 5 that morning, so it was time to go.

We stopped at Dick’s and brought home a Special and chocolate shake to our smiling, but sniffling and coughing boy.

Check out my Randomville review of Star Anna and the Laughing Dogs: http://randomville.com/wordpress/?p=9929

Pictures:

Cindy Wasserman and Frank Lee Drennen

Star

The Well-Dressed Keith Ash

May 22, 2011 Posted by | Concert Season 2011, Music, Neumos, Star Anna, Star Anna and the Laughing Dogs | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Small Sur to Release “Tones” June 28

Tones

Tones, the new album by the Baltimore band Small Sur will be released June 28.  Check out my review of the album on Randomville.

May 18, 2011 Posted by | Concert Season 2011, Music, Randomville, Small Sur | , | Leave a comment

Vicci Martinez at Big Daddy’s Place Woodinville, WA 4.29.11

Vicci Martinez

Opener: Red Cup

Big Daddy’s Place

Woodinville, WA

April 29, 2011

UPDATE! VICCI WILL BE “LIVE” TUESDAY, JUNE 14 ON THE VOICE! BE SURE TO CAST YOUR VOTE FOR HER!!

CHECK OUT MY REVIEW ON RANDOMVILLE ! Vicci WON the “Battle Round” on The Voice Tuesday, May 10! GO, VICCI!

Vicci Martinez

Last night at Big Daddy’s in Woodinville the sold-out crowd of middle-aged suburbanites witnessed budding fame personified.  Vicci Martinez was just featured on NBC’s  The Voice on Tuesday, April 26.   I wouldn’t expect someone who is a contestant on a vocal talent show similar to American Idol to appear in a small suburban nightclub, but there she was, singing her heart out while we danced, ate, drank and shouted for more.

Backing up a bit…

We first took notice of Vicci when we discovered a little cafe on Bainbridge Island called The Treehouse Cafe.  It showcases various artists (including Vicci, who is from Tacoma) who also play in small Seattle clubs; but it’s a ferry ride away.  We thought it would be fun to stay at a little B&B nearby sometime and go see a show.  It would be a costly weekend, though, so we never got around to it.  Vicci was featured there recently and received much praise on the cafe’s website.  We checked out Vicci’s website which had a notice that said she would appear on The Voice on Tuesday, April 26.  I listened to a few of her songs that streamed on her website and liked what I heard.  She has such power in her voice;  I was curious to know how she’d do on The Voice.

P and I watched The Voice intently last Tuesday.  She came on early into the show, and totally impressed the coaches.  The four coaches (Christina Aguilera, Cee Lo Green, Adam Levine and Blake Shelton) seemed excited when she belted out a song  by Adele called “Rolling in the Deep.”  Christina and Cee Lo fought for her (the premise is, they will “coach” the unsigned singers to eventually compete and earn a chance for a recording contract and big money).  She ended up choosing Cee Lo as her coach.  The show moved on to other contestants.  We’ll be watching over the coming weeks to see what happens to her.

We got to Big Daddy’s about 7:30.  Not only is it located northeast of Seattle, it resides in a one-level industrial park.  Not very pretty, but the rent’s cheap compared to a Seattle venue.  The place was already packed.  It’s a nightclub from 9:00 on, but before that, they do allow families in to eat in the restaurant section.  We paid our $10 cover and found a couple of stools and a tiny, round table right by the door.  We had an angled view of the stage, but were pretty close.  We ordered some food: P had a large, tender steak and I settled for a “naked” chicken and steamed veggies.  I’d eaten lots of crappy food that day, so I thought I’d go light for dinner.  Big mistake.  More on that later.  We settled in with a pitcher of Manny’s and did some people-watching while awaiting for the opening band, Red Cup.

Red Cup’s lead singer, Steve Stefanowicz  is blind, but that doesn’t stop him from playing quite a nice blues guitar.  The bass player is owner Mike Summerfield, a.k.a. Big Daddy.  Eric Robert played organ and Darin Watkins was on drums.  The band played several covers, including B.B. King’s “Thrill is Gone,” Steve Miller’s “Fly Like an Eagle,” Van Morrison’s “Moon Dance,” and The Eagles’ “Hotel California.”  They also did an original song called “Desiree,” and finished the nice set with Steppenwolf’s “Born to be Wild.”  Stefanowicz had lots of nice solos and jammed with Robert and Watkins.

Big Daddy's House Band, Red Cup

I was getting a little sleepy during the intermission; it’s hard for me to go out on a Friday after a long day at work.  My day starts at 5:20 am, so it takes some fortitude to stay out past 9:00.   I guess that shows my age.  I tried to get comfortable and relax a bit, knowing Vicci would be on soon.  The bar stools were not so comfortable, and it was so crowded; people kept hitting our legs trying to get through the narrow aisle.

I was hungry again, as the diet food just didn’t cut it tonight.  Screw it, I ordered a plate of chicken nachos and a cosmo.  P laughed at my lack of will power!

After another half hour or so, Vicci Martinez took the stage to a shouting, whooping crowd.  Many people there were already fans of hers, some most likely saw her on The Voice (validated by the cheers of the audience when she asked if people saw her on TV this week), and some were there to see her for the first time.

Vicci started the show by first saying, “I know it’s TV and it’s cool, but we still do what we do the way we do it.”  Cheers erupted from the audience.  In other words, she’s staying true to herself and her band by playing her original music the way she wants to do it.  She actually tried out for American Idol at sixteen, got through to the Hollywood round, and then decided she wasn’t quite ready.  Pretty big decision for such a young woman.  Now, in her mid-20’s, she’s about to make it big.

Vicci, Darin and Jeff

Her voice is clear, bluesy, powerful and emotional, very surprising for her diminutive frame.  When she gets into the upper octave of her range, she tends to get raspy, but in a rocking, Melissa Etheridge sort of way. The rest of the band was tight, and wavered between pop/jazz sessions and blues, with organ and guitar leading the way.  She got down to business during the long set.  Most songs were original, except for a Michael Jackson medley near the end.  She played rhythm guitar, letting the long solos go to her lead guitarist Rod Cook.  She crouched down while getting into a song, threw her head back and wailed, smiled and hammed it up with the dance crowd.

She played over a dozen songs from her five albums.  She also has a new live album that was recorded at Tacoma’s Jazzbones.  Some of the songs from her set list included:

Fire In Her Eyes

Leave The Light On (great slide guitar, with very bluesy feel)
Check out a YouTube video of this song here:

Hold Me Darlin’ (featured on The Mountain 103.7)

Wake Me Up (she switched it up to a little reggae beat in the middle)

Michael Jackson Medley (included “Billie Jean,” “Rock With You,” and “ABC”)

Mexico (one of my faves…just a cool vibe to this song)

She interrupted the set at one point to plug the purchase of her version of Adele’s song on iTunes to help her stay on the show.

We left after “Mexico.”  She promised to play a couple more songs, but we were pretty tired and ready for a soft bed.

No matter the outcome on The Voice, Vicci Martinez will keep doing what she does, the way she wants; and her loyal fans will be right there with her.

More Pics…

May 2, 2011 Posted by | Big Daddy's Place, Concert Season 2011, Music, Vicci Martinez | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Flight to Mars at the Showbox April 8, 2011

Tim DiJulio and Mike McCready

Friday, April 8, 2011

The Showbox at the Market

Seattle, WA

The Flight to Mars show on Friday, April 8 at The Showbox was the kind of loud that reverberates in the chest cavity and rings in the ears hours later. It was a two-fisted-devil-horn evening; too much RAWK for one hand!

Flight to Mars, a UFO tribute band, features Pearl Jam’s Mike McCready (guitar), Paul Passereli (lead vocals), Tim DiJulio (guitar), Mike Musburger (drums), Gary Westlake (bass), and Ty Bailie (keys). The show was the the 9th annual benefit for the Crohn’s and Colititis Foundation of America (CCFA). Up to this point, the benefit concerts have earned a total of almost $200,000 for the Foundation.  Some of the proceeds also benefit Camp Oasis, for kids with Crohn’s and Colitis.  The show was also being broadcast live on Sirius’ Pearl Jam Radio.  Throughout the night, there were auctions, announcements, raffles, and lots of top-notch music.

But first we had to get there.  We invited P’s brother and sister-in-law so she could get some concert photo experience for her photography business.  M and LJ picked us up just after 5:00.  Traffic was slow going (Mariners home opener), so we avoided the stopped freeway altogether.  It took just about an hour to get down to First Avenue, after winding our way through North Seattle neighborhoods, through Ballard and into town.  We got very lucky on parking, and parked directly across the street from The Showbox.  We hoofed it north, past Pike Place to Post Alley’s Pink Door.  We didn’t have reservations, but took a chance we could get in to the lounge area.  We were immediately seated, much to our surprise.  It was pretty busy, but not packed.  We ordered fancy drinks and great Italian food.  We vowed to eat there again.

We were still a bit early, a little before 8:00, but decided to queue up for the show.  We wanted to see if we could at least get up close, if not get a booth or a couple of stools.  There was a benefit event/auction, which delayed entrance to somewhere around 8:30, and all seated areas were reserved or already taken.  This show benefited the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America, so there were openers, interruptions with raffles, announcements, etc.

LJ and I both received photo passes, which was fine, because I got to go in the “inner sanctum” of coolness:  the space between the front row railing and the stage!  I pretty much looked like a dork with my Cannon Power Shot, which is the size of a deck of cards.  I took a few grainy shots, and trusted LJ would get some great ones–and she did.  Check out LJ’s phenomenal pics here: http://ljwkphotography.photoshelter.com

Buckets of Rain

Buckets of Rain, a local band, opened the marathon evening late, because the pre-show auction ran overtime. They were a bit small for the cavernous Showbox, and seemed to get drowned out by the noisy, rowdy crowd. It was very hard to catch the vocals in the loud setting. I did enjoy the song, “This Train,” which had a nice repetitive bass line throughout and was a little more upbeat and memorable than the others. I would like to see them in a smaller venue to be able to fully enjoy them. Buckets of Rain finished their short set with The Who’s “Squeezebox,” which got everyone energized and singing along.

There was a short intermission while the next band set up.  A CCFA spokesperson made announcements and asked the audience to check out the merch table for books, Pearl Jam tour posters, and other cool swag.  The 9th annual benefit concert was broadcasting LIVE on Sirius Pearl Jam Radio this evening.  Part of the proceeds also benefit Camp Oasis for kids w/Crohn’s & Colitis.  Raffle tickets were being sold for Mariners tickets (Mike M’s seats), concert tickets for My Morning Jacket and other cool stuff.

Lazy Susan, another Seattle band took the stage.  They reunited for this benefit show for the first time in 14 years. Their country rock sound was led by vocalist Kim Virant and Tim DiJulio on lead guitar. They reminded me of a female version of Seattle’s late great North Twin. DiJulio also played guitar for North Twin, so it’s no wonder his guitar personality spilled over into both bands. She rocked the song “Wish,” among others, and I wondered why they ever broke up. Lazy Susan will make another appearance on June 11 at the Tractor Tavern in Ballard. Kasey Anderson will open.

Lazy Susan – Kim Virant and Tim DiJulio

More announcements followed Lazy Susan.  Mike McCready announced there will be an all-ages benefit concert at The Crocodile on Saturday, April 30, from 12-4 pm. Tickets are only $10, and raffle tickets go for $20. Twelve lucky raffle winners will get to sing Karaoke with Mike (Mike-A-Roke!).

Mike then played a three-song acoustic set with Brad Sinsel. Brad was the lead singer of TKO, a very glam Seattle metal band from the 70’s and 80’s. He still had that glam image, only in a David Bowie-sings-folk sort of way. And his voice was beautiful. I was very impressed and wished to hear more.  They had a nice, folk sound together, accompanied by mandolin and organ. The quick set included “My Lily of the West,” “Kill the Pain,” and ended with “You Are My Sunshine,” and the audience joyfully sang along. It was an ironic song choice, considering there was going to be a blast of metal and screaming lyrics from Flight to Mars within minutes.

FTM Show Begins

Flight to Mars landed on stage in heavy fog while the “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” theme song blasted through the speakers. Paul Passereli, from the 80’s band Lipstick, reminded me of Jack Black both in stocky frame and stage personality. He dominated the stage instantly. Passereli got the audience moving while he pointed at them, hung the microphone over the crowd, smiled, grimaced, and let out some huge rock screams. He did UFO serious justice.

Paul Passereli and Tim DiJulio

The UFO set list was pure fun, vintage metal, good old-fashioned rock ‘n’ roll. They started out the evening right with “Doctor Doctor,” then blasted right into “Mother Mary” before introducing Dave Coalter from Florida, who apparently “paid a shitload of money” to play with the band.  Dave and the band rocked “Too Hot to Handle,” and Tim DiJulio had a rollicking solo (poor Dave’s amp was not turned up, so his solo was lost).

Dave Coalter Jamming with the FTM

They slowed down a bit with “Love to Love,” skillfully sung by Passereli; but then picked right back up and kept the audience cheering and pumping their rock hands through “Lights Out” and “Shoot Shoot.”

Both DiJulio and McCready had earth-shaking solos and jams throughout the long set. Gary Westlake, the bass player, also got his share of moments with the band, while Mike Musburger kept up the rock beat on drums.

Mike and Tim

And then there was the other-worldly Ty Bailie on keys. Ty is also in another of my favorite bands, Star Anna and the Laughing Dogs. He can rock the keys like Benmont Tench. He had some great solos and hammed it up near the end with the last song of the set, “Rock Bottom.” Ty entered the stage wearing a silver sequined cape and sported a giant white keytar, turning the rock to eleven.   He later relinquished the cape to Passereli, who played it off in rocker style.

They left the stage briefly while everyone’s ears were still ringing to the last notes of “Rock Bottom.” The audience stuck around and clapped and stomped until the floor was shaking even harder than before. Back they came for the encore, appeasing the roaring crowd.

Passereli then took to the mic: “The next time some mutha fucka says rock ‘n’ roll is dead…” and proceeded to explode into AC/DC’s “Let There Be Rock,” and then Van Halen’s “Everybody Wants Some” to end the crazy, raucous night…and all for a great cause.

The show was over about 1 am.  It seemed like the FTM set passed quickly, and we were surprised how late it was.  We walked down the street to a stop light, where Star Anna happened to be crossing and coming toward us with a friend.  Pat and I both yelped at the same time….I said, “Star! (It’s Star!)  Hi!  I worship you!!” and gave her praying hands…why the hell did I do that??!!  She just smiled back, took a little bow and kept walking.  My apologies to Star in my moment of dorkiness….my inner thirteen-year-old came out once again.

We were hungry, thirsty and tired, but settled for 13 Coins; hunger and thirst were soon vanquished.  Home by 2:30 am, to our smiling son.

Here are some more pics:

Gary Westlake and Paul Passereli

Kim Virant

Buckets of Rain

Tim and Mike 2

Paul – Fringes

Mike – Solo

Paul and Tim

Tim

Paul Passereli

Tim DiJulio

The Set List – a few changes during show

April 17, 2011 Posted by | Concert Season 2011, Flight to Mars, Music | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments