Aplscruf's Music Blog

Big Sandy and His Fly-Rite Boys at The Sunset 12.21.13

Big Sandy with Kevin Stewart on Bass

Big Sandy with Kevin Stewart on Bass

I couldn’t stop smiling tonight.  Big Sandy and the boys brought their top-notch show to the intimate Sunset Tavern.  I only wished I knew how to dance.

We began our fantastic weekend by checking in to the very swanky Hotel Ballard, directly across the street to our ol’ stompin’ grounds, Hattie’s Hat and The Tractor.  The boutique hotel just recently opened, and it is fabulous.  Although the nightly rates are a little steep and garage parking is $15, it’s a steal for attending any shows in Ballard.  We could not come close to matching their rates by staying in downtown Seattle and paying over $30 for parking plus taking a taxi to Ballard.  We’ll be sure to stay here again.  Our room was spotless and tastefully decorated, too, with an iron balcony overlooking “our” street.

We got in to town around 5:30 and got settled in.  We decided to go grab a bite at Bastille, a French restaurant just a few steps up the street.  Being the last weekend before Christmas, we wondered if the crowds would be crazy, or if the neighborhood would be quiet.  Actually, the crowds were manageable.  We bellied up to the beautiful bar and ordered a shared meal from a bartender who looked like he came from some glamorous Parisian bar that served Oscar Wilde.  His hair was slicked back and buzzed and he had a respectable beard.  I think I remember his friendly and polite manner from the last time we ate there.  He brought us some wonderful drinks and took our order for chicken and baguettes.  There was a sea salt sprinkle on the baguettes that made them irresistible.  The half chicken was delicately fried and crispy.  A few tiny Brussels sprouts and some rustic potatoes surrounded the moist chicken.  After saying adieu to our genteel bartender, we continued down the street to find dessert.

First, we stopped by The Sunset to see if the crowds were forming, but it was dead.  We checked in and got stamped so we could come back later.

We noticed most of the smaller restaurants and cafes were packed.  We stopped by the very crowded Hot Cakes and picked up a delicious peanut butter cookie that we devoured in minutes.  I think we waited longer in line than the time it took to eat that cookie!

Back to our room.  We cleaned up, donned our western apparel, and headed back up the street to The Sunset.  The audience grew exponentially once we entered.  I could not believe it, but once again, we were able to get two bar stools at the end of the bar.  We get so lucky scamming seats!  We happily scooted in next to a pair of rockabilly girls dressed in leopard prints and beautiful up-do’s.  Next to them was someone I recognized from our first Big Sandy show.  He had a large, colorful neck tattoo and a perfectly coiffed ducktail.  His tweed jacket completed the dapper package.  I took a pic of him at the first show because he got on stage with Big S and sang a rockabilly tune in a death metal pig squeal while Big S laughed. It was so hilarious!  Here is the link of that show: http://randomville.com/live-review-big-sandy-and-his-fly-rite-boys/.  I felt shy when we first got there, and was not ready to introduce myself quite yet.  I did bring my business cards this time, so at least I was a little more prepared to pass around the cards.

We also saw some other people we knew.  We are starting to feel like regulars.  I guess we are, since we have been hitting the Ballard clubs regularly since 2007.  Big Sandy came out of the backstage room and ordered a soft drink at the opposite end of the bar.  He looked our way, and we smiled and raised our glasses to him.  He smiled and did the same.  I should have walked over and talked to him, but the growing crowd surrounded us.   Johnny 7 Stuart showed up.  He opened for Big S in Portland a couple of days before.  Johnny said the Portland show was cool, in the old  and elegant Crystal Ballroom. He also managed to catch X and Blasters at El Corazon the night before.  We had another function that night, so I was bummed I missed that show.  I enjoyed talking with Johnny, and miss seeing him play on stage.  It’s been a while.  We’ll make an effort to see his show in 2014.  Gaby, our Bothell friend showed up with her husband, Marc, too.  Dean, an acquaintance we met at Hattie’s before the first Big Sandy show, also arrived.  Pat recognized him and brought him over.

Ugly Christmas Sweater Pub Crawlers

Ugly Christmas Sweater Pub Crawlers

The crowd pushed forward, and we realized we were right in the middle of a giant group of Ugly Christmas Sweater Pub Crawlers!  They looked like college students, all buff and beautiful, but with hideous red and green sweaters!  It was fantastic to see the variety and creativity.  I’m sure some were lovingly made by a grandparent.  I took a few pics.

Snowman Vest

Snowman Vest

Country Dave Harmonson was there, too, and was going to play with the opening band, Cahalen Morrison & Country Hammer.  Cahalen and crew loaded in while we ordered drinks and a pizza slice.  I didn’t think I could eat a bite, but it was so good!  Cahalen Morrison’s band filled the stage with guitars, steel, drums and violin.  They had a tight country sound and the dancers appreciated their lively tunes.

Cahalen Morrison

Cahalen Morrison

I said hello to Gaby and told her I was glad she made it.  P saw her earlier, and she said she was trying to get off work asap to get to the show.  She knew it would be packed.  Actually, after the pub crawlers dissipated (they were only on the 2nd pub of the night), the crowd became pretty reasonable.  It was probably only ¾ full, and by the end of the night only about ¼ stuck around.  We were perfectly comfortable on our stools and took turns getting up and moving through the crowd.  I also said hello to Country Dave after his show, and again congratulated him on his superb skills on pedal steel.  He’s really a master.  I also told him that Pat saw him at the airport playing his gig, but he didn’t want to interrupt his playing.  Dave said, “PLEASE” stop by and say hi, because he gets bored sometimes sitting in the airport with no one to talk to!  So if you ever see a man picking a guitar or pedal steel at SeaTac Airport, please stop by and pay Country Dave Harmonson a visit.  He’ll appreciate your support.

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Big Sandy loaded in and we prepared for his rollicking show.  I just love his energy.  Here’s a review from last August: https://aplscruf.wordpress.com/2013/09/06/two-big-nights-big-sandy-willie-nelson-and-the-gourds-8-22-8-23-13/ We took our seats and meanwhile, I asked Pat to look up my first Big Sandy review from 2012, because I was pretty sure there was a picture of our tattooed neighbor in my review.  There he was, up on stage squealing away!

Clark, the Death Metal Pig Squealer!

Clark, the Death Metal Pig Squealer!

I zoomed in on the pic to fill the phone’s screen, and slowly moved it in front of him.  He stopped, looked at the pic, looked at me, and laughed!  “Hey, that was a fun night!  Did you take that picture?”  Yes, I did, and I wrote the review, too! “So, did you coin the phrase, ‘Death Metal Pig Squeal?’”  Well, yes, yes I did! Ha! That cracked me up.  I coined a phrase! He shook my hand and introduced himself as Clark.  We spoke for a while about the whole rockabilly culture.  I am so enamored with the scene.  I love the coiffed hair, the beautiful dresses and tattoos.  I took a few pics of the dancers.  I envy their cool looks.  I wanted to dress up after my first rockabilly show, but just didn’t seem to have the nerve—or the tattoos! I love connecting with people at these shows, too.  We’re finally branching out a bit.  We used to just sit there by ourselves and not interact with anyone, and it can tend to get boring in between sets.

Guitar extraordinaire Ashley Kingman and drummer Joe Perez

Guitar extraordinaire Ashley Kingman and drummer Joe Perez

Big Sandy, drummer Joe Perez (aka Lil’ Sandy), guitarist extraordinaire Ashley Kingman and bassist Kevin Stewart were ready to go.  He had a massive setlist, and I think he hit most of the songs on it.  He must have played for about an hour and a half, maybe 2 hours.  I lost track of time once they got started.  The dancers were out en force.  I had fun watching them twirl around.  The girls had such pretty dresses and ta-tas to fill them.  I don’t think I could “fill” those dresses properly! I really wanted to get out there and dance, though.  It was a swing style, with lots of twirling and fancy footwork.

Dancers tearing up the floor!

Dancers tearing up the floor!

He played many of my favorites, including “Miss Tracy”, “Jumping From 6 to 6”,  and “Chalk it Up to the Blues”.  His energized set kept the dancers moving.  He played a couple of acoustics off the latest album, What A Dream It’s Been too, and the audience adjusted accordingly to some slow dances.  Ashley  Kingman rocked his electric guitar again, in his unassuming style.  He’s an expert, and never has to add gimmicky moves to get his musical point across.  I love the explosion of sound. Big Sandy delivers his smooth lyrics through the intro, and then he turns to the boys and lets them go, go, go!

I was disappointed in how few people stayed around till the end.  He’s such a class act, and should fill a larger venue.  It was getting late, though, and I think people like to hit the road before midnight.  We didn’t have far to go, so we were in no rush.  We were glad we stayed, glad we got to talk to some more friends, glad we had a free weekend to get out and let loose!

We talked to Big Sandy (aka Robert Williams) after his show.  He sweat right through his suit, and rightly so, after such a long and electric set.  He noticed we came early and stayed late.  I again told him I wrote about his show a while back and gave him my card this time. We took some pics with him and wished him well.  I also bought a cool t-shirt from Ashley, who also remembered reading my previous review, so that was rewarding.

The boys were headed to Eugene next before returning to California.

It was a perfect birthday weekend getaway.  Thank you, P!

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December 28, 2013 Posted by | aplscruf, Big Sandy, Concert Season 2013, The Sunset Tavern | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Concert Season 2013 Wrap-up

Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers

Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers

Concert Season 2013 is winding down.  I thought I’d get a head start and list some highlights of the year in music.  I still have a few shows I’m hoping to see before the year is up, but my busy schedule might prevent me from posting anything until 2014.  I went to a few shows in the spring and summer that I never blogged about but deserve some mention here.  There are also a few bands mentioned below that I didn’t get to see this year, but I’m hoping will show up in 2014.  Some have new albums out, too.  I’ll keep it short and will give you the basic information.  It will be up to you, dear reader, to click on the links and look up these terrific bands, explore their music and purchase some CD’s for the gift-giving season.  Most importantly, GET OUT THERE AND SEE A SHOW!

Local Seattle-Area Bands: (Mind you, this is an incomplete list of the enormously talented bands in Seattle)

Jackrabbit – One of our favorite little bands in Seattle. We kicked off the year seeing them at The Tractor in January.  The threesome kicks ass on stage.  Never a disappointment. They add new songs to the setlist quite frequently.

Massy Ferguson – A Seattle Rock-n-Roll/Country Rock Darling.  We went to their CD Release Party for Victory and Ruins at The Triple Door.  My Plus 1 and I had a fantastic time sitting in the front row for this performance which was also broadcast live for kids struggling with various illnesses in a local hospital.  Frontman Ethan Anderson gave his all, as usual.  It was the best performance by the band so far, in my opinion, and I’ve seen them play many shows over the years.  We also saw them on a rainy summer evening in Duvall at an outdoor performance.  They jinxed our perfect rain-free summer! A hearty group of fans braved the showers and were treated with another fine show by the boys.  We picked up a cool t-shirt after the show.  Massy Ferguson also frequent some of the wineries in Eastern Washington, so check ’em out in Wenatchee, Tri-Cities and Walla Walla sometime.  Here’s a blog I wrote last year for No Depression.

The Swearengens – Their motto is “The Seattle alt-country band your mama warned you about.”  We try to see this band as often as possible.  I love their big sound.  You never know what will happen at one of their shows: dancing, drinking, special guests and lots of friends joining in on the fun. Oh, and never have a whiskey drinkin’ contest with frontman Fredd Luongo.  You will lose. Their latest album, Waiting on the Sunrise is a treat.  Check out their link and listen or purchase some merch.

Davidson Hart Kingsbery – His self-titled new album is getting some positive, nation-wide press.  We saw part of his show in January, and dug it.

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

The Ganges River Band – We saw them for the first time at The Sunset this summer.  They opened for Shinyribs and blasted through a clean set of country.  Country Dave Harmonson helped out on pedal steel and electric guitar.  Always a treat.

Ole Tinder – Ole timey country.  We saw them open for Massy Ferguson at Barboza and at The Tractor with Jackrabbit.  Mike Giacolino also has a solo project while Nils Peterson plays in another band called Rose Windows.  JB Kardong also sits in with other bands including Jackrabbit and Sera Cahoone.

The Dusty 45’s – I’ll try to finish up a blog I started of this energetic show.  Billy Joe Huels is THE Frontman.  No one can light a trumpet ablaze, stand on a bass and blow the way he can! We went to a benefit concert supporting the DESC and were thoroughly entertained.

Star Anna  – Opened solo for The Dusty 45’s.  We’ve seen her shows several times.  Her voice will grab your heart and rip it out.  She has a new album out right now called Go To Hell, so pick it up and prepare to be mesmerized by her haunting vocals.

Not-So-Local Bands:

Tom Petty (DUH.) And here’s the latest, if you didn’t check out our trip to Hollywood earlier this year. BEST SHOW OF THE YEAR.

The Gourds – If Tom Petty is my musical Jesus, then The Gourds are my Church.  Always a religious experience.  My soul runneth over at every show, including the latest in August at The Tractor.  One of my Best Weekends Ever.

Shinyribs – Kevin Russell’s solo project.  He has so much creative energy that one band (The Gourds) isn’t enough for him.  If you’re lucky, he’ll open for The Gourds and you’ll get double the fun.  Check out his bandcamp site for a little booty shakin’ music.  We saw him again just two weeks after his stint at The Tractor.  He came back and played at The Sunset!

Willie Nelson – Hurry up if you haven’t seen him already.  He’s 80, but can still put on a class act for 90 solid minutes.  We saw him in August at Marymoor Park.  Tears in eyes.

The Wild Feathers – This big band opened for Willie Nelson at Marymoor and we fell in love with them.  Besides their original tunes, they managed to cover Tom Petty’s “Listen To Her Heart” with my approval.

Big Sandy – Roots rock, rockabilly and Western swing.  Big Sandy’s a ball of energy and the king of smooth.  He plays in Southern Cal most of the year, but tours around the country and Europe, too.  If he shows up with Los Straitjackets (see below), it’s a Must-See show.  We saw him in August at The Tractor.

Los Straitjackets – Eddie Angel’s lucha libre mask-wearing band of psycho surf musicians and one of Marshall Chapman’s (see Marshall below) favorite bands.  Angel was actually the guitarist in Marshall’s band back in the 80’s.  They’re known world-wide for their onstage antics and surf guitar mastery.  I had the pleasure of meeting them at a local show a couple of years ago.  They’re currently touring the East Coast.  Hoping to see them again in 2014.

Greg Townson – Solo artist, Hi-Riser (Meet the Hi-Risers Here!) and Gregorio El Grande of Los Straitjackets.  He can sing a swoon-worthy love song (buy his latest album, On Your Side) or perform a face-melting guitar solo.  Check him out in Rochester, NY or on the current Los Straitjackets tour.  He also joins the bands overseas to Italy, Spain and other countries.

Marshall Chapman – A Nashville treasure and my musical hero.  Rodney Crowell calls her “The Goddess of Tall”.  The first time I saw her was in 2011 at The Station Inn , a Nashville mecca for  singer/songwriters of country, Americana and bluegrass.  All my preconceived notions of Nashville flew out the window that night.  She was REAL.  She was CANDID.  She had bare feet.  And she wore basketball shorts to the performance.  I liked her before she ever sang a note.  Here is my blog of that show (scroll down a bit to find the Nashville section).  She has a new album and a couple of books that are Must-Reads for music lovers.  Check her website for more info and purchase some merch!

My husband, who travels to the Nashville area often, had a chance to see her play again this year at The Bluebird Cafe, another very famous yet tiny Nashville hangout.  Will Kimbrough (see below) accompanied her on guitar once again to promote her new album, Blaze of Glory, which is getting rave reviews.  I was so jealous that my husband attended the show without me, but I knew he would return with her signed CD.  What I missed most were the stories that accompanied the songs.  My husband recounted a few stories to me when he returned.  She also told the audience that this album is meant to be shared with the one you love. Play it in the bedroom with the curtains drawn and the lights low.  By the fifth song, you should be ripping each other’s clothes off.

My sweet husband did bring home a signed copy of Marshall’s CD.  Throughout the album, the instruments stay firmly put in the background, allowing Marshall’s vocals and lyrics to shine.  Occasionally, Mr. Mike Utley, one of  Jimmy Buffet’s cohorts and co-producer of this album, drops in for a visit with an organ accompaniment.  The first two songs offer some good ol’ rock and roll, and one includes The Reverend Todd Snider on vocals.   After that, she pulls in for a sexy slow dance.  A new genre is born, says Marshall: “Torch-song Americana”.  Hear some tunes here.

Will Kimbrough – Another Nashville hero whom I found through Jimmy Buffett.  We’ve seen him perform several times in various locations solo, with Rodney Crowell, Emmylou Harris, Todd Snider and with Marshall Chapman in Nashville.  He just released a solo album, Sideshow Love, and will perform in the Seattle-Bellingham area in early January 2014!  More info soon!! A MUST-SEE EVENT!!!

Willie Sugarcapps – An Americana supergroup starring Will Kimbrough- also with new album out this year.  They are getting outstanding press and are currently enjoying a Gulf Shores Shrimp Fest weekend in Alabama.

Todd Snider – Now, The Reverend Todd Snider.  He received his license to officiate in support of gay marriage.  Part folk/Americana, part country, and part rock-n-roll.  He can make a political statement in a song before you know what hit you.  His live shows are a stand-up comedy act with some music thrown in.  He makes you think, laugh and generally just have fun.  He said he isn’t trying to preach to you, either.  He tells these stories because they rhyme.  We also saw him at The Triple Door last year, and I wrote a review for Randomvile.  We saw him at The Zoo this summer on a perfect Sunday evening.  He brought along Hayes Carll, whom I coined Todd Jr. by the end of his set.  He was also a storyteller, and had funny songs that accompanied the backstories.  His voice was a little more country than Todd’s, more akin to Jack Ingraham.  Carll also had some inappropriate songs that he couldn’t sing because of “the children” in attendance.  On his website, he had a ton of videos.  Shawn Mullins, , of the notorious talk-sing “Rockabye” song, was a very pleasant surprise.  His guitar playing was superb, and his other songs rich and interesting.  Sarah Jarosz opened Todd’s show.  I really enjoyed her clear folk vocals accompanied by a fiddler and a cellist, who plucked his instrument like a bass.  She did a Bob Dylan cover of “Ring Them Bells” and it was wonderful.  She only played about a half-hour set, but kept the audience’s attention the entire time.

Tommy Womack – Another favorite Nashville/Kentucky solo artist, a Daddy with Will Kimbrough, and collaborator with many others including Todd Snider.  He has an album out (several, actually), and plays regularly at The Station Inn with Will and Marshall.  He also wrote a humorous and heartbreaking tell-all about his life in the band Government Cheese called Cheese Chronicles.  A very entertaining read.  Visit with him on YouTube every Monday Morning for a cup of coffee (see his website or FB for more info) and pick up your own coffee mug on his website.  “Don’t let the bastards get you down!” I have yet to meet Tommy, but P got to meet him at The Station Inn last year.  I’m hoping to make it back to Nashville in 2014.

Have I missed anyone here?  I’m sure I have.  It’s been a tough year to find time to get out there, so we’ve been very picky about our show dates.  We try to see our regulars first and foremost.  Once in a blue moon we see a new band or enjoy an opening set;  it’s always a nice surprise to add one to our “favorite band” list,

October 11, 2013 Posted by | Americana, aplscruf, Barboza, Big Sandy, Concert Season 2013, Davidson Hart Kingsbery, Dusty 45's, Gimme Shelter, Jackrabbit, Los Straitjackets, Marshall Chapman, Marymoor Park, Massy Ferguson, Music, Ole Tinder, Randomville, Roots Rock, Seattle, Shinyribs, Star Anna, Tagaris Winery, The Fonda Theatre, The Gourds, The Hi-Risers, The Rainieros, The Sunset Tavern, The Swearengens, The Tractor Tavern, The Triple Door, The Wild Feathers, Todd Snider, Tom Petty, Will Kimbrough, Willie Nelson | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Shinyribs at The Sunset Thursday, September 5, 2013

The Sunset Tavern

Shinyribs

The Ganges River Band opened

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Shinyribs

Shinyribs

Stormy weather was moving in, but P and I were moving West to Ballard this evening to see Shinyribs, made up of Kevin Russell and Keith Langford from The Gourds.  Although the boys were just up here two weeks ago, they made the trip back for this solo-ish show and brought a couple of different guys with them to fill out the band, including Winfield Cheek on keyboards and Jeff Brown on bass.  We were interested to see what Kev would do with this new band.  I listened several times to the two albums on shinyribs.bandcamp.com , but was not sure how they’d fare live.  I knew I’d make comparisons to The Gourds all night.

We did the usual Ballard crawl around Market Street.  The light turned and we trolled for a parking spot for just a few minutes before landing the perfect spot just a few cars away from the front entrance of The Sunset.  That was a score because the rain was a-comin’ in a big way.

The Sunset was pretty empty when we arrived, but P spotted Mr. Russell and the band sitting at the front window waiting on their pizza.  We said hello, and they seemed to recognize us from The Gourds show, or at least recognize that we are giant fans from our big smiles and our dorky, waving arms. ha  We chatted briefly about seeing them just a couple of weeks ago and about their current mini-tour that would take them to Oregon and California.   Their pizza arrived, so we left them alone and found a spot at the bar.

We settled on a position, not too far from the stage.  A little country honky-tonk band called The Buckaroosters were on stage in bright, fringed western attire akin to Marty McFly’s duds in the third Back to the Future movie.  They rounded out their set with Buck Owens’ “Act Naturally”.

The Ganges River Band

The Ganges River Band

The crowd grew as The Ganges River Band set up and performed a quick sound check. The band included Country Dave Harmonson on pedal steel and guitar.  I ran into Dave right before the show and had a few seconds with him.  I loved his performance with The Swearengens last year at their CD release party.  We got to be right up next to his pedal steel and watch the pro at work.  I haven’t seen his equal since.  He gigs with several different bands around town, and even has a steady gig at Sea-Tac Airport.  Find him there between 10 and noon.

The Ganges River Band performed a clean set of country tunes.  Country Dave switched from steel to electric about ¾ through the set.  The lead singer announced this was going to be their rock ‘n’ roll part of the set.  Someone, of course, yelled out “Freebird!” and got everyone laughing.  Country Dave quickly responded with his middle finger raised high: “I’ll show YOU a free bird!” More laughter and clapping broke out through the growing crowd.

After their rocking country finale, Shinyribs took the stage.  It took a while to tear down and set up.  In the meantime, we ordered a delicious Flying Squirrel Margarita pizza with mozzarella, tomatoes, onions and basil with spicy red sauce on flat bread.  Fantastico.

There was a guy eyeing P’s bar stool earlier in the night, and their friendly back-n-forth banter about takin’- each-other-out-back-but-they’re-too-old made me chuckle.  He just wanted to get a beer, and slid in by P’s seat while P stood up to stretch.  What I failed to realize is that he was Winfield Cheek, the keyboardist for Shinyribs! Good grief.  I had an opportunity to talk to him, but blew it.  Oh well.  It’s pretty hard to talk in that environment anyway.  Way too loud.

The boys set up, sound-checked and got down to bidness.  Kev announced, “No ass-pinchin’, keep yer hands to yerself…” and other pre-flight rules and regulations, then rocketed into their two albums worth of what he later described as CRISCO: Country-Disco!  A new genre!  Like The Gourds, it is hard to nail down their sound into one genre.  It’s Americana, a little rootsy, a little country, but the keyboard changes the whole vibe to R&B on a few songs.  Kevin throws in some old-timey blues and gospel numbers and has the audience clapping along like we’re in a Southern Baptist revival.  And I love it all.

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I didn’t see a setlist, but managed to write down most of the songs that I recognized or that he called out throughout the set.  You can hear most of the songs on the Shinyribs Bandcamp site.  They started with “Devilsong” off their first album, Well After Awhile.  “Country Cool” followed, with lots of back-n-forth from keys to guitar.  Such a joyful sound—similar to The Gourds, but not as gritty.  I stopped trying to compare and just enjoyed their set.

Kevin went on to say the next song was an anthropomorphic song.   He first defined anthropomorphism for the less eddy-cated. I didn’t catch the title of this one, but it had to do with a big north wind hitting Henderson Swamp.  Swamp Funk.  I read an article in the Houston Chronicle that named Shinyribs’ style as Swamp Funk.  I like that.  The article gives more information regarding the formation of Shinyribs and the musings of Kevin Russell.

“Me and Jesus”  A Gospel revival song-I felt like I was in church, but in a good way.

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“Will the Circle Be Unbroken” –My thoughts went back to the Willie Nelson show from a couple of weeks before…by and by, Lord, by and by.  The clapping audience turned the show into a frenzied revival right there at The Sunset Tavern.

“Shores of Galilee” from Well After Awhile–Kevin said this song reminded him of the roller rink dances of his junior high days, and dedicated the song to all the roller rink girls of his youth.

“This is the first song off our new album!” he yelled, called “Sweeter Than the Scars” from Gulf Coast Museum and featured a long, repetitive jam session on keys.

The next song entitled “Sweet Potato” was also from the new album.  He introduced it by saying this was a song about his favorite root vegetable.  It is actually a beautiful, almost sexy ode to the sweet potato, or the sweet tater of one’s life, I suppose.  Falsetto vocals channeled his Marvin Gaye R&B side.  A mesmerizing guitar solo near the end of the song took it to a new level for the live show. “Baby, I’m a lover, not a hater/ Lay down for me, sweet potater.”

Another song I need to research is “Sugar Cane”.  I have the word “Electric!” in my journal followed by “Shake…that booty!”  Must’ve been a good one! [Since this posting, I found the song on Gulf Coast Museum.  It’s called “Bolshevik Sugar Cane” and yes, “shake that booty” is in the lyrics.   AND it made me shake my booty!]

Russell then mentioned they would be playing the Sisters Folk Festival in Sisters, Oregon next.  After that, they do a few more gigs around Portland; then they roll south to California.  A two-week tour, said Kev and Keith, is just about right.–just long enough.

Kevin then pulled out an old Leadbelly song that dates back to the early 20th century.  Leadbelly got his name from apparently being shot in the stomach five times and surviving.  He was a badass from Mooringsport, LA.  Kevin said, “We need this song now.”  Kevin sang his version accompanied by the mic and his clapping hands: “We’s in the Same Boat Brother!”  The audience dug this one and clapped along heartily.  It transported us to a different time and to a land far from here; and yet the words are still meaningful today.  Says Leadbelly, “There’s one world, and we all in it together.”

He then covered another “pure soul song” by Harold Melvin and The Blue Notes with Teddy Pendergrass called “If You Don’t Know Me By Now”.   Kevin told a brief story of Teddy’s stint as a drummer until he was given an opportunity to sing this song.  Teddy’s drummer days were over and he became a soul sensation.  Kev did the song justice and included it on Gulf Coast Museum.

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Jimi Hendrix’s “Wind Cries Mary” was next, as Kevin gave a nod to Jimi’s Seattle roots.  He used his little guitar, similar to a jarana, [CORRECTION: that is a 6-string Ukulele!] and did his own version of Jimi’s solo by picking behind his head and doing a faux tooth strum.  Fantastic.  I yelled, “Light It!” ha

He then covered an old English folk tune that he said came from the bogs, immigrated to America and became warped in The South.  I’m not sure of the title, but it was about a man begging for salvation from the hangman’s noose. Keith helped out on drums while Kevin dove into the role.  Near the end of his rope, he got down on his knees and prayed, and then lay right down on the stage.

Prayin' for salvation

Prayin’ for salvation

Shinyribs Down!

Shinyribs Down!

“Somebody Else” is a poignant, heartbreaking song from Gulf Coast Museum.

I had to take a restroom break before the next song.  I’m mentioning that here only because while in the restroom, I heard Kevin say the following: “Salvador Dali Parton”.  That is how he described his next song, which he also said reminded him of Dolly’s “Jolene”.  I came back to my place next to P and he’d also written the word “Crisco” in my little journal.  I asked him what that meant, and he said, “It’s how Kevin described their sound!  Country-Disco…CRISCO!”

“Poor Peoples Store” is a great little ditty, although more true-to-life that I want to admit.  That great divide of rich and poor is getting wider by the minute, I’m afraid.  Cha cha cha.

I believe there are a few songs I missed in here, and I might have some incorrect titles.  I just wanted to sit back and listen up.  The boys finished with a big jam session and the diminished crowd pushed forward and whooped along.  Unfortunately, this Thursday night’s attendance was a bit slim.  I thought the place would be packed, knowing how many people shove into The Tractor to see The Gourds.  People get wimpy on weekdays.  We planned ahead, though, and took Friday off.  No wimping out here!

Afterward, the crowd filed out to the sidewalk.  We missed Keith, but Kevin took a seat by the door.  We congratulated him on another great night.  I had to tell him: “Your music fills my soul!”  Kev raised his arms up and yelled, “Yesss!  Success!  Got another one!”  We laughed at this.  It’s so true, though.  Of all the bands we’ve seen over the years, The Gourds and Shinyribs move me like no other.  So in that respect, the two bands are similar.

After their stint in Oregon and Cali, Shinyribs will head back to Texas.  They’ll play Austin City Limits October 6.

 

September 8, 2013 Posted by | Americana, aplscruf, Concert Season 2013, Shinyribs, The Gourds, The Sunset Tavern | , , , , , | 4 Comments

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

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

Big Sandy and His Fly-Rite Boys

Big Sandy and His Fly-Rite Boys

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

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

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

The Rainieros with Liam Fitzgerald and Nickolas Streeter

The Rainieros with Liam Fitzgerald and Nickolas Streeter

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

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

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

Ashley Kingman

Ashley Kingman

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Wild Feathers

The Wild Feathers

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

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

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

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

Willie's Big Finish

Willie’s Big Finish

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

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

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

Blurry Kevin Russell of The Gourds on Mandolin

Blurry Kevin Russell of The Gourds on Mandolin

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

September 6, 2013 Posted by | Big Sandy, Concert Season 2013, Marymoor Park, Music, Shinyribs, The Gourds, The Rainieros, The Tractor Tavern, The Wild Feathers, Willie Nelson | , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers at Fonda Theatre, Hollywood, CA June 3, 2013

Sunday, June 2, 2013

(Scroll down and skip to Monday, June 3 “ON WITH THE SHOW” below if you only want to read about the Tom Petty show details!)

I think I just witnessed a historical event.

P and I celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary a month early and flew to Hollywood to see Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers at The Fonda Theatre!  Tom and the boys are doing a spring and summer tour in small venues and paying homage to some of their musical heroes.  When we realized he wouldn’t be coming to Seattle, we jumped at the chance to see him in Hollywood.  He was scheduled to play there 6 nights; but due to our own full calendar, we could only see him the first night, if at all.  I decided if it was meant to be, I’d get the tickets for that first night.

On the appointed ticket sale day, I made sure to hop on Ticketmaster just minutes before the tickets became available. Miraculously, I bought two General Admission tickets for their first show, Monday, June 3.   Minutes later, every show sold out. I guess it was meant to be!

We arrived at Burbank’s Bob Hope Airport, a very small airport in close proximity to Hollywood.  We made the mistake of going through LAX one time and spent hours stuck on the freeway.  Never again! We rented a car–a Nissan Cube.  Good lord, we felt like dorks in that car.  It was pretty comfortable, but was slow to accelerate on the highway.  We drove to our hotel in a matter of minutes.

The Cube.

The Cube.

Hotel W, right on Hollywood Blvd, was just a block away from The Fonda Theatre.   As we soon discovered, Hotel W is also home of Jersey Shore.  As soon as we pulled up, a carload of bros decked out in their wife-beater tees, slicked back hair and huge sunglasses hopped out and looked around to see who was watching them.  They were everywhere.   We witnessed the end of a fight with guys hovering around their fallen comrade encouraging him to get over it and move on; a guy telling the hotel security guard he’s fired for not letting him in without his room card; bros giving bro hugs in the elevator and loudly bragging about their jet-setting all over the world; and just plain ridiculous behavior.  We knew we were in for it when the front desk clerk told us to sign a no-party conditional contract, separate from the usual check-in sheets, and then exclaimed that there are to be only two-heads-to-a-bed. Really.  I suddenly felt old and out-of-place.  On the upside, all of the hotel staff were polite and friendly to us, and the room was luxurious.

Since our room was not quite ready, we drove out to The Grove Farmers Market on 3rd for diner-style food and browsed the small shops under the maze of awnings.  We came back to the hotel and crashed after our long morning.

Later, we walked to Amoeba Music, found our boy a Live At Leeds original album by The Who (his favorite band in the universe), and then back to Fabiolus Italian Restaurant for a lovely early dinner and Limoncello cocktails.  We shared our favorite Tagliatele alla Bolognese and salads with bruschetta.  Next, we walked to IO Improv and purchased advance tickets,$10 each, to see guest host Angela Kinsey from The Office.  The show didn’t start until 10:00.

The Fonda Theatre Marquee!

The Fonda Theatre Marquee!

We ventured back down the street to check out the venue, and my heart raced when I saw the marquee.   Directly next door was the Blue Palms Brewhouse.  We grabbed a pint from the diverse menu and asked the bartender what the crowd would be like Monday night, and he predicted it would be jam-packed.

After sharing a giant piece of delicious pizza at a local take-out, we wandered back to IO that evening.  As guest host, Angela had to divulge a short personal story, based on a one-word suggestion from the audience.  Someone in the audience shouted out, “Narcissism!” and she told a story about her 5-year-old daughter and how demanding and self-centered she was, etc.  It was cute.  She was cute!  And so short! We were only about 6 feet from her, and there were maybe forty people were in attendance.  It was a really intimate theatre.  Then the rest of the improv people got on stage and acted out short sketches loosely based on Angela’s stories.  We were thoroughly entertained during the hour-long show.

IO Improv with guest host Angela Kinsey from The Office!

IO Improv with guest host Angela Kinsey from The Office!

Back to Hotel Jersey Shore.  It was hoppin’.  The security guards outside checked our room cards and made sure we were guests of the hotel.  Like that was hard to figure out, compared to the dudes posturing around us.  There was a swanky night club with a separate entry next to the hotel, so that was the reason so many young men and women came there.

Monday, June 3, 2013–Show Time!

We had a slow morning.  No rush–it was going to be a long night.  I finally got up and showered while P picked up coffee.  We decided to hit a good local restaurant for breakfast, but The Griddle where we planned to go was packed and there was no parking nearby.  We continued on past The Troubadour(!) and then on to Beverly Hills and Century City before finding a little cafe called Clementine.  I think it’s a chain, but they had a diverse selection of sandwiches and salads.

Historic Troubadour

Historic Troubadour

We then decided to drive all the way down the boulevard to Santa Monica Pier.  We parked pretty easily, and then walked out to the pier, about a quarter-mile out.  It was a nice stroll and not very crowded, since it was a Monday morning.

Santa Monica Pier

Santa Monica Pier

After getting lost for about an hour on side streets, we made our way back to Hollywood and settled on a Mexican restaurant called 3 Dog Cantina for a late lunch.  We cooled off, relaxed for a bit and watched the people walk or stumble by our large window that opened to the sidewalk below.  The food here was excellent, too. Pat had mahi-mahi tacos that were perfectly cooked, and I had verde enchiladas and a jicama-cucumber salad.  The verde sauce was spicy-hot and so yummy.

Back at the hotel, I tried to relax, but I knew the show was coming up quickly.  We had a couple of hours to kill, but I didn’t know when we should get in line at The Fonda.   I always get anxious trying to figure out the pre-show activities.  Do we grab a bite? Go find a bar? Just go get in line and tough it out for 3 or 4 hours? Will we get a good spot on the floor if we wait longer, or get screwed and have to peer over hundreds of heads from the back?  I hate the what-ifs; they kill the mood and make me fidgety.

We finally got ready after compromising on a time and walked across the street to the infamous Frolic Room next to The Pantages Theatre, just half a block away from The Fonda.  The Frolic Room, a renowned dive bar, gave me the willies as we walked up to the entrance.  There were four security guards out front.  I expected some kind of rowdy crowd inside.  Instead we found a tiny hole-in-the-wall bar with a few local drunks.  They must have problems there when the sun goes down (see the linked article above for an interesting story).  We ordered some Jameson and sat next to the wall adorned with a giant mural of caricatures of stars drawn by a famous cartoonist.  It was covered with Plexiglas.  We sat next to Marilyn and Einstein’s caricatures.  Ol’ Al was enjoying a pint of cartoon beer.  I was silent and fidgety as I sipped my drink.  P knew what was going through my brain: Stay or go?  Stay or go?  I poured part of my drink into P’s glass.  We finished quickly and got the hell out.

We stepped out to the sidewalk.  I felt my heart jump to my throat as looked across the street to the theatre and saw that the line was already snaking around the building!  We hurried over, and P warned that I should check to be sure we were in the correct line.  I just saw the one line, so I felt sure we were in the right one.  I asked the people in line if this was the Will-Call line.  They assured me it was.  We stayed for about 10 minutes, but P felt uneasy.  I took his concerns seriously now, and we cut out of line.  I asked the ticket-takers at the front where the GA will-call line was.  Wrong line!  We had to hurry to the other side of the building, but now that line was down the block and around the corner!  Oh, I was so disappointed.  But at the same time, I didn’t think I’d survive getting there early and standing in line for over 2 hours in the heat, only to have to stand inside the theater for 2 more.  So I just took what I could get.  Once in the proper line, we did have a very nice conversation with a couple in front of us.  Their daughter purchased tickets for them, just like I did, by getting on Ticketmaster at exactly 10:00.  They were a very down-to-earth local couple, and we had a lot of fun talking about different shows we’d seen over the years.

After about a half an hour, were getting hungry and the line hadn’t moved.  P walked quickly across the street and picked up some orange chicken at a Chinese take-out and purchased some more water.  By the time we ate part of the chicken, the line finally started inching toward the doors.  I think we were outside at least an hour, maybe an hour and a half.  The attendants were late getting our line through, too.  I don’t think we entered the theater till almost 8.

I thought we wouldn’t  have a chance in hell of getting a good view, but lo and behold, once again the left side (Stage Right) was open!  We ended up about 6 people deep from the stage.  The view was a bit blocked by Benmont’s grand piano; so I think people opted to fill in the middle of the theatre instead dealing with a partial view.  That was fine with me; I had a perfect view of Tom, and Mike came over to our side several times during his solos.

A nice mom, dad and adult daughter from San Andreas stood in front of us.  We expressed our mutual love for Tom, and they told us how they drove 6 hours to get down to the show.  We made a pact with them to not let any rude people push their way in front of us.  Usually, Petty’s shows have adoring older fans who respect people’s space, but there’s always that one drunk or pesky young ‘un that tries to shove their way to the front of the stage.  So annoying.  As we got closer to the start time, people kept their ground and left gaps for breathing room and personal space.  No one seemed to be crowding forward, so that was a relief.  Pat also kept us situated next to a railing where there was an elevated platform for standing along the wall, so we had something to hold on to and be able to shift weight off one leg for a bit.

Right before the show began, a smaller guy asked P to please move over so he could get through the crowd with two or three girls.  P refused, and kept his hand firmly clenched on the railing.  The man said he needed to go backstage.  P said, “Sorry, you’re not getting in front of me.”  The man then said he was The OWNER of the club, and he did NOT like P’s attitude!  He gave me dagger eyes, too, and I scowled back, confused as to what he told P, as it was loud in there.  We then saw him take the girls backstage, and P realized his mistake!  He was humble enough to apologize to the owner as he walked back through the crowd; the man stopped, smiled and said, “I appreciate that you are such big Tom Petty fans!”  I told him we came all the way from Seattle for the show.  He said it was tough to get backstage through the crowd and there was no other access; so that’s why he had to cut in front of us along the side.  He said he’d be back with something for us.  He then came back and gave us 4 drink passes!  So sweet.  We didn’t see him after that, but P wrote a nice note thanking him on the theatre’s website.

Nothing is better than seeing a fantastic band in a small venue, and Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers is one of the world’s best bands to see live.  We had such a great time getting sweaty, singing along, taking pics, clapping, cheering, screaming, and loving every minute of the show.  It was truly breathtaking to be that close to the whole band.  We had the crazy luck of seeing Tom in 2008 at The Troubadour, but that only included Tom, Mike, Benmont and his old band mates from Mudcrutch who produced a new album that year.  That was a fun album to hear live;  they also played some great old covers, but no Heartbreakers songs.  We were so close that I could have touched his guitar!  I tried not to compare The Troubadour show to this new one at The Fonda because they were two different animals.  At The Fonda, we were also miraculously close, considering how long the line was to get in.  Again, I felt that fate had played some kind of part.  The fact that I even got tickets was some kind of miracle.  I just went with the flow.  It was meant to be.

There is something special about Tom that brings people together.  People want to talk about his music, his shows, and what he means to them.  I have met so many people who have such a deep love for him and the band.  His music touched me when I was just a kid trying to make it as a teenager.  Damn the Torpedoes was my first album I ever purchased, and his lyrics spoke to my soul.  Other people commented that Tom’s music brought them together by some coincidence or helped mend their broken hearts or helped them remember a deceased loved one through his words.  It’s almost spooky. The first time I saw Tom at a live show was at The Gorge in 1995.  I’d missed seeing him perform in my teenage years, so I was beside myself with excitement to finally get see him as an adult.  What I didn’t realize until just a few weeks after the show was that I was pregnant with our son!  That show will always be a part of our son’s story.  We tell him that he was in attendance at my first Tom Petty show.  Our boy’s middle name is Thomas, which is also his great-grandfather’s middle name.  Close enough; I’m willing to share.

ON WITH THE SHOW!

Minutes before showtime, the crowd grew restless and cheered after the background music ended, hoping they were turning it off to start the show.  Then another song came on and everyone grumbled.  FINALLY…the background music stopped abruptly in the middle of a song, the house lights dimmed and all 1,200 of us went crazy!  Tom and the band took their places on the dimly lit stage, and the spotlights flashed on as they hit their first note.  For such a small venue, the place was rockin’ and the noise was at an eardrum-splitting volume.  Tom had arrived! I was in awe, once again, at how close we were to my musical hero.

Tom Petty

Tom Petty

I looked back at P, cussed and smiled as Tom blasted into “Rock & Roll Star”.  For some reason, I develop a potty mouth at Tom’s shows.  I get surprised by the songs—some of which he’s never played live and others I hoped he played.  So when Tom or Mike play a guitar lick and I figure out the song, I turn around to P and smile, then let out a big, “Holy Sh#*!”  P gets a kick out of that because he knows, at that moment, I’m one of the happiest people on Earth.

Tom with Ron Blair and Scott Thurston

Tom with Ron Blair and Scott Thurston

Here is a short blog and pics of the first night from Tom Petty’s Website: http://www.tompetty.com/blog/fonda-theatre-night-one-recap-photos-set-list-134546  Check out the comments, too, on other shows.  People who attended these shows will remember them forever.

Mike Campbell

Mike Campbell

Here is the setlist with my comments to the right of some of the songs.  You can see numerous YouTube videos of different songs from different nights.  Just search for Tom Petty, plug in the song name, and look for Fonda Theatre posts:

Rock & Roll Star  Tom set the tone for the night and garnered wild cheers after this Byrds cover

Love Is A Long Road 

I Won’t Back Down  Heyyy Baaaby!  There ain’t no easy way ouuut…! Audience sang along loudly

Fooled Again 

Cabin Down Below  From Wildflowers – I like this one—a little darker and sexier than some of his others

Good Enough  MOJO – with Mike on screamin’ guitar solos in a slow, bluesy grind

Steppin’ Stone (cover)

Woman In Love From Hard Promises – Fantastic live version

Billy the Kid  The man next to me was impressed by my knowledge of this deep cut from Echo.  He told me I must be a real, hardcore fan!  Yep.  Tom exclaimed that he does not play many songs from Echo, and that it took many visits to the psychiatrist to figure out why he does not play many songs from Echo…I sang along, “Well, I went down hard/like Billy the Kid…”

Tweeter And The Monkey Man  Bob D and Wilburys-not sure I’d like this because I loved so many other Wilbury songs, but they stepped up.  Petty added a clearer voice with just enough sneer, and the boys pitched in on chorus

Rebels  another beautiful acoustic number

Hard To Find A Friend  Acoustic, nice and soft

Angel Dream  Tom mentioned tonight was his wedding anniversary.  Twelve years of wedded bliss!  This song is from the 1996 movie soundtrack She’s The One and one of the last songs he played at the Gorge in 1995—the first time I’d seen him.  Such a quiet, beautiful, perfect love song.

Willin’ Little Feat cover

Melinda Benmont had an extended solo on this one.

I Should Have Known It  MOJO – rockin’ song to start the beginning of the end with incredible riffs and solo from Mike.

Refugee P has video of this and it’s amazing.  So much energy.  I liked what they did with it-Mike’s solos once again just blasted it into the audience

Runnin’ Down A Dream Such a big sound.  Guitar riff such a classic Mike sound.  The boys then took a short break as the crowd stomped, clapped and cheered wildly for more.

E: You Wreck Me See my VIDEO at top of blog–My favorite from Wildflowers.  Tom quiets down in the middle, giving hand signals to drummer Steve to come in with a bang before continuing on to the latter half of the song.I’ll be the boy/in the corduroy pants/you be the girl/at the high school dance!”  Everyone sang along and bounced as they cranked it up a notch.  You can hear the audience join in as Tom smiled back and let them take over.

American Girl “We’re gonna leave you where it all started.” The frenetic finale got everyone moving and singing, but feeling like the show was ending way too soon.  A bittersweet goodbye.

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Throughout the show, the band seemed loose, relaxed and out to have a good time—so similar to the boys’ residency at The Troubadour in 2008.  Although they are such a powerful band, a small venue just suits them.  They played with the audience, got close to the edge of the stage, smiled and gestured.  Their instrumental skill and Tom’s vocal prowess has not wavered.  They had a strong and positive energy that enveloped the audience.  The crowd responded in kind with explosive cheers, song requests, and shouts for more.  During a quieter moment, one girl yelled for them to play “Louisiana Rain”, so I followed suit and yelled for “No Second Thoughts” hoping for an addition to the setlist, but to no avail.  Talk about deep tracks! We  just soaked in every minute.   We became one with the rest audience—a sweaty mass of humanity all gathered for the same purpose.  Tom and the boys delivered in a big way.  Many of the fan comments on Tom’s website  included the phrases, “A class act…best Tom Petty show I’ve ever seen…”.  I concur.

Spotlights on The Heartbreakers

Spotlights on The Heartbreakers

After the jaw-dropping sweat-fueled encore, we reluctantly left–only when the house lights came on and we knew for sure that Tom was not coming back for a second encore.  We were spent and exhilarated! P and I filed out to the sidewalk and into the cool breeze.  We decided to debrief next door at The Blue Palms Brewhouse.  I thought the pub would be packed after the show, but only a few people milled around by the bar.  We saw someone who looked like our friend from Bellingham at the bar. It didn’t register with me at first, because I thought she was only going to Tuesday’s show.  It was our friend, and she was able to get tickets to Monday’s show, too. What a complete coincidence, that out of the 1,200 people in the vicinity, we would run into her after the show.  Tom’s MOJO was at it again!

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June 12, 2013 Posted by | Concert Season 2013, The Fonda Theatre, Tom Petty | , , , , | 3 Comments

Jackrabbit and Mark Pickerel at The Tractor 1.18.2013

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Jackrabbit

I’m finally getting around to posting this.  I was working on a manuscript for a writing contest through pnwa.org and got sidetracked.  We’re not going to as many shows as we’d like, either–trying to cut back a little.  It’s torture for me to miss so many shows; but when we do go, I try to savor each moment.

For our first show of Concert Season 2013, we saw our favorite local band Jackrabbit.  They played at The Tractor, our favorite Ballard venue.  It was a Friday, which always makes it tough to stay the entire night because we have early mornings and long work days.  We try to take a little nap before leaving for the show, but that didn’t happen this time.

In an effort to save some dough, we ate at home, and then shared a snack at Hattie’s Hat, next door to The Tractor.  We then strolled down the sidewalk to a little gelato bar and ordered small scoops of stracciatella and caramel.  We pored over a map of Italy on the wall and wished we were visiting at that moment. 

At The Tractor, our little table was waiting for us.  I swear, people must get a vibe not to touch our table! I think our energy will still be hanging out there long after we’re gone.  We spoke to Tony Fulgham of Jackrabbit briefly, but they were on first.  He was scurrying around, trying to finalize the setlist and helping with equpiment.  He was looking forward to finishing the set and dancing with his wife the rest of the evening.

As usual, Jackrabbit played their little hearts out, and this time added J.B. Kardong on pedal steel for some serious twang.  Aimee Zoe banged away on drums and added gusto to the first song, “I Know”.  My recent favorite, “Fathers and Sons” was up next.  I need to let my own son hear that song and listen to the poignant lyrics about growing up and becoming a man. 

The intro to “Home Alone” a new song that I’m hoping will show up on their future album, went something like this: “This song’s about trying not to be a fuck-up.”

Aimee took the reigns and sang lead on another new song, “One More Time”.  It has a honky-tonk sound that fits nicely in Jackrabbit’s catalog.  “Around The Bend” is dark and bluesy, and got the audience fired up with its Mojo sound, a la Tom Petty.  They finished with “Big Kids” which is another rawkin’ song, and always the perfect closer.

Mark Pickerel and His Praying Hands were up next, and the crowd filled in.  Steve Davis, a.k.a. Tine E. Dancer from Brent Amaker and The Rodeo, filled in on electric guitar.  It was hard to put a label on Pickerel’s genre.  Sometimes it had a country twang; somtimes it was more of a surf punk; other times it had a 60’s film noir vibe with dark tones and minor keys, like something from a Tarantino movie.   Overall, they had a pretty cool vibe going on.  Mark’s voice has been compared to “Roy Orbison on sedatives”.  Poor Mark’s beautiful Washburn acoustic guitar was stolen out of his car a couple weeks ago.  Tragic.  I hope he finds it. 

We couldn’t stay for the whole set, and missed Hart Kingsbery’s show entirely.  Just…too…tired.  We were glad we finally got out again, though.

April 2, 2013 Posted by | Concert Season 2013, Davidson Hart Kingsbery, Jackrabbit, Mark Pickerel and His Praying Hands, Music, The Tractor Tavern | , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments