Aplscruf's Music Blog

Last Gourds Show Review by Windup Wire

Check out Windup Wire’s review of The Gourds last show in Austin, TX here: Last Gourds Show Review.  Apparently, I’m not the only one who felt some sort of Divine Intervention during their performance!  Surreal.

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October 28, 2013 Posted by | The Gourds | 2 Comments

OH, MY GOURDS…

A Grave Moment

A Grave Moment

The Gourds, one of my all-time favorite bands, decided to take a hiatus, effective immediately.  They have a final show October 27 in Austin.  Although I’m heartbroken they won’t be coming my way anytime soon (who knows when they’ll be back), I am very thankful that we took a chance in August and made it to their show at The Tractor.  They are now part of my Top 5 Favorite Weekends.

I posted a blog for No Depression here: http://www.nodepression.com/article/oh-my-gourds

October 26, 2013 Posted by | The Gourds | Leave a 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.

DSC03358

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.

DSC03357

“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

Five…No…Ten Favorite Shows of 2011

I was lucky enough to see a show almost every month of 2011, and some months, two or three shows.  We’re winding down now, getting ready for the holidays and visiting with family and friends.  We’ll still see a couple of shows between now and the end of the year, including The Paperboys on December 23, one of my Top 10 favorite bands of all time.  Click Here For Previous Review.

So far, though, I do have a list of my Five Favorites of 2011.

5.  Screw it.  I can’t make a decision, so I’m going to go with my Ten Favorites of 2011.

10.  The B-52’s at Chateau Ste. Michelle – This show was great because The B-52’s brought the energy, the showmanship and the great songs we all love to a beautiful outdoor venue.  We were there with a large family group and danced and sang along.  Click Here For Review.

The B-52's

9.  Vicci Martinez at Big Daddy’s Place – This was a chance to see Vicci, a Tacoma, Washington local, wail her lungs out in a small suburban venue before becoming a national sensation on The Voice.  Click Here For Review.

Vicci Martinez

8.  Massy Ferguson and Brent Amaker and The Rodeo at The Tractor – Our first introduction to Massy Ferguson and Brent with The Rodeo back on a smaller stage.  Curtains For You, a poppy, energetic band opened the show, and a biker in the front knew all the words.  I love the picture of Brent Amaker smiling while the biker is in the moment.  No whiskey this time, but now that the stage performer liquor laws have changed, we’ll get to hear “Bring Me The Whiskey” at the next show!

Curtains For You, Brent and Biker

Massy Ferguson

Brent Amaker

7.  Star Anna at Neumos – We saw Star four times this year, but this time, even P was completely hooked by her vocal prowess.  He connected.  Click Here For Previous Review.

Star Anna

6.  Jackrabbit and Massy Ferguson at Nectar Lounge – Jackrabbit, reincarnated after North Twin’s demise, and again Tony Fulgham won me over.  Massy was celebrating their EP release, and I got to post my review of the show on
RandomvilleClick Here For Review.

Tony Fulgham of Jackrabbit

Ethan Anderson of Massy Ferguson

5.  Jackrabbit and The Gourds at The Tractor – Jackrabbit opened and rawked the set, warmed up the crowd for The Gourds, another crazy night of crossover music, from 60’s psychedelic rock to old-timey revivals.  Most memorable moment was approaching Mr. Kevin Russell at Hattie’s Hat and telling him I was going to review his show.  His response: “Oh, Shit!” I later gave him the ol’ two-fingered stink-eye when he noticed me in the audience, and I mouthed, “I’m watchin’ you!”  Click Here For Review.

Tony Fulgham of Jackrabbit

The Gourds

4.  Old 97’s at The Showbox – My first press pass!  Right up front.  I loved every minute, and sang my heart out to every song.  Click Here For Review.

Old 97's

3.  Flight To Mars at The Showbox – Another press and photo pass!  My sister-in-law joined me and took absolutely brilliant pics of the boys (Click This Link for her pics), including local Tim DiJulio (Lazy Susan and North Twin) and Pearl Jam’s Mike McCready.  Click Here For Review.

Tim DiJulio and Mike McCready of Flight to Mars

2.  Nashville (Will Kimbrough, Marshall Chapman, Minton Sparks, Slim Chance and The Can’t Hardly Playboys) – the whole Nashville experience was wonderful.  Kept to small venues and the Americana singer/songwriters.  Click Here For Review.

Marshall Chapman and Will Kimbrough at The Station Inn

Zach and Josh of Slim Chance and the Can't Hardly Playboys at Layla's

1.  Los Straitjackets at Slow Food Roots Music Festival – A bizarre series of events.  Marshall Chapman’s book had a chapter on Eddie Angel who once played in Marshall’s band.  Now Eddie’s fronting Los Straitjackets, and just happened to be playing in Seattle and a small fair in Stanwood within two weeks after I finished the book.  I brought the book, my son, our appetites to the festival.   We ate delicious local food, watched some pretty loco boys in Mexican wrestling masks play instrumental surf music, and were completely blown away by their skills and entertaining antics.  My son loved every minute of it.  To top off a perfect afternoon at the festival, they all signed Marshall’s book!  Click Here For Review.

Los Straitjackets

November 19, 2011 Posted by | Americana, Big Daddy's Place, Brent Amaker and the Rodeo, Chateau Ste Michelle, Concert Season 2011, Flight to Mars, Jackrabbit, Langhorne Slim, Los Straitjackets, Marshall Chapman, Massy Ferguson, Music, Nectar Lounge, Neumos, North Twin, Old 97's, Randomville, Star Anna and the Laughing Dogs, The B-52's, The Gourds, The Paperboys, The Tractor Tavern, Vicci Martinez, Will Kimbrough | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

LIVE REVIEW: THE GOURDS AND JACKRABBIT

Kevin Russell of The Gourds

Check out my review on Randomville!  See below for more pics and more info about the show.

The Gourds, from Austin, TX stormed into town for another rollicking, foot-stomping performance, showing off music from their new CD, Old Mad Joy produced by Larry Campbell for Vanguard Records.  Jackrabbit, who played for Massy Ferguson in Mid-October, opened the show, and once again performed an excellent set of country rock and got the crowd moving.  Click here for a review of their show with Massy Ferguson.  

Tony Fulgham of Jackrabbit


Jason Montgomery, Tony's "Brother From Another Border--Oregon!" on Pedal Steel

Check out Jackrabbit’s website  to purchase their new EP!  Listen below:

Here is Jackrabbit’s setlist from The Tractor show:

What’s a Guy Gotta Do

Fathers and Sons

AZ Death Song

Done With You

Throwing in The Towel

I Know

I’m Sorry

Around the Bend

Big Kids (RAWKED!)

Jason and Tony

It was a pleasure to finally meet Tony and be able to exchange a few words before his awesome set.  We’re hoping to go to his next show in December.

Before The Gourds came on, we met a nice couple from Victoria.  Came down specifically for the show.  They were also at Tractor several other times throughout the year, and saw Los Straitjackets a few weeks ago, too.  I commended them for their long haul across the water and US border to get here.  I’m sure we’ll see them again.  They also enjoyed Jackrabbit and were looking forward to The Gourds.

The Gourds’ show at The Tractor Tavern featured most songs from Old Mad Joy.  It felt more like a rock show than a revival this time around.  Their new music has a 60’s psychedelic vibe, heavy on electric guitar, with psychotropic solos from Kevin Russell.  I could hear The Rolling Stones bleed through some of their songs; especially those from co-singer/writer Jimmy Smith, whose voice sounds similar to Keith Richards.

Jimmy Smith on Bass

Instead of going through a song-by-song description of The Gourds’ very long setlist, I thought I’d take a few paragraphs to explain The Gourds to those who have not experienced their live show.  The Gourds formed 17 years ago in Austin, TX.    They have 11 albums under their belts, and travel the countryside spreading the joy of live music.  They make appearances at SXSW, Bumbershoot, Hardly Strictly Bluegrass, and other festivals.  Their motto: “For the Unwashed and Well-Read.”

Max Johnston of The Gourds

I discovered The Gourds just by chance in 2007 while flipping through the TV channels.  They were featured musicians on Austin City Limits.   I then heard they were touring the Northwest, so  my husband and I made sure to buy tickets and saw them live at The Tractor Tavern in Seattle.  Their show felt like an old-timey revival in the Deep South.  The five-piece band played a variety of instruments, including electric/acoustic guitars, bass, drums, mandolin, violin, banjo, lap steel, and accordion, and Each band member is also so full of life and energy.

Kev, Jimmy and Claude

The Gourds’ original music, written mostly by Russell and Smith, is sometimes complex and so eclectic; it is impossible to categorize their music.  Their songs range from Tex-Mex country rock to Bluegrass to Cajun to something out of a church hymnal.  This latest album has more of a rock influence, although rock riffs and beats are scattered throughout their older music.

I get more salvation from their shows than I ever did in church.  My soul gets a lift, and I feel so alive–so fulfilled after their two-hour set.  They are a full body-mind-and-spirit show.  Each band member brings energy and puts their heart into each performance.  Kevin Russell, co- singer/writer, plays electric and acoustic guitars, harmonica and mandolin.  When he gets into the music, he stomps to the beat, gyrates, postures, poses, and throws his head around like a man possessed–or blessed.

A Grave Moment

The Gourds’ musical energy and rampant joy spills out over the low stage and floods the audience.  They stomp, wail, whoop, jam and generally cause musical hysteria.  When they’re in such a frenzied state, they are a sight to behold.  It is something that is hard to put into words.  The entranced (and possibly chemically altered) crowd responds accordingly, by whooping back, clapping and singing along, dancing and stomping in time.

Max and Keith

They also do a few covers, including T-Pain’s “Let Me Buy You a Drink,” and received some attention a few years ago after covering Snoop Dogg’s “Gin and Juice,” with Kevin on mean mandolin:

At times, their lyrics are perplexing and undecipherable; but it doesn’t seem to matter during their live shows.  They could speak in tongues and the crowd would still embrace each song.

An excerpt from “Marginalized” off Old Mad Joy by Jimmy Smith:

saw this magnanimous bottom feeder look up at me
thought pond scum sucked ‘til i had a bowl of rat soup inside of me
well, it’s pretty good said this cat named Sneezeguard
couldn’t ever crowd his pan always got a proper sear on
just to find out that easily led could actually steer one

Over the years, every set and  show has been unique in some way.  They bring new songs mixed with old, different instruments, and different variations to the songs.  Shinyribs (Kevin Russell’s alter ego on acoustic guitar) might show up and play the opener with a mix of original and covers of old gospel and blues tunes.  The crowd ranges from all walks of life, from cowboys to college students.  The one time I didn’t bring my camera, a girl next to me kept her V-neck T-shirt pulled down pretty much the whole evening and flashed her recently purchased boobs to the smiling band (and others’ cameras).  Not to be outdone, a tall, skinny guy in a yellow T-shirt approached the front of the stage and pulled his shirt all the way up and rubbed his belly and chest, to the roar of the crowd.  That was the same night Jimmy’s bass got knocked over, smashed into the side of a beautiful acoustic guitar and made a big hole in it.

My most memorable Gourds moment this evening was approaching Mr. Kevin Russell at Hattie’s Hat and telling him I was going to review his show.  His response: “Oh, Shit!” I later gave him the ol’ two-fingered stink-eye when he noticed me in the audience, and I mouthed, “I’m watchin’ you!” 

A camera crew filmed the show during their most recent visit.  I asked Max Johnston who they were, and he said he didn’t know; they’ve just been following the band around like a couple of stalkers!  I suspect, with their new Vanguard label, we will see a DVD shortly.

Kevin Bending the Strings and Stalker Camera Man

On this chilly October night, we put our political differences aside and followed Jimmy’s plea to “Occupy The Gourds!”  The Tractor crowd warmly embraced their new music.  The older songs, worked in throughout the set, galvanized the audience who sang and shouted all the words.  My favorite moment came during their three-song encore, where they played “Burn the Honeysuckle,” or Kevin’s “cowboy brag” song, as he calls it.  His mandolin skills and gyrations are mesmerizing.

Here is a polished version of that song with an explanation of how he came about writing the lyrics:

Also, check out another encore song, “Mr. Betty,” by Jimmy, and hear the  Stones influence:

The long, frenzied night of soul-cleansing music came to an end, instruments and T-shirts intact.
MORE PICS!!


November 8, 2011 Posted by | Americana, Concert Season 2011, Jackrabbit, The Gourds, The Tractor Tavern | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

SXSW – A Few Worthy Bands

Someday, we’ll get to SXSW, the Austin mega-music festival.  There are a quite a few Seattle bands attending, as well as some lesser known bands from all over.  Literally hundreds of bands descend on that city, along with their faithful fans and music lovers.   Here are just a handful of bands I’d like to see:

The David Wax Museum
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w9zhaqp4l7k

Boston’s David Wax Museum continues to win awards and praises, including Boston’s Americana Artist of the Year.  The Mexo-Americana band can do no wrong at SXSW.

Brent Amaker and the Rodeo

Brent and the Boys are packing up the van in Seattle and driving to SXSW.  The cowboys will be sure to entertain the Texas crowd.  Their show is a full-on, bad boy country experience, and might include a baptismal ceremony–with whiskey.

Brent’s “Man in Charge”
http://www.brentamaker.com/audio/manincharge.mp3

Abigail Washburn
http://abigailwashburn.bandcamp.com/album/city-of-refuge?permalink

I saw Abigail and her bluegrass band when she opened for Steve Martin.  Sweet and sultry voice, beautiful claw hammer banjo picking and excellent backing band.

North Mississippi Allstars, made up of the Dickinson brothers will be a crowd pleaser.  Luther plays guitar like no other.  He could pick up a stick with a rubber band and make it sing.

North Mississippi Allstars 2011
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h-bCERmxWGY

North Mississippi Allstars Stompin’ My Foot 2005
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hlPGyVmFGvw

Unnatural Helpers
http://schedule.sxsw.com/events/event_MS10720

This Seattle punk band will be a fun one to watch.  Short, energetic songs will get the crowd bouncing.

The Gourds
http://thegourds.com/radio.html

UPDATE! SEE GOURDS SCHEDULE IN COMMENTS BELOW! Those who have never seen them are in for a rollicking, old-timey revival of a show, complete with banjo, violin, mandolin and accordion.

Old 97’s

Texas sweet (and…sweat) hearts.

March 16, 2011 Posted by | Americana, Brent Amaker and the Rodeo, Concert Season 2011, Old 97's, Steve Martin, The David Wax Museum, The Gourds | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Top 10 Live Shows

I thought I’d take a moment and share my top 10 favorite live shows.  Some are very specific by date and venue, and  some are by artist only.   This will change over time, I’m sure.  And after looking it over, I left out a few, such as The Rolling Stones in 1994.  That was a spectacular show, but it was in the Kingdome, and the band was about 1/4 mile away.  Didn’t really feel the love.  We saw Bruce Springsteen a few years ago, and I felt the same way.  Great, energetic show, but we were looking down on them from afar.  The lucky few hundred who got to be right against the stage, now they had a show to remember!

[You can also view this post and other reviews and features on Randomville]

Anyway, on with the list (all pics taken by me except Jimmy Buffett below):

Jimmy Buffett

10.  Jimmy Buffett – The man has paradoxically built an empire on the Margaritaville philosophy!  I’ve only seen him once back  in 2003, but was thoroughly entertained.  The show was pure fun, with hula girls, tiki gods and fire dancers.  And the Parrothead audience was a spectacle in itself.  He brought along a slew of veteran musicians and singers.  If you’re lucky enough to go to his show, his lead guitarist for the night might be Will Kimbrough, a talented musician, singer/songwriter and producer who has also collaborated on several songs with Jimmy.  You can forget all your problems for two hours Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays!

The Paperboys

 9.   The Paperboys – The Vancouver-based Paperboys have been lifting people’s spirits with their high energy shows for 16 years.  The eight-piece band plays in small venues in BC, Seattle and Portland, and captivates the audience with their joyful, upbeat and very eclectic music:  Mexican, Canadian, Celtic, and Reggae soup.  They make quarterly appearances at The Tractor Tavern in Ballard.

8.   Ryan Adams – – Paramount Theatre, Seattle, WA January, 2008 – I smiled until my cheeks hurt.  Ryan brought along The Cardinals and tore the place up with songs from his album, Easy Tiger, along with many greats from his prolific song library and a few covers. He’s such a quirky character and a comedian, too–a sad clown.  The rest of the talented band seemed patient and knew when to wait for him to calm down, light his cigarette, have a little chat with the audience, etc.  I loved the train-wrecked Ryan, back when he could write a soul-crushing, alt-country song.  Glad he sobered up and married a pop star, because you know after the divorce, the songs will be good again.   

7.  Brent Amaker and the Rodeo Foot-stompin’, belt buckle-wearin’ cowboys in black.  The lead singer dons a red cape, has a stripper assistant and sounds like Johnny Cash–with a potty mouth. Campy country at its best.  A Seattle treasure.  Catch them at The Crocodile, The Sunset and other small venues throughout the year. 

Brent Amaker

6.  The Gourds Texas and Louisiana, sex and religion, country and rock, bluegrass and Snoop Dogg all rolled into a mandolin, violin, banjo, and accordion.  Their shows feel like an old-timey revival in the Deep South.  I get more salvation from their shows than I ever did in church.  The band’s motto: “For The Unwashed and The Well-Read. “  They’ve been featured at SXSW, Austin City Limits, and are regulars at The Tractor Tavern in Ballard, WA.  Yes, they’re the ones who covered Snoop’s “Gin and Juice” on mandolin.

The Gourds

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5.  Old 97’s – Alt-country/rock, Texas-style.  Sweat, spit, roaring guitar riffs, and a faithful audience that knows all the words.  There’s even a glossary on their website if you need help understanding the lyrics.  See them LIVE one time, and you’ll want to follow them around the country.

Rhett Miller of Old 97's

 

 

 

 

4.  Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers (Anywhere!) – Tom and the band are American Icons.  Just go see them—anywhere.  The Gorge Amphitheatre in George, WA is a beautiful place to sing along to “Free Fallin’” while the desert sun sets behind the enormous stage.

3.  Todd Snider and the Nervous Wrecks at The Nugget, Sparks, NV 2009 – Wrecktacular.  The whole package.  Comedy, Americana, Folk, and Good Ol’ Rock-n-Roll.  And Will Kimbrough (the man gets around) on screaming, other-worldly guitar solos.  Todd’s solo show is also worth seeing.  He’s a Nashville transplant, originally from Oregon and plays the Northwest once or twice a year.  He can spin a yarn like no other.  Just get him started with stories about Slash or Garth Brooks, and you’ll think you’re at a stand-up comedy show.

Todd Snider and Will Kimbrough


2.  Sir Paul McCartney at The Tacoma Dome, WA 2002, – I was too young to see him when he visited Seattle in the 70’s.  To hear him play not only Wings songs but Beatles tunes with an incredible backing band, priceless.  And the show was a gift from my boss.  I pulled my hair, grabbed my face and screamed like it was 1964.

1.  Tom Petty with Mudcrutch at The Troubadour, Los Angeles, CA 2008 – Tom, 10 feet away.  My Musical Messiah–my Jesus of Rock ‘n’ Roll.  He smiled at me (ME!) and I was saved.  I can clearly remember standing there near the stage saying, “I can die now; my life is complete!” Tom reunited his old band (pre-Heartbreakers) and played a few gigs, mostly at The Troubadour, to support their new album.  Tom and the band, which included Mike Campbell on wicked guitar, seemed relaxed and happy.  No big light show, no grandstanding, just a regular band out to enjoy themselves and connect with the audience.  TEN FEET AWAY!

Tom Petty and Mike Campbell

February 8, 2011 Posted by | Brent Amaker and the Rodeo, Jimmy Buffett, Music, Old 97's, Paul McCartney, Rolling Stones, The Gorge Amphitheatre, The Gourds, The Paperboys, The Tractor Tavern, Todd Snider, Tom Petty, Will Kimbrough | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The One Time I Didn’t Bring My Camera…

[PHOTO NOT AVAILABLE]

The Gourds at the Tractor Tavern, Ballard 07.13.10

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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