Aplscruf's Music, Art, and Literature Blog

2016: A Year In Review


Tom Petty and Mudcrutch played The Filmore in San Francisco this year.

Another year flew by. Another year of fantastic shows and new musical discoveries. This year in music took me from Seattle to England to Amsterdam to Portland to San Francisco and back. I’m grateful for the opportunities I had this year to see local bands and national legends. I also posted several online reviews to No Depression, the journal of roots music. Although we lost some musical greats, I am grateful I had the opportunity to see some of them over the years, including David Bowie and Merle Haggard. I’m also grateful for new friends and for adding lovely new branches to my musical family tree.

Now, on to the fun stuff. I thought I’d share a review in pictures, which includes shows and albums I reviewed. Check ’em out online, or find them linked on my feed to the right.

I started out 2016 with a review of Lookout from a sweet ‘n’ local indie-pop band Fine Prince.


Seattle’s Fine Prince

Joy Mills, Cahalen Morrison, and Blackberry Bushes graced The Tractor’s stage in January.

Bizarre musical coincidences occurred all year. I was contacted by Jeff Finlin to post his video “I Killed Myself Last Night” from his 2013 album My Moby Dick, which led to an unexpected friendship and a realization that our mutual friends in music criss-crossed the globe. Jeff also had a ridiculously prolific year. He toured Europe twice, released a retrospective album called Life After Death – The Essential Jeff Finlin, published a poetry book, started a yoga for recovery organization, published 365 Days of Recovery Yoga, and will drop yet another new album soon.


Jeff Finlin

Noam Weinstein released one of my favorite albums of 2016, On Waves.

Noam Weinstein pic

Noam Weinstein

Colt Kraft brought his ganja country sound and dapper sweaters to Darrell’s Tavern in Shoreline.


Colt Kraft and Jamie Henwood

Peter Bruntnell,who toured the U.K. and Europe with Jeff Finlin and Clive Barnes this year, also produced one of the best songs and most scathing music videos of the year called “Mr. Sunshine” from his new critically acclaimed album, Nos Da Comrade. Now, it’s December, and the nightmare of greed and power continues on our side of The Pond…

Massy Ferguson played a final show at Jet Bar in Lynnwood before it closed for good. Massy wins for most shows attended this year. I lost track of how many times we saw them.


Massy Ferguson

New York’s Sean Rowe blew us away in Bothell inside a tiny classroom-sized listening room at McMenamins.


Sean Rowe

A trip to Leavenworth for a Knight family reunion also reunited us with Alisa Milner and Ian McFeron, who played Icicle Creek Brewery. They got married later this year!


Alisa Milner and Ian McFeron

In March, Massy Ferguson and The Dusty 45’s joined forces to support Seattle’s DESC organization.

Vaudeville Etiquette, Seattle darlings, played The Sunset and all over Seattle this year.


Tayler Lynn and Bradley Laina of Vaudeville Etiquette

A trip overseas led to meeting promoters and musicophiles Oliver and Birgit Gray of Winchester. Their Swiss Cottage and The Railway Inn are havens for many US and UK Americana artists, including a handful that we saw this year: Richmond Fontaine, Jeff Finlin, The Believers, and Fernando.


Birgit and Oliver Gray’s Swiss Cottage near Winchester, and below, Jo’s Melkweg Cafe in Amsterdam

In Amsterdam, we met Erik and Jo, Wisconsin expats and owners of Jo’s Cafe in the Melkweg music venue. We didn’t see music on that trip, but we met some beautiful people who care about quality music and esteemed musicians.

 Jeremy Nail’s gem of a new album, My Mountain, was produced by Alejandro Escovedo, who also dropped a highly acclaimed album of his own this year called Burn Something Beautiful.

Jeremy Nail stevan.alcala_JN14B

Jeremy Nail

We drove to Portland and watched Todd Snider’s triumphant return to his solo show. Rorey Carroll opened with her beautiful, biting folk songs.


Todd Snider at Aladdin Theater in Portland

Richmond Fontaine–another beautiful coincidence. As we were touring Europe, Willy Vlautin and crew were just days behind us. They also visited Oliver and Birgit in Winchester–they were one of the first American bands to ever play The Railway and Swiss Cottage as one of Oliver’s promotional acts years ago. We finally converged in Portland and witnessed Richmond Fontaine’s swan song. The band was breaking up. They’ve taken the rest of the year to do so, with a final tour in Europe just wrapping up in October.

Flight To Mars – Seattle’s UFO tribute band gets together annually for a great cause – Crohn’s and Collitis Foundation.

IMG_1783 (2)

Mike McCready and Tim DiJulio of Flight To Mars

Greg Townson was busy with a new solo album and tour with Los Straitjackets as well as a Hi-Risers reunion.


Will Kimbrough, Nashville’s prolific singer-songwriter-producer-session artist had a very busy year doing all that. Live At Coast was finally released; and Willie Sugarcapps, his Lower Alabama supergroup, also dropped a new album, Paradise Right Here.


David Corley came back from the dead (literally) to release his sophomore album Lights Out and tour Europe again.


David Corley in The Netherlands. Photo by Niels Knelis Meijer

Aaron Lee Tasjan, another acclaimed Nashville artist who just dropped a new album called Silver Tears, played a free show at McMenamins in Bothell to maybe 50 people. His clear vox and bluesy guitar licks sold us. The talented Brian Wright shared the spotlight and backed him. Where the hell was everyone?


Brian Wright and Aaron Lee Tasjan

John Doe — a new album, a new book on LA punk, a new video, and a new tour, including a stop in Ballard’s Tractor Tavern. A thrill to meet him. Always keeping things fresh and remembering his punk roots at the same time. Opening and backing him was Texan Jesse Dayton, guitarist extraordinaire, who also came back and played a duo show at McMenamins and dropped a new album.Click on individual pics for a closer look…

Ted Leo (of The Pharmacists) and Aimee Mann played Barboza, the tiny club in the basement of Capitol Hill’s Neumos. It was a Pharmacists Acoustic Greatest Hits Night, as well as a splash of new music with Aimee from The Both.


Fernando, who shares lead guitarist Dan Eccles with Richmond Fontaine, came to Hotel Albatross for a lovely solo performance. Two greats, Austin Lucas and Adam Faucett played sets later that night. Later in the summer, Fernando played an outdoor show with Dan at McMenamins in Bothell.


Fernando Viciconte played Hotel Albatross in Ballard with Austin Lucas and Adam Faucett


Fernando and Dan at McMenamins in Bothell, late summer

Massy Ferguson released Run It Right Into The Wall, another fantastic rock album. Ethan Anderson of Massy would later bond with Pete Bruntnell in England at the Maverick Music Fest. You’re welcome!



Pete Bruntnell with Ethan Anderson at Maverick Music Festival, England

Massy Ferguson’s CD Release Party took place at The Triple Door, the day before we flew out to see Tom Petty with Mudcrutch…


Massy Ferguson and most of the audience. Photo by Rich Zollner

Tom Petty reunited with his old band Mudcrutch and dropped a “2“! Better than the first album, with each artist getting his chance to shine, and more Petty-esque songs. He played The Filmore in San Francisco, and we had to go. Click on individual pics for a closer look. Tom’s also gearing up for a massive 2017 tour, celebrating The Heartbreakers’ 40th year anniversary!

The Swearengens, a favorite Ballard alt-country band, played The Sunset Tavern in July. I’m excited to see them perform once more at The Tractor’s holiday bash with Massy Ferguson and Jackrabbit on December 23.


Fredd Luongo of The Swearengens

The very next day, we came back to Ballard to rock out with surf instrumentalists Los Straitjackets at The Tractor. El Vez joined them on stage!

The B-52’s at Woodland Park ZooTunes summer concert series. Pass the tanning butter! Always a great venue for summer shows. They played all the hits to a sold-out crowd.


In August, Kevin “Shinyribs” Russell of Austin surprised us with a full band and backup singers, stepping up his game and into a funky groove.


Shinyribs at The Tractor

The Believers, with Craig Aspen and Cynthia Frazzini, tore it up at Oak Harbor Music Fest Labor Day weekend to a huge crowd. They celebrated a 15-year reunion with their original band.


The Believers with Craig Aspen, Garey Shelton, and Cynthia Frazzini

The Paperboys from Vancouver came late September to The Nectar in Fremont. They are always a joy to see, and bring a full band with brass, banjo, fiddle, and flute!


The Paperboys – with Tom Landa

Jenny Whiteley went back to her roots on her latest album, The Original Jenny Whiteley (2016 Black Hen Music). The album was recorded on Wolfe Island, Ontario at the magical Old Post Office, and produced by multi-instrumentalist and humanitarian Hugh Christopher Brown (the man can do no wrong!).

Her father Chris and uncle Ken Whiteley joined her on the album, which includes original material interwoven with traditional folk and bluegrass songs, continuing her father’s legacy. They keep things simple, clean, and stripped down, all the while honoring the genre and letting Jenny’s rich, earthy vocals shine.

Wanda Jackson with The Dusty 45’s backing, came to the EMP (MoPop) in Seattle. It was such a thrill to finally see Ms. Jackson, the Queen of Rock ‘n’ Roll!

Dean Owens caught my ear this year when he released “Cotton Snow”, a song about the Civil War’s bloody Battle of Franklin. Find Dean in Nashville–or Scotland. He will release a new album soon called Southern Wind, a follow-up to 2015’s Into The Sea. 

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all. I’ll leave you with Dean’s latest Christmas video he produced with The Whisky Hearts. He’ll play Edinburgh 12 December.

December 10, 2016 Posted by | 2016 | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Past Shows, Future Shows, and Cool Projects

I can’t keep up with the shows we’ve attended, nor do I have time to write full reviews, so I thought I’d do a brief summary of some artists to keep in your radar.

Vaudeville Etiquette, psych-Americana sweethearts from Seattle, threw a helluva CD release party on Saturday, May 7, at Neumos. What an absolute party it was. Their sophomore album, entitled Aura Vista Motel represents the polished versions of songs they’ve been playing live for months now.

Although I’ve seen them play several times, the energy they brought to the party was palpable. Their five-person band, co-fronted by Bradley Laina and Tayler Lynn, expanded to eight and exploded with sonic and visual delights.

Check tour dates for tons of shows coming up in June and July here: http://www.vaudevilleetiquette.com/#!tour/ck0q



Last weekend, we saw Ted Leo (sans The Pharmacists) in a solo show at Barboza, the intimate space in the basement of Neumos.


Aimee Mann and Ted Leo of The Both

It was fantastic to see Ted Leo in such a small venue. We saw the full band at The Showbox back in 2007,  but due to events beyond our control, we had to leave early. It was super loud, too, almost unbearably so. At this solo event, he politely asked the audience if he should turn down the amp on his electric guitar. It was a Greatest Hits Night, but he also showcased a recent project called The Both with Aimee Mann, who was also a surprise guest on a few songs. Their harmonies were gorgeous. In between songs, and even during some, Ted kept us in stitches with little anecdotes and forgotten lines. Afterward, he graciously allowed us to have a few words, even going as far as telling us to tell our college-aged son to do well on his finals and stay in school. Sweet!

Coming up this Thursday, June 9, is a show at Hotel Albatross in Ballard with Portland’s Fernando, Austin Lucas and Adam Faucett . Looking forward to their unique styles, blending alt-country, folk, and Americana.

Next week: Newlyweds Ian McFeron and Alisa Milner will play an outdoor set of their lovely Americana music on the grounds of McMenamins/Anderson School in Bothell on Thursday, June 16.


On June 17 we will attend Massy Ferguson’s release party! Super excited for this show. They always bring the fun. See my previous links or their website for more info. Also, their June UK tour dates are up!


Tom Petty and his band Mudcrutch play The Fillmore in San Francisco Sunday and Monday, celebrating their second album in 8 years, properly titled, 2. No Seattle dates, unfortunately.


We saw Mudcrutch in 2008 at The Troubadour in Hollywood: https://aplscruf.wordpress.com/2010/01/27/tom-petty-with-mudcrutch-at-the-troubadour-05-02-2008/

More fun at the end of June when John Doe, Jesse Dayton, DJ Bonebrake, and Cindy Wasserman “Brang It” to The Tractor Tavern June 29! This one should sell out.


Thee John Doe. Photo by Jim Herrington

See my review of John Doe’s show at The Triple Door here: https://aplscruf.wordpress.com/2015/06/26/john-doe-reigns-at-the-triple-door-seattle-june-19-2015/

In July, a few shows to start off the Independence Day weekend with a Bang, including The Paperboys , the MexiCanadiAmericanaIrishFolk band, who will play The Tractor July 1.

The Swearengens, another Ballard Americana staple, will also play The Sunset July 1. If you time it right, you might see both the same night. Just hoof it up or down Ballard Ave.

On Sunday, July 3, those La Lucha-wearing surf rockers, Los Straitjackets will sell out The Tractor.

Down South and other far away lands, more great news:

Austin darling Jeremy Nail’s tour hits Nashville and NYC, among other cities. Fantastic Press keeps rolling in for this talented singer-songwriter.

Jeff Finlin’s new book of prose, The Seduction of Radha is now available. Check his website often for more good news, including new albums, books, and his new organization, Recover.Yoga.

Willie Sugarcapps keeps moving up the Americana charts and is getting great press for their new release, Paradise Right Here.

Dean Owens recently recorded a haunting song called “Cotton Snow”,  about The Battle of Franklin. See Paul Kerr’s Blabber ‘n’ Smoke review which includes more information about Dean’s previous and current projects here: https://paulkerr.wordpress.com/2016/04/04/dean-owens-with-dave-coleman-cotton-snow-single-release-drumfire-records/

He also paid a heartfelt tribute to Muhammad Ali in the audio below. Watch his site or follow him on FB for upcoming projects.



Whew! I’m exhausted just thinking about it all. More fun is on the way, so it’s time to re-charge.

June 8, 2016 Posted by | 2016, Americana, Rock, Roots Rock, Seattle Rock | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Tom Petty with Mudcrutch at The Troubadour 05.02.2008

In honor of Tom Petty’s 2010 Tour, I decided to post my favorite show…

Friday, May 2, 2008 Tom Petty and his new/old band Mudcrutch The Troubadour, West Hollywood, CA


So anyway, after getting that off my chest…I can clearly remember standing there near the stage saying, “I can die now. My life is complete!” Unbelievable.  Musical Salvation.  Ok, here’s the story…

So P calls me during my second week at my new job. Do I want tickets to see Tom Petty at the Troubadour in Hollywood? “Sure, Hon, that would be great.” I’m thinking to myself, what a joke. There’s not a chance in hell we could get tix to see him in some small nightclub.

He later called back and said they sold out. End of story. But wait, there’s more! P called again and said they opened up another night for the next Friday, May 2! Could I go? Well, I have to work, but we could leave right after work. I told him I could figure it out later, wondering how the hell I was going to tell my new boss. He called back and said, WE GOT THE TICKETS!!!!! Holy sh**. I yelped at my desk! I worked out taking the time off, and promised to make up the time, while P booked a room and reserved a flight. That was a little more difficult due to flight times.

Eventually we booked a room at the London Hotel in West Hollywood. Sounded nice, and the price was right. It was an old hotel, and they were still working on the restaurant, so they were offering suites at a low price. The flight was pretty cheap, but later in the day than we would have liked. I ended up working about two hours, then taking off to see if we could talk our way on to an earlier flight.

Luckily, we did take an earlier flight, because after arriving in L.A, renting a car and merging on the freeway, we were hit with nasty early rush-hour traffic . Plus, we weren’t exactly sure where to go, so we ended up missing an exit and winding through some side streets. It eventually worked out, and we found our beautiful little hotel up on a hillside, kitty-corner from Whisky-A-Go-Go!

We asked the front desk about the history of the old hotel. Well, had I watched the show, I would have known immediately: this is the hotel portrayed in Beverly Hills 90210!!! Wha’? Not only that, but the new restaurant will be the next Hell’s Kitchen! The winning chef of the current season will get to run the restaurant. Wow. How cool is that!

Our room was spectacular: a long suite with couch and chairs, separate desk, a nice deck overlooking the hills, beautiful king bed and then a very large walk-in shower, separate bathtub and gorgeous tiled walls. We were very impressed and felt lucky to get such a perfect deal in a great place. We had to really hurry after being stuck in traffic to get ready for the show. I didn’t know what to expect, but I wanted to look a little nicer than my sweaty self! We were very crabby and hungry by this point, after going non-stop since early this am.

We zoomed out the door only to be road-blocked by a very slow taxi service. Apparently they haven’t worked out all the bugs of running a newly renovated hotel; there were about 10 doormen and bell boys standing around and no taxi in sight. They called one out, but the taxis were not lined up due to the very small entryway. Fifteen precious minutes ticked by before one arrived. We should have called from the room!

We got down there with a little time to spare. The line at the Troubadour wasn’t too bad yet, with maybe 50 people in line. We were starving and thirsty from our rushing around. We went next door to an Italian restaurant, which is where the rest of the people were, apparently!

We couldn’t even get in the bar, so we walked down the block to an Indian restaurant on the corner called A Taste of India. Perfect! There was hardly anyone there. The prices were decent, and the Chicken Tikka Masala and naan were amazing. We scarfed it up and mmmmed and ohhhed our way through it, while downing beer and water. The polite waiters were so nice and kept refilling our water. It was pretty hot out and we were cooking from all of our running around getting ready and zooming down the block. I went to the restroom and saw all the pictures on the wall of famous people who have eaten there or ordered takeout. Quite impressive!

Ok, on with the show! We walked back up the block to wait in line. The line was now around the corner and down the block, but still maybe only 100 people long. Not too bad, but it did limit our chances of getting close to the stage. P showed me a pic on the web of the Troubadour a few days before we left, and it looked interestingly small for such a big name playing there. There was a history of musicians that debuted there, such as Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, other big 60’s bands, and, uh, The Knack (ha more on that story later). The Troubadour has been around since 1957. Way cool.

As we waited, we noticed the sign across the street that read, “Beverly Hills”. We then noticed all the cars that went by us: Mercedes, Lamborghini’s, Ferrari’s, Land Rovers, Hummers…unreal. I couldn’t believe the high concentration of money (or debt) in such a small area. I felt very pale and poor, but  the population in line was more in my poverty bracket, I believe. There was an exception: a woman who was very tan and leathery, with fake boobs, fake blond hair and fake lips as well as pulled eyebrows that made her look like a surprised clown. She was the epitome of what that town was all about. Ugh. She looked terrible. There’s something to be said about just letting things be. I remember her when I look in the mirror and wonder if I should get a lift here, a tuck there.

After about 45 minutes, the line started moving! I was getting anxious about not being able to see the stage. The venue was small, but wide. The stage went almost the length of the inside wall on the right. At the back was a bar. Around the top was a balcony, and then little curtained rooms above that, where the band was hanging out with their friends and family. Way cool! You could kind of see through the sheer curtains and make out Tom’s silhouette as well as other band members’.

More waiting. I think we had to stand there for close to an hour before it started. We took turns going to the bathroom and getting a drink. I only had one drink, then only wanted water after that. It was pretty stifling hot with all the bodies standing so close together.

Also, and most important, we managed to get one of the best positions in the house, just right of center, about 3 layers of people back from the stage! Tom’s mike was only about 10 feet away from us! The stage was only about 2 feet off the ground. I looked at P. Sh**! We’re close! I really don’t know how we managed to get that close, but most people either crowded to the middle or went directly to the bar to get a drink first and didn’t care about how close they were. Actually, it was so small in there, anywhere was fantastic! A lot of people sat up in the balcony, too, including Tom’s Heartbreakers bass player, Ron Blair! We kept looking back at him and staring like star-struck fans! Cool.

We could see movement behind the curtains. People were getting restless and called for Tom! Yes! Here he is! Here’s the rest of the band, Mudcrutch! I looked back at P again…F***! He’s right there in front of us!!! I was in heaven. I couldn’t believe we were that close, in Hollywood, seeing my Rock-n-Roll Jesus!!! I thought I might cry, but I didn’t. I was sober, in complete bliss, and enjoyed every minute. I couldn’t stop smiling!!

Mudcrutch ran through their set list of all the songs off their new/old album, as well as two Bob Dylan covers (including Rainy Day Women) and Summertime Blues, and a couple of other oldies that were so fun to bounce around to. Mudcrutch was there to play Mudcrutch and not any Heartbreakers music; which was ok by me, but it would have been nice to hear one or two songs. But that wasn’t why they were there.  Luckily I had purchased the CD before we left so I knew what to expect. That really helped us enjoy the show!

Tom and the band seemed loose, happy and just out to have a good time. No big light show, no grandstanding, just a regular band out to have fun and enjoy themselves and connect with the audience. And connect they did! Tom and the boys would look out and smile, hold guitar necks out above our heads, (I could’ve touched Tom’s bass at one point!) and talk to us. A few times, I thought I made eye contact with Tom as he looked out. And then, one time, and P saw it too, Tom looked right at me and smiled. It was brief, but it was eye contact and a nice grin. It really made my night. My musical Jesus, right there, right in front of me, noticed me. I was born again! P tapped me and said, “He smiled at YOU!” SH**! I had a very bad potty mouth that night because I was in complete ecstasy.

The Knack: Tom told a very amusing tall tale about being “Tom” in the late 70’s and going to the Troubadour for the first time. He decided to get some drinks there, and heard there was a new band playing called The Knack (ma-ma-ma my-y-y Sharona!). The band recognized Tom. He said he usually does not drink, but that night he drank, which was a big mistake.  The band asked him to join them onstage. He decided to do so, being Tom and all. They hooked him up to the biggest amps he’d ever seen. The Marshall 10,000! They said they would give him his cue when they wanted him to join in. He turned the thing up to 10 and waited for his cue. “Hit it, Tom!” He hit a power chord and promptly flew across the tables (they had tables in the front of the stage back then) knocking over drinks, ruining wardrobes, and destroying furniture! The next day he received a bill from the bar and a call from his agent. $481.00 for one night at the Troubadour, not a bad deal! Then Bruce Springsteen met up with him for dinner that night, and asked if he wanted to go out for drinks at the Troubadour, because he heard this new band The Knack was playing. Everybody in the audience laughed heartily through his story! Tom warned Bruce, “Whatever you do, do NOT fly across the tables.”

After an encore, we sauntered out of there, first purchasing a Mudcrutch tee for me. We loitered around with the paparazzi who were waiting for the band. I was pretty wiped out and hungry again, so we didn’t stick around too long. Although we did see the tour bus pull up to the front of the building…we really should have waited for the band, but oh well.  I kicked myself later.

We hailed a taxi and went back to the hotel. We freshened up, then decided to venture out to Sunset Blvd to see what was happening. Wow, the city doesn’t sleep. We ended up going to a little restaurant called La Mirabella or something. We sat in a corner and scanned the horizon for stars. The only one P recognized was some guy that played a pimp in Deuce Bigelow American Gigilo. Gimme a break!

We decided to head back to the hotel after a delicious dinner and dessert.  I think we finally got back around 1:30, then promptly crashed on the couch in a heap.  At one point we made it back to bed and tried to sleep in as long as possible.

Later that morning we drove over to the coast via Santa Monica Blvd. Wow. How much money is in this town?? The beach was big and gorgeous. In the distance was the great Santa Monica Pier, with carnival rides in the mist.  It was an early Sunday, and not many people were out. I wish we had time to take a walk, but instead we just drove along through the parking lot and on the road parallel to the beach. We had to continue our journey back to LAX and back home.

What a trip–and a show–of a lifetime.

January 27, 2010 Posted by | Concert Season 2008, Music, Tom Petty | , , , | 2 Comments