Aplscruf's Music Blog

Diary of a Married Groupie

Joe Smith, Jeff Finlin, Will Kimbrough, Brigitte DeMeyer, and other Cool Cats

I’m changing the format here for a bit. Life continues to bombard me; so instead of posting individual reviews, I will post several short reviews or links to artists who have caught my ear recently.

Atlanta’s Joe Smith and the Going Concern have a catchy new single out. Joe, originally from California, was heavily influenced by the punk scene, including John Doe’s X and Mike Watt. This new song, as the title suggests, has much more of a bluesy vibe. Check it below, and be sure to click on the other songs from previous albums to get the full punk flavor. Purchase their merch and check their Facebook page for upcoming events.

Will Kimbrough and Brigitte DeMeyer collaborated on a soulful new folk album called Mockingbird Soul. They will make appearances in Northern California this week, and will head to Europe this spring. Check their tour schedules on their websites. Oh, did I mention they moved up to #11 in the Americana Charts this week? Lee Zimmerman of No Depression recently gave their album a glowing review: http://nodepression.com/album-review/two-perfect-pair

Here’s a pic of the pair in Seattle a few years ago:

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Will and Brigitte at The Royal Room – Columbia City (Seattle)

Jeff Finlin continues to amaze with his prolific artistry. He just finished recording a new album entitled The Guru in The Girl with Holland’s wildly talented Wild Verband. The record is now mastered–release date coming soon. I am delighted to say this may just be his finest work yet. Finlin fans will be truly blown away.

Finlin also spent most of February on a successful UK tour with Pete Bruntnell and Clive Barnes , selling out several venues along the way. I will defer, once again, to Paul Kerr of Blabber ‘n’ Smoke to wax poetic about their show in Glasgow:

https://paulkerr.wordpress.com/2017/02/21/jeff-finlin-clive-barnes-sounds-in-the-suburbs-glasgow-sunday-19th-february-2017/

Before he left for the UK, Jeff Finlin released a stunning video which brings to life his poem, “The Tantric Co-motion of Parvati on I-75” from his collection of poetry, Seduction of Radha. Finlin narrates. The video was beautifully directed by Verginia Grando.

 

 

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Seattle’s Jackrabbit released the rock-driven Dead Man’s Song in December. Take a listen and catch a rare show in Ballard.

At the Tractor Tavern back in December, we met a nice fellow by the name of Mark who manages a singer-songwriter website here: http://singersongwriterslive.com/ On it, he lists Seattle-area shows at venues who cater to singer-songwriters. He includes artist links, and an easy-to-follow legend for those bands he’s seen before and recommends, to those whom he heard were worth a listen.

Support indie artists! Go see a show and be sure to purchase the merch!

 

February 21, 2017 Posted by | 2017, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Massy Ferguson: Chasing Anti-Heroes and Hitting The Mark at The Triple Door

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Massy Ferguson at The Triple Door June 17, 2016. L-R: Tony Mann-keys; Ethan Anderson-vocs, bass; Dave Goedde-drums; Adam Monda-vocs, guitar (not pictured: Fred Slater-keys). Photo Credit: Jacob Knight

A Massy Ferguson show always turns into one big audience-participation party, but this night was even more festive because each guest received a copy of their new album, Run It Right Into The Wall with the purchase of their ticket. Hence the official name for the evening: The “Everyone Gets An Album” Release Party.

A few weeks before the show, Massy Ferguson hyped it up online, blasting us with Facebook and Twitter posts, videos, teasers, pictures, and album review links. Paul Kerr, prolific writer of the music blog Blabber ‘n’ Smoke recently gave a thumbs up to Massy’s new album, calling it a “solid slice of gritty roots rock”. Check out his lively review here: https://paulkerr.wordpress.com/2016/06/27/massy-ferguson-run-it-right-into-the-wall-at-the-helm-records/

By showtime, The Triple Door was nearly sold out, with only a few empty seats scattered about the venue. People who purchased VIP tickets (a mere $16 more than regular admission) were also treated to a pre-show party and meet ‘n’ greet in The Green Room which included food, signed CD’s, and a cassette (yes, an actual audio cassette) of the new album. Dig out the boom boxes and find a pencil!

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Ethan Anderson: Chasing anti-heroes. Photo Credit: Jacob Knight

Ethan Anderson, bassist and frontman for MF, officially kicked off the night by reading a heartfelt speech about the conception of this album, calling it the record Massy Ferguson was born to write. He spoke of all of the steps it took to get to this point in the life of the band. He spoke of his anti-heroes–those bands who were on the fringe, who didn’t swim in the main stream, such as The Replacements, Wilco, Son Volt, and The Boss himself, back in his Nebraska days. They were his mentors, his idols–just out of reach. Some he literally just missed in a green room or on a stage. Their latest album sonically touches these anti-heroes, but as more of an homage–never an imitation. They have a signature sound, and this one hits all the marks that make them Massy Ferguson. Maybe it’s a little more rockin’ than their previous albums; but as Ethan said, “They always were at their best with rock first, twang after.”

Keeping a band together for ten years is quite a feat these days, especially when one is on the left side of the dial, trying to make ends meet–trying to make it. Roll the video…

Following the speech and video, Nick Foster Band, a seven-piece Americana ensemble, primed the audience for party time. Foster, on acoustic guitar and vocals, shared beautiful harmonies with Jazmarae Beebe. The rest of the band was equally impressive on soulful folk songs and full-bodied jams.

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Nick Foster Band. Photo Credit: Rich Zollner Photography

DJ Indica Jones kept the festivities going between sets with some great spins from 80’s and 90’s pop, rock, and hip-hop. He involved the audience in sing-alongs and let them finish choruses with songs like Bon Jovi’s “Living on a Prayer”. He danced along, grooving to his own beat.

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DJ Indica Jones doing his thang. Photo Credit: Rich Zollner Photography.

The curtain rose and Massy Ferguson started their long set with five new tracks from Run It Right Into The Wall. All songs on the album except one were written by Massy Ferguson. The exception is “Firewater”, written by UK rocker Dave Woodcock (Dave Woodcock and the Dead Comedians). This up-tempo, jangling rocker fired up the audience as Adam Monda fueled them with his trusty #5 Fender. A makeshift dance floor started in the aisle.

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Ethan Anderson, Adam Monda, and Fred Slater. Photo Credit: Jacob Knight

They continued with some favorites, including “Renegade” and “Backwoods”, the latter receiving help from the audience as they clapped along to the beat.

Another new one, “Dogbone” includes a Creedence-inspired riff. During the song, Rainier tallboys magically appeared on the stage. While Adam dove into a psychedelic solo, Ethan rolled over onto the stage (with his bass, which is quite a feat), grabbed a beer, took a sip, and popped back up. The stage lighting matched the colors of their new album. Bonus.

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Ethan grabbing a Rainier and saving the bass. Photo Credit: Rich Zollner Photography.

Ethan interrupted the show to mention they have two new t-shirts designed by drummer Dave Goedde in the merch booth. Dave also designed the album’s cool cover. Ethan then threw two shirts out to the cheering audience before raising his Rainier for his traditional toast, in several languages.

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Dave Goedde kept a steady beat all night. Photo Credit: Jacob Knight

“Every time I say Hello, you answer…Hello!” Ethan yelled to the crowd, and they happily shouted along to this poppy tune from Victory & Ruins.

Ethan later dedicated “Set The Sun” to a friend in the crowd who was having a birthday this evening.What a perfect way to celebrate.

“Lagrande” from the EP Damaged Goods featured Tony Mann on keys, filling in for Fred Slater. Tony just recently moved back to the US from Costa Rica, and was a member of Massy Ferguson from its inception. It was great to see Tony play with the band again.

“Atlantic City”, a cover by Bruce Springsteen, reminded Ethan of driving home with Adam after a late night in Roslyn, a tiny resort town east of the mountains. The audience sang along to the somber, repetitive chorus.

Massy Ferguson blasted back from “Atlantic City” with “Front Page News”, an angry rocker, and the dance floor spread into the aisles. They kept the momentum going with “Powder Blue” –always a great song to do near the end when everyone is primed to yell “Powder Blue!” at the top of their lungs on Ethan’s cue.

The last song,  “Into The Wall” allowed the crowd to breathe briefly while nodding their heads to the pensive title track.

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The Almighty Flute! Photo Credit: Rich Zollner Photography.

Ethan then invited the entire audience onstage, and soon the stage was packed with happy revelers and dancers. He handed his bass to another capable musician while he brought out his almighty flute, a bittersweet sign that the rowdy night was coming to an end. They finished their high-energy set with a cover of “Can’t You See”, but the flute malfunctioned. It was missing an end piece. A roadie tried to do an emergency repair, but it didn’t hold. Ethan tore that thing apart as the dancers and revelers continued on, not caring or noticing that the flute solo was abandoned.

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Big Finish! Photo Credit: Rich Zollner Photography.

Ethan Anderson might have missed his anti-heroes, but tonight, he and the band hit their mark.”They exceeded the hype!” said a friend when the party was over.

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Ethan Anderson, Fred Slater, Adam Monda, and Dave Goedde somewhere in England. Photo Credit: Ethan Anderson

A few days later, Massy Ferguson revived the party and ran it right into The UK the rest of June and into the first week of July. The tour included shows in Bath, Brighton, London, and Scheffield, among others, culminating with a grand finale at Maverick Festival in Suffolk where they shared the stage with the brilliant UK-Americana artist Peter Bruntnell.

See their website for news, merch, and upcoming shows here: http://massyfergusonband.com/

Support the independent artists who venture to your city and play small clubs and venues.  Support quality music.

 

 

 

 

 

July 9, 2016 Posted by | 2016, Americana, Massy Ferguson, Rock, Seattle Rock, The Triple Door | , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Peter Bruntnell’s Nos Da Comrade – Five Stars

Nos Da Comrade - Peter Bruntnell

I wrote a short, five-star Amazon review of Peter Bruntnell’s latest album, Nos Da Comrade (2016). It’s a must-buy for Americana/pop/rock fans.

Check out a detailed, glowing review from Paul Kerr of Blabber ‘n’ Smoke here: https://paulkerr.wordpress.com/2016/04/03/peter-bruntnell-nos-da-comrade-domestico-records/

Purchase his merch through Amazon or directly from Peter here: http://peterbruntnell.net/store.php

Watch the video of the first song  on the album, “Mr. Sunshine”:

 

 

May 26, 2016 Posted by | 2016, Americana, Peter Bruntnell, Pop / Rock | , , , , | 2 Comments

Richmond Fontaine’s Swan Song in Seattle

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Richmond Fontaine played a final show in Seattle at The Sunset on May 14, 2016. L-R: Dan Eccles (guitar), Willy Vlautin (vocals, guitar), Freddy Trujillo (bass), Sean Oldham (drums). Photo Credit: Alicia Rose

It was a night full of contradictions. I’d never heard of Richmond Fontaine until just a few months ago. The Portland band have been around over 20 years. Last Saturday, they played a final show in Seattle. I’m now a new fan of a band that is breaking up. Great. I’m late to the party–er, funeral once again.

I witnessed a band’s wake before–Seattle’s North Twin, who delivered their own coup de grace just down the street at The Tractor about six years ago. I prefer it that way; at least there’s some closure. The death of Richmond Fontaine will be prolonged a few more months; but here in Seattle, they celebrated their long life surrounded by friends and musical family. There will be at least one more show in Oregon, and an Ireland/UK farewell tour in October before they pull the plug. They’re ending amicably and leaving us with a parting gift: a fantastic new album fittingly titled You Can’t Go Back If There’s Nothing To Go Back To.

I binge-listened to RF’s albums over the last few weeks, trying to catch up before we hit the show. Frontman and acclaimed author Willy Vlautin‘s lyrics paint desolate pictures of the downtrodden, lonely, broke, the unlucky, the abandoned–the outcasts of society. Tales of addiction, break-ups, desperation, and downward spirals are common themes throughout the ten albums. Some characters are likable losers who were dealt a bad hand in life or have paid dearly for their bad choices. But there is also a feeling, just a glimmer, a hint, that once in a while, one of those effed-up kids he writes and sings about is going to be alright. Each day that I listened, I always circled back to their latest  release, the thirteen songs on You Can’t Go Back If There’s Nothing To Go Back To. It’s depressing as hell at times, and yet I wanted to hear it again and again. I connected and empathized with the characters. The up-tempo melodies of some of the songs offset the melancholy lyrics. Balance.

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Willy Vlautin – Illustration by Nate Beaty

I also read Willy Vlautin’s first of four books called The Motel Life. Although the heartbreaking story and sympathetic characters absolutely gutted me, I wanted to read more and was sad that it had to end. I plan on purchasing the rest of his books. Feel free to do the same here: http://willyvlautin.com/store/ Rumor has it, his fifth book is in the works. According to Willy, when his personal life is falling apart, he writes songs. When he’s healthy, out jogging, he’s probably writing a book. Strangely, I had his name and the book’s title in my phone under “Books to Read” for a year–a strong recommendation from my friend Kari, artist and loving partner of David Corley, who also spent time with Willy and Co. in Ireland. I never made the connection until just recently.

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Be sure to purchase their merch!

I also was told by a friend, Oliver Gray (who is mentioned in the liner notes of at least one of RF’s albums), that Willy’s books must be read in order of publication. Oliver is not only a superfan, but a venue owner, promoter, music critic, and author. He has hosted RF shows in England for many years (RF has a huge cult following in The UK and Ireland) and befriended the band in the process. I just met Oliver in person while we were on holiday near London in April, just days before I found out about RF’s show date in Seattle.

One thing I love about live music is how it brings strangers together, bonding over the common love of a band. I made another new friend after I announced on Facebook I was attending this show. Allison, a superfan from Canada, traveled to Seattle with her husband Tony, and we met up at Hattie’s Hat for a chat beforehand. We have several mutual, music-loving friends, so it was only natural that we should eventually meet and instantly bond (while our patient husbands sat idly by). Although she’s been a fan for years, she had never seen RF in person, so she was thrilled to experience this final show.

The day of the show was dark, gloomy, and rainy–so contradictory to the blue-sky day before, which sizzled Seattle with record-breaking temperatures.

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We made our way to the very front of the stage, right after the doors opened. There is nothing like standing in the front row of an intimate venue. I love watching the band, up close and personal. I like catching their nuances: the onstage banter and inside jokes; a grimace while hitting a big chord; a tapping foot; a sly, knowing smile when a rare wrong note is hit; nimble fingers finding the frets; glances and nods when things are going well. RF was no exception. One could tell they have a healthy, brotherly bond with each other, even though their band was on its way out.

If they love each other so much, why are they breaking up? Read and listen to Willy Vlautin’s answers here:

Willy Vlautin was interviewed recently by Casey Jarman of Portland Monthly : http://www.pdxmonthly.com/articles/2016/4/15/willy-vlautin-on-richmond-fontaine-s-farewell-and-the-price-of-living-hard

While in Ireland, Willy also spoke with Martin Bridgeman on a radio broadcast regarding the breakup, the new album, and the crafting of his songs and stories: http://kclr96fm.com/folkroots-interview-willy-vlautin-152016/

The mature audience knew their band and were there to give them a final sendoff with support and love. Although I was a newbie here, I still felt accepted and comfortable among them. It was fun to watch the crowd, too, as many sang along with Willy or nodded their heads in acknowledgement to a song, and loudly clapped and whooped after each one.

Richmond Fontaine began the set with my favorite song off their new album called “Wake Up Ray”. Here is a live version from Oregon Public Broadcasting:

Willy’s lyrics tear at my heart:

Wake Up Ray

It ain’t no use, ain’t no use
Maybe some guys just ain’t meant to
I was living in Montana once and I was married
For a while it rolled so easy
But she got to where she couldn’t stand our place
She got to where she cringed at the way I slept and ate
I bought her a bird, a finch she called little Joe
And then one night she blew into a rage
In a snowstorm she ran outside and opened up the cage

Wake up Ray let’s get out of here
This town’s done nothing it’s clear but try to do us in

Wake up Ray, the sun’s coming up and still I can’t stop thinking
How can someone you love so much grow against you so?
All I did, all I did was try to toe that line
The same line you see everyone else toe
Now all I remember is running through the snow
Looking for Little Joe as the wind blowed

Wake up Ray, I need a cup of coffee in a bad way
Let’s get out of here this town ain’t done nothing
It’s clear but try to do us in

The Seattle show included most songs from their latest album and also dove into tracks from the last two decades.There were some last-minute changes to the original list, too. Their stage performance was tight, energized and faster-paced than some of their recorded songs–fueled, I’m sure, by the enthusiastic audience. Early on, longtime fans shouted out song requests, and Willy acknowledged a few with a wide-eyed nod, or laughed at their persistence.

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Willy would stop once in a while and explain the origin of a song, such as the dark and ominous “Hallway” from 2003’s Post to Wire. He said he used to meet a friend for breakfast at a cafe, and one day he didn’t show up. Willy went to his house and found the friend in his tighty-whities, hiding in the hall with a gun. Apparently, he was on a coke binge and had been up for three days. “He almost shot me that day. I never met him for breakfast after that.”

“Let’s Hit One More Place” from the new album was dedicated to Scott McCaughey of The Minus 5, who headlined this night. Willy said he’s been a fan of The Minus 5 for 20 years, and channeled Scott when he wrote this song.

“Two Friends Lost At Sea” was based on another true story. One of Willy’s favorite Portland punk bands was Dead Moon. When people are excited about a band, they like to tell their friends. Sometimes, that leads to a wonderful shared experience. Other times, like in Willy’s case, it ruins the band for them. He made the mistake of introducing a girlfriend to the band. Later, she broke up with him. The next time he saw her was at Dead Moon’s show. She was making out with some new guy in the front row. Ruined.

Although he seemed a little shy onstage and mostly sang with his eyes closed, he was very personable, friendly, and humble in the merch line before and after the show. He greeted each fan, listened intently to their stories, and seemed grateful to them for showing up. There’s a self-deprecating charm about him, as if he is genuinely surprised by his fame and the fact that his books and music are treasured by so many people around the world.

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Freddy Trujillo and Willy Vlautin

Dan Eccles on lead guitar, just rocked. He was so entertaining to watch as he grimaced and head-banged through the set, his long hair trying to keep up with the beat. His nimble fingers delicately found each chord on the slower folk songs, but slammed the power chords with a full-body gyration. He had a minimal amount of pedals, but made excellent use of them to alter the sound to match a pedal steel guitar, add some serious fuzz, or the emphasize the twang in his Telecaster.

One of the last rocking songs of the evening, “Lost in The Trees” is from 2011’s The High Country. They also played this song at Kilkenny Roots Festival in early May, and are favorite performers there. Below, you can hear Freddy’s thumping bass, watch Dan shred that Tele, and be amazed at how seemingly effortless Sean is at holding the steady, commanding beat on drums. Willy’s grim lyrics and monotone vocals on this song give it a punk edge.

Near the end, a fan threw a Winner’s Casino (an actual casino and a song from 2002’s Winnemucca) satin baseball-style jacket, up on stage as they played their final song. Willy sported a big grin as he played. They later posed for a photo with the jacket, all smiles. It was a great way to close the night and to find closure with this beloved band.

Like some of Willy Vlautin’s characters in his songs and stories, the band mates are probably going to be alright after the breakup.Willy, Sean Oldham, and Freddy Trujillo are already members of another band called The Delines. Willy is planning to spend some time working on his next book. Dan Eccles also plays in a band with Portland legend Fernando Viciconte.

We can’t go back, but we can look ahead. They’re still with us, just transformed and scattered into new entities.

Bitter and sweet.

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Check out Richmond Fontaine’s tour updates for the rest of the year here:  http://richmondfontaine.com/dates

Listen and purchase their music through Bandcamp here: http://richmondfontaine.bandcamp.com/

I also posted a version of this piece to No Depression here: http://nodepression.com/live-review/richmond-fontaines-swan-song-seattle

 

 

 

 

 

 

May 18, 2016 Posted by | 2016, Alt-Country, Americana, Richmond Fontaine, The Sunset Tavern, Willy Vlautin | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Will Kimbrough – No Gimmicks on Latest Album, “Live At Coast”

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Will Kimbrough produced a brilliant live album that dropped last fall. See my No Depression review here: http://nodepression.com/album-review/will-kimbrough-and-his-guitar-no-gimmicks

Photo Credit: Tamarind Free Jones

 

March 4, 2016 Posted by | 2016, Will Kimbrough | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Goin’ Local with Ian McFeron

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Ian McFeron Band L-R: Moe Provencher, Aimee Zoe, Ian McFeron, and Alisa Milner. Photo Credit: Karol Milner

Check out my article on Ian McFeron I just posted for No Depression here:
http://nodepression.com/live-review/goin-local-ian-mcferon

December 11, 2015 Posted by | Americana, Concert Season 2015, Folk / Pop, Ian McFeron, Third Place Books, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Supernova: Ray LaMontagne Brings Psychedelic Pop to Marymoor Park 8.13.14

Ray LaMontagne at Marymoor Park

Ray LaMontagne at Marymoor Park

Another beautiful summer sunset at Marymoor Park set the mood for the fans of  Ray LaMontagne. A mixed crowd of young and youthful happily lazed on the grassy field, chatted in the food and drink lines and hung out in the reserved section.  My friend and I were looking forward to a girls’ night out together; the setting and music made for a perfect evening.

We arrived a little late after enjoying a relaxing dinner in Redmond first.  Our 6th-row seats were waiting for us when we strolled into the park and followed the path to the tree-lined venue.

The Belle Brigade

The Belle Brigade

The Belle Brigade were onstage playing their hearts out when we quietly took our seats.  Most prominent was drummer/frontwoman Barbara Gruska, whom we really enjoyed watching.  Her drum style reminded me of the enthusiastic Aimee Zoe of Jackrabbit.  Her brother Ethan Gruska played electric guitar and both also backed Ray LaMontagne later that evening.  They have a new album out called Just Because.  Their poppy music is underscored with beautiful harmonies from the siblings.

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Soon after, Ray LaMontagne entered the stage as the rest of the crew found their places.  The crowd cheered, and stragglers quickly found their seats.

Ray dove right in and hardly spoke to audience during the first half of the set except to say a brief thank you here and there. He might have been quiet, but on this night, he was definitely the frontman.  He gave it all to us, and seemed very focused and intense as he belted out one song after the next. By the end of the night, the sweat was pouring off him.  That voice–so unusual and raspy, high and sensual, just rang out over the rest of the skilled band. His music was a mix of energetic, psychedelic pop and a few low-key beautiful folk songs and some old soul.  Ray played just about every song off his new album, Supernova before exploring the rest of his catalog.

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He finally warmed up to the crowd and asked if they felt alright tonight, and if they wanted to get up and dance.  Loud cheers erupted, followed by a rush of mostly females to the foot of the stage.  The lucky dozens (including my friend and I) that pushed to the front experienced a more intimate show.  Lots of bouncing and dancing ensued.  The faithful fans sang along and cheered.  Ray’s searing vocals gave me goosebumps when he tilted his head back and hit the high notes of the chorus in “Trouble”. Oh, Lord! The audience went crazy during this, his signature song from a decade ago.  Ahh, just perfect.

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September 13, 2014 Posted by | aplscruf, Concert Season 2014, Marymoor Park, Music | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Steve Martin and Emmylou Harris at Chateau Ste. Michelle

Emmylou Harris with Steve Martin

Steve Martin was up to his old tricks again and played to a sold out crowd at Chateau Ste. Michelle in Woodinville.  We hustled to get tickets last minute when we found our week opened up and had the time to go.  We didn’t want to pass up this one because we saw Steve in 2010 and loved him.  Also, I’d never seen Emmylou Harris.  She’s now a part of my growing musical family tree and has played with Marshall Chapman and Will Kimbrough.  Will was  in her band this night, so it was a no-brainer.

I didn’t take many notes; I just wanted to enjoy the evening.  I’m taking this month off from serious writing due to our crazy family summer schedule.

Steve Martin and The Steep Canyon Rangers

Steve’s set consisted of many songs from their 2010 album, The Crow.  He recycled a few jokes from last time, but we still laughed heartily.  In fact, a guy in front of us laughed in falsetto at every joke,  and the surrounding audience members couldn’t help but join in on the infectious laughter.  An example of this night’s quips from Steve:

“I am wearing white pants tonight. I will wear them the rest of the evening unless something goes horribly, horribly wrong.” 

“I am using an iPad on stage tonight to keep up on my Twitter posts.  Oh, look.  One is coming in now.  It says, ‘Stop talking and start playing, you diKWAD!’ DiKWAD…hmm…DiKWAD…I wonder what that means…”

“This is our last song of the evening, but not to worry, there are 17 encores.”

He also had fun belittling the band, similar to the last time we saw him.

Another wonderful show, and the music was spectacular.   The Steep Canyon Rangers have beautiful harmonies and work so well with Steve.  A very talented bunch.

Will Kimbrough (guitar) with Emmylou Harris

Before Emmylou came on, we had a chance to talk to Will Kimbrough briefly.  I hadn’t seen him since we went to Nashville last year, and Pat saw him in January with his home inspector buddies when they were in Nashville at their convention.  Will never played at the winery, and I don’t think he’s been in the Seattle area since about 2005.  He was in a rush to get to the stage, since they had such a limited time to get their gear set up.  He was gracious enough to have a little chat with us though.

Emmylou has a new album out and kicked it up with a full band, The Red Dirt Boys.  She also played covers, including a Buck Owens song; Will scorched the guitar solo on that one.  Many of her songs are slower ballads or leaned toward gospel.  Her voice is so ethereal and has a sadness in it.  She also gave a nod to Kitty Wells, The Queen of Country, who recently passed.  She felt honored to be in Kitty’s footsteps as the only girl leading an all-male band.

In the finale, Emmylou invited Steve and the Rangers onstage to have an appropriate bluegrass jam.  Her two rescued doggies also joined in on the fun.  Check out her website for her nonprofit dog rescue/foster program.

Emmylou and dogs

July 25, 2012 Posted by | Americana, Chateau Ste Michelle, Concert Season 2012, Emmylou Harris, Steve Martin, Will Kimbrough | , , , , , , , , , | 6 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

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

Vicci Martinez

Opener: Red Cup

Big Daddy’s Place

Woodinville, WA

April 29, 2011

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

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

Vicci Martinez

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

Backing up a bit…

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

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

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

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

Big Daddy's House Band, Red Cup

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

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

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

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

Vicci, Darin and Jeff

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

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

Fire In Her Eyes

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

Hold Me Darlin’ (featured on The Mountain 103.7)

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

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

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

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

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

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

More Pics…

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