Aplscruf's Music Blog

Macefield Music Festival October 3-4, 2014

The Swearengens played Conor Byrne Saturday, Oct. 4.

The Swearengens played Conor Byrne Saturday, Oct. 4.

Day 1: Friday, October 3

Massy Ferguson and Star Anna at The Sunset

It was an unusually warm October evening, with temperatures hovering around 70 degrees.  We were excited to get down to Ballard on this first night of the Macefield Music Festival, a two-day celebration of northwest music, art and comedy. Check out their website for more information about the festival, venues, and artist lineup.

The first band on our schedule was Massy Ferguson, playing The Sunset at 7:00. The show time was a bit early, considering it was a Friday.  Lots of people don’t get out of work until at least 6, so I knew the crowd would be a bit thin this first night of the festival. For us old peeps, though, it was like getting the Early Bird Special.

This is how Massy Ferguson got to Macefield:

The Sunset was in the midst of remodeling. I hardly recognized the place.  Instead of the Chinese restaurant red velvet wall paper, the walls were adorned with shiny wood paneling.  A new wall broke up the long, rectangular space, separating the future bar from the stage. A makeshift bar on a folding table held a bucket of bottles, ice and a few hard liquor choices.

Massy Ferguson with Dave Goedde on drums, Ethan Anderson on bass and Adam Monda on guitar

And Then There Were Three: Massy Ferguson with Dave Goedde on drums, Ethan Anderson on bass, and Adam Monda on guitar

The three members of Massy Ferguson (Ethan Anderson, Adam Monda, and Dave Goedde) loaded in while a paucity of people took their places around the stage. Tony Mann, keyboardist, was visibly absent; stage right, where he usually played, was left empty. Tony is currently hanging out in a Costa Rican cantina enjoying a tall cool one, most likely with a little umbrella in it and a wedge of tropical fruit attached to the rim.

Massy Ferguson opened with the rocker “Long Time No See” from Hard Water and hit two songs off their new EP, Backwoods, including the title track “90’s Darlin'” that has some cool Seattle references. They also included a couple of nameless new tunes, which was a pleasant surprise.  More fans arrived as the band moved through the short, 45-minute time slot.

The trio was energized and really upbeat tonight, filling in that empty space with lots of great rock solos from Adam and blasting rock drum beats from Dave.

Ethan and Adam

Ethan and Adam

Ethan’s powerful vocals and bassline punched through the amps, encouraging more people to peek around the wall and join the fun.  His borrowed Rickenbacker bass shone in the blue lights.  Pat asked me if he could have one.  “No.”

Check out the downsized Massy Ferguson at a venue near you and “Like” them on Facebook.

After the show we saw Jay Kardong, pedal steel player for a few local bands, including Massy Ferguson from time to time. We chatted with Jay, Adam and Ethan for a bit before going to dinner. Jay’s grandpa, Dr. Kardong, always comes up in conversation. Dr. K. brought Pat into this world and was their family doctor for years.  Jay has made his own path in music and is famous for a couple of firsts: We are 99.99% certain he is the only person to ever do “The Worm” on the stage of Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium, original home of The Grand Ole Opry; He was also part of the first band to ever play the top of The Space Needle (Outside! On top!) with Sera Cahoone for SubPop’s anniversary special.  Yes, Mudhoney played there, too, but Sera and Jay played before them. They also spoke of their adventures touring with their bands and going to the Blue Lagoon in Iceland during a big music festival there a few years ago.  After hearing their stories, I will not be sticking one toe in the Blue Lagoon in Iceland.

Jay also mentioned he’ll play with Ole Tinder Saturday, and things went downhill as we exchanged suggestions for what he might bring or wear to the event in order to really stand out, such as stilts (which would be a true challenge for any pedal steel player) and a kilt, or possibly a more unconventional kilt made of clear plastic wrap.  It’s always a joy spending time chatting with them. 

Pat and I walked back to The Sunset after briefly checking out The Sonics who were killing it on the KEXP mainstage to a packed crowd. Our friend Dean said they had the “same sound and raw energy that  made them the Godfathers of Punk!”

Among the local music and Seattle scene celebs walking around was John Keister of The 206 and Almost Live fame. Pat introduced us and I told Mr. Keister a story of how we’re so old that I remember my grandma making a dry remark after seeing the first episode of Almost Live, back in the mid-80’s: “You know that show, Almost Live? Well, it’s almost funny!”  I think Grandma coined the phrase. We loved that show, and it’s great to see The 206 back on TV with some of the original cast.

Here’s a sketch from The 206:

Jeff Fielder, guitarist extraordinaire walked by (check out this great interview by KEXP’s Jacob Uitti here).  He played a set at Conor Byrne Friday. I wished we had time to see him.  I recognized other artists, including Ryan Granger from The Grizzled Mighty, working the door at The Sunset.

Star Anna in the blue glow of The Sunset

Star Anna in the blue glow of The Sunset

Star Anna, whom we haven’t seen in quite some time, quietly took the stage to a growing crowd.  She played a couple of songs from her recent album entitled I Hate You and others from The Sky Is Falling, a new download-only collection. Star thanked the audience for their hearty applause after each song.  She is a little shy, but has such a powerful energy when she sings. It just crawls right into the soul and lingers well after her performance has ceased.  She asked us if we like Robyn, the Swedish pop diva, who had the big hit “Call Your Girlfriend”.  Although it was originally recorded as a pop/electronica song, Star said the lyrics are so sad; so Star took the pop song with sad lyrics and turned it into a sad song–with sad lyrics. The rest of her band stepped back and let her play it with just an acoustic guitar.  Oh, Star’s voice gave me chills. The crowd hushed up as she pulled them in.

Here is a version of “Call Your Girlfriend” that she performed on KEXP–see what I mean?

Cheers and applause followed after a short pause, akin to a collective gasp.  Her dark humor continued as she thanked the audience and said in a sing-songy voice, “This next song is about dying!”

It was getting hot; the packed room added to the stuffy atmosphere.  I needed some fresh air and water. Star’s so amazing, though, I hated to leave. Check out her website for music, videos, and show dates and GO.  She’s a local gem.

Day 2: Saturday, October 4

The Swearengens and Ole Tinder at Conor Byrne

Laff Hole Comedy at Hattie’s Back Room

We made the incorrect decision Saturday evening to drive to Ballard, park, and take Uber home at the end of the night. The festival started around noon this day, so we should have known that we would not find a place to park, as people arrived early and stayed for the duration of the festival.  We circled around Ballard Avenue and extended our search several blocks away to no avail. It was approaching 7:00, and I knew The Swearengens were loading in.

Soren Godbersen and Fredd Luongo of The Swearengens

Soren Godbersen and Fredd Luongo of The Swearengens

Forfeiting the show because we couldn’t find a place to park was unacceptable.  Pat sensed my growing anxiety and kicked me to the curb, festival wristband firmly intact.  He would meet up with me much later, after parking about half a mile away. He knew he would never hear the end of it if I missed The Swearengens again. I love this band, but bad timing and Pat’s work/travel schedule prevented us from seeing them for almost two years. Here is a 2012 review I posted for Randomville of The Swearengens at The Tractor.  We made an attempt in August, but the stars were crossed that night, as we already had plans to see Massy Ferguson (see Massy’s review and my run-in with The Swearengens here).

I entered Conor Byrne solo, which felt a little weird, but I immediately saw familiar faces in the audience.  I grabbed a pint of red and snaked my way to the front where I ran into Moe Provencer, and noticed that her Jackrabbit partner Aimee Zoe was setting up her drums. Aimee was drumming for The Swearengens, and both would be playing with Ole Tinder after that. Fantastic! The pair can also be found jamming with Jealous Dogs: Seattle’s Only Pretenders Tribute Band.

Meanwhile, Fredd Luongo, lead singer/songwriter for The Swearengens was onstage plugging in his acoustic guitar. I pointed at him with both hands and exclaimed triumphantly, “I made it!  I made it!”

Fredd smiled and said, “I better not f*ck up!”

He had nothing to fear.  If they played air guitars, covered Swedish rap (yes, it’s a thing), or [reader: please insert optional colorful phrase here], I wouldn’t have cared. I was just happy I finally made it to the show.

Friday’s setlist included songs from their 2012 EP Devil Gets Her Way, their latest album Waiting on the Sunrise, and other songs that I hope will show up on a future album, including this song, “‘Merican Woman”:

Another orphan song,”You Pissed on My Heart” is one of my favorites.  It got my attention the first time I saw them at The High Dive a few years ago.  The bitter song flows with acidic lyrics and splashes of dark humor (groan–sorry, I couldn’t resist).

The Swearengens definitely rocked the country songs tonight and got back to basics with a streamlined, four-person band. Aimee Zoe was smiling and spirited on drums. Soren Godbersen had some searing country-rock guitar solos. Fredd backed him on acoustic and sang his heart out tonight. Bassist Kirsten Ballweg is a former member of The Black Crabs and the founding member of The Dee Dees, an all female Ramones cover band. Kirsten had her Ramones stance going all night. We need to get to a Dee Dees show one of these days.  Check out their website for show times. 

Aimee, Fredd and Kirsten

Aimee, Fredd and Kirsten

Lots of dancing ensued throughout the lively set, and the house was packed.  They finished big with the blues-soaked rocker “Bleeding Blue” from Waiting on the Sunrise.

The Swearengens are back in the studio recording a new EP, due early next year. Catch them at The Green Frog in Bellingham November 8th, and at The Sunset with Massy Ferguson and Deception Past in Ballard November 15th.

Ole Tinder featuring Jay Kardong, Mike Giacolino, Aimee Zoe, and Moe Provencer

Ole Tinder featuring Jay Kardong, Mike Giacolino, Aimee Zoe, and Moe Provencer

Ole Tinder was up next. Aimee, Moe and Jay backed Mike Giacolino, who also played a solo set that afternoon. Ole Tinder has that classic country sound.  People continued to dance as Ole Tinder wound through their set with a couple of songs from Loways and many new ones I hadn’t heard before. I hope a new album will be out soon. Here’s a review of Ole Tinder from 2012, the first time I saw them.

“Labor” was a great song with a powerful message. Mike Giacolino plays a solo version here:

Tony Fulgham, singer/songwriter for Jackrabbit and  wife Daisy joined in on the fun. Wes Amundsen, bass player for The Black Crabs, also showed up and gave support to his musical compadres.

After the show, we said goodbye to the boys and girls and hugged it out, with hopes of seeing them again soon. It felt like a musical family reunion.

John Keister getting some laughs

John Keister getting some laughs

We hoofed it to Hattie’s Hat for the Laff Hole Comedy Night in Hattie’s Back Room.  The lineup included comedy shorts on video screens by Black Daisy, several local comedians, a Last Comic Standing contestant, and headliner John Keister. About 30 people crammed in booths and tables around the makeshift stage (consisting of a piece of rug on the floor and a cardboard sign on the wall).  We enjoyed hearty laughs, knowing smiles, and occasionally suffered a few eye-rolling groans.  It was all good fun, though, and we definitely got our entertainment value this night.

I hope Macefield returns next year.  The lineup was superb; the energy of the artists and crowd was truly invigorating.  We enjoyed the two-day event, and only wish we had time to see more artists.


October 11, 2014 Posted by | Americana, aplscruf, Concert Season 2014, Massy Ferguson, Ole Tinder, Star Anna, The Swearengens | , , , , , , , , , , | 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

A Night Out at The Sunset Tavern 10.13.2012

Star Anna and Ty Bailie

After a long, dry spell of no nights out to see live music, we finally formulated a plan for Saturday, October 13.  We drove into Ballard and after circling the block several times (our usual course of action) we scored a street spot in a central location.  We made our way to a new establishment called Kickin’ Boot Whiskey Kitchen.  The enticing smell of barbecued meats filled our nostrils as we walked down the sidewalk to the refurbished warehouse.  After a relatively short wait in the bar area (we stood at a tall, slim rail with a little shelf to place our drinks), we were seated in the noisy dining area.  The warehouse environment made for a loud crowd echo, but we didn’t mind it too much; we were just so glad to get out.  We shared a tender pulled pork, with sides of mac ‘n’ cheese and collard greens.

We walked around the corner and up the block to Hot Cakes, a very tasty new dessert bar just a few doors down from The Sunset.  We shared (we’re finding we don’t spend or eat as much if we just share meals, and we still wind up pretty dang full) a molten lava chocolate cake with caramel sauce and little toffee chunks sprinkled on a ball of vanilla ice cream.  Hot Cakes’ ingredients are mostly if not all from local vendors.  And just so tasty.  They also served some alcoholic beverages and coffee drinks.  You can also purchase some of their products in kit form and take it home and bake yourself.

Full and happy, we strolled into The Sunset Tavern and enjoyed some great local music from Sherilyn Segrest, Star Anna, Kasey Anderson and not-so-local Lydia Loveless.  See my Randomville review here for a taste of their music and links to their websites: http://randomville.com/live-review-star-anna-and-kasey-anderson-at-the-sunset-tavern/

October 20, 2012 Posted by | Concert Season 2012, Kasey Anderson, Star Anna, The Sunset Tavern | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Star Anna Update – CD Release Party at Easy Street Records

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









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

Star Anna and the Laughing Dogs New CD Drops 7.12.11

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

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

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

Star Anna and the Laughing Dogs

Dusty 45’s

Dead Rock West opened

Neumos on Capitol Hill, Seattle

Friday, May 20, 2011

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

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

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

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

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

DRW Setlist

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

Dead Rock West

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

Star Anna Setlist

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

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

Star Anna

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

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

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

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

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

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


Cindy Wasserman and Frank Lee Drennen


The Well-Dressed Keith Ash

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

Flight to Mars at the Showbox April 8, 2011

Tim DiJulio and Mike McCready

Friday, April 8, 2011

The Showbox at the Market

Seattle, WA

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

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

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

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

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

Buckets of Rain

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

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

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

Lazy Susan – Kim Virant and Tim DiJulio

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

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

FTM Show Begins

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

Paul Passereli and Tim DiJulio

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

Dave Coalter Jamming with the FTM

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

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

Mike and Tim

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

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

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

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

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

Here are some more pics:

Gary Westlake and Paul Passereli

Kim Virant

Buckets of Rain

Tim and Mike 2

Paul – Fringes

Mike – Solo

Paul and Tim


Paul Passereli

Tim DiJulio

The Set List – a few changes during show

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

Flight to Mars This Friday at The Showbox!

My second official press pass…at The Showbox!

Flight to Mars, the UFO cover band features Mike McCready of Pearl Jam fame, Tim DiJulio of the late great North Twin, Ty Bailie of Star Anna and the Laughing Dogs, and other talented local musicians.

The show, an annual event since 2003, will benefit the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America.

April 7, 2011 Posted by | Concert Season 2011, Music | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Star Anna and the Laughing Dogs 3.11.11

I wasn’t going to write up a blog for this show.  I didn’t write a setlist.  I just wanted to go and enjoy Star Anna and absorb myself into the music.  But I couldn’t resist taking a few pictures.  Star and the Laughing Dogs tore it up once again. 

If you want to see a review from December, click here

Also, I met Tim DiJulio of North Twin fame.  He’s in a band with Mike McCready and Ty Bailie called Flight To Mars.  They’re playing The Showbox April 8.  We’ll be there!

And now for some more pics:

March 14, 2011 Posted by | Concert Season 2011, Music, Star Anna and the Laughing Dogs, The Tractor Tavern | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Star Anna at the Tractor Friday 3.11.11

Star Anna

We just purchased tickets yesterday for Star Anna and the Laughing Dogs.  P and I saw them in December and fell in love with Star’s voice and Justin’s crazy guitar skills. Take a look at the review on Randomville and more pics on my previous blog.

March 9, 2011 Posted by | Concert Season 2011, Music, Star Anna, Star Anna and the Laughing Dogs, The Tractor Tavern | , , , , , | Leave a comment