Aplscruf's Music Blog

The Brambles and Legendary Oaks – Sunset Tavern 1.18.2014

Legendary Oaks

Legendary Oaks

Although still exhausted from my crazy road trip from the week before and the sleepless aftermath of frantically writing the corresponding blog, we couldn’t pass up a chance to see some live music in Ballard.  Our neighbors invited us out to The Sunset Tavern January 18th.  They had seen Legendary Oaks before and thought we might like them, too.  The other two opening bands were unknown to all of us.  Check out the links of all the bands below and hear their music.  Watch their videos. Make a purchase and support our local musicians.

Day Laborers and Petty Intellectuals

Day Laborers and Petty Intellectuals

Day Laborers and Petty Intellectuals opened the show.  When I saw the name in the bill, I thought it might be a Tom Petty cover band.  I don’t usually enjoy cover bands, but I was willing to give it a shot this time, since it would be a comfort to sit back and enjoy some familiar music.  I was disappointed when I quickly realized they were not a TP cover band at all. This big band played original pop/folk (they call themselves a six-piece folk-apocalypse band) tunes and had an unusual narrative style that wasn’t hitting my sweet spot. Other audience members disagreed; many people seemed attentive and clapped heartily for them after each song.  Maybe I was having an off night.  Check them out for yourself.

The Brambles - Photo Credit: M. Kyle Moseby

The Brambles – Photo Credit: M. Kyle Moseby

The Brambles (aka West Coast Brambles–not to be confused with East Coast Brambles) were up next.  Their music definitely hit the spot for me.   They had a tight sound with a bluesy Americana vibe.  People danced to the nice two-step, upbeat tempo.  Some songs were more solemn than others, but it was a good mix of both. The guitarist, Omar Schambacher was amazing. It seemed he was dying for a chance to break out into a big, rockin’ solo.  We enjoyed watching him play.  Also, my husband enjoyed Vanessa Small, the lead singer.  She was “not bad to look at” according to P, in his usual subdued enthusiasm, and she had a great voice for Americana.

Next, the headliner, Legendary Oaks came out fightin’.  The lead singer, Craig Schoen admitted he had a good buzz on and dove right in.  Their music was loud and rocking with a psychedelic alt-country twang, sans fiddler.  Our neighbor informed us that the last time he saw Legendary Oaks, not only was Schoen piss drunk, but he chewed out his fiddler onstage for being completely out of key on a song.  Awesome.  They seemed to do just fine without her and filled the whole room with sound.

Right about the time Legendary Oaks took the stage, the dance floor shifted from two-step to a Bellevue up-scale club scene.  It was surreal. Women with up-dos and pretty dresses you’d see at cocktail parties or conventions sauntered in and proceeded to dance, Night-at-the-Roxbury-style, in too-high heels.  There was also a small bachelorette party that joined them. The band was obviously amused by this strange turn on the dance floor. Schoen was on stage screamin’, cussin’ and wailin’ on his acoustic guitar while the girls raised the roof and tried to look like their shoes weren’t mangling their feet.  Oh, we had a good laugh at the bizarre dichotomy!  But as Kevin Shinyribs Russell says, “There’s no wrong way to dance!” So I had to give the girls credit for getting out there and shaking it.  We certainly wouldn’t be shaking anything but the last drop outta the can of PBR this night.

February 13, 2014 Posted by | Americana, aplscruf, Concert Season 2014, Legendary Oaks, The Brambles, The Sunset Tavern | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Shinyribs at The Sunset Thursday, September 5, 2013

The Sunset Tavern

Shinyribs

The Ganges River Band opened

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Shinyribs

Shinyribs

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

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

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

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

The Ganges River Band

The Ganges River Band

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Prayin' for salvation

Prayin’ for salvation

Shinyribs Down!

Shinyribs Down!

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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