Aplscruf's Music Blog

2016: A Year In Review

img_1899-2

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

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

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

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

fineprince

Seattle’s Fine Prince

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

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

1656396

Jeff Finlin

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

Noam Weinstein pic

Noam Weinstein

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

img_0650

Colt Kraft and Jamie Henwood

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

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

img_0722

Massy Ferguson

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

IMG_0799.JPG

Sean Rowe

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

img_0809

Alisa Milner and Ian McFeron

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

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

img_0951

Tayler Lynn and Bradley Laina of Vaudeville Etiquette

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

IMG_2644

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

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

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

Jeremy Nail stevan.alcala_JN14B

Jeremy Nail

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

IMG_1593

Todd Snider at Aladdin Theater in Portland

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

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

IMG_1783 (2)

Mike McCready and Tim DiJulio of Flight To Mars

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

myfriendthenight380-333

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

live-at-coast_front-300x266

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

RNB-30-04-16-2006-36-2633-Knelis

David Corley in The Netherlands. Photo by Niels Knelis Meijer

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

IMG_1838

Brian Wright and Aaron Lee Tasjan

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

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

theboth_photo_gal_39683_photo_926348106_lr

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

img_1855

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

fernando-at-mcmenamins

Fernando and Dan at McMenamins in Bothell, late summer

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

massycd-runitrightintothewall-cover-square-72dpi

13439112_10154104255820412_8515150025232662569_n

Pete Bruntnell with Ethan Anderson at Maverick Music Festival, England

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

06-Massy_Ferguson

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

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

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

img_2164

Fredd Luongo of The Swearengens

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

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

b52s-zoo-2016

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

img_2323

Shinyribs at The Tractor

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

img_2338

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

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

paperboys-nectar

The Paperboys – with Tom Landa

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Believers Play Oak Harbor Music Festival Sept 3, 2016

The Believers, featuring Craig Aspen and Cynthia Frazzini, are playing Oak Harbor Music Festival this Saturday, September 3 at 7pm. Originally from Seattle, they currently reside in Nashville and are coming back this week for the festival. They’ll join the rest of the original band, including: Dan Tyack, Stevie Adamek, and Garey Shelton.

The free, three-day festival begins Friday, September 2. The motto of the festival: “Inspire Our Community With The Power of Music”. Thirty bands of various genres are scheduled to play, and all ages are welcome. Food, beer, and arts and crafts booths will be available, too.

I’m looking forward to seeing The Believers play with a full band. Aspen and Frazzini played a beautiful set in Fremont in 2014 at private club. Check the review of that wonderful night here and see another video from The Believers: https://aplscruf.wordpress.com/2014/11/02/dusty-45s-and-the-believers-at-a-private-club-in-fremont-wa/

 

August 28, 2016 Posted by | 2016, Americana, Oak Harbor Music Festival, The Believers | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

SC4M: Americana Music Festival in South Central…England!

sc4m-2016-A5-2-hi-res-for-web

SC4M Festival is an annual Americana music festival in South Central England–Winchester, to be precise. This year’s Festival will prove to be a great success. It’s a guaranteed “No Mud” event, as all shows are inside The Railway Inn in two locations: The Attic and The Barn (not a real barn–but a larger room inside the venue). The line-up alone is worth a drool, including headliner John Murry and festival mascot Peter Bruntnell. The festival begins at noon and runs into the wee hours. Check the full lineup and schedule here.

I posted a more concise article for No Depression here.

Oliver Gray, founder and promoter of SC4M, is a language instructor, author, musician, and all ’round music lover. Over the last dozen years or so, he’s been dipping his toes in that river of Americana music and its related tributaries and booking The Railway with the genre’s best artists. The annual non-profit festival is going on its seventh season at The Railway. According to Oliver, he founded SC4M “not to make money…but simply for fun, and because if we didn’t bring Americana to Winchester, no other bugger would. We had to accept from the start that this would be a hobby and not a business. Over the years, if you add everything up, we have made quite a substantial net loss, but had a huge amount of fun and satisfaction.” Oliver and his wife Birgit even offer up rooms in their home to the artists in order to keep expenses at a minimum.

I had the pleasure of meeting The Grays in April:

The rain poured down the day my husband Pat and I were supposed to meet Oliver Gray in a little village on the outskirts of Winchester. After touring Winchester Cathedral and paying my respects to beloved author Jane Austen (i.e., crying my eyes out at her grave), we hired a taxi to take us into the village.

We were originally going to meet Oliver at a local pub, but due to the incessant rain, he invited us over to his home instead, as he didn’t feel like venturing out. He gave us his address. That’s it? There were no numbered streets or house addresses–only names in the style of manor houses posted willy-nilly in front gardens and near doorways (think of your favorite English novel: Wuthering Heights, Thornfield Hall, Mansfield Park, etc., but in an average, residential neighborhood)–it was nearly impossible for us to find his home. Our taxi driver gave up and drove off a few minutes earlier after cruising up and down the neighborhood and checking Google Earth. We were stranded. “It’s got to be on this street, according to the GPS,” Pat said. Frustration etched his voice as the rain dripped off the hood of his jacket.

I looked up, and a familiar-looking man crossed the street and approached us. After a tentative introduction to make sure we were indeed Lisa and Pat (and he was indeed Oliver), he guided us directly across the street and up a set of stairs to his lovely home. Their house sign was posted high, near some shrubbery–we’d never looked up. He sat us down, served us tea, and said, “My wife Birgit asked me how I came to know you, and I really don’t recall. Right. So. How do I know you?” Laughter ensued as we became acquainted with each other.

As a writer and lover of music myself, I found Oliver through a Facebook group called Rollercoaster Records. I noticed we had several mutual musical friends. When I realized Oliver booked The Railway, I contacted him to inform him we’d be in town on holiday in April and hoped to meet up or go to a show. Unfortunately, our Winchester visit was on a Monday, and we missed a few shows around town by a matter of days; but we hit a home run by spending time with Oliver and Birgit that day.

Back to SC4M…

Oliver has a lively article on his SC4M page regarding the formation of SC4M, the festival, and the various mishaps of being in the booking/promotion business including flaky agents, drunken behavior, and a near murder, just to name a few. Of course, even the worst incidents are canceled out by fantastic bands, sold-out shows, and life-long friendships with artists and patrons. There is also a section dedicated to the nearly disastrous 2013 festival, and other bits of lore that took place over the last decade.

I included a snippet of Oliver’s article, which includes the birth of SC4M:

“It was at the Tower Arts Centre in Winchester and it must have been February 2000. My friend Richard had begged me to come and see a guy called Peter Bruntnell.

peter-bruntnell.jpg

“I had always had a strong prejudice against country music, with its attendant visions, in my mind, of soppy lyrics and redneck attitudes. It wasn’t rock. But Peter Bruntnell and his band did rock – like hell. The ridiculously young James Walbourne was simply one the best and wildest electric guitar players I had ever seen. There weren’t many people there, but that evening changed my life. Richard and I decided to become alt-country impresarios. Not to make money…but simply for fun, and because if we didn’t bring Americana to Winchester, no other bugger would.”

And so began Oliver’s foray into the world of promoting Americana music in Winchester.

the railway

The Railway Inn, Winchester, UK

“We also had the perfect venue, in the form of The Railway in Winchester, a cosy pub that has a back room that feels just like a Texas roadhouse, with black walls, a sticky floor and a sweaty rock and roll vibe….We certainly didn’t think we’d still be doing it [thirteen] years later.”

The Lucky Mascot Returns:

“If you look at the list of our shows, you’ll see that the first one (on May 1, 2003) featured, naturally, Peter Bruntnell. Well, it would have to. The Bruntosaurus, as he is affectionately known, has played for us over twenty times…Peter is officially designated as our lucky mascot. In our opinion, he is the UK’s premier songwriter, but far more importantly, he is an absolute legend as a person. Luckily, our audience shares our enthusiasm and any show he features in will always draw a healthy crowd.”

Recently, I asked Pete Bruntnell about his experiences playing SC4M:

“We’ve been playing in Winchester for quite a few years now thanks to Oliver and Birgit. It’s always one we look forward to what with the great atmosphere they create, and the cheese and wine back at Chez Oliver’s after. If every town had an Oliver I’d be a rich musician!

Pete’s latest video, “Mr. Sunshine” is featured on his new album Nos Da Comrade:

Per Oliver, the 2016 lineup will be smashing with John Murry’s return to the stage:

“Since he more or less demolished the place two years ago, we’ve been gagging to have John Murry back, this time in duo format with Neil Quigley. Headlining in the Attic we have one of Winchester’s greatest success stories, This Is The Kit, featuring Kate Stables and Rozi Plain. A massive bonus this year is a solo slot from our special guest Andrew Combs, whom we love to death.”

John Murry gave an emotional tribute to the Grays:

“Oliver and Birgit Gray mean more to me than I could ever fully express in words (and I’m told that I have a way with those damn things, though I’m unsure as to whether those who say that I do mean that I use them artistically or that my use of them tends to get me in trouble quite often…). Everything they do, they do out of the love; the love of music, the love of art, and the love of the artist.

“Playing SC4M and Winchester and, in earlier days, Southampton, has always felt like a brief vacation from the pressures of touring while staying with the Gray’s. I’m certain that, if shows I have done have been good, then the ones I have done in Winchester must have been some of the best I have ever done. Like playing for family I have never really had, I have always wanted to give those shows more than I have in me to give, only to see the wry excited smile that creeps across Oliver’s face as he stands in the audience that indicates I have done well. He’s the finest musical barometer I have ever met. His taste is immaculate, his understanding of the art behind it all is immense, and his love of rock and roll is insatiable. He and Birgit have seen more amazing acts perform than most of us could see in multiple lifetimes. They are heroic to me. Sincerely. Not because they ask nothing in return for the love, hard work, and money they put creating and promoting each yearly SC4M festival, but because they do it out of a sense of duty and responsibility with a dignity and humanity almost alien to the selfish world we live in today. I’ve played large festivals on a few continents, but I have yet to play a festival as superbly curated and consistently amazing to both perform at and attend as SC4M, and I doubt I ever will. It is more than an honor to headline this year’s festival, it’s a challenge. I WILL make Oliver and Birgit dance or cry or something! I have to. They’d expect nothing less. From any of us.”

Murry rocked The Railway in 2013:

Meanwhile, back at Chez Oliver’s…

Besides booking The Railway throughout the year and the annual SC4M Festival, Oliver and Birgit also host intimate shows in a beautiful pine-wrapped outbuilding on their property called Swiss Cottage. It’s quite a treat to meet a couple who love music so much that they built a place for bands to play on their property. It holds about 30-40 people, and the top-notch musicians who are invited to play at either venue are also invited to sleep in the Grays’ home, just steps from the cottage. Money collected for the shows goes directly into the artists’ hands.

The Grays support not only UK and European artists, but also American artists. Some Americans have actually enjoyed much more success overseas than in the US. There are too many bands to list, but a few who played Winchester include: John Murry, Richmond Fontaine, Jeff Finlin, The Believers, Dead Rock West, Chuck Prophet, and Fernando Viciconte.

I’ve played Swiss Cottage, too–well, okay, I played a mean round of ping-pong in Swiss Cottage on a rainy Monday afternoon.

believers oliver

Craig Aspen, Oliver Gray, and Cynthia Frazzini at Swiss Cottage

Craig Aspen of The Believers, a Seattle band currently residing in Nashville, recalls his experience of their short stay with the Grays:

“Simply put, Oliver Gray is a taste maker. The Believers included The Railway on our last tour to the UK, because Oliver was booking acts that we loved and had shared the stage with back home in the States. People like Chuck Prophet and Jesse Sykes.
“I remember Cyd [Cynthia Frazzini] and I waking up very jet-lagged and rehearsing while Oliver and Birgit cooked dinner. After we ate, Cynthia went back to bed. Oliver and I went out for pints. I don’t care what anyone says, the best beer is made in England so don’t miss a chance to get out to the pub.
“We ended up at The Railway on a double bill with our friends from LA – Dead Rock West. What a great night. And then we were ‘off’ to the next place the morning after and didn’t even get to see The Winchester Cathedral. That’s always how it goes on tour…”

_________

The rain stopped. Oliver gave us a historical walking tour through the village. We strolled across the bridges of the twin rivers and arrived at the small train station to catch our ride home. Pat and I had a lovely time, and we were so pleasantly surprised by the Grays’ hospitality to a couple of Yankee strangers who shared their love of music.

If you plan on being anywhere near the UK in September, grab some tickets to SC4M Festival and go!

Support Oliver and Birgit and their unwavering commitment to bringing quality music to Winchester. Purchase Railway Tickets for SC4M here

See the complete SC4M lineup here

SC4M’s Facebook Page

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

 

 

 

August 10, 2016 Posted by | 2016, Oliver Gray, SC4M, The Railway, Uncategorized, Winchester Music | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Dusty 45’s and The Believers at a Private Club in Fremont, WA

The Believers - A former Seattle duo, now residing in Nashville

The Believers – A former Seattle duo, now residing in Nashville

On Hallowe’en, we said goodbye to a beautiful little private club in grand style.  It was one of those interesting, quirky venues that only a handful of people knew about.  We only saw a couple of other shows here, but instantly fell in love with its rustic beauty and great acoustics. It was a bittersweet evening, knowing that the place was closing for good.

The Believers, an alt-country band originally from Seattle, now reside in Nashville.  The duo (Craig Aspen and Cynthia Frazzini) opened the show and encouraged the costumed revelers to dance.  Their music was definitely dance-worthy and their beautiful, soulful harmonies filled stable-like space.

Take a listen and a peep of “Gimme Some Love”:

Heavy on harmonica, Aspen adds a dark and bluesy touch to “Let It Be What It Is”:

Dancers twirled around the wooden floor in colorful costumes and masks.  We felt out of place in our street clothes, but still felt welcome in the intimate club.  We knew and recognized a few people and met some new friends by the end of the night.

A variety of dancers, including an early appearance by Santa himself!

A variety of dancers, including an early appearance by Santa himself!

I asked Pat, “Who is tending bar tonight?”

“Snoopy.”

“Snoop Dog?”

“No, Snoopy The Dog.”

I wished I’d taken a picture of him.  You’ll just have to use your imagination.

A scary Swedish silent movie played on a wall next to the stage.  A BBQ truck fed the hungry outside in the courtyard.

During the intermission, they entertained us by inviting people to whack a cowboy boot piñata, full of tiny booze bottles:

Cowboy Boot Pinata

Cowboy Boot Pinata

The unrecognizable Johnny 7 showed up as Frank ‘n’ Furter from Rocky Horror Picture Show with his girlfriend Little Nell:

'Merica!

‘Merica!

Next up was The Dusty 45’s, a Seattle treasure. Their claim to fame, besides rocking Seattle for the past decade, includes touring with Ms. Wanda Jackson in support of her revitalized career. Billy Joe Huels, founder and lead singer/guitarist/flaming trumpeteer, also hosts an annual fundraiser concert called Gimme Shelter to support DESC (Downtown Emergency Service Center).  Other members of this amazing band have their own impressive resumes.  See their stories here: http://www.dusty45s.com/about-the-band/

More revelers packed the dance floor as The Dusty 45’s entertained us for about two hours.

The Dusty 45's: Billy Joe Huels (lead vocals), Jerry Battista (guitar), Kelly Van Camp (drums), Robin Cady (upright bass), and Arthur Migliazza (keys)

The Dusty 45’s: Billy Joe Huels (lead vocals), Jerry Battista (guitar), Kelly Van Camp (drums), Robin Cady (upright bass), and Arthur Migliazza (keys)

 

Robin Cady

Robin Cady

Jerry Battista

Jerry Battista

More Dancers!

More Dancers!

Here is a taste of their original roots rock “Chase Your Dreams” which showcases each member:

The big finish usually involves a flaming trumpet.  I’m thankful Billy Joe only figuratively burned down the house!

Big Finish!

Big Finish!

November 2, 2014 Posted by | Americana, aplscruf, Concert Season 2014, Dusty 45's, Fremont Music Scene, Music, The Believers | , , , , , , | 3 Comments