Aplscruf's Music Blog

Best Show of The Year II: Los Straitjackets and Deke Dickerson at The Tractor 11.21.14

Pete Curry of Los Straitjackets

“Pedro” Pete Curry of Los Straitjackets

It was one of those Yin-Yang, bittersweet days.  Our Mexican-American friend Ralph passed away a few weeks earlier and we attended his memorial service on the afternoon before the Los Straitjackets show.  He died in the midst of doing something he loved: selling his folk art at a local art shop on the weekend of Dia De Los Muertos.  Not only did Ralph paint beautiful folk art, but painted several variations of ornate skulls and skeletons for Dia De Los Muertos that he was selling that day.

In such a perfect, almost supernatural coincidence, Los Straitjackets played The Tractor the evening after Ralph’s memorial service.  We told his loving partner Nancy about LSJ, who wear Lucha Libre Mexican wrestling masks and play instrumental surf music.  She was happy that we were going to do something so strangely appropriate after the service.  Ralph would have joined us if he could.  Maybe he did, in spirit.  The happiness and revelry of the night balanced out the somber atmosphere of the day.

On with the show…

Although I had already claimed Southern Culture on The Skids as the best show of the year, I knew I’d probably eat my words when I heard Los Straitjackets were coming to town.  The two bands even have their own collaborative album out entitled Mondo Zombie Boogaloo and toured together last year.

Los Straitjackets have been a favorite of mine ever since I saw them a few years ago in Stanwood’s Slow Foods Roots Music Festival.   They are a part of my musical family tree–artists I have grown to love that have a common ancestry in roots rock, who have either collaborated together or branched out with various cousins of that genre. LSJ have also gained a huge following in Mexico, and played to 50,000 people in Mexico City last year, two nights in a row!

To give you an idea of their musical style, here’s a fun one from their album, Jet Set:

After the memorial service, we had just enough time to change and Uber down to Ballard.  The traffic was reasonably light for a Friday, so we had plenty of time to grab some hearty food at Hattie’s Hat.  We first paid homage to Ralph with a big shot of tequila and lime.

Our friend Dean arrived earlier and saved us a spot at our favorite table, right up front, stage right.  Thanks, Dean!  Soon after, the first band set up.

Miss Mamie Lavona The Exotic Mulatta

Miss Mamie Lavona The Exotic Mulatta

Miss Mamie Lavona The Exotic Mulatta and Her White Boy Band strutted out to the stage to hearty applause. I didn’t realize this was a local Seattle band.  I’ve seen their name pop up a few times (pretty memorable!) and I believe they’ve played with LSJ in the past, but didn’t know the treat we were in for.  The band this night consisted of Miss Mamie on sultry vocals, Hugh Jardo’hon aka Eric Ray Anderson on electric ukulele, with other members on trumpet, keys, drums, upright bass, and clarinet.  Their jazzy, cabaret-style music took us way back to New Orleans. Miss Mamie’s downright sexy aura was mesmerizing.  The band was excellent, with fabulous solos on trumpet and clarinet.  They covered some old songs, but also included their own numbers, including a humorous one called “Flat Stanley”.

Hugh J'Ardon

Hugh Jardo’hon

Los Straitjackets, in their self-aggrandizing fashion, took the stage to a capacity crowd of cheering, whooping fans.  Everyone crushed forward as the band donned their matching instruments and egged on the audience with their arms raised in a plea for more noise and applause.

They wasted no time as they dove into “Pacifica”.  Here’s a video from a show last year in NYC:

Los Straitjackets performing "Casbah"!

Los Straitjackets performing “Casbah”!

“Casbah” is one of my all-time favorites, with the boys lined up bopping their heads in unison, turning sideways.

Eddie and Greg’s solos were bloody scorching.  It was so exhilarating to be that close and watch Eddie’s fingers at work.

Eddie Angel summoning the Devil out of his guitar

Eddie Angel summoning the Devil out of his guitar

Pete was also a kick on bass and had complex runs while mugging for my camera, as evidenced in the first picture, top.

Drummer Chris Sprague, aka Sugarballs, had furious solos, especially on “Sing Sing Sing” and also played to the audience’s applause by standing, waiting to hit the last beat, etc.

Sugarballs on Drums

Sugarballs on Drums

Deke Dickerson, in a straw cowboy hat and red jacket joined them, adding some super vocals to their instrumental music.  They have an album out which is a collaboration with Deke on old instrumental favorites, such as the Hawaii Five-O theme song (actually sung by Sammy Davis, Jr. in the seventies) and to some of LSJ’s own instrumentals with new lyrics.  The LSJ album, entitled Deke Dickerson Sings the Great Instrumental Hits is a hoot.  I laughed my way through LSJ’s original first song, “Fury”, where Deke decided a big-time wrestler’s voice would be appropriate singing the lyrics.  They played this one at the show, but first Deke asked the audience to clear a path down the middle.  He growled the lyrics in his best wrestler voice, jumped off the stage and eventually picked up a hapless audience member and flung him around in his arms, wrestler-style.  It was fantastic, and really got us going. Meanwhile, the band was onstage tearing it up, with a nasty solo by Eddie halfway through the crazy song.

Deke Dickerson

Deke Dickerson

He played several songs with them, also including the 50’s version of “Miserlou” with lyrics.  He first started off playing in the familiar up-tempo version, made famous in the movie Pulp Fiction.  He stopped after shredding a few seconds on his own sparkly DiPinto guitar (LSJ’s model with Deke’s name on it) and said he would do the earlier version–which we would like 50% less than the one we all knew.  Ha

I’m just now learning more about Mr. Dickerson, and I must say he is truly a renaissance man.  Along with Los Straitjackets, he is doing his part to preserve roots rock for future generations.  Check out his website and learn more about this multi-talented fellow.

Deke left the stage to LSJ for several more songs.

Gregorio El Grande teasing the front row

Gregorio El Grande teasing the front row

Besides being expert instrumentalists, LSJ’s showmanship and faux bravado just added to the entire entertainment experience.  We were completely immersed in their performance.

LSJ Coordinating Moves

LSJ Coordinating Moves

Los Straitjackets are now in the midst of touring with the great Nick Lowe for their Quality Holiday Review. In a twist of fate, Ian McLagan, famed for the band Faces, just passed away early December.  He was supposed to join them.  They will have a bittersweet tour, I’m sure; but nonetheless it will be the show to see if they play your town. Check out their tour dates and cities on Nick Lowe’s site here: http://nicklowe.com/

A few more pics:

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No Hands! The Deke Dickerson Reach-around!

Eddie Angel

Eddie Angel

Gregorio y Eddie

Gregorio y Eddie

LSJ Setlist

LSJ Setlist

December 8, 2014 Posted by | aplscruf, Concert Season 2014, Los Straitjackets, Music, The Tractor Tavern | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Los Straitjackets Tour West Coast!

Los Straitjackets are currently touring the West Coast and are making their way to Seattle this Friday, November 21, at The Tractor Tavern!  Be there.  It will be THE BEST SHOW of THE YEAR.  Yes, I know I already said Southern Culture on The Skids was the best show, but I’m pretty sure Los Straitjackets will trump that show.

Not quite sure? Here’s a link to a previous show:

 https://aplscruf.wordpress.com/2011/09/05/viva-los-straitjackets-the-rest-of-the-story/

November 18, 2014 Posted by | aplscruf, Concert Season 2014, Los Straitjackets, The Tractor Tavern | , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Wild Feathers and Friends at The Tractor Tavern 10.24.14

Ready to Go!

I ran out of time to write a proper blog, but wanted to share some pics and videos from three terrific bands we saw on Oct. 24 at The Tractor Tavern.  Common denominator of these bands: HARMONY!

Desert Noises

Desert Noises – I like this pic because lead singer Kyle Henderson looks like a young Tom Petty

Desert Noises

Bordering on psychedelic rock, prog. rock, very edgy at times.


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The boys in blue

Kyle Henderson: Vocals, rhythm guitar
Patrick Boyer: Lead guitar
Tyler Osmond: Bass, vocal harmonies
Brennan Allen: Drums

Kyle Henderson of Desert Noises

Kyle Henderson of Desert Noises

The Apache Relay

Pop rock and soul, with a Shins vibe–mixed with some Nashville twang. Unfortunately, the blue stage lights washed out most of my pics and gave me a headache! Had to move to other side of the stage.  Sorry, boys.  I included a couple of fun videos below. One, “Katie Queen of Tennessee” won Nashville’s Best Video award for 2014.  We really loved their unique sound.

The Apache Relay

The Apache Relay

Good article here from Huffington Post’s Paul R. Byrne

The Wild Feathers

The Wild Feathers

The Wild Feathers : Ricky Young, Joel King, Taylor Burns, Preston Wimberly, and Ben Dumas

Vocal harmonies are king with this talented group.  Genre-crossing rock, alt-country, Americana sounds.

We saw them for the first time last year when they opened for Willie Nelson.  Instant LOVE.   I was surprised to see them in such a small venue this time ’round. Their energy onstage is infectious, and almost too big for this little Tractor.  They packed the house. Such a rare treat to see this band up close.

“Left My Woman” shows off the impressive vocal styles of each singer/guitarist:

The Wild Feathers

The Wild Feathers

 

The Wild Feathers

The Wild Feathers

 

 

The Wild Feathers joined by the other bands for "The Weight" Singalong

The Wild Feathers joined by the other bands for “The Weight” Singalong

November 2, 2014 Posted by | aplscruf, Concert Season 2014, Music, Rock, The Tractor Tavern, The Wild Feathers | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Best Show of the Year: Southern Culture On The Skids at The Tractor Tavern 08.30.14

Southern Culture on The Skids

Southern Culture on The Skids

I know, I know.  The year ain’t over yet.  When the show ended Saturday, all I could say was, “That was the best show of the year!” I kept repeating it into the wee hours and into the next week.  I guess I should say it was the best show of the year, so far, in a small venue.

The warm Ballard evening started with an interesting and delicious meal at Stoneburner, conveniently situated across the street from The Tractor. In the summer months, they offer outdoor seating and open-air window tables throughout the restaurant and bar, attracting the sidewalk strollers’ attention. We took the only little table left inside the bar.  Inside, the wood-paneled walls and intricate details and furnishings harkened back to an earlier era. I ordered a cocktail that included suze, a French liqueur infused with a bitter root.  It was…different–not sweet, but a little floral.  We also shared a meat and cheese tray and managed to gobble down almost everything on it: piles of thinly sliced salami and prosciutto; a large strip of soft cheese; little mounds of pickled cucumbers, candied cherries, grapes and baby carrots.  We also shared a nice salad with a champagne vinaigrette.

We took our time with dinner and still had a few minutes to stop by Hattie’s Hat for a gigantic, hot homemade brownie and ice cream for dessert. SO good. I felt like a hedonist.

Inside The Tractor, the crowd pushed forward.  The first band, Johnny 7 and The Black Crabs was ready to go on stage. We eyed our favorite table stage right, but it was full.  We meandered to the other side and found our friend Dean near the backstage gate that led to the loading dock.  We re-introduced ourselves, as we hadn’t seen him since last December at The Big Sandy show. There was also a table on his side, which we found we liked even better this toasty evening because the outdoor breeze coming from the loading dock funneled its way toward us.

The Black Crabs: Johnny 7 Stuart, Brigitt Rains and Wesley Amundsen

The Black Crabs: Johnny 7 Stuart, Brigitt Rains and Wesley Amundsen

The re-invented Black Crabs have a few new members now.  There is a lot of band member swapping and sharing in Seattle.  Johnny Stuart, lead singer and guitarist, now works with a new bass player named Wesley Amundsen and drummer “Crazy Mikey” Daugherty, but occasionally brings in former members as guest musicians.  Brigitt Rains, formerly of The Swearengens, now sings with Johnny on a few songs.

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Johnny and Brigitt

It was a treat to see The Black Crabs again. They played my favorites from their previous albums as well as several new ones. Their rockabilly sound is so appealing and authentic.  The band performs mostly originals and a few covers, including the catchy opener, “Say Mama”.  The trio blasted through 16 danceable numbers, but tonight the crowd was too packed to allow the space needed for two-stepping, Western Swing, or any other kind of twirling ’round.

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The Black Crabs ended their show with “Blast Off” with Johnny edging closer to the crowd, holding guitar above their heads and rockin’ out while Wesley tilted his bass on one side and rode the thing while continuing to slap it and moved the audience into a frenzy.

Johnny teasing the audience

Johnny teasing the audience

Now the audience was well-primed for Southern Culture on the Skids.

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S.C.O.T.S.

We had not seen Southern Culture on The Skids (S.C.O.T.S.) before, but knew they played The Tractor and other venues in Seattle for several years.  Originally from South Carolina, they have been going steady since 1983. They have also played with Los Straitjackets, including their big Halloween party/tour/album last year called Mondo Zombie Boogaloo.  Our friend Dean told us before that this was a must-see band. We were just happy to have another free weekend and time to see some live music.

Mary Huff

Mary Huff

The week before the show, I checked their website and watched some of their crazy videos.  The big wigs and go-go boots worn by bass player Mary Huff immediately reminded me of Kate and Cindy of The B-52’s. Some songs also reminded me of the silliness and party style of The B-52’s with titles like “Double Wide”, “Camel Walk”, and “Daddy Was a Preacher But Mama Was a Go-Go Girl”:


Their music, led by guitarist Rick Miller in a seersucker suit, was a quirky blend of surf, punk, blues, rockabilly, roots rock, and kick-ass rock ‘n’ roll. He had us completely mesmerized as his nimble fingers slid over his fret board delivering scorching solo runs. Drummer Dave Harman stood at the drum kit and pounded away, while keeping up a rapid-fire surf beat. He sported a nice bowling shirt at the beginning of the show.  He quickly removed it as things heated up and exposed his wife-beater t-shirt with the screen-printed phrase, “Free Mustache Rides”.  Even funnier was the fact that he had no mustache. Mary’s turn on bass was seemingly effortless as she thumped out fast, repetitive bass riffs and kept her cool, only showing the heat when powdering her nose and checking her giant bouffant wig on stage between songs.

Rick Miller

Rick Miller

Although the music stood alone and was entertaining in its own right, there are some hilarious traditions that happen at a S.C.O.T.S. show.  One is, if you are dressed in appropriate attire (extravagant and colored wig, go-go boots, 60’s dress or possibly a light blue tux), you may be invited up on stage for a little dancing.

Guest Dancers

Guest Dancers

If you like fried chicken, you might be asked to serve (throw) it to audience members during their song “Eight Piece Box”.

Chicken Throwers

Chicken Throwers


When Rick played “Jack The Ripper” he shredded that guitar in an extended solo and went all Jimi Hendrix on us.  He played his guitar behind his head, held it out over the audience, and eventually laid it down–not to light it afire, but to sit on it and make it scream.  Bizarre, hilarious, and fantastic, but without losing the quality of the blazing solo.

Butt Solo

Butt Solo

We were so engaged in the entire evening, we didn’t realize that it was almost 1 am.  Time had no meaning this night.  After their outrageous performance, we thanked each member and asked them to sign a copy of their latest CD entitled Dig This. Each member was so appreciative and friendly.  We’ll be sure to hit their show next time they come around.  I listened to CD with the ragtop down that next week.  I dug that.

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Check out S.C.O.T.S. tour schedule–mostly Southeast dates the rest of the year.

September 28, 2014 Posted by | aplscruf, Big Sandy, black crabs, Concert Season 2014, southern culture on the skids, The Tractor Tavern | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Jackrabbit, Colt Kraft Band, Deception Past at Tractor Tavern 4.26.14

Jackrabbit at The Tractor in 2012

Jackrabbit at The Tractor in 2012

UPDATE: HERE’S MY BLOG OF THE SHOW I POSTED FOR NO DEPRESSION:

http://www.nodepression.com/article/jackrabbit-colt-kraft-and-deception-past-rocked-seattles-tractor-tavern

 

I’m looking forward to a night with Jackrabbit at The Tractor–and a Saturday night to boot.  Lately, it seems our favorite shows have been during the week, which makes for an exhausting night and a fuzzy work morning.  Saturday gives us a little time to relax and be prepared for a late show.  Yes, I am old.

Jackrabbit hasn’t played publicly since late last year.  We went to their private final show on a chilly winter’s eve, and it was a fantastic night of music and celebration.  The band was surrounded by their close friends and family.  Early this year, the girls, Moe Provencher and Aimee Zoe, took a sabbatical from Jackrabbit and cycled across New Zealand and Australia for three months. What an adventure! Not only did they travel on bicycles, but they played gigs at many stops along the way.

Jackrabbit’s frontman Tony Fulgham had his share of traveling around the globe for World Famous Inc. He wrote and directed a movie called Box Walk which is now showing at independent film festivals (most recently in Nashville).  Check out World Famous. The man is prolific.  How he has time to raise his adorable family is a mystery.

Deception Past is celebrating the release of another album Saturday night.  We saw them destroy it at The Green Frog in Bellingham last month. We’re anxious to hear some more great foot stompin’ country from them and to see how many people they can fit on their stage by the end of the night.

Colt Kraft Band is also dropping a new EP.  We haven’t see them before, and new music is always good for the soul.

Hope to see you Saturday!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

April 24, 2014 Posted by | Americana, aplscruf, Concert Season 2014, Deception Past, Jackrabbit, The Tractor Tavern | , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Jackrabbit and Mark Pickerel at The Tractor 1.18.2013

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Jackrabbit

I’m finally getting around to posting this.  I was working on a manuscript for a writing contest through pnwa.org and got sidetracked.  We’re not going to as many shows as we’d like, either–trying to cut back a little.  It’s torture for me to miss so many shows; but when we do go, I try to savor each moment.

For our first show of Concert Season 2013, we saw our favorite local band Jackrabbit.  They played at The Tractor, our favorite Ballard venue.  It was a Friday, which always makes it tough to stay the entire night because we have early mornings and long work days.  We try to take a little nap before leaving for the show, but that didn’t happen this time.

In an effort to save some dough, we ate at home, and then shared a snack at Hattie’s Hat, next door to The Tractor.  We then strolled down the sidewalk to a little gelato bar and ordered small scoops of stracciatella and caramel.  We pored over a map of Italy on the wall and wished we were visiting at that moment. 

At The Tractor, our little table was waiting for us.  I swear, people must get a vibe not to touch our table! I think our energy will still be hanging out there long after we’re gone.  We spoke to Tony Fulgham of Jackrabbit briefly, but they were on first.  He was scurrying around, trying to finalize the setlist and helping with equpiment.  He was looking forward to finishing the set and dancing with his wife the rest of the evening.

As usual, Jackrabbit played their little hearts out, and this time added J.B. Kardong on pedal steel for some serious twang.  Aimee Zoe banged away on drums and added gusto to the first song, “I Know”.  My recent favorite, “Fathers and Sons” was up next.  I need to let my own son hear that song and listen to the poignant lyrics about growing up and becoming a man. 

The intro to “Home Alone” a new song that I’m hoping will show up on their future album, went something like this: “This song’s about trying not to be a fuck-up.”

Aimee took the reigns and sang lead on another new song, “One More Time”.  It has a honky-tonk sound that fits nicely in Jackrabbit’s catalog.  “Around The Bend” is dark and bluesy, and got the audience fired up with its Mojo sound, a la Tom Petty.  They finished with “Big Kids” which is another rawkin’ song, and always the perfect closer.

Mark Pickerel and His Praying Hands were up next, and the crowd filled in.  Steve Davis, a.k.a. Tine E. Dancer from Brent Amaker and The Rodeo, filled in on electric guitar.  It was hard to put a label on Pickerel’s genre.  Sometimes it had a country twang; somtimes it was more of a surf punk; other times it had a 60’s film noir vibe with dark tones and minor keys, like something from a Tarantino movie.   Overall, they had a pretty cool vibe going on.  Mark’s voice has been compared to “Roy Orbison on sedatives”.  Poor Mark’s beautiful Washburn acoustic guitar was stolen out of his car a couple weeks ago.  Tragic.  I hope he finds it. 

We couldn’t stay for the whole set, and missed Hart Kingsbery’s show entirely.  Just…too…tired.  We were glad we finally got out again, though.

April 2, 2013 Posted by | Concert Season 2013, Davidson Hart Kingsbery, Jackrabbit, Mark Pickerel and His Praying Hands, Music, The Tractor Tavern | , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Jackrabbit and Kristen Ward at The Tractor 10.25.12

Tony Fulgham of Jackrabbit

Although I’m currently working on a separate writing project, I wanted to at least post a few of the shows I’ve attended over the last few months.  Jackrabbit, our favorite local band, kicked it up at The Tractor in October.   We also saw Spokane’s Kristen Ward for the first time and fell in love.  I wrote for Randomville.com.  See the full review here:

http://randomville.com/live-review-jackrabbit-and-kristen-ward-at-the-tractor-tavern/

December 30, 2012 Posted by | Concert Season 2012, Jackrabbit, Music, The Tractor Tavern | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Paperboys Friday, Dec. 23, 2011

The Paperboys

After a busy November and hectic December, we managed to squeeze in The Paperboys for one last show of 2011.  We were so fortunate to see so many great artists this year, many for the first time.  The Paperboys are one of our top 10 favorite bands.  They bring so much joy to the stage, that even the worst moods can turn around while listening to their jubilant sound.  On this evening, I found myself literally filling my lungs, trying to absorb as much of that joy and energy as I could.  So much stress and drama seems to surround me this month, and I wanted for one night to forget it all and just surround myself in a protective blanket of music and love.  I got my Christmas wish.  And a new camera!

Hattie's Hat, Circa 1904

We started out the night at Hattie’s Hat, our favorite dark little bar, circa 1904.  The food, a shared beef brisket, cooked 10 hours, and steamed greens and other veggies.  We then walked up to Bastille and had a trifecta of drinks to accompany our fantastic dessert.  The trifecta arrived first: Jameson followed by a sip of Baileys, then a sip of espresso.  The dessert soon arrived: vanilla ice cream with tiny dark chocolate chunks nestled in between puff pastry and doused in warm caramel.  Decadent!  Full and happy, we entered The Tractor, and again, like some kind of miracle, our little table next to the stage was available; the show would start in ten minutes.

Tractor Tavern

We set up our drinks (with plenty of water, knowing the night would be long and warm), hung our jackets and prepared to smile.  I briefly glanced at the names of the opening act, but soon realized the duo would be the only opener before The Paperboys took the stage.  One of the members of the duo was none other than Kendel Carson, the beautiful blonde fiddle player who used to play with The Paperboys.  This was going to be a great night!

Dustin Bentall and Kendel played for close to an hour of folk music, and warmed our hearts.  They were a sweet duet and her playing was so skilled.

Dustin Bentall and Kendel Carson

Our anticipation grew as the crew set up for The Paperboys.  The crowd crushed closer to the stage, but we stood our ground.  One annoying woman pushed her way next to me and never even excused herself.  She knew the band, but that was still no excuse to be rude, especially since we’d already been standing there for over an hour.  We were able to keep our table, though, and that was ok with us.  Also, across the stage from us was our favorite little lady, who was seated at her special table.  Her husband, who is Pat’s doppleganger Dad, was not with her this night.  We’ve seen them every time The Paperboys play.  We spoke with them last time, and they said they aren’t related to the band, but just love them so much, that they never miss a show.  They even admitted they follow them around to other gigs in Washington!  Groupies!  I hope we still go out 25 or 30 years from now.

The Paperboys did not disappoint.  Once again they played the old favorites and a few new ones, but always kept the crowd on their feet dancing and swaying and clapping to the upbeat sound.  Their music cannot be categorized; it’s a soup of multi-cultural flavors, from Mexican and Cuban influences to Celtic fiddles and Reggae beats.  Each musician got their turn at wowing the audience with solos and accompaniment.  Kendel joined Kalissa for a rollicking fiddle showdown.  It was a joyous evening, and I didn’t want it to end.

More pics…

Brad Gillard on Banjo and Bass

Kalissa Hernandez and Tom Landa

Tom's Birthday Banner with Sam Esecson on Drums

Dueling Fiddlers

Tom

Flanked by Fiddles

Standing on Table for Solo

Closeup

December 31, 2011 Posted by | Concert Season 2011, The Paperboys, The Tractor Tavern | , , , , , | Leave a comment

LIVE REVIEW: THE GOURDS AND JACKRABBIT

Kevin Russell of The Gourds

Check out my review on Randomville!  See below for more pics and more info about the show.

The Gourds, from Austin, TX stormed into town for another rollicking, foot-stomping performance, showing off music from their new CD, Old Mad Joy produced by Larry Campbell for Vanguard Records.  Jackrabbit, who played for Massy Ferguson in Mid-October, opened the show, and once again performed an excellent set of country rock and got the crowd moving.  Click here for a review of their show with Massy Ferguson.  

Tony Fulgham of Jackrabbit


Jason Montgomery, Tony's "Brother From Another Border--Oregon!" on Pedal Steel

Check out Jackrabbit’s website  to purchase their new EP!  Listen below:

Here is Jackrabbit’s setlist from The Tractor show:

What’s a Guy Gotta Do

Fathers and Sons

AZ Death Song

Done With You

Throwing in The Towel

I Know

I’m Sorry

Around the Bend

Big Kids (RAWKED!)

Jason and Tony

It was a pleasure to finally meet Tony and be able to exchange a few words before his awesome set.  We’re hoping to go to his next show in December.

Before The Gourds came on, we met a nice couple from Victoria.  Came down specifically for the show.  They were also at Tractor several other times throughout the year, and saw Los Straitjackets a few weeks ago, too.  I commended them for their long haul across the water and US border to get here.  I’m sure we’ll see them again.  They also enjoyed Jackrabbit and were looking forward to The Gourds.

The Gourds’ show at The Tractor Tavern featured most songs from Old Mad Joy.  It felt more like a rock show than a revival this time around.  Their new music has a 60’s psychedelic vibe, heavy on electric guitar, with psychotropic solos from Kevin Russell.  I could hear The Rolling Stones bleed through some of their songs; especially those from co-singer/writer Jimmy Smith, whose voice sounds similar to Keith Richards.

Jimmy Smith on Bass

Instead of going through a song-by-song description of The Gourds’ very long setlist, I thought I’d take a few paragraphs to explain The Gourds to those who have not experienced their live show.  The Gourds formed 17 years ago in Austin, TX.    They have 11 albums under their belts, and travel the countryside spreading the joy of live music.  They make appearances at SXSW, Bumbershoot, Hardly Strictly Bluegrass, and other festivals.  Their motto: “For the Unwashed and Well-Read.”

Max Johnston of The Gourds

I discovered The Gourds just by chance in 2007 while flipping through the TV channels.  They were featured musicians on Austin City Limits.   I then heard they were touring the Northwest, so  my husband and I made sure to buy tickets and saw them live at The Tractor Tavern in Seattle.  Their show felt like an old-timey revival in the Deep South.  The five-piece band played a variety of instruments, including electric/acoustic guitars, bass, drums, mandolin, violin, banjo, lap steel, and accordion, and Each band member is also so full of life and energy.

Kev, Jimmy and Claude

The Gourds’ original music, written mostly by Russell and Smith, is sometimes complex and so eclectic; it is impossible to categorize their music.  Their songs range from Tex-Mex country rock to Bluegrass to Cajun to something out of a church hymnal.  This latest album has more of a rock influence, although rock riffs and beats are scattered throughout their older music.

I get more salvation from their shows than I ever did in church.  My soul gets a lift, and I feel so alive–so fulfilled after their two-hour set.  They are a full body-mind-and-spirit show.  Each band member brings energy and puts their heart into each performance.  Kevin Russell, co- singer/writer, plays electric and acoustic guitars, harmonica and mandolin.  When he gets into the music, he stomps to the beat, gyrates, postures, poses, and throws his head around like a man possessed–or blessed.

A Grave Moment

The Gourds’ musical energy and rampant joy spills out over the low stage and floods the audience.  They stomp, wail, whoop, jam and generally cause musical hysteria.  When they’re in such a frenzied state, they are a sight to behold.  It is something that is hard to put into words.  The entranced (and possibly chemically altered) crowd responds accordingly, by whooping back, clapping and singing along, dancing and stomping in time.

Max and Keith

They also do a few covers, including T-Pain’s “Let Me Buy You a Drink,” and received some attention a few years ago after covering Snoop Dogg’s “Gin and Juice,” with Kevin on mean mandolin:

At times, their lyrics are perplexing and undecipherable; but it doesn’t seem to matter during their live shows.  They could speak in tongues and the crowd would still embrace each song.

An excerpt from “Marginalized” off Old Mad Joy by Jimmy Smith:

saw this magnanimous bottom feeder look up at me
thought pond scum sucked ‘til i had a bowl of rat soup inside of me
well, it’s pretty good said this cat named Sneezeguard
couldn’t ever crowd his pan always got a proper sear on
just to find out that easily led could actually steer one

Over the years, every set and  show has been unique in some way.  They bring new songs mixed with old, different instruments, and different variations to the songs.  Shinyribs (Kevin Russell’s alter ego on acoustic guitar) might show up and play the opener with a mix of original and covers of old gospel and blues tunes.  The crowd ranges from all walks of life, from cowboys to college students.  The one time I didn’t bring my camera, a girl next to me kept her V-neck T-shirt pulled down pretty much the whole evening and flashed her recently purchased boobs to the smiling band (and others’ cameras).  Not to be outdone, a tall, skinny guy in a yellow T-shirt approached the front of the stage and pulled his shirt all the way up and rubbed his belly and chest, to the roar of the crowd.  That was the same night Jimmy’s bass got knocked over, smashed into the side of a beautiful acoustic guitar and made a big hole in it.

My most memorable Gourds moment this evening 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!” 

A camera crew filmed the show during their most recent visit.  I asked Max Johnston who they were, and he said he didn’t know; they’ve just been following the band around like a couple of stalkers!  I suspect, with their new Vanguard label, we will see a DVD shortly.

Kevin Bending the Strings and Stalker Camera Man

On this chilly October night, we put our political differences aside and followed Jimmy’s plea to “Occupy The Gourds!”  The Tractor crowd warmly embraced their new music.  The older songs, worked in throughout the set, galvanized the audience who sang and shouted all the words.  My favorite moment came during their three-song encore, where they played “Burn the Honeysuckle,” or Kevin’s “cowboy brag” song, as he calls it.  His mandolin skills and gyrations are mesmerizing.

Here is a polished version of that song with an explanation of how he came about writing the lyrics:

Also, check out another encore song, “Mr. Betty,” by Jimmy, and hear the  Stones influence:

The long, frenzied night of soul-cleansing music came to an end, instruments and T-shirts intact.
MORE PICS!!


November 8, 2011 Posted by | Americana, Concert Season 2011, Jackrabbit, The Gourds, The Tractor Tavern | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 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