Aplscruf's Music Blog

Will Kimbrough – Mud and Moss Tour – Day 2: Thursday, Jan. 9, 2014

Will Kimbrough at The Royal Room, Seattle

Will Kimbrough at The Royal Room, Seattle

Day 2:  Thursday, January 9, 2014

The Royal Room – Columbia City (Seattle), WA

Click [here] for Day 1 and [here] for Day 3 of this rare tour!

After a brief night’s sleep, we got up early with bleary eyes and aching heads, knowing we had to hit the road as soon as possible to beat the afternoon city traffic and transport Will to his next destination.  Kenny and Lori stayed back for a couple more hours while one worked online and the other caught a few more zzzs.  We rounded up Sara, but first took a little beach walk to check out the pounding white surf until the incessant wind and sideways rain drove us back inside.  We were not looking forward to the long and wet drive home, so we stopped for a quick breakfast to gather some energy and load up on coffee.

Although it seemed like we got home faster, the rainy conditions on the road made it almost impossible to see more than a few yards ahead.  Pat braced himself with two hands on the wheel and soldiered on.  Mud bogs, muddy water, brackish rivers, moss on the trees and moss on the brains.  We kept our minds occupied by solving the world’s problems: Politics, the economy, and health care. Other subjects on this road trip included the music industry and being an almost-50-year-old in the biz, being a sideman and a solo artist, stolen instruments, raising kids, oil spills on The Gulf and their latent effects on our flip-flops (not to mention the rest of the ecosystem), genealogy,  geography of the South, hiking in the Northwest, traveling the globe, The Arctic, the history of explorers and slaves on the Gulf Coast, Viet Nam, WWII, WWI.  Sara was busy booking future shows, so she and Will checked dates in between discussions.  My brain shut off a few times as I cozied up to my pillow against the window. Eyes closed and comatose, I could hear muffled talking, the rain pounding on the windshield, and vehicles hydroplaning past us on the watery highway.

Hungry and tired, we made it back to the ‘burbs of Seattle in one piece.  Thank you, Pat, for your patience on the road and helping us arrive safely at each destination! Our son Jacob was home from school, awaiting our return.  Pat re-introduced Will to the boy who was thrilled to meet him again after all these years.  Jacob was only in fifth grade when he saw Will at the Coos Bay show.  Jacob’s first concert will hold a special place in my heart, as I remember with fondness how Will talked to him and signed his shirt. The boy even made little foam visors with hand-cut paper letters glued on the front that said “Will Kimbrough Americanitis” on one, and “Rodney Crowell” on the other.  He insisted that we wear them the entire show.  Afterward, both Will and Rodney signed the visors. I still have them tucked away in a cabinet.

Pat took Will downstairs and showed him our Music Wall of Fame.  Over the years, we’ve collected pictures, tickets, posters and set lists of our favorite artists.  Pat and Jacob framed them as art and gave them to me for Christmas.  It felt surreal to have someone, whose pictures are hanging on my Music Wall of Fame, standing in my family room looking at my Music Wall of Fame.

Sara also got to hang with us at home while Pat made a quick trip to the store for some apps.  We had about an hour and a half before it was time to leave for The Royal Room show.  Will disappeared for a bit and caught a short nap.  I wanted to sleep so badly, but knew I had things to do.  I needed to have a bite, too, and Sara and I enjoyed snacking and chatting before it was time to go.  I then freshened up and changed into nicer clothes for the show.

Let’s go! Back in the car, back on the road, back in the horrible rain and Seattle rush hour traffic.  We had to backtrack from our suburban home south into the heart of Seattle, and then up and over Pill Hill to Rainier Ave.  Over the hillside and through the ‘hood to Columbia City we go!

The Royal Room – a very hip, hipster place to see live music and eat some hearty food.  Open spaces, little tables, a generous bar, a large stage, an unusual oversized scary portrait on wall, dim lights and warm atmosphere completed the scene.  We arrived late for the sound check due to the traffic, but Will wasn’t worried.  Nothing seemed to bother him too much; he just went with the flow. He’s mastered “the art of the hang,” in Tommy Womack’s words.  He said he didn’t have much equipment, so the sound check would be quick.  We found out later, that even though the venue manager wanted Will there at 6 pm to load in and run through the sound check, he would not play until 10:00.  Oh, so late.  I don’t know why they wanted to wait that long.  It was a Thursday night, and a very rainy one indeed.  Greg Vandy of KEXP hosted the show as part of the “American Standard Time” Showcase, so there was a promise of a decent crowd and some airplay.  Vandy actually started playing Will’s music on his Wednesday show, “Roadhouse” a few weeks prior to this visit.

DSC03642

DSC03644

Every person in our gang invited someone, and they all showed up!  I was so glad to see our friends Chuck and Dawn make it out on this dreary evening. Kenny, Lori and Sara also had some friends show up, and I’m guessing at least 50 people stuck around to watch the late show. Meanwhile, Will ran through his quick sound check and found several of his friends there, too, which made for a pleasant reunion.  Sara made dinner reservations, so we spent time catching up with our friends and eating a sizable dinner.  We enjoyed stew, salad, chicken and potatoes, and a gigantic squash lasagna that I had to share with the others.  The food was big, rustic and hearty, similar to the excellent food we had at The Adrift.  I was happy that Sara made reservations for us there, so we could stay put and not worry about hurrying back to the show from a different restaurant.

The Sumner Brothers, a duet from Vancouver, BC opened the show.  They performed an eclectic mix of minimalist folk and country music including a lively roots rock song near the end of the set.  The slower, quieter songs reminded me of  Small Sur, a quiet folk band from the East coast.  The brothers kept vocals to a low and growling pitch, with minimal guitar strumming.  A couple of other musicians joined them on pedal steel and electric guitar which added a richness to their otherwise austere sound.  One of the brothers had a peculiar way of hunching over a low microphone, to the point where the sound engineer tried to raise it up higher for him between songs.  He laughed and told her it’s supposed to sit that low.  His brother/partner also laughed and said, “It happens every time!”

DSC03645

There was a long intermission, and finally Will took the stage around 10:00.  I was happy to look around the room and see that people stayed to support him.  Will’s humor was up this night, and he had the audience cracking up at his Red Dirt anecdotes.

Set List for The Royal Room, Seattle:

Trouble – Lots of cheering after this first song on mandolin, from Willie Sugarcapps 

Mr. Lee – I like the improvisations and short jams on mandolin

Let the Big World Spin – Switching to his Kay guitar (he said he uses Kay instruments on the road, and that his Mama’s name is Kay) to play this dark and dirty tune from Sideshow Love

Sideshow Love – Will admitted he “ripped off” Freddie Staehle’s drum patterns off Dr. John’s Gumbo for this title track from his new solo album.

I Want Too Much – Compared the poignant, love/lust song to The Sex Pistols.  Johnny Rotten wanted just enough.  Sid Vicious wanted too much.

Soulfully – Jimmy Buffett covered this beautiful song off Sideshow Love.

Gypsy Train

Mud Bottom – Willie Sugarcapps – The Ol’ Dog River is the river of his childhood, where he and his friend JD (who now lives in Washington and attended the show) used to swim and dive.  The game was to dive down, past all of the layers of pine needles, bark and other flotsam, down to the cool mud bottom.  The water was a dirty milkshake color, and warm like “piss-mud soup.”

Hill Country Girl  A heartbreaker from his EP

I Don’t Like It – A Daddy song with a big Elvis finish at the end to celebrate The King’s recent birthday.  Thankyouverymuch.

Champion of the World

Wings – Another song he wrote for Jimmy

Brand New Song – From Americanitis, and a nice surprise tonight.

Wash and Fold

Nobody From Nowhere – Daddy!

Piece of Work 

Horseshoe Lake

Oh, Colorado – Such a beautiful vibrato on this one tonight.  He mentioned the previous bands he’s been in, and said Willie Sugarcapps is the best one yet.

Magnolia Springs – Another addition/variation from last night’s set

Goodnight Moon – (Lori in raptures again) with a segue into a whispery version of Hendrix’s “Wind Cries Mary,” and a hush carried through the room as jaws dropped open.  After the last note was played, Kenny yelled, “Oh, My God!”

Although not as long as the night before, he played a quality set to a large, appreciative audience.  Will’s guitar prowess was on point again: jamming, sliding, and picking.  He seemed loose and able to live in the moment.  He introduced our gang and his friends to the rest of the crowd, gave his all to each song, and had energy left to joke around and spend time meeting those who stuck around after the show.  The life of a troubadour.  Sleep is for pussies.

After his set, we probably spent another 45 minutes or so talking to friends and making new acquaintances.  Greg Vandy, KEXP DJ, spent time talking to Will and the rest of us.  We also met some of Will’s friends.  Glad they could make the show and reconnect. Sara worked the merch table and also worked her magic with the Bumbershoot booking manager to try to secure a gig this year or next. She contacted the right people to make this show a success for Will.  Kudos, Sara!

We finally rolled in to the ‘burbs around 1 am.  We were amped up after the show and talked the whole way home.  I’m startin’ to lose ma g’s.  All this talkin’ and listenin’ for hours over the last two days with a Suhthen boy made the g’s disappeah off words like: workin’, fryin’, lyin’, lovin’, livin’, dyin’, drinkin’, drivin’, singin’, sayin’, and playin’.  Once in a while, he’d say a word or phrase born in the muddy waters of the Deep South that was almost unintelligible to us Northerners.

Sara also spent the night with us (sorry about the couch and Max the dog, Sara!) while Lori and Kenny found rooms downtown. They planned to pick up Will and Sara early the next morning to head up to Bellingham.  It was hard to get to sleep again after such a lively show, but I managed to get a few winks before crawling back out at 6:20.

Stay Tuned for Day 3: Lori Gras!

January 17, 2014 Posted by | Americana, aplscruf, Concert Season 2014, Music, Seattle, The Royal Room, Will Kimbrough, Willie Sugarcapps | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Will Kimbrough – Mud and Moss Tour – Day 1: Wednesday, Jan 8, 2014

Will Kimbrough at Adrift Hotel

Will Kimbrough at The Adrift Hotel

Pat and I had an opportunity to be a part of the road crew for Will Kimbrough when he toured Washington and Oregon in January. We felt so honored to help support this rare solo visit.  He is humble, easy-going, gracious and one of the nicest guys you’ll ever meet. Oh–and he’s one of the most talented and versatile artists in Nashville.

The tour formed around the 50th birthday party for Lori, our friend in Bellingham.  The ‘Ham is a beautiful college town just south of the Canadian border.  Lori is a huge fan of Will’s; so naturally her husband Tim and brother-friend Kenny planned her birthday bash, coined it Lori Gras! and hired Will to play for her at the party. From there, the search began to find other venues around Seattle and Portland.  Will’s agent Sara with Axecess Entertainment contacted me to help with the search.  We brainstormed back and forth several weeks before the tour.  I wrote a press release that coincided with a blog and album review which Sara sent to prospective venues as an incentive to get him booked. Check out my No Depression Blog for more info on Will and his new album, Sideshow Love. Meanwhile, Kenny worked on flights, ground transportation and hotels, and coordinated details with Lori and Tim. Pat and I volunteered to drive and use our house as a hub between gigs. It took a village to organize this tour!

This is the first time I have seen Will play the Northwest on a solo tour.  In 2006 he opened for Rodney Crowell at the Music On The Bay series in Coos Bay, Oregon where he played to a stunned and elated audience (including my son and me) for about 1/2 hour. All of the other times I’ve seen him, he played guitar for other bands without an opportunity to open the show. 

Will Opening for Rodney Crowell.  Coos Bay, 2006

Will Opened for Rodney Crowell. Music on the Bay Series, Coos Bay, 2006

Seattle is a tough gig.  If you’re not Justin Timberlake or a local musician, it’s hard to get booked.  Other ‘tween acts, like The Gourds from Austin (god rest their souls while on hiatus), and other veterans of the club circuit are scheduled to play every six months to a year in advance. Unfortunately, there are so many acts vying for limited venues on a short calendar, there isn’t room for outsiders.  Sara successfully booked Will for the dates he requested, with some promising exposure through KEXP, our local public radio station.

Day 1: Wednesday, January 8, 2014

The Adrift Hotel – Long Beach, WA

As part of the road crew, we were supposed to pick up Will at the airport Tuesday night.  The weather did not cooperate.  The East was slammed by a terrible, freezing Arctic storm.  The plane from Nashville to Chicago was delayed and eventually re-routed through Los Angeles. Will stayed there overnight, and then left bright and early Wednesday morning for Seattle.  Around 11:30, he showed up in the SEA Baggage Claim where we greeted and welcomed him.  Because of the re-route situation, not all of his bags came on the final plane.  Will remained calm–he’s used to this.  We finally located his bags among a giant maze in the unclaimed bag area.  After ensuring his guitar showed up in one piece, we loaded up and set off for Long Beach, Washington, a small coastal village in the southwest corner of the state.  We had a long drive ahead of us in the pouring rain.

Although he seemed a little tired from the flight and long haul to the Pacific Coast, Will was happy to be back in the Northwest. He honeymooned out here 20 years ago with his wife Jessica and enjoyed some great hikes and a stay in Seattle.  They also have some friends out here, transplants from The South.

We drove south to Olympia and found Fish Tale Brew Pub and settled on some great grub.  We all drank a toast to the upcoming tour and dug in.  I had a huge organic chicken salad with healthy chunks of chicken on spinach; Pat ordered a hearty stew, and Will wolfed down some delicious fish tacos.  We were back on the road within about 45 minutes.

Meanwhile, Lori, Ken and Sara were somewhere behind us.  Sara’s flight arrived around 12:30, so they agreed to pick her up on their way down from Bellingham.  We hoped to meet up with them at the hotel barring any more stops or traffic.

We continued our three-hour journey southwestward, in dark gray skies.  I felt my Vitamin D level drop significantly.  Halfway there, the population dwindled and the highway was lined with tall, moss-covered trees. Will said the tree-lined drive was similar to his journey through Sweden.  Not long ago, he went on an 18-gig tour with only a few days of breaks.  He spent hours and hours driving through the Swedish landscape and into little villages, getting lost and finding his way again.  He also spoke of the difficulty of solo European tours: loading instruments and luggage on planes and in vehicles, organizing long flights and transportation, etc. So much work for the reward.

We drove on.  The landscape flattened out to lonely mud bogs and brackish streams, and the tall trees were replaced by low bushes covered in chartreuse moss.

Part of Will’s genius is the ability to observe his surroundings and start some chatter that eventually leads to a stream of lyrics. Along the way, he spoke of the mud, the moss, the wind and the rain, the strong craft beer, the rivers and the sloughs.  He noticed the road signs: Aberdeen, Willapa and Hoquiam.  We’d later be pleasantly surprised by his descriptive words at the Lori Gras! celebration. Our long commute also reminded Will of his traveling up and down the great state of Alabama. Will’s parents live in Mobile, and are in need of his occasional assistance.  Nashville to Mobile, Mobile to Nashville.  Three thousand miles logged in the van just in December alone. During those lonely drives up and down I-65, his mind produced page after page of lyrics.  His “magic phone” has voice recognition, so he’s able to record his words and continue to drive.  The melody usually comes later, he said, after he’s organized his words into verses and a viable rhythm.

I tried to be as professional as possible on this trip; but inside my skin, I was a major fan-dork.  Here is a musical hero–the Americana Music Association’s Instrumentalist of the Year; on the Grammy consideration list for Willie Sugarcapps’ “Gypsy Train;”  and a singer-songwriter getting rave reviews for solo album Sideshow Love humbly accepting our offer of transportation and lodging.  Will By-God-Kimbrough is hanging with us for the next three days!  Holy Shit!  All cool and collected on the outside, a giggling married groupie moron on the inside.  My dear, patient husband handled all of the excitement in his own quiet way.

Pacific Ocean Surf at The Adrift Hotel

Pacific Ocean Surf at The Adrift Hotel

“Are we there yet?” I asked wearily.  So much driving.  So little visibility.  So much gray.  Kenny later re-named our first destination “Long-Ass-Away-Beach.” Finally, the salt air and GPS guided us toward our venue: The Adrift Hotel.  Just steps from the thundering Pacific Ocean surf, the renovated hotel was a beautiful sight.  We were so happy to have finally arrived.  But the day was just beginning.  Will still had a show to perform in just a few hours.  Loading out of the truck involved a couple of trips in sideways rain. We were instantly soaked.

There was just enough time to settle in and get dolled up for the show.  The rest of the gang caught up and joined us at the restaurant, right before show time.  We knew going in that this particular show would not have a big audience.  During a summer month, this place would be packed.  According to their website, the Adrift hosts bands every week.  The oceanside resorts in January are mostly vacant.  Some people come to the beach to watch the storms roll in, and it’s only a bridge away from Astoria Oregon; so we hoped to get a few more people in the door.  Regardless, WE would be there to support him and cheer him on, and we made sure to do just that.

We ate apps and dinner at Pickled Fish, the hotel’s upscale restaurant: kale salad, oysters–raw and fried, pork bellies, rustic bread, crab mac n’ cheese, and other amazing, tasty dishes. Will joined us briefly, toasted Day One (again) with a strong IPA and then set up his gear in the small venue separated from the restaurant by large rolling doors.

DSC03624

Set List for The Adrift Hotel, Long Beach:

Another Train – From Americanitis, immediately got everyone’s attention.  Listen up, people!  Yeah, this guy’s from Nashville, and he will blow your freakin’ mind.

Piece of Work – My favorite song from Home Away , where it all began for me.  I heard him sing this on Jimmy Buffett’s Radio Margaritaville back in 2006 and wondered who that man was covering Jimmy’s song.  I soon learned Will wrote the song and Jimmy covered it! I then proceeded to purchase all of his music.

When Your Loving Comes Around – The first track from Sideshow Love sets the mood for the whole album.

Let the Big World Spin

Sideshow Love – Title track from his excellent solo album (see my review in the No Depression blog above)

I Want Too Much 

Nobody From Nowhere

DSC03613

Trouble – On mandolin, from the new Willie Sugarcapps album.  He showed off his mad mandolin skills on this one.

Mr. Lee – Also on WS album, Mr. Lee was a neighbor from long ago, born in 1900.  Mr. Lee was always willing to give you a good piece of his mind.  The same piece, but a good piece.

All That We Can Do is Love

Three Angels – from Wings and a tribute to his beautiful family.  The song is played in the Flatted 5th, also known as the Devil’s Note, made infamous by Led Zeppelin and proclaimed illegal by a former Pope.

Horseshoe Lake – Pat’s favorite that Will co-wrote with Todd Snider while hanging with him in West Memphis, AR

Gypsy Train – Grammy consideration list for best Americana song from his new Willie Sugarcapps album!

Mud Bottom – “Tonight is dedicated to some good ol’ Northwestern Mud!” exclaimed Will.

Oh, Colorado – From Willie Sugarcapps.  Savana Lee sings beautifully on the record, and Will sounds like John Denver’s twin on his version.

Wash and Fold – A dirty ditty ’bout gettin’ clean? One of my favorite Daddy songs.

I Don’t Like It

Hill Country Girl

Glory Be – Another hand-clapping Daddy gospel tune.  Amen!

DSC03634

Soulfully

I’m A Grownup Now

Champion of the World – a more upbeat take on this self-deprecating song from Home Away

I Don’t Have a Gun

Interstate

Lori capturing the moment

Lori Capturing the Moment

Goodnight Moon – This last song is Lori’s absolute favorite, and she was over the moon.  She used to sing this to her son before bedtime every night for years, until he outgrew the need for bedtime lullabyes, much to the dismay of any loving mom.  The tears flowed as Will tenderly sang and quietly played this sweet rendition. 

Twenty-five songs, just for us–and four other people.  Kenny said it felt like stealing.  A true professional, Will played his lil’ heart out like he was in front of an arena full of screaming fans.  Nope, just the nine of us.  We  sat back and watched The Alien at work.  He gets in a zone and fires up that guitar and mandolin like he’s from another planet.  He also used a loop pedal to record a riff, and then played live over it to add depth and harmony to the songs. It filled the whole room with sound!  We did our best to cheer, clap and whoop it up to show our support.  I teased Kenny because he could hardly speak after seeing Will perform this solo show for the first time.  “Kenny,” I smiled, “You just had a musical orgasm.”  The other newbies were awestruck, too, and purchased some merch on the way out. We closed the place down.  In Long Beach on a Wednesday in January, that meant 9:30.

We helped break down and pack up, and then headed back to the suite for a toast to Night One!  What a night!  What a set list! Will managed to play a song from just about every solo album as well as Willie Sugarcapps and Daddy.  It was an incredible day, but more fun was on the way.

Click [here] for Day 2 and [here] for Day 3 of the Mud and Moss Tour!

 

January 15, 2014 Posted by | Americana, aplscruf, Concert Season 2006, Concert Season 2014, Music, Will Kimbrough, Willie Sugarcapps | , , , , , | 3 Comments

Will Kimbrough UPDATE! Northwest Tour Dates Confirmed!

Will Kimbrough, a prolific singer/songwriter from Nashville, is making a rare appearance in The Northwest in January.  Here are the dates, locations and links.  This is a MUST-SEE EVENT! Purchase tickets NOW!

If you need more info regarding any of the dates listed, please contact me in the Comments section below.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014:   Adrift Hotel, Long Beach, WA 8:00 PM

Thursday, January 9, 2014:   The Royal Room, Columbia City/Seattle, WA 8:00 PM

Friday, January 10, 2014:   Bellingham Yacht Club, Bellingham, WA 6:00 PM

Saturday, January 11, 2014:   The Secret Society, Portland, OR 5:00 PM

Sunday, January 12, 2014:   The Axe and Fiddle, Cottage Grove, OR 6:00 PM

See other blogs I’ve written on Will Kimbrough here:

http://www.nodepression.com/profiles/blogs/will-kimbrough-is-coming-to-the-northwest

https://aplscruf.wordpress.com/2013/11/06/will-kimbrough-is-coming-to-the-northwest/

https://aplscruf.wordpress.com/2012/07/25/steve-martin-and-emmylou-harris-at-chateau-ste-michelle/

https://aplscruf.wordpress.com/2011/07/14/randomville-via-margaritaville-huntsville-and-nashville/

https://aplscruf.wordpress.com/2010/01/16/todd-snider-and-the-nervous-wrecks-2-2009/

December 2, 2013 Posted by | Concert Season 2014, Music, Seattle, Will Kimbrough | , , , | Leave a comment

Will Kimbrough is Coming to The Northwest!

I posted this article on No Depression: http://www.nodepression.com/article/will-kimbrough-coming-northwest

Will Kimbrough, a singer/songwriter from Nashville, is coming to The Northwest in January.  It’s about time.  Due to a highly successful Kickstarter campaign to raise funds for his new solo album Sideshow Love, Will was able to book a few gigs in Washington and Oregon.  As soon as I know firm dates and specific locations, I’ll post them here.

Many artists whom we have latched onto over the years seem to have a “prolific genius” quality about them.  Not only are they singer/songwriters, but play multiple instruments, write other works, play in multiple bands, support other artists, produce, tour incessantly, and somehow manage to raise a family.  Will is one of these genius artists.  He also earned the title of Instrumentalist of the Year by the Americana Music Association.  Americanitis, a politically-charged solo album from 2006 landed him in the “Top 35 Roots Albums in the Last 25 Years” by The Alternate Root Magazine.  His music catalog ranges from pop, folk, Americana, country, to a little bit rock-n-roll.

Sideshow Love is Will Kimbrough’s best solo work to date.  He reaches out instrumentally and vocally in ways I haven’t heard before on previous albums.  The twelve Americana tracks have a darker, bluesy edge with a Southern drawl.  Themes of love, lust, longing and love lost snake their way through most tracks mixed with wit, humor and angst.  Some songs, like “Soulfully” and “Emotion Sickness”, just ache with tenderness.  His diverse vocals portray heartbreaking emotion, grit, a sensual rasp, beautiful vibrato, surprising falsetto, and a quiet, soulful whisper.  Not to be outdone, his instrumental prowess accents each song’s mood perfectly.  His expert guitar picking is most distinct in the bridge and throughout “I Want Too Much”; and his old timey banjo strumming takes the amusing “Home Economics” back several decades to its roots. Will plays a variety of guitars, mandolin, banjo, bass, keys and percussion on this album.  He invited a few friends along to round out the sound, including  Lisa Oliver Gray and Paul Griffith.   A smile and a wink or a teardrop – there’s a song for every mood in this stellar collection.

Will’s recent solo endeavor was not the only project he worked on this year.  He also managed, almost by accident, to form a roots band called Willie Sugarcapps and produced a debut self-titled album.  One of the tracks, “Gypsy Train” landed them on the 2014 GRAMMY consideration list for best Americana song.

If you are anywhere near the Portland-Seattle-Bellingham metropolis in early January (firm dates/locations will be posted soon), I strongly recommend you clear your calendar of all other events and see his show somewhere, somehow.  If he tours in your part of the world, go see him.  Buy his albums.  Trust me, you will not be disappointed.  It’s Will By-God-Kimbrough!*

*Will By-God Kimbrough – Thanks, Sir Paul Griffith, for dubbing Will with this honourable title.

See other blogs I’ve written on Will Kimbrough here:

https://aplscruf.wordpress.com/2012/07/25/steve-martin-and-emmylou-harris-at-chateau-ste-michelle/

https://aplscruf.wordpress.com/2011/07/14/randomville-via-margaritaville-huntsville-and-nashville/

https://aplscruf.wordpress.com/2010/01/16/todd-snider-and-the-nervous-wrecks-2-2009/

November 6, 2013 Posted by | Concert Season 2014, Will Kimbrough, Willie Sugarcapps | , , , | 4 Comments

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

Steve Martin and Emmylou Harris at Chateau Ste. Michelle

Emmylou Harris with Steve Martin

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

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

Steve Martin and The Steep Canyon Rangers

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

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

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

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

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

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

Will Kimbrough (guitar) with Emmylou Harris

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

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

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

Emmylou and dogs

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

Five…No…Ten Favorite Shows of 2011

I was lucky enough to see a show almost every month of 2011, and some months, two or three shows.  We’re winding down now, getting ready for the holidays and visiting with family and friends.  We’ll still see a couple of shows between now and the end of the year, including The Paperboys on December 23, one of my Top 10 favorite bands of all time.  Click Here For Previous Review.

So far, though, I do have a list of my Five Favorites of 2011.

5.  Screw it.  I can’t make a decision, so I’m going to go with my Ten Favorites of 2011.

10.  The B-52’s at Chateau Ste. Michelle – This show was great because The B-52’s brought the energy, the showmanship and the great songs we all love to a beautiful outdoor venue.  We were there with a large family group and danced and sang along.  Click Here For Review.

The B-52's

9.  Vicci Martinez at Big Daddy’s Place – This was a chance to see Vicci, a Tacoma, Washington local, wail her lungs out in a small suburban venue before becoming a national sensation on The Voice.  Click Here For Review.

Vicci Martinez

8.  Massy Ferguson and Brent Amaker and The Rodeo at The Tractor – Our first introduction to Massy Ferguson and Brent with The Rodeo back on a smaller stage.  Curtains For You, a poppy, energetic band opened the show, and a biker in the front knew all the words.  I love the picture of Brent Amaker smiling while the biker is in the moment.  No whiskey this time, but now that the stage performer liquor laws have changed, we’ll get to hear “Bring Me The Whiskey” at the next show!

Curtains For You, Brent and Biker

Massy Ferguson

Brent Amaker

7.  Star Anna at Neumos – We saw Star four times this year, but this time, even P was completely hooked by her vocal prowess.  He connected.  Click Here For Previous Review.

Star Anna

6.  Jackrabbit and Massy Ferguson at Nectar Lounge – Jackrabbit, reincarnated after North Twin’s demise, and again Tony Fulgham won me over.  Massy was celebrating their EP release, and I got to post my review of the show on
RandomvilleClick Here For Review.

Tony Fulgham of Jackrabbit

Ethan Anderson of Massy Ferguson

5.  Jackrabbit and The Gourds at The Tractor – Jackrabbit opened and rawked the set, warmed up the crowd for The Gourds, another crazy night of crossover music, from 60’s psychedelic rock to old-timey revivals.  Most memorable moment was approaching Mr. Kevin Russell at Hattie’s Hat and telling him I was going to review his show.  His response: “Oh, Shit!” I later gave him the ol’ two-fingered stink-eye when he noticed me in the audience, and I mouthed, “I’m watchin’ you!”  Click Here For Review.

Tony Fulgham of Jackrabbit

The Gourds

4.  Old 97’s at The Showbox – My first press pass!  Right up front.  I loved every minute, and sang my heart out to every song.  Click Here For Review.

Old 97's

3.  Flight To Mars at The Showbox – Another press and photo pass!  My sister-in-law joined me and took absolutely brilliant pics of the boys (Click This Link for her pics), including local Tim DiJulio (Lazy Susan and North Twin) and Pearl Jam’s Mike McCready.  Click Here For Review.

Tim DiJulio and Mike McCready of Flight to Mars

2.  Nashville (Will Kimbrough, Marshall Chapman, Minton Sparks, Slim Chance and The Can’t Hardly Playboys) – the whole Nashville experience was wonderful.  Kept to small venues and the Americana singer/songwriters.  Click Here For Review.

Marshall Chapman and Will Kimbrough at The Station Inn

Zach and Josh of Slim Chance and the Can't Hardly Playboys at Layla's

1.  Los Straitjackets at Slow Food Roots Music Festival – A bizarre series of events.  Marshall Chapman’s book had a chapter on Eddie Angel who once played in Marshall’s band.  Now Eddie’s fronting Los Straitjackets, and just happened to be playing in Seattle and a small fair in Stanwood within two weeks after I finished the book.  I brought the book, my son, our appetites to the festival.   We ate delicious local food, watched some pretty loco boys in Mexican wrestling masks play instrumental surf music, and were completely blown away by their skills and entertaining antics.  My son loved every minute of it.  To top off a perfect afternoon at the festival, they all signed Marshall’s book!  Click Here For Review.

Los Straitjackets

November 19, 2011 Posted by | Americana, Big Daddy's Place, Brent Amaker and the Rodeo, Chateau Ste Michelle, Concert Season 2011, Flight to Mars, Jackrabbit, Langhorne Slim, Los Straitjackets, Marshall Chapman, Massy Ferguson, Music, Nectar Lounge, Neumos, North Twin, Old 97's, Randomville, Star Anna and the Laughing Dogs, The B-52's, The Gourds, The Paperboys, The Tractor Tavern, Vicci Martinez, Will Kimbrough | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Randomville via Margaritaville, Huntsville and Nashville

SOUTHERN EXPOSURE: ROAD TRIPPING THROUGH ALABAMA AND TENNESSEE

I recently had an opportunity to take a trip to Gulf Shores, Alabama and Nashville, Tennessee.  Struggling in Seattle where we’ve had nothing but rain and gray weather for almost nine months, I was ready for some 90 degree heat and humidity and a chance to see some live music along the way.  My husband’s home office is in Madison, Alabama near Huntsville and the Tennessee border.  He was already there on business, so my son and I joined him later in the month.  I also had a chance to report on the music scene for Randomville.  

PART I:  GULF SHORES, ALABAMA

Alabama

Day 1:  Seattle to Atlanta, GA, then West to Smith Lake, AL

My son and I were up and out of the house by 6:25, and headed to my parents’ house.  Dad drove us to the airport without incident.  Traffic was easy.  I’d printed out my airline tix the night before, so we went right to the short security line.

I let the boy lead the way through the line, making sure I took off my shoes and had my little clear baggie of liquids (sun screen, shampoo, lotion, etc.) ready for the X-ray machine.  I looked up to see my 15 1/2 year old boy getting a pat-down.  WTF.  Then the TSA agents asked me to step inside the big blue X-ray box.  WTF again?!  I then entered the pat-down area.  A short woman, probably in her early twenties, told me she was going to pat me down.  “Do you feel comfortable with my patting you down?”

I could feel my eyes narrow, as I sarcastically said, “Uhh, sure.”

She paused.  “Would you prefer we go into a private location for the pat-down?”

“No, just get ‘er done.”

Did I really just say that??  Anyway, I let her pat me down there in front of god and everyone.

“I’m now touching your sensitive area…”  A quick swipe with the fingers around my bra.  I was wearing a tight t-shirt and  jeans.  I don’t know what I possibly could have been hiding in either location.

I was pretty pissed, but decided to stay calm so we could make our flight on time.  I had to choose my battles, and right now, I wanted to get to our gate.  End of story.

A young man outside the screening area  thought he was being singled out and profiled because of his his tattoos.  I told him both my son and I were patted down, too.

The boy and I got some great bagels and found our gate with about 1/2 hour to spare.  We called P and told him about our pat-down and X-ray adventure.  He laughed because after all his flying this past year, he’s never been subjected to that humiliation…Fer Freedom.  Yeah, right.

Our plane was very full.  We pulled out of the gate a little early, though, and made our way to the runway, and waited for 3 other planes to take off.  We were almost to the runway, when an interior ceiling panel came loose and drooped into the aisleway!  The flight attendant tried to quickly push it back, but then had to call ahead and ask a mechanic to meet them back at the gate.  We had to turn around!  Aargh.  Everyone groaned, then got out their cameras and phones and snapped pictures.  The lady next to me had it posted on her Facebook within two minutes!

Ceiling Panel of 737

Two mechanics and 45 minutes later, they got it fixed, which amounted to tucking the panel back in around the lip of the frame (a kid yelled, “I coulda done that!) and we were on our way again.  Because they had to go back to the gate, the flight attendants were required by law to run through the exit/seatbelt/oxygen routine all over again.  How stupid.  Sometimes one just needs to use the Common Sense Law.  Gawd.

After a smooth flight and no further incidents, we landed in Atlanta.  P was there to pick us up in the work van and we headed west to Smith Lake, Alabama to spend a quick night before our long drive to the Gulf.  Smith Lake is a beautiful, tree-lined lake that sprawls out with hundreds of miles of shoreline.  We were invited to stay in the company president’s home in a gesture of true Southern hospitality.  The home was beautiful with lake views from each window, large decks and screened porch, and patio areas suited for giant parties.  We had the whole place to ourselves that night, and thoroughly enjoyed our stay.  The loud chirping and hissing of cicadas were replaced with bird songs in the early morning.  I stepped out on the deck and felt the moist air hit my skin.  I felt like I’d just stepped out of the shower.  Steam was rising from the lake.  It was going to be hot, humid day today.

Smith Lake

Day 2:  Smith Lake to Gulf Shores

We cleared out about 9:00 and stopped in the small town of Jasper for a quick breakfast.  We stepped in a little local diner called Gabby’s.  We were looked up and down as we timidly took our seats at a small booth.  It was so obvious we were not locals.  P, who has been traveling back in forth to Alabama for the last 10 months, knew how to order.  How Y’All Doin?  Sweet or unsweet tea, or half-n-half.  Turnip greens and chicken-fried steak.  I stuck to an iceberg lettuce salad with sweet tomatoes and shredded cheddar cheese and a thin turkey sandwich.  The boy had his first taste of southern BBQ.  He loved his smoky, chopped BBQ pork sandwich.

Alabama Interstate

The rural road that led from Jasper to the Interstate was gorgeous.  We passed through corridors of 50 foot green trees of different varieties; the most recognizable being the beautiful pines.  Little farms and distant houses dotted the horizon.  Cemeteries were laden with a rainbow of flowers, which P pointed out are made of silk or plastic.  Each cemetery we saw was full of color.

Once we got to the Intestate, there were more small towns and churches lining each side of the highway.  The boy couldn’t believe how many churches there were and wondered why.  I didn’t really have an answer to that.  It’s just how it is in the South–the Bible Belt.  Many highways, bridges and side streets and buildings were all named after some famous and not-so-famous dead people: James K. Polk Memorial Highway, etc.

The buildings had a Roman/colonial look, down to the smallest farm house, with white columns, a triangular entry way over the door, brick facade.  Red clay was prominent in Alabama, so it was no wonder why so many buildings and homes were made of brick.  The highway had a reddish tint in parts.

We drove for hours, south to Gulf Shores.  It seemed to make a decent recovery from the horrible oil spill last year, although the spring tornado damage all along the interstate was enough to take my breath away.  People seem to move slowly forward here, though; some businesses re-opened, and damaged areas were getting cleaned up.  The devastation was phenomenal, and not just located in Tuscaloosa; we found pockets of damage all over the state.  I really don’t know how families fully recover, if at all, from such sudden and violent destruction.  We could only hope we helped out the economy a little by paying a visit to the local restaurants, gas stations and shops along the way.

Tornado Damage in Tuscaloosa

Gulf Shores and its sister town Orange Beach, are family-friendly, laid-back vacation havens.  This is not the place to be if you want to have a jet-set high-class experience in swanky nightclubs and posh restaurants.  You can head for Malibu or Miami for that.  We  stayed in a little hotel suite in Gulf Shores.  Most condos and hotels we noticed were pretty much the same, with hotels being a bit better deal because of the small living room, kitchen, and no added condo fees.

Gulf Shores View from Balcony

We arrived late in the afternoon and hauled a vanload of crap up to the ninth floor.  I immediately opened our sliding door to check out the spectacular view from our deck.  It was so warm and perfect.  I could hear the waves hit the beach and terns call each other.  Pelicans flew right by our window.  Little blue umbrellas and lounge chairs were set up in perfect rows.  The sand was white and went on for miles in each direction.

We were hungry, and it was already getting dark, so we thought we’d grab a bite before hitting the beach.  We crossed the street to Tequila West, located inside a hotel.  Although the atmosphere outside on the patio wasn’t so pleasant (smokers and lots of little kids running around and crying, cars driving by) the food was delicious, and the margaritas and tequila sunrises were strong.

We took a walk in the soft sand and stuck our toes in the warm Gulf water before heading to our room to finish unpacking.  Not a hint of a chill in the water.

Day 3-5:  At the Beach

After a restless sleep, we woke ourselves up with strong coffee, pancakes and ham cooked in our little kitchen.  We ate out on the deck and took in the humid, salt air.  We let the boy sleep in and finally hit the beach around 10:30.  We rented a couple of lounge chairs and umbrella from the quietly friendly beach attendant.  He informed us we’d get the use of them all day.

Lounging at The Gulf

We played in the calm gulf surf for hours.  It took a long time for me to even get a little bit chilled.  I would simply step out of the surf and hang out on the lounge for a few minutes before jumping back in the green-blue water.  Little finger-length fish swam around our legs, larger foot-long fish wove their way through the small groups of people.  We saw dolphins earlier in the morning.  Kids were playing with hermit crabs and a dad caught a jelly fish in a bucket.  Life was returning to The Gulf.

Hangin’ Out with The Boy

In the afternoon, we showered, had a light lunch and decided to take a drive along the long spit that paralleled The Gulf, from Pensacola, Florida to the east to Fort Morgan to the west.  We went east to say we made it to Pensacola.  Hotels lined the roadway, with a few public beaches in between.

We started back through Orange Beach toward Gulf Shores.

Forest Fire Near Orange Beach

A big fire started in the pine trees of a state park near Orange Beach that created a huge cloud of smoke over the town.  Luckily for us, the wind blew it away from Gulf Shores. We could see the cloud throughout our drive, and later found out the fire had burned over 500 acres before being contained and doused.

We were back in Gulf Shores and were starting to get hungry again.  We decided to check out Lulu’s, Jimmy Buffett’s “Crazy Sistah’s” restaurant.  It sits back on the canal in Gulf Shores, next to Homeport Marina.  It has open-air seating, live music, a couple of bars, and a sand lot for the kids.  There are also original arts and crafts booths and a souvenir shop.  The food was great.  We ordered an appetizer of smoked tuna and crackers, then had blackened fish sandwiches, oysters and shrimp.  We listened to a nice Jamaican steel drum band while we ate.

Lulu’s at Homeport Marina

The next morning, we went back to Orange Beach and checked out a really nice Italian restaurant called Villaggio Grille.  Although the air had a smoky smell from the fire, we were so glad we decided to eat here.  It was Sunday Brunch, and the waiters were so happy to see us.  I’m pretty sure the smoke caused a lot of people to drive elsewhere that weekend.   The staff bent over backwards to serve us, and the food was out of this world.  There was a bakery next door, and Villaggio coordinated with it for biscuits and desserts.  These biscuits were my favorite of the trip.  They were small, but flaky, buttery and sweet.  We then settled in for some amazing brunch food:  The boy had mussels (the waiter kept asking him questions to make sure he knew what he was getting!  We informed him that the boy knows how to eat, and is pretty much an omnivore!), giant shrimp, perfectly cooked and resting on a bed of homemade flat pasta.  I had eggs Benedict with sweet potato hash, country style, in big chunks.  OMG.  It also came with a blueberry muffin, that I saved for later.  P had seared Ahi tuna, and it was perfectly done.  We also shared a nice spring mix salad and two crab cakes–a feast!  We savored every bite.  We will definitely go back here someday, and I felt a little sad when we left, knowing that we wouldn’t be back on this trip.

Fort Morgan

We then drove west to Fort Morgan and toured the old Civil War-era fort.  It was  interesting, and reminded us the local forts on the Washington coast.  The boy enjoyed the tunnels and exploring the little brick alcoves.  It was really hot that day, though, probably close to 98 degrees.  We then drove around the neighboring village and saw some beautiful pastel vacation houses.

Quiet Living on The Gulf

I assume Spring Breakers were at Gulf Shores earlier in the year; but when we were there in late June, most of the visitors were young families.  Although most of the activities offered were for young kids (putt-putt golf, small amusement parks and zoo), we managed to find some quality entertainment for us and our teenage son.

The best venue in Gulf Shores is The Hangout, located right on the beach.  Over Memorial Day weekend, the place gets hopping, and the stage and crowds move to the beach for a big music festival hosting a variety of artists like Foo Fighters, Widespread Panic, Paul Simon, Grace Potter, My Morning Jacket and Cee Lo Green.

The Hangout includes an indoor dining area with large bay doors that open up to the beach.  A small stage on the premises hosts cover bands nightly.  There are a couple of outside bars, and a giant bar next to the dining area.  Kids are allowed to sit at the bar with their adults.  That’s how they roll in The South!

When we were there, we ended up going to The Hangout three out of the four nights we were at The Gulf.  It was enjoyable for us and our son had a great time.  There was a different band playing every night, and they played everything from Johnny Cash to Gnarls Barkley.  The Hangout keeps the youngsters occupied while waiting for their meals by participating in YMCA sing-alongs, massive foam parties, and pirates galore.  They announced people’s birthdays and anniversaries and made the birthday kids (and adults) dance for the rest of the audience.

After four days of sun and sugar-soft sand, we packed up the van and drove our sun-kissed, dark-white bodies north, with a brief overnight stop in Huntsville.  We then continued on to Nashville for a two night stay.

Tennessee

PART II:  NASHVILLE, TN
Loveless Cafe

Nashville, Day 1

First, a stop at the Loveless Cafe, just outside the city of Nashville.  We settled in for some authentic Southern food, complete with biscuits, home-made preserves, country ham and gravy.  Not only does this famous cafe fill up the stomach and the soul, they also host Music City Roots concert and radio show in the Loveless barn every Wednesday.  We were there for an early lunch, so we weren’t able to stay for the show.  At $10 a ticket, it would be worth a trip back.

Nashville

I was excited and admittedly a little anxious about this leg of the journey.  I had so much to see and so little time.  Although Nashville, known as “Music City,” is home to The Grand Ole Opry and Ryman Auditorium,

Ryman Auditorium
I didn’t feel like seeing a Patsy Cline tribute or any mainstream auto-tuned country acts on this trip.  I feel like some of those mainstream stars have lost some heart and soul by the time they get to that uber-famous level.  I wanted to see the musicians and singer/songwriters who played in the little clubs and divey bars.  The hard-working ones who still play gigs in town and drive to gigs all over the country.  Most of my favorite shows I’ve seen over the years have been lesser known artists playing in smaller venues.
Will Kimbrough
One artist I wanted to see if he happened to be in town was Nashville resident Will Kimbrough.  I’ve had the honor of meeting and chatting with him over the last few years, so I was hoping we could catch him at a gig in town.  He’s constantly touring, so it was a long shot.
I first heard of Will while listening to Radio Margaritaville several years ago.  Will plays and writes with Jimmy Buffett, so Jimmy in turn plays some of Will’s solo work on his online radio station.  Will is not only a very talented singer/songwriter with a list of solo albums, but he has also produced albums for various artists.  He was “Will” in Will and the Bushmen, the late 80’s alt-pop group, and he currently shares the spotlight with Tommy Womack in Daddy. Will has also played sideman for Todd Snider, Rodney Crowell, and most recently, Emmylou Harris.  He has been nominated and has won “Instrumentalist of the Year” from the Americana Music Association.  He is a self-proclaimed workaholic musician.  Will is so humble; I forget how great he is sometimes.
Will was indeed in town and would be playing guitar for Marshall Chapman at The Station InnMinton Sparks would open the show.
The Station Inn
The Station Inn reminded me of Seattle’s gritty, divey Tractor Tavern, only smaller.  The Station only holds about 100 people and has been around for about 30 years.  It is located in “The Gulch” district, a newly renovated area a few blocks off the main strip, where swanky, expensive restaurants and condos tower over the little brick tavern.  We walked into The Station, though, and felt right at home.
We found a nice old cushioned pew with a small table near the side of the stage and settled in.  We joined Will  for a brief chat before the show began.  We exchanged a beer-bottle toast and he welcomed us to NashVegas.  He said The Station Inn is the Bluegrass Capitol of the World, although this night would be a little different, as we were soon to find out.
Minton Sparks
The opening act, Minton Sparks, is a spoken-word poet and musician–a speaker-songwriter, she calls herself.  She was  dressed like a Southern Belle church lady, down to her little white patent leather purse and matching shoes.  Ms. Sparks had that Southern drawl where the words tend to linger on her lips before being gently released.  She could weave a story so well, and pull us into each character’s life.  A few times I had to pull back and remember where I was; I became mesmerized by each vignette.  Some were a little dirty, some were hysterically funny, and a couple almost made me cry.  Titles and words seemed so simple, but would twist and turn into something completely dark or more complex as the story progressed.  Some of my favorites were “Vicky Pickles’ Mama,” about a bikini-clad middle-aged neighbor;  “Suburban Snake Handler,” which was as dirty as the title implies;  and a yarn about meeting and talking to Minnie Pearl and spilling her soul to her.   Minton brought along John Jackson who played acoustic guitar and followed and adjusted his volume and tempo to match her characters’ mannerisms and quirks and jerks.

Marshall Chapman is a very busy singer/songwriter, author of two books, and recently simultaneously released a new album, Big Lonesome and nonfiction book, They Came To Nashville.

Marshall Chapman

She recently played the road manager to Gweneth Paltrow’s character in the movie Country Strong.
Ms. Chapman greeted us wearing black UnderArmour basketball shorts, an oversized black t-shirt, and bare feet.  Her gray hair was loosely pinned up into a crazy bird’s nest.  I liked her already, and she hadn’t sung a note.  She peered out into the audience and exclaimed, “Not bad for a Wednesday night in Nashville!”

Marshall’s latest songs are mostly folk/Americana, but her roots go back to rock ‘n’ roll.  Her songs, like Minton Sparks’ words, tell a story.  Some were more personal than others, such as “Tim Revisited,” and “Down to Mexico,” both written about Tim Krekel, her deceased friend and music partner.  She said sometimes the songs write her.
A few times in between songs, she would break out her latest book, They Came To Nashville, and read passages.  I enjoyed her story about asking Willie Nelson for an interview for her book; and after not being able to set a date with him due to his busy schedule, he invited her to travel around with him on his tour bus for a few nights.  Marshall also wrote a song about the experience called “Riding With Willie.” She has a very natural way of storytelling, and isn’t afraid to speak her mind and share a bit of her heart.  She strums to the rhythm of her own guitar; she is truly unique, and I completely admire her.

Will Kimbrough accompanied Marshall onstage.  Will’s guitarmanship was in fine form, although a bit subdued to match the folk genre and Station atmosphere.  He had some slow solos that showcased his total instrumental control.  He played a bluesy slide, and interchanged his two guitars to match the mood of the song.  The mostly quiet and polite audience responded with loud whoops and applause when Ms. Chapman introduced him after one such solo.
PART III:  NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE, DAY 2

The next night, we decided to check out Broadway.  The street is lined with vintage neon signs advertising honky-tonk bars and kitschy restaurants and shops.  You can find every imaginable souvenir mug, magnet, bedazzled t-shirt, and Elvis likeness.  Made in China.  If you look closely, though, you can also find the beautiful Gruhn Guitar shop filled with vintage Martin acoustics, Fender and Gibson electrics, banjos, mandolins, and Dobros.  We also stumbled upon Hatch Show Print, which has been printing show posters since 1879.  We found one for Wanda Jackson and Old 97’s and purchased them on the spot.
I loved walking down the sidewalk on Broadway and hearing different music from each venue spilling out into the night.  Every few steps was a different sound:  Mainstream country covers, tribute bands, bluegrass and karaoke.  There is no cover charge for most bars; the musicians survive on money left in tip jars.  We wanted to go to Tootsie’s, a tiny bar with good country rock, but it was completely packed–standing room only.  I wanted to stand outside and listen, but the sidewalks were crowded, and people were pushing to get through.
We moved to the next bar, called “Second Fiddle.”  It was a long, skinny bar, dark and dead silent, except for the county cover band trying to get everyone’s attention on this Thursday night.  The band was fairly decent; but not good enough to hold our attention for more than one drink, so we left.  We weren’t sure where to go next; we were a bit tired from our late night and from hoofing it all over the city earlier that day.
Layla’s
Then…the sound that captures my soul…old-timey, Outlaw Country!  We peered in the picture window of Layla’s Bluegrass Inn and saw the upright bass getting spanked, flying fiddle rosin, a frontman with a mohawk and tattoos, a rockabilly drum beat, and guitar player who looked and sounded like Ken Bethea of Old 97’s.  We were in!
Slim Chance Through the Chicken Wire
Layla’s was tiny half empty (or haf full, depending on how one looks at it), and half of the people were half-drunk.  We decided to catch up, and ordered Pabst Blue Ribbons and saddled up to a tall round table close to the stage.  The PBR slid down like water, and we ordered a couple more.
Slim Chance and the Can’t Hardly Playboys
That little band blew us away.  And their name, perfection:  Slim Chance and the Can’t Hardly Playboys!  It doesn’t get any better than that.  Within minutes after our arrival, they broke into a rollicking version of Cash’s “Folsom Prison Blues” followed by a Waylon Jennings number, Hank III and then my favorite train song, “Orange Blossom Special.”  Josh Headley almost caught that fiddle on fire during his rendition of that song.  They played a few more songs that were equally rowdy and a little dirty.
Bass and Fiddle Hamming It Up
Slim and the boys play at Layla’s every Thursday night.  I wanted them to come to Seattle and fire up The Tractor.  They’d fit right in.  I wanted to get up and dance, but instead, I let the ex-football player white guy at the other table get up and act like a fool.  I took a few pictures and the band hammed it up for me.  I could’ve stayed the rest of the night until they kicked me out; but we had to be responsible parents and get home at a reasonable hour, and try to act sober.

On our way out of town the next day, we stopped by Third Man Records,
Third Man Records
snapped some pics and purchased some t-shirts in the tiny storefront.  We were hoping for a tour, but they were busy that week.  It was pretty amazing just to be there and see the Rolling Record Store up close.  There are hundreds of vinyl records on sale from the many bands that are now on Jack White’s label.  Lots of cool souvenirs and shirts, too.

Rolling Record Store

I wish we had more time to explore Nashville.  I would have loved to see more shows at some of the other smaller, but well-known venues such as The Bluebird Cafe and The Basement, and also visit the historical United Record Pressing, but it wasn’t meant to be on this trip.
My Southern experience exceeded my expectations.  The Gulf weather was warm, the countryside was beautiful, and the people were friendly.  I embraced the South, and it embraced me.  And Nashville still has a heart and soul, if you know where to look.

July 14, 2011 Posted by | Concert Season 2011, Music, Randomville, Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Top 10 Live Shows

I thought I’d take a moment and share my top 10 favorite live shows.  Some are very specific by date and venue, and  some are by artist only.   This will change over time, I’m sure.  And after looking it over, I left out a few, such as The Rolling Stones in 1994.  That was a spectacular show, but it was in the Kingdome, and the band was about 1/4 mile away.  Didn’t really feel the love.  We saw Bruce Springsteen a few years ago, and I felt the same way.  Great, energetic show, but we were looking down on them from afar.  The lucky few hundred who got to be right against the stage, now they had a show to remember!

[You can also view this post and other reviews and features on Randomville]

Anyway, on with the list (all pics taken by me except Jimmy Buffett below):

Jimmy Buffett

10.  Jimmy Buffett – The man has paradoxically built an empire on the Margaritaville philosophy!  I’ve only seen him once back  in 2003, but was thoroughly entertained.  The show was pure fun, with hula girls, tiki gods and fire dancers.  And the Parrothead audience was a spectacle in itself.  He brought along a slew of veteran musicians and singers.  If you’re lucky enough to go to his show, his lead guitarist for the night might be Will Kimbrough, a talented musician, singer/songwriter and producer who has also collaborated on several songs with Jimmy.  You can forget all your problems for two hours Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays!

The Paperboys

 9.   The Paperboys – The Vancouver-based Paperboys have been lifting people’s spirits with their high energy shows for 16 years.  The eight-piece band plays in small venues in BC, Seattle and Portland, and captivates the audience with their joyful, upbeat and very eclectic music:  Mexican, Canadian, Celtic, and Reggae soup.  They make quarterly appearances at The Tractor Tavern in Ballard.

8.   Ryan Adams – – Paramount Theatre, Seattle, WA January, 2008 – I smiled until my cheeks hurt.  Ryan brought along The Cardinals and tore the place up with songs from his album, Easy Tiger, along with many greats from his prolific song library and a few covers. He’s such a quirky character and a comedian, too–a sad clown.  The rest of the talented band seemed patient and knew when to wait for him to calm down, light his cigarette, have a little chat with the audience, etc.  I loved the train-wrecked Ryan, back when he could write a soul-crushing, alt-country song.  Glad he sobered up and married a pop star, because you know after the divorce, the songs will be good again.   

7.  Brent Amaker and the Rodeo Foot-stompin’, belt buckle-wearin’ cowboys in black.  The lead singer dons a red cape, has a stripper assistant and sounds like Johnny Cash–with a potty mouth. Campy country at its best.  A Seattle treasure.  Catch them at The Crocodile, The Sunset and other small venues throughout the year. 

Brent Amaker

6.  The Gourds Texas and Louisiana, sex and religion, country and rock, bluegrass and Snoop Dogg all rolled into a mandolin, violin, banjo, and accordion.  Their shows feel like an old-timey revival in the Deep South.  I get more salvation from their shows than I ever did in church.  The band’s motto: “For The Unwashed and The Well-Read. “  They’ve been featured at SXSW, Austin City Limits, and are regulars at The Tractor Tavern in Ballard, WA.  Yes, they’re the ones who covered Snoop’s “Gin and Juice” on mandolin.

The Gourds

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5.  Old 97’s – Alt-country/rock, Texas-style.  Sweat, spit, roaring guitar riffs, and a faithful audience that knows all the words.  There’s even a glossary on their website if you need help understanding the lyrics.  See them LIVE one time, and you’ll want to follow them around the country.

Rhett Miller of Old 97's

 

 

 

 

4.  Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers (Anywhere!) – Tom and the band are American Icons.  Just go see them—anywhere.  The Gorge Amphitheatre in George, WA is a beautiful place to sing along to “Free Fallin’” while the desert sun sets behind the enormous stage.

3.  Todd Snider and the Nervous Wrecks at The Nugget, Sparks, NV 2009 – Wrecktacular.  The whole package.  Comedy, Americana, Folk, and Good Ol’ Rock-n-Roll.  And Will Kimbrough (the man gets around) on screaming, other-worldly guitar solos.  Todd’s solo show is also worth seeing.  He’s a Nashville transplant, originally from Oregon and plays the Northwest once or twice a year.  He can spin a yarn like no other.  Just get him started with stories about Slash or Garth Brooks, and you’ll think you’re at a stand-up comedy show.

Todd Snider and Will Kimbrough


2.  Sir Paul McCartney at The Tacoma Dome, WA 2002, – I was too young to see him when he visited Seattle in the 70’s.  To hear him play not only Wings songs but Beatles tunes with an incredible backing band, priceless.  And the show was a gift from my boss.  I pulled my hair, grabbed my face and screamed like it was 1964.

1.  Tom Petty with Mudcrutch at The Troubadour, Los Angeles, CA 2008 – Tom, 10 feet away.  My Musical Messiah–my Jesus of Rock ‘n’ Roll.  He smiled at me (ME!) and I was saved.  I can clearly remember standing there near the stage saying, “I can die now; my life is complete!” Tom reunited his old band (pre-Heartbreakers) and played a few gigs, mostly at The Troubadour, to support their new album.  Tom and the band, which included Mike Campbell on wicked guitar, seemed relaxed and happy.  No big light show, no grandstanding, just a regular band out to enjoy themselves and connect with the audience.  TEN FEET AWAY!

Tom Petty and Mike Campbell

February 8, 2011 Posted by | Brent Amaker and the Rodeo, Jimmy Buffett, Music, Old 97's, Paul McCartney, Rolling Stones, The Gorge Amphitheatre, The Gourds, The Paperboys, The Tractor Tavern, Todd Snider, Tom Petty, Will Kimbrough | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Concert Season 2006

Concert Season 2006
I gauge how good of a year I’ve had based on the quantity and quality of concerts I have attended during the spring/summer/fall months. This year [2006] has been the best ever! Usually in February, I start hunting band websites, venue websites and Ticketmaster looking for Seattle tour dates. I get so excited for Concert Season to roll around! The winter months are usually quite boring, with hardly any acts. That is the time for vacations or just spending downtime with family in the gray gloom. But then late in the winter, the dates start showing up in the newspaper, Ticketmaster sends emails, and I get a rush of excitement!

The following is a summary of concerts we saw, the experiences we had, and the music played. It’s been such a good season! I’m hoping it’s not quite over, even though it is September 9 [2006] today. The one regret is not booking tickets to Nashville for the Americana Music Awards, but how can I complain. I might see Todd Snider in October, if I can find someone to go with me. We’ll see…

June

Chateau Ste. Michelle Winery in Woodinville. Saw Elvis Costello with his latest collaborator, Allen Toussaint, a New Orleans R&B vet. They have an album out together, and I need to pick it up! Lots of boogie-woogie R&B sounds. Elvis played songs from that album along with his classic new wave stuff like: Watching the Detectives, Allison, Pump it Up, What’s So Funny ‘Bout Peace, Love, and Understanding…

Hot night, about 85 degrees. Went with H and C. Purchased a nice bottle of 2003 Syrah and some cheese, salami and crackers at the winery gift shop. Had a great little picnic before the show. It was such a beautiful setting, a nice crowd. It was fun to people-watch as the show progressed, to see the middle-aged businessmen getting a little tipsy from the wine and trying to stumble across the uneven grass back to their seats. Unfortunately, the one time C and I went to the bathroom, the line was out the door, and only two stalls were available. This was exactly the point where Elvis kicked it up a notch and played his old favorites. I was crabby, but we still had fun.

Also in June, we saw John Hiatt and the North Mississippi All Stars. Wow what a show! They played at Marymoor Park in Redmond. P and I arrived early and got some dinner. Then we got some wine and beer, and some more wine and beer. I was quite tipsy by the time the show got started! P was up to the bathrooms about every 10 minutes! No more beer for him at concerts! We had 4th row seats, a little to the right of center. Perfect!

N. Mississippi consists of two brothers, Luther and (I don’t remember) Dickinson. They are sons of Jim Dickinson [who recently passed away in 2009], who produced John Eddie’s “Who the Hell Is John Eddie” album as well as John Hiatt‘s, and lots of other folks. Luther can play the guitar like no one I have seen before. At one point, he played a one-string guitar that looked like a box with a stick in it and a rubber band for a string! He made that thing moan. Unreal. And he looks like he’s 20, although I believe he’s in his 30’s. The bass player looked like Fat Albert, and played the bass real high up under his chest. His last name was Chew, which I thought was fitting, but man could he play! He also added a little rap/hip-hop style to their very southern rock. A real nice mix, which has garnered them a broad, young following. They played a good ½ hour set, mostly from their new album, “Electric Blue Watermelon,“ then took a break before being joined by John Hiatt.

I have only recently started listening to John Hiatt. I knew of him, and The Mountain radio station brings him to town every year, but I didn’t know his range of music. He has done country, rock, has written scores of songs that other artists like Bonnie Raitt (Thing Called Love) and Suzy Bogguss (Drive South) have made famous. He is famous in his own right as well. He has a very unique voice, like that of Randy “Short People” Newman. He is skinny, wiry, with a face worn by a hard life, but kind, appreciative of the audience, and totally against the Bush administration! Yay! P was impressed.

John sang a slew of songs, a Greatest Hits night, plus many from his new album, “Master of Disaster.” Set list included: Master of Disaster, Cry Love, Love’s Not Where We Thought We Left It, Ain’t Ever Goin’ Back, Slow Turning, Thing Called Love, Thunderbird, Old School, Child of the Wild Blue Yonder, Buffalo River Home, Riding With the King…many others. He was very entertaining, and surrounded by a talented band.

July

Ahhh, Tom Petty time. Finally. We saw him last year at the Gorge, but I was looking forward to a new venue, Clark County Amphitheatre, in Ridgefield, WA, near Vancouver. Tom has a new album out entitled “Highway Companion,” so I was excited to see how the new songs would sound live. Also we had 4th row seats, so I was very anxious to see how close we we would sit to the stage.

Tom is my musical hero. His album, “Damn the Torpedoes” was one of my first album purchases as a young teenager. I wore that record out on my sister’s very nice stereo system. She almost killed me when she found out I was using it when she was gone! I used to play “Here Comes My Girl” and “Even the Losers” over and over.

I had a feeling I would cry when he came on stage. There was my hero, up close. He also announced he probably would not be doing any major tours anymore; this may be his last one.

I did cry.  I was blown away being 15 feet from my hero, and having him come out with the first song being “Listen to Her Heart,” one of my all-time favorites!

Set list included: Handle With Care (Traveling Wilburys), Free Fallin’, Down South (Highway Companion), Square One, and I think one other off the new album, Refugee, You Wreck Me, then with Stevie Nicks (guest singer) Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around, Insider, and one other of Tom’s songs that Stevie sang alone with the band. The last song of the ovation was American Girl, another favorite of mine.

I cried at least two other times when he played my favorite songs. I just love him, and I’m so glad we got to sit so close.

September

Saturday the 2nd, we went to American Idol with S and D. The guys were not thrilled about going, but it was in Tacoma, and we thought the drive would give them a chance to bond a little! They did, and we went to a nice dinner at a brew pub near the Tacoma Dome by the old train station. That area of Tacoma is pretty nice.

We had fun teasing them about us wanting to act like little teenagers at the concert. We even had Hicks Chicks pink t-shirts on! The guys just rolled their eyes. It was pretty warm that night, too, which made the concert even warmer than expected. Luckily, I wore shorts.

The Idol show was very cheesy. The 10 people performed based on the order they were kicked off. Mandisa went first, followed by Lisa, then Ace, Paris, Bucky, Pickler, etc. Finally, Taylor Hicks came on and rocked everyone with Jailhouse Rock. He was the best, even though his dancing was even weirder than on TV. He did play the harmonica, which was awesome. I kept telling S how much fun it would have been to see him in some shithole bar with his band. Much more fun than this stinking heat dome with a bunch of screaming 12-year-olds. Chris and Elliott also did well, but only sang about 2 songs apiece. That’s ok, we vowed to see any of those guys separately, once they’re done with their AI contract.

Then, a long shot…I had written to Will Kimbrough to see if he was playing Seattle anytime soon. He said no, but he was playing Coos Bay with Rodney Crowell. It was a long shot, but I told my son if we can find someone to go with, we could drive to Coos Bay to see them. It was a free outdoor concert, so hard to beat! P couldn’t go because he’d eaten all his vacation time this summer. I had recently sent Will’s Americanitis CD to our friend R, who loved it. I called him and asked if it was possible for him to go with us to Coos Bay. He wanted to talk it over with K first, then get back to me.

He finally gave us the “ok” to go! I got the time off approved in advance, thank God. The boy had been talking about going since mid-August. He even made cute little foam visors with their names on each one that he insisted we wear at the concert!

So, on Tuesday, Sept. 5 [2006], we started our long trek down South. Just R, the boy and me. I didn’t think I’d have the guts to do it, but I was determined not to let an opportunity pass me by. Plus, I owed it to the boy [then 10 years old] to take him to his first “real” concert. It was a good opportunity to bond with him, and also R was really excited to spend some time with the boy (he’s like an uncle to him) and see Will. I took my iPod, and R was impressed with the quality of the sound and all the music it held. I played lots of Will and Rodney for him, so he would be more familiar with them. He didn’t realize Rodney was actually the headliner, so once he heard his music, he was impressed and excited to see him, too.

I drove to Eugene, then R took over. The driving wasn’t as bad as I thought. I usually don’t drive for that long of a time, but I did ok. R enjoyed not having to drive, since he always has to drive with K. The traffic was bad through Portland and Salem, but it was moving, at least. We had a real pretty drive through the hills from Eugene to Florence. R’s hands were shaking because he wanted to fish the rivers we passed! Lots of cute little towns and storefronts along the way

Florence was gorgeous, with the massive yellow sand dunes surrounding us. We took a little side trip to see if we could get close to the ocean. We finally parked and the boy and I climbed up a dune and looked out to the ocean. It was about a quarter mile from us, so not enough time to run down to see it. R had to wait by the car due to his prosthetic leg; he wasn’t able to climb up the dunes. The wind was blowing at least 20 knots, so we didn’t stay long. It was also cold, about 58 degrees! It was in the 80’s the whole way down until we got there! It was foggy, too.

We continued our trek, closer now to our final destination! We got to Coos Bay and the Red Lion Inn about 4:00. We checked in, dropped off R in his handicapped-accessible room, and then headed across the parking lot to ours. We slowly drove up to our door on the first floor.

As we were driving, we had a brush with fame! A man, who I’m almost positive was Rodney Crowell himself, had just checked in and was standing outside his door, just 5 doors down from ours! He was thin, short and had scraggly hair under a baseball cap. I’m pretty sure it was him, and the boy was too, after I showed him a picture of Rodney on a CD cover! That town is so small; the only two hotels are the Red Lion and the Best Western. There were also big tour buses in the parking lot that night.

Anyway, that was enough to get my knees shaking! Wow, that’s cool to be staying in the same hotel as the band! I kept peeking out to see if he would come out again, or if any other band members were out there. But it was getting late, and I needed to take a shower still and get ready for the show.

We met R for dinner at 5:00-ish, then hung out and waited for our friend, who used to coach with R, to show up. G and his wife live near Florence and were excited to spend some time with R. This was perfect, because they sat up in the grassy terraced area in chairs, while the boy and I parked our blanket about 4 blankets back from the stage, front and center! Cool!

Will Kimbrough

We were all set to go, and I could see Will behind the stage (it was basically open, with some sheer black curtains behind it) with his acoustic guitar warming up. I wanted to go say hi, but refrained. I know from his blogs he was in his warm-up mode that he does before his shows to loosen up. The boy was excited. He insisted we wear our hats, too! So cute.

Will opened the show with “Piece of Work” and also played the following: Made Your Bed You Got to Lay in it, Grownup Now, Black/White [not sure of the exact title], Another Train, Life, Everyone’s in Love (boy’s favorite, and he sang along with a smile on his face, sweet baby), Modern World, and I think a few more.

They took a little break, so I took the boy with me to see if we could talk to them, and he asked if Will would sign his hat. Will did, then I turned to him and introduced myself. He shook my hand, and thanked me for coming. I then introduced him to the boy, and he shook his hand. He got a big thrill over that. I let him go, as other people were waiting to get autographs.

Then we could see Rodney behind the purchase table tuning up his guitar. He looked busy, so we didn’t ask for autographs yet. We found our seats and waited. It wasn’t long before Rodney came on. Yep, that was him at the Red Lion!

Rodney Crowell

He played many songs, some from his new album, The Outsider, then others from previous albums including:

Ain’t Livin’ Long Like This, Fate’s Right Hand, Still Learning How to Fly, Say You Love Me, Dancin’ Circles Round the Sun, a song Keith Urban sang to Nicole Kidman on their wedding day that Rodney wrote and sang, I Walk the Line (Revisited) and Will sang Johnny’s part in his lowest range! Ended with Like a Rolling Stone with the audience helping out! He did one more slow song at the end, and we all stood up near the front of the stage. It was awesome! The boy was thoroughly impressed, although a little antsy during Rodney’s long set, since he didn’t know all of the songs. It was a little chilly out, too.

After the show, we found Rodney and he signed my hat with both our names on it. I thanked him for coming, told him this was boy’s first concert. He seemed a little tired, and had other people waiting. Not real talkative, but nice. He has great cheekbones! His face was lined vertically and was a little pale. Lots of travel and life have creased him.

We hung around a few minutes, then the boy said he wanted Will to sign his polo shirt! So we found Will packing up guitars on the stage. I yelled, “Hey, Will!” He said, “Yeah?” “My son wants you to sign his shirt!” So Will jumped down off the stage and had his pen ready in his pocket. He gladly signed the back of his shirt.

I can’t remember the whole conversation. I was trying to soak it all in, but at the same time felt very self-conscious for bugging him again. It went something like this: I think I told him that was a great show, and this is the boy’s first concert. He asked boy how old he was, and he said 10. Will asked if he was in 5th grade, and then said his daughter is in 6th grade this year. I then asked if his other daughter was in kindergarten, I remembered from reading one of his blogs. He said yes, she was. He said he was heading to San Diego to go to a wedding and maybe do some surfing! He also wanted to take his kids to Sea World. He also thanked us for making the “long haul” down from Seattle. I said it took us about 8 hours! I don’t think I said a whole lot after that, just thanked him and shook his hand again. Well, it was good to finally meet him.

We found R, got the truck and headed back to the hotel. It was soooo worth the drive. And R was thrilled to meet up with his friend and his wife. They enjoyed the concert, too, so I feel my musical evangelism paid off. I did my part to spread the Rodney and Will Word!

October

On October 12, P and I went to see Todd Snider at the Tractor Tavern in Ballard. Unfortunately, we couldn’t get anyone to go with us. Their loss, it was a great show! I told P to see if anyone from work wanted to go. He didn’t seem to believe me how big this was going to be. He never thinks anyone else but me likes these bands! [After a few years, he now knows better!] Well, the place was packed, probably 250 people there!

We got to Ballard around 7:00 after dropping the boy off at Mom and Dad’s. Then we were hungry, but decided we’d better find a place to park first. It took us about 15-20 minutes to find a place to park! [the usual pain in Ballard] Then we went directly to the Tractor to see what was up. The opening act, Joy Mills, was doing a sound check and there were a few people milling about. I noticed they had chairs set up, so then we got to thinking we’d better get in early and reserve our seats up close. So we went across the street first and grabbed ale and ate some peanuts to sustain us for a little bit! No one had food! Tractor only had TV dinners, they said. But the guy at the door did say to try Hattie’s Hat, which was 2 doors down, and then bring it in the Tractor! Cool!

So I got our seats in the second row while Pat picked up the most amazing salmon BLT and fries from Hattie’s! Yum! Then the show started. Joy Mills was good, but it was just her and her acoustic guitar. She was a little slow, but the songs were ok. The audience was pretty silent and polite, until the last couple of songs when more people showed up and more people were on their second or third drink.

There was a short break, in which I was hoping they’d bring out the piano, drum set, extra guitars, etc. But, alas, Todd was solo that night. We saw him walk in with his road guy, Elvis (I guess that’s his real name) and a couple other people.

You can’t miss Todd. He wears this big floppy felt hat all the time now.

He had on a baseball type shirt with black sleeves, with a vest over it, rolled up jeans and Converse tennis shoes that he immediately took off when he stepped onto the stage. Barefoot, he looks like a hobo.

He started playing immediately–I think he started with the song Old Times. He also played the following:

Horseshoe Lake (one of my favorites)

Tension

I Can’t Complain

You Got Away With It

Looking for a Job

Carla

Easy Money

Tillamook County Jail

Iron Mike

Kingsmen Ballad

The Devil You Know

Conservative Christian Right Wing Republican….

Play a Train Song

He was like a comedian/singer. He had little anecdotes about each song–many were the same as what he wrote in liner notes in the CD’s, but that’s ok, it clued people in on the humor/point of the songs. He also said something about going through the Multnomah tunnel by his old hometown near Portland. He said everyone used to paint graffiti in there, and all of it would end in the word “rules” such as Portland High School Rules! Etc. So after a show, he decided he’d write “Todd Snider Rules” in big letters. It was so full of graffiti, that you’d actually have to clean the wall by using white paint to paint over the other graffiti. He said his tour manager that he thought was a guy for years but that’s another story, was supposed to stop him from doing stupid things like that! As they were passing through the tunnel the next day, one of the road crew said, “Oh, the kids must have liked your show last night, Todd!”

I don’t know– he can spin a yarn with much more humor in person than I can possibly convey here. The audience was real receptive to his little jokes and remarks as well as his very funny lyrics. P was very attentive and really enjoyed him, too. I took about 10 pictures [disposable camera], so we’ll see if they turn out. I tried to get his bare feet in a couple of them.

The bummer was he also wasn’t feeling well after partying in Portland the night before, so he was not in the mood to do a meet’n’greet afterward. So we waited for about ½ hour to see if he’d come out. Finally, this couple from Juneau, AK asked Elvis if he was coming, and Elvis said he’d already left. Darn! We were upset. One girl had her tree huggin’ hippie shirt on, had her two CD liner notes out in her hand ready for him to sign. She was bummed. I told her to also listen to Will Kimbrough, and she hadn’t heard of him. Hopefully she’ll remember he’s on the liner notes.

The Juneau couple were big fans. They had flown down specifically for the show. They were also planning to go see him on New Year’s Eve somewhere back East. They were probably in their mid-20’s. The guy was good-looking, but the girl was absolutely striking, with long black hair and big, dark blue eyes. She must have stood 6’ 2”! Anyway, the guy was so funny because in the middle of Todd’s show, he came stumbling down the aisle to try to get Todd to give him a high-five! He just stood there and waited for his high-five, with his right hand poised in front of Todd. But Todd was in the middle of a guitar solo, and had his eyes closed. The guy must have stood there for 10 seconds, while the audience laughed, then “awwwed” him as he returned with head bowed to his seat. It was so funny! I didn’t think Todd noticed or cared. But then during the next song, or maybe he waited for a second one, Todd said, “Where’s that guy who wanted to give me a high-five?” And of course, the guy ran right back up and was all excited! Todd obligingly gave him the five, and then the guy wanted a knuckle pound, then another high-five! It was so funny! Todd said something after he took his seat, like, “Geez, I thought the guy was going to take over the show!”

So anyway, it was really fun, P had a great time, but we would have loved to have seen a full band show.

November

Next up…Van Morrison! November 4. P just figured out how much the tickets cost us! Ouch! But Mr. Morrison’s a once-in-a-lifetime shot. He hardly ever tours, and when he does he has been really shy, to the point of playing with his back toward the audience. This time, it sounds like he’s loosened up and is enjoying himself.

Van Morrison was well worth the price of admission (2 seats $500), but our seats sucked. He played at a new venue, called the WaMu Theater, part of the Seahawks Qwest Events Center. It looked like a big warehouse, with exposed pipes and beams in the ceiling. I was suspicious when I ordered the tickets as to where we would be sitting. Although we had Row 5, the section was E. My suspicions were correct. We were placed on the far left end of the stage, past diagonal. P couldn’t see all of the band members from his side, left of me. I couldn’t see the fiddle player, except for his fiddle. So the whole night, although Van was about 30 feet from us, was spent looking at the backsides of the vocalists and a side view of Van. I was very disappointed. The stage was also about 6 feet high, so it made it even harder to look up from that angle. The theater held maybe a couple thousand people.

The sound was great, though, and Van was in top form. He brought along a ten-piece band which included three vocalists, acoustic and electric guitars, bass, fiddle, steel guitar, organ, drums, and he played sax and harmonica. He came out swaggering to the stage pumping on that harmonica. He’s so good. Very cool in a black suit and felt fedora. He’s a stumpy, barrel-chested fellow, not real talkative with the audience, but was having a good time onstage.

He played a lot of songs I recognized, but hadn’t heard in quite awhile, and not ones I had on my Greatest Hits albums. I really liked the music, though, and he really kept it upbeat most of the time. Lots of boogie-woogie, some country (his new album, Pay the Devil does a lot of country covers), and classic Van. He ended with Moon Dance, Brown Eyed Girl and Gloria, which got everyone on their feet. P enjoyed the music, but was a little bored and disappointed in the seats.

April 3, 2010 Posted by | Americana, Concert Season 2006, Marymoor Park, Music, Rodney Crowell, The Gorge Amphitheatre, Todd Snider, Tom Petty, Van Morrison, Will Kimbrough | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment