A blog for Seattle music lovers of all stripes, from hip-hop and indie rock to jazz and world music.
December 8, 2013 at 2:13 PM
Some shows you mark on your calendar months out, like the epic Pearl Jam show Friday night that was undoubtedly the hottest ticket in town this week.
Brandi Carlile’s thrilling set at the Tractor Saturday was not planned. She stepped in at the last minute for The Lone Bellow, but despite the late notice tickets sold out in a flash, with locals cognizant of the rare opportunity to see Carlile in such an intimate setting.
It didn’t used to be that way for Carlile and her fans. There was a time, Carlile recalled, before the days of social media when she struggled to fill just part of the Tractor, but that was before she was recognized as one of the best singer-songwriters of her generation. (more…)
December 6, 2013 at 5:32 PM
Aoife O’Donovan is blessed with an incisive knack for songwriting and a charming voice that’s one of the most in-demand commodities in the bluegrass and folk scenes right now. Just about the only thing going against O’Donovan is her tricky first name: it’s pronounced “Eee-fah” for the record.
On the heels of her debut solo release “Fossils,” O’Donovan stops by the Tractor Tavern Saturday for an evening of Americana and bluegrass with Brandi Carlile, who just stepped in to the lineup after Lone Bellow canceled. While she just turned 31, O’Donovan been a part of the bluegrass community for quite a while as the vocalist for Crooked Still, a progressive bluegrass outfit formed in 2001 while O’Donovan was a student at the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston.
In between recording five studio albums with Crooked Still, she found time to lend her vocals to numerous albums and wrote “Lay My Burden Down,” which Allison Krauss recorded for her Grammy-winning 2011 album “Paper Airplanes.”
O’Donovan uses “Lay My Burden Down” to open “Fossils,” which is one of the year’s best pieces of Americana and solidifies O’Donovan’s status as a rising star. The album leans toward country with just the right amount of steel guitar to sweeten her crackerjack band’s excellent work.
Songs like “Fire Engine” pleasantly hum with energy, while her lead single “Red & White & Blue & Gold” could be a top-40 hit on commercial country radio. That she’s able to infuse so much authenticity and longing into a song that could easily be played off as a summer anthem speaks to O’Donovan’s considerable abilities and appeal.
Aoife O’Donovan, Brandi Carlile
9 p.m. Saturday at the Tractor Tavern, 5213 Ballard Ave. NW, Seattle; $15 (206-789-3599 or tractortavern.com)
-Owen R. Smith, on Twitter @inanedetails
December 6, 2013 at 5:54 AM
When legendary singer-songwriter Joe Henry decided to book his first ever solo acoustic headlining tour, he selected just four cities. Seattle was lucky enough to rate, and on Saturday night he’ll play songs at the Triple Door from his dozen albums.
Henry chose Seattle not just because audiences here appreciate him — he was a radio favorite on the Mountain — but also because of a restaurant.
“I had to pick somewhere to play,” Henry said by phone last week. “So I chose cities where I have significant relationships with chefs.”
In Seattle, the restaurant is Brad’s Swingside Café, in Fremont.
“I’ve eaten there dozens of times,” Henry says, “and I’ve never once looked at a menu. Brad is just incredibly gifted.”
The same has often been said of Henry, who Paste magazine once said wrote songs “that don’t fit into an easily defined box,” an apt description of Henry’s entire career, which has encompassed many aspects of music. Though over three decades Henry has never scored a mainstream hit, his albums all contain a rare level of songwriting artistry. He’s also become known as a film composer, songwriter and producer.
Henry produced most of Bonnie Raitt’s recent “Slipstream,” Billy Bragg’s “Tooth and Nail,” the latest hit from Over the Rhine and also tracks by Taj Mahal, Solomon Burke and dozens more. He’s currently taking a break from producing to do these shows.
“I wanted to do these for no other reason than I’m a singer, and I feel compelled to play, to put myself out on the wire,” Henry said.
This isn’t Henry’s only Seattle appearance this season; he was just here last month on a book tour for his excellent new Richard Pryor biography “Furious Cool.” It’s an unusual book, more a grouping of stories on why Pryor was important and what made him who he was than a normal biography. But that’s exactly what you’d expect from Henry, who wrote it with his brother David. Ultimately, it is revealing and rewarding.
That same sense of creativity will no doubt inform Henry’s solo show. He said he picked songs driven by a “need for discovery.” To illustrate, he quoted the line from “The Waking” by Seattle’s Theodore Roethke: “I learn by going where I have to go.”
On Saturday, that need to be “out on the wire,” as he describes it, will take Henry onstage at the Triple Door. But you can bet that sometime during his stay in Seattle, he’ll be dining at Brad’s. He’ll be the guy who doesn’t need to look at the menu.
8 p.m. Saturday at the Triple Door, 216 Union St., Seattle; $25 (206-838-4333 or www.thetripledoor.net).
November 29, 2013 at 5:45 AM
While she was growing up in Rock Island, Ill., Lissie’s feistiness and outspokenness often got her into trouble with those in authority.
“If you grow up in a small town and you stick out or draw attention to yourself, you’re going to attract some unwanted people who try to put you in your place,” says Lissie, a fast-rising singer-songwriter whose real name is Elisabeth Corrin Maurus.
“It motivated me to say, ‘I’ll show you. I’m going to get out of here and make something of myself.’”
Indeed she has.
On “Back to Forever” (Fat Possum), her sophomore album, Lissie’s teenage rebellion has evolved into a knack for sharp commentary about adult themes — unrequited love, dead-end jobs and environmental degradation. Her country-tinged folk-rock songs are filled with emotional urgency and huge pop hooks.
November 29, 2013 at 5:17 AM
Seattle’s longest-running alternative-rock station — 107.7 The End — has been putting on big holiday concerts for more than 20 years, showcasing a who’s who of modern rock.
The station’s 21st annual Deck the Hall Ball features perhaps the most international lineup in the event’s history with Vampire Weekend (New York); Phoenix (France); The Head and the Heart (Seattle); Alt J, Arctic Monkeys and Foals (England); Lorde (New Zealand) and Chvrches (Scotland). Chvrches replaces Tame Impala of Australia.
November 12, 2013 at 11:00 AM
“The Magnolia Electric Co.” reissue
Too few people knew the names Songs: Ohia or Magnolia Electric Co., but those who did will remember where they were the morning of March 26, 2013, when word reached them that Jason Molina had died at age 39 from organ failure.
The Ohio-born musician’s 2003 full-length “The Magnolia Electric Co.” would deserve tenth anniversary reissue treatment no matter what — yet in light of Molina’s passing, the double-CD set arrives Tuesday as a bittersweet memento of a career cut short. (more…)
November 11, 2013 at 12:35 AM
Barsuk Records likely wouldn’t have made it to its 15th anniversary, celebrated last week with five shows in four days, if not for Benjamin Gibbard and his seminal band Death Cab For Cutie.
So it makes sense that early on at Sunday night’s show at the Tractor featuring Jesse Sykes and the Sweet Hereafter people were starting to ask: “Do you think Ben Gibbard is going to play?” He had been seen around the club and Barsuk had promised “special guests” for the penultimate show in their birthday bash.
Gibbard didn’t disappoint and came on just before 9 p.m., looking sharp and svelte in a black shirt and dark jeans. He started his short solo acoustic set off with a joke — “Hi, I’m Gordon Reynolds,” which got a big laugh — and “Oh, Woe,” off his 2012 solo album “Former Lives.” Gibbard has been busy this week (Death Cab was the “special guest” at Thursday’s Showbox at the Market anniversary show) but he seemed happy for another chance to thank Seattle’s upstart label. (more…)
November 6, 2013 at 1:19 PM
A packed house at Benaroya Hall Tuesday celebrated the alternately raucous and romantic reunion of platinum-haired country sweetheart Emmylou Harris and alt-country Texas bad boy Rodney Crowell, who played in Harris’ Hot Band back in the ‘70s.
It was a sweet night, despite the hall’s amplified sound issues. The accent was on teamwork, not only from the harmonizing principals, but their five countrified assistants, whose blend, drive and mutual empathy reached a level rarely heard outside Nashville.
The two singer-songwriters are on the road promoting their new, knockout album, “Old Yellow Moon” (Nonesuch).
Drenched in classic country and rockabilly, the group hit its stride deep into the set, with the robust twang and Texas shuffle of “Invitation to the Blues” and the infectious backbeat of “Still Learning How to Fly.”
Harris rocked out on the country jangle of “Luxury Liner,” with Australian Jedd Hughes soaring up the neck of his electric guitar. Crowell invoked the winking menace of Jerry Lee Lewis on “I Ain’t Livin’ Long Like This,” with Chris Tuttle setting his honky-tonk keyboard afire. (more…)
November 5, 2013 at 10:49 AM
“It feels like 3 in the morning,” said a jet-lagged Sam Beam good-naturedly to an adoring crowd that showered him with affection and shouted song requests Monday at the Paramount Theatre.
Even sleep-deprived, the South Carolina singer-guitarist also known as Iron and Wine was impressive in a two-hour show stocked with folk-rock songs from his decadelong recording career, which began in 2002 on Seattle’s Sub Pop label with “The Creek Drank the Cradle,” an album that drew comparisons to such artists as Neil Young, Elliott Smith and Nick Drake.
Iron and Wine’s fall tour supports the current disc “Ghost on Ghost” (Nonesuch), and features a versatile, talented 12-piece band with three horn players, three backup singers, two violinists, a cellist, guitarist, drummer and organist on Hammond B-3. The show mixed Beam’s acoustic solos with full-band renditions of his songs. (more…)
October 25, 2013 at 5:30 AM
By Tom Keogh
Special to The Seattle Times
When singer-songwriter Rufus Wainwright embarks on the Pacific Northwest leg of a concert tour, he doesn’t mess around.
Wainwright is appearing in Medford, Eugene and Portland this week in Oregon, then Edmonds (Monday), Olympia (Tuesday) and Tacoma (Wednesday) next week. That’s six concerts in seven days — grueling, but underscoring a perception Wainwright would like his fans to hold onto. (more…)
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