A blog for Seattle music lovers of all stripes, from hip-hop and indie rock to jazz and world music.
November 23, 2013 at 12:32 PM
The holiday season is here, which means traditions like Frangos, The Nutcracker at McCaw and the carousel at Westlake. But perhaps no Seattle holiday tradition is more welcome than Taj Mahal’s annual Thanksgiving stand at Jazz Alley, which started Friday with a wonderful show.
This is the 18th Thanksgiving Mahal has played Jazz Alley. He may be 71, but on Friday showed his chops are intact. He opened with “Fishin’ Blues” on his trusty National steel guitar, and it was played to perfection.
Over the course of generous 90-minute set, Mahal switched guitars and musical genres, often. Mostly he plays what he calls “sweet country blues,” but he mixes genres, and includes Caribbean-inspired rhythms.
Ably backed by Bill Rich on bass, and Kester Smith on drums, Mahal also can sidetrack to a history lesson of the ukulele. Though his repertoire rarely switches from two-dozen classics, this band finds new ways to make old standards feel fresh.
When Mahal switched to electric guitar, he ripped through “TV Mama.” It was like watching a guitar clinic, with the same dirty, funky sound you’d hear from The Black Keys, except this was nearer to the source.
But Mahal specializes in those sweet country blues, and so it was the closer, “Lovin’ In My Baby’s Eyes,” that was the night’s most resonant moment. He dedicated it to his daughter, who lives near Seattle, and who is the reason this Thanksgiving tradition started.
He said she wasn’t in the audience Friday, but would be later in the run. And though she may be the motivation for his trips here, it was clear Friday that Mahal has found a home at Jazz Alley, and that Seattle has embraced him as part of our cultural holiday fabric.
When he played Jazz Alley that first Thanksgiving two decades ago, it was one of the only places he did a multiple night stand, as blues players usually move from town to town. His booking at the club has gotten longer, and this year he’s doing 13 shows over eight nights. If every show is as good as Friday’s, it makes sense that people want to catch them all.
Mahal said onstage that you can dance sometimes sitting down, you just have to go to “the right church.” For Taj Mahal, and for Seattle, Jazz Alley has become his Church of the Blues. Amen to that.
November 19, 2013 at 5:30 AM
This two-CD set captures 29 of the performances from the Crossroads Festival last April in New York. Eric Clapton puts this festival together every two years to benefit his drug-treatment center, and usually it’s been outdoors. This year he moved the fireworks inside to Madison Square Garden and even included local boy Robert Cray, who contributes an excellent “Great Big Old House.”
The set is dynamite. It helps that Clapton plays with an intensity on his seven tracks that he often lacks on his tours. But what really makes the show come alive is the pairings of players. Clapton, for example, performs “Lay Down Sally” with country guitar player Vince Gill, and it’s a fabulous rendition.
His duet with Keith Richards on “Key to the Highway” is somewhat less successful, as their styles don’t mesh as well and Richards sounds off his game. But when Clapton joins the Allman Brothers Band for “Why Does Love Got To Be So Sad,” the results are epic. There’s also a two-disc DVD release with a slightly different track listing. Any fan of guitar rock will want them both.
November 6, 2013 at 12:06 PM
It was another night of live performances on NBC’s “The Voice” singing competition, and this time it was up to team members singing for Christina Aguilera and Cee-lo Green to prove they deserve to stay.
Among those singing for their lives Tuesday was Stephanie Johnson, a Tacoma resident. Final voting results (the live rounds are controlled by viewers’ votes) from this week’s round are set to broadcast Thursday.
See where Tuesday’s contestants were able to land on our power rankings and then check out our coverage of Thursday’s show with updated complete rankings to reflect who was able to hold on to a spot.
November 3, 2013 at 5:36 PM
As Sir Mix-a-Lot’s electric set of some of his biggest hits came to a close Saturday at Neumos, the Seattle hip-hop legend reminded the crowd that the night did not belong to him.
Instead, the sold-out show was to celebrate Ayron Jones and the Way’s debut album, “Dream,” released on Oct. 29 and produced by Mix-a-Lot. Jones plays a fiery brand of Seattle rock that does its best to defy definition, even if it’s essentially the blues with some grunge window dressing.
Jones used his 80-minute set to prove that it doesn’t matter what you want to call his music. His raw, soulful voice and his explosive six-string acrobatics kept the crowd transfixed as he ripped through his best album cuts and covers (some obvious, like “Voodoo Chile (Slight Return) and others like “Georgia On My Mind,” not so much). (more…)
October 29, 2013 at 5:01 PM
Sir Mix-a-Lot met Ayron Jones a year and a half ago and decided to produce Jones’ debut album, “Dream,” out today. Mix-a-Lot is also opening for Jones at his album release party this Saturday at Neumos. I had some time to talk with Seattle’s hip-hop godfather last week as he drove through a lonely stretch of Montana. Our conversation has been edited for clarity and brevity.
Tell me your first impression of Ayron. You saw him in the University District about a year and a half ago, right?
Sir Mix-a-Lot: I walked in and the first thing I remember them doing, without knowing I was there, it wasn’t a showboat move, he did a solo. The crowd wouldn’t gather around, so he walked through the crowd, up to the bar, ordered a drink and was still in the middle of a solo. And the whole crowd kind of went around like a magnet, and fell in love with the group right there.
October 29, 2013 at 1:49 PM
Ayron Jones and his mentor, Sir Mix-a-Lot, don’t like to define Jones’ music with labels like “blues” or “hybrid rock.” They don’t necessarily welcome comparisons to the giants that have influenced Jones, namely Stevie Ray Vaughan and Jimi Hendrix.
But it’s hard to listen to Jones’ debut album, “Dream,” without hearing the ghosts of the past — and without viewing the album as the next evolution of the blues, a way for it to stay relevant to a new generation. “Dream,” self-released today and produced by Mix-a-Lot, is a fiery, raw blend of blues and rock that makes the familiar seem new. (more…)
October 29, 2013 at 5:33 AM
It figures that Anthony Ray, better known by his hip-hop handle Sir Mix-a-Lot, is constantly inundated with requests to check out new artists. When you’ve won a Grammy and have one of the most instantly recognizable rap songs ever recorded, it goes with the territory. (more…)
October 29, 2013 at 3:18 AM
Ayron Jones, who self-releases his debut album “Dream” today, had quite a few interesting insights that we couldn’t fit in our print preview of his Saturday release party at Neumos. See what Jones had to say about working with Sir Mix-a-Lot, how hip-hop influences his music and why he wants to be known as more than just someone who can play the guitar. Be sure to check Soundposts later in the day for a Q&A with Sir Mix-a-Lot and a review of “Dream.”
Answers to burning questions after the jump.
October 7, 2013 at 12:10 PM
Two of Seattle’s hardest rocking bands celebrated the release of new material Friday at Neumos with a throbbing wall of sound that’s likely still got some ears ringing.
Hobosexual and Fox and the Law both have new albums out. “Hobosexual II” fits the duo’s M.O. perfectly. It’s a concept album set in the year 2071 that tells the story of a BMX biker gang (the Sex Destroyers) but all that is just an excuse for a furious barrage of guitarist and singer Ben Harwood’s slick, overpowering riffs and Jeff Silva’s thundering drums.
On Friday, Hobosexual used the heavy, slow-rolling blues-metal of “The Creep” to get things started. A standout track from “Hobosexual II,” it had just the right kind of menace to set the tone for the band’s set. (more…)
October 6, 2013 at 1:33 PM
By Charles R. Cross
It was no surprise that Gary Clark Jr. played a Jimi Hendrix song during his concert Saturday night at Seattle’s Neptune: Clark plays “Third Stone From the Sun” every night, segueing it into his own “If You Love Me Like You Say.” Furthermore, virtually every young guitar whiz that comes through town throws a Hendrix track into their repertoire.
But Clark stripped the song to its blues roots. As a result, “Third Stone” didn’t sound like a Hendrix cover, but instead just one more train stop on the long storied route coming up from the Delta. (more…)
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