A blog for Seattle music lovers of all stripes, from hip-hop and indie rock to jazz and world music.
December 4, 2013 at 10:19 AM
It was cold, crisp and clear Tuesday afternoon as concertgoers lined up outside KeyArena for Deck the Hall Ball. But indoors it was snowing.
The snow was fake, or course, and confined to a giant video screen. But the flurries were just enough to lend a holiday vibe to 107.7 The End’s annual year-end concert, which featured such hot alternative-rock acts as Vampire Weekend, Phoenix, Alt-J and Seattle’s new-folk darlings, The Head and the Heart.
Seattle station KNDD has been staging its Deck the Hall Ball for more than 20 years as a well-stocked concert marathon for faithful listeners. This year’s holiday-themed concert also provided bands with a chance to thank the station, as well as fans, for their support.
The thank-yous came in the form of tight, spirited sets showcasing the bands’ best music. There were no shoe-gazers in this energetic lineup.
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 22, 2013 at 2:56 PM
The finale at this year’s Experience Music Project Founders Award tribute to Crosby, Stills and Nash could not have been more predictable, but it was also appropriate — and magical. EMP’s annual Founders Award raises money for the museum’s youth programs, and each year Paul Allen handpicks a superstar act to honor at the big-ticket gala. Past honorees have included Carlos Santana, Buddy Guy and Ann and Nancy Wilson.
This year’s event Thursday night was the best Founders ceremony yet, perhaps because CSN’s folk rock sensibility fits so perfectly with the current crop of Seattle musicians who toasted them. Over two hours, a dozen local stars — along with visitors like Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Jason Mraz and Shawn Colvin — played their favorite CSN songs. Usually tribute shows lag, but this one started great and got better.
The Head and the Heart seemed like a perfect fit early in the bill, and it was. Their take on “Simple Man” was sublime and drew rousing applause. Pete Droge and Elaine Summers did a moving “Our House” which ended, appropriately, with a photograph of their own home.
Sean Nelson chose to go deep for a Byrds’ song, “Everybody has Been Burned.” Backed by a crack house band (including guitar whiz Ian Moore) it had a biting energy. John Roderick took on “Southern Cross,” and pulled off the difficult vocal shifts.
But the musical highlight of the evening came with Brandi Carlile’s show-stopping performance of “Long Time Gone.” She sang it as if she were Janis Joplin mixed with Joni Mitchell, and it was just the right mix of rough and sweet.
It wasn’t just Carlile who made the song come alive — Stephen Stills came onstage to play guitar, and proved that he still has incredible chops. In his remarks, Paul Allen noted that EMP had been inspired by Jimi Hendrix, but “as an aspiring guitarist, I was pretty interested in Stephen’s playing. He’s a killer guitarist.” Allen is right.
Allen cited CSN’s harmony singing and songwriting, but also their ability to tackle political issues. Dan Rather had been at the event early on, as he’s profiling CSN for a television special. Krist Novoselic was also present, and played accordion in the lobby.
When Crosby, Stills and Nash finally took the stage themselves, Nash said, “I can’t tell you how special it is to hear musicians we respect doing songs we wrote.” All three members thanked the crowd, and Stills joked that winning awards was a sign they had gotten old.
In a fitting move, it was a group of young musicians — Vuga De, from EMP’s youth programs — who presented CSN their actual award. That was a perfect set up for the finale, which anyone who knew anything about CSN’s catalog could see coming.
The Founders Award celebration raises thousands of dollars that go to music education programs. If there’s an unofficial theme song to those efforts it must be CSN’s “Teach Your Children.” So on that classic, CSN was joined by a dozen Seattle musicians. It was a touching, and perfect way to end a special night.
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 8, 2013 at 1:29 PM
Pepper Proud tours the way a folk artist should. She’s just as likely to show up in someone’s living room as she is a club stage, and whenever she can, she camps out.
All that time outdoors gave Proud a deep appreciation for the one resource we absolutely cannot do without: water. It’s the reason she’s decided to dedicate her next album to exploring water’s impact on our lives. Her first song, “Salty Bodies,” is instructive.
Proud evokes images of nature and water before asking the essential question: “Aren’t we all just salty bodies waiting to come together in sweet community?”
Community means a lot to Proud. It’s what helped her make her release her debut album, “Riddles & Rhymes,” in 2012. Proud used Kickstarter to partially fund the album, raising $3,800.
“It was just the push I needed,” Proud said. “It felt good to have support from the community.”
Now Proud is hoping to get a second push as she works to raise enough money to release “The Water Chapter.” With 23 days to go in her Kickstarter campaign, she’s raised $4,247, just about half of the $8,888 she needs.
“I’ve done the part of my story that is specifically where I came from,” Proud said. “Water is something broader. If you can’t agree with people on that simple basis, that water is important, then something’s wrong.”
While the Kickstarter clock winds down, Proud will be back on the road playing house shows and living room concerts — intimate performances that Proud says are essential.
“It’s an opportunity to meet new people, tell them my story and get their feedback,” she said. “It’s been really sort of a trunk show.”
Proud ends her vagabond ways Dec. 1 at the Triple Door. By then, she’ll know whether or not she’s made enough money to enter the studio and write her next chapter.
-Owen R. Smith, on Twitter @inanedetails
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 29, 2013 at 11:15 AM
By Tom Keogh
Special to The Seattle Times
Some performers convey an instant intimacy with an audience, while some fill a concert hall the moment they step onto a stage with a large, personal presence.
Rufus Wainwright does both. Appearing at the Edmonds Center for the Arts Monday night (he’s in Olympia Tuesday and Tacoma Wednesday), Wainwright, 40, wore charisma as comfortably as his casual autumn wear (jeans and soft leather jacket), which he jokingly said made him “look like a Seattle person.” (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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