Sunday, May 6, 2012

Cheatin', Lyin', Lovin' and Cryin' at The Tractor 5-5-12

Cheatin', Lyin', Lovin' and Cryin' was the title of this gig and many of Seattle's best Country and Rockabilly musicians were on the bill. I had been keeping an eye on it for a couple weeks. There was a ton of great shows in town, it was Cinco de Mayo and every bar worth it's salt had live music. But this was the show for me, I was really looking forward to it.

This event was put together by a country group named Side Saddle, I had heard of them but never seen. I should have had them on my radar long ago, they are an awesome band with some killer musicians.  I bought a couple CD's and have been listening all morning; classic country, beautiful harmonies and dynamite guitar and keys.

They had invited a group of friends to play with them and the line up was impressive. It was set-up in such a way that there were two main bands that supported the myriad of other talent. Lucky Lawrence and his great band The Souvenirs were sandwiched by Side Saddle. Once each band established themselves and got comfy on stage, they started bringing up their buddies.

The personnel change was at a quick pace, they had a lot of talent to showcase and they started moving great folks up to add their voice to the mix. I was having a hard time keeping up at first and I hope I am not making any mistakes as I scribe the names of the players. Please forgive if I am confused for I am just a wanna-be watching your world with awe. If you have a comment there is space below to leave one or two.

Side Saddle is: Kato Moody on vocals, Brooke Asbury on vocals, fiddle and banjo, Lexi Morritt on vocals, the infamous Robert Lee Mitchell on keys, Robbie Johnston on acoustic guitar, Anthony Haugen on bass, the incredible Dave Harmonson on pedal steel and lead guitar and another great, Dave Warburton on drums. A wonderful collection of artists that obviously love what they do.

They have 3 gorgeous girls up front that are striking in looks and beautiful in their harmonies. They pay homage to the great women singers in country history; Loretta, Patsy, Emmy Lou et all. I heard all of that and more this evening. Stunning.

 I had seen Brooke out and about at various events, she has a lot of talent and a great voice. She also always has a smile on her face, I like that. Kato sings lead vocal and has a classically beautiful voice. Tall and blonde, she also has a commanding stage presence. Lexi was cute and funny, also with a awesome voice.

The band was stellar. Of course, Robert Lee on the ivories. He is the preferred keyboard man for any country band in Seattle. He plays in The Jukehouse Hounds with 3 other insanely talented and well known Seattle musicians. See The Jukehouse Hounds here:

Country Dave is the pedal-steel and solid-body lead guitar player, he is a marvelous musician. I have never heard but that will show you how out of touch I am, he is obviously a veteran of stage and screen. I was fixated on his play, phenomenal guitarist.

Dave W is in back banging on the skins and keeping the kiddies honest with his strong beats. He was having fun playing the whole collection of pots and pans he had arrayed in front of him. I guess there is more than one way to coax great sound out of that drum set.

Robbie looks like he just got out of high school, young looking, but plays like a pro. Anthony had a smile on his mug and he laid down the bottom for the band. The whole band was working like one to deliver the killer country music the crowd was craving.

The theme tonight was expressed by the content of the tunes. Songs about cheatin' spouse's, lyin' lovers, failed lovin' and sad songs about cryin' over a beer. What a great premise for a night of fun. In tune with the evening the Tractor had a Drink Special; The Hank and Willie, a Rainier and a shot of whiskey for 8 bones.

The first guest's on stage were Kim Field and Lisa Theo. I was surprised to see Kim without his harp, this guy can play a harmonica that puts the Harmonicat's to shame. Instead he and Lisa sang a couple of great duets. I am sorry I didn't get a shot of them, it was getting crowded and it was a fight to get up close enough to get a decent shot.

Another sweet voice added to the mix tonight was that of Kaylee Cole. A beautiful voice and lovely delivery, she sang a couple nice country tunes. I am sorry I didn't get a decent pic of her.

A couple more sweet tunes from Side Saddle and they forfeited the stage to Lucky Lawrence and The Souvenirs. One of my current favorites, Lucky on lead vocals and rhythm guitar, Jack Hanan on bass, Randy on lead and pedal-steel guitar, and Perry Morgan on drums play some of the best country and rock in town. I have reviewed them several times, I will go out of my way to see this collection of great musicians.

Here are a couple of the previous posts: here:

The Souvenirs are tight and talented, each guy adding his expertise to the mix. This is the time I usually gush about Randy and his steel playing. There is just something about seeing him hunched over the pedal-steel that makes me happy, the slightest touch of his pics on the strings make the place rock. He is equally great at the solid body, but I am most satisfied when he is sitting.

Jack is having the most fun of anyone on stage. He and I exchanged smiles as he was laying down the grove for he rest of the boys. A marvelous musician, I will bet he is a great guy too.

Perry is in back having his way with his play-set. He is another one who is very creative when it comes to making cool sounds come out of his drum set. He was playing the rims in very neat ways. I have seen him several times, I never get tired of this band.

Of course, Lucky and his beautiful voice is in front and amazing. They played their usual great stuff; some covers, some Souvenir music from the new and old. Whether they are playing country or some of the root-rock stuff I have been hearing from them lately, they always have the crowd hanging on every tune. A Northwest gem, I hope you can experience them soon. See them here:

I have been getting comments from a gent name Thunder on the Souvenirs. You can see some of his additions at the bottom of one of the posts on Lucky. He has been very informative, I appreciate his input. If you have something to add, I encourage it.

They got the kiddies warmed up for the next round of celebs to hit the stage. Roy Kay with his suave looks and marvelous voice mounted up. His face is so expressive as he was singing the weasel grasping songs that were becoming de rigueur for the evening. I love Roy and his signature guitar, it was no surprise he was going to be on stage this evening. He sang a couple wonderful duets with Brooke as the bones of the Souvenirs backed him up. This was fun.

 A couple more tunes from Lucky and the stage was owned by Side Saddle again. The gorgeous trio of vocalist's wowed the crowd again before bringing in another guest. Bryan John Appleby and his band came in and sang some sweet original tunes.

I do not have all the info on the band that played this evening. Bryan had a great voice and played a guitar high on his chest. His voice just did not fit the body; a gorgeous delicate voice inside Bigfoot's body. I can talk because I am Bigfoot's cousin. Surprising and entertaining. This was a nice albeit laid-back set.

Side Saddle decided they would wake us all up with another set of killer tear-jerkers and other assorted lyin' and lovin' songs. I really like this group, they have a lot of energy and presence. See them here, buy their CD:

The fun didn't stop there, they had a more favorites waiting in the wings. I had seen Mark Pickerel smooching with his honey over on the side of the stage. I wasn't going anywhere until he had a chance to do his thing.

I had seen Mark with his band the Praying Hands a couple years ago. I loved but never managed to get to see him again. He was the last man standing and he took the stage singing a duet with Kato. He also did a solo with Side Saddle backing him up. I love his style and even though he didn't think he gave the best performance, I thought it was great.

Check out Mark and his cool style here:

This was a killer evening of country music Seattle Style. Thanks to Side Saddle for set up this super bill and to all the artists who entertained the packed crowd. I didn't mention it but there was dancing up near the stage all evening. I like to get right down next to the stage but it was trench warfare down there. If you wanted to stay up close you had to be prepared for a few bruises. I was weened in the mosh pits of punk shows, it usually take a few broken bones before I will give up my perch to the show.

I can't blame all my crummy photography on the jostling I got down there, but it didn't help. I will return with a new camera next round, hopefully I can capture better images.

This was a great show and what a way to go out. I will be taking a break from the blog for a while, the sun has come out here in the Pacific Northwest and I want to spend some time gathering some rays. I will be reporting in at times but won't be spending the 4-5 hours every weekend day writing. I know I will miss it, but if I have a fishing pole in my hand, the loss will be a little easier to take.

Don't forget to listen to KEXP, Kevin Cole's afternoon show is stellar, then right after on Fridays is Shake the Shack, streaming from: choose Leon Berman at the DJ window and choose your show and method of delivery. He is  live on 90.3 FM Friday's 6-9pm Pacific Standard Time. There is also an app for that. Best radio on the planet.

Have a great summer season, I will send missives from the middle of the lake; shirt off, pole in hand, osprey circling above and a song in my heart.

Til then, thanks for reading...out.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

The 1Uppers, Twang Junkies and The Drama Dodgers at Slim's 4-4-12

I was really looking forward to writing this post. I didn't hit the sack until 2am, even so I woke up at 6 and started to think about last night. Truth be told I didn't get up until 8, I spent the 2 hours dreaming of a big rock candy mountain.

When I finally got up, I started the day with a delicious Starbucks Americano (tall, quad, with room...strong). Besides being a proud partner in this wonderful company, I like their coffee. Some say it is over roasted, I disagree. If you want a lighter roast, they have it. But nothing beats a cup of Sumatra or an espresso drink for flavor.

I started thinking about how much fun the previous evening was, I was getting excited about sitting down with the MacBook Air and smacking at some buttons.

Slims is a great venue, I have slobbered over them before but let's run down the list really fast: Great bar and ambiance, good strong drinks and lots of micro-brews on tap, good site lines to see the bands, plenty of seating, places to dance, free self-serve water (important if you are going to dance all night long), great parking and Jim, the sound tech. Perfect venue for live music. I have seen and reviewed many shows at Slim's, one of my favorites.

See them here:

The booking agent for Slims put together an inspired bill tonight. I have seen a lot of mixed-genre shows, some more successful than others. This was a nice mix tonight, mainly country with a side of, well that is still yet to be determined.

The first band was not to be labeled. Later, I asked Mike (Mickey Hell), the lead singer/guitar-crazy man in front what do you call that stuff? He said, that is exactly what I am trying to do. I understood. But in the end it didn't matter, I liked it all.

Mickey Hell is the front man that writes the tunes and sets the course for the band was entertaining, funny and played a killer guitar.  He obviously doesn't have any fun...he came on stage wearing an odd smock like thing. It was reminiscent of something out of King Arthur's Court. Draped over the shoulders and buttoned to a chest piece; weird with a beard!

All worries were dispelled by the second bar of their first tune, they were great. A trio; Chris Youngblood on bass guitar, Bill Ibsen on the drum set and Mike on lead guitar. A great group of talented musicians.

Chris was a big guy who had a great style and added excellent vocals. He was featured on several tunes. My favorite was when he started off with a bass solo; he played No Quarter, a total psychedelic Led Zeppelin tune, and set the knowing few nodding their heads in appreciation. This tune morphed into a psychedelic/rock/punk medley that had stops and starts, changes of pace and crazed vocals by Mr. Hell. It was transcendent; they moved into another plane of consciousness. I loved it.

Chris also spent a lot of time airborne. He emphasized his enthusiasm by regularly jumping up and crashing back down to the stage. A big guy, I am sure he caused a minor quake in the Georgetown area.

They bill themselves as Rockin' Psychedelic Jazz Blues country Novelty Funk. They nailed all of them.

Mike was adept at writing and performing humorous novelty tunes. Many smiles were seen as he described some pretty funny scenes from his sick mind. You Can't Copyright I Love You was just the tip of the iceberg for this cool band. Even as he made you laugh, the great vibes came through. This was a skilled and talented band.

Bill played a really cool black drum set. The normally chrome parts were all black, powder-coated or anodized I couldn't tell. He played them as good as they looked. He had to be skilled as in a trio the drummer is even more important than usual. There is no place to hide. He was killin' the skins, and he had quite the task trying to keep up with the brain-addled front-man. I watched him closely, as the pace picked up so did his skill level. He had a big smile on his face; born to rock I assume. Awesome!

The last tune was funk with all the previous descriptors thrown in. Tremendous end to their great set.

Mike spent the rest of the show wandering around with a big smile on his face. He had pleased the crowd and now basking in the glow (of that and the tall PBR's he was imbibing), he was dancing visiting and generally having a good time. I talked to him several times, a sweet fellow.

See them here:

The next band was called the Twang Junkies, a left turn from what we just saw. I had seen them waiting for their turn in the back. I was salivating, it looked just like the stuff I came to see.

And they didn't disappoint. Right from the start they played with skill and passion that had me up and moving. I was going to love this set.

They played mostly covers with great original arrangements. One of my favorite tunes was a cover of Sorrow originally performed by David Bowie. A dynamite rendition that had every body rocking. This band had all the hallmarks of classic country with original translations. Really great stuff, my butt was shakin' and my head was bobbing for the whole set.

Twang Junkies are: Geoff on guitar and vocals, Pat on guitar (and what a guitar) and vocals, Scott on drums, Mark on pedal steel (another beautiful instrument) and John on Bass. I would say they are one of the best country bands I have seen in recent memory.

Geoff had a great set of pipes and delivered all with a sense of humor. He had a lot of fun up there, he was sending out happy vibes. He played rhythm and sang most of the lead. He and most of his mates had distinctive hats. His looked like it had been stuffed in a pocket, manhandled by a pissed off lover, and customized mostly by his dog Blue who got a hold of it just before the show.

The lead guitar player had the most beautiful instrument. A huge Gretsch White Falcon guitar that almost dwarfed its genius handler. Pat was killin' the strings, playing with skill and passion. I know nothing about vibrating those strings OK, but I know what I like. I liked Pat's style and method of delivery. I got to talk with his wife during their set. His beautiful guitar was a 50th birthday present. Freaking well deserved.

Another marvelous part of the guitar troupe was Mark on pedal steel. Playing on a lovely bright orange two-neck steel, he laid down some of the tastiest guitar of the evening. I am sucker for the steel and he hit all my buttons.

The bass player had another gorgeous instrument, this band had great taste in their choice of musical side-kicks. His hollow body guitar had a marvelous sound as he laid down the bottom for the band. John also added great vocals.

The drummer was working in back, laying down the beat, setting the pace. The only guy without a hat for good reason. Scott was working those drums, fun to watch.

I could have listened to them all evening. The last tune was a Johnny Cash Medley, absolutely smashing. They had all the faves mixed into a marvelous show and tell of the band's talent. Pat again made me slack jawed with his licks. Mark was stellar, picking that beautiful steel. Geoff trading lead vocals with Pat; this was the good stuff, the best stuff. It was the kind of experience that I just wish I could put in a jar and open later when I need a lift.

I cannot wait to see them again, I talked with Geoff and Mark after their set. I was able to worship them in my usual adoring manner, and found out they will be playing on the truck at Slim's in June. If you have a chance see these guys, do so, they will make you smile.

See them here:

While I was sad to the see the Junkies leave the stage,  The 1Uppers were up next. These are the group of talented musicians I came to see.

I consider The 1Uppers to be one of the Premier Country Bands in Seattle. I have seen a lot of marvelous musicians but nobody is as consistently great as they are. I am biased as I am a HydeHead. Jon Hyde is the pedal-steel guitar player, vocalist and writer of many tunes for The 1Uppers. He is also a coworker and a friend so take all I write with a grain of sand.

I did get up close and watch him work. It is amazing at the incredibly light touch he uses when playing his steel. So much beautiful sound with just a light pick.

I also worship at the altar of Hendow, the very talented lead guitar player. I melt as he brings out his beautiful baritone guitar. Having a very distinctive sound, it is a treat for all as his skillful hands coax out the most gorgeous deep sound.

Buzz on the bass is steady and quietly laying down the bottom for the boys. You wouldn't know to watch him, but I have seen them enough to know he has fun. His stoic manner cannot hide his love for the music.

Eric is in the back caressing the skins and keeping the boys in line. He is not always with the band and it is always nice to see him.

Dave is up front, singing awesome lead vocals, playing his acoustic guitar. He writes many of the tunes and is a is a marvelous front man for this dynamite band.

Just a side note; I have noticed that Dave records all the shows. As one of their biggest fans I am wondering why those examples of loveliness haven't been made public. Those of us who as in the words of Jonathon of the Black Crabs, love me some 1Uppers, would love to have something to rock to; in the car, while at work, at the beach, relaxing with Fido or anytime we want to be transported to a better world. Can you post some of those tunes Dave?

They played all of my favorites; Ophelia, Halfway home, all great original tunes. I cannot say enough about the talent and passion that is delivered during one of their sets.

I have reviewed them many times, you can read about how much I love them here:
here: and here:

There are actually more posts in there, dig around a little. In summary, I would drop my shorts to see The 1Uppers, anytime, any place. One of the best country bands in Seattle.

See the 1Uppers for yourself here:

There is a killer show tonight that I can't miss. The Tractor is hosting Cheatin', Lyin', Lovin' and Cryin' featuring Lucky Lawrence and The Souvenirs, Roy Kay, Side Saddle, Kim Field, Mark Pickerel and other greats. It should be a ton of fun. Look for my report tomorrow. Until then, out.