Saturday, November 24, 2012

The Rainieros, Casey Ruff and the Mayors of Ballard and Harley Bourbon at Conor Byrne 11-23-12

It was a memorable evening the last time I saw Casey and Liam play on the same bill . It was one of the funnest and my latest evenings of the year. Both bands come with their own fans and the atmosphere is always jovial and happy.

You can read my post on the last time I saw them together here:

Conor Byrne is a marvelous venue for live music, I have been here many times before as the environment is right and the bands lean country. Matt is the sound-tech and he always has it dialed in for the artists and the audience. They serve excellent drinks and have a lot of seating. See them here:

There is Matt on the left.

I drink Chopper's Red Ale when I am there. It is a big ale; spicy and malty with a touch of sweetness. Seattle, like many large cities has some great breweries. You can read about The Georgetown Brewing Company and Chopper's Red Ale here:

There was a young man on stage when we walked in. I am sorry that I didn't get his name, I didn't see him on the bill, I will try to retrieve. He was singing melancholy tunes of angst and love. The crowd consisted of folks that were not necessarily there for the music. He didn't get a lot of love.

He soldiered on and did an admirable job performing all original tunes; an obviously talented singer/song writer.

Harley Bourbon was the next band up and I had seen them in the crowd. They came with their own bunch of fans. Here they are getting ready to rock.

They delivered a power packed punch from the first note. They started fast and got faster as they rocked through their set. Harley Bourbon was first formed out of Mossy Rock and Ocean Shore, Washington. The band said the trip to Seattle was arduous, as it was a rainy, dark day.

They play a dynamite mix of outlaw country and punk, their energy infectious. The dancers were spinning and the crowd was up close and grooving.

 Harley Bourbon is John Forrest on lead vocals and guitar, Collin Rhoton on lead guitar and vocals, Casey Cathcart on stand-up bass and vocals and Maxine Roach on percussion. They have a great website, I am listening to a bunch of tunes right now online. Check it out here:

They have a killer style, part Johnny Rotten part Steve Earl. John's voice is great; he growls and purrs stellar vocals on mostly original tunes. Collin's guitar was authentic punk/grunge, a really nice twist to this dirty-country band. Casey and his stand-up bass was perfect, added just the right touch. Maxine kept the band honest and played driving percussion.

They had great three-part harmony. Much of their music was country leaning, but then Collin and Casey would add these screaming the true punks that they are. This was fresh, fun music, the crowd was loving and dancing.

I bought a couple t-shirts wanting to make sure I supported them. We are lucky to have awesome bands like this visit big town, I sure will pitch in to help them with gas money. Here is a pic of the cute girl that was selling the shirts.

Next up was Casey Ruff and The Mayors of Ballard, a talented group of local musicians. I had seen one incarnation of the band before, when they had a female keyboard player at that time. I did recognize the lead guitarist and the bass player, not so sure about the drummer and the piano player was definitely on loan.

Casey is an awesome entertainer. He has a killer voice with huge lungs of power. He wouldn't need a mike and at times and just stood back and let the vocals fly sans mike. The first tune Stop Me, set the tone for the evening. A rocking tune featuring Casey's ample pipes, is also a great example of Casey's writing talent.

I know that David Busby was on bass and Dan Walker was playing lead guitar. I think I heard that Kubby Casual was on drums and Charles Wicklander (guest star) on piano. The band is tight and absolutely drives hard with every tune. They were hot tonight, everybody was happy to be there and it showed.

Casey and his mates play a hard rock with an alternate country bend. Excellent musicians playing great original music.

Talking To Myself was a dynamite tune, Casey crooning at the top of his lungs with the band jamming behind him. Great stuff tonight, the place was packed. There was even a fist-fight at the door as a crush of music seekers tried to get in.

Casey is one of the bartenders at The Tractor when he is not entertaining. He is a Montana native and has that burly look to him. However, he sings like a bird. I always look forward to seeing him. You can see him here:

Liam Fitzgerald and The Rainieros were the next band on stage; they are one of my favorites. They play a classic but wonderfully fresh version of western swing. I hadn't seen this version of the band before even though they have been performing like this for some time. It was nice to see the addition of a fiddle to Liam's group of musicians.

They started the evening off with Driving Nails in My Coffin, a swinging version of the classic country tune. Liam plays acoustic guitar and sings lead vocals, Nick Streeter plays lead guitar, Nicole on fiddle and vocals, Donnie Staff on drums and Tyler Johnson on bass.

I have seen Nick Streeter many times and he is becoming a great guitarist. Every time I see him he gets a little better. He is clean and crisp as his fingers glide over the strings.

They did a lot of their best tunes; What Would You Do, Last Call and Let's Go Out Tonight were done with the usual skill and passion I am used to seeing with this band.

Liam always dedicates a song to his wife Emily, who is always in attendance. Tonight he sent out Walking, one of the tunes he wrote for her. Liam is a accomplished writer and has a beautiful voice. He writes a lot of their tunes and you can purchase his CD here: I have it and love it, western swing at it's best.

The Rainieros also do some great covers, tonight they did one from the great Faron Young and one from Ray Price, both legendary honky-tonkers. They had the dancers up and moving.

The fiddle added a great sound to the classic western swing sound of Liam and his mates. I have heard them with a pedal-steel and loved, I love this brand too. Nicole added great vocals to her stellar fiddle play.

Tyler drives a mean stand-up bass, he is fun to watch as he lays the bottom and drives the band with his fingers-a-plunking.

Donnie is a sweet drummer and a fun guy. I see him at events and shows, he always has a smile on his face. A good sign. Tonight he finished Long, Long Goodbye with a Cha Cha Cha riff, fun stuff.

I love Liam and his fun music, it always makes me smile and feel good. My wife and I are having our 30th wedding anniversary party and selected our 3 favorite bands to play. Liam and The Rainieros were one of our choices.

See Liam here:

Be sure to buy his CD and support this marvelous music. We are lucky to have Liam and The Rainieros as a resource for authentic western swing and honky-tonk in this neck of the woods.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Davidson Hart Kingsbery and Annie Ford Band at The Royal Room 11-17-12

I needed my dose of country this weekend so I headed for The Royal Room in the Colombia City area of Seattle. This neighborhood has been getting significantly remodeled in the last few years. There is a new major commercial presence; restaurants, bars and boutiques are popping up everywhere.

The Royal Room is one fairly new restaurant/bar and has been opened since 2011. They have a great approach to live music. The place is designed with musicians in mind. They have a spacious stage complete with 2 pianos and a sweet sound board capable of high-end recording. The owner, Wayne Horvitz is a musician himself and the end product is superb sound for the audience.

Here is lousy pic of the bar.

Here is the sound guy doing his job.

They also have a fresh approach to paying the talent. There is no cover charge, rather there is an envelope on the table. You are asked to donate to the bands in this manner. I like it as I never feel the bands get enough for their efforts. I always donate generously.

See Wayne and The Royal Room here:

The Annie Ford Band was up first tonight. I have seen and loved them before, you can read that review here:

They play a cool mix of country and swing with twists thrown in to keep you on your toes. One of their songs features Annie on fiddle sounding as much like David Laflamme as can be. Gotta Kill the Rooster was a blast, swinging with great solos by all.

The Annie For Band is: Annie Ford on vocals, guitar, banjo, violin and viola, Olie Eshleman on pedal steel and electric guitar, Matt Manges on drums and vocals, Ivan Molten on bass and Tim Sargent on acoustic guitar and banjo. They play sweet original ballads that make you want to cry, then pick you up with hip shaking swing tunes.

Annie has a great voice and is as cute as a bug. She was wearing some great hose tonight.

Olie plays a beautiful pedal steel guitar. I love the sounds he can coax out of it, from the traditional country twang to soaring psychedelia.

I messaged with him a bit and he told me that his instrument was hand-made by The Williams Guitar Company. They are a family run business, each customer gets personal attention. Olie said that there are no real pedal steel sales in the area. He researched this special instrument and bought it without playing it first. He was very happy with the results and so am I.

They make gorgeous steel guitars, more like little jewels. You can see these beautiful guitars here:

He also played a gorgeous Bixby Gretsch.

Matt, who I suspect is romantically linked to Annie (sorry, I am not up to date on all relationships here), writes a lot of the music they play. Great original tunes that tell some interesting stories.

Tim, the acoustic guitarist also played the banjo. There was a lot of terrific original music coming from Annie and her mates.

I just purchased their music on Bandcamp. Dirty Hearts and Broken Dishes is stellar, I am listening now. This is the best way to support these wonderful artists. It was cheap, 5 bucks...drop the dime here:

This was good original music played with passion and skill. They were fun to see, super entertaining. I had been looking forward to hearing them again and they did not disappoint. See Annie and the band here:

One more pic, loved the hose.

Davidson Hart Kingsbery was up next. I had seen the lead singer once before, he performed at the 8th Annual Elvis Tribute put on by Roy Kay. He has a great voice, sometimes reminding me of Steve Earle, sometimes sounding like Top Jimmy (of The Rhythm Pigs).

Davidson Hart Kingsbery is: Hart Kingsbery on lead vocals and acoustic guitar, Ben Strehle on keys, Eric Himes on bass, Dean Johnson on lead guitar and vocals and Bryan Crawford on drums.

They play original country music influenced by Charlie Rich, Johny Cash, Loretta Lynn and Buck Owens among others. This was a marvelous mix, the result being a happy bunch of dancers. As soon as they hit the stage the dance floor was packed.

There were super tasty licks being delivered by Dean and his beautiful gold Les Paul guitar.

Eric played a Hofner bass guitar, the same one that Paul McCartney used to play in that first group of his...what was that, Wings? It is a tiny little thing but Eric coaxed the most out of it, driving the band with a steady beat.

Hart growls at times, croons at others; he has a big range. He and the band make killer music; wonderful harmonies and a passionate delivery. I was loving every tune.

Ben had played a cool red Nord keyboard. I love the addition of the keyboards in a country band. It really adds a lot to the mix.

I just downloaded their newest music, 2 Horses is available here for your download. Support them and get some great music at the same time.

Mysterious and Secret was a awesome tune, Hart was incredible as he growled out the vocals. The audience loved them and hooting and big applause followed every tune.

This was a fun night, I was really glad I got the opportunity to see this band. Hart had been on my radar for almost a year. I discovered what the buzz was all about; he is great.

Here is one more link to them via Facebook. Like them, I am sure they like you.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

The Slags, SmoKing Bill and Zappa Early Renaissance Orchestra at Darrells 11-16-12

It was an interesting mix of music tonight. In true fashion, Darrells presented another eclectic show that always manages to please.

Darrells is my front room, one of my favorite places to see live music. The people are amazing, the adult beverages are varied, reasonably priced and plentiful and the environment is comfortable and welcoming. This evening proved to be extra special as they added a new sound system. You can see a peek of it here on the right.

Dan is the owner and I got to talk with him at length. He saw a set of speakers that he just had to have at American Music here in Seattle. They have been providing musicians with instruments, amps and speakers for years. See them here:

I am sure Scott, the sound tech and co-booking agent was thrilled to see the new addition. The vintage, tri-amped McCauley speaker towers complete with incredible thumping sub-woofers marked a phenomenal change in the sound. Without being overwhelming, it was a physical experience as you could feel the bass in your gut. Overall, it was an awesome upgrade; a wonderful investment and addition to the already great sound at Darrells.

The first band didn't challenge the big new sound system. Zappa Early Renaissance Orchestra had an interesting concept and sound. I can find no information on them at all and truth be told I spent most of their set talking.

The band was skilled and talented; one played a stand up bass, one a small tenor ukelele(?) and the other a clarinet. Their repertoire was instrumental versions of Zappa tunes.

I am not a huge connoisseur of Zappa but know a few tunes. I heard some of snippets of recognizable songs tonight. This was an interesting interpretation of the great one's music.

SmoKing Bill was on next and I recognized a few of the members of this band. I had seen some of the brass section before. This mix was delicious; I love horns and they had a full front line of them.

SmoKing Bill is: Jesse Calixto on lead vocals and guitar, Adam Bruno on trumpet, Ed Littlefield on drums, Mike Ayre on trombone, Brian Mueller on trombone and Ben Dietzen on bass.

They played tunes with names like Hemp, Hemp, Hemp and In the Land of Cheese. While many of their tunes were of the novelty type, they did absolutely rock. The horns were singing the good stuff, Ben on bass was killing and Jesse sang some hilarious vocals.

The drummer was great. H5ere Ed is playing some awesome percussion.

These guys were having a lot of fun. They invited the clarinet player from the previous band to sit in for a couple tunes. The addition of the clarinet to this already dynamite brass section was killer.

Ben was outrageous on the bass, one of the best I have heard in a while. He played with his back to the audience for the most part, here I caught him making a rare appearance.

They had a strong ska beat mixed with funk and rock. It was really a lot of fun for the audience too. They brought their own fan club. The place was filled with adoring fans, this guy was dancing up a storm.

I found their sound to be fresh and original; they also had a great stage show. Here they are doing a little leg kick with some of the fans rocking along.

This was a super entertaining show, they had the place cooking with their brand of fun. You can see more about them here:

Here is evidence of their crazy fans; this cute girl was doing a little improv-theater for the lead singer Jesse, as he sat at the bar after their set.

I have to add one more photo as I found them to be a lot of fun, see them if you get a chance.

Next up were The Slags, a collection of cool guys playing garage music with a vintage sound. I heard 80's punk, reggae and rock in their sound.

By this time the crowd had thinned, the fans of SmoKing Bill had left for parts unknown. But The Slags were rocking none the less. The Slags are: Bill Curtin on guitar and vocals, Mark Curtin on drums, Tim Healy on guitar and vocals, Steve Schwartz on bass and as of right now, an unknown woodwind player.

They played original punk inspired songs with names like Slag Heap and 8-Track. The former reminding me of Lou Reed in the vocals and intent. The guitar work was super strong. Here is Tim killing his beautiful 6 string.

A trip to the punk side of things, The Slags had a great sound and stage presence.

8-Track has a strong reggae beat, the vocals are sung in a heavy bass voice. Big reverb and killer psychedelic guitar makes this tune a total-recall of vintage garage rock.

They reminded me of bands I used to see in the small clubs in LA in the early 80's.

I have listened to some of their music online sans saxophone and I really like the new sound. The mystery man was multi-talented playing the alto and baritone saxophone as well as a flute. He added a lot to the mix tonight.

A good time was had by all. The Slags were a blast. They had a vintage sound with a marvelous twist, wonderful original live music.

I like a band that comes with its own light show, the sign of experienced, total-theater performers.

You can see and hear The Slags here:

You can see Darrells and the calendar of upcoming bands here: