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.

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