Sunday, January 29, 2012

Country Swing at Darrell's; The Barn Door Slammers, Knut Bell and the Blue Collars and the Rainieros

Darrell's smells like a gym; the later it gets the more it smells like your sweaty high school locker room. Close, musty, moist...just like you want your local bar to feel like. Let's dance, let's sweat, let your hair down and let's have workout!

This evening offered a ton of different kinds of music. There were two shows; The early show (7:30) featured what was called hard driving rock/blues/indie rock. The second show was billed as western swing. I did not plan on attending the first show but as it turned out I ended up seeing the last of that show. I am glad I did.

Can't say for sure who proceeded Brett Netson as apparently one band canceled. I looked at the bill but since I didn't see any body previous to him I cannot say for sure who played. My pal Mark and I arrived at 9:15 and the music was screaming out the front door; it wasn't country swing. The schedule was off and the band onstage wasn't giving up the stage anytime soon.

Brett Netson is a member of Built to Spill. Pardon my ignorance, I have heard of...good things. Turns out there is another member of the same band named Brett Nelson. Damn I bet those boys are sick of getting confused.

They were playing a killer grunge/metal tune (sorry, I am sure they hate guys like me pigeon-holing them); Brett's guitar blasting out heavy licks, the band rocking away. It was great; I have not heard that much raw sound coming from 4 guys in a long time. I cannot comment any further except to say I liked it. I want to hear more.

They ran over a good 45 minutes but the crowd was loving it anyway. I was starting to take notice of said crowd; it was filling up with some the Seattle Rockabilly Royalty. Kirsten and Jonathan from the Black Crabs, Roy Kay, others too, I recognized but couldn't identify at the time. It turned out that some of those folks were serious Seattle Rock Royalty. Duff McKagan and the members of his band Loaded were in the front row. I was sitting next to a guy who was very familiar with Brett, he was amazed at the sound in this crummy little tavern. The buzz was great in the room; a lot of great musicians in one place at one time.

By he time the Barn Door Slammers came on it was well after 10. I had seen some of them in the audience and was pleased to see the same guys setting up; Pedal steel, Stand up bass, Lead guitar, Fiddle and Percussion. Dan, Todd, David, Kevin and Tommy played to a rapt audience, they were expected. They are based in Portland, here is a link to their site:

Think The Fly-Rite Boys minus Big Sandy...all killer instrumentals with none of the messy vocals. They were a ton of fun and played quality swing. All were exceptional musicians; I especially loved the pedal steel-lead and the lead guitarists.

The gent on steel was very quiet and conservative but and he played some beautiful music on his guitar. I moved up close and watched him; he had a beautiful instrument, a vintage triple-decker pedal steel. He was amazing but rarely looked up and sheepishly acknowledged the cheers of the crowd. I can't wait to see/hear him again. I talked with Jon Hyde of the 1Uppers about Todd, he tells me that he is the builder of his beautiful instrument. He is the owner/operator of Clinesmith Instruments; he hand makes Hawaiian, Resonator and Steel guitars. Jon says they are the bomb! Here is a link to his site:

One of the things I love about Darrell's is that if you want you can literally sit-in with the band; it is that tight. I love to go to the pisser as you come within inches of the band. I was able to stand just feet away from this amazing artist and his amazing birds-eye maple guitar.

The lead guitar was a curly dark haired genius who played like he was born to hold the guitar. I loved his passion and obvious joy at the chance of playing that evening. He telegraphed to the entire audience that he was having fun. I talked to him later an he was obviously pleased that he had fans. I introduced myself later to him and the drummer; the spokesman for the band.

The fiddle was great, he was enjoying himself. He has fun=he plays great=we have fun! A smile on his face was clearly visible as he finished his solos adding the string layer to the already rich sound. The audience cheered after every touch to his violin.

The guy playing stand up bass was also passionate and talented. A tall toehead with a great smile. Bobbing, rocking, jamming but contained and fairly conservative. The passion showed through; these guys were doing what they love and making some great music.

The drummer was the spokesman and the joker. He had some funny remarks in between his stellar percussion work.

I am looking forward to hearing some more of their stuff. They were in town recording at Roy Kay's studio so they will have something soon.

This just in the Slammers will be in town, March 24th at Slim's with the Black Crabs. This will be a great show; Slim's is a wonderful venue; small and close-in, great sound and good food. (edit 1/31/12 7pm)

Up next was Knut Bell and the Blue Collars. I have liked them for some time, seen them several times over the years. Steve, the Rusty Trusty Scribe (Shake the Shack co-host), is a friend and was the drummer for some time. He has since moved on, he is the percussionist for the Rat City Brass. I still love Knut.

Knut has a great presence and voice. Leon Berman would call it a Baso-Profundo voice. Low but smooth; he projects well and has a classic delivery. I never get tired of Knut.

I loved his guitarists brethren. The pedal steel was a small quiet gent who sat this instrument and calmly delivered killer licks. I love guys like this; oh me..I just do my thing (originally and creatively) and try to fit in well with the band. He also played a lead ax at times, still seated he was accomplished and entertaining.

The other lead looks like your classic country outlaw and plays a guitar to match. Grady has long blonde hair, a big light colored cowboy hat and plays a great country guitar. He displays the love and passion for this music the made me fall in love with it.

Chicken Gizzard's and ICE COLD BEER...yells the crowd as he and band leads them in one of their favorites.

It was a killer evening and because the whole thing was running late I left after Knut's last lick. Liam and the Rainieros were still on their way, it was 1am. I limped home with a wonderful ringing in my ears. I was sorry I couldn't stay for more.

Thanks again to Darrell's, Scott the sound-man and the artists who came out to entertain. It was incredible fun for 7 bucks.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Wylie and The Wild West at the Tractor 1-21-12


Remember the yodel from the internet company Yahoo? Wylie Gustafson is the man behind the voice. This guy is a force of nature; he is a multi-talented maniac who tames wild horses, ranches 100 miles from the nearest civilization and sings cowboy songs.

I have rarely seen such a prolific gentleman as he. He has been playing with his band for 20 years and produced over 17 albums.

He has his own horse training center in Conrad Montana. He trains horses for cutting and sorting cows, shit, I didn't think they did that stuff anymore. Here is the link to his site:

I could have seen him before but I put it off. This all-seated show offered the chance to see him on an early Saturday evening. He was releasing his 17th album and he had a special CD release party at the Tractor. This early (5pm) show gave me the chance to date the lovely Mrs. Ghia. I was really happy that she was able to join and as it turned out she had a gas.

The audience was quite a bit different than I am used to, lately I have seen bands that attract a younger set. This crowd was much older and crustier. He draws a cowboy crowd, but also baby boomers (yours truly belongs to this group) who like country. It was all sit down, weird to see at the Tractor. But it was quite nice, I sat in back so I could stand and dance. There were few opportunities to dance for anybody else.

And shoot, you just had to move to Wylie and his band. He is the most animated performer you ever have seen; James Brown, Jackie Wilson and Mata Hari all wrapped into one. He slithered like a snake, he bobbed like a chicken, he glided across the stage, he knocked his knees and a sang like a bird.

I was amazed at his voice. He is known for yodeling; incredible voice control and such a beautiful pitch. He sang several tunes A capella doing Buddy Holly's True Love Ways, amazing. The yodeling was cool too, he added several tunes that pleased the crowd.

After 20 years his main band members left for other pastures. He had a new lead guitar and a new bass guitar. Neither had been to the big city before, the lead was 21 and played quite conservatively. There were times when we could barely hear him, they did crank it up in the second half. The drummer was from Spokane (my hometown) and also added vocals. He was accomplished and looked comfortable backing the crazy man up front.

I would have liked to see him when he had his old band. Although Wylie could have performed without anybody accompanying him with no instrument and he would have still wowed. It helped that he had an audience that loved him and hung on every word.

I bought several of his cd's; they are independently produced but sound as good as any pro disc. I can't imagine he makes a ton of money touring (our tickets were only 10 dollars) and I am sure the direct sales of his cd's help the bottom-line.

I encourage each one of you to buy local music. Go see some live music and make sure to grab one of their discs if available. Support your local musician.

The Rugcutter's Bash at Darrell's 1-20-12 The Black Crabs and The 1Uppers

I went out for uppers and crabs Friday night at Darrell's. The Rugcutter's Bash (sorry, I wrote Ragcutter's, I can be so dense...1/29/12) was billed as a 3 band show, (Rugcutter's as in cut a rug). 2 of my favorite bands were playing, I was going. As it turned out those were the only bands that played. Blacktop Denizens didn't make it in, the weather was a challenge.

The Seattle area had been hit with heavy snow, a fairly rare occurrence. We usually get some snow but it was a dump. Seattle usually looses it's cool; cars abandoned, long commutes but not so much this time. We were fairly well prepared, many folks didn't make it in to work for a couple days. Schools were closed so anybody with a kid had to handle that. The real killer was the ice storm later; it took down a ton of trees and power lines. Some folks were out of power for 4 days. This was the backdrop for this show.

Given that the crowd was pretty good. I am just miles from the venue so it wasn't going to stop me.

A few words about Darrell's, especially for my friends abroad (Zdravstvujtyethat may not get the chance to visit Seattle. I have describe it a little bit in an earlier post, but I took some pics for your viewing pleasure.

Darrell's bills itself as the place your dad used to drink, it is a lovely example of a neighborhood bar. There are two distinct customers at Darrell's. There are always locals sucking down the suds, they get there before the cover charge and hang out. We can't smoke indoors here in Washington same with a lot of places in the states) and so they are ducking out for a smoke. I am always amazed when a couple of locals get up and leave during a killer set. They are not here for the music.

Then there are the other customers; those who came to for the music.  Darrell's presents live music 5 nights a week, they have DJ's on the others. I have a great love for this tavern; they are giving local musicians the chance to perform their music. The sound is always good (strong work Scott), the service is always friendly and fast, and there is ice in the urinal...a nice touch. Here is a link to their events page, you can see they are busy.
On some nights where there are 4-5 bands the musicians outnumber the customers. This particular evening brought out a few hardy souls and those of us who cannot live without live music.

The Black Crabs were on first, I have commented on them before. They have such an amazing presence for a 3 piece band. They are all great musicians and they all sing. They write all their own tunes; great original stuff. Tom on drums, Kirsten on Stand-up bass and Jonathan swinging a mean Gretsch (sorry, I attributed him with playing a Les Paul in an earlier post).

There were extra special good this show even tho Kirsten was not feeling well. They played all their greats and rocked the house. People were dancing and having a good time. Liam Fitzgerald (lead singer for The Rainieros) joined the band for a tune. Apparently it was his birthday. These are the kind of impromptu happenings that make a fun show. He didn't know the words to the tune (sorry can't remember tune, it has been a few days and I can't remember that far back) and Tom had written them on the head of his snare. They were commiserating over who would take which verse even as they were playing. Fun!

Here is the link for the Crabs, buy their album, go out and see them if you get a chance:

The 1Uppers were next; if you have read my posts from before you know I love them. Full disclosure, Jon Hyde one of the leaders of the band is a co-worker.

I had never really had an appreciation of country music, I did like Buck, Willy and Waylon but I had never seen any live country. I was always a rock guy, it was only until I heard Steve Earl and the like that I started to love the genre. I saw Junior Brown and really started to see the light. I was ready for more country.

In walk the 1Uppers; I saw them once and was smitten. These are just great musicians, each one bringing a talent and sound. The result is a rich tapestry of sound that is pleasing to the inner soul. They are so tight, I rarely hear a hiccup. The interactivity between the guitars is precise and beautiful. They have been practicing.

You can listen to some of their music here:

They have 6 members and a total of 5 guitars. David plays Acoustic/lead vocal, Jon plays the pedal steel/lead vocals, Kris blisters on the Telecaster, John plays either a Strat or his beautiful baritone, Caben wields a mighty bass and Eric is the rocking percussion.

They got to play an extra little bit (never long enough) as the bill went from 3 to 2 bands. I was glad to hear some new tunes as well as my favorites. I am sure they will get sick of me. I clap the loudest and longest, I shout for more as they are packing up and heading out the door. I can't get enough.

This band make me wonder, how many other killer bands are out there that you never hear? I m sure there are great bands that form and disappear before they even get a listen. How does one discover these great musicians? Truly, the only way to find out is to go out and see. Find some live music this weekend and go out and treat yourself.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The 32nd Annual Boys Weekend Featuring The Ice Starbucks store

I didn't get to see any live music this weekend. I attended the 32nd Annual Boys Weekend at my buddies cabin on Diamond Lake, 44 miles north of Spokane on highway 2.

We started in the 80's with a simple cross country ski afternoon and it developed into an annual sleepover  event. There are 4 core guys and several others who have joined over the years. Bill, Don and I have been best buds for years, I met them both around freshman of college. Bill's brother John and another college friend Eric attended this year.

This year the weather conditions were perfect and we were ready to have some fun on the ice; it was hard and smooth. I had prepared for this by bringing a bowling ball and 3 pins. We started to bowl after the sun went down and just had a gas. The sound of the ball running on top of the ice was really cool, like a mixture of bowling alley and thunder. The lake had just enough texture to it to make the ball bounce ever so slightly. The visual result was cool too; all these little dots in succession. We played late into the night.

We started playing again in the am and really fine-tuned the alley, pin spacing and backstop. We had broke a piece off the side of the ball on the rocks, a good chunk but somehow it still rolled ok. After a couple hours we broke for lunch and football.

Don decided he would start to mine some ice. He got out the ax and started to chop out huge pieces of 5 inch think frozen water. He knew he would get Bill going. Billtook the cue and started to build a installation on the ice just off the cabin. He started by taking a few large ice chunks from Don and setting them on edge. He got more ambitious by hacking holes in the lake and setting the corners of large pieces in the holes. John joined in; pretty soon they were creating some cool stuff.

I watched with my functional hat on, I told them to make a big table out of the latest slab of ice they had just mined; it was huge.We needed every back to lift that hunk of ice. The structure boys had prepared the plinth and basically they just eyeballed it. When we set the top, it was perfectly level. I put my phone bubble level to it and it was uncanny how close they got; no adjustments. It was also strong and safe; it was going to make a great place to serve coffee.

I am a proud employee of the best coffee company in the world; The Starbucks Coffee Company. I love working for them and am proud to represent them. I brought 5 pounds of my favorite whole bean; Christmas Blend. In the back of my mind I had thought that maybe I would do a repeat of our pop-up coffee cafe.

 Here is Don at the table:

Last summer, my buddies and I served coffee on a couple of pontoon boats in the middle of our lake. We spread the word and put up a few posters. We ended up getting a bunch of folks that came by kayak, canoe, ski boat and inner tube. We served over 125 cups and really had a lot of fun. It seems like it would be fairly simple; all you need ground coffee, a brewing method, water just off boiling and a cup to carry it away with. When you see the organized chaos at a busy Starbucks you must appreciate all the planning that goes into it. It is not as easy as it would seem.

The toughest thing about serving good coffee is keeping just-off boiling water. It takes many gallons to do the job, that and correctly ground beans, a brewing method, a way to serve it and a cup to take it away in. When you are out on the water or ice where an electrical connection cannot be made, you have to rely on other methods to boil water. We use an industrial propane heater but if you are using a lot of water, you have problems.

We serve it pour-over style so all you need is a filter, a filter holder, and some structure to hold the whole operation. I was lucky to get cups (from an expired promotion) and a mass of filters and related equipment at work for a song (the cup fund). I bought the coffee (at my discount) and cream/sugar; it was cheap fun.

Our store was complete; fireplace, art installation, work/serving table, stools, signage, and even a bowling alley. Now we needed the customers. I had put up posters the day before, at 10 the first folks started coming for coffee.

There is nothing like coffee to bring people together (that and booze). But I am here to tell you nothing gets people moving like the promise of a Starbucks experience. Ok, I am being a little melodramatic but look at this next picture, they were lining up to get their pictures taken in front of the sign!

There is something about the Starbucks Brand that is compelling to even the younger set. These girls were really cute, they all lined up for their cup but they wanted just a half glass of hot water (my most precious resource) as they were going to mix that with some ice chipped from the lake (yuck!). I made sure they got the deluxe Starbucks experience; cup with sleeve, top and a stick to stir, all served with a smile.

Our customers came to us by all means of transportation; they skated in, they came by ATV, some came by bike (with studded tires). We all walked on water and we all enjoyed a warm cup. Those who chose could cuddle up to the fire, if you wanted you could bowl...we tried to make it comfortable place to hang.

The whole experience was memorable. My sister Betty and her hubby Bruce came all the way in from Spokane, she is such great sport, seeing her made my day.  My buddy Tim and his wife dropped all plans and came up from BF Egypt to help serve coffee. He had the most fun of anybody. I met many new great neighbors and created an experience that people will talk about for years.

I had a great time and can't wait for the summer event. I still have a lot to learn about the operations and customer service that it takes to make everybody happy. It really is work, but the outcome is so satisfying.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Latigo Lace at the Little Red Hen 11-19-11

I had never heard of Latigo Lace, I did do a quick search on them and listened to some tunes so I was somewhat prepared. I wanted to stay close to home, The Little Red Hen was the closest option.

Small, intimate and cozy the Hen is a great place to see live music. See my post on The Jukehouse Hounds to get a good description of this neighborhood tavern.

Latigo Lace is a fun country band that plays rocking country, originals as well as covers. The band took the stage and played a couple instrumentals minus their lead singer, they got the crowd going from the first note.

The band consist of Bobbi Jo Lyn; lead singer, Rolf Larson, Michael Hensley, Kevin Dale and Mark Collins. I am sorry I cannot match artist to instrument. They played mostly high-energy country rock with a smattering of ballads, 2 steps and heart breakers.

I am going to tell you the truth here, it has been a couple months and I don't remember the details. I liked them a lot, Bobbi Jo was beautiful and had a great voice. The lead guitar was a young fuzzy headed kid  that played like a pro. I remember the brains behind the band was the bass player. He was funny and entertaining. The keyboard was skillful and rocking, adds vocals and humor. The drummer keeps a good beat and sings vocal.  

The whole reason I am writing this two months later is recount a great stunt the bass player, the leader of the band pulled on his new lead singer. This stunt fooled her...for a while. It fooled me big, I left the place thinking this was a real incident. I will retell the story and you can see the great stunt that fooled me an many others in the crowd.

During the second set a gentleman approached the stage and started haranguing Bobbi Jo; eventually getting up on stage and taking over the microphone. I saw this guy come in, I should have known.

My dad spent 23 years in the FBI, he later spent many years as a private eye:  Don Head, Private Dick. He would have had this guy pegged from the second he entered the door.

He had dreads, a muscle man t-shirt that said something like "Emergency Sex Tool", he clearly didn't fit into this audience of mostly cowboy hats and lades in cowboy boots. As he started harassing Bobbi Jo he mentioned that he was from her home state, Minnesota (I think). He knew intimate details of her life and claimed he had followed her out here to Seattle.

The crowd was getting nervous, then angry, we started yelling for him to get off the stage. It only seemed to make him harangue a little harder. Bobbi Jo was trying with all her might to be gracious. He mentioned that it was close to her birthday, she was surprised he knew all this info.

Just when i thought someone would go up and take him off stage the lead guitar started playing Happy Birthday. Our intruder started singing and manically dancing leading the whole audience in singing. At the end of the tune he walked to the edge of the stage, held up his arms in victory and fell off the stage, falling flat on his face.

Oh shit! What I had thought was going to be a disaster turned into one of the coolest displays ever. Now understand; I thought that this was reality. He got up and stumbled off, the band started cranking, the dancers started dancing.

Come to find out later it was all a set up...what a chump. 

I loved the band, I am going to see them again in 2 weeks.   

8th Annual Elvis Tribute featuring The Roy Kay Trio and a cast of thousands at The Tractor 1-7-12

This is one of those events that make you happy to be alive. I felt privileged to be there last night as many of the movers and shakers of the rockabilly scene were present and on stage.

The venue was perfect; the venerable Tractor, bastion of music since 1993.

The crowd was massive, standing room only but that is how it is at the Tractor anyway. I am sure it was close to a sell out as it should have been.

And it was for great cause benefitting DESC, an organization that helps the homeless and mentally disabled in Seattle.

I am not going to write a huge amount on this show as I know others much more informed, better connected and better writers will be blogging about this show. I just want to add a few thoughts.

Most of the tunes that the band and the guests played during the evening were either once performed by the king or were influenced by him. I heard obscure tunes that I would not have attributed to Elvis. I was surprised to hear that many were on some of his less known albums.

I believe Roy Kay put this thing together, his band has been around since 2001 and are one of the Royalty of the Seattle Rockabilly scene. He has been the primary force behind this event. His band opened and the show, performing 6-8 songs in their original style. If you have never seen Roy and his guys you are missing something.

Roy has a beaming smile the whole time he is on stage and it gets even wider when he starts singing. Very animated and having fun, Roy is a great performer; a joy to watch.

His bassist defines the saying "slapping the Doghouse". Robin Cady is a great musician and entertainer. He is the bass and percussion for the band. He literally slaps with one hand at the strings while his other is moving up and down the neck of the stand up bass. The sound is unique and classic all at once so you don't miss a drummer (even tho they added one later). Robin also adds background vocals.

Mike Geglia is the lead guitar, standing there fairly motionless as he plays super clean classic rockabilly licks. He carries so much of this band as there are only 3 guys up there. Roy plays a mean rhythm and Robin is keeping a steady beat, but Mike carries the bulk of the sound (besides Roy's great voice).

After a quick break all the stars started coming out. I am not the most well informed guy, I see a little music, I try to read up...I regularly make mistakes on band personal and basic information. Most of this is just observation and verbal masturbation. I didn't realize many of the relationships in this Seattle genre.

The first performer to join Roy and the boys was Robert Lee Mitchell. I had just seen him the night before with The Jukehouse Hounds. He is an accomplished keyboard player and has great mastery over his instrument. That he was going to sit in with the kings of the rockabilly scene for the rest of the night should not have surprised me.  A drummer also joined and he was a great addition and they had the basis for a killer back-up band. I will add his name as soon as I can, I didn't get it. It is probably on the poster and I just need to sort the names out. I want to give credit where it is due.

Then the parade of greats came up on stage and started to perform; Billy Jo Huels, Angelatini, James Sassar, Miles and Karina, Davidson Hart Kingsbery, and they were just getting going. I don't have the energy to describe each in detail but I am going to add a little on each.

Billy Jo is one of the best entertainers in Seattle, he got roped into being the host of the charity raffles as well as performing. He was his usual great, singing and moving gracefully on stage, playing the trumpet on several tunes including a duet with another trumpet, it was dynamite.

He joined Angelatini on her first tune, a beautiful full figured girl with a mighty voice and wonderful stage presence. 2 tunes and she was gone all too soon.

Jame Sassar performed the best version of Snowbird I have every heard; a wonderful smooth voice. I could have listened to him all night. He had a great red velour jacket on; classic style, great presence.

Miles and Karina were one of my favorite acts of the evening. He is striking on stage with big dyed blond hair reaching for god and a guitar that is played high on his chest in a classic style. Karina was dressed in a striking red shiny ballroom dress and played the accordion. My words will find it hard to describe her; classic beauty, total musical passion, rocking and moving and blistering the squeeze-box. She did one solo that had the house screaming, me yelling the loudest. I am looking forward to seeing other words written about her.  In the meantime, I am going to pick up their disc.

Next up was Davidson Hart Kingsbery with a killer voice that reminded me of Top Jimmy's; graveley at times, smooth and soothing when he wanted to be. He did a great version of Burning Love. He is from Portland so I am going to keep an eye open for him, another great performer.

There were 2 sets of raffles during the evening, the proceeds going for a good cause. Billy Jo assisted by the lovely Aly (from KEXP and others) would read the numbers and hand out tokens for your prize. There were some great prizes, the sponsors being some of the great venues in Seattle. The 99 Blues Club and Slim's gave many dollars, KEXP and Leon gave CDs and a chance to sit in on a Friday night, there were others. Thank you for all the donations.

Thank you to Sweet Pea who is a force of nature for charities and benefits. She is the one, along with Roy and the boys that keeps this thing so popular, making money for good causes. She is constantly raising money for charities and even uses her birthday as an opportunity to gently pry dollars out of your wallet. Way to go Sweet Pea!

I purchased as many tickets as my wallet held dead presidents and ended up getting lucky; I won a prize. Pretty funny too; I won the first KEXP Shake the Shack package which included 4 Cd's of the early Rockabilly Ball events. I am a big fan and friend of Leon Berman the host of Shake the Shack so I already had 3 of these discs, but the one I didn't have was a rare copy of the first Rockabilly Ball, produced 20 some years ago.

I also got a signed poster of the show. This was worth all the dollars and trip down to the show; Vince Mira, Roy Kay, Angelitini, Marti Brom, Levi Dexter to just name a few, signed this piece of history. I am drooling over it now.

I didn't see the rest of the show, I was so bummed but I just couldn't dance/stand any longer. The Tractor is a great place to see live music but get there early if you want to sit, not many opportunities. I had danced the night previous to the Hounds and my back was already toast. I have few regrets because the Hounds were worth it.

I missed Mati Brom, Levi Dexter, Kelly Van Camp, Vince Mira, Lisa Theo and Kim Field, Lucky Lawrence (one of my favs), Side Saddle among others. Just the list of what I missed would fill 5 shows. I had to be happy with what I saw.

One more plug for local music, I hope you are listening to The Outskirts on KBCS 91.3 and streaming at The Outskirts is a fairly new program (2 years?) that plays all styles of American music, old and new. They have some creative dj's that find some of the best country, alt. country, blues, folk and R&B/soul. My favorite is Sean Patrick Donavan who hosts on Fridays. His first show of the year was a killer; I used his playlist as a guide for draining my bank account.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Jukehouse Hounds at The Little Red Hen 1-6-12

The Little Red Hen is your classic neighborhood bar, they serve food and drinks during the day and music and beer at night. The place is always packed with happy dancing people. Even the help is happy; the bartender smiling broadly at all times, the guy at the door is always cheerful and smiling. No hand stamps here, he will remember you...I like that. We were coming back after a break and he was outside; opened the door for us and said "welcome back".  I like the Little Red Hen.

I got there at about a quarter after nine and the band was already cranking, the dance floor full. I broke out in a broad shit-eating grin that lasted all night; every one in the house was having a good time.

The Jukehouse Hounds are a collection of seasoned pros at keeping the audience happy and cranking out quality music. I don't think anybody in the house is having more fun than them so it is a win-win.

I had seen them before when they played the KEXP Shake the Shack Rockabilly Ball a few years ago. They know how to tear it up. The thing I really noticed about seeing their shows last night and before is that they tailor the performance to the audience. The LRH is usually filled with folks that like to dance country style, the Hounds made sure the tempo was just right for a little 2 stepping.

Release The Hounds!

Kelly Van Camp is the drummer, lead singer and head troublemaker. As I was paying my admission I could hear him hollering, I knew we were going to be entertained at the least. He has a beautiful voice and keeping a steady beat, he could add the harmonica...multi-tasking at a high level. He was choosing most of the tunes and setting the tempo for the rest of the boys. He mugged for my camera as seen below; I loved his energy and his passion for his art.

Robert Lee Mitchell was on the keyboards, he was channeling some great musicians last night; I think I heard Leon Russell, Stevie Winwood and maybe even Booker T. He was a real pro, alternately pounding and tickling the keys. He was the man that kept the band on the same page, giving instructions via voice or hands; letting the guitarist he could have another verse or letting the band know that the audience was having fun and we shouldn't stop now!  He mugged for my camera too. These guys do not have any fun - at all.

Keith Lowe plays They were canvassing for tips and I mentioned to him that the reason the were not getting any takers was because the jar was too close to his feet. He then lifted the jar with his toes guaranteeing no one would get close to it for the rest of the evening (just kidding, it was filled by the end of the evening, well deserved).

Keith is really entertaining; very animated, a great thumping bass and a great collection of facial expressions. I remember seeing a screaming wolf, grimacing cheshire cat, insane lunatic...what a fun character.

The Hounds regular lead guitar was not in the house, which normally would have been a shame but not last night. Al Kaatz fits in so great with this band, another madman that plays with with skill and passion, but he was elsewhere last night. In his place was Seattle's favorite guitar player, we were so lucky to see Jerry Baptista at the lead.

Jerry, as everyone knows, is the biggest whore in Seattle, he will play anywhere, anytime when asked. I have seen him in a tiny cafe with the Davanos (Mr. Villas on Lake City Way), in a large honky tonk hall (The Tractor in Ballard) and in the ultra cool major hall (the Triple Door) with one of his other million bands, The Dusty 45's. He is a consummate pro, able to adjust to any band any condition...I could see him in a marching band.  He would be great.

I assume he has either never been with the hounds or it has been a while; he had to learn a few chords on the run as they were rocking to an unfamiliar tune (at least with that band). Robert Lee was flashing gang signs to him for most of the evening, at least I think that's what they were. Jerry seemed like he welcomed most of theses missives. But it didn't take him long until he was spurning Roberts gestures and rocking with his usual confidence. He is fun to watch; very animated as he blistered out some great leads. He also sang lead on several songs. I have read comments on web sites about him, he is universally loved, I will have to join his fan club.

I was there for 2 out of the three sets. The first set was a rocking one. The pace was fast and furious. Jerry blistered, Robert Lee was killing the ivories, Keith was having a gas on bass and Kelly was singing and moving the band. It was really the best part of the show. I was on the edge of the dance floor and I was moving, sweating and smiling. I had to pace myself...the 8th Annual Elvis Tribute is at the Tractor tonight (1-7-12).

The second set was a little more tuned to dancing and audience participation. They played some requests; Beatles and Elvis and they did some great waltz's and 2 steps for the dancers. Don't Be Cruel was one of the best tunes they did all night. I prefer the scorching set they did first but I totally understand why the moved in this direction. This is what the people wanted. I think that they got the rocking out of their system with the first set.

The Little Red Hen is a great place to see music. I have mentioned that they are a neighborhood bar. There were guys on the dance floor that had come straight from the office; still in white shirt and tie. I have been there a couple of times now and I recognize many in the audience. I love that. I wish I could just walk there but 5 miles is not bad.

The large dance floor is right in front of the stage and the stage is just 18 inches off the floor. The ceiling is low so it has a very intimate feel. The best place to watch the band is along the rail adjacent to the dance floor. Here you get a great look/listen to the band but also get to watch the dancers. I am not a dancer, if I lift my foot, I fall down. So I am always amazed at great dancing; the movement of two bodies in sync is just beautiful to watch. Country dancing is fun to watch as it takes some practice and it has some cool rituals. When the band is playing a waltz or 2 step the dancers move as one around the floor counter clockwise. When it is packed they share tiny spaces moving and bobbing their heads to the beat.

Last night there were several wonderful dancers. I absolutely fell in love with one couple as they moved as one around the dance floor. Megan wore a cute mini-skirt and patterned hose, her beau wore aback t-shirt and a fedora, a tattoo creeping up the back of his neck. I watched them closely as they were 2 feet in front of my face. They looked at each other in the eyes; coordinating movements, planning, executing, sometimes intently and purposeful, sometimes joyful and lost in the moment. I approached them and told them how much I enjoyed watching them dance and asked if I could take a pic, here it is below. Thanks Megan!

One more thing about dancing, ok 2...when people dance they lose most of their inhibitions; there was so much joy on the dance floor and of course the Hounds knew how to keep 'em moving.

I have been there a couple times and there is one very old gentlemen who is always there and dances to almost every tune. He is not moving like he once used to so in between songs he just stays on the dance floor and waits for the women to come to him. He dances with all the cutest girls in the place...(note to self, you could do a lot better if you looked a little more pitiful). I just noticed he is in the top picture too, watch those hands mister!

My buddy Mark and I stood at the edge of the dance floor all night and we had a gas just like everybody else.

I want give a plug for Shake the Shack on KEXP 90.3, Fridays from 6 to 9pm. In it's 25th year and under the guidance of Leon Berman, it has become a world wide phenomenon. You can stream every show from their website. I use Audio Hijack to record the shows and play them later. Leon just did 3 hours of surf and you can still get it on the site ( Leon has one of the largest collections of surf music in the world, we are so lucky that he shares this with us.

I play this stuff out in the middle of the lake when the sun is blistering at the height of the summer (Eastern Washington, sorry Seattle); Surf, Rockabilly, R&B, Honky-tonk and other great stuff all at the touch of my I-Pod. His cousin, Mike Fuller is his co-host and sometimes fill in. Mike did last night's show and it was his usual great stuff. He listens to music day and night searching out the good music. He listens to Australian radio via satellite so he always has some obscure rockabilly collection and he is constantly on the prowl for music to alternately assault and assuage his audience. You must give it a listen; it is available right now at

One more thing, I have new music in the house;

  • Joe Ely, Satisfied Life; his usual great Texas inspired original honky tonk and country.
  • Ry Cooder, Pull Up Some Dust and Sit Down; always have loved Ry, never a dud.
  • Blvd. Park, In the Parlor; great original music. Moved here from Sacramento, if you get a chance to see them do, they are really fun to watch playing with passion and skill.
  • Robert Earl Keen, Ready For Confetti; still exploring but I love his voice and delivery.
  • Dave Alvin, Eleven Eleven; truly a great disc, I saw the Blasters in 1982 and have loved Dave and his brother ever since. This is a must for any Alvin fan, one of his best in years.
  • Last but not least, The Surf Coasters, Misirlou 10th anniversary Best; I have had this on order for two years, finally found it used. I am listening to it now as Shigeo Naka shreds his guitar, these guys have been broken up for years but they are still one of my favorite bands.  Period.