Saturday, March 31, 2012

Boxcar Rebellion, Brian Ledford and The 1Uppers at Conor Byrne 3-30-12

I was sick in the last part of the week and felt like shit. I had missed a show on Thursday night, the gentlest of shows starting at 6 and ending at 7, and I still didn't make it.

There is a plague going around and many people are affected. Jon Hyde (steely for the 1Uppers) was sick and missed a day at work, thankfully he showed up for the show but he was green around the gills. The sound-tech for Conor Byrne was as white as his shirt; the red tie he wore accentuated his pale look. Poor guy, he spent most of the night with his head resting on the shroud that covered the sound board. Still the sound was great, I could hear all voices and instruments. The bands were also happy with their end, makes for a killer show.

On the way home I even saw a tow truck driver hanging his head out of the window on his truck at a stop sign. He was obviously distressed, I didn't want to see what was coming out of his face.

The big show of the evening was also handicapped by the black death. Marti Brom missed the show at Slim's featuring Rosie Flores, she had to be really sick to miss this one.

Half the town felt like shit, the other half is trying to avoid contact with us lepers.

This wasn't going to stop me.

I really would have liked to see Rosie Flores, a legendary performer. But 2 things, the show was at Slim's, very small venue for such a big name. It would be packed. They also were pre-selling tickets and their website said that if you wanted to attend you better get their early. I wasn't up to that challenge, and beside, the 1Uppers were playing Conor Byrne.

I started Friday eve like I do everyone, with Shake the Shack on KEXP 90.3 FM. The Doc was throwing down a great show; he was playing many of the songs he as made famous for the last 25 years. He had his old gang in the studio; cousin Mike, Britt and Johnny, just like old times.

I had fed them some info for the Concert Calendar that evening. They were falling all over the show at Slim's for good reason. I made sure they mentioned the second best show in town. Joining the 1Uppers at Conor Byrne were Boxcar Rebellion and Brian Ledford. This turned out to be a great show.

We walked into a very empty tavern at 9; yikes I thought, did everybody go to Slim's? There were about 8 people at the stage end of the tavern, a few more up front. When Boxcar rebellion mounted up there was a bare minimum of folks ready for music. Somehow miraculously as the music started people showed called, they obeyed.

Kathy, Igor and Reade were an outstanding trio that played every style of music known to man. Playing mostly original music they rocked us from the first lick. This is one of those incredible talented collection of musicians.

Igor the bass guitarist was a big guy wearing a gorgeously embroidered black velvet jacket. It was a intricate Chinese dragon and it was stunning. He also wore a hip chapeau and sported a groovy soul-patch. He was killin' his huge Yamaha bass, moving with the beat, laying down some great lines. Apparently he plays a different instrument in this band and stepped in to play bass for the evening.

The drummer was one of those special percussionists. I caught him from the beginning; not your usual drummer. I was reminded of an article that came out in The Onion a couple weeks ago. Their faux report stated that 97.5 percent of all bands are looking to upgrade to a better drummer. Hilarious stuff but nothing new for them. This was the drummer that they were all looking for. It turned out Reade was also the beats for the next group. He was great, also adding vocals.

Kathy had the presence of an an 80's rocker. Torn cutoffs, black tights, cowboy boots and a t-shirt with an illustration of guy flipping us all off; she finished the look off with a wonderful Patti Smith like shag hair-do. The good news was that she could absolutely shred that guitar. Twitching her face, moving her mouth like she had an electric buzzer in there, eyes closed and grooving, this was the real deal.

Boxcar Rebellion played rock, country, jazz and just when I thought they couldn't do anymore, punk. They did a killer cover of the Screamin' Jay Hawkins tune I put a spell on you. Kathy was mesmerizing as she belted out the vocals and melted her guitar. I loved this band, they made me and the gathering throngs of Friday night crazies happy and got us rocking.

See Boxcar Rebellion here:

I was really happy to see Brian Ledford hit the stage. I had seen him and his mates in the audience and knew we were in for a treat. I had done a little homework and saw that Brian just returned from SxSW in Austin. He is a wonderful performer;  playing rhythm and singing lead vocals he was captivating. It didn't hurt that he surrounded himself with stellar musicians.

Brian's band, Cadillac Desert was another example of talented artists coming together to make beautiful music. As I mentioned Reade was also adding percussion and vocals in this group. He fit like a glove as I think he would anywhere; he is a phenomenal drummer.

I couldn't peg these guys but I would say that they did have some alt. country influences layered in a very rich tapestry of rock and psychedelic. On the last tune Liam set his guitar on the amp, turned around and sat on his knees in front of his pedal switches. He ended the set by feeding us killer feedback. I almost creamed my shorts.

Liam traded lead with his mate Matt, each one taking turns with the bass. They were both magicians in each forum. Liam melted my face with his licks in the first part of the show, I was floored at his mastery over his instrument. Then Matt took his turn and continued the amazing lead in this wonderful band. I can't pick a winner, each one added his own personality; really great stuff.

I talked with Liam later; I worshiped him as he deserved.

Brian had a beautiful voice and singing his originally penned tunes he had the place buzzing; big applause after every great tune. He had a wonderful sense of humor, reminding us that the way to his heart was by purchasing one or both of his cd's. I took his advice and was not sorry. His music is not to be missed, I bought 2 discs and have not taken them out of the player since I got home.

If you have the chance to buy music from the artist you should do so. This is the best way to support local bands and independent music.

See Brian and his cohorts here:

What can I say about the 1Uppers I haven't said already. See my posts here:

and here:

Tonight they were one short and one up. Eric is a pro and plays other gigs but he was here tonight. He had a shit eating grin on his face the whole set, playing some great beats.

They were missing their virtuoso Telecaster expert Kris Geren. I am always bummed when I don't get to see the whole band but there were some unexpected results. His loss opened up territory for the two remaining guitar heroes.

Jon the pedal-steel player and John the Stratocaster/tenor guitar player had a gas trading lead solos. We got quality time with John who normally is buried behind Dave the lead vocal/acoustic.  He was up front and was obviously enjoying the opportunity. He is a quality musician and I loved watching him work.

You wouldn't know Jon was sick if it were not for the drool on his lower lip...Ha! He played great stuff and was enjoying the extra room Kris' absence allowed. He adds great vocals and writes a lot of the tunes.

Dave is a marvelous front-man for this group;  sharing lead vocals with Jon he plays acoustic guitar. He also writes a lot of this great original music.

I caught Caben the bass player leaning on the piano for strength; he is stoic but always great.

They played all my favorites and then some. If you haven't heard the 1Upppers see them here:

There was some great dancers on the floor this evening. One couple was moving in a blur. They were having so much fun; big smiles and their feet blazing. At one point he had her spinning so fast and for so long that her glasses flew off her face. They were laughing so hard as they scrambled to find them before they were crushed, they were back in action as soon as the glasses were on her face. I loved the look on her face when she came out of these spins...can we do that again?

I had to work the next day so I headed for the door at quarter to one while they were still thrilling. Sad but true. I got half-way across the street and they started into another one of my favorite tunes. I looked at my buddy and said, must go back. We went back in and listened to another couple tunes. I love the 1Uppers; happy, original, hopping, moving, fun, country music.

I am off to see Petunia and The Vipers at the Anchor in Everett tonight. I hope I get a full dose of flower power.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

The Barn Door Slammers, The Black Crabs and Rosie and The Ramblers at Slim's Last Chance 3-24-12

It is amazing what music can do for you. I had a super-busy week, meetings all day, design in the evening. By Friday I was beat and even a party at work with booze and a 2 piece band couldn't bring me out of the funk.

I also was going to have to resume work on the Community Board on Saturday. This was one of those open ended projects. I didn't quite know how long it was going to take as it was not fully designed. It was also fairly detailed, so as I headed out Friday night work was still on my mind.

I made the mistake of going out to see a punk show when I should have gone to see Lawrence Welk. I never warmed up to any of the music and left so underwhelmed that I didn't blog about it. Mother Ghia always told me that if I can't say something nice say nothing at all. These were good musicians for sure; others around me were digging. I do love punk, just not tonight.

 It took about 4 hours to finish up, I was happy with the work and I left knowing I could relax. This is what I did on Saturday:

It didn't take me long to start feeling it; antici-----pation. I had been looking forward to this evening for months, it was the return of the Barn Door Slammers from Portland. A group of insanely talented musicians channeling western swing out of the 40's. I had seen them on their first appearance at Darrell's in January. See my post here:

 I loved them that time, I knew that I was going to love again.

Just the thought of seeing these guys made me feel better, by the time they came on stage I was jello.

I love to see music at Slim's. If Jim is at the sound board we can be guaranteed for crystal-clear music and the artists will be happy in their work. This small intimate club has everything a man needs to have fun and see good music; great taps, strong drinks, lots of seating and a well lit stage. Slim's is also located in a small neighborhood and the parking is great. They always have a strong bill. Tonight was no exception.

Jonathon from The Black Crabs had told me they were going to play this show with the Slammers way back when. He is constantly putting together talented musicians. He loves to sandwich bands on either side of his. The Rugcutter's Bash at Darrell's is always great. Johnny has some wonderful recipes for fun. One time it was the 1Uppers, The Crabs and The Blacktop Denizens. Upcoming in April is Lucky Lawrence and The Souvenirs, Louis Ledford and of course The Crabs. I can't wait!

Tonight he took advantage of the fact that The Slammers were in town to record at Ray Kay's studio. At least that is what I think happened. I talked with Kevin the fiddle player after the show, super talented and a really nice guy. They are slowly getting a cd together with Roy's help. I am waiting as patiently as I can.

These guys play a great genre of Western Swing, think Bob Wills without the hooting and vocals. I am totally smitten. If the band is reading this; you will remember me as the big guy with the shit-eating grin that stood so close to Todd he could smell my foul breath. Sorry if I invaded your personal space. But damn I love your music.

The lead guitar is stellar, he plays with a love that comes through loud and clear. He can pick with the best of them. Classic looks and better than classic style. The fiddle is so great to watch and hear, his sound is classic but he adds the personal touch that makes this band so special. I found that his solos were mesmerizing. The stand-up bass player looked like he just escaped from Sunday School; rumpled white shirt and a tie way too short. His long red hair and marvelous sound reveal the real bad boy. The drummer is steady and lays down some nice classic beats for the boys. He is the spokesman and and the only one with a mic even close to him.

I am pleased that Tommy chimed in and let me know who played what. The complete list is Tommy on percussion, Dan on Guitar, Dave on Bass, Todd on Steel and Kevin playing fiddle.

See them here:

Todd plays the steel. My regular readers will know this is my instrument du-jour, love the sound. This guy makes the Rolls-Royce of Steel guitars. He plays them as well as they look; stunning. The instrument he was playing last night was amazing. A true work of art. As I said earlier I stood right next to him as he played all three of the necks on this beautiful guitar. You can see his work here:

 I could listen to these guys all night. they did play a super long set but all good things must come to an end. The good news? The Black Crabs were on next. I love the Crabs; three very talented and fun loving musicians. They have a great time and as I have said before in earlier posts they look as though the were born on stage.

They played all my favorites and some new stuff as well. They did confirm a suspicion that I had from an earlier show; Tom writes the words to some songs on the head of his snare. Very creative. This is happy music; original, rocking and if you aren't up and moving when they are playing, you aren't alive.

I love Jonathon and his distinct voice; he belts out the lead vocals while playing fantastic guitar. He has classic rockabilly looks and a mile-wide smile. He is also a real nice guy.

I will have to edit my remarks about Kirsten. I don't want to piss the lovely Mrs. Ghia off and I don't want to be slapped with a non-contact order from Kirsten. Let us be precise and succinct; great stand-up bass player, wonderfully sarcastic vocals, and wow-wow wah-wah...oops. Um, OK I'm done.

Here is another band I could listen to all evening. The left me with a smile and the knowledge that we would be seeing another quality band next. Thank you Tom, Jonathon and Kirsten for a wonderful set. See them here:

I had never heard of Rosie and the Ramblers. They must have been coming through town and Jonathon grabbed them for the show. A super good way to end the evening. They played classic country-western, Texas style music that I loved from the first lick.

Rosie had a huge wonderful voice that filled the room. She was a very slight girl that made a big splash. Standing behind the mic, her small mouth seemed to disappear.

This reminded me of another great entertainer I had seen. Sue Tissue of Suburban Lawn (an influential LA punk group) was tiny. As the band was going nuts belting out hard-ass punk, guys flying off stage into a packed mosh pit Sue was barely moving, her mouth screaming out vocals but so small you couldn't see as the mic was larger.

Rosie wasn't that small, she had a great presence playing a beautiful guitar with a toe moving back and forth. She did have an exceptional voice. Big bold and beautiful she sang a mix of covers and originals. Her song writing was humorous at times tear-jerking in others. They did their best when they rocked but when she sang Tennessee Waltz I was convinced. There is no hiding when you are singing that tune; it was beautiful.

The stand up bass added vocals and played a great style, he was stroking, banging and plucking his big doghouse. The lead guitar was killer, is solos were technically astounding as he was filling in for others. Apparently this band usually has 2 leads. He played stellar licks, his mouth moving and twisting displaying the passion for his art. I hope a reader will help me identify these two wonderful musicians.

Rosie was great, I bought her cd. Always buy direct from the artist if you can, support your local musician. She is on her way to Portland and then Salt Lake City. I hope she has a successful tour, she deserves it.

See here and the boys here:

Another great bill; one of my favorite locations and the crowd was good. I am so lucky to be a participant in this cool scene.

I loved seeing Roy Kay stretched out on 2 chairs, taking it easy and he enjoyed Rosie at the end of the evening. I saw a lot of musicians from other bands; the bass guitarist from Redneck Girlfriend, Kevtone the drummer from Bill Dwayne's Creepers (super nice guy, saw him at the Friday show too) as well as others. The Slammers hung around all night too so I got to kibitz with some of them.

Great show, thanks to Jonathon and Slim's for putting it together.

I had a birthday this week; old. A good old thank goodness, but old nonetheless.

I received the best gift a man could get. After a nice dinner the lovely Mrs. Ghia invited me back to the music room. I say music room because it has a piano in it. To my knowledge it hasn't been touched in 25+ years.

I had the piano brought over from Spokane, it is her childhood keyboard. I had it placed in a sweet spot at the french doors next to the pond, had it tuned and there it sat. When she was a kid her parents used to make her play for guests and she developed an aversion to playing in front of people. I never heard her play it once in all those years.

I am not saying she didn't play keyboards, she was Rock Star! She sang vocals and played keyboards in an all Respiratory Therapist band called Ben Wah and the Fabulous Phlegm Pets. A collection of tech's, sales folks and future R.N.s, they started out playing private parties, graduated to clubs and ended up playing for 5,000 folks at a convention in Las Vegas. I was her groupie.

She sat down at her beloved piano and smiled coyly as she moved the keyboard cover back on it's hinges so she could access the keys. She told me that she had learned a George Winston tune for my birthday. As her lovey long fingers started playing my tears started flowing. If you are a regular reader of this blather you know I am totally moved by music and art in general. I was floored here; I couldn't get myself together as she played Thanksgiving, sometimes in a halting uncertain manner but always beautiful and touching.  I am so lucky to have a woman who is this caring and thoughtful. It was a wonderful moment, one that I will never forget.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Knut Bell and The Blue Collars at The Little Red Hen 3-17-12

I needed comfort food. After the pummeling I took the night before from Redneck Girlfriend and Dead Man, I needed some love. Luckily some musical chicken soup was available and right in the neighborhood.

Not only did I leave Slim's exhausted Friday night but I had to work the next day. Well you cannot really call it work, I have the best job in the world. I produce special interior projects for The Starbucks Support Center and high-profile stores throughout the world. Here is what I did yesterday:

I do specialty illustrations and chalk art, it is as much fun you can have and still get paid. I have done one of a kind art for stores in Istanbul and Costa Rica. I also design exhibits, interiors and displays within the building. I am fairly independent and I only answer to the big cheese. I love my job.

I worked until 3, took a quick siesta and started blogging. After a little nosh and some quality time with the lovely Mrs. Ghia, I posted sometime around 8:15pm and left for Green Lake at 9. Knut and the boys would provide some respite to a crazy previous evening and day of stepping off and on a 20" platform.

The Hen is a great place to dance and see live music. In fact The Little Red Hen is one of the only venues I regularly go to that is dedicated to dancing, as in country. See their site here:

I love to watch people dancing; there are so many levels of skill and exuberance. There are the older folks who barely move; shuffling along as the younger and more limber dancers move around them. There is always a guy who tortures multiple partners by dancing around like he has just taken a handful of bennies; bouncing around like gravity has no effect on him.

There is also always a short guy dancing with a taller girl, constantly hitting her do with his arm as he tries to make a clean swing. I also love to watch the people that just want to get out and move but can't dance worth squat. I am one of those, I move all night but don't dare lift my foot for fear of falling over.

I love watching the older guys dance the feet off the younger girls. I stand at the bar that butts onto the dance floor. I usually stand next to the same guy, a decade older than me he dresses in a neat cowboy hat and snappy outfit. I love to watch him as he is skilled and dances with many cute girls. He was busting the chops of this one girl; she was trying to hang on as he spun her around like a top. When he came off the dance floor I told him he was going to wear those poor young girls out. He smiled a sheepish grin and went off hunting for his next partner.

There is no better country dance band than Knut Bell and the Blue Collars. They are great at keeping the crowd up and moving. From the first note to the last of their set they have a plan; play a mix of tunes that never bores, always entertains.

Just as I got there I saw the lead guitarist Grady step up on stage and start to tune up, I rarely say anything to an artist and especially not when they are at work. Grady and I had exchanged messages on Facebook and he had extended me an invite to this show. I walked up and introduced myself, he is a great guy and is fast turning into one of my favorite musicians.

Knut has a larger than life stage presence and knows how to direct a great show. Last night he had dyed his goatee and massive sideburns neon green, he also had a a green feather boa tied around his cowboy hat. Nobody can say he doesn't have any fun. He gets the crowd up and dancing right away. His show modulates; weasel-grasping ballads morph into happy-feet hip-shakers.

The Blue Collars are Kinny on Steel, Grady on Lead, Jim on Bass and Lewis on Drums. Knut sings all the vocals and plays acoustic guitar. They play marvelous country music that will put a smile on your face and get your foot a tapping.

Last night Grady was ON... he was throwing down his best stuff. I love all the music Knut plays and I particularly like the kick-ass rocking tunes. Grady handles both with skill and creativity, but he shines when the tunes are cooking. Last night his fingers were busy making magic. I got up close to watch, he was having a blast; happy musician, happy me.

Kinny and him were trading the usual great lines; the steely complimenting the solid body perfectly. The bass and drums provide the solid bottom and Knut's low velvety voice makes for a great sound. I was grooving and the memory of today's work just melted away.

Love Knut here:

I left at the first break, it was odd to go home so early but I was biffed. Knut had done his job, all was right in the world. I bid a fond adieu to The Little Red Hen, Knut and his neon-green goatee, Grady and his rocking guitar and half a beer. I will live again to rock.

I do want to say hello to readers in other countries. I am happy you have dropped by to take a read. I am not the best writer but I felt a need to write about what is happening in the small clubs of Seattle. You can always read what happened at the larger venues from a pro. It is not my job to criticize, if I don't like something I don't write about it. I just want to record what I see, spin a yarn or two and if I can get someone off the couch to see some live music I am thrilled.

I have had readers in Russia, Latvia, Argentina, Israel, Canada, Germany, Costa Rica, India, Thailand, Spain, France, The United Kingdom, Columbia, Malaysia and Chile. Thanks to all for the patronage.

The latest edition of The Stranger has a good look into the world of touring bands. It is interesting to read the real skinny from people who do it professionally. You can read it here:

I am listening to Surf music right now; Madeira plays rocking Tiki Surf, I also just got a compilation called Brave New Surf. It is the finest of new music from all over the world. Double Crown Records is the best resource for surf and instrumental music. See them here:

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Dead Man and Redneck Girlfriend at Slim's Last Chance 3-16-12

Choices had to be made. There were a lot of shows and I had to choose just one. Several of my buds were going to see The Raincoats at Chop Suey but I knew it was going to be crowded and parking sucks. I decided on Redneck Girlfriend at Sim's, I chose well.

I had heard of Redneck Girlfriend but had never seen. They have been around for 2 decades. Their rep combined with the venue sold me. I also saw that Johnny 7 from The Black Crabs had given a maybe on Facebook. That was a good enough endorsement for me.

Jim was at the controls when we walked in at 9; good news. He was the sound-tech for The Sonics on their last tour, he is a seasoned pro. He is also a real nice guy, I talked with him for some time, always complimenting his great talent of making every voice and instrument heard.

As I approached the front door I noticed two guys taking a smoke break outside. My spidey sense told me they were musicians. I mentioned that I had just heard a tune by Redneck Girlfriend on KEXP. They were jazzed at the news.

I always start every Friday night with Shake the Shack on KEXP 90.3 6-9pm (you can stream every program for 2 weeks after the show Great music, wonderful personalities and the best way to get prepared for Friday night Live Music. This last show Mike not only mentioned the show on the Concert Calendar but he played a cut off one of their albums. Great resource for music and information.

The place was getting crowded, I saw Sweet Pea and Roy Kay along with others milling about. There were a lot of women; a bigger than usual proportion to men than I see at most shows. I liked it. There were short, small, tall and big beautiful women. Some were dressed to the nines, some in comfy clothes. There was a beautiful girl with a killer multi-colored mohawk in a dress so short I am sure it exposed her poh-poh, I tried not to look.

Flo was there; you know the girl from the Progressive Insurance commercials? She was all Ho'd up. I almost fell over myself when she first walked by. Stunning raven-haired beauty covered in tattoos, her off the shoulder top revealing scenes of deprivation and lust. No, I didn't get that close to see all that, this is just what I want to believe they illustrated. Her hose ended inches short of her skirt and in 5 inch heels she had everybody in the room drooling. I couldn't help it, I walked over and told her she was gorgeous...she smiled and said thanks. Schween!

I was ready, the crowd was ready and the band was coming on. Two guys hit the stage; one on percussion, one on guitar. Dead Man is coming to life.

A wild haired drummer and a familiar looking gentleman started playing what they claim to be Filthy Blues. I would add gritty, dirty and messy but played with a marvelous talent. I asked the door-dude who the lead guy was and he told me that he was the owner of Slim's.

They absolutely rocked; alternating with hard blues and soaring vocals. At times Uncle Hickory (I think his real name is Michael) sounded like the lead singer of a grunge band, the others like Steve Earle. Great voice and killer delivery. One of those voices that can get right up to screaming without crossing the line and still sound good. He also played a guitar in every blues, rock and punk style you can name without missing a lick. He sounded like 2 guys, sometimes playing with bottleneck in a slide fashion, some times picking and strumming. Great stuff and the audience loved.

Brian was playing some great beats next door to the multi-talented lead. He was a genial fellow I met later. I saw he had cd's and I always will purchase music from the artist. The best way to support them. See Dead Man here:

After a short break Redneck Girlfriend mounted up. The lead singer was standing on what would normally be the dance floor. Most of the chairs and tables had been removed and the crowd was right on top of them. I mean cheek to cheek. Sweet Pea was dancing up front with a beautiful tall girl in a pleated dress and lingerie top. They were having a little too much fun as they were hitting the buttons at the lead vocal singers feet. They had changed the settings on his guitar and in a "I kid because I love"way he blamed what he called bad sound on them. Great theater tonight, really glad I came.

Well, what to say about Redneck Girlfriend except that they came, they saw and they conquered. Blasting out killer original tunes they played metal hillbilly, hard driving rockabilly and mega manic rock. I moved to a place to watch up close and they were pros doing what they love and what they have done for 20 years.

Skeeter, Layne, Terry and Dave have added another member, a pedal steel, Stormin' Steve. What a great addition, a killer musician he made a great band better.

This was happy music and most of the crowd were fans, some from the old days. I looked out to see girls with googly eyes, half closed, mouthing the words. Guys, doing the same with their arms around their honey. Heads bobbing, butts moving and smiles all around.

The bass player had twin skull and crossbones tattooed on his neck and lived up to that image; he was up and down, back and forth; active and cranking. The drummer was backing this driving sound with equally driving percussion. He kept an eye on the band up front and looked liked he was in his happy place. The lead guitar was blasting great rock licks, he was moving as he was obviously loving the scene. I loved the steel, he added a lot to the mix as I said before. He could be heard perfectly thanks to Jim's fab sound board.

The lead singer, rhythm guitar and spokesman was a veteran at pleasing the adoring fans. He had us hanging on every word, rocking to every tune and wanting for more when they took a break.

They played 2 screaming sets, they left us exhausted and satiated. I can see them rocking for another 20. I was fortunate to see this show, one of the best I have seen in recent memory. Great scenery, wonderful theater and the best music Seattle has to offer. If you get a chance to see Redneck Girlfriend in the wild, do so. They leave you with a big smile and a song in your heart, or is that a ringing in your ears? Either way, talented guys having big fun and worth a listen, see them here:!/pages/Redneck-Girlfriend/133016086759679

I am posting this at 8pm, at 9 I leave for The Little Red Hen to see Knut Bell and the Blue collars. I need some comfort music.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Piston Ready, The Hardcount and WhiteTrash WhipLash as Darrell's 3-10-12

I saw two totally different bills this weekend. They differed in several key ways, others were subtle.

Friday night at the Sunset the bands were spit and polish; clean, well rehearsed, crisp and professional. This Saturday evening at Darrell's we were presented with a collection of individuals that happened to be playing on the same stage. Oh, they did all have the same purpose, they just did it in their own fashion.

 The show at the Sunset was country, the crowd enthusiastic but well behaved.  From the start of this hard rock show at Darrell's, the line between the audience and the band blurred. Each band brought it's own set of fans. They established the protocol for the performance. For most of the 3 sets the fans were either on stage or the musicians were in the crowd.

I spend a lot of time up close to the bands, at Darrell's you are right on top of the bands even if you are sitting at the bar. I love to observe the nature of this beast at a short distance, it is amazing what you can see. The previous evening the first band was in crisp suits and white hats. Last night I saw some great tattoos, marvelous lip piercings, muscled drummers, and bizarre pupils.

There are venue differences as well. I know Darrell's at 180th and BF Egypt is a long way to drive for those who live in the south end of the city. But consider parking, at Darrell's there is great parking then an easy walk to the door. Try to find a spot in Ballard or worse, Fremont at 9 on a Friday or Saturday evening. I have had to hire a cab to get back to my car after a show in Fremont.

When people ask me how I make my choice for music I tell them there are many reasons. The venue is really important, the sound is at the top of the list, but comfort is a definite consideration. For instance we all know the Tractor as being the Grandfather of music venues in the city and has consistently good shows, but it is uncomfortable. I cannot stand for 3+ hours and there are minimal opportunities for seatage.

Of course the main determining factor for destination choice is the music. I am not looking for any particular genre, I have been partial to rockabilly for years. Lately I have been thrilled by hard country, psychedelia and even punk. I do want quality in any particular band but I like to see small-name bands. The big shows are not as intimate; they don't have the same crowd attitude and immediacy.

I am seeing the Genesis of the next wave of great music. Right here in little old Seattle.

The first band on this freaking-rainy Saturday night was Piston Ready and they were just that. We had good seats to the carnage that was about to take place. The tattooed goddess miss Lauren and her motley band of punks came on stage and immediately let us know that they had an agenda. Her black hair, big boobs and wicked smile had me paying attention. And just in case you weren't, she came out in the audience and made her case in your face.

Serving up a batch of super high energy rock and roll, the band was a mix of talented musicians. Ocean was frantic as he played the bass. Seawolf Dee was blistering the lead guitar. Mike O'clock was also alternately blasting out lead or rhythm licks on his guitar. Donny VonDirtbag was banging out the beats in the back. They had an original sound delivered with gusto.

The place was rocking and Lauren was really entertaining as she belted out the tunes, the band in a blur behind her. This was a fun set and the whole place was having a gas. See Piston Ready here:

They had a couple videographers filming them, I kept bumping up against them...sorry fellas. Just trying to have some fun. They left us sweating and wanting for more. I ended up talking with Ocean and the sultry Lauren later. She impressed upon me the advantages of owning a bit of Piston Ready swag. I couldn't say no, I bought a t-shirt, nice to see that someone had a shirt in the fat boy size.

Next up was The Hardcount, a trio of mentally deranged individuals with bad intentions. The lead singer was in a suit with a red tie and converse all stars. Adumb brought his own custom welded-chain microphone stand and bounced around like a rubber ball. Half the time I thought he was headed for the bathroom: he would leave the stage and walk off like he had to pee. Or maybe he decided this gig wasn't for him and he was going home, only to return in the same manic way he left. Did I mention that he had like space-age eyes? Or maybe spaced-age eyes. He had contacts that made his pupils look very small and black, the whites of his eyes disturbingly large.

The lead guitar player menaced anyone that got close to him, he belted out tasty licks even so. Disco Donnie played his Gibson with maximum enthusiasm. To say that he was active would be an understatement. He was playing out in the audience too, a precedence Lauren established and no one dared ignore.

The drummer was a talented percussionist and muscled guy that managed to keep his two crazy mates at bay. Troy worked like a Trojan as the two madmen paced back and forth on the stage. Donnie kept marching back and standing on his bass, Adumb had to join in the mayhem but Troy kept up his killer drumming and the fun just rolled on.

The Hardcount just cranked, sometimes they reminded me of the Tubes; great theater by the lead actor Adumb and a lot of pounding music. The last tune they did was a cover of a cover. They nailed the Twistin' Tarantulas version of Ace of Spades. Blasting it out with real passion they brought the crowd to their knees.

See Adumb, Troy and Donnie here:

The final act and the headliner was WhiteTrash Whiplash, 5 guys with chip on their collective shoulders. Their stuff was loud, fast and delivered with a bad attitude.

Cheeder was screaming out the vocals up front, poor guy had The Palsy...his leg was twitching and shaking in violent motions.  He had a great voice with a threatening stage presence that you couldn't ignore. He manhandled his microphone stand, deconstructing it to suit his needs.

It was pandemonium onstage as their fans got right in their face, it just made them play harder-faster; "My Buick Goes 180" screaming guitar and vocals. They moved off stage and their fans moved on. Adumb was also up there playing cymbals, singing vocals, his sickness on display for all to see.

Webb was in the back playing some great percussion. Slight and the quiet one, he provided the beat for this driving band. Buc on the 6 string was providing some tasty licks as was his mate Ronnie. They traded lead roles, both stellar musicians and thanks to a great mix you could hear every note. Billyclub was on bass and added vocals; he really hammered his beautiful instrument, smacking it like it had been a bad boy.

WhiteTrash WhipLash was a movement, a happening and the crowd at Darrell's was stammered. Just at the moment when you thought that the cops would show up they brought the pace back down to mearly manic...

Lots of fun provided by this entertaining and energetic band, I highly recommend an evening with these guys but two things; bring ear protection and a shiv. See them here:

A great weekend of live music in Seattle. I hope you will go out to see some for yourself; it will put a smile on your face and maybe put a buck or two in the local economy. The artist don't make squat but they need your support and love. Buy their cds, download their music and let you buds know your have the bug.