Sunday, May 5, 2013

Aloha Screwdriver at Darrells Tavern 5-4-13

I was as close to ecstasy as I ever get. I am not currently a religious man, been there. But I got a righteous high from this evening. It was a long time coming and I had planned my life around this evening.

I made this welcome sign for the boys from Alameda.

Aloha Screwdriver is a world class Surf band with roots from 2009. 3 friends who have been playing music together since their early teens. They have had time to hone their craft. They are now one of the pre-eminent surf bands on the west coast. They were touring in support of their new CD: The Haunted Planet. This is their second awesome collection of music.

They are one of the best shows in the business. They fight with ray guns, romp in the audience, trade instruments in mid song and mount a 24,000 gigawatt light box just for effect. Here is one of the props I bought last time around. A man needs protection from this band.

Here is The Rock Box (patent pending) in action. Donald is glowing.

I am, how you say, a super fan. I love these guys.  I have other groups that I stalk. My regular readers know I am nuts about The Black Crabs, a local swing and rockabilly band. I go out of my way to see this wonderful collection of musicians. I also love The 1Uppers, a great country band here in Seattle. I have reviewed them many times and slobber all over them every time I can.

Aloha Screwdriver is based in central California so we don't get to see them as much as we would like. When they come to town, we all change our plans and set the date. I normally migrate east to my lake cabin this time of year. It was 80 degrees and beautiful there.

I didn't think twice. I had this on my calendar the day they scheduled it. Oh, and I had something to do with the schedule too. Donald had contacted Leon Berman (DJ of Shake The Shack, KEXP fm 90.3 Friday 6-9pm) and told him of their availability. Leon called me, and I called Scott at Darrells. Scott, the booking agent at the tavern, was great enough to shoehorn Aloha Screwdriver into an already full bill.

I also tried to promote the event as much as I could. I made sure to pump it up a ton from the Facebook platform. Leon ended up playing a lot of tunes from the new CD and talked it up big on his show the previous night. You can stream Leon and Shake the Shack at

My friends at Surfabilly Freakout also played their music and pumped the events clear from Urbana, Illinois. This is a killer radio show with a fresh sound. I mean they put 6 bodies in the studio, play great music and party. It is a really a lot of fun.

There were three other terrific bands on the bill tonight but I am going to focus on the boys from Alameda in this blog. I will say that The Albert Lerner Trio was awesome. Albert was a skilled guitar picker. He was kind of the Leo Kotke of retro twang. I have no information on the band.

The Jilly Rizzo was their usual awesome. I have seen them before and reviewed them many times. See one of those reviews here:

Matt The Hoopla, a glitter/glam band played some great vintage tunes after Aloha Screwdriver. I will post many more pics of all the other bands on my Live Seattle Facebook page.

There was a great crowd and the place was hot and sweaty. There were lots of beautifully tattooed women this evening.

Darrells Tavern is one of the best places to see live music in the northwest. I was telling Aloha Screwdriver before their set that I love this place. They have great sound and the bar is really intimate and comfortable. I can stand right on top of the band and watch them play. Here is some of the crowd tonight.

I prepared for this evening with great anticipation. I made a piece of art. It is a chalk piece that I developed after a night of A.S surf music and cocktails. Here I am showing off.

I wore my new, super deluxe and deadly jean jacket, replete with the Six Gun Romeo skull patch. A gift from the boys, one of our neighbors to the north. It glowed in the black light, grrrowl.

Aloha Screwdriver was setting up, here is Steve and Donald setting up The Rock Box (patent pending).

Here is Donald tuning up his Bat-Guitar.

My buddy's Mike, Brad and Mark were here tonight. Mike is the co-host with Leon on Shake the Shack. Here he is enjoying a beer, that is Brad over his shoulder.

The moment was here and the boys were mounting up. Aloha Screwdriver is: Donald Bell on lead and bass guitar, Steve Slater on drums and Grant Shellen on bass and drums. You can connect with them on Facebook here:

Donald started the set off with his signature guitar styling blazing out Click Bang Boom.  He is an awesome artist and had the place screaming right off the bat.

They went into another great tune off their new CD. Cowboy Korobeiniki is a Russian folk tune arranged by the boys with the Aloha Screwdriver methodology. Psychedelic guitars, booming bass and manic percussion. The theater is as good as the music.

They had on some great outfits tonight. Though vastly different they were related in that that they were all utilitarian in nature. Grant wore a silver flame proof suit that reflected all light from a mile away. Grant always has cool glasses too. I ended up with this pair.

Steve wore his usual all-white hazmat outfit. He is another one who always has the best glasses. Here he is imitating an alien.

Donald wore his standard garage style all-in-ones.

Steve is an amazing drummer. Besides being incredibly talented, he performs great theater. It seems he can play just about anything. He is a percussion teacher in real life and you can see his talent on display here.

He has an awesome style.

The theater is wonderful, you should have seen the huge process he went through to play one note on the tiniest triangle. It was dynamite fun.

Here he is winding up.

Boom, The Rock Box (patent pending) blasts its mighty light waves.

He is seriously insane, he is all over the stage, all over the house.

I told you they had ray-gun fights. They broke out into one about half way through the show...can't we all just get along? That is Steve blasting away from way in the back. He was obviously not concerned about the innocent bystanders.

The Rock Box (patent pending) was getting plenty of use. Here is Donald taking full advantage of it's special powers.

They were about a third of the way through their set when I turned around to see this. Grant had fallen and he was covered in cymbals and other percussion hardware.

Never the less, he soldiered on playing even as he lay mortally wounded on the battlefield.

It turned out he really did injure himself. I am hoping it is just a twisted or sprained ankle. He said he is feeling better. I hope it will not require any prosthetic devices. He was back up and stripped down to his familiar superhero chest plate.

They rocked all the best and most iconic of their songs. The crowd was hollering after each song, after each solo. They thrilled me with The Haunted Planet, the title tune to their new CD.

One of my favorites is Double Barrel, a freaking rocking surf tune that brings out the best of these guys. Just like the name infers, you get a double shot of energy in this killer song.

I have been fortunate to be treated well by this band. They return my love in some special ways. Tonight during Creature Screecher Steve came out from behind the set banging on anything that would to make the killer sound. He played down the drum hardware, moved around to play the mike stand and then came down to me as I was taking shots. He handed me a pair of sticks and I made a sad attempt to keep up with him, playing on the floor. What a blast.

I think I mentioned ecstasy...I was at the zenith of that experience about now. They were great; loud and as good as I had hoped. The crowd was loving and they were having fun too.

Some where along the line, Grant also broke his iconic glasses. After the show he brought them to me, sweet guy, taking care of the fans.

During Doom Buggy Ride, they all switched instruments, Grant moved to the drums, Donald takes over on bass and Steve mounts the mighty Rock Box (patent pending).  This is one of their best songs on the new CD and it was even better live.

Here is Grant on the skins.

Donald was right at home rocking the bass.

And of course, the imitable Steve mounting the Rock Box (you know).

The Rock Box, when used properly, is a righteous showcase for any outgoing individual. This particular individual knows how to use it to it's best use. The Rock Box is a beautiful piece of engineering. They drove from California in a tiny little car.  So the Rock Box has to break down to fit. It has been designed to ship flat, petty cool.

This is one of the most entertaining and talented bands on the west coast. They write great surf music and perform it even better. You have to see them live to appreciate the killer talent. Who else has a freaking Rock Box?

I supported them as best I could. I was the first official purchaser of their fine CD. I purchased 10 the first round. I purchased 2 more tonight. I also bought 3 t-shirts, 2 signed posters and of course, another ray gun.

They announced their last song to groans and complaints. Aloha Screwdriver played an amazing and memorable set. They have energy and passion that is infectious. There is a reason I am so nuts about this band. Talent, skill and passion are just parts of their performance. They obviously love doing this.

The gathering of surf fans were not going to let them to leave the stage with out an encore. I was the most vocal and asked for one of the best songs on their new CD. They dedicated Paint It Black to me. What a thrill. Their arrangement of this tune is outrageous; smashing cymbals, pounding drums, booming low bass and alternately whispering then screaming guitar.

Grant mounted the Rock Box, even though his ankle was screaming for pain meds.

Our community doesn't get to see that much great surf. We have some good ones in town. Stafford and The Bentz Brothers played the night before. Banzai Surf is fairly active. But still, this was a special treat.

Thank you to Aloha Screwdriver for driving all the way from Alameda to Seattle and Portland. I was so happy to see you guys roll in. We were privileged to have you visit.

You can read more about Aloha Screwdriver here: and buy their CD's at the best resource for Surf too.

Surf bands are known for standing around an all sounding the same. Each tune A.S. delivered had it's own flavor. Pick up both the new and the older CD here: Both CD's represent the best the genre has to offer. Support these great musicians.

Here is Steve acknowledging his adoring fans.

I took over 500 pics tonight, I hope you don't mind if I add one more. Here is Donald getting ice from Anita for his mate Grant, who had the war wound. Stout fellow!

Thanks to Darrells for providing consistently great music. You can see the calendar of great music at Darrells Tavern here:

The great thing about writing this blog is that I get to relive the fun from the show. It is a wonderful thing to see a show like this. To be able to write about it is a pleasure.

See some live music soon. It may inspire you too. you are not going to see this kind of thing sitting on your couch.