The Doe Bay Sessions: Pickwick
Pickwick ::: photo by Josh Lovseth
In late 2010 the conversations I had with Pickwick guitarist and co-songwriter Michael Parker were often about Doe Bay Fest. As far as Parker was concerned, if Pickwick made it on the 2011 Doe Bay Fest lineup, he would count that a successful year for Pickwick. This modest goal reflected just how tough years of developing Pickwick had been up until that point. The pursuit of music had been a humbling lesson from day one in Seattle. But shortly into the new year as their shows swelled to sell-out proportions at places like the Tractor, the Crocodile and Columbia City Theater and Pickwick had to reprint 7″s, it was clear their time spent was finally paying off and this was a very modest goal. A booking at Doe Bay Fest would prove to be simply the first of a string higher profile bookings in summer and fall that would include Bumbershoot, City Arts Fest, MusicFest NW in Portland, and now to round out the year, a headlining bill at the newly reopened Neptune Theater (capacity 999) in Seattle.
In addition to turning heads as a six-piece soul explosion, with various a capella appearances throughout the winter the band also established themselves as vocalists of note, adding a dimension to an emerging live presence that most other new groups just can’t muster. Our mid-summer Doe Bay Session would be the debut of another layer, an acoustic version of themselves; featuring Parker reaching back to the Pickwick of yore for a go at the slide guitar as a counterpoint to the Casio-organ-backed harmonies supporting frontman Galen Disston’s ever more confident presence.
For this session, we would return to the place we ended last year’s Doe Bay Sessions with the Head and The Heart, who had gone from yoga studio performers to the festival headliner that Pickwick would be warming up the mainstage for this year. During a half-hour break in the lively Open Mic at the Cafe a crowd of nearly 100 gathered to watch with a purple sky and Doe Bay itself as a backdrop. It would mark the beginning of a weekend of realization for Pickwick of the year they had had and just how much they deserved to be playing main-support on the mainstage. At the weekend’s peak they’d break the stage with all the friends they brought up in excitement, but here we find them seated and the songs concentrated to emphasize Disston bringing the words to life. Parker’s bottleneck style casts a shadow over their hit “Hacienda Motel,” a shadow that this close listen to the words reveals has always been lurking, but until just this moment, had always been left unacknowledged.
Pickwick is joined at the Neptune Theater on December 8th by Campfire OK and Jessica Dobson. The rest of their December will be spent in the studio recording their first LP. They return to Portland January 13th with Bryan John Appleby at the Doug Fir.
On December 11th, Sound on the Sound will be having a Doe Bay Session screening party where we’ll be showing some unpublished session tracks on a big screen and inviting a few alumni in sing a few songs as well. The money raised that night will go to making 2012′s Doe Bay Session’s better than ever.