October 17, 2012

The Doe Bay Sessions: Big Sur



“Don’t make friends with the rock stars.” Such is the advice of the fictional version of Lester Bangs passed down to young William Miller in the now seminal rock movie, Almost Famous.

Of course, William Miller does make friends with the rock stars, which is both perilous and rewarding for the young scribe. In a town as small as Seattle, and as involved as we have been in local music, it is impossible not to become friendly with some of the people whose skills we admire and whose songs we sing along to. We don’t set out to write about our friends, but many of the people we’ve written about have become friends. We have broken Lester Bangs’ rule … and when it comes to having folks like Jake Hemming, the lead singer of Big Sur in our lives off stage, as well as on … it was well worth it.

Hemming, a towering man of intimidating proportions, is Seattle music’s biggest and most vocally loving and loved teddy bear. When Hemming’s guitar was stolen last year, over twenty friends and fans raised over a thousand dollars, presented on stage with a giant guitar shaped check, to replace it. Hemming sings sad, sad songs with a sweet timbre … leading another friend and talented videographer Adam Pranica to quip on twitter (and I’m paraphrasing, as I can’t find the original) – “Jake Hemming sings such sweet, sad songs I don’t know if I want him to play at my wedding or my funeral.” To which I say, I’d like Jake to play at both. Somehow Hemming sings devastating personal songs of woe, troubles, lost love, debilitating drinks, but they are delivered with such passion and joy, these songs that should make you sob, make you smile.

And in 2012, no musician has personally played a larger role in my life than Hemming. You see, Hemming wrote my mom and dad’s favorite song of the year with “I’m Not Leaving” on his EP Two Songs. My parents’ affection grew for Hemming as he saved them a spot to sit at a sold out Tractor show this spring, where Hemming’s band Big Sur stole the show from my father’s favorite, Zoe Muth and the Lost High Rollers. An autographed copy of the band’s EP with a sweet note from Hemming to my parents only cemented the mutual admiration they share for each other.

It is fitting that last Tuesday these two men, who admire and adore each other for what they’ve brought to the world, would both be facing major medical events. Hemming, who had been suffering through a herniated disc in his spine, making him unable to play music or do much without pain, was undergoing major surgery which removed his larynx and voice box to insert a cadaver bone to repair the herniated disc. The possibility of losing his voice, the source of his passion and his music, was terrifying.  At the same time, my father was undergoing major neurological testing after he fell suddenly ill.

While both men were on the edge of enormous struggles, they used me as a conduit to send the other well wishes. My father was more worried for Jake’s surgery than his own outcome, and Jake more concerned about my father. Less than 24 hours after his surgery Jake called to check in on my dad. Even as they both were fighting for their own lives and livelihood, their love was being sent to each other.

So it is with great joy that we can share this video for both men now on the mend today. Hemming’s surgery was a success, he has been without nerve pain since the moment he woke from sedation and is eager to begin playing music again soon. And my father is better by the day and expected to make a full recovery. Through their illnesses, their recovery and hopefully the rest of their healthy lives, it is music and love that got them through. This video, shot on a sunny day on Mountain Lake at the base of Mt. Constitution is filled with that love. Hemming boldly strummed and sang in a canoe as band mate Steve Norman paddled. In an inflatable (and deflating) raft, sound guy Chris Proff paddled with one hand and mixed with the other, as videographer Ty Kalberg perched on wet knees to capture the beautiful setting and songs. Curious children watched on and swam towards the canoe as Hemming belts, “cause there’s more of me to love than you’re ever going to know.” And I can’t help but feel grateful that when it comes to Jake Hemming, we here at Sound on the Sound have all broken Bangs’ rule and know how much of Hemming there is to love, as a friend and a performer. We and Seattle music fans have better lives for doing so.

The Doe Bay Sessions (2012) – Big Sur from Sound on the Sound on Vimeo.

April 30, 2012

Win Tickets to the Folklife Preview with Big Sur, Denver & The Annie Ford Band



There are tens of other local music festivals now, but growing up as a kid in Seattle, there were two: Folklife and Bumbershoot, summer’s bookends. And since Bumbershoot always marked the end of summer and the beginning of school, it was Folklife, the official start of Seattle summer, that was my favorite. It didn’t hurt that for as long as I can remember, The Grateful Dead chose to set up residency at Memorial Stadium for Memorial Day Weekend, so along with the patchwork of, well, patchwork that is Folklife, there was the added bustle and color (tie-dyed, of course) of Dead Heads.

The Dead may not be there anymore, but Folklife is still free (donations suggested), a quintessential Seattle happening and, since this is a local music blog, it must be noted that Folklife has really stepped up their local booking in recent years. Folklife isn’t just your parents festival anymore. Last year’s Fest boasted sets from Pickwick, Bryan John Appleby, Hobosexual, Wheedle’s Groove — all on the weekend there’s another little gigantic Fest over at The Gorge.

To celebrate 2012′s Folklife line-up being announced and to get a sneak peek at a few of the performer’s from the “Indie Roots” Stage, Folklife is hosting a preview party this Thursday at the Tractor with Big Sur, Denver and the Annie Ford Band and we’ve got a pair of tickets to give away to a lucky reader. Just leave a comment, using your real email address, and we’ll pick a winner by the end of the day Wednesday.

March 15, 2012

The Daily Choice: Woods – Wind Was The Wine


Oh man, are you just like me and totally didn’t get tickets to the fucking amazing line-up that is Woodsist Festival at The Henry Miller Library at Big Sur where bands like Thee Oh Sees and Woods are going to sonically disembowel you? Sigh, I’ve been crying all morning. Not huge tears, but you know, little sniffles. It’s starting to turn around though, this new song from Woods appeared in my mailbox and it’s a spliff-smoked bit of beachside folk, this time tinged with an almost croony, medieval sound. I can only imagine myself perched on a cliff overlooking the great Pacific Ocean with this song blasting in the background, the world of music and nature really meeting in the middle. Oh god, the tears are starting again.

This track is off the new split the band is doing with Amps For Christ. The album is out on Shrimper April 17th.

Woods – Wind Was The Wine

December 14, 2011

Abbey’s Favorite (Almost Entirely Local) Songs of 2011



Kelli Schaefer ::: photo by Dylan Priest



Having fallen deep down a used-vinyl sized hole this year, I managed to completely miss most of the national blog buzz bands and mp3s making the press release copy&paste rounds of 2011, those things that so often fill end of the year lists. But considering the immense output from our little corner of the country, I don’t feel I suffered or starved for new songs to keep me company. These are the forty songs from 2011 that were my soundtrack and that I played on repeat. I’m not bold enough to say they are the best songs of 2011, but they are my favorites.

While this list is not enumerated, my very favorite song of the year, Kelli Schaefer’s heart-aching-to-the-point-of-breaking “Gone in Love,” is at the top with some other absolute favorites. “Gone in Love” is a song that has not lost its emotional wallop despite hundreds of listens and many live performances over the last 12 months. And every time I see Kelli sing it, I can’t stop my chin from quivering. “Gone in Love” isn’t just one of my favorite songs of 2011, it is one of my favorite songs.

That’s hardly true for every song on this list. Every year has its one-hit wonder and I have no shame in saying I played the hell out of 2011′s. Whether its a song that stays with you for decades or a song you only blast until the end of the year, I hope you might discover a new favorite of your own by taking a listen to some of mine.



“Gone in Love” – Kelli Schaefer “Before the Night is Gone” – Zoe Muth and Her Lost High Rollers “Montezuma” – Fleet Foxes “Letters” – Lemolo “I’m Not Leaving” – Big Sur

“I Found You” – Alabama Shakes “I’m Losing Myself” – Robin Pecknold / Edward Droste | download “Father’s Clothes” – Grand Hallway “Leaves, Trees, Forest” > “Rows of Houses” – Dan Mangan “Boys” – Bryan John Appleby

“The Round” (From the Basement) – Pickwick “Park” – Radiation City “Twins” – Gem Club | download “Mute” – Joshua Morrison “My Silver Hand” – Case Studies | download

The rest of my favorite (almost completely local) songs of 2011 (more…)

October 25, 2011

Zoe Muth and Her Lost High Rollers and Big Sur at The Tractor [photos]



Zoe Muth and Her Lost High Rollers ::: photo by Abbey Simmons

Last Saturday, despite fierce competition from the final night of City Arts Fest Zoe Muth and Her Lost High Rollers packed the Tractor Tavern wall-to-wall for her Ballard homecoming. Muth and her band have been road-warriors for much of 2011, touring coast-to-coast in support of her excellent sophomore release, Starlight Hotel. After playing shows in small towns where people have literally ridden their horses to shows and she’s played to barrooms with five people, Muth seemed pleasantly shocked to play a packed Tractor that sang along and two-stepped to her tunes.

As evidenced by the long merch line and the steady stream of audience members congratulating Big Sur’s Jake Hemming on a job well done, the evening’s opener seized the opportunity to play to a sold-out crowd and succeeded.


Big Sur ::: photo by Abbey Simmons


Big Sur ::: photo by Abbey Simmons


Zoe Muth and Her Lost High Rollers ::: photo by Abbey Simmons


Zoe Muth and Her Lost High Rollers ::: photo by Abbey Simmons

October 20, 2011

So, You’re Not Going to City Arts Fest …



Zoe Muth and Her Lost High Rollers ::: photo by Abbey Simmons

So, you’re not going to City Arts Fest this weekend or at least not all of the weekend. Fear not! There are actually local venues that are hosting non-City Arts related shows this weekend and there’s another festival happening entirely, Earshot Jazz Festival. Here are some recommended options for non-City Arts Fest weekend.


Swingset Showdown, Shitty Dudes, My Posse Don’t Do Homework, VD at The Funhouse Earshot Jazz Festival




Koko & The Sweetmeats at the Benbow Room Lonesome Shack at Cafe Racer Northwest Folklife Presents Spoonshine, Chris Cunningham, Cahalen Morrison & Eli West & more at Columbia City Theater Stickers, Low Headaches, Pony Time at The Blue Moon Earshot Jazz Festival








Zoe Muth and Her Lost High Rollers and Big Sur at The Tractor Tavern Death Cab for Cutie and The Head and The Heart at Key Arena Dyme Def, Hopscotch Boys, The Cold Cold Ground at Sunset Tavern Earshot Jazz Festival

September 1, 2011

My Most Played: August 2011


Lana Del Rey – “Video Games” (Not keen on the video, or her in the video rather, but the number of times I played this song this month is embarrassing) Gem Club – “TwinsLemolo – “On Again, Off Again” and “Fort Warden” Dolorean – “Don’t Leave Town” Boyfriends – s/t 7” Keaton Henson – Metaphors 7” Cumulus – s/t EP Carissa’s Wierd – “Meredith and Iris” Wild Ones – “You’re A Winner” Aquairum Drunkard – Clifton’s Corner mixes Damien Jurado – “The Loneliest Place I’ve Ever Been (Is In Your Arms)” Big Sur – “I’m Not Leaving” Dan Mangan – Oh Fortune Lowlands – “Give Me Love” Cataldo – Prison Boxing Richard Swift – Blanch Runderton Presents: “Smelly Iceburg”

Blanch Runderton Presents: “Smelly Iceburg” by Richard Swift

July 22, 2011

So You’re Not Going to Capitol Hill Block Party …



Luckily there are still plenty of other musical choices we’d recommend off Pike Street this weekend.

Friday, July 22nd:

Portugal The Man – Easy Street Queen Anne In-Store (6pm, FREE) Big Sur, The Smokey Brights, Stephen Nielsen – The High Dive Kelli Schaefer, Shenandoah Davis and Paper Bird – The Warehouse, Tacoma M. Bison, Eternal Faire, Boxcar Rebellion – The Sunset PDX Pop Now! – Jared Mees and the Grown Children, Weinland, And And And – Refuge, Portland (FREE)

Saturday, July 23rd:

Elk and Boar – Columbia City Theater The Torn ACLS, River Giant – Skylark Cafe Vicci Martinez – The Triple Door PDX Pop Now! – Nurses, Loch Lomond, Wild Ones and more – Refuge, Portland (FREE)

Sunday, July 24th:

Jeremy Messersmith, The Thoughts – High Dive Ben Fisher and Dylan Pratt of Moya (FREE) – Columbia City Theater Tit Pig (FREE) – Comet Tavern Katy Lin & The Moonlight Riders; Gregory Paul, Gibson Cima, & Annie Ford Mercury; Shannon Stephens – Tractor Tavern PDX Pop Now! – Kelli Schaefer, Radiation City and more – Refuge, Portland (FREE)

Have a great weekend whether you’re catching shows on the Hill or somewhere else!

June 7, 2011

We’re Making Noise for the Needy this Saturday



For five days this week Seattle’s Noise for the Needy festival brings to stages across the city a veritable flurry of local and extra-local talent, all in support of Real Change. Our sponsored bill goes off this weekend with Portland’s Loch Lomond at the helm making their first visit to Columbia City Theater, supported by Big Sur, Goldfinch and The Horde & The Harem.

Early on in 2011 Loch Lomond snuck their new record Little Me Will Start A Storm in under our noses, passing us by until Haley Young’s video for “Elephants and Little Girls” (below) got our attention. The concept is cute, a one-shot marvel of visual trickery that by the end even makes fun of itself a bit, turning out playful in it’s final touches and resolution. Such a production is every bit as intricate as Loch Lomond’s own efforts for just about everything they do. Little Me Will Start A Storm employs a true choir of voices in ways most pop music doesn’t venture, and manages instrumentation more delicate still than fellow Northwest baroque pop powerhouses Grand Hallway and Campfire OK construct.



With four bands on the bill at the Columbia City Theater, the music will be starting a bit earlier than usual, probably around 9. Entrance is $12. Snag tickets in advance online.

April 26, 2011

Great Bands, Great Cause: Noise for the Needy Line-Up Announced, We Help Present a Show!





Every year, Noise for the Needy is one of our favorite local events. A great local festival, for a great cause, this year’s Noise for the Needy will benefit Real Change Empowerment Project, the folks behind Real Change newspaper. Last year’s NFTN raised $25,000 for charity and this year’s fest with 80+ artists playing 21 shows will hopefully be just as successful. Tickets for most of the festival go on-sale Monday (May 2nd) at Noise for the Needy.

This year’s line-up is stacked with favorites: Hobosexual, Drew Grow and the Pastor’s Wives, Builders and the Butchers, Ravenna Woods, Youth Rescue Mission, Smokey Brights, Kelli Schaefer, Akimbo, Fly Moon Royalty and Land of Pines just to name a few. Sound on the Sound is also incredibly excited to be more than fans of the fest this year, as we’ll be presenting a showcase at Columbia City Theater on June 11th with Loch Lomond, Big Sur, Goldfinch, The Hoarde & The Harem and a DJ set from DJ Doo Right (who you know best as Seth from The Maldives).

The full line-up is below, we can’t wait to see you out and about in June seeing some great bands for a great cause.



Tuesday June 7, 2011

NEUMOS: $13 ADV | 21+ | 8PM

Detroit Cobras Girl in a Coma The Fucking Eagles

Wednesday June 8, 2011

NEUMOS: $22 | 21+ | 9PM

Brendan Perry (Dead Can Dance) Robin Guthrie (Cocteau Twins)

BUS STOP: Free | 21+ | 8PM

NFTN Preview Party with DJ Toast

THE CRESCENT: Free | 21+ | 9PM

Karaoke for the Needy hosted by Giggles Galore

REBAR: tickets TBA

Comedy Night

Thursday June 9, 2011

THE COMET: $8 | 7:30 PM | 21+

The Golden Blondes Mal De Mer Soft Hills Ivory in Ice World Surrealized

CHOP SUEY: $10 | 9PM | 21+

Drew Grow & The Pastors’ Wives See Me River Buffalo Death Beam The Foghorns DJ Zwickepedia

MARS BAR: $7 | 9PM | 21+

The Ghost of Kyle Bradford The Warm Hardies Slow Skate Assumption, Illinois

Friday June 10th, 2011

TRACTOR TAVERN: $12 ADV/ $15 DOS | 9PM | 21+

The Builders and the Butchers Ravenna Woods Yuni in Taxco

THE SUNSET: $10 | 9:30PM | 21+

Sage Spinning Whips The First Times Modern Athletics

CONOR BYRNE: $10 | 9PM | 21+

Kelli Schaefer Hobosexual Youth Rescue Mission Lizzie Huffman

UNDERGROUND EVENTS CENTER: $10 | 7PM | 21+ | Cash Only

Soft Metals Ononos The Tempers Sports Spurm USF Fly Moon Royalty DJ Gin & Tonic DJ Up Above Floyd Beastie

Saturday June 11, 2011

UNDERGROUND EVENTS CENTER: $10 | 7PM | 21+ | Cash Only

Noise for the Needy and Seattle Rock Guy present

Akimbo Wildildlife Black Queen Princess Vultures 2012 Smooth Sailing Whiskey Tango What What Now DJ Nik C DJ Blazon Stone


Noise for the Needy and Sound on the Sound Present

Loch Lomond Big Sur Goldfinch The Horde & the Harem DJ Doo Right (Seth from The Maldives)

THE COMET: $8 | 8PM | 21+

TBA Furniture Girls Soul Senate Dyslexic Cascadia 10 DJ Double Agent-O S.O.U.L.

MARS BAR: $8 | 8PM | 21+

Ganges River Band Smokey Brights Corespondents Honeybear Colt Kraft

WILDROSE: $8 | 9PM | 21+

The Pharmacy Stickers Blood Orange Paradise Glitterbang

Sunday June 12, 2011

THE COMET: $8 | 8PM | 21+

Nalgas Bukkake (Members of Master Musicians of Bukkake and Skerik) This Blinding Light Operation ID Midday Veil DJ Veins

CHOP SUEY: $10 ADV/$12 DOS | 9PM |21+

Fresh Espresso Redwood Plan Lisa Dank & Nark Brite Futures DJ Nark

THE VERA PROJECT: $12 | 7:30PM | All Ages

Ramona Falls Mt. St. Helens Vietnam Band Land of Pines Kithkin

CHA CHA: $5 | 9PM | 21+

Wayfinders Derek Kelley & The Speedwobbles Koko & The Sweetmeats