December 23, 2011

Our Favorite Photos of 2011: Kevin Large and Kaylee Cole



Kevin Large and Kaylee Cole ::: photo by Abbey Simmons

We love it when two of our favorite voices decide to join forces and make something beautiful and 2011 has been a pretty wonderful year for that. Robin Pecknold and Ed Droste. Damien Jurado singing with Pickwick. And most definitely, Kaylee Cole joining Kevin Large to sing his sad songs during Widower shows all year long. The two married their mournful tones again for a sweet, silly kitchen table Christmas Cover of Wham!’s “Last Christmas.”

We hope you and yours have the happiest of Holidays.

January 27, 2011

One of Seattle’s Best Live Bands is a Tom Petty Cover Band. Really.


The Petty Party ::: photo by Abbey Simmons

One of Seattle’s best live bands is a Tom Petty cover band. Seriously. I’d thought so the last three times I’d seen The Petty Party, but I’d been drinking. A lot. But after last night’s strictly one-Rainier viewing, I can tell you without hesitation or whiskey ears: The Petty Party, the Kevin Large led local all-star Tom Petty cover band, is one of Seattle’s best live bands. And for pound-for-pound entertainment value, I’d put them against just about every act in Seattle.

And that’s because the Petty Party is more than the presumed shtick. In fact, what makes them so delightful (as pointed out by City Arts) is that they’re not. Kevin Large loves Tom Petty, unironically. And so do the talented musicians who back Large, including arguably the city’s finest keyboard player in Ty Bailie and one of its best electric guitarists in Ryan Leyva of the Chasers. If the Heartbreakers ever called it quits and Mr. Petty needed a backing band, these are the guys to call. And then of course, there’s Large himself, who does Petty better than Petty these days. Large transforms from a painfully nervous singer-songwriter who as Widower wears his insecurities on his sleeve right next to his heart, to a confident rock star. Singing the songs of Petty, Large performs – playing to the crowd, fist pumping and delivering line after line with serious rock’n'roll swagger.

Performing to a packed Comet last night, Large and the Petty Party incited an honest to god, full-on dance party. The Comet’s wood floor bowed and swayed as a Saturday-sized crowd sang and bounced along to every song with unabashed pleasure and intensity rarely seen outside of very intoxicated karaoke. And perhaps that’s what was most amazing for me to watch, here on the corner of Pike & Pretentiousness, where you normally couldn’t pay a room full of 20 and 30-something Capitol Hill dwellers $6 to admit they knew Tom Petty had written 14 songs, you had a packed room that had paid to delight in the fact they knew every word to those 14 songs. There was nothing bashful or guilty pleasure about the night, these were people in the throes of experiencing something they loved, genuinely.

Now that’s not to say, it wasn’t a night of nostalgia. It absolutely was. Directly in front of me two sisters acted out dance routines which I could only imagine hadn’t been performed since the mid-90s in some suburban living room, to every single song. About every 30 seconds they’d lean into each other, almost nose-to-nose with gigantic grins on their faces, animatedly mouthing the words. Its a scene that took me back to my ’80s and ’90s childhood, when Tom Petty was everywhere, on the TV, on the radio, on the tape deck … if you were alive then, these are songs you know by heart whether you’re willing to admit it or not. And the crowd at The Comet was more than willing to admit it. They wanted to shout it, fists pumping in the air, dancing with grins, mouthing “oh my god!” to friends and strangers, jumping up and down with glee when the chords would start to a new, but always familiar hit. It was a show where everyone knew the words to the songs — from the 20-somethings who weren’t born when “Breakdown” was released to the 60-something year old standing next to me, uttering in disbelief “Damnit this is good. This is like a fucking time warp. Damn! They! Are! Good!”

And they are. If you’re not ashamed to admit you know and like a Tom Petty song or two, if you like a band that sounds good drinking cheap beer and whiskey to, if you want to see a set of hits performed, well in the smallest room you’ll ever experience them, or if you want to go to a show where no one’s ashamed to dance and sing along, I suggest you keep your eye on The Petty Party.

January 26, 2011

The Best of BARE II: Grand Hallway – “Roscoe (What a Gift)”


There’s only one reason we’d ever post an iPhone video here on Sound on the Sound, because it captured something that has to be seen, or in the case of this video of Grand Hallway’s “Roscoe (What a Gift)” – heard. While I know its only the end of January, I feel completely confident in telling you “What a Gift” is one of my favorite local songs of 2011. In fact, every song that comes out this year has an uphill battle to dethrone it. But I could have told you that when Tomo performed it for us leaning against a tree back in August at Doe Bay.

Its rewarding to watch such a song evolve. From solo in the sunshine to Friday’s performance, where Tomo was joined by Grand Hallway band mates Shenandoah Davis and Kevin Large, the acapella harmonies of the trio added a whole new layer and emotion to the already heart-string-tugging song. And there’s still one more incarnation for us all to experience, the recorded rendition with a full band, which will be found on Grand Hallway’s forthcoming album sometime this year. You have two chances in the coming months to see Grand Hallway and “Roscoe (What a Gift)” next Saturday at Chop Suey and at Columbia City Theater on March 5th.

January 25, 2011

Sound on the Sound Presented Damien Jurado, Widower and Tony Kevin Jr.


Damien Jurado and band ::: Photo Abbey Simmons

If you’ve been making music in the Seattle area for any amount of time you’ve developed a relationship with Damien Jurado’s music, and not unlikely Damien Jurado himself should you happen upon him at a Conor Byrne open mic or underground all-ages show. It’s fair to say that in the last year of being a vocal fan, countless local musicians have mentioned to me the influence Jurado’s music has had on them, the music from years past as often as his more recent work. The almost completely pre-sold out crowd at a fairly new only slightly out-of-the-way venue was evidence still of the strength of Jurado’s relationship with his local fan-base and the fact that some of Seattle’s best musicians made up the paying audience spoke to his continued influence.

Just as Jurado had begun earlier in 2010, he continued his open and experimental streak of debuting songs written just that day, this time two new songs written at 12:15 and 2:15 earlier the same afternoon. For dedicated fans and fellow musicians this is the type of unfiltered insight into an artist that is extra special, and the addition of a large portion of Kay Kay and His Weathered Underground as his backing band made the night doubly special since they’ve only played just two official sets together in Seattle at the much larger Triple Door and Showbox. The between song report of Jurado and the band, and Jurado and the audience, was as hilarious as it was endearing. He admitted right away that he only gets nervous when playing in Seattle, likening it to the first kiss and worrying about “your lip getting caught on her braces.” Then display no self-consciousness whatsoever he offered up gems like “I’ve only seen the Eiffel tower twice but I’ve seen twenty million cocks”, chastised local music writers for hating bands for getting popular (“cough, cough The Head and The Heart”). Jurado shared with the audience sweet stories about how fast his son is growing up and cherishing his moments of affection and how making music has become all about him. Banter aside, Jurado stuck mostly to new songs from Saint Bartlett, though near the end of his set “Sheets” and then the finale of “Ghost of David” were stirring nods to longtime fans, with the latter a downright chilling choice and just as affecting whether you knew the story behind it or not.

Thanks to Jason Neuerburg for the video!

We’ve been trying to figure out how to get Kevin Large on a bill since we first heard his music maybe three years ago. Devoting much of his recent time to Grand Hallway and regrouping after the dissolution of Widower as a band, he’s been an elusive character. I’ve lamented more than once that it’d be a shame to see his talent find no outlet so I’m beyond pleased Large has been actively developing new songs in the last few months and playing around town more. This night he was joined on backing vocals by Kaylee Cole for a couple of old songs an one new one, their duet of “Come Monday Morning” was perfect. I’m still trying to figure out whether playing Damien Jurado’s “Ohio” at a sold out Damien Jurado show takes cojones of steel or titanium. Large had sound checked with “Ohio” and an approving Jurado had enjoyed the rendition so much he asked if Large would play it during the show. And his rendition was so good, we doubt a soul in the audience regretted that it meant Jurado wouldn’t be performing it. Whatever grade ballsack this guy sports, it was plenty strong enough. More than anything though it was just good to hear a full Widower set again, and to be able to get Kevin Large in front of a large group of receptive and appreciative people, the audience we’ve always thought he deserved.

Beginning with an acapella song that snapped a chatty full crowd to attention, Conor Byrne Open Mic regular Tony Kevin Jr. was in front of maybe the biggest crowd of his young career. Joking that he had once fallen off a ferry (true story) and that he had been “called to the life of the ridiculous”, nerves could have bested him as he broke a string during the first verse of the second song. Or as the back-up acoustic guitar handed to him by Damien Jurado turned out to be a left-handed guitar and just as unplayable as one with a broken string. But through it all, Tony Kevin maintained his composure and sense of humor, and ultimately his nerves and foibles endeared him to the audience in a way that his songs alone might not have. Which is no insult. When Tony Kevin was in song, his rare unguarded emotion did demand attention of it’s own though and by ending his set solo, with a song he himself had just written a few weeks prior, he distinguished himself as having earned a spot on stage in the company of some of the Northwest’s foremost songwriters.

Tony Kevin Jr. ::: Photo Josh Lovseth

Widower ::: Photo Abbey Simmons

Widower ::: Photo Josh Lovseth

Damien Jurado ::: Photo Josh Lovseth

January 11, 2011

Widower – “Ohio” (Damien Jurado Cover)



We’re still trying to wrap our heads around the truly magical night a sold out (and then some) crowd was treated to Friday at Columbia City Theater by Tony Kevin Jr., Widower and Damien Jurado. But seeing that we still have goosebumps from “Ghost of David” three days later, that might take a while. Luckily, a few of our friends have written kind reviews already: City Arts / KEXP / Seattle Subsonic.

While we might not be able to fully report back yet on the show, we couldn’t wait to share another chatter-halting, hair-raising performance from the evening, of which there were many. Still, few topped Widower (Kevin Large) covering Damien Jurado’s iconic “Ohio.” Large, who credits Rehearsals for Departure as a long-time favorite and source of inspiration as a song-writer, sound-checked with “Ohio.” Jurado, who rarely plays the song live these days, was so impressed he asked if Large would perform it during the show. And with such a reverently faithful and heart-aching rendition by Large, I’m not sure a single person in the audience wished it were Jurado singing it instead.

We’ll have more photos and videos from our show with Damien Jurado, Widower & Tony Kevin Jr later this week.

January 3, 2011

My Most Played: December 2010


Grand Hallway ::: photo by Abbey Simmons

Like most music writers, I spent much of my December 2010 listening to every album deemed important by other music writers I respected as well as personal favorites in an attempt to make lists of the best releases of 2010. Seeing that you have yet to see a Best Northwest Releases of 2010 post so far, you can see how successful I’ve been in this endeavor … then again, part of me wonders if that’s just me trying to hold onto what was an absolutely enchanting year of local music.

But there were some new tunes that managed to steal some of my time and a couple old favorites that came to life on vinyl. That’s the focus of this list about what kept me company during the final month of a pretty amazing 2010.

Youth Rescue Mission – s/t debut Grand Hallway – Ricebelly: Demos, Covers & Rarities – 2007 to 2010 Kevin Large – “Love or Lack Thereof” Drew Grow – “The Comfort Feel” EP Girls – Broken Dreams Club EP (download “Heartbreaker”) Bob Dylan – Nashville Skyline Goldfinch – “Vacant Lot” Macklemore and Ryan Lewis – The Vs. Remixes Tony Kevin Jr. – “Don’t Tell Mama” and “Let You Down” Ted Lucas – The Om Album Carissa’s Wierd – Ugly But Honest on vinyl Melodie Knight – “Comfort and Care” The Moondoggies – You’ll Find No Answers Here EP Sufjan Stevens – The Age of Adz and “Sister Winter”

December 2, 2010

Our Year in Photos 2010: Grand Hallway



Grand Hallway ::: photo by Abbey Simmons

To attempt perfection and to stay true to oneself are two of the most ambitious goals a person can set for themselves. To seek to do both at the same time is most likely Sisyphean. But such is the path that Grand Hallway has set upon and if you ask us, if anyone can succeed at such a noble task, its them.

A dream team of Seattle song-writers and fastidiously brilliant artists (Tomo Nakayama, Shenandoah Davis and Kevin Large … oh my!) Grand Hallway is as impressive on record as they are live, crafting achingly lovely layers of sound and feeling. Even songs sung in a different language are so masterfully composed and performed, you needn’t understand the words to know exactly what they mean.

Grand Hallway is hard at work recording their next full-length, but the three brilliant song writers at the center of the project are all performing solo dates in the coming month.

Tonight, December 2nd: Tomo Nakayama – at The Crocodile opening for Sallie Ford & The Sound Outside

December 4th: Shenandoah Davis at Columbia City Theater

January 7th: Kevin Large (as Widower) at Columbia City Theater for a Sound on the Sound Presents Show


Grand Hallway ::: photo by Abbey Simmons

November 28, 2010

Sound on the Sound Presents: Damien Jurado, Widower and Tony Kevin Jr.





When I was a child I would often ask my father why a man who sounded like Bob Dylan or Neil Young would insist on singing. Wasn’t there a more fitting profession for someone whose voice was less than melodic? And my father, with a patient smile, would tell me they sang because they were troubadours. People who had to sing because they had something to say whether anyone was listening or not. Troubadours were, I quickly deduced by the reverent tone in my father’s voice, the most noble of musicians and men. And all before I was 10 years old.

As I grew older and lyrics and songs became more important than the sound itself, it was the troubadours I was drawn to. And it was with the noble troubadour in mind that we’ve booked our January Sound on the Sound Presents show. Honestly, we’re kind of in awe of the line-up.


January 7th, 2011


At the Columbia City Theater

Damien Jurado Widower Tony Kevin Jr.

Buy Your Tickets – $12 adv / $14 day of show



Damien Jurado ::: photo by Abbey Simmons

Frankly, we’ve been a little intimated to discuss Damien Jurado and his music, as he looks like he wrestles bears for fun and it is clear his songs are serious, personal business. But talk to us personally or come over and hear what’s playing on our stereos and you’ll quickly learn that there are few song-writers we respect, admire or connect to more than Jurado. His albums are fearless explorations of the mossy skeletons that haunt us all. They are familiar friends, our Seattle and lives in song. 13 years after Sub Pop released his first album and after a decade of critical acclaim, Jurado is better than ever and we are truly honored he is playing our show.


Widower ::: photo by Josh Lovseth

Damien Jurado will be joined by another one of our favorite local song-writers, Kevin Large. Or as he is better known, Widower. Problem is, he’s not better known. Kevin Large is one of Seattle’s most gifted unheralded song-writers and we think his name should be included in the same breath as Bazan, Jurado, Nakayama and Muth when discussing great Seattle song-writers. Large sings bittersweet and beautiful songs for all of us that have loved, been wronged and kept loving anyway. Though I’ve had it for over a year and its only five songs, Widower’s self-titled EP is still one of my most listened to albums and the songs manage to punch me in the gut after literally hundreds of listens.


Tony Kevin Jr. ::: photo by Abbey Simmons

Opening the evening will be Tony Kevin Jr., who impressed us with his October performance at The Round and most recently for commanding a chatty crowd at Conor Byrne’s open mic. He’s a next generation troubadour with songs that explore both the spiritual and venal sides of life with knowing sadness and sweet choruses that will stick with you for days.

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Its safe to say January 7th is going be a wonderful night of songs and that whether you’re there or listening, Damien Jurado, Widower and Tony Kevin Jr. will be playing. That’s the beautiful thing about a troubadour.

August 23, 2010

Doe Bay After Hours


Doe Bay Campfire::: Photo by Josh Lovseth

This year’s Doe Bay mainstage was home to some of the Pacific Northwest’s higher profile bands, but the mainstage was just one of many places music was made. Each stage has it’s own character: the patio stage overlooking the bay for the sunny lunch and afternoon hour, the cafe stage for late night intimate performances. After 10pm, the Yoga Studio was the place to focus on, as its four modest walls sought to contain a series of performers on the verge of breaking out, both literally and figuratively.

The first band to grace the Yoga Studio was the percussive charms of Ravenna Woods. After a late Thursday night battling, and then falling to, the Washington State ferry system, Ravenna Woods spent much of Friday trying to get what sleep they could before their 10pm set, after arriving on the very earliest ferry. For the short moment I snuck into the shoulder-to-shoulder room, their fatigue was forgotten. Both Ravenna Woods and the Head and the Heart, who took the sweaty stage after them, are bands that move. Going to see these band’s in a normal room is enough to work up a sweat. For those hours in the 100-ish capacity Yoga Studio the room could’ve easily stood-in for the clothing optional sauna’s situated just up the hill. People were walking out of the room with dense layers of steam fogging their glasses and camera lenses. And big grins. During Head and the Heart someone wrote “SO FUCKING HOT” from the inside on the studio’s lone steamed-up window, but nobody was leaving

An equally interesting set, occurring at the same time as The Head and The Heart, was Widower’s Kevin Large in the Doe Bay Cafe. I only caught his two final songs but it was enough, with a squeal-inducing cover of Lisa Loeb’s “Stay” to close out his short set. Just to be clear I didn’t squeal. That was someone else. I swear. Once the yoga studio wound down, the action moved to the campfire, where Large brought his guitar and he found his comfort zone. Large is a bit reserved on and off stage, but in front of a campfire and friends, he’s a beast in his natural habitat. The breadth of his “photographic memory” for songs is impressive, he covered everything from Bruce Springsteen to Counting Crows to Simon and Garfunkel. Needless to say, spontaneous sing-alongs featuring Large, Curtains for You, and the Head and the Heart, and anyone else who might care to join in, kept the music going until the wee hours of Saturday morning.

Widower in the Cafe::: Photo by Josh Lovseth

Steam writing in the Yoga Studio during the Head and the Heart ::: Photo by Josh Lovseth

Kelli Schaefer had the honor of opening the Yoga Studio on Saturday Night, though with her blessing, Drew Grow and the Pastors Wives actually started the night by playing the last song that they didn’t get to during their mainstage set. Reprising last year’s Yoga Studio appearance with just one song, “It All Comes Right” is a gorgeous folk hymn bursting with harmonies, more so with the addition of Grand Hallway’s Shenandoah Davis and Kelli Schaefer to the mix. Much like Grow, Schaefer holds nothing back, not needing a microphone to make her point. Usually only accompanied by a drummer, this night she kept her label-mates The Pastors Wives on to support, along with multi-instrumentalist Steve Norman on the trumpet and steel guitar. This backing of friends produced a marked change from when I last saw her solo. Replacing a wounded, lilting loner was an emphatic, confessional attention grabber, where the need for a quiet tear was overwhelmed by the joy of the cleansing catharsis on display. Taking control of the night from the beginning, she led the entire studio in a chorus of “It’s so fucking hot” before informing us that was the last time any of us were allowed to utter those words and from that point on, the audience was silently riveted. I heard not one complaint, in I can only assume reverence for the performance. As of last weekend I’ve no reservation in saying Kelli Schaefer is currently endowed with one of the Pacific Northwest’s most compelling and arresting voices.

Though THEESatisfaction might’ve considered themselves a left-field booking for the largely folk and Americana influenced festival, for the last official set of the main festival they were duly appreciated with a packed sweaty crowd that was impressively active. Small rooms are where this band succeeds most, from up on stage some of the cultural criticisms can sound too preachy, but down on the ground, standing at eye-level it’s obvious that they’re speaking from real experience. Their stare you in the eye humor and wit challenges you to think, but also to dance. And the audience obliged.

I emerged from the Yoga studio to the Head and the Heart set up on the General Store porch singing songs with a half-circle of roughly 200 people ringing the porch. For the Saturday arrivers and those of us unable to make it into the Yoga Studio last night, it was a welcome development. The audience’s interest in the band clearly exceeded a hundred-odd person appearance in the Yoga Studio. Mid-way through the set, Doe Bay Resort owner Joe Brotherton arrived to a broken board on the porch from some over-zealous stomping but he could hardly complain, given the large crowd and quality of the quiet after-hours performance. These unexpected moments that felt perfectly orchestrated are exactly what we all hope the Doe Bay experience can be. Festival organizer Chad Clibborn sensed the magic of the moment and announced, with the band’s agreement, that the Head and the Heart will be playing the Doe Bay mainstage in 2011. Smiles abound.

Drew Grow with Kelli Shaefer and Shenandoah Davis::: Photo by Josh Lovseth

Kelli Shaefer::: Photo by Josh Lovseth

THEESatisfaction ::: Photo by Josh Lovseth

The Head and the Heart on the General Store Porch ::: Photo by Josh Lovseth

Though the festival unofficially extended into Sunday afternoon for a few bands on the Patio stage, we were extending our stay until Monday morning in order to complete a few more Doe Bay Sessions, most notably the Head and the Heart out on a rocky point at sunset. This session attracted a larger audience than any of our other relatively secluded forest sessions and in a wonderful turn of events included Kelli Shaefer, Drew Grow and the Pastor’s Wives and members of Youth Rescue Mission on backing harmonies. This magical event felt an ideal culmination of an idyllic weekend, a perfect representation of the community that had been created in the few days we were all together.

Given the tightness of the bonds being forged over the weekend, it came as no surprise that the community was compelled to linger and celebrate just a while longer. What was surprising, was that it happened at the picnics tables surrounding our yurt, with many of the remaining band members and festival organizers spending an hour at our bench. As more people arrived, the tables turned into an unscheduled stage unto itself. Following the quick decimation of two tequila bottles, a furious rap battle broke out between Daniel Williams of Youth Rescue Mission, and Seth from the Pastor’s Wives, with Seattle Times music writer Jonathan Zwickel on beat box and vinyl scratch. Curious owner Joe Bay ventured around the inlet and joined in on the fun, commanding everyone’s attention enough to allow Kelli Shaefer a chance to belt out “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” In this setting, sung with that voice, I was fairly convinced that who ever was wrote that song was thinking of a place not unlike Doe Bay.

Over The Rainbow from Dylan Priest on Vimeo.

Premonition from Dylan Priest on Vimeo.

August 19, 2010

Start Your No Depression Fest Early



If you like a little beard with your banjo or just great American Roots music, you’ll be out at Marymoor Park this Saturday for the 2nd Annual No Depression Festival. Featuring sets by Lucinda Williams and The Swell Season, as well as local favorites like The Cave Singers, Sera Cahoone and The Maldives it’s going to be an afternoon of Americana delight.

So much so, there’s no reason to keep your celebrating and pickin’ down to one day. The No Depression Fest gets an early kick off tonight with a DJ set by No Depression community manager and contributor Kim Ruehl at what just so happens to be my favorite coffee shop and saloon: Watertown. Kim will start spinning records at 7pm on. The party continues tomorrow night with a Pre-Fest Hoot at The Sunset Tavern featuring solo sets by Mark Pickerel, Jason Dodson (of the Maldives), Zoe Muth, Kevin Large (Widower), Betsy Olson and many more. Take our advice and make No Depression a 3 night event, instead of just one, you won’t regret it.

You can prepare yourself for the weekend by downloading a free 26-Track Fest Sampler.