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 18, 2011

A Blue Moon Birthday with the Allman Butters… or the Moondoggies that is


The Moondoggies had hope for the Seahawks ::: Photo Abbey Simmons

Looking at thirty years old when I was twenty was trying to anticipate what it meant to be old and responsible and devoid of fun. Four years ago I couldn’t have fathomed recruiting some of Seattle’s finest musical talent to play at what may be it’s dingiest stage, ostensibly for myself and Abbey’s shared birthday. Yet last Friday was my first day of thirty and I didn’t feel old, and we somehow booked some of our favorite bands in the game right now in Seattle’s most historic dive. In light of Drew Grow’s difficult circumstances following an auto accident last Tuesday, the fact that the evening was a record setting night at The Moon and likely the best bill we’ve ever booked, was secondary to the show of community and support for Drew and his closest friends. We were grateful for every donation and that Drew’s closest friends and band mates were present in the form of our openers, Kelli Schaefer and her band.

Though we’ve seen Kelli Schaefer’s confidence grow month by month, Friday night she was shaken. The already raw Schaefer, with Pastor’s Wives Jeremiah Hayden on drums and Kris Doty on bass and flute, all seemed an exposed nerves. Knowing them personally, the events of the week before would have made any request to pull out of the show absolutely understandable on their part, yet they are musicians, and with music they emote. Friday was an opportunity for the band to be surrounded by many of their (and Drew’s) Seattle friends and supporters and for catharsis to happen in front of a crowd who would understand and commiserate. And we did. With tears flowing freely on stage they sang and once again Kelli Schaefer was absolutely riveting. But in a new way, this time in her ability to control and channel that emotion into something with more meaning than simple entertainment.

For many, Pickwick was the unknown before Friday. No longer. They were the definition of entertainment. Have a girl you want to boogie with? This was the band to do it to. How that nine man band managed to fit on stage and sound that good in the Blue Moon is beyond me, but even Kory Kruckenberg’s quiet vibraphone in the back had presence in the mix. The universal exclamation after their upbeat set of modern soul was “Pickwick!!! Oh My God!!!” Ending the night, the Petty Party led by Widower’s Kevin Large received nearly as many exclamations. The Northwest’s best Tom Petty cover band gives plenty of reason why its in no way a faux pas to lose your shit for Petty. With just about every Petty song you never knew you knew and the rock chops to deliver on the hits you do, Large and his cohorts are the best cover band of any kind I’ve ever seen or heard. And if that weren’t enough, Kevin Large sounds just like Tom Petty. Dead ringer.

And while the Petty Party shut down the bar, it was The Moondoggies, an early Blue Moon discovery that headlined the night. The first time we saw the Moondoggies, was for the second show we’d ever help put on at the Blue Moon just about 4 years ago. The band shared a bill with a friend from the Bay Area, Bhi Bhiman, who we’d asked JJ to book. My first impression of The Moondoggies that now fateful night was that they were “western” like Neil Young sounds western. Loud and bluesy only until Kevin Murphy decided to shred or get expansive with his guitar, that night they played in an unusually oppressive heat from midnight till closing. We were instantly impressed and have followed the band closely ever since.

Now, nearly four years, two records and sold out Showbox’s later, The Moondoggies’ Blue Moon roots aren’t forgotten, even if they can only play under an assumed name now. Pseudonym or not, The Allman Butters attracted a line down the block for much of the night causing the late arrivals to play a guessing game as to whether they would get in at all. Those who did wait it out or got in early were treated to an essential Seattle music experience: a raucous night at the Blue Moon with The Moondoggies. And though the set was shorter than the Moondoggies themselves would’ve had it, they packed in the crowd pleasers, some old, some not played in four years, and two brand new. I’ll tell you what: when the Moondoggies are busting out “Black Shoe” and “Changin” at the Blue Moon, the walls are smiling. Old friends are back together again, and yes, it still feels right. Now that’s a 30th birthday party.

If you were unable to get in or you just can’t get enough of what you saw, here’s the band’s upcoming local dates:

*The Petty Party are next at the Comet Tavern January 26th with Pipsisewah. *Kelli Schaefer is having a vinyl release show for her new record February 25th at the Columbia City Theater. *Members of Pickwick will be participating at the BARE a’capella event this Friday January 21st at the Fremont Abbey. *The Moondoggies/Allman Butters are currently on a national tour and play The Independent in San Francisco tonight.

See more photos below and on Our Flickr


Kellie Schaefer ::: Photo Abbey Simmons

Kellie Schaefer ::: Photo Abbey Simmons

Pickwick ::: Photo Abbey Simmons

Pickwick ::: Photo Abbey Simmons

The Moondoggies ::: Photo Abbey Simmons

The Petty Party ::: Photo Abbey Simmons

January 15, 2011

Record Setting Night of Generosity at The Blue Moon



Donations Jar ::: photo by Abbey Simmons

We are truly wowed and grateful for all of you who came out to The Blue Moon last night and all of you who tried to come out. It was a record setting night at The Blue Moon and your kindness extended beyond tipping your bartender. You all donated over $700 to the bands who played last night and to a fund for Drew Grow. We got to send nearly $350 to Portland for Drew Grow, as well as send The Moondoggies on tour with a considerable chunk of gas money and pay the perfect party soundtrack of Kelli Schaefer, Pickwick and the Petty Party a little extra.

We’re moved by your generosity and your support of local music and of us. Thank you so much.

January 13, 2011

If You’re Coming to Our Birthday at The Blue Moon Tomorrow …




Jars and Photo by the wonderful Meghan Carlson



Remember that The Blue Moon is a cash only establishment. And bring a few extra bucks for the bands who are taking the stage and our much beloved Drew Grow.