July 26, 2012

Friday is Flush with Options

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In Seattle mid-summer can be a dead zone for rad shows due the many festival’s onerous blackout periods but this Friday is a rare exception with a grip of shows choose from. The weather is nice, so you’ve got no excuse to stay in. Abbey’s already talked about the David Bazan Cathedrals show happening in Tacoma, and here’s a few I more wish I could split myself between:

At Barboza – Magic Trick, La Sera, Foxygen

The Daily Choice has been playing close attention to Tim Cohen‘s Project for years now and been constantly impressed. Now among Hardly Art’s cadre, Magic Trick takes hazy pop experimentation even further than his other band The Fresh & Onlys, Haight circa 2012. I dig. Opener Foxygen just re-released their debut on Jagjagwuar this week after a bandcamp release late last year where they did job of modernizing psyche for a new generation themselves.

Pantages Theater in Tacoma – The Sonics

The Sonics first hometown show since 1966!?! After reuniting in 2008 and doing stints in Europe seminal Northwest garage band The Sonics are finally coming back to Tacoma. How did I not know about this until yesterday?

 

 

At Jazz Alley – Ramsey Lewis & His Electric Band

He’s a legend.

 

At The Tractor Tavern – Fort Union, Cataldo, Widower

This is where I’m headed. Any opportunity to see Kevin Large sing songs as Widower I take. The criminally unheralded pop of Cataldo is always something to look forward to. Fort Union’s celebrating a new record chocked full of exactly the kind of rollicking acoustic numbers you expect to hear in Ballard on a Friday night.

 

December 23, 2011

Our Favorite Photos of 2011: Kevin Large and Kaylee Cole

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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.

August 22, 2011

Star Anna – “I Don’t Blame You”

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After Hot Bodies In Motion got the crowd dancing extra hard to their cover of Blackstreet’s “No Diggity” this Saturday and The Moondoggies closed their pseudonymed set on Friday with The Byrds “Sweet Mary”, Josh and I got to talking about covers. About how a well-placed one can make all the difference in the world in a set for a newcomer or seasoned performer and how in the internet age, it seems that an unexpected or well-executed cover often draws more attention to a band than an original. Especially new bands. If you don’t know the band a familiar song serves as a connector and common-ground, while a well-done cover by a band you know often shows a different side of the performers or a glimpse to their own favorites or inspiration.

So I was pretty excited this morning when I stumbled on Star Anna covering one of my very favorite Cat Power songs, “I Don’t Blame You.” Star Anna’s bruised, beautiful delivery on grand piano doesn’t stray far from the original, but the crackling vulnerability in her voice is enough to conjure more than a few goosebumps. Which should come as no surprise to anyone who’s seen Star Anna perform live.

I can only hope that Star Anna might think of reprising it this Saturday when she takes the stage at The Triple Door with Widower. Considering we just saw Kevin Large play 3 hours of originals and covers ranging from Elliott Smith to Bruce Springsteen at the Brave Horse Tavern and his originals out-shined some legends, it’s bound to be a night of new and old favorites.

And since I clearly love a well-done cover, I gotta ask: What’s your favorite cover song?

January 25, 2011

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

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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)

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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 7, 2011

Certainly Tonight … You Should Be at Columbia City Theater For Our Show

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We know there are a ton of other good shows happening in Seattle tonight, especially if you like the rock, but there’s still nowhere you should be tonight but Columbia City Theater for Sound on the Sound’s first show of 2011 with Damien Jurado, Widower and Tony Kevin Jr. Its a night to celebrate songwriters and sad songs and good friends and a new year filled with amazing musical potential.

While there will be a few tickets left at the door, we suggest you buy your tickets online while you still can, because this show is inching closer to sold out by the second and we don’t want you to miss out.

January 5, 2011

Quiet Life – “Big Green” [video]

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For two big towns, Seattle and Portland often feel incredibly small and tangled together. Take the tangled trail of connections stemming from this brand new video by Portland’s Quiet Life.

The video was directed and filmed by The Maldives’ Ryan McMackin, inspired by the idea of building a life sized terrarium. (And it looks like they succeeded beautifully.) To further the six-degrees-of-no-separation, Quiet Life is just about to hit the road for a month long tour with The Moondoggies. The Moondoggies who just today released recordings from their Christmas show at The Showbox with The Maldives, featuring video director Ryan McMackin on drums and fronting a boisterous rendition of “Feliz Navidad.” (Not to mention a brand new, beautiful Moondoggies tune “Butte Montana.”)

While Seattle won’t be getting a date with Quiet Life and The Moondoggies, Portland will be treated to the band’s record release show February 12th at Doug Fir. They’ll be joined on stage by Widower, who will be playing Sound on the Sound’s first show of 2011 at Columbia City Theater this Friday. Both shows are worth a “road trip” South. Like we said, they’re awfully small towns for two big cities, but when it results in line-ups, videos, tours and music like Quiet Life, The Moondoggies, The Maldives and Widower are making … we couldn’t be more grateful for the tangled mess.

January 3, 2011

Win Tickets to See Damien Jurado, Widower & Tony Kevin Jr. This Friday!

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Happy 2011! Sure, we’re a couple days late, but the year is still new and its possibility is worth celebrating.

We’re starting out 2011 right, with our first Sound on the Sound Presents show at Columbia City Theater with a line-up of three of our favorite songwriters in Seattle: Damien Jurado, Widower (Kevin Large) and Tony Kevin Jr. Tickets are already going fast and we expect the night to sell-out, but of course we have a pair (possibly) just for you dear reader, for free.

In the spirit of the new year and because these tickets are worth more than a “pick me!”, we want you to share your local music resolution in the comments. (For example, my local music resolution for 2011 is to purchase and use ear plugs at every show and to go to more shows at The Funhouse … the two really go hand in hand.) We’ll pick our favorite on Thursday at noon and you and a guest will be on the house list Friday night.

December 2, 2010

Our Year in Photos 2010: Grand Hallway

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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

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Grand Hallway ::: photo by Abbey Simmons

November 28, 2010

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

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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.