Bluegrass Boys

These little boys performed at Doe Bay Fest a few years back under the name Brother for Sale. They play with their parents as the Crow Valley String Band. They played Doe Bay again last summer as Brograss.

Bluegrass is the heavy metal of folk music, if you follow me.  Whatever name they play under, these boys shred.

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Apollo Past

I discovered the band You Me and Apollo at the first Doe Bay Fest I ever attended. They played one of the best sets I’ve ever seen. I went on to see them three times before they broke up.

So many mind-blowingly good bands split up before they get big, and the older you get, the harder it gets to keep track of all the good music out there. Sometimes I’m surprised to discover that a band I loved three years ago has put out two more albums. Sometimes I’m surprised to learn that they’re gone.

I still listen to the album Sweet Honey. In lieu of a moment of silence, here’s a track to honor all the bands that gave us feels and then went away.

 

The Family Barber (of Seville)

John Moore and Kevin Glavin in Barber of Seville Photo by Jacob Lucas c/o Seattle Opera

When I saw The Barber of Seville at Seattle Opera in October, I declared it my new favorite opera and left McCaw Hall determined to come back with my whole family. That proved easier said than done, but I did it. Here’s how. Continue reading

Tiger Rag Today

A few years ago, I read the book Tiger Rag and I wondered how anyone could make the cornet a starring instrument. Then I saw Industrial Revelation play at Doe Bay Fest. Ahamefule Oluo’s trumpet solo cleared it up for me.

A Star Is Born

If you’re into music at all, the number of bands you’ve seen live really adds up over a few decades. From foot-staring technicians to sophisticated performance artists who happen to use music as their medium, there are a lot of ways to put on a good show. But every now and then, you see a true rock star. Some people have an innate ability to reach down and pick the crowd up.

I don’t even like the type of music he makes. But on the Bumbershoot stage in 2014, Otieno Terry was captivating. You would never have known that it was the biggest show the KEXP SoundOff winner had ever played.  The boy was in his natural habitat. He even stopped the show to sing Happy Birthday to his mother in the audience and instead of destroying the effect, everyone in the audience felt part of a special moment.

I pulled out my phone right after his set, intending to buy his album, only to discover he didn’t have one yet. In the years since, I’ve occasionally remembered that show and looked him up, and never found anything. Then a couple weeks ago I found Otieno Terry’s debut album The Woods. It’s still not my kind of music. But I’m looking forward to seeing him perform again. Rock stars always make you feel lucky to be in their orbit.

Naming Ghosts

Sometimes I take a bunch of concert photos and don’t have time to go back and tag them all with names. Especially at festivals. I think this is Aubrey Bramble (what a great name) performing in Golden Gardens at Bumbershoot 2014. Golden Gardens is a great name for a band, especially one that sounds as shimmery and ethereal as this Seattle band. Golden Gardens sounds like a metaphoric name for heaven.

But for me, Golden Gardens is the park with the largest off-leash area in part of town. There are few things more neurotic than an urban border collie, so for nearly ten years, I drove there literally every day to spend 30-45 minutes throwing a ball. That piss-soaked corral was my third place, rain or shine. I knew more local dogs by name than humans.

The heavenly music of Golden Gardens is hard to reconcile with my muddy memories of rambunctious canine joy. But if all dogs do go to heaven, I know mine is at Golden Gardens.

Shortcomings

 

For several years, I took pictures at every show I attended. I usually blog about the concerts I go to, and I don’t always have access to press materials. Plus, pics or it didn’t happen, right? I’m not a very good photographer, but nowadays, even an amateur photographer with a recreational camera can get a great image sometimes.

But the trick is, I’m short. Unless I’m right up in front of the stage, my view at almost every concert (but metal shows, especially, I don’t know why big guys favor metal) looks like the back of some guy’s black hoodie, no matter where I stand. Most of my concert photos are hail mary shots, taken with my arms fully stretched above my head. Sometimes those shots are all I see of the show.

I love this image of Hobosexual drummer Jeff Silva at Bumbershoot in 2014, but nearly a quarter of the image is the back of someone’s head. If I crop out the bottom, I lose the drummer’s left hand. If I crop from the side – well, it’s not too bad, but I like having the cymbal up on the left. What I really need is to be a couple inches taller.