Foy Vance is a brilliant artist. His vocals soar and lyrics inspire. Moving from piano to ukulele to guitar, Foy without a band at The Triple Door was a totally different experience than when we last saw him at the Columbia City Theater. Less rocking and more talking. He opened the show with Free Falling, a Tom Petty tune, and finished with a haunting Irish song in acapella. Awesome.
A Northern Irish musician and singer-songwriter, he was signed to Glassnote Records in 2013 and has been touring non-stop. The Triple Door gig was his next to last U.S. stop before a well-deserved break to go home.
Clink, Clink, Clink. W.T.F. Foy was not amused. Clearly used to playing larger venues opening for artists like Ed Sheeran, Elton John and Josh Groban, you could tell it was painful for him to sing and endure the irritating noise from the audience dining. “Are you still on the first course? Entrée? Dessert?” Will it never end? Clink, Clink, Clink.
Inspiring singalongs on a few songs, the sold out crowd knew the words and didn’t want to stop being Foy’s back-ups. When one patron yelled out “More”, Foy let him know that he was not a “fecking jukebox” and that was that.
I do love The Triple Door because the seats are comfy and they pour an amazing strong and plentiful Old Fashioned. However, the crowd can be noisy when enjoying their food and tend to chat as most tables seat 4-6 and encourage groups. Of course, we were at one of the counter tops and the guy next to us thought we had paid to hear HIM sing not Foy. Wrong! I quietly protested by covering my ear closest to him with my middle finger to block out his musical stylings. I wonder if he saw or cared. Probably not but it made me feel better.
Next time Foy needs to share his artistry at The Moore or The Paramount. No delicious shrimp noodles but better acoustics and focus on the really important thing. His gorgeous voice and storytelling. Until next time, Foy, cheers!
Eleven miles and 25,000 steps later, we had walked ALL over London. Literally. We embraced “shop till you drop” and had fun doing it. Starting at our historic boutique hotel, St. Ermin’s, at noon after sleeping in (jet lag sucks) we walked to Notting Hill. Yes, that Notting Hill but, alas, we didn’t run into Hugh Grant. Buggers!
This terribly charming area has shops galore including Portobello Market, a street filled with stalls featuring furs, teapots and more. But first, it was National Record Store Day and we were looking for vinyl and lucky enough to stumble upon the Music & Goods Exchange. Searching for treasures among the used vinyl, I found “Stompin’ at the Savoy”, a compilation of 19 classic cuts from the archives of the Savoy featuring pioneer jazz, be-bop, rhythm and blues. Dedicated to and featuring Charlie Parker, the tracks are from 1940-1960. Thom picked up singles from Elvis Costello as much for the covers, which we will frame, as for the music. Can’t wait to spin some tunes when we get home!
I love bookstores second to none so imagine my excitement to not only find the original bookstore featured in the movie, Notting Hill, but we also found a great sale at another bookstore. Picking up a “Royal Snap” very British card game, I now have a plan to play cards with Mia next time we go to Boise. “Albie and the Space Rocket” was another purchase. “It seems like just another ordinary night to Albie until he wakes up to find…penguins stealing the furniture, moose tangoing in the toilet and zebras asleep in the kitchen cupboard. But who has left a trail of baked beans?” Can’t wait to read this silly tale of adventure to Mia! Of course, I’ll have to explain what a “bloke” is and so on. Love those British terms especially “cheeky”. I got Thom “From Churchill’s War Rooms” as he plans to visit the actual war rooms while I am working this week. Booorrring! He knows that would not be at the top of my “go do” list so off he goes by himself. Yet another bookstore we stumbled on wasn’t open but we read the sign by the door which shared that this shop was the inspiration for the travel bookshop featured in the movie.
Finally reaching Portobello Market, we navigated the crowds to find Mary’s Living and Giving, a thrift store that benefits Save The Children. I had read about this amazing shop and it did not disappoint. From Kate Spade to DVF, there were bargains galore and a friendly clerk to assist. I’ve decided to start a new tradition and get Hannah vintage fashion wherever I travel and this time she’ll be gaining a black sheath with fringe and zipper treatment. Super cheeky and all proceeds to a worthy cause!
Around the corner, we found another vinyl store, Rough Trade, where we browsed until we were informed that closing time was upon us so basically, “GET OUT!” Now dark, we started our long journey home. Walking in front of a group of millennials at one point, we chuckled at their conversation discussing a game they like to play in the pubs called, “Daddy or Sugar Daddy?” asking women with older companions to share the truth. Wonder how many cocktails they get thrown in their faces while playing this cute game. I’m betting quite a few.
At one point along a lonely, creepy stretch of road, I was ready to try to hail a cab. My back hurt, my feet ached and I was a little bit scared. “Princess Snowflake get your ass moving” was my compassionate husband’s response to that idea. Hitting 11 miles on my overworked Fitbit, we finally arrived back at St. Ermin’s. Time for an adult beverage. Cheers!
The grey skies are endless in Seattle in the winter but that doesn’t stop us from exploring and having fun. No way does rain deter true Seattlites-wet is the norm. So hoods up and off we went!
First up, fueling up on Marionberry Pie Greek Yogurt at Elenos at Pike Place Market. Yum with a capital “Y”. Okay, so not exactly diet food but Thom and I endulged in a small container, perching at the counter at the market with a view of the ferris wheel all lit up in pink. Too soon the yummy, creamy treat was consumed and it was off to the Seattle Art Museum. Taking in “Jacob Lawrence: The Migration Series”, this journey illustrates through 60 paintings the mass exodus of African Americans from the rural South to the industrial North in the decades after the First World War. Stunning.
Artist Jacob Lawrence made Seattle his home and was a professor at UW, actively painting up until his death in 2000. The MOMA in NYC and The Phillips Collection in DC jointly own his series. They decided to mark the 100th anniversary of the birth of Jacob Lawrence by coming together for the first time in two decades on the West Coast to present this special exhibit. Check it out. Thought-provoking artistic experience.
Reading the story behind each piece, I was struck that our society has not radically advanced from this time in history. We still see discrimination and the struggle to be treated equally. We must keep up the fight for equality for all.
After a quick walk through the rest of the second floor, we hopped on the C bus to West Seattle to indulge in another one of our passions, music. If you haven’t checked out Easy Street Records yet, GO. Not only for the vinyl selection on the 2nd floor but just to soak up the vibe of good music, good people and good food. Our old car doesn’t have Bluetooth but it does have a CD player so we have been indulging in buying some music to listen to with the top down this summer should the rain ever stop. With CD’s from The Clash and Jonny Lang in hand, we also got a “Greetings from West Seattle” t-shirt for me to wear to the Springsteen concert in Auckland, NZ. Two more weeks and then we’re off to the South Pacific for rock and beach time. YOLO!
“This will be the best 4 seconds of my life.” Really??? My husband made this pronouncement this morning in advance of the upcoming meet and greet with Bruce. What about…hmmm…the birth of your children, marrying me, etc.? “Okay, the fourth best 4 seconds of my life.” Better. “What AM I going to wear?” Oh, Thom, settle down. Bruce is just a normal guy. “No. He. Is. Not. He is THE BOSS.” Okay, I get it and so the day began.
I made Bruce laugh!
Social media is powerful and Thom and I are wired almost every hour of the day so we found out quickly that Bruce Springsteen was going to make Seattle one of the few stops on his book tour to promote his new autobiography, Born to Run. WOW. At exactly 10 a.m. several weeks ago, we both were logged in to Elliott Bay Book Company with fingers poised and pounced on tickets (cost of the book) to get a ticket to meet Bruce, get a photo and a pre-signed book. Sold out in several minutes, tickets were later going for up to $600 on StubHub and wannabes were circling the lines today to meet Bruce begging to buy tickets or be the “plus one” for a ticket holder to meet Bruce. No way!
I have to say that Elliott Bay Book Company had a big challenge and they did an awesome job communicating the rules often and in advance of the big event, as well as being staffed well, organized and friendly on the big day. We arrived at 10 a.m., 2 hours prior to the start time of the event and promptly got into a line with hundreds of others already lined up. We promptly fell into conversation with a lovely couple, Ollie and Fletcher, who had come up from Northern California and Tacoma. Fletcher told us stories of her dad’s love for Bruce and how, though her car had just been stolen and she was busy finishing up her degree, they had made time for this experience. Their dream is for Ollie to retire from her job and stay home to raise the kids they hope to have. They were lovely and I hope their dreams come true.
Finally, as the line moved forward, we got our blue wristbands and hands stamped in the bookstore and moved to another line, the “blue” line. By this time, we were two hours in and nature called. so off I ran to the nearest coffee shop while Thom held our place in line and made new friends, some old rockers who knew every Bruce song. Making it back in time to continue our journey towards Bruce, Thom was still in an altered state, so excited to meet his rock hero. We debated what to say in our 4 seconds with Bruce. Thom settled on thanking him for writing the songs that made up the soundtrack of his life-from the heart and meaningful.
As we gained entry to the bookstore and out of the rain that had started, we saw signs proclaiming “180 more steps to Bruce” and so forth and posters where you could share your favorite song, where you were from, your favorite Seattle sight/restaurant, etc. to keep you engaged while inching closer to The Boss. They even provided a “Spruce for Bruce” mirror to make sure you were still looking good for your photo opp. Great job, Elliott Bay, you pulled off a wonderful experience for everyone.
The bookstore staff quickly checked belongings and took your camera/phone from you so you were unencumbered and they could take the picture. Bruce was warm and friendly just like I thought he would be. Instead of a heartfelt comment, I chose to be honest but made him laugh with a sincere compliment, “You are TOO CUTE!” and then followed with a plea to keep the pressure on Trump. Seriously, HRC needs all the help she can get. He chuckled and hugged me tight and then we were done. It was truly a great 4 seconds. Afterward, we hopped over to EDM to get his new album that is the musical companion to his book that features 5 previously unreleased songs called, Chapter and Verse.
Bruce, it was great meeting you. You are a spectacular talent and inspiration to generations of fans, including me. Thom loves you too. Well done.
“I’ve got 300 euros bet on Hillary. She’ll win.” The Irish vinyl shop owner filled us with confidence after a hearty political debate. “Hope to God you are right!” I replied.
Thus ended a very spirited conversation that began the moment we walked into Spindizzy Records in the heart of Temple Bar in Dublin. (http://www.spindizzyrecords.com)
I overheard a customer and the shop owner reflecting on the crazy election race we find ourselves in where a reality show guy could be President. “Are you people out of your fauwking minds?” Why, yes, in a world where Trump could be elected as our leader, a basket of the voting public is obviously uninformed and looking to be saved by Cheeto Jesus. Like he cares about anyone but himself. Not.
I weighed in and said that realistically he could win and then Mr. Vinyl made a mistake. He said that Hillary wasn’t much better than Trump so it didn’t really matter. Oh NO he didn’t! Thom took up the conversation then stating Hillary’s qualifications and defending her honor. Is she perfect? Nope. Neither am I but seeing that Trump is a psychotic, pathological lying racist among other things, while Hillary has the skill and the ability to be our leader, it is very much a clear choice who to vote for. Trump can not and should not win. Period. Mr. Vinyl listened and agreed reluctantly and reinforced that Irish politicians are incompetent so he shouldn’t be talking about American politicians as being any better. He watches the election results like he watches our Super Bowl-both with bets placed.
With a good selection of vinyl to browse and politics to discuss, we stayed awhile and enjoyed the conversation. He recommended a good pub and then another customer weighed in with her choice of a “real” Irish establishment we could go to for music and some spirits later. Hopefully my jet lag will subside by then-last night I went to bed at 6 p.m., got up at 1 a.m. for an hour or two and then back to sleep until 8 a.m. Damn. Missed out on the Irish music last night but am determined to go out tonight after a long nap, of course. Cheers!
I try to never take for granted that we are lucky to live in a city with such a vibrant music scene for all ages that ranges from superstars visiting us like Bruce Springsteen and The Who to hard-working talents that you have probably never heard of but should check out. Thom and I try to support all levels, attending at least one concert a month for date night. This fall we get to experience some fantastic indie artists who put their heart and soul into their work. Being a musician is not a easy life for most but I appreciate them all!
One of the smaller venues with phenomenal acoustics is Columbia City Theater with only 100 or so seats so you get to be up close and personal with the acts. We’ve seen Griffin House there (and he comes back to play 12/1-go!) and last night we got to see Sean McConnell, who had been Griffin’s opening act last year but now is launching his Ghost Town tour as the main act showcasing his new album, which we bought on vinyl, of course.
Can I just say that Thom’s vinyl collection is out of control? Soon, new furniture will be required to house it all which could be an issue as we look to downsize yet again in the future. We are looking at properties to buy in West Seattle, close to Easy Street Records which might be very, very bad for our budget if Thom can just stroll over every day looking for new vinyl. He even, perhaps jokingly, said he would get a job there just to have more time perusing the inventory. OH. HELL. NO. After we put in an offer on a condo on the main drag in West Seattle yesterday, we ambled by East Street just in time to catch Sean do an in-store appearance before his concert. He took one look at me, stared and said, “I remember you!”. So funny and no, I am not a stalker, but on a recent girl’s weekend with my sister in Chicago, we had talked to Sean after he opened for Kris Allen at City Winery. I had told Sean that I had asked my barber to recreate his hair style on me when I went with the shaved on the sides #3 blade look. We’re twins now, don’t you know!
But I digress, so back to the music scene. Sean’s opening act, Andy Davis, was good and connected to the friendly, easy-to-engage audience especially with his piano tunes. He congratulated us on our clapping skills as everyone in the place quickly took direction to get involved with his quirky and awkward-at-love songs. I hate a stiff crowd so it was fun to enjoy the concert with other people who appreciate good tunes with some spirit. Sean even later commented that it was refreshing to play a venue where the focus is music vs. people eating/talking/ignoring the music. Playing bars with drunken patrons is probably not his favorite venue. Just a guess.
In the 95+ degree heatwave and a theater that was only somewhat cooled off, Sean laid it all out on the floor with his soaring, clear vocals and original lyrics that spoke to the hard life of a musician. He and Andy are driving a van around the West Coast from Seattle to Boise (9/3 at Neurolox-Boise friends, go!) for a total of 12 cities in two weeks. Damn, they work hard for their money. As Sean sings in one of his songs, “One Acre of Land”, he offered his wife the opportunity to be with a broke artist who would devote himself to her despite the lack of money. Who could turn down that offer? His lyrics really speak to Thom and I, especially “Best We’ve Ever Been” when he sings, “And damn girl, we look good. Yeah baby we’re the best we’ve ever been.” and explores the adventure that life can be when you have a partner you love. That’s Thom and I-no slowing down! Check out Sean’s vocal stylings:
Coming soon this fall is Foy Vance, who opened for Elton John this summer on his European Tour, and who will grace Columbia City with his presence 9/28 on his Wild Swan tour. You can bet Thom and I will be there to enjoy his music before he hits it big. Ed Sheeran signed and produced Foy’s latest album and he has gotten great media coverage in the U.S. We will have just come back from our Ireland vacation and will be in the mood to let this Irishman entertain us. Get out there and enjoy some Seattle music. Cheers!
Amsterdam is filled with quaint specialty boutiques in all the alleys and cobblestone streets…a shoppers paradise! We love to wander in and out and soak up the quirkiness of it all. So different from the grand, oversized stores in the US, these teeny tiny storefronts are hardly over 100-200 sq. feet–a closet really-but a closet filled with very specialized and focused wares to tempt and delight shoppers. From bead shops to teeth shops to bow ties, they have it all for you in Amsterdam.
The “all things teeth” shop featured every kind of toothbrush, floss, etc. you could imagine with a ferris wheel display in the window. How cool is that??? Next door, a gorgeous house cat calmly watched over the huge assortment of bow ties in every color and pattern, all tied up and ready to be worn.
Moving on to the Toms Store, which was slightly larger and featured a coffee bar as well, I saw a few items for my Christmas list and Thom’s. We love their shoes and can feel good buying from them as they give a pair of shoes for every one that is bought. Great story if you haven’t already read the book that the Toms creator has written about his idea to give back and still run a successful retail business. Wouldn’t it be great if everyone did this?
Along with the many boutiques, I have never seen so many bookstores–little and big ones–some Dutch only and others, like the American Bookstore, featuring English titles. Rarely have I seen such an immense and impressive collection of books other than perhaps the Strand in NYC. Multiple levels with deep stock in each topic, we were lucky enough to happen upon (as we always seem to do) an author event with a writer by the name of Charles Stross, a British writer of science fiction, Lovecraftian (?) horror and fantasy. He was very articulate and funny–hoping he swings by Elliot Bay Books in Seattle soon! Alas, the luggage will not accommodate one more item so no books were bought unfortunately.
Today we visited the vinyl stores in our neighborhood of Jordaan. There are many in Amsterdam-such a variety that a local magazine had a double spread article detailing the music havens where you can buy vinyl, new and used for $3 to $40 euros. Quite the large assortment to pick from at places like Second Life Music across from our hotel and VelvetMusic and InDeep’n’Dance both on Rozengracht. It hurt to watch Thom thumb through the vast crates of music and know he couldn’t buy any to bring home. Oh well-he has quite collection already so he will live. Harsh but true!
Just make sure you leave enough room in your luggage when you come to Amsterdam so that you can buy some cool jazz or soul vinyl or a stack of books to bring back with you. Of course, if you are needing a unique toothbrush or bow tie, that doesn’t take up quite as much room so shop away I say! There is something for everyone here in Amsterdam.
Is anyone else feeling groovy? Come on, get happy! The wave of nostalgia for all things 70’s, 80’s and 90’s is slapping me in the face anytime I go into a store or turn on the television. Whether it’s the really bad Partridge Family song for a Geico commercial or the Coneheads from SNL hawking insurance for State Farm, those marketing execs must either be oldsters that are trying to relive their younger days or hipsters who think those actually were better days. Embrace 2015 and get a new idea-what goes around does NOT have to come around… really!
I don’t get it but what’s really got me thinking WTF is that fringe is the “it” fashion for fall. Fringe on bags, on shoes, on skirts, on dresses–you name it and they put fringe on it this year. Fashion folks, what’s so hot about fringe? Couldn’t think up any other hot trend to force fashionistas to buy new stuff so you were watching binge-watching Retro TV shows and WHAM it hit you-bring back the fringe???
But, as they would say on infomercials, THAT’S NOT ALL! You can strap on a fanny pack with your fringe vest and look totally “in”. Yes, that’s right, not only did the Sunday NY Times have an article on the comeback of the fanny pack, I actually saw a tattooed hipster in Seattle rocking a fanny recently. Convenient, yes. Fashionable, no way.
Now, one retro trend we have embraced in our household is the vinyl comeback. Armed with the a new turntable for his birthday, Thom has managed to acquire a new vinyl collection that expands daily… thanks to the multitude of vinyl shops in Seattle and convenient web browsing. Enough so that, armed with our rental car for the holiday weekend, we were brave (or stupid) enough to tackle Ikea on a super busy day to buy stylish storage units just to house his new, ever-expanding collection. On a side note, we had to chuckle as we observed an elder Chinese shopper take out her lunch and proceed to commandeer the model living area in Ikea to have a Labor Day picnic while shoppers swarmed around her-just like back in our Shanghai Ikea where people would make themselves at home at Ikea for the day and take naps, have family meals, etc. taking advantage of the nicely furnished showroom. Got to love Ikea!
So, marketing and fashion people out there… get off your lazy butts off those comfy couches and put on your creative hats and come up with something better than Partridge Family redux and fringe galore…. there’s got to be a better way to inspire folks to part with their hard-earned dollar than reliving bad fashion and worse music. I’ll be waiting to see what you come up with…
Chinese New Year and TET Celebrations in Seattle collided this weekend with far less pollution and far fewer people than last year’s adventure in Shanghai and Hanoi. While it was awesome to be in a crowd again while visiting the International District, I missed the craziness of the scooters in Hanoi during TET. I did find my favorite Taiwanese crackers at the Uwajimaya Supermarket and sampled some egg tarts-always tasty but the crust seemed so heavy after the light airy layers of pastry goodness found at the KFC’s in China. Warm buttery heaven egg custard deliciousness in my hand…ahhhh…I miss it so.
To get everywhere we needed to go, we took advantage of multiple transportation options since we don’t have a car here in Seattle (Enjoy our Kia, little Mia!). For lunch on Friday with David Axelrod giving a talk at my work, we booked a Zipcar and enjoyed hearing all about David’s journey working with Obama. His book looks like a winner and I can’t wait to read it. Thom, hurry up and read, read, read or I’m stealing it. SERIOUSLY.
I got to ask David the inevitable question–How does HIllary win in 2016? He felt she got beat by Obama because she was too confident going into the Primaries thinking she was destined to win without too much effort and also she wasn’t as authentic as Obama when campaigning. This time around, hopefully she will be herself and make history as the first woman President. I’m here to help her in any way I can. Go Hillary!
On Saturday, Thom and I jumped on the Metro Bus first, walked ALOT to get to the International District and then found another bus to go to the SoDo district to explore highly rated Silver Platters for our first vinyl purchases (at least in the last 20 years). What goes around, comes around and the cool hipster thing to do now is to use the cloud for your music on the go but go retro and use vinyl records at home for a leisurely music experience. Well, this year Thom got spoiled rotten with a turntable and speaker for his birthday.
New hobby! After wandering the streets by the stadiums to find a Car2Go, we finally found one after exploring some cool home stores (handmade desks for only $1800.00-what a steal) and finding the main Macrina bakery–it was a high carb day for sure! Can you say half price day old potato rolls??? We really just went in to use their bathroom after being locked out of the Starbucks facilities in the International District. Upon asking for the key to the Starbucks ladies room, I was informed that the store had “closed the bathroom for the day”… at 2 p.m. WTF!!! Even paying customers were s%#t out of luck, literally. I get that on a busy day with the CNY festivities that they might not want to clean up hourly but that’s just basic customer service 101. Shame on them. Luckily for us, Macrina was awesome–bathrooms AND bakery products. Win-Win.
Sunny beautiful skies welcomed us outside to walk the dogs around Seattle Center. Back home, we found a table at CostPlus World Market that would hold our new turntable and Bose speakers, so we hopped into the closest Prius Zipcar and off we went. You have to rent it for at least a hour so we grabbed the table and raced to catch the sunset from Kinnear Park that overlooks the city. Scores of tourists from France and a wedding party were also enjoying the city lights. Gorgeous! A must see for tourists and city residents alike.
Sunday dawned a new day and I had to get a start on the week with LOTS of work to do starting at 6 a.m. and continuing pretty much all day. Why must I be one of “those people” who feel a need to work hard to be the best. Shame on me. But I’m lucky to have a great career that allows me to take care of my family so work I will. On Friday, I leave for a journey to the Midwest where I hope to combine work with a visit to see Mom and Becky, snowy roads not withstanding, next weekend. If thwarted by crappy weather, at least I will get to see my best friend and sister from another mother, Patti, in Indy and will wind up somehow in Detroit on Monday to work for a week. Oh boy–Detroit in the middle of winter–what fun. NOT. At least my busy weekend was capped off with another incredible sunset-it never gets old and I will be dreaming of returning to it (and Thom and the puppies) as I toil away in Motown.