Xtreme Holiday Xtravaganza Rocked!

Experiencing the Boise music scene at the Xtreme Holiday Xtravaganza hosted by Curtis Stigers at the Egyptian Theater was an eye opener.  Who knew there was so much local talent in little old Boise??  Now in it’s 11th year, this musical holiday journey featured Curtis, who is an amazing talent I was unaware of until lately, and loads of other Boise solo artists and groups. Not a bad note in the bunch and lots of moments that just made you smile.   It was sold out both nights and now I can see why.  WOW.stigers-2

This fundraiser benefits Interfaith Sanctuary Housing Services that supports the homeless in Boise.  I got to meet Dan Ault, Shelter Director, in the lobby while on a break and promised my future support.  How can you not?  We volunteer every Sunday in Seattle when we are home to feed 300+ homeless at Shared Breakfast.  For those of us blessed with so much, helping others with life’s basics of food and shelter seems to be the least we can do.  Stigers’ rendition of “Burden” by Foy Vance was so relevant and gave me goose bumps.  Foy is one of my favorite artists that we just got to see in Seattle at the Columbia City Theater, a small venue that won’t hold the crowd for Foy’s next concert swing as he gains in popularity.  Go see Foy if you get a chance.  Oh, and Curtis, please come to Seattle soon and allow us to enjoy a full evening of your music.  The Moore or The Paramount would be ideal venues for your big voice.  Please.

 

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Curtis sings Burden with back-up from many talent Boise artists

 

From an Irish band that I will have to check out soon at the local downtown Ha’ Penny Bridge Pub to Pengilly’s Saloon which seems like “the” place for local artists, we need to challenge ourselves to explore all this great Boise talent.  Trooping up to the stage, The Divas of Boise, a group of talented female singers/musicians started by Rocci Johnson in the mid-90s to showcase their skills and lend a helping hand in the Boise Community, brought it with big voices and loads of talent.

Silly us.  We have never fully explored the Boise music scene when visiting our home here because we are usually so busy with babysitting the lovely Miss Mia or doing home renovations.  Busy, busy but finding time to listen to great music is essential to a happy life, at least for me.

Lucky for us, Eilen Jewell who lives in our North End neighborhood was on the stage with her husband rocking out with some other local musicians.  I would love to see Eilen give a concert in this spacious theater.  The last time we saw her we were packed into the Tractor Tavern in Seattle.  Her heartfelt tunes and excellent band make for a fun evening but I would prefer not to stand the whole time.  Yes, I’m getting a tad older and like simple creature comforts like a  comfy padded seat.

 

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Eilen Jewell and friends rocking it out.  She’s AWESOME!

 

Curtis and his cohorts did a great job balancing the request for support with music and frivolity.  Even in bleeding red Idaho, the liberal taunts of Trump were woven into the evening and it felt good to be among fellow people with brains who could laugh and cry together at the state of our country.  The 3+ hour show went by quickly and raised a lot of money for those in need.  On a cold and wintery evening, we felt the holiday spirit loud and clear.  Happy holidays to all and to all a good night!

 

My Happy Places in Seattle

Wandering around Seattle over the last two weeks, it struck me that I definitely have my favorite places that I gravitate to now when I want to have a great experience.  Having a bad day?  No problem-just check out these places and life will be good.  Let’s just call these “happy places”.   Honestly, doesn’t everyone need some happy places to get you through the sometimes cold and always rainy Seattle winters?  Not everyone can run off to Hawaii, St. Maarten or Florida for a sunny/warm interlude (you know who you are and I’m damn jealous!) so without further ado, I thought I would share these happy places with you, whether you live here and need some new adventures or if you are crazy enough to plan a visit to Seattle during the long winter months.  Here is the top 10 countdown of  “can’t go wrong happy places” in Seattle:

Happy Place #10-Seattle Sunsets as seen across Elliott Bay.  Check it out from any number of parks, restaurants and Pike Place Market on the waterfront.  I’m lucky to see this nightly show from my balcony.  Blessed!

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Seattle sunsets are striking any time of the year!

Happy Place #9-Seattle sporting events.  We enjoy the Mariners, Seahawks, Storm, and Reign but nothing beats the excitement of a Sounders game.  You must get the start-to-finish experience beginning in Pioneer Square with the March to the Match and then wait after the game is over to see the players applaud their passionate fans.

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Any Seattle sporting event is fun but Sounders game reign supreme!

 

Happy Place #8-Elliott Bay Book Co. on Capital Hill.  From the friendly staff to the huge assortment with lots of staff recommendations pointing you to great reads, nothing beats a book store on a rainy Seattle day.  They even have a great café for a bite to eat and coffee.  Pres. Clinton even visited here recently on his whistle stop through town, taking in the neighborhood ambience.

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Elliott Bay Book Co. on Capital Hill has wall of recommended reads by staff members

 

Happy Place #7-Sculpture Park on Elliott Bay.  Not only is there iconic public art but they have awesome concerts here in the summer.  Not many tourists venture this far north of the market so it’s relatively quiet even on gorgeous summer days.

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Sculpture Park is serene and beautiful.

 

Happy Place #6-Seattle Art Museum (SAM) is a gem with events and new exhibitions coming and going.  We really enjoyed their Remix event, an after hours party with music, events, dancing, etc. that draws a huge crowd.  We just became members so we can come and go frequently whenever we are in the mood.

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Seattle Art Museum’s striking entry has now changed and the cars have been retired.

 

Happy Place #5-Chinatown, of course!  We can’t wait to go celebrate Chinese New Year-Year of the Monkey on February 8th in our own Seattle Chinatown.  There are several dim sum places that are excellent as well as the bakeries where I can get an egg tart.  The Uwajimaya grocery has all our favorite snacks from China and always has cool stuff to buy.

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Chinatown!

 

Happy Place #4-Uptown Movie Theater.  This totally charming old theater is a treasure and shows 3-4 movies, usually independent flicks, and is part of SIFF (Seattle International Film Festival).  Best part-it is a block from our house and it serves lattes and wine.

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The Uptown in Lower Queen Anne is a charmer!

 

Happy Place #3-The Seattle Center is more than the Space Needle.  The lights twinkling in the trees at night while the fountain shoots its water bursts in time to the music make it a wondrous place.  People think it is just for tourists but we walk our dogs there every day multiple times and enjoy it so much.WP_20150525_15_24_18_Pro

Seattle Center is our backyard with the fountain shooting high to the musical playlist.
Seattle Center is our backyard with the fountain shooting high to the musical playlist.

Happy Place #2-Who isn’t happy shopping?  In downtown Seattle, our favorite stores are John Fluevog for handcrafted shoes, Everyday Music (EM) for extensive vinyl assortment, Pike Place Market, of course, for leather slippers, lavender sachets and flowers/flowers/flowers, CostPlus World Market for coffee/tea/wine, and Nordstrom’s Rack for shoes and clothing with an onsite tailor.  We can walk down and then take the fun Monorail home when we buy too much.  Running since the 1962 World Fair, it’s only $2.25 one way for a quick trip from downtown to the Seattle Center.  Super convenient for us!

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Yes, green boots for Thom. He is Irish after all.

 

Happy Place #1-MUSIC!  I am constantly on the lookout for new and well-loved artists for us to check out in Seattle.  Our favorite venues are The Paramount, The Moore, and the Triple Door though we often have to travel to Ballard to the Tractor Tavern to see folks we like.  Last year we got to enjoy Eilen Jewell (coming again 2/25 to the Tractor Tavern-check her out!), Allen Stone, Glen Hansard, LeRoy Bell, Elvis Costello, David Bromberg, Florence & The Machine and wish we had seen Alabama Shakes live.  I’m sure this year will be an even better year for concerts, though we had to plan a trip in March to LA to see Bruce Springsteen’s final concert on his tour since he snubbed Seattle.  Come on, Bruce!  Seattle IS the music place to be!

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My current fav artist-Glen Hansard serenading us from the balcony at The Moore.