Enjoying Indie Singer/Songwriters in Seattle

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!

Musical May

Thom and I treated ourselves to fantastic musical experiences in May by a wide variety of talented artists, emerging and exiting, that ranged from The Who to Griffin House to Billy Joel to Kris Allen to Jewel to Marie Miller to Gavin DeGraw.  WOW.  As my mom remarked, “Boy, you get around!”  Yes, we surely do and enjoying every  lyrical moment of it.

I truly appreciate how hard these artists’ lives are travelling from city to city, leaving behind family and their homes to sing their hearts out for us.  Of course, The Who and Billy Joel may be flying around in style but the majority of musicians are probably packed onto rented buses, staying at Arbnb and eating fast food.  Tough way to make a living.

Coolest concert moment for me was seeing parents trying to get their kids to buy into the classic music of The Who that shaped a generation or two.  Yes, these dudes were OLD but still had clear voices and energy to play for hours.  Good for them and better for us!  While everyone knows of Billy Joel, I hadn’t played or heard his music for years.  As he played hit after hit on his piano, memories in my life that were linked with his tunes all came flooding back to me.  He is quite the showman and even strapped on a guitar for a few songs.  So much talent!  With an opening act as strong as Gavin DeGraw, who was amazing, it was quite the concert.   Splurging to share a VIP suite, Thom’s biggest delight was the designer lotion in the bathrooms.  Appreciate everything, expect nothing!

Swinging from 30,000+ in Safeco Field for Billy to 100+ The Triple Door, Marie Miller, opening act for Kris Allen, shared with us how she was a late fill-in to sing for the Pope on his US tour last year.  She was asked to share her “6 foot 2” song that she felt was rather shallow for such a dignitary but, hey, it was the biggest crowd she had sung for so she went with it and got to sing one other, “You’re Not Alone” that actually had a stronger message.  Check her out-great young talent.  Kris Allen, American Idol winner, is back with a new album and much improved stage performance with a killer band too.  I’m so excited to see him again next weekend with my sister and best friend in Chicago at City Winery.  Yes, I do get around, Mom!

One of the most special evenings was sharing favorite indie artist, Griffin House, with my daughter in Boise at the beautiful Egyptian Theater.  She actually first turned me on to his music and then Thom and I were able to see him play in NYC and Seattle and now Boise.  No, I’m not a stalker-just a music fan!  Griffin and his guitar and soulful original songs make for a great evening of music appreciation.  Then Jewel came on by herself and two guitars and shared her emotional journey from homeless teen to just separated 40 year old mother trying to make a musical comeback.  She has the best voice we’ve ever heard.  I don’t usually buy concert apparel but felt compelled to support Jewel and bought matching “Only Kindness Matters” sweatshirts for Hannah and I.  And really, ain’t that the truth!  If only our politicians would heed this important message.  But that’s another story.

Soaking Up A Month of Music from Seattle to Manhattan

Oh what a month it has been to enjoy live music from coast to coast and I’ve enjoyed every moment with every artist. From Elvis Costello to Allen Stone to Griffin House to Hello Brooklyn to the Beatles cover band in the subway, we have been lucky enough to partake of their musical stylings.

Allen Stone and his band rocked the Paramount
Allen Stone and his band rocked the Paramount

Allen Stone was first on our feast of music and he served a buffet of soul in spades. If you haven’t heard of him or listened to his music, DO. IT. NOW. He led the best concert I have ever seen with his deep connection to the crowd, who clearly knew his music and sang along, swaying to the tunes. His energetic trumpet and trombone artists danced as well as they played and the rest of his entourage created a powerful support for Allen’s amazing voice. If I had to pick a similar artist to Allen, it would probably be a cross between “good karma” Jason Miraz and an energetic gospel preacher. After sitting through his rapper warm-up act who encouraged everyone to “light up” and they enthusiastically obeyed, sending up a cloud of weed that enveloped us like a smokey blanket in the balcony to the point my eyes were watering.  Got to love Seattleites!  After the smoke cleared, we enjoyed  this hometown boy’s performance and I predict Allen Stone will be a HUGE artist soon.

Then, same classic and gorgeous venue-the Paramount-but a week later and with a very different tone set by the legendary  Elvis Costello performing solo with a few guitars, a piano and a playbook filled with forty years of music to share. Thom is a huge fan but I’m not that familiar with his tunes but was impressed with his artistry. He played all the hits that Thom expected and more with three encores to delight the sold out crowd.  Along the way, he shared personal stories of his family and how his music evolved.  Quite the entertaining evening.

Lost count of the multiple Elvis guitars he used to serenade us
Lost count of the multiple guitars Elvis C. used to serenade us

Moving on to NYC, we landed and immediately after checking in to our hotel, we set off on foot to walk a few miles to the City Winery to see Griffin House, an artist that I’m sure you have never heard of but might enjoy.  We like this venue so much that we wanted to go while in NYC and Tuesday was our free night so Griffin House happened to be playing that night and off we went. I had checked out his indie/slightly country music but enjoyed his live performance even more. Slightly shy and awkward at first, he gradually got into it and finished very strong with the crowd calling out their favorite songs for him to play, which he gladly performed. He is one of the many struggling artists out there just looking for their big break and working hard, living in Nashville and hitting the road to tour the small clubs. He’s coming to The Tractor in Seattle and then to Boise so check him out later this summer/fall.

Griffin House sharing his bluesy tones with us at City Winery
Griffin House sharing his bluesy tones with us at City Winery

Finally, walking home from a gallery opening after a short hike on the Highline, we were in our old neighborhood near the Flatiron and decided to check out who was playing at Toshi’s, our favorite local music bar. Lucky for us, Hello Brooklyn was playing great cover tunes so we sat back with some refreshments and enjoyed their set. Toshi’s dog is the bouncer outside the club and Toshi himself is a charming host. If you are ever in NYC, you must go to Toshi’s and enjoy whatever music offering they have that evening. It’s sure to be a good time.  Guaranteed.

Toshio's bouncer is a cutie
Toshio’s bouncer is a cutie

Finally, taking the subway to one of Thom’s old college buddies for dinner, we were serenaded by a Beatles cover band in the subway. I love this trend of officially sanctioned music in airports (Seattle) and subways (NYC) to entertain the commuters. They were quite good and having a rocking time both times we saw them-coming and going. I hope their tips were plentiful and the people appreciated their artistry. I did. Who knows what music we will enjoy next but I’m sure we’ll be spinning the tunes on Thom’s new turntable when we return to Seattle. Let the music and the good times roll…..

Rocking out with a healthy pour and Hello Brooklyn at Toshi's
Rocking out with Hello Brooklyn at Toshi’s