Moving to the music with Foy Vance

Even with terrible jet lag and packed in like sardines with a standing room only sold out audience, I still managed to thoroughly enjoy Foy Vance’s performance  on his Wild Swan Tour at Columbia City Theater this week.  WOW.  What a talent to play in this small venue.  Foy pours his heart into his music, lifting your spirits so high you can’t help but smile and move to the beat.  Whether banging it out on the piano or jamming on his guitar, Foy has passion and energy to spare.  With a careful branding of his Irish roots, he has great style, sporting a handlebar mustache, traditional tweed cap and a cheeky glint in his eyes.

After just coming back from our Ireland vacation, it was a joy to hear that lilting Irish accent again.  As the Irish would say, Feck it sure it’s grand.  Yes, that’s what they say.  He and his band decided that, like most musicians, Seattle is a grand fecking place to play.  Of course it is.

Foy opened for Elton John’s tour in Europe and was the first artist to sign on with Ed Sheeran for his new label.  When I heard he was going to play at Columbia City, I was thrilled.  Boise friends, he is there this week so go see him!  He is that good. wp_20160928_21_39_51_pro-2

With a full band and a large voice, Foy would have been better suited at The Moore or Paramount theaters so hopefully next time he makes the long trip from Ireland, he will move up to a much larger hall so we can enjoy his soaring vocals and excellent band with room to breathe.  To say it was aromatic with all the sweating bodies after a long day would be putting it mildly.  Ewwww….

After standing for over an hour in my heels, my feet were numb but I just couldn’t leave quite yet.  I love all the songs on his new album and enjoyed seeing them performed live. 

Foy’s opening act was a shrill Bob Dylan wannabe who I could have lived without seeing.  Usually the opening acts I have seen in the last year or so have been truly excellent but that was definitely NOT the case here.  Only a lovely whiskey and ginger cocktail got me through that crap that he was throwing all over the stage trying to be artistically crazy.

Finally, the jet lag won out though and, knowing I had to work the next day, we left Foy singing his heart out on the stage.  Come back to Seattle soon, Mr. Vance.  You are a true talent.




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.

NYC Never Disappoints

While it’s good to be back home again in Seattle (at least for a few days), as I walk the silent, relatively clean streets, I ache for the hustle and bustle of the NYC action where, night or day, there is a whole lot of something, something going on.  Speaking of action, I had the good fortune to be in the city when the Asian Art Alliance was having their benefit.  Our friend, Andrea, runs this great organization so I was able to hang out with her hubbie and Thom’s best friend since kindergarten, Ronnie, and enjoy super talented artists doing their thing.  From a Broadway singer giving us a sneak peek at the new George Taikei musical coming this fall, Allegiance, to a beatbox artist and a singer from Thailand, it was such a lovely evening with some energetic dance moves from the master of ceremonies-queue the video: 

Going downtown to attend the event, I bravely hopped on the #1 subway and prayed it was going in the right direction.  Thank God–the numbers were decreasing so I was headed to south Manhattan as planned!  Confident as I exited on Hudson Street, I got the loveliest random compliment from a random dude as he walked into a Dunkin Donut–” You’ve got style!” he quipped as he checked out my new black dress anchored by my turquoise belt that I’ve had for years and still dearly love.  Why thank you Mr. Complete Stranger!  Way to make my day!

On to the Asian Art Alliance event….I do appreciate all artists as I have no musical talent whatsoever.  As I chatted with the beatboxing guy, complimenting him on his performance, I contemplated how brave and determined these performers must be to endure what has to be a hand-to-mouth struggle as they pursue their passion.  I’m too practical and scared to do anything like that, preferring a steady paycheck and benefits but I do envy them following their dream.  If I can encourage and thank them for sharing their music, I always try to and have had great conversations recently with everyone from a singer at a Vancouver benefit that was performing for the first time in public to Allen Stone at a company benefit.  What a joy they bring to us who are musically challenged!

Bryant Park does outdoor movies in the summer
Bryant Park does outdoor movies in the summer

Earlier in my NYC week, I envied the huge crowd queued up to watch an outdoor movie in Bryant Park with their blankets spread out hours in advance.  I wonder if the hotel would have minded me taking their nice white towel to the park??  Not as much fun without Thom but maybe next time.  I did finally have a Shake Shack hamburger–good but not quite worth the hype.  The Shake Shack in Madison Park always has a huge crowd and lines where you wait an hour or so.  Crazy!  There is one by my hotel near Grand Central with no line so I came home from the Asian Arts Alliance late and was starving so it was time to check it out.  Yum but our local Seattle joint Dick’s puts it to shame for half the price and quite frankly, much better taste.  Plus, Dick’s just makes me giggle every time Thom says, “Let’s go grab a bag of Dick’s”. What am I 12?

After a very busy week in Manhattan, I actually slept on the plane home which I rarely am able to do.  I arrived home to a gorgeous “cotton candy” sunset and a weekend spent catching up on life and cuddling with my puppies.  Thom is back home in Indiana supporting my Mom while my sister Becky is in Europe-lucky her!  Jealous with Europe envy, I finally booked our September vacation.  We are off on another adventure–AMSTERDAM HERE WE COME!

Home Sweet Home Seattle
Home Sweet Home Seattle

Lower Queen Anne is HAPPENING!

Musical artists were featured all over Seattle Center in small and large venues..
Musical artists were featured all over Seattle Center in small and large venues..

Sorry you folks who live in the sleepy ‘burbs or, God forbid, in the country boonies because YOU.  ARE.  MISSING.  IT.   Yes, I am an urban snob.  Seriously, I can walk out my door in Lower Queen Anne and be surrounded by crazy talented musicians at the Northwest Folk Festival or go up the block and attend The Seattle International Film Festival at the Uptown.  DONE.  As Thom quipped, Seattle forecast this weekend:  Cloudy with 100% chance of aging hippies..all sporting too tight tie dye t-shirts and dreadlocks from another era.  So fun to people watch!

Kids-this is NOT a pool, it's a fountain but, hey, I can smell the chlorine from far away so go for it!
Kids-this is NOT a pool, it’s a fountain but, hey, the chlorine smell is actually stronger here than the weed so go for it–probably healthier for you!

This weekend was particularly crazy in our hood with people streaming into town to enjoy the cultural overload–hippy dippy drum circles or serious foreign films, pierogies or elephant ears–pretty much everything could be had within a short walk.  Of course, having all those food vendors was an absolute necessary for festival goers who pretty much got high just by being there among the clouds of weed drifting by.  Yes, there were cops here and there and signs reminding folks that smoking grass in public is still not legal in Seattle.  Really???  Could have fooled me but you put that much tie dye in one place and shit is bound to happen and does.

We walk the dogs through Seattle Center every day multiple times and they treat those lawns, where everyone is lying around this weekend, as their private toilet–note to future festival goers:  you might want to bring a blanket next time or you will be in close contact with Izaak and Thor’s DNA.  Lesson learned.

I love the Uptown... great place to grab a film at the SIFF.
I love the Uptown… great place to grab a film that is part of the SIFF.

The lines outside the Uptown theater speak to the great support that Seattleites give to the SIFF-a very well orchestrated film festival that goes on for weeks featuring indie films at venues all over town.  I just wish I could go see Kevin Bacon in the flesh on Wednesday when he makes a special appearance to support his film showing.  Damn-got to go cheer on the Sounders to a win instead.  Too much good stuff going on to take part in!!  We are rarely home and, when we are, I know we are missing out on something good.  So, time to take to the streets and check out the remaining acts as the incense/tie dye/corn on the cob merchants wind down and pack up and move on to the next festival.  Party on Lower Queen Anne!


Just another night in Shanghai with free-flowing Cognac and The Dickpunks

Hennessy Artistry Concert
Shanghai Mercedes Benz Arena

Free VIP Tickets and Free Hennessy cognac cocktails!  Hello, date night!  Thom and I experienced another side of Shanghai last night attending the Hennessy Artistry concert at Shanghai Mercedes Benz Arena.  Walking the red carpet and entering as VIP’s thanks to one of my co-worker’s connections, once again we were spoiled to be standing right by the stage to enjoy artists from around the world.  Most were winners of X-Factor like contests and all were wonderful including Rebecca Ferguson from the UK and The Dickpunks from Korea.  Yes, that’s really their names and they rocked it out with a Beatles-like feel and look.

Thom enjoying the view by the stage.
Hipster famous China rock star hanging with us by the stage. Love the bow tie and plaid jacket!

The hipsters were out and rocking all the latest fashion.  I saw lots of sequins, Doc Martens, skinny pants, boots, bow ties, plaid and Thom was rocking his kangol hat.  At one point, they interviewed one of the performers next to us at the bar by the stage.  Thom, looking so cool, was standing next to her and showing his big smile up on the jumbotron for all to see.  He is so spoiled!  Then, a band from China complete with silver metallic leggings tucked into their boots and fur accented jackets stood next to me to get their press pictures taken.  Since we were one of the few Laowai’s there, I think  they liked including us in their press photos.  We made a friend from France who was with the event coordinator and Thom enjoyed talking Shanghai expat stories with him.  When he found out we moved over here without ever having visited, he remarked how “brave” we were.  He was probably really thinking that we are crazy but what an interesting life you can lead when you appreciate every moment of every day as an opportunity to experience new things!

I, of course, worked my way up to the special leather couches up front only to be told politely that this area was reserved seating for the Hennessy executives at the event.  No problem!  The lovely event coordinator introduced me to her boss, who was rocking thick black framed glasses and a fedora plus a metallic shirt, and we became friends when I won him over with a big smile.  You do get much better treatment when you’re nice vs. acting entitled or being demanding.   He escorted us to the bar instead to enjoy “the best seats in the house” PLUS immediate access to the various complimentary cognac cocktails being liberally pushed upon us because, after all, the concert was really a big marketing event for Hennessy and extremely well done to seduce all the rich Chinese to buy their liquor.  I was happy to sample the offerings and enjoyed the apple and berry concoctions.  Cognac and The Dickpunks…just another night in Shanghai!

One Republic Rocked Shanghai!

hats at concert

One Republic rocked Shanghai Saturday night! We were front and center to experience a concert, Shanghai style. The arena was packed with a young crowd who amazingly knew all the lyrics and sang along all night. And they came dressed to the max with quirky and stylish outfits. Check out the hats on these girls who had on pearls with their proper dresses. There was even skin showing on some teens with skimpy outfits. Quite the range of fashion statements!

As far as concert behavior, yOne republicou can tell they are just now getting rock concerts from the US here. Finally standing when the band took the stage, the crowd didn’t know quite what to do when the band stopped for a pause before the encore. Fortunately, I knew from past experience that there would surely be an encore so leave it to my big mouth to shout out, “Encore!” and start clapping, which then rippled throughout the arena as everyone joined in with me. Yea, that’s me–inciting crowds is what I do best!

Hopefully, the band will come back soon and won’t be banned. Ryan T. was pretty sassy with his comments on not being able to access YouTube from China and some other “freedom” references and his joking about his “security” force, i.e. the government guards by the stage. The crowd loved when he spoke a little Chinese and told a story about going to the Armani Store in the “fancy” mall next to their hotel (the Four Seasons) and how he loved the smell of the store which turned out to be a car fragrance tag hanging by the air vent vs. a fancy candle or perfume. That’s China!