Four Feet Higher with T Sisters

Four Feet Higher with T Sisters

Badass sister folk band T Sisters just wrapped up an awesome set of shows at Tractor and Green Frog in Bellingham before heading out to Douglas Fir with Giraffe Dodgers tonight and the Wild Rivers Music Festival in Brookings on Sunday. We had a chance to learn a little more about what makes them so darn great.


1. Who are you? What’s your favorite sandwich?

TS: We are the T Sisters, a vocally driven roots music group from Oakland, CA. Bring on the pork
belly sandwiches with some pickled stuff on there are these girls are stoked.

2. What got you into music?

TS: Music has always been a big part of our lives. We come from a musical family. Our dad is a musician who plays guitar, piano and writes great songs. We started singing together from an early age.

3. What have you been listening to recently? 

TS: There is a great vocal group out of Canada called Chic Gamine whom we love. Anais Mitchell is amazing and always a go to and sometimes we annoy the rest of our band by playing songs from the Broadway musical Newsies…or the theme song from Frozen.

4. “Sassy sister folk” is probably the best genre ever. What’s the most ridiculous thing that’s happened during a show/while touring?

TS: We were playing a benefit in Bend that was dedicated to a couple of kayakers who had passed away. We had been playing for a while and had run out of raucous tunes so we decided for our encore to sing an a’ Capella tune and dedicate it to the folks who had passed. One of the hosts of the event was still in full party mode and quite drunk. He continued to hoot holler and started stripping off his clothes during the song. It was pretty incongruous and funny.

5. Describe your dream tour.

TS:  On our dream tour we would have an upgraded vehicle, perhaps a luxury bus and a chef. The shows would be sold out and we would have some days off to explore. Location would be…hmmm….Hawaii, Europe, South America. We want to go everywhere so it doesn’t really matter where.

6. Anything else you’d like us to know about?

TS: We have a great band that we travel with including our upright bass player Steve Height and our mandolin/guitar player Andy Allen-Fahlander. We love to do band outdoor activities like hiking, swimming etc. so we’re excited to head back to the beautiful Pacific Northwest!

Recap: T Sisters are super rad and worth following. Check them out

Allen Stone – How is he not Famous?

Allen Stone – How is he not Famous?

Seattle is now on the other side of a weeklong Allen Stone dance party. Not only did he play five shows in a week (Triple Door, Nectar, Crocodile, Neumos, Paramount, and apparently a catered listening party at a house??) he sold them all out. And yet, there are still a handful of people I’ve talked to in the past few days as I attempt to recreate the most intense natural high I’ve maybe ever felt that don’t know who I’m talking about.

Let’s just address something really quickly: THAT. IS. INSANE.

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset

Allen Stone has been around for a few years, and while he disappeared for a few years though (minus a Ste. Michelle show) he consistently puts on one of the most entertaining live shows I’ve ever seen. Not only is his voice insane, he surrounds himself with equally talented musicians, has apparently infinite energy, and commands a crowd.

Allen Stone – Somebody that I Used to Know (Cover) at Paramount show

I would have attended every show every night, probably died, and would have been totally happy. However, I ended up snagging two tickets to his Thursday show at the Crocodile. I’ve been to sold out shows before, but I don’t think I’ve ever felt the Crocodile THAT full before. Apparently no one was hiding out at the Back Bar eating pizza, because it was straight people from the stage to the bar. He played old songs and new songs with the most energetic horn players I’ve ever seen and some BADASS backup vocalists. He made us all do the Universal Sway, and no one thought twice about it.

Processed with VSCOcam with p5 preset

This may look like a normal shitty iPhone photo taken from a crowd. However:

  • 1) I generally can never actually see the band. Too short. It actually is pretty impressive at this point in my life how I can usually pick out which tall person will end up standing in front of me.
  • 2) I can see because everyone is gettin’ down. I mean gettin’ DOWN. Allen was able to get an entire of Seattle people to get down Shout-style and dance their faces off.
  • 3) NO ONE DOES THAT

During his encore, he split the crowd in half with an aisle down the middle to run through to grab a shot of tequila, and then judged a dance battle between each side. Having seen him before, I was curious to see if this was a standard for his shows, and was quite pleased to find that it was. Again, referring to point 3, NO one else can make a crowd dance like that. It doesn’t matter if you’re on an awkward first date and you’ve had one hand in your pocket and one hand holding your beer the whole time: you WILL dance during the dance battle.

I also was able to bring someone who had never seen Allen Stone before, so I relived the magic of being in awe with every song and performance, followed by multiple days of listening to nothing but Allen Stone. You try to not build it up too much, but you know there is no choice but to love his shows.

I can’t wait to see where he ends up, and have no doubt that as big as he gets he’ll still be just as fun, genuine, goofy, and ridiculously talented.

#TBT – A Love Letter to Foo Fighters

#TBT – A Love Letter to Foo Fighters

Dear Dave Grohl and all-associated Foo Fighters,

In most Four Feet Higher interviews with bands, I tend to make sure I ask the standard question, “What got you into music?” because if there’s anything I’ve learned, it’s that most music nerds can trace it back to one or two artists or albums. While I am very thankful to have been introduced to Sgt. Pepper at a very young age, there is and always be one defining source of my nerdhood: you.

I’ll admit, sometimes I hesitate to list you in my favorite bands because it doesn’t feel right to include you without the ability to explain the whole story, and just saying “No really, I LOVE them.” isn’t enough. So. I’m getting it out into the world now, to exist as my written supplement to my love.

Let’s go all the way back to third grade. I was jump-dancing on my twin size trundle bed/stage (hell yeah, sleepovers for days) to either N*SYNC or Britney Spears. Could’ve been either, all that matters is I was playing it at an absurd volume and probably singing just as loudly. My bedroom was directly across from my brother’s room, who is 7 years older than me. While we are great friends now, it’s safe to say he didn’t have much in common with me as a high school boy.

FullSizeRender

The most accurate picture of me and Chris ever taken, 2003

He was likely working on smart-people homework during my concert and did not appreciate it as much as my stuffed animal audience. One day, he stood in my doorway, visibly frustrated, and said something along the lines of “PLEASE LISTEN TO THIS INSTEAD JUST ONCE” and handed me your album The Colour and the Shape. Obviously I did not do what he said immediately because that would have been far too nice of me. Instead I waited until he went to swim practice later that night and listened to the whole thing beginning to end.

That was it. I was hooked. After that, I would sneak into his room during many swim practices to steal every CD from Incubus to the Godzilla soundtrack (HEY don’t mock – it had Brain Stew by Green Day on it AND you guys were on it too so I had no choice).

Fast forward to my first day of 5th grade, a whopping 2 years later. I was starting at a new school where I knew no one. My dad was driving me to school and I was sure if I said anything, the butterflies in my stomach would quickly…um…exit. I don’t remember which one of us chose it, but the decision was made to play Everlong. For whatever reason, it was the perfect combo of mellow but powerful and gave me just the right amount of confidence to actually get out of the car and into this terrifying new world. First day of middle school: same thing. In fact, we listened to Everlong the first day of school every day until I was old enough to drive myself. And then, yeah, I played it then too.

Next thing I know it’s the summer before Senior year, and my brother sees that you are coming to Key Arena. I had not been to a concert yet, so I was unbelievably pumped. Actually, I should probably apologize publicly for it. Dear Chris, I’m sorry for all the screaming. I’ve learned now. I know that’s not okay. You’re the best brother ever.

200517_1003901829365_7476_n

Don’t worry, I later bought a $40 concert shirt, 2008

From the moment you got on stage until the last song of the second encore, I was, again, hooked. How was it possible that the music I loved so much in my headphones and in my car was EVEN BETTER live? I can even trace two of the closest friends I’ve ever had to the fact that we were all at that show and could re-live it together.

Even my badass older cousins (with whom I was just getting old enough to hang with) all loved Foo Fighters. Boom: more critical life-bonding. When we lost the beaming-light-of-a-human Mark Holt, my cousin, I found myself listening to February Stars over and over and over until I decided it was time to probably start writing my own music.

Enter: College. While I don’t remember if I listened to Everlong every year, but I know for sure I listened to it on the first day of Senior year again, because I HAD TO. Nothing could perfectly address the cocktail of nostalgia and fear and excitement I was feeling quite like this band I had been listening to for the past 12ish years. I tweeted you about it, but no hard feelings for not responding, you do you. Even my long-distance boyfriend-at-the-time (aka one of those close friendships I mentioned earlier) and I waited until we saw each other to listen to Wasting Light beginning to end. Awww, s’cute.

Even today, if I’m stressed out or having a level-10 shit day and you come on the radio, I am immediately comforted. I only appreciate you more as time goes on as one of the most authentic and hard-working bands in the business, and a model for how to gracefully adapt to the world. You have carried me through the smallest and largest of life changes, and for that I can never thank you enough. Instead, I can only continue writing and listening and performing and show-going with the hope that even one person develops the same kind of love with music as I have.

Dave, Chris, Nate, Taylor, Pat, and anyone else you’ve ever played with: Thank you. You’re my favorite.

Love,

Shannon

The Onlies – Part 2: The Interview

The Onlies – Part 2: The Interview

The Onlies are so nice, we wanted to write about them twice! (Three times? Maayyybeee…) Needless to say, I was floored from their show at Town Hall last Saturday. Not only are The Onlies some of the most talented teenagers I’ve ever met, they’re some of the most talented musicians I’ve ever seen, period. The only time I remembered they were in high school was during their charming stage banter which included a couple “dude”s and a comment about a zipper being undone. Love it. After their show, I connected with them (hereby referred to as TO) to learn more. Read it all below!


1. Who are you? What’s your favorite sandwich?

TO: We are a band called the Onlies, not the random band of the same name in Louisiana but the ones from Seattle. Of course, we are the random band to them. We happen to be teenagers who go to Garfield High School. We also happen to play folk music. This makes us teenagers who play folk music. We write songs, fiddle tunes, and interpret the songs and tunes of old traditions. Our names our Sami Braman, Leo Shannon, and Riley Calcagno. We will let you guess who is writing this of the three. [Sorry to ruin that one for you, Riles.]

Sami actually had a column in our school newspaper about sandwiches called “Sammy Sandwiches” so she is somewhat of an expert. She really enjoys sandwiches from Paseo. Riley and Leo are weird and like Cashew Butter and frozen blueberries in a sandwich. Riley used to tease Leo about this sandwich but then he tasted it. Turns out it rocks.

2. You mentioned playing together since you were two. Can you describe what your jam sessions looked like then? 

TO: A lot of Thomas the Tank Engine was involved as well as complicated made up games. Leo and Riley used to fight a lot. After 8pm was meltdown hour and each were very touchy. When we started playing music at 4, 5, and 6, we would describe the jams as primitive.

3. What got you into music?

TO: I think each of us were always enamored with music. But we have also have always been lucky enough to be around it at festivals and through our parents since we were in the womb.

4. What’s your pre-show ritual?

TO: Riley delivers the famous motivational speech from Miracle on Ice and we do a huddle. This is real. We are not making it up. Riley does simplify it a bit though. It is very inspirational.

5. Is there anything you think about or do while you’re playing a show that would surprise the audience if they knew?  

TO:  We exchange a fair amount of (usually joking) dirty looks. Other than that, we are sometimes thinking of all the homework we have to, but we really try to be in the present and remember how lucky we are to be playing music. We also make a lot of inside jokes from various podcasts and tv shows. Leo likes to introduce Riley as the “wick-edly talented” Riley Calcagno after John Travolta’s introduction at the 2014 Oscars.

6. What have you been listening to recently?

TO: We listen to a lot of music. We love to listen to all sorts of trad music like Appalachian, Irish, and Cape Breton: Marcus Martin, Frankie Gavin, Buddy MacMaster and so many more. We also like modern bands like Crooked Still and the Bee Eaters (the bands of our producer Tristan Clarridge), Nickel Creek, Punch Brothers, the Decemberists, and many more. Riley and Leo also jam out to this.

7. I remember being a junior in high school and slightly terrified of post-HS life, so I hate to bring this up, but what’s the ideal plan post-graduation?

TO: We plan on going to college right now, but also all or a couple of us might take a gap year and travel the world. This might entail some touring and maybe not. We are all going to stay close friends and have lots of playing and some performing when we get to be in the same city. But, indeed, scary!

8. You discussed spirit animals; I’ve been told mine is a flying squirrel. How did you decide on river otter? Is this as individuals or The Onlies as a collective?

TO: Oooooh just found out about this spirit animal! We like it we think. If any readers have any other ideas, send ‘em along. Sami thinks Riley is squirrel.

9. What’s your dream show experience? Are you thinking something small and intimate or headlining Telluride?

TO: We love playing small and big shows. Different energy and different kinds of fun. They wouldn’t be the same if you didn’t have them both.

10. You just packed Town Hall and released an album. What’s next that you’d like people to know about?

TO: We are lucky enough to get to play with Elvis Costello at STG Doors at the Paramount. We are so excited! Coming up, we will also be back at Town Hall for the Pete Seeger Tribute, Northwest Folklife, and hopefully some more places. Keep up with us on our Facebook page and our website. WOOHOO! Recap: The Onlies are freakin’ cool and worth following. Check them out

The Onlies – Part 1

The Onlies – Part 1

The Onlies at Sound Off! 2014

This Saturday I’ll be at Town Hall, most likely getting my mind blown by The Onlies. Their album release show, produced by Tristan Clarridge (Crooked Still, Bee Eaters), will be a night of original and traditional fiddle-driven music, with Celtic, old-time American, and Canadian roots. I love all of those things. I listened to the track they sent us, thought it sounded amazing, did the next-normal task of checking their website…

Oh hey, they’re all in high school. When they say they’ve been playing together since the age of 2, they’re not kidding. As students from Garfield High School, they’ve been in the music world longer than I have. Safe to say I was incredibly intrigued by this trio and can’t wait to see what they have to show on Saturday. Tickets are still available here, with a show recap coming next week!

Show Recap – Wren, March to May, If BEARS were BEES

Show Recap – Wren, March to May, If BEARS were BEES

While bossman Jeff was across the street at Thunderpussy, I posted up at Conor Byrne to check out Wren, March to May, and If BEARS were BEES Thursday night. Before I say anything else: I love that bar. It’s the perfect balance of home-y and hipster-y, and they do a great job of showcasing bands I’ve never heard before, which I love. Maybe it’s cheesy, but I love the corner stage with the chandelier and lamppost, and how in the same night you could see a duo with a harp player followed by a “folk-punk” band, but more on that later.

ConorByrne

Wren opened the show; a singer-songwriter/poet joined by Ariana Taylor Stanley on piano and Anna Boyd on fiddle. I’m a huge fan of the genre descriptor of “alt-folk” but it felt very traditional to me. Before the show started I had made a note that apparently I’d missed the memo about beige dresses being the dress code, before I realized as they all went onstage that it was planned. Got it, my bad. I wasn’t able to catch some of Wren’s lyrics, but picked up on a lot of PacNW allusions and influences from nature. Boyd stuck out to me the most, with incredibly warm tones and beautiful fiddle lines over their simplistic melodies. It’s sometimes difficult to gage an audience’s response to a folk act, simply because there’s no set way to move and dance to folk music. Sometimes you see swaying and foot-tapping, sometimes you see a man in gold shoes dancing on his own, but what struck me the most was the lack of audience chit-chat. It’s so easy during laid-back shows where a majority of your audience is sitting, drinking, and probably with a group, to start your own conversations and forget you’re actually at a show, but that did not seem to be the case during Wren. Once you tuned in, you were captured. They played some newer songs near the end of their set that felt much more dynamic and emotional than songs from earlier, especially with the addition of more vocal harmonies. I would love to hear more vocals from the three of them, but I’m a sucker for harmonies that are interesting and enchanting, which in inevitable coming from three female folk voices.

Next up was March to May, a local duo with a – wait for it – harp player. I read about them a bit before Thursday and realized that I’d never actually seen a non-classical show with a harpist before. I’ll be honest, I didn’t really know what to expect. I have no idea what the acceptable amount of harp is in a duo, but at the top of my notes was “more harp more harp more harp!”. It’s such a unique sound that feels underused in folk music. The duo performed a lovely Swell Season cover which matches their tone well, followed by The Navigator, my favorite song of their set. The beginning was engaging, their harmonies sounded stronger, and it created a more interesting melodic flow. I also appreciated that they utilized subtle but driving percussion which also helped move their songs more gracefully than is sometimes seen in folk duos. As they progress as a group with an album release in April (on a historic steam ship in Lake Union, aka the coolest), I would love to see them move away from a straight side-by-side comparison with artists like Swell Season and grow into their own style and sound. I’m personally a huge fan of covering music that isn’t your style at all and making it your own. I don’t disagree with the comparison and love the influences, but as they write and play more they definitely have the potential to stand on their own.

The final set of the evening was If BEARS were BEES which I can’t help but hear in my head as though it’s said by Dwight Schrute every time. Described as “folk-punk” (just for this show? Or all the time? Unsure…) I had no idea what to expect, but I dig it. The band is fronted by TJ Grant; the only person I’ve ever seen whistle while playing an electric guitar. They had tongue-in-cheek lyrics with moments of realness that, I felt, made them more piercing to listeners as you hear moments of emotional honesty amongst the punky storytelling. I was racking my brain trying to figure out who they reminded me of, but then realized I didn’t give a shit about that because the sound in front of me was strong enough to stand alone.

Genre-blending is definitely becoming more prevalent in our music scene, either intentionally or not. While it may seem odd at first to see some of these bands back-to-back, I think it should absolutely be embraced. As bookers become overworked and probably doing other jobs, it’s possible that the variety of artists isn’t intentional at all, just merely what was put together for that night. I think that’s a huge opportunity to find the common threads in artists, challenge artists and promoters to find a theme, and make a night out of it. While Wren, March to May, and If BEARS were BEES may be almost musical opposites, it would have brought the night to a new level to see some type of genre-crossover as a nod to each other as artists pursuing the same passion. Until then, I’ll just keep imagining a supergroup of fiddle, harp, electric guitar, and whistling.

So Happy That You’re Mine – Boat Race Weekend

So Happy That You’re Mine – Boat Race Weekend

This past week, local Washingtonians Boat Race Weekend released their first album, The Talisman. Named for the three-day party preceding Seafair in the Tri-Cities (think less yachts, more inflatable/floating coolers filled with Bud Light) Boat Race Weekend is made up of Collin Price, Evan Kruschke, and Jay Orth. To put it simply, The Talisman is the first pop-punk album to give me butterflies in my stomach since high school.

First of all, it’s clear that all three of them love what they do. Without excitement and love of their craft, The Talisman wouldn’t be nearly as cohesive as it is. Kruschke’s vocals carried me through each track, making me want to yell-sing the lyrics in my car while finger-drumming on my steering wheel to Orth’s pretty badass rhythms. BRW’s lyrics are far from cheesy, but still accessible and bring me back to the days of Brand New and The Classic Crime. By the time I reached Beautiful Days, Boat Race Weekend’s single, I was checking to see when and where they were playing next, only to find I had just missed them at Skylark in West Seattle this past weekend. I caught them over the holidays in Tri-Cities at a house party, where their “stage” was decorated with the animatronic Mr. and Mrs. Claus that I’m sure could only be found at Old Country Buffet. Besides thinking that Collin had the least-awkward stage presence of any bassist I’ve ever seen (seriously, why are they all so bad at moving with their instrument??) I realized with each song “holy shit, these guys are good.”

Boat Race Weekend’s album release comes at a time when Seattle’s music scene seems to be trying to rebuild its roots with the reopening of classic venues like Funhouse and Chop Suey. It’s possible I’m feeling all the feelings during The Talisman knowing that the BRW dudes grew up in the same place as me around the same time, so it sounds like home. More than that, listening to them now, here, made me realize the void that’s been created recently of authentic and cathartic pop-punk music. Shows I’ve attended recently in Seattle have felt inaccessible or only for the super fans, while Boat Race Weekend gracefully places themselves in the scene with anthems that acknowledge the hurt while never forgetting the hope that comes along with it. It’s great to hear a band that clearly lives through their sound, while never sacrificing talent, technique, or soul. Their sound is what Seattle could pick back up again, filling venues with fans jumping and screaming and dancing and sweating and all of the things we love.

Photo by Josh Winger