All Star Opera @ Barboza

All Star Opera @ Barboza

Hey, you. Go to this show.Really, it will be good. How do I know?

…Full disclosure, one of All Star Opera’s members is my brother. Also, these dudes are great live. Tons of energy. They love performing and they are getting really good at it.

This Thursday (tomorrow!) ASO and their live band will crash Barboza’s intimate stage and you should be there because it’s a great venue for getting to know a new band or a budding group better.

Even if I didn’t know anyone in ASO I would recommend this show for three reasons:

1. Every song they release is better than their last. (Proof here.)

2. Ever live show they play is better than their last. (Proof Thursday at Barboza.)

3. What the hell else do you have better to do? (A good hip hop group with a live band is hard to beat on a Thursday night.)

As always, find me at the show and say what’s up and I’ll buy you a drink. See you tomorrow!

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

State of the ‘Squatch

State of the ‘Squatch

(Most of) The Sasquatch lineup was released this week, and as someone who has started to feel like I’m too old for a Sasquatch adventure, I was stoked. Maybe I’ve just upped my music-listening count this year, but every line had one to two artists that made me go WHATNOWAY. However, I will say that most of the stokedness (besides the initial ROBERT PLANT WHAT?!) came around line 4, and sustained until the end. Because I’m super objective and professional, I’m going to keep opinions out of this and highlight the [SUPER AWESOME] local-ish musicians performing at Sasquatch this year. I’ve included PDX and Vancouver in this definition of local-ish, because they fit my image of Pacific Northwest. Without further ado, here’s my massive NW Sasquatch list of 2015 for you to explore:

Modest Mouse

They have a new album coming out. Maybe. Possible. Eventually? Still waiting.

The Decemberists

New Pornographers

Father John Misty (kinda? I’m counting it)

Okay, maybe FJM hasn’t lived here in a while, but I think he definitely qualifies as an honorary PNW-ite, right? Plus I love this article.

Odesza

I. Love. Odesza. Seriously, I could not happier to see these guys blowing up.

Perfume Genius

Sam Lachow

Dan Mangan

I’m a firm believer that cool music videos shouldn’t affect my view of someone as an artist. However…his are SO cool.

Fences

Rose Windows

Grynch

Fun fact: we both love Hauschka jerseys, so how could we not love him? Check out our interview with him here!

My Goodness

The Young Evils

The Maldives

Kinski

S Jenn Ghetto (kinda from here?)

Porter Ray

Black Whales

Cataldo

Manatee Commune

We featured both Manatee Commune and Smokey Brights in our Bands to Watch 2015 post, and yes, you should still be watching them. I’ve also included his submission to the NPR Tiny Desk contest as his video because it’s so rad.

Smokey Brights

Shaprece

You can check our interview with her from CHBP here!

Vox Mod

DJAO

Ayron Jones & the Way

THIS MAN IS SO IMPRESSIVE HOLY WOW.

Murder Vibes

Did I miss any? Feel free to send them to me @shannont311

 

Live Music Playlist – December 2014

Live Music Playlist – December 2014

We’ve put together a list of Seattle shows that, when taken in as a whole, should make up a pretty perfect December show experience.

We all listen to albums and playlists to give single songs deeper meaning, so why not treat shows the same way?

We’re betting that if you go to all of these shows, you’ll emerge from December with a new appreciation for Seattle’s live music scene.

We’ll be out a ton this month and we hope to see you out, soaking up these incredible local lineups!

Erik Blood at Sunset Tavern
Today! (December 11th)

Erik Blood is rad and the new and improved Sunset is rad. If you’re also rad and in a rad mood on the 11th, check out this show. We’ll refund your ticket price if you don’t have a good time!

Joshua Roman and the Seattle Symphony at Benaroya Hall
Saturday, December 13th

Round out your December show schedule and impress your friends with how fancy you are by going to see an amazing Cellist play with Seattle’s Symphony. Chances are that by 12/13 you’re stressed out and ready for the holidays to be over already. Relax, breathe deep and let the music touch your soul. Saturday is the third of three performances, so you can go Thursday or Friday, too.

AC & OCnotes with Tetrabox at Barboza
Wednesday, December 17th

OCnotes is one of Seattle’s most underrated musicians. Not only that, but he has one of the region’s most underrated Christmas albums. AC adds a live element that should impress. We think everyone should go to at least one Barboza show a month and this one will be full of vibes, tunes and energy that we’re betting you didn’t expect.

The Maldives, The Moondoggies and Fuana Shade at The Tractor Tavern
Thursday, December 18th

That’s right, back to back shows. It’s your last chance to see Seattle bands bust it out in 2014, so you gotta go hard. The Maldives and The Moondoggies are playing three shows in a row at The Tractor. Any of these three shows will be fun, awesome and memorable, but we’ll be at the first one where fresh legs and the very, very good Fauna Shade will be in the house.

Porter Ray and Romaro Franceswa at Crocodile Backbar
Sunday, December 21st

Porter Ray is Sub Pop’s newest signee and one of Seattle’s most exciting young voices. He raps like Nas without being derivative. A true story teller, Porter’s live show is improving and Romaro Franceswa on the same bill for $10 seems insane. If Porter is Seattle’s most notable young MC of 2014, Romaro is second on that list. Town legend BeanOne is his producer and DJ, so, yeah, it’s going to be a good show. Watch his KEXP performance for proof of Romaro’s live performance chops and, for Pete’s sake, go to this show!

TubaLuba with Orkestar Zirkonium and Grace Love at The Tractor Tavern
Tuesday, December 23rd

Seattle showgoers aren’t necessarily the biggest dancers but the Tractor is a great place to let yourself go and if this lineup doesn’t get you dancing, nothing will. You must dance at this one. You MUST. Afterall, you’re going to spend the next few days sitting on your rear, eating rich food and drinking spirits. If for no other reason, go to this show for the workout!

NYE with Beat Connection at Neumos
Wednesday, December 31st

You can’t lose this NYE, but we’ll be at the Beat Connection show! Neumos may not be the most punk place to spend the last day of your year, but this show is going to put a smile on your face and help get 2015 started off right. If you like fun, you’ll like this show!

Local Holidays – Hollis and Kris Orlowski

Local Holidays – Hollis and Kris Orlowski

This week, local Seattle natives Hollis Wong-Wear and Kris Orlowski placed a neatly-wrapped pre-Christmas gift on our laps in the form of “Is This Christmas” and the The Christmas Cheer Pack.

This collaboration between a favorite singer-songwriter and the busiest woman in Seattle music comes at a time where we begin remembering how bittersweet holidays can be. As mentioned by Jonathan Zwickel in City Arts yesterday “The older we get, the more mixed emotions are roused by traditional celebrations and this song zeros in on that very adult ambivalence the holidays can bring”.

Personally, I love Christmas. I am half Kermit the Frog in a flailing YAY wearing a Santa hat and half Will Ferrell running through a revolving door. That being said, even as a self-prescribed superfan of the 25th of December, the season doesn’t come without twinges of melancholia. Those twinges can be louder than any carol when remembering family members and friends that are no longer here to celebrate with us, how much life change fits itself between each holiday, or merely thinking about what holidays can mean for others.

This weird feeling that we seem to all face during this month could possibly not be articulated any other way than music – and for that I thank Hollis and Kris. Acknowledging that we’ve probably all at some point felt that cognitive holiday dissonance reminds us to continue celebrating together.

Sappiness aside, this song is damn good, and can be bought with other Flavr Blue andOrlowski classics on their bandcamp page. I highly recommend throwing down those 2 Washingtons and I look forward to future work from these two.

Field Notes – Tutti Means Everybody

Field Notes – Tutti Means Everybody

The very first time I performed in front of an audience I was ten. I sat petrified alongside my fellow 5th grade violists in an uncomfortably cold gymnasium, all of us nervously smiling and holding our instruments and bows in ‘rest position.’ It was the Bozeman School Districts’ attempt at giving us youngsters an opportunity to see what it’s really like to play in a large ensemble. To our numerous dutiful supporters it probably felt like some type of twisted torture. Grandparents, squirming younger siblings, parents, and the little old lady from next door all sat and listened as we bravely played ‘Ode To Joy’ as loudly as we possibly could. The actual performance didn’t offer me many memorable take-aways, besides that no matter what, no one ever sounds good in a gymnasium. The real gold was in the process.

In preparation for this great orchestral experiment, I remember my teacher saying, “do y’all see all the little words written in the staff next to all the notes? Well those are dynamic markings and different ‘clues’ to help play the piece….. And ‘tutti’, there at the beginning, means everybody.” Then, like a powerful wizard, she raised her baton and said… “TUTTI!!”

First of all, what more adorable-sounding word could mean everybody other than ‘tutti’?! We love it! All of us found so much joy decoding the treasure map of our sheet music, the Italian dynamic markings were a favorite of mine. I thought to myself, well in reality ‘orchestra’ means tutti and since tutti means everybody, what we’re really doing here is existing in union. Yes I was into the ‘big picture’ as a weird existentially minded kid. Most importantly, this is where my philosophy of what it means to be an instrumentalist takes root. Tutti means everybody.

Shakir Rodriguez, 2014

As an instrumentalist, ensemblist, collaborator, band member etc you are a piece of this amazing moving thing, and this is the common denominator we all share. All the pieces need to be moving in union. Tutti. The movement is what we’re aiming for- that is why string sections far and wide endure the tedium of coordinating bowings, that is why composers will go to such lengths as to notate intricately how, where, and with what intention a note should be played, and this is also why Malcom Gladwell’s claim to 10,000 hours indicating mastery is a load of horse shit. It takes longer to get to absolute ‘tutti’.

In my experience, the best outcomes occur when everyone is participating in the negotiation of moving parts. Similarly to a bunch of fast moving chefs in a kitchen hollering “knife!” “Hot!”, and “behind!” Instrumentalists adopt a similar method for staving off dysfunction. The body cues, coded check ins, loud sniffs, foot taps, chin points, all function to communicate the following; “Are all the pieces movin together? Do we love it? Are you with me?…We’re movin! We’re in it! We love it!”

Over this past summer I spent a lot of wondrous time playing festivals with The local synth pop trio, The Flavr Blue. I was able to travel to NYC and play at the Brooklyn Bowl with them where Quest Love watched as we performed, (le gasp!).

Before the show, I spent some time chatting with a trombone player Jason Disu, from another band playing that night. I remember him saying, “well if you just keep saying ‘yes’ to stuff, eventually you’ll be the first person people think of and then your set, you have all the options!” I think it was made clear to me that performing these shows provided me with a new way of understanding what the role of an instrumentalist really is. When you’re all on your own playing with recordings of yourself as the harmony, the focus isn’t in the little sniffs and bowings, it’s all about your presentation. In these scenarios you really have the opportunity to close your eyes and imagine that the people in front of you are gone and just feel what’s coming. Staying versatile like this as a performer is like playing on a soccer team one day and then being a solo ice dancer the next. It’s tough.

Jason and I shared stories from music school, who we admired, and what we ideally wanted to be doing as instrumentalists. He told me about touring with David Byrne and St Vincent. We realized we actually knew some of the same people through music camps and music school connections. That little conversation of instrumentalist camaraderie made me realize something, that this wasn’t the end of the rainbow for me. I need all the lenses. Most importantly, in some shape or form I need that tutti back in my life.

Months later, thanks to the gorgeous and brilliant cellist, Natalie Mai Hall, I found myself auditioning for The Seattle Rock Orchestra.

If you ever feel like you need to witness some incredibly talented and glamorous human beings in absolute tutti… Come check us out. You can also come see me and Flavr Blue at Neumos on November 29th with Katie Kate, Cuff Lynx, and DJ Simon Thwaits. Buy tickets HERE!

#TBT #MiniMaggie

Field Notes – An Introduction to Maggie Tweedy

Field Notes – An Introduction to Maggie Tweedy

My name is Maggie and I play strings…for all things. For hotel lobbies during the holidays, for hip-hop/pop/jazz/soul/disco instrumentals in studios, on stages, on video, in university practice rooms, classrooms, on boats, on ranches, on mountains, in bars, at Boys & Girls Clubs, weddings, and radio stations. That’s what I tell people when they ask what kind of strings I play. Well not really…but that’s me, I have my strings in all sorts of projects, it’s like I’m investing to retire or something… I’m diversifying. I just love playing. From the moment I started viola I LOVED IT. I started making up my own songs, learning all the NPR jingles by ear, and tried to sleep with my instrument like it was my teddy bear. Playing viola and violin make me feel like I can communicate who I am and my identity is strongly correlated to performance art. As a performer, then, I endeavor to make a living by making myself vulnerable.

This is a story about maintaining artistic integrity while also struggling to stave off financial scarcity. This is also however a testament to my belief that regardless of what wretched monstrous slithering beasts money can turn people into, there are still human beings among them, making this whole endeavor of getting paid for what you love worth the battles with snakes.

Once the basics of form and melody are in place, what I look for in music is openness, vulnerability, and a self-curated sound, along with enough confidence and passion of delivery to save me from becoming embarrassed on behalf the artist. Recently at Town Hall, Dr. Cornel West made a far too familiar phenomenon clear by stating, “there are plenty of individuals making hundreds of thousands of dollars who can NOT sing in tune […] do you really think your soul can be satisfied with music made since 2001?!” Hell no!

Dr. Cornel West, Town Hall Seattle, October 9, 2014

I believe that when we love art and love what we do, we love hard. But the challenge and danger with love is that it is always in close relationship with death. To love hard is to be willing to sacrifice something to be a part of something greater, sacrificing our precious popularity for something bigger than ourselves.

That being said, there have been times when I’ve felt let down by our creative community. Where I previously believed a group to be ‘loving hard’ I will be wrong. There are artists who call ‘exposure’ payment enough… even though in reality you’re the one who can’t seem to understand why a recently emerging band would think they’re doing you a favor by hiring you to play for free…. These occurrences lead me away from believing that all artists ‘love hard.’ Because where hype is king, being vulnerable for a living really sucks. I’ve engaged in some pretty severe self-preservationist defensive behavior lately…outlined perfectly by the following rant-ish train of thought…

“I’m sorry you guys, my mother never let me consume Kool Aid… It’s fake shit. Like the scene/hype/exposure you’re offering to pay me with for contributing my degree-earning 17-years-of-training-and-counting musical work to your ‘project’… Nope you’re doing me NO favors. I’m walking away as far as my two feet and any means of philosophical educational and artistic transportation can take me. You are toxic to the world of art!! I’m leaving you to drown and crystallize in your swimming pool of synthesized flavored Kool Aid! ”

Recently, in this fatalistic disillusioned mindset, I thought I’d go shake some people down for the money they owed me for my work, cause you know, I’m broke and mad… and I want more from this life. One of those people happened to be a hip-hop artist who’s gaining major attention outside Seattle and who’s charismatic performances have had audiences circling up and sitting criss-cross applesauce in the middle of Cap Hill Block Party.

When we worked together earlier this summer, I came away from the session exhausted, inspired, and satisfied. I like to call that a mark of integrity. When your body is exhausted, it went into your work, when your soul is full, that’s what your work gave you. That’s what this shit is all about. LOVING HARD.

Still though, I’m always ready to go to battle with snakes, and when July goes by… no check, I send an email. When August goes by… no check, I send another, maybe ‘less friendly’ email. When September and half of October go by and no check though, I’m convinced I’m being misused and all of a sudden the fulfillment and satisfaction I felt in June is out the door, down the street, and around the corner…cause I am sending the email of emails.

In the middle of the night last week I drafted an email using the scariest Sallie Mae inspired wordage I could muster… threatening him with the people I know, I threw character judgements his way, and the worst… threatened him with never-ending emails until he decided to act on his word. Then I clicked ‘send’.

The battle had begun….

Eight hours and three long emails later I got a phone call. I answered and heard “before you say anything let me just apologize…..” An hour and a half goes by. In that period of time, we talk about our artistic philosophy, the ways we’ve been screwed over, and the reasons we had become so armed to go to battle against each-other. We became friends. And yesterday morning I woke up to a check under my doormat….Serious.

If this is how I’m going to find the real human beings among the monsters, I’m okay with that. Because you’ve gotta dig through and rip open a lot of oysters to find the pearl of enlightenment. Walking away from projects, partnerships, and leaving nasty fruit on the ground is okay. The Kool Aid is always going to be there at the open bar, and we’re all liable to sip it. To sit back in our contrived peanut gallery and throw shade on all those guzzling fake flavors of Popularity and Fame is not healing or solving anything either. The love train of our creative community leaves regardless, better get on! Give yourself some recognition and credit for waking up and shaking off your sugar high, and ‘love hard’…that is the real nurturing we need.