ROCKIN' THROUGH MY 50's & BEYOND!
As I sit in my red, vinyl bean bag chair, put my headsets on, cord attached to the turntable…
Growing up on a small farm in Eastern Washington, I saw very little of the world. My big adventures were an occasional visit to Spokane and Seattle. In my imaginary bean bag chair world, I was traveling the globe shopping and listening to music in exotic cities. Paris, London, New York City …Cleveland, Ohio. CLEVELAND?! The needle suddenly comes scratching across the vinyl record. Why would I want to go to Cleveland, when I could be eating dinner in Paris?
Even though I’ve been a flight attendant since people could light up cigarettes on airplanes, I’ve never been to Cleveland. Home of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame from its opening in 1995. “The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, located on the shore of Lake Eerie in downtown Cleveland, Ohio, recognizes and archives the history of the best-known and most influential artists, producers, engineers, and other notable figures who have had some major influence on the development of rock and roll.”
It’s been on my bucket list for quite some time. Every month, we create our own flying/work schedules. I noticed that there was a trip in May that had a 30-hour downtown layover in Cleveland. Perfect! When we received our schedules, I looked up my crew. There were 2 flight attendants who had about 2 years’ seniority, and then my friend Tonya, who has 19 years. She was the Flight Leader. I immediately sent her a message. “Want to know why a flight attendant with 30 years’ seniority is on a trip with a long layover in Cleveland? Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Museum, baby!”. She stayed on the trip. And we had a blast!
Heart is one of my favorite bands. I have started my own Rock Wall of Fame in my house. This is what it looks like behind me, as I sit typing on the computer.
Tonya and I flew a trip to Amsterdam the week before our Cleveland trip. I told her I was going to wear my Heart concert t-shirt to the RRHOF, because I wanted to take a picture of me wearing it in front of Heart’s display (they were inducted in 2013). She wanted to do that, too! So, during her crew break, somewhere over the Atlantic Ocean, she went onto their website and ordered a t-shirt. The amazing power of current technology. I think it’s always more fun to add a theme/purpose to an adventure!
The day arrived, and off we went on our trip. Early flight departures and long days on either side of our Cleveland layover, but since we had a plan, it was okay. We arrived in Cleveland late at night. It was dark, so I really had no idea where we were. Our drive to the hotel took us by gigantic sports facilities, a large downtown area and we were let off outside a beautiful, old hotel. Completely opposite of what I expected for Cleveland. We made plans to meet the next morning, and headed off for a great night of sleep.
It was only about a 12-minute walk to the RRHOF from our hotel. A glorious 12-minute walk. When we left Seattle, it was 45 degrees and raining. In Cleveland, it was sunny and upper 70’s! To be honest, I hadn’t looked at a map to see where Cleveland was. It was a total surprise to me, to find out it was on Lake Eerie! The RRHOF is part of the city’s redeveloped North Coast Harbor. A beautiful setting, right on the water. It was not a crowded day, so it was a quick and easy entrance into the building. Everyone was nice and helpful.
The first display was of the 2017 RRHOF Inductees. Pearl Jam, Journey, ELO, YES, Joan Baez and Tupac Shakur. It was cool to see Steve Perry’s black tuxedo jacket that he wore in so many of the videos and pictures I have seen. Although I’ve seen Journey twice, it was with Arnel as the lead singer, not Steve. Like many fans, I was disappointed he declined singing with the band one more time at their induction ceremony.
And being from Seattle, it was a proud moment to see Pearl Jam’s display. I had Eddied Vedder on a flight this past winter. Nice man. And he pops up frequently as a surprise guest at many local concerts. Just recently he made an appearance at the U2 Joshua Tree Tour 2017 concert in Seattle. And Mike McCready is an active part of the Seattle community, too. He jammed onstage with Heart at their concert here last summer.
The rest of the museum was a winding display through time and history. Elvis, The Beatles, Rolling Stones and the 60’s British Invasion, Michael Jackson… A little bit of everything. It was interesting to read their notes and see actual clothing the artists wore onstage. I’m a huge Beatles Fan. I’ve been in love with Paul McCartney for as long as I can remember. So, I loved their display.
And then….we came to the Seattle display. With a heavy heart. That morning, the world woke up to the tragic news that Chris Cornell of Soundgarden had passed away (apparently, suicide). A beautiful voice inside of a troubled soul. That is a challenging situation to understand. And ironic that I was here to see Heart’s display, and he was the one who had inducted them in. I know they were all hurting. He had just performed in Seattle this past November. One of many concerts that I now regret missing. See your artists when you have an opportunity, is the lesson learned. Life has a way of suddenly changing.
There were a lot of artists on display, who are no longer with us. But their music is! That last forever.
A fun surprise ending to our visit, was finding that in their theater, they were showing a 3D movie of a U2 concert! We put on our special glasses, sat down and watched. It was like they were performing right to us. OH, to just reach out and grab Bono’s hand! I loved looking at their display case, too. Especially since I had just seen them in concert a few days prior.
This is also the 50th Anniversary of the Rolling Stones Magazines. A whole floor was dedicated to their magazine covers and interviews. It is located next to their radio station. It’s fun to grab a pair of headphones and listen in to what is airing at that time.
An observation that we made, though, was the lack of women musicians being honored. Although, many have been inducted as part of a band, the lack of individual artists was apparent. It is quite shocking to do research and find out the women who have not been honored yet. Dolly Parton, Carol King, Bette Midler, Cindi Lauper, Cher, Barbra Streisand, Grace Jones, Pat Benetar[sn1] ,Kate Bush, Tina Turner (individually)Ella Fitzgerald, Janet Jackson, …just to name a few. That needs to be rectified.
And even though Heart was inducted in RRHOF in 2013, there was not a single display item up of them. I mean, HELLO! You can’t go anywhere without hearing ‘Barracuda’ or ‘Magic Man” or ‘These Dreams.’ Talk about trail blazers for the women of rock!
So, we took matters into our own hands, and created our own display.
Not only is the RRHOF an impressive place to visit, the downtown area of Cleveland has a lot to offer. Intriguing bars and restaurants, and a strong music scene. I look forward to my next visit.
Because I’m going back. I purchased a membership.
SUSAN IN SEATTLE
Supporting Local Music: Limberlost, Modern Day Poets and Darby Picnic
As I sit in my red, vinyl bean bag chair, put my headsets on, cord attached to the turntable….
I drop the needle, hear the familiar crackle, take a deep breath and wait for it. ‘IT’ is the sound that seems to provide whatever the world cannot. Perfect love and acceptance. That is what music does. It’s a perfect relationship, that never rejects you. Music needs you, as much as you need music. Without our ears, its voice would never be heard.
I’ve always felt like the obscure puzzle piece you find, but have no idea where it fits into in the puzzle. Or, even what puzzle it belongs to. Depending on the lighting and time of day, the shape and color of the piece changes. It can fit into a lot of puzzles. You don’t want to throw it away, because it may be the perfect piece you’re looking for some day. So, you hang onto it. Just because you don’t know what else to do with it. Its home is in ‘that’ drawer we all have in our kitchens. The ‘this is a really odd item, but I might need it someday’ drawer. That’s what I’ve always felt like. Friends of many, but never at home in one group. I just fly in and out of people’s lives. Literally. For 30 years, I have been a flight attendant. Odd hours. Long days. Constantly traveling. It’s been a struggle to find a group of people that understood and accepted me.
And then I met musicians.
My puzzle piece finally discovered other puzzle pieces who were happily living outside of the ‘here is what the completed puzzle should look like’ box. I was lost, and The Music found me.
This blog is about 3 of the local/Pacific Northwest bands that I have become friends with. Limberlost, Modern Day Poets and Darby Picnic.
Mike Burt is the drummer for Limberlost. He is also the drummer for Grieve The Astronaut. In case you didn’t realize, look at the header on this web page. This is Grieve the Astronaut’s website! I’m just orbiting with them as a guest music blogger. Mike asked me if I would cover them in one of my blogs. SURE! I love the music of Limberlost. And when I saw they would be sharing the stage with Darby Picnic and Modern Day Poets, it was an even more enthusiastic YES! I had seen both Limberlost and Modern Day Poets perform as finalists at the 2016 Annual Jammin’ Challenge, Seattle Hard Rock Café, last November.
May 19, 2017
I arrived at Louie G’s Pizza in Fife, WA a few minutes before the show was going to start. What a great, little venue! They showcase local musicians on a small stage. A biker bar atmosphere, that allows families to dance together by the stage. Awesome! My name was on the guest list and I had a front table reserved with the owners of Seattle Wave Radio; Mark and Linda Gordon.
Okay…I had just walked across the skies of America holding a plastic, gray garbage bag saying, ‘Thank you’ to people as they handed me their germ-infested rubbish. And now, I’m on a Guest List for a local show. Works for me!
The first band on stage was Darby Picnic. I recognized the name, but I had never seen them perform before. “Darby Picnic is a PNW band with genre hopping colorful sound, intelligent lyrics and sweeping arrangements.” Lee Gregory, Kent Beatty, Troy Moss, Terry Hickey and David Mark Smith are the band members. Their music covered a wide genre of musical decades. There were a group of children dancing away in front of the stage. I wish I had taken a picture of them, as they totally captured the spirit of the band’s music. Fun, free and easy. The kind of music that makes you feel happy inside.
The second band onstage was Limberlost. The band that I was a guest of. It had been 6 months since I had seen them perform live. I WAS BLOWN AWAY! The energy and the sound they created was phenomenal. Their latest EP has been rising on the local and regional Reverbnation Charts and recently was #13 in the nation for rock! Deservedly so. They are an exciting combination of energy onstage together.
Mike Burt on drums, Ricky Dunn on lead guitar, Ben Beeman on bass, and Krystle Pyette lead vocals. Calissa Knox also joins on keyboard. “Limberlost is a rock band from Puyallup, WA formed in 2014. From our roots in the Worship world our passion is to create music with a powerful message...”. And that’s what you feel when you’re in the presence of their music. Krystle’s compelling voice pulls your soul out and onto the stage. I kept thinking, who do they remind me of? And then she said it. “Carrying on the tradition of Seattle women who ROCK with their voices.” Ann Wilson of Heart. BINGO. That’s the power of Krystle’s voice. Combined with the extraordinary guitar shredding skills of Ricky Dunn, Ben Beeman’s hair whipping bass and Mike Burt impressively killing the drums in back, it’s an electrifying performance that you don’t want to stop! Pacific Northwest Rock and Roll is alive and thriving! And, their message is so strong and inspiring. Nothing dark. With this awful rainy winter, we just experienced, we do not need any darkness added into our lives. We need hope and energy. And when beautiful Calissa Knox joins in on keyboard, she adds a soothing presence to guide our souls down this musical journey.
It’s going to ROCK! This is a band that we are going to see grow and make their presence known in the world of Pacific Northwest Music. Everyone is waiting for the next Seattle Sound. Well, here you go. Served up to you on a spinning, vinyl platter.
The final band of the evening was Modern Day Poets, from Vancouver, BC. Speaking of strong women who rock, lead singer Jina Anika owns the stage with her soulful voice. Bob McAloney, Ryan MacNab and Frazer Pelling complete the new sound they are creating. A rock blues, that takes on its own life with their energy. Jina pours every ounce of herself into each song. There’s nothing left on the shelf by the time their performance is over. One of the most powerful moments of the evening, was when Jina and Bobby performed their song ‘Rise Up’. Jina’s voice was raw and emotional. Everyone was on their feet by the end of the song. I personally had to walk up to the stage and reach out to her with thanks and gratitude.
Afterwards, I asked Jina for the story behind her song. She said wrote it, after a watching a painfully emotional documentary on bullying. Rise Up; a powerful message of hope and strength. They are currently working on a new CD. This song should be included, in my opinion.
And because I was wearing my new U2 Joshua Tree Tour 2017 t-shirt, I found out something really cool about Jina. For the Vancouver, BC show, Jina was on their back-production team! WOW! She even had an amazing picture of Bono on her phone.
The entire show at Louie G’s that night was a blast! I’m so incredibly thankful and grateful that I was Limberlost’s guest and asked to write about it for my blog. I got to experience the history of Pacific Northwest rock music being carried forward into the future. One of those moments when I will look back and say, “I was there at the beginning.”
Not a bad night, for a puzzle piece that lives in ‘that drawer’.
Check these bands out. This is rock history in the making.
You can find Limberlost on Facebook at Limberlost Music, or on Reverbnation at www.reverbnation.com/rpk/limberlost 5
Modern Day Poets are on Facebook and www.ModernDayPoets.ca
Darby Picnic is on Facebook and http://darbypicnic.com
And check out Louie G’s event calendar for upcoming live music events www.louiegspizza.com
SUSAN IN SEATTLE
Experiencing the U2 Joshua Tree Tour 2017, Century Link Field, Seattle WA
As I sit in my red, vinyl bean bag chair, put my headsets on, cord attached to the turntable...
I drop the needle, hear the crackle and start remembering. What were you doing in 1987?
I had just started my career as a flight attendant. Big dreams in a big world. I spent a lot of time flying back and forth across the United States. My trusty Walkman and cassette tapes in tow. There was a new band on the scene that I loved; U2. Their latest album had just been released. Joshua Tree. It was fantastic, and everybody was listening to it. I still remember talking to a co-worker who said she had grown up with Bono. “He’s really not that cool or talented.” Hhhhmmm, I wonder what she would say now.
Well, that was a quick 30 years! Many things have changed in the past 3 decades. But one thing that hasn’t changed is U2. Still the same band members (Bono, The Edge, Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen Jr.) and still packing out stadiums. Still healthy, still friends, still creating music together. What current bands will be able to say that 30+plus years from now? I honestly can’t think of any.
The moment U2 announced their Joshua Tree Tour 2017 dates, one of my BFFs from college, Marie, asked me if I wanted to go. YES! She oversaw buying tickets. I said, “Whatever the cost is fine.” She came back later and said,” I hope you meant that. I bought VIP tickets! “. GULP. And now that the concert is over, I can honestly say those tickets were worth every dollar! WOW, what an experience!
Our VIP tickets included parking, a catered pre-party, our own merchandise table, a raffle for a backstage tour and an exclusive book (only 35,000 made). The evening started out rather stressful because of…. Here we go again, because I talk about it frequently on my blog. TRAFFIC!! It’s HORRIBLE in the Seattle-Tacoma area. Adding an additional hour to your drive time seems to be the safe plan, now. However, once we arrived and checked in, the traffic nightmares melted away.
We were warmly greeted with our VIP lanyards, gift bags and a giant backdrop photo of U2! We walked inside and the atmosphere immediately changed. The room was enclosed with dark curtains. Tables were set with fine linens, dinnerware and candles. The buffet style food tables were loaded with salads, vegetables, roasted chicken and salmon. Dessert tables were filled with chocolate delights. Everything from strawberries dipped in chocolate to fried bacon? I didn’t try the bacon, but the rest were quite delectable. Two bars were set up in back. The only line I stood in, was for the merchandise table. But compared to the 50 deep in line outside in the venue, this was a piece of chocolate cake! We ate, drank and relaxed. A DJ was set up on the stage getting us in the mood for the concert. It was nice to be chilling out in a private room, instead of battling the enormous crowds outside. I read somewhere that 63,000 attended this concert!
Enjoying a nice sit-down dinner, instead of fighting through crowds to buy a $10 glass of wine poured into a plastic cup, was quite civilized indeed.
The warm up band was Mumford and Sons. When the concert started, we were escorted through the venue to our section. The minute we arrived at our seats and saw our proximity to the stage, we were WOW! This was going to be extraordinary. And, it had stopped raining. Very important, since this is an outdoor football venue (GO SEAHAWKS!) And then, it was time for U2!
The stage layout was in two sections. The main stage, with an incredible, gigantic backdrop video screen. Then an S stage, that curled out onto the floor section. U2 began their performance with” Sunday Bloody Sunday”. They walked down the S stage and started the concert in the middle of a sea of people. The crowd went wild! Marie and I were ecstatic to be sitting so close to U2. My pictures don’t do our location justice.
After 5 songs, they returned up to the main stage and began with “Where The Streets Have No Name.” The video graphics behind them were phenomenal. Very powerful performances. And as is becoming an expected standard at a Seattle performance, a local celebrity musician came onstage for a song. This time it was Eddie Vedder. They took a quick break and came back for their encore with 6 more songs.
I found their setlist on Instagram, posted by do206. It seemed to go by in a matter of minutes. I was trying so hard to absorb the magnificence of it all. Truly an incredible experience. Even though we had seats, we all stood up and danced in our section. So much fun!
Afterwards, we started checking in on Facebook to see who else was there. I knew Bill Bungard was going to be close to the performance. He had a special Press Pass to take photos for The Tacoma Weekly. But then I saw Lynn Sorensen (former bassist for Bad Company. Currently in Seattle with Spike and The Impalers, Magic Bus, The Fabulous Johnsons, Powercell…) and Andrea Hollister were in the Red Zone! Right next to the stage! All great people, so I was happy they got to experience U2 at such an intimate level. I loved looking at Andrea’s photos. They were literally less than 20 feet away at times. I asked her what it was like being so close to their performance. “We didn’t realize what we had until we got in there. I was shocked at where we ended up and was just standing there with my jaw on the ground when the drummer came out and started right there....That concert was amazing. Best one I have ever been to. And I loved the vibe in the stadium. It was nice to step into an area of so many and feel like everyone was one.”
I agree. Everyone acting as one. Music is quite powerful that way. Also, check out Bill Bungard’s photos on Facebook and The Tacoma Weekly. In addition, he was shooting for The Upstream Music Festival in Seattle that weekend. Busy guy!
I want to give a shout out/recommendation to The Georgetown Town Inn, Seattle. Only about a 10-minute drive to Century Link and Safeco Field. When I checked in, they had the Joshua Tree Album playing, and handed me a freshly poured beer from a local brewery!
A busy area, but the ambiance is warm and welcoming. A perfect spot to stay when in Seattle for an event at one of the stadiums. While we were enjoying, a leisurely continental breakfast the following morning, I struck up a conversation with a gentleman sitting next to us. Still wearing his backstage wristband from the previous night. He had grown up in Ireland and had seen ‘the lads perform at the local pubs when they were first starting out.” Quite the interesting conversation indeed. You just never know who you’re going to cross paths with in life.
This was an expensive experience. However, it was SO worth it! Save your time and energy for things that really matter to you in life.
’Bono’ even gave me a harmonica to take home, with instructions on how to play it. 😉That’s a first.
SUSAN IN SEATTLE
DJ Indica Jones, Cody Beebe and Rust on the Rails, Scott Pemberton Band
As I sit in my red, vinyl bean bag chair, headset on, cord attached to my turntable….
I love listening to all genres of music. It depends on my mood and surroundings. When I’m up in the ski condo at Snoqualmie Pass, WA, I like to listen to the stack of CDs that I’ve bought from local musicians. At home, I tend to use my Bluetooth speakers with Spotify. But when I am up in the retro 1972 condo, I like to revert to my beanbag chair and listen to CDs. And how cool that I’ve met these local musicians. It makes that music connection even more special.
As I mentioned in a previous blog, summer 2015 was the inaugural of the Chinook Fest Summit Music Festival at The Summit at Snoqualmie Ski Resort. 3 days of music! I’ve had the pleasure of meeting the Chinook Fest co-owners, Cody Beebe and Michelle Bounds VandenBrink. Cody is also the lead singer of the band Rust on the Rails.
I am so thankful and grateful to Cody and Michelle for bringing up such great music to the mountains! I have a lot of new favorite local bands and musical artists now, because of them. I’ve experienced 3 just this past week!
The Cinco de Mayo party is always a lot of fun at The Alpental Ski Lodge. Skiing, costume competition, food and drinks, laughter and music! This year, DJ Indica Jones provided the music for the festivities. I recognized his name from Chinook Fest and other events since then. I’m sure this was the first time I have danced in ski boots. And I’m also sure I ended up on somebody’s YouTube video. Cough, cough cough. That’s okay, I was wearing a wig. He always creates excellent music to dance to. I stood next to him for a while, watching him skillfully spin some tunes. It was fascinating to see how he changed the sounds and speeds of the songs, and what he chose to play. He has an intriguing background story of his career. One comment he said really stuck with me. “It’s amazing to see how the type of music you play, affects people.” Music is a very powerful tool.
Cody Beebe and his band Rust on the Rails just completed their first European Tour. I’ve had a lot of fun with that! I found out that they were flying out of Seattle to Amsterdam on the airline I work for. I had some friends on their crew, so advised them to give the band some extra TLC. Next best thing to working the flight myself! Their tour took them throughout Germany, Netherlands, France and Spain. As luck would have it, I worked the flight back with Cody’s wife and brother; Mackenzie and Cassidy. I loved being able to meet them, and hear their stories. What a terrific adventure they experienced!
It was perfect timing, because their first performance back in Seattle was the day after we returned from Amsterdam. The Bale Breaker Brewing Company was presenting a Beer Week Party at The Nectar Lounge. Rust on the Rails and Scott Pemberton Band were sharing a show. Scott Pemberton is also a band that I fell in love with at Chinook Fest Summit. Perfect alliance!
I had never been to The Nectar Lounge before. Located in the Fremont area of Seattle. What a cool and quaint venue. An outdoor patio area, plus an upstairs with larger tables and seating. That’s where we ended up sitting. Magnificent view of the stage. It felt like we were up in the VIP area. A Shout Out THANKS! To Frank, Shaunn, Shane and Brooks for joining us. I love being able to introduce friends to some of my favorite local bands.
Rust on the Rails performed first. It was obvious that they had just been touring together for a month. A smooth operating, music machine. And Blake Noble with his Didgeridoo and guitar. A funky blues connection. And how unique! It’s not often you hear a Didgeridoo in a rock band. Their band description is ‘American Aussie Roots Rock. Blending influences of Rock from Seattle, with the ancient Australian Didgeridoo, tribal percussion, and a rock-solid rhythm section.” I had heard them perform for the first time at Chinook Fest Summit 2016. It was fantastic to hear the ‘man behind the music festival.’ Incredible talent! Eric Miller on bass and Chris Lucier on drums/vocals. We were having a blast groovin’ away at our table upstairs. Their last song was a mix of dance covers songs, and the floor was packed! A perfect way to wind up their set. And kudos to Cody. He arrived in from Amsterdam several hours after I did the day before. Jet lag is not easy to recover from, and he totally rallied!
I also heard Scott Pemberton and his band for the first time at Chinook Fest Summit 2016. Another funk, jazz, rock band, based in Portland, OR. I heard them again at the Alpental ski lodge Roktoberfest Party last October. When I saw that these two bands were sharing a show at The Nectar Lounge, it was an automatic I’M GOING! Wear comfortable shoes when you go to their show, because you will be on your feet dancing the entire time. Their unique quality is their percussionist Rudy Slizewski. Steel drums, various elements of percussion and the keyboard. Also, Scott plays his guitar more like a piano, than a guitar. Laying it flat across a stool onstage. One of my favorite songs is their cover of ‘Dear Prudence.’. Jack Johnson coolly strums the bass, while Sam Berrett tears it up on the drums. Often sharing them with Scott.
I burned off any extra calories I had ingested from drinking the Bale Breakers brews! Such a fun night of dancing.
Both Rust on the Rails and Scott Pemberton band are touring, so make sure and check their websites to see locations and times. You will not be disappointed. And be ready to dance!
Rust on the Rails www.rustontherails.com
Scott Pemberton Band http://scottpemberton.com
And if you’re looking for a great DJ for your party or venue, check out DJ Indica Jones www.djindicajones.com
And don’t forget Chinook Fest! Unfortunately, Chinook Fest Summit will not be returning this summer. However, original Chinook Fest at Naches is going strong and sells out quickly. www.chinookfest.com
SUSAN IN SEATTLE
A Secret House Show With Grammy Award Winner Larry Mitchell
As I sit in my red, vinyl bean bag chair, put my headsets on, cord attached to the turntable….
I drop the needle, hear the crackle and …aaaahhh. Peace and serenity. I have a bad habit of holding my breath when I am tired or stressed. Which causes me even more anxiety. I find myself holding my breath, shoulders hunched up to my ears and muscles clenched. Fight or flight mode. I have a new Fitbit that has a breathing exercise on it, so I try to remember to use it. Oxygen is important. Especially after I have worked a long 10-hour international flight. I need to breathe in fresh clean air, and breathe out all those toxins. Just Breathe…
I have not mentioned Raymond Hayden lately, the creator of Grieve the Astronaut, so it’s time to bring his name up! Every so often, Ray and his fiancé Jessica Lynne, will host a Private House Show. They invite friends that they know will appreciate the musicians who will be performing. Everyone brings food and beverages to share, we sit back, relax and enjoy the music. Usually around 30 people or so.
This past weekend was a Private House Show with musician Larry Mitchell. Larry is a Grammy award-winning producer, engineer and performer who has toured the world playing guitar with well-known
artists including Tracy Chapman, Billy Squier, Ric Ocasek and Miguel Bose. He lives in Alabama, and was touring through our area for the Tacoma Guitar Festival, in Tacoma WA. I was excited that I could attend!
I woke up the morning of the event, anxious. My night had been filled with stress dreams, my shoulders were tight and up to my ears, I was frustrated and not breathing. I kept reminding myself to breathe in…. breathe out. We were running late, and I was a bit cranky. But that was about to change.
We finally arrived and Larry had already started performing. They had rearranged the performance room from the last time I was there for a House Show. It was Larry’s suggestion, and worked wonderfully! A very intimate setting, for a very exceptional performance. The speakers were set up perfectly, too. Wherever you sat, you could hear him.
At this show, it was just going to be Larry playing his guitar. So, he had music tracks set up in his computer. And he accompanied them. All instrumental. Within a few minutes of siting down, I felt my eyes close, my ears open and my breathing becoming deep and even. Relaxed, peaceful and smooth. I found myself getting tearful, because I realized how badly I needed his music. Simply beautiful. It was mesmerizing to watch and listen to him play. Beautiful guitars AND a beautiful person. Smiling and looking at all of us as he played. And I loved hearing his stories in-between songs. Explaining the background behind the songs he had written. Funny stories that occurred on tours and at celebrity parties. And, we also found out that Larry can’t swim, so don’t have him sit in any canoes for a photo shoot! He’s been there, done that, LOL.
It was amazing to be sitting so close to such an incredible musician. I was literally 3 feet away. One of the songs I enjoyed most was “Unforgotten”. Written to remember those that have passed on in life. Something that I see happening more and more frequently, at this stage of my journey. That’s one thing I really enjoy about listening to instrumental music. You create your own lyrics and story, as the notes intermingle around in your head. Instead of the words speaking to you, it’s the actual music itself. I can just imagine all those notes entering in through my ears, then moving down into my heart, where they get pumped all through my body. The notes flowing along in my bloodstream, filling every cell with oxygenated music. The notes breathing in and out, as they circle and swirl around. Breathe in…Breathe out.
The first half Larry’s show was more mellow and soothing. During his break time, he mingled around with everyone. What a nice man. I had a whole conversation with him about breathing. Breath is life.
The second half, it was time to switch it up a bit with some rock! It was fun to sit so close, and watch his fingers effortlessly move up and down the guitar, creating this phenomenal sound. That’s when you realize how talented a musician is. When you see the speed and accuracy of their hands up that close. During one song, he grabbed one of the guest’s hands, and moved her fingers up and down the guitar neck as he played. What a cool experience for her!
All too quickly, it was time for the show to end. I’m really looking forward to his next visit to the Seattle-Tacoma area this summer! I would like to see him perform at an actual large venue, in addition to another Private House Show.
Oh, and it’s not just musicians who attend shows, photographers do, too! Bill Bungard does beautiful work, and the Tacoma Weekly publishes his concert photos frequently. The 3rd photo on this blog was his. I’m looking forward to viewing his complete gallery of them.
Make sure and check Larry out at www.larrymitchell.com
Keep breathing by supporting local musicians and local venues.
SUSAN IN SEATTLE
An evening with Ben Smith and Friends, at The Highway 99 Blues Club
As I sit in my red, vinyl bean bag chair, put my headsets on, cord attached to my turntable..
Although growing up on a wheat farm is healthy and creative, it can be quiet. I spent a lot of time just listening to nature. Grasshoppers chirping, grass and wheat rustling in the wind, an occasional bird or airplane flying overhead. Big cities were completely unfamiliar to me. I always looked forward to our occasional family trips across state to Seattle, WA. The waterfront was filled with amazing sights and smells. Musicians busking in front of Pike Place Market. Someday I was going to move to Seattle, and live in the Big City.
After I graduated from Washington State University, I followed my heart and moved over to the Seattle area. I never did become a Big City Girl. I still live in a rural setting. But it’s only a quick drive to the freeway, and off I go. A mere 25 miles to Seattle. That takes over an hour at times, because our traffic SUCKS! The traffic was a deterrent to me, for many years. However, now that I started ‘ROCKIN’ Through My 50’s’, I’ve just accepted it. I’m not going to let traffic interfere with my ability to enjoy my life through music!
I had never heard of The Highway 99 Blues Club, until I met Ben Smith, and started following him on Facebook. After Heart’s 2016 Tour completed, he started creating music opportunities in Seattle. The first one I attended was at The Highway 99 Blues Club. It’s “Housed in a 1909 brick building on the Seattle waterfront. Inspired by juke joints of the South and neighborhood blues clubs of Chicago.” A cool and unique venue. I loved it! Small, casual and intimate. I flew over to see Heart perform at The Royal Albert Hall in London, and now I’m sitting just a few feet away from Heart’s drummer. Crazy! I had a blast at that first Ben Smith and Friends Show. So, I always keep an eye out for future shows. Like I’ve said so many times, Seattle is filled with talented musicians. You just never know who is going to show up.
This past Saturday was another Ben Smith and Friends Show. The lineup up was incredible! Ben referred to them as Seattle’s Rock Royalty. Their talents spread from Heart, Pearl Jam, Guns N’Roses, film and tv…the list goes on. Ben Smith, Ryan Waters, Kathy Moore, Andy Stoller, Jeff Rouse, Shawn Smith, Brooke Lizotte and Jeff Angell. Google up each of their names, and you will be impressed. They played the first and third sets. The middle set was a local band Javelin. This was also their CD release party. What a wonderful way for these local, professional musicians to support new artists.
Six degrees of separation is alive and well in the music world. At the first Highway 99 show, I reconnected with one of my WSU sorority sisters. Her sister has been friends with Ben for many years. So, Lisa, Gina and I attended this show together. We sat at a small table, close to the stage and dancefloor. During the soundcheck, Ben walked by. “Hi Susan! Glad, you could make it!” And gives me a hug. My head still has a tough time wrapping around that I’ve seen him perform numerous times with Heart, and yet he knows me and sat at our table and talked for a while. It was wonderful to hear his description of the upcoming performance that evening. Explaining who the musicians were. While Heart is on hiatus, he and Nancy Wilson have put together a new band; Roadcase Royale. Their guitarist, Ryan Waters would be onstage that night. After Ben left, lead singer Shawn Smith walked by. We talked to him for a while and learned about his musical background. Impressive. I need to keep my eye out for his band named Brad.
It was time for the show to start. The club is packed, and I could feel that the energy was going to be great!
The first set was with Shawn Smith, Kathy Moore, Ben, Andy Stoller and Ryan Waters! WOW! For a band that got together for a one night performance? Unbelievable! Ryan blew me away. I wish I could include a video of his performance. It was like Jimi Hendrix in the house! He was just killing it on the guitar. I’m excited to see him perform with Roadcase Royale
. Andy was groovin’ with him on bass. A perfect match. Andy is also currently touring with Ann Wilson on her side project. So, there was a whole lot of Heart connection going on. Perfect since Heart originated in Seattle. It was an amazing set. Cameras were everywhere. Shawn’s voice, Kathy on guitar, Ben on drums..plus Ryan and Andy tearing up the side of the stage we were sitting on…AWESOME!
The second set was the young, local band Javelin. They rocked it out, too. I kept thinking that this was probably a lot like when Nirvana started out in Seattle back in the 90’s. They had lots of fan support, and even gave away free CD’s to everyone who came. What a way to have a release party!
The third set arrived. And this time Brooke Lizotte joined on keyboard. He also plays in the band Dreamwreck, with Ben. Both Jeff Rouse and Jeff Angell performed onstage throughout the evening, too. I lost track of who/when everyone played. There was so much talent happening all evening. It was crazy fun! And all in this small venue, tucked away from the beautiful Seattle waterfront.
Make sure and check their website to keep track of their event calendar. www.highwayninetynine.com
Also make sure and follow Ben’s music page. www.bensmithmusicco.com His band Dreamwrecks and Stonecutters perform frequently. Keep an eye on Roadcase Royale. Just WOW!
The ability to listen to this caliber of musicians, in such a small venue, is such a gift! And, you get an opportunity to talk to them, also. Which is what I am really enjoying about this whole ROCKIN” Through My 50’s experience. I’m meeting these musicians and their families/friends. Talking to them about their lives and their experiences. It adds an individualized touch and perspective. Musicians are real people, with real feelings and emotions. And pretty cool people, too.
Susan In Seattle
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