ROCKIN' THROUGH MY 50's & BEYOND!
Band In Seattle Featuring Prom Queen and Von Wildenhaus
As I sit in my red, vinyl beanbag chair, put my headsets on, cord attached to my turntable…..
For those of you that are new to my music blog, my red, vinyl bean bag chair is in my childhood bedroom. On a small wheat farm in Eastern Washington. That bedroom no longer physically exists. I’m pretty sure, though, that in another time and dimension a little girl is dreaming of her future in that beanbag chair.
My birthday is June 15. Like all summer birthday kids, I was envious of everyone who had a birthday during the school year. They always got to bring cupcakes to celebrate and share with the class. School usually got out the week before my birthday, so I never got to do that. My birthdays were typically small family parties.
I can honestly say, though, celebrating my life with music during my 50’s has more than made up for any missed childhood birthday parties! Meeting and hanging out with musicians is certainly more entertaining than playing pin the tail on the donkey and eating birthday cake.
I follow Band In Seattle on Facebook. About 1 month before my birthday, I saw them post that they would be filming Prom Queen and Von Wildenhaus on my birthday! Immediately I bought tickets for my family and myself. This was going to be my birthday party.
What is Band In Seattle? It is a music television series created and produced by Victory Studios. They feature everything from up and coming Pacific Northwest bands, to international pioneers. Filmed in an intimate studio setting, before a live audience. It airs on CW11 on Saturday nights at 11 pm. Alaska Airlines also features Band In Seattle on their inflight entertainment. Two of the sponsors are North Coast Brewing Company and Sparkling Ice. So, for a $10 ticket you receive 4 coupons for beverages during the taping! Live music and 4 beers for $10…Did you all catch that?
My son had college finals, so only my daughter and husband joined me on my birthday adventure. As luck would have it, Noah’s Ark style of rain decided to make its appearance on the day of the show. Add that to…here we go again…Seattle’s traffic sucks! Thankfully, we left early. That’s just the way it is in Seattle. We’re traffic survivors. Once everyone checked in at Victory Studios, we were led downstairs into the actual studio area.
A small bar was set up with our choices of beverages available. It’s always surprising to see how small and intimate the studio is, when you come for the first time. You are literally standing right next to the stage, with the camera booms above your head. We grabbed our beers, stood next to the stage and it was SHOWTIME! Victory Studios owner, Conrad Dencke, came onstage and welcomed us. Explained the protocol, and what to expect.
And then introduced the first band, Von Wildenhaus. I had never seen them before. The only word that I can come up with to describe them, is captivating. The stunning lead singer had a stage presence and voice that demanded your attention. She was telling an important story, that made you lean in and listen. I need to make an apology right now. I always like to include the musicians’ names in my blogs, but I do not I know what they are for this band. I am so sorry. When I looked up Von Wildenhaus, the only accurate name I saw was of the band leader Ben Von Wildenhaus. There were other names mentioned, but I do not know if that is who performed that night. They were all great, though! Ben Von Wildenhaus plays a wicked guitar, along with his dry sense of humor. “Don’t clap until the fog is sprayed onstage.” Accompanying them were a combo keyboard/ saxophone player, another guitarist and drummer. The genre was of a jazz base, I would say.
Unique, with exceptional musical skills. That is what I enjoy about Band In Seattle. I don’t hear the ordinary. I hear the underground extraordinary.
The next band was Prom Queen. We had heard them last year at The Kirkland Performing Arts Center. AND..lead guitar player is Jason Goessel. He has also played with the band I’m a ‘merch girl’ for, Jessica Lynne and The Cousins.
I love his work, especially when he just tears it up. When you see this Band In Seattle episode, you will agree %100. He also performs with his lovely wife, Kate Voss, as Sundae + Mr. Goessel. A 30’s style jazz. I had wonderful opportunity to chat with Kate in-between sets.
We refreshed our North Coast Brewing Beers, and stood next to the stage. Out came Prom Queen! Doom Wop is how they describe their genre of music. Prom Queen (Celene Ramadan), Tom Meyers, Jason Goessel and Ben Von Wildenhaus. Additional band members that night were from the previous Von Wildenhaus band. Plus, two (Drag Queen) Doo Wop singers. It was a full stage and a lot of fun! A musical production, with a vintage flair. When looking over their influences, they list from Nancy Sinatra and Amy Winehouse, to Quentin Taratino and Alfred Hitchcock. I loved the Doo Wop backup singers. They added a fun pizzazz, to get us swinging in rhythm. Their music is original, written by Celine. And the vintage style clothing adds to the feeling of being involved in a retro cinematic movie experience. Watching and listening go hand in hand. I could totally see them as a guest artist band on Saturday Night Live.
Check out Prom Queen’s YouTubes, to get the full vibe of their music. And their website for future shows and information. A definite must see in the Seattle music scene!
Music Education Programs: Live It OutLoud and Practicing Musician
As I sit in my red, vinyl bean bag chair, put my headsets on, cord attached to the turntable…
When my parents got married, my Dad was an optometrist in Spokane, WA. 6 years and 3 children later, Dad decided to make a career change. He became a wheat farmer in the rolling hills of the Palouse. And then I arrived. Child number 4. There was very little money available to spend on extra-curricular activities. Fortunately, my fraternal grandparents believed strongly in music education. Grandfather Varnes handmade beautiful violins as a hobby. They bought us a piano, and initially paid for piano lessons for my older sister and me. My brothers played trombone in the school band. I did not have a lot of social activity living on the farm. Music became my best friend. Some of my prominent memories are about trips to Spokane. I would get so excited when we visited a music store, and I was able to pick out new sheet music. On the 60-mile drive home, I would hold tightly onto my new friend. If we arrived home at night, my parents would let me stay up late and sit at the piano. Slowly reading the notes and pressing down the ivory keys. In my mind, I was playing a masterpiece. In reality… well, I’m sure it was a little painful to their ears. What a great memory, though. And what a great gift. I have never met a person who said they regretted learning an instrument. I know plenty of adults, though, who wished they had.
A rich historical part of the Seattle-Tacoma area, is the importance of music. Recently I read the book “Sonic Boom” by Peter Blecha. The history of Northwest Rock. It was a fascinating read. I had no idea that Quincy Jones and Ray Charles had their musical careers start here. The Ventures, The Sonics, The Kingsmen, Paul Revere and The Raiders, Heart, Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Alice in Chains, Soundgarden… And the list goes on. These musicians did not end up in The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame overnight. They started out as children who were given an instrument and then given opportunities to learn and play, via family, friends and community support. Today I am sharing about two music education programs available in the Seattle-Tacoma area; Live It Out Loud and Practicing Musician.
Ted Brown Music Outreach, Tacoma, is on their 7th year of hosting the Live It OutLoud Program. An 8-week rock camp for kids ages 12-18. And speaking of Pearl Jam and Soundgarden, their new partner is London Bridge Studios (this studio has an impressive history of Northwest band recordings.) Their vision is “to see young people improve their lives through the gift of music….music enhances the quality of life by improving learning abilities, relieving stress and providing a chance to change lives.” An exciting addition to this year’s program is newly appointed Director, Nashville recording artist, Jessica Lynne! Jessica is a full-time musician herself. She actively plays in over 100 shows a year, so definitely understands all the nuances of performing. I can personally vouch for her, BECAUSE, I am one of the people who works her merchandise table during shows. Her energy is so positive, children automatically flock to her.
Where was this program when I was growing up? The ability to learn music and create the confidence to perform it, is life changing. Especially if you’re an artistic and creative child. Those are the kids who have a challenging time during their teenage years. Their creativity may set them apart from others in their age group. Through this camp, they receive an opportunity to meet other people just like them.
The kids are put into bands and given a mentor to guide them through the ins and outs of being a musician. They are provided with lessons and rehearsal spaces, along with clinics by some of the Northwest’s greatest musicians, such as Ben Smith (Heart and Roadcase Royale), Lynn Sorenson (Bad Company) and Travis Larson (Travis Larson Band). The program highlight, is the August 12th Red Carpet Awards Show at the Rialto Theater, which is open to the public. At the end, students get to experience recording live at the London Bridge Studio, where Alice and Chains, Sound Garden, Pearl Jam and Queensryche have recorded. WOW! Imagine the self-esteem boost that would give a child who was really struggling to find themselves. I will be posting a link to this program at the bottom of the page.
Another opportunity to grow in music, will be with the Practicing Musician Program. This is a brand-new program being created by Jake Douglass, with the goal of being available online to the public this fall. 15 teachers will record foundational lessons. These teachers are members of the Seattle Symphony, professors from the University of Washington, instructors from the Seattle Drum School, and even a standup bassist down in New Orleans. Most of them have held positions in top orchestras and bands around the world.
The Practicing Musician will be offered in schools as a free teaching tool. Any individual who begins using the program will pay $10 per month to gain access to all prior lessons. To gain complete access to the entire program is only $20 per month. That’s an incredible price for professional music lessons! Plus, the ability to access these lessons in your own location and time frame is priceless. As a working parent, who had to try and coordinate music lessons around my job, this flexibility is wonderful. Or, as an adult, trying to find time to learn an instrument. You will have it at your fingertips, available to you at your own discretion. The Practicing Musician will be the catalyst that evolves music education from the currently limited scope of students to true equal opportunity; it will make music education affordable and accessible for everyone.
I asked Jake for some background information and the motivation for him to create this program. He was very honest. “In my opinion, music is one of the most powerful tools for transformation. In fact, it was the catalyst that led to my sobriety. I was drinking a fifth to half a gallon every day, while taking at least 2 (and sometimes up to 8) other drugs simultaneously. And I was highly functional. But if I had kept going almost certainly would have died. Family, school, work, friends, jail, nothing could get me sober. Except Music. Music finally did it.”
That’s a very powerful story, and statement on how healing music is. It can get into your soul and brain, and give you the peace and love you are looking for. It can literally change your life. Heal you and make you whole. Bring new opportunities and people into your life. Create friendships. You just need to let it into your life. As Ben Smith told me “The Practicing Musician is going to help anyone develop into the musician they want to be. Without an outlet for my inspirations, who knows where I would have gone?”.
And although we may have dreams of being a Rockstar like Ben, that’s not what learning an instrument is all about. It’s something that you can enjoy for your entire life. It doesn’t matter if no one is in your audience, it only matters that you play! And, it gives you a terrific opportunity and reason to get together with friends. Not too long ago, I stopped by a friend’s house on a Friday night. They had created an entire studio for them to play in. Sometimes they perform for friends. But that is not what their goal is. It’s just about getting together, and connecting through music.
But first, you must learn an instrument.
I suddenly have a desire to pull out some sheet music, and become one with the ivories. The music is calling me.
For more information on Live It Outloud, visit their website www.liveitoutloud.net
For information on Practicing Musician you can check out their Facebook page or contact Jake Douglass at firstname.lastname@example.org
SUSAN IN SEATTLE
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