ROCKIN' THROUGH MY 50's & BEYOND!
Barbara Potter Photography
Jessica Lynne and Raymond Hayden’s Chapel of Love
As I sit in my red, vinyl bean bag chair, headsets on, cord attached to the turntable….
My first wedding memory was from when I was around 5 years old. I was a flower girl for my Great Aunt’s daughter. The only music connection to that wedding, was that I was wearing a satin dress, so I had to lay across a piano bench, so it wouldn’t get wrinkled. The next wedding I was in, was my oldest brother’s. I was a candle lighter, so I imagine there was music involved. But I only remember people thinking I was crying, because I was sniffing. Nope, I just had a horrible cold. Then I was in my sister’s wedding. It was a small house wedding. I think some serious religious songs were involved. No alcohol at any of these family weddings. Just the traditional church weddings, with coffee and punch. Although, I’m sure there were some hidden flasks. And then there was my own wedding. Hmmm, yeah, there were some issues in the music department. However, fast forward to our 30-year anniversary in September. We TOTALLY rocked that one…Rolling Stones in Amsterdam! I would refer to that as ‘” Well Earned Wisdom.”
She Says YES To The Dress! July 18, 2016
I have never been a witness to a proposal. So, when I received a text from Ray, saying he was going to surprise Jessica with a wedding proposal at her show, I said YES! I will be there. It was fun to watch Jessica’s eyes, as all her friends and family started arriving for her show. Ray was also playing the piano. He had it all planned out with the perfect song to lead up to her proposal. When he asked her to join him in the performing area, I remember her saying “Do you need a glass of water, honey?”. LOL. And then, he got down on his knee, pulled out her ring and proposed. It was beautiful and romantic. Musicians and artists know how to create the perfect scenarios. If the proposal was this fun, imagine the wedding!
I DO October 14, 2017
LET’S CELEBRATE October 22,2017
I’ve been a flight attendant for over 30 years, and I see a lot similarity between our lifestyles and musician’s lifestyles. Odd hours, always traveling somewhere to do our job and it takes a lot of planning in advance, to create an event where all your friends can make it. We don’t have Monday -Friday, 9-5 lives. Want to know what day musician’s usually plan a get together? Sunday. That is usually the only day they do not have an event…. although, that is not a guarantee. And, because they travel around so much, they have created many friends. So, trying to create a guest list for a special event can be rather challenging.
Jessica and Ray decided to have a small intimate wedding one weekend, and a larger reception the following weekend. The theme for both events was 1920’s Gatsby!
Their wedding was held at the Freestone Inn, Mazama WA. I did not attend the wedding, but the photos looked gorgeous! A beautiful collaboration of friends and family, to create a very special event, for a very special couple. Glowing and happy. I think I was glued to my FB that weekend, anxiously looking for photos!
The following weekend, a SUNDAY, their wedding reception was held at The Cultura Event Center in Tacoma, WA. What a wonderful time! I had never been to that venue before. It looked like a basic building from the outside, but once you walked in... WOW! A perfect setting for a 1920’s Style reception. Simply and beautifully decorated intimate tables, plus a couch area. A cash bar, accompanied with a mouthwatering buffet. Bryan Groves is well known for his talent and skills as a chef. He recently opened his new business, “Bryan’s BBQ Catering.”. Check him out for any upcoming events
It was fun to see everyone arrive and their attire. Soon, it was time for the music to start. Powercell! Lynn Sorenson, Manuel Morais and Jeff Mills. A totally killer band, with a rockin’ history, present and future. Lynn also performs individually in Heaven and Earth, plus joins Manuel in Spike and The Impaler’s, The Magic Bus and other bands. Jeff also performs in the popular 80’s cover band Night Wave and other side projects. Google them up. Whatever they perform in will rock your socks off!
Bill Bungard Photography
Throughout the evening, various vocalists and musicians joined them onstage. I loved it! To be able to enjoy this phenomenal collection of artists in such an intimate setting, was SO much fun!
We had Susan Kendall Morais delivering some serious rock vocals.
Bill Bungard Photography
Denmark's own Cirke Cherokee adding a little R&B “Respect”.
Bill Bungard Photography
Sherrie Vox Johnson brought Janis Joplin to the stage.
And Paul Sawtelle added his sexy saxophone.
Add a few vocals from Jessica and Ray, and it was pure musical magic!
Plus, added throughout the evening were conversations with other local musicians, attending as guests. A real treat for all of us music supporters. Jessica and Ray were glowing with well-deserved happiness.
This was super difficult for me to write, because Jessica and Ray have so many people in their lives that are special to them. How do I include everyone? This is supposed to be a short blog! But, what a great problem for them to have. A true testament to the music community they have created. Everyone that I have met, are wonderful human beings. That’s what makes Seattle-Tacoma ROCK!
CONGRATULATIONS Jessica and Ray! And may your future be filled with notes of happiness and joy.
SUSAN IN SEATTLE
POWERCELL @PowercellOfficial Facebook
Bryan’s BBQ Catering @bryansbbqcatering Facebook 360-545-3219
Barbara Potter Photography www.barbarapotter.zenfolio.com
Bill Bungard Photography www.billbungard.com
The Rolling Stones, Amsterdam Netherlands
As I sit in my red, vinyl bean bag chair, headset on, cord attached to the turntable….
The Rolling Stones. They are one of those bands that have always existed in my life. I don’t have a vivid memory of them, like I do of the Beatles. But, I do remember their music and seeing them on television. Who can’t remember Mick Jagger gyrating around onstage? Maybe I have a cassette tape of them from college…let me run downstairs and look right now.
Aha! A fabulous vinyl; Tattoo You from 1981.” Start Me Up”, of course! I know had more, but most of my vinyl collection was lost during my transient college years. I still have quite a few, though. My music selection was as diverse then as it is now. I have everything from Barry Manilow to KISS. Some very precious childhood memories. Especially now that our legendary artists are starting to pass onto another musical plain in life. Unfortunately, I did not attend very many concerts in my teens and twenties. I missed out on a lot. The Rolling Stones is one of the bands I never saw. When they announced their Europe 2017 Unfiltered Tour, I started searching for a city to see them. Amsterdam came up. I’m a flight attendant, who regularly flies to Amsterdam out of Seattle, so perfect! Of course, the tickets sold out quickly. But, I was persistent and kept checking Ticketmaster to see if any showed up. After 4 days of checking, I had success. One lone ticket showed up, so I bought it! I kept checking back for a second ticket and after half an hour, another showed up. RIGHT NEXT TO THE ONE I BOUGHT! I couldn’t believe it. My husband walked in the door later that evening and I said, “I bought two tickets to The Rolling Stones in Amsterdam! Happy 30th Anniversary!” And, a new adventure was about to begin.
A fabulous benefit of being a flight attendant, is the free travel privileges. We decided to go a couple of days before the concert, so we could explore Amsterdam. September 27 arrived, we checked in for our flight, and totally lucked out in being assigned Business Class seats! Excellent food, champagne and lie flat seats. A fantasy lifestyle. My crew was fantastic, as they are people that I fly with a lot. After the meal service, we chatted in the galley. It’s always interesting to find out who the other passengers are on the flight. This day, we had Randy Altig from Maximum Living, and his family onboard. It was interesting to hear about this life adventures, and his new book ‘Tuscany Next Left.’ I loved looking at his photos and listening to his stories. It made the 10-hour flight go by quickly. Soon, it was time to land, and we were off on our Amsterdam adventure.
We had two free days, before the concert. We spent them wandering around the Museum Quarter, and visited the Van Gogh Museum and The Heineken Experience. Every bar we entered was playing The Stones music, so obviously, there were a lot of people in town for the concert. It added more excitement to our trip.
The day of the concert arrived, and we headed down to the Central Train Station. The Amsterdam Arena is a 15-minute train ride from central Amsterdam. That is something I really appreciate about Europe; their well-organized transportation system. The Amsterdam Arena is the largest stadium in the country and home of the association football club AFC Ajax. It has a capacity of 54,033 people during football matches, and 35, 000 for concerts. We were very impressed with the layout of the outer area, which provided restaurants and bars before you entered the stadium. The first item on our concert agenda was to purchase t-shirts. It was a packed line that took nearly 30 minutes to get in front. We had to do lots of deep breathing to handle being squished on all sides by people, but we finally scored our t-shirts!
We had reserved seats, so did not rush into the arena. However, when it was time, the security process was thorough and well organized.
It was exhilarating when The Rolling Stones walked onstage! How do you process seeing lifetime legends for the first time? And, they were still amazing. I loved their screen backdrop on the stage. There were 4 separate panels, and the cameras would show all four of them during the performance. Even though we had good seats, it was still nice to see them so close.
Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Charlie Watts and Ronnie Wood. Ranging in age from 70 to 76, and still ROCKIN’ IT OUT! Mick is all over the stage, and Charlie is the solo drummer. I was so impressed by that. Usually in older bands, there is an additional drummer, but not with The Stones. Ronnie had just had a tumor removed from his lung. And Keith Richards. All I can hear in my mind now, is his very distinct, gravely laugh. But here they were, defying all odds of being together, after all of these years. Additional musicians were Darryl Jones (bass guitar, backing vocals), Sasha Allen (backing vocals), Karl Denson (saxophone), Tim Ries (saxophone, keyboards), Chuck Leavell (keyboards, backing vocals, percussion), Matt Clifford (keyboards, percussion, French Horn) and Bernard Fowler (backing vocals, percussion).
Their setlist was incredible. 20 songs, and I think we stood up for most of them. An interesting observation in comparing European crowds with American crowds; a lack of cellphones lighting up the arena. There were a few lit up, but for the most part, people were just ‘being in the moment’. I took a few photos, but I also wanted to absorb as much as possible. High energy, fantastic vocals and guitars. They switched off with solo performances, so either Mick or one of the others could go offstage to rest. But then, it was back to cranking it up! They obviously were having a wonderful time and still thoroughly enjoyed performing. On some of the songs, videos were shown from their performances from the 60’s. They are truly a rock and roll phenomenon. Too soon, the show was over, and we were left standing in shock. We just saw THE ROLLING STONES!
The train station looked completely backed up with people, so we hung out in a bar for a while. As chance would have it, we ended up talking to a couple of young, Scottish musicians; Jay Carrington and Ryan Lawrie. Ryan was a 6th place finalist in the UK XFactor 2016. Young men in their early 20’s, who are inspired by The Rolling Stones. That’s one of those amazing things about music. It doesn’t matter the age differences or cultural differences. We’re all the same in our connection with it.
Keep pursuing your musical passions lads, we need you to carry it onto the future.
SUSAN IN SEATTLE
Photo Credit Jason Tang
Sweet Dreams, The Music of Patsy Cline.
As I sit in my red, vinyl bean bag chair, headsets on, cord attached to the turntable….
On our small farm in Eastern Washington, there was not a lot of exposure to the outside world of music. Our kitchen radio was tuned to a tinny sounding AM station. And then we had our Magnavox black and white television. My Dad liked to watch Hee Haw, Bonanza and Gunsmoke on tv. I remember that during the opening credits of Bonanza, I would sit on my wooden rocking horse wearing a red cowboy hat. I was riding horses with Ben Cartwright and his sons. Giddy up! I also admired the ladies wearing skirts with white fringe that matched their white cowboy boots. I wanted one of those pretty outfits …. I still do.
Nashville, TN 2017
For the past 3 years, my musician friend, ‘Nashville Recording Artist Jessica Lynne ‘has been performing at The Sweet Dreams Music of Patsy Cline Show. Previous years, I was out of town. But this year I was home and looked forward to seeing it. However, I was not familiar with Patsy’s life story.
Quite perfectly, I was on a Nashville layover before the show, and could experience the new Patsy Cline Museum. It’s above the Johnny Cash Museum. Her life was cut short at age 30. But Patsy still managed to be recognized as one of the most influential, successful and acclaimed vocalists of the 20th Century. Her music crossed over from country to contemporary. She began hitting the charts in 1957 with songs like “Walkin ’After Midnight”, “I Fall to Pieces” and “Sweet Dreams”. Her song “Crazy”, written by Willie Nelson, holds the record for being the most played song on jukeboxes. Her life ended March 5, 1963, in a tragic private plane crash.
Although her life ended, her music did not. Millions of records have sold since her death. In 1973, she became the first female solo artist inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame. In 2002, she was voted Number One on CMT’s The Greatest Women of Country Music and ranked 46th in the “100 Greatest Singers of All Time “issue of Rolling Stone magazine.
The museum was easy to navigate, with interactive display windows filled with handwritten letters, record albums, clothing and even furniture from her dream home. A dream home she was only able to live in for a few months. She grew up in poverty, but her music lifted her up and away from that life. A life that ended just as it was beginning. Her voice and impact lives on, though.
Sweet Dreams Music of Patsy Cline September 8-9, 2017
The Triple Door Theater, Seattle WA
One of the great benefits of ROCKIN’ Through My Fifties, is that I have become friends with musicians. When I know the performer onstage, it adds a personal connection to the music. In addition to Jessica Lynne, I also knew two other artists at the Patsy Cline Tribute Show. Kate Voss and Jason Goessl. They perform together as Sundae and Mr. Goessl. 2017 was the 9th year of the tribute show. It takes place two nights, in honor of Patsy’s September 8th birthday. This was my first visit to The Triple Door. It originally opened in 1925 as The Embassy Theater. It reopened in 2003 as a renovated dinner and music venue, The Triple Door. My evening began by enjoying a Happy Hour in the Musicquarium Lounge, with fellow flight attendant friend, Sherry. She had recently been in Nashville, too, so we both had our new cowboy boots on for the show!
Soon, I saw friends Jessica Lynne and Susan Renville enter the venue. Susan owns her own event planning company, Renville Entertainment. They came over to our table, I made introductions and gave Jessica a special gift I had bought for her in Nashville. A little pin from the Patsy Cline Museum. I also bought one for Kate. They both wore them on their dresses during the performance, which made me smile. Jessica asked us if we wanted to see the Green Room and the stage! Susan and I said YES, and dashed off, with Sherry holding our table. It’s always fun to see the backstage action. And to get a close-up view of their gorgeous dresses. We even sneaked onstage. Wow! What a view.
Not long after, Kate Voss and Jason Goessl entered the venue. Busy day for them, since they had been at an earlier performance. Musicians are some of the hardest working people I know. Kate came out later, and we admired what she was wearing. Absolutely the cutest dress and pair of shoes.
Showtime! We entered the theater, and sat down at our table. What a lovely and intimate venue. Celebrating what would have been Patsy’s 85 th birthday, were the following Northwest singer songwriters: V. Contreras, Star Anna, Mackenzie Mercer, Jennifer Hopper, Jessica Lynne and Kate Voss. They performed alongside the following musicians: Rebecca Young, William Stover, Aaron O’Neil, Jason Goessl, Country Dave Harmonson. The MC was KEXP DJ Troy Nelson.
The minute they stepped onstage, we were swept away into the nostalgic past. It was hard not to sing along. I could see people swaying side to side, like a musical posse, out for sweet evening horse ride. I loved that they interchanged vocalists for each song. And, then there were the backup singers; The Recliners. Get it? Re-Cliners. That’s what made the evening so enjoyable, too. A lot of humor, intermixed with their beautiful voices. Each woman, brought her own unique voice to the stage. They all come from different pasts, different lifestyles, different music genres. But each had their own personal connection and interpretation of Patsy’s music. That is what I love about music. Boundaries are erased, and we all are welcome. Mixed in with the songs, were stories and humor. Jennifer Hopper playing the ‘Tra-Tra-Tra Triangle, with the Re-Cliners.
Kate Voss with her Melodica, which is basically a harmonica/keyboard combination. This was also the first time that I heard Star Anna perform, and was blown away by her intensity and strength.
I loved all the different costumes, too. V. Contreras wore an authentic, white vintage 60’s dress. And with her long, dark hair teased up, it was like watching Loretta Lynn sing onstage. And Mackenzie Mercer wore the traditional cowgirl fringe beautifully as she performed.
And of course, my dear friend Jessica Lynne. I always love to hear her voice away from her band and her original songs. My ear is accustomed to hearing her sing from her albums. When I heard her sing Patsy Cline’s songs, I listened differently. Especially since she was not playing the guitar. It was just her voice, filling up The Triple Door Theater. And, she looked so beautiful onstage. One of those “I’m proud to be her friend moments.” I got a little choked up, when she said a special Thank You to Susan Renville and I from the stage. That meant a lot to me.
The band was fantastic. The sound was fantastic. And the ladies blew off the roof of The Triple Door with their voices. I’m so glad I have all their names, so I will recognize them for future performances in the Seattle area. And, I will return next year, for the 10th Annual Sweet Dreams Music of Patsy Cline Show!
After the show, the ladies came to the back and talked to the fans. I love that individualized touch, and of course, to get photos! Plus, get a close look at their dresses. So much fun!
And now it’s time for Sherry and me to get busy looking for our Cowgirl Fringe to next year’s show. Because, you KNOW we’re going to wear it!
SUSAN IN SEATTLE
Experiencing Music City, Nashville TN
As I sit in my red, vinyl bean bag chair, headsets on, cord attached to the turntable….
I drop the needle, wait. And wait and wait. Because after writing these blogs, I realized that my parents did not own a record player when I was a little girl. There was not a needle to drop. The only way I initially heard music on our small wheat farm in Eastern Washington, was from a radio. My Mom would play contemporary music on the house radio. But, my wheat farmer Dad? He always played country music in the pickup truck. We owned horses and my Dad rode in our local Sheriff’s Posse. I remember seeing him ride his horse at the Palouse Empire Fair rodeo parade. I also remember watching the tv show Hee Haw. Men in overalls singing, and of course, Minnie Pearl wearing her hat with a price tag hanging. That was my exposure to country music. Hee Haw, and occasionally Johnny Cash on the radio.
Country Music started coming back into my life, approximately 4 years ago. Both of my parents had passed away, the family wheat farm was sold and I was grieving. As I mentioned in one of my earliest blogs, meeting local country artist Jessica Lynne, is the avenue that music used, to bring me back ‘home.’ And it was initially through her song “Calling me Home”. Quite appropriate. Because, that’s exactly what she did.
In the spring of 2016, Jessica Lynne (by now we were friends and I was on her music support team), was recording an EP in Nashville, TN; Music City Even though I was a flight attendant, that was a city I had never been to before. After listening to her stories, and stories from others, it became this mysterious destination. A city filled with magical music. It was exciting when she released her EP “Catch Me If You Can”, and to market it as Nashville recorded. Suddenly, I had a bucket list item to fulfill. I wanted to go to Music City.
It did not take long for that bucket list item to be fulfilled. This past May, the airline that I fly for announced a new flight destination out of the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport; Nashville. I was ecstatic! Nashville, here I come.
I had no idea what to expect on my first layover in Music City. However, I was thrilled to find out our hotel was only a few minutes’ walk to Broadway, AKA Honky Tonk Row. I had one main goal, besides listening to music. I wanted my first official pair of cowboy boots to be from Nashville. The selection of boots is overwhelming. They’re all so pretty and smell so good. But, my perfect pair found me. Literally. They fell off the rack, and onto my head. Boots purchased, I headed out to find live music. And boy, did I Hit the Jackpot! This was the week of The Stanley Cup Playoffs. Broadway was blocked off, and a huge stage was set up for a free concert. Right when I walked by, the gates opened. I ended up right next to the stage. I had no idea who the musicians were, because I was not familiar with many country artists. I now realize what a lucky girl I was.
The artist that was onstage doing the soundcheck, was none other than Kip Moore! I was right next to the stage, and was not going to move. He was awesome, and I knew it was going to be a special afternoon.
The crowds started to swarm in behind me, excitement rising. The concert began, with two newer artists. And then, out came Brett Young. Everyone went wild! I had no idea who he was at that time. But, now I know he had the #1 country song on the radio, “In Case You Didn’t Know”. He ended up sitting on the stage right in front of me, singing it! Totally amazing. I dragged myself away to make the 4:00 pm pickup, to work my next flight. But I was hooked. I was coming back to Nashville.
My next layover was 30 hours. We landed at midnight, and had the whole next day and night. My fellow crew member, Laura, was on a boot mission initially. But we met up later, and joined hitting the honky tonk bars. It’s amazing how great the music is…everywhere! And every bar has a unique style of music. From traditional country, to more current style. Soft acoustic to rousing fiddle players. My local musician friends, Ray Hayden and Jessica Lynne, had recommended The Listening Room. Laura and I headed there for dinner, wearing our cowboy boots, of course. We were seated right next to the stage. 3 singer-songwriters sitting on stools, taking turns performing. An excellent recommendation
My third layover arrived; another 30-hours! My co-worker, Dawn, wanted to buy cowboy boots. Do you see a tradition occurring? After her boot purchase, we met up with our other crew members who were also out buying boots. We enjoyed some music at the honky tonk bars, a Southern Style bar-b-q dinner, followed by more music. This was also the day that country music legend, Glen Campbell passed away. Thank you, Glen, for giving us so many years of music to share in our lives.
And then there was my 4th, and recent 30-hour layover. Wow, one that goes down in my memory banks as incredible. My friend, and fiddle player, Kat Bula, recommended seeing The Time Jumpers at 3rd and Lindsley. The minute we landed, I bought a ticket. And, I was lucky, because it ended up being a sold-out show. I spent the day walking around and exploring different streets and bars. One of the favorite bands I listened to was Kenny P. I asked him to sing “She Talks To Angels”, and he did a powerful cover. I’m keeping my eyes on him.
I headed down to 3rd and Lindsley, for The Time Jumpers, with very little expectations. I just figured I would be listening to some wonderful local performers. I walked in, found a place to stand at the bar, turned around and looked at the stage. And there, sitting on stool a mere 25 feet away was Vince Gill. Casually doing a soundcheck with his guitar. This was going to be a very memorable night.
It was ShowTime, and out came the Time Jumpers. All ten of them, including Vince Gill. Guitars, fiddles, accordion/keyboards and a drummer. I found myself getting choked up. I was experiencing the history of country music. Later, my friend Kat, gave me a more thorough description of it. “Western Swing from Texas, with Nashville pickers, banding together to play some of the best music anywhere!” For a whopping $20 ticket. WOW. Absolutely, one of the most impressive shows I have attended. I would go back anytime.
Halfway through the show, a young woman that I had talked to earlier, ended up onstage singing with Vince Gill! Brittany Brodie from Canada, fulfilling a dream of singing with one of her favorite Country Artists. I talked to her later, and she was so excited. Her song “I Do” had just charted on the New Indie Chart! An exciting night for her. Another emerging artist that I will be following.
The night closed with Ranger Doug yodeling. It was wonderful! And, they were all so nice to talk to. That traditional Southern Hospitality that you hear of.
When is my next trip to Nashville? I’m not exactly sure, but I hope it’s soon. I’ve fallen in Love <3
SUSAN IN SEATTLE
Andrew Landers and Mainstreet Struggleville
As I sit in my red, vinyl beanbag chair, headsets on, cord attached to the turntable….
I honestly cannot remember a time without music in my life. I was either listening, playing or singing it. Music has always served as a connection to other people. My extracurricular childhood activity was singing in the school choir. And, even though I grew up in the small, farming town of Colfax, WA I was blessed to have the same choir teacher, the entire 12 years. Mr. K. David Coe. A man passionate about music, who possessed an artistic temperament. I wonder how many wooden pointers sticks he broke during his career. However, he taught us to love and respect music. That love of music carried into my college years at Washington State University. Not only did we enter singing competitions in my sorority, we spent a lot of time reenacting our favorite MTV music videos in our rooms. Hairbrushes and curling irons the perfect props as microphones. One of my BFFs, Marie, especially loved music and to sing. She is an alto. I’m a soprano. So, our harmonies blended. And, she created the best cassette mix tapes.
30+ years later, we’re still singing and harmonizing together. It brings us joy, and connects our lives and spirits. Music does that.
Rockin’ Through My Fifties has illustrated how intertwined all of our lives are. I’m constantly experiencing Six Degrees of Separation. We are all connected in some way…if you just slow down and take the time to notice.
About 1 ½ years ago, my musician friend Jessica Lynne, held a pledge support party at her home. It was to help raise finances for her upcoming recording contract in Nashville, TN. Recording an EP can cost musicians several thousand dollars. It’s not uncommon to ask for support from fans and followers. One of the musicians joining in was Andrew Landers. He brought along his guitar and voice, for an acoustic singer songwriter event. Request an idea for a song, and they create one on the spot! Lots of fun and creativity involved. I immediately was impressed with not only Andy’s talent, but also his presence.
A warm, loving and humble man. And father of SIX children! Now, that takes a lot of love in your heart, to become a parent to six children. I knew that he was going to be a growing presence in the Seattle-Tacoma area community.
In the fall of 2016, my friend Marie asked me if I wanted to go to Louie G’s in Fife, WA to listen to one of her favorite local musicians; Andrew Landers and Mainstreet Struggleville. “Marie, how do you know Andy? He’s part of the local music community that I’ve become friends with.”
“He and his band performed out our party last summer.” “WHAT? The party that I messed up my dates on? ” ...Head hangs low. So, we bought tickets and showed up for Andy’s show. Raymond Hayden (band leader of Grieve The Astronaut) ended up sitting at our table. Sparks started flying when my two worlds collided. In a very good way. My past and my present were joining. Ray got called up onstage to perform with Andy during the show. When he left our table to join Andy onstage, Marie gave me a “Wow, that’s cool!” look.
I love Andy’s music. It’s a blend of American Folk, jazz, blue grass, southern rock and everything in between. Combined with his good-humored personality and ability to story tell, you feel like you’re wearing your most comfortable pair of jeans, while hanging out on the back-porch swing, on a peaceful summer evening. When I started researching his background, I found that my instincts were correct. A former pastor who had also been involved in music therapy programs at hospitals and senior homes. Music is a healing force. And when combined with his sincere and loving spirit, the effects are like receiving a warm hug.
Andy performs by himself acoustically, and with his band, Mainstreet Struggleville. That night, Andy was performing with his band. And, as an added creative component, an artist was painting behind them. His art illustrating the music he heard. Although, I enjoy Andy’s music acoustically, the band adds more joy and happiness to be spread throughout the room. An upright bass, electric bass, drums and a saxophone rounded out the music palette. Marie was thrilled when Andy played one of her favorites songs, City of Rose (Portland I’m Coming Home Tonight) from the soon to be released album, “Whereabouts.” It made me SO happy, to see one of my lifetime BBFs, loving the music being created by this incredibly talented music community.
When she said they would be performing again, at their neighborhood summer party, I made sure and cleared my calendar. I wasn’t going to miss it this time!
The day of the party arrived, blue skies and sunshine. Perfect for their home located on Budd Bay WA, with a gorgeous view of Mt. Rainier.
When we pulled up, I saw Andy’s 1972 VW bus parked out front. The classic symbol of a modern day, troubadour hippie. After an excellent meal of tacos and margaritas, the music started. To be able to enjoy their music at a private show, was such a treat. Marie’s ability to create great party mix tapes in college, had grown into great parties with live music. I filmed a few live feed videos for Facebook, carefully circling around the band. Tripping over an amplifier cord was not on the taco bar menu. And we noticed boats pulling up and anchoring out in the bay, to listen.
A professional 5-piece band, in my friends’ backyard. What could be better. I always enjoy sitting close to the musicians, so I can watch them play their instruments. It’s that music connection, of being able to watch their hands and see into their eyes. The upright bass is a jazzy, blues classic. Accompanied by a wailing saxophone, bass guitar and drums, it’s the perfect combination for an afternoon of musical delight. They performed both original songs and sing along rock classics. A fun and carefree afternoon of storytelling, mixed with the rich roots of American folk and blues. To quote Andy “Music is my compass, it’s how I see the world and long to see it better. The songs that I’m singing every night are the songs that I need- not to learn how to play, but to learn how to live better.”
To close out the evening, Andy and the band played a rousing cover of “We’re All Irish Tonight”! Introvert, extrovert…it didn’t matter, we were all madly dancing around, doing our best version of the Irish Jig……And then we all ate Andy’s VW bus.
And that’s what I love about Andy and his band of musicians. Everyone feels free and welcome to be who they want to be, in the presence of their music. I’ve always had this illusion that musicians don’t see or notice me from the stage. That Wallflower feeling. However, at the end of the evening, Andy grabbed my hands and said one of the sweetest things, that I’ve taken to heart. “Susan, you are such a joy to watch from stage. Your smile and spirit are just beautiful.”
We are a mirror to the musicians. They get to watch and observe their music flow out and through us. Witness their music coming alive in another person’s spirit. The whole connection ‘thing’. Something that all of us human beings are born with. The desire to feel connected and accepted.
Thank You Terry and Marie for such a fun night of music and festivities! We’re already looking forward to next year’s party with Andrew Landers and Mainstreet Struggleville!
Local Seattle/Tacoma WA Artist Spotlight, Taylor Enloe
As I sit in my red, vinyl bean bag chair, headsets on, cord attached to the turntable …
I remember how my relationship with Music first began. Do you remember how yours started?
Like many people, my relationship with music began in church. Sitting with my family in the pews, singing out of worn hymnals. The organist and the choir wearing heavy robes. Usually quite solemn.
I blame my failure in becoming a backup singer, totally on my lack of exposure to singing Gospel Music in church… I’m SURE that’s the reason ;)
But, after my church music, came singing in the school choir and learning to play the piano. I loved feeling the music flow through my body. During this time, I also started watching the TV show American Bandstand. On a black and white tv, and usually the bands were lip syncing. Half of the time their instruments didn’t even have cords attached to the amplifiers. It was fun to watch, but difficult to develop a relationship with the music …. Because it wasn’t real. For me to truly understand the music, I need to be in the presence of the artist. Or else, I can’t determine what is real, and what is fake.
That determination came to light, after a conversation that I had with the artist I’m writing about; Taylor Enloe. I was selling merchandise at a Jessica Lynne and The Cousins show. Taylor walked up and introduced himself to me. ‘Hi, I’m Taylor Enloe, guitarist for Grieve The Astronaut.”
Yes…. The band’s website that I’m writing this blog on. I know the band leader Raymond Hayden and the drummer Mike Burt, but the rest of the band I haven’t officially met. I’ve watched him perform before, but we’ve never shaken hands and had a conversation. He said he read my music blogs (Thank You!) and wondered if I ever wrote about music I just listened to. If I did, would I be willing to listen to his music and write about it.
An interesting, and perfectly timed question. I had been approached by another company, asking if I would want to listen to music and review it. I was not sure how to respond to that. However, after my conversation with Taylor, I could identify and set up boundaries for my music reviews.
For me to give an honest and truthful commentary about an artist’s music, I must be in their presence. Either through conversation, or at a live performance. Ideally, it would be both.
So, I said YES. I would listen and write a blog about Taylor’s music.
If you scroll back through the archives of my blog, you will read my review of the Grieve The Astronaut concert, March 2017. It was my first one. What an outstanding performance, and Raymond Hayden kept saying he had brought his new Secret Weapon into the band. That Secret Weapon was lead guitarist Taylor Enloe.
The audience went wild during that show. Taylor totally shredded it up on stage. So, it was interesting to start researching him online, and realize what an all-around excellent musician he is. There are various videos of his performances with several bands. His craftsmanship as a guitarist was obvious.
But then on YouTube, I found his powerful solo performance of his recently released song, “Farewell To Blackened Days”. An acoustic guitar and vocal piece, that really showcases his talent. When the energy and power from a band is removed, the true soul and skill level of an artist is revealed.
“Farewell To Blackened Days” is a skillfully executed song, that shows the truth behind Taylor’s work as a musician. Beautiful guitar riffs, accompanied by his powerful vocals. I felt like I was seeing the real Taylor. I was curious to know more of his background and his relationship with music. I had heard he was self-taught, which I thought was fascinating. That takes a lot of drive and determination, to teach yourself an instrument. So, I asked him to write a little bit about himself. It always helps to understand where an artist is coming from, when you know the road they have traveled.
This is what he wrote:
“I started playing guitar when I was 11, after hearing ‘Voodoo” by Jimi Hendrix. My grandfather bought me my first acoustic and I started teaching myself from there. After moving to Gig Harbor, WA from Stockton, CA when I was 13, my brother and I shared our first electric guitar. Dad had given it to us for Christmas. That year I got really into the band Rage Against the Machine, and would come home every day after school to jam out to their albums. Shortly after High School began, my brother introduced me to Ozzy Osbourne’s ‘Randy Rhoads’ tribute album. And, that completely changed my life. I became obsessed with metal and shred guitar.
When I was 15, my brother and I started our first band, Wilde Thunder (RIP Alex J. Kelley). It was kind of like hair metal on steroids. After a year of that, a few friends and I started our next band, Sword of Judgement. We were thrash metal, very much in the wheel house of bands like Megadeath and Overkill. We were together for a little over 4 years and played a lot in Seattle, opening for many national heavy metal bands.
In 2011, I went on a mission trip to Ensenada, Mexico and committed my life to Jesus. After that, I felt like I was being called to ministry and began leading worship at church. Late last year I decided to pursue my own music again and recorded my first EP “Been Here Before” and have only recently returned to the music scene after finally finding my dream band. Along the way, I got asked to join Grieve The Astronaut with Raymond Hayden, which has been an absolute blast. I am also doing solo gigs with my wife and leading worship on Sunday’s, whenever possible.”
Wow…that’s quite the story and journey! However, that is exactly what I love about music. It really does represent what is going on in an artist’s life. And, that’s why we are so drawn to it. Whatever we are going through, we can find a song that walks along with us, on that point in our journey.
I’m really looking forward to watching Taylor’s musical career grow, and of course, hear more of his performances! The next Grieve The Astronaut concert will be at The Auburn Avenue Theater, on September 16th. This is the ticket link.
You can also find Taylor’s work, on the following media sites:
SUSAN IN SEATTLE
Traveling with Jessica Lynne and The Cousins to LRS Country Music Festival 2017
As I sit in my red, vinyl bean bag chair, headsets on, cord attached to the turntable…
Where do you daydream? My childhood red, vinyl bean bag chair, was my favorite day dream vehicle. I would sit in it, and travel through space, time and dimension. Hours would go by, and I would be completely unaware. Physically I was a little girl living on a wheat farm in Eastern Washington. Mentally, I was an exciting world traveler. I am very blessed to have fulfilled most of my childhood dreams. College graduate. Mother to an amazing daughter and son. And, thanks to my 30-year career as a flight attendant, traveled the world.
Dreams don’t stop once you grow up, though. At least they shouldn’t. Two years ago, as I was sitting at one of my many concerts, I suddenly had a vision. I want to travel with a band someday. Be part of the creation of a big concert. 6 months later, Jessica Lynne asked me to join her music team. And then just this past month, my dream came true! I traveled with the band to the LRS Country Music Festival in Central OR. We hit the Big Show.
I’ve been binge watching the tv show, Nashville. You know that extravagant tour bus Juliette Barnes travels around in? That is still a dream waiting to happen. Our tour bus is Bryan’s SUV towing a U-Haul.
We packed the trailer, piled into the SUV and spent the next 8 or so hours, talking, sleeping, listening to music, and silently gazing out at the beautiful landscape. I really didn’t know what to expect. I had seen the advertising for the LRS Country Music festival. Jessica Lynne and The Cousins would be opening for comedians Jeff Foxworthy, Larry the Cable Guy and then the band Diamond Rio. Very impressive! But, that was about it. This was the festival’s first year, so nobody really knew what to expect.
Central Oregon is a land of beautiful, wide, open spaces. Ranch country. After driving an hour out of Prineville, OR, we finally came upon Paulina. A tiny Western Town, that literally had a general store and post office. And above it on the hillside, we saw it. The stage. A giant, black performance stage looming in the distance. One of those first time, spine tingling moments, that you want to keep locked into your brain forever. We drove to the Check-In Area. Received our Artist lanyards and directions as to where to park. This was a weekend festival, and the grounds were filled with trailers, RVs and tents. We drove past them, and were guided to the back-parking area for vendors and artists. Bryan skillfully backed in our U-Haul next to a tour bus. We were here! And, it was time to the hit the ground running.
LRS stands for Lazy Rockin’ Stirrup Ranch. A private ranch, and the owners decided to create this music festival. Talk about dreaming big! While the band was getting setup onstage for soundcheck, I was back under the merchandise tent, setting up my table. And before I go any further, I need to introduce the Jessica Lynne and the Cousins band and production team for that weekend! Jessica Lynne (lead vocals/guitar), Kat Bula (fiddle/vocals), Raymond Hayden (keyboards/vocals), Paul Beaudry (bass/vocals), Kubby Casual (drums), Skyler Mehal (lead guitar), Bryan Groves (production manager/driver/jack of all trades), Austin Taylor (sound engineering) and myself (merchandise). I shared the tent with the LRS merchandise crew. I really enjoyed talking to them, and learning more about the festival. After the soundcheck was over, I received a text that dinner was being provided for the artists, behind the stage. The LRS crew said they would watch over our merchandise, so I walked over for dinner.
I was shocked! This was not just sandwiches and soda pop. Under a tent, were tables set up with white linen. Dinner was a wonderful selection of salads, salmon, beef and assorted side dishes. In addition to cold sodas, there was a bar. Not at all what I expected! The band had already eaten, and were heading up to the stage. It was almost ShowTime!
I finished just in time for their stage introduction. Out they came, Jessica Lynne and The Cousins! I sincerely became choked up. I used to see Jessica singing by herself in Sea-Tac as one of the airport musicians. And here she was onstage with her full band, opening the first LRS Country Music Festival.
This was the real deal, with cameras filming live feeds for a big screen next the stage. After videoing their first song, I went back to the merchandise tent, and listened to the concert from there.
I was the only person on the music team to get that perspective, and it was fantastic! After their set was complete, Jessica came back to meet her fans and give autographs. It was fun to see people loving her. The Wildhorse Harley-Davidson company REALLY loved her! They invited her back to their tent for some fun photo shoots. This is one of Jessica’s favorite photos from the weekend.
The concert continued with comedians Jeff Foxworthy and Larry The Cable Guys. When the final act, Diamond Rio, came onstage, I broke down the merchandise table and joined the band. We all had backstage passes. After storing everything away, I joined them backstage, and found them smoking cigars with Larry the Cable Guy! Absolutely the friendliest and nicest man.
I was shocked to find myself hanging out in this location, and receiving this viewpoint. It was fantastic. A dream come true for me, and what a special gift. We all had a lot of fun singing and dancing. And Diamond Rio were a well-oiled machine, after performing together for over 30 years. A great memory was when they were coming offstage, and Jessica went over to introduce herself. They were one of her favorite bands early on. They said, “You don’t have to tell us your name, we know who you are.” A great night of success!
Next thing you know, we were driving back to Seattle-Tacoma, each trying to absorb and remember our own individual experiences. What I really appreciated, was being able to spend that time together talking and reflecting. Usually, the show finishes, everyone packs up and leaves. There is not a lot of social time, in the very busy lives of musicians.
It took a lot of effort, sacrificed sleep and energy to experience this weekend. But it was totally worth it. Dreams are worth making that effort.
Dream like when you were a child.
Meeker Day Festival: Jessica Lynne and The Cousins, Sweetkiss Momma and Limberlost
As I sit in my red, vinyl bean bag chair, put my headsets on, cord attached to the turntable……
Even though I grew up on a farm, I did not listen to country music during my childhood. My Dad would turn the radio station in the pickup truck to country, but that was the only time I heard it. I don’t even remember my parents listening to very much music in the house. They didn’t own a record player, just a radio. I had a little 45 rpm record player that I would listen to as a child. Then in junior high, I finally used my allowance money to buy a turntable for full size LP’s. I loved rock, pop and Big Band 40’s style music (my Mom appreciated that!). I knew who Dolly Parton and Johnny Cash were, but that was the extent of it. It wasn’t until I met Jessica Lynne, that I started listening to Country Music. Now, I really love it! Just this past spring I’ve seen Blake Shelton and Tim McGraw/Faith Hill in concert. And during a recent Nashville layover, I saw a free concert with Brett Young and Kip Moore. And bought my first pair of real cowboy boots. I have some fun shows coming up as Jessica Lynne’s Merchandise Girl, so a perfect opportunity to wear them. YeeHaw!
Summer is a busy time for musicians. There are outdoor summer concerts happening all over. We, Jessica Lynne’s Merchandise Team, receive email updates as far as opportunities to work her shows. I saw a fun one was happening, the day after my birthday. The Meeker Day Music and Arts Festival, in Puyallup WA. It was going to be a great lineup! Limberlost, Sweetkiss Momma and Jessica Lynne and The Cousins. Sign me up!
Unfortunately, I was not able to see Limberlost. Their ShowTime was at 1 pm, and I live about 90 minutes away. We arrived home late the night before, since we had been to The Band In Seattle taping. I was not ready to rally that early in the day 😉. I love the sound of Limberlost! I wrote a blog about them earlier this spring. A hot and growing rock band from the Seattle/Tacoma area. I’m keeping an eye out for their future shows. They don’t disappoint. Other friends were there supporting them though, and I could see photos and talk to them later. Unfortunately, the sound system was not working properly during their set. So, if you saw Limberlost there, give them another chance! Krystle Pyette’s voice is powerfully amazing!
Sweetkiss Momma set was at 6pm, so I could make that. I drove by myself, having no idea where it was, or even what it was about. It was a good feeling to walk into the beer garden and immediately see and hug Jeff Hamel, the lead singer of Sweetkiss Momma! I had brought back Sweetkiss Momma from their European Tour last year (I wrote about it on a previous blog). It was time for them to go get set up, so I grabbed a glass of wine, and sat down at a table by myself. But not for long. In walked Paul Beaudry, Jessica Lynne’s bass player! Paul also toured with Sweetkiss Momma on their European Tour. We sat together to listen to Jeff Hamel and Sweetkiss Momma. I walk into a Music Festival, and know the musicians. Fantastic! It was an impressive set. I love the Southern Rock sound of their music. It was interesting talking to Paul about it, since he played with the band last year. He felt it had a more edgier rock sound now. I loved seeing Kubby (Kevin White) on the drums. He’s also Jessica’s drummer. I saw Raymond Hayden sitting out in the audience. And soon, Bryan Groves walked by, along with Jessica Lynne. It was like old home week! Mike Burt, Limberlost’s drummer, walked by later and gave me a hug. That is what I love about this group of music people. Everyone shows up to support each other’s bands.
Soon it was time to set up for the Jessica Lynne and The Cousins Show! Looking back, this was the first time I had sold merchandise at one of their shows, since last fall. It was fun to be back behind the table and listening to their music
Perlita Clark is a fan/friend/family member of our music group, too. Some of these photos are hers, since she had a better view of the stage. And, of Bryan and I at the merchandise table. Check out my new cowboy boots from Nashville!
After the soundcheck, it was time for their show to start. Jessica Lynne lead vocals, Kat Bula fiddle, Dillon Warneck lead guitar, Kubby Casual drums, Paul Beaudry bass and Raymond Hayden Keys. Once again, there were some sound issues at first. So, it was hard to hear the first couple of songs, which included a brand new one. But once the issues were resolved, it was time to get rockin’!
The stage was right next to a packed beer garden, and there was a lot of dancing going on. I do not know how to country line dance. It always looks like so much fun when I see other people doing it! Something to add to my To Do List; take line dancing lessons.
I really enjoy talking to Jessica’s fans when they come over to the merchandise table to buy her Cd’s and t-shirts. Hear their stories and where they are from. And at the end of the show, she always comes back to meet them and sign their CD’s. An individualized touch, that goes a long way. I know, because that’s how I started out. A fan who would anxiously wait until the show ended, and I could say HI! thank you and get a hug.
All in all, I would say my 7th year of Rockin’ Through My 50’s started out with a musical bang! In 2010, I had never talked to a musician, much less be friends with one. Now, in 2017, I am friends with many. And that’s a good thing.
Make sure and check out these bands website, for their summer concerts!
Jessica Lynne and The Cousins: https://jessica-lynne.com
Sweetkiss Momma : www.skmband.com
Limberlost: Limberlost Music on Facebook
SUSAN IN SEATTLE
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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