Friday, December 28, 2012

Seattle, WA: House Concert

The flu-crud that has put Seattle in a headlock this holiday season has reduced our bill from a triple to a double, and Joe Jencks and I wish Trina a speedy recovery.  Nice to wind down the year with a good friend in a low-key-but-attentive-and-engaged setting.  More, of course, to come as the calendar flips over!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

12/28 Performance & End-of-Year Recap

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Friday, November 30, 2012

Seattle, WA: The Royal Room (Bushwick Book Club - 2012 Jack Straw Anthology)

Jack Straw Productions is a Seattle non-profit that offers grants and assistance to local musicians, writers, and other artists.  Among its many projects, the organization produces a yearly anthology from its writers program, and The Bushwick Book Club has teamed up this month to offer a show of writer-songwriter pairings, the latter charged with writing a song inspired by the former's contribution to this year's anthology.  Lovely idea, and it comes off swimmingly!

I've drawn Nick Wong, who has contributed an essay about his experiences training in boxing gyms throughout Latin America.  I know very little about boxing, but in recalling how my favorite baseball writings don't deal exclusively with baseball (and I know a ton about baseball)--but rather address the ups and downs of life through the lens and terminology of baseball--I appreciate how Nick's piece does the same via boxing, and I'm excited to learn.  My song, "The Stance," draws from the entirety of the essay, but particularly this passage:

Entering a boxing gym in another country makes you a tourist in two ways. The first being the quite obvious one of being in another country, but the second is a more subtle form of diplomacy. The way you hold your hands, the distance of your stance, whether you lead left hooks off the jab or always follow up with the right hand, is a representation of your school. Essentially, it is your dialect to the language of boxing, and once you announce an intention to fight, the entire ambiance of the gym shifts; people stare as you walk by, silently estimating how you size up in the ring.

I feel very fortunate to have scored this pairing, but then so many serendipitous moments occur through the evening that I imagine it would have happened with anyone--the idea (and individuals producing content) is just that good.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Seattle, WA: Musicquarium Lounge at The Triple Door

Brian just had to take a choir full of kids to sing the anthem at the Sounders FC playoff game tonight, so we're a man down...but we're warmer and drier in the MQ, no doubt.  Might as well shake things up, then, so first set is entirely songs I wrote for The Bushwick Book Club Seattle--which, with one or two exceptions, Dave and Alicia haven't heard before.  If you didn't know they had originally held only water, you might think this decision hit Dave a little hard judging by the empty collins glasses piled along the base of the aquarium tank in his corner...easy, fella.

Drummer Dave Bush's collection of empties

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Seattle, WA: Musicquarium Lounge at The Triple Door

Visit number five to the MQ in 2012 passes without major incident, but none too dull either.  A resident's equilibrium...

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Irvine, CA: FAR-West Folk Alliance Conferece

The task of documenting a weekend-long experience such as FAR-West seems too tall a task at the moment, so I'll let the picture below speak for the time being...  Nice to see so many good folk!

Photo: Victor DesRoches

Friday, September 28, 2012

Seattle, WA: Columbia City Theater (Bushwick Book Club - 1984)

Interesting to re-read this one so soon after re-reading Fahrenheit 451...but dang if I can bring myself to contribute another thoughtful number for The Bushwick Book Club this time, despite ample and engaging source material.  No, a ukulele-driven commercial jingle for Victory Gin is what I'm offering.  Delicious!

Tonight's quiz: did a given event happen in 1984...or 1983?

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Seattle, WA: Musicquarium Lounge at The Triple Door

The one and only Hawkeye Herman tells a story about his journey with taking requests, eventually arriving at the conclusion that audience members wouldn't want you to sing one of their favorite songs if they didn't like the way you sang/played (even if you wished they'd appreciate your original material more).  Even so, however, I don't see the WW Band playing Alanis Morissette's "Ironic" anytime soon...sorry, Table Seven.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Seattle, WA: Bumbershoot (Bushwick Book Club - A Wrinkle in Time)

Okay, true confession: despite all my work in the local music community, I've never been to Bumbershoot.  (Of course, I've played out-of-town at Tumbleweed for ten recent Labor Day weekends...)  Till today, that is--now I'm hosting and performing for The Bushwick Book Club Seattle Presents Original Music Inspired by A Wrinkle in Time on the Words & Ideas Stage, where they're treating me very well.  Fun to do a book published the same year as the Seattle World's Fair (1962--50 years ago), as well as one that I recently lived through a sound designer for a Youth Theatre Northwest production.  And nice to cross the 'Shoot of the musical bucket list as well.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Richland, WA: Tumbleweed Music Festival

This is my tenth Tumbleweed, and it's fun to reflect on my journey from "kid with that song about Walla Walla" to songwriting contest host, MC, etc.  Amidst all the running around I play a set, too, and I'm thrilled that Erin's vacation plans allow her to join me.

As I told the crowd assembled at the South Stage, there are three stages to climbing the Tumbleweed ladder: first, they add you to the schedule; second, they ask you back; and third, Hank Cramer cuts your song ("Carry On").  Looks like I made it to the top!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Seattle, WA: Musicquarium Lounge at The Triple Door

In three full-band appearances at the MQ thus far this year we've had the fourth wall broken rather demonstrably, fended off a would-be pinch-hit drummer, and now been flashed.  And now that we've accepted a once-a-month residency here, who knows what else will follow?

Friday, August 24, 2012

Seattle, WA: Slim's Last Chance (Bushwick Book Club - Lonesome Dove)

I've wondered how an outdoor Bushwick show would go, given the importance of words at these events contrasted with the potential for sound to dissipate into the great wide open, but then you couldn't pick a better environment for Lonesome Dove than Slim's, either.  Turns out it works fine.

Glad to offer a little born-at-the-wrong-time cowboy waltz, join Nancy K. Dillon as part of her cowboy-/railway-rap work crew, and coordinate this show's audience quiz: cattle breed or marijuana strain?  Jamaica Red, anyone...?

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

End-of-Summer Performance Glut

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Sunday, July 8, 2012

Seattle, WA: Musicquarium Lounge at The Triple Door

Much mellower gathering than last time, which is nice for folk winding down an extended holiday-ish run after a mid-week Fourth.  And they're still working on the tank...  I do love this band.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Seattle, WA: Lake Union Wooden Boat Festival

Sometimes, you see things on-stage that your audience does not see.  Other times, everyone sees it but only you have to keep composure.  Sometimes, it's a combination of both--like, for instance, when festival staff come sprinting in front of everyone, clearly responding to something, but only you can see that it's because a dock has blown loose in the same 25-30mph cross-winds that keep trying to topple your microphone stand, and it's taking every available body on the grounds to haul it (with boats and several startled people) back to shore.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Bellevue, WA: Crossroads

Wouldn't be a complete performance-year without at least one appearance here, nor would said appearance here be complete without enthusiastic dancing from some younger audience members--at least one of whom is wearing copious and rather percussive leg-bangles.  Two and four, kid, two and four...

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Seattle, WA: Museum of History & Industry

MOHAI, an enterprise I've always enjoyed, has slowly been moving itself from Montlake to South Lake Union, and is almost ready to close the doors at the former location.  Before doing so, however, they wanted to throw one more party for the community/neighborhood/city-at-large, and they've asked The Bushwick Book Club to provide the music.  Vince Martinez, MoZo, and I have agreed to represent, and the three hour gathering flies as we chase musical book-threads to the cacophonous underscoring of museum tours, interactive exhibits, dancers, and said city-at-large on this 123rd anniversary of the Great Seattle Fire.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Seattle, WA: Northwest Folklife Festival

As thin as I've spread myself this year at Folklife, I'm performing exactly one song under my own name over the four days--with The Bushwick Book Club celebrating Dr. Seuss.  (I've drawn the poem "Too May Daves," an allegory confronting all-too-real problem of...people named 'Dave.')  The rest of the time is spent backing Reilly & Maloney (3 engagements), Nancy K. Dillon, and coordinating the inspiring Emerald City Songwriter Circles.  And remembering to eat.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Portland, OR: Artichoke Music

The Artichoke Music 'Backgate Stage' is one of the great regional songwriter-spaces: nice, comfortable room that sounds great and keeps both performers and audiences happy.  And after teaching a six-hour Advanced Songwriting Immersion class for Portland Community College earlier in the day (on the Rose City's first 80-degree day, no less!), Dick Weissman, Nancy K. Dillon, Larry Murante, and I are delighted with the relaxed feel in the room and the round.

Photo: Scott Docherty (more here)

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Seattle, WA: Richard Hugo House (Bushwick Book Club celebrates National Poetry Month)

The last time I performed on this stage was indeed a memorable experience, and tonight's Bushwick Book Club event with/at Richard Hugo House looks to continue the tradition.  For this show, each songwriter has been paired with a local poet in celebration of National Poetry Month, and the duos charged with forging a collaboration however it might work best.  I've drawn the impressively articulate Ed Skoog, and we've focused on his poem "Like Night Catching Jackrabbits in Its Barbed Wire."

The poem is an account of Ed's 35th birthday in Joshua Tree, CA, sprinkled with the presence of various musical greats (most notably--and not surprisingly--Gram Parson).  But what's grabbed me is not the chance to write a Gram Parsons-style song (that's been done and done), but to visit a new-to-me part of the country through Ed's words and stories, which proves a delightful way to travel.  With Ed's wife having gone into labor this afternoon, however, I'm on my own for the performance:

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Tulalip, WA: Washington Library Association 2012 Conference

The Tulalip Casino & Resort is an interesting spot for the subdued and thoughtful atmosphere of the Washington Library Association 2012 Conference--beyond adequate and very nice, certainly, but so close to hundreds of noisy slot machines.  I'm here with Geoff Larson and Tai Shan of The Bushwick Book Club presenting our 'wares' in the form of a Time Life-y 'best of' revue that I think plays quite well.  But what to do with all our down time...

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Seattle, WA: Musicquarium Lounge at The Triple Door

The lights are off-upon-arrival in the MQ fishtank--an ominous sign... The rest of the evening unfolds like this:

Occasionally in conversation I note that some performance-related experience from my past strikes others as more incredible or noteworthy than it does me, and I realize that I have different expectations as a result of logging many performances over the years. It is not, I hasten to point out, that I am jaded and cannot again be taken by a moment--indeed, that possibility is still a huge part of my commitment to live performance--but it take more to catch me off-guard. And it can still in the, um, intensity showcased by tonight's late-Sunday, post-mainstage-show dance party... (Good thing the band kept our hoedown set handy!)

Two lingering observations:
That was a lot of dancefloor touching!
And does that sign say "Blame Wes Weddell" ??

Friday, March 16, 2012

Seattle, WA: Columbia City Theater (Bushwick Book Club - Fahrenheit 451)

For something new at this Book Club show, I'm emceeing in addition to performing. The song ("Just Like Me"), then, is general and broad--an introductory piece to welcome the crowd and let others go deeper. The between-song bits, however, are much more detailed, culminating my grand bring-contestants-onstage quiz on the following theme: "Who said it? - Ray Bradbury or Mark Zuckerberg?!"

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Seattle, WA: Town Hall

I've said it before, but I don't mind repeating myself: it's a kick to hear 75 voices sing your song! I'm here with the Nelsen Middle School Concert Chorus from Renton, WA, directed by bandmate and dear friend Brian Hoskins and the only middle school choir invited to perform at this year's Northwest American Choral Directors Association Divisional Conference. They're including a revamped arrangement "Carry On" in their program, and I'm tremendously honored.

I know folks' eyes glaze over when they hear about kids' choirs, remembering the excruciating experience from when their neighbors dragged them to see their kids or the last saccharine offering from church. But this is different: these kids bring it, not in a nice-for-a-bunch-of-kids way, but in a real, present, 'wow' way. Brian chooses music from myriad cultures and traditions, which is nice both in comparison to other programs and given the diversity of the choir itself, a reflection of its hometown. They sing, they move, and we do our best to keep up in the backline.

Thanks, as always, to Don Shawe (1917-2007), whose story is the song.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Choirs, Bands, Books, & Video

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Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Seattle, WA: Erickson Theater (Bushwick Book Club - Pride & Prejudice)

I now number among those cultured souls who have read some Jane Austen (thanks, Book Club!). Didn't hate it (as many told me I would), but really felt just how different the life of the late-18th-Century English gentry was from mine today.

Downside to writing and performing a Taylor Swift parody (yes, this is how I imagined P&P for the show): ongoing Taylor Swift earworms...

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Seattle, WA: Egan's Ballard Jam House

Opening the evening here for (and then backing) Ms. Nancy K. Dillon, who has requested a set of Bushwick Book Club tunes. Kinda fun to string together some highlights from the past year-plus, some of which are much more context-specific than others. Then over to the mando...!

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Seattle, WA: New Day Northwest

Obviously, I do far more radio than TV--perhaps TV regulars don't get the same kick out of the language that I do, but I was giddy with anticipation when I was told by the very pleasant and capable New Day Northwest staff: "Please come camera ready (hair and make-up done). We will be powdering you for HD."

Well, consider me the same King-5 studio as Almost Live!, no less! Glad to give the Book Club some screen time, and continue to plead Tommy Treadmill's case.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Seattle, WA: Fremont Abbey (Bushwick Book Club - Alice in Wonderland)

It's neat how a great crowd in a great room can really lift up a show--tons of fun, and better shared. Got flack for assuming that I did not have a show-stealer this time, but I didn't honestly think a slow, minor-key ditty could do the trick (I'll concede comically dirge-y). Alas, now I've got to think if I've ever before received applause just for the verbal introduction preceding a song. Thankfully, Debbie Miller stepped in in the second half and stole the show for real. Yay reading!