Seattle Subsonic - Music

Sightseer's What Tomorrow Brings

The next CD you need to get? Sightseer’s What Tomorrow Brings.

Sightseer - What Tomorrow BringsOK. Right off the bat, I’ll give full disclosure. I have on occasion filled in on bass for this band so one might think I have a biased opinion, but that isn’t entirely true. There’s a reason, you see, why I filled in on bass when asked. Simply put, I dig the tunes. I’m not a musician for hire. I won’t play a gig simply for the sake of playing a gig. There’s has to be something magical in the band and the music for me to say, “Yeah, I’ll learn ten songs in ten days for that show.” And well, Sightseer is one such band.

As I noted from the first time I saw them, there’s the beautiful ballad “Biggest Storms”, a sparse tune with acoustic guitar, some slide guitar, some violin, and P.A. Mathison’s understated vocal melody, and one of her most poetic lyrically. There’s a tenderness in her voice, even when belting at the top of he lungs, that draws one in. It’s comforting. Her voice is never shrill, never too loud, never buried. They’re never a band to go over the top. They rather seep in underneath and get at what really matters. The Jasons (Lightfoot on guitar and Welling on keys/violin/guitar) are tasteful and reserved in what they play, but don’t let that deceive you, they’re quite capable musicians. The bass player and drummer recently left the band, but that didn’t derail things. Rather, in the spirit of all that music is, Sightseer forged ahead with some acoustic shows, and some shows where they asked people to fill in, and they kept on playing because the music matters, the songs, the act of getting on stage a playing certain chords a certain way. They have a brand of alt-country rock that winds its way deftly between the softer tunes and those that carry more up front guitar. And it packs a punch, it does slide low, it does pull strings. And the lyrics come, the hushed voice comes:

And ain’t it funny how
The biggest storms don’t make a sound

Indeed. They well up deep down and come out through the vibrations of six steel strings attached to a hollow piece of wood. And there are songs of whiskey and heartache and heartache and whiskey. Some are soft, but some rocking like the admirable “Read It and Weep”, easily one of my favorite rock songs from any band in Seattle at this time. It’s the song that first drew me into their music. The recording is good, but you need to hear it live. There’s a letter, a knife in the back, a lost love (it’s a Sightseer song), some heavy chords, and even riff, a pentatonic blues thing that comes along at the perfect time and makes one pay attention, makes one look up from the bar while shaking a glass of whiskey and ice and say, “Whoa!” as the head bobs a little.


And then there’s, “What If I”. It was a latecomer in the recording process. P.A. brought it to the band, and after one listen and a few run throughs, they decided they needed to add it to the CD. It was the right choice. It’s a ballad with edge, but the signature vocal delivery is there. It makes one think she’s singing to herself, not in a studio, not on a stage. There’s a personal quality not heard often, again, nothing over the top, just an honest plea of the simplest and most important thing we’ve all felt at one point or another. I have, and her words and voice have stuck in my brain:

What if I told you I needed you now
And all that you are is all I think about
What if I broke down and told you the truth
What if I loved you the way I want to
What if I …

Sightseer deserves far more recognition than they’ve thus far received, and I hope this CD finally gets it for them. And they even play “When the Levee Breaks” live. What more do you need?

The CD is officially released today, February 1, 2012. I’ll keep you posted on upcoming Sightseer gigs, and I may even join them on stage again soon, but until then, check out the CD. Digital ($9.99) and physical ($12.47) copies can be purchased online.


Sightseer: Purchase CD | Website | Facebook | ReverbNation

Sightseer - Jason, Jason, P.A.

Posted by davemusic | Filed in Music on February 1st, 2012| 3 Comments »


Death's Three Daughters, Waiting Room, Not Through Yet

Death's Three DaughtersI gave a reading for my book at the Skylark cafe in December, and afterward, I hung around to talk to those who came out and thank them for coming, perhaps buy a drink or two for a select few. As I was about to leave, I heard a voice, “Hi, Dave.” It was Mia Bigliardi, the drummer for Death’s Three Daughters. I’d seen them once before in February of 2011, and though I liked some of the things they were attempting, I didn’t feel they quite got there. To quote from myself, “Illumination would have to wait.” In the Skylark, though, as I got to talking to Mia and D3D singer/guitarist Jen Stinespring, I realized they read my review of that show and used it as inspiration to strengthen their resolve and hone their musical abilities more, and to tighten their music. They didn’t say, “Fuck you for what you wrote about our band!” They welcomed the criticism and wanted more. “Sorry we missed the reading, we’re playing here tonight. You should stick around, maybe write about our show,” Mia said. It didn’t work out that night as I had other obligations, but through emails and Facebook postings and random Bailey’s-laden encounters in coffee shops on holidays, we found a suitable show that I would attend. They would play again. I would write again.

That show was Saturday, January 14 at Slim’s Last Chance. They were setting up when I arrived, and I noticed the bass player had short, white hair. White? I was expecting Red and so wondered if she was new. I perched myself at the corner of the bar, ordered a Blue Moon, and took out 1Q84 for a little pre-show reading. The bass player came over, “Thanks for coming out.” The face was familiar, same bass player, Jenny Ferrero. She saw me looking at her hair. She smiled, pointed to it, “I cut and colored it. Halloween costume. Tank Girl.”

“Nice. Is that a new bass up there?”

“Yeah, I love it. It has good action.”

“Mind if I play it a little later on?”

“Not at all.” We got to talking about the band, and I discovered they’d done some recording, a live session, 5 songs, one take each. She described it as a learning experience much as Jen and Mia had described some of the band’s critical responses. They all seemed to have the sponge quality in their determination to be a better band. Artists should always strive for such because the moment they don’t, they’re through. It matters not what you’ve done or created, but what you are doing, what you will do. Jenny said the recordings would be available on CD in February. She asked about the HUGE book on the bar and its author. I answered and mentioned one of his books was made into a movie and had its American release this month. She seemed interested so I wrote the name down on a piece of paper.

Norwegian Wood.

“Like the Beatles song.”

“Yeah, Murakami infuses a lot of American and European pop culture into his books. Who’s your favorite band or the band’s favorite band?”

“No question. Pearl Jam.”

“Nice. They’re one of mine too.” Mia came over then.

“Do you like PBR? The drink tickets are only good for PBR. I hate PBR.” A woman after my own heart. And why do bars do that?

“Me too.”

“We have to start. Talk to you after the show.”

Death's Three DaughtersSo they started, and I was impressed. They were indeed better than the three women I’d seen almost one year ago. They’d become a band. The question, then, was what kind of band that was. I liked the spacey, simple two note opening of “Blood Mountain” and also the heavy building of the ascending chord progression that ends the same song. There’s the U2-like (think old U2) “Waiting Room”, a tune that they later told me was an overwhelming fan favorite. I had to agree. They kept that one pretty straightforward and didn’t clutter it up with unnecessary changes or odd parts. Sometimes a simple song is all the better for it. They stuck to the progression, the melody, the hook, and they didn’t make it heavy and fast for the sake of making it heavy and fast. It was a good song, and judging by the applause, a fan favorite.

There’s the more punk rock, and very short, “54 Roses” which they said was a band favorite for the energy it had. And it did. There was the cool opening bass groove of “Stars & Angels” that I’d like to hear them develop in the manner Jane’s Addiction’s “Summertime Rolls”, just the same bass line all the way through and the great dynamic sweeps of the other instruments. But they didn’t do that. The song suddenly became heavy and more up tempo. It wasn’t bad, but it reminded me of two different songs. I liked them both so it made me think they were still defining for themselves what kind of band they were and wanted to be, and how to write songs as that band.

And that’s a good thing. It means they’re still taking chances, stretching their limits, finding their way. After the show, I got a brief history of the band. I learned they hadn’t even been together for two years and had only played their instruments for just about that same length of time too. That’s not bad. They’re in a good spot of being young, passionate, and in discovery mode, still developing their style as individual musicians and as a group. I’ve heard them compared to Sleater-Kinney, but I like D3D better, and I suppose that’s because of the bass. It gives them something Sleater-Kinney didn’t have. I was glad I’d given them a second chance. As musicians, they’re not through yet, and if they write a few more tunes like “Waiting Room”, they may not be through for quite some time.


Death’s Three Daughters will be playing this Friday at the Skylark Cafe in West Seattle. Tickets are $5.00

Posted by davemusic | Filed in Music on January 26th, 2012| Comment now »


The Strangest Tribe: How a Group of Seattle Rock Bands Invented Grunge

Strangest Tribe - CoverDetails. Stephen Tow’s book, The Strangest Tribe: How a Group of Seattle Rock Bands Invented Grunge, has a lot of them, and though there’s a mountain of information, it isn’t overwhelming. It’s scholarly but entertaining, interesting and funny; it’s researched to no end but quite relatable for both musicians and music fans.

The book covers Seattle’s pre-grunge years, the late 70′s through 1991, the time when something rose from nothing, when Seattle went from a few underground bands and clubs to all that would break upon the world with Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, Alice in Chains, and more. I was in the Midwest during those years (Detroit and Columbus, Ohio), and as I got into bands in the late 80′s and early 90′s, we all thought there was a scene. We all thought there was something happening, especially after Seattle broke. Folks in Columbus liked to say in the early 90′s that Columbus was the next Seattle. LMFAO. Really? I guess I even thought such, or at least wanted to believe it, because I was in a band, and I believed in that band, but there was no scene, no sound, no new attitude. There were just a lot of random bands making a lot of random music, and though some of them were quite good, and some were even signed to labels major and minor, nothing ever came of it. No one made it. Nothing happened.

But it happened here in Seattle. A community developed, and then a sound, or perhaps attitude, or as Tow puts it, “grunge was more an approach to playing than an actual style of music”, and The Strangest Tribe captures the smallest details of how that happened. There were bands and bands and bands that contributed something but never made it. The Fags. The U-Men, The Young Fresh Fellows and so many more, and all these years later, they have much to say, of course. When you’re in the thick of it, and then a new kid comes along, and then the new kid makes it big while you’re still playing whatever little bars you can, you have something to say. You have an opinion. You have the feeling of being part of something that made it all possible, that “I was there at the beginning” kind of feeling.

The Strangest Tribe at the Feedback LoungeAnd like I said, it’s relatable, Tow spoke to many musicians, and anyone who has ever played in a rock band can relate to things like what Leighton Beezer from the Thrown Ups said, “I remember my budget was $400 a month: $80 for rent, $50 a week for food, and the rest went for beer. It was not a bad life.” I can relate to that life from my own time as a struggling musician, but what I never felt was that kind of burgeoning scene of musicians living together, bonding, supporting each other, creating music in a scene that was all about just that, the music, not the stardom. Tow writes about how the grunge attitude and sound were dying locally and how Nirvana’s success saved it and propelled it out into the world, largely against the wishes of one Kurt Cobain. He mentions the local backlash against Pearl Jam for wanting to be successful. Beezer confirms that, says he ridiculed them back in 1991 and 1992, but he came around, understands how the scene that made Nirvana, that enabled them, did the same for Pearl Jam. He and the other Seattle musicians and bands from that time know they played a part but don’t overstate it. No one in the book takes credit for the artists that came later. They just say, “I was there. I did this. Then this happened, and it was cool!”

And it was.

And all the details are there, the prequel, if you will. And reading it the way Mr. Tow writes about it, I almost feel like I was there drinking a beer with Beezer as Nirvana exploded. And that’s to Tow’s credit. There’s a ton of detail, but it never loses focus, never gets bogged down. He has an instinct for that which really matters to the story and writes it in a memorable way, almost nostalgic even tough he wasn’t there. When I met Tow at his book signing at the Feedback Lounge last October, we signed and exchanged books, had a couple beers and talked about the time and effort of writing, how we both observed the scene from afar back in those days, how we loved Nirvana and Pearl Jam then (no backlash back east), how we both wished we could have been here in those days. It must have been exciting for both musician and music fan, and after reading his book, it makes me wish he’d write the next part of the story, the sequel, the explosion. I want his take on the moment the world stood up and listened to Seattle.


Get The Strangest Tribe on Amazon
or Get a signed copy of The Strangest Tribe

Posted by davemusic | Filed in Music, Seattle Music Scene on January 20th, 2012| 1 Comment »


P.A. Mathison at Alki Arts, Music and Painting, Whiskey and Wine

LushworksLike many musicians, P.A. Mathison of Sightseer has other artistic outlets. Sometimes, one form of expression just isn’t enough, so when not playing music, she paints in the abstract. Actually, she painted first and wound up in music later in life when she heard a band rehearse “Man in the Box” one too many times, heard the singer fumble notes and melody one too many times, and she said to herself, “I can do way better than that.” I’ve seen Sightseer a number of times, even filled in on bass for one gig, and I can assure you, she was right.


She paints rather well, too, and as luck would have it, both skills will be on display this Thursday over at Alki Arts. Mathison partners with Jessica Apodaca (both in the picture below) at the Lushworks art studio (got to love the name) and will have some wine inspired paintings on display. To quote from Mathison, “What makes [these paintings] unique is that each painting comes from two different perspectives, because we each get our hands on ‘em at some point. Sometimes at the the same time! So it truly is a collaborative effort.” Along with the paintings, Sightseer will perform an acoustic set on the opening night of the 12th. The band has a new CD coming out next month. I’ve heard it, and simply put, it’s excellent. It’s a blend of alt-country rock with a double shot of Makers, neat. They’re one of my local favorites, and hopefully, 2012 will finally see them get some much deserved success.

Lushworks - P.A. Mathison and Jessica Apodaca


Also performing will be Hurricane Chaser and special guest Debbie Miller.
Wine will be House Wine

Facebook event for January 12 opening 6:00 – 9:00: Lushworks at Alki Arts

Posted by davemusic | Filed in Music on January 9th, 2012| 1 Comment »


Mike McCready with Shadow, Star Anna, Duff McKagan, and No Chris Cornell

ShadowThe Tractor was filling up early. I’d figured it would sell out given the bill and so wanted to find myself a good spot early on to set down my beer and my notebook, plant myself somewhere so I could write without being jostled by a sellout crowd. At the Tractor, there is a row of seats to the left of the stage, and I noticed two were saved with signs that read “Reserved for Friel” so I camped there standing next to the seats and thinking I knew who would be sitting in them later. By 8:30, the place was nearly full, and why not? Shadow was playing.

Before there was Pearl Jam, you see, there was Shadow, Mike McCready’s first band. In the early 80′s, they played a brand of Seattle metal inspired less by punk and more by Kiss, Angel City, and TKO. After friend Duff McKagan moved to LA and had a measure of success, Shadow followed suit and headed south in 1986, but they didn’t fare as well. When they played the Roxy, they had to pay $700, and though McKagan showed up, few others did. So they eventually made their way back to Seattle, back to their old practice space in Mrs. Friel’s house (She’s the mother of drummer Chris and bassist Rick), but the neighbors complained this time, and by 1988, they broke up.

Star AnnaThey reunited last week in Seattle though. They organized a show to benefit Carbon Roots International, and when I heard about it, my first thought was that it was very cool a guy like McCready still knows his old band mates, still hangs with them, still jams with them. How cool it must be for everyone involved to have the opportunity to play the old songs again, and for fans old and new to see someone from the likes of Pearl Jam step on the small stage of the Tractor. Chris Friel was kind enough to get me and photographer Stacy Albright (see the new Chris Cornell album cover) on the guest list, and when the 27th rolled around, I found myself at the Tractor at 8:30 next to those reserved seats that were now occupied by Mrs. Friel and Kim Virant, Chris’ wife.

Mike McCreadyand Duff McKaganAs I’d suspected, Star Anna was one of the special guests, but first McCready played a few songs on his own. He played a TKO song and “Too Far Gone” by Neil Young. He said, “My band, minus the singer, did a tour with Neil Young.” He didn’t say Pearl Jam, he said rather, “My band“, and it struck me to hear such a casual reference to a globally known group. When I got another beer at the bar, I noticed Duff McKagan in line behind me, and I thought it cool that he would come out to see Shadow all these years later after that Roxy show. Star Anna stepped onto the stage then and played one of her songs and a beautiful acoustic cover of “Call Your Girlfriend” and apologized for not knowing the dance moves. As always, her voice was amazing. If you haven’t heard her with the Laughing Dogs, you need to. Then McCready said, “We have one more special guest,” and Duff McKagan stepped onto the stage, and they played Johnny Thunders “Can’t Put Your Arms Around a Memory”. The song paused at one point for some sing along instructions and eventually drifted in to G-n-R’s “Patience” with McKagan calling out a couple chord changes (“F … G”) for McCready. See the video below. It was a cool moment, the kind looked for on such evenings.

When Shadow took the stage, Rick Friel called out to his mom, “Hi, mom.” She was pleased. McCready pointed out the Shadow banner on the wall and thanked the woman who made it over two decades ago, an artist named Suzy Hutchinson. Mrs. Friel then told me the band had been at her house on Christmas Eve, and with the show looming, they’d fished the banner out of a box in the basement, and McCready said, “We have to get this thing in the Tractor.” That was another cool thing. McCready was with these guys Christmas Eve. Their friendships had indeed lasted all these years, perhaps even grown stronger, and here they were finally on stage again.


Their first song, “Shadow”, reminded me of old Iron Maiden stuff. I don’t know if they’d list Maiden as an influence, but it was there, and it was good. I was hooked. Iron Maiden was the second band I ever saw, and I knew if I’d heard Shadow back in the 80′s, I would have liked them. The set continued with a good stream of rocking numbers, fun stuff, Kiss-like sometimes, another Maiden moment. One time I wrote, “reminds me of Kingston Wall” but these guys pre-dated Kingston Wall so maybe it was the other way around. Still, Shadow were themselves. Their sound would not have been something new back in the 80′s, but it was them. It was Shadow, and music doesn’t have to be groundbreaking to be good. It just has to have a bit of the essence of life, some energy, some force. It did. I liked them. I sang along, “Don’t … count the tears” to what McCready later said was their one hit “…at least it was in our minds.” Laughs from the audience.

There were times when guitarist Danny Newcombe would be soloing with McCready playing rhythm, but they held each other’s gaze with expressions that said, “Yeah, this is FUN!” Again, how cool it must be for these guys to reunite all these years later, to step on stage playing songs they thought would never again see the light of day, to have people like Duff McKagan and Star Anna and many other notable Seattle musicians in the audience, to have sold out the Tractor. I asked Kim Virant how Chris felt about the opportunity. “Out of his mind with joy.” I know the feeling. I did a reunion show once back in Detroit with an old band of mine, and that had only been two years after breaking up, and no one had any shred of fame, but still, we gathered for a benefit, and we cut loose, we ripped it. The old fans came out in droves. There’s nothing better.


Before one song, McCready told the story of how Chris Cornell had once auditoned for Shadow and been rejected. Chris Cornell rejected. Said McCready, “Oops!” My how that might have changed the landscape of things had Cornell joined Shadow. And Cornell remembered it later when Temple of the Dog was recording, “Man I wasn’t sure what to think about you since you were one of those Shadow guys.” They’re friends now, but I can’t help but wonder what music we might have heard if McCready and Cornell had teamed up, if Pearl Jam and Soundgarden had never been. You never can tell which way things will go, if that person you meet and reject today might someday do something spectacular. In an odd way, it’s good that the stars just weren’t aligned for Shadow to make it big back then. We got Pearl Jam instead, and Soundgarden. And all these years later, we got Shadow once again. And the audience loved it.

After the show, the band hung out with the crowd. There we lots of introductions and photos and talk of music. They’d played a song (“No Secrets”) by Australian band, Angel City, and I mentioned that I’d thought for years that I was the only one in America who knew anything about Angel City, that I have two of their records, that “Fashion and Fame” was one of the first songs I taught myself how to play on the guitar. The response collectively from Shadow was pretty much, “We love those guys.” And Mike McCready was quite approachable, saying hi, shaking hands, giving thanks to the fans, and posing for pictures. It’s what you hear about the guys in Pearl Jam all the time. Good people. The same goes for the guys in Shadow, and I even got a kiss on the cheek from Chris.

Shadow Kiss

When I asked Rick Friel if they had any recorded material I could have to listen to while writing, he told me that there were only a few casettes, and unfortunately, none could be lent. He also told me that there was some talk of releasing something on Pearl Jam’s Monkey Wrench label. Again, how cool is that? All these years later we might get some Shadow recordings. So who knows? Maybe they will finally make it big after all.


Photos by Stacy Albright. Lots More Images: Shadow || More of Shadow
Video by Mike Savoia

Mike McCready and Duff McKagan video:

Shadow video:

Posted by davemusic | Filed in Music on January 2nd, 2012| 5 Comments »


Mike McCready with Shadow at the Tractor

Mike McCready - ShadowWhen I heard Mike McCready was playing a show at the Tractor on Tuesday, December 27 with his old band Shadow I knew I had to go. I mean, come on, it’s Mike McCready at the Tractor. Not often can one see someone of his stature at such an intimate venue. So I contacted Shadow drummer, Chris Friel, who I had the pleasure of jamming with when backing up Kim Virant and asked about getting in to write about the show. He said, “Sounds good!” and thus, it’s set. I’m going. I don’t know much about Shadow’s music but Strangest Tribe author, Stephen Tow, refers to them as a “metal band” so I’ll go with that. Some good metal and, I’m sure, plenty of good guitar solos at the Tractor it is then.

The complete line up of Shadow is Chris and Rick Friel, Danny Newcombe, and Mike McCready. The show will feature a special surprise guest, and I’d say get there early as I can’t image it not selling out. Tickets are $15 and the show is a benefit for Carbon Roots International.


Who: Shadow with Chasers and Surprise Guest!
When: Tuesday, December 27
Where: The Tractor Tavern 8:00pm until 1:00am
Cost: $15. Buy online.
Facebook Event: Shadow with Chasers and Surprise Guest!

Posted by davemusic | Filed in Music, Recommended Events on December 23rd, 2011| Comment now »


Mike McCready with Shadow at the Tractor

Mike McCready - ShadowWhen I heard Mike McCready was playing a show at the Tractor on Tuesday, December 27 with his old band Shadow I knew I had to go. I mean, come on, it’s Mike McCready at the Tractor. Not often can one see someone of his stature at such an intimate venue. So I contacted Shadow drummer, Chris Friel, who I had the pleasure of jamming with when backing up Kim Virant and asked about getting in to write about the show. He said, “Sounds good!” and thus, it’s set. I’m going. I don’t know much about Shadow’s music but Strangest Tribe author, Stephen Tow, refers to them as a “metal band” so I’ll go with that. Some good metal and, I’m sure, plenty of excellent McCready guitar solos at the Tractor it is then.

The complete line up of Shadow is Chris and Rick Friel, Danny Newcombe, and Mike McCready. The show will feature a special surprise guest, and I’d say get there early as I can’t image it not selling out. Tickets are $15 and the show is a benefit for Carbon Roots International.


Who: Shadow with Chasers and Surprise Guest!
When: Tuesday, December 27
Where: The Tractor Tavern 8:00pm until 1:00am
Cost: $15. Buy online.
Facebook Event: Shadow with Chasers and Surprise Guest!

Posted by davemusic | Filed in Music on December 23rd, 2011| 3 Comments »


The Missionary Position, All My Mistakes, The Right Ones

I met one photographer, Stacy Albright, at the Sunset. The other photographer would meet me at the Tractor. Stacy took the picture on the cover of Chris Cornell’s Songbook, and when I first met her the morning after Thanksgiving for that album’s release, she recommended over coffee and signed phgotographs the Missionary Position as one of her favorite Seattle bands. Being inclined to trust the suggestions of artists whose work I like, I took her up on the idea, and so there we were in the Sunset a week later sharing pizza and beers with a few friends of hers before the show.

Missionary Position - Diamonds in a Dead Sky“You’ll love these guys,” she said of the band when I arrived. I bought a round of drinks, and there was talk about photographs and books and local bands, local artists, and since among our group there were photographers, writers, and musicians, we spoke about how people are often surprised when local artists create something that actually moves them, how they act surprised that someone playing in a small club in Ballard could dare to shake the firmament with a few chords played just so and make them pay attention. All of us had experienced it, the look, the question, “You took this photo?” or “You wrote that? … it’s, like, actually good.” What can an artists do but laugh at such statements and keep on playing and writing and creating?

After Stacy recommended the Missionary Position, I listend to one song online, and I had one thought, “They have something here.” And I wasn’t surprised. On any given night in Seattle there are loads of good bands playing, shaking and rattling the very core of things. One has only to be open to the idea. After lingering on beers and conversation at the Sunset, we got to the Tractor just as the Missionary Position was getting ready to start. I noticed there was no bass player. It seems a trend these days (more on that someday), but I wasn’t worried for I knew the keyboard would fill that space.

I got a Manny’s, settled in the corner, and they started. They wore white tux coats and had a good Morphine vibe with a sax and the keyboard bass parts. I once had a woman who was a huge Morphine fan tell me Mark Sandman’s voice was a “Fuck Me” voice. I imagine some women might feel the same about Jeff Angell’s voice for the way it oozes a gritty kind of confidence. And they kept playing, and there were moments when it almost sounded like “Shine on You Crazy Diamond” or The Doors or one AC/DCish bit. They have some new kind of blues infused rock, modern with electronic elements, heavy grooves, and textures from the hips that caused both of the photographers I was working with to groov as much as they took photos.

The Missionary Position

I took notes in my customary role of separating myself from the moment, of becoming the observer, alone in the corner with a beer and notebook, but that’s a good place to be because in a way the music comes at me full force since I shut all else out. And the music did come, and in one moment near the end of their set, it brought me down, way down. There was a song called “All My Mistakes”, the first on their 2009 CD, Diamonds in a Dead Sky. It was a mellow tune, soulful, a little gospel-like. Angell sang:

“I’ve been throwing my nights away just trying to forget that
That there used to be something you liked about me…
And I think about who I could have been
And who I couldn’t be.”

I wrote in my notebook, “good number to hold woman!” But there wasn’t a woman. I wondered if the “you” in the lyric was a reference to anyone in particular, if the song was meant for someone. I dedicated a book to a woman who I let down because of who I couldn’t be, and the words came again as the song continued and the audience swayed, “And I think about who I could have been. And who I couldn’t be,” and it made me sad, empty. Music like no other art can grab hold of a moment and echo out bits of the listener’s life; the refrain, the phrase, can lift or drag down, but it has to be played by the right group of musicians. These guys were the right ones.

The Missionary Position

I damn near left after that tune. In a way, it was too good. I didn’t want to hear any more songs after being drawn into the sadness, but then, they switched. There was a bass line and a kick drum, a vocal in, “There’s no time like the present.” It had a quick pace. It shook things a bit. It lifted. There was the repeated line in the chorus, “Let’s start a fire!” There was the pounding unison of snare and kick drum, guitar, bass, and sax all on the same thumping riff, and indeed, I wanted to, “Let’s start a fire!”, not for sadness or anger or anything else in my life, but for the joy of the moment, for the sake of lighting up the night. Good music will always do such, but it has to be played by the right musicians.

When they finished, I had the thought that my initial impression was right. They have something here. They played a few chords just so, and more importantly, they struck others.


Photos by Stacy Albright and Sandy Lane

The Missionary Position: Website || Facebook

Their next gig is in Olympia on New Year’s Eve at the 4th Avenue Tavern.

Posted by davemusic | Filed in Music on December 12th, 2011| 4 Comments »


The Missionary Position @ The Tractor

The Missionary PositionOn the day after Thanksgiving, I met the photographer who to took the cover photo for Chris Cornell’s Songbook. We were at Easy Street in West Seattle to pick up copies of the vinyl and have her sign it, and over the course of signing and breakfast and pots and pots of coffee, she asked me a question, “Have you ever heard of the Missionary Position?”

“Uh … I’ve heard the name but not their music.”

“Oh, you NEED to go December 2nd. They’re playing at the Tractor. They’re awesome. We’re going.” A friend of hers who was there confirmed it. “Yeah, we’re going. You should come.”

“Hmm, I’ll check them out online.”

And I did. I listened to “Here Comes the Machine”: Here Comes The Machine

Only one song, and it was settled.

I’m going. And they’re right. I think it will be awesome.


Who: The Missionary Position
Where: The Tractor Tavern 5213 Ballard Ave NW, Seattle, WA 98107
When: Friday, December 2 9:00
How Much: $8.00

Posted by davemusic | Filed in Music on November 28th, 2011| Comment now »


Julia Massey and the 5 Finger Discount @ Hard Rock Cafe

Julia MasseyI saw these guys at the Crocodile for Dia De Los Muertos, and they were good so I’ll see them again on December 1 at the Hard Rock Cafe. With bands, I’m like I am with beer. I find something I like, and I stick with it. On any given night if you see me around town, I’ll have either a Blue Moon or a Manny’s in hand. And on any given night when Julia is playing, you can find me in the audience with said Blue Moon or Manny’s

Thursday’s show is a contest of some sort with things like recording time and video production up for grabs, but that doesn’t matter. What matters is getting out to see and hear some goods musicians playing music and making something happen. And it’s a benefit show to boot. Some portion of the profits will go to Treehouse: a foster care program in Seattle. The door fee is either a donation ($15, suggested) or a NEW TOY for the kids there. Julia is bringing a toy. I’m on the guest list, but I’ll bring a toy too.


Photo by Sandy Lane

Who: Julia Massey & the 5 Finger Discount
Where: Hard Rock Cafe
When: Thursday, December 1
How Much: Donations for Treehouse ($15, suggested) or a New Toy.

Posted by davemusic | Filed in Music on November 28th, 2011| 2 Comments »