Category: Venues

Jazz Shows

By , June 15, 2015 12:18 pm

I had the opportunity to bounce around a bit this weekend, and really wanted to hear some jazz, so I went to several shows/sessions that I absolutely loved this weekend:

Brass Tacks in Georgetown with Ron Weinstein, Jeff Johnson, and Mike Stone:  I had heard about Brass Tacks before; I think Darian Asplund has had some gigs there, and I had seen Ron’s name attached to it too, but I had never been there.  I really like the playing of all three of these guys, and they are some of the nicest, most fun musicians to hang out with and talk to as well.  In addition, the restaurant is really nice, and although I didn’t try any of the food, it looked delicious.  One of the owners, Skylar, was constantly walking around, shaking hands and checking in on tables, and introduced himself to me, then, after a nice conversation, offered me another beer while I watched the guys play.  Even though the gig is, for all intents and purposes, a background music gig for a dinner crowd, it’s a great time.

The Lost Pelican in Belltown with Steve O’Brien and Delvon Lamarr:  This time, I did try the food, and the crab cakes were delicious, although the portions were a bit small.  Sounds like the move is to get there for the brunch and have the biscuits and gravy.  Delvon said they may be the best biscuits and gravy he’s ever had.  Whoa!  Once again, Steve and Delvon are guys that I really enjoy both playing with and talking to; they get as excited about jazz as I do, and as always I came away from the gig energized and motivated about my own playing.  Another background music gig, but, again, really really fun.

The Angry Beaver in Greenwood with Max Holmberg and friends:  The Angry Beaver is a jam session that I think has been going for a bit but is still pretty new, and feels similar to the Owl and Thistle jam session on Tuesdays.  The vibe is super friendly and the playing is top notch.  I knew a handful of people, but there were also a lot of musicians I didn’t know, or at least don’t know super super well, and I’ve only met Max once before, when we played together a year or so ago at the 118 Public House with Tim Kennedy.  Despite this, it was super comfortable; Max does a good job of walking around and hanging out and making sure people get to play, so even though the crowd was largely unfamiliar to me, I never felt awkward or out of place.  The bar is also pretty close to my house, and looks like a fun spot to catch a hockey game (it’s a Canadian hockey bar).

 

 

Lottie’s Lounge

By , April 15, 2015 1:28 pm

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Great gig at Lottie’s Lounge with Eric Hullander and Papa Josh the other night.  I got a chance to really dig into some standards that I haven’t played in a long time, and all three of us were listening close.

I found myself thinking a lot about the old Dexter and Hayes sessions I used to play with Tim Kennedy and friends years ago (more on that here) while I was at Lottie’s.  It hasn’t had live music for too long, but I could see a really similar scene there that grew at the Dexter, where older regulars mixed with younger listeners and musicians.

Maybe I saw the similarities because I want another scene like that one.  The thing is I know that there already are scenes like that in town,  I just don’t frequent them that often, at places like Darrell’s Tavern, Egan’s Ballard Jam House, the Owl and Thistle, and the Royal Room just down the street from Lottie’s.  I guess when it comes down to it, venues and music nights hit different people different ways, and it can’t always be explained why one person enjoys certain scenes more than others.  I do know that Lottie’s felt good last night, and it was great to play with Eric, Josh, and Lamar Lofton (who I hadn’t seen in way too long!), as well as meet some new people.  I hope Lottie’s continues to do well!

 

– A

Tour Blog 3

By , May 4, 2014 11:18 am

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San Diego:  Our San Diego show was in the beach town of Ocean Beach, at Winston’s, where we’d played once before and had a really successful show.  Unlike last time, I went to the beach for a little while before we started, which was gorgeous!  A nice last look before we turned East.  Then I talked to my sis and got the recommendation for fish tacos (she lived in San Diego for a couple of years).  I also found a record store and got a Grant Green vinyl, Solid, with James Spaulding and Joe Henderson, two saxophonists I like.  Our gig was with a local band that I was familiar with through Twitter, Sure Fire Soul Ensemble, and they sounded awesome too; interesting tunes, cool sounds, and nice and supportive people to boot!  I made sure to grab one of their 45s!

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Then we took the left turn to head towards the middle.  First on that route was Phoenix, at Last Exit Live.  The building was kind of on the edge of town and the “green room” was an old airstream trailer; not a lot to look at on the outside.  But, sure enough, the inside was stylish and clean, and they had a fence that was hiding a big patio with nice tables and chairs everywhere.  Their sound system and staff was top notch (several of them from the well-known Recording Institute they have in Phoenix, where my friends Matt and Adam went), and the inside of the trailer was hip too!

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Our local connection there was the Phoenix Afrobeat Orchestra, and they tore it up!  Lots of energy, commitment to the Fela Kuti sound, and what looked like a community that was really into creative music; several of the audience members had just seen Kneebody in Phoenix the week before, after they played with Hardcoretet in Seattle, and they had listened to some of the Polyrhythmics before we got there and were really excited about us.

Around this time I was really becoming aware of how quickly I fell in love with all of the places we play.  I understand that I’m getting an unbalanced view, being somewhere one night, maybe two, and only encountering locals at the show, where obviously everyone is going to have similar personalities, but I can’t help but be fascinated with what it’s like living somewhere else and being immersed in music somewhere other than Seattle.  After all, I’ve never lived anywhere else.  It would be a long time before I ever moved – I have too many connections with friends, family, and musicians that would be too difficult to leave right now – but this tour in particular really got me thinking, and this is before the real kicker:  a week in New Orleans.

BUT FIRST:  An overnight detour to Telluride and a Lucky Brown reunion in Santa Fe!  All that and more in my next post.

Tour Post #1

By , April 22, 2014 7:22 pm

Okay, so I waited a little longer than I would have liked to post my first tour blog, but I’m going to try to give a quick rundown of our first couple of stops:

Our first stop was at the Applegate Lodge in Applegate, Oregon, which was a great first show because we had played there several times before and I really enjoy the community of people there; I consider many of the people there good friends!

After that we headed down to the Hopmonk, a venue in Sebastopol, California.  The space was designed to look like a medieval abbey, with a courtyard and stone buildings, really cool.  It was also a nice birthday show for Jason!

hopmonk

The next night we played in South Lake Tahoe, at a new venue called the Loft.  The opening band, 4 Piece Puzzle, will be down in New Orleans for Jazzfest too, so it was nice to hang out with them before then.

Saturday night was the Boom Boom Room in San Francisco.  Kate and Naomi of the band Syrinx Effect were in town that night as well, but unfortunately the timing didin’t work out to hang before the show.  More often than I’d like I find myself scrambling to find time to catch or meet up with friends while I’m on tour; sometimes soundcheck takes longer than expected, or we have to leave right after we play, or we have to be at the venue early, etc.  I did get a chance to meet up with my friend Jack, and I finally was able to meet his fiance Diana too, which was really fun!

By the end of the first week, I found myself thinking a lot about the different music I play and what it takes to find the people that like it.  It has been really inspiring to play for really supportive audiences, and I hope to come home motivated to compose, practice, and work on my sound and approach.

I’ll stop here for now, but next post I’ll pick up with week 2, some considerations about the non-music aspects of my life, and more random tour thoughts!

April Excitement

By , March 8, 2014 4:48 pm

I had a nice excursion North to Bellingham the last couple of days; Theoretics had a solid first Bellingham show at the Wild Buffalo, and I was able to spend the following day with Karl, drummer for the band Polecat, who the Polyrhythmics have shared bills and festivals with pretty frequently.  It was good to talk about music as a career with someone else who has been doing it for a while:  how to make it work, the positives and negatives, and how to balance everything out.  Then that night we topped it all off with a great jam with Jeremy, guitarist for Polecat, Jefferson Rose, a killer bass player with a band of his own, and Mars, one of the best trombonists I know.  Right on, Bellingham!

A couple of things I’m looking forward to next month:

April 8th Hardcoretet will be releasing our third album, a full-length recording that we are all very excited about.  Not only that, we are also opening for Kneebody, a group that has been one of my primary musical influences for the last couple of years, and the show is at the Tractor Tavern in Ballard, one of my favorite venues in town!  Some preview tracks of the new album are available at the Hardcoretet band camp page:  https://hardcoretet.bandcamp.com/

The next day I embark on tour with the Polyrhythmics; we are travelling down the coast to Southern California, East through Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas, and finishing in New Orleans.

I have never been to New Orleans and cannot wait to be there to take in as much as I possibly can.  The more I play and listen to music, the more I know I am influenced by that city.  Many of the musicians I enjoy listening to have spent significant time there, and its historical significance cannot be overstated, in my opinion.  I’m going to try to post a bit from the road, so stay tuned!

There is a fundraising campaign to help us minimize the expenses and costs of the tour; most of the places we are playing are new to us, so there will likely be a few lightly-attended gigs, so to speak.  If you want to help, please go here!  http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/polyrhythmics-new-orleans-jazz-fest-2014

New Photos Up

By , April 22, 2013 11:35 am

I added a new gallery of photos taken from Hardcoretet’s performance at Central Washington University.  The show was after an evening clinic/master class with some of the music students there, our second one at CWU, and the reception was very warm and enthusiastic.

I enjoy playing music at bars and smaller clubs; I think the social/party atmosphere can really help people get over their discomfort at trying to get into types of music they don’t hear very often.  If the setting is too formal, I feel as though listeners sometimes question their own reactions to the music, because they think they need to know more to enjoy it.

That being said, I don’t get a chance to play at concert or recital halls very often, and to be able to do it while at Central was an awesome opportunity.  Something about the darkened hall and silence as everyone there focuses on the sounds to come creates an atmosphere that can heighten the experience.  The audience was attentive but also threw out some great energy, which really helped us rock out a bit at times, and in the end we put on a great show, which is always at least part of the goal.  Hope to do it again soon!

 

 

Spots I should have been going to a long time ago…

By , January 30, 2010 7:38 pm

Two venues doing positive things for the Seattle scene:

One of the great new additions to my list of places to be, the Seamonster Lounge is a great gathering spot for local heavies and for music that sometimes falls in those gaps between jazz, funk, and rock.  Featuring weekly appearances by the McTuff trio, Nathan Spicer, Woogie D, and others, the club has really cultivated a great jam band, groove-based vibe that doesn’t cut any corners when it comes to musicianship.  In short, a rocking venue.

Another inspiring spot that I hope to frequent more often is Cafe Racer in the Ravenna/U-District area.  You can go to Racer one night and check out a rock band, go the next night and see a blues duo, go the next night and watch free jazz.  I particularly was drawn to the new Sunday Racer Sessions, an open jam session curated by a different musician each week that usually revolves around open ended free improvisation.  I was there this last Sunday to see a solo performance by Neil Welch and was blown away.  Check his website here and check out the Racer Sessions site at http://racersessions.com

Roy Hargrove Quintet at Jazz Alley

By , December 18, 2009 5:08 pm

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A couple of weeks ago I went to see Roy Hargrove at Jazz Alley.  I knew beforehand that this was going to be straightahead, post-bop type stuff, not his neo-soul band RH Factor, which I would love to see live someday, but I realized that it had been quite a while since I had seen a touring, non-local band tear into some really swinging stuff.  For that matter, I couldn’t remember the last time I had been to Jazz Alley.  Granted, the covers are always over $20, and I can never afford to get dinner, but when it comes down to it, there just aren’t very many venues for the jazz bands with the heavies that we read about in magazines or on websites, those guys that are labeled as the leaders of what’s going on in jazz in the world.  If you want to see them, you need to pay the money, and if you’re in Seattle, you pretty much have to go to Jazz Alley.

I would say Roy is one of those guys, and I had never seen him live before.  He definitely did not disappoint, moving from originals to tunes written by Horace Silver, John Hicks, and Johnny Griffin, burning tempos to quiet and slow swing tunes.  His sound was expressive throughout the set, and the rest of the group was just as impressive.  Justin Robinson had an awesome raw alto sound, and some of his ideas reminded me of Eric Dolphy, really pushing his tone, time, harmony, and range of the horn.  It almost felt like the thing was going to come apart.  Jonathan Baptiste’s piano playing was equally melodic and thematic, sometimes pounding out rhythms with both hands, sometimes letting his right hand take off, and, when locking in with Montez Coleman on drums, his comping was off the hook.  It was great to hear him on the Hicks tune “Naima’s Love Song”, a tune I’m really into right now, and Ameen Saleem got a chance to shine there on bass as well.

Another cool aspect of the night was that although most of the night was straightahead swing, you could tell from the way these guys were playing it that they were into other styles of music.  Maybe that perception is colored by my knowledge that Roy is all over the map with genres, playing with John Mayer, D’Angelo, etc., and, as you can see from the photo, his fashion sense is a fusion of different stuff too, but there’s something in the playing also.  Hard to explain, I guess, but I really felt like they were playing the material differently than a die-hard straightahead jazz fanatic would, and the material was not suffering in any way because of this, which I find equal parts impressive and encouraging for anyone who worries about the “jack of all trades, master of none” problem.

Cafe Amore

By , November 24, 2009 10:15 am

amore

The jam at Cafe Amore has been going on for a bit now, but until last night I had only been able to stop by quickly.  The band was D’vonne Lewis on drums, Mark Bullis on bass, a piano player who goes by Gus, John Terpin on trombone, and the always entertaining Ronnie Pierce on alto saxophone.

Ronnie is a pretty amazing guy.  He’s 81 years old, still plays and hangs out as much as I do, likes dirty jokes, and hams it up on the microphone like nobody else.  He’s also become somewhat of a mentor for John, who played with Ronnie at the Whiskey Bar when they had jazz on Wednesdays, and who will often drive Ronnie to hang since he can’t drive anymore.  Keep your eyes on the blog for a recorded interview with Ronnie by John, hopefully he’ll get some crazy stories on tape!

Cafe Amore is a great little italian spot, albeit a little expensive, with a nice bar, fair amount of tables, and a stage at the front of the room under a screen where they play old black and white movies.  The jam is early, from 7:30-10:30, which works well because Ev Stern, bass player and teacher, runs a jazz workshop that finishes around 7, and Amore is all ages, so a lot of the students from the workshop and kids in general get a chance to jam with local musicians.  It was a blast to see this 15-year old kid (who sounded ridiculous, by the way) just grinning ear to ear as he’s playing with D’vonne Lewis, one of the first-call drummers in town.

The other great thing about this session is that John keeps things moving.  There’s never really any lines of soloists because he keeps the groups small from tune to tune, and he’s really good at maneuvering people to getting the song called without a whole lot of discussion, which makes a huge difference at a session.

It’s also really fun to play standards with a trombone on the front line, just a different sound than the typical sax madness you get sometimes.  Thanks John!

Hardcoretet Tourblog, day 5 and Conclusion

By , October 24, 2009 5:02 pm

So after Skinny’s Lounge in NoHo we headed home to Jon’s house.  Jon had already left for the East coast, because Slumglum was playing over there to participate in a program where they may become music ambassadors to another part of the world!  Very cool.  Anyway, we had already said our goodbyes, but Erin left us one more note on the fridge:  “Help yourself to treats.”  She had made us Rice Krispy Treats!  WITH CINNAMON!  With full stomachs we went to bed and headed out the next day for San Martin, home to the Persing family, relatives of resident bad mofo and superfan Dave Persing.  We entered to find Ellie and Margaret working on Trader Joe’s pizza dough to make FOUR pizzas for us.  Oh yeah, and they had already made a salad and two cookie sheets of cookies!

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They needed a bit of help with the pizza dough, but luckily we had a pizza parlor veteran in the band, Tim Carey!  Look for video clips of the impromptu show “Cooking with Carey” on the Hardcoretet website.  After dinner, it was time for a movie and then bedtime.  The band got the trundle beds (I got the Transformers sheets):

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Thank you so much to the Persing family and especially Ellie and Margaret for being such incredible hosts!

 

It was time for our final stop, Eugene.  Through a slight miscalculation, we found ourselves in a time crunch:  If everything went perfectly and we maintained our speed, we’d get there right before we were supposed to start!  And if that wasn’t enough, it started pouring down rain!

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And if THAT wasn’t enough, our driver’s side windshield wiper broke!  It was chaos!  After all this though, Tarik was able to navigate by leaning over to the passenger side and driving that way for about 3 hours before the rain stopped and things had calmed down a bit.  Ask him for a dramatic retelling on Wednesday at the CD release.  Finally we made it the Jazz Station in Eugene.  It started slow, but by the end of the night we had made some more fans and friends and felt great about the performance!

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From there, we packed up, fixed the wiper, and drove through the night to get home sweet home.

I hope these entries convey the sheer enjoyment of the last week.  More than anything, I feel thankful for all of the kindness we encountered as a band, both from strangers and friends.  I began this tour with a completely musical goal:  I wanted to do what made me happy (playing our music) in front of new people in the hopes that it would make them happy, and I think this was accomplished.  What I didn’t expect was the realization that we, as a band, are the luckiest people in the world to have such genuinely good human beings in our lives, and I hope I never forget it.  Sappy and corny, I know, but whatever…

See you Wednesday at Tulas for the Homecoming/CD Release Party!

hardcore

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