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Folklife Festival 2014: Changes, Non-Changes and India

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Article by Percy Hilo

With the arrival of spring we experience expectations of outdoor enjoyment on a variety of levels, and one of the most eagerly awaited is the annual Northwest Folklife Festival and the hundreds of possibilities for enjoyment and participation. This 43rd edition offers more of the same, which is also always different and never fails to entertain, educate and expand the lives of all who become a part of it in any capacity. There are always a few changes to conform to and to exercise new creativity in packaging, and this year brings more changes than usual. SO, before I overload you with the goodies, let me inform you of where we’ll be and not be from May 23rd to 26th.

 

Location changes

Due to their acquisition by our partners KEXP-FM we will lose the Northwest Rooms, as well as the Northwest Court Stage and the Alki Court Stage. The music and dance workshops have been moved from the Northwest Rooms and EMP Learning Labs to the Armory Lofts (3rd floor of the Armory – formerly Center House). Also, we have a new stage, the Traditional Stage, which will have 80% of the Northwest Court entertainment and then some, and you can expect a wide variety of American, Irish and other traditional forms at this venue.

We also have the Cornish Playhouse (formerly the Intiman Theatre) as a brand new stage this year; it will be the site of many of our music and dance showcases. The Discovery Zone will be expanded in size and activities that will be family-friendly (no Folklife Commons anymore) and the International Fountain Pavilion (between Alki Court and the Fountain Lawn Stage) will serve as our home to the visual arts. The Narrative Stage will be relocated to the JBL Theatre inside the EMP museum and two workshop spaces will be found on the 3rd floor of the Armory in the Center’s newly refurbished conference rooms. The All Ages/All Day program will move from Sunday to Monday and will be held in the EMP Museum’s Sky Church, and will feature the vibrant hip hop community of the Pacific Northwest.

Participant changes

Aside from the changes that will affect everybody there are two important changes for participants to be aware of. Performer registration will move from the Armory to a tent directly in front of hospitality (which is in its usual location), and volunteer check-in will move from the Armory to the Next 50 Pavilion, east of the Center Theatre outdoors of the Armory. And as usual, our resilient groups of participants and audience members will adopt to the changes in a seamless manner and a joyous and expansive weekend of traditional and contemporary folk and folk-related arts and entertainment will ensue to the delight of thousands.

Non-changes

Everything that hasn’t changed will obviously remain the same, but I feel it’s important to assure all of our Folklife Family (and millions of potential family) that of all the non-changes the most important is that of quality. We will continue to offer the very finest examples of folk culture in all areas of the Folklife experience, so if you’re a bit let down by the disappearance of a favorite area or stage, let it go, surrender to the fact that the only constant is change and be prepared to enjoy the 2014 festival as much as any in our 43-year history.

Cultural focus: India and its people

India has a long, colorful and proud history of music, dance, crafts, culinary delights and spiritually enlightening traditions that have remained vital over the centuries for all the right reasons. These ways of living have attracted admirers, collectors and non-Indian practitioners from all over the globe, and Folklife is proud to finally be able to host the colors and culture of India for enjoyment and edification of all. Colors And Cultures of India, on Saturday from 11AM-1PM in the Bagley Wright Theatre, will present an elaborate array of all-ages Kathak Dance, a classical Indian dance style. Music Across India will feature three incredible performances from local players of traditional Indian music and will include a presentation by internationally known artist Priya Raghav and two groups of dedicated young players in the Center Theatre (downstairs in the Armory) on Sunday from 11:45AM-1:45PM.

Later on Sunday, from 5:40PM-7:50PM there will be a Kirtan Showcase (Kirtan is Hindu chanting in call and response) with many of Seattle’s Kirtan singers that will offer audience participation throughout. Bollywood will come into play at the Exhibition Hall on Friday evening from 6:45PM-8:15PM and will feature a gorgeous array of Bollywood Dance. The grand traditional operatic dance ballet Mahishasura Maradini Kuchipudi will fill the Bagley Wright Theatre with lovely music and dance, featuring the internationally known dancer Sri Pasumarthi Venkateswara Sarma from 7-10PM on Sunday. These dance performances will put you in the mood to learn Bollywood dancing yourself on Monday from 1-2PM on the Armory Stage, so that you can take your good times out into the world with you the rest of the year.

And in addition to all this, there will be a festival-long Indian Cinema presentation of many films at the SIFF Film Center from 11AM-7PM every day and a spectacular Indian Fashion Show, Reflectionz, in the Exhibition Hall on Sunday from 5-6PM. The printed program will contain a special icon to mark each India program so that you’ll have no trouble finding them. India is just one more of the annual cultural themes that showcase various parts of the planet, their people and their lifestyles as practiced in the Northwest. Folklife themes enable us to attain a fuller realization of all the varied and interesting people and cultures that exist right here amongst us; they also help us understand that we can add any of them to our own lifestyle without having to travel the world over.

Brand new to Folklife in 2014

Each year brings the joy of introducing new performances to the festival which, when mixed with the usual performances, serve to infuse the festival with new and exciting energy that keeps us vital from year to year. This year we’re excited to be partnering with The Centrum Arts Organization to bring Blues Workshops on Saturday, Sunday and Monday in the Armory Loft from 11-11:50AM, which will exhibit some of the Northwest’s finest blues musicians such as Orville Johnson, Eric Freeman and Jon Parry. We’ll also debut a showcase on Chicano Stories in the Center Theatre on Saturday from 1-2PM, which will feature poet Raul Sanchez and musician Jacque Larrainzar who come from a place to the south where the sun shines fiercely and where they are well-known and respected in their artistic fields. The Diaspora Negra: Afrolatino Showcase (a preview of a year-long project) will take place on Saturday from 2-2:50PM in the Cornish Playhouse (formerly the Intiman Theatre) and will feature music and dance from various groups who are part of the AfroLatino Arts Education Project. These groups aim to preserve the rich heritage of folk arts to be found in Haiti, Peru, Brazil, Cuba and other Central and South American countries as well as ours – where African and Latino cultures mix, create and entertain for the benefit of all. This event should be among the most entertaining and educational events of the entire festival. And for dancers who appreciate Latino culture there is a Latin Dance Party: iA Bailar on Sunday from 7-10PM outside at the Mural Stage and Amphitheatre will feature the Cumbieros, an exciting fusion band rooted in traditional Chilean styles that never fails to get everyone up and moving. This event will follow in the footsteps of Brazilian Showcase Aquarela Do Brazil and combine to provide a day of super exciting Latin American music and dance. That’s just some of what’s new and waiting to be discovered and enjoyed on the Center grounds this Memorial Day Weekend.

Some other great showcases among several dozen

It’s impossible to overstate the importance of the contribution that Pete Seeger made to the folk culture, the peace and justice culture and the planet in general during the more than 94 years he spent amongst us, except to say that it will never be forgotten and that Folklife will do our humble best to carry on his legacy with a weekend-long tribute. A special tribute sing will be held on Monday from 1-4PM at Fisher Green and will feature Tom Rawson, Peter McKee and Jean Geiger among others. Tom will also present a Children’s Pete Seeger Sing Along at Cornish Courtyard on Saturday at 2PM and Mckee will present Pete: The Songs and Times of Pete Seeger on Saturday at the JBL Theatre in the EMP at 12 noon. And you can be assured that Pete will appear in many places and in many different songs and situations over the weekend as we join the rest of the world in remembering and passing along his noble legacy in the hope that it will continue to entertain, educate and help heal our beautiful yet ravaged planet.

Scandinavian culturists will be pleased with a music showcase on Saturday from 11AM-1PM in the Cornish Playhouse, and there are dozens more that would take up way too much space and include almost every facet of Northwest folk culture. For example, Friday will offer a Rhapsody Showcase on the Traditional Stage from 7-10PM and a Honky Tonk Show at the Fountain Lawn from 6-9PM, Saturday has the Fiddle Powerhouse on the Traditional Stage from 11:40AM-1PM and the annual much beloved Maritime Showcase, also on the Traditional Stage from 3-6PM. Sunday offers Sounds From the Gramophone at Fisher Green from 1-3PM and a Liar’s Contest in the Armory Loft from 3-5PM, while Monday presents a Ukrainian Showcase in the Exhibition Hall from 1-2:30PM and a 206 Zulu Showcase at the EMP Sky Church from 4-6PM. As I’ve stated, these are but a few of many dozens of fine showcases that will reveal the excellence and expansiveness of folk culture in our region.

But that’s not all for the musical sets

The showcases are attractive and well put together by dedicated practitioners, but there is so much more to our musical program! And by that I mean all the varied and meaningful individual and small group performances. These friends, neighbors and fellow Northwesterners (and beyond) are mostly non-professional at their music and play for the love and enjoyment they derive from it and to share it with their friends. Most of them hardly ever play out and Folklife gives them a rare (sometimes only) opportunity to share their skills and feelings with the greater community. It’s only fitting to pick out a few that you resonate with and include their music in your weekend. And the individual sets will offer at least as much variety as the showcases.

Yes, bring your own instrument!

Why let all the programmed players have all the fun? Folklife is about participation and not just as part of some of the showcases. There is always ample room for jamming, many others looking to jam, and an instrument check in the hospitality room that opens early and closes late so that you won’t be burdened with the extra weight of your instrument when you want to see a performance or simply stroll around. WE WANT YOUR MUSIC, whether you’re on the schedule or not, and it’s also an important addition to the overall quality and mission of our festival.

The Discovery Zone

This new family-friendly hands-on activities area is important because it allows for the entire family to play and enjoy together! There’ll be Games of the World, Ropeworks, Toy Boatbuilding, Making Your Own Mosaic, Make & Take Pop-Up Puppets, a Seafair Milk Carton Derby and the innovative early childhood music education program, Little Wing. And that’s just the off-stage doings. The stage will offer a Jumpworks show, a Kaleidoscope Collective, a Magic show, Singing Games for All Ages, North African Songs in French and a bunch more. Not only will families love it all, but it will enable a more complete understanding of our culture and possibly serve as groundwork for children in the workings of folk arts and crafts so they won’t have to start from scratch later in life (as I did). The Discovery Zone is as important as any stage or theatre at the festival.

Do you wanna dance? I thought so!

Dancing will be everywhere at the festival, including showcases, individual performances and participation. Participants will find square, contra, Cajun/Zydeco, swing, African, Latin American, Nordic, Balkan and other forms available in the Fisher Pavilion (Warren’s Roadhouse) and demonstrations of dance styles from the world over as well as belly dancing will be presented primarily in the Exhibition Hall and the Armory Stage but also at the Mural and other venues. Like the musical sets, it would take forever to mention them – but suffice it to say that dance lovers will have no excuses for not getting their fill. And what’s more, we simply couldn’t call in a Folklife Festival without you!

Give it up for our vendors

Crafts people are as creative as our musical and dancing performers and it’s important to realize that their contribution to folk culture is equal to all other creators and instructors. And unlike most of the performers, many of our vendors make a full or partial living from their art or craft and have to pay for their booths. SO why not have some empathy for the interesting, colorful and homemade creations that always brighten up the vendors’ walkway as well as other portions of the festival and purchase that functional and beautiful item that attracts you or that graduation, birthday or anniversary gift that you’ve been looking for from one of our own. It’s in the spirit of the Folklife Mission and is a win/win for both crafter and buyer.

What makes Folklife possible?

Well, lots of things really, but when it comes to labor, volunteer help makes or breaks it, as with almost any other event of this kind. Volunteers are needed to fill more than 1,000 shifts over the four days as well as pre- and post-festival work and since this is a community event, we the people are charged with the task of doing the work at all levels. And the excellent news is that it’s much more than a job. In fact, it’s a family working together in a good way for the best of reasons. I’ve found in almost 30 years of volunteering for Folklife that it’s a labor of love that enables people who have one thing in common to meet and discover that they have other things in common as well. Many fine relationships of various kinds have begun through the avenue of volunteering for Folklife and there’s also much satisfaction in working for something we really believe in. So why not be in touch with our volunteer coordinator, Christina, at 206-684-7326 or christina@nwfolklife.org and get the ball rolling. You’ll be glad you did and so will we. Welcome aboard!!

So what else makes Folklife possible?

You knew I’d get around to the financial matters at some point, didn’t you? Well, love may make the world go ‘round but money puts food in your belly and keeps the Folklife engine revved up as well. We have a great relationship with the city of Seattle and Seattle Center but do not receive financial help from them. We do have some sponsors for our stages but that’s just the staging. We also have expenses for sound, infrastructure, production crew and staff, and a number of other smaller but still significant bills to pay. And since we’re a people’s community event, we, the people, have to take on the task of making up much of the million dollars a year it takes to keep the festival alive. SO we ask for your donations at the gate as well as your philanthropy the year round (Friends of Folklife, etc.). We understand that times are tight and that you will already be spending money for the festival in other ways, but your donations at the gate each day you attend and for each member of your party will go a long way (an awful long way) toward making our favorite yearly event possible for next year and many years in the future. After all, shouldn’t our children and grandchildren have access to the same joyous weekend that we’ve been able to enjoy? We’re always sensitive to your conditions and so we ask only that you give what you can, and many thanks for that in advance.

So there you have it. Another fabulous full weekend of creative, meaningful and just plain fun stuff to enjoy and work at together. We welcome you and all your loved ones to share the joy. Meanwhile, a happy spring to all.

 

 

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Wintergrass 2014

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Victory Review column: February 2014

WINTERGRASS: THE POWER OF INTERACTION AND COLLABORATION

by Percy Hilo

 

Once again it’s time for one of the finest bluegrass festivals anywhere, and right here in Puget Sound as usual. Yes, ‘grassniks and all other interested parties, Wintergrass will begin its third decade of arts and entertainment in the beautiful, spacious and accommodating environment at the Bellevue Hyatt Regency Hotel from Thursday, February 27th thru Sunday, March 2nd and will provide more than enough good times for everyone. Many of you already know this, but there’s always room for new bluegrass lovers to climb on board. And with so many new performers this year we’re expanding our universe and offering much more for Wintergrass veterans to enjoy as well as providing newbies a wide variety of past and future favorites. BUT FIRST, let’s get some basics out of the way.

The website is www.wintergrass.com, and it’s there that you can get answers to some of the questions that may be on your mind. The Hyatt is almost certainly sold out for rooms (this is true every year – you’ve got to be an early bird) and the website will have a list of various other possibilities. It’s also the place to go to buy tickets (which are probably going very fast, as usual), register for an intensive or register a child for youth programs (all  educational programs require an additional fee) and preview the schedule of performances and workshops. Of course, you’ll also find contact info in case you still have a question or two.

 

SO HOW ABOUT A HELPING HAND, FRIEND?

Another area of the website has volunteer applications, and I’m mentioning them separately because our volunteers are so very important to the success and continuation of the festival. In a very real sense, Wintergrass couldn’t possibly exist without all the helpers in every area imaginable. The on-line application lists all the jobs available and the hours they’re needed as well as the amount of hours required to be a volunteer and gain access to the entire festival. If you love Wintergrass and want to help out, or if you’re poor and still want to get cultured up, or if you have specific skills that would benefit the festival we’d love to hear from you. If you have a need to be included and haven’t been receiving enough yeses in your life, applying to be a Wintergrass volunteer will serve as a temporary remedy and also enable you to meet kindred spirits with whom you may find other endeavors in common and form relationships that go far beyond a simple weekend of good culture and enjoyment. I’ve found in my 16 years of volunteering that it’s more than a job, it’s a joy and has always made its own contribution to the high quality of my experience. I believe the same will be true for you.

 

A FESTIVAL WITHOUT SPONSORS? FORGET ABOUT IT!

A large attendance goes a ways toward a successful festival, but in almost all cases (including ours) sponsors are an integral part of the equation. We need them, and fortunately we have them. Better yet, most are already bluegrass admirers and active in the local music scene above and beyond the mere business of providing for our musical needs. D’Addario, Rayco Guitars and Northfield Mandolins are helping us out, so when you’re shopping for products that they carry why not give them the business and let them know that you appreciate their contribution. We’re also proud to have Orvis Sporting Goods and Hale’s Ales on board, so now you can buy that uniform, glove or whatever from Orvis to play with (or have your kid play with) and after playing or watching go to Hales and relax with a brew. We’re also most humbly grateful to the City of Bellevue for being with us and the Hyatt for more than just the accommodations – they’ve been into our mission from the beginning and have always made us feel right at home.

 

SO YOU’D LIKE TO PLAY YOUR OWN MUSIC, WOULD YA?

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Of course you would, and we couldn’t possibly be more in favor of that. It’s not a folk festival of any kind unless there are ample spaces and opportunities to join with old and new friends and share the pleasure of the culture while making your own good time. This jamming is exactly what separates folk cultures from classical, jazz and other forms in that not only can you do it too, but including the common folk picker and singer is what our culture is really about. There are plenty of performances and we know you’ll catch (quite) a few, but it’s a more complete weekend when you make your own music as well as watching the pros do it. For myself, as I ramble about the hotel I notice that the overall atmosphere is always higher when there’s lots of jamming in the lobbies along with the scheduled performances. And the instrument check is open long hours so you can ditch that thing when you want to. So why not travel from workshop to lobby to venue and receive the full treatment?

 

CLASS IS ALWAYS IN SESSION

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It’s not enough to simply enjoy a festival. We always want to take something new home with us, and not just CDs or good memories. We want to learn something new, however small, that will help us expand our house of music and open the door to possibilities beyond what is currently in our bag. This is a universal desire, and Wintergrass has been on board since the get-go. Let’s start with little people! The Youth Academy is for 7-14 year olds, focuses on beginning and intermediate players and culminates in a main stage performance on Friday evening. The Wintergrass Youth Orchestra is for middle and high school string orchestra players and provides them the opportunity to play alternate styles of music under the direction of American Strings Association President Bob Phillips. They will learn arrangements from Vasen, The Kruger Brothers and Rushad Eggleston and will perform with them at the Sunday morning concert. PintGrass is for 4-6 year olds who are musically inclined, and Youth Academy Teacher Training is for skilled players ages 14-21 to encourage showmanship, ensemble work and prepare for teaching possibilities. The children are always the future and we do what we can to prepare them for it. As previously mentioned, these classes require an additional expense and all information is available at www.wintergrass.com.

As for you big people, workshops on a wide variety of instruments, vocals, songwriting, forming bands, business acumen and so forth will be held all day Thursday the 27th and Friday all morning and early afternoon. If you desire more than just a general session, a number of intensives will be held on Thursday and be taught by some of our excellent performers. Among them will be vocal harmony with Tim & Mollie O’Brien, mandolin with Emory Lester and Nyckelharpa with Olov Johansson. The regular workshops are part of your purchase of a festival ticket; the intensives cost $55 for 6 of them and $100 for harmony and songwriting. And of course the website will reveal times, prices and rooms, etc. So we hope that as many of you as possible will add a new piece of knowledge to your festival experience, and in doing so become a more complete player and cultural practitioner than before.

 

OUR WONDERFUL PERFORMERS

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I know, I know. You’ve been reading paragraph after paragraph wondering when I’d get to the stage acts, but it was worth the wait. Our theme, The Power Of Interaction and Collaboration, relates to several acts that have been prepared solely for Wintergrass or are a partnership of various players who are on vacation from regular bands. Chris Thile received a large genius grant and has taken time off from The Punch Brothers to compose and form a temporary duo with fellow mandolin giant Mike Marshall, which should be delightful. Another temporary act will be Tim O’Brien and Darrell Scott, who will present a songwriter/singer/instrumental set. Another Punch Brother, Chris Eldridge, will team with Julian Lage for a jazzy set with two guitars. Beats Workin’ (Prairie Home Companion’s Peter Ostroushko with locals Mike Dowling, David Lange and Cary Black) will present new works commissioned by Wintergrass specifically for this festival, and Ramblin Rooks is a 4-piece configuration featuring already renowned players such as Don Rigsby and Kenny Smith. These are all “temporary” acts and will give attendees the privilege of enjoying some music that may never be played anywhere else. This is a rare blessing and could make for unique memories.

Another way of making sure that scheduling doesn’t get stagnant is to invite new bands to the festival and I can’t recall a year when so many new musical spirits have been with us. Town Mountain is a young ‘grass quintet that has been named the IBMA’s (International Bluegrass Music Association) best emerging artist of 2013. Dailey & Vincent are graduates of the Doyle Lawson school of gospel and tight harmony and will bring a 7-piece band with them. Elephant Revival is a youngish band of guys and gals who bring a washboard and clogs, among other treats. The Milk Carton Kids are two young singer/songwriters who have wonderful harmonies and a Simon and Garfunkel-like feeling. Mark Johnson & Emory Lester are a banjo/mandolin duo and we will get to hear Clawgrass, an original banjo style that Mark created. Front Country is a California 5-piece that features fine originals, excellent versions of standards and includes the likes of Utah Phillips in their repertoire. The Lil’ Smokies are a jamgrass band from Montana who take a bluegrass base and have fun going so many places with it. The Scott Law Band is a 3-piece featuring David Grisman’s son Sam on bass and Jack Dwyer on mandolin – they play Scott’s originals. Ricky Gene Powell & Acoustic Laboratory present a set of mixed ‘grass and swing. And finally, Top String (three of them named Top) are a 4-piece family band who are former Youth Academy students who’ve graduated to our stages and give evidence of the purpose and quality of our Wintergrass Youth Education Programs. It’s hard to imagine how you’ll be able to wrap your head around all this new, beautiful and exciting music but we’re sure you’ll find a way!

And of course we always welcome back our many veteran musician friends who’ve brightened up our stages for all these years. The aforementioned Mike Marshall/Chris Thile and Darrell Scott/Tim O’Brien are already worth the price of admission. Vasen with its beautiful Nordic tunes and The Kruger Brothers’ instrumental originals with a ‘grassy feel are always a welcome change of pace. So is the incredibly unique Rushad Eggleston with his solo cello (vet of several Wintergrass bands), made up languages and dancing; he’ll be doing workshops as well as Youth Orchestra. Joe Craven is another amazing multi-instrumentalist whose stage setup looks like a garage sale; he is always entertaining as well as a fine teacher of our youth programs. The Duhks are a high-energy band that features many originals and powerful lead vocals in a stage act that is just plain fun. Modern Grass from Nova Scotia plays traditional ‘grass and swing and was well-received in their 2012 Wintergrass debut. Matuto, who was also a success in last year’s debut returns with high-energy Brazilian songs with a ‘grassy feel. Mollie O’Brien is always a vocal delight and has Rich Moore in tow (also a workshop on harmony with brother Tim). The Cleverlys offer humorous and entertaining ‘grassy versions of pop songs. The Barn Door Slammers are a 7-piece swing band from Oregon who’ll play the dance stage only. Downtown Mountain Boys are a local first-rate, high-energy quintet with great vocalists and soloists who always entertain. And Kevin Pace & the Early Edition are a 5-piece from eastern Washington who’ll play a gospel set at the Sunday morning concert. To find out just who’ll be on which stage at which time, all you have to do is go to www.wintergrass.com and it’s all there. And as usual, you can close your eyes and point to anything on the schedule and know that it’s first-rate and up to Wintergrass’s exacting standards for bluegrass and all-around excellence in entertainment.

So there you have it – an unbeatable weekend of bluegrass and related cultures that will make for a jolly good time and many a fine memory. Save your money, make sure your instrument is in shape, get on the website, get there early and stay late. We look forward to seeing as many of our extended family as possible for our musical/cultural gangbang and social, and we’ll be doing all we can to make everything as convenient and wonderful as possible.

(All comments welcome. Percy Hilo, percivalpeacival@gmail.com and 206-784-0378.)

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Whileaway

Rock/Pop/Jazz
Jeannine Hebb: Whileaway
Produced by: Patrick Ermlich & Eshy Gazit
Released: 2011
www.lilygolightly@theoutletmusic.com
www.myspace.com/jeanninehebb

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Jeannine Hebb began her music career at the age of four when she worked out the tune of Don’t Cry For Me Argentina on the living room piano while listening to it as the only song on her grandmother’s music box.

As an only child, and being shy, she spent much of her childhood writing her own songs while learning piano developing her singing voice, and was touring with a professional musical theater group by the age of thirteen. Stage was the place where she felt comfortable with herself. She went on to Berklee College of Music and graduated in three years at the age of twenty.

Along the way she won several awards, including the recipient of the Frank E. Remick and E. Ione Lockwood awards for excellence in music and vocal performance and the Susan Glover Hitchcock scholarship for outstanding musicianship. She also received the Scott Benson scholarship for songwriters, the highest honor in the Berklee songwriting department, when she graduated. After that she moved to New York City where she released her first EP, Too Late To Change Me.

She has been compared to singers and songwriters from Laura Nyro to Carole King and her style contains influences from jazz, blues, and rhythm and blues, and she blends them together well.

The album contains quite a few other musicians including herself on voice piano, with additional musicians on guitar, pedal steel, bass, drums, violin, viola, and cello, although the piano is the featured instrument which is understandable since she is the piano player, and she does an excellent job at it. But is her singing that really carries the album.

The production and arrangements are excellent as is her performance. She has a beautiful voice that is full and rich and well suited for the style of music on the album. The songs are about heart break but done in a somewhat upbeat manner making the album more light-hearted and very enjoyable to listen to. The song I Believe has this in it with lyrics that might sound rather downbeat but are sung beautifully:

If I believe
What everybody’s telling me
Surely you would disagree
With everything I’ve heard
Can I take your word

And the song Back to Me Again is very upbeat and fast paced and really showcases her great voice:

Say what you want
But leave my heart
I need all my precious heart
And I know you can’t be trusted
With my mind
And it’s twisted all the time
Wrapped so tightly I might die
Any time you so desire

Her voice and songwriting are impressive and so is the album.

Review by Greg Bennett

 

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Not At War

Marye Lobb: Not At War

Produced by: Self Produced

Released: March, 2012

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This is another album by Marye Lobb and her bio.

Marye Lobb was born in the Midwest and raised in Rochester, New York. She apparently got the urge to travel the globe and after doing so ended up back in New York playing in clubs in New York City. She apparently did a lot of traveling in Ireland, Norway, Brazil, Argentina, and Chile and there are influences from all of those sources but the main style is Bossa Nova.

She has a beautiful voice and the arrangements compliment her voice very well. She has toured extensively throughout the United States, Chile, Brazil, and Greece. Her site also describes her as having Quaker and Buddhist ideals at heart, and putting herself Berklee College of Music in Boston, MA.

She released this album, Not At War, in March of 2012. The Bossa Nova style is still the main influence in her music as she talks about being at peace with and proud of who you are. As on her first album she wrote all of the songs except one, Blackbird by John Lennon and Paul McCartney, she spent Spring 2012 touring the U.S. and is now back in New York City working on new material.

In her notes on her web site she seems to be reflecting her state of mind in giving out thanks. In her own words, Thank you to my friends and family for being so supportive and encouraging while I worked on this – it means the world to me! A very special thank you Kathleen for providing me with a home and place to focus while I worked on this project.

Thank you to the LobbMob and my New York City family for being my cheerleaders.
Thank you to Meditation, Central Park and bike riding for keeping me calm.
Thank you to New York City for always challenging me, inspiring me and keeping me creative.

I am “NOT AT WAR” with myself anymore. To all the listeners out there that I have yet to meet and those I already know: I hope this album helps you to find “home” inside yourself – wherever you may be. xo marye

Both albums can be found on iTunes. The title song, Not At War, illustrates some of this.

3am. There I am, lying there, rememberin’

I was all, that you told me to be.

Too many nights. Too many days. Too many hours.

Too many ways. To listen to words that were not my own.

I’m not at war with myself anymore.

I’m not at war with myself anymore.

I’m not at war with myself anymore.

I’ll let it be what it is.

I’ll let be what it is.

I’ll let it be what is is.

What it has to be.

What it wants to be.

What it has to be.

What it needs to be…

Let Go shows the difficulty she may have had in finding peace and not being at war with herself any more.

I didn’t wanna let go. Didn’t wanna let go. Didn’t wanna let go. Didn’t wanna let go.

I didn’t wanna let go. Didn’t wanna let go. Didn’t wanna let go. Didn’t wanna let go.

I didn’t wanna let go. Didn’t wanna let go. If this is our last night, then hold me in your arms real tight.

Right now I gotta break free. Take a good look at me, look at the shape of the ship that’s pointing out to sea.

But I don’t wanna be me. I’m scared of what I might see. I’m too afraid to let go of what I already know.

I don’t wanna let go. I don’t wanna let go.

Hold me. Hold me.

I don’t wanna let go. I don’t wanna let go.

Give me some space and time, I promise you that we’ll be fine.

I gotta find a way to be myself again. I gotta find my way back home.

As with her first album the singing and performance are excellent as well as the material, and is very well performed and arranged.

Review by Greg Bennett

 

 

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A Killer’s Dream

Country -Blues/ Singer/Songwriter

“A Killer’s Dream”

Rachel BrookeRachel Brooke

www.rachelbrookemusic.com

The project opens with a bit of a nod to Patsy Cline or many of the late 50’s early 60’s female contry vocalists, heavy reverb pours through the speaker, then goes over board and Rachel Brooke takes the reigns and a country blues shuffle leaps out of the system.  The musicianship is undeniable and though a throwback to another time, it’s also a creation of its own.  The first cut is so cool you have to continue the listen.  The second track is a complete departure from the first tune and invokes New Orleans or ragtime on a some sort of steroid.

This artist isn’t playing, she’s done her homework and has drank long from many wells, that’s just the writing portion, the production and vocal styling is familiar, but about as far from Nashville as we are from Jupiter.  Brooke’s ability to wrap her complex lyrics around the tune and production is like watching a tight rope walker.  The use of instrumentation in the second cut is amazing, the mix is perfect.  The third cut is so 1950’s that I have to check the PR again to make sure this is a current recording and it is.

The work is produced by Brooke’s and Andy Van Guilder who also recorded and mixed.  The supporting players are plentiful and each add to rather than take from the work.  Van Guilder’s did a fabulous job of placement in each tune and the overall vibe is true to certain era’s, but between the two have created a new view at the old art form known at Country Music.  There are moments that harken back, but always a new twist appears in either lyrical or vocal performance.  The arrangements of instrumentation alone are worth the listen.

Brooke’s is a singer’s singer with a wonderful range and ability to rock out or yodel with the best of them.  The sixth track is a perfect example of this and Brooke’s proves herself to be a generous artist sharing the tune with Lonesome Wyatt on this tender ballad.

This is a very strong departure from what we know, expect or recognize from artists considering themselves Country, Brooke brings it all back to where it started.  She is standing alone, probably at the bottom of a very steep hill, but she’s not playing it safe following the herd, she’s blazing her own trail.

If you like the blues, country or straight ahead rock this is a project that will delight and make you re- consider where the art form has gravitated towards or from in the past twenty years.  What we hear out of Nashville is rock, Brooke’s is giving back to the likes of the artists that were at the Ryman for their turn on the Grand Ole Opry stage.  If listened to Brooke’s is revealing the genre of the 1930’s with a twist that appears to be new, but comes from a long tradition.

This piece of work is amazing, entertaining and filled with tunes that writers would die for.  Rachel Brooke is an individual in an art form that is filled with artists that are indistinguishable from one another.  Country ain’t that anymore, but Rachel Brooke brings it all back home in a huge mirror called,

“A Killer’s Dream”.  Do yourself a favor, google her, listen a bit, then buy the darn thing.

Review by Christopher Brant Anderson

 

 

 

 

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John Mayall

John Mayall at Jazz Alley July 12, 2013 9:30pm

John Mayal

 

We arrived with time to find our seats and order a drink.  The room is laid out so that the stage is in the center against the far wall, the green room under the stairs, at the opposite side of the room.  John Mayall and band appeared shortly after the scheduled start, walked through the room and lined up against the wall behind the stage without fanfare.

Introductions, notices of pending shows took a short time, then the band took the stage.  The house was full.  The band was composed of the following musicians:  John Mayall from Manchester, England on keyboard, guitar, harp, vocals – Rocky Athas from Dallas Texas on guitar – Greg Rzab from Chicago on Bass – Jay Davenport from Chicago on drums.     

John’s hair has gone white, he wears it medium long, and wore it this night in a ponytail, he was wearing green plaid shirt and jeans.   Others in the band were dressed similarly, in a casual way.

Stage and gear:

  • John was at front center stage behind a keyboard,
  • the drummer just behind him – Jay played a dark purple set of Pearl drums
  • bass to his right – Greg played what looked like a Fender jazz bass
  • guitar to his left – Rocky played a sunburst Les Paul through a red knob Fender Twin, also an unusual choice (may have been a rental) .
  • John played one of his trademark minimalist guitars, the body just large enough to support pickups and bridge, using a Roland jazz chorus amp; played harp through his vocal mic (both these choices are somewhat unusual).

The songs

1st Nothing to do With Love

2nd May Dell

3rd Dirty Water

4th so many roads by Otis Rush

5th long gone midnight from blues for Laurel Canyon

6th Oh pretty woman Albert King

7th gimme one more day

8th Chicago Line from 1st album

9th you know that you love me

11:05 – 1 hour 20 minutes, standing O, 1 encore

The vibe:

The approach was more about presenting songs than a showcase for chops, though when called for, chops were present in spades.  Rocky’s amp sounded hard and bright to me at first, but his unerring touch and taste had me setting aside my concerns and just enjoying his playing. Greg and Jay were mostly in supporting roles throughout, but when they took solos near the end of the show, they showed their reasons for being chosen by John Mayall.  Not a lot of stories or banter between songs, but the band clearly enjoyed playing together.

Before playing an encore, John encouraged audience to attend other of his shows, and promised completely different sets for each (he has the history to draw from).  He is set to return to Seattle in January for a harmonica blowout.

Mr. Mayall will be 80 years old in November: he, of course, has aged since the days of the Bluesbreakers, but still looks vital.  He moved and played and handled himself as a younger man; here’s hoping we have him and his music for a long time yet.  I would add:  All-in-all, a fine show by a legend in the blues world who is still vital and passionate; if you get a chance to see him, don’t miss it.

Review by Steve Peterson, Laurin Gaudinier for Victory Music

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Paul Benoit – “Ragepickers”

ragpickersLocal/Singer/Songwriter

“Ragpickers”

Paul Benoit

www.kkpaulbenoitmusic.com

This recording burst out on the first track, “Bloom”, with a driving acoustic guitars out front, then the strong clear vocal wraps around the lyric exclaiming as the blues always does, a nod to the opposite sex.  The comping guitar riffs,  as the lead guitar are strong with shades of the  blues and rock.  As a player you know you’ve had a good listen when you want to pick your axe and join in or find a groove as deep to emulate. Benoit lays back with the second track, continuing the acoustic bed of acoustic guitar, then the rhythm section drives this lament called, “ Don’t Hate Me” but allows Benoit’s lyric and vocal to clearly speak.  The lead guitar once again never over powers the main riff, it is as it should be, the spice to the track.

The production and mix on this work is a consistent portion of  the work, Benoit’s vocals and lyrical content are important to each track, care was given to this aspect of his work.  Benoit & Blake Harkins co-produced the work at Lost & Found Studios, in West Seattle.  Benoit is no novice at his craft and has assembled lengthy relationships with those he records with.

For the past twenty years he has used the same supporting players on his projects, his mates, sidemen, collaborators are tight and a testament to the vested time put into the sound as a unit. Benoit’s rhythm section is Tige Decoster holding it all down on bass, Dan Weber on solid as well as tasty drums while Hugh Sutton is behind the keyboards. Benoit’s guitar work drives or lays the foundations for the production and tunes. Benoit’s lead work is very tasty, mature and compliments never distracts from the rest of the production.

“Ragpickers” the title tune of the disc is Benoit’s break out track from the first two tracks with a great shuffle feel.  Benoit’s vocal work is very strong on this tune, but the lyrical content is so strong it’s difficult to say which is really shines brighter.  The arrangements are all tasty, but this track breaks away, this tune illuminates a master in his element.  Tunes like this just don’t come along every day.

Benoit does not rest on his laurels, each track has a different feel, based in the blues.  Some of it takes me back to the hey day of several artists, but pigeon holing this artist would be a mistake.  Sutton’s work on fourth track sets up the tune, the lead guitar is like butter, it just flows.  These are some tasty players working behind Benoit’s tales and solid vocal work.

Had a brief conversation with the  artist and he said his next project was going to be a bit more Folk/Americana, I can tell from his acoustic work that this would be a natural path for him to take, but this cat wraps around the blues so well, one can only hope that he puts this thinking cap on again.  The acoustic guitar work in “Black Bag Blues” is as smooth and cool as any player I have ever listened to and worth the price of admission alone.

Benoit’s take on the Delta influence leaps out on the following track as does his time spent cultivating lyrical acrobatic work from the likes of Dylan and other contemporary artists.  “But Not You”, would be another argument for Benoit to come back to this well and drink again,  the genre needs writers and players who take two art forms and creates a third. Few do it these day, the formula is found and then it’s variations on a theme.  This work is dripping with authenticity.

Original work is rare these days, Benoit creates vibes that are at least ten miles thick.  He synthesizes blues, rock and pop, coming out the other side with a profound work, that could be as  commercial as the day is long. This artist excels at lyrical content, his vocals are in the pocket, the players support Benoit’s work with reverence, the mix, production and mastering are as accessible as this artists heart and soul are.  Good work!

Review by Christopher Brant Anderson

 

 

 

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Tommy Emmanuel – Close to You

This is the reason we play, pure joy. To watch Tommy in concert or studio is pure joy.  As one of the world’s top guitarist he shows us what the acoustic guitar is capable of and what we can accomplish with the desire, time, and perseverance to become a great player.  Like you, Tommy started out playing at home and after a while knew he wanted to perform for an audience.

Our Victory Music open mic’s are the perfect venue for doing just that.   We host  all levels of players so don’t worry if you’re just starting out because all are welcome and appreciated.  Take a moment to watch Tommy and come and perform with us soon.

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Seattle Hawaiian Slack Key Guitar Festival

The Slack Key Festival returns to Town Hall for its fifth year—this time featuring many of Hawaii’s master musicians including Roland Cazimero, Jerry Santos, Palani Vaughan, Kamuela Kimokeo, Cyril Pahinui, Jeff Peterson, Peter Moon, Jeff Au Hoy, Nathan Aweau and more.  Also on the program: emcees Skylark Rosetti and Braddah Gomes, local hula halau, Hawaiian tropical flowers, and prize drawings. Presented by the Seattle Slack Key Festival.

 

Seattle Weekly Ad SSKF

Tickets: Advance tickets are $35 /$50/$125 VIP, which include VIP includes preferred seating, as well as Film Screening & Meet the Artists Reception at the Wing Luke Museum on Saturday, November 9 at 6pm.
Doors open: Noon.
Learn More: http://www.seattleslackkeyfestival.com/

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The Bacon Bros: Philadelphia Road – The Best of

Bacon Bros

Singer/Songwriter

“Philadelphia Road-The Best Of”

The Bacon Brothers

www.baconbros.com

When I first saw the title of this project I immediately thought of the birth of the soul movement.  Many contribute that to Motown/Detroit, but in our narrative or lexicon, soul’s birth originated in the city of brotherly love.  Dick Clark’s American Bandstand came straight out of Philly.  It not only ran on the cities influence, but brought in New York’s vocal groups & early bands, then began to bring in the rest of the countries new music.  This would have been in the mid to late 1950’s, the new art forms of Rock, Soul, Rock A Billy, and Pop began to flow in from all over.  As listeners it was the final pull away from big band, jazz and New York Pop, music was being filtered through Clark’s program. The second wave of the Philadelphia influence was much later in the mid 1980’s with Hall & Oats, who were heavily influenced by mainly black artists of that  city and the rest of the east coast. The Bacon Brother’s came from that period, though earlier influences can be heard in the project also. Read more

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