Archive for the ‘My Seattle-Related Concert Experiences’ Category

Day 3 was pretty quiet. I checked in with Jack Endino for breakfast in Ballard. Just for kicks, I brought along the obscure Leaf Hound CD I had bought the day before to see if he recognized it. And of course he did. He gave me the Jack response, “This must be a reissue, because the copy I have is badly recorded.” I also mentioned this other similar band that came out around the same time (1970, give or take) called Bubble Puppy (I mistakenly said, “Bubble Buddy,” accidentally quoting Spongebob, and of course Jack corrected me.) I did have one thing in my pocket Jack had not heard of: a song called “I’m Rowed Out” by the Eyes, which is…in my opinion, the ultimate Mod song. Check it out. Tell me this song doesn’t put you in London in 1966.

Jack and I talked a little about Chris Cornell’s passing and the U-Men box set (Sub Pop is putting it out in November!) that he remastered. Some of the tracks used the original vinyl as a source since the master tapes couldn’t be located.

Later I was supposed to catch James Burdyshaw’s band, Sinister Six, play at a house party in Fremont (This trip should be called the Ballard-Fremont Express), but I showed up late and saw these guys instead, Julia Dream a psych three-piece (drummer not pictured) from Seoul, South Korea.

IMG_3564

Later, I met Kevin Whitworth, guitarist extraordinaire from Love Battery, and Leighton Beezer once again, for a drink on Cap Hill. Mostly those guys reminisced about the days of old. Kevin mentioned working at a restaurant across the street in the mid-’80s. And at the time Robert Plant and Phil Collins were touring together and they stopped in for a bite to eat. Kevin was invited to sit and chat with them. One of the guys was super nice. The other a total dick. Guess which one was which?

That was pretty much it for me. A quiet day, like I said, plus I had an early flight out the next morning.

Overall, a fun trip, and I’m looking forward to next year’s visit…in the meantime, who is that mystery band that will be playing at Dawn Anderson’s benefit concert on October 5? No one’s talking.

Advertisements

So here’s the deal: I built this trip around two bands I desperately wanted to see: Kinski and the Squirrels. If you know anything about me, you’ve heard me rave about Kinski, so I won’t go into more of that here. I’ve seen them twice, once in Seattle at the Victory Lounge on Eastlake, and once in my hometown of Philadelphia at Johnny Brenda’s in Fishtown. The Squirrels? Well, if you haven’t read my book, I wrote a special addendum on that band. Read it and you’ll understand why I had to go see them…especially since they don’t play very often with their classic line-up (this time featuring singer and front man Rob Morgan, guitarists Joey Kline and Jimmy “J.T.” Thomas.)

The Squirrels had booked a show at the High Dive in Fremont on Saturday September 2. Kinski was playing as part of the “Northwest Psych Fest” at the Sunset in Ballard the previous evening. ‘Perfect,’ I thought. ‘I’ll book this trip and enjoy these two great bands over the holiday weekend.’

Then the Psych Fest organizers moved Kinski to Saturday night, at 10 pm, the exact same time the Squirrels were set to go on. So what is one to do? Simple. Figure out a way to see both bands.

I started at the High Dive at 9, saying hi to Rob and then catching the opening act…Mark Nichols performing as a one man band. Mark was…well, I came up with a new word to describe him: fantastical. Among other things, he played an inspired version of Aaron Copeland’s “Hoedown,” as part of tribute to the recently departed Keith Emerson and Greg Lake (ELP covered the piece on their 1972 Trilogy album.)

FullSizeRender

[Mark Nichols doing his thing.]

21272529_10213810520408015_3922329599655106219_n

[Mark and the Rob Morgan performing together. Notice the spectator on the floor with a beer by his side.]

After about a half hour of Mark (and yeah, I had the “why don’t more people with off-the-charts talent like Mark become famous” moment…see Bruce Pavitt’s comment he told my class once, “There is no justice in the music industry.”) I ubered it over to the Sunset, about a 10 minute ride away from the High Dive.

Perfect timing. Kinski was just setting up. Plus I got to say hello to Five and Zinnia Su, who are fans and supporters of the band. I also got to say hi to Mia Katherine Boyle, front lady/singer/guitarist of MKB Ultra, and who happens to be Jack Endino’s girlfriend.

I picked a spot about two feet in front of guitarist Matthew Reid-Schwartz and braced myself. (It’s just so cool to see one of your favorite bands play right in front of you.) They immediately launched into “Detroit Trickle Down,” the opening track from 2015’s 7 (or 8), with guitarist Chris Martin playing a massively distorting slide. The band offered up some more selections off that album as well as older stuff…one of my favorites being “The Narcotic Comforts of the Status Quo” from a split EP they did with Sandrider.

FullSizeRender

[The fantastical (see, there’s that word again) Kinski. From left: Chris Martin, Lucy Atkinson, Matthew Reid-Schwartz, Barrett Wilke.]

Not much else that I can say about Kinski than I’ve already said, other than this: they were 45 minutes of pure, unadulterated sonic bliss.

As soon as Kinski was done, I ran out the door, and ordered up a car to take me back to the High Dive. Fortunately, I was able to catch the last half hour of the Squirrels’ set. One of the highlights (and this is so typical Squirrels) was a mash-up of Aretha Franklin’s “Freeway of Love” with AC/DC’s “Highway to Hell,” the final result being…you may have guessed: “Freeway to Hell.”

IMG_3559

[The Squirrels. From left: Joey Kline, Rob Morgan, Bill Ray, Keith Lowe, J.T., and Bruce Laven on keyboards (not pictured.)]

After the show, I said quick congrats to Rob, J.T., and Joey, and then headed back to Capitol Hill with a smile on my face.

What a night. What a freaking night!

 

Time for the annual Seattle pilgrimage. This trip was built around attending some shows and meeting up with the usual suspects. So without further adieu…

Got in Friday afternoon, after a flight from Philly that left at 8 am ET. I met up with my good friend Dave O’Leary, a fantastic writer and cool guy at his favorite haunt: the George & Dragon Pub in Fremont. Dave introduced me to his wife Allison and some friends. He’s a regular. If you’re a friend of Dave’s, you are a friend of the George & Dragon.

That’s about all I have to say about that first night. Suffice it to say, I now know not to get off a long flight and start drinking local beers with a higher alcohol content. So, yada yada yada, I was in bed by nine.

IMG_3519

[Mountains outside of the plane as we begin to approach Seattle.]

The next morning, I met Leighton Beezer (His name is actually John Leighton Beezer, but I call him Leighton…everyone else calls him John, so I thought I’d be original) for breakfast on Capitol Hill. As I’m walking toward the restaurant, I pass under a store overhang and hear “Polly,” the 1993 Unplugged version, coming from a speaker. I think, ‘How cool! They’re playing one of my favorite Nirvana songs as I’m strolling along in Seattle!’ Then I realize, ‘Right. That’s my wife’s ringtone.’ (Sometimes I even amaze myself how completely out of it I am at times.)

Met Leighton and a couple he’s friends with and enjoyed some breakfast at the Crystal Kitchen. Turns out he’s putting together a benefit show on October 5 for Dawn Anderson. If you’re not aware, Dawn, a favorite Seattle music writer of mine, has been battling breast cancer and funds have been extremely tight…wonderful health care system have we in this country. And I’m sure the current party in power we’ll make it better. Ok, I’m done with politics…sorry.

So this show will feature the Thrown Ups, Leighton’s old improv punk/grunge band, Jack Endino’s Earthworm, and Swallow. I had heard a rumor about a mystery band appearing at this show…but Leighton will not confirm or deny it. That’s killing me. Could it be a grunge reunion show? Could it be a major act? No one’s talking.

During breakfast, Leighton provided a heartfelt theory of what drove the grunge scene. I won’t go into details, because it’s quite personal, but suffice it to say…it was young kids who experienced serious tragedies early in their lives, and used music to move beyond those tragedies. It was pretty powerful stuff.

I had some time to kill, so I walked around Capitol Hill and stumbled into a record shop called Zions Gate Records. As I scanned the CDs (yeah, I still buy those), I saw a copy of the Groundhogs’ Thank Christ for the Bomb. Then, as I walked toward the register, I couldn’t help notice what the store was playing…it was hard blues, with a Hendrix touch, supplemented with this fantastic blues turnaround (I’m a sucker for a great turnaround.) The next song was even better.

“Great selection,” the rather young cashier commented.

“Thanks,” I responded. “By the way, what are you playing? It’s fantastic.”

“It’s a band called Leaf Hound, and the record is Growers of Mushroom.”

“Ok, I’ll take it.”

“Right on. They had one fantastic record that came out in 1970, and then they broke up. So no one knows about them.”

I listened to it in the car. Yeah, wow, that’s all I can say.

21232057_10213806146498670_2562605471521418724_n

I headed back to the 11th Avenue Inn to rest up for that night’s shows featuring two great bands: Kinski and the Squirrels. More about that in Part II.

 

Sunday, October 8

[Update re: John Lennon tribute show discussed below. The Green Pajamas’ Joe Ross was kind enough to let me know which musicians played on the various songs. Since I am lazy, I just copied his email at the conclusion of this post.] 

Sunday would become the most intensely packed day of this trip…and most of it was cat-free.

After playing a little guitar on the Inn porch, and annoying some of the guests with an acoustic version of “Drain You,” I headed down to a bar called Buckley’s in Belltown. There, I would take in a football game, which started at 10 in the morning. That takes a little getting used to…drinking beer so early in the day.

If you haven’t figured it out yet, I am a long-suffering Philadelphia Eagles fan, who began following the team in 1975 when it was especially horrid. I had found that a group of 40-50 Eagles fans congregates each week at Buckley’s. So, I took the light rail from Capitol Hill to Westlake Center, and walked to Belltown from there. As I neared the bar, I saw two Eagles fans in front of me, one wearing a Brent Celek jersey (tight end), and the other donning an old school Randall Cunningham uniform. They almost got hit crossing one street, so I couldn’t resist shouting, “Figures, a couple of Eagles fans causing problems.” They turned around, saw the bird logo on my shirt and smiled. New friends.

I chatted with these guys, Matt and Brian, for most of the game (which the Birds unfortunately lost, 24-23). About an hour in, I mentioned how I heard about a new Eagles-fandom documentary called “Dallas Sucks” (we fucking hate the Dallas Cowboys, by the way, and their cockroach “fans” who live in Philly but have never been to Texas.) Matt smiled and said, “Brian’s the director of that documentary.” Wow. So apparently this Eagles thing will end up on Showtime soon. Brian (last name Bennett) is working on a Sun Records piece now. Life can be so incredibly cool sometimes. (Here’s a link to a story about the project: http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/real-time/Eagles-fans-raising-money-for-Dallas-Sucks-documentary.html)

14570270_10210601566826181_4088363470279379290_n

(Fellow Eagles fans. From left: Matt Ferguson, Brian Bennett.)

After a bit of sulking following the Eagles loss, I headed over to get my burger fix at Two Bells Tavern. Jim Tillman from the U-Men told me about that place and yeah, their burgers rule.

img_2893

Following that, it was off to Fremont to meet my writer friends Dave O’Leary and Clint Brownlee. Dave has written two fantastic novels: Horse Bite and The Music Book. Both are semi-autobiographical pieces centered around Seattle music, love, and coffee. I met Dave in 2011, during my book launch, which was about a week after Horse Bite came out. Both of these guys are the among the coolest people I know. Clint is working on a novel, and I’m excited to see how that comes out.

We met up at a Fremont bar called the George & Dragon, which is a pretty authentic English pub (except they wait on you and the beer is cold), owned by someone from the UK. It’s funny…I’ve only met Clint & Dave a few times, but they feel like old friends. When we get together, it seems like no time has passed, even though it’s been over a year. I wish I could hang out with them more often. Good people.

fullsizerender

As it started to get late, Clint had to leave, and Dave invited me back to his place to watch the first debate. Sounded great…hang out, make fun of Trump, and enjoy some homemade lasagna. That was until I walked in the door. Guess what Dave has? That’s right, a cat. So, I had to leave. Again, why oh why does everyone in Seattle own a cat?

I headed back to Capitol Hill and grabbed a tuna sub at Subway for dinner. It reminded me of why I don’t eat at Subway. It sucked. (By the way, we call them hoagies in Philly. Don’t ask for a “sub” here.) But things were about to get better.

Over in West Seattle at a small bar called the Parliament Tavern, a group of musicians gathered together to put on a tribute show to John Lennon, as Sunday was his birthday. Leading the group were two stellar long-time Seattle players: Joe Ross of the Green Pajamas and John Olufs of Red Dress. Early Green Pajamas…we’re talking 1984…were heavily influenced by the Beatles. Red Dress, well I’ve written a lot about them on this blog. They are kind of like James Brown meets Frank Zappa, played with sort of a Band aesthetic.

img_2898

(Joe Ross of the Green Pajamas [second from left], and John Olufs of Red Dress, lead the John Lennon tribute show.)

The band offered up the Beatles repertoire more or less chronologically. The crowd of course loved it and sang along because: a) you’ve got some of the best musicians in Seattle playing it and b) it’s the freaking Beatles. Joining Joe and John at different times were James Burdyshaw, of the 64 Spiders and Cat Butt. James did a nice acoustic version of Dear Prudence, then went electric and killed it on Yer Blues.

wteer555

(James Burdyshaw of 64 Spiders and Cat Butt performing “Dear Prudence.”)

One of the many highlights of the evening happened when the stage was cleared for Laura Weller-Vanderpool and Bonnie Hammond, also known as Capping Day. Capping Day had some wonderful songs in the late ’80s, done in sort of an Indigo Girls harmony style…none better than “Mona Lisa.” Anyway, they did “Across the Universe,” which actually brought tears to some of the fans. I was sitting with Chad Channing from Nirvana, who said it is his favorite Beatles song.

14570232_10210605916334916_2691062445496462503_n

(Capping Day plays “Across the Universe.” From left: Bonnie Hammond and Laura Weller-Vanderpool.)

The band played a little past midnight. Such a wonderful way to conclude this trip…well, pretty much conclude. Monday would turn out to be a chill day before catching an early flight home on Tuesday. To repeat my Facebook post, I want to thank everyone for another fantastic Seattle visit. I look forward to seeing you again next year.

raq534ywyserht

(Looking out across the water from Fremont.)

Update: List of players in John Lennon tribute show, from Joe Ross FB message.

The core band, besides me and John, was Kelly Van Camp on drums and Sean Wheatley on bass. Other guests up were: Mike Geglia and his son Mike jr., also Bill Preib did I’m only sleeping and Rachelle Write did I call your name.

Here’s the sets (37 songs) pretty much as they went down: Set one: working class hero JOE (Am) I’ll Cry Instead KELLY (G) I should have known better KELLY (G) You can’t do that KELLY (G) When I Get Home MIKE G. (C) One After 909 MIKE G. + MIKE jr. (B) A Hard Day’s Night MIKE G. + MIKE jr. (G) this boy KELLY (D) No reply JOE (C) I’m a loser JOE (G) I call your name RACHELLE (key G) I don’t want to spoil the party GAIL + JOE (G) Set two: across the universe LAURA V. + BONNIE (D) You’ve got to hide your love away KELLY (G) help JOE + KELLY + GAIL (A) I Feel Fine MIKE G. + KELLY (G) Ticket To Ride MIKE G. + KELLY (A) Nowhere Man MIKE G. + KELLY (E) Girl JOE (Cm) come together RON B. (D) in my life RON B. (A) she said she said KELLY (Bb) I’m only sleeping BILL P. (Em) rain JOE (G) I Am The Walrus JOE (A) set three: revolution JOE (A) dear Prudence JAMES B. (D) yer blues JAMES B. (E) Ballad of John and Yoko JOE (E) Don’t let me down JOE cold turkey JOE (Am) I’m so tired JOE (A) instant karma JOE (A) imagine JOE (C) I dig a pony JOHN (A) all you need is love KELLY + everyone (G) tomorrow never knows (C)
oh yeah, Ron Bailey sang Come Together and In My Life.

 

Let me begin by saying, why can’t everyone in Seattle own a dog? I like dogs. I have two. I’m not allergic to them. So, in other words, why can’t people construct their lifestyles around my health needs? Is that really asking too much?

Ok, so we’re up to Saturday, October 8. For the most part, this day turned out to be fairly mellow. After breakfast, I hung out on the front porch and played my rented Taylor for about an hour. A neighbor came by with his young daughter and said, “We heard you playing. Mind if we listen for a while?” I’m like, “Sure. As long as you don’t mind some acoustic death metal.” (I didn’t actually say that.) Anyway, that was very cool. The neighbor’s daughter spun around as I meandered my way through “Amazing Journey.”

Her dad ordered a copy of my book as I played, prompting me to think, “Maybe Tribe would have been a bestseller if I had just sat out on a corner and played Neil Young and Who covers.”

Next, it was off to Ballard to meet Jack Endino and Mia Katherine Boyle for breakfast. I have a dog named Mia, and I was tempted to say something stupid like, “Mind if I call you Human Mia?” but fortunately the little man in my brain responsible for shortcircuiting idiotic comments shut that one down before it could escape my lips. (Too bad that little man doesn’t exist in Trump’s brain. Sorry for getting political, but I couldn’t resist.)

We chatted about Jack and Mia’s current musical projects, as well as some of the Sub Pop grunge era reissues…most notably an upcoming U-Men box set primed for 2017. In case you haven’t figured it out, I love the U-Men. The remastered compilation will feature some previously unreleased songs.

I always learn something interesting each time I meet Jack. On this occasion, Jack had just returned from a production gig in Italy and he talked about that country’s fascination with more theatrical proggy-style rock and how music fans there don’t identify with straight-ahead AC/DC-style riff rock.

Mia handed me a CD of her band with Jack called MKB ULTRA along with a t-shirt (yay, t-shirts), we said our goodbyes and I headed back to Capitol Hill. Almost forgot, Jack’s in an improv band with Five called Beyond Captain Orca. The name just seemed so obvious (and apparently was a random utterance by Five’s girlfriend Zinnia Su.) After chilling for most of the day (read: that means taking a long nap…sorry, I’m old. I yell at millenials for their man buns, bushy World War I-style mustaches, and jet packs.)

tshirt-and-cds

Later that evening, I met up with former Mudhoney bassist Matt Lukin for beers at a West Seattle bar called The Bridge. Matt might be the most entertaining human being on the planet. I think we high-fived 20 times…about what, I’m not sure. He thinks Mick Harvey is a dick. I didn’t even know who Mick Harvey was until I found out he wrote a song called “Out of Time Man,” which shows up at the end of the first Breaking Bad episode. (I kind of like it…even performed it an open mic a few times.) I know Mick Harvey was in the Bad Seeds. But, apparently he’s also a dick. High five!

an-embarrassed-matt-lukin

(Matt Lukin, apparently embarrassed to be seen with an Eagles fan.)

dicks

(Dick’s, a Seattle institution, and where I had dinner.)

It’s been almost a year since I posted anything to this blog, and that means you readers will have one of two reactions: 1) Wow! We’ve been waiting a year for this! Why have you kept us alone in the dark for so long! or 2) (crickets.)

I arrived in Seattle late Thursday evening, October 6. Went to sleep. Exciting, I know. So, let’s start with…

Friday, October 7

I’ve stayed at a few places during my now 15 trips to Seattle…the University Inn in the U-District, the Belltown Inn in (duh) Belltown, Rob Morgan’s couch in Ballard, and on this trip, the 11th Avenue Inn on Capitol Hill. The Inn is a great place to stay…you’re in the middle of a vibrant neighborhood, the cost is reasonable, and it comes with breakfast and free parking. The new Light Rail line has a station two blocks away, which connects you to other neighborhoods as well as the airport.

I usually start with some musical-related interactions, but today I want to begin with a conversation I had with the breakfast chef. He’s in his 30s, I’m guessing. Anyway, we got to talking and it turns out he’s from Texas, but has lived in New York, Germany, and Prague. While in the Czech Republic, he bought a motorcycle and used it to explore the local countryside, as well as Slovakia and Hungary. Later, he moved to Seattle where he now paints and cooks. Moral of the story: talk to people. They’re fascinating.

Ok, enough with the background stuff, let’s get to the music.

I met my friends Leighton Beezer and Five at a vegan cafe called the Wayward in Wallingford. Not my idea, of course. I come from the “eat a fucking burger” school of cuisine, but the Wayward’s food was quite tasty (I think I originally typed “nasty,” but it was good…really) and I enjoyed it. I wanted to interview the pair about their improvisational approach to music-making. Since the Wayward was a bit noisy, we reconvened at Five’s house a few blocks away.

Five has a cat. Everyone in Seattle has a cat. And I’m highly allergic. See the problem here?

So we did our interview on Five’s porch. Before I get on that, a little context is in order.

Leighton was in a grunge era band called the Thrown Ups (that piece of information is now in my wife’s head…one of the useless bits of knowledge I have imparted to her. Once she picked up the home phone and yelled down to me, “Honey. It’s Leighton Beezer from the Thrown Ups.”) The Thrown Ups became the quintessential “fuck band,” in that, other than Leighton himself, the other members looked at it as a side project. The players, at different times, included Mark Arm and Steve Turner from Mudhoney, and Scott Schickler of Swallow. The Thrown Ups were an improvisational punk band. That is, no songs, no rehearsals. Whatever happened on stage happened. That included heaving oysters at the audience at the Gorilla Gardens and covering themselves in cola-infused mud during a show at the Central Tavern.

But enough about high art. The Thrown Ups represented the essence of all things grunge as it existed in the pre-Nevermind ’80s: get on stage and go for it. To paraphrase Leighton, ‘Don’t worry about whether you’re playing the chorus or the verse. If you forget what you’re doing, jump into the audience. A show that ends up as a train wreck will probably be a better show anyway.’ That freedom, camaraderie, and musical spontaniety exemplified grunge in its pure form. Heavy music was certainly the prequisite, but as Jack Endino once told me, it was more about getting the feeling out than playing the song note for note perfect. The Thrown Ups represented all of that.

I met Leighton for the first time in 2007, at a bar in Belltown called the…damn, I forget, wait, I think it was called the Rendezvous. Anyway, we had a beer before his performance that evening. After we finished, Leighton received a dumbfounded expression from the hostess when he inquired, “Do you know who’s playing tonight, because it might be me.”

Half an hour later, with a patch together crew of players including the aforementioned Five, Leighton’s band took the stage. They gave us 45 minutes of…well, I’m a writer and I can’t really put it into words. They played and it was great. Ok? The musicians fed off each other in a way only artists can, at times featuring cascading crescendoes of noise, and at other times lowering the volume to create some beautiful sonic textures (that sounds like I know what I’m talking about, doesn’t it?)

The next time I saw Leighton was in my hometown of Philadelphia. He played a bar called the…I forget that one…small place, which isn’t there anymore. On South Street, maybe? A small dive bar. Leighton’s band, called Empire Vista played songs that evening. Wow, with vocals and everything! After I wrote a review of that gig, Leighton emailed me: “You thought they were songs?”

For over 30 years, Leighton has focused on developing the concept of a band that won’t rehearse and eschews arranged material. I became fascinated with that concept and decided to interview him and Five about it.

I will post the actual interview shortly, but suffice it to say the conversation opened my eyes a bit. I’ve been playing guitar myself for a long time, badly, but have seriously worked hard at it the last two years, and I’ve become good enough to play a few songs at open mic nights. My teacher Thomas is awesome and has helped me discover talents I never knew I had. Thomas has taught me technique and theory in addition to songs, which he allows me the freedom to change as I see fit.

Five is the anti-Thomas. Five’s approach to teaching guitar is as follows: Grab the instrument, randomly twist the tuning pegs, and then begin playing. Don’t worry if it sounds like crap, it may or not be as such…but the important thing to grasp is, does it sound good to you? Or perhaps better put, does it feel good to you? So playing guitar becomes much more of a spiritual experience than let’s say a mechanical one. I told Five I’d try that approach when I get home.

After that experience, I drove up to Edmonds to catch the ferry over to Kitsap, on Bainbridge Island. Guitarist Derek Burns was throwing a birthday party for Paul Burback, of Before Cars and Paundy, at his house in Hanville. Hanville is apparently Bainbridgian for, “houses in the middle of nowhere.” It’s about a half hour drive from Kitsap, and beautiful does not begin to describe the setting. It feels like you’re sitting out in the woods on an island, probably because you are in the woods on an island.

14572778_10210584915009896_2518637207503030082_n

(About to depart Edmonds for Kitsap on the ferry.)

I arrived early, and Derek offered up some salmon salad he made from his own catch. One of the reasons I love coming here is to explore the pronounced cultural differences between us Easterners and those who call the Northwest home. One of Derek’s friends asked me if I was a fisherman. (Yeah, right. My uncle once took me fishing for flukes off the coast of Point Pleasant, New Jersey. I think we anchored about three quarters of a mile off the shoreline.) These guys were talking about venturing out of the Columbia River and into the Pacific Ocean, sometimes anchoring hundreds of miles from land to fish for tuna. They talked about how fear of the ocean is a healthy thing, it helps keep one alive in a sometimes brutal, unforgivingly massive body of water. I looked at them with an expression that is best described as a combination of admiration and ‘good luck with that.’

14563338_10210586191201800_7750809424184929468_n

(The bustling traffic behind Derek’s house.)

I think what strikes me about these folks is how utterly at ease they are. They are so comfortable with who and where they are…it’s a refreshing change from the city attitude people possess in places like Seattle and Philly. Absolutely no pretense.

Soon, Derek, Paul, and Before Cars/Paundy mate Andy Miller began to jam. (Couple of tidbits…Paundy is the combination of “Paul” and “Andy,” something I didn’t know about until last night. Also, Derek apparently possesses one of Kurt Cobain’s distortion boxes in his living room. I don’t think Derek gives a shit about its late famous owner other than he likes the sound of it.) They rocked out, of course, but in a sort of jazzy, groovy way at times, sometimes more bluesy. No vocals…someone apparently neglected to bring a PA.

14516592_10210586688934243_6035755533390013639_n

(Jam session. From left: Derek, food, Andy, Paul.)

After a while, I became infused with the essence of Derek’s cat. And I began sneezing uncontrollably. And I had to go outside on the porch, where I remained for the rest of the evening. (To riff off a Gallagher bit: “Good thing I have allergies!”) I hung out there until I got too cold, and let the combination of cat reaction and beer dissipate so I could head back to Seattle.

Saturday (today) would be a much quieter day, beginning with a breakfast with Jack Endino and his girlfriend and sometimes bandmate, Mia Katherine Boyle.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After two completely full days and nights, Sunday felt like a nice break. I had a relaxing morning, and got to know the chef (Albert) a little bit at the B&B where I stayed (I found a really cool and reasonably priced one on Capitol Hill called the 11th Avenue Inn.) Turns out Albert and his wife decided to move to Seattle just ’cause…they found a tiny apartment in the neighborhood and they both work part time. Basically the plan was to give up a bunch of stuff they didn’t need in exchange for a more low-key lifestyle. I love it when people make a conscious decision to break free from the preordained American rat race.

Capitol Hill 2Capitol Hill 5

[A couple of shots of Capitol Hill.]

For lunch, I met fellow writers Dave O’Leary (author of two fine semi-autobiographical novels: Horse Bite and The Music Book. You can find them both on Amazon) and Clint Brownlee. Dave also occasionally plays bass in a band called Sightseer. We met at Elysian brewpub down on 1st Avenue and were soon joined by yet another writer and historian: Jeff Stevens. We chatted about the usual musical stuff and then the conversation ventured into Seattle’s obscenely horrible transportation problem. Like many younger cities, Seattle grew too quickly and the lack of importance placed on public transportation has contributed to brutal highway congestion. I notice it gets worse each time I come here.

Apparently, Seattle’s solution was to build a tunnel…which of course makes little sense. To make matters worse, the boring machine got stuck against a lead pipe (I think…correct me if I’m wrong, Jeff) and still remains in the ground until officials can figure out what to do with it.

On a fun note, we talked about Clint’s appearance in the Mudhoney video, “I Like it Small.” You can definitely make out his distinctive beard and Dodgers cap. See https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7511NXJNV8o.

Later, I headed over to Fremont to meet Jack Endino and his girlfriend for dinner (for Thai…something different! Forgive my wiseassery, Jack.) We talked about the usual music stuff…although Jack did mention something about an upcoming U-Men release. I, um, yeah…can’t wait for that one.

After dinner and leaving my car keys in the rental car (yay, hopefully not early onset dementia!) I headed back to the Hill for an early retirement (no pun intended…fuck, I got an AARP card in the mail. I’m officially old.)