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Three LIVE SHOW reviews for your reading pleasure this time around... the scene around the Puget Sound is definitely "getting better", particularly in th' blues/jazz/funk vein... look for more here next issue...
Kari Newhouse, Paul Mauer & lots of others, The Loft On Cherry (Olympia), 10/10/2009
I'd wanted to do a live show review of Paul's music ever since I first heard his rockin' folk-oriented originals on Reverbnation... after a couple of gigs I missed out on, I finally got the chance at "The Loft"... the venue has changed significantly (even though it is truly only a "loft space") since the last time I was there several years ago for some performances by Bob Marsh from San Francisco. This show was decidedly different, focused more on "billy rock", "straight-out rock" & with a few nice shades of "folk-rock" in between. They had a bit of trouble getting the stage lights working, but finally got that in place - which made a world of difference. The only drawback (I felt) for the venue is that it's pretty much unheated - "chilly", indeed!
After introducing myself to him, Paul made sure I got the "Mark of the Beast" stamp they were using as a sorta' "press pass"... we yakked over cigs outside... it was nice to (finally) meet him face-to-face, as it had all been online up to that point. Typically Northwest start... about 1/2 hour later than advertised, & in-line with most performances in Oly... small crowd to start with, only drifting in & out as I watched the first player (pictured at the top left) playing against a rhythm lick he setup via the pedals... he got some very nice "rounds" going, then slid into some harp accompaniment. Some nice pieces, perfect for starters; heavy on strum, but he also had some nice harmonics going on several of his songs. Not bad...not bad at all!
Next up was a young singer from Portland named Kari Newhouse... high talent on display, to be sure! Her vocal style reminds me of all the folk/rockers back in the day (my day, that is... ladies like Joni Mitchell & Janis Ian come to mind immediately)... excellent playing with sweet overtones and plenty of spirit along with well executed harmonics! There's an almost "jazz" feel to many of her compositions, though she brings it all back to earth with her penetrating and well-crafted lyrics. I'm quite impressed with her stage presence. It's clear (to this reviewer, anyway) that Oly is missing out by not being here in full force... this kind of music brings out the magick for the listener & is very inspirational - we clearly need more of such in our world today - her performance was only about 20 minutes - would like to hear more from her next time. Excellent performance, & I'll be watching the boards/sites to catch her again!
Paul Mauer is up next, the "draw" for me coming down here to listen & review... he leads in with a heavy strum tune, lots of raw energy & total involvement in his performance. His vocals remind me (for some strange reason) of Jethro Tull... a kind of "gnarly" tone, yet infused with inspiration for the listener. I think the keyword for me when listening to his songs is "enchanting". He definitely gets involved with his audience, too - not coming across as "performer" so much as one of us regular folks - who has been gifted with lyrical and vocal skills at levels a bit higher than us. Another thing I totally enjoy about what he's doing is his ability at creating several overtones at once, while managing to keep rhythm going strong... it's almost orchestral in spots - very pleasant listening! Since Paul grew up in old Olympia, I'm sure some of that ol' "hippie" vibe has rubbed off on him, as you can't sing & play with this kind of committment unless you had some exposure to that time of free-thinking... it's great to see such spirit on the public stage again in my adopted 'ville! I slide out after 3 or 4 tunes, as the lack of heat is beginning to "chill me out" more than I'd like, but this was a great set, & I'm sure they danced well into the night as the other players took their turn! GREAT show, Paul!
Leroy Daniels & Jared Dines, Blue Bottle Cafe (Yelm), 10/9/2009
The "draw" for me on this one was that Michelle had it posted on her calendar as "jazz"... it was that in a way, but the focus from Leroy & Jared was clearly on their religious experience... after sitting down close to the stage, she introduced me to Leroy (the keyboardist) & he invited me up to play... I forego that to listen to his chops, & then to Leroy's warmup with Jared's guitar. Yamaha keys & acoustic guitar with a pickup... they only had one large speaker (would be better with separate speakers... Leroy's vocal was "submerged" a bit because of that common mix-through). Both gents seem quite comfortable with each other & right "on-key" during the warmups...
Leroy leads in with all original tunes... nice jazzy keyboards against his own lyrics (which he does all the singing on).... "My Life Depends On You" represents that jazz approach quite well, & while I dug the song, the message came across as (just) a bit "preachy"... what saves him from being turned off by my ears, though, is that his "soul" comes through clearly. Nice strong gospel rhythms.... everybody needs a "shot of gospel" now & then & Leroy serves it right on up there with the best of 'em. Several more R&B rhythms with generous infusions of jazzy keyboards keep everybody listening (of course, the audience seems to be made up of members from the local "congregation" - not sure)... in some ways, I'm reminded of the vibe I imagine Stevie Wonder would generate were he playing a small room like this... cool!
The duo is up after about 20 minutes of Leroy's solo works... I listened to some of Jared's other solo work on a demo CD, & it's markedly different from what he's doing here... the word that sticks in my mind as these two young guys play together is "joy". It's clear they enjoy crafting pieces together, & Dines' folk-rhythms drive the performance in a different direction than Leroy's solo singing. I especially enjoyed a tune called "Fly Me Away", on which Jared's acoustic guitar leads were very pleasant. With time & maturity, I've no doubt that this duo will realize that their message can be conveyed more powerfully if the focus is more on their musical skills than verbalizations of faith... nonetheless, this was an enjoyable (short) set that showed significant skill & love of playing!
How Now Brown Cow, The Eastside Club (Olympia), 10/3/2009
As I'm prone to do, scanned the Entertainment sections (online) lookin' for music to listen to... a totally new series popped up on the radar (click on the Eastside Club link above to check more out)... maybe Olyjazz ain't "dead" yet...
I left the house about an hour & a half before the show was scheduled to start (9:00, but that usually means at least 9:30)... wanted to get the "lay of the bar", so to speak. I'd been in this club (way back) in the late '70's (or whatever was there then), & if I remember correctly, they used to have some live entertainment (but that was a while ago, so I may have the wrong venue). After settling in at the bar, struck up a conversation with (who else) the bartender... turns out he's the guy responsible for booking the acts in here, so I got lucky. If you go to their club link above, the schedule is posted there, & they've got real variety, so I'm lookin' forward to hitting a few more of their acts over the next couple of months. Thanks for all the information Andy...
As always, did too much coke (naw, the "liquid" kind, volkz, nothin' "exotic"). This is clearly a beer joint (as you'll see from all the posters & signs on the wall behind the players... band starts rolling in around 8:25, do a quick meet/greet with the bassist, Dave Kurtiak, & he says it's cool to take a few pics, do a review, etc. No stage, they just slide the ping pong table off to the side & begin to lay their gear in... Ooooohhhh... my favorite instrument - a Rhodes, to be played by Marc Hager... superb, defintely my instrument of choice! You can see from the pic that the "aura" of this place ain't "high falutin", just us regular folks, out for a beer or 10 & havin' some fun... it takes the guys a while to get it all setup, so I get to chat with them a bit more out on smoke breaks & such... just the general "who do you know that I do", "what style we play in" & that kind of thing.
They're charging a $4 cover... certainly reasonable & the music director says they couldn't have the music in here unless they did that... no objections on my part if the band is cool. After that smoke break with the band, wandered back to my seat only to find that some RUDE lil' cutie-pie has moved my stuff... mumbles some lame apology, & rather than stir it up, I move to a better vantage point... 9:50, they start the train... NICE phonky start on the opener, plenty of silky Rhodes & pop bass... all th' players are right on th' rhythm... their claim to "sounds like" AWB ain't too far off th' mark, but they DO have their own original sound, 'specially with that Rhodes... just think Ohio Players with Joe Zawinul (i.e., Marc Hager) & bass that tends to remind me a bit of Weather Report... especially once those reeds start blending in... these guys have some very smooth moves & Oly couldn't ask for much more in the way of improvised funk/jazz.... Matt Rankin's sax & his (Oly local) partner Brad Schrandt work very nicely together with drummer Donovan Pfeifer to keep the ride goin' ON!
Rankin leads in on the second tune with a nice little riff that is greatly enhanced by the bass & Rhodes support... just th' kind of music "beer crowds" will dig on... plenty o' bump & funk, to be sure! It was actually the 3rd track of the set that I dug the most with a subtle but driving line that melds quite nicely into a groove that even the real cokers could groove to. I'm quite impressed with the scene "HNBC" helps to create in this little club, & encouraged to see that this kind of music is happening in our little City. You can bet I'll be back for more, especially if the rest of the bands they're hiring on understand how to ride the groove as well as "How Now Brown Cow" does! Lotsa' fun!
Till next time...,
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