Friday, February 16, 2018

THE WIND AND THE WAVE Don't Let Seattle Down! Gig Review! 2/13/18

The Wind + The Wave

Haley Johnsen

Rachel Price

The Crocodile

Seattle, WA



It was nearly a year ago when I discovered The Wind + The Wave. I was fortunate enough to cover their headlining show last year at The Tractor in April. Patty Lynn and Dwight Baker (alongside their band of Scott and Nick) made a distinct impression on me as songwriters and performers. I knew that if they ever came back to the Seattle area I would want to cover them again.

Sometimes dreams cannot be denied as the band returned to Seattle, this time at The Crocodile, on Tuesday night. I was really looking forward to seeing them again - round two.

Last year - I was introduced to the music of Allison Pierce and Haley Johnsen. I knew next to nothing about either artist going into the show but - wow - what a bill that turned out to be!

This year Haley Johnsen was on tour again with the band with Rachel Price as the opener. Nebraska born and raised but currently residing in Tennessee, Rachel and her guitarist Ben Flanders took to the stage at 8:30pm for a 30-minute set. Opening with a Michael Jackson cover tune, "The Way You Make Me Feel", Rachel played a solid set of tunes, some of which are on her EP, "Home". Rachel received a warm response from the Seattle crowd.

After a very brief changeover, Haley Johnsen hit the stage. The Portland artist switched between electric and acoustic guitars to accompany herself, just like last year. Her voice was in fine shape. If you haven't heard Haley sing before, do yourself a favor and go check out her tunes. Her voice is simply breathtaking. It was showcased throughout her set but in particularly on, "Feel The Water", the crowd in the Crocodile lessened the chitchat and focused on the talent that was on the stage. Haley's set was also around 30-minutes and re-emphasized what I thought last year - she's going places for sure. Great stuff!

About fifteen minutes after Haley's set, The Wind + The Wave came out to much applause and we were off! On tour supporting their third full-length album, "Human Beings Let You Down", Patty and Dwight played every song off the new album. This is sometimes a risky move, especially considering the album is still very new (and not widely available via digital channels - yet), but every new song I heard last night was either good or great. No kidding. Ten songs in total on the new album, it's a stellar set of tunes.

Of course mixed in were favorites from the second album, "Happiness Is Not A Place" and the debut, "From The Wreckage".

If I compare the performances from last year to this year, I would say that there was a rawness to last year's show that was replaced with a more almost polished presentation of the songs. It could be the venue as well as last year's crowd was rowdier than this years. Or maybe the fans had consumed more alcohol last year. Who knows?

All I know is that last night's event was a showcase of two extremely talented songwriters with a band that is a joy to witness live on stage. Patty and Dwight, along with Scott and Nick, never disappoint. I know there were fans at the show last night that haven't missed them any time they've come to town - as an opening act or as a headliner. After seeing The Wind + The Wave twice now, I certainly know why.

I don't plan on missing them any time they come to Seattle, either. They're that good, that talented, and they never let you down live.

The tour is working its way around the U.S. through the rest of the winter months. Do yourself a favor - when they come to your town, go see them. This is one artist where I can confidently say you absolutely will not - be - disappointed.


Mark Sugiyama

Eclectic Arts

Special Thanks: Morgan for the credentials - I really appreciate it!

(Click On Any Photo For Higher Resolution and Size)

Haley Johnsen

 Rachel Price

SAXON - "Thunderbolt" Review!





I first saw Saxon live in 1983, as special guests of Iron Maiden, here in Seattle, WA. They were touring in support of, "Power & The Glory". To this day that is my favorite Saxon album. I eventually worked my way backward to the earlier catalog and fell in love with, "Wheels Of Steel", "Strong Arm of The Law", and "Denim and Leather".

I saw the band live three additional times in 1984 and 1986. Then they had a long break before returning to Seattle in 2013. They are now coming back in 2018 as special guests on the upcoming Judas Priest tour.

Which brings us to their newest release, "Thunderbolt". Starting off with, "Olympus Rising" - an intro instrumental that sets the stage for the title track. Biff and the boys rage right out of the gate with pure heavy metal thunder.

The next song is a standout to these ears. "The Secret of Flight" reminds me of "747" and "And The Bands Played On" as in it tells a story while providing a melodic but heavy soundtrack. There is no mistaking Paul Quinn's guitar tone as he has a unique sound and style of playing. This should definitely be made into a video/single if it hasn't already.

"Nosferatu" is an interesting departure as it goes into storytelling mode again but with a more symphonic background of instrumentation. There is also a stripped down "raw" version of it at the end of the album. Castles and darkness creep into the musicscape on this tune - it will be a killer when played live!

Most everyone knows the strong connection between Motorhead and Saxon, from their early touring years together. The pairing, while a little odd at the time, proved to be a perfect match as Motorhead's fans embraced Saxon and in many eyes gave them new credibility in their early career. "They Played Rock And Roll" is a tribute to Motorhead, complete with audio snipped of Lemmy during the midsection. A fitting tribute to a massively influential band.

"Predator" is another Saxon barnburner and brings the heaviness to the forefront. It's interesting how Saxon has become a signature band in the heavy metal genre. After taking a departure in the early and mid 90's, they refocused and went back to their roots and have been flying the flag of metal ever since.

The next song, "Sons of Odin" brings us back to "Crusader" era Saxon where history is used as a vehicle for the lyrics.

"Sniper" and "A Wizard's Tale" showcase the band's diversity while still remaining heavy. The last two songs (not including the "raw" version of Nosferatu) are "Speed Merchants" and "Roadies". The former is a bit cliché' in the lyric department but it will get your head banging as does the ladder.

I enjoyed the album front to back. It was great hearing some harmonized lead work from Paul and Doug. I've always been a huge Nigel Glockler fan and he's drumming like a beast. Nibs is holding down the bottom end and will be going wild on stage when the tour hits the U.S.

It's easy to forget that a band like Saxon has been doing this a Hell of a long time. They never got there due here in the States like they deserved. "Thunderbolt" is going to be a fine album to be touring for here in the U.S. I know Saxon are going to make many new fans on their trip across the pond and are going to satiate their hardcore fans like myself. Either way - we all win.


Mark Sugiyama
Eclectic Arts

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Beyond Borders with JESSE COOK! Gig Review from Seattle, WA 2/11/18

Jesse Cook

Neptune Theater

Seattle, WA



Anyone that follows Eclectic Arts knows that I'm a musician. When I go to cover shows I'm always looking at different aspects of the show - including the musicianship. Sunday night at the Neptune Theatre, French born and Canadian residing Jesse Cook showed me just how far you could go as a musician (and then some).

"Beyond Borders" is Jesse's newest release and it perfectly captures the music that was performed on stage last night. Flamenco style guitar with a multitude of World Music influences and instrumentation, Jesse has built his reputation on his impeccable guitar playing as well as his songwriting and composing skills.

Backed by a four-piece band, some of which have been playing alongside Jesse for double-digit years, Jesse came out to loud applause from the Seattle crowd and so began set one.

We were treated to old classics like, "Bombay Slam" and "Incantation" as well as tunes from his newest album.

Chris Church had to pull multiple instrument duty - some of which I can't even pronounce. He must have played at least maybe eight different instruments Sunday night - as well as vocals on a few songs. Amazing!

The multi-ethnic band was just spot on with their performance last night. It was much like watching session musicians rip through a tune with the ease and flair of seasoned musicians. There was absolutely no weak link in this band. I was in awe for the entire show.

There was a 20-minute intermission before set two began. I loved hearing, "Lost" from the new album in a live setting, complete with a beautiful introduction by Nick on guitar. Ditto the single from the album, "Double Dutch", complete with hand clapped looping.

The energy in the crowd definitely reached its apex as Jesse good-naturedly asked if the audience was ready to stand for the rumba party or to sit and listen to some sad, reflective songs. Of course everyone stood up and the party began!

Set two ended with everyone still on their feet - clapping and cheering for Jesse and his band to return.

And return they did to perform two songs - the latter being a crowd favorite cover of, "Fall At Your Feet" - done acoustically from what I could tell (not plugged in). Chris showed off his vocal chops as the lead and sounded stellar.

A fan gave Jesse a bouquet of flowers as he walked off the stage briefly only to return almost immediately.

The night concluded with a third tune that Jesse described as a lullaby. The crowd returned to their seats to hear every note of the song as it closed the evening. Massive applause, a standing ovation, and the band gathered together as they waved goodbye to the audience.

I personally loved the entire performance. The use of multiple instruments, looping, Jesse on percussion, heck I think every member played another instrument at some point in the evening, the positive energy emanating from the stage was infectious.

Jesse Cook and his band were beyond good. They were simply remarkable.

Mark Sugiyama
Eclectic Arts

Special Thanks: Bari for the credentials - I really appreciate it! Thank you!



Tuesday, February 6, 2018

ANTONIO SANCHEZ - Birdman Live in Seattle! 2/3/18

Antonio Sanchez

Birdman Live!

Neptune Theater

Seattle, WA



The second month of 2018 ushered in the one two punch of Lights on Friday and Antonio Sanchez on Saturday.

Antonio was in town to perform the soundtrack to the film, "Birdman", which he won a Grammy for. In essence it was like watching a film with a symphony performing the soundtrack live - but in this case it was Antonio playing the improvised jazz music on his Yamaha kit.

The experience was going to be unique for sure. Antonio is a monster jazz drummer, most associated with Pat Metheny. He had performed a drum clinic earlier in the afternoon at Seattle Drum School (Georgetown location).

Before the event started, Antonio came out and addressed the crowd. He was humorous and informative, giving a lot of insight into how he became involved with the project, how they recorded the music (from the script as there was no movie to see in the early stages of doing demos), and what thought process went into developing the soundtrack for the finished film.

The lights dimmed, with only a lone blue light hovering way overhead, over Antonio and his drum kit. A monitor with a run timer was there so Antonio knew when to play and when to wait. The movie was played on a large screen and we were off.

The first thing I noticed is how I would have liked to have seen what Antonio was playing better. It was too dark. I understand that the score is there to enhance the film but this was his event. Even changing the blue light to a single white light would of worked better. The audience could have seen what he was doing on the kit, still seen the film, and Antonio's monitor would most likely still be dark enough for him to see what scene was playing. Perhaps this was an isolated situation at the Neptune Theater.  Anyway, just my opinion.

If you haven't seen the film then you really need to. I hadn't seen it since it was in the theaters and I had forgotten how engrossing it is via the long shots they did to capture that single camera feel. There were times I forgot Antonio was there because I was so into the movie. There were other times when his playing was so awesome that I wished I was seeing him perform live in a concert setting instead of with a movie. So, it was an interesting dichotomy on Saturday night.

In both cases though, it was engrossing to see how the dynamics of the music intertwined with what was going on on the screen. Again, I knew this would be a unique event experience and it delivered.

As a side note it found it a little ironic that one aspect of "Birdman" is the theater world in New York (and in general). Much of the crowd that the film depicts pretty much summed up the crowd that was present at the Neptune Theater.

Overall, Antonio showed why he is one of the premiere jazz drummers in the world. The event showed how powerful music is to film (and vice versa). It was a wonderful evening of artistry.


Mark Sugiyama

Eclectic Arts

Special Thanks: Austin for the credentials - I really appreciate it!