On the No Depression Pre-Festival Hoot, coming up next week
Next Friday, Aug. 20 – the night before the 2nd Annual No Depression Festival – we’ll head over to the Ballard neighborhood to throw a pre-festival hoot featuring some of our favorite local roots/Americana/indie/whatever artists. (The night before that, I’ll be playing DJ at Watertown Saloon on Capitol Hill, pulling from this year’s ND Festival lineup, the folks scheduled for the pre-festival hoot, and a smattering of other ND-friendly artists; a pre-pre-party, if you will.) All in the interest of giving roots music fans a big, long roots music weekend around Seattle. If you’re coming from out of town, or if you’re a local who doesn’t spend a whole lot of time catching new live music, I thought I’d take a minute to highlight a few of the artists playing the pre-festival hoot (which will take place at Sunset Tavern…full details at the bottom of this post).
The first time I saw Zoe Muth live, she was opening for Corb Lund at the Sunset Tavern. There were maybe seven people in the audience, including the bartenders – not that I’m prone to judging artists on the size of their audience. In fact, I was so taken with Muth’s work that I immediately set to convincing my editor at Sound magazine (may it rest in peace) that Muth was worth a feature story. Later that same year, she self-released her self-titled debut (Zoe Muth & the Lost High Rollers), which quickly became one of my very favorite albums ever released by a local since I moved to Seattle in 2003.
The first time I caught Betsy Olson was very similar to that Zoe Muth show. She was opening for Sera Cahoone, who will be playing the ND Festival this year, and who now plays drums for Olson. I’m generally one of those jaded people who gives openers about five minutes to either rock my world or bore me (sad but true). Olson rocked. Her muscular attack on the rock blues was and is unlike anything I’ve seen anywhere else in town. Sure, I’ve since developed a bias, but the music still speaks for itself. I’m tempted to mention the rarity with which women make music this way, but I think this style of music is just a direction few young musicians of any gender choose these days. Had I to make a comparison, I’d say her stuff fits somewhere in between Caroline Wonderland and the Black Keys, and this video doesn’t do it enough justice. Nonetheless:
I first came to Mark Pickerel via the Screaming Trees (well before I lived in this town), for whom he was the drummer. In his solo work, though – or, rather, with His Praying Hands – he tackles a whole different area of music. His vocals alone are worth focusing on. If a coyote cut a record, it might sound a bit like Pickerel – lonesome and distant and wrought with earnest emotion. Here’s an article from the archives to tell you a little more. Nowadays, Pickerel also owns a record store downtown called Damaged Goods, which seems like a bit of a ballsy venture in this time of people buying less physical albums. But, if anyone can make a record store work, it’s an impassioned artist dedicated to selling music for the right reasons.
I first heard Wilson’s music a few years back when he was opening for Sera Cahoone (apparently one of the more frequent ways I’ve discovered new local artists). He started his set with a Townes Van Zandt cover, which was pretty much the right thing to do to catch my attention, and I quickly became enamored with his sentimental and rocking approach to the narrative folk song tradition. (Full disclosure: we’ve since become friends.) Whether he’s playing solo or with a sizable band that includes horns (like on his latest release), Wilson sticks to what matters most to the song. He now divides his time between Austin and Seattle, and his music sounds about equal parts Texas and Washington. Here’s a video:
Gregory Paul is a recent transplant to Seattle from Rochester, NY, and may be less familiar to local audiences. But, make no mistake, he has an extensive background of making fantastic old timey folk music and alt-country, or whatever you want to call it anymore. Honestly, I’ve yet to see him live, but I’ve enjoyed everything I’ve heard online via his website and youtube, and have heard nothing but good things. He’s definitely toward the top of my list of artists I’m looking forward to perform next weekend.
No Depression DJ Night with Kim Ruehl / Watertown Saloon / Thu. Aug. 19, 2010 / 7pm / no cover
No Depression Pre-Festival Hoot with Mark Pickerel, Jason Dodson (Maldives), Zoe Muth, Betsy Olson, Kevin Large (Widower), Jack Wilson, Lindsay Fuller, Jeff Fielder, Gregory Paul, and more / Sunset Tavern / Fri. Aug. 20, 2010 / 9pm / $8 (tickets)
No Depression Festival with Swell Season, Lucinda Williams, Cave Singers, Alejandro Escovedo, Chuck Prophet, Sera Cahoone, and the Maldives / Marymoor Park / Sat. Aug. 21 / 1pm / $45 adv; $50 dos (tickets)
poster art by Bryan Feddern