Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Summer Soul Collecting - SEPTEMBER MOURNING Gig Review! Seattle, WA 8/3/17

September Mourning


Studio Seven

Seattle, WA




Thursday night Studio Seven welcomed back the Soul Collectors known as September Mourning.  If you’ve been reading Eclectic Arts, you already know that we have been a firm supporter of the September Mourning horde. 


Seattle was under a hot spell as of late (in the 90’s) with poor air quality due to smoke from Canadian fires blowing down to the Emerald City.  We were rated worse than Beijing and LA on Thursday for air quality.  Studio Seven was surprisingly not as hot as I thought it would be.  Granted, it was far from comfortable, but it could have been a lot worse.


Now, if you’re wearing costumes on stage, makeup, and you’re performing, I’m sure it was a different story.


September and three of her Reapers (Shadou has been absent the last three shows I’ve been to) presented a new aspect to their stage show – comic story telling through video.  This aspect really helped create and sell the trans media concept that is September Mourning.  I enjoyed the interplay of dialogue and animation with the bands songs.  This addition is a big step in the right direction for the band if you ask me.


I would love to see this presentation in a theater like the Moore or the Paramount. 


For those that haven’t seen the band before, they always bring a show of fog, lights, costumes, props, and other stage items to bring their concept of September Mourning to life. 


Musically, the band has backing tracks that help fill in some of the recorded elements you hear on Volume II (which just had its one year anniversary) or that you hear/see in their music videos.


Two friends made it down to the show who knew next to nothing about the band.  They both walked away fans.  This is what it takes for these road dog kind of bands – fans bringing new people to the shows to create new fans of the band.


They’re finishing up this leg of the Summer Tour before a quick break.  Then, they head out on one of the best bills of the end of summer/fall – the Xandria, Kobra and The Lotus, and September Mourning tour.  All three bands are quality and all three bands play different types of metal.  I wish this tour was coming to Seattle but they already made their stop here on the first leg of the Xandria/Kobra tour.


After that, I would think a longer break is in order so September Mourning can get some new material written and recorded.  I would expect that we’ll see the band again sometime in 2018 – hopefully with a new album to promote and tour behind. 



Mark Sugiyama

Eclectic Arts


Special Thanks:   Rich for the credentials.  No worries about the interview last night.  Hopefully, it won’t be so damn hot next time in Seattle so we can get an interview done.


Monday, August 7, 2017

Digging For Clams - RAZOR CLAM Gig Review! 7/27/17

Razor Clam


at LoFi

Seattle, WA




Bittersweet.  For friends of Aya’s – who is leaving for an opportunity in the UK, the Razor Clam gig last Thursday was bittersweet.  Happy for their friend and what lays ahead.  Bummed to see their friend leaving the Seattle area.


Bittersweet also sums up my view of the band Razor Clam.  Their third show also doubled as a going away party for Aya (who I only met at the show for the first time). 


Every now and then I’ll hear a band with potential, that raw “something that you can’t put your finger on but know you’re right” kind of potential.


The four piece band took the stage at LoFi and proceeded to play a to the point set of music that was a mix of very melodic rock/punk/pop hybrid mixed in with a few other influences.  There were times when the band was loose which is to be expected for a newer band.  But, at the same time, they had a really good vibe going on. 


More important than anything else is that they had good songs.  Rough in some spots but, man, the potential is there!


So, I’m sad to see this band end/go on indefinite hiatus/etc.  I understand they may have recorded some tunes before Aya’s departure which would be amazing to hear.


Let’s hope the band manages to stay together, or at the very least, reform sometime in the future as this band could go far. 





Mark Sugiyama

Eclectic Arts


Special Thanks:   Aya for the credentials.





Wednesday, August 2, 2017

KATIE KUFFEL at the High Dive - Gig Review! 7/25/17

Katie Kuffel


High Dive

July 25, 2017

Seattle, WA




There are many clubs, rooms per se, that I have known about here in the greater Seattle area but I have not actually been to for a show.  The High Dive is one such room.  On a warm Tuesday evening, I went to see a local artist that I had only seen once before (and that was recently, too).


I enjoyed Katie Kuffel's set the first time I saw her perform.  I had known about her for a while but never saw a gig.  The mixture of her voice - which I believe is key - along with the variance in music sold me at that first show. 


The show at the High Dive was a headlining show.  Two indie touring artists opened up the evening (with one member of Mighty Brother having a birthday as well).  I have a pet peeve but I'll save that for the end of this review.


Katie's trio really works for me.  I like hearing the drums and bass filling out the sound to Katie's songs (keyboards and vocals).  Theirs is a vibe or chemistry that works on stage with the three of them.  Like many local musicians, Katie has performed in different lineups at her shows.  I hope she keeps this trio going - there's a lot of potential there.


Her song selection for her set was varied - I recognized a few songs from the first gig I saw while there were definitely a few others aired that were new to me.  The bonus tune with Jonah on sax was a fantastic way to end the evening.


Katie is a talent - there is no question about that in my mind.  But, with all singer songwriters, the rooms they play make a big difference.  Or, rather, that audiences they play to. 


Nothing irks me more than hearing the white noise of chitter chatter from folks in a bar not giving a shit about who's performing on stage.  The High Dive is at least laid out in a way that the drinkers can hang in the back part of the bar and talk the night away while the listeners can be up front by the stage. 


Unfortunately, this is part of the deal when artists perform, especially at bars.  People are there to drink, mingle, talk, etc.  I know this from playing my own gigs.  Friends and family sometimes are going to talk through your set - and yes - it irks me then when it happens to me, too. 


So what's my point?  In a perfect world, people would go to listen to the artist on stage.  I know this world isn't perfect - far from it these days.  I would just hope that if you're friends with the artist, keep your chit chat to a minimum OR stand away from the stage area so those that want to take in the artist’s music can do so without distraction. 


Now that I'm off my soapbox, go check out one of Katie's gigs - she has several coming up before the summer winds down.  I hope to myself.  And if you see me at a gig, say hello between artists sets.  Is that a deal?  Cool - and thanks!




Mark Sugiyama

Eclectic Arts


Special Thanks:  Katie for guest-ing me!


Thursday, July 27, 2017

JOSHUA, RACHAEL, and BRANDON - Coffee In Seattle - Gig Report! 7/22/17

Joshua Radin


Rachael Yamagata


Brandon Jenner


at The Neptune

Seattle, WA



The middle of July in Seattle is an amazing time of year.  There are always so many options of seasonal things to do, especially on a weekend, that it’s sometimes hard to make a decision.


Not so for me on Saturday night.  I knew right where I wanted to be.  The Coffeehouse Tour by SiriusXM featuring Joshua Radin, Rachael Yamagata, and Brandon Jenner was the ticket.


While it was a pleasant day (either side of 80 depending on where you lived around the city), the inside of the venue was warm, dare I say hot.  The Neptune is an old fashioned building that was renovated a good six years ago from a theater to a performance venue.  It still retains the charm of yesteryear, which includes an apparent weak AC system, but Saturday night it was stuffy to say the least.


The near capacity crowd could have cared less.  With three of the best singer songwriters working today, the evening was going to be full of great stories told through music.


Brandon Jenner got things started with a 30 minute set.  Performing solo – just voice, guitar, loops, and a laptop, Brandon set the tone for the night.  Beautiful songs with an endearing energy, Brandon was right at home in front of the Seattle audience.  Perhaps the visit of his wife and 2 year old daughter had something to do with it (it was his daughter’s birthday that night) but one could sense that Brandon was very content and it came through in his performance.


After a very brief changeover, Rachael Yamagata took the stage.  With one bandmate to accompany her on many instruments, Rachael took to the stage with an acoustic guitar, which she switched between with a piano during the course of her 45 minute set. 


So engaging with her talks between songs, Rachael came across as the consummate professional.  I loved hearing, “You Won’t Let Me” during her set.  The richness of her voice along with the craftsmanship in songwriting really showed throughout her set. 


It seemed as if Rachael was just getting warmed up when her set was over.  Another brief changeover and Joshua came out to much applause.


Standing on stage with an acoustic guitar, he talked about wanting to play some old songs based on how he was feeling that day.  Of course someone blurted out one of his most known songs, “Paper Weight”, and Joshua obliged a few songs into the set.


Engaging like Rachael with his in-between song banter, again, you could tell Joshua has been doing this for a long while.  Beautifully written songs that were performed straight from the heart, Joshua Radin ended the night on a very fulfilling high note of a performance. 


It should be noted that the audience (other than perhaps way back in the bar) were spot on Saturday night – meaning they were quiet and attentive.  You could hear every nuance of all three performers which really added to the music.  Nothing ruins a night of music, especially of this genre, than chit chat in the background.  Kudos to the Seattle audience Saturday night. 


Rachael and Joshua have been friends for many years.  It would make sense that many fans in the audience got a double dose of their favorite artists Saturday night as well, with Brandon being a pleasant third artist to enjoy.


This show did not disappoint.  They are making their way across the country as this review sees print.  Do yourself a favor and go check them out when they come to your town.  You’ll feel like you’re seeing a group of old friends – talented old friends. 




Mark Sugiyama

Eclectic Arts


Special Thanks:   Sarah and Deborah for the credentials.  The Neptune staff for passing out placards so people could fan themselves due to the heat in the building.  Joshua, Rachael, and Brandon for a stellar night of music.




Monday, July 24, 2017

French Fur Trading in the Pacific Northwest - MAGGIE KOERNER Gig Review! Seattle, WA 7/17/17

Maggie Koerner
Katie Kuffel
at The Sunset
Ballard, WA
I love it when a concert meets or exceeds your expectations.  Many times, prior to going to cover a show for EA, I will have formulated in my head what I think the gig will be like.  The bands stage presence, the energy, how much the performance will resonate with me, etc.
Monday night I found myself at The Sunset in Ballard.  Having been there a handful of times (most recently for Guitar Wolf), I knew the front of the room was chill with friendly staff and the back of the room was where the 200 capacity venue held their concerts.
All the way from New Orleans, Louisiana (with a hometown of Shreveport), artist Maggie Koerner was going to take the stage with her soulful, powerhouse vocals.  I had been listening to Maggie’s work leading up to the gig and I envisioned being floored by her vocals in an actual live setting.  I was right.
First up for the evening was local band Timberfoot.  A late addition to the bill, the four piece played a 30 minute or so set of great tunes – inspired by Modest Mouse and Radiohead, with an indie and Americana flair.  I was pleasantly surprised by their set.  All four musicians could play, they were in the pocket most of their set, and the songs were really done well!  They could use a smidge of a visual identity on stage but that’s nitpicking.  I would definitely check them out again, especially when they’ve had more show notice and/or a longer set.
After a brief changeover, local songstress Katie Kuffel, took the stage.  I’ve known about Katie for quite some time but things never worked out for me to check her out live.  Finally that changed Monday night.
Backed with a very competent rhythm section (who had only been playing with Katie for a matter of months), Katie played an eclectic set of tunes in her set.  Soulful one song, singer-songwriter-ish (if that makes any sense) the next, with very melodic sensibilities, Katie played her set with artistry and soul.  I liked how the lyrics told a story but the music wasn’t so, for lack of a better term, basic.  The songs were put together well and that just enhanced the lyrical and vocal approach.  As she stood at her keyboard and sang, the audience was drawn into her music.  Katie is another artist I would like to see again.
What can you say about Maggie Koerner?  She had played with Galactic (at the Showbox) a few years back.  She has been out on her own since then, collaborating with other artists here and there as well.  She is a no nonsense, powerful, vocalist and songwriter. 
I had the opportunity to interview her (see link below) before the show.  She was thoughtful yet no filter at the same time.  She has the southern courtesy we in the other parts of the US have heard about but rarely, if ever, practice.  How often do you fellow Seattle-ites say hello to a stranger walking down the street?
Maggie took the stage in front of an audience that was there to hear her sing.  The room was quiet while she performed.  This is one of the best aspects of The Sunset.  If you want to chat and hang out, you can stay in the front room where the main bar is.  If you want to actually enjoy the performance, you can stay in the back room. 
Backed with a three piece band (guitar, drums, and keys), Maggie transformed into a vocalist of timeless proportions.  As she went through songs from her three releases (the newest being the “Dig Down Deep” EP from 2016), I kept thinking to myself, “this is the same person I just interviewed a few hours ago”? 
Her voice just wraps itself around each lyric, each nuance of the melody, and just takes hold of the listener.  Her performance Monday night had to be one of the rawest vocal performances I’ve ever heard – and I’ve heard a lot over the years. 
For those not familiar with Maggie’s music, she sings a mix of soul, blues, and jazz.  The word channel comes to mind – Maggie was channeling this music through her as she mesmerized the audience at The Sunset.
Maggie sang beautiful renditions of, “He Calls Me Mama”, “French Fur Traders”, and “I Love You, I Do” among many others.  She ended with a haunting rendition of her title song, “Dig Down Deep”, that was just jaw droppingly good.  They say that a performer has to cross the artistic line otherwise the audience won’t cross it with them.  Maggie obliterated that line last night – she took all of us on a ride through her musical world and, man, let me tell you – it’s one heck of a world!
The evening couldn’t have been better.  Two standout artists – it’s always nice seeing local talent with, well, talent and a headliner that just absolutely floored me.  How that voice comes out of that woman is beyond me.
I chatted briefly with Maggie after the set and she was back to her pre-show self – no frills, pleasant, present with the fans, taking photos and such.  I commended her on the performance, was ready to purchase CD’s that Maggie ended up giving me instead as a thank you for the coverage (so nice of her to do), and wished her safe travels down to Portland, the next stop on the tour.
If Maggie Koerner ever comes to your town, on any part of the bill (hopefully headlining), go see her.  Don’t think about it, ponder it, wait on it.  No. 
Go.  See.  Her. 
Special Thanks:  Maggie for being such a genuine talent.  Thank you for doing the interview (in your van no less!), for being so candid during it, and for bringing your tour all the way up to Seattle.  I know it’s hard on the artists who have to slug it out on the road, driving massive distances in vans to play shows.  I think I speak for every fan that was there Monday when I say that we sincerely appreciate it.
Thanks to Katie S. for setting up the interview and for being so responsive. 
Thanks to Dillon and Zak for the communication the day of the show (and for introducing yourselves while I was just sitting in the bar looking like a dork before the interview).
Thanks to Katie K. and Timberfoot – it was nice chatting with both of you.  I’m sure I’ll see you at future shows!
Thanks to the Sunset staff – you’ve been treating me well the past few shows I’ve been there.  If I lived closer, I would definitely hang out there more often.  See you at the next show!


Thursday, July 13, 2017

Searching for Beer and ... ELYSIAN SEARCH PARTY 2017 - Seattle, WA!

Elysian Search Party

Benefitting the Vera Project


Fisher Pavilion at the Seattle Center

Seattle, WA





For those that have been following Eclectic Arts all these years, you already know we have a long relationship with the craft brewing industry, particularly here in Washington.  We have featured in-depth interviews with a few breweries as well as attended many a beer event over the years.


We of course have also been featuring music of all kinds since our inception.  Covering an event that features both beer, music, and good vibes (profits were going to The Vera Project) was a no brainer.


On Saturday July 1st, we headed down to the Seattle Center.  A VIP session was set up for media to partake in the event one hour before the doors opened to the public.  With 4 VIP only beers to be had (I tried three of them), and time to walk around the grounds of the event unobstructed, it was a great way to see what lay ahead for the next 8 or 9 hours.


The barrel-aged “Loser” from Elysian was interesting – very barrel forward for sure with that VIP beer.  During the course of the day I had samples of mostly Elysian beers with a few of the other local beers they had available (Counterbalance, Flying Lion, to name a few). 


We could not have asked for a better day.  Sun and mid to upper 70’s, the stage was set for a great afternoon/evening in Seattle!  Onto the music:


The first band of the day was Thunderpussy.  Having built up a following through their live performances, the band has a rabid local fan base that is growing every day.  Having just returned from a UK tour, with a stop in New York, the local days may be numbered as the band is gaining popularity worldwide. 


The band hit the stage for a 45 minute set of bluesy rock guitar licks, thunderous bass lines, innovative jazz-rock drumming, and command the stage vocals, Thunderpussy delivered the goods like they always do.  A combination of fun, 70’s-ish rock, tongue-in-cheek humor, and devil may care attitude, Thunderpussy are on their way up.  Everyone in Seattle knows it.  Soon the whole world will.  They are mixing their debut record which should see the light of day soon.  If you haven’t seen them, go the next time they play your town.  Year of the ‘Pussy, indeed!


The Texas duo Black Pistol Fire took the stage next.  Drums and guitar/vocals along with a laptop near the drummer, the duo raged on the stage sounding much bigger than two guys and a computer.  Blues influenced rock, with a ton of energy – they did not disappoint and built upon what Thunderpussy started.  A short lived round of crowd surfing occurred but didn’t last for very long – perhaps next time the audience will understand how to surf someone “properly”.


Next up were The Struts who were arguably the most known band on the bill.  The London band had many fans waiting at the rail before their set.  Once they hit the stage, it was pure musical bliss for many in attendance.  Singing along to the lyrics, smiles abounded as The Struts played their brand of rock ‘n roll for the Search Party goers.  The band played with high energy and conviction all throughout their hour long set.  It was easy to see why The Struts had such a following. 


The last band to perform was also a welcome home to the local but internationally known The Sonics.  The garage band that started it all in the 60’s, they have retired a few members from all the recent touring, but they partied with the best of ‘em on Saturday night.  A pit broke out during part of their set which gives you an idea of how pumped up people were (they were also full of beer). 


I grabbed another Thunderpussy shirt at the merch table – it was a Large so I ended up gifting it to my mom.  The story is that in December I bought two other shirts from the band – both Large – because they were out of XL’s after the show.  I figured I could drop a few pounds in the New Year and fit into those shirts without looking like a sausage.  Nope.  So, they’ve been in storage, new as day, as more mementos than anything. 


I didn’t want to hang onto a shirt again for the majority of the day on Saturday so I figured I’d wait again.  Had I learned my lesson the first time, I would have bought a shirt immediately.  Nope.  Apparently I didn’t learn anything.  The XL’s of the new design were gone by the time I got to the table.  I’ll remedy this at the next Thunderpussy gig I attend.  I also should mention I got a cool little button for $1.


I met some fun photographers – one I knew of from her work and two I knew from their media outlets.  Non crowded photo pits are always a nice change of pace.


The proceeds from the event were going to the Vera Project – which is a volunteer run program that assists young people with gaining skills in the music and art world.  They put on concerts at the Seattle Center where they are based.  As one member of my party noted, it would have been good to have a MC mention the Vera Project in between the sets, to raise more awareness.  If you didn’t go inside Fisher Pavilion, you wouldn’t have seen their tables nor would you have necessarily known what the Vera Project was.


The attendance was moderate – great if you were there as a consumer – room to walk, play games, eat, drink, and/or check out the bands.  There weren’t any long lines at the beer stations, they had plenty of beer stations scattered throughout the grounds, and the throwback aerialists were fun to watch (especially pouring station specific beers) as well as the other little “Easter eggs” like the gold coin to get the Wheat Wine.  The Seattle Center was busy that day too as Queen were playing at Key Arena and The Seattle Reign also had a match that night. 


This review is all over the place but let me say this – the beer was flowing, the bands were strong (not one weak link in the lineup), and the event was as smooth as could be.  I hope Elysian considers hosting this event every year!






Special thanks:  Sean and his crew for the amazing hospitality.  They were consummate fun professionals and I hope I am involved with future events with them.


Elysian for putting on a well done event. 


The members of Thunderpussy for being so down to earth and accessible. 


Ruby from Thunderpussy for being amazing – thanks for being so nice to my family, too. 


Thanks to my fellow photographers for the conversations. 


I hope to see everyone at a similar event next year.  I hope a lot of money was raised for The Vera Project!