Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Easy To Love Tour - MARC BROUSSARD Gig Review! Seattle, WA 10/15/17

Marc Broussard
Carsie Blanton
Peter Aristone

The Crocodile
Seattle, WA


I knew this was going to be a great show back in July.  Why?  Well, for starters, Mr. Broussard's first name is Marc.  Granted he spells it with a C but still - that's always a good sign.  Secondly - the voice, of course.  How can you not like this man's voice?  Every song I heard him sing was just stellar.  So, back in July, when his management team asked me if I was interested in covering this show - I wholeheartedly agreed!

Now, for whatever reason, I was new to the Marc Broussard camp.  How his music slipped past me is anyone's guess but not anymore!  Sunday night at the infamous Crocodile in Seattle was going to be an amazing night of music!  

The sold out show was filled with long time fans, folks that looked like they don't go out to many concerts, a 50/50 split of male and female, and everything in-between.  

The evening started with Peter Aristone from the Czech Republic.  Peter sang a solid 30-minute set, complete with a little in-between song banter.  Having toured with Marc Broussard before, Peter was very comfortable on stage and sounded great (even if he did have a cold).

A one-minute changeover (gotta love those) and Carsie Blanton took the stage.  Another Louisiana based artist, Carsie's quirky personality ruled the night.  Her song introductions were funny and engaging, and she added a different element to the evening's proceedings.  Her 30-minute set was also well received.

After a 10 or 15-minute changeover, Marc Broussard walked out with his three-piece backing band to no fanfare.  No grand entrance, no huge backdrop of the "Easy To Love" album cover, no special intro music, nada.  The audience cheered of course when he walked out on stage but that was about the extent of it.  He strapped on his electric guitar and kicked in with, "Leave The Light On" from the new album, "Easy To Love".  

A lot of movement in the audience for the majority of the night - aka dancing - Marc and his band were in the pocket from the first song.  Complete professionals I was amazed to learn that Josh (lead guitar) was stepping in for their other touring guitarist that had to go home for a personal matter.  You couldn't tell.  His entire band sounded like a band that had played clubs back in the day, 4 sets a night, if you know what I mean.  They got on stage and just got down to business.

"The Wanderer" was next as well as a beautiful rendition of, "Lonely Night In Georgia"; Marc's voice was in fine form the entire night.  There was a lot of joy in the Crocodile that evening - you could feel it from the audience.

Marc went solo for a few songs, including "Gibby's Song" (one of Marc's four children).  A few bars of "Its Your Thing" before the obligatory hit, "Home" were aired to much enthusiasm from the crowd.  

The band exited the stage only to return for one encore song - "Cry To Me".  Marc and the band waved to the audience as they walked through the black curtain to the back of the house.  The lights came on and the 90-minute set was over.  

There isn't one thing I found fault with at this show, from the artists at least.  It was a nice package of talent and of course Marc Broussard showed why he has such a loyal following.  Live is where it's at for this man.  Trust me - you won't be disappointed if you check him out in any town he plays in, any time he plays.  An artist's artist.  I personally had a magnificent time.

With all the craziness over the past few weeks (natural disasters, Las Vegas, Tom Petty, etc.), Sunday night at the Crocodile allowed me, and the rest of the fans, a chance to escape the harsh reality we all live in right now and just enjoy a beautiful night of music.  

Thank you Marc Broussard!

Mark Sugiyama
Eclectic Arts

Special Thanks:  Debbie for the invite and Don for making it happen!  Thank you for the credentials! I'm ready for the next one!

Friday, October 6, 2017

Elysian Presents the 13th Annual GREAT PUMPKIN BEER FEST! 9/29/17 Event Review!

The 13th Annual
Great Pumpkin Beer Festival

Fisher Pavilion
Seattle, WA

"Tap that gourd!  Tap that gourd!"

It's not every day you hear that phrase chanted by hundreds of people but that's exactly what happened on Friday the 29th, the first day of the two-day event - The Great Pumpkin Beer Festival.

Held this year at the Fisher Pavilion at the Seattle Center, this was the thirteenth edition of the festival, having its roots back at the Elysian breweries back in the day.  

Eclectic Arts has never been a political entity and I'm not about to start here.  I'm going to review the festival for what I experienced on Friday.  I'm not going to get into the local craft beer VS big beer argument that has permeated Elysian ever since their buy out a few years back.  

I will ask the readers to ask themselves - what do you want when you go to a beer festival?

If your main priority is the beer and everything else is secondary, I understand that.  If your main priority is to have a great time with beer, food, music, etc, I understand that as well.  

As Eclectic Arts has been covering a ton of concerts this year, sometimes I want nothing but craft beer when I'm at a show - and some times only local craft beer at that.  Other times, I've been known to drink a mass produced product like Rainier or PBR at a show.  It all depends on my mood (and honestly sometimes my wallet).

Having said that, let's get on with the review, shall we?

I was very fortunate to be able to take part in the media/VIP hour that was closed to the public.  For one hour before the doors opened, I was allowed to wander the entire grounds as well as try the first ten booths of beer (each had on average 4 beers per booth).  Upon picking up my credentials, I was immediately greeted by a worker that asked if I would like to speak to any of the brewers or had any questions.  The customer service was on point.  I was actually approached twice during the media hour about this.  I knew that I wanted to get as many photos as possible before the weather turned (thankfully it never did - it had rained earlier in the day but the sun was out in time for the festival) so I was good to wander on my own but I appreciated the assistance and welcome.

If you've never been to the festival, the theme is obviously pumpkin or gourd based beers.  There were also ciders this year and apparently fresh hop beers (something I completely missed somehow) too.  Elysian covers two beers per station on average with the other beers coming from local and national breweries.  With a total of 32 booths scattered outside, inside, and on the rooftop, there is plenty of beer to go around which really kept the lines almost non-existent the entire time I was at the festival.

As I wandered around and took in the sights, I grabbed my first beer from Schlafly out of Missouri.  I've been drinking their pumpkin ale since 2009 (don't ask me how since it isn't distributed here) and was super stoked at a previous GPBF (Great Pumpkin Beer Festival from here on out) when Elysian managed to get a keg.  I must of used four tickets at that booth alone that year - hah!

The grounds were well marked with signage, an ice sculpture, pumpkin carving stations, food trucks, hydration stations, a massive DJ scaffolding set up disguised as a jack o lantern, and numerous other festive things.

Inside there were more beer stations, an oddities area where they were giving away free Elysian swag, an exclusive media/VIP area (complete with white couches, snacks, and more beer with full pours), and a great set up for Fred Hutch (the cancer research facility that was the recipient of the proceeds from the event).

The rooftop of the Pavilion had more beer stations, a performance area, and tables.  

There was clearly a lot of money spent on the entire set up but that's one of the changes with the buyout.  The money is there to make these kinds of big time changes to the festival.  Whether you liked them or not depends on the customer.  I found everything professional and festive myself.

I had several beers during my time at the festival - Elysian and non.  The Gourdfather 2015 vintage was past its prime.  A pumpkin based barleywine, a style that can be aged; I was looking forward to trying it.  The 2016 ended up being a better choice.

Elliot Bays Kill Bill #9 is a mix of barrel aged beer and pumpkin ale, experimental basically.  Unfortunately, it tasted like it, too as the flavors did not blend well in that beer.

Post Doc's Kitty MacPumpkin was a winner with a great mix of scotch ale flavor and pumpkin additions.

The Gourdastic Voyage (gotta love these names) from Georgetown was a pleasant sour beer from the folks that bring us Manny's.

Breckenridge out of Colorado surprised me with a lovely Nitro version of their Pumpkin Spice Latte.  Nitro beers are their own controversy but I enjoyed this beer very much, nitro haters be damned.

Elysian's Dark O the Moon and Great Pumpkin are perennial favorites that are still solid beers for me.  

This list is only a sample of what either I had on my own or tastes I had from the folks in my party that also attended.  

Music was being blared out of the speakers via the DJ station.  The processional at 4pm or so made the event officially open.  All hail the Great Pumpkin!

If you haven't been to this event, the highlight is the tapping of the Great Pumpkin - a huge gourd (one per session) that is filled with beer a few days prior.  The whole "tap that gourd" statement references the minutes leading up to the Great Pumpkin unleashing its sudsy goodness on the attendees.  The tapping was advertised to take place at 7:30pm but it was a little later than that when it actually happened.

In years past, the crowd would get in real tight around the Great Pumpkin as everyone wants a sample of the beer before it runs out.  The last time I attended the festival there was more than enough to go around.

This year was no exception.  People got on or near the stand, and I'm not talking about the Elysian employees.  Attendees wanted a close up view of the gourd being tapped.  I ended up having to get on the stand as well just so I could get a photo or two (see below).  The plus of this is that I got beer almost immediately.  The minus is that I didn't get as many photos as I wanted as beer was spilling out of the plastic pitchers everywhere (I had to protect my gear).

After I got my sample, I turned around to see a mob of glasses in my face as I tried to excuse myself out of the sea of people.  Beer folks for the most part have always been good people and this was no exception - folks moved to let me out so I was on the floor in no time enjoying my sample.  This was the highlight of the event for me - the Great Pumpkin delivered a fine beer this year!

I can tell you that the very first pumpkin beer I ever had was from, of course, Elysian.  It was at the old Cask Festival in one of the NW Rooms - the split-level room.  This was around 2000 or 2001 (yeah, I've been into the craft scene for a minute).  I had two samples of it at the time as I had no idea at the time there was such a thing.  For me, I'll always remember that experience and remember that Elysian sent me on this path of appreciating the gourdastic brewing style.

Overall, I had a great time at the festival.  I really can't think of one thing to nit pick about.  I went into the event wanting to just enjoy myself.  I wasn't on the hunt for rare beers or to "tick" beers off a list.  I got what I wanted out of the festival and am thankful for the opportunity to cover it.

Next year's GPBF (#14) has already been announced:  10/5/18 and 10/6/18.  I'll see you there!

Eclectic Arts

Special Thanks:  Sean and his crew.  Thank you for always going about your business in the right way.  I sincerely appreciate how effortless you make these events for me.  Cheers!

Phone Pic

Phone Pic

Phone Pic

Monday, September 25, 2017

Introducing: CHANEL SANTINI!

All Photos Copyright:  Michael Spatola @ Lifestyle Boudoir

EA:  Greetings Chanel.  Thank you for taking the time to speak with us today!
CS: Thank you Mark for the opportunity, I really appreciate it.

EA:  Let’s start at the beginning.  What was early life like for you growing up (up through say middle school)?  Where were you born?  Family makeup?  Memories from your youth?
CS: Well, I grew up in Albuquerque, NM in a very Hispanic catholic culture. Albuquerque is a pretty big city but living there it felt like a small town. The religious aspect made life rough for a young person discovering themselves and things weren’t made any easier with family issues going on at home.

EA:  Do you come from a small family?  Large? 
CS: I come from a small family.

EA:  When you entered high school, were things different, the same, somewhere in the middle regarding where your life was at during those years?
CS: It was a little bit different for me because I started to realize who I actually was, but it was in high school that I really knew I was a woman.

EA:  Please correct me if I’m wrong but I believe you identify as transgender.  Is this correct?
CS: I don’t identify as a transgender, that’s not my identity. I identify as a woman, I just happen to be a transgender woman.
EA: Oh I see - my apologies.

EA:  Many people say they knew from early on when they felt they were trans.  Please describe your experience when you knew you were trans.
CS: It wasn’t until I was 15 when I met other girls like me and became friends with them that I learned I was transgender too. Through those relationships I was able to become an activist in the LGBTQ community in New Mexico to help other people like me and more discover who they are and be fine with that.

EA:  What difficulties have you encountered when other people learn that you are  transgender?
CS: The responses have ranged from acceptance to brutal rejection, it just depends on the open mindedness of the individual.

EA:  I saw recently through social media that you had a situation at the social security office (?) where you were not served and then forced to leave.  Can you explain what happened for our readers?
CS: Unfortunately, I can't talk about that as I am having the situation investigated at the moment.

EA:  You have been involved with the adult industry.  How did this come about?
CS: I decided to move to Las Vegas because of the affordability of it and because of it being a large city, it was there that I sort of fell into the adult industry. It wasn’t a goal or mine at all, it just sort of happened.

EA:  So far - how many scenes have you shot? 
CS: A lot and I still have more coming out.

EA:  Are there any particular scenes that stand out to you - for good or bad reasons?
CS: Currently my favorite scene was a bridal scene with Trans Angels and Mind Geek productions. The dress that they gave me to wear was gorgeous and I hope to one day get to wear one for real.

EA:  What are your short term goals?  Long term?
CS: A short term goal would be to build my name and reputation in such way that anyone in the adult industry would want to work with me (film, photo, etc) regardless of me being a transgender woman.

Long Term I would love to step beyond the adult industry and find success in other areas that I have an interest in such as fashion, make-up, and even acting in non-adult films. Of course in wanting to do this all I would like to maintain an equal amount of financial success.

EA:  What do you feel needs to change in society to increase the acceptance of those in the transgender community?
CS: To keep an open mind about people who are going through their transitions and accept them as individuals. They are people who are looking to live their lives just like anyone else.

EA:  Thank you for taking the time to talk with us today.  Is there anything you'd like to plug/promote before we go?
CS: I would just like to thank you for taking the time to interview me. Please make sure to check out my website: for new and exciting content 

Snapchat for a more personal touch:

Twitter: @CCSantini

Keep an eye out for me as I have some exciting new scenes coming up. I'm hoping with all my hard work this year I will get to make a big splash at the upcoming AVN awards and TEA’s. Thanks again!

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

GOATWHORE Bring The Metal To Seattle! 9/14/17

Studio Seven
Seattle, WA

The mighty Goatwhore were announced as special guests on the latest Venom, Inc, tour - who were out supporting their newest release, "Ave Satanas". 

The New Orleans based Goatwhore were a smart addition to the bill as they have a large fan base and it showed on Thursday night at Studio Seven.

The merch area of Studio Seven actually had more Goatwhore merch than Venom, Inc merch.  Judging by the Goatwhore shirts and patches on the fans waiting outside the club, I wasn't the only one there to see Ben and the boys create heavy metal havoc onstage.

Clad in their trademark black, with leather studded arm and leg bands, the band took the stage and the pit immediately erupted into a maelstrom of bodies slamming in every direction.

Someone asked me what kind of metal Goatwhore play and it was actually kind of hard to describe for me.  They are a metal band, with death influences in the vocals at times, and old school Venom and Bathory influences in the guitar playing, but that's only the tip of the iceberg.

They are a punishing unit on stage.  Ben has tremendous stage presence and his interaction with the fans only connected them that much more to the band. 

Their 45-minute set or so could have been an hour based on the reception the Studio Seven crowd gave them. 

Even though most metal heads respect the influence of Venom on nearly every thrash, death, and black metal band that came after them, including Goatwhore, Thursday night, respectfully, actually belonged to the band from Nola.

There is no other greater statement than that.  Goatwhore killed!

Eclectic Arts

BTW:  It should also be noted that Toxic Holocaust played a strong 30 minute set of thrash.  I still have a CDr that I got from Joel back in the day.  It was great to see the band on the same bill as Goatwhore.

The Convalescence had van problems and had to miss the Spokane and Seattle dates.  

Special Thanks:  Liz for the credentials!  Thank you for always going about your business in the right way.  I sincerely appreciate it!

EPICA and LACUNA COIL Ravage Seattle! 9/11/17


Lacuna Coil



Showbox at The Market

Seattle, WA



On the anniversary of 9/11, a package of metal rolled into Seattle that many a fan were eagerly anticipating.  Epica was coming back (having played here in November) with the equally popular Lacuna Coil from Italy, along with the melodic death metal of Insomnium and US symphonic metal horde Elantris.  Booking this at the Showbox was just the icing on the cake.

The doors opened at 7pm and the show was already underway when I finally got inside.  I caught a few songs of Elantris' set, with the last song the singer tried to get a pit going, to varying success. 

Insomnium turned everything up a notch when they stormed the stage.  The quartet ripped through their 30-minute set of melodic death metal.  The pit erupted and the band was very well received.  I was not overly familiar with their music but left a fan for sure.

After a brief changeover, the stage was set for Lacuna Coil.  It was clear that many fans in attendance were there solely for Cristina and the boys.  I saw them ten years ago at El Corazon and was looking forward to seeing how they had grown and evolved in that time.  And evolve they did.

The band has been together for 20 years now - and it shows.  They are a seasoned veteran metal act.  The energy went through the roof when they took the stage.  Playing songs from their vast catalog, the crowd couldn't get enough.  They have a book documenting the bands history in the works - most likely with a headlining tour to follow one would guess.  Their almost hour long set seemed cut short.  I believe in other cities they played at least one other song, sometimes two.  The audience clearly wanted more. 

After the lights came up and the stage was changed over in twenty minutes, it was time for the headliner.

Epica are more than a symphonic metal act.  The fans know this but for the newcomer you really need to listen to their catalog to understand they have many different influences in their music.  The six piece hit the stage and sounded amazing.  A very grandiose soundscape, with Simone's soaring vocals, and the grit of the guitars made for a fantastic audio experience.  Their ninety minute set seemed to fly by.

It's always interesting to see which bands in this genre have pits or walls of death and which ones don't.  Epica definitely get the pit going and many fans look forward to that aspect of seeing the band live.  

This tour was one of those where the fans really got their money's worth.  Quality bands, in a great venue, made for an excellent night of music!



Eclectic Arts

Special Thanks:  Kristin and David for the credentials!