Monday, August 19, 2019

TUXEDO Event Review! Seattle, WA 8/17/19


Showbox at The Market
Seattle, WA


As most Eclectic Arts readers know, I am a very open minded person when it comes to music and most things in life. Having said that, I never was big on the drink and dance scene even in my younger years. I dabbled with hip-hop beats back when I was an audio engineer but that was many moons ago. But, I do have a healthy respect for any one that steps on a stage as a DJ, MC, rapper, etc. It takes talent to do any of those things well. 

Before I was invited, I had never heard of Tuxedo. Before you start booing me, there are a ton of artists out there that I (and you) have never heard of. I'm in the music world and I know I've only scratched the surface when it comes to all the great talent out there. 

I took a listen to two tracks and thought, yeah; this would be a fun one to check out. I double-checked my schedule and everything lined up - Tuxedo here I come on a Saturday night!

Mayer Hawthorne and Jake One comprise Tuxedo. Noted multi instrumentalists, vocalists, producers, DJ's, etc., they are out on the road supporting their new album, "Tuxedo III". 

The band (five in total) hit the stage around 10:15pm at the Showbox in Seattle and the party started! I've never seen so much dancing at a show - ever. There were like maybe five people that weren't at least bobbing their head to the music if not full on popping to the music. And it was easy to see why - Tuxedo brought the funk and the good times all night long.

From the opener of, "The Tuxedo Way" off the new album, Tuxedo danced, sang, and played their hearts out and the audience ate every note up.

If you weren't having a good time at the Tuxedo show, there really is no hope for you. I don't care if you're a die-hard black metal fan, a country shit kicker, a snobby jazz purist, or a classical devotee, your head would have been bopping and your feet tapping (at the very least) once Tuxedo took the stage.

I left the show feeling great - thanks to the music and performance of Tuxedo. I'll toast to that!

Mark Sugiyama
Eclectic Arts
EA on YT

Special Thanks: Bari for the invite and credentials - I sincerely appreciate it. Thank you!

Saturday, August 17, 2019

LIGHTS - Skin & Earth Acoustic Tour Seattle, WA 8/15/19 Showbox At The Market


Skin & Earth Acoustic

Showbox at The Market
Seattle, WA

(All Photos - Mark Sugiyama for Eclectic Arts (c) 2019)


I was very glad to see Lights was coming back to town in August. I covered her sold out show last year and she was a highly artistic and entertaining performer. Seattle was the second to the last show on the, "Skin & Earth Acoustic" tour. The sold-out crowd at the Showbox at The Market was quietly yet eagerly awaiting her performance.

Backed by her three-piece band along with a trio of strings (violin, viola, and cello), Lights took the stage around 9pm. Throughout the set, Lights played in different configurations - solo, duo, with backing band, and with strings. 


She opened the night with beautiful renditions of, "Skydiving", "New Fears", and, "Cactus In The Valley". In between songs Lights would talk about her tour, her family, her out of tune guitar, her poor chickens back home (only one left), etc. Her connection with her fans is extremely transparent. I think this is one of her best assets. The fans feel like they know her, they can relate to what she writes songs about, and in return Lights hasn't forgotten where she came from, what struggles her fans continue to go through, and how she has helped many fans overcome their issues and concerns through her music and artistry.

The set covered a wide range of material including, "Meteorites", "Savage", "We Were Here", "Lost Girls", "February Air", "Tabs", fan requested, "Muscle Memory", and main set ender, "Giants". Lights voice was in fine form and she accompanied herself on both acoustic and electric guitar. The band added ethereal soundscapes in the acoustic environment, which really made for an intimate evening of music. 


Like the last tour, Lights made good use of the lighting design and stage design (video) to enhance the songs when called for.

Of course there was an encore in the shape of, "Love Me" and "Almost Had Me". The set was around an hour and 45-minutes with really no breaks in-between. A long set of tunes that left all of the fans very satisfied.

Lights continues to amaze and delight her fan base. She brings together so many different interests in her music and tours that you can feel the artist behind the artistry. It's easy to see how she inspires every fan to take chances, to believe in themselves, and to never give up. She's been at this for over a decade now. Her growth as an artist is apparent as is her maturity.

The sold out crowd at the Showbox was treated to quite the special event on Thursday evening. Lights stripped down her music to show she is, and always has been, a force to be reckoned with.

Mark Sugiyama
Eclectic Arts
EA on FB
EA on YT

Special Thanks: Ash for the credentials - I sincerely appreciate it!

The show was opened by tiLLie - an independent artist who made the most of her 30-minute time slot. She had similarities to Lights in terms of her heartfelt lyrics and DIY approach. She went over well with the crowd.



Monday, August 12, 2019

Verdi RIGOLETTO Opening Night Review! McCaw Hall Seattle, WA 8/10/19



McCaw Hall
Seattle, WA

Madison Leonard (Gilda) and Lester Lynch (Rigoletto). Sunny Martini photo.


The 2019-2020 season of the Seattle Opera is upon us. Opening this year with Verdi's, "Rigoletto", Saturday night was a buzz with excitement as any opening season is for the Seattle Opera but, also, because of the new take on this opera classic.

Stage director Lindi Hume transformed Verdi's tale of power and revenge in 2012 to update the themes to fit a modern audience. The die-hard opera fanatic may take exception to this or any opera that is updated but for those who are new like myself, the updating worked on many levels.

Lester Lynch returns to Seattle Opera as the title character in Rigoletto. Philip Newton photo.

The Duke of Mantua (played by Liparit Avestisyant) is still ever the womanizer, with his jester Rigoletto (played by Lester Lynch) assisting the Duke in his conquests. Gilda (played by Madison Leonard), Rigoletto's daughter, becomes the target of the Duke's affections which sets the wheels in motion as Rigoletto tries to keep his naïve and sheltered daughter out of the grips of the Duke.

The plot to kill the Duke was expertly played out and without completely ruining it, as in most operas, things end tragically. 

  Liparit Avetisyan sings the Duke of Mantua on Aug. 10, 17, 23, 25, & 28. Sunny Martini photo.

The cast on opening night was absolutely stellar across the board. The subtle nuances each performer put into their performance was mesmerizing. The more opera I review, the more in tune I'm becoming with the details. I still have much to learn but I'm slowly getting there.

The staging was practical and somewhat simplistic - which worked for this opera. The focus fell on the performers more so than the environment. The big chorus pieces were strong and lively from chorusmaster John Keene.

Madison Leonard sings Gilda on Aug. 10, 17, 23, 25, & 28. Sunny Martini photo

The modernization of this opera should entice both young and new opera attendees. There is always the quest to maintain the roots of any arts (opera, ballet, theatre) while attracting new generations - otherwise the art form dies with no audience. Seattle Opera's, "Rigoletto" is the perfect opera for those that have never attended one before. It is executed to the highest degree of art and also features one of the best-known arias in the second half that most people would recognize the melody, if not the actual piece of music as well.

Under the fourth General Director of the Seattle Opera, Christina Scheppelmann, the future looks as defining as all the previous seasons of opera here in Seattle.

Ante Jerkunica (Sparafucile) and Emily Fons (Maddalena).  Philip Newton photo.

If you have ever once thought about attending a performance at the Seattle Opera, now is the time to do so. Take the leap and attend a performance of, "Rigoletto". It is the perfect opera to start your opera journey on.

See you at the opera!
Mark Sugiyama
Eclectic Arts
EA on YT

Special Thanks: Gabrielle for the credentials - thank you so very much for the opportunity! I sincerely appreciate it!

Rigoletto continues through August 28th, 2019. Buy tickets here: TICKETS!

Lester Lynch (Rigoletto) and Liparit Avetisyan (The Duke of Mantua) with the Seattle Opera Chorus.  Philip Newton photo.

Friday, August 9, 2019

Transcendance In Seattle - BERLIN Event Review! Zoo Tunes Seattle, WA 8/7/19


Zoo Tunes

Woodland Park Zoo
Seattle, WA

(All Photos:  Mark Sugiyama - Eclectic Arts (c) 2019)


There's nothing like a sold out concert. I always look forward to any show that I cover but especially sold out shows. The energy is always up a notch or three and the artists respond in kind to the energy they're receiving from the crowd.

Berlin performed for a sold out Zoo Tunes crowd on a near perfect day by Seattle standards. Mostly sunny with highs in the low 80's, the lawn at the venue was ready to be filled with fans of all ages.

Once the doors opened at 4pm, in they came with their chairs and coolers, looking to claim a prime spot on the lawn to hang out and watch the show.

Celebrating their 40th Anniversary, Berlin came on at 5pm to a very eager audience. Terri Nunn (vocals), along with original members David Diamond (keyboards/guitar on tour) and John Crawford (bass), as well as Chris Olivas (drums/percussion) and Dave Schulz (keyboards) hit the stage with, "No More Words" and the audience was up on their feet. The band quickly moved into, "The Metro" - the first song of Berlin's I ever heard.

A few words in-between songs and, "Masquerade" was up next followed by, "Animal".

Terri asked the crowd to sing the next song with her - which she started off by herself. The crowd sang the title line and then the band kicked into, "Take My Breath Away". At this point instead of walking out among the fans to sing the crowd-pleasing hit, Terri got on securities shoulders instead and went out into the crowd. Those that weren't already standing stood up, phones came out, and people watched Terri remove the barrier between artist and fan to great effect. She sang the entire song out in the crowd going as far back as the soundboard and finishing right near the stage rail. The audience loved it!

The short but sweet set ended with the one two punch of new song, "Transcendance" and "Sex (I'm a …). Terri thanked the crowd as the band came together to say goodnight from the stage.

Judging by the crowd reaction, I wasn't the only one that wanted to hear more songs. 30 minutes just isn't enough for a band of Berlin's caliber. But, what we did get, everyone was happy with.

The band sounded in fine form and they were even more of a delight to interview. Look for that on my EA YouTube channel soon. They're out on the road in the U.S. right now and will be heading to Europe next.

Their fantastic new album, "Transcendance" dropped last week. Go buy a copy and let Berlin 2019 remind you why you loved the band in the first place.

Mark Sugiyama
Eclectic Arts
EA on FB
EA on YT

Special Thanks: Andy and Kim for the credentials and Richard for the day of details at the venue - thank you so much for the opportunity. I greatly appreciate it!

Video Interview!