Tuesday, March 27, 2018

KOLARS Return To Seattle! Gig Review - 3/25/18



Sammy Brue

Tractor Tavern
Seattle, WA


I am a sucker any time I am introduced to a new band that proceeds to impress the pants off me live. This happened when Kolars (Rob and Lauren) opened the New Year's Eve show that was headlined by local phenoms Thunderpussy (I was there covering the Pussiez set again). Kolars brand of glam rockabilly goodness was the perfect start for that show. They announced back then that they would be heading back up here to Seattle in March - the 25th to be exact. I knew I wanted to see them headline so the date was set!

My timing getting to Ballard has improved (depending on who you ask) as I was first in line Sunday night. I was second in line the night before. As fans started to fill up the venue, opener Sammy Brue walked on stage and began his set. Backed by a fiddle player, Sammy performed a solid set of tunes that were heartfelt and earnest. Little did any of us know (I sure didn't) that he was still a teenager (this information came out later in the evening) - much respect to Sammy - go for it young man!

After a very brief changeover, Nashville, TN band Escondido took the stage. A duo of Tyler and Jessica, backed with a rhythm section, I can tell you that I knew nothing of the band prior to their set. Sometimes I'll do a little homework on shows before I cover them but I was swamped with other shows earlier in the week and I didn't get a chance to research Escondido. After seeing their performance on Sunday, I can tell you I will be researching everything I can on this band. They were simply amazing!

They reminded me of a mix of indie rock, folk rock, with, dare I say it, a pinch of dream pop in their songwriting. Yeah, it was a really intriguing sound and one that is working for the group for sure. Jessica's vocals mixed with Tyler's harmonies were one of those combinations that just simply - worked. The song writing was on point and there was enough variety in their setlist to showcase their talents. Some of the tunes were riffed rocking while others were more introspective, Escondido made fans out of many in attendance myself definitely included. I hope to see them again in Seattle soon.

After another changeover, the drums were set up and Kolars kicked into their headlining set. Playing tunes from their album, including one of my favorites, "Dizzy", Rob and Lauren got the crowd moving at the Tractor. Their music is infectious and just makes you feel good. If you don't like a Kolars set then there must be something wrong with you. No, really, unless you're a troll on the internet or a hater spewing negativity all the time, there is no good reason for anyone not to like this band. Period.

Playing with a backing track of keys and bass, Rob sings and plays guitar while Lauren drums and taps away on the kick drum. If you haven't seen them, go check out any video online and you'll see what I'm talking about.

Their nearly hour long set went over extremely well with the audience. I think that NY Eve gig really helped draw a crowd on Sunday night. And now that this gig is in the books, the next time they come up here there will be even more fans at the next show.

Everyone had a great time as the bill was stacked Sunday night. No weak links in the bill and, again, it was a wonderful one two punch of Escondido and Kolars.

Kolars have some exciting news but I'm going to let them post about that when the time is right. Let's just say a certain someone is going to be putting out their new single in the future.

What a fantastic night of music - I covered four shows last week and Kolars, with Escondido, was the cherry on top. Go see both bands - now!

Mark Sugiyama
Eclectic Arts

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Special Thanks: Shoshie and Annie for the credentials - thank you very much! Thank you to Rob and Lauren for speaking with me after the show as well as Jessica and Tyler. I am in the process of listening to all of your music right now. Thank you all again for being so generous. I think video interviews are in order the next time your bands come to the Seattle area. I'll be in touch. Safe travels!

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Liberty in Ballard - LINDI ORTEGA Gig Review! 3/24/18

Lindi Ortega

Hugh Masterson

Lydia Ramsey

Tractor Tavern
Seattle, WA


On Saturday night Lindi Ortega performed to a sold-out Tractor Tavern in Ballard, WA. On tour in support of her brand new album, "Liberty", Lindi kicked off her tour in a town she has played several times.

The night started with local artist Lydia Ramsey. Lydia, accompanied by a viola player (sorry I didn't catch your name), performed a string of songs that were folk singer/songwriter based. She has an easygoing style about her on stage presence and her songs and set went over well with the audience, many of whom were already familiar with her music.

Hugh Masterson took the stage and sang a half hour set of songs about his life. He was engaging with his stories in-between songs and he received a warm response from the audience.

After a brief changeover, Lindi Ortega took the stage and played a strong set of songs from her new album as well as tunes from her back catalog. The dark indie country queen performed with two backup musicians as the sold out crowd enjoyed every second of it. Lindi was honest and humorous during her set, which endeared her that much more to the crowd. A few fans I spoke with had seen her several times in the past and many were singing along to her songs as well.

Throwing in a crowd requested Bee Gees cover during the encore made for about a seventeen-song set, which also included a song sung in Spanish.

Lindi has been performing for well over a decade now and it shows. She has a devoted following and her performance Saturday night was excellent!

She's on the road right now - catch her when she comes to your town!

Mark Sugiyama
Eclectic Arts

Special Thanks: Stephanie for the credentials - thank you very much!

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Saturday, March 24, 2018

MICHAEL SCHENKER FEST "Resurrection Tour" Attacks Seattle! 3/22/18

Michael Schenker Fest

Resurrection Tour

Neptune Theatre
Seattle, WA


I arrived at the sold out Neptune Theatre to see a line of fans going down 45th street in the U-District of Seattle, WA. Guitar wizard Michael Schenker was back in town (last time was in 2015) with his Michael Schenker Fest tour - having just released his new album, "Resurrection" in early March.

The album and tour is really a celebration of Michael's expansive career. Any fan knows that he gained international fame with UFO before branching out into his solo career with his work with the Scorpions at the earliest part of their career as well as the "second wave" so to speak with the "Lovedrive" album.

Bringing four lead vocalists on tour - Gary Barden, Graham Bonnet, Robin McCauley, and Doogie White, alongside the old guard 80's rhythm section of Chris Glen and Ted McKenna and Steve Mann on keyboards/guitar, the crowd at the Neptune was in for a three hour show.

Starting off the night by introducing the band - Michael launched into the instrumental favorite, "Into The Arena". I must admit I was high as a kite covering this show. From the moment he came out on stage, witnessing one of my top three guitar influences shredding in front of my camera lens was just spectacular and so surreal. I knew from three years ago that Michael's playing has never been better - quite the feat considering he's now in his early 60's.

Gary Barden came out to sing a good share of his classic MSG era tunes with the band. Graham Bonnet came out next for the "Assault Attack" era songs as well. Of course that meant Robin McCauley was coming out third to sing lead on the McCauley Schenker era songs. And Doogie White came out fourth to sing the more recent Michael Schenker Group songs, including Temple of Rock material.

At any given moment there was one, two, three, or all four vocalists on stage - aside from the instrumentals. What was very evident was that the guys were having a blast playing and singing together. This concept of having multiple singers easily could have gone south due to egos, etc, but there was none of that. The guys worked well together, smiled, joked, and were just having a great time on stage together.

The set ended with a blast of UFO tunes. The main set ending with, "Rock Bottom", while the encore was a four banger of classics to end the marathon night of Michael Schenker goodness.

The highlight for me was hearing, "Captain Nemo" from the "Built To Destroy" album live finally. I remember recording this tune on cassette to bring to my guitar teacher back in the day. Once he figured out the guitar lines, I practiced those parts forever and never got them sounding completely "right". But those memories are what made Michael Schenker the first guitarist I really studied and in awe of as a player. And how did he play the tune on Thursday night? Flawlessly.

What an amazing performance by Michael and all members of the band. There really was no way to top what we all witnessed Thursday night. Any era of Michael's career that you're a fan of, you got to hear something from that era. No one left disappointed. A three-hour performance that was highly satisfying and inspiring.

Thank you Michael for getting the guys together for this festival tour. What an amazing experience!

Mark Sugiyama
Eclectic Arts

Special Thanks: Chip for the credentials - thank you very much for the opportunity!

(click on any photo for a larger image)