Thursday, August 30, 2018

TOBIAS THE OWL - A Safe Harbor for Wayward Echoes REVIEW 8/29/18

Tobias The Owl

"A Safe Harbor for Wayward Echoes"

Album Review


I know it well - at least I think I do - when it comes to recognizing upcoming artistic talent. At times it's like putting puzzle pieces together, other times it's like looking out over seven more oceans seeing the sun rise over the water. It may feel like a century between us but in reality it's just another juniper circus that we sit and admire as we attempt to turn the world on its creative ear.

Tobias The Owl has been on an artistic path full of twists and turns. I remember seeing him play his heart out seven years ago - an unassuming man with a guitar wearing comfortable clothes while on stage, the layers that lay beneath this artist would take volumes to write about. A review of his newest creation would certainly not do the man or the artist justice. Yet, here I go.

Ten songs can be found on this release. Anyone familiar with Tobias The Owl will most likely say his voice is the common thread amongst all of his recordings. It is rich, distinct, and emotive. The intelligence combined with the life experiences yield a truly, and I mean truly, unique expression of musical artistry.

I could talk about the Ben Harper connection on this release. I could mention the pool of songs producer, mixer, and engineer Sheldon Gomberg had to choose from (well over one hundred). I could write about the variety of other musical guests on the album - all believing in the artist known as Tobias The Owl. But I won't - because I already did.

Signed to the thrashtacular label Megaforce with publicity by Sacks and Co, Tobias The Owl is on the verge of something here. I heard it seven years ago - this ability to connect with the listener and invite them to think, to ponder, what was being presented by this artist.

I would never say I knew someone was going to go somewhere. That's ridiculous and trite. But I knew Tobias The Owl presented something unique that the world really needed to hear seven years ago. And here we are in 2018 with, "A Safe Harbor for Wayward Echoes". An album that is going to take this richly deserving artist to even greater heights of critical and artistic acclaim - if Tobias The Owl lets it.

What motivates any artist? Expression. Whether Tobias The Owl wants to go on sabbatical from his world of medicine to tour the world remains to be seen. At some point, artists have to cut the cord and dive in to get to the proverbial next level. All in. It's a scary proposition and an exciting one at the same time.

When it comes to Tobias The Owl - only he knows what he wants from his music. For us, the receiving audience, we want more from this artist. Selfishly we want more. Tobias The Owl is a rare gem in the world of music. A gem that could be the cornerstone of a new movement of music the likes the world has never seen. If he wants it.

It can be so.

Score: 5/5

Mark D. Sugiyama
Eclectic Arts
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Track listing:

All The Way Home
Let Go
Deep River City
Open Sea
Spirals of the Dawn
One Lonesome Star
Our Katie Waits
Holy Man
When Words Have Fallen Through

TOBIAS THE OWL - CD Release Show Review! 8/30/18

Tobias The Owl

Sunset Tavern
Seattle, WA


As a long time supporter of Tobias The Owl, I was looking forward to the album release show for their newest album, "A Safe Harbor for Wayward Echoes" at The Sunset in Ballard.

Backed by a five-member band (violin, viola, guitar, bass, harp, and backing vocals), Tobias The Owl aired songs from the new album, a few from the past, as well as two from the future.

A wide mix of local musicians, friends, and other acquaintances made for a receptive audience during the set. The new songs garnered a new perspective in the live setting while the older songs held their own in the set. The real treat was hearing a new song (#171) during the main set and hearing another new song during the encore (#172). The numbers referring to the 170 songs that the producer had to choose from for the new album - can we say prolific?

As always, Tobias The Owl's voice captured and elevated the music beautifully. The band and the man are playing shows and planning shows nationally and internationally. They have the ammunition in the new album to play solid shows anywhere that would welcome them.

Here's to many venues welcoming them around the world!  Check the link below for tour dates!


Mark Sugiyama
Eclectic Arts
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Wednesday, August 15, 2018

NIGHT CLUB 'Scary World" Review 8/15/18

Night Club
Scary World

The duo known as Night Club have been gaining momentum as they’ve done extensive touring in the U.S. and abroad. Emily and Mark’s brand of synth based music runs the gamut of pop, alternative, electro, rock, and many other sub genres.

On their newest release, “Scary World”, the band have reached new heights in their quest for world domination.

The introductory track, “Beware!” sets the tone. It creeps along with a lullaby’s curse and sets up the listener for the rest of the album. The title track is next and at this point you’re already hooked on the music, whether you realize it or not. Night Club is already messing with your head and heart. Their music conjures up a twisted take on imagery that reminds me of Alice in Wonderland, mixed with The Shining (film). The video for their first single, “Candy Coated Suicide”, is a great example. It’s like a fairytale gone wrong in some other crazy musical dimension.

“Schizophrenic” is a strong dark pop tune to these ears. A candidate as a single and/or video, the melodies and instrumentation are infectious. “Your Addiction’ has been released as a lyric video and is another catchy single worthy tune. It should be noted that catchy in the Night Club world is not a negative description. Emily’s vocals always add this layer of things-aren’t-what-they-seem to the proceedings. An underlying vibe of cynicism and, again, twisted intentions, really wrap the vocals around the catchy melodies.

“Candy Coated Suicide” was released as the first single a few months back. The song encompasses the best aspects of the band and as mentioned earlier, the video takes the music to another world.

The album closes out with, “Survive”. I found this track to be incredibly cinematic – much like the climax in a movie. The song is ambitious and, much like the other tracks on the album, leaves the listener with a slight uneasy feeling. A perfect way to wrap up this stellar album.

Overall “Scary World” is, indeed, scary, but in the best way possible. Night Club are onto something here with this release. It should bring them an even bigger fan base without losing any of their hardcore fans. This release will take them to another level. I can’t wait to hear these songs live.

Night Club’s music seeps into your system slowly but surely and you cannot help but submit to it. Get your fix of “Scary World” when it’s released in a week. You’ll be hooked!

Eclectic Arts

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Tuesday, August 14, 2018

DARYL HALL and JOHN OATES - Seattle, WA 8/11/18

Daryl Hall and John Oates

Key Arena
Seattle, WA

(all photos courtesy Mike Baltierra Photography)


Every now and then I get the opportunity to cover an artist whose work I grew up with, who have so many accolades its seemingly endless, and who are rock n soul royalty. Daryl Hall and John Oates have been making music for decades (both gentlemen are in their 70's now). Timeless classic hits, pop mixed with rock mixed with underbelly soul, they are the most well known duo of their time.

So when Saturday night came around, my partner in crime and I were ready to let loose and have a great time!

After a montage of 45's danced on the screen behind the stage, the band took their places and an intro blared out over the PA introducing - them! John Oates walked out first, guitar in hand, followed by Daryl Hall, also with guitar in hand. The band had already struck up the opening music to one of their many number one hits, "Maneater".

Daryl Hall in sunglasses kicked in the vocals and we were off to the races. John Oates unmistakable background vocals sealed the deal. The backing band of six was in the pocket from the first song in the set.

"Out of Touch" was aired next followed up with "Say It Isn't So". The crowd on the floor was on its feet as was parts of the lower bowl at the arena. A few words to the crew to tweak the monitors on the stage, the band covered, "You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'" with John Oates on lead vocals.

Bringing things down a bit with Daryl Hall moving over to the piano, we got to hear the sweet strains of, "She's Gone" and "Sara Smile". John Oates took over lead vocals on "Is It A Star" which crash boom banged into "I Can't Go For That (No Can Do)" which got the fans back up on their dancing feet.

Pat from Train came back on stage to do a triple threat of tunes. The written for the tour tune, "Philly Forget Me Not", a beautiful version of "Wait for Me", and a cover of the Train tune, "Calling All Angels".

The main set ended with the one - two punch of, "Kiss On My List" and "Private Eyes". The band exited the stage as the audience cheered for more.

The encore started with a rousing rendition of, "Rich Girl" and ended with the ever loveable, "You Make My Dreams".

Daryl Hall and John Oates have really done it all. It was a pleasure watching the rock n soul veterans show everyone in Seattle that they still got it and, really, never lost it. A great night was had by all!

Mark Sugiyama
Eclectic Arts

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Special Thanks: Dillon, Christian, and Clare for making this happen - much, much appreciated!



Monday, August 13, 2018

THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA - Event Review - 8/10/18

The Phantom Of The Opera

Paramount Theatre
Seattle, WA

(show runs through Sunday 8/19) 

(Photo:  Matthew Murphy)


There are certain musicals that everyone is familiar with - if not the show, at least the name. The Phantom Of The Opera conjures up images of the various films, books, songs (both from the musical and otherwise), the mask, etc. Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical version has broken records over the years and is considered a benchmark in the new era of musical theatre.

For this reviewer, the show will always have a soft spot, as it was the first musical I ever witnessed. I have now seen the production four different times, amateur status compared to old guard theatre goers, and each time has left me with a different impression.

Friday evening the new production that was rolled out a handful of years ago returned to Seattle to bedazzle and awaken imagination as only The Phantom Of The Opera can.

Directed by Laurence Connor, the new production has its hits and a few near misses. The character of The Phantom is more menacing in his pursuit of young Christine Daae'. The romantic love triangle between The Phantom, Christine, and Raoul, is dialed down a notch as well.

The set design has changed from the original production (that is still running in New York and London) - particularly The Phantom's lair and the set for Act II opener, "Masquerade". But, depending on how much you loved the original, you may accept this new production for what it is. I for one enjoyed aspects of both productions - the stairs down to the lair magically appearing during the title number was perfection. But I miss the candelabras rising from the depths I must admit.

I won't go over the story details - either you already know the story or you can go see a performance this week and see for yourself.

The roles of The Phantom, Christine Daae', and Raoul, are iconic at this stage of the game which means they are the most scrutinized. Playing The Phantom on this current leg of the U.S. tour is Mr. Quentin Oliver Lee. An imposing figure at 6'8", Mr. Lee brings a new freshness to the role. His voice is commanding and makes the patron perk up a bit more every time he appears. He added a few inflections and nuances that broke the character open a bit more than in past incarnations. I felt Mr. Lee was a welcome addition to The Phantom role and certainly held his own against any of the past performers (and that's saying something).

Mr. Lee's Phantom character had moderate chemistry with Christine Daae', played by Ms. Eva Tavares. Eva's soprano is crystal clear and a perfect edition to the pantheon of performers that precedes her in the iconic role. Ms. Tavares portrays Christine with innocence and unfocused talent, which is always needed for the audience to believe her struggle between The Phantom and her suitor Raoul. During Act II, The Phantom and Christine really took the audience to another level, another place, which was wonderful to behold. Bravo to both Mr. Lee and Ms. Tavares for their performances.

The chemistry was lacking a bit between Christine and Raoul for this reviewer. Raoul, played by Mr. Jordan Craig, hit his marks as a professional but the emotional pull where the audience gets caught up in the storyline wasn't as strong as it could have been. I also believe Mr. Craig can deliver the characters signature song, "All I Ask Of You" with more joy and passion. Let it be known how Raoul feels about Christine (sing it from the roof tops so to speak). Make the audience swoon with delight that the characters are now a couple in endless love and The Phantom is heartbroken and angry about this revelation. As a professional performer in a touring production of one of the most well known musicals ever, Mr. Craig certainly has the background to play the role. I just feel there's room for some improvement to go from a good performance to a great one. That's all.

By the end of Act II the finale was hitting it's marks in almost every category. The Phantom disappears into the night, leaving the authorities to wonder where he vanished off to. I still prefer the original ending of the show but the new ending works moderately well, too.

The sound design (complete with multiple speakers for the surround sound aspect) and orchestra members (touring and local) sounded fantastic. The costumes were exactly what you would expect from this show - top notch.

Of course the chandelier is the signature piece from the show. It illuminated, it swayed, it fell, but most of all it captured the audiences attention which means job well done. It looked absolutely amazing.

The ensemble of performers was professional and well rehearsed as they maneuvered in and around the sets that continually fascinated me every time they changed. And they changed constantly throughout the over two hour production.

Overall if you've seen The Phantom Of The Opera before, you will leave the show satisfied. You may nitpick a few things like I did but those things will not distract you enough from the overall production you just witnessed. If you haven't seen the show before, in any incarnation, I believe you will be stunned and delighted by what you see and hear. The Phantom Of The Opera makes for a great first time musical theatre experience. Its longevity on Broadway speaks to its power to mesmerize audiences.

So fellow patrons - venture down to the Paramount Theatre this week and be transported to a world that you've never lived before.

See you at the theatre,
Mark D. Sugiyama
Eclectic Arts

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Special Thanks: Julie for the credentials - as always thank you so much for the opportunity! I appreciate it!

The show runs through Sunday August 19th with great seats still available. 



Behind the scenes and cast interviews video: 

(Photo:  Matthew Murphy)

 (Photo:  Matthew Murphy)

 (Photo:  Matthew Murphy)

 (Photo:  Alastair Muir)

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

ADRIAN GALYSH - Venusian Sunrise - 20th Anniversary Edition Review 8/6/18

Adrian Galysh

"Venusian Sunrise: 20th Anniversary Edition"

Album Review


I rarely review albums due to time constraints between my various activities. I made an exception for this album.

Adrian Galysh is a name I was not familiar with when I started listening to, "Venusian Sunrise: 20th Anniversary Edition". The fact that the original version of this album came out in 1998 really shocked me. How could a musician with such talent slip pass my Eclectic Arts radar for so long?

Adrian went back and re-recorded his original album, added the original 1998 tracks, and threw in a few live tracks for good measure on this release. There's really something here for everybody.

Adrian's guitar playing really touched on a wide variety of styles. At times his playing reminded me of Jeff Beck and Neal Schon. The progressive turns pointed at folks like Steve Morse and Steve Howe. And the sweeps and arpeggios reminded me of talent like Tony Macalpine and other shredders from the original Shrapnel years. In other words, Adrian is an incredible technician on the guitar.

The 9 tracks really showcase Adrian's talent. He was only 22 when the original was released. Technology has come a long way in twenty years and Adrian's guitar playing has been honed into a fine musical statement.

Adrian Galysh is a name every guitarist should be familiar with. And if you're not? Go out and buy a copy of "Venusian Sunrise: 20th Anniversary Edition" and see what all the fuss is about.

Score: 4/5

Mark Sugiyama
Eclectic Arts

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