Saturday, April 19, 2008

Danny Federici and The Wailin’ Jennys

Danny Federici, best known for his work as keyboardist in the E Street Band, died last night in New York after a long battle with cancer. Please take a moment to remember him and send some positive thoughts to his family and friends.

Wailin’ Jennys @ The Triple Door (Seattle, WA 15 Apr 08)
The combination of food & live music is right up there with raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens. The Triple Door in Seattle takes talented acts, wonderful acoustics, excellent seating, great service and food (from Wild Ginger’s kitchen upstairs) and turns it into the consummate dinner theater experience.
I’ve always wanted to see an evening show at the Triple Door, to take advantage of the full range of features. I caught a Nada Surf acoustic “matinee” at the Triple Door a few years ago, courtesy of my good friend John, but the kitchen wasn’t available for that event. When my good friend John called to say he had four tickets for the Wailin’ Jennys I said yes immediately (in truth I ran it by my wife first.)
This was my second Jennys’ show in the past two months, four overall, and even though the sets were shorter than I’d seen in past shows the music was top shelf! The girls looked and sounded as good as ever. The vocals were as crisp and clear as a fall day. The arrangements were perfect and the musicianship was as good as I’ve ever seen or heard in recent memory.
I’ve commented before on Heather Masse and Jeremy Penner (9 Feb 08), the newest Jennys. Heather’s songwriting skills and vocals are a welcome addition. Jeremy’s amazing fiddle and mandolin round out the Jennys sound.
Highlights for me: the Gillian Welch penned One More Dollar, an a capella version of Leadbelly's Sylvie (at the February Harrison show it was scrapped due to giggles), Glory Bound Ruth's non-denominational Gospel song, and the encore of One Voice, the Jennys' anthem, and the a capella, no amplification, Parting Glass.

Emmylou Harris will perform at Woodland Park Zoo this summer. And the Black Crowes will appear at the Puyallup Fair.

More to follow...

Monday, April 14, 2008

The Dalai Lama speaks. Dave listens.

Dave Matthews & Tim Reynolds @ Key Arena, Seattle, WA, 11 Apr 08
Friday night’s concert was a fundraiser for Seeds of Compassion The evening began around 4:30 PM with a discussion between the Dalai Lama, Ann Curry (Dateline NBC) and Dave Matthews.
The chairs were set on the stage. The large projection screens were in place. The Dalai Lama received a thunderous, standing ovation as he took the stage. During introductions Dave Matthews received a similar response from the audience. His Holiness donned a crimson visor to shield his eyes from the stage lights and the conversation began.
As a precursor to his question for the Dalai Lama Matthews began with a little bit about his background and how music affects his life. He finally asked if there was a correlation between compassion and music. His Holiness replied that a compassionate approach to any activity or action is more beneficial than doing something without compassion.
Anne Curry’s question of, “How can we have compassion toward our enemies?” Got the dialog moving along and allowed the Dalai Lama to expand on his ideas and share his perspective. I saw him Saturday as well and was able to have a better grasp after hearing him a second time. Here’s what I took away from Friday and Saturday.

  • Have compassion for your enemies, forgive them. That doesn’t mean to forget what they’ve done or to stop protecting yourself from further harm. Create dialog to help solve problems. You may find you are more alike than different. His Holiness suggested having world leaders, who are at odds with each other, vacation together with their families; prepare and share meals with each other, the kids play together, the spouses talk and the leaders spend a few days getting to know each other before discussing issues.
  • We are just one in six billion but we have a responsibility to take care of ourselves. Wise selfishness is taking care of yourself, if you are healthy and approach life with compassion that affects those around you in a positive manner. Foolish selfishness is indulging with disregard for the effect on others and the consequences of those actions. It lacks compassion and gives off negative energy.
  • All of the world’s problems are manmade. If we created them then we should be able to solve them. And when the Dalai Lama says manmade he means “men” made them, not women. The Dalai Lama learned compassion from his mother’s affection. He feels that women, due to their inherent nature to care for little ones, have more capacity to be more compassionate than men.

They talked for close to an hour. Then we had a break while they set the stage for Death Cab for Cutie. We decided to go to the Center House and get some refreshment. Unfortunately we returned in time to hear the lion’s share of Death Cab’s last number. It was good, a mostly acoustic rendition of Brothers on a Hotel Bed.
The roadies arranged the stage for the final event. Two chairs with a coffee table separating them and one mic set up on an oriental carpet (Is it PC to say oriental when referring to a carpet?) After a bit Dave and Tim showed up. They began with a long, almost haunting intro to Bartender on the barely lit stage. The 16 song set was full of between song banter, Dave confessing his nervousness during the Q&A part of the show and sharing some about the compositions themselves. I can’t remember when I’ve heard a more full sound from two guitars. Who needs a band when you have Tim Reynolds standing next to you?
The highlights: Bartender, Cry Freedom, Betrayal (Tim Reynolds one-man demonstration of just how much you can do with an acoustic guitar and a few effects), Everyday, Dancing Nancies and the encore Lie In Our Graves.

More to follow…