The Green Frog
Another week (or so) in the life
What: Many days of music
When: 10 am Wed., Jun. 15 -23
Where: The Green Frog, 1015 N. State St.
Wednesday, June 15, 2016
It was not long ago that I took a look at the upcoming week’s worth of shows at the Green Frog and realized the calendar was rife with top-drawer musical entertainment. That roundup included everyone from Ruth Moody to Tim Easton, with stops at Jeffrey Foucault and Richard Smith in between.
That was a pretty good week in the life of the State Street staple, and in keeping with the venue’s habit of stacking up great shows with little fanfare, the upcoming week (in both cases, “week” being defined as “a period traditionally considered to be seven days, but that can be stretched to suit my purpose at hand”) is proving to be no slouch as well.
Last time, the musicians in question were those I had firsthand familiarity with. In this case, the list is full of bands and artists that have been recommended to me by others. It is one of the great benefits of my current occupation that people are quick to let me know of this band or that songwriter they consider to be among their favorites. By doing so, they keep my curiosity piqued and give some welcome direction to my musical wanderings.
I always know that when I receive a Facebook invitation to a show from someone who is affiliated with neither the venue nor the artist (i.e. they’re simply a fan rather than a booker, promoter or member of the band), I should give some attention to the musician at hand. So when a notification for a Weds., June 15 show featuring Wayne “The Train” Hancock came my way, and I saw that I’d been invited by a friend and serious music fanatic rather than the Green Frog, I made more than a mental note to put this one on my radar. Hancock has, of course, been here before, and his brand of straight-up, old-school rockabilly will make you believe the Green Frog has perfected the art of time travel and you’re actually watching a man who would be right at home sharing a stage with Hank Williams—the original, not Junior or Hank 3. And Hancock makes no apologies for his throwback style, instead he has nothing but skepticism (some might even say scorn) for what qualifies as country music these days. He’s pure country and a pure performer, and if you’ve ever had the urge to hit up an old-time honky-tonk bar, the Green Frog is the place and this is the show.
Given the frequency with which they play (and their snappy name), I’d guess most of us have heard of—and probably seen—Hot Damn Scandal. Yet they are another band I first took serious note of after a close friend—and known music skeptic—saw them perform one summer night in the Boundary Bay beer garden. They describe themselves as “tipsy American gypsy blues,” and I’m generally one to give such super-specific, self-coined musical genres a hard side-eye, but even I am forced to admit they’ve summed themselves up perfectly. All the local performing they do means you can stick them on any stage in town—including that of the Green Frog on Thurs., June 16—and they’re more than willing to show up and show out. They’re even selling Hot Damn Scandal shot glasses these days, which, let’s face it, is the direct route right to my heart.
Whiskey Fever is another band that is a frequent player around these parts. But instead of being recommended to me by a friend or acquaintance, they were vouched for by all of you who voted for them in the Best Band category of our annual Best of Skagit awards. It was a category they won handily, which forced me into a late-night rabbit hole of figuring out just who this band was and what they had to offer. What I discovered were songs surprisingly catchy for a band led by a guy from the Concrete area (Birdsview, to be exact, although I had to look it up and then zoom the Google map way out to figure out exactly where it was)—although my feelings about what a Concrete upbringing might be like are admittedly influenced by repeated viewings of This Boy’s Life and may therefore not be totally accurate. At any rate, Whiskey Fever will play Fri., June 17, and you can see for yourselves what makes them bona fide award-winners.
I must confess that I cannot remember the first person to urge me to check out Seattle songwriter Sera Cahoone, but I owe them a thank you. That music mecca to the south of us is certainly home to more than its fair share of singer/songwriters, but even among all that bustle and noise, Cahoone stands out. In her songs, you can hear all the time spent alone, just her and her acoustic guitar, working out what she wants to say and how she wants to say it. In her voice, you can hear the miles traveled and the distance covered, both geographically and emotionally. In her lyrics, you can hear something to identify with, a universality of experience. In other words, and for lack of more elegant phrasing, Cahoone can write the shit out of a song. In my opinion, the best way to see her is solo, and that’s how she’ll perform Sat., June 18 at the Green Frog.
Usually, it’s a pretty good sign that something worthwhile is afoot when Green Frog owner and booker James Hardesty schedules a Sunday-night show, so I have to imagine Michaela Anne, who will play Sun., June 19, has more than a few tricks up her sleeve. It’s not every day that someone comes born in Brooklyn sounds like they were raised in a honky-tonk, which should give you some sense that she’s not your average Americana artist. She’s touring in support of her newly released album, Bright Lights and the Fame, which has garnered the attention of everyone from Rolling Stone to the New York Times. With titles like “Everything I Couldn’t Be” and “Worrying Mind,” Michaela Anne’s songs tread familiar territory with a familiar sound, but the songwriter possesses wit and wisdom beyond her years. Excellent musical sensibilities and a love of performing live make her one to watch.
Which brings us to the wrap-up of this roundup, a show that takes place Thurs., June 23 featuring Western Centuries. I have a friend named Winnie who, along with being one of the more delightful humans I regularly interact with, is a serious lover of country music. And when I say serious, I mean she lives for it. But she’s not indiscriminate in her ardor—Winnie’s musical affections are not won easily, and she is the very definition of a discerning listener. She’s also a fierce advocate for the bands she loves, and for a while now, she’s been extolling the virtues of Cahalen Morrison. For a time, Morrison led a band called Country Hammer—how I first heard of him—that has transitioned into Western Centuries. A little bit country and a little bit rock ’n’ roll with some R&B thrown in, the band is tough to pin down stylistically but very easy to listen to. As a bonus, Western Centuries also counts erstwhile local Dan Lowinger among its talented personnel, and he makes being a ridiculously good guitar player look ridiculously easy.
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