Weekly Volcano Blogs: Walkie Talkie Blog

Posts made in: September, 2009 (249) Currently Viewing: 21 - 30 of 249

September 2, 2009 at 4:34pm

Happy Hour: Tempest Lounge and Zombieland


Discuss the above video during happy hour at:

Tempest Lounge

913 Martin Luther King Jr. Way, Tacoma, 253.272.4904

Happy Hours: 4-6 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday, 10-11 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday, 10 p.m. to midnight Friday-Saturday
Drink specials: $4 house wine pours, $3 tap beers, $2 PBRs
Food specials: five to six appetizers for $5 each

LINK: Other South Sound happy hours

Filed under: Food & Drink, Screens, Tacoma,

September 2, 2009 at 11:29pm

Foghorns celebrate CD at the Jive


The-foghorns Earlier this week, in preparation for their CD release show this Friday at Bob’s Java Jive in Tacoma, I got a chance to correspond â€" via e-mail â€" with Bart Cameron and Katie Quigley of The Foghorns â€" a band self described as “mavericks of anti-folk.” Seriously good â€" both live, and in interview, as I found out â€" The Foghorns are a band you don’t want to miss â€" meshing non-boring folk with Icelandic roots, a dab of punk ethos and a spritz of Wisconsin charm to create one of the most buzz-worthy bands that’s hit town in some time.

Here’s how it went. …

WEEKLY VOLCANO: Take a minute to explain the progression of this band. Wisconsin, to Iceland, to Seattle â€" it's been covered, but still, it's of interest. How did you get to where you are today, and did you envision this when you started? How heavy is the Icelandic influence, and how does that show up in the music? What's one thing about Iceland everyone should know? How about Wisconsin?

KATIE QUIGLEY: Well, I think only Bart really knows … and I think he likes it that way. Everyone in the band knows bits and pieces of the story ... probably not the same bits. I mean, we all know the gist: Bart moved back to Wisconsin after a rough time in New York, met up with the Firchow boys and wrote some songs. Then he moved back to New York and played those songs with a bunch of Brooklyn bluegrassers (now known as the Jones Street Boys) and at some point thereafter he landed a Fulbright and moved to Iceland, where he played for three years â€" getting electrocuted and playing with a bucket player (just like it sounds) â€" who eventually became the first foreign-born member of Icelandic Parliament, before moving to Seattle and meeting Rich and I.  I might know more here and there, but it really doesn't matter. What is, is what Bart has managed to do by only really providing these bullet points in the plot: he's allowed each musician, and even every listener, to fill in the pieces by themselves. I can't speak for anyone other than myself, but this has allowed me to almost romanticize the "story" of The Foghorns ... and in turn, the songs themselves: Maybe Bart was a hitman and "Rose" was his partner. Maybe it was really him in "North Dakota" who said, "Help me God." Maybe he just sat on the couch for a year after having his heart broken and dreamt up these stories ... Either way, he lets you decide. And as a musician helping tell these stories, whatever I believe becomes another element ... I become another character in his "novel" and for the "reader" there is yet another possibility of the truth.

I can't speak to how directly the songs are influenced by Bart's time in Iceland, but I can only imagine that they would be. Otherwise, we have two Icelandic members ... which absolutely influence the songs ... I'm not sure I could pinpoint how or what they do that is particularly "Icelandic" but I'm sure if the right person was looking ... they'd find it.

One thing everyone should know about Iceland: Icelanders aren't "cute." They eat whale and puffin and rotten shark and sheep face. When you (you sad, sad American) have managed to become intoxicated and reach for the nearest glass of water … they mix vodka, water and a vitamin fizz until you've sobered up and are prepared to continue. And if a sheep rolls down a hill, they kill it and have it for dinner. Perhaps you've seen Björk and you think they all wander around in swan dresses and speak in sugary-sweet Icelandic accents ... but to assume all Icelanders are the same, would be a big mistake. (P.S. it’s pronounced B-YUR-K … I think)

I don't know too much about Wisconsin myself, but I know the Midwest in general has heavily influenced Bart's songwriting, this album in particular.

BART CAMERON: I don't tell these stories because they're awkward. All of it has been intense as it went along, but it's hard to summarize. Here's the history, leaving out some personal stuff.

I'm from Wisconsin and played punk music for six years there. A couple years later, I'm living in New York, the attacks happen, personal stuff goes wrong, and I decide to go to Wisconsin, (I didn't move â€" I visited for a five days) find my old band mates, and write some songs that might be important to me.

Mainly, one guy showed up, this brilliant mathematician and composer, and we took baroque songs and made them into country punk. I brought my CD back to New York City, gave it to my friends. About two weeks later, I had all these bluegrass kids say they'd help me put on live shows. Bluegrass and punk in New York are closely related (CBGB's stands for country bluegrass and blues). Anyway, that worked. These incredible bluegrass musicians started playing, they later formed Jones Street Boys and Kings County Strings. And I'd get up and sing these folkish songs.

I think we were somewhat of a curiosity. And I think maybe playing in front of those musicians, you could fart into a trumpet and sound good.

I had a policy that we'd only make 200 of every CD we released. We'd be a strange Brooklyn phenomenon. I thought that if I did maybe 10 CDs, I'd be writing pretty decent songs at the end of it.

Then I moved to Iceland on a Fulbright Fellowship.

There's a ton of ways Iceland reshaped the Foghorns. The loneliness of moving to a country where you know no one, don't know the language, and are living in a basement writing a novel for a year.

But direct influence came when I worked as a journalist and music critic and then editor of the Reykjavik Grapevine. With that job, I interviewed hundreds of musicians, and listened to thousands of CDs.

For some of these interviews with Icelandic musicians, we'd actually end up talking for days. When Sigur Ros released Takk, they invited me to their studio, for example, to preview it. Kjartan explained to me how to play the glockenspeil. Jonsi and I debated lyrics and vocals in pop music. The band Singapore Sling, their songwriter showed me how he wrote, why he wrote. Benni Hemm Hemm did the same. The songwriter from mum, he ended up being a neighbor, and we talked about songwriting for a day. Mugison has some amazing thoughts on this stuff.

Every musician in Iceland had one thing in common: they all believed in the mantra “Don't think it, play it.” They all felt you had to assume anything was possible in your music.

I still talk with those guys about songwriting a lot. They're very aware of their decisions, of being expressive in their music.

Without their help, it would have taken me another 10 years to get to this album.

One thing about Iceland: art has helped them get through a lot.

One thing about Wisconsin: Wisconsin is content to be its own entity â€" everyone from Wisconsin feels they have something at stake in the community, and those of us who left, like me, feel shame for abandoning it.

VOLCANO: Who's in the band and why does it work?

QUIGLEY: Currently, The Foghorns are Bart Cameron (primary songwriter, lead vocals, guitar and harmonica), Rich Quigley (slide guitar and organ), Bára Sigurjónsdóttir (tuba and bass), Kristján Oli Pétursson, "Kopur" (drums) and myself, Katie Quigley (vocals). This current group works for many reasons, but probably none so significant as simply the technical skill each musician brings to the group. The talent allows for improvisation and a sense of ease, or maybe one of reassurance ... especially playing live â€" if something changes, everyone is right there, capable of changing as well. That alone is great, but paired with an openness we all share, to reinterpreting songs, and perhaps one of the most brilliant things about Bart's songwriting: the malleability his songs possess, we whittle and form each song into its best possible version ... and the best part, it's never-ending ... I think as long as we play together, even if we never played anything new, these songs would continue to change and develop, to the point a person who hadn't heard them for some time, might not recognize them as the same.

CAMERON: Yeah. Katie says it better than I can. The band works, because the band is not me. I seek out personalities who understand the point of the songs, and make them their own. Nobody plays the songs as they're written.

VOLCANO: Have you made decisions in your life specifically with the band in mind, or have the twists and turns of life simply dictated what the band has become? If this were a high school history textbook, what key events would you say led you to this point?

CAMERON: Decisions ... I have made sacrifices for the band. I've quit good jobs, and those kinds of things. But I've also deflated the band, made things more difficult. We got going in Brooklyn, and I moved for academic and personal reasons. We got going in Iceland, really got going, and I moved so my girlfriend could get a Master's degree at UW. And I moved to Seattle, which is not a good town to play music in.

Then again, those moves were somewhat with the band in mind. I've never wanted to get stagnant. Personally or artistically.

High school highlights for getting to this point are extremely difficult:

  • 9/11 (I wonder if every high school highlight starts with that)
  • Me leaving Brooklyn for Iceland
  • Iceland Airwaves 2005, where we played a great stage and experienced “buzz”
  • Our 2006 tour of the U.S. (smaller band, but Kristjan was there)
  • And me joining Blue, Pig then stealing Rich and Katie Quigley
  • Our Hollow Earth Radio broadcast in 2008.

VOLCANO: Talk a little about Diamonds as Big as the Motel 6? It sounds like it was a long time in the making (if I'm not mistaken). Take me through a little journey of the creative process. Did you have a goal in mind when you started, or did it just turn out how it turned out? Have you had time to digest it yet, and are you satisfied with what you came up with?

CAMERON: I had a concept, this particular concept, for about five years. I did a popular album in Iceland called So Sober. It had these brutal angry drinking songs all focused on Iceland with lyrics like “this is a bad place to be sober and awake.” I wanted to one day do something more focused and composed about the decisions you make when you're grown up, the compromises you make.

I wanted an album like a short story collection along the lines of the Anderson book Winesburg, Ohio. And I wanted a full, live band sound, not the bedroom recording style.

I recorded all the songs ... quite a few times. Mostly on a four track player where I'd play all the instruments. I did that for two years. Then I pulled this band in, mostly members of Blue, Pig.

We did a live show in my basement for friends and recorded that â€" about half the tracks are from that. We recorded another three with the band live, then going back and adding vocals. Then we used a track from the four track, and a track from when I first was hanging out with Rich, and he recorded me with a guitar in his basement.

I believe most songs on the album were recorded, sometimes in different keys, about a dozen times. And five songs I wrote for the album were cut.

This is everything I could do with songwriting. When I listen to it, though ... I thought this would be our ultimate accomplishment. This would be something that after 15 years of playing music, I'd have a pinnacle. But it really sounds to me like more of a beginning than anything. That surprises me.

[Bob’s Java Jive, Foghorns CD release show with Former Foxes, The Variety Hour, Phantom Fireworks, Friday, Sept. 4, 8 p.m., 2102 S. Tacoma Way, Tacoma, 253.475.9843]

September 2, 2009 at 11:43pm

The Number of the Squirrel


Brotherhood-of-the-Black-Sq The name? Well, that’s a secret. But everything else about Tacoma’s Brotherhood of the Black Squirrel is public record. A slightly old-school mix of classic rock and current day indie goodness, Brotherhood of the Black Squirrel is a band on the rise, having moved to Tacoma from Olympia and currently taking no prisoners. Celebrating the release of The Number of the Squirrel, and album four years in the making, on Saturday, Sept. 5 at Bob’s Java Jive, the band is one deserving of your radar. Trust me.

I caught up with frontman Patrick Baldwin this week for an article on modern day record releases in the age of the Internet. You can find it by clicking here.

However, Baldwin and I talked about more than just ways the Internet is totally fucking up the world as we know it. Here are a few points of insight the Tacoma rocker (by way of Olympia) laid on me.

On his songwriting style, and the way the band creates:

“It mostly just came out how it came out. I kind of pretend to be Tom Waits.”

“When I’m writing, I just try to be honest. I try to draw from as many areas as I can.”

On describing Brotherhood of the Black Squirrel’s sound:

“I hate it when people say ‘It’s hard to classify us.’ Usually, that stuff is easy to classify. I just think people are a little thirsty for honesty.”

On the difference between Olympia and Tacoma:

“Olympia’s scene seems to be more hip-hop and bluegrass. Tacoma is more gritty, and we’re a pretty gritty band.”

On how The Number of the Squirrel turned out, and why it took so damn long to produce:

“It’s a mix of procrastination and attention to detail. It’s mostly exactly how I wanted it to be. For a while, I was so sick of it I could even listen to it anymore, but I listened to it again and I’m pleased. Overall, I’m pretty happy with it.”

“Thematically, it seems mostly about stuff I’ve been dealing with for the last 4 or 5 years. It’s my life.”

On his hopes for Saturday’s CD release show at Bob’s Java Jive:

“I mostly just hope people come out, pick up (the new record) and enjoy it.”

[Bob’s Java Jive, Brotherhood of the Black Squirrel CD release show with the Fun Police, Ghostwriter, Saturday, Sept. 5, 8 p.m., $5, 2102 S Tacoma Way, Tacoma, 253.475.9843]

September 3, 2009 at 12:37am

5 Things To Do: Thursday


Steve-Stef 1. The Sunset Grill Jam Night hosted by Gary Marcello and Bill Odden will feature Steve Stefanowicz beginning at 9 p.m.

2. Tenor saxophonist Teddy Dortch and guitarist Ed Taylor fill Merende Italian restaurant with jazz from 7-9 p.m.

3. The Tacoma Rainiers party decks will be rocking beginning at 5:30 p.m. when the finals for Tacoma's Best Karaoke Singer contest are held before the Tacoma Rainiers take on the Colorado Springs Sky Sox.

4. Last Chance Romeos will perform their alt country tunes at Doyle's Public House at 8 p.m.

5. Jet Black Stare, Bleach Black, Sweet Kiss Momma, Divide The Day, Atomic Outlaws and Underride play Hell's Kitchen at 9 p.m.

LINK: Live music and DJs in the South Sound

LINK: Local movie starting times

LINK: South Sound Restaurant Guide

September 3, 2009 at 2:55am

Art is Anarchy


Volcano-cover-spew-250-9-3 Late on a recent Tuesday night I found myself alone on the roof of a former methadone clinic, gazing down at the lights of Tacoma.  Behind me, on Tacoma Avenue South at the edge of the Brewery District, a van caught fire.  Flames.  Smoke.  Sirens. 

The occasion was Tacoma’s first ever Artlatch, a come-one-come-all creative gathering based on the Native American potlatch.  The place was Tac 25 Collective, a low-rent, live-in artists’ community that has sprung up from the Asarco-tainted soil of T-town. (Note to developers: Please don’t read the following sentence as “Build condos here!”)  Now nearly one year old, Tac 25 is helping transform one of our city’s ghostliest zones into one of its most vibrant. 

My night had begun in the same place it ended â€" on the roof.  Read what happened next on the Weekly Volcano Web site.

Filed under: Arts, Community, Tacoma, Weekly Volcano,

September 3, 2009 at 4:21am

Lemon Grass goodness


Rest-review-300-9-3 It seems that in Olympia Thai restaurants are as plentiful as Circle K convenience stores in California. There’s one on every corner. To be the prettiest girl in a room full of beauty queens, if you will, demands quality, superb flavor, speedy preparation, and, above all, consistency.  Lemon Grass Restaurant, which offers a Vietnamese take on Thai, doubled in size in late 2008. Even with this much applauded expansion into the adjacent Fourth Avenue space, patrons frequently fill the compact front waiting area and monopolize the sidewalk.

Is the hype worth the breath it’s said with?

Jake and Jason de Paul bear witness here.

Filed under: Food Matters, Olympia,

September 3, 2009 at 5:44am

Followers of Esoterica


This-Blinding-300-9-3 This Blinding Light may come off to some as a tough pill to swallow. Their droning psychedelic anthems of esoteric ritualism are bound to rub people the wrong way; accusations of pretension are an accepted risk inherent in high-concept music. But those who think This Blinding Light is full of it will be sorely disappointed: the band stands by and believes in precisely what they sing. Discover why here before tonight's show at The New Frontier Lounge.

[The New Frontier Lounge, This Blinding Light, with Levator, Trip the Light Fantastic, Thursday, Sept. 3, 9 p.m., $5, 301 E. 25th St., Tacoma, 253.572.4020]p.m., $5, 301 E. 25th Street, Tacoma, 253.572.4020]

Filed under: Music, Tacoma,

September 3, 2009 at 8:46am

Morning Spew

September 3, 2009 at 9:58am

Candlelight vigil photos


Vigil-Chiara Last night in front of the Turning Point Integrative Therapies on Sixth Avenue in Tacoma more than 160 people held candles, shared stories, honored the late Sen. Ted Kennedy and his drive for a public health insurance option.

"The personal stories were compelling and passionately told," explained Chiara Wood, the vigil's organizer and member of the Tacoma Council of MoveOn.org. "We had lots of positive feedback and traffic honking."

Only three opposers of the vigil stood across the street.

Vigil-Candle Vigil-Crowd Vigil-opposition Vigil-Sonics Photography by John Fox

September 3, 2009 at 12:12pm

A sad Bayview


Bayview The Bayview Cafe in Tacoma's Stadium District. Dark. Empty. Three weeks of papers on the doorstep. Disconnected phone. No word. Anywhere.

Filed under: Food & Drink, Tacoma,

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