Music Without Borders: Oly Music Awards
By Tucker Petertil
Music … what can you say. It goes in one ear and out the other. But while it’s in the middle it sure sounds good, and there was a lot of that at the recent Oly Music Awards shows. Friday night found the newly reopened Northern all-ages music and art venue hosting the Awards shows with the likes of Kendl Winter, Andras Jones, Science! and Mothrider.
The Northern’s new location is at the end of the parking lot next to Sorrento, the Italian restaurant near the Fishtale pub. Exposed beams and trouble lights add to the charming interior feel of an aircraft hanger for very small planes.
I got there as Science!’s Justin Stang and Jim Elenteny rocked and sang and just played the crap out of a couple of acoustic guitars. These guys are good and I’d love to see what they could do with a full electric band.
Kendl next coaxed some amazing sounds outta that electric banjo played through a Marshall amp. At times it sounded harp-like, other times found her trading riffs in percussive jams with her drummer Austin. She was joined on one number by Jes Raymond, her Blackberry Bushes bandmate and Sandman the Rapping Cowboy, Chris Sand who was in from Montana to deliver a special rap on one of Kendl’s songs.
Mothrider followed Kendl as a real palate cleanser. Dressed in a black and white suit and mask he rocked dance-inducing sounds that seemed like samples of the digestive processes brought on by a frozen pizza binge and just as peristaltically moving. In a good way which got people dancing. This was all done with a laptop and what looked like a fancy toaster. I was hoping he’d break out some mime moves but that never happened – too busy with the toaster.
Andras Jones could have had a hard job following him, but he easily breezed through some clever and memorable tunes. In the wake of the recent publication of his book about Olympia, he did one song about the little secrets of Olympia and at one time cracked, “This is fun, I remember when I enjoyed doing this.”
The next day was Cinco de Mayo and singer/guitarist Ethan Tucker opened the Oly Music Awards Saturday night festivities at the Capitol theatre with a combination of rock and soul played to an appreciative audience ready for fun. This 22 year old from Lacey backed by his regular drummer and a pickup bass player performed a bunch of originals and a Jimi Hendrix cover. I caught up with him backstage after his set to find out a little about him.
Born in Idaho and related to cowboy legend Bat Masterson, Ethan’s been living in Lacey for the last year. He grew up on a mixed diet of music, and related how his mom used to get him out of bed on Sunday mornings by playing music as varied as the Spin Doctors and Joni Mitchell. At nine his sister took him out to buy any record he wanted and he chose Taj Mahal’s greatest hits. Taj’s country blues influence was noticeable in Ethan’s solo act, which I’d caught at an event earlier that afternoon. He’d been discovering old school blues when his brother turned him on to the Roots Reggae of Bob Marley. Ethan said, “All of that is mixed together now, and I play a combination of folk, reggae and blues.” His trademark is performing barefoot, he said “I feel the music better, you can move easier and you can feel the bass and everything through the stage.”
He’s released two CDs and will release a new one entitled Misunderstood this summer. His last was a solo outing and Ethan confided, “This new album has the band, sax, keyboards and everything…but it also has the stripped down bare acoustic stuff.”
Then I ducked back out to see Andras Jones’ live Radio8Ball show with Sandman providing the songs that acted as the oracle’s answers to audience questions including a Skyped-in question from an actor from the TV show Community.
I missed most of the Fabulous Downey Brothers’ pop deconstruction when I stepped out to eat, but was back in time too catch more award presentations and witness Oly newgrass favorites The Blackberry Bushes, as well as the Horsebodies’ impressive twin guitar rock attack.
While out getting an Old School slice I ran into a couple people (including former OP&L music scribe and Nuts editor Ben Trogdon) who mentioned that they’d never heard of any of the bands playing the awards show. This got me to thinking about the many niches and crevasses of the Oly music scene that exist like ships in the night.
Oly Music Awards organizer Jabi Shriki is fairly new to town, and competition kind of goes against the laid back vibe of Oly, but Jabi is to be congratulated, the awards show is a good start to honor and define what locally goes in one ear and out the other.
A full list of the award winners can be found at olymusicawards.com.