CD Review: Diana & the Dishes – Take a Picture

Diana & the Dishes’ debut album Take a Picture plays like the soundtrack for a hot new Broadway musical in absolutely the best way a modern record could.  It’s not just the veritable pit orchestra playing behind front woman Diana Lawrence, nor simply the classic and effortlessly jazzy chord changes.  It comes down to songwriting and lyrics – so strong and rich that they nearly become visual. Writing original, memorable, and non-cheesy music and lyrics for musical theater may be […]

Interview: Stephen Kellogg & the Sixers

The keys to success for Stephen Kellogg & the Sixers are simple and gratifying: 1) Write honest, accessible, and melodic music. 2) Play it live with authentic energy and love. 3) Work really, really hard to get in front of people. 4) Repeat. I’ve admired this band for these and many other reasons over the last few years.  They are one of the most “real” bands I’ve ever met – working hard to make sure fans know how much they […]

My New Music Project: The Local Strangers

//**EDIT – I’ve wanted to put up an updated post, as this band has done some really amazing things in the last year, but I’ve failed.  If it’s for nostalgia’s sake, read on.  If you actually want to check out the band, go to and ignore these old demo videos, for now **// As I’ve said many times on this blog, upon moving to Seattle I didn’t know anyone who did music here.  I was fortunate, however, to receive […]

Seattle Bands Out About Whom I Am Geeking

The Head and the Heart I haven’t gotten to see these folks live yet, but their self-titled debut album has been on constant rotation in my car.  The record gets better and better as I listen to it over and over – a truly impressive effort with zero duds.  Like Mumford & Sons (another band with whom I have fallen into a deep and tireless love), this band masters the multi-part song, making drastic tempo and rhythm changes feel completely […]

CD Review: Matt Ryd – Looking for Home

The Long-Awaited-Debut-Album is a completely unique brand of record.  Take Matt Ryd, for instance.  In addition to interviewing him for this blog, I’ve seen Ryd play in various formats around Chicago for about three years – so I’ve already heard most of the songs that appear on his new Long-Awaited-Debut-Album called Looking for Home.  I’ve seen the songs live, I’ve watched them on his active YouTube channel, I’ve seen them solo, I’ve seen them with a band. So as I […]

CD Review: The Shams Band – Champagne

The Shams Band is not trying to reinvent the wheel with their boisterous Americana blues rock.  Like other contemporary bands reinterpreting classic American genres (see The Avett Brothers, Eli Paperboy Reed), The Shams Band creates something fresh using older sounds but with a youthful, modern twist.  In their case, the twist is Americana with a wink… and a drink. Their first full length album Champagne showcases winks, drinks, and the great energy of their live show. The whole record sounds […]

It’s CD Release Season! 3 Reviews Coming

Everyone and their Mom is releasing a new album right now!  Okay, maybe not everyone’s Mom, but a lot of people – especially my peeps in Chicago.  That means 3 new CD reviews coming at you in the next couple weeks: Matt Ryd Looking For Home CD Release show TOMORROW (9/10/10) at Schuba’s with Mike Mentzer and Little Light. The Shams Band Champagne CD Release show September 18 at Fitzgerald’s Diana & the Dishes Take a Picture CD was released […]

A Recorded Music Conversation with Shareef Ali

The first true indie show I saw in Seattle was back in July at a little Capitol Hill hole in the wall called The Faire Gallery Cafe-Bar for an old friend’s new band: Shareef Ali & the Radical Folksonomy.  We all packed into the tiny venue – broken A/C on a hot July night – and were treated to some orchestral-indie-punk-folk from the Bay Area.  With a handlebar mustache and a many-gallon hat, that is. Locking down a genre or […]

Interview: Coyote Grace

I’ve already done plenty of raving about the Rootsy-Americana-goodness being made by Coyote Grace.  They’re really, really good – and really, really, cool people. I got to experience the latter in an interview before their 2-night stint at Seattle’s ultra-intimate Empty Sea Studios back in May.  Ingrid and Joe (accompanied by longtime collaborator/producer Michael Connolly) were insightful and funny as they talked about touring, community building on the road, and opening for their heroes.  This one is a must-listen, especially […]

Quick Hits: Lots of Live Music and Good Interviews Coming

One reason for my radio silence here as of late – I’ve seen the following bands live since my last post: The Hold Steady, Ha Ha Tonka, The Avett Brothers, Hey Marseilles, Yeasayer, Atmosphere, The Drowning Men, !!!, Fruit Bats, The Young Evils, The Maldives, Blitzen Trapper, Beach Fossils, The Dead Weather, Blue Scholars, and more. OK so a lot of those were in one weekend at the Capitol Hill Block Party – but then I went back to Chicago/Detroit/Milwaukee […]