Wesafari Returns for One Night

20150829

Poster by Clayton Christopherson

Long-time readers and listeners probably know that Wesafari was one of my favorite bands – and were some of my favorite people – in Seattle for the first decade-plus of this century. Somehow it’s been over four years since they played their last show and head Wesafarian Rick Wright split town; I was certainly afraid we’d never see them on a Seattle stage again.

As you have probably guessed by now, that fear was somewhat unfounded. In celebration of the 10th anniversary of Wesafari’s Alaska (soon to be rereleased with all kinds of fancy bonus material), Rick planned a trip out here and a one-off reunion show with some local friends this Saturday, August 29th, at the Sunset Tavern. (Full disclosure, I will actually be helping out on various instruments during the set, allowing me to cross a biggie off my nonexistent bucket list.) The band will play a bunch of songs off Alaska and Sea Survivors, along with some newer/lesser-known tunes. We’ll dance, we’ll sing, we’ll drink, we’ll cry. It’ll be great. Continue reading

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Ball of Wax 41! September 18th at Conor Byrne!

2015 09 18 BoW 41Ball of Wax Volume 41 Release Show
With Puget Power, Cold Comfort, Future Fridays, Visceral Candy, and Brenda Xu
Friday, September 18, 9pm
Conor Byrne Pub
21+ / $8 (includes Ball of Wax 41 CD)

The 41st volume of Ball of Wax is in the works, and I gotta say, it’s a doozy. There’s no theme, but it’s chock-full of delightful new music – 22 new songs from old favorites and new friends, including the above-mentioned artists as well as Low Hums, Tomo Nakayama, Amy Blaschke, GreenhornBluehorn, The Kings – the first ska band to appear on BoW, which I find very exciting – and many more!

All of the bands playing the Volume 41 release show are new to the BoW family, which delights me (as much as I love all of our old friends and regulars). The only reason I’ve been able to do this for 10+ years is the neverending flow of great new music from friends and strangers near and far – it always thrills me to welcome new folks to the fold.

And what a bunch we have here! From the beautiful songcraft of Brenda Xu to the rump-moving sounds of Future Fridays and Seth Swift (of Soft Blows)’s Visceral Candy to the dueling (hi-fi vs lo-fi) pop stylings of Cold Comfort and Puget Power, the whole night will be just another example of what makes Ball of Wax (and Seattle music) so great. Join us!

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Ball of Wax 40 Songs: M.I.K.E. Drop – Afterbertha

[Ball of Wax 40, as we’ve mentioned, is a little different. Given the unique nature of each of the bands and songs on this collection, we decided to eschew our usual track-review format for the blog in favor of letting each of the bands speak for themselves about the songs they wrote and recorded in a day. 2014, the most recent year (and thus the final track) was assigned to M.I.K.E. Drop: Kelly Dale, Keenan Dowers, Emory Liu, and Louis O’Callaghan.]

MIKE-dropM.I.K.E. Drop met up in our Ballard brewery district studio a little after 12pm. After only 30 minutes or so the four of us settled in on a groove, tinkering away and stretching it out into pop format. Our energy seemed to jell really quickly and our “instant” band felt really natural especially after a snack break at the local minimart yelded potato chips and Mountain Dew slurpees. It all felt like we were on tour already . . .

Back in the studio we rehearsed and tracked drums guitar and bass live, then overdubbed keyboards and more guitar textures. . . . Louis wrote the lyrics and sang the melody at the very end of our session like the cherry on top of our sonic layer cake. We all had fun stepping into the unknown together and honored to be a part of the Ball of Wax family.

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Ball of Wax 40 Songs: Lahar – One of These Days

[Ball of Wax 40, as we’ve mentioned, is a little different. Given the unique nature of each of the bands and songs on this collection, we decided to eschew our usual track-review format for the blog in favor of letting each of the bands speak for themselves about the songs they wrote and recorded in a day. Lahar – Kirsten Eklund, Colin Isler, Mindie Lind, and Mark Schlipper – were assigned the tumultous year of 2013. Colin shares some thoughts on the process below.]

Lahar6la·har
ˈlähär/
noun
GEOLOGY
1. a destructive mudflow on the slopes of a volcano.

2013 was for the human species, like so many years before it, a struggle against violent forces of this Earth and beyond that seek to destroy it. Earthquakes, volcanoes, storms and meteor strikes rattled our world, but people always find some way of getting back on their feet and carrying on. Continue reading

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Ball of Wax 40 Songs: Chasing Shell – Lonesome George

[Ball of Wax 40, as we’ve mentioned, is a little different. Given the unique nature of each of the bands and songs on this collection, we decided to eschew our usual track-review format for the blog in favor of letting each of the bands speak for themselves about the songs they wrote and recorded in a day. Taylor Delph, John Faryar, Josh Morrison, and Colin J Nelson found themselves writing a song about 2012 together. They chose the tortoise Lonesome George as their subject and named themselves Chasing Shell. Their lyrics pretty much speak for themselves.]

chasingshellTaking his time, Lonesome George
The last of his kind.
Monks chased by bees, then hospitalized.
Dogs and cats living together.

Just another sign the end is upon us
As was foretold by old man Nostradamus.

Noted turtle breeders choose a suitable match
Hoping for future eggs to hatch.
But his days of chasing shell are over.
He’s seen the world end before.

Just another sign the end is upon us
As was foretold by old man Nostradamus.

The year is 2012. Lonesome George paddles peacefully off the warm shores of the Galapagos. Where is he going? Home to his family? Meeting his turtle friends?

No.

George is the last of his species. He swims only to move forward, and rests in the sun when he’s done. For one hundred years he’s lived alone, and today, he will die. He will die alone. As he looks across the South Pacific for the last time, he notes the brevity of life, and the importance to enjoy it.

Just another sign the end is upon us
As was foretold by old man Nostradamus.

Lonesome George
He’s seen the world end before.
Show goes on after you’re gone.

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Ball of Wax 40 Songs: When You Start to Die (Don’t)

[Ball of Wax 40, as we’ve mentioned, is a little different. Given the unique nature of each of the bands and songs on this collection, we decided to eschew our usual track-review format for the blog in favor of letting each of the bands speak for themselves about the songs they wrote and recorded in a day. Frank Buckles – the band I found myself in with Doug Arney, Shea Bliss, and Jake Uitti – were tasked with 2011). Bassist/journalist Jake interviewed the rest of us about our experiences creating this song.]

frankbucklesFor the 10th anniversary of the quarterly Ball of Wax compilation series, Levi Fuller had an idea: create 10 new bands – bands that may only be around for a single day – out of 40 musicians in Seattle. After that, he didn’t know what would happen. I was one of those musicians – and I, along with Levi, Doug Arney, and Shea Bliss wrote a song, inspired by the year 2011 and one Frank Buckles. To bookend the process, I asked the band questions about the song we wrote, recorded, and is soon to be released. -Jake Uitti

Jake Uitti: Levi, you both organized this entire event and participated in it yourself with the band Frank Buckles – what was the most challenging aspect of the project for you?  Continue reading

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Ball of Wax 40 Songs: Lords of Eternity – Thirty Ten

[Ball of Wax 40, as we’ve mentioned, is a little different. Given the unique nature of each of the bands and songs on this collection, we decided to eschew our usual track-review format for the blog in favor of letting each of the bands speak for themselves about the songs they wrote and recorded in a day. 2010 was assigned to Lords of Eternity (Casey Alexander, Chris Antal, Nate Biehl, and Allison Tullos). The band has assembled this oral history. Lords of Eternity will reunite for one time only to  perform this song at the first Ball of Wax 40 release show on June 20th!]

Chris: “Casey first mentioned that the BP oil spill happened in 2010.”

Allison: “It started with us talking about the 2010 oil spill (and subsequent South Park episode with the head of BP begging, “we’re sorry”), which got us thinking about our constant search for easily exploited energy sources. And how little we can do to change the shape of how things are run. We were also talking about the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey and someone brought up that there was a sequel called 2010. That is obviously crazy, so we took it one step crazier and decided to base our song in 3010.” Continue reading

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Ball of Wax 40 Songs: Dirty Face – Olympia

[Ball of Wax 40, as we’ve mentioned, is a little different. Given the unique nature of each of the bands and songs on this collection, we decided to eschew our usual track-review format for the blog in favor of letting each of the bands speak for themselves about the songs they wrote and recorded in a day. Dirty Face (Brent Antal, Robert Deeble, Seth Howard, and Peter Verdoes) was assigned the year of 2009. Seth has shared some thoughts on the process. The reunited Dirty Face will perform this song at the first Ball of Wax 40 release show on June 20th!]

dirtyface3Our journey back to 2009 took us to Jette, Belgium, where on September 24th two unmasked thieves stole René Magritte’s painting “Olympia” at gunpoint from the invitation-only museum in the painter’s former home. The painting depicts Magritte’s wife Georgette nude on the beach contemplating a seashell.

As Robert described to me while I was attempting to get us less lost on the way to Peter’s place, after failing to find a buyer the thieves finally gave up and returned the painting in early 2012. The rumored involvement of a notorious Belgian gangster named Dirty Face Zanoni provided some further lyrical fodder and a band name. Continue reading

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Ball of Wax 40 Songs: Masonic Mouth Sounds – Leap Year Baby (Like *@#% Ain’t Happened)

[Ball of Wax 40, as we’ve mentioned, is a little different. Given the unique nature of each of the bands and songs on this collection, we decided to eschew our usual track-review format for the blog in favor of letting each of the bands speak for themselves about the songs they wrote and recorded in a day. Masonic Mouth Sounds (Dekker Deen, Shannon Jae, Sam Russell, and Carlos Tulloss) were tasked with 2008. 3/4 of the band have shared with us their memories of the day’s events, along with their lyrics. Masonic Mouth Sounds will reunite to perform this song at the first Ball of Wax 40 release show on June 20th!]

Sam: This 24-hour thing was a blur of spitballed ideas and spiced rum. The meat of the day was spent with Carlos and Dekker working on the rhythm track while me and Shannon hammered out the lyrics with Dekker contributing on the bridge. Vocals and guitar were done late into the night then Carlos was left by his lonesome to add textures and mix the thing for another 12 hours. The whole process was both exhausting and an enormous amount of fun, the adult equivalent of being paired up with strange playmates on a foreign playground. Me and Shannon tried to go for a loose story and topical references relevant to the year in question though the results are probably more impressionistic than narrative. Shannon’s thoughts and feelings below pretty much sum up my own and I’m betting Carlos’ and Dekker’s too. Continue reading

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Ball of Wax 40 Songs: Hixton Yor – Clinton/Knievel

[Ball of Wax 40, as we’ve mentioned, is a little different. Given the unique nature of each of the bands and songs on this collection, we decided to eschew our usual track-review format for the blog in favor of letting each of the bands speak for themselves about the songs they wrote and recorded in a day. Hixton Yor, a band composed of Mike Bundy, Bart Cameron, Olie Eshleman, and Jon Rooney, tackled the tribulations of 2007. Jon and Bart share their reflections on the process.]

Jon: Once names were chosen, we immediately began working within certain constraints: the year 2007, our own abilities and Olie’s declaration that no guitars (not even bass guitar) be used in the session. Bart and I needed a moment to pull ourselves together facing a guitarless afternoon, then 2007 topics were bandied around. Some ideas we passed on (Romania joining the EU, the deaths of Boris Yeltsin and Anna Nicole Smith) while others stuck (the apex of Hilary Clinton’s campaign for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination, the death of Evel Knievel). The song came together pretty quickly, with Olie adding some sort of electric-drill-powered string instrument and Mike drumming on a small can amplified by a pickup and run through an extensive chain of effects pedals. We finished the song early in the evening on Saturday, likely less because of a rush of otherworldly inspiration and more because Bart, Mike and I have kids and kinda had to get home. So, one perspective of Hixton Yor is Olie producing a dad rock band. Sorry Olie.

Bart: I think we also finished quickly because of the way we worked—without ego. The song we wrote was about ego, Evil Knievel and his embodiment of all that is great in the prepubescent ego (as appropriated by Kanye Ego West later), and Hillary Rodham Clinton. Otherwise, I remember laughing a lot and watching how everyone was smiling the whole time. And I remember finding a large piece of salmon wrapped in newspaper on the back steps. When you find a large, old piece of fish wrapped neatly in newspaper, you remember something like that.

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