Tonight in Seattle:  


Bumbershoot preview: Dept. of Energy

Dept. of Energy

I have long thought that Robb Benson has one of the best singing voices in Seattle…which is why I used to stalk Dear John Letters by showing up at every one of their shows by myself (before I moved back to the city from the 'burbs and met lots of great friends – one of whom coincidentally ended up being the co-writer for DJL’s awesome lyrics, Michelle Auer).

Despite my tears over that band’s demise, I still got to hear Robb's fantastic crooning on a few solo endeavors, and eventually ended up really loving his next band, Dept. of Energy. DoE consists of Robb, drummer Cassody Laton, Keyboardist Ty Bailie Hammond – and occasionally, guitarist Jeff Fielder, who’ll be joining them for the Bumbershoot show.

Dept. of Energy creates the same, dreamy feeling for me as DJL did with just a slightly harder edge. I’d be lying if I didn’t hear a bit of Doors-y influence in there (and indeed, I’ve been at a show or two where they’ve ripped out a cover during an encore), but for most part they have their own unique sound - IMO, mostly due to Benson's vocals - and they rock damn HARD, sneaking a slower ballad in every once in awhile.

Most importantly, they put on a hell of a show. If you haven’t seen them, you’re missing out.

{Dept. of Energy plays at Bumbershoot on Monday, September 7 from 12:15-1:15pm at EMP|SFM’s Sky Church. Photo by SJ Corbett.}

Three Imaginary Girls IndieTunes Podcast {Bumbershoot 2009}

The Lonely Forest at Doe Bay

Bumbershoot takes place at the Seattle Center this September 5-7 and there's about a million and a half things to do (bands, literary panels, art shows, Flatstock, kettle corn lunches) over the three-day fest.

To help folks (especially ourselves) prepare for Bumbershoot 2009, we put together this lil mix of some of the things you should add to your Bumbershoot scheduling spreadsheet. We hope this helps you pick your must-sees or at least provides a soundtrack as you wander to and fro.


{go listen}

Looking for a post-Bshoot evening activity? Bumbershots' at Solo

Visqueen by Hot Avocados Photography

Bumbershoot weekend is going to be hopping in and outside the gates of the Seattle Center.

By now you know what you should be on the look out for while walking the Bumbershoot campus, but once you exit the gate, I recommend you head over to Bumbershots! at the Solo bar this Saturday and Sunday.

Three Imaginary Girls, along with our friends at Easy Street, Makers Mark and New Belgium Brewing, have put together evening, complete with Seattle musician DJ sets and drink specials to help you wind down / rest up / keep the party going during your post-Bshoot hours.

  • Saturday (9/5) - 10pm DJ set by Rachel & Ben from Visqueen
  • Sunday (9/6) - 10pm DJ set by Cassidy & Andrew from Sleepy Eyes of Death


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Bumbershoot preview: Vampires and Robots

Just when I was thinkin’ that Pirates and Zombies have gotten enough love lately, this literary panel about Vampires and Robots at Bumbershoot caught my interest. Kevin Emerson and Daniel Wilson

Kevin Emerson, drummer & vocalist for Central Services, is the creator of Oliver Nocturne: a series of kids books about a vampire boy who lives in Seattle (that I already find 100x more interesting than Twilight).

Daniel Wilson has written tons of great stuff including How to Survive a Robot Uprising and The Mad Scientist Hall of Fame – pretty much everything you’d need to survive an apocalypse.

Come listen to their creative genius and ask them everything you always wanted to know about bloodsuckers and metal menaces.

{The Vampires and Robots panel takes place at Bumbershoot on Monday, September 7 from 12pm-1:15pm at the Leo K Theater}

Imaginary Interview: The Not-Its

When you visit The Not-Its website, it promises that “if you’ve never seen us before, be prepared to jump around – it’s guaranteed to be your first rock and roll experience”.

The Not-Its was formed because the members of the band wanted to continue making music after the started their own families, even if the typical musician’s schedule conflicted greatly with their family life. The result is a band that makes some very catchy, fun, upbeat pop-rock music that is for children and their parents. They will be playing Bumbershoot this year as part of the “Youngershoot” program, with their set being on Saturday, September 5 at 1:30pm on the Northwest Court Stage.

The five-piece band features Sarah Shannon, the lead singer of the excellent 90s rock band Velocity Girl on lead vocals. The rest of the band includes guitarists Danny Adamson and Tom Baisden, bassist Norea Hoeft and drummer Mike Bayer.

I talked with Not Its Sarah, Norea and Danny at Sarah’s lovely North Seattle home, where we discussed the band, writing children’s music and why being a rock star and a parent are not mutually exclusive ideas.


Imaginary Interview: Kathleen Flinn

Photo by Roger SteenThe Sharper Your Knife, the Less You Cry is Seattle author Kathleen Flinn’s brilliant memoir about attending the legendary culinary school Le Cordon Bleu in Paris. It provides a first-person, insider account of attending the famous institution, but what makes the book so interesting and readable is that Flinn is such a great writer and a likeable character telling her own story. The book gracefully balances the story of Le Cordon Bleu with Flinn’s Cinderella-like love story and enough delicious food to whet any appetite – and, fortunately, there’s a French recipe at the end of nearly every chapter.

In the classic 1954 film Sabrina, Audrey Hepburn’s character also attends the French institution (or so it’s presumed, but never explicitly named), and Flinn makes the hilarious comparison between Hollywood and her own story at Le Cordon Blue by writing in one of the funniest passages in her book, “[I]n a classroom kitchen with views of the Eiffel Tower, she learns to boil water the first day and crack an egg the next… Our learning curve feels a bit steeper.” A few pages later she notes, “Audrey Hepburn would never have ended up covered in fish guts.”

Kathleen Flinn will be appearing at Bumbershoot as part of a panel alongside local restaurateur and author Tom Douglas on Saturday, September 5 at noon on the Literary Arts Stage. She spoke with me by phone about her upcoming appearance at Bumbershoot, her memoir, her next book(s) and the big controversy amongst food bloggers in the summer of 2009.


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Bumbershoot preview: Seattle Noir

The short story collection Seattle Noir begins and ends with the same crime: poisoning.

The crimes and stories here cut through numerous socioeconomic classes and eras, but people being dragged, willingly or not, into crime is a running theme through this compelling book. Each writer has a particular neighborhood their stories are set in but the Seattle locale is one of the few common threads that appears in each story.

The collection was published by Akashic Books, who have made Noir a series, with editions also published of Brooklyn, Chicago, Los Angeles, Portland, San Francisco and Washington DC.

Although the stories are of varying theme, era, crime and quality, it still feels remarkably consistent, with editor Curt Colbert choosing a great collection of stories that are sometimes funny or tense, but flow into one another.

At Bumbershoot Colbert and three other writers with stories in Seattle Noir read from the book. The other authors are Bharti Kirchner, Skye Moody and Simon Wood.

Colbert's story is one of the better ones and it takes place in my neighborhood (Belltown). It involves a married couple who each hire the same private investigator. It probably fits the noir ideal with hard-drinking PIs, gorgeous women, betrayal and murder.


Bumbershoot preview: Common Market



Common Market, comprised of producer and member of Blue Scholars Sabzi and MC RA Scion will be dropping rhymes and truth bombs on the Bumbershoot Fisher Green Stage on September 6th. Since 2005, Sabzi and Scion have continued to push the envelope with their brand of homegrown hip-hop, using elements of blues, R&B, and authentic, original beats and sounds. RA Scion rhymes are thought provoking and message-driven, exploring concepts like the death of hip-hop, inequality, poverty, and what must be done to overcome them. Scion manages to do this in an intelligent, aggressive, unapologetic fashion without sounding pompous or preachy, which is an impressive feat. His messages are neatly cradled in Sabzi’s beats, rich in instrumentation with hints of D-I-Y floating throughout. Together, their creations feels similar to that of something found on the San Francisco bay area’s AntiCon label, both in message and sound.


Tobacco Road, their second album released in September of ’08 is polished without being slick, which appears to be an important aspect of what Common Market is trying to achieve as a hip-hop act. Lyrically, they have matured and have become more focused in their message; musically, their beats have become more complex and continue to embrace and canvass many genres to create innovative tracks that move your spirit and your body.


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Bumbershoot preview: Grand Hallway

I believe that one reason Seattle and the Northwest in general puts out a crap-load of great music is the constant incest between bands. Whereas incest usually creates mutant babies, Grand Hallway is a band where it gives birth to a unique (but not in that “special” way) and lovely sound that encompasses the octet’s orchestral swells on songs like “Blessed Be, Honey Bee,” and the delicate finger picking of “Usagi No Uta” off their newest release, Promenade, out this September.

The band is mainly Tomo Nakayama, formerly of Asahi and Jen Wood Trio. The rest of the lineup includes members from the Maldives, Sleepy Eyes of Death, Widower, and Voyager One. More than this, on their newest album they also had help from Heatwarmer (a band whose songs are such a mash-up of different styles that I continue to see them live just to figure out exactly what the hell I think of it, and have decided, I love it), Cory Gray, and Goh Nakamura.

Grand Hallway’s songs are melancholy, melodically Beatlesque simultaneously Japanese and European, at times sparse and at others dense, but they always hit home in a direct and charming way that brings a listener into the folds of what the Northwest music scene has to offer. Don’t miss them at 3:15 on the Northwest court, Monday of Bumbershoot.


Bumbershoot preview: Macklemore

I’ve seen Macklemore perform exactly one time, and I loved it so much that I want to see him again and again. This Seattle (now living in Olympia) rapper is more than just a Hip Hop artist – in fact, his MySpace lists him as Hip Hop | Western Swing | 2-Step , which made me giggle quite a bit. He’s a political satirist, entertaining blogger, and pop culture junkie.

In addition to turning out some killer tunes, Macklemore has been known to don a stars and stripes hat, acid-washed jean jacket and mullet wig on stage to poke fun at stereotypical Americans (reminiscent of Trey Parker’s "America, Fuck Yeah" song in Team America: World Police). And honestly, that’s when I find him most entertaining.

Listen to "The Bush Song" for more parody - but be warned, if you're a Bush fan (???) you're not gonna like it: