Friday, December 12, 2014

THIS WEEKEND IN MUSIC: Flogging Molly and Ugly Sweater Christmas

Posted By on Fri, Dec 12, 2014 at 12:02 PM



If you make it to only one gathering of brutally tacky outerwear this season, make it the Ugly Sweater Christmas Party at the Big Dipper on Friday night at 7:30 pm. The stellar lineup includes local rock acts Bard (whose lead singer is named Patrick Stewart, and features an awesome saxophonist), Bullets Or Balloons (who hail from Spokane and Olympia), Blackwater Prophet (one of this year’s Inlander Bands to Watch) and the Smokes (who aptly have a hip, smoky sound). Show up wearing the loudest holiday sweater you can find; it will pair well with the music. Cost is $10.

One singer-songwriter performing on stage can be quite inspiring. But why not add two more musicians, a spoken word poet and a visual artist to that performance stage? The Round, a new-to-Spokane collaborative art series, does just that. Already, Rounds have taken place in Portland, Seattle, Tacoma and Anacortes. Thanks to the Bartlett, the series is in Spokane too. For Round No. 3, which begins at 8 pm, performers include musical acts the Rustics, Ian and Austen Case and Scott Ryan along with poet Isaac Grambo and artist Nory. Cost is $8.

Irish-influenced rock just hit Spokane hard in October with the Dropkick Murphys. The Young Dubliners will come through in February. But this Saturday’s helping of Irish-American punk comes from L.A.-based Flogging Molly. On stage, Dublin-born lead singer Dave King leads his seven-piece band through some of the most wild, boot-stompin’ music out there. The instrumental combination of fiddle, tin whistle and accordion with drums and fuzzy guitars is undeniably perfect for writing drunken lullabies (also the title of the band’s biggest hit) — King’s croaky. Irish accent-tinged voice doesn’t hurt, either. With this show you don’t have to wait until St. Patrick’s Day to feel Irish. The all-ages show starts at 8 pm and is $33.

Jones Radiator brings in the Woolen Men and Normal Babies Saturday night. Hailing from Portland, the Woolen Men play fuzzed-out rock. Their music is a perfect accompaniment to Spokane’s own Normal Babies (who were named a 2014 Inlander Band to Watch).

Tuesday at the Hop!, Elektro Grave presents Krampusnacht. Read more about the small but mighty Elektro Grave goth EDM scene here.

Thursday, Jessica Hernandez and the Deltas and local rockers Heavy Seventeen (listen to their new music here) hit the Bartlett. Read our story on the Detroit-based songstress here.

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Thursday, December 11, 2014

More big shows announced: Neutral Milk Hotel, Sheryl Crow and Widespread Panic

Posted By on Thu, Dec 11, 2014 at 2:06 PM

Huge news for the concert-inclined in the Inland Northwest: Neutral Milk Hotel, Sheryl Crow and Widespread Panic are booked to play the area in 2015. Earlier this week, we reported on upcoming Lucinda Williams and comedian Doug Benson shows. 

Yesterday, the alt-rock act Neutral Milk Hotel announced its upcoming tour would be its final one. Prior to getting back together in 2013, the group had practically been in hiding for nearly a decade, leaving fans to wallow in their sorrows listening to the only two albums the band ever made on repeat. But this summer, Spokane rock lovers can rejoice, the group performs at the Knitting Factory on June 5. Tickets are $32.

Sheryl Crow “Makes You Happy” by hitting up Beasley Coliseum for Washington State University’s Mom’s Weekend on April 11. The nine-time Grammy winner hasn’t performed at the Coliseum since 1996 so it’s high time she comes through again, singing her brand of Americana pop. Tickets are priced at $60.50 for the public and $55.50 for WSU staff, faculty and students and go on sale January 16. Just a friendly reminder: Crow used to date Lance Armstrong.

Calling all Dead Heads and other jam band enthusiasts! The 1980s neo-hippie Southern rock band Widespread Panic comes to the Martin Woldson Theater at the Fox March 15. Oh yes, the band that as of last year holds the record for most sold-out shows at Red Rocks Amphitheater runs its famous live show (which notably never has the same setlist twice) through Spokane. Tickets are $45 and go on sale next month. 

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Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Big Spokane show announcements: Doug Benson and Lucinda Williams

Posted By on Tue, Dec 9, 2014 at 4:39 PM

Doug Benson loves movies and visiting Spokane

So we don’t know for sure that Doug Benson loves visiting Spokane but he is hitting up the Knitting Factory January 9 to do standup comedy — unfortunately not a Doug Loves Movies podcast taping.

Benson is the sort of dude whose Twitter account explains: “If you can't stand the tweet, unfollow the kitchen.” That should give you an insight into his type of humor. The comedian was seen on Last Comic Standing and starred in the all-important documentary Super High Me. But he’s most well known in hipster circles for his podcast Doug Loves Movies, which tapes often at Upright Citizens Brigade Theater in Los Angeles. The podcast invites artists and comedians of all walks to the stage and features the best game ever, the Leonard Maltin Game, where players are asked to guess a film by the number of stars and brief explanation given by movie critic Leonard Maltin. (Pro tip: Buy a Leonard Maltin Movie Guide book and play this game with friends … so fun).

His other weekly, yet more ridiculous, podcast is Getting Doug with High. Which, like his standup, talks a lot about smoking marijuana. 

Tickets are $20 and can be purchased at

Lucinda Williams rocks hard country

Lucinda Williams, 61, sounds kind of drunk when she sings, but in a super cool way. She brings her brand of rockin’ country to the Bing Crosby Theater Valentine’s Day (which is also the day Portland Cello Project comes to town. Good luck deciding which show to attend).

Williams’ first album Ramblin’ was released in 1979, but it took until the late-1990s for her to find mainstream success. Since then she’s been named America’s Best Songwriter by Time magazine and has won multiple Grammys. 

Tickets start at $39 and go on sale Friday at TicketsWest outlets. 

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TUESDAY TASTE: Giant heads rule! Smashing Pumpkins and indie-flick "Frank" among week's new releases

Posted By on Tue, Dec 9, 2014 at 11:33 AM

Every week the entertainment biz drops a batch of new music and videos on the masses, and every week we help you decide what's worth your time, and what's best left behind. Let's do this. 


The Smashing Pumpkins, Monuments to an Elegy. With Billy Corgan the only remaining original member, we continue to learn that he was really the only Pumpkin that ever mattered. Monuments sounds exactly like what you'd expect a new Smashing Pumpkins album to sound like — old Smashing Pumpkins, but not as good. Still, if you love the band, this nine-song set makes for a decent addition. You can hear new tune "Tiberius" right here: 

Cracker, Berkeley to Bakersfield. It's a double album that collects the original Cracker lineup for the first time in 20 years on the Berkeley half (the rock half), while delving into the rootsy country and Americana that founders David Lowery and Johnny Hickman have dabbled in through the years on the Bakersfield disc. Here's a live vid a fan shot of "King of Bakersfield:"

Ghostface Killah, 36 Seasons. As a member of the Wu-Tang, he deserves some blame for their middling recent release. As a solo artist, Ghostface Killah remains a remarkably consistent hip-hop force, and this one proves that point yet again. Here's a tune called "The Battlefield:"


Obviously the biggest DVD release of the week is Guardians of the Galaxy, the winning sci-fi comedy that raked in serious coin this year while successfully straddling the line between action and slapstick. Even the soundtrack turned some young people who aren't old enough to know better into fans of garbage '70s soft rock hits. Chances are you've already seen that one, so perhaps you should give some of these smaller new releases a try: 

Calvary stars the brilliant Brendan Gleeson (The Guard) as a good priest in a small Irish town — but not good enough to keep one of his parishioners from threatening to kill him during a visit to the confession booth. It's more dark than comedy, but watching Gleeson do his thing is a treat — he just won a British Independent Film Award for this role. Here's a look: 

Frank was a Sundance hit, and it's inspired by a hard-to-believe true story of musician/comedian Chris Sievey, who created a character named Frank Sidebottom to lead a band with an unpronounceable name. The schtick, both in real life and the movie, is that Frank (played by Michael Fassbender) walks around his everyday life and performs wearing a large papier-mâché head. Take a look: 

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Friday, December 5, 2014

THIS WEEKEND IN MUSIC: Big Saturday night!

Posted By on Fri, Dec 5, 2014 at 1:29 PM


Electronic pop is so hot right now. Local synth pop duo Crystalline release a new EP tonight at 8 pm at the Bartlett. Get a taste for the six-track tape here. The show also features other electronic acts Water Monster and Sea Giant. The all-ages show is $10.

SATURDAY (There’s just not enough happening)
SKA — When the mellow sounds of Hawaii meet California grooves, you get something that can only be described as Pepper. Their recent tour, which they’ll be bringing through the Knitting Factory Saturday, aims to create an island vibe, transporting concert-goers to a place of relaxation and gentle breezes. The all-ages show is $18 and begins at 8 pm.

INDIE — Also hitting up Spokane Saturday by way of California is the much-buzzed-about Francisco the Man. This four-piece L.A.-based group produces a kind of off-kilter sound that is disorienting and wonderful. It’s a mix of never-boring shoegaze, hazy and distorted rock and muffled pop. At the show, keep an ear out for “It’s Not Your Fault” — you’ll hum that tune all the way home. The show at the Bartlett starts at 8 pm and is $10.

COUNTRY — Nashville North co-owner and touring country musician Jeremy McComb hits up his venue Saturday night for a Christmas Extravaganza. Nashville songwriters Travis Howard and Rick Huckaby will open for the show. The show is $15. 

DANCE — Dust off your formalwear, the Baby Bar hosts its annual Winter Formal event Saturday at 8 pm. At the musical helm are local cover act Big Hair Revolution and also DJ Case.

METAL — This show may just sound like the soundtrack to your bad dreams. The Hop! plays up the metal Saturday night with the Nightmare Before Christmas Show. Acts on the bill include: Straight To Our Enemies, Vessels, Losing Skin, Reason For Existence, RaisedByWolves, Deaf To, Keep In Check, Lions Beside Us and Sins of Sanity. The all-ages show is $10 and doors open at 5:30 pm. Whoa!

FUNK — For those looking for a lot of horn in their lives, Soul Proprietor shows at the Big Dipper Saturday night. The Spokane-based nine-piece group gets loud and funky everywhere they go. The all-ages event starts at 7 pm and is $8.

Coming to us all the way from Canada are the folk-playin’ Wailin’ Jennys. These harmonious and beautiful ladies (none of which are named Jenny) play the Bing Sunday at 7:30 pm. The show is $47-$57. 
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Thursday, December 4, 2014

Spokane fiddle legend Tony Ludiker dies at 52

Posted By on Thu, Dec 4, 2014 at 2:26 PM


It’s a sad time for the Inland Northwest fiddle scene. Tony Ludiker, a five-time Grand National Fiddle Champion from Spokane Valley, lost his battle with kidney cancer Tuesday. Although he had recently lived in Colorado, he chose to come back to Spokane to live out his final days. 

Involved in the local fiddle scene for more than 40 years, he taught many students the ways of the violin but still made time to perform and compete. He played with the Flying W Wranglers as well as the Doo-Wah Riders and was a 13-time Washington State Fiddle Champion.

The Ludiker family are big proponents of not just the local fiddle scene, but also the national bluegrass scene (daughter Kimber Ludiker is part of the Grammy-nominated act Della Mae). We profiled Ludiker’s ex-wife JayDean Ludiker earlier this year.

“Tough day for our family, friends, and the fiddle world in whole,” wrote Kimber Ludiker via Facebook. “Dad lost his battle to cancer this evening. He went peacefully surrounded by family while listening to Benny Thomasson play ‘Sally Goodin.’”

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Tuesday, December 2, 2014

TUESDAY TASTE: New tunes from the Wu-Tang, AC/DC, She & Him, plus Broad City hits video

Posted By on Tue, Dec 2, 2014 at 11:32 AM

Each week we like to help you separate the awesome from the awful among the new music and home video releases. After all, no one wants to waste their hard-earned dollars. 

Here is what's new and worth a look this week: 


AC/DC, Rock or Bust. Granted, if you have one AC/DC album (and chances are you do—Back in Black has sold an estimated 50 million copies to date), you pretty much have all the AC/DC you need. But each new release comes with some new gems to the Aussie stomp-rock canon, and Rock or Bust comes with additional intrigue thanks to dementia in rhythm guitarist Malcolm Young and alleged murder-for-hire plots involving drummer Phil Rudd. It's all very rock 'n' roll. Here's a taste of the new AC/DC, via a tune called "Play Ball," and it's just as subtle as one might expect:
She & Him, Classics. Haters gonna hate, but this project of manic pixie dream girl Zooey Deschanel and uber-talented M. Ward has consistently delivered solid retro-sounding tunes touching on girl-group doo-wop, '60s blue-eyed soul and classic country. On this new one, the duo tackles a slew of covers ranging from the expected (Dusty Springfield, Aretha Franklin) to the surprising (Johnny Mathis, Herb Alpert). Here's their take on Springfield's "Stay Awhile:" 

Wu-Tang Clan, A Better Tomorrow. It's a little hard to believe that this new Wu-Tang album ever saw the light of day, given the hip-hoppers' utter dysfunction in how they work together (or don't). But they did a lot of live shows this summer, and here comes a new set of East Coast rhymes that ushers the one-time sonic pioneers into middle age. 


This week's big mainstream release is the well-received Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, and those looking for something the whole family can enjoy, from Grandma on down to the kids, might want to check out the Helen Mirren foodie flick The Hundred-Foot Journey

If you're looking for something a bit more challenging, though, consider The Congress, a tripped-out look at Hollywood, aging and technology in which Robin Wright plays a version of herself who sells her digital likeness to "Miramount Studio" in order to care for her sick child, only to see that digital likeness become a star years later. Here's a look: 

As we all eagerly await Season 2 of Broad City to kick off on Jan. 14 (see the NSFW teaser trailer for the new season here), Season 1 appears on DVD to remind you that Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobson are making some of the funniest comedy on TV or the web (where this series got its start). 

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Wednesday, November 26, 2014

THIS LONG WEEKEND IN MUSIC: Pre-Thanksgiving, Thanksgiving and post-Thanksgiving shows

Posted By on Wed, Nov 26, 2014 at 12:24 AM

If Thanksgiving is all about family, the night before Thanksgiving is about hanging out with all of those friends who are back in town for the long weekend. The Knitting Factory has that figured out with its upcoming annual Butterball Bash. The headbanging lineup includes Seattle sludge metal group Witchburn and Spokane rock acts Seven Cycles, Deadones USA, Elephant Gun Riot and Free the Jester, who just released their debut EP last month. It’s time to rock hard before hitting that big turkey feast and Black Friday. The free ($5 for minors) all-ages show begins at 7:30 pm.

Every time singer-songwriter Star Anna goes on tour she eats at Denny's. There's comfort in familiar cuisine and she appreciates any menu that includes a respectable pun (Moons Over My Hammy is a favorite). This Thanksgiving she'll eat at the 24-hour diner again thanks to a two-date stop in Spokane next Wednesday and Thursday. The shows begin at 8 pm and is $5. Read the full story here.

What better way to eat an amazing burrito at Neato Burrito, then to do so while listening to electronic music? The Baby Bar plays host to the Thanksgiving Eve DJ Party featuring DJ Case, Stone Tobey, Kain Bridge One and Da III. The beat-filled show starts at 9 pm and is free.

Last year, at an impromptu Mootsy's Thanksgiving show, the other guys all realized Aker needed a rock band behind his wailing, soulful vocals. Months later, Pine League was formed. The local rock band plays Mootsy’s again Thursday. Just roll down there whenever your family festivities have hit a lull.

Friday evening, after you’ve eaten a sufficient amount of leftover turkey-filled sandwiches, hit up the Big Dipper for an evening of local metal acts. (I’ve heard hardcore music actually helps with digestion). The bands include Over Sea Under Stone, Lions Beside Us and Banish the Echo. The all-ages show is $8 at the door and starts at 8 pm.

The Knitting Factory brings in that breezy California singer-songwriter sound Saturday with Eric Hutchinson, Tristan Prettyman and Nick Howard. The show starts at 8 pm and is $20 at the door.

Local kick-ass metal acts Cold Blooded, Progenitus and I Hate This City play the Rock Your Socks Off Benefit organized by the Modified Dolls, a nonprofit founded by “modified” — i.e., pierced and tattooed — women and dedicated to charity Saturday. Bring socks for the House of Charity and nonperishable food items for Second Harvest. The show starts at 10 pm at Underground 15.

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Tuesday, November 25, 2014

TUESDAY TASTE: New MST3K, Drunk History and Soundgarden rarities among new releases

Posted By on Tue, Nov 25, 2014 at 11:37 AM

Every Tuesday we let you know the best of the week's new music and video releases to help you decide how to spend your hard-earned cash. It's a slower week due to Thanksgiving, but there are a few things worth your consideration. Check 'em out: 


There are plenty of live sets, greatest-hits collections and "expanded editions" of old albums coming our way, as there always are this time of year. Two you might want to consider: 

Soundgarden, Echo of Miles: Scattered Tracks Across the Path. This triple-disc set is broken down into sets of originals, covers and "oddities," and will surely thrill long-time lovers of the Northwest crew more than introduce many new fans to their thud-rock sound. You'll get the full version of "Birth Ritual" from the Singles soundtrack, among other goodies. 

Rick Ross,
Hood Billionaire. The second release by the gangster poet follows on the drug-slinging themes of Mastermind from the Grammy-nominated MC. 


We're not going to lie — it's pretty slim pickings on the new release front for home video. There's the testosterone fest of Expendables 3, featuring Sly Stallone and a bevy of action stars young and old (and older). There's the sci-fi of The Giver, Tyler Perry's attempt at blending Christmas mirth and his Madea character, and the "wait, wasn't that in theaters, like, last week" flick A Merry Friggin Christmas, but I prefer to pretend Robin Williams never made that one. 

For my money, the only worthwhile releases this week come from television. 

Drunk History, the web series-turned-Comedy Central hit is one of the most entertaining half-hour shows to hit television in a long time. It's a collection of increasingly drunk comedians waxing on about important moments in history, and their rambling is then re-enacted by performers ranging from Jack Black to Winona Ryder to Kristin Wiig — it's a who's who of funny folks. The concept might leave you skeptical, but give it a shot. Now you can get the first two seasons of the show on DVD. Here's a bit of what's in store: 

Mystery Science Theater 3000: Vol XXXI: The Turkey Day Collection captures four episodes of the show — two from the Comedy Central era hosted by Joel Hodgson, and two from the Sci-Fi Channel era hosted by Mike Nelson. The four movies included and skewered by MST3K's Tom Servo and Crow are Jungle Goddess, The Painted Hills, The Screaming Skull and Squirm. Here's a look: 

And if you're looking to drive any lingering relatives or friends from the house after your Thanksgiving meal, consider popping in the ridiculously lengthy Lars Von Trier flick Nymphomaniac, a two-parter being released on video as a "director's cut" this week. The overabundance of Shia LaBeouf should be enough to get you some peace and quiet in no time. Take a peek: 

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Sunday, November 23, 2014

CONCERT REVIEW: Mötley Crüe's fiery final U.S. show

Posted By on Sun, Nov 23, 2014 at 12:28 PM


For their final North American show ever, Mötley Crüe set the Spokane Arena on fire. Or at least it felt that way with so many pyrotechnics displayed at last night’s beer-induced and packed-to-the-rafters show. All of the spotlights, strobe lights, fireworks and fiery explosions worked well to cover the fact that Nikki Sixx, Vince Neil, Tommy Lee and Mick Mars are no longer as pretty as they were in their 1980s heyday. And a little widening and wrinkling is expected of a band known for such hedonistic lifestyles.

No expense was spared for the Crüe’s farewell tour after 33 years (mostly) together – they even signed contracts in a publicity stunt press conference barring them from touring again. I can only imagine the pre-production meeting for the tour went something like this:

“OK, how can we make this tour the most outrageous and face-melting ever?”
- Have more onstage explosions than a Transformers film
- See how many times we can say "f—-" 
- Have Nikki Sixx’s microphone hang from the ceiling. Later he’ll light it on fire with his flame-throwing bass only to reveal a pentagram at the top of it
- Make Tommy Lee’s drum-kit not only spin in circles but float out over the audience on a track while slowly tumbling
- Tell our origin story in a testimonial style, explaining how we became the best hair-raising band in the entire world selling more than 100 million records worldwide (Nikki Sixx had the honors here, sharing how he moved from Jerome, Idaho, to Hollywood to become a rock star)
- Include flashy stripper-esque backup dancers
- Sing every hit (“Girls, Girls Girls” and their cover of “Smokin’ in the Boys Room” were particular favorites) and even a couple songs from our later records like the entertaining “Motherf—-er of the Year”
- Set up side stage extenders to get closer to the audience
- Make sure Mick Mars has time for a virtuoso guitar solo so insane people will think it’s Hendrix raised from the dead

And all of this was there and more. The audience lapped it up as they should have – this was a stage experience at the highest level. The fans were on point, too, screaming wildly, spilling beers and raising metal-hands to the sky. Some wore bad hair metal wigs and 5-inch platform shoes. One dude even smartly chose to wear sparkly purple spandex pants with no shirt (it was below freezing outside).

As for the music, sometimes it was challenging to hear Neil’s vocals, but for the most part it was all there and they’re playing better than ever. Neil can still sing and skip and run quickly across the stage, Lee’s drumming is just wild, Mars is still weird and Sixx had a flame-throwing bass!

And as they had to, they ended their final show of 2014 (they have final shows overseas next year) with “Home Sweet Home” on a platform in the middle of the arena. As the power ballad built to its ultimate climax the platform began to rise into the air – because of course it did. In the end, they thanked everyone profusely and the house lights came up.

Mötley Crüe claims this is their final tour ever, but it’s clear they love this too much. We’ll see what happens five years from now.

Admissions from the stage:
“I swear to God, our music is going to haunt you until the day you die,” Neil proclaimed near the end of the show.
“We f—-in love you guys! Thanks for putting up with our drug addictions. To the women out there, we’re sorry if we gave any of you diseases.”

Alice Cooper's enjoyably frightening stage setup at the Spokane Arena
  • Alice Cooper's enjoyably frightening stage setup at the Spokane Arena

Alice Cooper was the perfect intro to the evening. No one else can walk around a stage wielding a whip or a sword or wearing a straitjacket like he can. His set was a condensed version of his “normal” solo tour shows but he still managed to get all the nightmarish stuff in – like the guillotine, a huge-ass Frankenstein monster, and zombie nurse back-up dancers. It was just a thrill a minute. The 66-year-old is still singing like "I'm Eighteen” and that’s pretty damn amazing. 
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