Tuesday, July 26, 2016

CONCERT REVIEW: Parker Millsap's stirring, rootsy tunes thrill in Spokane

Posted By on Tue, Jul 26, 2016 at 10:33 AM

Parker Millsap at The Bartlett - DAN NAILEN
  • Dan Nailen
  • Parker Millsap at The Bartlett

There's a feeling that comes with seeing a young artist on the rise exceed expectations on stage, a building excitement song by song that what you're witnessing is not just as good as advertised, but on the verge of something huge.

That was certainly the case for me watching Parker Millsap on stage at the Bartlett Monday, playing to a near-sold-out room. I'd already heard and fell in love with his two most-recent albums, his 2014 self-titled release and the new The Very Last Day. But seeing Millsap and his three backing musicians deliver live, ripping through 19 songs ranging from foot-stomping rave-ups to delicate ballads, was an entirely different experience than popping on some headphones. The 23-year-old is a charismatic frontman, a smiling bandleader easy with his between-song banter and in trading barbs with his fellow musicians. 

More importantly, every song was an absolute killer performance, each building on the previous to the point that my interior monologue went from "this guy's going to be huge" to "Holy shit he's good!" to "In five years I'm probably going to be driving long distances to see this guy." Millsap's blend of rock, country, blues and folk hits me right in my roots-loving sweet spot.

The set leaned heavily on The Very Last Day, as well it should; Millsap's latest earned him a nomination for Album of the Year from the Americana Music Association, alongside established elders Lucinda Williams, Jason Isbell and Chris Stapleton.

The show-opening "Pining" is a poppy love song and set the joyful tone early. "Heaven Sent," an epic ballad about a young Christian man and his father coming to grips with his homosexuality, was excellent, as was "Morning Blues," on which Millsap played electric guitar and strapped on a harmonica. 

"This is a song about the nuclear annihilation of everyone and everything, and I hope you enjoy it," Millsap said by way of introducing the title track to The Very Last Day, a nice indication of his sense of humor. He introduced "You Gotta Move" by saying with a big grin and perfect comic timing,"this is an old blues song about the Rapture. Or something." 

Elsewhere, songs from his self-titled album made clear there were some fans in the audience who knew his work well; both "Old Time Religion" and "Truck Stop Gospel" had folks in the crowd singing along. He covered "Comin' Undone," a song he wrote with Sarah Jarosz for her latest album, as well as old blues tune "The Hesitation Blues," working up a sweat early in the show on that one. 

Millsap's band was excellent, too; standup bassist Michael Rose, drummer Paddy Ryan and fiddler Daniel Foulks (introduced by Millsap as "the only Eagles fan in the band," despite wearing an Iggy and the Stooges T-shirt) all fleshed out the songs more than capably, giving Millsap the ability to bounce between guitars. 

When Millsap strapped on an electric for the first time for a brand-new song, "Other Arrangements," it offered a glimpse into an exciting future for his music. The tune was a shambling blues-rock number, delivered loud and kind of sloppy. It was, in a word, awesome. 

But you can say that for Millsap's whole show. 
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Monday, July 25, 2016

The 1975 books Spokane show for October

Posted By on Mon, Jul 25, 2016 at 1:42 PM

The 1975 play Spokane on Saturday, Oct. 22
  • The 1975 play Spokane on Saturday, Oct. 22

One of the biggest music stories of the year has been the success of Brit pop-rockers The 1975 and their sophomore album, boasting one of the more lengthy and ridiculous titles in recent memory. 

I like it when you sleep, for you are so beautiful yet so unaware of it came out in February and hit the top of the album-sales charts in both the UK and United States, and has made several "best of 2016 so far" lists including those from Rolling Stone, Spin and NPR.

Now The 1975 are on the road for a tour that will stop in Spokane on Oct. 22 — a Saturday night, party people!

The show is at the Knitting Factory, and tickets go on sale Friday at 10 am by calling 866-468-7623, or visiting either or the Knitting Factory website. Tickets are $36 in advance, $40 day of show — but I'd imagine they'll will sell out in advance. There will be a presale on Wednesday, so you might want to follow the Knitting Factory's Facebook page to catch the details on that. 

Here's a little sample of The 1975: 

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Thursday, July 21, 2016

CONCERT REVIEW: Chris Cornell mesmerizes for three hours at The Fox

Posted By on Thu, Jul 21, 2016 at 10:31 AM

Chris Cornell spent his birthday in Spokane Wednesday, delivering an unforgettable three-hour show. - DAN NAILEN
  • Dan Nailen
  • Chris Cornell spent his birthday in Spokane Wednesday, delivering an unforgettable three-hour show.

Any worries that a Chris Cornell show delivered primarily solo, accompanied by an acoustic guitar, would be less satisfying than seeing the Soundgarden and Audioslave frontman in full, electrified rock god mode were quickly dashed Wednesday when he casually took the stage at the Fox Theater and waved to the audience before picking up a guitar. 

The reverence fans have for Cornell was obvious considering the standing ovation he got before playing a note — and several more that seemed to occur after every other song. The man possesses one of the best voices in rock, and if Wednesday's show proved anything, it's that Cornell has as much of an exciting future ahead as he has a storied history that began as a leader of Seattle's so-called "grunge" movement, continued to global superstardom and more recently settled into a solo career that has him exploring all manners of sonic approaches to his songwriting. 

Cornell spent three hours delivering 28 songs Wednesday night as he celebrated his birthday in Spokane, as well as the announcement earlier in the day that the Temple of the Dog project Cornell did with members of Pearl Jam and Soundgarden in 1990 would commence its first-ever tour this fall. 

The set was filled with songs from throughout Cornell's career, most of them accompanied by a story about the song's origins, or a funny non sequitur that showed a guy known for dark lyrics has a wicked sense of humor. There were also plenty of unexpected covers, including Prince's "Nothing Compares 2 U" early on to Michael Jackson's "Billie Jean" in the encore as the show approached midnight. 

Chris Cornell at the Martin Woldson Theater at the Fox. - DAN NAILEN
  • Dan Nailen
  • Chris Cornell at the Martin Woldson Theater at the Fox.
In between, it was a tour de force of skilled showmanship and stunning vocals. Several songs came from his most recent solo album Higher Truth, including the show-opening "Before We Disappear" and night-closing title track, as well as the love song "Josephine" Cornell said he began writing as a love song for his now-wife 14 years before he finished it. 

Surrounded by guitars and effects pedals, as well as an on-stage turntable Cornell used to warm up the audience with some Marvin Gaye and to accompany his stirring version of "When I'm Down," Cornell never stayed in one spot for long. He roamed the stage on one song, sat on a stool the next, and occasionally called out multi-instrumentalist Brian Gibson to add some texture to songs via piano, cello or, on "Nearly Forget My Broken Heart," some mandolin. 

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Wednesday, July 20, 2016

CONCERT REVIEW: The Avett Brothers fired up Airway Heights with their raucous Americana music

Posted By on Wed, Jul 20, 2016 at 12:30 PM

The seven-piece Avett Brothers band sounds like they've been making music together since birth.
  • The seven-piece Avett Brothers band sounds like they've been making music together since birth.

He's trying to explain to his family why this music effects him so greatly. 

"They talk about Brooklyn and heading north and road trips and love ... and these words mean so much more," he says, talking in the Northern Quest Resort and Casino foyer just after last night's Avett Brothers show lets out.

And it's true, this young 20-something who wants his parents and siblings to understand what the Avett Brothers mean to him is going to have a challenging time when bringing up the band's lyrics. That song he's describing, "I and Love and You," repeats the title wording over and over. Many of their tunes implement "la la la's" and "ohhh's." It could come off as simplistic to some. Devout fans can have trouble defending their infatuation.

But the Avetts' stage show is the place where it all makes sense. After 16 years together, they are tight, and loose, and emit a profound energy that draws people in. Last night, the seven-piece group rocked the Northern Quest outdoor concert space, keeping the audience, full of everyone from young 20-somethings to senior citizens, completely mesmerized for more than two hours.

They arrived on stage playing "The D Bag Rag," a lively instrumental song off their 2003 album A Carolina Jubilee — always a favorite as Seth Avett gets to show off his mad kazoo skills. They kept on with the upbeat tunes, playing the spit-fire "Talk on Indolence" and also "Live and Die." Through this part of the set both brothers bounced and stomped around; they weren't afraid to look a little ridiculous. 

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On day Chris Cornell plays Spokane, first-ever Temple of the Dog tour announced

Posted By on Wed, Jul 20, 2016 at 11:03 AM

Chris Cornell plays Spokane tonight on his 52nd birthday.
  • Chris Cornell plays Spokane tonight on his 52nd birthday.

Pretty big day for long-time Soundgarden frontman Chris Cornell, owner of one of the best voices in rock. 

First and foremost, of course, is his sold-out headlining show at The Fox in Spokane tonight. If you don't have tickets, there are some bumping around the internet at jacked-up prices

Second, it's Cornell's 52nd birthday today, so expect a massive round of "Happy Birthday" at the show tonight, even if I have to start it myself. (Here's a Billboard article celebrating Cornell's "10 Times His Voice Blew Us Away.")

The biggest news, though, is the announcement of the first-ever tour by Temple of the Dog, the circa 1990 Seattle supergroup made up of Cornell and his Pearl Jam buddies Mike McCready, Stone Gossard and Jeff Ament, as well as drummer Matt Cameron, who plays in both Soundgarden and Pearl Jam.

The group famously came to be in the aftermath of the death of Andrew Wood, Mother Love Bone's singer and friend to all involved, and was best known for introducing much of the world to Eddie Vedder for the first time on his duet with Cornell on "Hunger Strike:"

The tour is only hitting five cities, and three are on the West Coast: Los Angeles, San Francisco, and best for us Inland Northwesterners, Seattle on Nov. 20. 

There's a special ticket pre-sale for fans signed up to the Ten Club, Soundgarden and Chris Cornell email lists up and running and running through July 27. Tickets go on sale to the general public at noon on Friday, July 29. So jump on there if you want to make the trip from Spokane. 

$1.50 from each ticket sold will benefit the Chris and Vicky Cornell Foundation and an additional $1.50 will benefit Pearl Jam’s Vitalogy Foundation.
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Saturday, July 16, 2016

CONCERT REVIEW: KISS brought the noise, pyrotechnics and even patriotism

Posted By on Sat, Jul 16, 2016 at 11:11 AM


Gene Simmons still has blood on his chin. After doing his best lizard impression, spewing fake scarlet liquid from his mouth onto his metal armor and then flying high into the air to rock out on a platform way above the stage, the famed bass player is back on the ground. He struts on his platform boots as if he’s walking around in the lightest Nike tennis shoes. Guitarists Paul Stanley and Tommy Thayer do so as well. They play hit after KISS hit, along with some deeper cuts. Then Simmons breathes a fire ball.

Last night, KISS pulled out all of the stops for their 
KISS co-founder Paul Stanley flew to middle of the arena to sing "Love Gun." He later asked, "Who wants to see my love gun?"
  • KISS co-founder Paul Stanley flew to middle of the arena to sing "Love Gun." He later asked, "Who wants to see my love gun?"
Freedom to Rock tour stop at the Spokane Arena. It was huge and bombastic. Pyrotechnics went off nearly every song, because if you got them, you might as well use them. The very end of the show included lasers, fireworks, confetti, smoke, high-powered fans, streamers and, oh yeah, the musicians played “Rock and Roll All Nite” (two of them doing so while standing on swinging platforms that rotated over the audience). Of course, last week Simmons told the Inlander to expect the spectacle. He did not exaggerate.

From the beginning of the show, when the big KISS curtain fell and the whole band started playing “Detroit Rock City” on raised stage platforms, it was clear what the band came to do. Paul Stanley, who lost his shirt early on, yells into the microphone: “Alright Spokane, you wanted the best, you got the best.”

Throughout the night, Stanley, in a tone somewhat reminiscent of a nagging grandmother, introduces nearly every song. In the process he probably says the name Spokane more times on stage than any artist in history. He explains it’s an honor to play for us and that even though we weren’t the largest crowd (the upper level of the arena was completely closed off), we had the power to be the loudest.

He explains: “We got all the stuff you want to hear. You’re hearing the band that’s in the Rock And Roll Hall of Fame. They hate us, but they had to listen to you. And for that we say, ‘thank you.’”

This is a band, together for more than 40 years, who’ve sold over 100 million records worldwide. They’ve played almost every stadium there is, including the smaller towns they hit up for this tour (they’re going to Bozeman tonight) and they know exactly what they’re doing. Sure, they may look silly — these men in their 50s and 60s still wearing makeup and strutting around like royalty. But the whole thing is supposed to be a little ridiculous. It’s about having (pretty family-friendly) fun. Currently, they can still play those awesome standards like “Creatures of the Night,” "Black Diamond" and “I Love it Loud”, so they’re not going to stop yet.

Here were some of the highlights:


Drummer Eric Singer has a beautiful voice and his rendition of KISS’s ballad “Beth” especially showed that off. For this number, they even let him come to the front of the stage. People took out their lighters, swayed and sang along.

The Demon’s tongue
Oh, it was there — red, long and wild as ever. There was even a point where Simmons tried to lick Thayer with the thing, but luckily he was able to evade.

KISS fan Dave Thormahlen was one of the few who was unafraid to go big.
  • KISS fan Dave Thormahlen was one of the few who was unafraid to go big.
ourth of July re-run
And then Stanley went super patriotic. He told the crowd that the military is what holds this country together. The audience started chanting “USA, USA, USA!” He told us the band was donating $150,000 to the Hiring Our Heroes foundation and then invited the Spokane Marine Corps Color Guard to come out and we all recited the Pledge of Allegiance. Then to top it off, KISS plays the “Star Spangled Banner” in glorious electric guitar harmony. “Patriotism is always cool,” Stanley said from the stage.


Where were all of the costumes, people? There was only one group of guys who went full out, nearly tripping over their platforms. Other than that, between a few painted faces and wigs, people simply donned KISS T-shirts. I truly expected more. However, let it be known that the actual costumes worn by the guys on stage were impeccable, the detail brilliant. Their costume seamstress is a genius. Through all of the sweat, the spandex, horns and rhinestones held strong. 

The Spokane Arena nearly outdid themselves with these awesome KISS cookies, and the guys were impressed, posting this on their Facebook page:

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Friday, July 15, 2016

THIS WEEKEND IN MUSIC: KISS, Phish and the South Perry Street Fair

Posted By on Fri, Jul 15, 2016 at 12:02 PM

Gene Simmons, when interviewed by the Inlander  last week, had this to say about  his band's upcoming show: "Your girlfriend's been lying to you all these years, size DOES count, and we're bringing all of it."
  • Gene Simmons, when interviewed by the Inlander last week, had this to say about his band's upcoming show: "Your girlfriend's been lying to you all these years, size DOES count, and we're bringing all of it."


Bringing a little of that Detroit Rock City action are the aging, yet agile, KISS. Their wild show kicks off at the Arena starting at 8 pm with Caleb Johnson opening. Of course, we’ll be there too looking for the best fan duds, so don’t be afraid to show up dressed for success. The bigger the platform boots, the better. Read Dan Nailen’s interview with the one and only Gene Simmons right here. Rock on!

Hitting the Gorge Amphitheatre for two nights this weekend is Phish. Anyone who’s read Nathan Rabin’s book You Don't Know Me but You Don't Like Me: Phish, Insane Clown Posse, and My Misadventures with Two of Music's Most Maligned Tribes, knows that going to a Phish show means hanging out with a bunch of folks who love the band more than almost anything else in the world. This is a four-piece rock group that hasn’t had many major radio hits, but through decades of playing highly creative and lengthy improvisational sets — each one different than the next, sometimes not turning out so well — they keep their fan base coming back for more unique shows. Three years ago, when Phish was last at the Gorge, we wrote a think piece about the similarities between Phish and baseball fans. Read that here.

A free outdoor show featuring awesome local talent? Yes, please. Starting Saturday at noon the South Perry Street Fair (not to be confused with Perry Street Shakedown) brings in the likes of Marshall McLean Band, Silver Treason, Delbert the Band (coming out of retirement for this weekend and the upcoming Gleason Fest), Super Sparkle, Little Wolf and Grooveacre. This community celebration includes more than 80 vendors and a multitude of activities. Check out the schedule right here.

Seattle-based indie-rock group the Cave Singers come back through the Bartlett Saturday. The band, which includes former members of the post-punk act Pretty Girls Make Graves, is now back in its original form as a three-piece. The show starts at 8 pm and is $17 at the door.

James Taylor is comes to the Spokane Arena Saturday. He’s seen fire and rain, and now you can hear him sing all about his experiences for a mere $65 or $85. Check out one of his songs below that’s actually pretty worthwhile.

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Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Merry Christmas! Wreck The Halls brings the '80s hair-metal scene to Spokane in December

Posted By on Wed, Jul 13, 2016 at 2:30 PM

Bret Michaels will be Spokane's early Christmas present — if you're into that sort of thing.
  • Bret Michaels will be Spokane's early Christmas present — if you're into that sort of thing.

For many a music fan, music reached its hairy, hard-rocking zenith in the mid- to late-80s, when a certain brand of "metal" dominated MTV, the radio airwaves and the pop charts — albeit briefly. 

While hair-metal has largely been left in the dustbin of music history, the artists of the era have showed surprising staying power thanks to the fans, and a bunch of them are heading to Spokane for a show called Wreck the Halls with Bret Michaels, arriving Dec. 3 at the Spokane Arena for a day-long show that kicks off at 3:30 pm. 

Bret Michaels of Poison (without the rest of Poison, will be joined by RATT ("Round & Round), Warrant ("Cherry Pie"), L.A. Guns ("Electric Gypsy"), Dokken ("Into the Fire") and Jack Russell's Great White ("Rock Me") for a show that will be full of hits, if not many (make that "any") original lineups of said bands. 

Tickets go on sale Friday at 10 am via all TicketsWest outlets and at the arena box office, and there is a special presale starting Thursday at 10 am—just use the codeword "WRECK" right here if you're interested. Tickets are $39 and $59. 
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Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Mozart on a Summer's Eve musicians go Flash-Bach

Posted By on Tue, Jul 12, 2016 at 9:21 AM

Who wouldn't want to hang out with Mozart?
  • Who wouldn't want to hang out with Mozart?
Zuill Bailey performs at a Flash-Bach concert at River Front Square last year.
  • Zuill Bailey performs at a Flash-Bach concert at River Front Square last year.

Zuill Bailey
is at it again, playing free pop-up  shows around town. The famed cellist is bringing free, world-class classical music to the masses once more to help celebrate the Mozart on a Summer's Eve concert series, which begins today. 

Perhaps it seems like he’s playing around town for, free and otherwise a lot. The Flash-Bach series was also part of the Northwest Bach Festival in February and March. But today at noon, Bailey plays the Nest at Kendall Yards near Central Food. By his side this time around are three cellists from his Sitka Cello Seminar in Alaska. Expect quite a bit of Bach here. On Wednesday, the cellists move to River Front Square for a free noon performance in the Atrium.

Here’s everything you need to know about Mozart on a Summer’s Eve:

Starting tonight, for the 26th time, Connoisseur Concerts celebrates the famous classical artist with its Mozart on a Summer’s Eve event at Manito Park. The show begins with the Connoisseur Concerts’ Wind Ensemble, along with local soprano/songwriter Madeline McNeill, working through everything from Mozart to Edith Piaf.

For those reserving tables ($30), Luna restaurant will cater dinner at a separate request. For those on the lawn ($15), bring blankets and/or chairs to sit on. Picnic food and beverages (of all kinds) are encouraged. Seating begins at 5:30 pm but the show starts at 7 pm. 

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Monday, July 11, 2016

Blues news you can use: Mick Fleetwood Blues Band coming to Spokane

Posted By on Mon, Jul 11, 2016 at 1:05 PM

Rick Vito (left) and Mick Fleetwood lead the Mick Fleetwood Blues Band.
  • Rick Vito (left) and Mick Fleetwood lead the Mick Fleetwood Blues Band.

Before Fleetwood Mac became a hit machine after Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham joined the band, the group was better known for its late-60s era of blues music. 

Between the arena-sized tours that brought Fleetwood Mac to Spokane two years ago, drummer and band founder Mick Fleetwood is getting back to his roots with the Mick Fleetwood Blues Band, which is stopping in Spokane on Wednesday, Sept. 28, for a show at the Martin Woldson Theater at The Fox. 

Tickets range from $43 to $78, and are available via presale right now by going to the TicketsWest site for the show and entering "BLUES" in the promo code box. Otherwise, tickets go on sale to the public Friday at 10 am at all the usual TicketsWest outlets. There are also VIP tickets available that include some hang time with Fleetwood and primo seats in the first few rows. 

Fronting the band is lead guitarist and singer Rick Vito, who stepped into the Fleetwood Mac lineup from 1987 to 1991 after Buckingham had left. He's also toured and played with the likes of Bob Seger, Bonnie Raitt, John Fogerty and Albert Collins, among others. 

The Mick Fleetwood Blues Band was nominated for a Grammy back in 2010 for their live Blue Again release, and their live shows are a mix of original tunes, covers of blues classics and reworked versions of songs from all eras of Fleetwood Mac. 
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