The dog days of summer are beginning to relinquish their bite. That's fine with us. But that first nip of fall in the air also reminds us of our sworn duty to alert fellow Spokane art patrons about the coming season of music, specifically, the live rock, jazz, blues, folk and country shows of the next few months that are now coming into focus. Some are a little fuzzy yet, while others are chiseled in granite. Please take a moment to peruse the following musical offerings -- and get out that calendar-marking Sharpie. Oh, and be sure to keep an eye on future installments of The Inlander's nightlife section for new shows as they are announced.
The Big Easy
They have the technology, the clout and the space to host some of the biggest big-name rock shows Spokane has seen in recent eons. It opened early this year, but almost instantaneously, the Big Easy became the live music venue by which all others are judged. And it has definitely strengthened Spokane's steadily improving reputation as a town that supports live music.
The venue's fall music calendar is veritably packed with performances by artists such as electric bluesman Jimmie Vaughn on Sept. 17, songwriter Eric Johnson on Sept. 19, goofball pop culture satirist Weird Al Yankovic on Sept. 19 and Brit alt-rockers Gomez on Sept, 30. And that's just this month.
The October schedule kicks off on the first with a show by former Refreshments singer/songwriter/guitarist Roger Clyne and his latter-day band, the Peacemakers, who deal in Tex-Mex-by-way-of-Tucson, straight-ahead rock thing (which is good). Orgy gets orgiastic on Oct. 8, Seattle hard-rock holdovers from the '80s Queensryche will perform the entire "Operation Mindcrime" suite (among other hits) on Oct. 9, and the Tragically Hip grace our fair city once again with a show on Oct. 11. Ska-punk flagellators Flogging Molly are on deck on Oct. 16, and the re-constituted Creed -- now known as Alter Bridge (with talented and refreshingly humble Spokane lad Myles Kennedy replacing the egomaniacal Scott Stapp on vocals) -- is scheduled to scare up some big rock fun on Halloween.
And don't forget about the not-so-fun (in the traditional sense) but always-provocative Insane Clown Posse with Mushroomhead, Mach 10, and Anybody Killa on Nov. 15. Death metal masters Slayer with Killswitch Engage and Mastodon play on Dec. 5, but there are sure to be more shows announced for those later months.
Most of the big blowsy rock acts seem to be playing the Big Easy these days, leaving the venerable Met Theatre to re-define, if not re-invent, itself as an arts venue with a more selective event schedule representing a typically broad range of musical genres. And it's not too much of a stretch to say that most folks around here would choose the Met over virtually any other venue in town -- especially when it comes to style, class, acoustics and the fact that there really isn't a bad seat in this house. It's love. And we just can't help it.
The fall music calendar at the Met starts off with a performance by pianist/composer George Winston on Sept. 23. The Spokane Jazz Orchestra kicks off its 30th season on Oct. 1 with guest vocalist and Grammy-winner Diane Schurr. Wylie and the Wild West are back on Oct. 9 to power through the band's rightfully popular so-authentic-you-can-feel-the-grit country and western repertoire. Blues duo Roy Rogers & amp; Norton Buffalo make another return on Oct. 16. Spokane buzz-worthy band the Side Project makes a Met appearance on Oct. 21, while on Nov. 13 the night belongs, not to Michelob, but to John Prine, one of the great singer-songwriters of the past three-plus decades.
The Spokane Arena is a great place to experience a concert. It's big, comfortable and high-tech with pretty decent sound. It's also quite versatile -- with the ability to transform from a full-sized arena to the smaller, more intimate Star Theatre in a jiff. So why do concerts so rarely seem to happen here? This fall, there are only three so far. Mannheim Steamroller does its holiday thing on Nov. 23, and living legend Dolly Parton on Dec. 18 (tickets go on sale Oct. 2). And just announced this week for Oct. 20 is the Van Halen reunion tour (no, not with David Lee Roth, with Sammy Hagar).
This coffeehouse on South Perry, that former automotive repair shop turned haven for live music, visual art and caffeine, is tweaking its already popular and successful live music formula to better accommodate local nightlifers' insatiable thirst for exciting shows performed by artists on the leading edge of the independent music culture. New music sage Jeremy Hadley is doing the booking, and if this schedule is any indication of what yummies we can expect in the future, the Shop is going to be rapidly moving upwards in the live venue hierarchy -- from a cool place to check out a show to a mandatory weekly stop. Shows of considerable note in the near future include the one-two indie rock punch of June Panic and Elephant Micah (a solo performer and a band, respectively), together dishing up an emotive lo-fi mix of '60s folk, pre-grunge indie rock-from-the-basement on Sept. 16. Merge Records recording artists the Rosebuds, a North Carolina outfit blending '60s pop and '80s new wave into a new millennium fix, hit the Shop on Sept. 20 with Spokane's own Mulligan, those purveyors of fine jazz-pop and other delights. Also on tap at the Shop this month (on Sept. 22) is the ever-popular Om Trio sporting the group's unique fusion of jazz, rock and funk.
This is a meat-and-potatoes kind of place in the sense that it never fails to satisfy. Week in and week out, the B-Side delivers a great breadth of local and nationally touring rock, funk, soul and DJ action. It is most worthy of your continued support -- so do it. Shows of note on the B-Side event horizon include the triumphant return of Mike Watt and his Secondmen (with Spokane's Belt of Vapor opening) on Sept. 22, and Boston's Crown City Rockers (a hip-hop group comprised of Berklee School of Music grads) on Sept. 26. Spokane sons the Makers launch a new national tour with a crackling, dyno-licious show here on Oct. 2.
Whether it takes place in the theater on the second floor or upstairs in Ella's Supper Club, a live music experience at the always classy CenterStage arts and entertainment complex usually includes a chance to partake of chef Kile Tansy's extraordinary culinary talents. In the tradition of New York's many famous dinner + live music clubs, the dinner theater and newly re-opened Ella's allow patrons to indulge in two of life's most sensual delights -- fine dining and equally fine music. As far as entertainment goes, CenterStage wants to do it all (and has had a fair amount of success doing just that): theater, film, dance, comedy and, yes, live music. This season's world music series -- with a complete four-course dinner from the featured country included in the ticket price -- is well underway even now. Look for the Warren Chang Music Ensemble on Oct. 17, the Vietnamese duo Khac Chi on Nov. 21, and the Greek quartet, Pangeo on Dec. 5. And don't forget about the great local jazz regularly found on the menu in Ella's Supper Club. This month, catch up with the Brent Edstrom Trio (Sept. 23-25) and the Danny McCollim Trio with guest Michael Powers (Sept. 30-Oct. 2).
Downtown Spokane's all-ages venue of choice, the Detour, has several noteworthy shows on deck, including Further Seeks Forever, the Kicks, Brandtson and Moments in Grace on Sept. 18; Version Three, Red Metric and Felony Rings on Sept. 24; Fall of Troy and Belt of Vapor on Oct. 30; and Scars of Tomorrow, Perfect Murder, Bury Your Dead and Hollywood Legend on Nov. 22.
The Spike coffeehouse is brewing up something wicked with live music and barbecue on Oct. 1 in lieu of Rally in the Alley (which, reportedly, is not happening this fall). It's called Rockin' the Alley, an all-ages outdoor concert in the alley in front of the Spike, featuring Spokane bands Mylestone, the Federales, Soma, Mang and, from Olympia, the all-femme trio Mechanical Dolls. Music starts at 5 pm, so you really have no excuse for missing it.
The breezy Gorge Amphitheatre caps its 2004 season with the Jack Johnson, G. Love & amp; Special Sauce and Donavon Frankenreiter show on Sept. 25.
The Coeur d'Alene Casino in Worley, Idaho, has its third annual Fiddle Contest raging Sept. 24-26 featuring the South Austin Jug Band (on Friday) and Prairie Flyer (on Saturday) and /bona fide country star John Michael Montgomery on Oct. 20.
Meanwhile, oldies rule at the Northern Quest Casino in Airway Heights. They've got the Shirelles, the Crystals, and Kathy Young on Sept. 25; the Four Tops on Oct. 16; Blood, Sweat & amp; Tears on Nov. 5-6; and, um, Air Supply on Nov. 13.
On Nov. 6, renowned jazz pianist Eric Reed (formerly of Wynton Marsalis' band and the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra) will join the Whitworth Jazz Ensemble for a performance at Cowles Auditorium on.
The lovely Panida Theater in Sandpoint welcomes Grammy Award-winning pianist George Winston on Sept. 24 and Roy Rogers and Norton Buffalo on Oct. 15.