As the summer festival season draws to a close, all eyes (well, our eyes, anyway) turn to the gradually cooling months ahead and to the live music we'll all be enjoying indoors in the very near future. This is only a brief preview of the live rock, jazz, blues, folk and country shows that are even now materializing on Spokane's event horizon. But even at this early date, the fall season of concerts found at various local and regional venues is shaping up to be one of the best in recent memory. Check out these offerings -- and frequently check back with us for newly announced shows. Then sit back and ponder the possibilities.
Big Houses -- The Spokane Symphony's fine Classics series and the kinetic musical extravaganza known as Blast! are filling all the choice scheduling slots over at the Opera House this fall. Which is of course terrific. It just doesn't leave too much room for anything in the popular music vein except for the Symphony's Classical Mystery Tour: A Tribute to the Beatles concert on Sept. 20 and the Grand Ole Opry: Legends of Country Music show on Oct. 6, featuring talent straight from Music City USA: Bill Anderson, Jean Shepard, Johnny Wright, George Hamilton IV and Kitty Wells.
If the Opera House seems to be slowly getting out of the business of hosting pop concerts, the Met would seem to be taking up a large portion of the slack in this area. In fact, several of the performers scheduled to appear at the Met this fall season have in previous years had Opera House gigs -- Christian singer/songwriter Jaci Velasquez, for one. Velasquez will be joined by Christian rockers Salvador, Generation J and singer Michael Cook for the Spokane stop of her national "Unspoken" tour at the Met on October 2.
But hey, before we get too far ahead here, we should mention that September at the Met is just bursting with all things musical. On Sept. 18, it's genre-bending multi-instrumentalist Tony Furtado and his band the American Gypsies, who will treat local audiences to the songwriter's winning and eclectic folk-blues-jazz fusion. Celtic music performed by a diverse group of local musicians rules on Sept. 20 with "Celtic Harvest -- a Cornucopia of Celtic Music and Dance." Probably one of the best power-pop bands ever conceived, Cheap Trick -- intact with all four original members -- will be here on Sept. 26 to take you through heaven tonight and more. The Met stage will get a severe whomping on Sept. 27 when Northwest favorites Wylie and the Wild West come to town with their honest and irresistible take on real American music -- western swing, classic country, cowboy songs and folk -- all cooked up together under a searing rock 'n' roll fire. Also listen for the sounds of the Scottish Highlands from the Tannahill Weavers on Sept. 28.
October is still a bit hazy, but we do know this: The very talented (and amazingly durable) Spokane Jazz Orchestra opens its 2003-04 season of concerts on Oct. 18 with music written by Northwest composers. That's correct, all original arrangements and compositions from jazz composers in Spokane, Seattle, Portland and elsewhere in Northwest. The punk band AFI (very recent MTV Video Music Award-winners for the Best MTV2 Band) will be in the house with opening bands poison Well and Autopilot Off on Oct. 20. Latin will be the flavor of night on Oct. 22 with a CD-release party hosted by local Brazilian singer Silvia Lazo and her band. San Francisco's the Waybacks are back in Spokane on Oct. 23. And singer/songwriter/actor of special note Loudon Wainwright III makes a rare Northwest appearance at the Met on All Hallow's Eve (Oct. 31 for all you non-Druids).
On Nov. 13, look for the Hawaiian Music Masters -- namely, Cyril Pahinui and Patrick Landeza -- to put some punch in your autumn poi. On Dec. 6, special guest vocalist Charlotte Carruthers joins the Spokane Jazz Orchestra for "Holiday Jazz!"
Versatile as it is (what with the ability to transform from a full-on arena to the smaller, more intimate Star Theatre), the Spokane Arena has just a couple concert events thus far scheduled for the foreseeable future. What they do have, however, is interesting. Leading the charge are pop metal icons Def Leppard on Sept. 30, followed by something they are calling the "Honky Tonk Tailgate Party" on Nov. 20, with performances by wide-eyed country boys Daryle Singletary, Rhett Akins and Wade Hayes.
Local Clubs -- Fat Tuesday's Concert Hall kicks off its illustrious Fall schedule with Guttermouth (self-described as "the alpha dogs of party punk" who are "off the leash and ready to leave a number 2 in your favorite easy chair"). All that and presumably more on Sept. 20.
They follow up with what may very well turn out to be one of the best events of the season (well, for us indie rockers, anyway) -- Seattle's Death Cab for Cutie, along with the equally amazing the Long Winters, on Oct. 1. Death Cab for Cutie's gentle, emotionally complex and agreeably confounding indie rock has set the standard for the genre sometimes disparagingly referred to as "emo." Since forming in Bellingham near the end of the last century, the quartet has received almost universal critical praise for such latter-day classics as We Have the Facts and We're Voting Yes and The Photo Album. Their brand-new long-player, Transatlanticism, is due out sometime in October on Northwest indie label Barsuk. The Spokane all-ages show at Fat Tuesday's will be the band's very first stop on their new national tour.
Later on in the month, it's pop-punk rockers Relient K, Anberlin and Don't Look Down on Oct. 12, thoughtful, progressive hard rockers Kings X with Flyreal and Level on Nov. 2, and ska-rockers Five Iron Frenzy with Bleach, Holland, Cameron Jaymes and 10 Minutes Down on Nov. 12. Brother, that's a lot of "rock."
The Shop coffeehouse on South Perry is atypical in every respect -- from the building itself (a former automotive repair shop) to the variety of intriguing live music and film nights they host, to the style and humor with which the owners approach everything from making coffee to making art. (Aren't they the same thing?) These guys have great shows flowing at least every Thursday night, but there are a few in the near future that bear special mention. They include none other than the Dub Narcotic Sound System on Oct. 13. Dub Narcotic is the main squeeze these days of K Records' founder, former Beat Happening front man and living indie rock icon Calvin Johnson. Experimental? Yes. Unpredictable? Probably. Wildly entertaining? With Johnson at the helm, it really couldn't be anything else. Also of note on the Shop's schedule is the wildly popular Ohm Trio on Oct. 23, folk singer/songwriter Ellis with Kym Tuvim on Nov. 13 and acoustic pop/rock/folk with Minneapolis native Brenda Weiler on Nov. 22.
In addition to all the great local rock happenings they bring in on a weekly basis, the guys at the B-Side are bringing in a few notable national acts to add some exotica to the mix: piano player Vienna Teng (who has been featured on NPR and David Letterman) on Sept. 19, Canadian roots rockers Blue Rodeo on Sept. 28, nationally acclaimed reggae band John Brown's Body on Sept. 26, and Hieruspecs, a super-fresh, hip-hop bunch from Minnesota on Nov. 12. And Jamie Maker, the guitar player on the front of this newspaper, has both his bands at this venue: On Oct. 10, it's the Makers, and on Oct. 11 it's Burns Like Hellfire.
The Detour, the newest downtown all-ages venue on the scene, has a full schedule this month that includes Missoula's insane live karaoke/in-your-face white boy/funk tent revivalists No-Fi Soul Rebellion (with Mu-Meson) on Sept. 12 and punk rockers Desert City Soundtrack (with Room 101 and Embarrassing Bruises) on Sept. 13. A show that should cause a major stir in the 'Kan is the Pedro the Lion show (I kid you not) on Sept. 20. On Sept. 24, prepare for a heavy, heavy night as Metal Blade Records recording artists As I Lay Dying mount the stage, with Haste and Self-Inheritance opening the show. All Girl Summer Fun Band, a Portland foursome, plays here on Sept. 30, and never was there a group with bass, guitar, drum and microphone at its disposal that more accurately lived up to every word of its chosen name. Formed in 1998 by members of a number of notable Northwest projects (among them Hutch & amp; Kathy, the Softies and Tiger Trap), the band came together after a chance meeting between two of the members after a Portland Softies show. Fun, matching outfits and two records (All Girl Summer Fun Band and 2) ensued.
Other Venues -- The Gorge season winds down in a manner that should cause a few to question what decade -- if not what century -- it is with ZZ Top and Ted Nugent on Sept. 20, the still-living members of The Dead on Sept. 21 and James Taylor on Sept. 27.
The beautiful new Maryhill Winery Amphitheatre is also neatly perched high above the Columbia River gorge, only this venue is just this side of the Washington-Oregon border near Goldendale and the famed Stonehenge replica. Autumn offerings here include performances by Ricky Skaggs and Kentucky Thunder on Sept. 13, Lou Rawls and Nancy Wilson on Sept. 20, and Emmylou Harris (!) on Oct. 4.
At Whitworth College's Cowles Auditorium, jazz trumpeter and 1998 Grammy winner Nicholas Payton will perform in concert with the Whitworth Jazz Ensemble on Nov. 8.
On Sept. 26, the faith-based Festival con Dios will erect its massive yet movable amphitheatre (in just five hours) at the old Spokane Valley Cinemas parking lot at 11018 E. Sprague in time for performances by Christian acts the Newsboys, Plus One, Kutless, Thousand Foot Crutch, Sanctus Real and many others.
The Panida Theatre in Sandpoint is proud to welcome reggae legend Burning Spear on Sept. 17 (when we use the word "legend" here, we are not in any way exaggerating).
Also in the Panhandle, the Coeur d'Alene Casino in Worley has Paul Revere and the Raiders -- yes, that Paul Revere and the Raiders -- performing their hits (including, presumably, "Indian Reservation") on Sept. 18.
Moscow, Idaho's beautiful old Kenworthy Theater (now the Kenworthy Performing Arts Centre) will be the hosting venue for a show by Janis Joplin's original backing band, Big Brother and the Holding Company, on Sept. 19.
And over at the University of Idaho, the born-in-Boise Built to Spill will play the SUB ballroom on Sept. 12.