Teenagers are weird. Wild hormones. Unwarranted angst. High school. Boys. Girls. Boys or girls? The keys to Mom and Dad's car. The backseat of Mom and Dad's car.
But for 500 to 1,000 Spokane adolescents, teenage life isn't all about getting into college, wearing makeup or going to the Prom. Day-to-day life is a battle to escape an abusive parent, feed an addiction, find a bite to eat or a relatively safe place to sleep -- if only for an hour. For homeless teens, drugs, fights, pregnancy and even death are just a moment away.
Crosswalk, Spokane's multi-service center for homeless teens, provided more than 800 teens with services in 2003. But in last month alone, they helped out 300. That obvious increase is huge, and in order for them to readily supply those kids in need with food, shelter, medical assistance and education, Crosswalk needs cash. But more than anything, the nonprofit organization wants the people of Spokane to know that there are hoards of teens in Spokane without homes.
So they've organized a drug- and alcohol-free concert featuring some of Spokane's most popular bands -- and aptly called the show "Gimme Shelter."
"For every kid that asks his mom for money to go to the concert, they are raising awareness. And you can't put a price on awareness," Pam Hammer, project coordinator for the benefit says. "We do have youth homelessness in Spokane."
With help from students from Gonzaga University, Hammer decided that a benefit concert would be the best way to raise money and awareness about Crosswalk.
"For teenagers and college students in this town, there is nothing to do on a weekend. We wanted to do something that local teenagers can come and do," she says. "Teenagers want to help teenagers, but it's more fun to help someone and have fun at the same time."
Once the ball was rolling, getting bands to headline the bill was easy. In fact, Hammer was able to book Spokane's most popular groups for the cause -- and there's enough variety to cater to any teenager's finicky tastes.
At the top of the bill are Spokane's horn-toting pranksters, 10 Minutes Down. The seven-piece punk and ska group of grown-up band geeks are no stranger to playing benefit shows, and their hopped-up-on-Jolt-soda stage presence screams to teenage tastes.
Locke, a Spokane-based MC, will return for the show -- coming off a slew of dates in Montana, Oregon and Colorado. The local rapper spouts optimistic flows of hip-hop goodness -- and he's arguably the hottest rap act to hit the Inland Northwest.
The two-girl-and-one-guy up-and-coming band Mercy Lewis combines a little alt-rock, a little punk and three lengthy resumes of musical experience to produce a garage rock sound reminiscent of the Sundays. They'll play alongside the inventive Chinese Sky Candy, Vertigo Bliss, Riverside and Seaweed Jack.
Hammer says the concert is an opportunity for the community to see what Crosswalk does for Spokane, but it's also a way for the kids of Crosswalk to see that Spokane knows they exist. In the future, Crosswalk hopes to pair up with other shelters for a larger benefit -- but for now, the proceeds will go toward ensuring that Crosswalk kids have someone to lean on.
Nots That Bind -- When we last visited the Celtic Nots four years ago -- wow, has it been that long? - the band had just completed a live recording at the Shop (known alternately as Untied and Live at the Shop), adding to a discography which then included Deep Midwinter (1999), Not Music ('98) and Rope Tricks ('96). They were also considering their next move -- or, indeed, if a move needed to be made. Well, fate took the helm later that year when founding member James Hunter moved to Osaka, Japan, to study music. But as fans probably already know, the Nots are back together again and are performing at a party this Saturday night at the Met to herald the release of the group's new CD, Why Not? -- not to mention the Gaelic feast of Beltaine.
During the two years of Hunter's physical absence from the Nots lineup, the remaining members -- Carlos Alden and Nigel Elliott -- took it upon themselves to keep the home fires burning. Like many musicians separated by geography today, they utilized the wonders of computer technology to work on new songs, sending digital music files back and forth across the Pacific, so that the three of them could continue to trade and flesh out new ideas.
In addition to studying Japanese bamboo flute (known as shakuhachi) with a master teacher in Osaka, Hunter kept his performance skills sharp by involving himself in Japan's Irish music scene (yes, there is such a thing). Meanwhile Alden and Elliott kept on gigging here, occasionally incorporating a fiddler into the band.
Hunter's return to the States and to the Nots roster comes at a time when the group finds itself not only with a larger repertoire, but with a more diverse sound as well, thanks to an expanded arsenal of traditional folk instruments from around the world. Elliott performs on drums, bodhran, cajon, djembe and tenor sax; Alden on cittern, guitar, bass, banjo, mandolin and er-hu; Hunter on flutes, whistles, pipes, diidgeridoo, trumpet, accordion and the Japanese shakuhachi. Why Not? (Black Coffee Recording) is a two-CD set, showcasing the two sides of the Celtic Nots: their traditional Celtic side and the more creative, improvisational side that has grown out of their mutual love of a variety of forms. While the group has never claimed to be entirely "traditional" when it comes to anything musical, there is certainly a division of style and theme here that is well-served by this double offering.
The show at the Met will also feature performances by Irish band An Dochas and by the Haran Irish Dancers.
Bloomsday Boogie --Man, there's a lot of action going down this week, isn't there? Bloomsday, Cinco de Mayo -- not to mention the random shenanigans brought on by acute cases of cabin fever and senioritis. It's the spring thing, I guess, and people are responding by crawling like bear cubs out of their winter warrens to scratch themselves, get a taste of this lovely mild weather and to take a bite out of the increasingly great nightlife we've been experiencing here in the 'Kan. On that note, I thought I'd direct your attention to a few of the live music bits in the coming week that recently caught my eye.
This Friday night, April 30, RAWK is throwing an "End of the College Year/Bloomsday Weekend" bash at Club Soda (715 E. Sprague at 7:30 pm. Tickets: $7) featuring local (and regional) bands Sittser, the Myriad (from Seattle), Scarlet Parkway (Seattle), My Buddy Sean's Band and Thalamos. Headliner Sittser is composed of Seattle-area players currently attending Whitworth College. The six-piece band recently opened for Christian rockers, the Newsboys, at the Opera House and has a couple of CDs to pimp, namely, Road to Anywhere and Dawn.
Over on the north shore of Riverfront Park near the Flour Mill, Bloomies and the rest of us are going to find a happening -- and free -- two-day live music festival raging (Saturday, May 1, from 10 am-7 pm and Sunday, May 2, from 10 am-5 pm) sponsored by Spocannabis, a local nonprofit organization working for something I'd wager a lot of us would like to get behind, Cannabis Liberation. The local music lineup for Saturday looks like this: Raggs & amp; Bush Doktor, followed by CTRL-Z, Pacino (formerly Riot Squad), White Knuckle and Deaconess Fatality. On Sunday, it's the Planet Refugees, followed by Soma, Anomaly, Oblique Incidents and Monday's Fall.
Also in the night, the full service downtown all-ages venue, the Detour, is serving up something tasty on Saturday, May 1 (at 7 pm for $6), in the form of a show headlined by Barsuk Records recording artist Aveo. This Seattle-based trio has a refined, moody, pop-centric sound vaguely reminiscent of label mates Death Cab for Cutie (with whom they are currently doing some national touring) -- but with a harder sonic and lyrical edge. Guitarist William Wilson, drummer Jeff MacIsaac and bassist Mike Hudson have just recently released their second full-length album, Battery, the happy result of a relatively luxurious (for these guys) 21-day studio stay with notable Northwest indie-rock producer Phil Ek (Built to Spill, Modest Mouse). Yep, that's Aveo and opener Fall of Orange at the Detour (all-ages fun with yummy beer for those 21 and older) this Saturday night. Miss it at your own peril.