Twenty-something musicians Josh Starkel of the band Duke Evers and singer-songwriter Whitney Mongé are up-and-coming in Seattle — as their respective parents, who still reside here, so proudly called to let us know. This weekend, the two come home to Spokane to play the Pig Out in the Park festival for the first time, an event they each grew up attending.
She's a busker at heart, finding her smoky voice on the streets of the Emerald City, but just last month, Whitney Mongé opened for Ziggy Marley at Seattle's Woodland Park Zoo. Playing in front of 5,000 people was a breakthrough moment, says the singer-songwriter, who moved to Seattle from Spokane eight years ago. But the next day, she was busking on the streets.
"It's difficult going back to the street after that, but at the same time it was perfect to go get some humble pie. Out on the street, there's not much room for ego," Mongé says.
The North Central High School graduate calls her music alternative soul, because while she comes from a soulful place, the tunes are rooted in the grunge and emotionally charged songwriting of the 1990s. For the past 10 months, Mongé has played with a backing band and booked mostly stage gigs. But don't be surprised to see her playing downtown Spokane.
"I try to busk almost everywhere I visit, because it's a great way to see how you'll be received somewhere," says Mongé, currently working on her third album. "It's nerve-wracking to know if people are going to stop or if they will care, and it's a little addicting."
Whitney Mongé • Sun, Sept. 6, at 7:15 pm • River Stage; also, Sat, Sept. 5, at 9 pm • nYne • 232 W. Sprague
Bandmates Josh Starkel and Kyle Veazey live together in an old Victorian house on Seattle's Capitol Hill, one that's been converted into apartments. When they met online three years ago, each looking for a new roommate, they didn't expect a band in the making. But as soon as they started rocking out together — Starkel on guitar and vocals, Veazey on drums — their neighbors, rather than call the cops to complain, came by to smoke weed and listen. The guys figured this was right.
Labor Day weekend is packed for the rock 'n' roll duo. After playing Pig Out in the Park on Friday, they quickly head to Seattle for a set at Bumbershoot on Saturday. Next week, they're headed to San Diego to record their first album with Randm Records — an unexpected turn of events, says Starkel, who attended Mt. Spokane High School through his sophomore year.
Starkel, who turns 26 on Friday, is glad to show his old stomping ground just how far he's come. The only other show they've played in Spokane was at the Big Dipper in April.
"I hope that people are ready for a raucous indie show that wouldn't normally play Pig Out," Starkel says. ♦
Duke Evers • Fri, Sept. 4, at 5:30 pm • City Hall Stage