The annual live music repose from the heat and the bustle of summer in the city is well underway, even as you read this. That's it, baby, the Festival at Sandpoint launches its 2003 season on Thursday, Aug. 7 with the timeless three-part vocal harmonies of the Lettermen followed on Friday, Aug. 8 by the soul-licious sounds of the classic brassy funk band Tower of Power. But as is the case most years, the Festival's cruising speed is fully reached on Saturday night, when concert-goers typically receive more entertainment for their ticket dollars than on any other night of the Festival. There's a reason, after all, they call it "Super Saturday."
This year, the Festival at Sandpoint doubleheader show on Saturday evening has been re-dubbed "Super Woman Saturday" in reference to the invincible lineup featuring two of popular music's most respected and talented women: Shawn Colvin and Karla Bonoff.
Bonoff performs first at 6 pm. Perhaps most influential as a songwriter who wrote hits for others -- Linda Ronstadt ("Someone to Lay Down Beside Me," "All My Life"), Bonnie Raitt ("Home") and Wynonna Judd ("Tell Me Why") among them -- Bonoff is also a powerful performer in her own right. She first appeared on the Southern California music scene of the 1970s, playing at the legendary Troubadour Club with rising stars of the day, such as Jackson Browne, James Taylor and Elton John. She also formed her own band, Bryndle, with Andrew Gold, Wendy Waldman and Kenny Edwards, the latter of whom still accompanies her on stage. (You can also catch Bonoff the next day at another spectacular outdoor venue, the Arbor Crest Winery. Call: 927-9894.)
Up next is Shawn Colvin, one of the lead voices in the new folk movement of the late-1980s who continues to define and redefine her place in the chorus of American sound. This Austin, Texas, by-way-of-New York, London, Ontario and Vermillion S.D. (where she was born) resident almost lost her voice early in her career. As the singer of the Illinois-based, hard rocking Shawn Colvin Band, she severely injured her vocal chords, forcing her to turn it down a notch or two. She moved to Austin (for the first time) and joined the Dixie Diesels, a local country rock band. But her voice soon gave out completely and, at 24, Colvin found herself in the midst of a self-imposed early retirement.
Happily, within a couple of years she was singing again -- this time on the New York neo-folk scene, where she ultimately found her niche as a singer/songwriter with inventive lyrics and formidable pop smarts. Her debut album, Steady On, won a Grammy for Best Contemporary Folk Recording. A Few Small Repairs (1996) earned Colvin two more Grammy Awards for Record of the Year and Song of the Year for the haunting single, "Sunny Came Home." Her last album, 2000's Whole New You is an honest examination of the latter-day events that have come to distinguish her current personal life: that is, marriage and motherhood -- perhaps the greatest adventure of her long and satisfying career.
A few weeks following her appearance at the Festival show this weekend, Colvin will be hooking up for a three-month stint with similarly inclined musical peers, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Dar Williams and Patty Griffin on a collaborative acoustic national tour -- although it's unknown at this time whether that tour will feature an Inland Northwest date.
My advice? Catch that Colvin while you can.
Complete Control -- As someone who strings endless words, phrases and paragraphs together for a living, I can honestly state that the 'undo' function (otherwise known as Ctrl Z) in Word is about the most useful command on the computer keyboard. I can't tell you how many times lives (not to mentions jobs) were saved through the use of this handy little tool, which not only undoes stupid keystrokes, cuts and pastes but also retrieves solid gold phrases and $10 words you thought you had inadvertently deleted into oblivion. A nice trick, that little command.
So it is with the Spokane band that has adopted Ctrl Z as its moniker. Ctrl Z was formed by Spokane scene vets Char Getchell (guitar), Val Nygaard (bass) and drummer Christopher Mervar in the Spring of 2002. Getchell is also in God Fearing Nation and was previously a member of the Let Gos and Furburger. Nygaard served time in the Menthols and Clabberhag. And both women first lent their style and voices to the local scene as members of early '90s unit, Trucker Mouth.
Ctrl Z was just beginning to build up a local following when Mervar left last October to attend school in Florida. The band went on hiatus for eight months until the return of Mervar this June.
"It was really frustrating being down all that time," admits Getchell. "We weren't sure if it was going to happen, if he was going to come back or not. But he really wanted to come back and play with us. He took a bus back from Florida and bought a drum set, so, you know, it was kinda cool."
Mistakes were made. They have now been rectified. And Ctrl Z is back in black. They even have a manager who networks like all get-out for the band and supplies music writers with all manner of lovely promo material.
"And he does it for free. Well, free for now," she laughs. "I think he wants to turn us into a money-making machine."
Having such a manager frees up the creative components of Ctrl Z Industries to do what they do best: write and perform music. Just what kind of music is that?
"It's hard to define. My influences are garage and surf. Val kind of has an '80s thing going. I've heard people describe us as a garage-y Go-Gos."
Now that they are a functioning unit once again, Getchell says the band is busy working on expanding its set with new songs and gigging as much as possible -- in and (hopefully) out of Spokane.
"One guy approached us about playing at the Gorge next summer," she says. "Like, while people are standing in line or something. It seems very Spinal Tap to me but, you know, anything to get us out would be cool."