by Ted S McGregor, Jr.

The nature of popular music is such that shows often get added at the last minute, making previews like this tricky to pull off. Still, there are quite a few shows already penciled into the schedules of local venues. As always, follow the Music and Calendar sections of The Inlander every week to get the up-to-the-minute lowdown on who's playing where, and when. Until then, this will have to wet your whistle:

Spokane Arena

Bookers at the Arena tell us that not one, not two but three major shows are set to being announced in the coming week or so. But in the meantime, there are a couple for-sures. On Oct. 14, Creed returns to Spokane, with its uplifting but not completely Christian brand of rock 'n' roll. And on Nov. 5, country singer John Anderson, the man guitarist Mark Knopfler has called "the greatest country singer ever," will take the stage.

The Met

As is often the case, the Met has a good selection this fall. Bands looking for something bigger than a club often wind up at the Met; if they've never played there before, they end up loving the intimacy it offers -- not to mention the great acoustics. On Saturday, blues guitarist Terry Robb will test the room (for more, check out our story on him, page 75). Later in the month, on Sept. 28, Wylie Gustafson and his Wild West Show will make the trip north from Dusty, Wash., where Wylie's ranch is located. If you like old-time country, with some yodelin' thrown in, Wylie's your man.

The highlight of the fall at the Met has to be Les Claypool and the Frog Brigade on Oct. 23. The founder of Primus and its bass player, Claypool's musical journey has been a wild one. Starting in Berkeley, Claypool turned Primus into a major band, with gigs at Lollapalooza and Woodstock's 25th anniversary concert. But he never has been able to sit still, which has led to his working with tons of other musicians, from Phish's Trey Anastasio to the Police's Stewart Copeland. Along the way, he's formed a variety of bands, most short-lived -- some for just one show. Now he's got a new album coming out this month, and his live shows are said to be a mix of grooved up Primus favorites, Pink Floyd songs and even an occasional cover of "Hot Rod Lincoln." Should be a wild one.

Later in October, singer/songwriter Tish Hinojosa will visit the Met, and you can expect a mix of her cross-cultural repertoire -- including songs in Spanish.

On Nov. 8, Scotland's Battlefield Band will bring its Celtic sounds to town. This band has been together for more than 30 years, with different lineups, but it has always been dedicated to preserving the traditional music of its homeland. If you love the sounds of traditional instruments, like the bodhran, the penny whistle and even a little bit o' the bagpipes, this show's for you.

Taj Mahal is a pretty fancy building in India, but it's also the chosen name of one of the best bluesmen playing today. The Taj Mahal Trio plays the Met on Nov. 19, and you can be sure you'll be treated to some great, varied music: slack-key Hawaiian guitar, calypso music or straight-ahead blues. Put it this way: Taj Mahal, with more than 30 years on the scene, has probably forgotten more about the blues than any of us have ever learned. He's also playing at WSU and Whitman College.

The Opera House

The musical schedule isn't very full over at the Opera House this fall. But when you consider all the Symphony shows and Best of Broadway events, there aren't many openings on the schedule. On Sept. 26, country singer Amy Grant will headline a show that also features Fernando Ortega. And on Dec. 6, everybody's favorite punchline, John Tesh, will make a holiday season appearance. People laugh about Mr. Tesh, but you know what? He just keeps selling records. And he's got a pretty good sense of humor about himself, too.

Local Clubs

Fat Tuesday's, one of Spokane's best rooms for music, is getting more and more use as bookers take advantage. On Sept. 27, the Christian act Reliant K plays an all-ages show. And on Oct. 17, Roger Clyne and the Peacemakers return to Spokane. Clyne is better known as the frontman for the Refreshments, which had a run of success in the late '90s, with a hit CD (Fizzy Fuzzy Big and Buzzy) with songs like "Banditos" and "Down Together." The band even laid down the instrumental theme song to the FOX series King of the Hill. Now Clyne's music is a little grittier, with more of a social conscience, but it's no less catchy. And yes, he'll dig into his Refreshments repertoire.

The new club in the old Mother's Pub, the B-Side, is bringing Spokane some of the more interesting shows we've seen in recent months, and this fall looks no different. Atlanta's Ph Balance is ranging far afield to visit Spokane, but that's just what it's doing on Oct. 9. Recording for Indigo Girl Amy Ray's indy label, Daemon Records, Ph Balance has taken its home town by storm. With a sound somewhere between Portishead, A Tribe Called Quest and Aretha Franklin, lead singer Pam Howe (Ph) has turned her poetry into music. Check out what Southern music sounds like today.

On Oct. 13, the Utah jam band Tanglewood comes north. The band blends bluegrass, ska, jazz, psychedelia, funk and blues to make something completely unique.

On Halloween, the B-Side has a great idea that, if they pull it off, could make for a memorable night. A handful of local and regional bands are going to come dressed up as other bands. Then -- and here's the fun part -- they're going to play sets of music from those bands. Beecraft is coming as Prince, Soup as Devo, the Longnecks as the Red Hot Chili Peppers (don't forget your socks, guys) and a Portland band is expected to bring its Guns 'n' Roses impression. Word is the bands have already been learning the playlists, and more bands could be added.

Over at Mootsy's, one of the most intimate spaces bands have ever crammed their gear into, Beecraft will take time out of its Prince preparations to throw a CD release party on Sept. 29. Local fave Civilized Animal plays on Oct. 11. The following night, one of the more interesting shows of the fall will hit: Drums and Tuba. No, that's not the name of the instruments they play -- that's the name of the band. Born on the streets of Austin, where the duo of Tony Nozero (drums) and Brian Wolff (tuba -- okay, it's a sousaphone, but who knows the difference?) formed their own little marching band. People throwing their change into the tuba case were apparently impressed, as the group brought in a guitar player and has taken off. Recording for Ani Difranco's Righteous Babe label, the band is getting noticed. Okay, it may not be "the future of rock" as their promo materials suggest, but their instrumentals (with crazy names like "Fists of Spaghetti" and "The Adventures of Poo-Poo and Pee-Pee") will get your feet moving. Who knew a tuba could be so cool? The band's new CD, Mostly Ape, is out this week.

Country music fans can usually count on Kelly's at Stateline to bring in some up-and-coming acts every year, and this fall they'll feature Eric Heatherly on Sept. 15 and Pinmonkey on Nov. 2. Made up of Nashville session musicians and songwriters, Pinmonkey is building its own sound based on traditional country and other influences, from pop to soul. Their debut CD is Speak No Evil.

The acoustic scene often centers on the Shop, the coffeehouse where, if they like the music, they can record it. On Sept. 19, Minneapolis native Brenda Weiler sets up shop at the Shop, and on Oct. 3 fingerstylist David Hamburger, who is also the editor of Acoustic Guitar magazine, stops by. Can we expect a write-up in the next edition?

On Oct. 15, New Mexico's Dolly Ranchers make a rare foray north to the Shop, in large part because one band member has family in Spokane. An all-girl, alt-country quartet, the Dolly Ranchers have been called what would happen if Woody Guthrie and the Wicked Witch of the West had a love child. And on Dec. 19, for the second year, local duo Sidhe will offer an evening of holiday songs. This was a big hit last year, so get your seat early.


The Spokane Jazz Orchestra is back for its 28th season. That's got to be some kind of record, you say? Well, it is, as the SJO is the longest running community jazz band West of the Mississippi. Part of the orchestra's mission is to keep the music alive, and this fall's two shows do just that. On Oct. 5 at the Met, the SJO reprises one of its most successful concerts ever with its Tribute to Harry James. Trumpet player Gary Guthman will play James' parts, and singer Jennifer Lind will be on hand to bring those days of swing fully back to life.

Instead of the Duke Ellington Nutcracker, which the SJO did for several years as a holiday treat, the Dec. 7 concert at the Met will focus on Thelonius Monk. Don Sickler, a Spokane boy who has made good in the big world of jazz, will come home to play Monk's music.

Local colleges are bringing in some hot jazz players, too. The routine is for the musician to share his chops with students and then to show off with a concert, which is open to the public. At Whitworth, on Nov. 9, tenor sax player Jimmy Heath will lead a concert. On Oct. 19, the University of Idaho, a hotbed of jazz with all its ties to the late, great Lionel Hampton, has drummer Jeff Hamilton coming in with his trio. And at EWU, after a couple of days studying the great swing bandleader Woody Herman, the real Woody Herman Orchestra will play on Nov. 22.

Other Stuff

The Sunbanks Blues Festival is back again. This is essentially a campout for blues lovers; instead of roasting marshmallows, you listen to blues. This year, the resort, near Grand Coulee Dam, has the Paladins, Roy Rogers and the Maurice John Vaughn Band, to name a few, on the schedule for this weekend.

Great homegrown blues will be available for free at the last Live After Five of 2002 in downtown Spokane on Sept. 26. Too Slim and the Taildraggers will be joined by harmonica legend Curtis Salgado.

This is the last weekend for the Gorge, with Lyle Lovett and Bonnie Raitt on Friday, and Rush Saturday. Supertramp was scheduled for Sunday but has cancelled. For more, check our music section, starting on page 75, where we have stories on Rush and Bonnie Raitt.

Country music superstar Wynonna visits Pullman's Beasley Coliseum on Sept. 23. On Sept. 28, Moscow's Ala Zingara plays the Panida in Sandpoint. Ala Zingara literally means "in a gypsy style," so you get the idea. This band is making a name for itself in the Northwest for its Mediterranean sounds, with a little bossa nova and Celtic stuff thrown in for good measure.

Expect more great Celtic music from the Tannahill Weavers, who have three Inland Northwest shows in early October (Oct. 9 at the Cutter, Oct. 10 at WSU and Oct. 11 at the Panida).

Bloomsday 2020 @ Spokane

Through Sept. 27
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About The Author

Ted S. McGregor Jr.

Ted S. McGregor, Jr. grew up in Spokane and attended Gonzaga Prep high school and the University of the Washington. While studying for his Master's in journalism at the University of Missouri, he completed a professional project on starting a weekly newspaper in Spokane. In 1993, he turned that project into reality...