By Mike Corrigan

The six young men of the group SOUP OF THE DAY dish up something percussionist J.R. Sorensen describes as "technical rock."

"We try to put a lot of theory behind our music," he explains. "But we also really pride ourselves on our improvisational abilities, and so we try to draw a fine line between our technical side and really just exploring, through live music, wherever it goes. If you become too technical, it gets almost hard to listen to from an audience perspective."

With that point, Sorensen has hit on one of the central problems of music created by highly proficient musicians, virtuosos and general know-it-alls. Musicians possessing prodigious technical skill have a tendency to slide into self-indulgence, forgetting the audience and the simple pleasures to be found within the most modest composition.

"We're always aware of the audience. We love to make people dance, so we don't want to forget that side. But it's tough because we also want to explore the music as much as possible for our own personal enjoyment."

With the exception of turntable master Andrew Fuller, all the members of Soup of the Day are originally from Spokane and attended Lewis and Clark High School. After graduation, the friends headed off in different directions but eventually wound up falling back together and forming a band. The rest of the group is comprised of guitarists Cameron Newell and Ben Jahn, bassist Geoff Larson, kit drummer Nick Vincent-Maloney and percussionist Sorensen, who beats on a variety of congas, djembes, cowbells, wood blocks and cymbals.

"I kind of have a full 180 tons of crazy little percussion instruments around me."

Now spread all over the West Side of the state from Olympia to Bellingham, the sextet firmly considers itself a Seattle band.

"We want to stick around here and play as much as possible, but at the same time, we don't want to get stuck in one place. That's why we've been trying to travel around the Pacific Northwest."

True enough, the band's online itinerary has Soup of the Day gracing stages from Seattle to Missoula and several venues in between. They hit Spokane for two shows this weekend -- at Mootsy's on Friday and at the Fort Spokane Brewery on Saturday.

Though most of the band has either finished college or is currently working towards that end, the members view their higher education walking papers as sort of a fallback position. Music is definitely their first love.

"The goal for everyone in the band is to make music a career," says Sorensen. "I mean, I'm going to school for one thing, and 25, 30 years from now I plan to do what I'm learning now. But music is the thing I'd like to do in the near future. And I'm pretty sure that everybody else feels that way. We're all real devoted to it."

Soup of the Day plays at Mootsy's on Friday, July 14, at 9 pm. No cover. Call: 838-1570. Also at the Fort Spokane Brewery on Saturday, July 15, at 9 pm. Cover: $4. Call: 838-3809.

Free Tunes

Summertime and the living is easy -- and cheap. Just a friendly reminder from your nightlife guy that there are more opportunities to catch free live music outdoors in the region this summer than you can shake an ice cream cone at. Everywhere you look, anytime you look, there's something happening featuring terrific local and national acts in the open air -- for free. All you have to do is show up and applaud.

This week, the Concert Under the Pines series at Audubon Park, which runs every Thursday evening this summer, features the country, bluegrass and gospel stylings of the True Country Western Band at 6:30 pm.

At Liberty Lake's Pavilion Park, Spokane's own Charlotte Carruthers performs with the Spokane Jazz Orchestra on Saturday, July 15, at 7 pm. Liberty Lake is the site of live Saturday night shows through Aug. 5.

Coeur d'Alene Park in Browne's Addition will host Alex Bedini and Radial Jazz on Thursday, July 13, at 6 pm. Coeur d'Alene Park hosts live music every Thursday through Aug. 31.

For a break at noontime on Friday, July 14, check out the Summer Sizzle Concert on Main and Wall, downtown. The original rock trio, The Other Way, will be aiding your digestion from 11:30 am-1:30 pm. The Summer Sizzle series continues to offer the likes of Delbert, the Bone Daddies and 10 Minutes Down every Friday at lunchtime through Aug. 25.

For you folks in North Idaho, City Park in Coeur d'Alene will sizzle with the salsa and Latin jazz of Fuego on Sunday, July 16 at 1 pm. The City Park's concert series continues every Sunday at 1 pm through Sept. 3.

At the University of Idaho in Moscow, the concert on the lawn series continues with the original acoustic folk of Coyote Special on Wednesday, July 19, at 11:30 am; Dan Maher plays July 26 also at 11:30 am.

And in Sandpoint, the Pend Oreille Arts Council presents outdoor concerts at First and Cedar every Saturday at noon through Aug. 26. On July 15, it's Pete Conway. Whew! Lots 'o free music.

The Rum Rebellion: Prohibition in North Idaho @ Museum of North Idaho

Through Oct. 29, 11 a.m.-5 p.m.
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