gcb global tour: Notes from Seattle

Seattle's Hey Marseilles
Seattle’s Hey Marseilles

One week down on the grass clippings global tour, nine more to go.

I spent last week in Seattle, a place that my day job has taken me dozens of times in the last decade. As I’ve previously mentioned, the Pacific Northwest – primarily Portland and Seattle – is an epicenter for the kind of authentic and progressive Americana we love. The region that was once known for grunge is also home Blind Pilot, Fleet Foxes, Typhoon, Black Prairie, The Head and the Heart, Hey Marseille and Brandi Carlisle.

The forthcoming and second album from Seattle’s orchestral pop sextet, Hey Marseille – a band I’ve liked since 2010 when I first heard them – is one I’m pretty excited about. Hey Marseille, a group of friends that met at the University of Washington, features cello, viola, trumpet, accordion, piano, guitar and percussion. I scored an early copy of Lines We Trace, due out on March 5th, and expect that the band will have more of a national presence this year. Like Travels & Trunks, the band’s earlier album, Lines We Trace is definitely pop, but its layers of instrumentation make it memorable and harder to replicate. The band released a video for its first single, “Bright Burning Stars,” a few days ago. Check that out below.

In terms of live shows while I was there, I struggled a bit. I was too late on the draw (and failed to pull strings) to make it into the Sasquatch Festival’s sold out launch party last Monday with Built to Spill. The festival, which is held in May at The Gorge in Quincy, announced the best lineup they’ve had to date (and close to the best of the fests this summer) with American artists like Mumford & Sons, The Tallest Man on Earth, Andrew Bird, Edward Sharpe and more. Sasquatch also books indie rock folks like Postal Service and Vampire Weekend and even some of my favorite comedians like Mike Birbiglia, Jenny Slate and Nick Offerman.

I did manage to catch the Colt Kraft Band at the Tractor Tavern, a center for the Americana scene in Seattle. The band’s acoustic “lounge balladry” sound is somewhat outside of our core, but was definitely a great night of music to wrap up my stay.

If I had stayed one extra night, I could have seen so much more. On Friday, The Head and the Heart’s Josiah Johnson and Charity Rose Thielen played a Team Up for Nonprofits benefit show for Outdoors for All Foundation at the Tractor. The same night, Michigan’s Lindsay Lou & The Flatbellys performed at the intimate Empty Sea Studios’ listening room in Phinney Ridge.

I also can’t help but mention a quick and unplanned live pop fix. Following an amazing seven course dinner with my Amazon clients at Sitka & Spruce, we hit the Rock Box for some Karaoke. In mid performance of Fun.’s “We Are Young” (this was after many drinks – lay off), I announced to the crew that the band was playing a sold out show a few blocks away. So, with much determination and very low expectations, we high tailed it over to the Paramount Theater. We walked right in and caught an encore performance of “You Can’t Always Get What You Want.” We felt like champions and got what we wanted. I snapped this photo of the band, which will likely rake in a few Grammy’s tonight.

I’m now in Sydney at my Bondi Beach apartment for the next few months. It’s amazing. Much more to come.