Summer Stargazer Spectacular!
This summer. Sunny Season 2017. I tell you, people... This is going to be wild. I promise this isn't just a promo piece, but I also promise I'm every bit as excited for these festivals this summer as anyone can be. If this little blog is a fun space for us to kick back and talk about love, then let me just keep you apprised of our little tribe's effort to bring it to you.
Washed in Black is doing something like six festivals! I don't want to step on Steve's super-talented toes -- seriously, have you heard this guy sing lately? I think he's doing a new vocal workout routine or something, but jeez-ow! I find myself scrambling at times just to describe how full and rich his voice is, and how it carries the room. I still say the best adjective is "heroic..." -- so I won't go into too much details on those.
Hell, I won't even go into too much detail about Stargazer's two festivals, for the simple reason that I can't. This is Stargazer's first year of existence, its first festival run. I think in the natural order of things, we wouldn't even be dreaming of festival stages for a few more seasons. Once again, thank Washed in Black - Dan and Steve insisted on Stargazer getting equal treatment from the beginning and I'm still realizing the simple and beautiful strategy behind that decision. I've said it before, but I'm a super lucky guy just to be here.
Festivals! Right! So I think we're Tasting Tacoma (Lord knows we've all smelled Tacoma) on June 24. That's at the Port Defiance Park, and we'll be opening for Washed in Black on the Bowl Stage at 5. WiB at 6. We're then Biting Seattle on July 22 at the Seattle Center's Mural Stage. We get to open for WiB again, this time a little earlier, at 4. Dan and Steve cooked this up for us:
So that's super cool. But why is that super cool? Bigger venue? Party atmosphere setting the mood for everyone? I suppose so, on both accounts. But that's not why I'm so excited to play these shows...
This music is beautiful, gorgeous. Sensual. I love hearing it, I love singing it. My own little original music scrap ideas are all love rock now. I mean, love it. So I'm sure you can imagine the absolute thrill when someone says they're newly minted MLB fans now, having heard the songs at our shows.
That looks very underwhelming on paper, but to me that's the ultimate goal. This, as they say, is why we tribute. Because we are, first and foremost, deep and diehard fans. You know the scene in 'Almost Famous' where Russell and William are talking about this one song from a performer they admired. They both reverentially recall a little goof in the record (the singer goes "whoop!" after a difficult passage or something), and agree that it's the little things that count. Remember that scene?
That's about typical for us. Many's the time you'll find Kevin Hammond and me standing conspiratorially closely, staring hypnotized at my phone in my hand, a set of earbuds shared between us. We're working out the vocal harmonies more often than not, and it's a fingernail-sifting kind of task. Listen to this one part ten times. Can't make it any louder, and no-one's ever transcribed this before. Listen, right there. There. There's a low harmony part we hadn't noticed before. Wow. Can you get there? Right on. This is gonna be great!
If I weren't so self-absorbed I'd have photos of the times the band is deep in discussion about the instrumental parts and pieces. I'm not part of the discussions; my parts are always front and center. So with no interest but making the most beautiful music I can, I sit and watch, engrossed, as Michael Daly and John Trytek debate on whether this one line, this one little riff, was this guitar or that, simply for the purpose of authenticity.
Either one of them could do the line easily; that's not a question. But as they debate, competently and intelligently, the finer sonic points of whether that sounded like it came from a single-coil pickup or a humbucker. Alongside, Dan Nunn weighs in with the final word on melody - trust the bassist to always know the key, the chord, and the timing. With a band as funky as MLB, that's no small feat - a lot of their songs establish a pattern and then break it exactly once or sometimes twice. Those little dynamics add up tremendously, and Dan is always right on top of them. This is all talking about music recorded on equipment from the 1980s. I mean, the level of detail these guys pour into their craft is awe-inspiring.
So for someone to come back and tell us that we recreated the original music so closely, or at least as honestly as we can, that it turned them on to this music they hadn't heard before... For a tribute band, that is the goal. We didn't write this beautiful music and we have the utmost respect and admiration for our brothers and sisters who did write it. It's for them, and for everyone, that we work (and play) so hard. Art you believe in should always be relevant.
So I'll wrap this up with a shoutout to our dear friend and super fan Kimmy Fix, who was there to snag a great photo after the microphone came unplugged during Shangri-La. The best moments are the ones you can't fake, and this is us laughing just after sorting it out. Thank you again, Dan and Steve, for letting me jump in for a song, and thank you John Trytek for coming up with the idea! (I also believe that John Trytek was responsible for the venue playing nothing but Mother Love Bone in between sets last night, but I can't prove it yet, but I love whoever was responsible!)
See you all tonight at Tulalip - I'm hijacking the WiB set again!!!