Concert Review: 2nd Annual Benefit Concert for the Homeless at the Skylark

 

Lauren Murphie and the Sodo 4

Solving homelessness one band at a time. 

Now in its second year, the Annual Benefit Concert for the Homeless was again held at the Skylark in West Seattle. 11 bands, a crew from TopLeft TV, a couple of photographers and two emcees donated their time to raise money for Mary’s Place, a non-profit organization aimed at helping women, children and families reclaim their lives through temporary housing and employment seeking. This effort has been led by Gary Bruce, who seems to be a musician, fan and humanitarian, all rolled into one. Gary initially got the idea while working with a handful of bands last year, deciding ultimately to have a positive impact by turning the show into a charity event. Mary’s Place was selected after a few weeks of research, appearing to be one committed to addressing a growing problem in Seattle with a high level of generosity and cost-effectiveness. In its first year, approximately $650 was raised for the cause. In its second year, over $1000 was raised. It appears the interest in local music and helping to solve a very real issue is growing exponentially.

Pellegrini, led by Daniel Pelligrini himself, started the night off with a very listenable collection of American rock. A young talent influenced by Cheap Trick and Tom Petty, Daniel’s style of 70s and 80s rock appeals to everyone – guys/girls, young/old – you get the picture. Pellegrini’s backline has gone through some rotation in its short life, but Daniel’s maturing vocals and underutilized guitar skills are consistent enough that you wouldn’t notice. Existing in a genre-safe space, Pelligrini is a band to keep your eyes on. They appear to be on the rise in the Seattle’s original music scene.

Next up was the (cleverly named) Cashing in Karma. Comprised of Jonny Barrett (Guitar/Vocals), Melvin Smith (Lead Guitar), Will Chi (Drums) and Stephanie Jones (Bass, Back-up Vocals) who was subbing in for Alex Thoburn (suffering from a recent ACL injury), the band delivered an energetic set of edgy and danceable songs. Another young band seemingly destined for greater things locally, Cashing in Karma’s style is hard to describe. Strange? No. Mischievous? Maybe. Punchy? Definitely. Go see them live when you can, they’re memorable to say the least.

Crossing Crusades took the third spot but could’ve easily been the headliner (they usually are). Winners of this summer’s Muckelshoot Casino’s Battle of the Bands, this is a band that’s rolling like a tide of success. A humble bunch, Crossing Crusades is a five-piece made up of Retten Steincipher (Guitar/Vocals), Chris Hopkins (Lead Vocals), Aaron Lee (Bass), Sam Thompson (Guitar/Vocals) and Kevin Ross (Drums/Vocals). Their nu-metal sound is unique and refreshing, easy to groove to and instantly likeable. To top it off, they’re spending a lot of time in the studio, polishing off a full-length album to be released early next year. Be sure to check them out.

The Bare Minimum is a very bluesy, guitar-centric trio from Seattle. Led by Corey Clifton on guitars and vocals, they have a sound patterned after Steve Ray Vaughn’s Texas-style blues. With enough of the same swagger and nuance, this is a band that makes you feel like you’ve heard their stuff before even if you haven’t. Beautiful, rich, clean sounds were frequently surprised with exploding, hard-hitting tempo changes. There is more than enough talent with this band, catch them live if you can.

The next band, DedElectric, is a four-piece made up of Daymon Robert Fritz (Lead Vocals, Supporting Guitar), Joe Marzullo (Lead Shredder, Supporting Vocals), Graeme Smith (Bass, Harp) and Ben Frates (Drums). Influenced by the likes of Pink Floyd and Queens of the Stone Age, this is a band that can be both powerful and soothing within seconds. With a melodic, story-telling style, Daymon delivered a passionate and urgent set of textured, rich, multi-layered songs. It’s somewhat rare to find such thoughtfulness in rock songs but this distinction makes it only a matter of time before DedElectric reaches varsity level in the local scene.

Within minutes of taking the stage, Lauren Murphie and the Sodo 4 (LMS4) seemed to provide a mind-altering boost to the audience. Lauren Murphie, a relative newcomer to the Seattle music scene, commands a distinctive voice that’s powerful and mesmerizing. It’s unconventional, enigmatic and unforgettable. Backed by Gary Bruce (Guitar and event organizer), Shawn Ross (Guitar), Adam Montgomery (Bass) and Henri Lower (Drums), LMS4 can seem introverted at times and extroverted in others. Their songs draw you in then push you away in a hurried and happy way that’s rarely seen or heard. If you’re looking for a thoughtful, ardent band with soul, this one’s it.

Perennial and dynamic Asterhouse was next up. Arguably one of Seattle’s top rock acts, this young trio knows how to impress a crowd with “larger than life” musical experience. Brothers John (Vocals/Drums) and Russ Thornburg (Guitar) are joined by longtime friend Julio Posada (Bass), all of whom seem to be connected telepathically, effortlessly providing a wall of sound that elevates moods and gives angels wings. Explaining further would be a spoiler. Just go to one of their shows and you’ll be hooked.

Keroscenery took the evening in a different direction. They could just as easily be considered jazz as rock. Event organizer Gary Bruce described them as “cabaret rock with excellent vocals and top notch musicianship”. They were a unique band that exceeded audience expectations. Pete Bush (Vocals/Guitar), Mark Roemen (Bass) and Ben Hawkes (Drums) appeared to be having a blast onstage, turning the musical experience into a personal experience. With flair and ability, these three kept the onlookers toe-tapping through their 30-minute set.

A band that’s played with Keroscenery before (packing Connor Byrne on a Wednesday night no less!), Danger Bird has gone through some genre transition. Initially starting out as an Americana band, Danger Bird has somehow evolved into a classic rock sound. Complex melodic structurings are supported by powerful vocals. Overall, there’s a good vibe here with a youthful feel to it. If we all owned their CD, we would’ve blissfully sung along, no doubt.

Sun Mother took the stage as the audience size peaked. A three-piece out of SoDo, this is another young band that is playing beyond their years, both musically and, well, spiritually. Colbi Childs (Vocals/Guitar) and Katrina Anderson (Bass) are a couple and serve as the heart of the band, but David Bareno (Drums, of Prize Fighters fame) isn’t forgotten. Together they’ve compiled a nice inventory of catchy, groovy tunes that are dirty enough to make you sneer but hip enough to get your head moving. This is a solid act with a fan base growing faster than most.  

The last band of the night, Dearheart, delivered a self-described “post-emo” sound that would work with just about any bill. Steven Denler (Vocals/Guitar), Brandon “Ezekiel Lords” (Drums) and Gregory Olson (Bass) somehow exist where pop meets punk. They overwhelmed the audience with bridge-riffs and underappreciated lyrics for a midnight crowd, but were tight in the delivery and humble in the applause. Maybe a little too humble. This is a band that you should put on your “must see” list.

As the night came to a close, I reflected on what the event organizer, Gary Bruce, had shared with me earlier in the day. For one, he’s really looking forward to this becoming a tradition. In fact, he’s already scheduled next year’s show for Saturday, November 3rd. If you’re a band or musician who’d like to get involved, be sure to reach out to him on Facebook. Secondly, this is the type of event that doesn’t really end. Mary’s Place will receive a generous donation and all of the musicians there that night have been able to meet up with old friends and make some new ones as well. This inevitably will lead to other shows in the future. Lastly, Gary wanted to give special thanks to Matt Larson for hosting the event, Ezekiel Lords for taking care of sound, Joe Doleski for shooting the event, Petey Normal for assisting with emcee duties, TopLeft TV for recording/streaming/uploading the event and to all of the bands who have donated their time and skills towards helping Mary’s Place raise over $1000 for their Thanksgiving efforts. This is a feel good event that everyone will look back on with appreciation. For that reason alone, we hope this does become a tradition going forward.

Note: TopLeft TV streamed the entire show which you can now view on YouTube. Please consider becoming a patron via their Patreon account. Their crew donated their time and effort as well so if you’re a musician or fan who wants to support the local music scene, please consider donating a buck or more monthly to help offset their expenses. Like Mary’s Place, they notice and appreciate every contributor. Rock on!

(Photos courtesy of Joe Doleski.)

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