If you aren’t familiar with the concept of ‘The Round,’ here’s the basic idea: a group of artists of all kinds come together, and each perform or deliver a a single piece, then the next artist does their thing, and it essentially goes around the circle for however many rounds.
At the show in the Fremont Abby Arts Center on Tuesday night, there were six artists: three musicians, two poets, and a painter. Each artist would play a song, one of the poets would share a piece, and the painter was working on his painting throughout the night.
The poets, two teens named Rowan and Hana shared a single slot, and traded off each time the round came to them. First off, I’m not a poem person. I’ve always hated poetry units in school, and I’ve never really liked listening to poems either. However, I can say without a doubt that these two poets wrote pieces that had so much meaning, it would be hard not to like them. Hana delivered an incredibly powerful one called “Little Black Girl,” which attacked all of the racism and prejudice against people of color. The poem talked about how if a black women says something, it’s often ignored, whereas if a white person were to say the same thing, it would often be supported and recognized.
Towards the end of the night, Rowan read a poem about the Orlando Shooting. The piece hit with ideas about how America is meant to be the “land of the free,” yet people are getting shot simply for being proud of their sexuality. I had really low expectations when I heard there was going to be poetry readings, and was in fear of someone getting up and reading their “intense” slam poem that nobody could understand, but these two poets blew me away, and had pieces that were very well written and delivered.
The second artist of the night was Whitney Lyman. She played her first songs on an electric guitar, which I honestly didn’t think did her voice or her music much justice. I was’t a huge fan of her acoustic songs, but once she moved to the keyboard, it was like a whole new artist. Whitney played a song after the intermission that made her voice sound like a cross between Kate Nash and Ellie Goulding. The chorus really brought out the best parts of her voice, and the lyrics, the vocals, and the keyboard all seemed to fit together quite well. After hearing Rowan’s poem about the shooting, Whitney decided to change her planned setlist a bit, and played a song called “Harbor,” which had lyrics about holding onto sadness. The piece was really beautiful to hear, especially after hearing the poem.
The next musican, Lizzie Weber, I wasn’t initially super impressed with. Her voice was good, but nothing extraordinary; she was a great piano player, but the compositions weren’t anything real original and exciting. Later into the night, however, she come in with a song called “Vagabond,” which was a beautiful piece. She explained that she had just recently moved to Seattle from St. Louis, and the song was about trying to find your way and your home and getting settled. Lizzie is a great piano player, and this song put that on show very well. It started off with a lovely piano intro, then eventually picked up her vocals. All of her songs had a very light atmospheric kind of feel to them, and that really worked well for this track, especially the piano part.
The last musician was the one that really stole the show, and the one most people were probably there to see—Ayron Jones. Very popular among the Seattle Secret Shows crowd, Ayron has played and been loved all over Seattle. One thing that makes his performance so amazing is his guitar-playing. I’ve seen loads of people play guitar, both live and on video, and I have never seen someone play as good as Ayron does. Even just to quickly check the tuning of his guitar, he’s got this crazy little lick that he plays that just leaves the audience wide-eyed and smiling. It’s really entertaining to watch him play, because he does it as if he knows what every single part of a guitar sounds like, and what every combination of strings is going to sound like.
The intro to one of his later songs consisted of him strumming an acoustic guitar faster than anyone I’ve ever seen, and you could just feel the whole audience lean forward in their chairs in awe. The guitar wasn’t just something to add a bit of texture behind Ayron’s singing, it was the majority of his act, and it was amazing. However, his vocals were anything but mediocre. He sings with so much passion and a voice that is so strong and incredible to listen to. Whatever I write honestly can’t do his performance justice, he was made for these smaller acoustic shows, and you really have to see it to believe it, he’s an incredible performer.
The night ended with the three musicians playing a Prince tribute, and by the end of the song, the whole crowd was singing along and waving their arms. This was my first experience with a show in The Round, and it was a great time. The poets were amazing, the painter, Wolf Bowden, had finished a cool piece by the end of the night, and the musicians all brought their own sounds to the round. It was interesting to see how good they all sounded on their own, but during that final Prince song when they were all singing with each other, how well it seemed to fit together and bring everyone into the performance.