I’m thrilled to say that I’ll be doing a second tour with Rocky Votolato this summer in June. Lotte Kestner will be main support for these shows, I will be playing some guitar with her as well. It’s going to be a blast! Tickets go on sale April 11th, 2014.
I’m excited to announce that I will be playing a few shows with Sea Wolf in March. This is his solo, acoustic tour, so the shows will both be seated, quiet shows. Alex’s music has been an inspiration to me for several years and I am really looking forward to these shows.
Here are the dates and ticket links:
Hope to see some of you there!
My friend Eratostenes shot another video of me playing one of my favorite songs at the beautiful Fremont Abbey the other day. Check it out via Youtube:
Hello friends -
I am excited to announce that I will be touring the West Coast this summer, along with Lotte Kestner (solo project of Anna-Lynne Williams, singer of the band Trespassers William and Ormonde, among other things). Please check the Facebook Invite for more details and RSVP info.
& Yet’s music contains an element of mystery or perhaps mysticism that is rare to find in Northwest folk and indie music.
I can only describe it as ethereal, or reminiscent of something old and true. I’ve never been able to quite put my finger on what it is that is so different and exciting about these songs.
What seems to be an eastern-european influence on the chord voicings and progressions, and the swelling dynamics and perfectly calibrated time signature changes, could lend to comparisons with artists like Beirut or Andrew Bird, though Dane’s songs don’t contain the boastfulness of the former or the potent whimsy of the latter. What you get is a masterfully composed, sincerely contemplative, deeply harmonic journey in these songs.
Dane advised me that the full length record is about 3/4 completed. You can check out a single, released last year here to get an idea of the style you might expect on this much anticipated album release:
Someone near and dear to my heart made a lovely cover of my song “Goodnight Moon” .. Check it via BandCamp here! Lotte Kestner and I will be doing a west coast tour together in late July/early August. You can find Lotte Kestner on Facebook, BandCamp, and Tumblr.
This is the first in what will hopefully be a recurring category on this blog, where I will feature artist friends that I dig, and hopefully get you to check them out and dig them too.
Meet James Kelly Pitts, a fellow northwest songwriter. He played bass in a way-too-short-lived, amazing indie rock band in my hometown of Spokane, WA called Tokio Weigh Station; they unfortunately broke up even before the above-linked album was ever properly released. Now he is making his own great records here in Seattle.
The first time I met James (Jimmy) was back in my pre-sobriety days, I ended up at his house in Browne’s Addition, drinking all night, making a fool of myself and blabbing about music with him and Will (singer of Tokio). Fast forward a few years and Jimmy and I are both living in Seattle, I bumped into him on Capitol Hill a few times, and we played a little show together at the Cafe Racer. A mutual friend of ours, Brandon Jensen (played with Viper Creek Club and Shelby Earl), tipped me off that he heard Jimmy’s record and that it was maybe gonna be the next big thing out of Seattle. I bought it through BandCamp on his recommendation, but didn’t give it a good listen until I was on the subway in NYC by myself one night a few months later. When the outro of Track #4 “If you run I’ll run” hit, I knew I was way into this record, which over the last 2 years has repeatedly been a reactivating sleeper cell in my brain–months will go by and one of the subtle hooks will pop in my mind, I’ll put it on and realize yet again that this probably really should have been one the next big things out of Seattle.
I’ve had my ears pressed firmly to the ground in the northwest for several years now, and I can honestly say I haven’t heard many records that I’ve truly enjoyed as much as this one, and of the ones I have enjoyed, this is by far the most under-rated. I hope you will check it out and buy it off BandCamp. You’ll listen to it now, put it back on in 6 months, and again in 2 years, and be glad you did.
James Kelly Pitts on Facebook
A little under a year ago, I rediscovered my love of reading real books and I’ve been on a binge. Searching for knowledge, inspiration and fun. I know I am forgetting some, but here are some that I have read lately:
East Of Eden by John Steinbeck (novel)
This masterful novel seems to be considered Steinbeck’s greatest work (and his longest novel). I had never read any of his books before and I couldn’t put this one down. Takes a while to get going, introducing a few different families before they intersect. When I was carrying this (thick) book around with me over the course of a month, I had no less than 15 people stop me and tell me what a great book it is. They were right. Read it.
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer (novel)
A heart-wrenching modern masterpiece telling the story of a young boy who’s father died in the 9/11 attacks, searching New York City for the lock that fits a key his father left behind, and the backstory of several family members. Gets going fast, is packed full of gorgeously devastating moments. If you are looking for something to tug at your heart strings this is the book for you. I’ve never read a book like this–truly one of a kind.
The 33 1/3 book series:
These little books are awesome. Each book is about just 1 album. I read the book about Elliott Smith’s “XO”, Nick Drake’s “Pink Moon” and my favorite so far is the Portishead “Dummy” one. Check out a full list of these little books at http://333sound.com/
god is Not Great by Christopher Hitchens (nonfiction, polemic)
As you can tell by the title.. this book is not for everyone. If you are not familiar with Hitchens- he was a very famous and respected journalist and author for many years. He specialized in being a contrarian, and became one of the most outspoken of the “new atheists”, and debated more ferociously against religion and faith than probably anyone in history (I highly recommend watching his debates with various religious leaders on YouTube, fascinating stuff). He held reason and science in the highest regard, and attempts to show that religion has done no good for humanity and needs to be done away with. Hitchens died of cancer a little over a year ago and is missed by many in the journalism, literature and atheist communities.
Where the Conflict Really Lies by Alvin Plantinga (philosophy)
Probably the most challenging to finish book I have ever read, Plantinga is the head philosophy of religion professor at Notre Dame. He is a highly respected author of Christian apologetics. In this book he attempts to convince the reader that there is no real conflict between science and religious faith, and that believing in God is far more reasonable than not believing in God. He goes as far as to try to show that naturalism/atheism is actually in conflict with scientific reasoning. I can’t imagine very many people who aren’t aspiring philosophers of religion reading this book, but if you are an atheist or agnostic looking for a challenge, a believer looking to reinforce your beliefs or add to your arsenal, or if you just want to think really hard about whether there is a thinking, knowing, loving God, then you can try to read this book. Good luck!
Things the Grandchildren Should Know by Mark Oliver Everett (autobiography)
A short autobiography written by the singer/founder of the band “EELS”. He has had a very interesting life full of tragedy, fame and shame. A very fun read, highly recommend it to anyone, regardless of if you are a fan or not. Eels have had some great songs, and took a lot of musical directions. Check it out.
Mortality by Christopher Hitchens (nonfiction essays)
This short book of essays was written by Hitchens in the final days of his life as he was dying of cancer. Quite a serious topic, and very interesting to hear someone who is so against the idea of an afterlife come to grips with death, while still managing to have a sense of humor and serious wit.
Dove by Robert Lee Graham (true story)
Amazing true story of a 16 year old kid who sailed around the entire world (he was 21 when he got home). His trip was very well documented (by National Geographic etc). Fascinating battles with weather, loneliness, people, and more. Of course a good love story finds it’s way in as well.
Free Will by Sam Harris
Another very outspoken leader of the new atheist movement, a Neuroscientist and public intellectual does his best to convince us that we are not *nearly* as “free” as we think we are. Harris seems to push “hard determinism”, a philosophical idea that has been around for a long time, but that most of us seem to not think very much about. How free are you to do as you wish? This tiny book has pissed off a lot of people. I recommend it if you want a little intellectual challenge.
The Grapes of Wrath – John Steinbeck (novel)
Another masterpiece by Steinbeck–considered one of the most essential American classics. Tells the story of a struggling family’s move from Oklahoma to California during the Dust Bowl and the Great Depression. Great characters.. tedious dialog. Really a fantastic book, though I didn’t fully appreciate it until after I finished it.
Siddartha by Herman Hesse (fiction, spiritual)
Very nice book about the search for truth, peace and beauty in the world. One of the most popular books of all time. Highly recommend this to anyone looking for a good solid “zen” read.
The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle (self-help, spiritual)
Eckhart Tolle is the Oprah Book club figurehead of spiritual peace, literally. He has sold a bazillion copies of this book– it’s a new age self help book that basically tells you to slow down, be aware, and realize that the only thing you truly ever have is the present moment. Old advice is sometimes the best advice, and even though there may not be anything truly revolutionary about the wisdom in this book, it is wisdom nonetheless and I would recommend this book to anyone. We can never be reminded enough that we need to experience and enjoy the present moment.
A Universe From Nothing – Lawrence Krauss (science)
Lawrence Krauss is an astrophysicist and head of the “Origins Project” at ASU, and an outspoken critic of religion. I’m sure you’ve all heard the phrase “you can’t get something from nothing”, Krauss disagrees. He believes that Universe could have, and most likely did, spontaneously arise from literally nothing, that the net weight and energy of the Universe is actually zero, and that this is the only way it would all make sense anyways. If you are into space and philosophy, and don’t mind some pretty technical stuff (I did not understand it all), this is a cool book.
Going Clear by Lawrence Wright (nonfiction, critical)
This book is a long-form, investigative, journalistic report on the history of Scientology. Lawrence is very critical of L. Ron Hubbard, David Miscavige, and other leaders of this so-called church. His goal seems quite clear- he wants everyone to know that Scientology is a huge scam that has victimized tens of thousands of gullible people, and that the people who lead it, including celebrities like Tom Cruise and John Travolta- are nuts. I knew Scientology was a little crazy, but I had no idea *how* crazy. Very interesting.
Jitterbug Perfume by Tom Robins (novel, funny)
A few different people suggested Tom Robbins to me around the same time so I had to check him out. This book was a lot of fun, I imagine his others are similar. This book tells a funny, fantastical story, weaving together several groups of characters from different periods in history, exploring themes of eternity, aging, love, sex, God(s), and more. Delightfully inappropriate. When I feel like I want to read something truly for *fun* again, I’m going to pick up another Tom Robins book.
What have you been reading?
The new record is now available for listening and purchasing. At the moment, the only place to get it (Download or physical C.D.) is through my BandCamp Website. It’s very easy to listen and buy over there, check it out.
This album was recorded over march/april/may 2013, mostly in the beautiful Columbia City Theater in south Seattle. A few bits were recorded at home and brought in for mixing. I had the amazing experience of working with a string quartet on four of the tracks, and this was my first attempt at doing string arrangments. My friend Andrew Joslyn who is head of Passenger String Quartet helped me make this dream come true.
As the summer comes in I working on getting a west-coast tour set up with Lotte Kestner. Stay tuned for late-july and early-august west coast dates. Hope to see you out there.
I’m excited to be playing in Spokane for the first time in quite a while, on Feb 15th at the Bing Crosby Theater. My buddies Pickwick will be headlining the show, and Sera Cahoone is playing also. This show is a benefit show for my good friends Karli and Caleb Ingersoll, as they are raising funds to open a brand new all-ages venue in Spokane called The Bartlett