News & Tribute: Back Beat Seattle Writer Chris Senn Passes Away

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Chris Senn & Willie “Big Eyes” Smith – 2010

I just received the news from a fellow photographer/writer, Xander Deccio, that writer – and our friend – Chris Senn passed away this morning. Senn, a talented and informed music journalist, began writing for Back Beat Seattle in 2010. Whether he was reviewing Eric Clapton’s KeyArena show, Huey Lewis and the News at the Zoo, or bringing an insider’s view of an Amazon Holiday party featuring Imagine Dragons, he always brought a considerate and intelligent approach to music coverage. He was also a champion of local artists such as Cody Beebe and the Crooks.

Senn’s positivity in life inspired me. He was a flexible thinker. As he fought against cancer, I know that he maintained an interest in and love of music, and branched out with Seattle Music Insider as well.

I am honored to have worked with Chris, and count myself lucky to have had him on the team. Thank you, Chris! And to your family and friends: so sorry you have lost such a wonderful person.
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You can read lots of Chris’ work on BBS by following this link. I have also selected a few pieces on a special page to feature his articles.

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Bumbershoot – Day 1 w/ the Lonely Forest

Bumbershoot – Day 1 w/ the Lonely Forest
Show Review by Abby Williamson
Photos by Simon Krane, Kirk Stauffer & Abby Williamson

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The Lonely Forest‘s John Van Deusen – photo by Abby Williamson

This whole story may sound like déjà vu, and that’s because it is.

I thought the last time I was going to see the Lonely Forest was at the Sasquatch Festival back in May, but then I was able to go to Bumbershoot too. So my cryfest at Sasquatch was a bit unfounded, but I’m glad I was there for the band’s last show.

The Lonely Forest have been a mainstay at Bumbershoot over the years, so it’s fitting that their last show was on the lawn in the Seattle Center, surrounded by their peers in the music scene, families, and fans – like me – that have been with them for a long time.

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The Lonely Forest – photo by Simon Krane

Amidst the sincere and emotional banter that John, Tony, Eric, and Braydn shared, they went out with nothing less than a bang. Playing new hits, old favorites, and everything Seattle has grown to love over the last nine years. The crowd howled along to “Coyote,” wailed on “Two Pink Pills,” a song about Benadryl, and carried both Tony and John through some epic crowd surfing.

For being a 3 p.m. set, they made it seem to go all night, all while feeling painfully short. I – as well as the crying fans in the front row – didn’t want it to end. They closed the set with “We Sing In Time,” the song we all think of when we think of the Lonely Forest. I – for one – thank those guys for letting the photographers stay in the pit the whole time. So many of us shared the same feelings with the people in the front row that we didn’t want to miss any of it. I know for a fact that I wasn’t the only one crying. You know who you are. The Lonely Forest was the first show I photographed five years ago, and I was able to be there for their last show. Perfect, isn’t it?

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I’ve been listening through the Lonely Forest’s catalogue over the last few weeks and I noticed something so brilliantly poignant and coincidental that it gave me monster chills when I heard it. The last album, Adding Up The Wasted Hours is not only an amalgamation of the band’s last nine years, but it’s also a goodbye, even if they didn’t know it when they recorded it. So I hope that I can speak for everyone in the crowd that day, and the crowds over the years when I say: the Lonely Forest, oh what a beautiful way you wasted our time.

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The Lonely Forest – photos by Kirk Stauffer

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The Lonely Forest – photos by Simon Krane

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The Lonely Forest – photos by Abby Williamson

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The Lonely Forest Also played the KEXP Lounge – photos by Simon Krane

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The Lonely Forest – photos by Simon Krane

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Show Review & Photos: Walking Papers, the Mothership & Tango Alpha Tango

Walking Papers, the Mothership & Tango Alpha Tango @ the Crocodile, 9/19/14
Review by Ira Leonard
Photos by Dagmar

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Duff McKagan & Jeff Angell of Walking Papers

On Friday, September 19th, a sold out audience at the Crocodile Café bore witness to the triumphant return of Walking Papers, featuring some of the Pacific Northwest’s most accomplished musical sons. The Seattle-based supergroup, which consists of vocalist/guitarist Jeff Angell (the Missionary Position), bassist Duff McKagan (Guns N’ Roses, Velvet Revolver), drummer Barrett Martin (Screaming Trees, Mad Season, Queens of the Stone Age), and keyboardist Benjamin Anderson (also an alumnus of the Missionary Position) delivered a swaggering, incendiary performance that included all eleven songs from their self-titled debut album, peppered with a few more recent compositions as well. And, unlike many other “supergroups,” who collapse almost immediately under the weight of the individual egos of their members, Walking Papers appears to function as a real band capable of writing memorable songs that stand on their own merit rather than merely resting on the laurels of their respective former bands.

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Jeff Angell of Walking Papers

I will preface my review by freely admitting to one personal bias: I am a HUGE fan of the organ in rock and roll. From Billy Preston to Al Kooper to Ray Manzarek, the kaleidoscopic sound of the organ, when tastefully applied, can hover like the Holy Ghost above the rest of the instruments and provide just a touch of the sacred in an arena typically dominated by the profane. In addition to the fine work of Benjamin Anderson, the opening band Tango Alpha Tango also provided a bit of soulful organ grit to go along with the Zeppelinesque brand of blues rock served up by this young, but impressive Portland-based ensemble. They were followed by the Mothership, a Seattle outfit with a gift for writing extended form compositions that meld elements of psychedelia, stoner metal, and progressive rock into a compelling hybrid.

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Tango Alpha Tango‘s Nathan Trueb

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Johndus Beckman of the Mothership

Though this was an all ages show, the audience was overwhelmingly comprised of thirty-somethings and above. So when Duff McKagan led Walking Papers onto the stage, the low-slung bass guitar and artfully disheveled mane of blond hair were instantly recognizable to those like me, who had spent many an adolescent summer’s afternoon wearing out our cassette tape copy of Appetite For Destruction. Though McKagan garners the most name recognition of the group, Duff, as he did in Guns N’ Roses, seems content to play the role of sideman and de facto musical director while letting a charismatic frontman be the star of the show. And Jeff Angell did just that. A consummate showman, the lithe, fedora-donning Angell cut an onstage figure that seemed equal parts Jack Skellington and Izzy Stradlin as he coaxed a bevy of Stonesy rock licks from his Les Paul Custom Black Beauty. The ethereal organ playing of Benjamin Anderson provided the perfect bed for Angell’s guitar lines. On few songs was the interplay between the two musicians more symbiotic than on the rootsy “Leave Me in the Dark,” a standout track from the group’s debut album that was a highlight of this show as well. From there, the band launched into “Red Envelopes,” an uptempo rocker in the tradition of “Highway Star” by Deep Purple. Throughout the course of the evening, Jeff Angell was on point when it came to playing the guitar AND playing the audience, a necessary skill for any lead singer. At various points he lent the microphone to someone in the front row and let them sing a line or two. During a song entitled “The Butcher” he left the stage entirely, walked all the way through the crowd, and ended up finishing the number on top of the bar to the delight of those who could not get a spot in front of the stage. Barrett Martin was stellar behind the drum kit as well. A musician equally comfortable in rock and jazz drumming techniques, his nuanced cymbal work provided just the right groove on “Already Dead.” Walking Papers closed out the night with a spirited rendition of “Your Secret’s Safe With Me.” They returned to the stage for one encore “A Place Like This,” which was the lone song they had in their catalogue that they hadn’t already played. It is always a great night for rock and roll when both the audience and the band leave the venue wanting more.

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Walking Papers

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The Mothership

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Tango Alpha Tango

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Photos and Review: Sloan @ The Tractor

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Sloan (Jay Ferguson / Chris Murphy / Patrick Pentland / Andrew Scott) played some good ole Rock and Roll at the Tractor Tavern in Ballard on Monday night. Like most of you, I didn’t know anything about Sloan but they are immensely talented and accomplished. Originating from Halifax, Nova Scotia, they (according to a Chart Magazine readers poll) have some of the best albums ever recorded by a Canadian band. Super fan “Bruce” told me to watch how they share songwriting and instruments.

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Yep, Andrew Scott and Chris Murphy switched drums, guitar, and vocal duties. This brought a fun fresh twist to the show that the crowd really appreciated it. They played songs from their new record, Commonwealth and from their old records like Twice Removed and Peppermint.

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So what do they sound like? My thoughts were of 1970s California rock. I was struck by how each member of Sloan could really sing. They are each so talented.

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Photographer: John Rudolph

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Show Preview: The Kills @ the Neptune, Mon. 11/27

Show Preview: The Kills @ the Neptune, Monday 11/27
by Dagmar

Come out of your fall hibernation Seattle: the Kills are here on Monday at the Neptune!

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The Kills

The sexy transatlantic duo hasn’t visited Seattle since 2011, and they are ever so welcome back. There’s not a band out there like them. While there is no new album release to celebrate, fans will be able to leap around (as I remember, there’s a lot of leaping around at Kills’ shows) and join Jamie Hince and Alison Mosshart in songs they know. It’s all part of their rock brain power. On the other hand, there just might be new songs perhaps, perhaps. While there’s no release set date for a new Kills album, there are murmurs of one from the duo, which is said to be very different from earlier work.

Intriguing indeed.

For more details & tickets, visit the Neptune’s event page.

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