As we roll through the final third of summer, it seems fitting that two of the fastest-rising roots music acts in town are trios. Folk threesome Sunmay, who mix the winsome vocals of Deborah Bartley with acoustic instrumentation and subtle electronics, play twice this week in support of their recent debut, You Can Make Beautiful Things. On Sunday, August 21, they join Jen Wood, Robb Benson, and others at Chop Suey, in a benefit for the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation. And on Tuesday, August 23, they warm up for Rebecca Gates (Spinanes) at the Tractor.
The Black Crabs might not sound like something you'd want to catch—especially after we add that they'll make you feel like you have ants in your pants—but trust us, the Seattle rockabilly ensemble with the prickly moniker are worth checking out at Highway 99 Blues Club on Tuesday, August 23. Featuring guitarist Jonathan Stuart, drummer Tom Forster, and former Donettes slap bassist par excellence Kirsten Ballweg, the trio are still working on their premiere album, but in the meanwhile, a few lean and lively songs are available to sample on their website (www.theblackcrabs.com), including the frisky stop-start ditty "Countdown," and "Rink Lay," a crunchy surf instrumental.
We could make a cheap crack about the Walkabouts being Seattle's equivalent of David Hasslehoff, since their music sells better in Germany than the States. But, joking aside, we can't understand why the quintet, who have been mixing darker elements of Americana and folk traditions with European theatrical flair for 21 years, don't receive a warmer reception at home. Fans have a rare chance to see them live when they play their only 2005 U.S. date at Georgetown Records, on Saturday, August 20 at 8:00 p.m. The gig is a warm-up for the band's upcoming European tour in support of Acetylene, out this month on Germany's Glitterhouse. The new disc downplays the moodier elements of the Walkabouts' sound in favor of a more raw, intense one; the dense and creepy "Fuck Your Fear" features disquieting vocal harmonies and rumbling drums. Says guitarist Christ Eckman, "I wondered what it would have been like if Neil Young had stopped by Wire's rehearsal space, sometime in 1977?" Judging from Acetylene, the answer is: pissed off, punchy, and pungent.
Speaking of overlooked Seattle treasures, the old-school Emerald City soul vets celebrated on last year's excellent Wheedle's Groove anthology continue making up for lost time. All the key players, including Ron Buford, Overton Berry, and Patrinell Wright (née Staten), will be participating in a special Bumbershoot afternoon showcase on Sunday, September 4. Plus, the Red Bull Academy just threw a chunk of grant money at the forthcoming feature-length documentary on the album's evolution. Want more? Hold on, it's coming. Since January, crate diggers Mr. Supreme and Dynomite D have been producing an array of golden age Seattle funk artists for a brand-new collaborative full-length, to be issued shortly by local tastemakers Light in the Attic.