People are gathered about in small groups outside the Eagles Hall in West Seattle, smoking cigarettes and telling stories and laughing. Kerri Harrop is here, taking her extremely friendly dog Cleo for a quick walk. I help a woman dressed as a sexy nursemaid carry her rather large suitcase up a set of stairs, only to realize I'm walking in the entrance to the backstage. I retreat at the first sight of a large and muscled (but friendly, everyone here is friendly) bouncer. This is the launch party for The West, a new organization promoting the arts in West Seattle. "We want to create the awareness that West Seattle has a unique culture, bred by its talented inhabitants, and local businesses is what's important," says Brent Amaker of Brent Amaker and the Rodeo. "We intend to have a good time getting that message out." Also in on the endeavor are Oliver Little of the Workshop (West Seattle Summer Fest), Lora Swift of Hotwire Coffeehouse and Swift Media Services, Jeff Gilbert of Feedback Lounge, Cary Kemp of Pizzeria 22, Ben Jenkins of Shadowland, Matt Vaughn of Easy Street Records, Jessie Summa-Kusiak of the Skylark Cafe, among others.
My Goodness in Double Time
Inside the proper entrance, we've arrived too late to catch Reignwolf's searing set of blues riffage (hear the audio here), but My Goodness have just started a blistering blues-rock rampage set to strobe lights so stark that several people recoil from the flashing, seeking cover at the back of the crowd. The duo is in top form, with drummer Ethan Jacobsen hitting his floor tom so hard it sounds like a snare and singer/guitarist Joel Schneider thrashing about like a tiger, his face covered in a mop of hair. They disappear from the invite-only party immediately after their set to headline a show at the Tractor. Now that's what they call hustling.
No Country for Alt Men
The sexy nursemaid whose baggage I carried earlier comes out on stage and starts dusting the equipment with a duster, and I remember this is how a Brent Amaker and the Rodeo set starts. They take the stage in full cowboy regalia. There is no excessive reverb in a Brent Amaker and the Rodeo song. No schmaltzy lyrical musing or melancholic, wistful "alt" strumming. This brand of country is pure tongue-in-cheek braggadocio, but the band has the chops to back grandiose assertions. Just look up their cover of Kraftwerk's "Pocket Calculator" if you're in need of recent evidence.
It's a long drive back to anywhere from West Seattle, but if The West has its way, more of us will just move there.