Friday, March 27, 2015

Brush With Celebrity: Roger Fisher of Heart

   You'd be hard pressed to find any divas in the history of Seattle rock. I can think of two nationally-known singers whose homes smell like wet dogs. Most of our best known indie rockers spent years working alongside each other in Seattle record stores. With barely enough talent to hold a guitar the right way, I've even been invited to jam with guys who have sold millions of records. Once somebody from Seattle begins to take themselves seriously, they're no longer really from Seattle.
   So I don't get starstruck as a rule. 
   And yet.
   When Heart's Roger Fisher demonstrated the riff to "Barracuda", I got chills. This wasn't just noise. It was a slice out of the most impressionable years of my youth. 

   Fisher and his brother Mike were recording the first of four albums that make up their epic One Vision series. Friends say they haven't seen the brothers this excited by a project in nearly 40 years.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Brush With Celebrity: The Wallflowers

The Wallflowers: Reboot The Mission

I’ve been a fan of the Wallflowers since their second album, Bringing Down the Horse, the one that made them famous, the one with “6th Avenue Heartache” and “One Headlight” and “Three Marlenas.” I stuck with them, buying their next few albums, and enjoying them, but I had never seen them live. After the band took a hiatus, I moved on, and when they announced a show at the Tarrytown Music Hall in 2012, my wife and I decided not to get tickets. It was a hard call, but if we went to every show by every band that we liked, we would never be home, and have even less money than we do now.

The show was on a Saturday in September, and when we got back from the gym in the morning, both of us had urgent emails from my college classmate Heather, who lives in California and has many contacts in the music industry. She had mentioned to me at our 30th reunion earlier that year that she was friendly with Rami Jaffee, the keyboard player for the Wallflowers (and, among other bands, the Foo Fighters). The email asked us whether we could loan some bicycles to the band, and supply them with, as a fan of How I Met Your Mother, I will refer to as “sandwiches.” In exchange, we would get house seats.

This was a good deal. We loaned them our bicycles, but were unwilling (read—unable) to find any “sandwiches.” We drove the bicycles over to the theater and gave them to Rami, after which he, guitarist Stuart Mathis (now touring with Lucinda Williams) and opening act Mason Reed joined us for coffee at Coffee Labs.

Contrary to what we expected, they didn’t merely say “thanks,” buy us a cup of (excellent) coffee and send us on their way. Instead, we sat for, I’d say, close to an hour, chatting about this and that, and generally having a nice time. But then, it was time for them to actually use the bicycles before the show. We sat in the fourth row, and they put on a hell of a show. Afterwards, we went back behind the theater with Heather’s brother Harley (who also lives in Tarrytown) to get our bicycles back, and maybe say hi (and maybe meet Jakob Dylan). Apparently, they were surprised by the hilly terrain in our area, and were tired from the ride, but it didn’t affect the show. We didn’t however, meet Mr. Dylan.

“Reboot The Mission,” which owes a debt to The Clash and Big Audio Dynamite, mentions Joe Strummer, features vocals and guitar from Mick Jones,  was a highlight of Glad All Over, the album they were touring in support of, and is wildly catchy. Although it was a good reunion album, and got generally positive reviews, it seems that Glad All Over may have been the band’s last. At least three members, including Rami, left the band in 2013, and although they did tour at least until the end of last year, no tour dates are currently listed on their website, which, along with their Facebook page, continues to promote the 2012 release.