By the time 2019 came to its fitful end, Andrew Marlin knew he was tired of touring. He was grateful, of course, for the ascendancy of Mandolin Orange, the duo he’d cofounded in North Carolina with fiddler Emily Frantz exactly a decade earlier. With time, they had become new flagbearers of the contemporary folk world, sweetly singing soft songs about the hardest parts of our lives, both as people and as a people. Their rise—particularly crowds that grew first to fill small dives, then the Ryman, then amphitheaters the size of Red Rocks—humbled Emily and Andrew, who became parents to Ruby late in 2018. They’d made a life of this.
Still, every night, Andrew especially was paid to relive a lifetime of grievances and griefs onstage. After 2019’s Tides of a Teardrop, a tender accounting of his mother’s early death, the process became evermore arduous, even exhausting. What’s more, those tunes—and the band’s entire catalogue, really—conflicted with the name Mandolin Orange, an early-20s holdover that never quite comported with the music they made. Nightly soundchecks, at least, provided temporary relief, as the band worked through a batch of guarded but hopeful songs written just after Ruby’s birth. They offered a new way to think about an established act.
Those tunes are now Watchhouse, which would have been Mandolin Orange’s sixth album but is instead their first also under the name Watchhouse, a moniker inspired by Marlin’s place of childhood solace. The name, like the new record itself, represents their reinvention as a band at the regenerative edges of subtly experimental folk-rock. Challenging as they are charming, and an inspired search for personal and political goodness, these nine songs offer welcome lessons about what any of us might become when the night begins to break.
“We’re different people than when we started this band,” Marlin says, reflecting on all these shifts. “We’re setting new intentions, taking control of this thing again.”
Caspar Babypants (also known as Chris Ballew the three time Grammy nominated lead singer and songwriter for the Seattle band The Presidents of the United States of America) puts on a fun energetic sing along dance party of a live show for kids 0 to 6 years old and their parents. The show consists of solo voice and electric guitar. Parents are encouraged to sing along and kids are free to move about and dance right up front if they wish. Caspar does not make a set list but rather pays attention to the feel of each crowd and customizes the show to fit their mood so no two shows are the same.
Sundae + Mr. Goessl are a Wisconsin-based duo that has been storming the country with their delightful brand of countrified jazz, melding the likability of Americana, pop and country music, and giving it a hybrid of jazz rhythms that will illuminate any music lovers hankering. Sundae + Mr. Goessl features award-winning vocalist, Kate Voss, and tireless virtuoso guitarist, Jason Goessl. This charming wife/husband duo has a style all their own and integrates humor, vintage style, interesting instrumentation, nostalgia and serious musicianship in their act. While it may be tricky to pin down a genre with these two, there’s one adjective that everyone can agree on: delightful.
“Seattle’s Jabrille “Jimmy James” Williams is a rare find in the guitar universe. At a time when music influences run the gamut producing a mishmash of styles, James keeps it real with a single-minded purity culled from the sounds of ’60s soul. His two bands, The True Loves and The Delvon Lamarr Organ Trio, unleash vintage funkiness in the Stax tradition. But James is no one trick pony. Armed with a Strat, a Silvertone, and an Arbiter Fuzz Face, he’s an R&B rhythm specialist schooled in the art of soul who turns people on to Curtis Mayfield, Al Green, and James Brown.” – Vintage Guitar Magazine
“In the case of vocalist Tiffany Wilson—whose recent KEXP performance stopped me in my tracks when I heard it two rooms away streaming from my husband’s phone—there’s no denying the power and passion of her voice” – Seattle Magazine
Award-winning Seattle based folk singer/songwriter Tekla Waterfield and multi-instrumentalist/producer Jeff Fielder (Mark Lanegan, Amy Ray, Indigo Girls) are a powerhouse musical husband and wife duo. The two self-released their debut album together, “Trouble In Time” in 2021, which received glowing reviews nationally and internationally from such publications as No Depression and American Songwriter, with radio play on NPR’s World Cafe, KEXP and much more. Waterfield is releasing her third solo LP, “New Skies” September of 2021, again with production by Fielder. Waterfield’s 2018 album (also with production by partner, Jeff Fielder), “The Curtain Falls”, saw song placement in the award-winning indie film, Dakota, for the song, Rock and Roll Man, with the music video for song, Nice Try being selected by the Seattle International Film Festival and One Reel for screening at the 2019 Bumbershoot Music Festival.
Reality has offered a fertile canvas for violinist, storyteller, educator and community enterpriser Benjamin Hunter’s endeavoring mind.
Cross pollinating multiple artistic disciplines for more than a decade, the Seattle based polymath and multi-instrumentalist has dedicated his life to transforming the world’s stale status quo into a vibrant, inclusive, communal, and compassionate society.
Benjamin is an award winning multi-instrumentalist, composer, community activist, social entrepreneur, and educator. Benjamin’s work explores the intersections of music & art, community, policy, and culture.
In 2016, his America roots duo with Joe Seamons took first place in the International Blues Competition. In 2018, Benjamin composed the music for the critically acclaimed production, Black Bois. With his primary instrument the violin, he is as comfortable playing classical as he is blues and jazz. City Arts Magazine wrote, “ The music he plays not only spans an array of genres but a huge swath of history.” Living Blues magazine wrote, “An unbridled freedom and genre emancipation is evident in Ben Hunter’s music, yet the deep blues are a cornerstone of his style”.
Benjamin Hunter is the founder and director of Community Arts Create, co-founder of the Hillman City Collaboratory, co-founder of Black & Tan Hall, sits on the Seattle Music Commission, and is a teaching artist for JazzEd as well as festivals around the world. Benjamin is a 2020/2021 Artist-in-Residence at On The Boards, and is a 2020 Artist Trust Fellowship Awards recipient.
With so much completed already, determining Hunter’s next step is near to impossible. However, two things are for certain, whatever it is, at least a small slice of the world will be better off for it, and that endeavoring mind of his will forever be insatiable.
Born in Texas but raised in the Northwest Country Dave started his singing and playing career in Tacoma WA in the early 1970’s. Starting out as a folk music artist he was inspired by countryt artists Merle Haggard, George Jones, Busk Owens and others and soon took up the steel guitar and country lead guitar. He was soon playing and singing in top country bands and toured with Lance Romance in the late 70’s. From 1981-1997 he was lead singer, steel player and guitarist for one of Seattle’s most successful country bands, Stampede Pass.
He is now a sought after session player on steel and guitar and heads his own band Country Dave & the Pickin’ Crew as well playing solo and is often called onto to be a side man for many top bands.
Still going strong one might say he is the patriarch of country music in Seattle