Adventures with Craig

The theme of this blog is the pursuit of joy, and what could be more joyful than music, serendipity, and songs about acne? You read that right, but I’ll get back to that.

As a freelance writer I find all sorts of random work, and some of it’s through my friend Craig. You know the guy. He has a list. This week I applied to review a concert, sent in my writing sample and waited–and this is the full disclosure part–got hired to write a review of a local concert. The people in the bands who hired me were very friendly–the kind of people you’d like to know. I met them at Conor Byrne, which is a very relaxed pub in Ballard, a neighborhood right here in Seattle.

Full disclosure aside, these fellows paid me first, so this is my own opinion of the show I saw. They won’t know what I write until they see this, although I did gush at one of the bands so they might guess their review will be favorable. I went to the concert last night (April 6th.) The opening act was  Kevin Murphy who is in the Moondoggies. I don’t know what the band’s music is like, but Kevin played an acoustic set. His voice reminded me of James Taylor. I hate to compare one musician to another, but otherwise how do I tell you what I heard? His music had gently traipsing melodies, with a quietly insistent vibe. I really liked some of his lyrics, including this line: “I know you hear all the time how you radiate sunlight. Put this foolishness behind.” He wasn’t my favorite, but I’m not a fan of quiet singer-songwriter music, so I think it’s no reflection on his skills or talent. He had a very nice voice.

The second band was called Johnny Unicorn. Oh my god. Oh my god! I went into this gig knowing virtually nothing about these artists. Comparing again, I would say that Johnny Unicorn was sort of like the love child of They Might Be Giants, Devo, and Weird Al. The band took the stage and there was this immediate energy and presence and then they started playing–this is a band that seems to be self-consciously, gloriously weird and I was so ecstatically happy to be there. I would pay to see these guys again. The lead singer, Johnny Unicorn, seemed to be as much a performance artist as a musical act. Music to dance to, music to laugh to. They had a long song called “Breakout” which was all about acne, and I admire any artist who can use the phrase “sebaceous glands” in a piece of music. This song then segued into a song about Christmas. In the course of the energetic set there was a wide range of musical styles and instruments including rap in the style of the Sugarhill Gang, accordian, saxophone, and beatboxing. The crowd was dancing, and we were all having fun. I left with their new album, “Sadness and Companionship,” an aerobic exercise album. This music might not be for everyone, but that’s okay. I loved it.

The final band was called Autumn Electric. This band seemed to be the best on the instruments–the drummer, Chris Barrios, was really incredible, and I enjoyed the hard rocking guitar and the keyboard skills of Naomi Adele Smith (who also adds her talents to Johnny Unicorn.) The lead, Michael Trew, had a sweet voice that reminded me of Mickey Dolenz of the Monkees. Some of the music had a klezmer feel to it with rock instruments, and other pieces echoed Rush and Yes. The band kept the energy going with no dead air in between songs. I liked this band, too, but the volume of the instruments overwhelmed Michael’s delicate voice so I could not hear any lyrics. This is not a problem on their samples on the website, which are quite lovely. In a different venue with a different sound mix, this band would have been really wonderful.

I love my adventures with Craig. As a freelancer, I’m always looking for more work, and it was great to have a night out meeting nice people and listening to fun music. It’s a bonus when I happen to stumble upon something I really enjoy–I signed up for all the fan stuff on Johnny Unicorn–the music just speaks to me. I can’t wait to see what new adventures Craig has in store next week.

Your assignment, should you choose to accept it:
236: How can you introduce some serendipity into your life? Try something at random just to see how it turns out. I might suggest sampling some new music. The bands I went to see mostly have music on their websites, if you’d like to sample them. They all also have Facebook pages.

Links, should you desire them:


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