Sightseer began in 2008 when Jason Lightfoot placed an ad in Seattle’s Craigslist under the auspicious heading, “Page Seeking Plant”. This led to a meeting at the local pub between Jason and PA where they happily found out they shared a common musical vision and an affinity for good whiskey. A prior commitment that was due to be canceled by PA’s then current band Queen Jane led to their first gig 13 days later; with eleven original songs penned on the way to practice….usually while waiting in traffic.
The combination of soulful vocals, rich electric and acoustic guitars, tasteful keys, solid bass & drums, and the occasional violin tell stories that are rooted in long dry summers, cold winters, whiskey nights and heartbroken mornings. Sightseer’s debut cd “What Tomorrow Brings” is produced by Jason Lightfoot and Tom Hall for 3Rays Records and was released on February 1, 2012.
PA Mathison grew up in Calgary, surrounded by enormous expanses of sky and miles upon miles of prairie flatland, with long dry summers and bitterly cold winters. The feeling of solitude, desolation, and finding permanence weave their way in her writing, as evidenced in her solo 2005 country release “Not Too Late” and currently in Sightseer’s more dense sound.
Jason Lightfoot has been involved in the Seattle music scene since the early 90’s as a performer, sound engineer, and studio owner . He has played on most stages and venues in the city as a member of Furniture Girls, Alabaster, and the Shawna Locey Band and shared bills with such acts as Linda Perry and Dr. Fink from Prince’s Revolution band.
The addition of multi-instrumentalist Jason Welling (Dangermart, Golden Robot Army) in early 2011 allowed the band to both branch out and hone in on a unique sound; a mix somewhere between classic rock, indie rock, and alt-country. His considerable skills have made him an in demand sideman playing all over town with many local artists.
Dave O'Leary is a writer and a musician who first came across Sightseer when writing about the band for both Seattle Subsonic and NorthWest Music Scene, and simply put, he fell in love with the tunes instantly. When the band was undergoing some lineup changes in early 2012, Dave subbed on the bass for a few gigs, one of them at SXSW, and they wound up liking him well enough to offer him the full time gig.
Veteran drummer David Nielsen started his musical career far away in Japan with a set of head phones and Led Zeppelin records. On stage and in the studio David has performed both locally and internationally with artists such as Japanese pop star Ann Lewis, Heart bassist Steve Fossen, Life Ring, Tlag Nhoj, John Galt, and Rock Steady.
P.A Mathison - Guitar, VOX
Jason Lightfoot - Guitar, VOX
Jason Welling - Guitar, keys, VOX, Violin
Dave O'Leary - Bass
David Nielsen - Drums
2012- What Tomorrow Brings
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PA Mathison of the Seattle band Sightseer is a natural-born storyteller. That trait that shines thro...PA Mathison of the Seattle band Sightseer is a natural-born storyteller. That trait that shines through loud and clear in the song, “Resting Place,” the best song Marshall Tucker never recorded and a track on the Discoveries Playlist.
Mathison grew up in Calgary, Alberta, but now calls Seattle home. “I really do love the rain here,” she says.
Here’s more from this very entertaining artist.
How long have you been singing?
I come from a very musical family, but I was a really shy introvert. Music and bands were something other people did, not me. I’d sing in the shower and in the car but I didn’t start singing in bands until way after my kids were born, when I was 30. And now I’m 42.
My husband had a band that practiced in the basement and the singer was pretty bad. One day I had a houseful of running, screaming, bleeding and crying kids. I was doing dishes and listening to that singer cranked at full volume downstairs. Well, I just lost it and thought I could do better than that. I went down there with a kid on my hip and said, “This is how that part goes.” I stood and sang it, and then stomped back upstairs to continue scraping burned bits of salmon off a grill. I became the singer in that band. That’s how I got my start.
What’s the history of Sightseer?
Four years ago I had a gig booked, but the band I was in at the time was unable to make it happen. I said screw it; I’m getting a band together and playing this show no matter what. It was two weeks out, so I popped on Craigslist and saw an ad that said “Page Seeking Plant.” That struck me as pretty funny so I listened and loved what I heard. I met Jason Lightfoot at a sports pub and discovered we had similar tastes in music. I asked if he wanted to write a bunch of stuff and play a gig in two weeks and he said, “Sure.” Just like that.
I wrote on my way to practice and in parking lots. Thirteen days later we had 11 songs. Some were good and some were really bad, but we worked well together in a very short period of time. Unfortunately, I had to take a year off of music right as the ball started rolling for us, but once we reconnected, we picked up right where we left off.
We’ve had some line-up changes over the years. Right now the band is two Jasons and two Daves: Jason Lightfoot (guitar, vox, guru, and our producer), Jason Welling (guitar, vox, violin, keys), Dave O’Leary (bass), and David Nielsen (drums). This is our strongest line-up to date, and I’m beyond blessed to work with these guys.
How did you end up on Critical Sun Recordings?
Critical Sun is a tight-knit community of musicians and bands that work together to promote each other and the community. Jason Lightfoot plays guitar in Furniture Girls, who fall under the CS umbrella. Through that community Jason was able to book a lot of shows at SXSW last year.
What is the band’s writing process?
Typically, but not always, I bring in the bones of a song: lyrics, a basic idea, and a melody. Then we all get to work on it, editing out, adding in, and sometimes restructuring entire sections. From that point on, it becomes everybody’s song, a Sightseer song. It’s got everybody’s signature on it. We’re a very democratic band.
How did you end up in Seattle from Calgary?
I met my husband in an elevator in Calgary while he was on business from Denver. After we got married, we lived in Denver for eight years, and then moved to Seattle.
Who are some of your favorite artists?
I love storytellers, because that’s what I strive to do when I write. Johnny Cash for sure. Neil Young paints a great picture. I love the way Keith Richards plays guitar and the passion in Linda Perry’s vocals. I’m constantly trying to say more with fewer words. Still working on that.
Sightseer’s influences are all over the map. Black Crows, David Bowie, CCR, PJ Harvey, Kelly Joe Phelps, Billy Squier, Led Zeppelin, and the list goes on.
Is there a story behind “Resting Place?”
Yes. I spent a lot of time in rural Alberta mesmerized by the old farmhouses. They all had a story to tell. If these walls could talk, you know?
One unbelievably hot summer day, I was parked across the road from my grandparents’ old place. They hadn’t lived there for years and the house was pretty worn down. The windows almost seemed like eyes on a face. I was thinking, “It’s dry as a bone here. The weeds are waist high. This house is a resting place.” I started to imagine a life inside that house and the song wrote itself.
Favorite gig you have played?
Any gig where the drummer doesn’t spontaneously combust or the guitar player doesn’t get stuck to his amp. Our drummers have never combusted, but our first guitar player really did get stuck to his amp at our first gig.
Any opportunity to be on stage with these guys is amazing. But there was one night at Opal Divine’s in Austin during SXSW last year, when the stars seemed to align perfectly and everything was right in the world. It was sublime.
LQM Music Review
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Sightseer is a rock/alt-country band, hailing from Seattle and bringing the heat, when it comes to p...Sightseer is a rock/alt-country band, hailing from Seattle and bringing the heat, when it comes to putting together a catalog of material that will keep listeners coming back for more. Their 2012 release of their LP, What Tomorrow Brings, showcases the flawless vocals of PA Mathison, one of the best up-and-coming female vocalists I’ve heard, in quite some time. Backed by Sightseer’s founder and guitarist Jason Lightfoot, Dave O’Leary on bass, David Nielsen on drums, and Jason Welling bringing up the slack on keyboards and guitars, Sightseer is a band that can go all the way.
The band’s latest album is dance-able, as well as, radio and stadium ready. Each song grabs hold, taking the listener deep within the musical movements that take place throughout the entire masterpiece. The album has a rich mixture of acoustic folk, jazz, southern rock, and country.
A favorite of mine was track 5, entitled “Patsy Cline”. Not only am I a huge fan of Patsy’s, I was very impressed by the creative use of her song titles throughout the lyrics, which made this an endearing tribute to the reigning Queen of Country Music. Another favorite was the ballad-like track number 3, “What If I”, which boasted an interesting organ in the intro, then tickled my eardrums with singing guitars on the bridge.
Many of the more up-tempo tracks all had a country/rock feel. Songs like “Red Eye Haze,” “Miss You Much,” “Read It & Weep,” and “The One” all make you want to get up and dance, or at the very least, bounce a little.
Songs that really showcased the balance this band has found in the marriage between country and rock were “Spaces” and “Resting Place”. Adding a jazz flavor to the album, “Ruin Me”, which featured a jazz intro on keyboards, which maintains throughout the song’s overall rock/pop feel.
Adding to the interest of the album was a really beautiful, melodic ballad, focused on the Canadian town of Athabasca, located in Alberta. With its folk-acoustic guitar intro and the sweet vocals of PA Mathison, I’d expect the folks in Athabasca to be proud of this one.
The final song on this album is one that features the violin work of Jason Welling. Mixed with the acoustic-folk intro and the slide guitars, this ballad brings a nice finish to a well polished piece of art.
If you don’t buy this album, you are seriously missing out.
Featured Band & CD Review
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We're partial to country bands from the Pacific Northwest, so that might explain why we liked Sights...We're partial to country bands from the Pacific Northwest, so that might explain why we liked Sightseer so much. Or, it could be that they're just a great band whose Seattle-style rock blends perfectly with country to create a totally unique sound. The band's instrumentation is definitely on heavy on the rock side, however, the songs themselves are cheating, drinking, straight-out-of-the-heartland country songs. Check out their album, "What Tomorrow Brings" below or at SightseerMusic.com.
CD review - Sightseer - What Tomorrow Brings
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Sightseer – What Tomorrow Brings The place where the wind from the plains hits the shadow of the...Sightseer – What Tomorrow Brings
The place where the wind from the plains hits the shadow of the mountains can be searing hot one moment then turn to a sudden chill the next, this is where the music of Sightseer lives. The Seattle five piece Americana / Alt Country band is lead by Calgary Chanteuse PA Mathison, whose throaty alto draws you deep into her siren songs of love, loss, reflection and redemption on top of a full throttle heartland sound as big as all outdoors. The eleven strong songs are reminiscent of cow punk pioneers Lone Justice or a beefed up Cowboy Junkies, employing equal parts torch and twang of gritty guitars from Jason Lightfoot and soaring Fiddle and keys from Jason Welling.
The haunting vulnerable vocals of Mathison are always in focus as she confronts a lover on the stirring “What If I,” shouts for a sexy rebellion on “Ruin Me and calls for revenge on “Read It and Weep,” then reflects on a bittersweet homecoming in “Athabasca.” The clever twisty word play of “Patsy Cline,” re-casts the country icon as Alice for a playful psychedelic groove into wonderland, and then the pop sensibility of “Miss You Much,” brings us back with a kick in the pants. Mathison closes with a circle of life benediction the “Biggest Storms,” proclaiming “who knows what tomorrow brings,” but one thing is for certain, when this album gets the attention it deserves it will bring great things for her and Sightseer.
Rick J Bowen
Sightseer’s What Tomorrow Brings
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The next CD you need to get? Sightseer’s What Tomorrow Brings. OK. Right off the bat, I’ll give ful...The next CD you need to get? Sightseer’s What Tomorrow Brings.
OK. Right off the bat, I’ll give full disclosure. I have on occasion filled in on bass for this band so one might think I have a biased opinion, but that isn’t entirely true. There’s a reason, you see, why I filled in on bass when asked. Simply put, I dig the tunes. I’m not a musician for hire. I won’t play a gig simply for the sake of playing a gig. There’s has to be something magical in the band and the music for me to say, “Yeah, I’ll learn ten songs in ten days for that show.” And well, Sightseer is one such band.
As I noted from the first time I saw them, there’s the beautiful ballad “Biggest Storms”, a sparse tune with acoustic guitar, some slide guitar, some violin, and P.A. Mathison’s understated vocal melody, and one of her most poetic lyrically. There’s a tenderness in her voice, even when belting at the top of he lungs, that draws one in. It’s comforting. Her voice is never shrill, never too loud, never buried. They’re never a band to go over the top. They rather seep in underneath and get at what really matters. The Jasons (Lightfoot on guitar and Welling on keys/violin/guitar) are tasteful and reserved in what they play, but don’t let that deceive you, they’re quite capable musicians. The bass player and drummer recently left the band, but that didn’t derail things. Rather, in the spirit of all that music is, Sightseer forged ahead with some acoustic shows, and some shows where they asked people to fill in, and they kept on playing because the music matters, the songs, the act of getting on stage a playing certain chords a certain way. They have a brand of alt-country rock that winds its way deftly between the softer tunes and those that carry more up front guitar. And it packs a punch, it does slide low, it does pull strings. And the lyrics come, the hushed voice comes:
And ain’t it funny how the biggest storms don’t make a sound
Indeed. They well up deep down and come out through the vibrations of six steel strings attached to a hollow piece of wood. And there are songs of whiskey and heartache and heartache and whiskey. Some are soft, but some rocking like the admirable “Read It and Weep”, easily one of my favorite rock songs from any band in Seattle at this time. It’s the song that first drew me into their music. The recording is good, but you need to hear it live. There’s a letter, a knife in the back, a lost love (it’s a Sightseer song), some heavy chords, and even riff, a pentatonic blues thing that comes along at the perfect time and makes one pay attention, makes one look up from the bar while shaking a glass of whiskey and ice and say, “Whoa!” as the head bobs a little.
And then there’s, “What If I”. It was a latecomer in the recording process. P.A. brought it to the band, and after one listen and a few run throughs, they decided they needed to add it to the CD. It was the right choice. It’s a ballad with edge, but the signature vocal delivery is there. It makes one think she’s singing to herself, not in a studio, not on a stage. There’s a personal quality not heard often, again, nothing over the top, just an honest plea of the simplest and most important thing we’ve all felt at one point or another. I have, and her words and voice have stuck in my brain:
What if I told you I needed you now
And all that you are is all I think about
What if I broke down and told you the truth
What if I loved you the way I want to
What if I …
Sightseer deserves far more recognition than they’ve thus far received, and I hope this CD finally gets it for them. And they even play “When the Levee Breaks” live.
What more do you need?
The CD is officially released today, February 1, 2012. I’ll keep you posted on upcoming Sightseer gigs, and I may even join them on stage again soon, but until then, check out the CD. Digital ($9.99) and physical ($12.47) copies can be purchased online.
Recommended Event 01/21/11
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“Read It and Weep,” a hard-hitting tale of self-loathing, is the song that best showcases the early ...“Read It and Weep,” a hard-hitting tale of self-loathing, is the song that best showcases the early identity of local rockers Sightseer. Led by the strong female vocals of P.A. Mathison, the song – like Sightseer’s others – is rooted in alternative-country, bringing to mind bands like Okkervil River and Wilco. Based on their work so far, Sightseer hasn’t yet created a distinctive sound, but the pieces seem to be in place. Just check out the excellent, wailing guitar solo on “Resting Place.” For a folksier, acoustic act, be sure to catch opener The Washover Fans. With The Young West. BRYDEN MCGRATH
Sightseer, Bold, What Tomorrow Brings
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Sightseer, Bold, What Tomorrow Brings June 15th, 2011 I caught Sightseer at the Skylark Cafe a m...Sightseer, Bold, What Tomorrow Brings
June 15th, 2011
I caught Sightseer at the Skylark Cafe a month or so ago, but as I was there to see a different band on the bill and it being a hard thing for me to write about more than one band per evening, I made only the following note about them in my notebook, “Good band. Black Crowesy at times. Soulful at others. See them.” I finally got round to taking my own advice last Sunday. After a quiet day of editing the book, I needed some music because as much as I love writing, music is the one thing that can really cleanse my soul. I knew Sightseer was playing at the High Dive so I texted guitarist Jason Lightfoot to say I was interested in coming to the show and could he put me in the list. His reply was perfect. “Awesome, man! See you tonight.”
I got to the High Dive as Sightseer was getting set to go on. I situated myself at the bar, ordered a beer of course, started taking notes about the crowd, the band, the bar. The guy sitting two seats over from me was hitting on the bartender and seeming to make some progress. “If I can’t get the day off, I’ll call in sick,” she said to his delight. It made him bold enough to finally take her hand. She let him.
True to my note of the first time, the band was indeed Black Crowsey right from the get go by opening with the Crowes’ “My Morning Song” and doing a kick ass job of it. P.A. Mathison Brent can truly do the gospelesque rock thing that Chris Robinson has mastered. The band was in their element, and it roused the crowd, lifted the mood. The song ended, and there were cheers. “It’s still the weekend for a couple more hours so drink up!” More cheers.
They played a few of their songs next, and I noted they were bluesier, more rocking, more Crowsey so to speak, than they had been at the Skylark where the term of alternative-countryish rock would have been more appropriate. At the High Dive, the country element was subdued. I made note to ask about it, but I also made note that I liked it. They beefed up their originals. Songs like “Miss You Much” and “Ruin Me” pushed with more weight. I scribbled an almost illegible note, “Some B.C. feel!” I liked that they could carry the tunes a couple different ways, tailor the music to the audience or simply to their mood without losing something. Not every band can.
A few songs later, I got a tap on the shoulder. She was blond, pretty. She thanked me for writing about her band and then gave me a hug. This writing thing does indeed have its benefits. She then went up front by the stage to dance and groove but being a singer herself and a friend of the band, she was called upon to sing, “You should come up for this one since it’s your favorite,” Brent said to her. So she did. “This one’s called Read It and Weep,” and it was my favorite thus far as well. The two female vocals combined for a LARGE chorus after which there were heavy guitars and riffs. The band could surprise. Great tune. I rocked, grooved, drank my beer and took more illegible notes, but spent most of the song watching the guest vocalist.
Zeppelin’s “When the Levee Breaks” came not long after that, and as with the B.C. cover, they nailed it. I don’t think I’ve ever seen another band play Levee, and to hear Sightseer do it, I don’t want to. They were ramping up the night. The power was there, but then in that odd way about music they closed with a mellow acoustic number, “Biggest Storms”, one of those soulful tunes that when done as a closer leaves the audience feeling not pumped so much as lifted.
The silence of this room is deafening
I can hear the creaking of my bones
I can hear the dust dancin’ in sunbeams
Lord, I wish you didn’t go
And ain’t it funny how
the biggest storms don’t make a sound.
We were all quiet. We swayed. We drank. Men held their women, and women held their women.
And who knows what tomorrow brings
A gypsy’s curse on angel’s wings
And no one can predict these things
And this is what I found
The biggest storms don’t make a sound
Afterward, I spoke to Jason Lightfoot and P.A. Mathison Brent, and to the blond. People were going to a karaoke place up the street. There would be drinks and conversation and singing. “And who knows what tomorrow brings…” No one at all. There is only ever tonight, so like the guy hitting on the bartender earlier, I got a little bold with the blond. “Can I buy you a drink?”
MISS YOU MUCH
MY MORNING SONG
WHEN THE LEVEE BREAKS
RED EYE HAZE
READ IT AND WEEP
WHAT IF I
GOLD DUST WOMAN
BED I MADE
There are no upcoming dates at this time.