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Vashon, WA | Established. Jan 01, 2015 | SELF

Vashon, WA | SELF
Established on Jan, 2015
Band Jazz Acoustic




"Earshot Second Century Jazz Series, 2017"

July 6, 13, 20 & 27, 8pm
Chapel Performance Space
Sliding scale $5-15

Welcome to the 2017 edition of Earshot’s juried series, Jazz: The Second Century. Early in June, a listening panel of four convened to review the artist entries and engage in the difficult but rewarding task of selecting ensembles for this year’s series. Earshot Jazz thanks all the unique and enterprising musicians who submitted their work for consideration.
This series – presenting Seattle artists, selected by a peer panel, performing original work in a concert setting – is a continuation of the very first programming initiative of the Earshot Jazz organization, and embodies one of our core values. Earshot’s first concert series, New Jazz/New City, was mounted in the New City Theater, now the Richard Hugo House, on Capitol Hill in 1986. The series has continued each year since: as New Jazz/New City, the Earshot Spring Series, Voice and Vision, and now Jazz: The Second Century.
From the core of this series – a question about the expansion of conventions of jazz – one might expect a tendency to grandiose re-invention. Instead, the series is a current, subtle, perhaps refreshing, un-sentimental look at our Emerald City’s engagement with this diffuse, vibrant art form.
Thanks again to our panelists, who helped curate these concerts, and to audience members who support them.

July 13,
Back in April 2013, guitarist and composer Michael Whitmore began a weekly residency at the Snapdragon Café on Vashon Island. Over the next couple of years, this Sunday night jam grew into a full-blown ensemble. Since then, Some’tet has been gigging around the Puget Sound, mostly as a sextet, sometimes as a quartet, as a trio, but always Some’tet. The music is both composed and improvised; the overall sound is mellow, almost West Coast cool with moments of intense invention, plus a dollop each of American primitivism, clusters of neo-bossa nova rhythms, and the occasional art song, augmented with a chunk of free jazz and outside music, and soulful vocals. Four elements are important to the music of Some’tet: adventure, beauty, spirituality, and soul.
The members of Some’tet live on Vashon, an island known for its idiosyncratic personality. Barry Cooper (trumpet, flugelhorn) hails from Orange County, CA. For many years he performed with his dad, the renowned SoCal educator Dick Cooper, before moving to Vashon about seven years ago. Dianne Krouse (alto & tenor sax, clarinet) was born and raised in Issaquah. She formally held the lead alto sax chair in the Seattle Women’s Jazz Orchestra, and was the first musician to regularly sit in on the Snapdragon sessions. Upright bassist Patrick Christie is a respected professor at the University of Washington, and has led various comparative, socioecological research projects around the world. Dodd Johnson (drums, percussion) hails from Wisconsin and has played with dozens of bands from rock to free jazz. Vocalist and Seattle native Christine Goering met Whitmore at a karaoke session on Vashon. She also leads her own band, Delilah Pearl and the Mantarays. Whitmore was a veteran of the Los Angeles improvised music scene before moving to Vashon about a decade ago. He has a few dozen recording credits under his belt as either a leader and as a sideman, and has received an NEA Composers grant. - Earshot

"20 questions -- Michael Whitmore, July 2015"

Michael Whitmore is a multi-instrumentalist, composer, a DJ, certainly a record geek and the occasional raconteur. He spent years playing in the LA music scene before moving to Vashon a decade ago. Besides dozens of recording credits to his name he has also released 3 acclaimed solo CDs. He has received a NEA Composers grant, scored music for small films and theater and has for the most part had a pretty decent life, though he may claim otherwise for the sake of conversation. Recent music projects include Delilah Pearl and the Mantarays, Propellers of the Moon, m2domus, and the Callipygous Trio (i.e. one month later renamed Some'tet) -- who over the last 2 years they’ve been performing at the Snapdragon Café for the Sunday Night Music blending the sounds of South America, bossa nova, samba, tango, with a good dose of North American primitivism. It’s all a bit abstract, but it’s beautiful and kind to the ears. He also hosts 2 radio shows on local KVSH 101.9FM, the Friday Morning Scramble and Strange Cargo.

Michael will be performing with Delilah Pearl and the Mantarays at the Red Bike here on Vashon on First Friday, July 3rd. All-ages and FREE! Then you can catch Michael at Strawberry Festival too - with Michael Whitmore & Callipygous Trio (i.e. one month later renamed Some'tet) on Sunday afternoon on Pandora's Box Stage at 3:30pm.

1. What were your musical beginnings? (e.g. when and why did you start playing)

I was a sickly asthmatic child, missed a lot of school. At about age 7 my parents gave me an AM radio, one of those plastic Philco models … and everything changed. This was back in the hey-day of AM radio and LA had the best stations around -- KHJ, KRLA, and KDAY. From the start I tended to like the darker songs. Me and minor keys are life long cronies. The Animals were my first favorite band. Soon to be followed by the swampier sounds of CCR. At about age 9, I discovered my great grandfather’s Irish tenor banjo, dabbled with that a bit. And in October ‘70 (WHEN!!) I got my first guitar. Its been down hill ever since.

2. Is your family musical? (e.g. fondest musical memories)

When I was a kid my Mom only listened to the local Muzak station, eventually she got into some country music -- Loretta Lynn and Roger Miller. My Grandmother had this huge collection of exotica records -- Yma Sumac, Martin Denny, Arthur Lyman -- but seldom listened to them, I did. It was my Dad who was into music. He had a good jazz collection, lots of West Coast cool and Miles Davis; he also loved the Doors and was spellbound by the Iron Butterfly’s ‘In a Gadda da Vida’. The radio was always on in his workshop. He also played a little piano, his big piece was Lecuona’s Malaguena -- he’d pound away at it. Huge chords! Flashy fingering! Gigantic dramatics!

3. What was the first tune you learned?

Originally I studied classical guitar, my first pieces were Greensleeves and oddly enough Lecuona’s Malaguena. In fact, last year at Christmas, I played Greensleeves at the Red Bike -- just a lot more Coltrane-esque. But like any teenager, I wanted to r-o-c-k! So I switched teachers. The first song I learned, ‘House of the Rising Sun.’

4. What genre of music do you consider your work to be? (e.g. how would you describe your music to others?)

It’s pretty geeky. Generally what I play falls in the category of avant folk-jazz, but with a heavy dose of bossa nova, tango and American primitivism (acoustic guitar picking style influenced by rural blues, country and slack key styles.) There’s also a hint of jazz in my playing. But except for Lenny Breau, Gabor Szabo and Grant Green, I was never really into that whole jazz guitar thing. I was more into pianists like Bill Evans, McCoy Tyner and Cecil Taylor.

5. What band or musician do you flat-out LOVE, think more people should be listening to, or was a major influence to you?

In my Dad’s collection was a Charlie Byrd record -- pre Byrd’s bossa nova fame. His recording of ‘Fantasia on Which Side are You On’, a 20-minute jam, seriously stuck with me. It’s probably the reason I play a nylon sting guitar today. Early on I discovered Tim Buckley and Tim Hardin. Ate it up like bacon. When I was 14 I found a Sandy Bull LP stuck to the bottom of a trashcan. Took it home, plopped it on the turntable -- and wow! That record kicked open the doors of all the weird musical possibilities out there. One of my all time favorite artists is Robert Wyatt. He first recorded in the ‘60s with the band Soft Machine, and still puts out incredible records today. I love his songs and arrangements, his cracked, tiny, heart broken voice -- always beautiful, always intriguing. Another huge influence -- the French singer Brigitte Fontaine and her strange, alien twist on the French pop style ‘YeYe’, warped into avant-garde theater and jazz. That left a mighty dent in my sphere. The incredible Brazilian guitarist and composer Baden Powell, his influence may be the most significant. Some 20 odd years ago, a couple of completely respectable guitarists thought that my playing sounded like Powell’s. I had no idea who he was then and I’m still dubious about the comparison, but shit, I’ll take it. Add John Fahey, Bert Jansch, Robert Quine -- the list goes on ...

6. What instrument(s) do you play? (e.g. tell us about your instruments, brand loyalty, choice of instrument, story about favorite instrument).

I play several types of instruments. But nylon string guitars are my thing. I don’t own an electric. My workhorse is a mid-80’s Takamine, a Jasmine model with a built-in pickup. It plays like a splintery 2x4, but it sounds great. I also play a ‘73 Japanese Diastone. It plays magnificently, but the pick-up sounds like dropkicking a cowpie. I prefer my 1960 Jose Ramirez flamenco guitar, but of course it has no amplification. My other classical guitar has ten strings with a 4-inch wide neck, built by Eric Sahlin in 1980. It was my main instrument for about 12 years until my arthritis made it too difficult to play. I also play a 1906 Gibson A4 mandolin, a mid 30’s tenor guitar by Regal with a homemade pick-up, probably installed in the 40’s -- the volume knob is from an old radio. I have a Dean Resonator guitar modeled after the old Nationals, a Trinity Irish Bouzouki, and an Eastwood Airline electric mandola. And I still have my great grandfathers Irish tenor banjo. Needless to say, there are a few more instruments lurking about. But what I really want is a mandocello! And according to some schools of thought, I should also include my 2 Stanton turntables.

7. What's the most unusual place you've ever played a show or made a recording? (where have you performed, favorite venues)

I remember recording in this filthy studio, literally beneath Hollywood Blvd. The place gave me the willies -- rat feces everywhere and a stench that said welcome to your overdose. Once in Santa Barbara CA we had this gig in a very proper, classic theater. We used to play a murder ballad. At the point in the song where the character dies, there was a gasp from the audience. After the show, we were asked -- why did she have to die? Because its … a murder ballad!?! In New York, years ago, we were gigging during a blizzard and there was no heat in the club. All the players wore gloves except of course the bass player and me. I remember looking over and seeing the composer Glenn Branca’s breathe billowing up like smoke from a burning tire. Favorite all time gig may have been in Florence, Italy. It’s a long story, but it was packed. We played on the floor, and at one point when I stepped back to change instruments, my spot on ‘the stage’ was re-filled by 2 people sitting down, taking my place.

8. What is your process for writing songs? (what your are songs about, specific themes, imagery, how long it takes, last time you wrote a song)

Sometimes it starts with a melody, tinkering on an instrument. Sometimes a song starts with a lyric. Sometimes I begin in a certain genre. And sometimes, like almost always, the concept changes. My natural inclination is to write instrumentals but I like singing. Neil Diamond once said that songs are about life in 80 words. Ha! I think songs are about whatever the listener thinks they hear in about 20 words. My subject matter tends to be pretty typical, just abstractly written. I’m a simpleton – its either about some girl, real or imagined, or its about something the irks the crap out of me. I’ve never thought of myself as being prolific, but I’ve recorded several dozen songs and I have at least a few dozen more lying around waiting to be trapped in wax.

9. As you create more music, do you find yourself getting more or less interested in seeking out and listening to new music made by other people and why do you think that is?

I’m a music geek. There’s so much out there I haven’t heard. So much I don’t know. I’m constantly searching. Constantly making new discoveries. Some new, some old, some right next door.

10. What aspect of making music excites and discourages you the most right now?

I love the fiddling about, composing part, and the hanging out, talking shop or just jamming best. I will work for hours on an extended technique or a 3-chord pattern running down a rabbit hole. Love that. I hate the business end. The hardest thing has always been picking up the phone. It’s been slightly easier in the new texting world, but still, I’ve never quite worked the promotional or financial angle well. I’m not the most focused or organized person. Now the Internet constantly promises hope. But we already know how that’s going to end, don’t we?

11. Do you get nervous before a performance and how do you handle it? (e.g. making mistakes, advice you would give to beginners)

I generally don’t get nervous; though there are times I catch myself overthinking a gig or a solo or something. That usually ends in disaster. Don’t overthink! I may not get nervous, but I am incredibly critical of my performances. I love being onstage -- god I love the mic! -- but I have a tendency towards bloody mental flagellation after a gig. Completely irrational, and not constructive at all, I get this whole black hole of Calcutta thing up in my skull. It can last an hour, or a couple of weeks. Overthinking. Ugh! Oddly enough, it’s seldom about mistakes. I can live with mistakes … sometimes. I had a teacher in college who had the best answer for handling mistakes. Especially in soloing. He said if you hit a wrong note, hit it again, and if you have the balls, hit that note again and again. I’ve long tried to follow his advice. On the bright side when a gig goes well, all that damned old wreckage kind of disappears.

12. How often and for how long do you practice/rehearse? (feel free to describe your rehearsals)

Just about everyday. Sometimes I practice for 10 minutes, sometimes for 4 hours. Back in the early 90’s I used to practice from 2 to 6, even 8 hours everyday. I was good! But eventually I snapped, quit playing altogether. Now I spend most of my practice time composing, having fun, and not running scales.

13. How do you balance your music with other obligations (mate, children, job?)

I’m not sure I do! When I was married I was mostly the stay home dad, and in between taking care of house and family I worked on music. I make most of my living either playing or DJing. It’s a pathetic living, sure, but I’ve been lucky enough to simplify my life, and survive the simplification. Music is so intertwined into my daily life, its just another thing I do besides brushing my teeth, paying bills and pumping gas into the car. At least, that’s true this week. Ask me again in a month.

14. What is the saddest song you ever heard?

This is a hard question! The egghead in me instantly goes to Barber’s Adagio or Gorecki’s Third symphony, 2nd movement or one of Shostakovich’s later string quartets. So … June Tabor -- if she wants to break your heart, she can, and will, on a dime. The 80’s band Felt has a cut on an early album called ‘The Stagnant Pool’. I don’t know why it happens, but that song and its 8 plus minutes of abject heartbreaking sorrow devastates me every time. Funkadelic’s ‘Maggot Brain’ has the most raw, emotional guitar solo ever recorded -- long live Eddie Hazel. ‘Dolores Dolores’ by Hilario Camacho. Hendrix at Woodstock, and his instrumental ‘Villanova Junction’. ‘The Peacocks’ by Jimmy Rowles and Stan Getz is beyond gorgeous. Other songs will come to mind tomorrow.

15. What are you up to right now, music-wise? (current or upcoming recordings, tours, extravaganzas, experiments, top-secret projects, etc)

I’m busy and hopefully it’ll stay that way. I’m in a few different bands, in a few different genres. I play in the neo-jazz group, Delilah Pearl & the Mantarays -- jazz diva and all! Our first EP came out in February. It’s available at the Vashon Music Store. We’ll be at Vito’s in Seattle on June 18th and at The Red Bike on July 3rd. I also produce, sing, compose or whatever is needed in the electronic group Propellers of the Moon. Our first EP was released last month and can be found on the usual sites – Reverbnation, Bandcamp, iTunes etc. Also, every Sunday night at Snapdragon, the Callipygous Trio play – there’s actually about a half dozen musicians who wander in and out. We play mostly original material. Primitive jazzy jams, cool bossa heavy soul, never twelve bar crap. And of course there are the DJ gigs -- most First Fridays at Snapdragon, and on the last Friday of the month I spin vinyl as one half of m2domus for Club O at the O Space. Plus, there’s always a bunch of parties and weddings in between.

16. How would you describe the musical community on Vashon? (are other musicians competitive or generous, do you support other musicians by attending their shows, do other musicians come out to hear you play)

The level of musicianship on this island astounds me. And I’m not even talking about the big names living and playing here. I’m talking about the your local graphic designer, or your waiter or waitress or the guy who works in the plumbing isle, or the folks who serve you coffee in the morning or your house cleaner – its amazing. So many great musicians! And they’re just as good, if not better, than some of the more established names out there. There’s also a good deal of cross-pollination between the different styles and players here -- that’s when music gets exciting. Bumping one genre up against another. I find great support between the musicians on Vashon, there’s a lot of kinship on the island. But of course we are musicians, so there are tiny rivalries and sniping, talking smack between beers or gigs. Ha! Did I just say that out loud!?! The difference here on Vashon -- there isn’t any knife play involved. It’s more snarky fun than nasty -- and always entertaining.

17. What are your short and long term music career goals and how would you define success?

Success? Hmmm. It took me a while to get over the whole record industry thing. I am, after all, from LA. Getting signed represented some kind of marker of success. But it sure the hell ain’t! Success to me is that 45 years after learning how to finger an A minor chord I’m still here. I’ve played a couple of thousand gigs on a couple of continents and I still have new ideas. Good ideas. I get to play and record with great musicians on a regular basis. And whatever that avant-samba-folk-jazz-atonal-primativism thing is, it’s alive and breathing and exciting to hear. Short and long term goals? The goal has always been to be a better. Continue to invent, to write odd, beautifully dissonant music, to have the opportunity to play and travel and record. If all I get out of a career is playing in a cafe or a bar with great players in front of a couple of dozen people, maybe on Vashon or in Austin or Chapel Hill or Paris … so be it, and a slap happy high five all around -- it could be a helluva lot worse!

18. What are your ideas on how to improve the music scene on Vashon?

It’s a pretty good scene already. One of the great things about Vashon is the abundance of performing spaces. But most of them either sound kinda meh, or for the audience, the sight lines are sorta meh. I’d like to see a couple of small performance spaces, 40 or 50 seaters, that have good sight lines and good sound and serves up some good grub and drink. And in a completely different vein, I’d like to see more house concerts on the island. It’s kind of the perfect way to hear live music.

19. Was there anyone in particular who stands out in your life for supporting your music/dreams? (friends, family, teachers, etc.)

Another tough question -- my grandmother paid for my guitar lessons, though I don’t think she expected me to be doing this for decades. I have to say that my old friend James Smith, who headed the classical guitar department at USC, definitely stands out. The first time we met he called my guitar playing ‘savage and barbaric’. And he loved it. Every year he would invite me down to play for his students, but I was always too intimidated to do so. He even introduced me to a few world class, well known guitarists, boldly suggesting that they should know my music. I never studied with him, (he refused to teach me!), but he gave me an encouragement I had never known. The last time I played in LA before moving up here he gave me the ultimate musical compliment in front of my band members. He died about 5 years ago. And lastly -- no surprise here -- my ex-wife Laura was always incredibly, oddly supportive. She put up with a ton o’crap. Ask her. She’s got stories. And a few are funny.

20. Any last words/thoughts?

Go see live local music! You’ll enjoy yourself, and you’ll meet some cool people. - Vashon Events

"Vashon band kicks off final month of Ellisport Exhibition"

The Vashon jazz/post-jazz/ neo bossa ensemble Some’tet will mark the final month of the Heritage Museum’s current exhibit, “Ellisport: The Hidden History,” by playing music from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Friday.

In April 2013, guitarist and composer Michael Whitmore began a Sunday night jam session at Snapdragon Café. The jam session sometimes involved a quartet, sometimes a sextet or trio, but as the group’s website states, “always some’tet.”

Over the next few years, the jam sessions grew into a full-blown and consistent ensemble aptly named Some’tet.

Some’tet includes Barry Cooper on trumpet and flugelhorn; Kevin Nortness on saxophone; Patrick Christie on upright bass, Dodd Johnson on drums; and vocalist Christine Goering.

The exhibition, “Ellisport: The Hidden History,” tells the story of Ellisport, one of the island’s oldest communities, from its native people to its current role in island life.

The exhibit was organized by Ellisport residents who want to honor the community’s history. The group’s plan included the current museum exhibit, the Chautauqua held in Ellisport last month and for the future, a new community trail.

The exhibit closes Sept. 24. The museum is open 1 to 4 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday. Admission is by donation. - Vashon Beachcomber


Steps (ep) - Callipygous Recordings (2017)

tracks: 1) Gone

             2) Face in the Fire 

             3) Walk You Home

             4) Starts and Stops

             5) Lose Your Keys

             6) Cool Night for Three Chords



April 2013, guitarist/composer Michael Whitmore begins a weekly residency at the Snapdragon Café on Vashon Island, WA. Over the next few years this little ‘Sunday night jam’ becomes a full-blown ensemble … the whole jazz, post-jazz, neo-bossa, torch songs from mars, kit and caboodle. Since then, they've been gigging around the Puget Sound area, playing in venues such as The Sorrento, Musicquarium/Triple Door, the Parliament Tavern, the Re-Bar and the Vermillion. In July 2017, Some’tet was one of only four bands selected for the annual EarShot Second Century Jazz Festival. And during the summer of 2018, Some'tet had a monthly residency at the Musicquarium/Triple Door in Seattle. 

Whether performing as a trio or with special guests, the sound is indubitably Some’tet — kind of quiet, abstract, almost old school west coast cool with moments of wild, gritty invention. Add some free improvisation, sonic manipulations, a dollop of American primitivism, a touch of a neo-samba rhythms, all augmented with the four elements that are essential to their music: adventure, beauty, spirituality & soul.

Some’tet is based on Vashon Island -- a pretty idiosyncratic chunk of rock. There’s a huge and very active music scene there, with an extremely high level of musicianship & of course some pretty distinctive players

Michael Whitmore (nylon string guitar) was a veteran of the Los Angeles jazz & improvised music scene before moving to Vashon Island about a decade ago. He has a few dozen recording credits under his belt as both a leader & as a sideman & has been awarded a NEA Composers Grant. 

Barrett Cooper (trumpet, flugelhorn) is originally from Indiana, but grew up in Orange County, CA. For many years he performed with his dad, the renowned SoCal educator Dick Cooper. Since moving to Vashon about seven years ago, Barry has been in constant demand for session work & live gigs.

Patrick Christie (upright bass) hails from Wisconsin, where he studied bass with Andy Zydrozny & Karl Netoliczka of the Milwaukee Symphony -- they're also his two greatest musical influences. Oddly enough Patrick & Whitmore met sitting in on a Celtic jam, though neither of them play Celtic music.

And of course, there is a revolving group of great musicians who often augment Some’tet -- Christine Patterson (vocals), Ambrose Kevin Nortness (tenor sax, bass clarinet, upright bass), Dylan Savage (drums, percussion), Rusty Willoughby (drums), Ethan Cudaback (drums)

They're first EP "Steps" was released in the Spring of 2017. And later this year, the band will be heading back into the studio to record their first full length release. Stay tuned.

Band Members