The SAM Project returns to the historic Lincoln Theater to take in another night of excellent music from local talent.
You know it’s a good night for live music in NW Washington when you are torn between three great options. Friday, February 1 was one such evening. Do I go see Petunia and the Vipers in Bellingham, Rock the Island battle of the high school musicians in Anacortes, or WinterStock at the Lincoln Theater? Choices, choices…. The SAM Project was at Winterstock last Februrary, and we decided to cover it again this year.
To me, the overwhelming vibe Friday was of the interconnectedness of Skagit musicians. The headliners The Sky Colony also served as the back up bands for two of the SAM Project’s favorite singer\song writers.
St. Louis immigrant, but now beloved local performer, Lizzie Weber opened the show. It takes guts to cover Nirvana on the solo piano. The only two artists I have heard willing to go down that road are Lizzie and Tori Amos. Her rendition of Heart Shaped Box came off really well. I have always really enjoyed hearing Lizzie’s solo or duo performances, but I must say, with Sky Colony backing her up, it really filled out the emotive, wide-ranging talent she possesses. Add smoking hot violinist Chandra Johnson to the mix, and you get some first rate music. The song You really stood out with nice lap steel work by Marcus Nevitt and Chandra’s great country violin licks. Love Again started out like a slow, thoughtful ballad, but quickly fired up into spirited jam. Lizzie finished off her set with two great geographical numbers. It was nice hear what her inspirations for Fidalgo and California were.
Josh Clauson took the stage next. He brought up golden voiced singer Calm Israel to add some great backing vocals, and Michael Iris on hollow body slide guitar. He introduced Michael as the co-producer of his Driftless album. Eclipse and the Moon really highlighted Josh’s storytelling song abilities. The title track of his album came off just as light and airy as the recording with Chandra adding some beautiful violin to the arrangement.
The next song titled, Come Alive Josh was a tribute to the Oso mudslide catastrophe. Drummer Jeff Lacy started it out with a nice two step wagon-wheel rolling rhythm. That was followed up by, I Fold which had a similar Ghost Riders in the Sky kind of beat to it. Local guitar and mandolin wizard Jacob Navarro came out to add some of the tasty accents he is so adept at. Listening to a group of musicians\friends blend their individual sounds so well is a pretty special thing. They all just seemed to be having a great time, and the appreciative audience picked up on that.
The Sky Colony finished off the night. They began the set with several of their signature ethereal, country\folk trance numbers. I appreciate if when bands announce the name of their songs so I can reference them, but with Sky Colony is seems like their performances are more like a flowing current of sound and thoughts. Their one cover of Neil Young’s Comes a Time would have made old Neil proud. Lap steel, soaring violin, I’m sure he would have approved. Toward the end of their set, Molly Hazel and her banjo joined the band to complete the heavy load of talent on stage. She sang several of her own compositions which showcased her nice clear singing voice. Sky Colony finished their set with a slightly different offering, American Psyche. The song had a fast, catchy beat behind some decidedly political lyrics.
At last year’s WinterStock, everyone came out on stage for a Last Waltz style massive jam, and the tradition continued. All in all, the evening really highlighted the close knit and super talented musical community that surrounds us. Thanks to the Lincoln for hosting this great event.
Entertainment Writer Mark Perschbacher…A man who will cross great barriers to find exceptional music, art, food, and beer. Mark is a long time Skagit County resident, contributor to, and supporter of local arts.