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Slowly We Survive, Jessica Williams and others

Volcano scribes tell you where to go

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Friday, May 18

ROCK Slowly We Survive

Five years ago when Stefan Elmer, Nick Thompson and Jordan Nielsen were students at Linden High School in Bellingham, they received an assignment in English class that prompted them to become a band. The assignment was to work on a group project. All three played instruments at local churches, and they had been friends since kindergarten, so they decided that forming a music group was what made the most sense for them.

“We chose to put on a show doing a few cover songs,” says Elmer. “We had such a good time that we started writing our own songs.”

Elmer plays drums, Thompson sings lead vocals and plays guitar, and Nielsen plays bass.

Though Elmer says there are more cows than people there, Bellingham has become a fertile breeding ground for pop bands in the last few years. Elmer says that seeing local Bellingham bands such as Death Cab for Cutie and Pale Pacific become so successful inspired them to feel like they could do it too.

Elmer explains the meaning behind the band name.

“We as a band want to promote a positive way of living,” he says. “Slowly We Survive is a way of voicing a desire to live life to the fullest instead of sort of slaving along waiting to die.”

The music is full of good hooks, technology-infused effects and compelling but poppy melodies. The group aimed to make more catchy and accessible songs than the ones on two previous EPs, which Elmer described as “more chill and atmospheric.”

“We said this time we want to make a CD that grabs people’s attention and makes them say ‘Wow!’” says Elmer. “Something they hear and just can’t stop listening to, like when you go to a live show and get kinda spaced out, it takes you to a different place; and when it’s over you sort of wake up like ‘Wow…’”

Slowly We Survive’s EP, Music to Play Hide and Seek to, is available on iTunes and at the band’s live show.

Check out their MySpace page at — Angela Jossy

[South Sound Garage, with Doxology and The Brian Dixen Band, Friday, May 18, 9:30 p.m., $6-$8, 933 Market St., downtown Tacoma,]

Friday, May 18-Saturday, May 19

JAZZ jessica williams

I guess I was lucky to have a father who’s a musician, as he opened my eyes and ears to stuff that I otherwise wouldn’t have been interested in.  When I went to him and asked who are some of your favorite jazz musicians, he turned me onto the usual suspects: Coltrane, Bird, Miles; but one of my favorite finds was the great jazz pianist Oscar Peterson.  With speed, dexterity and precision, Peterson changed the way the piano was played in modern jazz.

A gifted artist in her own right, Jessica Williams has been tickling the ivories for the better part of 30 years with the same conviction as Peterson. Dave Brubeck has called Williams one of the greatest jazz pianist he’s ever heard, and apparently he’s not alone. The two-time Grammy nominee has been praised by Rolling Stone, AMG, Downbeat and Earshot. Her talent was apparent early on, and she was called upon to work with everyone from Stan Getz to Tony Williams while in her 20s.

Williams’ post-bop style has been favorite to listeners whom she has recorded more than 45 discs for their collections.  Her latest, Billy’s Theme: a Tribute to Dr. Billy Taylor, reworks some of the masterful pianist’s most notable tunes. — Tony Engelhart

[Art House Designs, May 18-19, 8 p.m., $25, 420 Franklin St. S.E., Olympia, 360.943.3377]

Saturday, May 19

ACOUSTIC ROCK legend heart

With a flair for the epic, Legend Heart’s MySpace offerings immediately pull you in like the soundtrack to a climactic scene in a Guillermo Del Toro film. When I first read the name Legend Heart on the Mandolin Café online music calendar, the mental picture of these classic rockers in the serene and cozy setting of Mandolin Café was a perplexing one. Reno West of Legend Heart explains that the band is trying out a different type of show: an acoustic one. It’s Legend Heart unplugged if you will.

“This is a new thing we are doing,” says West. “It’s a more relaxed and intimate thing. We are taking our hard rock originals and playing acoustic versions. Some songs were originally written as acoustic songs.”  

He says that they hope people will be able to listen to the words and interact more with the band. West will sing and play acoustic guitar. Suzette Monique will sing and play flute. Bob Roberts will play acoustic bass, and Mike West will play keyboards. For more info, visit or — Angela Jossy 

[Mandolin Café, 6-8 p.m., all ages, no cover, 3923 S. 12th St., Tacoma, 253.761.3482]

Sunday, May 20

COUNTRY rodeo kill

If you don’t know where I stand with regards to the state of mainstream country music in the 21st century, then obviously you haven’t been paying attention.  So for the last time, modern country has seen a steady decline in quality with the model-sequel artists who are sold to the masses like Pepsi Cola.  Give me Neko Case, Drive By Truckers or Southern Culture on the Skids over any of the commercialized bullshit they play on KMPS.  Apparently the Northwest’s own Rodeo Kill feels exactly the same way.  Obsessed by the outlaw country music movement of the early ’70s, the band has links on where to buy classic albums such as Redheaded Stranger and Nashville Rebel on their Web site — More than 75 percent of the tunes they pick are obscure covers from Steve Earle and David Allen Coe, as well as classics from Waylon and Willie but also include some shit kickin’ originals into each set. Even though they are a bit more progressive sounding than their heroes, they maintain the purest attitude of the rule breakers from the past. Sunday, RK will issue its CD debut, Year of the Steer, which is comprised of original material on its own label amply named Kill Country Stars. — TE

[The Brotherhood Lounge, The Brackish Water Band opens, 8 p.m., $2, proceeds will be donated to Animal Services of Thurston County, 119 Capital Way N., Olympia, 360.352.4153]

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