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Jes Raymond, Lady A and more

Volcano music scribes tell you where to go

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Thursday, July 19

AMERICANA jes raymond

Has Americana, roots, alt country seen a surge in popularity lately, or was I just not paying attention?  When the "O Brother, Where Art Thou" soundtrack hit stores back in 2000, it commercialized the time-honored music and introduced it to a brand new generation, including me. While I had always been a country fan, I never paid too much attention to bluegrass until that time. Nowadays I’m hooked and download almost everything I read about in Bluegrass Now magazine.

Riding the current wave of the genre’s popularity is Jes Raymond and Her Famous Band. With poetic lyrics, a beautiful falsetto voice and ability to transition from guitar to mandolin, the singer/songwriter provides a fresh take on the old-time music. Along with pining fiddle provided by Jake Breitbach and acoustic bass in Professor Morgan Thompson, the music is authentic and unadulterated.  The Olympia-based Raymond dropped her debut, Creatures of Habit, in 2006 while in The Blackberry Bushes. The disc is a good representation of what she does with her new band with plenty of backwoods grooves and melodic harmonies. That same year Raymond released a solo project called A Sound. Like Creatures, it is textured very nicely with plenty of variety.

[Plenty Restaurant, Thursday, July 19, 8 p.m., all ages, 200 Fourth Ave. W.,  Olympia, 360.705.3716]

Friday, July 20

FUNK lady “a” & the baby blues funk band

Get on the good foot and shake, shake, shake your booty is what you’ll be doing to Lady “A” & the Baby Blues Funk Band at Jazzbones Friday. With a potent mix of R&B, funk, jazz, soul and blues, the Seattle-based quintet of Joshua Richardson (keys), Gary Smith (bass), John T. Oliver (drums), Richard Mills (guitar) and the incomparable Lady “A” (vocals) is one of the hottest acts in the Emerald City and beyond. Influenced by such legends as Ruth Brown and Millie Jackson, Lady is well versed in the ways of blues but throws a little funk in for a party second to none. While their center of gravity revolves around bass and drums, the licks that Mills lays down would make Freddy King proud, and Richardson is a close second to Jimmy Smith. Basically a real good cover band, Baby Blues plays such classics as Sly’s “Dance to the Music,” Aretha’s “Respect,” and puts a fresh spin on the disco staple “Good Times.” If you attend this show, you will be required to move, so bring your dancing shoes.

[Jazzbones, 9 p.m., $8 advance, 2803 Sixth Ave., Tacoma, 253.369.9169]

Frdiay, July 20


RUSH remains one of my favorite bands. The Canadian power trio practically created progressive rock and is still blazing a trail nearly 30 years after its inception. My first RUSH experience was in 1976, and it friggin’ blew my mind. My father was working at a record shop and used to bring home a bunch of promotional copies; mostly crap, but every so often I’d find a gem, and one album he snagged was 2112. Although I’d never heard of them, their name intrigued me. I slipped into my bedroom, took the vinyl out the jacket, placed it on the turntable, turned the volume up past my allotted number and dropped the needle. Suddenly my room was filled with some of the most original music I’d heard. The epic recording was unlike some of my heavy metal favorites, which were pretty straight-forward bluesy rockers. Geddy Lee’s vocals reminded me of Robert Plant, while Neil Peart’s drumming rivaled John Bonham as the story of the temples of Syrinx unfolded. Alex Lifeson’s guitar licks were controlled and rehearsed, unlike the off-the-cuff riffing from Page or Hendrix. Since that March evening I have followed the band’s ever-changing sound and have always been surprised and rarely disappointed.

[White River Amphitheatre, 8 p.m., $28.50- $86 at Ticketmaster, 40601 Auburn Enumclaw Road, Auburn, 360.825.6200]

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