What comes around ...

Music, poetry and paintings evolving slowly throughout the round

By Angela Jossy on November 15, 2007

It’s not easy to engage a live audience in an age where people channel surf while text messaging, talking on the phone, eating dinner, checking e-mail and updating their MySpace pages. Spending an hour or two watching a singer/songwriter is great if you are already a big fan or if you’re lucky enough to stumble onto something that just blows your mind, but truth is a whole hour of the same sound may not be enough stimulation for some people. Its no one’s fault, it’s just the time we live in. We can’t stop multitasking, or we suffer withdrawals — a condition I like to call “information underload.”

A brilliant new music/art series is coming to Tacoma Saturday that form-fits information junkies like me. It’s called The Round. The Round is three acoustic singer/songwriters sitting on stage together taking turns telling stories and singing songs. Occasionally they will chime in to accompany each other. All the while, live painters visualize their shared muse on canvases nearby. After each musician has performed a song, a poet will recite a piece of spoken word or poetry, and then the cycle begins again with more music. The audience sits in rapt attention while enjoying free appetizers.

Occasionally a visiting accompanist like a percussionist, violinist, cellist, etc. will be invited to play along to add some dimension to the music. The level of participation by the other musicians depends on the artists on stage and how they play off of each other.

Aaron Stevens, musician and event organizer, saw this show in Seattle and enjoyed the concept so much that he asked its founder, Nathan Marion, if he would help him develop a Tacoma franchise. Marion agreed.

“We both saw this type of thing happening in Nashville,” says Stevens, “It’s different than the open mic because everyone is hand picked. Players can only play one time per year, so it’s always fresh and new.”

Stevens continues, “This is more than entertainment. It becomes an experience. This is yet one more way for artists in Tacoma to come together and experience something.”

Seattle is closing in on Round Number 30, but this is Tacoma’s first edition. Round number one will be held Saturday, Nov. 17, at Club SOTA, a space generously loaned to them by Tacoma School of the Arts. Two Seattle singer/songwriters, Robert Deeble and Carrie Biell, Seattle slam poet Matt Gano and Seattle painter Scott Erickson were invited to perform along with Tacoma singer/songwriter Aaron Spiro, Tacoma poet Daniel Blue and young Tacoma painter Chloe Scheffe, a Tacoma School of the Arts student.

Erickson, a painter extraordinaire who has five years experience with painting in front of a live audience, provides a little insight into his creative process.

“On deciding on subject, it depends on the event,” explains Erickson. “For non-profits, it usually goes along with the issue of the non-profit, with musicians, I try to convey what I think their songs stimulate visually, and sometimes I just choose what I think and audience would like to watch. I have an idea of what I’m trying to accomplish in the painting, but in any live performance there is always a level of improv that comes out in the piece. Certain aspects of the show, elements, words, the venue, whatever — affect the process of creation (i.e. colors, shapes), but the subject matter is usually planned out.”

All the money raised goes directly to the artists. “We wanted the money to go to the artists because artists in Tacoma rarely get paid for anything,” says Stevens.

[Club SOTA, Saturday, Nov. 17, 8 p.m., all ages, $5-$8, 1117 Broadway, Tacoma]

My name is Angie and I’m just a shot away — angie@weeklyvolcano.com. If you can’t rock me, somebody will.