Whitworth’s gospel choir concludes year with concert

Whitworth’s Exceptional Praise gospel choir performed their third annual spring concert on Saturday, April 28.

The evening was opened by Exceptional Praise director junior Joe Lawyer and was followed by a praise dance performed by his 5-year-old niece, Ruth McCain.

“My dad started me playing drums in church when I was 5 years old,” Lawyer said. “Somebody had to give me an opportunity so I was happy to give my niece an opportunity.”

The evening included performances from past director and Lawyer’s sister Miracle Lawyer, her sister Rakisha McCain who wrote and performed the song “Let Your Glory Fill This Place” and family friend Chelsea Jones.

This is the second year performing with the group for Exceptional Praise choir member senior Delia Garza.

“My favorite song was called ‘Get Ready,’ which was led by Miracle,” Garza said. “It’s an anthem of encouragement. You have to keep going and to not give up.”

Garza led the song “I Will Run” and said she felt blessed to perform with the choir.

“We have such a good group of young women,” Garza said. “We always have a good time when we come together, learning news songs and worshiping together.”

Garza said she appreciates gospel music because it allows people to actively worship God.

“It’s another style of music,” Garza said. “It encourages people to move out of their seats and gets people excited to worship. People enjoy it because it feels good.”

Exceptional Praise’s concert included a performance by Gonzaga’s gospel choir, Holy Fusion.

Kierra Irwin started singing at 16 and joined Holy Fusion last year.

“It was a blast,” Irwin said. “This was my first time visiting the campus but we sang with Joe one time last year at our concert and we had so much fun.”

Holy Fusion performed “Everywhere I Go” and “He Reigns.”

“My favorite songs would probably be ‘I Belong To You’ and ‘Lift Him Up,’” Irwin said. “That one was a jam, you know it had a kind of jazzy flavour to it.”

Irwin said she loves gospel music because of its upbeat rhythm.

“I love the soulfulness of the music, and the message it has,” Irwin said. “I wasn’t always a Christian and I would listen to gospel music even before I was saved. It’s really uplifting and hearty.”

The night of praise had the theme “I Will Run,” inspired by 1 Corinthians 9.

Minister Kevin McCain from Tacoma spoke to the audience about the importance of living a good Christian life and compared it to training for and running a race.

Audience member junior Zach Wilkes said he appreciated the message of the evening.

“It’s important to keep running the race,” Wilkes said. “The race to and for the kingdom of God.”

Wilkes also said he liked what gospel music has to offer.

“I go to church on Sundays but this is a different kind of style of worship, it’s more loud and upbeat,” Wilkes said. “It’s another side of Christ that I don’t get to see much and it was really well done.”

Freshman Eugen Lazarenco said the gospel worship was an amazing experience as it’s so different from Whitworth’s usual style of worship, which he said is more mellow.

“These events are great because they promote culture,” Lazarenco said. “They give a different view on Christianity and obviously they promote diversity, which Whitworth seeks.”

 

Story and photography by Samantha Payne Staff Writer

Contact Samantha Payne at spayne15@my.whitworth.edu.

Nude takes first place in Seattle band battle

Of the 147 bands that applied to the Experience Music Project’s 11th annual Sound Off! competition, Spokane-based band Nude wasn’t even hoping to win the competition.

It was not an effortless win, the band members said. Nude tried to remain calm about the experience, but still wanted to be a significant part of the competition.

“We really just wanted to make it to the final round, and then from there we just kind of tried to let go of it,” said Nathan Mead, the band’s vocalist and guitarist. “We weren’t trying to really be competitive. It’s too stressful to be super competitive.”

The competition was held for bands aged 21 and under from the Pacific Northwest. The bands go through a process of three semi-final concerts, and during the final, the winner is chosen.

Because Nude was named winner of Sound Off!, they received a spot at Seattle’s Bumbershoot, a music and art festival that takes place every September.

“It was such an advancing experience, I think,” Cody Thompson said, the band’s drummer. “We pushed ourselves really hard because we were so excited about it.”

The band consists of two Whitworth seniors, Jeff Bass and Jackson Cate (currently studying abroad in Australia); as well as Mead and Thompson.

“Winning Sound Off! was such an amazing thing,” lead guitarist Bass said. “We won Bumbershoot and recording time, and so much awesome gear that fits our needs so well.”

Along with a slot at Bumbershoot, the band will also be recording its first EP in May in Seattle.

According to the band, the EP it is releasing is significant to the start of the band’s career.

“It’s the first stepping stone to initiating ourselves as a band that wants to be recognized,” Thompson said.

Initially, the band had been recording its demos in Bass’s bedroom. According to the band, recording in a studio will be a big — and welcome — change.

“We’ll have a chance to really have [the songs] make sense dynamically,” Bass said.

Nude also said it wants to give its fans a powerful experience through their EP.

“It’s our first chance to create a full experience that people can have outside one of our shows,” Thompson said.

Nude was formed initially during fall of 2009, when Bass and former Whitworth student Mead took a music theory class together.

“We started talking about music, ended up jamming together, and we never really stopped,” Bass said. “We had a hard time finding other people who wanted to do the same weird things we did.”

Bass resorted to using beats made on ProTools and looping the sound during shows when Nude didn’t have a drummer.

Fortunately for Mead and Bass, they met Cate and Thompson. Together, they were able to form Nude.

Mead, who describes the band’s genre as “beat-heavy dream-pop,” described the varying musical backgrounds of all of the members.

“If I were to talk about the sounds we were influenced by, I would say Jeff was influenced by melodic garage rock, with some bebop influence,” Mead said. “I come from 80s mope pop and Cody really likes jazzy stuff but also just street beat.”

Despite their differing musical backgrounds, the band’s unique energies help bring the sound together.

“It never feels like we’re treading on each other’s styles, it just fits,” Thompson said. “We’ve helped to make this sound that we’ve all created with our personalities.”

The band members said they are attracted to passionate, expressive playing that makes listeners have a visceral reaction to the music.

“That’s what we want to be, is expressive,” Mead said.

Nude performed at the Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture’s BeGin! show on April 13.

Sophomore Seth Owens attended the performance, and described Nude’s style. He has seen the band perform on multiple occasions, and said they get better every time he sees them play.

“Nude live is a dream-like experience,” Owens said. “The unique repeated guitar licks and complementary vocals make it sound as if everything is accidentally perfect.”

Owens said he generally stifles the temptation to dance at shows, but for Nude, he makes an exception.

“When I watch them on stage, I feel like they’re almost contingent upon my interaction as a member of the audience,” Owens said. “They invite, I react, they reward.”

Sophomore Sam Bjoraker, who also attended the show at the MAC, agreed.

“Nude is so fun to watch because of how effortlessly they play complicated arrangements,” Bjoraker said. “They just get up there and enjoy themselves, and you can’t help but do the same. I spend most of the show with my eyes glued to Jeff’s fret board. You can’t help but dance.”

Bjoraker said he believes Nude definitely has a future among other famous bands.

“Mark my words, Nude will be signed to a label in the next eight months,” Bjoraker said.

The band has multiple upcoming shows, including a Star Wars show on May 4 in Seattle. Nude will be playing two shows in June: Elkfest in Spokane  and the Catapult Music Festival in Anacortes. Nude also has a few tentative house shows coming up in Spokane.

To keep track of Nude and sample its demos, visit its Facebook page.

Story by Katie Harriman Staff Writer

Photography by Greg Moser

Contact Katie Harriman at kharriman14@my.whitworth.edu.

Hunter Gatherers take on Battle of the Bands

Funk band, Hunter Gatherers, formed in January and competed in Whitworth’s Battle of the Bands as their very first performance on Feb. 23 in the Hixson Union Building.

The band is made up of sophomore Augi Sheets, sophomore Matt Goode, junior Ryan Grande, freshman Jacob Dansereau and freshman Cameron Smart. The group has an eclectic music taste. Smart, who plays piano, and Dansereau, who is the drummer, are both heavily influenced by jazz.

“I have an uncle who is a studio musician drummer and he plays smooth jazz,” Dansereau said. “That’s the kind of music that I’ve grown up around and grown to love.”

Smart started playing the keyboard in sixth grade and has now started jazz piano lessons.

“We do a lot of stuff with a 12 bar blues progression, but I feel like we have a unique sound,” Smart said.

Their song “Inside Passage” is an upbeat crowd-pleaser with fast drumming. “Lonesome Coyote” is based around the chord structure found on “The Legend of Zelda” soundtrack. Other musical influences hail from Jimi Hendrix, Bob Dylan, Bob Marley, Pink Floyd and Stevie Ray Vaughan.

The band members may have different tastes but they all have one interest that brings them together: their passion for making funk music.

Lyric writing is mainly left to vocalist, Grande. He said their tunes are made by a lot of experimentation.

“Augi does a lot of the chord make-up, I do a lot of the melody make-up, and then me and Augi collaborate on song layout,” Grande said.

The song “Hujambo,” which means “Hello” in Swahili, (guitarist Sheets had a brief encounter with a Swahili class before dropping it) is an example of this band’s love of funky beats.

“We’re kind of in the wrong decade,” Goode said. “I think we should be in the 70s.”

The competition

Whitworth’s Battle of the Bands competition offered artists the chance to win a first place prize of $500.

The first band to play was Quesas, followed by Hunter Gatherers. The runner-up was Franklin and the winner of the evening was dream pop band, Nude.

Franklin and Nude put on polished performances that got the crowd out of their seats and dancing.

Among the crowd was freshman Henry Johnson.

“It’s nice to know that Whitworth has some musical talent,” Johnson said. Franklin had the audience clapping along with its music throughout. Adam Ogg, senior and the bassist of Nude, described Franklin as really lively and catchy.

Sophomore Rachael Hall said it was fun dancing along to Franklin’s songs and she enjoyed the vocals of guitarist and lead singer freshman Austen Case.

“Franklin should have won because she sounds just like Regina Spektor and I like her; the singer had an amazing voice,” Hall said.

Case said she hoped to spend their second-place prize money of $250 on bettering the band’s equipment.

“I feel so privileged to have played on stage with such great musicians, and a band like Nude,” Case said.

Nude, who won $500, has been together for nine months and is soon to produce a record. They played their songs “Freely,” “No Show” and “Lurker” at Battle of the Bands.

“I feel very grateful,” Ogg said. “We have lots of things to buy for the band.”

Nude will also be performing in the final round of EMP’s Sound Off competition this Saturday in Seattle, Wash.

Smart, of Hunter Gatherers, said he wasn’t surprised at the results of Battle of the Bands and thought Franklin and Nude deserved to win the prizes. He said his favourite performance was Franklin’s because they had good harmonies and an alternative sound.

Smart said he enjoyed his band’s first public performance and said they will use the experience to improve the group.

“I think our band needs to work on being more connected,” Smart said.

Story by Samantha Payne Staff Writer

Contact Samantha Payne at spayne15@my.whitworth.edu.

Photo by Cathy Bronson

Album review: Zee Avi restyles her hit ‘Concrete Wall’

Zee Avi is a songstress with an old soul whose music makes good use of acoustic guitars and ukuleles. In a shallow and materialistic industry Avi stands out by obscuring her face in her videos and artwork. It seems Avi wants to encourage her audience to focus on her poignant lyrics rather than her looks.

I see this attitude on Avi’s debut self-titled album cover, which shows just part of her face. The cover for her sophomore album, “ghostbird,” displays her face, as more fans have seen her live and now know what she looks like.

One song from “ghostbird” called “Concrete Wall,” was such a success amongst fans that Avi released the single as a four-song EP internationally on Feb. 13, available on iTunes.

The song was originally sung a cappella on “ghostbird,” but Avi’s new EP consists of four remixes of “Concrete Wall,” this time with instruments.

Some of you Gossip Girl fans may recognize the song from the show, as it was featured a few weeks ago as the original album version.

“Concrete Wall,” which tells of a relationship breakdown, has an impressive hook; you will be singing along in no time.

The new single includes reworks by RAC, Mario C & David Hurwitz, Mansions on the Moon, and Robert Carranza, who produced Avi’s first album.

All of the re-mixes are catchy, but the strong drum beats of Mansions on the Moon’s version makes it the version you’d pick to have playing in the background while you get ready for a night out.

RAC’s remix has a fun bass line which inevitably leads listeners to embarrassing head bopping and involuntary finger movement from bass players.

Avi, who performed at Spokane’s A Club in October, was described by the venue’s manager Quinn Tanzer as eclectic and confident.

The singer played to more than 100 people and provided a “stellar performance,” Tanzer said.

Tanzer said it was obvious it was important for Avi to make her audience comfortable. He said the atmosphere was very relaxed, and it felt like people were there to have a good time with her.

“She is a very involved performer,” Tanzer said. “She makes the crowd comfortable by telling jokes and stories; she makes them laugh. She really captured the audience.”

Current fans of Avi’s past work such as “Kantoi,” which is sung in ‘Manglish’ (a mash up of Malaysian and English language) know of her individual style and sound; it is a smooth blend of indie-pop, folk and blues.

But for those of you who haven’t heard her music before, her vocals present on “Honey Bee” and “Bitter Heart,” songs from her first album, have a similar sound to Regina Spektor.

“It’s my rainy day music," junior Brianna Anderson said. “The kind that makes you want to curl up by the fire reading. Or like something you’d hear in a coffee shop.”

Anderson found Avi in 2009 through YouTube’s Music Tuesdays and linked Avi’s sound to Ella Fitzgerald and Billy Holiday.

I like how she presents her old soul style of singing in a new way,” Anderson said. “It’s neat she can remake that kind of classic music but keep its authenticity.”

Asked if she would still be listening to Avi years from now, Anderson said, “I’m still with her all the way.”

Samantha Payne Staff Writer

Contact Samantha Payne at spayne15@my.whitworth.edu.

Photo courtesy of www.amazon.com

Review: New album reintroduces Christmas classics with soothing, vintage feel

Audiences welcome back Zooey Deschanel with “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” once again on the new She & Him Christmas

album. This time, instead of performing the song in the Gimbel’s locker room with Will Ferrell in “Elf,” Deschanel sings with her musical partner Matt Ward in their signature oldies style. Deschanel and Ward together front the band She & Him, and released “A Very She & Him Christmas” on Oct. 24.

Deschanel and Ward first met when they recorded a version of Richard and Linda Thompson’s “When I Get To The Border” for the 2006 film “The Go-Getter.” According to Rolling Stone, it was there that “the two discovered they were musical soul mates.” She & Him’s first album “Volume One” was released later in 2008.

“A Very She & Him Christmas” is their first holiday album. The collection of Christmas recordings takes the listener back to classic eras of music when artists such as The Beach Boys, Elvis Presley and The Carpenters dominated the musical charts. She & Him’s rendition of these well-known songs are given a new touch of emotion while not straying too far from the original vintage sound.

 

01 The Christmas Waltz This song is my personal favorite. It’s an intimate holiday tune that you would listen to curled up by the fire watching the snow fall on Christmas Eve. The quarter time soft guitar strumming might encourage you to slow dance with your significant other.

 

02 Christmas Day The lyrics and melody do not really go anywhere; it sounds like the entire song is sung on one note. However, Deschanel’s voice is beautiful and clear, similar to a soprano version of Karen Carpenter’s voice.

 

03 Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas This classic Christmas song’s tempo is slowed down to create a romantic mixture of melody and emotion. Fun guitar solos and the quiet patter of ukulele strums make you think of the beaches in Hawaii.

 

04 I’ll Be Home for Christmas The vintage guitar style played in this song is the only interesting part of the track; Deschanel’s voice is easy to tune out in this adagietto piece.

 

05 Christmas Wish Ward’s smooth voice is displayed beautifully in this song and will make audiences “wish” to hear more of him on the album. Unfortunately, this is the only song where his voice can be heard over Deschanel’s. “Christmas Wish” takes you back to the 1970s.

 

06 Sleigh Ride The tempo for this song is a little more mellow than expected, but is a great combination of both Deschanel’s and Ward’s vocals. The guitar is also very merry.

 

07 Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree A classic that everyone will love. The guitar has classic muffled sounds similar to the Brenda Lee version heard in the movie “Home Alone.”

 

08 Silver Bells The entire song is played on a ukulele. The song is a little boring and has a surprisingly slow tempo compared to the original version.

 

09 Baby, It’s Cold Outside This song is actually not sung in its original style. Deschanel sings the man’s part and Ward sings the woman’s part. It is not as good as the version in “Elf.” The singers’ voices do not blend well together and are very off-beat with each other.  It sounds as if they are rushing through the song.

 

10 Blue Christmas Elvis would be proud. This is not just a cover but also its own rendition without forgetting its classic origins.

 

11 Little Saint Nick This is a very fun song. Deschanel adds her own feminine version to this Beach Boys classic.

 

12 The Christmas Song The guitar gives the song a warm feeling like it is played softly in the night at the beach.

 

By Brianna Anderson

Photos courtesy of sheandhim.com

Whitworth symphonies perform fall concerts

Powerful chords and crisp scales echoed throughout the auditorium. The musicians quickly changed notes as they crescendoed into the last note. The conductor’s hands fell and the audience broke into applause. The Whitworth Wind Symphony stood up and took a bow.

The Whitworth Wind Symphony performed its fall concert on Nov. 13 at 3 p.m. in Cowles Auditorium. The concert was open to Whitworth students and the Spokane community. The selection of music included John Mackey’s “Aurora Awakes,” Gustav Holst’s “Second Suite in F, op. 28 no. 2” and Scott McAllister’s “Popcopy.”

Anneliese Dailey, sophomore music major, came out to the concert on Sunday to support her friends and receive recital credit.

“I enjoy listening to modern works,” Dailey said. “I like being able to see my friends work together and making beautiful music.

Senior Lauren Major was one of the performing musicians. He said he was pleased with the concert.

“I felt like we meshed really well,” Major said. “There are always moments during rehearsal that it doesn’t feel like it’ll happen. Today is was more than just notes. I kind of felt the power of the music.”

Cowles Auditorium will once again be filled with music this Saturday Nov. 19, as the Whitworth Symphony Orchestra performs.

“I go to the orchestra concerts every semester and they play outstanding music, so I’m excited to see what they have in store this semester,” Major said.

Senior music major Naomi Flaherty is a member of the Symphony Orchestra and will be playing this Saturday.

Flaherty has been playing the violin since she was 5 years old, and said that music has the ability to communicate on a level deeper than words.

During her time at Whitworth she has had the opportunity to reach out to people with music. She said the orchestra went on their tour last year to Hawaii. It was during this trip when the orchestra played a Hawaiian Hymn as an encore at a church. The orchestra had received and played this hymn as a thank-you at a previous church.

“It created such a deep connection,” Flaherty said. “It was great being able to reach across and say ‘give me a piece of your culture’ and then to give it back to them.”

The members of the church all stood up during the hymn and the pastor was deeply touched.

“Ultimately, at the end of the day, people matter more than the art, so the way it allowed us to connect with the people makes it one of my fondest memories,” Flaherty said.

This Saturday, the concert will provide music from America’s culture and heritage.

“We are playing music that is truly historical to our country,” Flaherty said.

There will be a piece arranged specifically for the Whitworth orchestra by Brent Edstrom called “Hymn to Freedom.

The orchestra will also be playing Aaron Copland's “Lincoln Portrait.” Flaherty said this piece of music was a commissioned piece to commemorate a great American after the bombing of Pearl Harbor to raise American morale. Leonard Oakland will be reciting parts of Abraham Lincoln’s speeches during this song.

In addition to these pieces, the concert will include “Fanfare for the Common Man,” by Copland, “Hoe Down from Rodeo,” by Copland and “Symphony No. 9, ‘From the New World,’” by Antonín Leopold Dvořák.

The Whitworth Symphony Orchestra Fall Concert will be this Saturday, Nov. 19, in Cowles Auditorium. The concert will start at 7 p.m. Admission for students and seniors is free and general admission is $5.

 

Story by Kelli Raines

Local musician writes about love of city

Brian Griffing is proud to be from Spokane. His music is mainly autobiographical and describes his love for family and where he came from. Although he was born in Germany, Griffing was raised in Spokane since he was 15 years old, and his parents and family are from the local area. His newest songs on “This City is Home EP” will be released later this month. “The EP talks a lot about Spokane, that I actually like living here,” Griffing said.

Griffing’s style of writing is unique in that he has released various other EPs in a series of thematic concepts. Griffing said it is a more manageable way of writing and more affordable to record the shorter releases.

“I can write the whole thing together,” Griffing said. “I like writing in themes.”

Griffing said song inspiration mainly comes from his perspective about life. But sometimes he said he is inspired after watching a movie. For instance, he recently watched the film “True Grit,” and wrote a cowboy song afterwards.

Griffing is currently working on a new EP that is his way of thanking his friends and family. The new EP is also a way to tie into some of the same themes addressed in “This City is Home EP.”  Griffing plans to release the EPs together as a full album, in hopes that it will work well thematically and musically.

“I play the music I like, write the stuff I like,” Griffing said. “I believe in my music but I also realize it isn’t for everyone.”

“Acoustic indie punk” is the term Griffing uses to describe his music. The surge of marching rhythmic drumbeats and acoustic guitar in the song “This City is Home” is a great example of Griffing’s story-like style of singing.

In the song, he sings: “Driving through familiar lanes, think about the joy, the pain — and oh how I love this place … My heart is overseas but this is my home — now.”

Griffing began playing music when he was four years old after his parents put him in a music program. At the time, they were living in Germany doing missionary work. His interest in music was apparent in the way he played along with music by drumming on overturned buckets in his parents’ living room.

“I was always humming random tunes; this used to annoy my older sister,” Griffing said.

He started playing the drums when he was 6, played until he was 18, and then switched to guitar. He played in a band in high school called Ethereal for two years. After graduating, he started his own solo act and performed at local venues and bookstores. Two years, and eight or nine shows later, he went on a West Coast tour for two months with a non-profit organization called The Extreme Tour, which aims to help at-risk youth.

“I didn’t know much about performing or how to entertain a crowd before,” Griffing said. “I thought, ‘might as well figure out if I can do this and see if I like it,’ and I love it.”

Griffing said he hopes that in the future he can continue playing music full-time and have music be his primary way of making a living. He has done a couple month-long tours, but said he would like to tour and record more.

 

Watch the music video for Brian Griffing's song "Simple Need" here.

 

By Brianna Anderson

Photo By Tanner Scholten

 

 

 

‘Marching Ranges Tour’ to make stop at Whitworth

British Columbia’s singer/songwriter Mike Edel is touring mountain ranges across the western United States and Canada along with his friend and fellow musician Tyson Motsenbocker. One of the many stops on the “Marching Ranges Tour” includes Whitworth University. Motsenbocker graduated from Whitworth University in 2009 and majored in English and writing. Edel and Motsenbocker will be playing in the Hixson Union Building on Oct. 26 at 8 p.m. The inspiration behind the mountain-themed tour comes from a poem Edel read called “David” by Earle Birney. The poem recounts the story of two boys hiking in the Rockies. Coincidentally, Edel and Motsenbocker met while away at school in Europe in 2006, in the rocky terrain of the Austrian Alps.

“The idea for the tour is primarily based on the number of ranges we're going over during the tour, the Sierra Nevadas, Cascades and Rockies twice,” Motsenbocker said.

During tour performances both Edel and Motsenbocker play individual sets. Both musicians are recording artists and have their own separate albums. Other band members playing on the tour include bass player Josh Burns and drummer Gave Cortex.

“Mike plays guitar during my set and I play during his, so it’s two bands in one,” Motsenbocker said.

Edel has a self-titled EP as well as a full length album called “The Last of Our Mountains.” The gentle strumming of the guitar and clear vocals in the song “In Those Shoes” demonstrate Edel’s honest folk style, similar to Ben Gibbard and Fleet Foxes. The music video of the song posted on his website shows a raw recording of Edel walking down the street with his friends, who gather together in a house to have a jam session, clapping and stomping their feet to the rhythm of his guitar.

Motsenbocker’s style of music is similar to Edel’s. His first solo EP album is called “Until it Lands.” The album’s storytelling song lyrics fall in step with a unique combination of folk and pop. Motsenbocker dedicated “Until it Lands” to his mother, who was diagnosed with cancer last year; her picture is on the album’s cover.

“Basically the idea behind that was everyone believes that tragedy will pass you over, or that you're immune from it, until it lands on you or the ones you love,” Motsenbocker said.

Motsenbocker’s interest in music began when he started taking guitar lessons when he was 8 years old. His first musical performance was in 7th grade. He played the song “Wonderwall” by the rock band Oasis at his school’s assembly.

“I liked this girl, you see,” Motsenbocker said. “I stared at her the whole time I played the song. She became my girlfriend soon after that.”

Later in college, Motsenbocker played in a band with his friends called “Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful.” The group performed at various local venues in Spokane including The Service Station, The Empyrean and the Bing Crosby Theater.

The “Marching Ranges Tour” makes its last stop in Santa Cruz, Calif., at Ponderosa Lodge on Nov. 4-7.

“We have 25 shows in just over a month, over 6,500 miles reaching from San Diego to Edmonton, Alberta,” Motsenbocker said.

 

Story By Brianna Anderson

Photo courtesy of Tyson Motsenbocker

Crowd celebrates night with Allen Stone

Anyone who has ever been to an Allen Stone concert knows the audience cannot resist the urge to get up and dance. Whitworth students piled into the Hixson Union Building Friday night to hear the R&B/soul singer perform with his band. Senior Jesse MacDonald warmed up the crowd with his harmonica, rhythmic guitar and vocals before introducing the night’s main attraction. He explained that Stone would be disappointed if the audience did not dance. And indeed when Stone came on the stage to perform, he encouraged students to dance by splitting the crowd in half for a dance-off between the two sides.

“It was totally rad,” junior Britta Howard said. “This was my first time hearing him; it was groovy, and we all got our funk on.”

Stone’s music style is a compilation of R&B, gospel and soul. Looking at Stone’s curly blond hair and wide-rimmed “Steve Urkel” glasses, together with his choice of unique cardigans and red pants, one would never guess the sound that comes out of his mouth when he sings. Stone’s vocal range is comparable to artists such as James Brown and Stevie Wonder.

Stone’s latest full-length, self-titled album was released Oct. 3. On his Facebook event page, Stone wrote, “Here it is. One of the most amazing, rewarding, exciting, and invigorating moments of any artists’ career, to have an album release to the masses.”

With more than 2,800 friends on Facebook and 490 attending the event posted on his band page, Stone has already reached audiences of mass proportion. He has come a long way from singing in his father’s congregation in Chewelah, Wash. The small town has a population of 2,000 people. According to The Spokesman Review, Stone’s new album was No. 3 on the iTunes R&B/Soul charts.

“Allen has a very unique sound that I think a lot of people can learn to love no matter what kind of genre you’re into,” junior Josethe Schatz said.

Schatz and Stone both grew up in Chewelah, Wash., and went to school together. She said Stone was always putting on skits, especially during Homecoming. At the time, he had his own comedy act. It wasn’t until after high school that she saw him perform music live. Schatz appreciates every aspect of Stone’s music and supported him by attending the concert at Whitworth Friday night.

“I think his music speaks to a level that people can relate to no matter where they’re coming from,” Schatz said.

Stone’s lyricism covers various topics including politics, break ups and relationships, love of life and social trends. For example, in the song “Contact High,” he addressed the obsession this generation has with Facebook and cellphones. Before playing the song Friday night, he said, “Anything that distracts you from the real stuff, get rid of it.”

He said people spend so much time on their phones and other devices that they miss out on the important things right in front of them. In the song, he sang: “Whatever keeps you occupied, whatever gives you contact high, whatever keeps you busy baby, will never make you satisfied ... the real treasure that we all see is hiding in plain sight of me.”

“Celebrate Tonight” is another song that took audiences back to the roots of why music is enjoyable. It’s a form of expression and should be used as a way to celebrate life.

“Celebrate tonight, there’s reason to feel right, everyone unite,” Stone sang.

Stone’s love for music was apparent in the way he moved on stage. Like classic performers of the early jazz era, Benny Goodman and Glenn Miller, Stone sometimes faced his band, arms raised; his hands strummed the air with an imaginary conductor’s wand. When the music escalated, he could hardly keep his feet on the ground. His body swayed back and forth, and his arms flailed about rhythmically in connection to the music. The music seemed to course through his body.

“I thought the concert was incredible; it spoke into my soul, straight from those red pants,” freshman Eli Deitz said.

For those who missed Stone’s performance, tune in Wednesday, Oct. 26 to see him perform on Conan at 11/10 p.m. Central.

 

By Brianna Anderson

 

Give the performing monkey a quarter and he plays music

Street theater is one of the oldest forms of theater, commonly seen in the 19th century. Actors and singers had to be loud in order to gain the attention of the crowd. Sometimes they included animals in the acts, such as street performing monkeys, who would collect coins dropped into a hat by the audience. Spokane’s local band, Quarter Monkey, was inspired to name their group after this classic novelty. The progressive rock band is known for its live performances. Like the street performers of the past, Quarter Monkey uses vocals and musical abilities to amplify the acoustics into a unique sound. All four band members grew up in the local area. Although none of them have any familial connections to each other, they consider themselves brothers. Ty Pfundheller is the lead vocalist and guitar player. Tony Brickner plays the bass and sings. Jereme Riccelli plays the guitar and sings as well. And Shane DelForge, also known as Sir Janus Vincent, plays the drums.

Pfundheller and DelForge met at Washington State University in Pullman, and started a band in 2002 called Some Day Roskilla. Two years later they called themselves The Swamp Donkee’s, and later, Quarter Monkey. Pfundheller and DelForge recruited the other band members, Brickner and Riccelli, in 2005 in Seattle at open mics and frequent jam sessions. Quarter Monkey performed for the first time as a fully formed band in Spokane at The Blue Spark in 2007. The following year they released their first album called “Lucy.”

Lucy is neither the name of an ex-girlfriend nor a current lover; she is in fact the oldest fossil skeleton of a human ancestor.

“The idea behind that was to start up a band bringing together four individuals to form one entity greater than the parts that make it up, creating the beginning of an innovative and influential being,” Pfundheller said.

Pfundheller said the recording process was a team effort. The album was recorded by Jimmy Hill, owner of Amplified Wax Recording Studio in Spokane. The band helped build the studio in exchange for recording time. Hill’s wife, Mandy, designed the graphics for the album.

Song inspiration is also something Quarter Monkey develops together. Each band member brings something new to the table during jam sessions. They build the lyrics around the instrumentals.

“We all contribute something,” Pfundheller said. “It’s like we have a collective consciousness.”

In the song “Lucy,” the guitar whammy bar gives the song a vintage sound; the tensions on the strings are comparable to Duane Eddy and Jimi Hendrix. Similarly the song “Steady Livin” incorporates the electric guitar with a beat that makes listeners want to clap their hands along with the rhythm.

The band went on its first tour in 2009, where it had the chance to play in places as far as the Colorado Rockies. The band has its own tour bus with a customized exterior done themselves, displaying the band’s logo. There is also an attached trailer to carry all of the equipment; this is most beneficial to DelForge who has 13 different types of percussion. But he claimed it is well worth the effort.

“I want to see people get up on the dance floor and move a little,” DelForge said.

Quarter Monkey has been on a few other regional tours and has spent time outside of the city on long weekend trips back and forth to Seattle.

Currently the band is working on new material and has already begun recording at Hill’s recording studio.

“Our new album sounds more like a live show,” Pfundheller said. “It’s true to our sound.”

Live performances are something every band member in Quarter Monkey agrees is one of their favorite things about being musicians. Bass player Brickner looks forward to “being on stage, in the moment, letting everything go.”

Pfundheller also enjoys live shows. He said he enjoys connecting with the audience.

“Whether they speak the same language or not, there’s this communication that’s above and beyond all that,” Pfundheller said. “And it’s a gift being able to share it with other people, being able to influence someone with what you do, the melody and the words you write.”

Quarter Monkey is playing at the A Club Thursday, Oct. 14. Tickets can be purchased online at: www.aclubspokane.com. This concert is 21 and over, and starts at 8 p.m.

 

By Brianna Anderson

Album Designer: Mandy Hill

Students plug in at Unplugged

Six competitors took a spot on stage last Thursday for the Homecoming Unplugged.  All of the performances were musical and included singing, guitar playing and piano.  Some musicians sang pop songs while others wrote their own music to be showcased to a full house of listeners. The show is put on by senior Brittany Roach, Whitworth’s special events and cultural events coordinator.  This is Roach’s second year coordinating the show and she said she enjoys seeing what sort of talent Whitworth has to offer and the ambiance created by performances.

“I really love the atmosphere,” Roach said. “It’s a really relaxed environment.”

Roach kicked off the show with a warm greeting to the audience and performers.  Comedic performer freshman Caleb Drechsel then proceeded to step into the spotlight as the first competitor of the night.

Drechsel started learning to play the guitar the day of  his Unplugged debut.  Drechsel only performed the two chords he had mastered along with self-composed  lyrics about a heartbreak. Drechsel chose to put a little humor into his performance to do something different.

“I figured everyone else was going to be playing serious songs,” Drechsel said.

Drechsel followed up his guitar playing with an unusual instrument: a toaster he had just bought at Goodwill.  While beating away with silverware, Drechsel belted out a tune about toast.

“I was not expecting a song about toast,” sophomore competitor Ryan Ward said.

Acts throughout the night included performances by Ward, junior David Bunch and freshman Quincy Cooper, senior Nathan Tegrotenhuis, freshman Ethan Johnson and the winner of the evening, senior Christopher Adams.

Adams played three songs on the piano which he wrote himself.  Adams has worked on his songs for years and finds the inspiration for his music in his surroundings.

“I get inspired by nature and God’s work,” Adams said. “I can just look at it and get inspired.”

Adams said he enjoys his hobby, but his favorite part is being able to play his music for people.

Second place was the duet performance by Bunch and Cooper, followed by Drechsel in third.

One of the many audience members that evening was sophomore Kiana Young.  Young did not have a favorite pick for the evening but her favorite part of the night was all the music.

“I just like hearing the different music,” Young said.

Roach deemed the Homecoming Unplugged a success.

“I think the Unplugged went amazingly well,” Roach said. “ Everyone was so talented.”

Her advice for those interested in performing in the future would be to enjoy showcasing their talent in the inviting Unplugged environment.

Students can compete in the  Unplugged talent competition each month to win a slot for another talent competition called Pirate Idol held in April.  Every Unplugged competition, two people are chosen from about six performers to move on to Pirate Idol.

This variety of musical talent was the first showcase of the year and more will come in the future.  The next one will be Nov. 8 and sign-ups are first come, first serve.  The online school events calendar has the rest of the Unplugged nights along with Pirate Idol lined up.  Be on the look out for the next Unplugged sign-ups to either perform or enjoy the talent of Whitworth.

By Melissa Barringer

The Porch church serves as music venue

The building that is now known as “the Porch” has provided the West Central part of Spokane with many uses, not only as a church but as a place where musicians are welcomed. The converted space was originally intended for church gatherings. A local church, the Porch,  purchased the building in 2007 with the purpose of hosting Sunday gatherings. The sanctuary and main stage area is decorated with various lamps, rugs and couches giving the room a coffee-house feel. The room displays wide ceiling-to-floor windows, providing substantial natural light. The garage-like rolling doors that are set behind the stage open up into another giant room that has skeletal walls bursting with drywall and foam padding. A large part of the building is still unfinished. Because of the various uses of the building, Pastor Dave Wilkinson and the leadership of the Porch were open to look for multiple ways to open it up to the community during the rest of the week. With a stage and sound equipment already set up for Sunday services, they decided that the space could be used as a music venue.

“One way that we are reaching out to the community is to benefit the music industry here in Spokane,” Wilkinson said. “We want to support and bless them.”

The original idea behind using the building as a music space was to create a comparable venue to the Service Station here in Spokane. Twenty-year-old singer/songwriter Pete Wells, band member of The Perennials, was put in charge of the music venue development and is now the main contact for booking shows at the Porch. The building has been used as a music venue since last spring.

Wells discovered a variety of sound equipment stored in one of the large unfinished rooms. The equipment had been collecting dust and provided Wells with the opportunity to use what was already there to help his musical ventures.

“It was basically already set up; it was a no-brainer,” Wells said. “All we had to do was organize and book the venues.”

Twenty-four-year-old Aaron Hamel, considers himself Wells’ “chief-idea-bouncer-offer.” Hamel helps Wells with whatever needs to be done; they both run sound and do everything themselves. Hamel said he hopes to see the Porch becoming a multi-functional building, accommodating different uses related to music. Wells and Hamel both agree they would like to see INDABA Coffee, West Central’s local neighborhood coffee shop, in the same building as the Porch. In order for this to happen, the Porch would need to acquire investors to complete the remodel.

“Conceptually part of the draw is getting the Porch to have that intimate feel,” Hamel said. “You don’t have to be a big loud band to play here.”

Several bands have played at the Porch, including Crickets of Cascadia, Cathedral Pearls, Horse Thieves and Dovekins. Wells explained that because the building is already paid for, they are not pressured to have shows every night like other music venues in town that need to book shows to make money. This gives Hamel and Wells the freedom to be more selective in booking bands. Hamel prefers quality over quantity.

“We book consistently quality acts,” Wells said.

The collection of upholstery and unique light fixtures play into that desired coffee house ambiance. The metal doors and slick cement floors can prove to be a challenge to bands with a full drum set or heavier metal sounds. The room appeals more to acoustic indie bands.  Shane Collins, band member of Wonder Wonder, had a good experience playing at the Porch this past month.

“It’s like a big glass box; it’s got a live feel to it,” Collins said. “The sound bounces off the huge windows; there’s a cool natural reverb.”

Wilkinson said members of the Porch want to use their building well and open it to performers.

“We care about music and want to build relationships with musicians and other artists,” Wilkinson said.

If Whitworth students are interested in playing at the Porch, contact Pete Wells at booking@theporchspokane.org. Please include an appropriate press packet and a link or demo of your music.

 

By Brianna Anderson

Noah Gundersen brings folk music to Whitworth

Together with rich string accompaniments and acoustic guitar, 22-year-old Noah Gundersen  and his sister Abby Gundersen, 19, are an emotive addition to the folk music genre. Whitworth’s common room in the Hixson Union Building was packed Saturday night with eager fans of the musical duo.  The brother and sister brought listeners to their feet with three standing ovations at the close of the show. Noah Gundersen’s lyrics explore soul-searching questions about God’s existence, the beauty of life and death and freedom from internal torment. His songs demonstrate the use of music in storytelling. Many artists influenced Noah Gundersen, including Bob Dylan, Neil Young and Tom Waits.

“Music inspired me to get into music,” Noah Gundersen said. “I’ve always been drawn to it; it’s always been something that’s stirred my heart.”

The Gundersens grew up in Centralia, Wash., where they began playing music at a young age. Abby took up the violin at age 9 while her older brother took piano lessons. He later taught himself how to play the guitar at age 13 and then began writing his own songs. Their first gig was at a local Starbucks.

Noah Gundersen’s first self-released album called “Brave New World,” was recorded in 2006. He and Abby Gundersen later started a group with two other friends, called “Noah Gundersen and the Courage.” The band’s first recorded album “Live at the Triple Door” was released in 2008. They later shortened the name to “The Courage.” After playing for nearly two years, the band went their separate ways, and Noah Gundersen and Abby Gundersen continued on their own path as “Noah Gundersen,” a group that displays the siblings’ musical chemistry.

“There’s a certain connection you get while performing,” Abby Gundersen said. “We’re synced together.”

Abby Gundersen is the icing on the cake to her brother’s music. She helps with the melody and writes most of the string accompaniments for the tracks. She also recently took up the cello. And has her brother’s same passion for music.

“Music is something that’s inside everyone’s soul,” Abby Gundersen said. “I can’t imagine life without it.”

Abby Gundersen plays in another band with her two younger siblings, Lizzy, 16, and John, 17, called “Le Wrens.” They also play folk/singer-songwriter music. However, Abby Gundersen hopes to continue touring with Noah Gundersen and perform more in Seattle.

Their newest EP, “Family,” was released this August. On the first track, “David,” Noah Gundersen sings: “I want to hunt like David, I want to kill me a giant man, I want to slay my demons, I’ve got lots of them.” The stop-and-go resounding drumbeat and trembling violin in the background, partnered with forceful guitar strokes, create a gritty melody of anguish. He describes this song as autobiographical.

“It describes me wanting to be a good man; wanting to be better,” Noah Gundersen said.

When it comes to the songs on the EP album, Noah Gundersen ties the ideas to concepts of family and how family affect our lives, whether  for the better or worse. He also talks about how it is our decision to react to our family and the way we are raised. We will always have that connection and interaction with our families.

Noah Gundersen believes that music is a great way to share ideas with people. It helps them process emotions and makes them feel a certain way. In the song “Fire” he sings: “I was told to find Jesus in a stain glass church…when he finally came to visit me, he was dressed in the rags of poverty and it came as no surprise.” While he does not claim to be a Christian, he appreciates biblical imagery.

“I want people to feel stirred up in their soul,” Noah Gundersen said. “And to come away feeling moved, to be able to look at a lot of questions, that might make them feel uncomfortable; things they might not want to look at, but are important to see.”

Noah Gundersen ended the show at Whitworth by walking down the stage into the audience to have what he called “family time,” and play music up close. His and his sister’s voices carried across the room in perfect unison. The audience was encouraged to sing along and by the end of the night everyone was clapping their hands and stomping their feet. Then the music stopped while voices sang to his song, “Poor Man’s Son,” a cappella: “Oh brother, let’s go down, down in the river to pray.”

“It was a blast,” junior Lauren Dickey said. “He seems so down to earth. His lyrics really hit home for me.”

Noah Gundersen and Abby Gundersen are planning to record a new album in the next upcoming months. They hope to continue touring soon and to work on new material.

 

By Brianna Anderson