Hollis Golightly and Maurice Montana @ The Baltic Room - 1/06/2000
Sadhappy @ The Rainbow - 1/15/2000

[ photo by craig young ]
photo by craig young

Hollis Golightly and Maurice Montana
The Baltic Room
January 6, 2000
Seattle, WA

I have a vision--call it misguided or romantic--that the Greek Muses have found form in American culture through the lonely singer in a smoke-filled piano bar. You know the places. Regardless of whether there is plush velvet or cracked vinyl on the seats, regardless of the condition of the paneling and the ceiling tiles, independent of the piercings or tattoos or lined faces of the bartender, these places are always outside of time. The lighting is--at best--seductive, and--at worst--dim. There is more smoke drifting through these places than fifty chain-smokers could generate in an hour closeted in an airplane bathroom with a broken smoke detector. And the singer is always more ethereal and more melancholy than anyone in the audience could ever wish or want to be.

The pianist is a fleet-finger magician, a nearly invisible figure that offers up an innocently dazzling rhythm for the singer to weave her song through. He is never within the circle of light which follows her, always at the edge of vision. He probably knows every standard ever considered and moves from song to song with but a glance or a word from the singer. He reacts to her mood, to her longings, and the songs follow suit.

And the songs are always songs about heartbreak, even if they don't mean to be. "These foolish things remind me of you." She gazes into the infinite distance and there is no man in the room that has any hope of replacing the fellow who isn't there. If you are alone, she only makes you feel less so because your pain isn't nearly as definitive as hers. And if you are with someone, then you instinctively draw closer to that person. In this noir world, the men are hard and brusque without being aware that they are broken. And the women, with exquisite sorrow, know exactly why they are.

"I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each. I do not think that they will sing to me." --T. S. Eliot, "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock"

Thursday nights. 7-9 pm. The Baltic Room. Let your heartache out.

Mark Teppo
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[ photo by craig young ]
photo by craig young

The Rainbow
January 15, 2000
Seattle, WA

Michael Manring

Always cause for celebration when they grace us with one of their all too infrequent shows, Sadhappy packed The Rainbow on a cold Saturday in January and once again proved why most of the Seattle scene aren't even worthy of humping their gear for them. Three consummate, egoless musicians, Evan Schiller, Paul Hinklin and Michael Manring completely wowed the audience through two mind-altering sets of music with their bass and drum pyrotechnics. Touching on songs from the band's early cassette releases up to their last album, Good Day Bad Dream, as well as unveiling a number of new songs, Sadhappy left no musical stone unturned.

It was simply amazing to watch the synergy between these three, especially when you consider that they only practice for a day or two before each performance. Paul and Evan play as if they are of one consciousness; each intuitively knowing where the other is going, and in the middle of improvisations flawlessly stopping on a dime to turn another direction, still together and without batting an eyelash or raising an eyebrow. Over the top of Paul's sub-dwelling, multi-layered bass came the genius of Michael Manring. Sometimes doubling up with Paul, other times coloring the spaces left open, his influence and playing seamlessly incorporated itself, adding new dimensions to numbers like "Between Four Horses" (an early Paul and Evan number). Manring was also kind enough to grace us with a solo composition, "La Sagrada Familia" from 1998's The Book of Flame--always a highlight of these performances.

The songs moved like liquid mercury. Paul stepped up to the microphone for several spoken word/stream of consciousness numbers (including the hilarious "Oscar Wins the Lottery"), Evan augmented his drumming with various samples and drum loops, crazy-flippin'-fingers Michael smiled demurely throughout. Several of the new pieces had a Middle Eastern feel to them, with one in particular sounding reminiscent of the band's "Nemo's Diary." Paul's bass pulsing like the sun on the desert floor, the wash of Evan's cymbals the push of a sandstorm, it left a presence like that of Zeppelin's "Kashmir" and hinted at what we may expect on their hopefully-soon-to-be-released new album, tentatively entitled High Ball. Paul commented that he hoped to have the album out by summer and would gratefully accept any cash donations to speed the process. Where do we send the money?

It's seldom that you get to see musicians of Sadhappy's caliber up close and personal. It further goes to show how much the band is respected as they rather quickly sold out of all their merchandise between sets--and they haven't released an album in two years. Always amazing to see, hear and be intoxicated by their prowess, they were a band bassessed. Next time they play, make a point to be there. Music will never sound the same again.

-Craig Young
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