by Albert Rodriguez -
SGN A&E Writer
This isn't the most exciting Bumbershoot Festival on paper, but there's room for lots of surprises this weekend when the three-day cultural arts event takes over Seattle Center. Musically, the lineup is full of under-the-radar artists with a few notable veterans. Visit www.bumbershoot.org for more details. Here's who I suggest checking out at Bumbershoot.
Ray LaMontagne & the Pariah Dogs
Key Arena, Saturday (9:15 p.m.)
When you first listen to 'Trouble' by Ray LaMontagne, currently used in a Travelers television commercial, you'd swear the person singing it was an older black man smoking a cigar on Memphis' Beale Street. The voice actually belongs to a white singer-songwriter who lives in rural Maine, on a farm with minimal luxuries. LaMontagne's stirring, deep soulful voice has earned him a strong following with just four albums under his belt. His most recent, God Willin' and the Creek Don't Rise, earned him and his collaborators, the Pariah Dogs, a Grammy Award earlier this year. 'Beg Steal or Borrow,' a track from that album, was surprisingly nominated for Song of the Year. In the vein of Fleet Foxes or even red-hot Bon Iver, LaMontagne's music is earthy and decadent, but whereas the previously named artists use scenery for lyrical canvasses, he tends to find inspiration in broken relationships and past demons. In concert, LaMontagne promises to be riveting - especially when he lets that voice wail. A surprise guest is scheduled to open Saturday's show.
Starbucks Stage, Saturday (9:30 p.m.)
Mavis Staples' last visit to Seattle, in the spring of 2010, ended terribly. Her backup singer, who also happens to be her sister, fainted about a half-hour into the show. I was there on that night and the mood shifted extremely; we went from clapping our hands and wide smiles to total concern as the ambulance whisked away both Staples and her sister, who made a full recovery afterward. Like Ray LaMontagne, this legendary gospel and jazz-soul diva won her very first Grammy Award in 2011 for the album You Are Not Alone, produced by Wilco frontman Jeff Tweedy. Staples has not only been effective as a musician, she's also been a strong civil rights advocate and even performed alongside Martin Luther King, Jr. Though her vocals don't register as high as Aretha Franklin's or Patti LaBelle's, she can still belt with the best of them. Saturday's performance won't be a concert; it'll be a revival. When Staples accepted her Grammy statue, she tearfully said, 'This has been a long time coming.' Amen to that, sister!
Fisher Green Stage, Saturday (7:30 p.m.)
From the country that's decorated many of our households (thank you, IKEA) comes unusual electronic outfit Little Dragon. The Gothenburg quartet, led by Japanese-Swedish vocalist Yukimi Nagano, is probably better recognized for their collaboration with British group Gorillaz. In fact, Little Dragon performed two songs with them at last year's Key Arena concert. Since then, the band put out a new album, Ritual Union, and has toured as a headliner in smaller clubs across the U.S. and Europe. Nagano's singing style is subtle, effortless, and while her voice isn't electrifying, it has a dramatic element to it that fits perfectly with the act's music. I admit to liking Little Dragon's work with Gorillaz more than their own, primarily on the track 'Empire Ants' from 2010's Plastic Beach. But they are a band on the rise and do have a fan base with a significant Gay following, which promises a good crowd of onlookers Saturday evening.
Key Arena, Monday (3 p.m.)
Eminem's The Recovery may have been the most potent rap album of 2010, though the most innovative was Big Boi's uber-brilliant Sir Lucious Left Foot...The Son of Chico Dusty. Tracks like 'Shutterbug,' 'Daddy Fat Sax,' 'Night Night,' and the bizarrely entertaining 'General Patton' were so much cooler, so much groovier, and so much more fun than any other hip-hop material that came out last year. Big Boi, of course, is no stranger to catchy tunes. As one-half of OutKast, he's partly responsible for the hits 'Miss Jackson,' 'The Way You Move,' 'Rosa Parks,' and 'Hey Ya!' All of these songs could find themselves on the Atlanta native's setlist come Monday afternoon at Key Arena, and the atmosphere should be one helluva party zone. Despite landing in hot shit recently, arrested at an airport for allegedly possessing marijuana, Big Boi is still playing Bumbershoot and this show will definitely be packed to the brim.
Daryl Hall and John Oates
Key Arena, Monday (9:15 p.m.)
If you think Daryl Hall and John Oates won't attract a big crowd to Key Arena on the festival's closing night, think again. These hitmakers are still incredibly popular two decades after they ballooned to success with a long string of charting singles, including 'You Make My Dreams,' 'Out of Touch,' 'Maneater,' 'Kiss On My List,' 'Private Eyes,' 'One on One,' 'Adult Education,' 'Rich Girl,' 'You've Lost That Lovin' Feeling,' 'Sara Smile,' 'Family Man,' and 'I Can't Go for That.' Over the years, the pair - more commonly known as Hall and Oates - have toured routinely, but have also formed side projects on their own. Oates released his latest solo album, Mississippi Mile, in April. Expect the power-pop duo to perform a greatest hits concert at Bumbershoot, and the audience will probably lean 30-to-50-something. Don't be embarrassed filing into Key Arena on Monday night, you'll quickly realize how many closet Hall and Oates fans there are in this city.
Share on Facebook
Share on Delicious
Share on StumbleUpon!