[NOTE: Now that I’ve caught up with all the forgotten concert write-ups, I can finally concentrate on the posts documenting the shows I see going forward. This post right here is the first of those. Like most of my recent concert posts, this one was largely based on an entry I wrote in my pen & paper journal. No reason to write the same thing twice in completely different styles, right? Let’s pick up this one mid-entry.]
Eventually it was time to get up and go see Shelley Short at the Fremont Abbey. Before that, though, we needed some dinner. We decided to go to Domani. It was a good choice. We split a salad, a margherita pizza, and a slice of chocolate cake. It was all tasty and the smooth jazz wasn’t loud enough to be distracting. And perhaps just as important, we only had a couple blocks to walk afterwards to get to the garage and Beth’s car. The weather was kind of iffy.
We drove to Fremont, parked, and walked over to the Abbey. We’d seen Luluc there a couple years ago, but this show took place in the larger space upstairs. The cathedral space, I think they call it. We got there early enough to get one of the four tables in the back. I bought a cider and a ginger beer–because I think you should buy something if you take a table–and we waited for the show to begin.
Shelley Short was the first of three performers…and the one we were most familiar with, having seen her open for or perform with Darren Hanlon a few times. She came out and played a ten song set, placing special emphasis on her latest record, Pacific City. She actually played eight of the eleven songs from it. Pacific City is one of my favorite albums from 2017, so it was nice to hear most of it live. The two non-Pacific City songs were folk covers, one an old standard and the other a cover by a mysterious singer from the 50s named Connie Converse. Here’s the setlist:
Shelley Short setlist: Muddy River / Hares on the Mountain (traditional) / Fearless / Simple As That / Wagoner’s Lad (a cappella) / Hills and Tracks / Death / Trouble (Connie Converse) / Fool Babe / (guy goes into the library and orders fish & chips joke) / September
Shelley Short was great. This was the first time I’d seen her without Darren Hanlon on the bill, but I found that I didn’t miss him as much as I thought I might. Shelley’s a fine solo performer; the only time I thought of Darren was during the song “Hills and Tracks”. He contributed vocals to that song on Pacific City, so there was a bit of a hole there during the live performance. No big deal, though.
The next performer was Tomo Nakayama. I think I once saw his old band Grand Hallway at a Capitol Hill Block Party. I don’t remember much about them, but I really enjoyed his solo show tonight. He covered one of Townes Van Zandt’s best songs and then broke my heart a little bit by singing a song about his recently-deceased cat, Gilda. He claimed to have written the entire song during Shelley Short’s set. Here’s what Tomo played:
Tomo Nakayama setlist: Bright and Blue / Darkest of Seasons / Fallen Cedar / If I Needed You (Townes Van Zandt) / Cold Clear Moon / Pieces of Sky / Song For Gilda (work in progress) / Roscoe (What a Gift) (Grand Hallway)
Tom Brosseau was ostensibly the headliner, but quite a few people left after Tomo Nakayama’s performance. Tomo’s from Seattle, so it makes sense that he’d have a local contingent who’d come and pack his performance. Tom’s from North Dakota and I guess there aren’t many of them in Seattle. Those who stuck around–and it was the vast majority of the audience–definitely made the right choice. Tom Brosseau was a lot of fun. He’s more of a troubadour, storyteller type-of-singer. In fact, I think it’s safe to say that he was talking at least a third of the time he was up on stage. I would normally find that kind of thing annoying, but Tom was charming and had a way with words and presentation, so I didn’t mind. Although all of his songs were enjoyable, I found myself occasionally wishing he’d finish whatever he was playing so we could get to the next story. That’s never happened before. Here are the songs he played with little notes about the stories:
Tom Brosseau setlist: (Lock, CA–>Ace Hotel–>introduction–>tuning) / My Favorite Color Blue / I Wanna Be a Van Zandt (unreleased) / Love Cannot Die (new) / Rope Stretchin’ Blues, Part 1 (Blind Blake) / (weather–>bought a sweater) / “I feel something that I can’t explain” / Today Is a Bright New Day / Jane and Lou / (no time for the cave diving short story–>”lotta sad songs on this list”–>family stories) / I Found a Horseshoe
Tom Brosseau encore: Soldiers Beyond the Blue (Carter Family – duet with Shelley Short) / Walk Through an Autumn Day (new) / Jingle Bells Help Me Get Drunk (wtf)
We’d thought about calling it a night after Tomo Nakayama’s set and skipping Tom Brosseau entirely, but I’m glad we stuck around for him. Although I’d never even heard of him before, I enjoyed his performance and now consider myself a fan. And I know I’ll never forget that totally absurd song he closed his set with…no matter how long I live. It was also nice to hear Shelley Short sing a little bit more during the encore set.
All told it was a great night of live music. My only regret is that we didn’t stick around at the end and buy that lovely tour poster at the merch table. I’m sure the singers would’ve been happy to sign it. It would’ve been a fine addition to the collection. Oh well.