Last month, I began my first visit to the rainy city by watching the film ‘Sleepless in Seattle‘ on the plane ride over. After the movie ended and my tears had dried, I glanced through the airplane window, and punched my boyfriend in the arm. “Look,” I said, “There’s a mountain above the clouds.” Before us, a gorgeous sight to behold; a snow-covered Mount Ranier breaking up a line of fluffy, white nuages. Breathtaking.
I fell in love with Seattle, with its signature Space Tower skyline, the plethora of lakes, the Dusty Strings guitar shop, Pike Market and the many, many vegan restaurants. Since returning to Toronto, I have dreams about eating just one more vegan donut at Mighty-O in Wallingford (with sprinkles on top).
TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 21st, 2010
Two budget travellers drive at breakneck speeds from Toronto in order to catch a flight from Buffalo to Chicago, and Chicago to Seattle. Arrived in Seattle in the evening only to discover our reserved rental car was SOLD OUT. So we sulked and they gave us this:
I know what you’re thinking — pretty sexy ride, right?
We were exhausted from two plane rides, but that didn’t stop us from driving the minivan to our first VEGAN BAR, a very cool place called Highline. It was Tuesday Karaoke night, and it was the rowdiest karaoke I’ve ever been to. An angst-ridden version of Ace of Base’s “All That She Wants” had the crowd going wild. We ordered vegan reuben sandwiches and “fish” n’ chips. I think the bartenders were having a contest to see who could grow the longest dreads:
WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 22nd, 2010
My friend Paul Mathew is a great bassist and all-round cool dude who is on tour with Canadian singer/songwriter Sarah Harmer right now. So he got us tickets to her show at the Triple Door in Seattle, the day before my show. Perfect timing!
We spent our daylight hours exploring the city by foot. Had to visit Pike Market of course.
I’m not sure how many levels there are to Pike Market, but there are quite a few. We went to the lower level, into a great record shop that sold vinyl, CDs, and also a full wall of cassette tapes (!). An older gentleman was rifling through the tapes when we arrived. We previewed and bought a Willie Nelson record to give to a friend.
Our visit to the Market was capped off with drinks from the original Starbucks store, where the coffee chain began many years ago.
In the evening, we went to see Sarah Harmer at the Triple Door. What a club! We were escorted to our seats, which were angled to the stage. The club looked like a place where you might go to hear Frank Sinatra, like the Copacabana (the club was formerly a vaudeville theatre). The opening act was a 2-man band called Bahamas, and the songs were quirky and great.
I love Sarah Harmer’s voice and melodies. The band was tight; the sound was good and she played some songs I recognized. I think the band felt a bit strange about playing to a seated dinner crowd, somewhere in-between a bar and a soft-seat theatre. But they played a good set to a very appreciative Seattle crowd. We had a quick beer with Paul and then the band was off to the next tour stop.
THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 23rd, 2010
So the plan for breakfast was to have a donut or two at a vegan bakery called Mighty-O. But somehow or another, the plan started to multiply into this:
2 people. 12 donuts. Not all in one day of course.. that would be too gluttonous, even for us. But let’s just say I had more than two (smiley face).
With our bellies full, we went to the Dusty Strings guitar shop to rent a guitar for my concert that evening. On our way there, we were accosted by a troll under the bridge:
I made a decision not to fly across the country with my acoustic guitar. She’s been through a car crash with me (survived with only one scrape), but I didn’t want to end her life on Alaska Air. I’ve heard the song ‘United Breaks Guitars‘, and didn’t want to take a chance with checked baggage. Plus it might be hard to write lyrics that rhyme with ‘Alaska’. So I decided to rent a Taylor guitar at Dusty Strings for my show. Easy, peasy.
The gig was in Ballard, a pretty neighbourhood in west Seattle. Before the show, we went to the Hiram M. Chittendem Locks.
The show was at Egan’s Ballard Jam House. The owner/soundman was super friendly. I shared the bill with a Seattle singer/songwriter named Tai Shan. Tai put up this video of the show on YouTube:
After the show, I went to Lucid Jazz Lounge where I jumped in with the funky house band and started improvising vocal lines. It was late and we did an upbeat bluesy number together to close the night. A couple tangoed to the song. Very cool place.
Before we left, the drummer shook my hand, exchanged a few words about working together, and invited us to another late show. Turns out we were in Seattle for the Decibel Music Festival. So we followed him to a club called Neumos where DJ Flying Lotus from Los Angeles was performing. Our new friend spoke briefly to the bouncer, and before we knew it we were all three standing side-stage in the sweaty nightclub and dancing right next to the sound crew. The drummer dropped his sticks a few times by our feet. It was loud and too much fun (and we even ran into a friend from Toronto, who was in Seattle specifically for the Fest).
And so our trip ended on a high note. THANK YOU, Seattle, for listening attentively to my music, for your radio station KEXP, and for your great vegan cuisine (especially the food at Wayward Cafe). I will be back, armed with my new album, in no time.
– Tai Shan, for putting the show together
– Jason Parker for recommending Dusty Strings to me!