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Ernie's picks for bands he'd like to see

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Ernie's picks for bands he'd like to see

Music for the future - Ernie's picks for bands he'd like to see perform locally

The summer is about over, and we have been to our last summer concert and music festival for 2009. Each one gives us an opportunity to hear wonderful music and groups we don’t always get to see at home. At the same time, we remember the high quality of musicians that are here, but invariably we hear individuals or groups we think would complement the talent that we already have.

Sandpoint and the surrounding area has some outstanding venues for all kinds of performers. The Panida offers a fine concert stage with a good-sized hall. The Festival at Sandpoint is one of the best music festivals I’ve seen. There are other weekly outdoor stages each summer for listening to all kinds of music. In addition, there are fun venues offering everything from dinner and a concert (think DiLuna’s) to lively music as you enjoy a drink with friends. There are also quieter background music venues for getting a softer musical fix.

We finally had the opportunity to attend a concert in the Fox Theater in Spokane. It is as beautiful as we had heard and the acoustics are as good or superior to any hall I have been to.

The occasion was a gift from friends, tickets to the group Pink Martini. If you have missed this “little orchestra,” you are in for a very pleasant surprise. Their webpage says, “We bring melodies and rhythms from different part of the world together to create something which is new and beautiful.” Needless to say, they have a rather international flavor. They may sound like a samba and suddenly you think you are in a French music hall, yet they are a very American band. We heard them first on the New Year’s Eve show over NPR a few years ago and were immediate fans, ordering two CDs that night.

This Portland-based band would be an excellent choice for the Festival at Sandpoint. I would much rather watch them here than drive to Spokane or listen to their CDs. I think, let all those folks who enthusiastically filled the Fox drive to Idaho for an evening with their favorite band. Incidentally, we ran into several friends from Sandpoint and Coeur d’Alene at the Fox that night.

Another band I would like to see in town is Mimosa , a quartet from Vancouver B.C. These three stellar women and a male drummer also have an international sound; sometimes jazz sometimes cabaret, all with fun melodies and thought–provoking, if not quirky, lyrics.

Mimosa would be a good fit either on the Festival stage or at the Panida Theater. We caught them at the Kaslo Jazz Etc. Festival where the crowd delighted in asking for encores.

Now, just when you are thinking I only like bands that sound like drinks, let me tell you about a band called Barbara Dennerlein . Okay, she is not a band but she sounds like one, a true virtuoso on the Hammond B3 called the “Organ tornado from Munich.” She is international but lays down a jazz groove with the best. Whether she is playing a solo that almost sounds like three hands plus bass or a bass solo only with her feet, she shows total mastery of her instrument. Reviews of her use words and phrases like “supercharged,” “Killer Jo walking vibes,” and “shatters the mold, she does it all without any sacrifice of groove.” We saw her with a drummer and sax player and they sounded like a full band. Barbara would certainly fill the Festival field with sounds from classic progressive jazz to bebop to boogie.

Someone else I think could please folks in North Idaho is Flora Ware (Floramusic.com). Flora works out of Nelson B.C. and would fit in many of the venues we have, maybe even as an opener at the Festival.

A real rising star, she crosses from jazz to folk to R&B or sings swing standards beautifully. I personally like the compositions she has written; they obviously have been influenced by Latin jazz and soul.

There are two who work out of the Coeur d’Alene/Spokane area who haven’t made it up north yet.

The Angela Marie Band (singsonga(at)gmail.com) is very tight, the sound of well-rehearsed veteran musicians. Angela Marie’s smoky vocals lead the group through her original edgy light rock that is energetic and fresh. Playing an acoustic guitar as if it were an electric, she drives the band. Her lyrics are without boundaries, from the heart but not whiny or placid. She is an animated performer who complements the character of the group.

Amy Zahara is another jazz voice who needs to be heard in the Sandpoint area. I would put her in the “better than Diana Krall and Eva Cassidy” class. All right, she is a friend who charms my socks off every time I hear her but she isn’t just another jazz wanna-be. She works the standards with a new and vivacious energy that excites even veteran musicians, then turns around and rocks the stage with an up-tempo folk song. Amy can have you bouncing with the music then crying with the beauty and sophistication of her arrangements.

Amy or Angela Marie would create excitement in any of the local venues.

These acts are not instead of what we already have in a talent-rich musical arts community, but other sounds to add to it.

I don’t work for any of these people, nor do any of them work for me, so I have no idea of their availability. Some are nearly local while others are international performers; my only purpose here is purely selfish-—I just want to hear them here at home with my friends.

Got bands you’d like to see perform in the area? Let us know who they are (email editorial(at)riverjournal.com) and we’ll pass your suggestions on to such venues as POAC, the Festival at Sandpoint, Di Luna’s and more.

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Author info

Ernie Hawks Ernie Hawks is a former theater director who has branched into the creative fields of writing and photography. He lives in a cabin in Athol with his lovely wife Linda, and feeds the birds in his spare time.

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