I'm a pretty lucky person, and I know it. I get to spend a decent chunk of my days doing creative things, which makes me very happy. But it is almost always a completely solitary endeavor. I'm used to doing everything I do by myself, whether it's writing, photography, or god help us all, music. So when Twitter friend Michele Costanza (who writes the Sassy City Girl blog for the Seattle P-I) reached out to me to meet in person this year to talk about possibly working on a project together, I was really intrigued. It took a few months to pull together, but finally we agreed that we'd like to team up to cover a few concerts at Seattle's Woodland Park Zoo. The "Zoo Tunes" summer series is immensely popular, drawing big-name acts who often perform to capacity crowds on the wide green lawn. And so last Wednesday as the threat of rain fell away and we were left with a late sunny afternoon to play with, Michele and I met up at the Zoo's North Gate for a show by feminist folk-pop icons the Indigo Girls, with openers the indie/Americana band Mount Moriah. Michele brought her pen and paper, I brought my camera, and we traipsed around the grounds like mighty hunters.
Mount Moriah delivered a very well-received set featuring songs from their recently-released self-titled debut album as the audience filled the lawn with blankets and chairs and coolers. The warmth and purity of Heather McEntire's voice combined beautifully with the band's thoughtful, layered arrangements to make for a very pretty atmosphere, grounded well in tradition, yet distinctly modern. Seattle is a hotbed for this particular kind of take on folk music, and I am sure Mount Moriah would be welcomed back as a headliner here any ol' time.
(More Mount Moriah photos are here.)
The Indigo Girls are far more than just a female folk duo with a knack for writing memorable, singable tunes -- they are no less than icons for many in the LGTB and progressive political communities. They mean more to people because of what they stand for, and how committed they have been to their ideals. There were indeed many LGTB audience members, but Amy Ray and Emily Saliers' songs of struggle against the odds, hope in the face of fear and doubt, and the renewing spirit of love appeals to all. Saliers and Ray's seamlessly-intertwined vocals, strong musicianship, and ease and flow of stage communication underlined their years of performing together and were complemented perfectly by keyboardist/accordionist Julie Wolf and violinist Lyris Hung. The foursome pulled strongly from bluegrass, mid-20th Century folk protest, and bright lyrical pop forms to bring the crowd to their feet, dancing and singing along, a warm communal vibe to the air, little kids running around with painted faces and big guys in plaid shirts drinking Mac 'n Jacks beer.
(More Indigo Girls photos are here; more Zoo Tunes crowd photos are here. All photos courtesy Sassy City Girl and Seattle P-I)
At the end of the evening, as I finished my own delicious Mac 'n Jacks kindly purchased by Michele, I thought a moment about the how important it is to make personal, real connections in a world where we spend so much time on a screen, or driving alone in cars, or making small talk only to not be able to remember a single thing said. Music is obviously one way that people come together to share a connection, and I am grateful to Michele in sharing some of her many interests and talents and goals with me, and asking me along on such a lovely evening. Please see her Sassy City Girl article here with her nod to Zoo Tunes as "Best Family Activity In Seattle!"
Thank you to Michele, Seattle P-I, Woodland Park Zoo and the Zoo Tunes staff, Mount Moriah, and the Indigo Girls. See you soon!