I finally decided yesterday afternoon to go hear Star Anna and Kristen Ward at the Tractor last night, and was glad I did. I knew it would be a good show. I first heard both Star Anna and Kristen opening for Mike McCready’s side bands, and both play and write passionate Americana.
Pufferfish opened – a young, indie band who have been getting some exposure on KEXP. Yes, accordion music! Someone said to turn up the accordion. I wasn’t so sure about the squeaky, small, stuffed birds the drummer was playing; but the band was pretty good.
Here’s a clip for Cumulus from YouTube:
Check out their music at:
After the set change, before Kristen’s set, we had a surprise guest:
Yes, Mike McCready from Pearl Jam came out and played an acoustic set, most of them with his old friend Gary Westlake, who’s also Kristen’s lead guitarist.
Mike McCready & Gary Westlake
Mike opened with a song about his daughter, followed by one about his son, then a number of covers, with a Happy Birthday sing-along to Kristen thrown in. Mike and Gary closed the set with the Rolling Stones’s Wild Horses, a request from Kristen. Here’s where I start feeling old – there were a couple of the indie kids behind me who had no idea what the song was or who it was by. A little more reassuring were the trio of 20 something girls who pushed their way through the crowd with one of the girls saying it was her favorite song. They had no idea who Mike was, though, and asked if he was Kristen Ward. . .
To avoid any confusion, this is Kristen Ward (I don’t think many guys would confuse her with Mike):
Kristen keeps improving her stage presence, and add that to her voice, guitar playing and song writing. She did a number of new ones from her upcoming album, including “the one about Spokane” someone from the audience requested. My Last Night on Division, if I remember right (which I see is the title of upcoming album). “My home town it brings me down. . .” Reminds me a lot of St. Helens, Oregon, where I went to high school.
Someone finally YouTubed Kristen at Bumpershoot this summer! Here she is with Good Time Man, off her current album, Drive Away:
Kristen asked if everyone was all right at one point. I don’t know, I keep seeing all these guys clutching their hearts when Kristen’s on stage, some of them only in their 20s. I think they’ll survive, though. . .
More of Kristen’s music at:
Finally, Star Anna. I’ve heard her before, but Star Anna really blew me away last night. Like Kristen, she writes and plays some incredible songs. It’s the passion in her voice, hearing her live, reminiscent of Janis Joplin, that really got me.
Here she is with her band, the Laughing Dogs, with Space Beneath the Door at the Triple Door in August:
Here they are with Through the Winter at The Tractor in 2007:
Check out more music from Star Anna & the Laughing Dogs at:
What a great evening! Then back into a cold Ballard night to make the bus in time (which fortunately was running late).
That ought to hold me until New Year’s Eve!