You may have noticed that we've recently been working to have more music coming through the gorgeous confines of Honey. Though the venue is intimate, and the atmosphere is warm, we've been focusing on having this be more than just a spot for your traditional coffeehouse acts. Coming in November, we've got a couple shows that will sonically test Honey, in all the best ways.
Up first, on November 2, we've got the Vardaman Ensemble, Crystal Beth, and the Cutwinkles, in a blitz of art-rock and comedy punk. Hailing from Portland, OR, the Vardaman Ensemble creates cinematic, spooky instrumental songs that move from Kraut-rock-ish repetition to full-blown explosions of electronic strangeness. As they describe themselves, the Vardaman Ensemble make faux-soundtracks, which is particularly fitting: hearing their music, you can't help but picture an odd silent film, out of place and out of time.
Beth Fleenor typically plays as Crystal Beth, along with supporting fellas the Boom Boom Band. This time around, she'll be going it along, traveling with the Vardaman Ensemble on tour. In her capacity with the Boom Boom Band, Fleenor wails some cathartic art-rock with the swagger of someone who's been born for the stage. It's unclear the level of fire she'll be bringing as a solo artist, but one can assume that Crystal Beth has a red-hot furnace burning in her no matter what the situation.
Our last band of this show is a Tacoma fixture – one of those bands that practically manifests the Tacoma music scene in every breath they take. Yes, we're talking about the Cutwinkles. This motley crew of SOTA grads has been at it for well over a decade, and their brand of Nintendo-indebted, punk-infused frivolity never fails to get the crowd going. For three guys that sing about Mario Kart, it's hard to overstate just how joyful their performances are. If you find yourself absentmindedly skanking, it's the Cutwinkles' doing.
Tim Basaraba – the Seattle-based artist known more commonly by the convenient mashup TBASA – is a hard artist to pin down. Flipping through genres as freely as through the pages of a phonebook, TBASA strains at the edges of what is thought of as the singer-songwriter style. Mostly equipped with just his voice and a guitar, he both feeds into the troubadour image, and pushes against it. On some albums, like 2018's The Empath & The Hypervigilant, he accesses the kind of raw emotion that folks like Bonnie “Prince” Billy tap into so effortlessly; meanwhile, as on the recently released Caffeinated Funeral Songs (as the name might suggest), he incorporates a jitterier, more off-kilter sound. If those newer albums reflect a more relaxed and grounded TBASA, his earlier work reveals the wildly experimental side that still lurks under the surface.
The Cupholders are a supergroup, of sorts, combining the talents of three of Seattle's most battle-tested practitioners of Americana and power pop. Made up of Bart Cameron (of the Foghorns), Casey Ruff (of the Mayors of Ballard), and Sam Russell (of Doug Hood), the Cupholders decided to join forces, as they say, “as an excuse to hang out together, drink whiskey, and swap songs.” Together, they make the kind of raucous, shaggy songs that naturally come out of three talented musicians getting lit and tearing through some songs, freed from the confines of their usual bands. This is the kind of music that would feel perfectly at home in a woozy saloon, even if that means crying in your beer – like on “Isabelle (There is a Hell),” which evokes the drunken emotion of early '70s Tom Waits. Elsewhere, the music of the Cupholders is ideal for hooting, hollering, and getting rowdy.
Keep your eyes peeled for more events hitting the stage of Honey!