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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, May 28, 2010 - Volume 38 Issue 22
Where It's At: Wilson at Jazz Alley, Petty at The Gorge puts summer on a roll
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Where It's At: Wilson at Jazz Alley, Petty at The Gorge puts summer on a roll

by Albert Rodriguez - SGN A&E Writer

Despite the postponement of U2's concert at Qwest Field, rescheduled to 2011 because of Bono's back recovery, June is full of amazing concerts in Seattle, and some within close range of the Emerald City. Here are eight of them I recommend going to in the coming weeks.

Maxwell / Jill Scott
June 2, Key Arena

R&B semi-powerhouses Maxwell and Jill Scott team up for a double-bill at Key Arena in June. Both performers are Grammy winners, and both are credible singer-songwriters and veterans in the music biz. Maxwell provided 2009's biggest comeback story - with the exception of Whitney Houston - rising to the charts after an eight-year drought with "Pretty Wings," featured on the critically acclaimed album BLACKsummernight. Scott has great prowess in the recording studio and on stage; she blew me away with her robust, soul-jazzy-gospel pipes several years ago on the Seattle Pier. Two great artists on the same ticket is too good to resist.

Cassandra Wilson
June 3-6, Dimitriou's Jazz Alley

With all the attention outdoors this time of year, you might forget about shows taking place inside, such as the dynamic Cassandra Wilson at Dimitrou's Jazz Alley. The Grammy-winning diva has explored many sounds over the years, performing an equal slate of original songs and cover tunes, including brilliant remakes of Neil Young's "Harvest Moon" and U2's "Love is Blindness." With a voice reminiscent of the late, great Betty Carter and a style uniquely her own, Wilson is one of jazz music's most innovative artists, and the fact she's playing the intimate Dimitriou's on four consecutive nights is on the level of the pope coming to town and attending service at St. James Cathedral.

Tortoise
June 8, Neumos

A band that has truly survived from fan adoration is Tortoise, because you aren't likely to hear them on any radio station. The Chicago-based unit is something of a free spirit, creating an effortless blend of jazz, garage rock, light electronic, and dreamy pop orchestrations - it's best described as a documentary film score, or, as I call it, thought-provoking music. Tortoise is touring in support of last year's release Beacons of Ancestorship, the group's 7th album overall on their hometown label, Thrill Jockey Records. If you're looking to expand your musical horizons, Tortoise is about as wide as you can stretch it.

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
June 11-12, The Gorge Amphitheatre

Urban rockers, redneck tailgaters, college drunks, and shirtless cowboys are just some of Tom Petty's fans, who'll converge gleefully under a bright sun with inflated beach balls at The Gorge for back-to-back shows. Among the many hits by this rock giant you're likely to hear at the amphitheatre overlooking the Columbia River are "Running Down a Dream," "The Waiting," "I Won't Back Down," "Free Fallin'," "Learning to Fly," and "Mary Jane's Last Dance." If seeing Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers in concert appears on your bucket list, there's no better setting than The Gorge - from someone who's been to five of his shows, I wouldn't miss him for the world. The Gorge is approximately two and a half hours by car, for directions visit www.livenation.com and type "The Gorge" in the search box.

Brian Jonestown Massacre
June 19, Neumos

Psychedelic rockers Brian Jonestown Massacre have a loyal following scattered from coast to coast, even if their songs are complete downers - i.e., "Open Heart Surgery" is depressing and kinda creepy, not anything you'd want to pull out for a summer deck party. But even if the San Francisco band's music isn't your style, you have to acknowledge the genius in Anton Newcombe. The guy can write incredible tunes and play a variety of musical instruments - about 80 of them, to be exact. Brian Jonestown Massacre return to the Emerald City in June to promote their newest catalog addition, 2010's Who Killed Sgt. Pepper, but here's hoping they play something from 2008's Strung Out in Heaven.

Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings
June 21, The Showbox SoDo

You might think Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings are a revival band from the '60s, when interestingly they've only been recording since 2002. Using a silky blend of traditional soul and funk, its lead singer is the sassy new queen of R&B. The Georgia ensemble's latest recording, this year's I Learned the Hard Way, is an exceptional follow-up to 2007's 100 Days, 100 Nights. In concert, the combination of a crisp horn section, retro guitar hooks and Jones's strong yet never over the top vocals is something to witness firsthand - not to mention her choice of shimmy-shimmy vintage dresses.

Anthony Bourdain
June 22, Moore Theatre

For reasons unexplainable yet true, people love Anthony Bourdain to the extent of retracing his steps around the world. The globetrotting TV personality, host of the Travel Channel series No Reservations, wanders the planet in search of traditional customs and amazing food - and we're not talking fancy-schmancy restaurants; it's more like the living room floor of a family home in rural Vietnam. Bourdain's tall, sexy, and badass persona make him the unequivocal rock star of the national food scene, and wherever he goes, whether to eat or give a public appearance, he's followed by women and men, Gay and straight, chefs and beginner cooks. On his previous visit to Seattle, in summer 2009, he ate at Cafe Presse and La Carta de Oaxaca. Where he'll chows down this time is a mystery, but expect local Facebook and Twitter pages to be all over it.

Cocorosie
June 25, The Showbox Market

Cocorosie's newest release, 2010's Grey Gardens, hasn't exactly wowed music critics, and at times comes across as an odd, very bad dream. So you have to dig deeper into the French duo's catalog for better material, like the lovely-yet-haunting "Beautiful Boyz" from 2005's Noah's Ark, which features the dramatic background vocals of Antony from Antony and the Johnsons. Though they don't always live up to their weird mix of folk and electronica, they are rather ambitious and bring a certain je ne sais quoi to their stage appearances.

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