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A party with a heart

Fri., June 11, 2004

We’re hosting a party tonight and you’re invited. 7 Senses 2004 features on The Met stage a cross-section of some of the freshest local musicians, break-dancers, a performance painter, and me and a couple of friends doing a combination of performance poetry and hip-hop. All net proceeds from the $7 tickets benefit The Children’s Museum Summer Outreach Program.

We don’t usually do this sort of thing.

But when The Met’s manager Michael Smith offers you the chance to do a show at one of the most beloved stages in the city, the answer better be yes.

Smith threw out the invitation after he heard about a spoken-word performance I did a couple of months back with the Singing Nuns of Mount Saint Michael for a Discovery Channel reality show, which airs late this year.

I have been performing poetry and hip-hop in schools since I was a student at Lewis and Clark High School. And I was in a band in college that played around town and in Seattle in the late 1990s, so every now and then friends who still play (Erick Beats, BeeCraft, Synthetic) invite me to sit in on their sets or do a song or two, beyond that I don’t really book shows.

Besides, I’m a writer, not a musician. And more to the point, I’m a music writer and it could be seen as a conflict of interest if I was out there competing in the music circuit – that’s one reason why this is a benefit concert.

Just to be clear, I don’t stand to make a single penny from this show, neither does 7.

What we all have to gain, however, is a chance to show our commitment to creativity by supporting The Children’s Museum Summer Outreach Program – Creativity Clubhouse, which features hands-on art and science learning tools. This is also an opportunity to continue to promote and expose some of our deserving and often overlooked local talent.

Enter the Psychic Friends Network: These are artists I am friends with and a fan of who have agreed to support this event by performing for a minimal cost, and in the case of Tangled Roots, The Superfriends, and emcees Synthetic and Buckeye McMillan, for free. Erick Beats, Jeremy Hughes, DJ Spince’s cohort Brainchild, The Side Project’s drummer/producer Joe Varela, and McMillan have volunteered original music and studio time to support my hip-hop set.

This is the rundown: Hughes performs live electronica, The Side Project plays piano and acoustic ballads, DJ Spince spins b-boy records with break dancers Tangled Roots (along with members of the No Names, Vision, and Hulkamaniacs), Ryan Avery captures the night in an oil painting he will create on the spot, and I do original poetry and hip-hop.

So you see, this is truly a group effort, and there is no way this would have been possible without help from friends.

Here’s a brief introduction:

The Side Project

As you might’ve guessed from the name, The Side Project started out as a project for Suzie Anderson while she was singing in a band called Pitching Woo last year.

With a decidedly lighter feel that played to her stunningly exquisite vocals, The Side Project – with guitarist/bassist Ben Bradford, keyboardist (just plain) Parker, and producer and sometimes drummer Varela (aka Criminal Dougie) – became Anderson’s main project.

In less than a year, the group has carved out its own corner of the local music scene, playing upwards of four shows in a week, in every local venue imaginable.

The Side Project has developed a strong local following with its piano-driven melodies and inklings of hip-hop and electronica.

In Anderson’s words, “It’s about five notches above easy listening.”

Anderson and the boys also can be heard on television commercial jingles.

Produced by Varela, The Side Project’s recent release, “14,” is a moving collection of soaring atmospherics, sweeping melodies, and Anderson’s truly awesome voice.

Old friends and touring buddies with local neo-classical pianist Dax Johnson, Anderson and her group have plans to move to Portland in a matter of months.

Tonight they’ll be joined by cellist Zoe Boysen, guitarist and Inlander writer Clint Burgess and an 8-year-old artist friend who will paint to their music.

Tangled Roots

Shanner Escalanti’s roots are not in break dancing – they go back much further than that.

A member of the Shoshone Tribe, Escalanti grew up learning hoop dancing and other traditional Native American dances.

When he was exposed to break dancing, he saw so many similarities, from the steps to the circles they take place in, he was drawn to the urban art form.

Now the 25-year-old is the leader of one of Spokane’s most visible breaking crews, Tangled Roots. He was also instrumental in forming coalitions with other break-dancing sets in town. And thanks largely to his work, these groups share their love for movement in rhythm at schools and all-ages shows.

“I fell into it that way. My friends started breakin’, and we battled different crews and now we throw events and teach at a studio,” said Escalanti, who teaches several forms of dance at Julies Competitive Edge Dance Academy, 47 E. Queen.

Coming from a rich history of dancing, Escalanti’s family has traveled across Europe to dance for U.S. military troops and was featured at the Super Bowl in 1996.

DJ Spince

Spencer Davey’s reputation is that of throw-back b-boy deejay, incorporating equal parts funk, break beats, and ‘80s-heavy dance cuts. But these days, the man known as DJ Spince is seriously on the reggae tip.

Though he’s been spinning traditional dance-hall sounds for the radio station at Whitworth College KWRS (90.3), Davey’s a natural pairing for break-dancing and emcee acts (last weekend he deejayed for Tangled Roots at Grand Groove’s Eye Opener at CenterStage).

He is best-known for the Butter house parties at The B-Side with his Park ‘N’ Ride co-captain DJ Brainchild (James Singleton).

Jeremy Hughes

A member of one of Spokane’s most popular bands, Chinese Sky Candy, guitarist Jeremy Hughes also is respected in the music community for his work as a solo composer, hip-hop producer and live electronic performer.

His electronica (Pro-Tools, break-beat drum samples, guitars, bass, and a variety of synthesizers) is deep and moody, but with melodies that speak to his pop sensibilities the same way his art-rock guitar riffs make Chinese Sky Candy so alluring and evasive.

“Living Room,” Hughes solo debut on Erick Beats’ Central Service label, mixes the organic with the synthetic so seamlessly it’s hard to tell them apart.

Hughes’ work as a hip-hop producer still goes largely unrecognized, but working with Beats’ I-In-Team is slowly giving him more exposure.

With a bachelor’s degree in music composition from Eastern Washington University, Hughes has his sights on leaving Spokane in the fall for Mills College in Oakland to study electronic music and recording media.


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