Story last updated at 7/22/2009 - 12:41 pm
Silver Jackson and Sonny Smith will perform three shows in celebration of the release of their two new albums, "Thought I Found Gold" and "Broom and Dustpan," respectively. They will be joined by Breathe Owl Breathe, Mark Verne and others on July 23 at the Pioneer Bar in Haines and on July 24-25 at The Alaskan Bar in Juneau. Both albums may be purchased at the performances or online at homeskilletrecords.com.
Silver Jackson: Thought I Found Gold
Silver Jackson is a Sitka star. His live audience shows him support not only with their applause, but also by participating in the music making. During his Saturday night performance at Home Skillet Festival last week, he had anywhere between five and ten people on stage with him at any given time. Some were other instrumentalists, some contributed vocal parts and others were offspring who danced and held their daddy's hand while staring into the crowd of several hundred people.
Nicholas Galanin is the singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist behind Silver Jackson, and his stage performances include a rotation of various friends and other musicians.
At first listen, it sounds like "Thought I Found Gold" was written while sitting on the beach in the sun, not sitting in a Sitka studio in the dead of winter. Its simple, yet full sound creates an atmosphere of warmth.
Galanin recruited a number of guest artists to contribute to the recording, including Sitka locals and others from far and wide. His percussionist contributed tracks via email from the U.K. He also harnessed the cello talents of Breathe Owl Breathe's Andréa Moreno-Beals on "Water."
As co-founder of Home Skillet Records, main organizer of Home Skillet Festival, a highly accomplished visual artist and father of three, who knows how Galanin found the time to record a full-length album, let alone a great full-length album.
I picked up the CD few weeks ago, have listened to it on repeat for several days in a row, and still discover new and exciting things every time I listen to it. I can't help but wonder what goes through Galanin's mind as he writes and what it's like to be inside his song.
Sonny and the Sunsets: Broom and Dustpan
"Broom and Dustpan" is Home Skillet Record's first vinyl release, and hopefully won't be their last. They chose a sunshiny orange vinyl for the two-track 45 that sounds just as bright as it looks.
Even though vinyl is hip and fresh again these days, I don't think that's why the medium was chosen for "Broom and Dustpan." After you watch Sonny Smith perform this weekend, I dare you to disagree with me that there is any other format in which his music is more at home.
A San Francisco resident, Smith has released a handful of other albums under various other labels, including "Fruitvale" (2006), "One Act Plays" (2005), and "Sordid Tales of Love and Woe" (2003).
Smith uses his music to tell stories, sometimes short and sometimes long. As I listen to his songs, I can't help but create images in my head to illustrate his stories.
Perhaps my favorite aspect of Smith's sound is how he harnesses all the possibilities of his old, worn guitar, making sounds with it that create an atmosphere for his lyrical stories to live within. According to Smith, he picked up the guitar when he was 18 and he still hasn't had to replace it after all these years. Its tone is clear and rich, and he gently plays it with a percussive touch that keeps an ever-steady beat.
While "Broom and Dustpan" might make for perfect background music while housecleaning, it may be best enjoyed as accompaniment for end-of-the-day relaxing or as a pleasant wake-up call. The steady rhythm may also aide the steady pedal stroke of a bike ride, if you have the means to make vinyl mobile.