Grieve the Astronaut Treats Fans with Holy Hell Jam


~ by Cindy Teixeira / Brown Bag Alley blog ~

Grieve The Astronaut performing

Wild Weekend Double Header, No Baseballs – PART 1
Grieve the Astronaut Treats Fans with Holy Hell Jam

Hey Brown Baggers! It’s been a while and I hope you’ve missed me just a little bit, at least. I know it’s time for spring training but the double header this last weekend didn’t involve small balls or big mittens. It did involve big sound, talent and pure joy. The Auburn Theater, Saturday, March 4 was an event, an experience, a sensory banquet, if you will.

It had been a year since the debut show of Grieve the Astronaut on the Auburn stage. We didn’t know what to expect this time, though. With the announcement of guest Regan Lane from Strangely Alright, the dial was already at 11. Truthfully, I was hoping my expectations weren’t overly enthusiastic because it would have crushed my soul, otherwise. If Maestro Raymond Hayden could have been inside my head in those moments before the show he may have reassured me with, “Don’t worry. We’re taking you to the stars tonight.”

And so they did, because when a person such as Hayden is building a legacy, friendships and integrity are the foundation and there are no limits. On this night, the stars are merely landmarks.

Lane and Hayden, bandmates in Strangely Alright, enter the spotlight for the first song, Hayden in his Sgt. Pepper hat and Lane in his dark glasses and signature “mod” clothing, complete with wild scarf. For me, it’s always a pleasure to see Lane perform. He declared, “You can do anything,” and the journey began with David Bowie’s “Space Oddity.” It was a stunning opener.

Ray Hayden and Regan Lane

Lane explains: “Strangely Alright is the first band I’ve been in where the guys are truly brothers. Ray and I have become close and we have a mutual respect for what we both bring to the table, both musically and as human beings. So when Ray told me he had a dream about Space Oddity and asked me to talk a little and sing to open the GTA show, I was honored and excited about the challenge… he just told me to do what I do! That’s the coolest. His faith and belief in what I do makes me free to be myself and that along with our friendship, I believe, gets picked up and felt by the audience. It’s kind of a voodoo thing, but I feel it and I know it’s real!”

Not really voodoo, in my opinion, though, just magic with a generous measure of real love and honesty. In my experience, that IS Lane’s lane. That’s his thing.

Next, Calissa Knox, in her signature one-eyed mask, is a lioness with her mane of curls and quiet dignity. Her solo performance of “The Law of Jante Overture” becomes the light leading us through an atmosphere of shifting emotions, measure by measure. It’s the rollercoaster of life played out in music; wonder, tragedy, childhood treasured, childhood lost, and endless possibilities. I know this music. I write to it, dream with it. It is the meditation one enters before ascension takes place.

Calissa Knox

Enter Grieve the Astronaut, Hayden at the keyboard, Ben Beman on the bass, Taylor Enloe on guitar and Mike Burt behind the drums. Every single one of these musicians plays in multiple bands. Adding Enloe to the lineup may have been one of Hayden’s most brilliant moves forward with this project. The addition of the lead guitar, which Enloe clearly mastered a long time ago, adds the layer that enriches GTA’s overall sound. Through the evening Enloe helped bring Hayden’s vision to a fuller, deeper, and more holistic place. Burt, experienced and intuitive, brings “epic” into the band’s vocabulary and his backup vocals lend another stratum to the mix. Beman, as Hayden points out, is “the pretty one,” but beyond the big hair that rivals Knox’s mane is a dedicated, talented bass player that knows his job and does it well. He complements the action and gives heartbeat to the body of music.

Ben Beman

The striking thing about all these musicians is the obvious diversity of skills they bring because this collection of music is intricate and complex. The moving parts mesh so well, an inexperienced listener/musician generally doesn’t comprehend the finer points. The whole is exponentially greater than the sum. This band knows it and breathes it.

The music of GTA has evolved into what I think is an exciting new stage with this more multifaceted sound. Enloe’s contribution is clear and though his initial, low-key entrance onto the stage was puzzling, it was soon evident he had plenty to offer. He could have been nervous or just playing it cool because his appearance was unassuming. In other words, he didn’t look like the rock star he is. I think if he could, he would have climbed inside that guitar and played it from the inside out. It was a slow reveal, but well worth watching. Enloe offered photographer Bill Bungard, front and center, rock star shots and even played the music with his teeth at one point.

Beman and Enloe together on the same stage? Yes, please. Anytime.  The new line-up, with Burt and Enloe bringing their mad skills, slammed GTA’s collection lightyears into the future.

Mike Burt

Tyler Enloe

Before performing what was once an instrumental piece, “Twilight,” Hayden explained how the song came to have lyrics, written by Chris Klimecky, another of my favorite musicians and who gives AND matches all the proceeds from his music to CCFA: Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America. Hayden brought him onto the stage to thank him for his contribution to the music. He and wife Erika were there to witness the debut performance of the song, which was sung by special guest Limberlost’s  Krystle Pyette.

Kyrstal

After a big buildup, Supertramp style, accompanied by Enloe’s axe grinding, everyone but Hayden left the stage and Pyette stood in the light. From the first few notes, I admit, my eyes leaked. Even now, nearly a week later, I am deeply touched by this song of love and hope. It was a beautiful marriage of music and thought. Hayden posted the lyrics on his Facebook page and I think they bear repeating, particularly now.

Twilight
I’ll keep holding on, I’ll keep holding you
When our twilight comes, At the end of days
I’ll keep holding on, I’ll keep holding you…
So close to letting go, Can’t take anymore…And the doors all close, The light is gone
But we must have faith, that our time will come…That the stars will shine, All the way ’til dawn…You are never alone
When you’re tired and done, when you’re losing hope
I’ll keep holding on, I’ll keep holding you
When our twilight comes, At the end of days
I’ll keep holding on, I’ll keep holding you…
Well you know it’s true, you fight for the good things and make sure you don’t let them slip away
Let’s pick up the pieces of our lives…
I know that together we can face the dark again, this time we’re on our own…
When you’re tired and done, when you’re losing hope
I’ll keep holding on, I’ll keep holding you
When our twilight comes, At the end of days
I’ll keep holding on, I’ll keep holding you…

After elevating the room with sentiment, it was time for GTA to launch into what I call “The Holy Hell Jam.” Hayden spoke about how, after every rehearsal, the band just jams for a while and they gave us a taste of what that looks and sounds like. Everyone gets their licks in and the result was, voila! Another hit song, in my opinion.

Lane returned to the stage for final remarks: “The talking bit I did was all off the cuff. I have the basic outline of how I feel about love and the ripple effect, but where that goes is up to the power of the universe and where it takes my heart.”

“It seems silly to ignore the turmoil of the world we live in today. I, like many up here in our open-minded northwest bubble, was surprised by the outcome of the election. So I’ve decided to try and understand why some folks voted how they did, and continue to act in a loving, kind manner in the world that I walk in; for my own piece of mind and as an example to my kids.”

The grand finale was Pink Floyd’s “Comfortably Numb,” including a battle of the guitars with Enloe and another guest, Limberlost guitarist Ricky Dunn. It was a grand ending to a beautiful show.

What’s next? Ray responds: “GTA is going into the studio to record a single called “Painters Moon.” It will be our first recording with guitar. We will do another show in 3 to 4 months.”

Check out their website and follow on Facebook for updates.

Susan Renville, owner of Renville Entertainment said afterward, this “was no ordinary rock show… the stage was set for 90 minutes of extraordinary, uplifting music centered on the concept of the hope inspired by America’s space program.  This, combined with theatrical lighting and stellar sound, made for a first class production. I’m very much looking forward to the next one!”

“Two hours of fantastic innovative synth-rock entertainment that seemed like only a few minutes. Masterfully done, GTA!” — Mark Gordon, Owner Seattle WAVE Radio

Thanks for reading this far. As you can tell, I’m a big fan of GTA. Who do YOU like? I’d be interested in knowing what you think about this blog, which local bands you like and what you’ve been doing for the last couple months. Email me at brownbagalley@gmail.com and let me know about your shows, your music or what’s up in general.

As Always, Thanks for playing!

Grieve The Astronaut aftershow