Rockin’ In The City Of Music

Susan Varnes-Newland
by Susan Varnes-Newland
(Guest blogger from Grieve The Astronaut) ~ ~


Jessica Lynne / Birch Pereira and The Gin Joints LIVE at Band In Seattle

As I sit in my red, vinyl bean bag chair, headsets on, cord attached to the turntable….

I LIVED for my records. As a child, I had a small record player that 45 rpms were stacked on. It was encased in a red and black box, complete with a lid and handle. When I became a teenager, I bought the classic turntable, with a clear, plastic top. And that’s how I listened to music when I sat in my bean bag chair. The turntable and the bean bag chair are long gone, but the headphones are resting safely in my memory chest. Fast forward to my own children’s music listening devices, and it was cassettes and CDs. I still remember visiting my Mom’s house, and we were exploring in her ‘treasure filled’ basement. My kids picked up a vinyl record, turned it around curiously in their small hands and asked “How do you play this disc?”. My oh my, the times have changed. Now everything is streamed digitally. What do dreamy eyed teenaged girls hang on their walls, if they don’t have an album poster?

I do appreciate, though, the resurgence of vinyl. People miss that physical connection with musicians and their music. There is nothing like being in the presence of music, as it is being performed live. I loved American Bandstand and Soul Train. I always thought it would be SO cool to be in the studio audience for one of their live tapings. A big dream for a little farm girl.

Never give up on those dreams, even if it takes awhile for them to come true.

The LIVE Taping of Band In Seattle, April 5th 2018

Victory Studio_Band In Seattle

What is Band in Seattle, you ask? “ Created and produced by Victory Studios, Band In Seattle is a music television series that offers intimate concert experiences with the bands you know and love or are listening to for the first time… is a national program that has featured everything from up and coming independent bands from the Pacific Northwest, to international pioneers of the craft. The only requirement is that the band is in Seattle when the show is taped.”

I was ECSTATIC when I found out that Jessica Lynne would be the first 2018 Band In Seattle taping. Because not only would I be in the studio audience….drum roll…..I would also be her Merchandise Girl! I was going to experience the production side of it, too. My secret dreams coming true on one night.

This wasn’t the first time that Jessica Lynne had been on Band In Seattle. She and her band, The Cousins, had a live taping in 2015. And then in 2016, they were also in the Band In Seattle Christmas Show. You can find both of those episodes in the Band In Seattle archives.

Jessica Lynn at Victory Studio

I arrived before the doors opened , to set up the merchandise table. It was so much fun to be in there, listening to the sound checks. On Facebook I shared a video of my merchandise table, the Red Carpet area, and then walking into the studio while Birch Pereira and the Gin Joints were doing soundcheck. I love seeing the backside of a production.

There is so much teamwork and coordination that goes on. It’s not just about the musicians performing onstage, it’s about everyone who makes them look and sound good AND, the people that give them a stage to perform on. A shoutout to Conrad Denke, for his visionary hard work, in creating Band In Seattle.

Merchandise Table


This would be the first time I heard their music, but after listening to their sound check, I knew I was in for some soulful jazz. I love the standup bass, but here’s my question. How does a person decide that this gargantuan instrument is something you need to play! Whatever the reason why, I’m so glad they do. It adds cohesion and rhythm. You just feel your body responding . What a fun performance to experience.

People were swing dancing, and just rolling their shoulders with the music. Loved their vibe, loved their groove. It was a blend of the old speak easy jazz, spiked up with some new rhythm. Really unique. I didn’t know what to expect, but I found a sound I really enjoyed. I felt like I should be smoking a cigar, while sipping on some smooth whiskey.

In between band tapings, there was a live feed happening on the Red Carpet, right next to my merchandise table. First, Jessica Lynne was having a live interview. Then it was Davin Stedman, of The Staxx Brothers. I had written a blog , January 2018, about their performance at the Alpental Ski Resort’s New Year’s Eve Party. It was great to say HI! I’m “Susan In Seattle” and to have a conversation with the artist I wrote about. Davin is also a Band In Seattle Alumni. What an impressive group to belong to.

The next thing you know, I’m on the Red Carpet and Abby Williamson is interviewing me about being one of Jessica’s Merch Girls and writing the Susan In Seattle music blog. A lot of first time experiences for me at Band In Seattle!


It’s Showtime! Jessica had done a restructuring of her band this past winter, so I was looking forward to hearing the new sound. From the very first notes, I could feel the electricity of this new band. What an entrance. The crowd was immediately whipped into a frenzy, with Taylor Enloe’s guitar leading the way. This was now a female fronted, country rock band. I loved the energy they all created together. Very reminiscent of the Dixie Chicks. The voice of captivating fiddler player Kat Bula, has always been a perfect compliment to Jessica Lynne. But now, Danish red headed dynamo, Cirke Cherokee, has been added into the mix. Everyone around me had “ Jaws dropped, eyes wide open” smiles on their faces. Ray Hayden on keyboard, Phil Suggs on bass and TJ Giles on drums. Their energy was palpable. A couple songs were slower, but the majority were just country ROCKIN’, heel kickin’ fun. They were so sizzlin’ hot, we all left branded with the initials JL! I can’t wait for their future shows, the first one being at Jazzbones in Tacoma, June 9th.

Jessica Lynne

The evening ended, and it was time for some red carpet photos. Thanks to all of my friends for coming!

Group Photo

You can watch Band In Seattle on KSTW, Saturday night’s at 11 pm. Or better yet, join in on one of their live studio tapings.

Band In Seattle
Jessica Lynne
Birch Pereira and The Gin Joints