Seattle Wave Radio’s 8th Annual Jammin’ Challenge 2018


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


“Jammin’ Challenge 2018”
(Seattle Wave Radio’s 8th Annual Winners)





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

I think about the word HOME. What does that really mean? In the world of the red, vinyl beanbag chair ,  HOME was my teenage bedroom in our farmhouse. I would spend endless hours listening to music,  safely wrapped up in all of those melodies. A ‘few’ years later, HOME has developed into a broader meaning for me. It’s a place where I feel welcomed and connected. It’s about The People, not about The Place.

The Seattle -Tacoma Music Community has become a Home for me. I always look forward to the Seattle Wave Radio Annual Jammin’ Challenge at the Hard Rock Seattle. Not only is it a night of excellent music, it is also a night to connect and reconnect with friends in the local music community. The night was spent listening to the artists onstage, and talking about the supportive music community that exists here. It’s a team of people , working together to help others succeed. We all commented, that there is a tactile pulse growing in the Seattle-Tacoma music community. ‘Something’ is growing. And it’s going to be a BIG something. Listening to the three bands onstage that night, confirmed it. Nick Drummond, Tobias the Owl , Andrew Landers and Mainstreet Struggleville blew the roof OFF of the Seattle Hard Rock! It was an epic night of music.


Mark and Linda Gordon of Seattle Wave Radio, chose a different format for this year’s Jammin’ Challenge. They selected  3 experienced bands to compete, rather than 4 bands that are newer to the music scene.

The first artist onstage was Nick Drummond. Nick has already made his musical mark in the Seattle area, by performing for 10 years with his notorious band, The Senate. They have performed in such well known clubs as The Triple Door and Jazz Alley. That night, he was performing as an acoustic guitar duo.

The minute Nick stepped onstage, his presence demanded attention. You could physically sense his energy. And, it continued on as he sang and played his guitar. As I watched him perform, I could visualize the music notes running through his body, before I heard them. A true physical connection of his mind, body, musical spirit. During one song, I found myself  thinking “I feel at home tonight.” And the next thing I knew, those were the words he was singing!  Not only does Nick physically experience his music, the audience does too.

After his performance was complete, I was thinking “ How could another band compete?”. We were in for a GREAT night of music!



I had heard Elijah Dhavvan and his band, Tobias The Owl perform live last June, at the Seattle Make Music Day. And I’ve also written a glowing review of their latest album, “ A Safe Harbor for Wayward Echoes”. This was the first time, though, I had seen them perform live with their larger band. I loved the addition of the harp. All of the stringed instruments fit perfectly with their very unique indie sound. I’m a Pacific Northwest Native, and  always love the feeling I have when listening to their music. I’m immediately out walking in the quiet woods, or along a beach. Each song is filled with healing wisdom. And after their performance is complete, you feel energized and refreshed. Smooth, flowing, healing. A beautiful performance, all the way around.



I’ve seen Andy perform several times, and each time is unique and different. I love that about Andy, because it keeps his music interesting and alive. On this night, Andy had us up dancing! A big contrast , after the two more folk music oriented performances. Andy had won the Jammin’ Challenge in 2015, and was back to defend his title. And defend he did. They BLEW out the windows of the Seattle Hard Rock. I really love the addition of percussionist, Tommy Sandovallegos, on the conga drums. Same great message, same great voice, but with a whole lot of extra energy and rhythm! It’s always a treat to see Andy perform.

The judges definitely had their work cut out for them. All 3 bands were excellent! During their decision making time, a beautiful tribute was given to Linda and Mark’s daughter, Laura. She had recently lost her battle to cancer, after bravely fighting it for several years. After a moving video tribute, all of the night’s musicians gathered together onstage to sing “Dog and Butterfly”. Heart had been one of Laura’s favorite bands, and it was a fitting tribute, as Heart is known for their Seattle roots. A very emotional and touching moment of the evening. Proving once again, that this is a music community that supports one another.

It was time to announce the winners. Drum roll…..Andy Landers retained his First Place Title! A coveted invitation to play at the Music Aid Northwest Gala 2019, along with over $7,000 in prizes! WOW, a tough night of competition. They are all winners in my songbook. I look forward to catching each of their future shows, and watching their careers rise.

A BIG thank you to the judges, for their excellent work.
Bob and Shelley Tomberg,
Jessica Lynne, Mackenzie Anthony, Bubba Jones,
and Tyler Edwards for filling in at the last minute.

Of course, it wouldn’t be a Seattle Wave Radio event,
without the notorious Michael Wansley, WANZ, as the emcee.

Thank You Seattle Wave Radio, for bringing Seattle local music to the stage and airwaves! And thank you to Music Aid Northwest for supporting music education in Washington State. You can attend the Music Aid Northwest Gala Benefit at The Triple Door March 16th,  2019. Grand Prize Winners Andrew Landers and  Mainstreet Struggleville will be performing, along with other fantastic local musicians.

Mark and Linda Gordon of Seattle Wave Radio,
Bob and Shelley Tomberg of Music Aid Northwest


Photos Courtesy of Bill Bungard

Seattle Wave Radio

Hard Rock Cafe Seattle

Music Aid Northwest

Nick Drummond Band

Tobias The Owl

Andrew Landers and Mainstreet Struggleville