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

LIMBERLOST    Video Release Party


Jazzbones Tacoma WA February 2nd, 2019

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

Limberlost poster
Limberlost merchandise

I’m going to be honest and admit, that this was an extremely difficult Music Blog for me to write. How do I find the right words to create a short commentary ? I feel like nothing I can say, will do justice to this extraordinary night of music I experienced. So, when I expressed my writing frustration with Raymond Hayden, keyboardist for STRANGLEY ALRIGHT, this is what he replied back:

“When I struggle with a song, I walk away from it and let it breathe. I let it come in its own time. You are up against the same obstacle in that you are writing about something you love and people who you actually give two shits about.”

And then he suggested writing about it from a different point of view.


These past 6-7 years, I feel like society keeps trying to encase me in an airless bubble. I don’t want to be in an airless, controlled “like minded bubble”. A bubble where everyone thinks and acts the same. I have lived a completely unique life, which produces completely unique ideas and feelings. I shouldn’t be forced to live in a mold, that wasn’t created for me. However, if I reject that mold the accusations fly , followed by judgement and a label. Where can I find The Freedom To Be Me?


Strangely Alright
Strangely Alright
Photo ~ Todd Hobert

With the band STRANGELY ALRIGHT , that’s where. By their second song ,at the February 2nd show, I felt my entire body become covered in chills. The chill you feel, when a window is opened in a stale room, and fresh, cold air comes flowing in. All of that oxygen sparking the cells of your body alive.

STRANGELY ALRIGHT is led by the very talented and passionate lead singer Regan Lane. Supporting him are keyboardist Raymond Hayden, lead guitarist Sean Van Dommelen, Ken Schaff on bass and Jason Bair on drums. I like to describe their music as “Performance Art With a Message.” A message of love, unity and acceptance. And a sound that takes me back to the Peace and Love 60’s. To truly appreciate the magnitude of this band’s music, you need to see them perform live. A powerful ending to their set onstage, was Regan presenting the American flag, and asking all of us to join him in reciting The Pledge of Allegiance. No matter what our political beliefs, we are still ‘ One nation under God.’

I love to read books and watch documentaries on the history of music, and how it represents what is occurring in society at that point in time. The artists, musicians and poets represent the mouthpiece for the people. I’ve watched the trends, listened to the voices, and have come up with this personal conclusion. We are going through a modern day version of the 1960’s. Same issues, same behavior, just the names have been changed.
And what comes after the 1960’s? The 1970’s and Classic Rock. We’re already seeing the classic rock resurgence, with the band Greta Van Fleet.


Blue Helix
Blue Helix
Photo: Todd Hobert

And one of the bands leading the Classic Rock resurgence in the Pacific Northwest, is BLUE HELIX . BLUE HELIX is an international rock band, with roots in both Puyallup, WA and São Paulo , Brazil. In early 2018, I listened to their newly released album “Anti Social Butterfly”. I loved their hard hitting rock sound, with screaming guitar solos, so I was looking forward to seeing them perform live for the first time.

Right out of the gate, we were ROCKIN’ at attention. Leading the ROCK revival were Sami Chofi on guitar and vocals, Arman Birang on guitar, Marco Bicca drums and Wolf on bass. WOW! I kept thinking “ this is a band that I can visualize performing in a major rock arena tour.” So, you can only imagine the electricity that was vibrating through the club sized venue, of Jazzbones. Rock is alive, there is no doubt about it. BLUE HELIX has the fresh rock sound AND look (loved your flared jeans, with the cool fabric inset Sami!) A perfect package. They have already been recognized by Seattle’s Classic Rock Station 99.9 KISW. What more do I need to add to that? This IS a band that we’re going to be reading about in rock magazines.

So, speaking of the 1970’s. It is Absolutely one of my favorite eras of music. Loud, energy filled guitars, vocals, drums. And the emergence of female fronted rock bands. Proudly representing Seattle in that group of legendary women , of course, is Ann and Nancy Wilson of HEART.


The band LIMBERLOST first caught my attention at the Seattle Wave Radio’s 2016 Jammin Challenge. It has been thrilling to watch their Rock Star rise and shine brightly. The February 2nd show , was to debut their first music video “See What You Want”. A powerful song, expressing exactly my soul’s frustration about judging and accusations. An in your face “I’ve had enough!”.

2019 Rockers, meet your new Seattle-Tacoma female Voice; Krystle Pyette. Now we’re cooking with gas! And, fueling those gas lines is Ricky Dunn. Ricky is definitely the most under-rated guitarist in our area. You want to see some excellence in guitar shredding? Go check out Ricky’s work. Of course, a classic rock band isn’t complete without a long, haired bassist, wildly swinging his hair around. Ben Beman is such a kick to watch perform, because it’s obvious he loves what he’s doing. And putting LIMBERLOST’s pedal to the metal, is badass drummer Mike Burt. Some of the best, bad assery stick twirling I’ve seen onstage. New additions to the band are keyboardist Anthony Ciarochi and Brittany Lane vocals. Fantastic energy that brought the crowd to their feet!

Highlighting the evening, was a special guest performance by local rock legend Pamela Moore (Queensryche). She was joined onstage with Limberlost and Sami Chofi. What was left of the Jazzbones Roof was completely blown off. A truly exciting moment of PNW music greatness.

Photo: Kristopher Oberg


~ Slowcamera Paparazzi ~

An artistic addition was the work of Simran Narmis, of Slowcamera Paparazzi. It was fascinating to watch him recreate the bands onstage, with oil paintings made on album covers. Art In Action.

PHEW!! I did it. I wrote my music blog. I am not a music critic. I’m a music sharer. And it’s based on what the musicians make me feel. These bands of musicians, made me feel A LOT. They confirmed everything I’ve been intuitively seeing about ‘where’ we are right now. And, that is why I titled this blog ‘For Mature Rockers Only’. These are bands that make you think and feel. And, it takes a mature person to accept and own their feelings, without placing labels and limits on others.

2019 is your preparation year, where you get to rip off the labels and begin to breathe again.

And then, dust off your flared jeans and cowbells. 2020 is knocking on the door, and it’s ushering a new version of Classic Rock Artists.








SlowCamera Paparazzi