August 30, 2017
This year the annual Layne Staley tribute was held at the epic Moore Theater, downtown Seattle. Many great artists have performed there including, Soundgarden, Mad Season, King Crimson and Billy Corgan of the Smashing Pumpkins. The tribute this year was unlike the earlier years, as this would’ve been Layne’s 50th birthday. We also celebrate the 15th annual tribute, the 25th anniversary of “Dirt”, and Alice in Chains’ 30 year anniversary. Rick Friel served as the night’s entertaining emcee.
The night started off with a nearly packed venue, with Jar of Flies singing three songs off “Dirt”; “Them Bones”, “Dam That River” and “Rain When I Die”, with Rane Stone at the mic singing them with his hypnotic cords. They came from a place of love and emotion.
John Evans of Twasmonaut, performed “Bleed the Freak”, from Alice in Chains’ Facelift album. John’s sky scraping performance was beyond expectation. John now has fans across the US and even in Hong Kong.
Brandon Wisely, a former Jar of Flies singer, performed “Sea of Sorrow” next. He marveled us with his stage presence as he owned the ballad.
After Jar of Flies next sang “It Ain’t Like That”, followed by “Heaven Beside You”. Seattle rock band, Van Eps performed their rendition of “Rooster”. The melancholic song delivered with influence and harmonized passion. Jar of Flies followed once again with “Sickman” and “Dirt”. By this time, the fans were standing up, out of their seats and head-banging excitedly. What a marvelous scene.
Los Angeles natives Memory Layne, flew up for this year’s tribute. Their performance of Mad Season’s “I Don’t Know Anything” and “Lifeless Dead” was an explosive experience of charismatic coolness.
Jar of Flies took to the stage again to sing “Godsmack”, one of my personal favorites. This song could only be sung by a pro; and Rane slung it out with no hesitation at all. “Hate to Feel” and “Angry Chair” followed, leading up to the next guest performer.
Nick Pollock is not new to the music scene; in fact, he is a legend here in Seattle and has earned that title. He was a part of a band with Layne, as well with Johnny Bacolas and James Bergstrom that made up glam band Sleze. They later changed their name to Alice N Chains. Nick is also the lead singer to former grunge band “My Sisters Machine”. He also has been a part of the ground breaking bands Soulbender and Tanks of Zen. His new venture is The National Guard.
Nick’s brilliant precision on “Would” had the audience singing with him. I couldn’t imagine anyone else conveying this tune-this particular night.
When Layne was with Mad Season, he penned a timeless, thought-provoking classic, entitled “River of Deceit”. 20-year-old Jason Kertson, along with Jar of Flies and ft. Natalie Mai Hall on cello, brought us a seamlessly memorable performance. Jason has performed at several tributes, including last year at the sold out Crocodile.
Intisaar Jubran of Intisaar joined Jason Kertson on stage with Jar of Flies, and once again with Natalie Mai Hall (also of Intisaar). They went on to do “Brother” from the Sap EP. This was a jaw-dropping delivery; Jubran’s voice, sultry, yet bold and uncompromising. It was definitely one of my favorites of the night. Hall’s cello playing is one of a master owning its craft; a true professional.
“Down in a Hole” was next, featuring Jar of Flies, Matt Strutynski (Van Eps) and Glenn Cannon (Windowpane). The feeling of their camaraderie was clear as they sang the existential ballad.
Seattle favorite Windowpane, showed us their inner swag with “What the Hell Have I” and “Put You Down”. Glenn Cannon’s vocals are addictive, yet enticing. Both songs were a very skillful choice for this veteran group.
Jamie Nova gave us a ferocious version of “Man in the Box”. The fans were out of their seats screaming the lyrics with her like they owned them. It was a soaring performance that not too many artists can pull off.
“Love Hate Love” was sung with wide-eyed conviction by Johndus Beckman of Ten Miles Wide. His extravagant showmanship, hailed by those who’d abandoned their seats and opted for a pit view to take it all in.
As the night started coming to a close, Seattle rock artist, Travis Bracht (Second Coming, and Post Modern Heroes), startled us with a bombstastic execution of “Junkhead” and “Sunshine”. The video we captured has since gone viral due to his dynamic, yet ballsy vocals.
Nancy McCallum (Layne’s mom) came out and talked about recovery and gave the serenity prayer.
Thanks to Xanaland for filming this exclusively for us.
Kevin James Hoffman (Dead Rebel Saints and Outshined) gave a commanding performance, nailing Temple of the Dog’s “Say Hello to Heaven”, a tribute to Chris Cornell. Kevin’s vocals have an uncanny resemblance to those of the late Chris Cornell.
This night was the highlight of my year; if I were not attend any more shows this year, I’d be okay with that. Perfection is what comes to mind; and permeated the tribute altogether.
Proceeds from the show and merchandise sales are to be donated to the following:
The night before the Layne Staley Tribute at the Moore, The Crocodile hosted “A Night of Seattle Music” to celebrate Chris Cornell, Andrew Wood, Kurt Cobain and Layne Staley. The venue packed to the brim; this was a true rock celebration one would have to experience to understand. The tribute bands that performed were, Washed in Black (Tribute to Pearl Jam), Stargazer (Tribute to Mother Love Bone), Jar of Flies, and newly established Lithium, a Nirvana Tribute Band,. This night was an exceptional segway to the following one.
One couldn’t help but notice camera crew at both shows. This was the “The Sound of Echoes” film project, that chronicled the 48-hour celebration through the capture of special live-performances and a compilation of interviews and stories from the musicians, industry insiders, friends, and families whose lives have been affected by the inspiration, love, and loss that continues to evolve in the Seattle music community. For more information, check out their link: soundofechoes.com
We’ve included feedback from several of the artists who performed at the Layne Staley Tribute at the Moore.
Rane Stone (Jar of Flies): It was a wonderful experience enjoyed by not only all the AIC fans from around the world, but also by all of the local musicians and music-goers in Seattle as well! The entire weekend was such a beautiful tribute to the memory and legacy of Mr. Layne Staley and it was such an honor and a privilege to be able to be just a small part of it. I am truly thankful and grateful for it.
Joe Lavan (Memory Layne): I can tell you that it was a huge honor to be a part of it. We are so happy the Seattle music fans enjoyed our performance and we were really impressed with the talent of all the artists that performed that night. What a treat for the fans plus seeing Nancy is the best; she’s adorable. We loved being a part of this and we learned quite a bit hanging in Seattle. We met some great people and made quite a few new friends. Jar of Flies really brings it too and they were super cool to us. We used all their equipment and they were really cool about it and helpful. On top of all that, playing at the Moore was icing on the cake. So far this is the highlight of my music career. I don’t know how we could have topped it.
Craig Gilmore (Memory Layne): Playing at The Moore is definitely a highlight of my music career simply due to the fact of the history. My favorite part of the whole trip to Seattle was meeting all the musicians and how welcoming and down to earth they all were. I can’t wait to get back to Seattle.
Brandon Wisely: (Former Jar of Flies Singer): We are family and i feel blessed to be a part of it and everyone back there will say the same thing about everyone else. It’s magical : and that’s what Saturday night was, magical. Just like the scene; that pretty much was Seattle’s finest, still living there or not, just like Shannon Sharp and I; we flew in from other states. We wouldn’t have missed that for the world. You could see the love on the stage amongst us all.
Shannon Sharp: (Jar of Flies): The show encompassed many dear moments wrapped up into one. 1. In one weekend, I got to… Play the legendary Moore Theatre with my band of brothers for my last time in Seattle. 2. Pay homage to Layne Staley, Chris Cornell, Kurt Cobain & Andy Wood. 3. Share the stage with amazing guest talent including Seattle legends. 4. See how Seattle music brings people together from all over the world. I’ve been part of Jar of Flies since 2006. I recently moved to Dallas, TX. These were my last set of Seattle shows. What a way to go out. I’ll miss you all, but Seattle will always be my 2nd home.
Nick Pollock: (Sleze, Alice N Chains, Soulbender, Tanks of Zen, and now, The National Guard): This year’s tribute to my dear friend Layne Staley was special. Me and some new and old friends got to get up on the Moore Theater stage and sing his songs. I’ve done this over the years in different ways; The first tribute in 2002 at the Showbox Market with Soulbender, My Sister’s Machine in 2011, again at the Showbox. This time, for me, I was singing Layne’s song, Would? The song has always had a emotional resonance for me. I find it to be a comforting way of understanding him. Maybe it’s a way of understanding myself. I miss Layne. I’ve missed him since right before we weren’t in a band anymore. He had his path, and I mine. How wonderful it was to join again with him on the Moore stage to sing.
Jar of Flies Members: Rane Stone (vocals), JT Phillips (guitar), Lee Bruso (bass), Daryl Williams (drums), Kyyle Cort (guitar) and Shannon Sharp-last tribute show with Jar of Flies (guitar). *Special Recognition to Daryl Williams and Lee Bruso, who played throughout most of the tribute; without you, it would’ve made this tribute impossible*
Special thanks to JT Phillips who pulled off an almost impossible task of organizing this year’s tribute. He also ensured that merchandise would be available for those in attendance. None of which would be available without him. His time and efforts have not gone unnoticed. NeHi Stripes Musiczine, also thanks JT for providing us with the materials needed, to make this article possible.
Pictures used with permission by rock photographer Iron Mike Savoia. Thanks Mike.