When I was little I had a wooden toy – a flat panel with four holes cut to different shapes.
On the panel were holes for a Diamond, a Star, a Circle, and a Triangle – each with a corresponding block that slid through. None of the shapes looked alike. Yet, the blocks fit when they were put through their corresponding holes. No shape was better than the other. They were unique and equal. But the Diamond block wouldn’t fit through the Star hole at all – and so on across the panel.
And for Glenn Cannon, who just released a solo work called Devil In The Sunshine, that same thing happened with some of the songs he wrote for his band Windowpane; they simply didn’t fit the group’s rock/groove dynamic.
“A lot of this material I played for the guys,” Glenn mentioned to me when I caught up with him recently. “God, some of it even five years ago. Some of the songs are even older than that. It was decided that the songs were good, but they weren’t the right musical direction for Windowpane. That was cool and I respect that. But before long I got to a place where I really wanted to be playing this music. I decided it was time.”
Glenn with his band – Lui Williams on drums, Jeff Eason on bass, and Lance McKay on keyboards – stepped on stage at The Crocodile on Friday 12 July and headlined the CD Release Show for his new solo work. Spearheading the event were three solid bands who share Glenn’s vision for Seattle music: Stoic F.B, Woodshed, and Ten Miles Wide. It was a night filled with friends and fantastic music; every time I turned around, I saw someone I knew. And some of those folks I hadn’t seen in a couple years. The event was almost like a reunion.
But before the show, I got a chance to sit down with Glenn, Jeff, and Lui to talk about the solo project.
Lui shared with me how excited he was to get the call that we was going to work with Glenn and the guys. “I was cheering in my closet after they called me,” he smiled. But Lui made his impression early with the band, because of his skill and his will.
“Jeff and I have worked together in the past,” Glenn said. “And Jeff is – hands down – the best bass player around. So I knew he could understand what I wanted to do with these tracks. Then I played them for Lui, and at that point, they were just click tracks – me and a guitar. ‘Beep beep beep beep.’ The music was very raw. Like pizza dough. Lui listened to them and said ‘Oh that’s a change, there’s a transition. I can switch over to a ride here.’ He BUILT all those parts. He came and played for Jeff and me; of course, I was just playing guitar then, and it was like ‘Oh my god.’ Nailed it, man. Jeff has played off and on with Lui for a long time now.”
“About five years?” Lui added. Jeff nodded.
“I was stoked,” Glenn continued. “I was looking forward to making that phone call because I knew Lui was stoked too.”
When it came to keyboards for the band, Glenn, Jeff and Lui all professed their love and respect for Lance.
“He’s the secret sauce,” Glenn said. “Lance brings that layer to the songs we can’t get from anyone else!”
The conversation moved towards the band’s heavy hitter in production – Brett Eliason. “Brett’s done so many records,” Glenn said. “We’re talking Pearl Jam, System Of A Down, R.E.M, Evanescence – all these things he’s had his hands in over the years. He tries to capture the raw sounds. He doesn’t like to EQ it or over-suppress it. He uses the term ‘tickles.’ As in ‘I’m going to tickle my compression a bit.’ He can take a bass track that has dynamics all over the place, then ‘tickle’ it so the compression is spread evenly.”
It was clear that all the guys had mutual respect for Brett’s ability to take a performance and give it a natural rock sound. Jeff continued.
“Brett came in and listened to a couple of our practices. During the recording session, he knew exactly where to set everything, and his skill at the board got good takes faster. He’s a master at what he does.”
“Brett and I go back about twenty years,” Glenn added. “We’re friends and there’s a lot of trust. He knows the sound I’m going after. He pours himself into the details and it shows. He’s great at capturing organic performances, without auto-tune, etc. He not only produced this album but he mixed it. And he had a lot of important suggestions for the songs we were laying down. I love making records with him. It’s like winning the lottery.”
Eventually, it got too loud – even in the Green Room backstage – to continue the interview. So I grabbed my gear and headed out to the floor for some great music!
Opening the show was Stoic F.B. – who brought heavy hands and loud amps to entice the crowd forward.
The band is Ryan Carney on guitar and vocals, Malcolm Williams on bass, Adam Birchman on drums, and Ryan Healey on lead guitar.
Malcolm and The Two Ryans are animated and give the music a pure visual meter for their excitement. Adam – behind the trap – looks calm while bringing solid beats to the animation going on in front of him. The band’s rock sensibility – punctuated by punk speed and attitude – warmed up the venue and got the crowd moving. It’s obvious these guys love to make music and have fun with each other!
Next on stage was Woodshed – Hunter Venturo on guitar and vocals, Nathan Reno on bass, and Jake Turner on drums.
Their hard grind ignited the crowd with insightful lyrics and Nathan’s signature gyrations. The rock trio is one of the purest forms of musical expression; the musicians must be dialed into each other in a big way during a performance – reading the nuances and body movements of their teammates to create their experience. Otherwise the performance can sound disjointed. In short, there is no safety net. But Woodshed doesn’t need one, because they are truly connected to each other and play together seamlessly.
Their fan base is vast, and the Croc show only bolstered that following by giving the venue exactly what everyone was looking for: Audio Power.
I’m a huge fan of the Stoner Rock / Desert Scene genre, which means that listening to Woodshed gives me a chance to take in the very thing that feeds my soul.
Two bands would have been enough to usher in Glenn’s solo work, but once again the Seattle Music Scene is a place where excess is used in all the right places – when great bands are involved!
For the third attack, Ten Miles Wide came out and played a full set of originals.
Johndus Beckman – lead singer and rhythm guitarist – greeted the fans dressed as a caveman.
Shane Smith was on bass guitar and kept the low down rolling ’round.
Jake Carden kept the lead guitar solos fresh and loud – perfect for a crowd that was thirsty for both.
And Will Andrews kept up a heavy strike on his drum kit – while performing as smooth as water in a pool.
With a long history of performing in Seattle, the guys in Ten Miles Wide stood in front of a packed house and struck down all the barriers between musician and fan. Their sound is rock – highly crafted, fine-tuned, and augmented by strong lyrics. As usual, Johndus laid out his hand-written lyric sheets on stage in front of the mic stand – so he could review them through the show. “Those sheets last about six months,” Will told me once.
And after three sets of magic, Glenn and the band ascended the stage and crowned the night!
The group played all the songs from the new album, with Glenn stopping in between tracks – as he is known to do – for some conversation with the audience. It’s one of the things that endears him on others – his ability and willingness to engage people and appreciate their part in the scene.
“We decided to do this and put things in motion,” he said before performing the song Kira. “We weren’t sure if anyone was gonna care. But people made enough money for us [through his funding campaign] to make an amazing record. And then we put the record out and, again, weren’t sure anyone was gonna care. So we thought we’d do a show, but we’re competing with Queen tonight – right on the heels of the Freddie Mercury movie. I thought ‘Who’s gonna come to The Crocodile?’ And low and behold, you guys are all here!
So the four of us are very very honored to stand here tonight and play this music for your guys.”
The full crowd loved Glenn and the band. The stage layout was simple and effective, with keyboards on one side, bass directly opposite, drums centered in back, and Glenn in the middle with plenty of space to move.
Their stage performance was spot on. Lance’s fluid keyboard work gave the songs a vintage layer that seemed to complete them. Lui dug into his drum kit and added the fills, transitions, and changes he’s known for – with strength and consistency.
Jeff stood stage left, long hair flowing with his movements, and laid down a low-end bassline that seemed to spread across the stage.
Not only was this a testament to his prowess on the big strings, but it also spoke to the quality of the sound provided by The Croc. Glenn says often that the fans are a big part of the show, and that night those fans got exactly what they wanted.
Four bands came together to make this show happen – anchored by the music of Glenn Cannon and his excitement for sharing it with Seattle. Like the wooden toy I mentioned at the beginning of this article, the bands were akin to those individual wooden blocks – unique and equal. By themselves, Stoic F.B., Woodshed, Ten Miles Wide, and Glenn Cannon are musical forces to savor and get excited about. But teamed up with a mutual goal, like they did at The Croc that night? Well, no musical force was stronger, louder, and connected with the fans more as that show. It was a fantastic night to survey the legacy that Glenn and other musicians in our scene continue to forge.
Check out ALL these bands and make sure you catch them on stage!