The Pacific Northwest was coated in a heavy layer of audio magic about thirty years ago.
I can say first hand that Seattle was the headwaters of a musical river that seemed to have no delta; the talent, the music, and the vibe just kept flowing forward – advancing the genre, entertaining the plaid masses, and inspiring countless musicians who have ushered Grunge successfully into the 21st Century. It was the perfect music for a Seattle that was still small enough to appreciate its own humility, and large enough to push that music out to the world. Most of the clubs are gone, or under new names; but in the back alleys you can hear the ghosts chant Off Ramp, RCKNDY, Croc, Central Saloon, Ballard Firehouse, and OK Hotel. Many reading this were there to experience something that existed and overwhelmed us all – and while we continue to benefit greatly from the vast archive of Seattle music from the 80s and 90s, in the form of talented contemporary bands, nothing to date has equaled the feeling, sound, and perpetual drive of that movement.
We experienced it and ye, we were blessed.
The guys in Rain Light Fade understand this power. They were all brought up in the Halls Of Grunge – learning to appreciate the sound that shared the pain, joy, angst, love, loneliness, and elation that touches the souls of everyone who lives under the grey skies of the Pacific Northwest. The know it. They feel it. They channel it through their music.
And in early February they banded together with other musicians from the area to pay homage to one of the finest soundtracks of the Grunge era – for the movie “Singles.”
Rain Light Fade consists of Dane Vance Creek on Vocals and Guitar, Ian Tomlinson on Guitar and Backup Vocals, Ira Merrill on Guitar and Vocals, Eric Vickers on Bass, and Steve Gale on Drums.
Their live-stream performance took place at the Kirkland Performance Center; RLF teamed up with FM Collective and KISW 99.9 “The Rock,” to benefit MusiCares – an organization that helps artists in need.
Photos from the legendary Karen Mason Blair were inserted between performances, highlighting many of the heavy hitters of the era. Aside from Rain Light Fade, the artists who joined in were top notch in their fields, and just plain talented at what they do:
Nancy Wilson (Heart/The Lovemongers) * Mike Inez (Alice In Chains) * Ben Smith (Heart/The Lovemongers) * Jeff Field (Mark Lanegan Band/Amy Ray) * Eric Lilavois (Producer, London Bridge Studio) * Garey Shelton * Kathy Moore (Super Power Trio) * Jeff Rouse (Loaded/Alien Crime Syndicate) * Ryan Waters (Sade/Liv Warfield) * Glenn Cannon (Windowpane/The Damage Done) * AISHA * Krystle Pyette & Brittany Lauren (Limberlost) * Kyyle Cort (Superfekta)
The order of performance was like this:
- It Ain’t Like That (Alice In Chains)- Performed by Rain Light Fade with Kathy Moore, Glenn Cannon, Ben Smith, and Jeff Rouse on bass
- Mike Inez shared his own greeting, and talked about MusiCares
- Would? (Alice In Chains) – Performed by Rain Light Fade
- Breath (Pearl Jam) – Performed by Rain Light Fade
- Photo of Mad Season displayed, courtesy of Karen Mason Blair
- Dyslexic Heart (Paul Westerberg) – Performed by Jeff Fielder and Ben Smith
- Seasons (Chris Cornell) – Acoustic duo with Dane Creek and Glenn Cannon
- Mike Lucero – Thanked people for streaming the show and providing donations through the Chat service
- Photos displayed of Layne Staley, Ann Wilson, and Stone Gossard – courtesy of Karen Mason Blair
- Battle Of Evermore (The Lovemongers/Led Zeppelin) – Performed by Krystle and Brittany from Limberlost, and Ira from Rain Light Fade
- Photo displayed of Mother Love Bone – courtesy of Karen Mason Blair
- Chloe Dancer (Mother Love Bone) – Performed by Dane Creek and Glenn Cannon on vocals, Kyyle Cort on keyboards, Kathy Moore on guitar, and Jeff Rouse on base
- Mike Lucero and Dane Creek talked about the local music scene and its ties to social justice.
- Birth Ritual (Soundgarden) – Performed by Rain Light Fade, with Aisha on vocals, Ira Merrill on guitar, and Steve Gale on drums
- Photo displayed of Nirvana – courtesy of Karen Mason Blair
- State Of Love And Trust (Pearl Jam) – Performaed by Rain Light Fade, with Ian on vocals
- Photo displayed of Eddie Vedder – courtesy of Karen Mason Blair
- Overblown (Mudhoney) – Performed by Rain Light Fade
- Photo of Layne Staley displayed – courtesy of Karen Mason Blair
- May This Be Love (Jimi Hendrix) – Performed by Kathy Moore on guitar, Dane on vocals, Ian on guitar, and Steve on drums
- Photo of Andrew Wood displayed – courtesy of Karen Mason Blair
- Nearly Lost You (Screaming Trees) – Performed by Rain Light Fade and Kyyle Cort
- Nancy Wilson greeted participants and shared the important mission of MusiCares
- Drown (Smashing Pumpkins) – Performed by Rain Light Fade
My favorite part of the soundtrack that wasn’t performed that night was TAD’s “Jinx” – which is used during a car stereo scene:
Still it doesn’t detract from the power of the event!
Many parts of the performance really impressed me. Dane’s vocals always have a power that is deep, familiar and reliable; his work on a bulk of the songs made sense, as his voice tied the performance together from stem to stern. When Glenn Cannon sang it brought his signature vibrato and modulation to the forefront – highlighting what was important about the music. Krystle and Brittany have long been in the top tier of vocal duets; their voices blend in a way that only two pros can; their rendition of Battle Of Evermore was riveting.
I could only image one person for the performance to handle Chris Cornell’s vocals in Birth Ritual, and that would be Aisha Elmehdaoui! She fronted Bleed Together, an all-female Soundgarden tribute, and also filled in for Keven James Hoffman of Outshined during a performing break. She has the range. She has the feeling. And she has a deep love for the music. It all comes out in every note, and her performance that night was a true highlight!
Kathy Moore is one of my most favorite local musicians. She pops up everywhere, and for good reason; as the quintessential professional she can play tons of instruments and excels at all of them. And she’s a sharp dresser! Look for her in Super Power Trio.
Drummer Steve Gale is Rain Light Fade’s full force secret weapon. Watching his sticks move requires snacks, because I just want to sit and watch him play! He blends strength, speed and nuance like no one I’ve seen. That’s not to say no other powerful drummers exist. Just understand that none of them strike like Steve Gale!
Although the performance was a live stream, it was captured and is being offered through Kirkland Performance Center as a paid viewing through February 28th. Want to see it again? You can! As before, the viewing benefits MusiCares. Purchasing a ticket sends an email and provides the viewer four hours to watch the performance; it’s as simple as clicking the link and starting the show!
I chatted with several of the musicians the evening after the stream; they all agreed that it was a very rewarding experience for them. I assured them that it was rewarding to the viewers as well! To highlight such great music thirty years later only strengthens the legend behind that magical era, since Grunge is like a plaid time traveler. Relevant, powerful, raw, approachable, and understood – all words which have helped The Seattle Sound transcend any sort of expectations fans had in 1991.
So to the epic movie and music of the era, we all salute you. The plaid masses are raising their Rainiers high above the tape deck and proudly singing “I’m a Jinx!”