Perry Acker is an authentic roots rock ensemble of young artists who were born three decades out of time. They’re influenced by 70’s FM radio staples like Allman Brothers Band, Fleetwood Mac, Steely Dan, Yes and The Eagles. This past Saturday evening on October 22nd, the boys from Gig Harbor delivered a sonically brilliant performance in what could be described as the group’s “official” coming out party at the historic Rialto Theater, with songs from their debut EP, “Places We Go” and first full-length record, “Path to Freedom.”
Because of the group’s success on the television show Gimmie The Gig, two tracks off of the new album were produced by legendary producer Don Was (The B-52’s, The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, Stevie Nicks.) The track “The Moon and The Tide” features harmonica legend and local Northwest resident, Lee Oskar (WAR, Lowrider Band.) Because of scheduling issues, Oskar was not able to join the band for the live performance of the number.
Cutting edge technology on display…
Not only was this the debut of a new disc, it was also the debut of a new state of the art PA system from Seattle Company, FLAT Audio. The new system seemed to really compliment the band’s sound by creating a greater dispersion of very clean sonic output. The flat panel speakers are to audio sound what to HD TV is to video. This could be the future of live music sound production. FLAT Audo is definitley a company to keep your eyes and ears on.
Unfortunately, we can’t say that the show went off without a hitch. The house lights came down and the stage was filling with dry ice smoke. Drummer Grady Lester took his place and kicked things in to gear. Bassist Brandon Meade made his way on stage to join Lester to fill in the rhythm. Suddenly, the house lights came up and there was what sounded like a fire alarm in the background. A staffer from The Rialto walked to center stage as if she was going to announce the band. It almost seemed like it was part of the show. Instead, the crowd was informed that is was, indeed, a fire alarm – and were instructed to head for the exits.
Fortunately, the fire department was only a few blocks away, and by the time folks made it up to the lobby, they were already onsite. It was also a blessing that the rain that had been pouring down earlier in the evening had subsided. Fans gathered on the sidewalk outside the theater to catch up with friends. Some Perry Acker band members even provided an impromptu a cappella sidewalk performance.
After about 15 to 20 minutes, the fire department gave the all clear, and the patient crowd headed back inside. It appears that the fog machines triggered the alarm. After the unscheduled “intermission” there were a few empty seats in the theater as some people left, possibly thinking the show would be rescheduled. Too bad for them, because those who did wait out the false alarm were treated to a wonderful night of music from one of the tightest and most talented groups in the region.
And on with the show…
Lester hit the stage followed by Meade. One by one members of the band joined in and the full band kicked the evening into gear with “6 A.M.” The show was on and not a beat was missed.
Lester and Mead, along with Keyboardist Mark Johnson, provide a solid rhythmic foundation for the tasty twin guitar tones of Pete Johnson and Rick Powers. Powers and Johnson traded licks back and forth and weaved in and out between each other throughout the 14-song set.
Soaring over the rhythm and melodic numbers was Johnson’s aesthetic tenor. The guitarist/lead vocalist effortlessly glided in and out of his falsetto voice. According to Johnson, the band takes a lot of pride in its background harmony vocals, which were also on full display.
Based on listening to the band’s recorded music, it’s obvious that they know how to craft great records. What is most impressive is that the group is able to not only replicate what is on record in a live setting, but they’re able to bring extra added passion and energy to the songs – and bring the audience right along with them.
The band took their family, friends and fans in attendance on a musical journey with several numbers from their catalogue. The majority of the songs performed were from the new record that was being celebrated that evening. This included the re-worked “Take Me Home,” which is the only song from their debut EP that is featured on the new disc.
One of the highlights was the group’s performance of “Brittany Jean” a song from their EP and an ode to Pete Johnson’s fiance who was in the front row, smiling, dancing and obviously enjoying her musical tribute.
The band was augmented with Colby Sander on steel guitar and dobro guitar. He worked with the band in the studio and joined them on “Take Me Home” and the band’s encore. Sax virtuoso Paul Sawtelle, who worked magic with songs like “Come on People” and “Out of the Woodwork” in the studio brought the same magic to the live versions. He also joined the group onstage for the encore. Cassie Lewis provided backing vocals on “Take me Home,” “Come on People” and “Climbing Trees.”
Customarily, Perry Acker closed out their show with and encore of The Marshall Tucker Band penned classic,“Can’t You See.”
Fire alarms, or a real fire for that matter, could not deter this band of talented young artists who have a bright future ahead.
Portland singer and songwriter Matt Brown opened the show with a beautiful accoustic set.
Full Set List
- 6 A.M.
- Path to Freedom
- Stepping Stones
- It’s a Groovin’ Life
- Come on People
- Out of the Woodwork
- New Jam
- Take Me Home
- Brittany Jean
- Climbing Trees
- The Moon and the Tide
- Can’t you See (Encore)
If you missed the show, you can see and hear the band this Friday night, October 28th at 7pm at Snoqualmie Casino.
To the left of the article is a wonderful photo slideshow from music photographer Mocha Charlie
SMI Radio Interview: To hear my full backstage interview with the band and phone interview with Matt Brown, tune in on Thursday night at 6pm on NWCZ Radio.
To listen to my previous interview with Perry Acker, please visit: seattlemusicinsider.com
If you miss it, You can tune in Saturday morning, at 9:00am to Night Out Radio.
You can join me on Facebook or come follow me on Twitter