April 5th is turning out to be an ominous day in Seattle music history. This was intended to be a quick, easy post about a few upcoming events, but then I woke up to the news of Shawn Smith’s passing. Fuck. What a sad loss, and what a marvelous, unique talent he was in the landscape of this city’s music community.
Like most people, I was aware of Shawn from the first time I heard “Buttercup” in 1993. Such a wonderful departure from the fuzzy smear of most bands at the time, the song’s deliberate, melancholy vibe perfectly encapsulated my gray mornings, trudging to the bus stop or riding my bike to work at a warehouse in South Lake Union. I played that album a lot, and then I dove head first into the Satchel albums, and Pigeonhed, and everything else I could get my hands on. Shawn’s voice always sounded like a layer of gloss on a broken heart, and he could seemingly strike any pose: fierce and terrifying, soft and soothing, and anything in between.
In later years I saw Shawn many times at small clubs around town, and even got to play with him once. He struck me as someone who cared so deeply about music in the moment that he worked to tune out the surrounding stuff, whatever it was. I found that very admirable.
Here’s one of my many favorite Shawn Smith tunes, from the fantastic Satchel album The Family:
So what am I doing lately? This week I’m playing with my very good friends Lincoln Barr at Andrew Norsworthy. Lincoln is sadly leaving the northwest and heading to South Carolina (although not sad for him, he has good reason and hot prospects there), and this is his big Seattle Kiss-Off. On Thursday night we’ll be at The Royal Room to recap something like 15 years of collaboration and friendship. How are we going to cover it all? I have no idea, but we’ll try our best. Here’s a ticket link:
Hope to see some folks there, and share some good vibes during a sad week.