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Growing up, Ashley Dice was more into classic rock and Motown than rap or hip-hop.

Dice started getting more into hip-hop when she was in high school. Even then, she never thought about performing hip-hop music herself.

“I’ve always loved it, but I just never thought it was going to be a path for myself necessarily,” she said. “It wasn’t until later, I started making friends who made music and a rapper friend of mine was like, ‘Hey, you sing; you should do a hook for this song.’ And I’m like, ‘Oh my gosh. OK, I’ll do that.”

It ended up being two hooks, she said, and she instantly gained a fan base from it. “I just realized I could do it,” she said. “I think it was more just gaining that confidence, too, of knowing that I could do it and then it just took off from there.”

Now, Dice performs under the stage name Lady Dice and has built an enthusiastic fanbase. But she’s done it all while remaining completely independent.

“I have a distribution deal for my first album, but other than that I’m independent,” she said. “I released my last couple singles on my own.”

Although the DIY route can take more work since it requires a musical artist to wear many hats, at the end of the day, it can also lead to greater financial rewards.

“You used to need that cash advance in order to get the recording, to get the videos done, to get all these things,” she said. “And now we can learn to do it on our own.”

Dice said her live show is a “rollercoaster of emotions.”

“I’m going to take you everywhere,” she said. “There are going to be times when you’re going to cry. There’s going to be times when you’re going to want to shake your butt. … I take you everywhere, because that’s what I am. I won’t put myself in a box. If I feel a certain emotion, I write about it. … I feel there’s something for everyone at my shows.”

Having been into theater growing up, Dice said she brings a lot of theatrics to her performances as well.

“I try to bring more than just a show; I try to bring a production and an environment and a feeling. I want to change something in someone by the time they leave.”

Lady Dice at the Slippery Pig

Lady Dice performs 7:30 p.m., Oct. 22, at the Slippery Pig, 18801 Front St. NE, Poulsbo. The show features DJ Defkawn and special guest. All ages. Tickets are $20. Buy them here.

All proceeds from the show will go toward Feed the Streets, an effort by DocLuvTheKids to feed the homeless.

Learn more about Lady Dice on her website.

Cherry Poppin’ Daddies got its start from singer Steve Perry’s desire to be different.

“When I was coming up in punk rock and alternative rock, the idea was do it yourself and don’t be a follower … do something that is your own music,” he said.

That sentiment stuck with him. When he’d play shows in pre-Daddies punk bands, however, he felt many of the bands in the scene around him fell short of that ethos.

Photo of Cherry Poppin' Daddies walking down a city street
Cherry Poppin’ Daddies performs this Saturday at the Redwood Theater in Bremerton (Photo by Rod Black, Courtesy of Cherry Poppin’ Daddies)

“I’d see all the bands trying to be like Black Flag or Minor Threat or whatever. … I thought, well, you’re being a follower. You’re not doing your own thing, you’re just copying Minor Threat,” he said.

Swing music was Perry’s vehicle for forging his own path. His mom had sent him a collection of jazz cassette tapes that he neglected because he wasn’t interested in it.

“One day I put it on and it just blew my head off how great it was,” he recalled. “I started researching not just jazz, but the swing era. And I thought, wow, dance music that has these kind of roots, that would be really cool if I could somehow mix punk rock and swing music. That would be something that nobody does.”

Subscribe to Kitsap Scene+ and check out the full interview with Cherry Poppin’ Daddies’ Steve Perry

Cherry Poppin’ Daddies formed in 1988 in Eugene, Ore.  “What was weird about us, I guess, was the fact that we had a number of styles that we played, like, funky stuff and ska,” Perry said. “But the thing that really set us apart, I think, was our swing influence.”

The band’s first four songs or so were all swing songs, Perry said. They branched out into other genres, such as punk and ska, but people seemed to connect with the swing songs. “We noticed that people liked that part of our set more and more,” he said.

On the heels of the ’90s ska revival, swing music saw a resurgence. Acts like Big Bad Voodoo Daddy and the Brian Setzer Orchestra blew up seemingly overnight, and Cherry Poppin’ Daddies saw huge success with their album Zoot Suit Riot. The album hit No. 1 on Billboard’s Top Heatseekers chart in 1998, and hit No. 17 on the Billboard 200, propelled by the popularity of its hit title track.

Although it might have seemed like that success came out of the blue, in reality, it was the culmination of years of hard work, Perry said.

“We had been touring for 10 years at that point nationally,” he recalled. “And our thing had been growing and growing and the swing scene had been growing and growing. It just sort of was the right record at the right time.”

The album was produced on a small budget; Perry recalled that the album’s title track was recorded in a single take.

“That’s why at the end of it I’m saying, ‘I think I’m ready to sing it,'” he said. “Because I literally sang it, and I was just getting the mic tested. And he [the audio engineer] said, ‘You know what? That sounded pretty good.’ … I said, ‘Hey, that sounds great. We saved some money. Let’s move on.'”

The swing craze eventually died down, and Cherry Poppin’ Daddies returned to its roots playing a diverse mix of musical styles, Perry said. The band’s show in Bremerton will feature an all-swing set, however, including some songs off a new swing album the band has coming out soon. But Perry enjoys the freedom to explore whatever sounds the band wants to explore, while still respecting the sound that made the band famous.

“Sometimes we make a swing record entirely; sometimes we make a ska record; sometimes  we make more punky-type stuff, but we’ll always play the swing music,” he said.

Cherry Poppin’ Daddies at Bremerton’s Redwood Theater

Cherry Poppin’ Daddies performs with Cockaphonix on Sept. 24, at the Redwood Theater at Tracyton Movie House, 15320 NE Riddell Rd, Bremerton. Doors open at 8 p.m., show is at 9 p.m. Tickets are $25 in advance, $30 day of the show. Buy tickets here. All ages, bar with ID.

Thirty years ago, musician Julian Stefoni began incorporating Prince songs into his performances — and the crowds responded in a big way.

“That was a good time, when Prince was really on the rise with his career,” Stefoni says. “I noticed that of all the songs we were doing, everybody really liked his stuff. I already had a knack for the kind of showmanship that went along with it. So I just took it further and next thing I know, it became a full-fledged tribute and I’ve been doing it ever since all over the world.”

Read the full Q&A with Stefoni by subscribing to Kitsap Scene+. Try 14 days for free

Stefoni’s Prince tribute act, Erotic City — named after one of Prince’s songs — performs fulltime all over the country. Stefoni has two performances coming up in Bremerton: Tomorrow night, June 4, at the Redwood Theater, and June 18 at the Manette Saloon.

Getting the sound right is half the battle for Stefoni; immersing fans in the Prince experience also entails getting the look right. Stefoni bears a striking resemblance to Prince, but capturing the late singer’s flamboyant style helps cement things even further.

Julian Stefoni performing on stage as Prince
Julian Stefoni performs as Erotic City, a tribute to the late pop star Prince. (Photo courtesy of Erotic City)

“Back then, I had to actually alter a lot of clothes to get the outfits, because I couldn’t afford it back then,” Stefoni says, recalling when he first started performing as Prince. “It’s not like a jeans and T-shirt type of deal, like with some of these other rockers. It’s very customized all the way. A lot of effort went into the outfits.”

Stefoni says he was lucky to have the right mix of musicianship and stage presence to pull off a tribute to a legendary performer like Prince.

Nobody can do exactly what Prince did. He’s just one of those people that came from a different planet.

“He has a very distinctive voice, and his range is very diverse,” Stefoni says. “He can hit those super high notes or he can go all the way in between. And that’s pretty rare for somebody to cover that and then cover all the other bases. Some people can either cover vocals, but they can’t cover the entertainment side. Some can be one or the other. … I was lucky enough to have the essence of having something that was close to his voice when I’m performing and close enough as a musician and entertainer at the same time.”

He isn’t afraid to add his own twist to the performance, either.

“Nobody can do exactly what Prince did,” he says. “He’s just one of those people that came from a different planet, you know? So you have to take what you can get from it and kind of add to it, to be your best. … I think with my audience, they love that I put my own energy and my own style, too. That’s what’s connecting to the audience. They love that stuff.”

One thing people should not expect at an Erotic City show is to hear carbon-copy renditions of the recorded versions Prince’s songs. When possible, Stefoni prefers to perform the live versions, which can sometimes markedly differ from the studio versions.

“I can do a song like ‘Take Me with U,’ and if you’ve ever seen him do it live during the Purple Rain concert era days, he really rocked it and funked it up, and it was just incredible,” he says. “And I’m like, ‘Wow, I don’t see any other people doing it like that. I wanna do it like that.’ And people love it. It takes it from zero to a hundred as far as the excitement in the room.”

Performing Erotic City fulltime is rewarding, but it can be a lot of work, Stefoni says.

“It’s like salt and sugar,” he says with a laugh. “It’s grueling, but if you love what you do and the passion is there, then it doesn’t seem like work. It just seems like, hey, I gotta go from that city to that city, but once you’re there and you’re rocking with that crowd, you’re not thinking about work anymore. You’re just thinking about the purpose of what you’re doing it for, and that’s where it is for me. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.”

Erotic City performances

Catch Erotic City live at one of two Bremerton shows:

  • 9 p.m., June 4, at the Redwood Theater (in the Tracyton Movie House), NE Riddell Road, Bremerton. Tickets are $13.76. Buy them here.
  • 9 p.m., June 18, at the Manette Saloon, 2113 E. 11th St., Bremerton. 21+. Tickets are $10 at the door.

If you can’t catch either of the Bremerton shows, Erotic City is also performing 9 p.m., June 10, at Jazzbones, 2803 6th Ave., Tacoma. 21+, doors open at 8 p.m. Tickets are $20-25. Buy them here.

The band will be back in Bremerton Sept. 4 to perform at the Blackberry Festival.

Jordy Sam avoids labels.

The Bremerton musician raps, sings, and engineers his own music. It’s difficult to pin down a single label to describe what he does.

Read the full Q&A with Jordy Sam by subscribing to Kitsap Scene+ — try 14 days for free

“I like to just categorize myself as an artist,” he says. “I wouldn’t necessarily put myself in a box and say that I could be primarily one [genre] or the other. I just like to go with how I’m feeling.”

Sam grew up in a musical family; both his parents sang, and his dad was a musician, he says. Sam started playing drums at age 2, and a cousin showed him how to play piano at 7. By the time he was around 10, he started getting into the production side of music: songwriting, composition, recording.

I feel like we need to have more of a stage for people who are bringing original hip-hop content to the table, because there’s a lot of that that’s being slept on out here

Learning to record his own music at a young age made it easier to explore different genres without getting tied to a single musical style, he says.

“I started off making my music and beats and stuff in my kitchen, just at my computer,” he says. “I didn’t have to listen to anybody tell me how to do certain things. I was able to just go in, do how I was feeling and let that speak.”

Jordy Sam
Bremerton rapper and R&B artist Jordy Sam (Photo by Robbi Perez; courtesy of Jordy Sam)

It’s no surprise he eschews being boxed into a single genre considering the range of his musical influences. It’s difficult for him to narrow it down. There are Gospel artists: Kirk Franklin, Fred Hammond, and John P. Kee. Then there are classic R&B musicians, such as Stevie Wonder and Ray Charles, and more recent acts, like Eric Bellinger and Chris Brown. And he looks to modern rappers such as Dom Kennedy, Nipsey Hustle, and Schoolboy Q.

There’s plenty of inspiration close to home as well. In an area better known as the birthplace of grunge and renowned for its rock and alternative scenes, the Pacific Northwest — and Kitsap County in particular — are a hidden trove of rap and hip-hop talent, Sam says.

“We don’t get the same attention as far as music,” he says. “I understand it with me being a musician — it’s different seeing music with people on stage playing instruments and such, or having a band behind them versus a DJ. I can understand it, but that doesn’t take away from that one person’s creative ability.”

Sam says he’d like to see more opportunities for rap and hip-hop artists to perform and get their names out there locally.

“I feel like we need to have more of a stage for people who are bringing original hip-hop content to the table, because there’s a lot of that that’s being slept on out here, I think,” he says.

Like other musical artists, COVID-19 restrictions forced Sam to find creative ways to exercise his musical muscles.

“The initial hit obviously stopped everything until people started figuring out certain ways to go about being able to still do things,” he says.

One way to keep the music going was by live-streaming performances on Facebook, he says. Shortly after things shut down, he performed an in-studio performance at Bremerton’s BoomHouse Studios. Shortly after that, he performed a musical contest with Seattle rapper Ellis Prescott.

“So there were still opportunities to do music and promote music and engage with fans,” he says. “It didn’t stop as far as that goes. But obviously with live shows, that was at a standstill.”

Post-COVID, Sam said there may be opportunities for hybrid shows, where people can attend performances in-person, but others can stream it online. “There’s an exclusiveness — people come there, but they can still view online as well,” he says.

One thing that won’t change, pandemic or no, is Sam’s commitment to continuing to grow as a musician and refine his sound. As an engineer, he says, “my ear’s getting more trained to the sound and as I’m getting around other engineers … I’m able to get their insight on what I’m doing and what I should work on.”

He researches techniques to practice or perfect online and then puts it into practice, he says.

“I’m always trying to apply that to what I’m working on currently, or even stuff that might not be out,” he says. “I’ll go back and redo what I just learned with something that might be old just to see the difference. I’ve definitely taken a lot of time and effort in getting the sound that I have currently.”

Check out Jordy Sam’s music

Jordy Sam performs 9 p.m. tonight, May 20, at The Crazy Otter, 141 Chimacum Road, Port Hadlock. Doors open at 8 p.m. 21+. Tickets are $25. VIP meet and greet tickets with exclusive poster are $35. Get them here.

Follow Jordy Sam on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

For more info on Sam’s production work, find him on BeatStars.

Jack Parker grew up in a musical family, so it’s no surprise he went on to have a wide-ranging career as a musician.

Parker, who has performed in Rocky Point All-Stars and Tumbledown, and was a touring guitarist for MxPx, now performs under his own name, along with his band, The Remedy. But it all started with the influence of his mom, a pianist and vocalist, and his dad, a bluegrass aficionado who played guitar and mandolin.

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When he was around 8 years old Parker, who grew up in the Purdy area, began playing the baritone ukulele — he was too small to play guitar at that age — and after learning his first few chords, he became addicted, he says.

His dad started taking him to bluegrass festivals and jams.

“I just absolutely loved it,” he says. “Kids weren’t really around a lot of bluegrass music. It was just me and a bunch of adults. All my friends were grownups at that point. It was an interesting way to grow up into that scene.”

Jack Parker playing guitar
Jack Parker (Photo by Logan Westom/Bremerton Canvas; Courtesy of Jack Parker)

When he got into playing electric guitar a few years later, he started raiding his dad’s record collection and exploring musicians like Jimi Hendrix and Creedence Clearwater Revival. 

When he was 19, he moved to Arizona to play in a band with his uncle, a professional musician. “He was a pivotal person in my development as a musician,” Parker says. 

It was his first foray into playing in a rock band. “I just loved it,” he says. “Especially being only 19 years old and playing in bars and stuff like that, it was like an awakening for me at that point in my life.”

Something about Kitsap County just felt right to me. Once I got here I just felt instantly at home, like, these are my people.

Parker moved back to Washington in his early 20s and got a job at Ted Brown Music in Tacoma before he was transferred to the Silverdale store.

“At first I was like, ‘Where is Silverdale?’” he says. But they were offering him full-time work that he needed at the time. “I was back living with my parents so I was just like, ‘OK, I just need to take this and embrace it.’” 

Once he started working there, he instantly began making friends with musicians coming into the store. “Something about Kitsap County just felt right to me,” he says. “Once I got here … I just felt instantly at home, like, these are my people.”

After forming a short-lived band in Kitsap, Parker met Chebon Tiger — who he describes as a “fantastic blues guitar player” — and played with him in the Chebon Tiger band. 

Parker later went on to play in Rocky Point All-Stars, which he formed with KW Miller, and Marshall and Harley Trotland.

“That was a big turning point for me musically here in town,” he says. “I still look back on that band as probably one of the best musical experiences of my life.”

One night after a Rocky Point All-Stars show, MxPx frontman Mike Herrera approached the band.

“I didn’t really know MxPx’s music back then,” Parker recalled. “I knew who he was and I knew that they were a big deal, but I was more into blues and country and bluegrass and stuff like that, so I didn’t know the punk rock scene very well back then.”

A few months later, Herrera called Parker to ask him to record a solo on one of MxPx’s albums; the solo ultimately appeared on the song “Late Again” from Panic.

Years later, Herrera approached the band again to ask if they’d come into his studio and back some country-adjacent songs he’d penned. In exchange, he offered to record the band’s second album for free. “We jumped at the opportunity to do that,” Parker says.

That collaboration evolved into the band Tumbledown, which toured all over the country, including the South by Southwest music festival in Austin for three or four years in a row, Parker says. The band recorded two albums in 2009 and 2010. “We were a tight band because we played a lot, toured a lot, and it was a lot of fun.”

Parker began subbing in for some MxPx gigs around that time. He ended up being the band’s touring guitarist for around five years, traveling with the band to South America, Europe, southeast Asia and Japan. “I really got to see the world playing with that band … It was a lot of fun playing huge, sold-out shows all over the world. That’s just an amazing experience which I am just so grateful for.”

Parker released his first solo album, Homegrown, around 2015. “I did a couple of solo tours on that which I booked all myself,” he says. “I toured once a year for about three or four years, all the way up until COVID.”

Just before the COVID-19 pandemic, Parker had formed a band, Jack Parker and the Remedy, and started booking “all kinds of really cool gigs,” he says. “Obviously COVID shut that down quickly.”

The pandemic forced him to shift gears, since he couldn’t continue performing live. He bought recording equipment and taught himself how to use it. “I just really dove into that headfirst and started recording a new album which is just now finished two years later,” he says. He’s still finalizing the artwork and is hoping to release it sometime this summer.

Over the past year, Parker began teaching guitar again which, at 45 years old, has been a “total revelation” for him, he says.

“I taught guitar before, many years ago, but I didn’t enjoy it as much back then,” he says. “But now that I’m a little older and I’ve got more experience under my belt, I have just absolutely loved teaching guitar to especially kids, but adults, too,” he says, noting that he has a few students in their fifties who decided they wanted to learn guitar.

“I just think it’s so good for people to learn an instrument,” he says. “It helps us in so many different ways to make us feel better and so that’s where I’m at right now.  The look on a kid’s face when they discover they can play a G chord for the first time and their faces just light up, it’s absolutely a wonderful feeling to witness that.”

Upcoming performances by Jack Parker

Some of Parker’s upcoming performances include:

  • 8 p.m., April 30, at the Hidden Door, 14525 Aurora Ave. N., Shoreline, $10
  • 8 p.m., May 14 at the Tracyton Public House, 403 NW Tracy Ave., Bremerton, free
  • 7 p.m., May 28 at Slaughter County Brewing, 1307 Bay St., Port Orchard, free

For more info on Parker and a full list of upcoming shows, check out his website.

In 2015, Bainbridge Island Author Steph Jagger’s mother was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s. About 10 months later, Jagger took her mother on an extensive road trip, mostly through Montana and Wyoming, that included camping, hiking and horseback riding.

Read the full Q&A with Steph Jagger by becoming a subscriber to Kitsap Scene+ — try 14 days for free

Steph Jagger portrait
Steph Jagger

That trip and her mother’s journey with Alzheimer’s are the subject of Jagger’s new book, Everything Left to Remember, which is being released Aug. 26 from Flatiron Press. She’ll be celebrating the release of the book Aug. 28 at Bainbridge’s Eagle Harbor Book Co.

Jagger says she frequently journals to help her understand herself and the things that are happening in her life. That process was the basis of her new book.

“When my mom and I were flying from Bozeman to Vancouver, Canada, at the end of the trip, she was sitting in the seat next to me and I found myself furiously taking notes in the notes app on my iPhone about various different things that had happened in the trip,” Jagger recalls. “It happened really quickly when I was on that plane ride, and started to realize the volume of stuff that was coming out of me, quickly onto the app on my iPhone. And I thought, there’s something bigger here. I wouldn’t have this volume coming forth so quickly if there wasn’t something larger that wanted to be communicated or understood.”

Although it has been difficult watching the progression of her mother’s Alzheimer’s disease, Jagger says the experience has also left her in awe.

She invoked a quote from Seattle singer-songwriter Brandi Carlile: “There is nothing more real or more practical in this universe than mysticism … and it’s usually sitting right smack in the middle of grief.”

“I think that’s an interesting doorway in,” Jagger says. “If I am willing to not distance myself from grief — which, again, I think is part of our mental health process — if I am willing to walk into it and befriend it and be curious about it, and allow myself to have those feelings of, say, sadness, rage, sorrow, all of those things that come with grief, then I might also be able to witness other things, like awe and curiosity, connection, and other things on the other range of those emotions.”

Jagger says a person with Alzheimer’s is “living inside of a shifting time-space reality.”

“Sometimes she thinks she’s a teenager,” she says of her mother. “Sometimes she thinks I’m her sister, sometimes she knows I’m her daughter, sometimes she thinks I’m her sister, sometimes she knows I’m her daughter, sometimes she thinks she’s 102, sometimes she thinks she’s 17 years old. It’s a time-space reality that’s very fluid.”

That fluidity can result in interesting — even beautiful — moments, Jagger says.

“My mom had me when she was 37 years old, which means I didn’t know her when she was 0 to 37,” she says. “But because of the shifting time-space reality, sometimes she thinks she’s a 16-year-old, and I get to witness her doing things and acting in a certain way that’s like a glimpse into who she would have been at that age. And that is a phenomenal gift, when you think, ‘Oh, I wish I knew who my mother was at 16.’ Well, there you are. There’s a picture of who she was at 16 years old. So I think there’s some real gifts in there.”

Jagger will read from the book at the Aug. 28 event at Eagle Harbor Book Co. The event also includes a Q&A.

She’ll talk about her mother’s Alzheimer’s, but also tie the book’s themes to larger issues, she says. In the wake of COVID-19, we’ve all seen systems we thought would keep us safe — such as capitalism, corporate systems, or communities — be tested under the stress of the pandemic.

“I think we’re seeing a lot of those shift and change and some of them crumble and collapse,” she says. “And I think there’s a really large thread in the book that is the question of who will hold us, and where can we go to seek that safety and comfort when those things go?”

She’s also looking forward to meeting with people in her community after putting off in-person events for so long because of COVID, she says.

“We haven’t had an opportunity to do a lot of in-person events, so I’m hoping it’s going to feel a bit more intimate than some of the other cities and places that I’ll go, because these are people that I share a backyard with,” she says.

Steph Jagger at Eagle Harbor Book Co.

Bainbridge Island author Steph Jagger speaks at 6:30 p.m., April 28, at Eagle Harbor Book Co., 157 Winslow Way E., Bainbridge Island.

Learn more about Jagger at her website.

Purchase Unbound and Everything Left to Remember. (Affiliate links — Kitsap Scene may receive a commission if you make a purchase through these links, at no additional cost to you).

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Joel Gibson Jr. got his first guitar when was 17. It was in 2017 that he made the leap and started his musical career as a country rock artist.

“It took me a really long time to get the confidence to get out there and do it,” he said. “And it really was my wife and her friend that ultimately went, you know, the only way you’re going to find out is to go out and do it — kind of a put up or shut up kind of thing.”

Read the full Q&A with Gibson by becoming a premium subscriber to Kitsap Scene+

Gibson was well aware that people online and on social media can be “brutal,” he said. “I wasn’t sure if I was ready for that,” he said. “It was really taking a leap.” Thankfully, the response was mostly positive, he said.

As his music career started picking up steam, Gibson said he struggled to put together a full band.

Joel Gibson Jr.
Joel Gibson Jr. (Photo courtesy of Joel Gibson Jr.)

“I didn’t really know any other players that weren’t already in a band,” he said. “And then it was a matter of getting in and recording our music.”

Although streaming dominates the music landscape, people still love CDS, particularly if it’s to support a live performer, Gibson said. He put out his first album, an acoustic EP called “Here up North,” in 2017 because people kept encouraging him to record one.

Gibson started out mostly covering other artists’ songs, but as he continued playing, he began writing more of his own music. He continues to do a mix of covers and originals at his shows, but finds that his fans particularly appreciate the latter.

“We reach a pretty broad audience just by the covers, and then we kind of mix in our original music, which tends to get the best feedback,” he said. “People are like, ‘You did awesome on the covers, but we really like your original music. You need to play more of that.’”

Gibson describes his music as country rock, and although the Pacific Northwest is better known for grunge and rock than country, he says there’s an underappreciated appetite for country music here.

“From a tour standpoint, when country acts come here, they sell out just like any other act, if not faster in some cases,” he said. “Sometimes they play two nights. People love country music and I’ve always thought it’s because it’s universal. I think it speaks to the average person. … There’s plenty of country fans north of the Mason-Dixon.”

Even so, Gibson said he prides himself on winning over people who aren’t normally country music fans.

“The biggest compliment and/or feedback we get is, ‘I hate country music, but I like you. I love your show,’” he said. “And a lot of times that could be a spouse, like the girlfriend or the wife dragged the guy out, ‘She made me come to this, she said I’d like it and I didn’t think I would, but I love it.’”

Gibson has put in a lot of work to get where he is, but he doesn’t intend to slow down any time soon.

“I personally take a lot of pride in going out and putting in the work,” he said. “I like to say I won’t be outworked. Because there’s guys doing it full-time that don’t play as many shows as me. So when we’re at the point where we shift gears and I start doing this full time, we’re just going to go that much harder.”

Joel Gibson Jr.

Learn more about Joel Gibson Jr. on his website.

Upcoming shows

Catch Joel Gibson Jr. at one of his upcoming shows:

In 2013, Tamara Kaye Sellman sat down to study for her finals test for the sleep technology school she was attending, and found that although she could see the words on the page just fine, she couldn’t read them.

“It’s the weirdest thing to explain to people, but I suddenly had no comprehension,” she says. “I could look at the letters on the page, and I could not see them as words, I could just see them as shapes.”

She saw a doctor in Poulsbo who recommended that she get an MRI. Two days later, the radiologist contacted her to let her know that she may have Multiple Sclerosis, commonly referred to as MS. After extensive testing at Virginia Mason Medical Center in Seattle, the diagnosis was confirmed.

Sellman’s debut book, Intention Tremor: A Hybrid Collection, released by MoonPath Press in January of this year, is an exploration of life with Multiple Sclerosis told through a mix of prose and poetry. She recently donated all the proceeds from the book — $1,000m — to the Accelerated Cure Project, a nonprofit organization focused on accelerating MS research.

When Sellman first began writing the pieces that would become Intention Tremor, they consisted entirely of poetry. But that didn’t feel authentic, Sellman says.

Click here to read the full interview with Sellman at Kitsap Scene+ on Bulletin

“I’m actually originally a prose writer, and a journalist, so it felt wrong or disingenuous to only have poetry, because I write across genres,” she says. “So I gave myself permission to break the structure I had imposed — which was helpful to get me started, of course — and I decided to take some works that were poetry and turn them into prose pieces and then finish out the rest of the collection with some other prose … I decided to be more experimental, and to buck the idea that you have to do it all in one genre, and call it a hybrid collection.”

The book cover for Intention Tremor by Tamara Kaye Sellman
Intention Tremor book cover

Sellman wrote most of the pieces in the book shortly after her 2013 diagnosis during a writing retreat in Port Townsend where she spent much of her time around campfires. “You might find there’s a lot of stars and a lot of fire subjects in this book, because they’re inspired by my surroundings,” she says.

When she was first diagnosed, Sellman said her first instinct was to turn to “Dr. Google” to learn more about the disease. With a background as a science writer, it wasn’t difficult for her to track down research studies or get data from her doctors. But finding personal stories about living with MS proved more difficult.

I needed some ideas about how people dealt with this, and I went looking for books, either memoirs, or poetry, or short essays or whatever I could find, and I didn’t really find a lot,” she says.

I wanted to provide people some hope that you can still keep living your life. You’re going to have to make some changes, let’s be honest, but there’s a way around it and you can still be who you are in spite of it.

She said of writing the book, “Part of it is very therapeutic, because I turn to writing when I’m dealing with anything that’s above and beyond the normal day-to-day stress, so I started writing these things just for me to understand my path, or maybe to answer questions or to explore my feelings about the situation, to deal with some of the mysteries and the frustrations of working within the healthcare system.”

The book reads like a medical memoir because it’s based on her real experiences, she says. “The book really helped me to understand that whole journey and now I feel like I’m a veteran,” she says.

At the same time, she wanted to keep the book grounded, because she felt people with chronic illnesses shouldn’t feel pressured to be “superheroes” overcoming adversity. “I wanted to provide people some hope that you can still keep living your life,” she says. “You’re going to have to make some changes, let’s be honest, but there’s a way around it and you can still be who you are in spite of it.”

Portrait of Intention Tremor Author Tamara Kaye Sellman
Kingston Author Tamara Kaye Sellman (Photo courtesy of Tamara Kaye Sellman. Photo by Elizabeth Thorpe).

MS is an autoimmune disease in which the immune system attacks the central nervous system. As the National MS Society puts it, MS is, “an unpredictable disease of the central nervous system that disrupts the flow of information within the brain, and between the brain and body.” The damage caused by the disease can either completely inactivate nerves, or inhibit the signals they carry, Sellman explains.

“For instance, in the title of my book, Intention Tremor, the tremor is really the nerves that are associated with my hands, having a weird reaction in which they tremor, because I’m having this problem with the signals in my brain not being able to inform the muscles in my hands and my arms how to act,” She says. “So they falter and they shake.”

The level of disability a person with MS experiences depends a great deal on where the damage to the nerve fibers falls within their brain, Sellman says. “So for some people if they have more damage in their spinal column, they probably are going to have more problems with walking, because those nerves in the spinal column go to and from, and have a conversation with, the muscles in your legs and your feet and so forth,” she says. “But I don’t have any lesions in that area; I have them mostly in other parts of my brain.”

Although Sellman’s MS is being treated with medication, she still has symptoms, such as not being able to speak or finish sentences. “In my head I hear myself saying the sentences, but I don’t actually verbalize them,” she says. And her ears ring constantly, a symptom she’s become accustomed to but which was “terrible” at first. Fatigue is another symptom, and she sometimes has problems with balance and coordination.

Promoting the book during the COVID-19 pandemic has been a challenge, Sellman says. Although she hasn’t booked any in-person readings — bookstores largely aren’t hosting them on account of the pandemic — she’s done many virtual readings and podcast appearances. And the feedback she’s been getting about the book has been largely positive, she says.

“I think I’ve written the book that I wanted to read, based on what other people have said to me,” she says. “So yes, I’ve received really great responses from readers, and also the comments that people have made in the virtual readings, or on my website or sales pages. People have been leaving some really strong feedback that suggests that whatever I did, it’s working.”

Learn more:

Buy Intention Tremor: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Eagle Harbor | IndieBound

Author Tamara Kaye Sellman’s website

For James Hunnicutt, music is less about any particular sound than it is about making a positive difference in the world.

To be sure, the sound is an important part of his music. Hunnicutt, a singer-songwriter based out of Port Orchard who’s headlining a show this Sunday at the Charleston, played in a variety of rock and rockabilly bands throughout his career. The spirit of ‘60s and ‘70s folk music is a major influence on his solo music, along with a dash of rock and country courtesy of artists like Elvis Presley, Hank Williams and Johnny Cash.

But since he became sober about 19 years ago, music became the medicine that kept him on the straight-and-narrow, he says. 

Click here to read the full interview with James Hunnicutt on Kitsap Scene+ on Bulletin

“As the years went on, traveling and meeting wonderful people and having wonderful experiences all over the world with this [playing music], it really showed me how powerful and unifying — really transcendental — music can be as a language and medium to share with people,” he says. “Beyond the music style and artistic expression and influence, that’s the one core thing that is important to me, with this or anything else I do, is it has to have good energy in it.”

That was easier said than done over the past year as the country grappled with the COVID-19 pandemic. “I think it’s been a crazy time for everyone that’s being honest with themselves and that wasn’t financially living in a very wealthy bubble prior to COVID,” he says. “Music has definitely been what helped to keep me sober and having a positive mindset. It’s been one of the biggest ingredients, and having performing live taken away during this time has been really rough.”

Yet, Hunnicutt insists silver linings have emerged from the pandemic. For one, the trials people have faced over the past year have forced them to grow. “It keeps you on your toes and makes you reassess where you’re at and walk your talk,” he says. “Because it’s easier to be happy when things are going easy. When they’re not, then you’ve got to dig a little deeper. It makes you grow. So it’s been hard, but I’m grateful for that.”

Another bright side: All the down time during the lockdowns gave Hunnicutt time to work on projects that had long sat on the backburner. He says he’s probably had 20 to 30 different album projects brewing over the last 30 years that he finally got a chance to sit down and work on. At this weekend’s show, he’s hoping to debut a song called “Our Time” being put out by the charity record label Piece of Pie Records. The song is about teen depression and suicide awareness, and proceeds will benefit the Jed Foundation, which works on teen suicide prevention. 

It’s driven by compassion and empathy, and past the music stylings, that’s the most important ingredient to me 

Hunnicutt started playing music when he was 12, starting his first band, called Aggressor, when he was 13. Since then he’s played in some 40-45 bands, he says, including Neutral Boy, the Swinos, Misery Seed, and Woodrot. He had a rockabilly band for a while called James Hunnicutt and the Revolvers, and played guitar for Texas-based musician Wayne Hancock and with the “metal-meets-bluegrass” band Jayke Orvis and the Broken Band.

He’s been performing his solo act for the past 25 years or so, and it’s become his main gig for about the past 15 years, he says. He’s toured the continental U.S. countless times, and also toured in Europe, he says.

In some ways, Hunnicutt’s act connects the dots between folk and punk music, he says, noting that his music is driven by social and political issues. He aims to write music that is constructive not just for him, but for the world around him. “That’s really what drives the lyrics today, whether it’s about addiction or loneliness or death — some real heavy, dark stuff,” he says. “But it’s driven by compassion and empathy, and past the music stylings, that’s the most important ingredient to me.”

Hunnicutt wouldn’t necessarily classify himself as “folk-punk,” though. “I’ve heard very little quote-unquote ‘folk punk’ that I’ve been exposed to that I cared for,” he says. “The theme behind it, the idea, though — I think I have a lot in common with that. … I’ve been labeled that and had people tell me they think what I do is folk-punk.”

 There are certainly similarities — his music is acoustic and folky — but ultimately he thinks it’s his proclivity to write music that is constructive and makes people think that bridges the gap between the two genres. “To me, that’s what punk is supposed to be about,” he says.

James Hunnicutt headlines at 6 p.m., Aug. 8, at the Charleston, 333 N. Callow Ave., Bremerton, with Danny Attack and Seattle-based Phantom Pines.

Hunnicutt is also performing at 2:30 p.m., Aug. 8, at Port Gamble’s Summer Faire.

Check out Hunnicutt’s music and merch on his website.

Photo credit: Courtesy of James Hunnicutt

“Danny Attack” started as just a nickname.

Danny attempted to brand his high school friend “Matt Attack,” thinking it sounded cool. It didn’t stick, and Danny decided to adopt the “Attack” moniker for himself. When he started playing solo shows as a singer-songwriter, he toyed around with different names for the act — Whispers in Reverse, Bad Wolf, Fear Frequency — before deciding to make his nickname the official name of the act.

When Danny Attack takes the stage at the Charleston this Sunday, it won’t be Danny Attack’s first time there, having performed at the theater in the past with one of his other bands. It will, however, be his first time performing in Bremerton under his solo act.

Click here to read the full interview with Danny Attack on Kitsap Scene+ on Bulletin

Based in Florida, which has loosened many of its COVID-19 restrictions earlier than other states, Danny’s been able to play shows around his home state for a while now, he says. But he recently kicked off a nationwide tour, his first since the pandemic forced widespread closures of music venues.

“I feel like I’m having to play catch-up again, because COVID started in March 2020,” he says. “I felt like I was ramping up a little bit — I was actually in Europe, in the UK, when all the COVID stuff was happening. So I had to cut a tour short while I was out there to get back here, because they were closing borders and stuff.”

He took the year to work on content, record an album, and shoot some new music videos. “Now it’s all catch-up,” he says. “I have to build up this momentum again and I’m hoping this tour helps that.” He has a UK tour scheduled in October as well.

Although he’s an independent artist, one could be forgiven for thinking he was signed to a label, given the polished graphics that adorn his album art and merch, and his professionally produced music videos. Danny credits his media team at Rozu Creative with adding that extra polish.

“I don’t put ‘Danny Attack’ on any of my merch,” he noted. “It’s only just ‘Attack.’” The idea is to make his merch accessible even to people who aren’t yet fans of his music. “I want to give people the option to buy it even if they don’t know who I am. People will buy art or anything visually appealing to them if they think it’s cool, if they like it. I don’t see that happening if it says ‘Danny’ on there.”

Being independent gives Danny more creative freedom. He’s not averse to the idea of signing with a label someday, but he’s done so much work with his past bands — booking shows and tours, for example — that he can handle a lot of what a label would do himself.

If I don’t make my music and play it out, and send it to people or tour as much as I can, no one’s going to hear it

“A lot of times when you are signed and have management and things like that, there’s a lot of stuff you have to go through before you can get stuff done,” he says. “A lot of the big labels, they want their hand in it of course, because they want to make sure it’s commercial enough, they want to make sure it sells. That’s the business. That’s what they’re supposed to do.”

That drive to commercialize the music often conflicts with the values of alternative bands, Danny says, and although it’s not a particular concern for him personally, he sees value in the do-it-yourself attitude: “I’m doing it for myself because if I don’t do it myself, it’s not going to get done,” he says. “And I’m not one to wait on, ‘Well, I’m just going to sit here and write my music and hopefully someone’s going to sign me and then I can do it all.’ I’m more of a, ‘if I don’t make my music and play it out, and send it to people or tour as much as I can, no one’s going to hear it.'”

It’s difficult to pin down a single genre or theme to describe Danny Attack. Songs range from dark folk tales about murder and mayhem, to lighter pop-punk-inspired fare, to twangy Americana.

“I write to what I like or what I want to sing to, so it’s all over the map,” he says. “I can’t really put it in a particular genre. … I think one I heard was alt-folk, alternative-folk. As a wide range, that might be something I fit in, but I couldn’t say that I belong to any particular one, just because each song is different across the board.”

Having played for various bands of different genres has given him a diverse fan base as well.

“I have metal fans that like my stuff, I have country people that are my fans, and things like that, so it’s a pretty wide range of fans and I think that’s because I write across genres,” he says. “One of my metal fans may not like too much some of the slower stuff I do, but they might enjoy more of the murder-folk, more of the heavier folk stuff that I do. But it keeps them around because they know I’m going to keep writing stuff like that at some point.”

Danny says he’s looking forward to Sunday’s show and that it should be fun. “I hope everyone comes out,” he says.

Danny Attack opens for Port Orchard-based James Hunnicutt (check out our interview with him here), along with Seattle-based Phantom Pines, 6 p.m., Aug. 8, at the Charleston, 333 N. Callow Ave., Bremerton.

Check out Danny Attack’s music and merch on his website.

Photo credit: Courtesy of Danny Attack