Live Concert Photography: The Posies with Terra Lightfoot and Valley Lodge at The Bowery Ballroom 6/17/18
Currently comprised of primary and founding members Jon Auer (guitar, vocals) and Ken Stringfellow (guitar, keys, vocals) with Dave Fox (bass) and Mike Musburger (drums), the renowned Pacific Northwest alt rock act The Posies can trace their origins back to when Auer and Stingfellow met at a Dan Reed Network show, where they bonded over a united feeling that they could do what they were seeing on stage better — and with each other. They began writing songs together in late 1986 while Stringfellow was attending the University of Washington, and their first live show featured the duo as a primarily acoustic act, performing while Stringfellow was off from school and in his hometown of Bellingham, WA. During the end of 1987 and beginning of 1988, Stringfellow drove home on weekends to record a batch of songs with Auer in Auer’s family home studio and although the material was initially intended as demos to attract other members and form a full band, the recordings turned out so well that they became the band’s full-length debut Failure, an effort that began to receive attention across both Seattle and Bellingham as home-copied cassettes were rapidly passed around.
Mike Musburger and Arthur “Rick” Roberts joined the band soon after, allowing the band to play its first live shows in the Seattle and Bellingham area. The initial lineup of the band moved into a house in Seattle’s University District, where they wrote and developed many of the songs that would appear on later albums. At the end of 1988, PopLLama Records released Failure on vinyl — but with one song dropped.
With a growing local and regional profile, several major labels noticed the band, and in late 1989 The Posies signed to Geffen Records imprint DGC Records, who released their John Leckie-produced album Dear 23 in 1990. Interestingly, album single “Golden Blunders” reached #17 on the US Modern Rock charts and Ringo Starr would later cover the song on his 1992 album Time Takes Time.
After returning from an extensive US tour, the members of the band headed to Robert Lang Studio in Shoreline, WA to record a batch of songs they had been working on over the previous two years — three of the songs were written (and two of them sung) by the band’s Arthur Roberts. Auer and Stringfellow later decided that Roberts’ songs didn’t fit with the band and asked him to leave. The entire session was scrapped and has been referred to by fans as “The Lost Sessions.” Interestingly, Roberts went on to front the bands Peach and Sushirobo.
The remaining members spent the next few months writing new material and in early 1992 began recording their third album with Don Fleming. After completing the album, which was tentatively titled Eclipse, Geffen requested that they go back into the studio to record a few hits. Dave Fox joined the band to play bass for the last part of those sessions and the album was released as Frosting on the Beater in April 1993, which was arguably the band’s most commercially successful album, thanks in part to the success of “Dream All Day,” which was featured on US alternative radio and MTV, eventually landing at #4 on the Modern Rock Tracks chart. After an extensive world tour with stops across the US, Europe and Japan, the band went through a series of lineup changes as Musburger and Fox left the band and were replaced by Brian Young (drums) and Joe Howard, a.k.a. Joe Skyward and Joe Bass (bass). And with that lineup, the band recorded their fourth album Amazing Disgrace with the working title What Color Is A Red Light but much like its predecessor, Geffen requested that the band go back to the studio to write a hit. The members of the band eventually wrote “Ontario” and the album was released in 1996. Interestingly, the album wasn’t as commercially successful in the States but it fared better across Europe, and it led to the album selling better worldwide than their previous efforts.
After spending most of 1996 and early 1997 on tour, the members of the band returned back home and began focusing on projects outside of The Posies — Auer eventually released his self-recorded solo album This Sounds Like Goodbye, Stringfellow joined Lucky Me as their lead guitarist, Young joined Fountains of Wayne, and Howard began working on an album as Skyward. Late 1997 saw the band playing a small number of one-off live shows before returning to the studio initially to re-record a dozen unused, unreleased songs as a way of closing the book on the band. Success was released in 1998 and the band followed that up with a European tour that became the basis of their live album Alive Before the Iceberg. When they returned to the States, they played what was to become their final shows.
In 1999. the members of The Posies played a series of one-off reunion shows — with the first being a benefit show in honor of their longtime roadie and friend Joe Norcio. The following year the band’s founding duo reunited for an acoustic show, which was recorded and released as In Case You Didn’t Feel Like Plugging In — and interestingly enough, the show was so successful that they decided to go on a lengthy US, European and Japanese tour.
Early 2001 saw a reunited band featuring Darius Minwalla (drums) and Oranger’s Matt Harris (bass) playing sporadically over the next couple of years; however, they didn’t record and release new material with that lineup until 2005’s Every Kind of Light, which had two singles “Love Comes” and “I Guess You’re Right” as sample music tracks in the release of Microsoft’s Windows Vista OS.
The Posies’ seventh album Blood Candy was recorded and mixed in Spain and in Seattle, with stops in Ecuador, Canada, Paris and Los Angeles and was released in September 2010, which they followed up with a European tour. The band’s eighth album, Solid States was released in April 2016 and was also followed up by a European tour.
Interestingly, Auer and Stringfellow have been touring to celebrate the band’s 30th anniversary together — but featuring the lineup from their most commercially successful album, and it included a headlining date at Bowery Ballroom back in June. JOVM mainstay Terra Lightfoot and local indie rock act Valley Lodge opened. Check out photos from the show below.
Last year, I wrote quite a bit about the Hamilton, ON-based singer/songwriter, guitarist and JOVM mainstay Terra Lightfoot, and as you may recall, the former member of Canadian country act Dinner Belles has claimed the likes of Maybelle Carter, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Lead Belly, Lightnin’ Hopkins, Sam Cooke, Otis Redding, Nina Simone and Billie Holiday as major influences on her solo career. Speaking of Lightfoot as a solo artist, since going solo the Canadian singer/songwriter and guitarist has developed a reputation for crafting slow-burning, singer/songwriter guitar pop. And adding to growing profile. Lightfoot has opened for the likes of Emmylou Harris, Ron Sexsmith, Gordon Lightfoot, Blue Rodeo, Rheostatics, Grace Potter, The Both, Built to Spill, Sloan, Arkells, Basia Bulat, Albert Lee, James Burton, The Sadies, Steve Strongman, Monster Truck and Daniel Lanois.
Sonic Unyon Records released Lightfoot’s third, full-length album New Mistakes last year, and from album singles like the anthemic T. Bone Burnett, meets The Black Keys-like “Paradise” and the atmospheric biography “Norma Gale,” inspired by the country singer/songwriter and bassist, who once played with Johnny Cash, Loretta Lynn and Conway Twitty during the 1970s, the album found Lightfoot pushing her sound in a decidedly new direction — towards power chord-based blues rock but while revealing an artist, who has finally found her own unique artistic voice.
Comprised of founding members John Kimbrough (vocals, guitar), who’s best known for a stint Minnesota-based power pop act Walt Mink; and comedian/musician Dave Hill (vocals, guitar), best known for stints in Cobra Verde and Sons of Elvis with Phil Costello (vocals, guitar), best known for a stint in Satanicde; Rob Pfeiffer (drums), best known for a stint in Sense Field; and Eddie Eyeball (bass, vocals), the New York-based indie rock quintet Valley Lodge opened the night. And interestingly the band can trace their origins to when Kimbrough and Hill met to compare the individual home demos they were working on. Costello and Pfeiffer were recruited to flesh out the band’s sound — and the band largely inspired by Cheap Trick, Raspberries, Thin Lizzy and Big Star, released their self-titled, full-length debut back in 2005. Interestingly, the album wound up becoming rather popular in Japan, even receiving a re-release with bonus tracks in 2008, with the band touring the country in 2009. The 2009 release of their sophomore album Semester at Sea found 2 Skinnee J’s‘ Eddie Eyeball joining the band to play bass, and as a result Costello switched to guitar. Since the release of the band’s sophomore album, the band has had a their songs appear in a number of TV shows and commercials — “All of My Loving” was featured in episodes of the sitcom Cougar Town, is the theme song for Dave Hill’s podcast Dave Hill’s Podcasting Incident and more recently in a Sonic commercial for their hot dogs, “Coming Around” was featured on Raising Hope, “The Door” was used in a GMC Sierra truck campaign. 2013’s Use Your Weapons features the single “Go,” which is more popularly known as the theme song for the HBO series Last Week Tonight with John Oliver.