Last Show: High Dive on Saturday

This Saturday, December the 4th, come out to the High Dive in Fremont to see Anna Coogan live in concert. It's been a while since she's played a Seattle club! This is her last show for a while because after this she's off on her 2nd European tour of the year. (By the way, she's #1 on the charts over there.)

There will also be two other bands playing. There will be drinks. And it's Fremont- center of the damn Universe! Dress up, dress down, wear a Holiday sweater or deck yourself in glitter. Either way, I'll see you there. 9pm. But drinks could begin long before that. We're all working hard this season- we all deserve it.

High Dive:
513 N 36th st
Seattle Washington 98103
US 206.632.0212

Didn't stop me from writing a love song

I'd like to officially thank my sister Anna and brother in law Brooks for seriously compromising- if not destroying outright- my ability to write. You see, it's much easier to write when you're not so happy. Take, for example, the book that taught me the most about the technique and passion that one can throw into language. Wasted was written by a woman named Marya Hornbacher; she was an anorexic and bulimic manic depressive Mid Westerner and her life was total shit. But my goodness could she string words together.

The time when I was  22 year old and I lost my mind over a break up, yeesh, I wrote like a banshee on the down side of an Ecstasy binge! That's when I started Then The Radio Died, which is still some of my favorite stuff. I was schlepping around in my bedroom, searching for a rock to crawl under, thinking: woe to me, but at least I got my radio. I've always loved the radio. And as I had that thought, literally as the words passed through my brain, the radio died. Snapped off with a little, self-satisfied pop!

Oh, life, come on-really? You're going to take my radio?

Funny thing is- I'm sitting in my living room right now and I see about 8 different radios. I've collected them ever since I suppose. Dad keeps giving me radios for Christmas and I will take them, eyes gleaming, fingers groping at their dials and antennae, and I'll exhale thankkkk youuuuu and closet them away just in case. 

So back to the point. Towards the end of the summer I was living alone in Vermont and settling into weird solidarity with the local flora and fauna.  Poetry was starting to make a great deal of sense to me. The hazy sweet summer was a mockery of life's cold realities, and the turning tang of autumn on the wind was just further proof that everything eventually dies. That's when Anna and Brooks graciously insisted that I move back to Seattle, where if I wanted to be mopey at least I'd have an entire population sect to keep me company, and I could wear tight pants and drink tiny mournful cups of espresso. With a full understanding of my limited freelance/no-lance income, they welcomed me into their home. Where I live today.

They share their dog. They share their food. They share their bath tub. And with these three things accounted for, I've got nothing left to complain about. But when you're all strung out on gratefulness and social fulfillment, it's hard to write a post that doesn't slide down your throat like cool-whip.

If I really work at it, I can conjure a bit of my old flavor of lightning strike induced muteness and buried infant macabre (hey- give me a break, I payed 5 years of college tuition to learn how to talk about my writing, if not actually write) but just as I'm stirring it into some context, Brooks will wander in and say would you like some of my enchilada pie I whipped up from the the family cook book? Or the sister bursts in the door (not historically a family of knockers, she's always bursting through doors) and says Who wants to do a TARGET CHRISTMAS LIGHTS RUN?

(Allow me to interject that while this is well and good, it is the cultural and moral obligation of older siblings to systematically wear away at the youthful, hopeful exterior of the lessers, slash younger, sibling, and my sister has done a fair amount of this. You should have heard the railing she gave me yesterday as I tried to read aloud from my new book of teach yourself chakra healing. Her reception of this proffered enlightenment consisted primarily of running the blender through the important parts and then lecturing me about hard scientific discoveries and their betterment of the human race. Not of a spiritual mind, that sister. And this is undeniably a good thing. Without her there is a good chance I'd float away in my own self-inflated thoughts and my balloon would burst over that Atlantic.)
Anyway, if in the past two months my sister and her husband has kept me far away from the darker recesses of my creativity,  then I would call this weekend the zenith of their sabotage. They filled the house way past capacity with music, beer, and nearly every person I love in the entire city.  So I'm sorry if this post reads like a cherry flavored gusher.( And here's hoping that my friend Jace doesn't read this, because we once made this pact that if our writing ever sucked to the point that it could be published in Chicken Soup for the Soul, we'd tie one another to the railroad tracks. But Jace moved to Phoenix and became a fregan and has probably lost the will to live by now.)

Saturday night, we had a house concert.

And while I didn't perform per se, I do think I was the true star of the evening because I was in charge of the snacks. Somewhat in charge of the snacks. And man, where they ever a hit!

Anna had a concert at the EMP on Saturday morning, so Brooks and I cleaned the entire house and cooked. Here's a little subtle marketing of my own project that I left in the bathroom:

And here's Brooks, trying to dismantle the table to make room for more chairs. Not a staged photo, promise. He didn't even know I was in the room.

Ian Parks played first, a Seattle musician who relocated to LA. He brought with him a pose of good matured folks who, by 10:00 in the evening, had completely given up the idea of the cup and were all clinging to nearly empty wine bottles by their neck and hand-rolling cigarettes in my bedroom. Ian is a stunning musician that plays with a ton of heart. My favorite song that he played was preference, as many good folk songs are, by the story that inspired it. This particular story was about a girl who Ian fell in love with to no avail- she played for the other team. "Well," Ian concluded heartily, "that didn't stop me from writing a love song about her!" The cheer that rose from the audience after this made me very happy. It made me think about everybody in the room, everybody in my life, who is currently flailing and struggling with the Love- not as an idea but as an actuality. How many of us try and try and try, even when love is not requited, and wonder what the hell it is we're doing. But the truth is, no matter what we're doing, if the intent is out of love, than it can't be wrong. Because the love songs we're writing will only truly be reciprocated once. And there's joy in the writing.

Sorry bout it. But that's what I think.  

Then Anna Coogan and Brooks Miner took the narrow slab of living room we called the stage. And good Lord. They killed it. Their rendition of The Wreck of the Edmond Fitzgerald, with Ian up with them playing Mandolin brought the house down, (in a sorrowful maritime tragic kind of way.) If you closed your eyes you'd be transported from an overcrowded home in Lake city and into the The Cathedral of the Maritme Sailors in Detroit, with the bell ringing 29 time for each sailor who lost his life on the Edmond Fitzgerald. Damn, what a song. The King of sea shanties. (And The Mary Ellen Carter is the queen.)

Anna has this precisely tuned voice and she can do absolute wonders with it.  Brooks has these musical seizures at the piano. Together, it's unbelievable. And I'm unbelievably proud of them.

I want to thank everyone who came out last night, made the trip all the way North to join us.You guys made this a perfect evening. Raise a glass to the gathering of neighbors and friends for a night of music and food. May there be many, many more this winter. Cause when it rains for 5 months straight, you gotta do something to fight back

I love travelling and I miss Chile and the school every day. But having so many people you love in the same city? I'm not sure if there's anything better.


Get excited for this week, because it is The Week of Extreme Movement, designed to balance out the Weekend of Absurd Comforts which just passed. Unfortunately, for now I cannot write anything further about the weekend, because I'm just a mess of love right now and it would read as too intolerably buoyant. I'll give it a try tomorrow when I have a chance of tempering it with a good, strong shot of reality.  We shall see.

Here's a preview from the house concert, my favorite couch on the planet:

House Concert

Dear Seattle readers- this Saturday Anna Coogan is giving a house concert at my (our) house in Lake City. There will be drinks, food and the rare opportunity to see Anna play in a small venue. I've know I've said before how incredible she is, but every time I hear her sing my heart stops beating for just a minute. She's insanely talented and the emotion in her songs might tilt you off kilter for a week or so. I've usually found this to be a good thing.

Come celebrate the end of autumn, the beginning of winter, and everything that we love about this season and this city. It will be nice and warm and there will be wine and good beer and good company. The evening commences at 7, and Anna will play second after Seattle musician Ian Parks. The music will go into the evening, stop by whenever you'd like.

You are so very welcome to come! Write me an email or leave a comment and I'll let you know how to get to my house. And you know what? Anna's been practicing a lot of the sea shanties of our childhood lately, which are my favorite things ever. Not just favorite songs. Favorite things ever.

The Nocturnal Among Us

Read my post about my sister here here. Now, here are the secrets:

This is Anna's latest CD. Produced by JD Foster, this is her most vivid, stark, honest recording yet. You can buy this CD by clicking here.

She took the title The Nocturnal Among Us from a poem written by my cousin Caitlin. who died when I was 15. Caitlin was a writer. The art on the cover is from my cousin Ali. Her Art is incredible, but it will haunt you.

This CD is dedicated to Nate Labreque and the kids from Team Adventure. Team Adventure, part of The Academy at Adventure Quest, was a kayak team my sister was part of for years when she was a teenager. Unfortunately, the team spun on the axis of a horrific and shattering secret. The song "So Long Summertime" (on the CD) is written about just that.

Her CD Release show is scheduled for friday March 5th at the Fremont Abbey. Find out more and listen to her music on her website. Anna is going on a National tour directly after the CD Release Show, so make sure and catch her. Pre-sale tickets for the show are available for purchase here, or take a chance at the door. Be part of it.

She got the talent. And the cheekbones.

My sister is a professional musician with the kind of voice that will stop traffic. I think I know how she ended up with all the talent in the family...I'm pretty sure that before we were born, we made some sort of deal wherein she got the talent, and I got the naturally blond hair. Do I regret this deal, now that I'm a real person? Sometimes, but then I go look in the mirror and think YOWZA! Good deal! Anyhow, I could go on (and on) about her music, but instead I'll let you listen to it yourself. Go ahead. Enjoy it.

She lives in Seattle and has for over eleven years. She is extremely well known out there and has played in those big venues with the electric stars that glitter overhead. Whenever I attended her shows, I would waltz passed the long line and say, "I"m on the guest list" and they'd wave me through. This more than made up for the fact that whenever I introduced myself in that town, or produced a credit card with my name on it, this is what I got: 'wait- are you....are you related to Anna Coogan??"

Anna spent a few years training to be an Opera singer at the Mozarteum in Austria, before deciding the hell with this and giving up Opera forever. Now she sings...I don't know how to describe it, but it's hip and beautiful and it's all her own. However, those La Traviata-trained pipes of hers can still really fill up a theater. Meaning to say, she's got a powerful voice. She has the vocal chord equivelent of a Dodge Ram Truck. Whenever we're talking I find myself saying "Anna- ANNA I'M RIGHT HERE I'M NEXT TO YOU STOP SHOUTING." And she'll say "OH SORRY," and keep right on going.

On the day she was married, I was walking down 6th avenue in downtown Seattle during rush hour. It was after the ceremony and I was heading towards a nice restaraunt to have dinner with the family. And suddenly from out of nowhere I heard: "LIIIINA!" Only it was more like "LIIIIIINA!" (Which is the biggest text I have ever used on this blog, in case you are wondering.)

I stopped and looked all around. And there she was- Anna in her wedding dress shouting my name from TWO FULL CITY BLOCKS AWAY. During RUSH HOUR. I could barely even see her.

What amazes me about Anna and what she's doing is how much courage it takes. We are both trying to make it in alternative routes- me writing, Anna music. After so many hours/weeks/years of putting out our best possible effort- exhausting, draining, often disheartening- our success is wholly based on whether or not we have managed to attract the attention and demand of total strangers. After a point, whether we sucseed or fail is completely out of our hands- which can be excruciating, considering what we do is so personal.

I get to hide, in all senses of the word. I hide behind a screen when I write, and most of my interactions with readers is through blessedly impresonal email. I chart my readers and revenue through Google Analytics, which boils everything down to numbers and graphs. Let's say that on a certain day, nobody looks at my blog. Nobody so much as opens the page and has a glance. I get a little zero on the chart for the day. Thankfully, this doesn't happen anymore, but it used to. A lot. But the beauty of it is that nobody has to know. I can go drink a big pina collada in a coconut and stew over my total failure and unpopularity. But I am certainly not going to tell anyone about it! My little secret! And let me tell you, the past few years have been studded with big coconut drinks.

Anna doesn't have it so easy, so hidden. She faces her success or her lack of it with every single show, meaning there are lots of people in the audience, or there are not lots of people in the audience. When she was just starting out, she would open mics with just a handful of people scattered around the tables watching the overhead TVs. Once- I swear to God- I travelled with her to Bellingham, WA where she co-played a show with a woman who spent her portion of the time talking about her Cat ("we call him The Captain"!) and when, during that moment, I ran out of the place laughing hysterically, I don't think there was anyone left in there.

Thankfully, it didn't take long until her talent spring-launched her into success and she was playing sold out shows in huge venues like the Triple Door downtown. Not to mention a festival in Europe with David Gray and Lucinda Williams. But still - every single time she is putting her entire self out there. I could write my most deepest and darkest if secrets, things I should never tell anybody and share them here and still, that would not come close to 'putting myself out there' the way my sister does, and will do for the rest of her life.

I know one thing: I could never, ever, ever do it. But I'm so thankful she is able (willing, eager) to do it, and once you hear her sing, you will be, too.

In Which I Am My Sister's Groupie

Anna has been on tour on the East Coast and I've been all over following her. Boston, another New York whirlwind, and here I am in Burlington with Calef watching her final show at the radio bean. The highlight was New York, following up the show with dinner at a train wreck restauraunt with cockroaches falling off the ceiling and gum in the bread basket, much to the delight of our huge and rowdy table. Anna is following her dream, woohoo, and I am following after her....Following someone fallowing their dream is quite exhausting. Good music though, I'm not sure it's quite fair that she received all the talent in the family but whatev, at least I'm naturally blond.