Carrie Akre returns to West Seattle, explores world beyond music

(Photo courtesy Carrie Akre)
By Keri DeTore
Reporting for West Seattle Blog

Many of Seattle’s talented icons call West Seattle home, from photographer Art Wolfe to Pearl Jam‘s Eddie Vedder. Now another icon has returned to our fold: singer/songwriter Carrie Akre.

If you don’t quite recognize her name, you probably know of the Seattle-based bands she led: Hammerbox, Goodness, or the Rockfords, and you would definitely recognize her voice; soulful and bluesy, but clear as a sunny winter’s day on Puget Sound.

After a break from the music scene and from the West Coast, Carrie returned to West Seattle this year. We sat down with her at the Admiral Bird to discuss the past few years, and what the future holds, professionally, musically, and personally.

Besides writing, playing and singing in bands Akre wrote and produced solo albums including “Invitation” in 2002 and “…Last the Evening” in 2007, efforts that she says left her “burnt crispy” from exhaustion.

“I’m not good about reaching out for help so I became isolated. I didn’t have the right manager and wasn’t clear about knowing what I needed. It takes a lot of emotional stamina to ride the ups and down in this business and I wasn’t taking the time to fuel myself artistically. I finally just sat down and realized I wanted relief and safety.” She also wanted to raise a family, and experience a more-structured lifestyle.

She adds, “I was burnt out on Seattle. I’d lived here for 26 years and felt like I needed something new to escape the history which was a burden rather than a gift at the time. Plus, Seattle was getting more crowded and expensive. We were upside-down on our house, broke, and stressed, so we decided to leave.”

Akre and her husband sold their house in Highland Park and moved with their son to Minneapolis. Their new city “cradled us and we made great friends. It made us closer as a family.”

It was the 10-year anniversary of the music club Neumos that brought Carrie back to Seattle.

A reunion gig with her “Goodness” bandmates in January of this year made Carrie feel that “it was nice to be back in my community—with fans, and other artists. It was time to come home.”

Among other things, “coming home” meant returning to West Seattle: “It’s the only place I was willing to move to in Seattle! I’ve lived everywhere (in the city) and my gut feeling was to live here. It’s a magical little island that contains everything I want or need — killer small businesses and community and parks. I can get away without getting away.”

Having an existing fan base encouraged Akre to pursue performing again; she played the 2014 West Seattle Summer Fest and has multiple upcoming shows. Her event schedule can be found on her website: carrie-akre.com, and includes shows at West Seattle venues.

These shows will help support her latest musical effort, a Kickstarter project, “Single Each Month Club” aimed at funding her while she writes new music.

Asked why she’s developing new music through Kickstarter rather than an established music label, she answered: “With Kickstarter, the project can be small. With labels you may make one penny off each record sale because you have to pay everyone else first. Think about the number of records you have to sell to make money! Also, I don’t want the kind of fame that will affect my family’s life or take anything away from my life.”

Another reason to keep the music projects smaller is so she can develop her vocation as a Life Coach, which she started to explore prior to moving to Minneapolis and developed while working in the corporate world. “I feel like there’s an epidemic of people who feel lost and afraid. If I can be a person to bring transformation and healing to people through classes or music, that’s the job I want!”

Akre is offering a series of “Creative Classes” around West Seattle which she hopes will evolve into a series of workshops with other coaches. Also on tap: developing a podcast featuring a series of interviews with women who are musicians who also have kids.

Asked about memories that stand out from her musical career, Akre answers: “People say to me, ‘Your record saved my life,’ or ‘Your music helped me get through my divorce.’ A mom wrote me a letter that said, ‘You saved my son from killing himself.’ I kept that letter.”

For “Creative Class”-related questions, email Akre at: Carrie.akre@outlook.com

19 Replies to "Carrie Akre returns to West Seattle, explores world beyond music"

  • valvashon November 19, 2014 (8:10 pm)

    I listened to most of that first Goodness release (the one on Y Records) yesterday morning at work. Strong lyrics, beautiful singing and playing and a great overall sound. Again, I remarked to myself, why didn’t this record go #1 across the country? I could blame the major label that picked this up as they have a way of “wrecking” most of the bands they come in contact with, but that’s probably not the complete story. The first Goodness record might be too good- a brilliant collection of songs that was under appreciated by the masses, as their musical ear had been dulled by the usual dumbed down dreck that the major labels released. If you like this record, consider yourself to have excellent taste in music, far above what the masses possess.

  • Wseamom November 19, 2014 (8:10 pm)

    Well that makes the morning music commute selection much easier. I’ll be listening to the album “Home” by Carrie Akre. Welcome home Carrie!

  • Jay November 19, 2014 (8:20 pm)

    I can exactly remember the first time I heard Hammerbox back in…1990? Listening to them now brings back crazy fun memories of their great live shows.

  • Big Fan November 19, 2014 (8:41 pm)

    Welcome home, Carrie! Glad your journey landed you back on this wonderful island. Best wishes in your new adventures, and can’t wait for more of your amazing music.

  • Kayleigh November 20, 2014 (6:22 am)

    I’d forgotten how great she sounds. Nice story.

  • Dunno November 20, 2014 (11:00 am)

    Nice story. Not in the same league as Eddie Vedder. Not even close. As for the music biz, there are plenty of platforms to propell a artist.
    To say that this music was held back is just not true. Labels do not have the power they used to have. Look at how many American Idol contestants have broken through. Christina Perri arrived through So you think you can dance, there’s the Voice, and the list goes on and on. You Tube, and the rest of social media have changed the game. If you’re all that, you will be! I’m glad you have so many fans Carrie, I’ll be sure to check out one of your shows around here if you do one.

  • BJ November 20, 2014 (11:56 am)

    Definitely a welcome homecoming, and am looking forward to hearing your new output!

  • A November 20, 2014 (5:33 pm)

    How is this news relevant to WS as a whole? Sounds like a story arranged for a friend, or an owed favor. Love WSB, lots of good info, but please stick to more relevant stories that affect various communities, not pieces on some rock star that likely very few have ever heard of. Bet this comment doesn’t make the cut . . .

    • WSB November 20, 2014 (6:19 pm)

      A, though your comment is insulting, I’m publishing it so I can answer it. We don’t do “favors” for ANYONE. We actually do far fewer feature stories than we should be doing, about people and places around West Seattle, and maybe that’s why this stands out as unusual. Keri DeTore has freelanced for us off and on for a long time and pitched this and I thought it had potential enough to greenlight it. So I’m sorry that you don’t think it was worth publishing – as editor, the buck stops with me, and I thought it was. – TR

  • Jay November 20, 2014 (8:04 pm)

    I just recently watched a documentary of the NW music scene called Hype. It begins in the late 80s’ and goes on through the grunge years. Carrie Akre and her band Hammerbox where a big influence to our local music scene. I’m so glad that you have acknowledge here return to the NW – with opportunities to hear her voice again! Rock on!

  • PDXWSEA November 20, 2014 (9:34 pm)

    @A: Now that Carrie’s back in town, feel free to move yourself back to wherever it was you were before you came here. You can consider it a trade; we’ll consider it an upgrade. If you can’t say something nice…

  • A November 20, 2014 (10:08 pm)

    Well PDX, that’s not exactly a nice thing for you to say, is it?

  • Diane Venti November 20, 2014 (10:15 pm)

    Great story- I remember first hearing Carrie on the radio (KMTT)back in 2001 and thinking ‘that is the most beautiful voice I have ever heard!’ – Have enjoyed hearing her play live shows in and around West Seattle recently and am happy to welcome her home and support her kickstarter. Can’t wait to hear new music from a talented W.S. ‘neighbor’!

  • miws November 20, 2014 (10:23 pm)

    Well, although this wasn’t up to “A”‘s high standards, I enjoyed reading this.

    .

    It’s nice to see that Carrie Akre is back in Town, and also to read another well written article from my friend Keri DeTore.

    .

    Thanks, Carrie, Keri, and WSB!

    .

    Mike

  • tshizzle November 21, 2014 (1:18 am)

    Saw Goodness many times back in the day, sadly came too late to see Hammerbox, but my GF had the albums. Really great stuff. Carrie’s lyrics were just so great, and her voice and power is mind-blowing. Goodness ripped it up. They brought the house down every single time. Huge Sound. Every time we saw them, we thought why aren’t these guys on a stadium tour and the biggest thing going on now? This is so radio ready, and SO much better than the dreck that’s on there now.
    I think they got killed by the hype around grunge. Don’t get me wrong. living here during that scene, seeing all those great bands, having such a fertile local music environment was awesome, and I love the bands that were part of that.
    I think it’s a cruel irony that (in my Opinion) they were a great band not supported because they were from Seattle at a time when the record companies could only see grunge here.
    Welcome back home Carrie, glad to have you back. Things have changed, but it’s still mind blowing beautiful out here, right?

  • Gatewooder November 21, 2014 (7:22 am)

    Good WS story, I hadn’t heard of Akre before. Went on YouTube and listened to one of several uploads. Lots of depth and soul, welcome home Carrie. We are very fortunate to have a strong music scene here, as hidden as it often is.

  • Lox November 21, 2014 (7:46 am)

    Carrie is a badass babe, and one of the nicest people you could ever meet.

  • westseattledood November 21, 2014 (9:01 am)

    WS has amazing talent at the local venues. As Gatewooder pointed out, our local musicians, songwriters, etc. are under appreciated.

    There are free venues to hear some of the talent. Check out the singer/songwriter night at Shadowland and other LOCAL places which have opened up in the last few years. Many of these artists are the baristas and bartenders in the eateries you frequent.

    I cannot name all of the local talent who you might find for FREE here in West Seattle, but just off the top of my head of a couple I am familiar with, for starters:

    Tuesday Velasco – a joyous 20-something who I hear has also just returned to West Seattle from Australia. Her soulful lyrics are great; her voice is similar to Carrie Akre’s voice. Big and powerful.

    Runaway Satellite is an acoustic duo which is fabulous with Brian Marshall (who owns an active recording studio (Cobra Studio) here in West Seattle) and Jesse Hendricx.

    Rachel Harrington is another – no depression set with the voice of an angel and fantastic lyricist. Rachel’s son is another talented musician here…

    West Seattle has always been loaded with creative talent. Get out to the performance venues and experience it. With full acknowledgment of Ms. Akre’s achievement with her bands, readers/listeners will be in awe and see how “big” talent does not necessarily mean famous.

    Vibrant and strong communities support local musicians by actively attending open mike nights or random shows and events. There are some seriously talented people out there waiting for you to enjoy their work.

    Enjoy!

  • cwit November 21, 2014 (10:17 am)

    Hammerbox was on the soundtrack of the snowboard videos I watched growing up on the East Coast. Good to hear what she’s up to lately.

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