Story, photos, and video by Stephanie Chacharon
Reporting for West Seattle Blog
Disclaimer: The contents of this evening included profanity, alcohol, and ear-ringing chords.
It was a party with prologues: WSB first covered the kickoff for the new arts-advocacy organization The West in November, and on Thursday previewed the posse’s society debut, which happened last night, as The West galloped in to the West Seattle Eagles Aerie, partially removing its veil of mystery.
I followed a fresh trail of cigarette smoke, black leather, cowboy hats, and flyers directing attendees to the Aerie’s back door. Welcome to The West.
Walk through the door to be welcomed by an instant treat: West Seattle’s own DJ Cherry Canoe.
She set the stage for the evening, both with her turntables and with her hoots of delight as neighbors and friends passed her booth.
Hang your coat by the door, and enter a controlled chaos of light, fog, chatter, and a steady hum of expectation. Open bar in the back, free drinks in exchange for the hope of a donation.
The room was a mix of ages, styles, and reasons for being there. This was The West — for now, at least.
Everyone present echoed a common theme: “We didn’t know what to expect … but this party rocks!”
The live music kicked off with Jordan Cook of Reignwolf:
The Canadian native started solo, winning over the crowd one ripping guitar chord at a time. At one point during his high-energy set he clutched a drumstick—while playing the guitar—slouched over the drumset, later leaping atop an overturned drum for the better part of a song. Jordan proved himself a born entertainer and a very, very talented musician.
Brent Amaker (sans The Rodeo, till later) introduced the second act, drawling to the crowd, “Thanks for being a part of West Seattle — we’re proud of it.” He then turned the stage over to local rising stars My Goodness. The duo continued the momentum with a punk-inspired sound and lyrics like “I need a little luck.”
Between bands: DJ Cherry Canoe, set changes, smoke breaks, exclamations of recognition, and a steady line at the open bar — the latter, thanks to Ben Jenkins of nearby Shadowland.
“We’re doing what West Seattle needs,” Ben told WSB. “[Future events from The West] are going to be interesting.” (He’s at left in the photo above with other The West instigators – Lora, Alison, Jeff, and Gia, and Oliver.)
The final set began with the sultry and fabulous Billie Monroe. She ushered in a West Seattle-and-beyond fan favorite: Brent Amaker & The Rodeo.
At times bawdy, at times profane, Brent and his Rodeo got the entire room tapping their toes, nodding their heads, and moving to the music. Between songs, Brent called out for another drink (this cowboy orders vodka soda) and explained to the crowd what this was all about.
“The West is West Seattle people supporting West Seattle arts,” he announced. “Remember that: It’s cool.”
In attendance was Krystal Kelley (with Jason Conrad Nivens in photo above), the driving force of Mind Unwind — an Admiral District project that’s part gallery, part classroom, part kitchen, and part community space. Much like The West, Krystal and her collaborators want to celebrate our community and make the arts more available to those in it.
“We love what The West is doing,” Mind Unwind’s Bly Carling told WSB, “because what we’re doing is so similar.”
Peter Morse of Mission shared Carling’s praise of The West. “We need to build West Seattle more as a center of music and arts,” he said to WSB. “We want to see West Seattle as its own community.”
Even partygoers who hadn’t entirely figured out the concept were in a good mood:
That’s Susan and Josh Sutton. Asked what “The West” was, exactly, Josh laughed and shrugged. “It kind of seems like a party wherever they go,” he says, adding that they were having a great time.
Oliver Little, a big piece of the muscle behind The West, was thrilled by the event’s turnout. “It’s really amazing,” he told us. “People don’t even know what this is exactly, but they’re willing to get involved. Now that we’ve seen that people are into it, we can keep [growing our reach].”
To those who ruffled at this particular event’s exclusivity? It’s not what the future of The West is all about, says Oliver, adding that the group is currently limited by the size of venue they’re able to book.
In our shouted conversation — near the bar, to the backdrop of the Rodeo’s vocal stylistics— Oliver issued a call to arms. The long and the short of it: Want to experience The West? Help to book a venue that can fit this whole, big, wonderful community. Now, that’ll be The West.
(What’s next? Keep an eye on The West via Facebook.)