by Cheryl Waters
What do you get when you bring together an incredibly talented and passionate group of musicians (and their instruments) and a few of their friends with great food and lots of wine in a dramatic setting on a spectacular evening? Songs for Eating and Drinking, of course.
Songs for Eating and Drinking is a collaboration between local food provocateur, Michael Hebb, and renowned photographer/director Chase Jarvis. Hatched from Hebb’s underground One Pot themed dinners and documented with Jarvis’ unmistakable eye, Songs For Eating and Drinking brings together a remarkable group of talented songsters in a dramatic and inspiring setting to share songs, food, drink and good company.
I have been fortunate enough to attend both installments of Songs for Eating and Drinking and have walked away from both duly impressed. The first one, in December, completely transformed the band room at Neumos into a dark and sultry cabaret with long communal tables covered in burlap and candles, set with china, silver and glassware, and overflowing with wine, whiskey, and sumptuous food from renowned local chef Matt Dillon (Sitka & Spruce, The Corson Bldg). Throughout the evening, musicians who included the Nick Jaina band from Portland, Stone Gossard and others peppered the evening with songs. It was completely surreal, and I walked away heady with wine, food, music and one hell of a uniquely special experience.
Michael Hebb, the instigator of the evening, also knew something special had transpired that evening and knew that it had to be repeated... and documented. Being no fool, Hebb enlisted the talents of world-renowned photographer and director Chase Jarvis, and with their impressive combined experience and skill, the two took the event to the next level, turning it into a living, breathing entity. Thus, the second installment of Songs for Eating and Drinking, another intimate evening for musicians and their friends, sharing more amazing food, wine (sangria, in this case) and music.
The talented co-conspirators, Hebb and Jarvis, chose a very dramatic venue for this next event, which took place on a beautiful summer evening on the first day of August, in a cavernous airplane hangar at the Sand Point Naval Air Station. The setting was equally impactful and aligned with the slightly altered theme for this evening: Songs for Eating, Drinking... and War. Once again, a long communal table was impressively set -- this time with starched linen table coverings and camouflage cloth and huge silver candelabras dripping with candle wax.
Friends new and old gathered together family-style on this beautiful night to share sumptuous seasonal food prepared by Michael Hebb: salad fresh from the garden, baby back ribs falling from the bone, succotash bursting with fresh kernels of corn, laced with freshly-picked green beans and infused with unimaginably delicious flavors and strawberry shortcake prepared by the magical mavens from the Volunteer Park Café. Immediately the enormous room was filled with intimate conversation and laughter. Sarah Rudinoff kicked off the meal with a dramatic performance of a song about being so thin, she absolutely needed to eat more and more. And, thus commenced the relaxed and stunning musical accompaniment to the lavish meal. Every 10-15 minutes, someone would get up and share a song about food or, in this evening’s case, war. Grant Olsen of Arthur and Yu sang about horsemeat (I’m guessing this falls into the food category). Head Like a Kite unexpectedly busted out with a cover of Neil Young’s “Ohio” (a personal fave of mine). Tiny Vipers, on the shy side, gathered the group closely around her for a haunting and intimate performance. Equally impressive were songs from Loch Lomond, who made the trip up from Portland for the evening, talented up-and-comers Fences, and the always entertaining The Saturday Knights, joined unexpectedly, and much to their delight, on one song by Stone Gossard on guitar. It was the kind of relaxed and languorous evening that allowed for impromptu moments like this that made for a one-of-a-kind experience for these musicians to share with one another.
What an inspired idea it is to bring an eclectic and talented group of musicians together to share superb food and drink in a relaxed setting and see what transpires. Thankfully, Jarvis documented the entire evening in intimate detail, successfully capturing the mood, both in photos and on video. You can see for yourself what a success it was. Check out this video of Stone Gossard of Pearl Jam and Barb Ireland covering “Cool Water” by Hank Williams:
Look for more videos and fantastic photos from Chase Jarvis and his crew in the coming weeks on the KEXP Blog, and head over to the Songs for Eating and Drinking website for more now.