Brightness on the Edge of Town

Slim’s Last Chance Chili Heats Up

This story has been changed to correct the speling of Celeste and Michael Lucas' name.It was a wise choice for Joel and Ethan Coen to leave their latest cinematic masterpiece, No Country for Old Men, devoid of a soundtrack. The absence of melodramatic chords segueing between those bleak scenes of violence and regret only amplifies the motivations of both the villain and protagonist. However, if they had wanted a score, the darkly beautiful tones struck by Seattle-based singer-songwriter Barton Carroll would have been an ideal choice. Informed by an affection for Bruce Springsteen's blue-collar laments and his time playing in Eric Bachmann's Crooked Fingers project, Carroll is an elegant songwriter with a harrowing voice—equal parts sinister and sensual—who also happens to be a hell of a guitar player. Working with a spare palette of intimate, humanistic shades, his new sophomore solo effort, The Lost One, features disarmingly vivid and compassionate portraits of characters caught up in moments of both euphoria and agony, most effectively when he's ruing loves lost ("These Days Are Gone, and My Heart Is Breaking") or celebrating the narcotic state brought on by a fresh infatuation ("Brooklyn Girl, You're Going to Be My Bride"). Dark as his songs may be, Carroll is hardly humorless, as he makes clear on "Dark Place," a sardonic look at the boredom self-pity ultimately conjures. Finely drawn character sketches and slice-of-life insights don't get more gracefully bittersweet than this. Carroll will celebrate the release of The Lost One with a show this Saturday, Jan. 26, at the Sunset. That same night also marks the "soft opening" of Slim's Last Chance Chili, the new Georgetown nightspot located next door to Pig Iron Bar-B-Q. Though the place has much to be optimistic about, the opening night carries a bittersweet undercurrent. Originally dubbed simply Last Chance Chili, the owners renamed it in honor of local musician Slim McCarroll, who helped with the bar's construction before passing away in September. On top of that, the opening is also a benefit for Jen Shore, who is valiantly fighting an aggressive series of brain tumors. But when I visited the freshly completed bar last week, I was simply blown away by how successfully owners Celeste and Michael Lucas manifested their unique vision. The interior vibe is that of a spacious, Wild West saloon taken over by punks with impeccable vintage taste—an aesthetic achieved through both thoughtful construction and the fact that many of the crowning touches show off deep ties to the Seattle music community. The brightly colored booths, chicly covered with vinyl-encased images of Elvis, the Virgin Mary, and the ever-present dogs-playing-poker scene (all taken from meticulously preserved velvet paintings) are the unmistakable work of local artisan Libby Knudson, whose signature look has popped up in countless Seattle clubs over the years, as well as in the homes of high-profile admirers like Eddie Vedder (she outfitted the nursery for his daughter). The giant, log-framed mirror hanging over the pool table was culled from the Sunset's basement, and many of the chairs scattered throughout the room are relics rescued from a pre-remodeled Hattie's Hat. With soft features, a waterfall of crimson curls, and a cell phone perpetually cradled to her ear, Celeste looks like a petite, punk-a-billy Rapunzel juggling the commitments of a dedicated businesswoman eager to see her club formally open after this weekend's benefit. (The official opening is forecasted for sometime in the first half of February, after they've "worked out the kinks.") "It's been a long time coming," she sighs with a half-smile, showing me their treasured Rock 'n' Roll High School Ramones poster and the space where an L-shaped patio and flatbed truck stage will eventually reside, just outside the garage door near the stage. Kwab Copeland's ridiculously adorable 5-year-old daughter, Juniper, pirouettes around the pool table, mugging for my photographer's camera while we discuss his plans for booking live music into the bar. "We are more interested in doing really good shows when it works than booking bands every single night or booking four or five bands on a bill. We'd like to focus on secret shows and smaller weekend shows that are really strong." For this weekend's benefit, Copeland secured local bands Dragstrip Riot, Load Levelers, Hard Money Saints, Acid Angels, and the F-Holes. Shore, who used to work next door at Pig Iron, has a loyal tribe around her, so showing up early for the 9 p.m. show is advised. Further incentive for attendance that evening: Iconic Crocodile refugee Jim Anderson will be running sound. rocketqueen@seattleweekly.com

 
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