The Short List: The Week's Recommended Shows (in West Seattle)

Erin McNamee/Wednesday, January 19

Several years ago I was having drinks with some friends at the Celtic Swell on Alki Beach when a girl sitting on a stool to the side of the bar performed a cover of the Cranberries' 1994 Irish political lament, "Zombie." Using only her vocals and her acoustic guitar, she delivered it with a heartbreaking sense of tragedy and passion. I thought it was the most beautiful thing I'd ever heard, and not just because I had a few Guinnesses in me. The girl was Erin McNamee, a local singer/songwriter with one of the purest voices you'll hear in this city. McNamee specializes in traditional Irish music, and she still performs every Wednesday night at the Celtic Swell; the bar's proprietors assume that "Zombie" is still in her repertoire. Celtic Swell, 2722 Alki Ave. S.W., 932-7935. 8:30 p.m. Free. ERIN K. THOMPSON

Tug Inn Karaoke/Wednesday, January 19

The Tug Inn unleashed karaoke on its regulars and the neighborhood on Sunday nights more than six months ago. The night was so popular that within a month, it demanded a second night, Wednesday. I've been there twice on Sunday, and both were like raucous Fridays. The place flows with beer, booze, and Jell-O shots, and the lovable KJ who provides the show sets out to create a house-party environment, which it totally is. The Tug Inn draws one of the town's more diverse crowds, and that added flavor equates to better songs you never hear at most other spots. Get there early, set up shop, and have an idea of what you want to sing, because before you know it that rotation will be an hour deep. Tug Inn, 2216 S.W. Orchard St., 768-8852. 8 p.m. Free. JEFF ROMAN

Leif Totusek/Thursday, January 20

Plenty of musicians cite a diverse background, but none can lay claim to one quite like Seattle's Leif Totusek: A musician since age 15, he's performed with gospel choirs, grunge outfits, jazz quartets, and ethnic African bands on both sides of the Atlantic. But his true calling emerged through the Zairian soukous guitar—often played by the likes of Vampire Weekend—and his dedication to the instrument beyond catchy riffs even leads him to translate his lyrics into the African language Lingala. Combining the lessons he learned from masters abroad with his extensive jazz background and Cuban influences, Totusek offers a wholly original take on rumba. While live Afropop may be in short supply around Seattle, these songs bridge the quantity gap with quality. Shadowland, 4458 California Ave. S.W. 8 p.m. Free. NICK FELDMAN

Naked Bacon/Thursday, January 20

One of the most scarring, terrifying things I've ever seen in my life is Kevin Bacon without a stitch of clothing. If you've ever made the mistake of renting Hollow Man (please tell me you don't own it), you've gotten to see an unfortunate chunk of Bacon's bits, popping out of lab coats, running around trashing labs, and somehow being super-creepily invisible and naked at the same time. At times like these, there aren't enough degrees of separation from Kevin Bacon that could comfort me. Getting your mind off Bacon's "Quicksilver" can be an excruciatingly trying phase in one's life. Thankfully, Seattle's self- professed "#1 Feel Good Band," Naked Bacon, provides just the right amount of loose boogie rock and shuffling funk licks to distract you from certain things that the little town of Beaumont, Texas, would surely disapprove of. Poggie Tavern, 4717 California Ave. S.W., 937-2165. 9 p.m. Free. GREGORY FRANKLIN

Sightseer/Friday, January 21

"Read It and Weep," a hard-hitting tale of self-loathing, is the song that best showcases the early identity of local rockers Sightseer. Led by the strong female vocals of P.A. Mathison, the song, like Sightseer's others, is rooted in alternative country, bringing to mind bands like Okkervil River and Wilco. Based on their work so far, Sightseer hasn't yet created a distinctive sound, but the pieces seem to be in place. Just check out the excellent wailing guitar solo on "Resting Place." For a folksier acoustic act, be sure to catch opener the Washover Fans. With The Young West. Skylark, 3803 Delridge Way S.W., 935-2111. 9 p.m. $5. BRYDEN MCGRATH

Yen Wor Karaoke/Friday, January 21

This dingy bar in the Admiral Junction represents the roots of karaoke. The Japanese may have invented it, but back in its early days (the mid-'80s) here in the states, it was Chinese restaurant lounges that gave the art form its first home, providing it for drunken crooners seven nights a week, year after year—helping to give birth to a phenomenon we can't live without today. These days, places to sing are everywhere, but a Chinese-American dive like Yen Wor brings that classic feel you just don't get singing in newer, glitzier spots. Every weeknight, Yen Wor Village brings in a great regular crowd that loves to sing and shows love for everyone who takes the stage. They have good sound, nice KJs, a goofy flirt of a bartender named Wendy, and a thick book. It's not completely current, but the pros know the new stuff matters very little as long as you have those original essentials from the '60s, '70s, and especially the '80s. I can say from plenty of experience that this catalog has everything you need. Yen Wor Village, 2300 California Ave. S.W., 932-1455. 9 p.m. Free. JEFF ROMAN

Clutch Douglass/Saturday, January 22

It's obvious Clutch Douglass has a sense of humor—exemplifying the Seattle sound "by being caffeinated, passive-aggressive, and prone to random weather patterns"—but what really happens when punk rock meets trip-hop? The answer, in a word: dance. Comprising Rachael Ferguson of punk outfit NighTraiN on vocals and The Fading Collection's Corey Paganucci on instruments, Clutch recently released their six-track EP Get Juicy, a maelstrom of aggressive vocals, driving guitar, interspersed keys, and heavy drum sounds. True to their word, Clutch Douglass will show you how to get juicy and cut loosey. With Lucy Bland, Focus! Focus! Skylark, 3803 Delridge Way S.W., 935-2111. 9 p.m. $5. NICK FELDMAN

DJ Tony B/Saturday, January 22

DJ Tony B is not to be confused with the KUBE 93 radio personality with whom he shares a name. No, West Seattle has its very own Tony, who works as a Microsoft operations program manager by day and lets loose on the turntables at night, spinning every Friday and Saturday night at RockSport on Alaska Street. Expect an eclectic and danceable mix of top 40, old-school hip-hop, and rock that KUBE's jockeys could stand to listen to—and pick up a couple pointers from. RockSport Bar & Grill, 4209 S.W. Alaska St., 935-5838. 10 p.m. Free. ERIKA HOBART

West Seattle High School Winter Concert/Monday, January 24

In December 1996, I had tickets to one of a pair of Soundgarden shows at Mercer Arena. On the morning of the show, I was still recovering from the worst stomach flu of my first 14 years. "Lucky" for me, Soundgarden frontman Chris Cornell got a sore throat (later rumored to be code for band infighting) and the shows were postponed a week. My tickets, as "luck" would have it, were good for the day of my high-school band concert. I didn't have the smarts to figure out how to exchange my ticket for the second show. The Presidents of the United States of America—my second favorite band of the day, next to Soundgarden—were the surprise openers. Needless to say, I did not see Soundgarden at Mercer Arena. And as "luck" would have it, the shows turned out to be Soundgarden's last in town until the 2010 reunion. My tickets are framed in my old bedroom at my parents' house in Kitsap County. For years, I was pissed. Then one day in college—sometime between marching band, jazz band, percussion ensemble, and jazz choir—I realized that high-school band meant more to me than Soundgarden ever would. Tonight, teens at West Seattle High School are putting on their nice shoes, brushing their teeth twice, and perhaps combing their hair and tucking in their shirts for the first time, in preparation for the school's winter concert: for students who choose to go down a certain rabbit hole, a performance that will be more significant than any show they could buy a ticket for. Good luck, y'all. West Seattle High School Theater, 3000 California Ave. N.W., seattleschools.org/schools/wshs. 7:30 p.m. Free. CHRIS KORNELIS

 
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