I decided to take a stroll around the neighborhood one day, my favorite hood actually, Ballard. It’s where it’s at! From killer sandwiches to the smell of the fishermen, to the sound of folk rock and country; Ballard is about as local as you get. Despite the recent growing pains of condominiums (it pains me to see so many go up) it still manages to keep its locals happy enough to stick around.
Several years back I worked for a bar in the area that had a rockabilly vibe. The Juke box introduced me to bands like the Old 97’s and Neko Case. Ballard still carries on that genre more distinctly than ever, and when I had heard that Sonic Boom was putting on an in-store performance by the Drive By Truckers lead singer Patterson Hood that featured his new album Heat Lightning Rumble In The Distance, I wasn’t surprised.
He was scheduled to play at the Tractor that evening also, but my fascination of in-store performances drove me to Sonic Boom instead. Well…that and the fact that I had to work later that night so I couldn’t have gone even if I wanted to. Damn priorities! Anyway, the performance was great and leant itself meaning to all that is Ballard. The turnout was minimal,which is great for groupies like myself who love to get as close as they can to the artists.
After the show I wandered on down Ballard Ave and took notice of all the flyers that were pasted on the phone poles and in shop windows. It occurred to me that the neighborhood is not only a music mecca for country folk fans, but for all genres. The neighborhood however does have an acoustic energy; an organic feel with a nostalgic draw.
In 2006 I saw a one man show at the Tractor that blew my mind. To this day one of the best shows I’ve ever seen. Scott Biram was described in The Stranger that week as “a kick ass one man band from Austin Texas.” Those words were all it took for me and my cousin to be sold. She and her husband were visiting from the Washington backwoods and I wanted to show them that my neighborhood can be just as appealing as the countryside. And boy did I show them.
Scott took the stage all by his lonesome, but was far from alone. Everyone was on board for this show. His magnificent solo stage presence was so unexpected that it made EVERYTHING that much better. From the ice-cold bottled beer to the booming bass, it was all so amazing. The crowd was captivated and awed, you could tell by the excitement in everyone’s eyes. It was a memorable night that I hold dear to my heart, considering that I don’t get the opportunity to spend too much quality time with the fam.
These are the kinds of memories that Ballard brings back for me. It is so good to know that the neighborhood still holds events like the Scott Biram show. Who by the way, played at the Tractor a month ago, but once again I had to work and could not attend the show. Blah! However, I have seen him more than once and I’m sure he will be back to the fisherman’s dwelling sometime in the near future.
Nicole Starr is a music blogger for TWIF.