Earlier this month, the Seattle music scene and fans alike took the show on the road to the Bavarian wonderland of Leavenworth. Why would we bother driving nearly three hours to a small town? To start a new tradition, a winter music festival dubbed Timbrrr Music Festival... pretty catchy. I’m sure there are some winter fests out there already, perhaps in Vail or the slopes of Vermont where the cocoa runs freely and music will warm your soul after a long day of skiing. In Seattle, though, winter is a time for catching up on sleep, spending dreary days inside listening to records, and dreaming of the sunshine that will rarely show its face till June. Artist Home decided it was time to change that and put on a two-day music extravaganza that nearly knocked our socks off with a local talent lineup like you rarely see even in summer. You may know Artist Home by their other music ventures like Doe Bay Music Fest, the Bonfire Music Series at Golden Gardens, and many other successful small and large events throughout the last few years. In typical Artist Home style, the weekend went smooth as silk; you’d never know it was the inaugural year. Not only did they, once again, make you feel at home in a place you may or may not have ever been (seriously, it was like a big hug the whole weekend), but they offered up enough events and activities as well as enough down time so you can enjoy a boatload of music, but also appreciate the beauty around you. They even set up a space for Seahawks fans to cheer and jeer together in the big hall during the game on Saturday.
Anyhoo, onto the good stuff... the moment I caught a glimpse of the Timbrrr lineup, I knew I had to go, even if it meant driving off into the mountains where it would no doubt be much colder than my own toasty little house. Some of the highlights from the main hall sets: Cataldo, You, Me & Apollo (of Doe Bay Music Fest fame), Radiation City, Telekinesis, Hey Marseilles, and The Lonely Forest. Can you believe that list only comprises of about half the acts?
The main hall sets weren’t the only entertainment for the weekend. A local pub next door, Icicle Brewing, had Saturday morning performances as well. They reminded me a bit of the off-venue shows at Iceland Airwaves. As acoustic guitar spilled out into the streets, anyone who was within earshot was welcomed, including festival pass-holders, locals, and tourists who may not have been aware a music festival was in town. Barna Howard and his quiet finger-picking and classic voice was a perfect start to the morning. After just a few songs, it was easy to see why festival organizers signed him up the second they heard him. Kevin Long and Lotte Kestner performed individually and together in an abbreviated combined set, which included a stunning Vic Chestnut cover. Thankfully, there was just enough time for Lotte to also perform a few songs using her unique style of playing with the guitar flat on her lap combined with effects and loops of hushed vocals before the Seahawks playoff game took center stage.
Festivals are always a good place to discover new bands, and I leave Timbrrr with a new crush on Wild Ones, who reminded me of what it might sound like if the former members of The Sundays all had kids who moved to Portland to start up a band with a love of electronic and acoustic instruments. 2013 saw the release of their debut album Keep it Safe, and Time Magazine named them one of the 14 musical acts to watch in 2014. All in all, I think every musician and fan has to say Timbrrr was an absolute success.
Thanks to Greg Higgins, a friend and volunteer at KEXP, for adding his thoughts to this write up. So many bands, so much to see, having a buddy to keep up with it all makes musical adventures so much more fun.
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