The 4th Annual Acoustic Explosion Showcase at the Empyrean Coffee House

After night one we were ready to take on night two of the Acoustic Explosion. Within the first five minutes of being at the Empyrean both Matt and I were blown away by Maxwell Hughes. Holy cow. Maxwell doesn’t need lyrics to sing, his fast guitar notes create a music that speaks a story of it’s own. He just flew through the strings on his blue green acoustic guitar even with an extra pick on his thumb. His fingers were fluttering up and down the neck, tuning the guitar, and his hand hitting the base to create a sort of drum beat all while playing one song. There was so much to watch. Even when he wasn’t playing he was spinning the microphone stand in circles and being awkwardly funny. Treating us with many “Little diddy’s” or songs like “Sun vs. Moon” and “Hammerhead.” To top off his talented set he managed to play “Stairway to Heaven” in a quarter of the time and he even played it with his guitar behind his back. He is amazing! I am just blown away by how many ways people can play one instrument, which is the showcase for the weekend – the acoustic guitar.

In-between Mawell Hughes and For Tonite we caught a few songs by Jonathan Nicholson. The thing that stood out the most for me about Jonathan Nicholson was how he said he found the human spirit he was looking for in a dog. Well actually a Pug named Oscar. I giggled a lot when he said how it was the ugliest creature and how he wanted to just push his little eyes back into his head. Very funny. The cool part though was how he recognized Oscar’s willingness to meet anyone and was friendly. Jonathan Nicholson is recording at the moment, but I bet if you went to his Myspace you could check out a few of his songs (you can, I went there) and you can see when he is playing next. The last song we heard by him was “The Great Revelation,” which was about being vulnerable and missing someone. There was a reason why he was playing at the Acoustic Explosion, he is another sharp acoustic guitar player in Spokane.

For Tonite is now living in Spokane, they are from North Carolina. I asked why they came here and they said because of parents. We got the acoustic style of For Tonite with just vocals and a guitar player, I guess they have a full band which will be playing with Owl City in October. They are the best band in town to promote their upcoming shows and we just met them. The singer drank out of a “bladder buster” as Matty calls it, which I am sure helped his soft sweet vocals. The two were a cool pop-punk duo. He seems like a romantic maybe a hopeless one? He just tightly grasped the microphone and went for it, it was cool. The two played their titled track and that was their last song Fot Tonite. Get it? For Tonite? Anyhow there is a huge scene for that type of music right now so I am sure they are just going to blow up. Catch them before they will be playing a huge venue and you can’t get into the first twenty rows. As they said, now that they live here you will be seeing a lot of them. Don’t forget you can catch more of For Tonite and learn all about them on Tuesday, October 13th at the Big Dipper with Owl City, The Scene Aesthetic, and Brooke Waggoner. 

I saw Henry three days ago, but I can’t resist my fascination with the Theremin. The way its used in the song, the way Henry’s hands move to create the sound, the sound itself – it creeps me out yet pulls me in. The one thing that I thought was so funny about Henry and the Acoustic Explosion was the fact that both he and Vaughn were playing electric guitars – um at a Acoustic Explosion. As Matty said “Brilliant.” Leave it to Henry to do his own thing. Henry’s live show was great as it is every time he takes the stage.  

To end the evening and the 4th Annual Acoustic Explosion Showcase was Spokane’s Kristen Marlo. Which was ironic because this was one of her last shows, sadly she is moving. It’s a little bit of a bummer, Kristen is a great singer/songwriter. She has the rocker edgier side to her which I love and she’s the only female artist in Spokane who has that (that I know of). I know we’ll be able to get CD’s but a CD isn’t a great set at a favorite venue. The first time we saw her she had a friend on percussion but it was just her tonight in the quite dark brick room. With her pink duct tape holding in her amp cord she jumped right into her set. You could hear every pluck and pick and it sounded just right. Some of her lyrics bring you down but others will bring you back up. I loved her song “Separation Anxiety,” because after she played it she told us it was about a dog. I wouldn’t of thought it was about a dog but I can totally relate because my dog’s have separation anxiety. Kristen Marlo’s music is like dark chocolate, bittersweet. I really enjoy her music and her personality. I wish her the best of luck on her new journey and I am excited to hear her new album. You can catch her last show on Friday, August 28th at the Caterina Winery at 8pm. Thank you Kelly & ERC Booking for putting on a cool event chalked full of talent. We look forward to the 5th Annual Acoustic Explosion Showcase.

Words by Andrea Williams / Photos by Matt Auclair


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