(Skylark Cafe & Club)

One of my favorite little luxuries is live music, especially unexpectedly talented live musicians.
I happened upon an artist's myspace account the other day, and was completely mesmerized by the melodies and lyrics coming from my computer.

I laid down on the couch and listened to the whole EP.

Digging a bit, I found he was actually coming to a dive bar near me a day later. So, this past Sunday night, The Non-Scotsman and I ventured out like trolls to Skylark Cafe under the West Seattle bridge to hear James Coates, a local of the avoidable Sumner, Washington.

(My dad always told me the Rainer "R" stood for my name, Rachel. I still believe it.)

We walked into the near-empty bar to find a thick, curly-headed giant belting his heart out on stage. Between rustic harmonica arrangements, folk guitar, and a bloody piano smash, he kept me on the edge of my frayed and plastic seat for the whole 30 minutes set. His voice cascaded between lyrical gentility and raw, painful force. I was most impressed by the fact that he let the emotion WIN the struggle over perfection. He let his voice waver to show sadness, let the keys slide to the wrong note as if in trouble. I adored it because he loved performing it. There's nothing better than watching someone lay it all out there, exposed to the drunken old man in his fedora in the front row. Real life for real life.

Give it up for James Coates, everyone.

(James Coates at the Skylark Cafe & Club, 2010)

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