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Green Pajamas, The Jilly Rizzo and The Fentons Fill the Night With Fine Music and Fun Antics at Slim’s Last Chance, By Holly Homan

The Green Pajamas

The Green Pajamas

An impromptu night out Saturday May 18th landed me south of downtown Seattle at Slim’s Last Chance. This was my first time in this now legendary club. It think it’s even cozier than Darrel’s Tavern that’s about as far north as Slim’s is south to downtown Seattle. Slim’s is cozy, intimate and very friendly.

I arrived just in time to see Seattle legends Green Pajamas. I remember listening to Green PJs back in the late eighties so seeing them after twenty-five years was a trip down proverbial memory lane. Green PJs aren’t a band you get up and dance to but rather a band you sit back and absorb. They have a poppy yet folky style of music with heart stopping male/female harmonies. Often their songs reminded me of Camper Van Beethoven. This seven-piece band is highly versatile, with various members swapping instruments throughout. The Green Pajamas’ current lineup includes founding members Kelly and Ross (on guitar and bass respectively), longtime member Eric Lichter (keyboard), Laura Weller (guitar) and Scott Vanderpool (drums). I was totally blown away and in awe of being in the presence of such musical prowess.

Following Green PJs were followed by one of my favorite local bands, Jilly Rizzo. They were just as entertaining as when I saw them last February. Jilly Rizzo sings songs filled with humor and turns their performance into a totally fun-filled event. They have so much fun on stage that their spirited shows infect all who watch them. A number of times front guy (who calls himself The German) walks into where the audience sits and plays for them. He’s bald, stocky and has a constant smirk on his face and actually even attempted a Pete Townshend windmill. Meanwhile, Mara-Funk pounds away on the bongos with a constant smile and sends sparks of charisma shooting everywhere. The rest of the band, Crabs, guitar; Grape, sax; The Squire, drums and Dicky Pye on bass. Kelly Erb, all the way from Kent, WA guested on fiddle. To give an example of the humor, listen to their songs such as “Black Baby’s Cuter than A White Baby,” or “All You Ever Do Is Talk About Your Kid.” The highlight had to be a song introduced as channeling The Ramones and Jesus Christ Superstar simultaneously with “Hey hosanna, let’s go, hosanna.” As silly as these songs are, these guys (and gal) are excellent musicians and keep the sound tight amongst all the fun. Jilly Rizzo are like a ride in the wave pool at Wild Waves and are well worth checking out if you haven’t yet.

I wasn’t sure anyone could follow them and when I saw The Fentons setting up, I began having serious doubts. By now most people had left (many people in attendance were in their 40s and 50s and probably go to bed early). The Fentons wore cowboy hats and wore embroidered shirts. Country isn’t really my thing. But we all know the proverb, never judge a book by its cover and I wanted to give them the benefit of the doubt. I’m glad I did. They list themselves as alt-country, but I’d classify them more as bluegrass. This five-piece from Seattle proved to be as much fun as a roll in the hay. Their sound was traditional country bluegrass complete with twangy lap steel played by Blackie Deviland, who had thick white curls pulled back into a ponytail and sported tattoos up both arms. Okay, he didn’t look like the traditional country musician. But this shows what a versatile band The Fentons are. Much of their music consisted of the traditional country music topics of broken relationships, being down on one’s luck, running from the law, etc., but one song in particular (which is on their five-song CD you can buy off their site) was about someone whose car was repossessed after losing his job, but “my dog still loves me.” The Fentons, like Jilly Rizzo, insert a lot of humor into their songs and onstage antics. This is also a band consisting of outstanding and versatile musicians. They constantly joked around and put on a very entertaining show. I’m glad I didn’t judge this book by its cover and for those who left early, I hope you’re reading this because you missed a fun band. The Fentons are, Charles Dempsey Fenton IV – Drums; Snake Fenton – Bass, Vocals; Howard Fenton – Guitar, Harmonica, Vocals; Norman Fenton – Guitar, Mandolin; Banjo, Vocals; Blackie Deviland – Steel Guitar; Evil Pawn Shop Guitar, Vocals. Bass player Snake looked so authentic in his straw cowboy hat I couldn’t help but wonder if his real name might be Billy Bob.

Another fun night watching live music in Seattle has gone down to history. All three bands were stellar.

Holly Homan

All photos property of Holly Homan, all rights reserved.

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