News Column

Fairgrounds music on the Fourth hits all the genres

July 3, 2014

By Pat Muir, Yakima Herald-Republic, Wash.

July 03--Related Information

Yakima Fourth of July celebration at State Fair Park

-- Kids' games, face painting, arts and crafts from noon to 5 p.m.

-- Live music: Pastel Motel (indie rock), 12:15 to 1:45 p.m.; Powerline (classic rock), 3:15 to 4:30 p.m.; Shoot Jake (blues), 4:50 to 6:10 p.m.; Charles Street Messenger (soul-funk), 6:30 to 7:55 p.m.; The Cold Hard Cash Show (Johnny Cash tribute), 8:15 to 9:45 p.m.

-- Citizenship ceremony with speaker Sid Morrison at 2 p.m.

-- Beer garden from noon to 10 p.m.

-- Fireworks at 10 p.m.

The Cold Hard Cash Show, a Montana-based Johnny Cash tribute band, headlines this year's Fourth of July entertainment lineup at Yakima'sState Fair Park, but for local music fans, the real fun starts hours before that.

Pastel Motel, one of the best up-and-coming Yakima bands, opens things with a 12:15 p.m. set. Bluesy classic rock band Powerline, featuring charismatic belt-it-out vocalist Nicole Johnson, plays at 3:15. And On magazine's 2013 local band of the year, Shoot Jake, plays at 4:50 p.m.

That's a whole lot of local talent, and it's a nice variety, too. That's what local promoter Nick Orlando had in mind when he booked the event's entertainment (which also includes Seattle soul-jazz-funk band Charles Street Messenger).

"It was really about just trying to touch on all the genres," he said. "It's going to be indie pop, a soul-jazz band, a country band, a rock band and a blues band."

Perhaps the most dynamic performers in the bunch are Shoot Jake, featuring husband-and-wife duo Ben Johnson on guitar and Lindsay Johnson on drums, and James Hunter on bass. The band has been together for nearly five years and continues to improve. It all started when Ben and Lindsay (then Lindsay Jacobson) met during a jam session with other musicians.

"We ended up playing music together and started dating around the same time," Ben Johnson said. "It was never one without the other."

Within six months, they'd officially formed Shoot Jake. They've been through a few bass players since then -- as well as a wedding -- and they've gotten a bit bigger and better every year. Johnson attributes some of that improvement to the addition of Hunter, who not only plays tight rhythm bass but has begun collaborating in the songwriting. And some of it is just a matter of the band gaining experience and comfort on stage.

These days, Ben, who sings and plays guitar, has a bit more on-stage swagger. He struts and stomps while Lindsay pounds out rhythm. It's sort of a rock 'n' roll presentation of a blues sound.

Johnson picked up the sound as a teenager in Terrace Heights, listening to late-night weekend blues shows on the now-defunct 88.5 The Edge. From there, he found Howlin' Wolf, Muddy Waters and Johnny Winters.

"Pre-Internet, there was nothing to do but hang around and play guitar," he said. "And if you hand me a guitar, that's what I'm going to play: the blues. That's what comes natural."

The set Shoot Jake plays at the Fourth of July event will be made up mostly of original songs from its forthcoming album, as yet untitled. Because it's a free community event, the crowd likely will be more varied than the ones the band usually plays to at bars and blues events. But Johnson looks forward to that.

"It's nice to get out in front of different people," he said. "The point we're at now, when we're playing, it's always a pretty good product.

Orlando, who has booked shows at several local venues and played a role in diversifying the music offerings at The Seasons Performance Hall, concurred with that assessment.

"Shoot Jake has developed a name for themselves locally, regionally and statewide," he said.

Pastel Motel, on the other hand, is just getting started, he said. Their psychedelic-influenced indie rock has gotten them a few notable gigs around town already, though.

"They're a new act that has really kind of hit it locally," Orlando said. "They're the new local band that's where Not Amy or Shoot Jake were a couple of years ago."

Powerline has been around for a couple of years and is known for solid, consistently crowd-pleasing shows.

"They're just a great all-ages act that kills it on stage every time," Orlando said.

Altogether, the lineup represents the sort of entertainment mix that Yakima Mayor Micah Cawley -- the Fourth of July event's chairman -- had in mind when he tapped Orlando to book the event.

"It's a pretty cool slate," Cawley said. "You're going to get some country, some rock. We try to cover all of the genres to some extent."

And, best of all, the whole thing is still free, he said. In addition to the music, there will be games and activities for kids starting at noon. (There will be a beer garden for grown-ups.) And in keeping with the patriotic theme of the event, there will be a citizenship ceremony for 200 new U.S. citizens.

And there will, of course, be the biggest fireworks display in the Yakima Valley, capping it all off at 10 p.m.

"There really will be something for everyone," Cawley said.


(c)2014 Yakima Herald-Republic (Yakima, Wash.)

Visit Yakima Herald-Republic (Yakima, Wash.) at

Distributed by MCT Information Services

For more stories covering arts and entertainment, please see HispanicBusiness' Arts & Entertainment Channel

Source: Yakima Herald-Republic (WA)

Story Tools Facebook Linkedin Twitter RSS Feed Email Alerts & Newsletters