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Artist profile for Midnight Honey and Tommy Simmons, published - online radio station.

Secret Grace, Secret Society

By Jacqueline Adams on Sep 09, 2012 at 11:21 AM in Music News

Midnight Honey and a visit from the Green Fairy..

      The Experience: I drove to a place on the East side called “Secret Society” to hear Midnight Honey perform. That’s really all I knew. A confusing little door next to an entirely different establishment opens to a scope of steep carpeted stairs and old dark pictures on the walls. The air thickens a bit with, well, “old”. I feel a bit like Alice, which makes it already fun, and I stomp my way vertical to the top. I take the five steps left to the tiny little bar room, and the air thickens substantially more. Not from “old” or smoke, but from spirits of all kinds. You feel watched and touched by more in the room than those you can see with your physical eyes, and the candlelight vigil for the Shriners and the seat of honor for the Green Fairy on the bar gratefully soothes you into another place and time. The unfriendly nature of the bartender was the only thing that reminded me where I was, and I quickly ordered my drink with the idea of taking it into the other room as soon as possible.

      While I waited…and waited… I noticed an older gentleman seated at the bar to my right. 65 or so, white shirt, black tie, suspenders, pants and dress shoes, glasses and a stern, focused look. This character struck me as he stared into his glass of whiskey or bourbon, or whatever the hell has that caramel color. I got the impression that he came here because this was a time he was more comfortable in, and I felt like the presence of the rest of us was just an irritating reminder that he’d just as soon ignore.

      I took my drink from the bartender, sent a silent prayer that she hadn’t spit in it, and walked out of the bar down the hall to the stage room. Initially, I was not impressed. It looked like a middle school gym, with a few red curtains slapped on the wall that unfortunately drew more attention to, then away from the room’s sparse nature. A few high-top tables, and low tables and booths with folding chairs and votive candles along the perimeter. There was a lovely bar area, and a sound control platform opposite the stage. I parked at the booth closest to stage right, and directed my gaze to the young man on stage. I saw blond, jeans, white laces on shoes, and then I stopped seeing altogether, and only heard and felt. To be frank, I had no idea who this person was, nor had I initially any intention of writing about anyone or anything other than Midnight Honey tonight, but this entity on stage simply wouldn’t allow my apathy. I wanted to know his name. His sound is strong and filled with conviction and urgent emotion. I could compare him to several popular alternative artists, he’s that skilled, but I’d rather not, the originality of his vibe stands alone. He thankfully informs us his name is Tommy Simmons. A citizen of Seattle, Tommy has a smile that is warm and unassuming, and in between each song he conversationally invites the audience into his life with humor and sincerity. He begins to play his guitar again, a loving extension of himself, and his voice, like fog over stone, visibly gathers at his feet as they pump up and down insistently, his whole body creating and propelling a dream and a vow into all who hear it. When he is finished, Tommy, seemingly satiated for the time being, leaves the stage and joins the audience for Midnight Honey.

      Shelly Rudolph, Bre Gregg, Chance Hayden, Paul Brainard, Jeff Langston and Paul Ansotegui.… Midnight Honey. I liked their name, and I was going to inquire about the origin, and then I heard them play and no explanation was necessary. Shelly and Bre come together with a crash of explosive energy that makes every cell tingle with life. A fluid synergy throughout the entire band renews itself in the Sisterhood, the sparking unison of Shelly and Bre. Blues, Reggae, Soul, Rhythm. Movement, balance-chaos-balance again, human, love. They filled the room and dissolved the walls. I saw images of forests and Moon ceremonies, and felt warm molasses beat through my veins, and their name was born, yet again, in myself as a witness. Though joined by invisible vines, and nurturing each other’s spirit, each member had a voice all their own. Shelly is a different shade, scrubbed clean and lit from within with raw celebration. Every movement, every sound, every flick of her wrist is an obvious salve to her soul and a rejoicing for each heartbeat. Her original music brings out a separate energy in Shelly. When she is singing covers, there is a true respect and a deep sense of honor and emotion, to be sure, but her own message somehow seems to free her through raw love and power, and I honestly was not sure if I was looking at a human being in those moments; an inner light takes over, and you are reminded of the body as a vessel only. Bre, whom I had only just met, I felt I knew once I saw her on stage. A look of true sight fills her eyes, and her voice, movement, and being carry a wisdom that obviously spans lifetimes both lived and not lived, reaching a point of awareness and sacred Knowing that is simple, pure, and true throughout. You want to ask her questions, but her velvet and fire hum graciously answer you clearly and truthfully, before you can ask. Together, Shelly and Bre create a centrifugal force that produces a collision of unison and joy, and a separation of message and life. At one point, Chance performed a solo with the obvious, unaffected focus and integrity you only find in a musician who has dedicated his entire being to his craft. My skin reacted without my permission as he and his guitar gifted us with a language all their own and a precision and awe that breaks open your heart and reminds you of a realm you’re sneaking a glimpse into, but are not part of. The pride of each member for the other is evident on each face. Paul Brainard, Jeff Langston and Paul Ansotegui keep the art present so we all can experience it, they are the beat-keepers, creating the Earth for the wild children to run through.

      I am not alone in this unique experience of magic and energy. Before the insistent encore from the crowd, I look out to the dance floor and see the curmudgeon from the bar not two hours ago, dancing up a storm with two young, hot things, black tie flapping and face now twenty… How wrong I was about him, and how brilliant is the art that negates time.

      The Expression: If you seek an experience that throws an exuberant and joyful acid on all walls and barriers, leaving you with a sensation of floating celebration and open possibility, indulge yourself with Midnight Honey, heal yourself with Tommy Simmons.

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