The Triple Door peaks above rainy hills in the downtown streets of Seattle. It’s one of Seattle’s most visited of late nightspots. I myself have been there on four occasions over the past two and a half years, and I have no doubt that I would have been there far earlier if I had known I would see so many artists I would come to appreciate and watch for years to come–artists like Vicci Martinez.
As a musician myself, I have come to appreciate sound. In general I think the use of sound within instruments is fascinating, and there is no end to the variety of types of sounds and harmonies you can make and perform musically. So why does mainstream music these days seem so limited?
Sure there are the occasional bands that pop out in your mind, that you blast your speakers for in your car and make occasional comments about to friends. But in general, we have all found our niche, our one radio station, our set of a few CDs we rotate through, and we laugh at the occasional Britney Spears type appearing so gracefully in the headlines. We’ve somehow set into a rut, a nice one, but a rut just the same. We depend on the few artists who offer something different, to withstand the battling world of Simon Cowel, that dude Biz Marquis who sang “Baby You, You Got What I Need,” and the many actresses-turned-pop-singer. Luckily, there are still some artists like Vicci Martinez, who want to excel and are willing to endure the criticism and pressures in the industry.
Vicci Martinez surpassed all my expectations. I realize that sometimes we forgive one component of an artist if it hardly compares to their far better attributes. But in Vicci’s case, however, there were none to forgive. When Vicci took the stage, the audience saw a woman no taller than 5’3″, wearing baggy jeans and a loose t-shirt. She walked on with utter confidence and no apologies, said a few words, let the band play a few rifts, then…opened her mouth and let out a voice I could describe as nothing less soulful than that of Ella Fitzgerald with the melodic entertainment value of Stevie Wonder. She was not one of the blonde, long-legged beauties that we see on magazines, but somehow that hardly seemed to matter.
Perhaps this is because the meaning behind the music has been lost, and few recognize the talent in an instrument’s use. Sadly there are way too many in-studio artists today who continue to parade their electronic instruments and cut tracks in our faces. The few musicians who last to stand up against the demons of the music future make – sadly – a very short list. The lasting bands last because they are able to bring their talent from earlier years and apply it to a modern day genre. For example, the Eagles are bringing rock to country, and the Rolling Stones, even with their crazy career, have managed to stay together and keep rocking, bringing their music to a modern platform.
My hope now lies in artists like Vicci Martinez–artists still making an effort in a ridiculous media world. My hope is that at some point the artists who have given us hope will be able to break through more in the industry and become mainstream. In the overwhelming world of more and more of the same boring artists in the lime light, it is refreshing and encouraging to see that, once and a while, an artist comes along that mixes things up.
Vicci’s 4th album, “On My Way,” came out in 2005, and she has toured practically non-stop since. She has opened for the likes of Sting, Annie Lenox, BB King, Christopher Cross, Etta James, The Presidents of the United States of America, Avril Lavigne, and Bill Frisell. She continues to stop by The Triple Door on her tours, while still engaging many audiences all over the United States with her ever changing, ever different, rock-blues-country-soulful sound. Although an acoustic singer/songwriter based performer, her instrumental performances brought out everything from piano to harmonica. At the moment she is touring the Northwest, but no doubt, we haven’t seen the last of her yet.
Marissa Joy-Kurtz is originally from Seattle. An accomplished vocalist and song writer, Marissa is currently completing her degree in journalism in upstate New York.