Fiddle Guitar Vocal duo the Summer Januaries– Sean Michael Robinson and Rachel Erin Robinson

Hello Seattle Sunshine/Optimistic


the Summer Januaries return to Seattle

We hadn’t seen our adopted home of Seattle in nine months. Seattle, the place where we met, where both of us have spent the majority of our adult lives. What would it be like to see it again? What would it be like to see people we know, to play at the Pike Place Market, to stop in at all of our favorite haunts, all the familiar places, dodge the all-too-familiar drizzle? Would it be summer? Would it still be soaking spring?

But first we had to get there.

the Summer Januaries in Montevideo, MN

We flew from Paris to Minneapolis, MN with only a brief stop in the Iceland airport. Our schedule started almost immediately when we arrived– Rachel had set up a five-date tour back to Seattle, and our three days of space between flying and tour would be occupied almost entirely by visiting friends, recovering from jet-lag, and finding a car for our drive back to Seattle.

Well, visiting friends was hardly a chore, especially when they came equipped with smart and adorable children. After some car shopping we spent a lovely lazy afternoon kicking around a soccer ball, coloring rocks, and of course, playing some music. We also managed to squeeze in a few rehearsals for our upcoming shows, one of which would have to be all-originals or songs in the public domain, as the venue in question wasn’t a member of ASCAP or BMI. We relished the challenge, and the opportunity to share all of the more delicate originals that we’d been writing and learning over the past few months.

Rachel Erin Sage teaches the next generation of Minnesota fiddlers

And to our surprise and satisfaction, the shows were all wonderful. Months of playing had taken our playing to another level, and now that we were in an environment where we weren’t competing with so many other sounds, it was clear how much more sensitive we were to each other’s singing and playing, and to the little micro-dynamics that had suddenly appeared in so many songs. We found ourselves backing off on previously assertive sections of songs, letting the silences speak in the same was as the louder sections, letting space take over and share the stage.

(Excepting, you know, our gig at a great fish house in Wisconsin, where we utilized our normal strategy of being as busy and loud as possible in an attempt to hold the interest of the diners who were surrounded by an awful lot of smells and sounds not originating from us).

Our last gig in the Midwest was especially intimate, as it was a house concert in the small town of Milan, MN. Nancy Strand hosted the concert in her living room, and made the entire crowd feel welcome with her amazing food and drink and her charming demeanor. But the best part of the day was the presence of three generations of Larson musician– we were joined by Rachel’s father, Steve Olof Larson, and by Rachel’s grandfather Dick Larson, both of whom live in the area. Steve, who also joined us to play two songs, released his first (very fine) album of original music this very year, whereas Dick’s career had begun in another century– in the forties he sang with the unbelievable vocal group The Honey Dreamers.


And then it was off to Seattle by way of Montana, where we had just a single gig. After a few months of not driving we relished the feeling of passing by so many beautiful sights, enjoying taking detours and stopping and gawking every time we saw a brown State Park sign.

Summer Januaries on the way to the Murray Bar in Livingston, Montana

And what was it like to come back to Seattle?

Well, it’s not as warm as we’d like, nor as sunny. But it’s been great to see friends. And it’s been both strange and comforting to find so much exactly the same as we’d left it. We’ve been gone for nine months, but somehow everything else seems to have continued on just as it had before. We played Pike Place Market the first three days we got back, and everything was exactly as it had been, all the buskers in their familiar spots, all the rules and regulations the same, all the faces familiar.

Even, unexpectedly, a familiar face from Bologna, Italy. Our Seattle-originating busking friend Whiskey Bliss has safely made it back home as well, and is now working at a produce stand at the market!

But the main difference is in us. We’ve seen so much since we left Seattle, played hundreds of hours to tens of thousands of people, walked thousands of kilometers, each written a dozen songs, had hundreds of incredible experiences and more than a few lows.

But the good things…. the good things seem to stay the same. And maybe that’s how you can tell that they’re the good things.


  1. Nancy Strand Thursday, May 30th 2013 at 8:22 pm

    Once again, you two brought tears to my eyes…reading your wonderful account of your return to Seattle. I must let you know that yesterday I was in Montevideo and stopped in at Valentino’s. Just about to leave, I heard my name being called from the other side of the restaurant. Cherri & Andi Kahmann were catching some time together and on the table was THE photo. Yup, the one of Cecelia & Rachel. Steve had emailed it to Andi and Andi had printed it out and hurried up the street to show it to Cherri. We reminisced about the picture, the concert, who was there etc. Told them that someone asked me about who was at the concert and my reply was: ‘everyone that needed to be there was in attendance and each one was perfect for the afternoon.’ What a blessing!

  2. Steve Larson Friday, May 31st 2013 at 5:05 am

    You know, Summer Januaries, EVERY time I get to play music with you two I am twice blessed. See you in July – wolves coming along.


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