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

Seattle in the Summer

The Summer Januaries at Westlake

Throughout the past year, whether we were in Italy or France or Florida or even Montana, Seattle in the summer was on our minds. Neither of us grew up here, but both of us moved here because of it–clear skies and lovely breeze, the perfect temperature, surrounded by the lush greenery created by the other nine months of rainy misery. It’s the season where we both fell in love with the city, the season where we first started playing together–the season where we fell in love.

After an absence of nine months, we returned to Seattle in May, and it seemed as though we’d beaten the summer weather here. We didn’t have much time to lament the overcast cold days though. There wasn’t much time for anything but playing. But after few weeks of drizzly busking and rained-out events the summer finally arrived.

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Egans C

We were worried that a summer full of only busking and farmer’s markets might feel too similar to last summer, but thanks to Rachel’s manic booking while we were in Florida, we’ve spent the summer in a blizzard of activities, including festivals, weddings, and a lot of one-off events, including garden tours, parties, and street fairs. When we were in Italy, even though the locations we were playing were themselves novel, the playing itself was pretty similar from place to place. There was some variation–the acoustics on pedestrian streets in Bologna, for instance, meant that we could play much quieter songs and have a reasonable expectation of still being heard. But the actual performances were pretty similar.

 

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Jamming with Wayne Taylor and Scott Walker of Appaloosa in Westlake Park.

violin munchkin

But this summer the novelty is in not only the locations of the events, but in the playing experiences themselves. After a long absence we’ve been enjoying the joys of amplification, specifically being  able to perform the quiet, delicate songs that we’ve been writing over the past few months and not feeling the need to make every song as loud and as active as possible. And it’s been especially exciting to try out these new configurations, and vary our “formula”: not always having continual harmony, for instance, but letting each of our voices have opportunities or even complete songs to sing and stretch out individually.

But even more than before, the most satisfying parts of this summer have been the individual connections we’ve made, the people we’ve performed for (or even performed with!) who have shared with us some piece of themselves that was unexpected or surprising. Many of these experiences seem to come in places that are the most challenging or unusual to play– in very out of the way farmer’s markets, or at our regular engagement at Westlake Park in the heart of downtown, where people from every conceivable background meet to mingle and enjoy the day.

And after a year of playing mostly just with each other, it’s been great to reconnect with other musicians, and to hatch the beginnings of new plans, new recordings, try to imagine what shape things will take in the future.

Summer Januaries at Egan's Ballard Jam House Sean Michael Robinson and Rachel Erin Sage
The Summer Januaries at St Helens Oregon. Thirteen Nights on the River Sean Michael Robinson and Rachel Erin Sage The Summer Januaries at St Helens Oregon. Thirteen Nights on the River

Sean Michael Robinson and Rachel Erin Sage

 At Egan’s Ballard Jam House with our new co-conspirator Dave Bush on the drums.

But even at the busiest times, there was still an end point, or at least a break, in sight. A week into July we stopped cold for a full week, to concentrate and plan for the biggest event so far in our lives together. On July 13th we were married, in Seward Park, just one day shy of our two year anniversary as a couple. The sky was clear and the air was crisp and warm, and there were so many friends and family and so much music and celebration that we could just barely stand it.

SJ and Landlord's Daughter

Our friends from Landlord’s Daughter provided the music for the ceremony, and were joined by Tim Franklin for the reception, in what was maybe the greatest set of wedding music ever.bonfire

A wonderful jam session at a bonfire the night before the wedding.

It’s been two years since we started this thing together, without either of us really knowing what it was we were doing, two years of accident bending towards discovery. And what we’ve found so far is that the more our pursuit turns toward experience, the more things we are surprised to find along the way. This whole band, this whole relationship so far, has been about discovery and about play, about finding things that we never knew were there, about savoring the experiences and the opportunities around us, and ceding control to the unknown. And this is where it’s brought us so far.

So, what are our plans?

Let’s just wait and see.

rsweb1

 

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