Generic March poster copyAfter wowing audiences at the 2012 Telluride Blues & Brews, the Sheridan Arts Foundation is proud to host the return of Seattle’s neo-soul band, Pickwick. The concert takes place Wednesday, March 20, 2013. Doors open at 7:30 p.m. Show time is 8 p.m. The opening act is Deep Sea Diver. The concert is seats out, all ages.

Pickwick was formed in 2008 when singer Galen Disston began writing songs on his acoustic guitar, while drummer Matt Emmett kept time in the background. The duo settled on the name as an homage to “The Ostrich,” an obscure dance song written by Lou Reed and released by Pickwick Records in 1964. With the later additions of Emmett’s childhood friend Cassady Lillstrom on keys, Kory Kruckenberg on vibraphone, brothers Garrett and Michael Parker on bass and guitar, the then six- piece band began playing shows in small clubs around Seattle.

By the beginning of 2010, however, Pickwick was in a state of disarray. Frustrated by the direction the music was taking, the band began talking about throwing in the towel and going their separate ways. Up until that point, band members had little to do with the writing process and simply added color to Disston’s songs. Ultimately, the decision was to throw out all their old material and start over from scratch with a new collaborative approach to songwriting. This rebirth allowed Pickwick to take a new look at their individual and collective strengths and look to new places for inspiration.

Raised on indie rock and a love for lo-fi garage bands, the members of Pickwick found themselves entrenched in underground gospel and blues recordings from the 1950s and 1960s, as well as popular northern soul artists. The new reference point combined with a renewed appreciation for UK bands such as The Animals, Spencer Davis Group, and The Zombies helped Pickwick cultivate its own unique take on garage rock, gospel, and ’60s-era pop, but interpret those genres through a modern lens.

Along with a shift in musical aesthetic, Disston began exploring darker, more complicated themes in his lyrics. Contrasting stories of murder, mental illness, and confused sexual identity with major chords, three-part harmonies, and church organs, unlikely pairing  that quickly became a mainstay of the band’s approach to songwriting.

“I’ve always been drawn to music that seems a bit schizophrenic,” said Disston.

Inspired by a new burst of creative output, the band wasted little time to self-release its music. Instead of waiting to record a full-length record, Pickwick decided to do things on its own terms, putting its music out exclusively on vinyl with three installments of a 7-inch series. Each 45 was accompanied by a record release show at a different club in Seattle. With the release shows under its belt and a series of DIY live videos gaining attention online, Pickwick managed to cultivate a strong local following by the middle of 2011.

By late 201, Seattle independent radio station KEXP caught wind of what the band was doing and began playing its music on-air. By the end of the year, Pickwick’s 7-inch series Myths was voted the #9 record of the year by KEXP listeners, alongside artists such as TV on the Radio, Fleet Foxes, Bon Iver, Wilco, Adele, and Radiohead.

Husband and wife team out of Seattle, Deep Sea Diver, opens the show for Pickwick.

When you have the kind of resume that Jessica Dobson does, you have options. You can continue to parlay your role as an established touring musician into enviable gigs that will earn you a paycheck, or you can choose to close that chapter for the chance to write another. Dobson recently opted for the latter, leaving behind her life as a touring guitarist lending support to a constellation of acts including Beck, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and The Shins, to focus completely on her own band, Deep Sea Diver, which she helms along with drummer and husband Peter Mansen.

Deep Sea Diver has enjoyed a swift rise through the Seattle music scene, to which they are relative newcomers. The attention they’ve garnered is attributable in part to a spell-binding live show in which the physicality of Mansen’s drumming is on full display, along with Dobson’s ability to command a room with nothing but her voice.

Tickets, $20 plus $3 ticketing fee, are on sale at sheridanoperahouse.com or by calling 970-728-6363 ext. 5 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

For a preview, watch Pickwick in performance.

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