Sir Mix-A-Lot, Pickwick to Perform at Seattle Symphony's Sonic Evolution

Sonic Evolution gives popular music the symphonic treatment

!--paging_filter--pOne of the many cool things about the Seattle Symphony’s groundbreaking Sonic Evolution program, according to maestro Ludovic Morlot, is that it brings people to Benaroya Hall who’ve never been there before. People such as, say, Sir Mix-A-Lot, who, before the photo shoot for this magazine, had never set foot inside the phenomenal concert hall (he was visibly wowed by the acoustics), but who will take the stage there this month—with the symphony playing backup on a new orchestration of his songs “Posse on Broadway” and “Baby Got Back.” brbrSurprising new takes on much loved Seattle music is the whole point of Sonic Evolution, an innovative program Morlot first dreamed up for the 2011–2012 season—his first as music director of the symphony. “The best way to grow is through unusual and unexpected collaborations,” he says. “They give a different perspective on so many things.” brbrIn the case of Sonic Evolution, the collaboration takes two forms. First, world premieres by acclaimed young composers from all over the world, whom the symphony commissions to write entirely new pieces that pay tribute to Seattle’s ongoing music heritage. Past events have featured stunning original work based on the music of Jimi Hendrix, Kurt Cobain, Quincy Jones, Alice in Chains and Blue Scholars. Next year’s plans include a composition based on Pearl Jam’s oeuvre, and Macklemore is on the list of options for future iterations. brbrThis year’s inspirations are jazz pioneer Bill Frisell (reshaped by Portuguese composer Luís Tinoco), Ray Charles (tackled by Shanghai native composer Du Yun) and Sir Mix-A-Lot (remixed a lot by English composer Gabriel Prokofiev, grandson of the legendary Sergei Prokofiev). But don’t expect to hear glorified Muzak versions of the music. For the composers, Morlot explains, “The rule is it can’t just be an orchestration of the songs. They need to look at the whole landscape of the work, the style of sounds used, even the messages in the lyrics. They can’t quote material. We don’t want the audience to recognize any of the songs.” brbrWhile this might sound counterintuitive to fans (“Just play the hits!”), at previous Sonic Evolution shows, the tactic has proved a huge success—thanks especially to Morlot’s selection of highly inventive composers. Listeners are treated to complex new soundscapes that honor and echo the source material (a familiar chord here, a scrap of reminiscent rhythm there) without being enslaved by it. brbrThe second component of Sonic Evolution is live performance by an up-and-coming local band, which plays several of its own songs as orchestrated for the full symphony. Star Anna and Hey Marseilles received this honor at the previous two installments, and this year is a special case—with both Sir Mix-A-Lot (whose real name is Anthony Ray) and soul-inflected indie rock band Pickwick performing songs (orchestrated by Prokofiev and composer David Campbell, respectively) upstage as the Grammy-nominated orchestra plays along right behind them.brbrThe intention of all this, Morlot says, is to “expand the symphonic repertoire by commissioning young composers, and give attention to the Seattle music scene by collaborating with local bands.” He emphasizes that all the musicians involved—the composers, invited performers and symphony players—benefit in this scenario, because everyone brings some piece of the experience back to their own music making. Sir Mix-A-Lot knows exactly what he means. “You hear things really differently when you’re coming from a different genre,” he says. “And I always incorporate the new sounds I hear into my music.” Sir Mix-A-Lot is thrilled by what he’s heard so far of Prokofiev’s orchestration. “The integrity of the song is there, but it sounds huge,” he marvels.brbrA portion of the crowd will attend Sonic Evolution specifically to hear Sir Mix-A-Lot—in whatever form—which is, of course, part of the impetus behind the program: to bring new audiences to the symphony. “It’s exciting because some people will come for Sir Mix-A-Lot, some will come for Pickwick, some will come because they are eager to hear the new voices of the young composers,” says Morlot. “These audiences are always very mixed.” The symphony reports that single-ticket buyers, which include new attendees, make up about 22 percent of the Sonic Evolution audience. Approximately 29 percent of these new attendees will return for other symphony concerts.brbrBut in addition to making the symphony compelling to new (and younger) crowds, Morlot believes Sonic Evolution comes closer to symphonic concerts of yore. “It’s important to remember that the concert hall was originally a place where music making happened collaboratively, sometimes improvisationally. We’ve lost this idea over the years,” he says. “But when you come to the concert hall, you should be able to hear music written by living composers, who share the stage with all kinds of different artists.”brembrSonic Evolution. 6/6. 8 p.m. $19–$29. Benaroya Hall, 200 University St.; 206.215.4747; a href="" target="_blank"

Sandwiches, Chipotle, and Thai: What The Wind and The Wave’s Dwight Baker Eats on Tour

Sandwiches, Chipotle, and Thai: What The Wind and The Wave’s Dwight Baker Eats on Tour

Spoiler alert: There's no love lost for pizza
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Dwight Baker and Patricia Lynn of The Wind and The Wave.

I met Dwight Baker earlier this year in Austin, where he lives with his family and runs a recording studio producing everyone from Brandi Carlile to Bob Schneider. He’s also a member of The Wind and The Wave, a soaring pop duo he shares with co-founder Patricia Lynn. The pair is currently on tour with Kaleo, and the whole gang visits the Neptune Theatre tonight.

Dwight is a fellow who lives with gusto in the studio and beyond, as quick to crack a joke as he is to crack the whip when it comes to ordering lunch. We caught up last night after the band’s Portland set and talked about his food passions on the road, a fondly remembered pork belly burrito somewhere in New Jersey, and his particular notions about pizza.

Tell us about The Wind and The Wave.
We are a band that basically started on accident; two friends hanging out in the studio with some time off. We wrote our first record and got signed to RCA about two months after we wrote it, amd we’ve kind of been going ever since. We’re on Island Records now and our second record comes out in four days, Happiness is Not a Place.

Now tell us about what you eat on the road.
There’s lot of food deserts in the country where there aren’t a lot of options at all. On those days, it’s a lot of Chipotle. Whatever is easy to find in the middle of Nevada, shit like that. I always love Thai. The good thing about Thai is that it’s rarely great, but it’s always fine, it's always pretty good.

Like pizza. Even when it's bad, it’s good.
Exactly. Thai food is Asian pizza, for sure. I love Vietnamese on the road for the same reason. A vermicelli bowl with chicken for me is hard to fuck up. Once again, very rare that I love these Vietnamese meals, but they’re always pretty good.

Where have you found the most surprising meal on the road?
Asbury Park, New Jersey, but I don't remember the name of the place, you’d have to look it up. It’s some place that has Korean barbecue right there in Asbury Park and they had a pork belly burrito: it sounds fucking weird, but it was so good. I ate a huge burrito and I was like, should I get one to go? And I got one to go. I want to go play Asbury Park just to eat there again.

You’re now in a part of the nation with a rockin’ Asian fusion scene of its own. Pok Pok’s a big deal in Portland, you heard of it?
I don't think so. There’s a place called Double Dragon here. I should mention, I like pork belly a lot. At Double Dragon they have a pork belly bahn mi sandwich that is pretty legit. [But] I don't think I’ll get there on this trip. We actually had some pretty amazing pasta today; homemade pasta from Grassa, I believe it was. I had a carbonara with a fried egg that was delicious. This place was really good, and cheap.

What are your plans for eating in Seattle?
When I go to Seattle, it’s tough to get me to do much else than sushi. I eat too much sushi anyway, I’m probably pretty mercury poisoned, but it’s delicious there, especially the salmon sushi. I hate cooked salmon, hate it. I think it’s terrible. I don’t like the smell of it, I think it's too oily, too fishy in the wrong ways. Salmon sushi was introduced to me by a friend there; they have deep red salmon sushi I had never even seen before, like the ubiquitous toro, which is delicious. This guy brought out, like, six different types of salmon, and it was the most delicious meal I’ve had in a long time.

Where does your love of food come from? A result of being on the road, as a longtime touring musician? Or is the world of food and dining something you’ve always had an interest in?
I think it's partly being on tour for so long, yeah. But I think a lot of it is when I’m not on tour, I’m just in the studio all day long. You can ask anyone who works with me, the lunch order is the most important decision. Like, where are we going to send the [studio] runners for lunch? I’m usually asking that question by 10 a.m. What are we going to do for lunch? It usually ends up being some sort of Thai or Vietnamese.

I think it’s because I’m cooped up, and when I leave, I don’t just want to go into the house. I’ve been inside all day. I haven’t been in the world, I haven’t seen people, or talked to anybody other than a bunch of dumb band guys. I just want to go eat something and have a drink and be loud. I feel like [eating and dining out is] more to experience some life everyday.

What else, Dwight?
I’ll say this. Patti, my musical partner, often we pull up to the venue, put our backpacks on, and start walking. I think a lot of time you can stumble onto a restaurant that might now not show up in Yelp or Thrillist, or those sites that tell you where to go now. I think exploring cities and walking around is an important way to find things. There are some cities where if you don't know a local you're not going to find things, but most cities where the venues are, there's some cultural scene around it.

My favorite thing to do is walk and stumble into to a place. In fact, we usually don’t like Philadelphia, it’s just not our town for whatever reason. But this last time we were in Philly, we walked down this street we’ve walked down so many times, past this little Italian place we’ve walked so many times, and we were like, fuck, let’s go get some pasta and this place was unbelievable. It was so good. It was such a great discovery, in a place where you never find a good meal unless you’re into cheesesteaks. Well, now we have a place where we can go.

A great meal can really change your perception of a town, can’t it?

A really shitty snowy day, where at the end of the day you know you’re going to sit down and have a warm bowl of homemade spaghetti, and eat some bread and drink some pinot grigio? That’s a killer night to me, better than a night, you know, with lots of snow and you end up in your hotel room ordering a fucking pizza. Don’t get me wrong, I love pizza, but pizza is a last resort.

Pizza will always be there.
Pizza is the: Well shit, let’s get pizza.

The Wind and The Wave. The Neptune Theatre, University District. 10/25, 7:30 p.m.