Band of the Week: Simon Kornelis

Need to know: He's writing a full length album about cats
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With so much happening in Seattle's bustling music scene these days, how do you even know where to start? Allow the highly trained culture curators of Seattlemag.com to help with Band of the Week. This week, we catch up with Simon Kornelis, a hardworking Seattle guitar slinger who crafts a country blues sound, and who's shared the stage with local and touring talent (Jon Dee Graham, The Quiet Life) alike. He's working on a full length album about cats, and plays the Sunset this Sunday with ragtime jazz legend Del Rey and Ben Hunter & Joe Seamons. 

What's your story, Simon? I was inspired to learn to play country blues after hearing Mississippi John Hurt. After moving to the Taebaek Mountains of South Korea, I immersed myself in country blues and later moved to hybrid style guitar playing. My newest full band is called "Steakhaus" and I perform mostly on electric guitar. I think singing about your problems is awesome; I just don't want to hear you talk about them.

What have you been working on these days? I tend to lean toward narcissism in my music and in the past have felt unsatisfied with certain songs that I feel were written from a place of selfishness. Lately, I've been inspired by women writers and learning about their experiences. My newest material has been inspired and directly based on new poems by Carolyne Wright, a Seattle poet and educator. We were introduced through the Jack Straw Cultural Center Anthology collaboration with Bushwick Book Club Seattle. Her poetry is very lyrical, straightforward and in my not-so-charming description, "no bullshit." My newest song is called "Maureen."

What does being an artist/musician/band in Seattle mean to you? Being an artist in Seattle means that I have the opportunity to perform or interact with other artists when I look for it. I appreciate being able to find shows, the ability to find gear for cheap and the opportunity to make music for as cheaply or as expensive as I choose. The last few years I've tried to put a positive spin and outlook on my experiences and I think this has definitely led to a more fulfilling experience, especially performing. I must also throw out there that Tacoma isn't far away and has a great scene, you just need to reach for it.

What’s next? I perform with some of the nation's top country blues talent this Sunday at the Sunset Tavern. Ben Hunter and Joe Seamons are award-winning blues artists. Del Rey is one of my guitar heroes, she's a Seattle icon and true master. She does not perform too often and this is her first performance in a few months.

I also recently recorded electric guitar with Bart Budwig and in the spring he'll release his new album, Paint By Numbers Jesus. I'm also going to have a baby in the spring and finally start finishing my album about cats, I Knead You The Most and Other Feline Spirituals. There aren't enough cat albums, that's my theory. 

Womxn's March: Signs, Outtakes and Observations

Womxn's March: Signs, Outtakes and Observations

How could a bunch of people wearing handmade hats be wrong?
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A widely photographed sign from the Seattle's Womxn's March

A number of Seattle magazine editorial staff attended Saturday's historic Womxn's March. These are their reflections of the event. 

I was about 9 or 10 the first time I was thrown from a horse. Horses can be skittish, especially when they hear something but can’t see it. That was what happened on the trail that day, something moving in the brush. Before I knew it, I was on the ground and my horse was bolting towards the barn. It was the first time I had the wind knocked out of me, too.

When Donald Trump nabbed his electoral college win (not to be confused with the popular vote), it was as if my comfortable ride, cruising along in Seattle’s progressive bubble, jolted to a stop, knocking my wind out with it. 

But Saturday’s march, which some estimates say drew nearly 175,000 people, restored my wind, and my voice too, as I chanted and whooped along with groups of sign-toting old women and young women dressed as suffragettes, little boys in Batman costumes, men in “pussy” hats, familes spanning generations, folks in wheelchairs. The collective display of resistance—to the bigotry, facism and xenophobia that has bubbled to the surface alongside Trump's rise—was really something to see. This is what makes America great: All of its people, people of all ages, races, orientations and abilities, coming together. That the demonstration went off without a hitch or altercation, that voices were raised in solidarity and not rage, gave further creedence to the issues that gathered us together. I mean, I have never seen such a mass assembly of homemade knitwear in my life; how could a bunch of people wearing handmade hats be wrong?

Saturday I was reminded there can be an upside to getting your wind knocked out: in the moment it takes you to catch your breath, have a good look around. That day on the trail as I sat stunned and gasping, I spotted a doe and her fawns—that noise in the brush—trepidly coming out of the woods. Last Saturday, in Seattle alone, the scene was over a hundred thousand peaceful protesters, holding hands, trading high fives and united in a common hope. GWENDOLYN ELLIOTT

 


Kindness: it's a quality that is far too underappreciated in this day and age, seems particularly fleeting and, therefore, precious. Many of us have experienced complicated feelings of grief in the wake of the election results. My own grief has taken many twists and turns, but has held steadfast to an undercurrent of raw anger; an anger at others and at myself that I don’t think will ever fully go away. Anger, specifically when expressed by women and people of color, is often seen as a negative. But in our current times, I don’t see anger as a sign of being out of control. I see it as a form of passion, a way of caring so much that it lights a fire inside that cannot be held within the body any longer.

 

 

On Saturday, I was prepared to see anger, but I was disarmed to find something else: a transfiguration of pent up, sharp emotion into calm passion. Typical Seattle, where else could spirit appear so serene? The thing about kindness is that it’s not ostentatious, but gentle. The quietest gestures have some of the deepest resonance. And that’s what I saw: people being kind to one another, simply, quietly, gently. Strangers reached out to each other with conversation, humor, comfort and even snacks! Policemen, window washers, firemen, bus drivers and others at work smiled and waved. Marchers contributed to local businesses and those businesses supported them right back (thanks Phở Bắc for letting us charge our dying phones while we gratefully dined on your phenomenal pho and iced coffees). There is no one magical march that can singlehandedly change the course of things to come, and there’s a tremendous amount of work to be done, but I needed to see people being kind to each otherbecause seeing is believingand I think our country needed it, too. Stay angry, but above all else, stay kind. NIA MARTIN



The sheer numbers of marchers were amazing, and the camaraderie among them infectious. I really loved the signs, though—so many of them creative expressions of the fears and frustrations of the marchers. Wouldn't it be great if someone collected and exhibited them? It would be an inspiring tribute to this event. VIRGINIA SMYTH

I was blown away with the peacefulness and positivity of the march. It felt more like a cathartic victory rally than a protest with everyone coming together for the same reasons. Really empowering and just the shot in the arm we all needed to continue fighting the good fight.

A friend did, however, note an important point, as she observed police in soft gear and on bicycles, whereas at the Black Lives Matter march two months ago, they were outfitted in riot gear. "Why police lining the route and following every move of the BLM marchers but not this day?" she asked. "We know why. It's not okay."

For every small step forward made on Saturday (and there were millions of them around the world), perhaps our boldest leaps are still ahead. RACHEL HART


Seattle magazine reader Jenni Kane knitted 29 hats for the event; she gave her last one to Tom Douglas, pictured here with her