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Teasing the crowd PDF Print E-mail
Written by Laurel Eddy   
Friday, 22 November 2002 00:00

Almost kissing the microphone, singer Brandi Carlile stood on her tiptoes and swung her guitar to the beat of the music, then let it dangle from her neck. When she sang Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Sweet Home Alabama," everyone at the Grand Avenue Ale House sang along.

The Brandi Carlile Band is based in Seattle but is a regular to the Bellingham music scene and will be playing again in early December. The band is about to sign a record contract, guitarist Keith Wright said.

"(Fans) love us now, and they want to marry us and hump us," he said. "Brandi is a lesbian. That helped us a lot at Western. Our female following is pretty substantial."

The "Bitch Parking -- all others will be slapped" sign in the bar and what Wright described as a "pretty butch" clientele fit the band's image.

Carlile said she did not think being a lesbian would affect her record deal.

"I think that since it's not a big deal for me, that people subscribe to that," she said.

Carlile, a native of Black Diamond, said she is the star of her small town. She said since she is comfortable with her lifestyle, others are too.

She said the band members constantly joke around with each other.

"If you take it too seriously, then the only people that come to see you are those dark, weird, angry people who want you to sing depressing music," she said.

Carlile and Wright teased each other throughout the performance. After the band played "Fat Bottomed Girls," by Queen, Wright told the audience he wrote the song about Carlile.

"Turn around, Brandi," Wright said. "Check it out. A lot of junk in that trunk."

Ale House manager Shellie Veit said Carlile has a powerful voice.

"It's chick music, definitely," Veit said. "The first week they packed the house. We had standing room only, and everyone was singing."

Bellingham resident Manoah Mannion said he enjoyed both the sound of Carlile's voice and the lyrics.

"It's very emotional," Mannion said. "It's uplifting. It's her own way of getting through issues and helping other people get through issues. It's wonderful healing music, all that mushy stuff."

He said he has seen the band in Bellingham three times, with the most recent performance on Oct. 28 at the Ale House.

The band plays in Bellingham as often as possible, band member Scott Mercado said.

"I wish we lived up here," Mercado said. "It's got a lot cooler vibe for live music. It's more open, not so many DJs. Seattle has pretty much gone from the live-music mecca to the DJs. There's a genuine love of live music - much more earthy-type vibe. I don't see much polyester here."

Mercado said the clientele of the Ale House seemed less fake and contrived than Seattle crowds, and the bar itself had a lot more character.

"Big ugly swordfish on the wall, dollar bills on the ceiling; I love it," he said.

He said Seattle does not have bars with the funky style of the Ale House anymore.

"Bellingham is my favorite place to play," Carlile said. "We're a little pent up. We've been playing all week in Seattle. We all decided to get together and have sex."

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