We got gypped here in the great Pacific Northwest this year on the whole notion of “spring” (congratulations on finally thawing out though!), so it’s my belief we now have to pack an entire run of spring fever/happy-fun-times into just one month. And that month is upon us (act fast, summer’s coming…).

The big/obvious happy-fun-time this month is the 8th annual SASQUATCH! MUSIC FESTIVAL happening May 23-25 at the Gorge, featuring headliners Kings of Leon and Yeah Yeah Yeahs (Saturday), Jane’s Addiction and Nine Inch Nails (Sunday), and Ben Harper and Erykah Badu (Monday), along with local James Pants. As of press time, tickets were flyinnnnn’ fast, so if you’ve not purchased yet, hop to it!

As always, keep an eye on those smaller acts. Watch for VINCE MIRA (the teenager who channels Johnny Cash) opening the festival mainstage, alongside regional artists like Loch Lomond, the Dutchess and the Duke, and Fences, as well as the larger tier, like Of Montreal, the Walkmen, TV on the Radio and Silversun Pickups who always delight.

As for the lovely Gorge Amphitheatre, unlike in year’s past, the venue’s season actually will begin one week PRIOR to the festival (BRING BLANKETS!!!), on May 16 with the Dead, the Allman Brothers and the Doobie Brothers. That one’s sold out.

The weekend following Sasquatch!, you have your own 3-day extravaganza of a tradition—that of ELKFEST. Stepping it up from last year, ‘09 holds a bevy of treats. Seattle’s SHIM returns for the 4th year in a row. So rare a treat to see those lights and smoke outside! Love it! Also trekking from my side of the state, PICKWICK (who’ve shared a bill or two with Karli Fairbanks), MOONDOGGIES (signed to SubPop subsidiary Hardly Art), and 9-piece (f’real!) folk-rockers THE MALDIVES.

The Maldives just signed a deal with Seattle’s Mt. Fuji Records (home of the Whore Moans, the Cops and more), after spending the last year becoming the talk of the town/region. As guitarist Jason Dodson explained, the partnership came naturally. “We came up with a list of things we wanted from a label. Mike [Jaworski, owner of Mt. Fuji] was the first person we talked to, and he said all the right things, before we even had a chance to ask for what we wanted. It felt comfortable, it felt right, and since we already knew him, it felt like family.”

They are looking to summer releases for both an EP, Tequila Someday, and full-length, Listen to the Thunder, both recorded with Kory Kruckenberg. Sold-out shows at Seattle’s premiere venues, and a handful of Spokane appearances considered, I’m thinking this outdoor performance is not-to-be-missed. (As a fun side note, and nice nod in the interest of outdoor-tie-in… bass player Chris Warner is a Spokane native, and his sister is local—your local, not mine—tri-athlete Annie Warner! Local celeb alert!)

Elkfest happens, you guessed it, outside the Elk in Browne’s Addition, May 29-31, and features these artists PLUS James Pants, Velella Velella, The Globes, The Booze Fighters (who are also making a couple of stops at ZOLA this month, on the 16th and 30th, as well as throughout the summer) and more!

Annnnd lastly… after being deemed uncool by a particular A&E Editor in town, I gave a listen to duo HENRY NORDSTROM (b-t-dub, that’s confusing, guys… for clarification, it’s one dude, named Henry, and a guitarist, Vaughn Wood) and must heartily recommend. It’s slow and murky and I’m not sure Spokane’s had something this “cool” around in awhile. For fear of sharing my uncool shame, have a listen.

CD of the Month

SILVERSUN PICKUPS
Swoon (Dangerbird Records)
There have been some seriously solid albums released recently (such as: The Thermals’ Now We Can See, Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ It’s Blitz!, The Decemberists’ The Hazards of Love, etc.) But Silversun Pickups had me at “hello,” so to speak, and by “hello,” I mean the debut single from this album, “Panic Switch.” I’ve long counted myself a member of the Silversun army, but couldn’t get past “Kissing Families” (from Pikul) as my personal favorite. Swoon, however, offers quite a few new ditties over which to, oh god…wait for it… swoon. It’s true that with the Pickups you know what you’re getting, and the new effort does little to detract from what’s been said over and over about this band, the gist (largely) of which is that they are one of the most solid acts playing today, and deserving of never-ending praise.