Words, Photos & Video: Forest Beutel live at the Franciscan Polar Plaza ice rink

By Ron Swarner on December 28, 2014

Americana music owes its existence to the collision of post-punk insurgency with a modern take on the often rude sounds of old-time country, blues and bluegrass, with singer-songwriter fetishes thrown in for good measure. If that sounds like a mouthful, it's meant to be: Americana covers a pretty wide range of styles and performers, and last night Forest Beutel covered all aspects of Americana.

Tacoma musician Beutel performed at the Franciscan Polar Plaza ice-skating rink in downtown Tacoma as part of the Weekly Volcano's "Rhythm & Ice: Down Home Holiday Hoedown" music series. The Tacoma Art Museum asked us to produce the live music stage at the rink every Saturday night during its run. In conjunction with the "Art of the American West" exhibit across the street at TAM, we have booked seven Saturday nights of bluegrass, country rock and old-timey bands.

Beutel - a fixture of Tacoma's bluegrass scene, playing banjo for The Barleywine Revue, punkgrass outfit The Rusty Cleavers and matching Julie Campbell's fierce fiddle in Dixie Highway - picked at his banjo, blew his harmonica, pumped his bass drum and hi-hat, performing a mix of high-energy bluegrass, down-tempo blues and introspective lyrics for the skaters going in circles. Beutel held an ice-skating trick contest throughout the night, pointing out potential candidates in between songs off his new solo CD, If You Label Me, You Negate Me.

I shot a little amateur video last night, which features Beutel's songs "Don't Know No Other Way" and Good Ol' Boy" at the rink, and "Angus' Romp" during my intermission session at The Social Bar & Grill.

The Franciscan Polar Plaza ice rink at Tollefson Plaza is open to public ice-skating sessions across the street from TAM daily through Jan. 11.

The Weekly Volcano's last Rhythm & Ice: Down Home Holiday Hoedown bluegrass concert stars The Oly Mountain Boys 7-9 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 3. The quintet from Olympia will, no doubt, play tunes off their new bluegrass concept album, White Horse, which tells the story of a man named Charlie McCarver and his rough life in Washington state during the early 20th century. If you like your bluegrass complex, melodic and focused on weighty matters, then ice skate to this show Jan. 3. In the meantime, enjoy a few photos and a video (above) from Forest Beutel live at Polar Plaza Dec. 27.


Words, photos and video from Dixie Highway's live performance at Polar Plaza

Words, photos and video from The Rusty Cleavers' live performance at Polar Plaza

Words, photos and video from Shotgun Kitchen's live performance at Polar Plaza

Words, photos and video from SweetKiss Momma's live performance at Polar Plaza

Words, photos and a video from The Cottonwood Cutups' live performance at the Polar Plaza ice rink

The backstory and band schedule for the Weekly Volcano's Rhythm & Ice music series at the Franciscan Polar Plaza ice rink