By Tom Scanlon, Seattle Times, 1999
As a touring member of R.E.M., former Posies frontman Ken Stringfellow is accustomed to playing guitar in front of massive crowds in stadiums and arenas. The Posies never approached R.E.M.-like fame, but the power-pop band Stringfellow co-founded 11 years ago toured the country and Europe, winning critical acclaim for a half-dozen albums.
The Posies officially broke up in the fall, and now Stringfellow is returning to small clubs and crowds as he builds another Seattle band from scratch, Saltine.
Hardly the kind who has let success go to his head, Stringfellow doesn’t seem to mind going back to playing the Breakroom, the Velvet Elvis and other small clubs – and taking middle billing, to boot. “As a matter of fact, I’ve been trying desperately not to headline shows,” says the soft-spoken Stringfellow. “It would be premature – although we’re headlining the Crocodile, which is kind of intense.”
Saltine plays the Crocodile Cafe on Friday (10 p.m., $6, with Kinski), with Stringfellow singing new songs like “Reveal Love” and “Find Yourself Alone.” Since Stringfellow wrote and sang many Posies songs, alternating with fellow singer-songwriter Jon Auer, there are bound to be similarities.
“It’s inevitable,” Stringfellow says of comparisons to the Posies. “Obviously, my voice is something that’s consistent. . . . But I wouldn’t want to mislead anyone.”
Compared with the Posies sound, Saltine is “not quite as rock,” says Stringfellow, whose hair, symbolically or not, is quite a bit shorter than in the Posies’ mid-’90s heyday. “Saltine,” he continues, “is a little cleaner, in a certain way.” The other members of Saltine are Blake Wescott (guitar), John Haslip (bass) and Paul Mumaw (drums).