By Tom Scanlon, Seattle Times, 2000
The Posies, for many a pop-rock life raft in a murky sea of ’90s grunge, are back.
Jon Auer and Ken Stringfellow, Seattle’s Lennon and McCartney, are playing together regularly for the first time since the Posies split in 1998 – but they are playing without longtime Posies Mike Musburger and Joe “Bass” Howard.
The two singer-songwriters are releasing a Posies album the duo recorded live at the Showbox in February. The two Posies are kicking off a tour this week, with shows tonight at Redmond’s Old Fire House (8 p.m., $5, all ages, 425-556-2370), and at the Showbox on Tuesday (8 p.m., $8).
Stringfellow and Auer, friends since their childhoods in Bellingham, started playing around Seattle coffeehouses and bars as the Posies a dozen years ago. Their first album was recorded as a duo, with drummer Musburger and bass player Rick Roberts joining shortly after; Howard joined the group in 1994, after Roberts quit the band. Musburger also left the Posies in the mid-’90s, and was replaced by Brian Young. (Musburger rejoined the Posies for the band’s last tour, in 1998.)
Stringfellow said he and Auer didn’t ask any former bandmates what they thought about their plans. “The Posies belongs to Jon and I, so we didn’t feel we needed to check in with anyone else,” the soft-spoken Stringfellow said last week.
In any case, it is rather curious that Stringfellow would decide to commit so much time – at least a month tour, possibly more – to a Posies reunion. He has hardly been lacking for work as a post-Posie, and indeed is having a remarkable year.
After touring with R.E.M., Stringfellow has been recording with the rock superstars; his guitar work was featured on one of the songs on the “Man on the Moon” soundtrack, and he is helping with the new R.E.M. album.
Stringfellow also has a promising band of his own called Saltine, which has played quite a bit around Seattle, and is currently recording an album with producer Mitch Easter, who has worked with R.E.M. and many others.
And Stringfellow and Auer will be rejoining Big Star, the legendary Alex Chilton band, for a Bumbershoot show.
Yet here Stringfellow is, back with a project he thought he had left for good two years ago. It started in January, when Stringfellow and Auer were individually invited to an open-mike party at the Crocodile Cafe where they sang on stage together.
“We just had a great time. So we decided to do a show at the Showbox in February, and that went really well.”