Rocky Votolato croons at the Q Café. Photo by Dusty Henry
Rocky Votolato croons at the Q Café. Photo by Dusty Henry
Folk music, coffee, and social cause converged Saturday night as One Days Wages and the Q Café in Interbay welcomed Rocky Votolato to the stage as well as Gabe Archer from the Pale Pacific.
The evening perfectly met the beginning of the autumn season: thoughtful, introspective music with the whir of coffee being brewed in the background. Votolato's alternative-country sound filled the room themes of desperation, hope, and questioning philosophy.
"Sometimes the most profound things are the simplest," Votolato said. Since his solo debut in 1999, Votolato has been a vital part of Seattle's singer-songwriter music scene.
As a musician, Votolato cites legends such as Neil Young and Kris Kristofferson as some of his biggest influences. What really sets Votolato apart are his lyrics and love for authors such as Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau.
"I love thinking about those big ideas and putting them into concise, simple lines," Votolato said.
While pursuing his degree in English literature at the University of Washington, Votolato also took many classes on philosophy and continues to study philosophies and spiritual ideas. Seeing what other cultures think about life and trying to find the common thread is something he enjoys, he said. Votolato offers his interpretations of these ideas in his songs, such as the track "Sparklers" from his latest album "True Devotion."
"Sometimes you have to let go trying to control everything," Votolato said about the song. Between his songs about the big questions of life, Votolato also sings songs of appreciation. During his performance, Votolato described how his son helped him write the song, "Tinfoil Hats," by telling him how to keep aliens from reading his mind.
The coffee shop venue was actually somehow of a departure from Votolato's most recent live shows. Votolato just finished a nationwide house-show tour where fans signed up to have him play at their house in front of 30 to 50 people. The shows, he said, were organic and intimate and said its been great making an authentic connection with fans.
"I just feel really happy with where my career is," Votolato said. Since recording the new album things just keep getting better, he said. Already Votolato is starting to write for a new album, which will likely mark a return to his country roots.
Votolato has teamed up with One Day's Wages by headlining the benefit show but also donating 10 percent of the royalties from his latest album to the organization. Votolato is no stranger to playing shows for a cause. He has played shows in the past advocating for the environment and animals writes with organizations such as People for Puget Sound and the International Fund For Animal Welfare.
"It's fun for me and I feel grateful having the opportunity to give back," Votolato said.
Fremont-based One Day's Wages got its start nearly one-year ago when Eugene Cho and his wife, Minhi Cho, decided to flesh out their conversation about what would happen if everyone gave their wages from one day of work to help end poverty, their intern Max Sutherland said.
"We have a strong focus on social media and partnerships," Sutherland said. One Day's Wages has also partnered up with bands The Courage and Sea Fever as well as releasing a compilations album "Songs For A Cause" which featured tracks donated from OK Go, Blitzen Trapper, The Moondoggies, among others.
"You don't need to be a superstar like Bono to make a difference," Sutherland said.