Arts and Entertainment

Face-melting acoustic riffage by The Senate at Evergreen Coffeehouse

The Senate is comprised of Nick Drummond, center, and Oliver Franklin on guitar and Andrew Pulkrabrek on stand-up bass. -
The Senate is comprised of Nick Drummond, center, and Oliver Franklin on guitar and Andrew Pulkrabrek on stand-up bass.
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MARYSVILLE — Paul Henderson insists that music fans should throw away all their preconceived notions about acoustic rock music before listening to The Senate, a Seattle-based band that will perform in Marysville Saturday, Jan. 10 at the Evergreen Coffeehouse.

“Throw them out the window,” said Henderson, owner of the former acoustic music venue, Wired and Unplugged, in Snohomish.

Henderson plays music with the coordinator of the Evergreen Coffeehouse in a folk trio called Real Folk.

“Dennis [Griffiths] was getting a little burned out, so Paul offered to help,” said Kim Longmore, Henderson’s partner and fellow owner of Wired and Unplugged.

Longmore said The Senate always packed the house when they performed at the Snohomish club.

“We had 70 seats and The Senate always filled every seat,” she said, explaining they closed the venue because it wasn’t covering their costs.

The Senate is comprised of a former African drummer, Nick Drummond, now playing guitar, and a guitarist with a classical background, Oliver Franklin. Andrew Pulkrabrek plays stand-up bass and other things.

“In the process of running Wired and Unplugged, we met a lot of talented young musicians,” Longmore said. “The Senate was the best of all of them.”

“They are a rare fusion of talents and minds with an even rarer agenda,” Henderson said.

The band strives to push the acoustic sound barrier beyond known limitations and they do it without percussion.

Franklin is a rock-n-roll guitarist with a classical background and Drummond is an African drummer-turned guitarist. They have teamed up to create “face-melting acoustic riffage,” according to their Web site.

They plan to pack the coffeehouse at the Evergreen Unitarian Universalists Fellowship hall.

“This band will dismantle any leftover biases with their explosive sound,” said Henderson who is confident that new fans will never again look at a set of acoustic strings in the same way.

The Senate formed in 2002 when a rock-and-roll guitarist with a classical background, Oliver Franklin, went to a local coffeehouse to hear a solo set by African drummer-turned guitarist Nick Drummond. Though the two had been high school classmates, Franklin was unprepared for what he heard that night.

“Nick’s music had a rhythmic approach to the guitar that I had never heard before,” Franklin said.

Then 19, the two musicians swapped songs after the show and soon began writing and playing shows together. Jazz bassist Andrew Pulkrabek, Franklin’s grade-school friend and frequent musical collaborator, went to one of their early shows and heard something new as well.

“I had no idea acoustic instruments could rock so hard,” said the bassist, who was invited to join the other two in 2005 for a benefit concert. The band’s lineup was then complete.

Their diverse backgrounds in music ranged from Afro-pop to heavy metal to musical theater. The variety proved to be an asset as they began to develop their unique sound using acoustic guitars, an upright bass, and three voices.

“We talked about finding a drummer, but it turned out we didn’t need one,” Drummond said.

The Senate’s songs range from simple and introspective to driving and chaotic with lyrics about sex, death, power, love, war and drinking in space.

While they seldom agree on their influences, the following names have been mentioned: The Beatles, Bob Dylan, Ben Harper, Led Zeppelin, Iron Maiden, Tom Waits, Alice Cooper, D’Gary, Elvis Costello, Bela Fleck and the Flecktones, Marilyn Manson, Dave Matthews Band, Frank Sinatra, Monster Magnet, The Beach Boys, Radiohead, Black Sabbath, AC/DC, Opeth, Beck, and early Motown records.

Opening for the Senate is an incredible young singer songwriter from Snohomish, Magdeline. “She is a gifted writer, whose songs the reach the heart,” Henderson said.

“Magdeline got her start at Wired and Unplugged in Snohomish and continues to play in the area.” Her EP, Scrapbook Similes, was released a year ago.

“They are all pretty dang impressive,” Longmore said.

For information on The Senate go to their Web site at and about the concert series, go to

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