4 Days After Murders, Musical Mourners Improvise A Tribute | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio
Filed Under:

4 Days After Murders, Musical Mourners Improvise A Tribute

Play associated audio

Cafe Racer is a coffeehouse and bar in Seattle near the University of Washington. Last Wednesday, it was the site of a shooting that left four people dead.

Cafe Racer is also a music venue, home to a Sunday-night improvisational jam session called The Racer Sessions. Sunday night's Racer Session wasn't inside — it was too soon for that — but the show did go on.

The cafe was still locked, the windows papered over, and a memorial of flowers and photos was still piling up on the sidewalk. So cellist David Balatero and other regulars decided to play in the alley.

"We kind of just pulled all the cars out and set up a makeshift stage out here, and got a bunch of amplifiers," he said. "And it looks like more people are showing up now with more amplifiers and guitars and gear." A lot of faces were familiar, he said.

Hundreds of people crowded into the alley and on neighboring rooftops to watch. The 13 musicians had a brief huddle: All they really had in mind was a rough structure, but they knew they'd start with a mournful drone.

As the droning grew, some in the audience no doubt found themselves imagining the scene inside the cafe on Wednesday morning. A 40-year-old man, perhaps mentally disturbed, walked into the tiny, artsy space — with a gun.

Of the five people he shot, four died. One of them was Drew Keriakedes, a burlesque performer and musician who helped create the Racer Sessions and often played along. These musicians knew him and the other victims, and as they played Sunday night, they cried.

As the improvisation stretched on, the music — and the players' expressions — grew angrier. After 45 minutes, the musicians finally took their applause, looking red-eyed and winded.

A new group of musicians started warming up, and double bass player Abbey Blackwell struggled to explain what she'd been thinking during the piece.

"I don't know — it kind of went in and out of actually thinking about what happened here, and then actually thinking about the music," she said. "It was definitely a weird, in-between place. It doesn't really make much sense."

Less than a week after the murders inside Cafe Racer, that probably comes closest to explaining the mood here.

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR

After A Ho-Hum Summer, Hollywood Ramps Up For Fall

Until Guardians of the Galaxy came along, this year's box office figures were the worst in years. But critic Bob Mondello says there are bound to be some fall films that get pulses pounding again.
NPR

These 5 Crops Are Still Hand-Harvested, And It's Hard Work

Saffron, vanilla, palm oil, cacao and cottonseed oil are still picked by hand in some parts of the world. Sometimes that manual labor shows up in the price of the food; sometimes it doesn't.
NPR

Obama Fires Opening Salvo In Fall Congressional Campaign

At a Labor Day picnic in Milwaukee, the president accused the GOP of blocking economic initiatives. He urged the sympathetic union audience to turn their frustration into political action in November.
NPR

Why Do We Blindly Sign Terms Of Service Agreements?

Audie Cornish talks with University of Chicago Law School professor Omri Ben-Shahar about terms of service agreements for software and websites.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.