Sparkfarmer’s album debuts after seven years of ‘bowling night’

March 2, 2010

By Christopher Huber

At left, Getty (left) flashes Dave Baumert a smile in the band’s Sammamish recording studio Feb. 4. By Christopher Huber

Members of the Sammamish-based band Sparkfarmer are the first to admit they don’t have any delusions of making it big, signing with a well-known label or touring the country in a fancy bus.

But they certainly love doing what they do.

The band, made up of longtime rockers, camping buddies and family men Dave Baumert, Getty, Steve Leigh and Tim Osborne, recently released their first CD — “Stereo Biplane.” They recorded the CD in Baumert’s Sammamish studio and Leigh produced it in Snoqualmie.

“It feels good. It easily could have languished on a shelf,” Leigh said.

The album took nearly seven years to complete — five years to record and master — and is a collection of such varying styles and sounds that Baumert and Getty said most people will have a tough time defining the band.

“If we have any dreams of success, it’s probably in the songwriting realm,” Baumert said.

The CD showcases each member’s unique musical talents and songwriting interests, from country to rock to blues. Their style is about as eclectic as their personal backgrounds.

“There’s no sense in this being able to work and it does,” Getty said. “I have no business playing with these guys, but I do and it’s fun.”

Getty comes from the swamps of Baton Rouge, La. At 13, he played saxophone for the Louisiana State University marching band. He eventually earned his chops on the harmonica and guitar as a member of numerous punk rock, blues and rock bands. The song “Point Blank” highlights his southern roots and “One Salty Tear” has a grungy twinge to it.

Baumert, a longtime Sammamish resident, has played bass throughout his life, but said he learned much of what he knows about the music business while working for a reggae band in Idaho. He also brings a country flavor to the band. He adds his seek-the-high-road lyrics in “Wish Me Luck” and “Uplink.”

You can learn notes and how to play, he said, but “it’s really how you push and pull ‘em where the magic happens.”

Leigh comes from the Eagles-era school of songwriting influence and plays a mean guitar. “Love So Deep” and “Won’t Stop Loving You” echo his classic 1970’s songwriter stylings.

“Steve is a madman, and it’s really not fair,” Baumert said.

Drummer Osborne was a member of the band Big Catholic Guilt, which was big in Europe, Baumert said. Listen to “All About You” and “West On I-10” to hear his range.

Baumert and Getty said their favorite from this CD is track No. 12, “Cascades Run-Off,” an instrumental piece, featuring slide guitar. The track came together in about a half-hour — five takes — they said.

“It was just one of those wonderful mistakes,” Getty said.

The music and recording quality heard in “Stereo Biplane” reflect that they seem to hold a high standard for what has become a Thursday night hobby, or what Getty likes to call “bowling night.” The members gather at the studio, crack open a cold beer, hang out for a bit and then dive into laying a bass line or finessing a beat in the editing room.

“You work at it until you’re not embarrassed about it anymore,” Baumert said.

Getty and Baumert attributed the band’s cohesiveness partially to the fact that it’s very part-time work. They all are married and work day jobs.

“Together seven years and never had an argument,” Getty said.

As a systems and analytics kind of guy, Baumert spends his days at Microsoft looking at data. He summed up his experience with Sparkfarmer by comparing data analysis and songwriting.

“This is a different way to process and analyze what life’s throwing at you,” Baumert said. “It’s a marriage.”

Getty practically finished his sentence.

“But we have a good one,” Getty said.

“Stereo Biplane” is available online at www.sparkfarmer.com.

Christopher Huber: 392-6434, ext. 242, or chuber@isspress.com. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.

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