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Friday, January 6, 1995 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Bananafish: Energetic Sound, Hopeful Music

----------------------------------------------------------------- Concert preview

Bananafish, with Motherlode and Karen Pernick, Everett Community Theater, 2710 Wetmore Ave., Everett, tomorrow, 8 p.m. Tickets, adults $15 ($12 advance), children $7.50 ($6 advance). Information: 1-800 733-2031. -----------------------------------------------------------------

In 1991, at an open mike in the now-gone Parker's, singer/percussionist Tom Kennedy asked singer/songwriter/guitarist Jay Pinto to back him on a Beatles song. Kennedy had just arrived in Seattle from Iowa, and Pinto was also a recent transplant from Massachusetts by way of Northern California. Although they had just met, an instant bond was struck. The two became Bananafish and took to the streets.

The name comes from the whimsical but ultimately tragic J.D. Salinger short story, "A Perfect Day For Bananafish." The streets the duo took to were primarily those in Pike Place Market, where they busked several days a week and actually managed to make a living doing it, no small feat as playing for passersby is not only a test of one's musicianship but emotional and physical mettle as well.

Pinto and Kennedy, however, seem to have reveled in it. Their talent and tenacity led to other gigs - both indoors and out - and the recording of their first independently produced cassette "Bananafish." The duo had built a substantial mailing list from the tourists they met on Seattle's streets and in the clubs and in a short time the recording had literally sold "worldwide."

They followed last year with the studio-produced CD "There Must Be A Place," recorded with the help of Heart guitarist Howard Leese. Now Bananafish has put out a third work: "Tomorrow Never Knows" on the indie label Paget Press.

The Pinto/Kennedy sound on the surface is bright and unencumbered, their clean, high harmonies easily intertwine around the often graceful melody of the compositions, most written by Pinto. But the sweetness of their singing can be misleading. Although the songs are usually about heart and heartland, they can travel a troubled terrain. On Pinto's "Even As I Rise" from the new release, the two sing "Waste a minute here and a minute there, next thing you know there's not a minute to spare. You know it's not right, it's not even fair, it's been so long you don't even care. Oh no, even as I rise I'm falling down."

In the best folk tradition that kind of lament can carry over to larger social issues, but in the end, Bananafish doesn't allow itself to linger too long in melancholia. Ultimately the band sings with an effervescent energy and the expression of hope.

Pinto and Kennedy recorded the new album over a 10-day stretch at Redmond's Triad Studios with drummer Steve Smith and guitarist Kevin Jones of the band 3 Track Mind, bassist Paul Gabrielson and keyboard sax-man Marty Jourard. Even with the extra instrumentation, the tandem vocals, melodies and lyrics are always at the forefront of the performance. Bananafish will perform with the band at tomorrow's Everett Community Theatre date. The opening act is the four female member Motherlode and singer/songwriter Karen Pernick.

Copyright (c) 1995 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.

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