Live Review: Sonic Safari and Dolly Rotten Duo step out of the shadows

Sonic Safari and Dolly Rotten Duo perform at Shadowland Bar – Photos: Alina Shanin

By Alina Shanin

Last weekend West Seattle’s Shadowland Bar and Restaurant hosted the first collaboration of Sonic Safari and the Dolly Rotten Duo, an all-acoustic show featuring some of the best songwriters in the area with something real to say. The two groups drew quite the excited crowd and packed the venue till closing hours, entertaining with captivating lyrics and a range of musical talents.

The first to take the stage were the Dolly Rotten Duo, composed of Darci Carlson and Geneva Butler, two Seattle natives with great vocals and style to match. The duo has been writing and performing at local venues for the last two-and-a-half years and the hard work is definitely paying off. With a full-record in the making, the two debuted a few new songs along with their other original tunes that enticed everyone in the crowd. The duo’s most recent demo was recorded by Brett Pemberton, a known face in the music industry.

Carlson and Butler found each other through a series of life’s challenges and once they discovered how well their musical backgrounds fit together, the Dolly Rotten Duo was born. While their main genre is a variation of rock ‘n’ roll, the country and pop backgrounds add something a little different to their sound, making them stand out from the rest and also giving the audience a reason to move. Both artists are educated in writing and performing, with Butler concentrating on vocals and Carlson on guitar, making them a group to watch out for.

All of their songs are inspired by events most go through, but don’t want to voice, according to Carlson. Songs like “Scream” and “Temporary Girl” always get a response from both men and women who relate to the experiences of loss, under appreciation, past relationships, and even drug use. While the two try not to take themselves too seriously, their songs are anything but light and funny.

Sonic Safari was the second group to share their music and contagious energy with an acoustic and hand drum set up. This duo has been practicing together for about a year and a half and has produced a lot of unforgettable material, including “All you need” and “DriftOn.” Their stripped down, organic rock sound was inspired by everything from blues to heavier rock to soul.

Alexander Rasmussen is the guitar player and vocalist with a long background in metal and rock, which is evident in his complex, yet smooth and musical solos.

Sonic Safari’s repertoire varies from slower, introspective songs to quicker, bluesier tunes all with meaningful lyrics influenced by personal experiences and life in general. Rasmussen’s been playing guitar for about nine years and has perfected the art of taking the audience on a journey with every one of his performances, including thought-provoking moments of reflection and beachy songs to get down to.

While Rasmussen is the songwriter in the group, Jonathan Rodriguezis the rhythm and drive behind it all. He picked up drumming just as the Sonic Safari project was taking off and in the short time has been able to establish a strong personal style, ranging from soft, intimate percussion to lots of bass in appropriate areas to accentuate Rasmussen’s solos. His hard-hitting style has left a few fingers battered on a many occasions, but his perseverance and dedication always come through to end every show on a high note.

Rodriguez’s three djembes, including two 8-inch heads and a 14-inch bass drum, fit perfectly into the wide spectrum of the duo’s music and help guide the audience through the sonic safari. This duo plays simply because they love to and aren’t strangers to posting up on the streets and sharing their passion with Seattle.

Both the Dolly Rotten Duo and Sonic Safari are a great testament to what passion and dedication can accomplish and an inspiration to other local musicians.

To check out some of the bands’ great music, go to: and,

or find them on  for updates and upcoming shows. 

Not only is he a multi-media journalist, he is also an accomplished musician. He is the founder of SMI and drives the creative look, feel and branding for the publication. His years of writing, arranging, and performing live music in a variety of genres inform his ability to communicate the message and the mechanics of music. Roth’s work on SMI reflects his philosophy that music is the universal language, and builds community. He believes it has the power to unite people of every race, religion, gender, and persuasion.

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