RACHEL BELLE

Tower Sessions: Watch a live concert in a private living room at the tip top of Seattle’s Smith Tower

Jul 7, 2016, 6:32 PM
Kris Orlowski with a string quartet, performing "Things Are Looking Up" by George & Ira Gershwin.  ...
Kris Orlowski with a string quartet, performing "Things Are Looking Up" by George & Ira Gershwin. (Photo by Joshua Trujillo)
(Photo by Joshua Trujillo)
LISTEN: Tower Sessions: Watch a live concert in s private living room atop Seattle's Smith Tower

An elevator operator, dressed in a formal uniform, accompanied me as high as the elevator will go in Seattle’s Smith Tower. Then I walked up a few flights of stairs to get to the very tip top, which is the private home of Petra Franklin and her two young daughters.

“Well, I really just use the floor below and this one,” Franklin said. “But technically [I have] the 37th floor through the 42nd floor.”

Petra has lived in the Smith Tower penthouse for 18 years, and she was the one who converted the top floor into a livable space.

“The Smith Tower was [completed in 1914]. I always looked up at the top and thought it was so cool. Where we’re sitting was a big water tank and you had to kind of  sneak around it, it was very slimy in here and kind of weird. But it was magical because there was all this graffiti on the walls of couples and stuff. It had this history to it that I liked, it had this ancientness. The shape of the pyramid and stuff, it was so unexpected. And I needed a place to live! So Samis owned the building and I started asking them and eventually, after a very long period of time, like a year and a half, we came to an agreement. They said ‘no’ many many times, but they softened up eventually.”

This summer, you can see a live concert in Petra’s pyramid-ceilinged living room. Seattle artist Kris Orlowski partnered with Franklin to create the yearlong Tower Sessions.

“Under the stairwell that goes up to the very top of the globe there’s a little area where we have the music,” Orlowski said. “The goal is to really keep it as acoustic as possible because the intimacy is what makes it special. I mean, having a concert at the top of a skyscraper, in a four story penthouse in the clouds, but still feels like your living room, that’s somehow the magic potion. This place offers you an opportunity to break through all the clutter, leave everything at home and just be here, be in the moment.”

Orlowski has curated a monthly concert for the past nine months, where guests sit on the floor and watch as he performs along with other artists.

“Every month we have a different mystery guest, sometimes more than one,” Orlowski said. “It’s important for me to get my music out there. But as somebody who has been doing this for 12 years, one of the hardest parts is getting your music out there. And so we found that it’s really important for us to showcase other artists, from Seattle and beyond, that are career artists, who are trying to do this for a living. Supporting their journey is just as important as supporting my journey and showing off Petra’s beautiful space and being a part of the community.”

It took Chris 11 years to get to the point where he could quit his day job and make music for a living. One big step was licensing his music.

“Grey’s Anatomy reached out to me and said, ‘Will you cover one of these songs in your own style?’ And I did Beyonce’s ‘Halo’ and it got placed in Grey’s Anatomy. I’ve had my own songs in Hart of Dixie, Grey’s Anatomy, Private Practice, 16 and Pregnant, all sorts of different shows.”

But nothing compares to the intimate experience of playing in Franklin’s living room, where the acoustics are:

“Off the charts, actually! Off the charts!” she says. “You would not believe, crazy good.”

And while you listen to the music, and sip your drink, you can take in the panoramic views.

“That particular time, going from six to 10pm, you are watching the sunset and you’re watching the city change from a day city to letting the night come in,” says Petra. “And you’re seeing it of north, south, east, west and you can always watch massive container ships come in, right behind the singing. The windows are quite small so it’s not what you think, like, oh, I’m going to get up high and have this vista. It’s more like each view is framed.”

The views, the music, the intimacy of the room – it seems to do something to people’s hearts.

“When Kris starts singing, what I see is a couple sitting next to each other and then all of a sudden they’re all over each other. I’ll see people will grab their partner’s hands or their friends’ hands. I’ll see somebody putting their legs over someone else’s legs.”

“I have a history of, people will meet at my show and get married,” Orlowski adds. “It’s happened a couple times actually. The last show here, a couple got engaged during our show. Was it twice now?”

Dinner and drinks are included in the show price and you can buy your tickets for the July and August Tower Sessions here.

  • listen to rachel belleTune in to KIRO Radio on weekdays to hear Rachel Belle.
Who is Rachel Belle?

Your Last Meal

Rachel Belle

Teenager toxic masculinity...
Rachel Belle

This teenage boy wants to help your teen be vulnerable and fight toxic masculinity

15-year-old Zach Gottlieb started an Instagram and TikTok page for teens to submit questions on topics like anxiety, breakups, and more.
11 days ago
Lab grown salmon...
Rachel Belle

Seattle CEO prepares to bring lab-grown salmon to sushi bars, grocery stores

The next generation of sustainable, environmentally sound proteins will come from actual meat and fish. Wildtype is growing cuts of Coho salmon using salmon cells.
1 month ago
menopause...
Rachel Belle

No one is talking about menopause, not even your doctor

Let's Talk Menopause founder Donna Klassen says most women don't know the symptoms and most medical schools don't include menopause in the curriculum. 
1 month ago
Nadiya Hussain...
Rachel Belle

New ‘Your Last Meal’: British Bake Off winner, Spice Waala brings Indian street food to Seattle

As a child, Great British Bake Off winner Nadiya Hussain, felt frustrated that her dad served watered down, westernized Indian food at his restaurants.
2 months ago
Toxic positivity...
Rachel Belle

Seattle psychotherapist on how to cope with ‘season of toxic positivity’

Telling your loved ones to look on the bright side when they're feeling down is toxic positivity, and no one likes to hear it. Not even you.
2 months ago
birthday cake...
Rachel Belle

‘Your Last Meal’ podcast explores history of why we eat cake and light candles for birthdays

We all eat birthday cake, but have you ever wondered why? Award-winning chef Christina Tosi dives in on the latest episode of "Your Last Meal."
2 months ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Compassion International Is Determined to ‘Fill’ a Unique Type of Football ‘Stadium’

Compassion International SPONSORED — During this fall’s football season—and as the pandemic continues to impact the entire globe—one organization has been urging caring individuals to help it “fill” a unique type of “stadium” in order to make a lasting difference in the lives of many. Compassion International’s distinctive Fill the Stadium (FtS, fillthestadium.com) initiative provides […]
...

What are the Strongest, Greenest, Best Windows?

Lake Washington Windows & Doors SPONSORED — Fiberglass windows are an excellent choice for window replacement due to their fundamental strength and durability. There is no other type of window that lasts as long as fiberglass; so why go with anything else? Fiberglass windows are 8x stronger than vinyl, lower maintenance than wood, more thermally […]
...

COVID Vaccine is a Game-Changer for Keeping our Kids Healthy

Snohomish Health District SPONSORED — Cheers to the parents and guardians who keep their kids safe and healthy. The dad who cooks a meal with something green in it, even though he’s tired and drive-thru burgers were tempting. The mom who calms down the little one who loudly and resolutely does NOT want to brush […]
...
Experience Anacortes

Coastal Christmas Celebration Week in Anacortes

With minimal travel time required and every activity under the sun, Anacortes is the perfect vacation spot for all ages.
...

Delayed-Onset PTSD: Signs and Symptoms

Lakeside-Milam Recovery Centers SPONSORED — You’re probably familiar with post-traumatic stress disorder. Often abbreviated as PTSD, this condition is diagnosed when a person experiences a set of symptoms for at least a month after a traumatic event. However, for some people, these issues take longer to develop. This results in a diagnosis of delayed-onset PTSD […]
...

Medicare open enrollment ends Dec. 7. Free unbiased help is here!

Washington State Office of the Insurance Commissioner SPONSORED — Medicare’s Open Enrollment Period, also called the Annual Election Period, is Oct. 15 to Dec. 7. During this time, people enrolled in Medicare can: Switch from Original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage plan and vice versa. Join, drop or switch a Part D prescription drug plan, […]
Tower Sessions: Watch a live concert in a private living room at the tip top of Seattle’s Smith Tower