Holiday Magic: The bands who played on KIRO Newsradio

Dec 14, 2023, 2:03 PM

holiday magic KIRO...

Spike O'Neill (middle), performing for Holiday Magic as Spike and The Impalers, poses with four members of the CFP bound Washington Huskies: From left, Micheal Penix Jr., Troy Fautana, Zion Tupuola-Fetui (ZTF) and Rome Odunze, who stopped by to volunteer their time and answer phones to speak with donors. (Photo: Laura Scott)

(Photo: Laura Scott)

2023 marked the 35th year that Bonneville Seattle has partnered with Treehouse to make Holiday Magic for foster children across Washington. This year, KIRO Newsradio presented a live all-day broadcast with inspiring stories from Treehouse and live music performances from local artists with incredible talent.

As someone who is deeply passionate about music, I believe song is one of the most powerful languages in the universe. Songs express our deepest feelings, our inner longings and the cries of the human spirit. And music can move us to better empathize with others and to act to better the world around us, beginning here at home by supporting causes like Treehouse.

In that spirit, and in gratitude for everyone who made Holiday Magic happen, here’s a look at the artists who were kind enough to contribute their time and talent.


Led by Niko Stathakopoulos, Scarves has a classic indie rock sound that’s instantly familiar to anyone who’s spent time in the college radio or club scene, with math-rock-influenced instrumentation and lyrics that evocatively describe disillusionment and the fragility of the human experience. The band has a knack for having just enough hook to have their songs linger, without distracting from the impact of their lyricism.

Recommended if you like: Dirty Projectors, Modest Mouse

King Youngblood

If you’re wondering where the “rock” went in Seattle’s sonic landscape, King Youngblood has some high-energy answers. Alternative Press Magazine dubbed them “Seattle’s Alt Rock Princes” and it’s an apt label. Fronted by University of Washington (UW) grad Cameron Lavi-Jones, and joined by drummer Paul “Sticks” Stoot, cellist Chet Peterson and bassist Samy Garcia, the band displays a knack for hooks that could go round for round with the big bands of alternative rock.

More on Seattle music: Five essential holiday songs that celebrate the area

They’ve played Lumen Field for a Seahawks pre-game show, and opened for Pearl Jam and another local rock favorite, Ayron Jones. They even created their own comic book series called “Afrothunda.” Apart from creative endeavors, the band is deeply involved in youth mental health concerns through their non-profit Hold Your Crown.

Recommended if you like: Foo Fighters, Royal Blood


Byland is the moniker of Alie Renee, a Seattle-based singer-songwriter. Raised in Albuquerque, N.M., Byland moved to Seattle and released her first full-length album “Gray” in 2020.

Hearing her music for the first time live reminds many of Tori Amos. Byland’s lyrics are vulnerable and often are “uneasy” listening in the best way. The orchestration adds just the right textures to highlight Byland’s vocals, and draw the listener into the atmosphere of her songs. This isn’t just music you hear, it’s music you feel with your whole heart and soul, and it’s beautifully intense.

Her music is getting attention from tastemakers worldwide, including PopMatters & American Songwriter. The track “Mother” was featured in the Fox Television crime drama, “The Cleaning Lady.”

Byland’s second album is planned for release in 2024 on Mother West Records.

Recommended if you like: Deep Sea Diver, Tori Amos

La Fonda

La Fonda is a five-piece band, fronted by sisters Valerie and Veronica Topacio. Their harmonies layer over soundscapes inspired by shoegaze and dream pop, telling stories of navigating the chaos of adolescence, addiction, gentrification and sisterhood. Valerie and Veronica also have a number of shows scheduled to perform as a duo through this December and January, and are the founders of the Belltown Bloom music festival returning in 2024. La Fonda’s latest album is titled “We Are Infinite.”

Recommended if you like: Beach House, Death Cab for Cutie

Lara Lavi

Lara Lavi is a Grammy-winning singer-songwriter, who also happens to be a practicing attorney. She began playing piano at age three, and went on to learn the violin, guitar and viola. At 19, she was performing in Chicago’s famous blues clubs, going on to tour with the great Buddy Guy, and she’s still performing and recording today.

More from Holiday Magic: Donating to Treehouse a great way to spread Holiday Magic

Music runs in the family, too. Laura is the mother to Cameron Lavi-Jones, frontman for Seattle alt-rock band King Youngblood.

Spike & The Impalers

Back when KIRO’s own Spike O’Neill was a part of the legendary Bob Rivers Show, he also started a band. Spike remained the frontman with a rotating cast of very talented musicians joining him through the years to play classic rock favorites. To list all the talented professionals who have played with the band would take ages, but it’s well worth a look.

Rock critics may be the first to slight “cover bands” but the Impalers bring the musical skill and the fan passion to rock’s anthems, including favorites from AC/DC, The Who and ZZ Top.

Spike & The Impalers have done impressive work on behalf of countless charitable causes in the Pacific Northwest and sold out numerous shows around Puget Sound, keeping the classics alive for countless numbers of fans. Keep an eye out for performance dates and experience them live!

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Holiday Magic: The bands who played on KIRO Newsradio