Penta Leslee Swanson

YEARS ACTIVE

1976-Present

ASSOCIATED ARTISTS

The Dynette Set

Mader & The Biarritz Orchestra

The Mrs. Bill Larsens

Jeff Simmons

Carlo Altomare

The Living Theater

The Alchemical Theater

SELECTED DISCOGRAPHY

The Girls Can’t Help It – “Each Time” [As Leslee Swanson] (Rhino Records. 1984)

Sorrow and Solitude – Penta Leslee Swanson (Erdenklang Records 1996)

Return to Alpha – Penta (PLS, 2002)

MOVING BACK
PENTA

NE ME QUITTE PAS
PENTA

Penta Leslee Swanson in the kitchen. Paris 1996

“I should have been born in Seattle” Penta Leslee Swanson tells me. “Instead I was born in Wenatchee Washington on September 14, 1962, though I never lived there. My parents were visiting my grandmother in Moses Lake. At the time there was no hospital in Moses Lake so they had to drive almost 70 miles to Wenatchee.  That was the closest hospital…That’s where  I was born. The Deaconess Hospital in Wenatchee Washington

That first long trip was a prologue to the peripatetic life of the girl born Leslee Swanson.  Although she went by the name Leslee growing up and in the early stages of career, let’s dispense with the earlier name and use ‘Penta’ just to keep things clear.

“I knew from the time I was a child that I was a singer. I just knew that’s what I wanted to do. I always knew that was what I wanted to do. I grew up in a household with a sister who was 11 years older and she was a big Beatles fan. So I grew up listening to popular music… especially the Beatles. It was just something that I loved all my life. My mom raised me and two of my brothers as a single parent.  We grew up all over in Seattle. We moved all the time. We moved every six months to a year. It was nuts”.

 “I started in my first band when I was 13” says Penta, who was still known as Leslee to her friends and family. “We did cover songs. I don’t even remember the name of the band, but I was hooked. That was it. I got asked to be in other bands over the next few years, and sang in a couple of them. One of the bands I played in was with Richard Stuverud. He played with The Fastbacks for awhile in the 1980s. When Richard was in my band we used to call him ‘Dickie’.

“When I was 15 I had a boyfriend named Jeff Gilbert. He was really cute back then, and quite a bit older than me. He and I wrote songs together and I did my first recording with him when I was just barely 16  at a studio on Queen Anne Hill called ‘Big and Famous Studio’ We recorded about 6 or 7 songs. I … Read more›

Chinas Comidas

YEARS ACTIVE

1976-1980

BAND MEMBERS

Cynthia Genser – Vocals and Poetry

Rich Riggins – Guitar

Dag Mitskog – Bass

Mark Wheaton – Keyboards

Brock Wheaton – Drums

ASSOCIATED ACTS

Red Dress

Voodoo Car

Jerry’s Kids

Johanna Went

Steven “Jesse” Bernstein

Mondo Bando

The Lewd

Uncle Cookie

Violent World

The Mentors

SELECTED DISCOGRAPHY

Peasant/Slave & Love/Love b/w Snake In The Sun & Disease (Exquisite Corpse Records, 1977)

Snaps (Portrait of a Fan) b/w For The Rich (7″ Exquisite Corpse Records. 1979)

Chinas Comidas-CD anthology (Exquisite Corpse Records, 2006)

Chinas Comidas Complete Studio Recordings 77-81 [12″Vinyl] (Take The City Records [Spain] 2018)

CHINAS COMIDAS
SNAPS (PORTRAIT OF A FAN)

In 1978 The Bay Area Recorder announced an upcoming gig at San Francisco’s Mabuhay Gardens.  It read; ‘Seattle, the city that brought you The Kingsmen of ‘Louie, Louie’ fame, and Jimi Hendrix, exports their premiere new wave team —Chinas Comidas”

Later that year L.A.s Slash magazine called Chinas Comidas “Seattle’s most important band”.

Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth would say ‘Chinas Comidas were the real deal.  Exciting, intriguing and intoxicating”.

Yet, in 1980 Marvin Goodman declared in Gary ‘Pig’ Gold’s Pig Papers the second single by Chinas Comidas, ‘Snaps (Portrait of a Fan)’ was “Boring. A copy of Talking Heads copying Blondie. Two chords is rotten-you need at least three. Turn it off. It stinks! ‘Dulll as Ditchwater’ as Jack Good (the creator of Shindig!) would say”.

Here we have proof of a couple of  elemental things.  Platitudes are easy to come by, but musicians must work really hard to engender the kind of dismissive, smarmy and calculated attitude that Goodman shows in his review.  Humans do not like change…music critics are especially resistant to it.  If a band receives comments like Marvin Goodman’s it probably because they are taking listeners out of their comfort zone.  Experimenting.  Challenging what is popular. Travelling their own artistic road.

Listening to ‘Snaps’ in 2018 might cause a person to wonder what song Goodman was listening to and how he mistook it for Chinas Comidas.  But Goodman had made no mistake at all.  He was listening to Chinas Comidas… something new to him’ something outside his comfort zone.  He did not like that.

Goodman would not be the only critic or listener that seemed to show visceral distaste for the band during their career.  It was unfair and pedestrian, but as we know, sometimes artists are totally vindicated by time and ongoing artistic and social evolution.

(N.B. Another elemental thing a music writer might do is to discover which band, from which city brought the world which particular song.  Knowing who wrote and recorded the song first is helpful-but only if the right band is named).

Chinas Comidas is really a tale of two cultures colliding-that of the erudite New York poetry scene and the somewhat more relaxed beginnings of punk and experimental music in Seattle. A third location could be added-Los Angeles, California.  But where the northwest and the northeast had birthed Chinas Comidas, … Read more›

Bedazzled! An Interview with Al Milman and Moshe Weinberg

Years Active

1991-2003

Locations

101 Cherry St. Seattle 98104 (1991-1996)

911 E. Pike, Seattle, 98122 (1996-1998)

4742 University Way, Seattle, 98105 (1998-2003)

AL'S RECCOMENDATIONS FOR YOUR RECORD COLLECTION

John Coltrane-A Love Supreme (Impulse! 1965)

Randy Newman-Randy Newman (Reprise Records, 1968)

Miles Davis-Miles Ahead (Columbia Records, 1957)

The Beach Boys-Pet Sounds ( Capitol Records, 1966)

James Brown-Solid Gold (Polydor Records, 1977)

Nina Simone-Four Women: The Nina Simone Philips Recordings (Verve Records. 2003)

Ray Charles-The Definative Ray Charles (Demon Music Group, 2006-Import)

The Alan Milman Sect + Man-Ka-Zam-Stitches in My Head 30th Anniversary compilation (Flotation, 2007)

THE AL MILMAN SECT
STITCHES IN MY HEAD / I WANNA KILL SOMEBODY

            Bedazzled Discs Grand Opening
 Al Milman, John Keister, Moshe Weinberg

 

I’m sitting in Chuck’s Hop Shop on Seattle’s East Union St.  The huge variety of bottled beers lining the walls is overwhelming.  I don’t drink, but I’m fascinated by the colors of the labels. The evening is warm and the doors of the bar are open.  It appears Chuck’s Hop Shop used to be a large garage of some sort.  Did this place used to be a garage I ask myself?  I get a Coke from a vending machine. I’m expecting to meet Al Milman and Moshe Weinberg.  They’re the former proprietors of Bedazzled Discs.  They stuck it out through the 90s while the record business was crumbling around them up to the point that digital downloads were on the brink of overtaking every other form of music. Their store was geared toward imports, garage and pop classics and a bit of the more esoteric music that collectors are always seeking out. In the end the survived into the 21st century.  Despite an uphill battle they made it from 1991 ‘til 2003.

I’ve never met Moshe, but I know Al a bit. Al went out of his way to make sure we scheduled this meeting at a time Moshe was available. It seems he’s a very busy guy.  Al is a man obsessed by music.  He’s been that way since he was a kid growing up in New York City. Along the way he’s managed to rub a lot of shoulders with punk, garage, psychedelic and jazz artists…hell…all kinds of artists.  I also know he and his band The Alan Milman Sect were there at the beginning of the downtown punk explosion in the NYC during the 1970s.  His music and/or Bedazzled Discs have been covered in magazines from Trouser Press to  the NME and the BBC’s music sites to Billboard.  His music also the subject of a multitude of bloggers who are interested in anything punk…or anything off-beat..  The website Killed By Death once wrote ‘Hell, not even Poison Idea does it as good as Alan Milman Sect’. His song ‘Stitches in My Head’ was covered by Urge Overkill.  He has a visible presence on facebook, and he’s not afraid to tell anyone what he thinks online or in person.

Al’s recorded with his own band, The Alan Milman Sect, and managed and … Read more›

The Heats

Years Active

1978-1983

Associated Artists

The Rangehoods

The Cowboys

The Moberlys

The Allies

Selected Discography

I Don’t Like Your Face b/w Ordinary Girls 7″  (HRRR Records, 1980)

Have An Idea (Albatross Records, 1980)

Sorry Girls b/w When You’re Mine 7″ (Albatross Records, 1981)

Burnin’ Live  (Sushi Records, 1983)

Rivals b/w Count on Me 7″ (Albatross Records, 1983)

Smoke (Chuckie Boy, 1998)

The Heaters Live at The Showbox 1979!  (Green Monkey Records, 2011)

THE HEATS
SORRY GIRLS

THE HEATS
I DON'T LIKE YOUR FACE

“The band almost didn’t happen” Ken Deans, former drummer for The HeatersThe Heats tells me.  I’m on the phone with him as he’s perched in his office above the Empire Polo Grounds in Indio California; the site of the most important multi-day music festival in the United States; The Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival…or simply “Coachella” as it’s commonly referred to.  Ken, who is now the “Logistics Manager” for Goldenvoice Entertainment  tells me he’s been up for about 90 days, but just as Coachella is being dismantled.

He still has a several  more events to work on. The Bonnaroo Festival held in Manchester Tennessee and then  for the annual Stagecoach Festival, (back at the Empire Polo Grounds in Indio)  which is becoming the largest gathering of C&W artists and fans in the country.  In fact, Ken and Goldenvoice works with almost every major outdoor music festival in the United States. They also book top-notch concerts and events.  I’m surprised he’s carved out time for me to talk with him, but he doesn’t rush, he’s full of anecdotes and stories that I don’t need to prompt him to answer.  He’s surprisingly relaxed for a man with  so much to do.

It’s been a long slog from The Heats to where he’s gotten, but he admits he wouldn’t have come so far except for starting out in The Heaters/The Heats a band that was once Seattle’s presumed contender for attaining fame and fortune.

“It was an accident” he says. “Keith Lilly and I were scheming to put  a band together and find a female front singer to go to Alaska to make money.  That’s all we were thinking about.  So, it was Keith myself Steve Pearson, Gordon (“Rothberger…Rosman?… or maybe Craig Roper”) playing bass.  We asked this woman named Kim to come and jam.  It was awful. It was truly painful.  We were trying to be like Burgundy Express; complete lounge bullshit”.

The band at the time consisted of Deans on drums, Steve Pearson on guitar, Keith Lilly on guitar (he’d later become bassist)

Ken remembers;
“Steve Pearson says to me;
‘Hey!” I have no desire to do this but I like playing with you and I met this guy and we’ve been talking about jamming,   Maybe the four of us could jam some night”

The guy Steve was talking about was Don … Read more›

FLOATING BRIDGE: Rich Dangel, The Wailers, Sir Raleigh, Sky River & the Buffalo Party. Whew!

Years Active

1967-1970

Band Members

Rich Dangle – Guitar

Pat Gossan – Vocals

Michael Jacobsen – Cello, Saxophone

Joe Johansen – Guitar

Joe Johnson – Bass

Andrew Lang – Trumpet

Michael Marinelli – Drums

Michael Jacobson – Electric Cello & Saxophone

Andrew Lang – Trumpet

Denny MacLeod – Guitar

Associated Artists

The Wailers

The Unknown Factor

The Checkers

Easy Chair

The Frantics

Little Bill and The Blue Notes

The Daily Flash

Rich Dangel and The Reputations

Butter Bean

The Sonics

The Kingsmen

Selected Discography

Floating Bridge – “Floating Bridge” (Vault Records, 1969)

Floating Bridge – Brought Up Wrong” b/w “Watch Your Step  7” (Vault, 1968)

Floating Bridge – “Don’t Mean A Thing” b/w “Mr. Jaybird”  7″  (Vault, 1969

FLOATING BRIDGE
DON'T MEAN A THING

In 1958 five Tacoma Washington friends formed a group they originally called The Nitecaps.  Later that year they recorded a demo for one the seminal songs of the first great music movement in the Northwest.  The band consisted of John Greek (guitar, cornet), Rich Dangel (lead guitar), Kent Morrill (piano and vocals), Mark Marush (tenor saxophone) and Mike Burk (drums). As you may have already guessed the group re-named themselves The Wailers, and became one of the most important bands to come out of the region in the late 50s and early 60s. Today the band is generally agreed to be one of the first to popularize “Garage Rock”

“Tall Cool One” was their biggest and best selling single It’s said the song was co-written by Rich Dangel and fellow Wailer John Greek while they were still students at Tacoma’s Clover Park High School.  The demo came to the attention of Long Island based Golden Crest Records and it’s head, Clark Galehouse. Galehouse liked what he heard so much that in February of 1959 he arrived in the Northwest, and after a Wailers gig at Lakewood Washington’s Knights of Columbus Hall he had the band re-record the song which became one of the great singles in Northwest and Garage Rock  history

When the song was released in 1959  it made The Wailers a household name among teenagers across the country.  The single peaked at number 36 on the Billboard charts and at number 24 on the R&B charts; not exactly spectacular positions, but higher than any previous Northwest rock group before them.  Beside the song’s fans were not the same crowd that was used to more popular sanitized acts like Pat Boone or Connie Francis who seemed to be everywhere at the time.

Tall Cool One” garnered The Wailers a featured spot on Dick Clark’s American Bandstand, a spot on Alan Freed’s Big Beat show on New York’s WNEW-TV, and set them on an East Coast  tour.  For the next few years The Wailers would continue to release singles that became regional hits and played endless gigs on the northwest teen-dance circuit.  In 1964 Golden Crest Records re-released “Tall Cool One”; this time the single would reach number 38 on the Billboard charts.

The shine between The Wailers and Clark Galehouse had worn off, and Golden Crest Records lost interest.  Galehouse wanted … Read more›

Paul Tutmarc and The Mystery of Who Invented The Electric Guitar

Years Active

1929 -1972

Associated Artists

Sol Ho’opi’i

Dick Kaihue McIntire

Frankie McPhalen

Paula Tutmarc

Bud Tutmarc

Bonnie Guitar

Shane Tutmarc

Alexsis

Marlin Hickerson

Paul Tutmarc & The Islanders

Paul Tutmarc & The Wranglers

Selected Discography

Only The Moon Man Knows-various artists including  Paul Turtmarc & The Wranglers (Bear Family Records, 2012)

Midget Auto Blues: Hillbilly, Hotrod & Automobile Songs (Jasmine, 2006)

Country Music From The Pacific Northwest-various artists- (BACM, 2017)

PAUL TUTMARC
LITTLE COQUETTE (LIVE)

 

        Audiovox 736, 1935

On March 6, 2018 a very special guitar was sold on ebay.  It was auctioned off by Dale and Bev McKnight, an elderly couple living in a mobile home park in Snohomish WA. Dale had originally bought the guitar in Seattle in 1947 and after over 60 years of dragging it around it found its place under the bed of their home in their trailer.  The buyer was David Wallis, a retired electrical engineer and guitar collector from Georgia.  Wallis paid $23,850.09 for the guitar-probably a bargain for an instrument so rare.  The guitar Wallis bought was an Audiovox 736 Electric Bass guitar; an instrument that some believe to be the first electric guitar…or at least the first electric bass guitar ever made..  It was Seattle inventor/engineer/tinkerer and musician Paul Tutmarc that had produced the first version of his 736 Electric Bass in 1935 or 1936.  Today there are only four known to exist.  Two are in private collections, and now Wallis will make his the third in a private collection.  The fourth Audiovox 736 known to exist is displayed at Paul Allen’s Seattle Museum of Pop Culture (MoPop); formerly known as the Experience Music Project or EMP).  Local music chronicler and former chief curator at the EMP Peter Blecha tells the story of the Audiovox 736 displayed in the MoPop/EMP museum,  In an April 1, 2018 letter he wrote

“By the late 1980s I was quietly picking up Audiovox guitars and amps wherever I could find them. Thrift shops, antique stores, and guitar stores mainly, plus via the occasional classified ad. The fact is, there was no demand for them and so once these shop owners knew I was interested , they would call me to inform that another had popped up.  Back then I was scooping them up for $25, or $50, or $75.  One place that was always interesting to scour was a very odd ramshackle store in Tukwila. The proprietor, Jake Sturgeon, did appliance repairs/sales there and was well-connected with the local Country music scene, so he also had an array of guitars stuffed in there too. I bought a few Audiovox units from him, and he understood that I was the prime collector of the things. So, in about 1996 — 4 years into my employment as curator with Paul Allen’s museum project — I got another call from … Read more›

LeRoy Bell

Years Active

1978-Present

Assoiated Artists

Thom Bell

Casey James

Lou Rawls

Zahara

Special Blend

Elton John

Gamble & Huff

Carlos Santana

The O’Jays

The Temptations

Teddy Pendergrass

Rita Marley

Etta James

Phyllis Hyman

The Spinners

The O’Jays

Gladys Knight & the Pips

Freda Payne

The Three Degrees

The Freemasons

 

Selected Discography

Bell & James – Bell & James (A&M Records, 1978)

Only Make Believe – Bell & James (A&M Records, 1979)

In Black and White – Bell & James (A&M, 1981)

The Thom Bell Sessions – Elton John (Leroy Bell & Casey James [Writers] Rocket Records, 1979

Calling Out Around The World – The I Threes (Leroy Bell, Casey James & Thom Bell [Writers] (Tuff Gong, 1984)

Spending Time – Leroy Bell (EP. Martez Music, 2003)

Two Sides To Every Story – Leroy Bell  (Martez Music, 2003)

Traces – Leroy Bell  (Martez Music, 2010)

When That Fire Roll Around ‎- Leroy Bell (EP, Martez Music, 2016

LeROY BELL
IF I WERE KING

LeRoy Bell made his first appearance on Fox network’s talent show The X Factor in September 2011  He appeared on the show for five consecutive weeks eventually ended up being chosen for the final 16 and went on to the live X-Factor shows. He was eliminated after the fifth live show finishing 8th overall in the inaugural season of the American version of the show. bottom three Although he did not win LeRoy’s profile was sent into the stratosphere (by the way…whatever happened to season one’s winner Melanie Ann Amaro?).

Although LeRoy had captured the imagination of many viewers via The X-Factor, and the show had kick-started his career rather than launched it, Bell had already had a brush with fame.  In fact he’d had several…first with the 70’s chart topping duo Bell and James and their hit “Livin’ It Up (Friday Night)” The song ended up at number 15 in the Billboard Charts. He was also  a co-author of Elton John’s hit “Mama Can’t Buy You Love” (a world-wide hit which became a top-ten hit in the US) Three Way Love Affair” and “Are You Ready For Love”  He’d also co-written songs for The O’Jays, Rita Marley, The Temptations, The Spinners, Freda Payne The Three Degrees, and a host of others.

LeRoy didn’t become an overnight success because of his X-Factor appearance…but it was a chance for him to perform in front of a massive audience.. He’d spent much of the 2000s touring with the likes of BB King Etta James, Sheryl Crow, Leon Russell, Joan Osborne, B.B King, Etta James, Al Green, Joe Cocker, Michael McDonald, Van Morrison, Mavis Staples, The Temptations, The O’jays and more.  Whether he’d won or lost The X-Factor made little difference, but he seems grateful and it managed to get a whole new audience. The US version of The X-Factor lasted only two seasons, but he may be the most memorable artist of either one of them.

“It turned out to be a good thing in many ways.  It was definitley an eye-opener and interesting to see how TV is totally different than the side of music that I’d grown up with.  It was nerve-wracking. I was the oldest guy on the show”.

“The unique thing about the X-Factor is they have no age limit.  Most of these things like American Idol are all centered on age people  I think Read more›

Red Kelly

Years Active

1940 -2004

Associated Artists

Harry James

Stan Kenton

Red Norvo

Charlie Parker

The Modest Trio

Jim Hill

Lennie Neihaus

Red Mitchell

Claude Thornhill

Woody Herman

Charlie Barnet

Med Flory

Herbie Fields,

Nat Pierce

Maynard Ferguson

Dick Collins

 

Selected Discography

Good Friday Blues – The Modest Trio  (Pacific Jazz Records, 1960)

Good Friday Blues-The Modest Trio (Pacific Jazz Records, Japan [includes bonus tracks] 1993)

THE MODEST TRIO
GOOD FRIDAY BLUES

In an obituary after Red Kelly’s death on June 9, 2004  Mike Lewis of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer wrote

“Red Kelly was “known as a comedian with a jazz problem”

It’s a line Red would probably have used as a self-deprecating joke; but the truth is that Red Kelly was an accomplished jazz bassist first, and secondly known to use comedy onstage and throughout his career as a host in his clubs.  It’s one of the things that brought patrons into his jazz venues both in Tumwater WA and in Tacoma WA.  But a “jazz problem”?  Not in the least!  Red Kelly had spent nearly three decades performing with with jazz and Swing luminaries including  Woody Herman, Red Norvo, Buddy Rich Harry James, Maynard Ferguson, Billie Holiday, Tony Bennett, Charlie Barnet, Frank Sinatra, Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Stan Kenton and a host of others.  His career spanned the Big Band era to Bebop and on to the “Cool Jazz” of the early ‘60s  In all, Red Kelly took part in the recording of over 100 albums, all of them with top-notch, bona fide jazz greats.  He’d even played with and developed a friendship with jazz icon Charle “The Bird” Parker. In 2003 Red recounted some of his favorite tales of an adventurous life in jazz to the Tacoma’ News Tribune.

They included a story about Charlie Parker stealing a policeman’s horse and riding it into a club in New York City. The audience (and presumably the policeman) were so amused that Parker wasn’t charged for his theft of the horse.  Red spoke about his friendship with Betty Grable, who, he said “liked the dirtiest jokes” and claimed that Count Basie had died owing him $3 on a 1959 World Series bet.

Another of his favorite stories was about  the time local Tacoma mobsters tried to make one of their rival’s death look like an accident.  They had put their already-dead victim behind the wheel of his car and pushed it into Commencement Bay…but unfortunately had  left his car keys in his pocket.

Two of the bandleaders Kelly worked for, Woody Herman and Stan Kenton were notorious musical foes.  According to Kelly “Woody didn’t trust anything that didn’t swing. Stan didn’t trust anything that did,”  Red was full of tales about the people he’d worked with over the decades, a few imaginary ones, sometimes corny … Read more›

Northwest Songwriters: A Straw Poll

OTHER SONGWRITERS MENTIONED IN THE POLL

Karl Blau

Laura Viers

Kurt Bloch

Wayne Horvitz

Clyde Petersen

Al Larsen

Calvin Johnson

Mark Arm

Tad Doyle

Mike Refuzor

Sean Tollefson

Chris Cornell

Eric Apoe

Dan Bonow

Jeff Simmons

Rich Riggins

Sam Mickens

Jherek Bischoff

Gerry Roslie

Mike Scheidt

Tom Price

Willy Vlautin

John Ramberg

Jim Page

Layne Staley

Kurt Block

Chris Eckman

Jesse Lortz

 

 

 

 

James Marshall Hendrix, Paratrooper, 101st Airborne Division 1960-1961

Recently I took a straw poll of friends asking:

Who do you think is the most important songwriter to come out of the Northwest? This is not a quiz and there are no wrong answers.

Some of the responses were obvious, many were downright baffling and others were very close to what my personal belief of what a songwriter truly is.  I left my question open-ended as an experiment to find out what others might give their explanation of what and whom constitutes an important songwriter.  I made sure to tell those I polled  there were no wrong answers, allowing them to offer up names without spending too much time or offering up suggestions simply because they thought the person they chose was based on others’ (especially critics’) dubbing that artist as “most important”  Several people went on to ask what I defined as “important”.  My reply was that I did not want to define the term.  Everyone uses different criteria of what is “important”; besides I was more interested in others’ opinions, than my own.  I asked people to decide what was important to them because this was also an exercise was for me to understand what other people considered worthy.  I wanted to learn about how others saw things and challenge myself a bit in what I personally feel is important in a songwriting. I saw this as just as much a lesson for me.  It was by no means a popularity contest.

So here I’ll take my natural tendency to digress.

I am a fan of good songwriting.  I cannot put my finger on what it is exactly but I have certain criteria.  I think when a song’s lyric is written in a way that it may be interpreted universally by listeners is a good start. This is probably why so many songs deal in lyrics about the many states of love; from it’s stirrings, it’s longings, it’s attainment and it’s loss. I believe original, creative lyrics are important, but I know they are not always crucial to good songwriting.  They don’t need to be about love…but they usually speak to the human condition.  Beyond the universality of lyrics, the actual music is just as important.  I think sometimes people put more emphasis on lyrics rather than their combination with melody or arrangement. … Read more›

The Bird

TRENDY VIOLENCE
THE ENEMY

P0STERS
Most of these were done by Frank Edie

 

THE BANDS WHO PLAYED

The Avengers

The Cheaters

Clone

Crime

Deadbeat

The Dils

D.O.A.

The Enemy

The Feelings

Fast Food

Formica & The Bitches

Generators

The Telepaths

Ice Nine

The Invaders

The Lewd

Liars

Macs Band

The Mentors

Missing Persons

The Moberlys

Negative Trend

Neo-Boys

The Offs

The Ratts

Readymades

The Refuzors

Eric Schmidt

S’nots

Sub-Humans

Teeth Like Crazy

The Telepaths

The Tu Tu Band

Upchuck

Violent World

Weirdos

Zeros

Writing the history of a band or a venue can be a daunting task; especially when the author knows far less on the subject than many of his or her readers.  It’s with this trepidation that I approach writing about The Bird.  In most cases the music histories I write rely on research, articles, written or oral histories and scholarly reports..  One-on-one interviews and original documentation also helps; but in the case of The Bird, there is not much documentation or  written histories.  Online blogs and books that mention The Bird often repeat the same exact entries word-for-word. This, in my view is a very poor practice and plagiarism.  However this is the internet age where people recycle all kinds of information they don’t need to be accountable for.

There are at least two authors I know that have done independent research on The Bird There are also others who have kept the memory of The Bird alive in their own individual ways.  I did not arrive in Seattle until 1979; almost a year after The Bird had ceased to exist.  Many of the musicians who had played at The Bird had left Seattle for greener pastures even before the advent of The Bird including The Mentors, The Lewd, The Screamers, Penelope Houston who would front The Avengers.  All were no longer on the scene by the time I’d arrived. Still, many of the fantastic friends I would make in Seattle had been involved or regulars of The Bird.

Many of us have foggy memories of our past, and very little ephemera to document The Bird exists, so I have had to rely on incomplete information and small bits I have learned from friends about The Bird over the years. It is in this spirit that I ask you read this story, keeping in mind that what I am trying is to build a history of The Bird…a history that has been seriously overlooked.  I hope what I write here is accurate, but I know I cannot live up to that hope throughout this story.  This is meant to be the basic outline of a realistic, accurate and detailed portrait of one of Seattle’s most important cultural touchstones.  I welcome corrections, additions, suggestions, photos, posters and most of all, memories.  As I’ve said, the history of The Bird has never been properly recorded..  What I have … Read more›

Mildred Bailey

Years Active

1925 -1950

Associated Artists

Tommy Dorsey

Jimmy Dorsey

Paul Whiteman

Benny Goodman

Eddie Lang

Hoagy Carmichael

Coleman Hawkins

Bing Crosby

Al Rinker

Red Norvo

Selected Discography

The Complete Columbia Recordings Of Mildred Bailey  (Mosaic, 2001)

At Her Rare of All Rarest Performances – Mildred Bailey (Kings of Jazz, 1981)

Red Norvo Featuring Mildred Bailey – Red Norvo & Mildred Bailey (Portrait Masters, 1989)

The Blue Angel Years 1945-1947 – Mildred Bailey with Ellis Arkins Trio  (Baldwin St. Music, 2000)

ROCKIN' CHAIR
MILDRED BAILEY

She was a superstar in the 1930’s and 40’s.  She introduced Bing Crosby to the music of Louis Armstrong  and Bessie Smith.  She worked with the most famous big bands of the era.  Tony Bennett said

“From 16 to 20 years old  the only thing I listened to was Mildred Bailey. I just said  I want to sing like her”  She provided the template for the “girl singers” from Ella Fitzgerald to Anita O’Day.  She introduced Billie Holiday to the famous producer John Hammond.  She started from the speakeasies of Spokane and Seattle and made her way to Los Angeles and then to The Savoy Ballroom and Stork Club in New York City. Yet Mildred Bailey and her contributions to jazz and pop music have all but been disregarded.  She is the most famous jazz singer of the 1930s and ‘40s that you’ve never heard of.

Over the years there’s been attempts to replace her to the stature she once had, but she still remains a cult figure who is absolutely loved by her fans.  Every one of her recordings have been available for years-most of them have been in continual release since 1951 when she died.  Her entire Columbia Records catalogue has been lavishly presented as boxed sets in both LP and CD formats for decades.   So it must be asked-in the words of jazz critic Michael Steinman; “Who Erased Mildred Bailey?”  It certainly wasn’t singers like Tony Bennett,mentioned above.  It wasn’t Bing Crosby or Frank Sinatra who helped her out at the end of her life.  It wasn’t a change in taste; The Big Band sound and jazz/pop singers were in their heyday when she quit the music industry.   It wasn’t for a lack of exposure on the new media of television…she even had her own television program at one time.

The fact is that there doesn’t seem to be a simple answer to why Mildred Bailey has been erased from our collective musical consciousness, and the answer remains elusive to this day.

Mildred Bailey was born Mildred Rinker on February 27, 1903 in Tekoa Washington, a small farming community about an hour southeast of Spokane Washington. Mildred’s mother, Josephine had been deeded land there and created a farm on the land she owned.  Josephine was one quarter Native American.  Her ancestors were what became known as the Coeur d’Alene tribe. Owners of valuable property by tribal members … Read more›

Tomata du Plenty: Part Two

Years Active

1968-2000

Associated Artists

The Lewd

The Tupperwares

Ze Whiz Kidz

The Telepaths

Meyce

The Cockettes

 

Selected Discography

In a Better World – The Screamers [Mostly live recordings] (Extravertigo Recordings/Xeroid Records. 2001)

The Screamers ‎– Live In San Francisco: Sept 2nd 1978 [ video] Target Video, 2004

122 Hours of Fear- The Screamers; Rvng Presents JD Twitch [Unofficial Release], (Rvng International, 2008)

Screamers Demos 1977-1978; The Screamers (Sob Records, 2013)

THE BEAT GOES ON (LIVE 1978)
THE SCREAMERS


In 1976 Three guerrilla-drag performers turned punk rockers left Seattle for Los Angeles. The trio was Rio de Janeiro (David Gulbransen) Melba Toast (who would later take the name Tommy Gear) and Tomata du Plenty (David Xavier Harrigan). The three had been part of the loose-knit theater, cabaret and street performing troupe Ze Whiz Kidz. When the three split from Ze Whiz Kidz they had also gone on to form a band called The Tupperwares. The Tupperwares had created a bit of a stir in Seattle, but were left without bookings and many venues to play. Clubs, taverns and bars were the province of cover bands and any other (inexpensive) local outfit that was a sure draw that would bring in crowds. Seattle nightlife in the mid-70s also consisted of disco’s-like most American cities; not only because it had become fashionable, but because it was cheaper to pay one person-the DJ- to pump out recorded hits that kept people dancing and drinking. The advent of the disco craze had ruined the careers of hundreds of thousands of local bands across the US and stifled the creativity of working musicians.

The antidote for a small number of artists, musicians and fans of original music was a startling reaction to the state of things with a new form of do-it-yourself, makeshift clubs that would pop-up and just as soon disappear. It would also foster a movement that was coming out of New York City and London; punk rock Punk rock itself was a do-it-yourself artform created by young, discontented artists, musicians and impresarios. It was out of that milieu that The Tupperwares arose. Los Angeles had become a hot-spot for a newer form of punk that differed from the movements in NYC or London. It was angrier, more passionate and closer to assaults on audiences rather than pure entertainment. Whereas bands like The Ramones, The Talking Heads, Blondie and Television relied on conventional melodies, precision and musicality the west coast version of punk rock was more free-form and relied on the outrageousness of characters like Darby Crash of the Germs, Alice Bag of The Bags, and the provocation of bands like Black Flag. There were notable exceptions, including the political ethos of The Dead Kennedys and the American-roots rock based band X.

The Tupperwares decided to take a chance on L.A.,but either out of legal necessity or pure creativity changed the name … Read more›