Lee Graham-Vocals, Bass, Flute
Dick Powell-Harmonica, Keyboards
Love Cycle (Command Records, 1968) also various re-issues.
“Lord in Black” b/w “Long Hard Road”(Piccadilly Records 1968/Jerden Records 1969)
By the mid-60’s Seattle’s once thriving R&B teen dance bands were on the wane. Members of outfits like the Dynamics, The Viceroys and the Frantics were eagerly tapping into the first stirrings of the underground psychedelic movement. Most of the bands making the transformation were not doing it for purely mercenary reasons. Many players had simply aged and evolved, while remaining true to their R&B and garage-like beginnings. Many of the psychedelic bands coming out of Seattle still held onto an insular, regional sound that favored hippie-ballads and gentle horns, reeds and the organ that had become a staple of Northwest rock since Dave Lewis They favored a more tie-dyed approach rather than the aggressive guitars and overtly political or socially conscious lyrics of bands like The Jefferson Airplane, The Doors or Quicksilver Messenger Service.
They also lacked the lush production (and sometimes anti-production) of bands coming out of New York City. If there is a word that describes the Northwest psychedelic sound it could very well be “comfortable”…not in the passive sense, but in the sense that gentler, more flower-powered sounds were being made. Perhaps the exception to this rule was The Frantics who’s remaining members moved to San Francisco, renamed themselves the hippiesque Luminous Marsh Gas eventually to become one of the mightiest bands of the psychedelic era-Moby Grape.
Crome Syrcus was no different than many other NW bands. The had arisen from the ashes of a teen R&B, jazz influenced outfit called The Mystics. The Mystics had an enthusiastic fan base and were able to tour regionally, but ultimately had a relatively short career. By 1962 drummer Jim Plano had joined the military. Dick Powell, the band’s vocalist and guitarist John Gaborit remained stateside, and eventually brought on bassist Lee Graham and keyboard player Ted Shreffler. Jim Plano’s position as drummer was filled by Rod Pilloud. Once assembled, the new band christened themselves Crome Syrcus.
Soon the band was finding regular gigs on the nascent psychedelic circuit in Seattle. Their distinctive sound often relied on two keyboards played by both Powell and Shreffler. John Chambless, the coordinator of the Berkeley Folk Festival had seen Crome Syrcus at The Eagles Auditorium (it’s unclear who the headliner was that night). He quickly booked them to his event and on July 2nd 1968 Crome Syrcus played their first Bay Area gig. In fact Crome … Read more›
Chris “Slats” Harvey-Guitar
Duff McKagen-Drums, Backing Vocals
10 Minute Warning
Knife Manual 7″ EP (No Threes Records, 1982)
Nothing To Say/Big Machine, “What Syndrome” (cassette compilation; Deux Ex Machina Records and Tapes, 1983)
The Silly Killers are one of early 80s Seattle punk bands that would probably be forgotten years ago if it wasn’t for the fact that former Guns N’Roses’ Michael “Duff” McKagen was a member for a short time. One has to wonder what rabid metal fans would have felt if Duff had continued playing in a multitude of punk bands before becoming famous in one of the all-time most successful metal bands in history; after all McKagen, from a very young age, was one of the most prolific members of early Seattle punk. Most likely all of his hard work might have been little more than a footnote were it not for relocating from Seattle to Los Angeles-being a footnote is a fate he obviously would not deserve. But in spite of McKagen’s short time with the Silly Killers, they had already become stars in their own right among Seattle’s punk community. The Silly Killers’ reputation in recent years has also has been heightened by new-found interest in their only 7” recording of what’s usually referred to as the Knife Manual EP, and two other hard to find tracks that have only been “officially” released on the excellent 1983 cassette “What Syndrome” put out by local label Deux Ex Machina Records And Tapes in 1983.
Then there’s Slats (born Chris Harvey) founding member of the Silly Killers who died in 2010 after years of being an iconic figure not only in the punk community, but in the city at large. Despite his ongoing addiction and alcoholism Slats made the rounds two and a half decades as a highly visible character in both Seattle’s University District and on Capitol Hill. Some worried about him. Others made bets on how long he would live. Aside from that Slats was a genial, kind and generous person who had simply found himself in the grips of addiction. Some friends have reported that he was clean his last few years, but there’s no doubt he was not sober. You could often find him drinking in one of Seattle’s many musicians’ hangouts-always ready to talk and (what the hell) accept a free drink. However addiction is in no way a character flaw and it’s clear that many were touched by his legacy…friends who had known him for years, and strangers who had only sighted him from afar. He was much more than a … Read more›
Byron Duff-Guitar and vocals.
Idiot Culture-dadastic! sounds (2010)
The band that became known as Idiot Culture was the last project by reclusive Seattle guitarist Byron Duff. Byron began to make his mark in the 1980’s with the trio The Spectators. The Spectators were known for jaw-dropping, tight performances in the underground clubs that spawned the emergence of what would later be the 1990’s Seattle Scene. Bob Mould (Husker Du, Sugar) once called The Spectators “the best unreleased band in America”. Although the band lasted no more than a year they saw opening and touring spots with the Husker Du, The Dead Kennedys and The Stranglers among others. Although Mould’s comment was prescient, the band never landed a major record deal. They’re now one of the almost-lost treasures of early 80s Seattle rock.
In 1986 Byron Duff formed ’Dive’, the band that would later be called Idiot Culture,with bassist TJ West and drummer Steve Dodge. It would be an unheralded band that helped define the new sound “grunge” and more intense attitude coming out of the Northwest. Dive continued in the mid-80s, recorded an impressive set to be released as an album in 1986, but never got the attention it deserved. Eventually the three disbanded and spent several years out of the limelight due to Duff’s ongoing health problems. It was during these years that Duff first showed the signs of Multiple Sclerosis that would later end his career as a performer. It’s been noted that Byron Duff, at the height of his powers, was the best Seatle guitarist of his generation. Listening to Duff’s playing on their live-recorded debut it’s a difficult point to argue. Unfortunately his trying to shop his demo, Duff faced indifference. He even recalls approaching the local label Sub Pop (who would later popularize the kind of music Duff was playing) and being turned down.
Because Byron Duff had been missing from the Seattle music scene for a number of years, his reemergence and his last album was highly anticipated. Though the album had been recorded in 1986 and remained unreleased, it was mixed by the renowned producer Jack Endino almost two decades after it’s recording. Endino had seen the band during it’s life and had even shared a stage with them while he played in Skin Yard. At the time of the recording the band had called itself Dive, but too many bands had already used that name, including … Read more›
Tex Mitchell’s Orchestra
Buck Owens and the Buckaroos-The Buck Owens Song Book; Under the Direction of Don Rich (Capitol Records, 1965)
Don Rich-That Fiddlin’ Man (Capitol Records 1970)
Don Rich-Sings George Jones (Omnivore Records, 2013)
Buck Owens and the Buckaroos-Carnegie Hall Concert (Capitol Records, 1966)
Who would have thought that a kid from Olympia WA would become one of the architects of country music’s Bakersfield Sound? Don Eugene Ulrich was born in Washington’s state Capitol on August 15, 1941, and grew up in the adjacent town, Tumwater WA. He was the adopted son of Bill and Anne Ulrich and went by that name as a youth but later would later shorten his last name to Rich. Don’s parents encouraged him to play music, going so far as to giving him a home-made violin to play at the tender age of three. Ulrich was a musical child prodigy and learned the fiddle in short order and soon after picked up a guitar, also becoming proficient at the instrument in a short time. Don’s parents were confident enough of his skill that they entered him in a series of local talent and variety shows.
By the age of 16 Rich had opened for a matinee performance by Elvis Presley (September 1, 1957) at Tacoma’s Lincoln Bowl. Lincoln Bowl was an amphitheater adjacent to Lincoln High School overlooking Puget Sound. Since Presley’s performance took place next to Lincoln High School the show saw the amphitheater full of screaming teens.
During his last year of High School Don Rich had started playing his fiddle around the south Puget Sound region as well as forming a rock and roll band called the Blue Comets with drummer Greg Hawkins and pianist Steve Anderson. But Don’s love was closer to country and folk than rock and roll so he continued playing gigs as a fiddler. One of those gigs was at Tacoma’s Steve’s Gay ‘90s, where he would catch his first break-one that would change his life forever. . At the time former Bakerfield musician Buck Owens was doing a stint at Tacoma radio station KAYE. Rich was at Steve’s Gay ‘90s when Buck Owens walked in one night in 1958. Owens, a fiddler in his own right, had already seen Rich on fiddle, and was taken by Rich’s talent almost immediately. After their first meeting they soon became great friends and collaborators. Don would join Owen’s band that played around Tacoma and Seattle. Owens had been a radio personality, so when Rich joined-up with Owen’s he found himself doing a weekly spot on KTNT-TV 11’s BAR-K Jamboree. The show also has the distinction of introducing Loretta Lynn … Read more›
Revolving membership including:
Dean Warrti-Vocals, Washboard, Accordion
George Hackett-Twelve String Guitar, Vocals, Waders
Ben McMillan-Vocals, Cowbell
Tamara Jones-Double bass, Vocals
Bob Maguire-Vocals, Guitar
Gary Heffern-Vocals, Stage Presence
Chris Cornell-Drums, Vocals, Grunts, Overalls
Orville Johnson-Fiddle, Mandolin
Artie Palm-Mouth Harp, Saxophone, and Guitar
Tim Bowman Accordion, Saw
Debra June Connor-Cowgirl
And a host of others.
The Brides of Frankenstein
The Center for Disease Control Boys was a loose-knit satirical Country, Western and Folk band formed in Seattle in 1986. Their performances included a mixture of original compositions and older songs written by such artists as Bob Wills, Asleep at the Wheel, and Woody Guthrie. Their stage show used an extensive array of props and costumes such as bales of hay, stuffed roosters, rubber trout, and wads of self printed ‘country currency’. Although the band was only in existence for six months, they are noteworthy for their ever changing lineup of musicians and performers which included Chris Cornell of Soundgarden Jonathan Poneman, co-founder of Sub Pop Records, and Ben McMillan, lead singer for Skin Yard and Gruntruck.
The CDC Boys was a design and musical collaboration between Dean Warrti and George Hackett. Warrti was manager and booking agent for the Ditto Tavern, which filled a void in the local music scene by providing a venue for folk, punk, art rock, and emerging grunge bands from the Northwest. Hackett was an accomplished guitarist who worked at Boeing and shared Wartti’s interest in cultural satire, diverse musical tastes, and leftist politics. Warrti had a background in theatrical performance and design. As they wrote the songs and assembled the props and graphics, the two realized that a diverse cast of band members could be found within the roster of Ditto performers. Rehearsals were held at the artists collective SCUD (Subterranean Co-operative of Urban Dreams). The building had previously been the very neglected Sound View Apartments, and before that an SRO hotel. SCUD became an incorporated collective and leased the building in Belltown where a plethora of bohemian artists that included Ashleigh Talbot, Art Chantry, Cam Garret, Arthur Aubrey,Steven Fisk and Willum Hopfrog Pugmire. All had at one time or another been residents. It’s been reported that Jack Kerouac stayed at The Sound View Hotel a short time during his stop in Seattle in September of 1956. He had spent the earlier summer at a fire watch look-out in the North Cascades. He later wrote about the underbelly of Seattle and it’s downtrodden waterfront in a short story called Alone On A Mountaintop.
The building was at one time referred to Seattle residents as The Jello Building since the entire north side of the building was decorated with a multitude of Jello molds. It was a natural place for the … Read more›
Mark H. Smith-Guitar, Synthesizer, Vocals
MacKenzie Smith-Synthesizer, Vocals
Colin McDonnell-Guitar, Synthesizer,
Jane Whistler- Background Vocals
American Technology, EP (Engram Records, 1982)
The Worker Works To Live, EP (Engram Records, 1982)
Bar 2000. Seattle Syndrome Volume 2 compilation (Engram Records, 1983)
The band that would become 3 Swimmers rose out of the ashes of The Beakers-probably the first Olympia WA band that made the town the musical gravitational force it has become today. Other contributors to the early Olympia scene-and later contributors to the overall NW music scene- included DJ/editor/musician John Foster and the alarmingly underappreciated producer Steve Fisk. Both were early champions of the local scene, and had been students at The Evergreen State College just outside Olympia. TESC, as it’s often known was at the time a free-wheeling liberal arts college that pushed students to express their social and artistic endeavors to the maximum.
As well as Fisk and Foster, the college produced well-known graduates like Bruce Pavitt (Sub Pop) Matt Groening (The Simpsons) artist/cartoonist Lynda Barry (Ernie Pook’s Comeek, the illustrated novel The Good Times are Killing Me as well as the iconic image “Poodle with a Mohawk“). Later alum include Bill Hagerty (aka Macklemore of Ryan Lewis and Macklemore) and the pro-Palestinian advocate and martyr Rachel Corrie. A cadre of musicians, filmmakers, early video artists, writers, activists, idealists and excessively talented and motivated individuals emerged from the college. Many of them collaborate off and on up til this day.
The Beakers had had some great underground success based on the strength of only one single, the Bill Reiflin produced Red Towel b/w Football Season Is In Full Swing. Bill was the drummer for the near-mythic Seattle band, The Blackouts, and later worked with Ministry, Revolting Cocks, KMFDM, REM, Minus 5 as well as a myriad of other projects. He would also become a couple with-and marry Frankie Sundsten during the late 1980s. As of August, 2017 Bill is a member of the reconstituted King Crimson.
The Beakers label, Mr. Brown Records was a project of the Lost Music Network headed by the aforementioned DJ, chronicaller of underground music and founder of the influential OP magazine, John Foster A couple of inclusions (Figure 21 and I’m Crawling (on The Floor) appeard on Foster’s 1980 “Life Elsewhere EP and in 1981 The Beakers song What’s Important was incluced Pavitt’s Sub Pop 5 cassette release. A rather dull (for The Beakers) rendition of Lipps Inc. Funky Town is out there in the internet ether, but ultimately it doesn’t represent the sound of the motif of … Read more›
Charles “Upchuck” Gerra-Vocals
Paul Solger- Guitar
Barbara Ireland-Bass, Vocals
10 Minute Warning
Sky Cries Mary
Upchuck: Gone But Not Forgiven, compilation (dadastic! sounds, 2008)
The Fags might be the most fun Seattle bands to play ‘six degrees of separation’ with…except you’d only have to play with one or two degrees. Direct ties lead everywhere from 70’s Omni-sexual performers Ze Whiz Kidz, to neo-hippies Sky Cries Mary; from The Lewd to showgirl Julie Miller and The Casino de Monte Carlo and from John Holbrook, Bearsville engineer/designer and the man who mastered classic albums like ‘Tommy’ and Hendrix’s ‘Axis: Bold as Love, to Gordon Raphael-producer of The Strokes and Regina Spektor among others. From the skillfully written and recorded duo Such to the grimy recording of ‘Raping Dead Nuns by the band Solger, Seattle’s first hard-core band…and those connections barely scratch the surface.
The band rose out of a loose-knit community of musician-friends and punks that came and left Seattle’s infamous Fag House during the 1980’s. Before that many had been friends living off a sugar-daddy Charles Upchuck Gerra while he performed in his first band, Clone. In 1980 former drummer for the glamorous Julie Miller wunderkid drummer Ben Ireland, his filmmaking, multi-talented sister, Barbara Ireland. legendary guitarist Paul Solger (taking the name of his band) joined with poet/painter Dahny Reed to work as a unit. The band would be dubbed “The Fags” by local promoter Steve Pritchard when the band went onstatge one night at the Lincoln Arts Center. Pritchard did not know the name the band had planned to perform under that night-and neither did the band, apparently. So in announcing them Pritchard simply walked onstage and yelled out “Ladies and Gentlemen-The FAGS! The name stuck and together they created some of the most outrageous stage performances ever seen in Seattle….and later in downtown New York where the band re-located in the mid 1980’s. During the time that Barb Ireland spent at NYU’s film school the band’s bass was held on by Jane Playtex-then the wife of Steve Hoffman of one of the most hardcore bands of the day, The Fartz.
Studio recordings of the band are rare, but The Fags were good at getting friends to catch video and audio of many of their performances. Most were done on the fly and not up to the standard we are used to in the digital age…but they are certainly well-loved documents made by devoted fans and co-conspirators. Of their recorded output the song Lock You Up (recorded … Read more›
And a cast of many more
The Complete Frantics on Dolton-The Frantics (Collector’s Choice Music, 2004)
Human Monkey b/w Someday- The Frantics , 7″ single (Action Records, 1966)
Moby Grape-Moby Grape (Columbia Records, 1967)
Moby Grape ’69-Moby Grape (Columbia Records, 1969)
More Oar: A Tribute to the Skip Spence Album-Compilation (Birdman Records 1999)
The Four Frantics
Luminous Marsh Gas
The Daily Flash
The story of The Frantics covers alot of NW music history. It’s also a tale of two bands…at least. The birth of what would become The Frantics goes back to 1955 when schoolmates Ron Peterson and Chuck Schoning formed a duo in 7th grade. They initially named themselves The Hi-Fi’s. Ron played guitar and Chuck playing accordian. Soon Chuck was loaned a keyboard and the band would expand with new recruits Joel Goodman (drums), Dean Tonkins (bass), Gary Gerke (piano), and Dean Tonkin (bass) . After paring this line-up down to Ron Petersen, Joel Goodman, Chuck Schoning and Jim Manolides the band would become known as The Four Frantics. All members of The Four Frantics at this time were underage, so they hit the mighty teen dance circuit that was then at its height in the Northwest. Later Bob Hosko would sit in as sax player so the band shortened its name to The Frantics. By 1958 the band had gone through a few more personnel changes, heralding in the first classic line-up of the band. It was solidified with Ron Peterson (guitar), Joel Goodman (drums), Chuck Schoning (keyboards), Bob Hosko (saxophone), and Jim Manolides (bass). The band continued to play teen dances in the Puget Sound region, and by 1958 had become a local sensation. They’d also attracted the attention of local label Dolton Records.
The Frantics sound was simple. An incredibly tight rhythm section, highly proficient guitar playing and an up-front raunchy, R&B and Jazz influenced saxophone. The result was both fun, danceable and a bit dangerous. It was the sound of NW garage rock played with a little more finesse. The band was all-instrumental except for later appearances by locally in-demand vocalist Nancy Claire. Nancy made the rounds of the NW scene, both before and after her tenure with The Frantics, She played with the most iconic players of her era.
By 1959 The Frantics were slated to record for Dolton Records with prominent engineer Joe Boles in the basement studio of his West Seattle home. Boles was working with Dolton Records at the time and had done recordings and demos with soon-to-be-famous acts like The Fleetwoods, The Ventures and The Wailers. It was Boles himself that recorded The Ventures Walk Don’t Run and The Wailers Louie Louie, a song that became, and remains one of the seminal recording that would transform … Read more›
On March 25, 1923 Bonnie Buckingham was born in Seattle WA. As a youn child she was raised in Redondo Beach, a small community about 30 miles south of Seattle. Her family were farmers who were able to weather the depression, unlike many of those in the Midwest who’s crops had been decimated by dustbowl storms and drought. It was a bit later that the Buckingham family moved a short distance to Auburn WA and continued farming. Growing up Bonnie had a fascination with the family guitar, and took every chance she could to take it from it’s hiding place to practice when her parents were away. Her mother had told her that “guitars were for boys”. But Bonnie persisted learning what she could. She recalls regularly climbing trees and pretending they were broadcast towers and she was sending out signals of her miusic to the entire world.
Apparently her parent’s disapproval of girl’s playing guitars did not last long. By the age of 13 she had inherited her two older brothers’ flat top guitar and was appearing at talent shows throughout the Puget Sound region while gaining wider reception. During this period she took on her first stage name-Bonnie Lane. She also began tutoring by local musicians. At the age 16 she was allowed to tour the NW with a country revue and for the next several years she developed her skill at the guitar as well as finding her voice.
Eventually she began travelling to Seattle to be tutored by some of the best players in the city, including Paul Tutmarc. Not only did Bonnie receive lessons, she began to make recordings with Tutmarc in his primitive studio on Pine Street. Tutmarc was 27 years older than Bonnie, but their work had brought them close together. In 1943 Tutmarc divorced his first wife and married Bonnie the following year. They juggled their married and professional lives, along with caring for their daughter Paula (born in 1950) for the next few years, doing Seattle gigs as a duo and finally joining a well-known NW country outfit called the K-6 Wranglers as with a local country outfit called but the couple divorced in 1955, before Bonnie’s wider success.
Around this time Bonnie took on the name she would always be known as- Bonnie Guitar. Bonnie recalls that one day a songwriter approached her with a few songs he wanted her … Read more›
Jim Coile-Saxophone, Flute, Clarinet
Tim McFarland-Trombone, Piano
Jim Walters-Trumpet, Vocals
Buzzard Luck-Columbia (1972)
Special Pride-Mercury (1973)
Live And In Color-Mercury (1974)
Ballin’ Jack was formed in Seattle by former childhood friends Luther Rabb and Ronnie Hammon. Both of them had gone to school with and been friends with Jimi Hendrix at the city’s Garfield High School. In the early 60s Luther Rabb played around the NW with several moderately successful outfits on the teen and R&B circuits. He was saxophonist alongside Jimi Hendrix’s in The Velvetones, the first band Hendrix had been involved in. Ronnie Hammon was a drummer who’d also backed a few Seattle bands-none of them particularly notable. In 1967 Rabb and Hammon decided to form their own band. Rabb, a multi-accomplished musician would leave the saxophone behind and switch to bass guitar. Hammon continued drumming, thus forming a strong rhythm section. Almost immeadiately they added Jim Coile on flute and Tim McFarland on trombone. A bit later Jim Walters would come onboard as their saxophonist and Glen Thomas providing the lead guitar.
Ballin’ Jack found themselves moving to Los Angeles, living in a large house cum-home studio near the Sunset Strip. Although all of the members had put plenty of time paying dues, their signing to Columbia Records and tour success came almost immediately, partly due to the encouragement of their old friend Jimi Hendrix. One key to their success is that Ballin’ Jack had been formed not only as a soulful funk unit, but also as one of the “horn bands” that were popular on the fringe of pop music in the late 60s and early 70s. They found themselves treading the waters of both James Brown and Sylvester Stone. Bands like WAR, Pacific Gas and Electric, Cold Blood and Tower of Power and other rock bands featuring horns that were arising from the West Coast psychedelic ashes.
Many bands had begun creating a new hybrid of soul, jazz, funk and strong horn sections. They also followed the current (at the time) move to integrate multi-ethinic players into their line-up. Ballin’ Jack could be counted among this new genre, and their rise had been quick, but overall they only found modest success outside of being an incredibly tight and incredibly well-loved live act. They played the college circuit, places like the Fillmore West and the Fillmore East and a myriad of rock festivals. In 1970 Billboard Magazine proclaimed “Ballin Jack’s’ reputation was that live their shows were so good that fans were known to have left afterwards, … Read more›
Bill Bagley- Bass, Keyboards, Guitar
Jerry Anderson- Bass
Bill Shaw- Drums, Vocals
John Olufs- Guitar, Vocals
Pete Pendras- Guitar, Vocals
Emily Bishton- Vocals
Don Kellman- Tenor Sax
Dave Conant-Guitar, RIP
Little Ship-Popllama (1985)
Bob Was A Robot b/w Pteradactyl Teenagers (7″single) Glassmouth Records (1980)
Money Dream b/w I Like To Eat My Mousies Raw (7″single) PopLLama (1984)
The Collection (Compilation) PopLLama (1994)
Little Trailer Ruby-Gary Minkler PopLLama (2013)
Any live-music lover who’s lived in Seattle long enough has seen Red Dress. In fact, it’s likely their parents-or grandparents have seen the band play. Red Dress might be the longest-running show in the Northwest. Throughout their career they’ve attracted punk rockers, hippies, drunks, blues aficionados, art-rockers, probably a few metal heads and everyone in between. Despite their long-running history, the band are still one of the most creative and relevant bands working the clubs, bars and festivals in and around Seattle. They do what they do better than anyone else; they always have. Red Dress infuse absurdity with the pure joy of funk, jazz and R&B. The result is far from what one would expect from looking at it on paper. This isn’t a retread of the typical whitebread tribute to a style long out of date. This isn’t a goofy pastiche of kitsch and nostalgia. This is as real and original as things get. Producer Conrad Uno Producer Conrad Uno (Love Battery, Young Fresh Fellows, The Presidents of the United States of America, etc.) hit the nail on the head when he described Red Dress as “Captain Beefheart meets James Brown.” Minkler himself confirms that when he heard Captain Beefheart’s seminal Trout Mask Replica everything changed
Red Dress has always been a band of solid, professional musicians. Orignally formed with Minkler’s high school friend Rich Riggins in 1976. The duo explored jazz, contemporary classical music, and of course the blossoming punk rock scene. Eventually Riggins left the band-taking with him the poet/singer/performance artist Cynthia Genser. Minkler would man the more and more funky and soulful Red Dress, while Riggins and Genser went on to found Chinas Comidas, a band that also found an important place within the city’s alternative music community. In fact, it wasn’t unusual to find Red Dress and Chinas Comidas on the same bills in the late 1970s and early 80s. The stylistic, musical and lyrical content of those on the punk/alternative scene meant little in those days. Seattle had a very tight-knit community that was too interested in innovation to face off in differing camps.
Over the years more than a few have wandered in and out of the band. But the songwriting has been consistently impeccable and the players pitch-perfect. But there’s no getting around it. This is a band dominated by the talent and presence of vocalist Gary Minkler, and … Read more›
Byron Duff-Guitar, vocals
Stanford Filarca-Bass, vocals
Jeff Farrand- Drums
“Idiot Culture”, Pravda Volume One, compilation, cassette only, Pravda Records (1982)
“Fine Lines”, Pravda Volume One, compilation, cassette only, Pravda Records (1982)
“Call It Chaos” That’s Dadastic compilation, Dadastic Sounds (2011)
The Spectators played fewer than 20 gigs. They performed only 15 songs live. But their reputation as one of the most original and accomplished bands of the early Seattle alternative scene continues to grow into the 21st century. Their first gig was December 8th 1980, the same day John Lennon was gunned down in New York City. It was just like most other nights at Seattle’s legendary Gorilla Room on Second Avenue; a handful of people showed up, and more free beer was drunk up by the bar staff and their under-aged buddies than was ever sold. But that night one of the finest Seattle bands of the era played to the nearly empty club. Over the next few months the band would be regulars at the Gorilla Room and WREX and end up on the stage of Seattle’s Showbox Theater at least twice, as co-headliners, and as openers for The Stranglers. Later, Bob Mould, having played three dates with The Spectators while on the first national tour by Hüsker Dü , called them “the greatest unsigned band in America“. Less than a yearlater The Spectators were gone.
The Spectators combination of surf, metal, jazz and punk predates most alt bands with similar influences by a full decade. They were a power-trio, but one that dealt their deadly blows with intricate and subtle precision rather than blind swings. This was a band that had brains as well as brawn. By using a limited amount ofeffects, guitarist Byron Duff and bass player Stanford “Stan” Filarca created a sound so tightly woven that it was hard totell who was playing lead, where the rhythm was coming from and how they could possibly sound so big and layered at the same time. Add to the mix the powerful, inventive and perfect tempo of drummer Jeff Farrand and it’s hard to think of any finer trio in rock, signed or unsigned, even today.
During their short life The Spectators recorded very little of their output in the studio-about six studio tracks still exist. Unfortunately most of it has been lost or the tapes have degraded so badly they’re practically unlistenable. Fortunately there still are some fairly high quality mono recording caught on a cassette player using a condenser mike! Some of these cassettes and board mixes have been discovered, including this recording of Call It Chaos. One-time Seattle promoter and indie label … Read more›