Rob Morgan – Vocals and Mayhem
Joey Kline – Guitar and Vocals
Keith Lowe -Bass
Jimmy Thomas (J.T.) – Guitar
Bruce Laven – Keyboards
Bill Ray – Drums
Mary K – Slinky
New Age Urban Squirrels
Crosby, Squirrels, and Nate
The Young Fresh Fellows
“Take a letter Maria” b/w “Take me to your (leader)” – The Pudz, (Teenie Wompum 1981)
Take me to your (leader) – The Pudz (The Seattle Syndrome Volume One [Compilation] Engram Records, 1982)
Beautiful Sunday / Seasons in the Sun / The Hustle”; split 7-inch EP with Show Business Giants (Blobs, Vol. 2), Way Out! Records [Canada] 1991)
Harsh Toke of Reality [CD] (Popllama, 1993)
Let It Be – The Squirrels, The Exotic Beatles [Compilation]. Exotica Records [UK] 1994)
The Squirrels, Scrapin’ For Hits – The Squirrels [27 song “Best Of” CD], Poplust Audio, 1996)
Not So-Bright Side of The Moon – The Squirrels (Popllama, 2000)
Live Bootleg Volume One – The Squirrels [limited edition CD-R & Booklet] (Poplust Audio Archival Series 2001)
Oz on 45 b/w Alone Again (Naturally) (PopLlama, 1988)
On September 21 2017 Iggy Pop was hosting his “Iggy Confidential” show that’s become semi-regular Friday night fare on the UKs BBC 6. About three quarters through his show he dropped the needle on a song almost everyone familiar with the early 80’s Seattle music scene. It was The Pudz doing “Take Me To Your (Leader)”. More than a few Seattle listeners ears pricked up immediately and hopefully a few others’ around the world. After the song finished Iggy related what a horrible year 1981 was-the year The Pudz single was released. Iggy mentioned “pooping out” Zombie Birdhouse and how he’d been relegated to opening for A Flock of Seagulls at New York’s Peppermint Lounge; he was so humiliated he built himself a cross to drag onto stage with him. Then he went on to tell his audience what a great little band out of Seattle The Pudz were, and that they were a high point for him during that awful year. One person who heard the broadcast (via the quick thinking of a friend who was streaming it.) was Rob Morgan… the genius behind The Pudz, and for the last four decades one of most visible guys on Seattle’s music scene…25 of which were spent leading The Squirrels-or one of the many iterations of the band. First he tells me about Iggy playing one of his Pudz records;
“That was mind-blowing”says Rob. “Being a bright shining spot for him in a shitty year. I just about had a heart attack, then when he actually starts singing R.B Greaves’ ‘Take A Letter, Maria’ (the flip side of Take Me To Your ( Leader) and cracking himself up I felt like ‘that kind of validates my entire career; of all the people who gave me shit for being a quote-unquote “cover band”-which we’re not. If we were a cover band we’d be doing songs people actually wanted to hear, and playing in Holiday Inns for real money. We wouldn’t be taking Terry Jacks’ Seasons In The Sun and speeding it up faster and faster before it becomes Van McCoys’ Do The Hustle.
What Rob didn’t mention is that he has at least one other important and influential fan; or he did have until he died in 2004: The great British DJ, John Peel. Peel kept a box of records near his … Read more›
Phil Otto – Guitar/Bass/Vocals
Dave Ford – Guitar/Bass/Vocals
Jerry Frink – Percussion
Terry Pollard – Drums
New Style – rapid-i, 5-song EP, online only (dadastic! sounds, 2013)
The first thing the former members of rapid-i want to make clear is that their name pre-dates the wide success of R.E.M. Their name evolved out of the same expression (Rapid Eye Movement) but it was coined in 1980, about three years before the debut of R.E.M.s album, Murmer on I.R.S. Records. The point isn’t really that important except to point out that the small “i” in the name is a reference to Prince-Far-I, the dubbiest of the deep-dub artists to come out of 1970’s Jamaica…go through the used records racks and find a copy of one of the the tuffest records of all time; “Prince Far I & King Tubby “‘In The House Of Vocal & Dub”. rapid-i was not a reggae band, but their respect for a wide range of artists brings up accomplished and experimental pop artists and music figures. They name artists like Mark Smith and The Maffia as well as Smith’s former band The Pop Group. Linton Kwesi Johnson, James Chance and the Contortions, James Blood Ulmer, Adrian Sherwood, King Crimson and The Sex Pistols among the jazz greats.
It might seem these guys were all over the map musically, but it’s clear they were more interested in musical execution and innovation than any particular genre. This interest showed up in their own music, whilw doing a ripping version of the funky Barney Miller theme song-written by Jack Miller and Allyn Ferguson with the killer bass line performed by Chuck Berghofer. The rapid-i version is practically note for note-not because they were anything near a “cover band”, but because, hell…why mess with something near-prefect?
The changes in keys and difficult rhythm patterns of their original compositions were clever moves for them to share onstage. One might not understand exactly what they were up to but audiences weren’t left out as if their musicianship was an “inside joke”. The bands joy and exuberance in pulling off a slick musical move never cane off as intellectual and snobbish. The audience could see their open enthusiasm and glee. The band didn’t care if it’s audience was classically trained, musically illiterate or astute jazz and classical musicians. They openly invited them to enjoy what they were doing. In fact, one of the apparent “inside jokes” they shared with the audience was covering the Barney Miller theme…It proved finding brilliance in the most mundane, unexpected places.… Read more›
Calvin Law – Hammond C3, Vocals
George Horton – Guitar
Greg Barnes – Bass
Lester MacFarland – Bass, Saxophone, Hammond B3
Manuel Stanton – Bass
James Adams – Drums
Wayne Bibb – Drums
Robbie Hill – Drums
Dave Domineck -Drums
Mr. Clean and The Cleansers
The Black and Black Affair
The Family Affair
Mr. Lee and The Exotics
The Black On White Affair
Cold, Bold and Together
Until The Real Thing Comes Along 7″ b/w Sweet Soul Lady (Topaz Records, 1968)
Bold Soul Sister, Bold Soul Brother 7″ b/w A Bunch of Changes (Topaz Records, 1970)
“Auld Lang Syne”/”A Bunch of Changes”/”Sweet Soul Sister, Sweet Soul Brother” – The Black and White Affair, “Wheedle’s Groove; Seattle’s Finest In Funk & Soul, 1965-75” Compilation (Light In the Attic Records, 2004)
“Funky Manuel” – The Black on White Affair, Quantic Presents the World’s Rarest Funk 45’s” Compilation (Jazzman Records, 2009)
Ask a Seattle music fan what were the great periods of Seattle music. Most would quickly name “Grunge” and The Seattle Sound of the late 80s until the mid-90s. (Pearl Jam, TAD, Soundgarden, etc.) Some would recall the first successful era I Seattle music-the days of the 50/60s teen-dances that spawned The Northwest Sound; The Wailers, The KIngsmen, Don and The Good Times, The Sonics, among others. To many there’s not much worthwhile in between The Northwest Sound and The Seattle Sound except for a smattering of arena acts like Heart, a handful of great psychedelic outfits, a few rock festivals or the inventive punk and post punk of bands like the U-Men, The Blackouts or Student Nurse.
Then ask the same fan to name the great black and African American artists the Northwest has produced. Inevitably the first name that will come up is Jimi Hendrix. Then maybe silence…a few folks might mention Ray Charles or Quincy Jones; but to be honest, Ray Charles was a Florida import biding his time in the Jackson Street clubs before chasing real fame elsewhere. Charles had been born in Albany Georgia, but spent most of his formative years in St. Augustine, Orlando, Jacksonville and Tampa…not Seattle.
Quincy Jones is an (almost) native son, having been born in Chicago, then moving to Bremerton at age 10, and finally to Seattle. Jones left Seattle at a fairly early age after time at Seattle’s famous Garfield High. It was here that Quincy Jones and Ray Charles first met. Neither would have imagined the mark they’d leave on American music. Jones reminisced in a 2005 PBS American Masters episode focusing on his career: “When I was 14 years old and Ray Charles was 16, our average night went like this: We played from seven to 10 at a real pristine Seattle tennis club, the white coats and ties, [playing] ‘A Roomful of Roses’ . . . From 10 to about one o’clock, we’d go play the black clubs: The Black and Tan, The Rocking Chair, and The Washington Educational and Social Club-which is a funny name, funkiest club in the world. We’d play for strippers and comedians and play all the Eddie “Cleanhead” Vinson and Roy Milton stuff, all that R&B. It was a vocal group. Then, at about 1:30 or 2 a.m., everybody got rid of their gigs and we went … Read more›
August 9, 1987 was without a doubt one of the high water marks in Northwest music history. It was the “last blast” for Chicago’s Big Black, one of the most influential indie bands in the US back then. The band was led by Steve Albini who would go on to be the engineer/producer of some great records, including ones by The Pixies, The Jesus Lizard, Cheap Trick, Nirvana and The Stooges. In 2004 Albini estimated he has engineered or produced over 1500 albums. He’s done scores since then.
The setting for Big Black’s Last Blast was a century-old nformer steam plant near Boeing field in south Seattle. The steam plant had been abandoned so long ago that it no longer produced electricity-not even the facility itself was electrified. Generators had to be brought in to power the show. The audience stood on the large concrete floor in front of a large riser, or took to the catwalks high above the stage. James Husted and former member of The Blackouts Roland Barker-who would go on to play with Ministry -provided wafting, ethereal sounds as the crowd filed in. The show itself began with Stephen Jesse Bernstein doing a reading that ended with one of his best lines ever. The sound was set to echo his final words…This IS music, asshole…This IS music, asshole…This IS music, asshole.
Big Black played what woud (arguably) be it’s last show and they pulled no punches. They meant to go out with the kind of blast they were known for. None of this improbable scenario at this improbable venue could have taken place without Larry Reid (CoCA’s program director and Administrative director Susan Purves pulling the strings.Larry had somehow finagled his way to become the program director of Seattle’s Center On Contemporary Art (CoCA). Perhaps “finagle” isn’t the right term. Larry had been involved in music and art for years. He was an idea man…a BIG idea man. With one foot squarely in the art world and the other in punk rock, he managed to bring both together a series of events that included everything from Lydia Lunch and Jim Thirwell leading a discussion on the artist’s responsibiity to society (“none” concluded Ms. Lunch) an early appearance of GWAR-in their full anime- monster gear, “Failure To Discriminate” an animalistic robotic destruction derby by Survival Research Laboratories, the German industrial band Einstürzende Neubauten and … Read more›
The Fabulous Wailers
Ike and Tina Turner
The Fabulous Wailers at The Castle – (Etiquette, 1961)
Be My Baby b/w “So Much – Gail Harris, (Etiquette, 1962)
They Never Taught That At School b/w “Don’t Make The Angels Cry – Gayle Harris (Carlton 1962)
Here Come The Hurt” b/w Don’t You Love Me No More – Gayle Harris (Carlton, 1963)
Ain’t Gonna Let Me Down b/w Here I Go Again – Gayle Harris (DCP International, 1965)
Gail Harris was a seasoned pro by the time she first appeared with Tacoma’s Fabulous Wailers at the age of 13. By 1959 Tacoma’s Fabulous Wailers had made it as a regional powerhouse as well as made their national mark. Their first single, the instrumental “Tall Cool One” b/w Roadrunner (released in June of 1959) had made the Billboard charts at number 36. Shortly after “Long Cool One” fell off the charts the band released a second single, Mau-Mau b/w Dirty Robber. (August 1959). They’d made an appearance on Dick Clark’s American Bandstand and on The Allen Freed Show, and done a tour of the East Coast.
In December of 1959 Golden Crest released an album to capitalize on their success. The album was simply named ‘The Fabulous Wailers”. Golden Crest was eager to have the band relocate to New York City, but the band declined (probably under orders of their parents) and returned to the Northwest. Golden Crest soon lost interest in promoting them even though they were still under contract with the label. Golden Crest would eventually drop them but their contract would, for the immediate future create some problems.
Shortly after returning to the Northwest the band took on a new singer and frontman,”Rockin’ Robin” Roberts (Lawrence Fewell Roberts II). Roberts had previously worked with another Tacoma band, ‘Little Bill and The Bluenotes”. Along with Rockin’ Robin” Roberts came dissension. Roberts had pushed for a souped-up version of a song written in 1956 by Richard Berry. The song Roberts was pushing for, Louie Louie was originally inspired by the song “El Loco Cha Cha” written by Cuban-American René Touzet. It had been a popular song performed live in the 1950s by Ricky Rillera and the Rhythm Rockers in Southern California while Berry was sitting in with The Rhythm Rockers for some time before he created Louie Louie around the “El Loco’s” lead riff. Berry later said;
“I took some Latin, some calypso, some pop, threw it all in and came up with ‘Louie Louie’.
It was decided in order to get by The Wailers’ contract with the now disinterested Golden Crest, Louie Louie would be released under the artist name “Rockin’ Robin” Roberts even though the recording would actually be recorded by The Wailers. Buck Ormsby has claimed that Gail Harris also took part of The Wailers final … Read more›
Billy Tipton – Piano
Dick O’Neil – Drums
Kenny Richards – Bass
Ron Kilde – Bass
Louvenie’s Western Swingbillies,
Billy Tipton Plays Hi-Fi On The Piano – Billy Tipton (Tops Records, 1957)
Sweet Geogia Brown – The Billy Tipton Trio (Topps Records, 1957)
Billy Tipton – Billy Tipton ( Calle Mayor [Spain] 2017)
When Billy Tipton died on January 21st 1989 he was penniless, living in a mobile home, and his ability to play piano or saxophone had been destroyed by years of ravaging arthritis. He led a very private life with only a small circle of friends in his adopted home-town, Spokane Washington. He and his jazz trio had disbanded years earlier. During their time they had played small joints, Fraternal Hall dances and cocktail lounges for little pay throughout the mid-west and west coast. Billy had only two recordings to show for his almost 50 years in music. Both albums had been released in 1957. Essentially his passing would have gone unnoticed by anyone except his loved ones and a handful of professional friends. The rest of us would never know a thing about him.
But as Billy lay on the floor of his kitchen dying of a hemorrhaged peptic ulcer a paramedic called by Billy’s son William (against Billy’s wishes) loosened Billy’s pajamas in order to try resuscitate him looked up at William and asked;
”Did your father ever have a sex change?”
That single question would make Billy Tipton one of the most talked-about jazz performers for the next few decades. It would also lead to public debates, books, research papers and magazine articles on gender, personal identity, transexualism, deception and an individual’s right to live as they wish.
Billy Tipton was pronounced dead when his body arrived at Valley General Hospital in Spokane Washington. Later the Medical Examiner told Billy’s family what the paramedic seems to have confirmed-that Billy had been born a female. In an attempt to keep this from the public Billy’s estranged wife Kitty arranged for his body to be cremated, But before the cremation occurred the local press had discovered the story. After financial offers from the media poured in Kitty and one of their sons went public with the story. The first newspaper article was published the day after Tipton’s funeral and it was quickly picked up by wire services. The story went around the world immediately
Billy Tipton had presented as a man for over 50 years, had been “married” five times (all of them were “common law” marriages) travelled non-stop with his trio and adopted three boys with his final wife. All of them, including Billy’s associates and friends swore they had no idea that Billy had been born female…not even … Read more›
We recently purchased an almost complete collection of Helix Magazines from the generous Jerry Jermann. One issue came with this fantastic wrap-around “Sky River Festival And Lighter Than Air Fair” poster cover. The iconic Walt Crowley is credited with it’s design. At the time Walt was the art director of The Helix, who’s staff and friends were mostly responsible for the festival. Notice the clever way the wrap-around took advantage of the “ split fountain” effect-one that uses two separate colored inks at either end meeting in the middle as a third. This example is probably the result of pouring four horizontal bands of ink (top to bottom blue/red/yellow/blue). No matter how it was done, this is one of the best uses of the process we’ve ever seen, and it’s clear Crawley’s drawing was specifically designed with the intention to be printed exactly as it appears.
The festival itself was held Labor Day Weekend, 1968 near Sultan WA in a 40-acre pasture owned by Betty Nelson. Although we prefer to believe the “Sky River” referred to is some unknown visionary, LSD-fueled floating waterfall that’s inferred in the illustration, “Sky River” is actually a clever reference to the adjacent Skykomish River. The “Lighter Than Air Fair” refers to a tethered helium balloon on site for attendees to rise above the crowd. In fact, the first balloon flew off by itself before the festival even began. It took quite a bit of scouting to find a replacement, but one was found in Spokane and hastily made it’s way across the state just in time. One of Sky River’s organizers,Paul Dorpat, later reflected on the impetus for the festival- The “Piano Drop” that had taken place earlier in 1968: ““We thought if we could do a Piano Drop and get 3,000 people to come into a narrow road near Duvall, we could probably do a festival.”
According to many who attended, the line-up shown in this Helix wrap-around came closest to the actual bill, although ultimately there were plenty of additions and no-shows. There’s still some inconsistent memories of the performers that actually took part, but we know the Grateful Dead took part (The Grateful Dead’s full set was filmed) and we’ve been told this poster is the closest thing to the final line-up. Other acts are certain to have played. Country Joe and the Fish (who had taken part in an earlier … Read more›
Rick Dey – Bass
Tony Dey -Drums
Doug Hastings – Guitar
Jon Keliehor -Drums
Steve Lalor – Guitar, Vocals
Don MacAllister – Bass, Vocals
Don Stevenson – Drums
Craig Tarwater – Guitar
Ron Woods – Drums
2002 – Present
Barry Curtis – Guitar, Vocals
Steve Lalor -Guitar, Vocals
Don Wilhelm Bass, Vocals
Steve Peterson – Drums. Percussion
Craig Bystrom – Sound Engineer
Queen Jane Approximately b/w Jack of Diamonds – The Daily Flash (Parrot, 1966)
The French Girl b/w Green Rocky Road – The Daily Flash (UNI, 1967)
The Daily Flash 7″ Compilation – The Daily Flash (Ron Records/Moxie (1980)
I Flash Daily- The Daily Flash (Psycho Records [UK], 1984
Jack of Diamonds EP -The Daily Flash (Sundazed Music, 1996)
Nightly – The Daily Flash (Fringie Records, 2012)
The Daily Flash are often referred to as either the first alternative rock band in Seattle or the first psychedelic band in Seattle. Although the former argument is up to debate, there’s no doubt The Daily Flash were one of the most successful and widely acclaimed bands to come out of Seattle in the 1960s. The Daily Flash found it’s footing in the underground west coast folk circuit rather than the garage /R&B roots that had become so popular in the Northwest.
In fact, the term Psychedelic-at least in the beginning- may even be a bit misleading. The Daily Flash were more interested in interpreting classic Americana and folk music as totally different takes on their originals. This often resulted in a mix of the blues, the electrification of traditional acoustic folkie sounds and drawing from a somewhat obscure well of music written by obscure musicians…some from past folk masters, and some from writers that would soon be famous. The biggest thing that may have set them apart from the Seattle Sound at the time is that they sought a bluesier, more electric sound than the free-wheeling style of R&B the Northwest had become known for. The Daily Flash had more to do with the nascent sound that was about to come out of San Francisco and Los Angeles. They drew form jazz, electric blues, folk and rejected much of what had made up the northwest teen-dance circuit.
The band rarely wrote their own material but this by no means pegs them as a “cover band” in the traditional sense. In fact most Northwest bands working the dance circuit had always drawn from familiar covers. It’s simply that in the early days The Daily Flash took unknown or relatively unknown traditional and folk music and put their own stamp on it. Often times the stamp was so original as to make the material absolutely their own, and unrecognizable from the original. In that way The Daily Flash were much like all the Northwest bands who had preceeded them…it’s only that they only had a more obscure background in folk and the hootenannies of the early 60s rather than the R&B of the late 50s.
The beginnings of The Daily Flash go back to 1964 when multi-instrumentalist and singer Don MacAllister met another folk affecianado, Steve Lalor, in Seattle. At the time MacAllister was playing in a local bluegrass outfit called … Read more›
Harry Edward Skarbo/Stewart (“Yogi Yorgesson”)
The Scandinavian Hotshots
Gene Boscacci Trio
Stan Boreson and His Trio (Chuck Bennett, Hal Champ and Peter Lederer)
Yust Tinkin’ of Yogi – Stan Boreson ( Golden Crest Records, 1980)
More Scandahoovian Hits – Stan Boreson (Self Released, date unknown)
Stan Boreson Fractures Christmas – Stan Boreson (Self Released, date unknown)
Honey/Little Green Apples – Stan Boreson and Doug Setterberg (Golden Crest, date unknown)
“Zero dacus, mucho cracus hallaballu-za bub That’s the secret password that we use down at the club Zero-dacus, mucho-cracus hallaballu-za fan Means now you are a member of: KING’s TV club with Stan.”
Every baby-boomer who grew up within the broadcast signal of Seattle’s KING-TV knows the song. From 1954 until 1967, it was the theme for “King’s TV Club With Stan Boreson” and later simply “The Stan Boreson Show“. Boreson was only one of many kid-show hosts in the early days of Northwest. television. Others included the Ivar Haglund inspired “Captain Puget” (Don McCune), the railwayman “Brakeman Bill”( Bill McLain), Wunda Wunda-a sort-of Pixie Harlequin played by Ruth Prins and of course the most beloved of all; J.P. Patches played by the incredibly resourceful and hilarious Chris Wedes.
Although all local kids show hosts played a character, and focused on their kiddie audience in 1998 Boreson told April Chandler of the Kitsap Sun;
“We used to joke that the reason we’re not on (television) anymore is we were entertaining the parents instead of the kids,” he said. “I never talked down to the kids; we were just carrying on a normal conversation.”
The statement about the adults is probably true. Even though Boreson ran a cartoon or two during his daily broadcast,the bulk of his unscripted routine was a series of subtle “Scandahoovian” jokes and characters that were sure to go over the heads of most kids-especially the majority of his audience who had no first or second generation familiarity with the Scandinavian experience back home, or in the immigrant community. Not only that, Boreson was the master of cornball parodies of popular songs, sung in an addled English-Scandinavian dialect. The dialect itself was a large part of the joke, and even the parody must have seemed a bit too dense for small children.
This was the early days of television and cheap broadcasts of local artists allowed broadcasters across the country to fill time. In fact, it’s probable that not a single broadcaster across the nation didn’t have a kiddie show to fill in an afternoon time slot, or at least a comedy show that could please both the stay-at-home mom and her rowdy kids just home from school. Unlike most kiddie program hosts who had come from radio as announcers, weatherpeople or disc jockeys, Boreson had a leg up on all of them. He’d … Read more›
Mike Balzotti – Keyboards
Bob Galloway – Drums
Mardi Sheridan – Guitar
Chuck Warren – Bass
Merilee and The Turnabouts
The Fabulous Continentals
The Moses Lake Recordings – The Bards (Gear Fab Records, 2002)
Never Too Much Love b/w The Jabberwocky – The Bards (Capitol Records. 1967)
Tunesmith b/w Goodtime Charlie’s Got The Blues – The Bards (Parrot Records, 1968)
The Owl and The Pussycat b/w The Light Of Love – The Bards (Capitol Records 1968)
Oobleck b/w Moses – Moses Lake (Together Records, 1971)
Looking back on heyday of 50s and 60s teen-dance music in the Northwest we tend to forget there was also a very healthy scene in eastern Washington, Northern Idaho and to a lesser degree in eastern Oregon. Teen dances were just as popular on the east side of the Cascades as they were on the west, but we often overlook it. Perhaps the crowd sizes were smaller, but it’s important to remember the distances between the small towns of the Inland Empire. Bands did much of the bookings themselves in Grange Halls, all-ages clubs, teen fairs in the larger towns and relentlessly trying to get the attention of small, local radio stations that were largely forgotten by labels and distributors. One of the many bands that would follow in the tradition of eastern Washington bands was The Continentals (later The Fabulous Contitnentals). The band was formed was formed at Moses Lake High School in 1961/1962. Originally the Continentals was loose-knit affair with personnel coming and going. During the early years Ron Covey was added on electric guitar, and singer John Draney got on board. According to bassist Chuck Wallace;
“John (Draney) could do a pretty good Roy Orbison and ‘Pretty Woman’ was an early addition to our repertoire. Ken McDonald was the leader of the group and named it the Continentals. His father owned the local Lincoln, Mercury car dealership but at the time I’m not sure we were sharp enough to make a connection”.
Ken suggested the band play a “real” gig and they ended up with a 1962 booking for a New Year’s dance at a local Elks Club. The band played “Five Foot Two” and the mostly-adult crowd loved them. Chuck says “I was playing the upright bass, Bob Hull was on piano and I don’t really recall the exact make up of that first combo.”
After graduating from High School in 1963 Ken went off to college, and the band went through drummers Stan Gibson and Nick Varney. But it was Bob Galloway that finally became a permanent member of the band. Bob Hull had also gone off to college and was replaced by keyboardist Mike Balzotti, and guitarist Mardi Sheridan joined the group around the same time. It was at this point that the band re-christened themselves as The Fabulous Continentals and added Marsha Mae, sister of Ron Covey, on vocals. … 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 CA 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 onstage, 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 had the distinction of introducing Loretta Lynn to … Read more›
Live, Live, Live!-Edmonia Jarrett (MNOP Records, 1996)
Legal at Any Age-Edmonia Jones (Pony Boy Records. 1998)
(Both hard-to-find albums have been re-released).
The Northwest has been the cradle of many more jazz artists than you might imagine. Certainly not as many as New York or Chicago or LA. but it certainly seems a haven from those scenes. Who can say why this little corner of the world has both attracted and spawned so many jazz careers? From Larry Coryell to Don Lamphere and Jeff Lorber. From Dianne Schurr to Ernestine Anderson to Ray Charles and a very young Quincy Jones. Even the self-proclaimed “inventor of Jazz” Jelly Roll Morton spent time in the Northwest; first in Tacoma, then in Seattle, and later in Vancouver. Since there are only a handful of Jelly Roll’s documented gigs in the area it’s thought that Morton was spending more time running his “West Coast Line” (a series of bordellos) and gambling. Although he spent less than two years in the areain 1929 he wrote a song called “The Seattle Hunch”.
However, none of these artists’ stories are as interesting or unusual as that of singer Edmonia Jarett.
Edmonia was born in South Carolina on March 11, 1933. Like most of the jazz and soul greats she grew up in the church. singing in the choir and spreading “the Lord’s word” through music. At the same time Edmonia’s parents pushed her to make something of herself. She chose the field of education. Her path would first lead her to work at The Pentagon, and eventually to Seattle and a job at Boeing. Then she was hired by the Seattle School District, first as a teacher (African-American History and Physical Education) and eventually as principal of Wilson Middle School and Cleveland High School. Finally, after 23 years with the Seattle School District she retired.
After retiring Edmonia then made a move that few would even attempt. She decided she would become a professional jazz singer. She was 55 years old…much older than anyone else would have dared to begin a musical profession. But Edmonia had kept up her singing in church and to herself for decades. She had never had a singing lesson in her like. Edmonia was known for her “grit and determination”. It was having these qualities that would make her name regionally-and even gain a loyal fan base around the world. As a performer she was even sought out for various international jazz festivals. Sue Jackson, … Read more›