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 15th, 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 would later shorten his last name to Rich. Don’s parents encouraged him to play music, going so far as to give him a home-made violin at the tender age of three. Don was a musical child prodigy. He 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 to enter 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 on September 1st, 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 and 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. Former Bakersfield CA musician Buck Owens was doing a stint at Tacoma radio station KAYE at the time. Rich was playing 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 was also a radio and television presenter, so when Rich joined-up with Owens, he found himself doing a weekly spot on KTNT-TV 11’s BAR-K Jamboree. The show had the distinction of introducing Loretta Lynn to television with … 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›
Otis P. Otis-Guitar
Doug “Stringtie” Creason-Bass
“Lucky” Tony Mathews, Douglas-Guitar, Vocals
John “Moondog” Mooney-Drums
Robert “Big Beat Bob” Guiterez-Drums
“Naked Under Leather” – The F-Holes (1989)
Tits (Live at Geezerfest) – “That’s Dadastic” compilation (dadastic sounds 2011)
The F-Holes formed out of a jam session on Nov 21, 1984 at The Central Tavern near Seattle’s Pioneer Square. The original members were “Lucky” Tony Mathews, Douglas “Stringtie” Creson and John “Moondog” Mooney. The jam consisted of three songs. The booker was impressed enough to ask them to open for his band, The Alleged Perpetrators on Dec 14, 1984, and a band was born. Since that night The F-Holes have consistently been part of the Seattle music scene.
One night while Stringtie was playing pinball at a tavern with Kevin Heaven (a local musician and well-known scenester)’ Kevin said;“You gotta check out my new f-hole guitar!” Stringtie went home that night and made a poster. He brought it to rehearsal the next day. “We are the F-Holes” he told them. The newly-named outfit’s drummer, John “Moondog” Mooney asked;“What am I gonna tell my Mom?”
1985 brought a solid stream of bookings. The bookings continued. The first few years The F-holes played more shows than they rehearsed. Doug Creson recalls;
“We’d rehearse on Wednesdays and play shows Thursday , Friday and Saturday”.
Things changed in 1986 when the F=Holes added Otis P. Otis on lead guitar. He was a huge Johnny Thunders fan and brought a heavier sound that lead the band into the pre-grunge era. The original F-holes sound included generous heaps of Psychobilly, Cowpunk, Garage Rock, Punk, Acid Blues and 60s Psychedelia. They add they also play Country music, though they add
“we’re not sure which country“.
Along with Otis came a sound that brought the band to a new level and wider audience. They still played the same music as before-only heavier. Their look was still psychobilly with the big pompadours and cowboy boots and bolo ties. That would change in later years, but for the earlier part of their career the band was known for their appearance as much as their music. Both were fun, over the edge and a little bit retro as far as their dedication to punk.
“Promoters always had a hard time pegging our sound but we played with all kinds of bands. Punk, Alt Country, Grunge, Power Pop” says Creson.
The biggest misconception may be that the F-Holes are a rockabilly band. It’s a claim the band adamantly deny. Since the beginning they’ve always played a few rockabilly-tinged numbers, and they often dressed … Read more›
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 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 Folk Festival and on July 2nd 1968 Crome Syrcus played their first Bay Area gig. In fact Crome Syrcus would … Read more›
Bob Bogle-Bass and Guitar
Nokie Edwards-Guitar & Bass
Bob Spalding-Bass & Guitar
Ian Spalding – Bass
George T. Babbit Jr.-Drums
Leon Taylor – Drums
Walk Don’t Run-The Ventures (Dolton, 1960)
The Horse-The Ventures (Liberty, 1968)
The Ventures-The Legendary Masters Series-The Ventures (United Artists, 1974)
Walk Don’t Run: All Time Greatest Hits-The Ventures (EMI,2003)
Tacoma’s Ventures. They’ve lasted almost 60 years in one form or another. They’ve released over 250 albums. They’ve sold over 120 million records….more than any other instrumental band in history. Those records are unlikely to ever be topped by an instrumental band of any genre. During their career they’ve covered just about every kind of music there is. Most of their albums are largely covers of popular songs, but surprisingly they write about one third of their music. They helped develop the “surf sound” although they point out they didn’t invent it, and don’t consider themselves a “surf band” at all. In a 2015 interview with Forbes magazine co-founder Don Wilson told interviewer Jim Clash;
“One of our biggest sellers was a surfing album. I guess we got tagged with that – Pipeline and Wipe Out we are associated with – so suddenly we are a surf rock band! I see that written a lot. But I don’t care. I’m used to it. We’re not just surf”.
Band members have always denied their music being founded in the surf sound, but it’s certain The Ventures had a profound affect on it. It could be they’ve always refused to be labeled surf just as much out of deference to the artists who truly are surf bands as much as the facts. It’s also true that The Ventures went far beyond any one genre-expect being instrumental. They’ve also maintained keeping current with putting their sound to current music. Aside from their top-knotch playing it is these two other factors that have kept them in the world’ public eye for decades.
The story of The Ventures goes back to the day that Bob Bogle first met Don Wilson in 1958. Bogle was looking to buy a used car from a dealership in Seattle. The car lot was owned by Wilson’s father. Don was the salesman. During their conversation, they found out they both had an interest in music. They became fast friends, and soon Wilson began working with Bogle in the masonry field. Obviously carrying mortar and bricks was more lucrative than hawking used cars for small commissions. In 2009 Bob Bogle told The Seattle Times:
“And then we found out that we each knew a few chords on the guitar, you know, and we had a lot of free time on our hands. But neither of us … Read more›
Indian Puddin’ & Pipe
Frank Zappa & The Mothers of Invention
Rich Dangel and the Reputations
Geoff and Maria Muldaur (as Junior Turlock)
Flo and Eddie
Slender Woman/My Own Life/Easy Chair” (single sided 12″ EP)-Easy Chair (Vanco Records, 1968)
“Naked Angels (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)”-Jeff Simmons (Straight Records, 1969)
“Lucille Has Messed My Mind Up”-Jeff Simmons (Straight Records, 1969)
“Chunga’s Revenge”-Frank Zappa (Bizarre Records, 1970)
“Waka / Jawaka • Hot Rats”-Frank Zappa (Bizarre Records, 1972)
“Roxy and Elsewhere”-Frank Zappa and The Mothers (DiscReet, 1974)
“Blue Universe”-Jeff Simmons (Blue Fox Records, 2004)
By the time the mid-60s The Northwest Sound has pretty much wound down. Many former teen-dance bands were moving closer to rock and the new psychedelic sounds coming out of L.A. and San Francisco. In some ways many local artists had begun to see Seattle as a northern outpost of San Francisco.
One of the bands that emerged in the mid-60s was Blues Interchange. David Lanz (future star of “new age” music) had been one of the band’s first members. The band began making the rounds of Seattle venues and became very popular with the tripped-out psychedelic crowd. Due to some of the members being drafted local boy Jeff Simmons signed on as bassist in 1967. Simmons was already an accomplished player with a gregarious, often comedic air about him Other members included Al Malosky on drums and guitarists Peter Larson (later replaced by Burke Wallace), and Danny Hoefer. Danny Hoefer would later go on to play in Tower of Power.
After the change of personnel, Blues Interchange found even more favor with Northwest audiences. One result of the changes was re-naming the band to Easy Chair. The transformation caught the eye of Seattle’s emerging rock scene as well as other pockets of psychedelic blues around the country
In 2014 the website Clear Spot would look back on Easy Chair, writing;
“Their epic West Coast blues features the unique chemistry of psychedelic guitar leads, fluid lines and hypnotic chording”.
Around this time the band was emerging they met up with notorious San Francisco manager Matthew Katz. Katz had been the first manager of Jefferson Airplane and had ben fired even before the release of their first album, Jefferson Airplane Takes Off. Seattle native Signe Anderson (September 15, 1941-January 28, 2016) did vocals, but soon left the band, handing over the task to Grace Slick. The firing of Katz would result in ongoing litigation over the release of original or licensed material by Jefferson Airplane. The litigation between Katz and Jefferson Airplane was not settled until 1987.
Katz was also involved in a dispute with Moby Grape beginning in 1968. Katz had sold the group members’ rights to their songs as well as their own name were signed away in 1973 to manager/producer David Rubinson without the band members knowing it. He retained rights to the name Moby Grape and a large part of their songs. … Read more›
Little Bill Englehart
The Night People
Anthony “Tiny Tony” Smith
“Danny”b/ w”Y-E-S” single (Rona Records , 1962)
“Little Baby” / “Cheatin’ On Me” (Rona Records, 1962)
“I’m Burnin’ My Diary” b/w “The Baby Blues” (World Pacific Records, 1962)
“Last Night” b/w “Charlie My Boy” (World Pacific Records, 1962)
“Death Of An Angel” b/w “Earth Angel.” with The Viceroys; (Imperial Records, 1964)
“Seattle Women; We Are Not Good Girls” compilation (Joe Records, 1999)
“Seattle Women; Backdoor Gossip” compilation (Joe Records, 1999)
Not surprisingly the bands of the 1950s and 60s that would define The Northwest Sound was mostly a boys game. There had been women who’d made it in their own right –Bonnie Guitar comes to mind- but even she was closer to country than the newer sounds. Bea Smith had made her name in rockabilly but The NorthwestSound relied on a hybrid of R&B and jazz. In fact most of the successful women performing were either coming out of rockabilly, hillbilly music or singing blues and early R&B among the many black venues surrounding Jackson St. Of course many of these clubs were avoided by whites, and those teenagers wanting to hear the real deal dare not venture into many of the mostly-black bottle clubs and dens of gambling and prostitution that some rightly were known as. Police raids were common along Jackson Street and door men were careful not to give entry to the kids that may be cause for even more raids. The musicians who had come to play R&B were the exception to the rule. Their fans may have been frightened off by what was collectively known as the (primarily black) Jackson St. Scene. The Birdland, The Ubangi Club, The House of Entertainment and especially The Black and Tan (which was largely integrated by the late 50s) were all clubs that attracted the young white practitioners of teen-dance R&B.
Very few of the early Northwest Sound bands ventured into vocals or women in general. This wasn’t a purposeful lock-out of women. It was out of popular demand. Audiences didn’t mind instrumentals, they simply wanted to dance. Girl Groups from across the nation were seen as a novelty acts. Very few bands had fully-fledged female members of their bands. There were exceptions, but this was mostly the face of the Northwest Sound during the mid-late 1950s. Enter The Fleetwoods.
Artist, label owner and producer Bonnie Guitar and her business partner Bob Reisdorff of Dolphin Records (soon to be re-christened as Dolton Records had taken note of the Olympia trio (Gary Troxel, Gretchen Christopher, and Barbara Ellis). The band did not fit into the girl group mold, nor was it the kind of rollicking R&B Northwest fans were used to… but Bonnie and Bob’s belief in The Fleetwoods and their signing them paid off in droves. The first two releases by The Fleetwoods rose … Read more›
Lift Him Up (Savoy Records, 1979)
Black Nativity (Intiman Theater, 2001)
Go To The Rock: Total Experience Sings Old School With Joy (TEGC)
Wheedle’s Groove Kearney Barton compilation (Light In The Attic Records, 2009)
Since it’s formation in 1973 the Total Experience Gospel Choir has travelled the nation and across the globe, from the Far East to Europe to Russia and a lot of places in between. Under the tutelage of Pastor Pat Wright, the Total Experience Gospel Choir has journeyed to Japan where they not only presented their ministry through song, but also delivered supplies to victims of the Tōhoku Earthquake and Tsunami who had taken refuge in Ishinomaki, Japan. In 2006 the Total Experience Gospel Choir also travelled to Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi to help victims of Hurricane Katrina and to rebuild and refurbish homes for hurricane victims in Gulfport, Mississippi.
Pat Wright was honored for her and the choir’s efforts by ABC News World News Tonight. In May of 2007 she was named one of that month’s Person of the Week, and later in a broadcast on December 27 2007, Pat was declared one of 2007’s “Persons of the Year”. It’s clear that the choir is not only one of the Northwest’s greatest musical assets, they spread their ministry through music, and actual, on-the-ground help.
Aside from performing for President Bill Clinton and President Obama, the Total Experience Gospel Choir have been featured at prestigious venues from the Sydney Opera House to The Mormon Tabernacle. Even though they’ve been ambassadors around the world, and won many prestigious awards, it’s clear the Pastor Wright’s greatest mission is to the uplifting of her own community, here in Seattle.
Pat Wright was born Patrinell Staten in Odessa Texas as one of eight children. Her father was a Baptist preacher and her mother taught school. Both parents urged her to pursue a career in gospel music. Having started to sing at an early age, Pat performed her first solo at the age of 3 and by the time she was 14 Pat had taught herself to play piano and was directing two choirs in her father’s church. Her parents saw to it Pat grew up in the church, but education also played an important part in her upbringing. Pat graduated as valedictorian of her high school class (Turner High School, 1961) and later attended Prairie View A&M College just north of Houston TX.
Pat first arrived in Seattle in October of 1964 to help her sister, who was then going through a divorce. Her intention was to be of assistance to … 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. Duff had met TJ West in high school had played with him in the late 70s/early 80s band Klappenstompp, along with Randy Berry on drums, and Gary Bauder on lead vocals. Later Duff would play with The Envy which was comprised of Byron Duff on guitar and backing vocals, Rick Hill on bass, Gary Bauder on lead vocals and the late great Dave Drewry on drums.
Unfortunately Dive would be an unheralded band that helped define the new”grunge”sound and the 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 they 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 Seattle guitarist of his generation. It’s not hyperbole. 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 … Read more›