Jeff Simmons: From The Blues to Easy Chair to Zappa and Back

Years Active

1967-?

Associated Artists

Blues Interchange

Indian Puddin’ & Pipe

Easy Chair

Ethiopia

Frank Zappa & The Mothers of Invention

Dweezel Zappa

Rich Dangel and the Reputations

Geoff and Maria Muldaur (as Junior Turlock)

Flo and Eddie

Selected Discography

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)

LUCILLE HAS MESSED MY MIND UP
JEFF SIMMONS

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›

Nancy Claire

Years Active

1957-present

Associated Bands

The Adventurers

The Casuals

The Checkers

Clever Baggage

Larry Coryell

The Dynamics

Little Bill Englehart

The Exotics

The Frantics

Mark 5

Merrilee Rush

The Mussletones

The Night People

The Viceroys

Paleface

The Rentones

The Reverbs

Anthony “Tiny Tony” Smith

Jim Valley

The Ventures

The Wailers

Selected Discography

“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)

NANCY CLAIRE
Y-E-S !

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›

Pat Wright and The Total Experience Gospel Choir

Years Active

1973-Present

Director and Choirmaster

Pat Wright

Selected Discography

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)

 

JESUS CHRIST POSE

TOTAL EXPERIENCE GOSPEL CHOIR

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›

Silly Killers

Years Active

1982-1983

Band Members

Chris “Slats” Harvey-Guitar

Tim Gowel-Drums

Gary Clukey-Bass

Eddie Huletz-Vocals

Duff McKagen-Drums, Backing Vocals

 

 

 

Associated Artists

Solger

The Accused

10 Minute Warning

Pain Cocktail

Vains

The Accused

Selected Discography

Knife Manual 7″ EP (No Threes Records, 1982)

Nothing To Say/Big Machine, “What Syndrome” (cassette compilation; Deux Ex Machina  Records and Tapes, 1983)

KNIFE MANUAL
SILLY KILLERS

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›

Idiot Culture

Years Active

1986-1988

Band Members

Byron Duff-Guitar and vocals.
T.J. West-Bass
Steve Dodge-Drums

Selected Discography

Idiot Culture-dadastic! sounds (2010)

Associated Bands

Moth
Dive
The Spectators

DARK RIVER
IDIOT CULTURE

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›

The Center For Disease Control Boys

Years Active

1986-1987

Band Members

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
Jon Poneman-Bass
Artie Palm-Mouth Harp, Saxophone, and Guitar
Tim Bowman Accordion, Saw
Juliana Wood-Cowgirl
Debra June Connor-Cowgirl
And a host of others.

 

Associated Bands

Soundgarden
The Subterraneans
The Brides of Frankenstein
Gary Heffern
Dynamic Logs
Skin Yard
Grunt Truck

WE'RE THE CENTER FOR DISEASE CONTROL BOYS

THE CENTER FOR DISEASE CONTROL BOYS

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 hotelSCUD 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›

3 Swimmers

Active

1980-1983

Members

Mark H. Smith-Guitar, Synthesizer, Vocals
MacKenzie Smith-Synthesizer, Vocals
Fred Chalenor-Bass
George Romansic-Drums
Colin McDonnell-Guitar, Synthesizer,
Taylor Little-Drums
Craig Florey-Saxophone
Jack Weaver-Trumpet
Jane Whistler- Background Vocals

Associated Bands

The Macs
The Beakers
Curlew
Rally Go

 

Selected Discography

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 WORKER WORKS TO LIVE
3 SWIMMERS

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›

The Fags

Dates Active

1980-1986

Band Members

Charles “Upchuck” Gerra-Vocals

Paul Solger- Guitar

Ben Ireland-Drums

Dahny Reed-Guitar

Barbara Ireland-Bass, Vocals

Jane Playtex-Bass

 

Associated Bands

Sleeping Movement

10 Minute Warning

Sky Cries Mary

Clone

Solger

Selected Discography

Upchuck: Gone But Not Forgiven, compilation (dadastic! sounds, 2008)

LOCK YOU UP
THE FAGS

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›

The Frantics: How an R&B teen dance band became monsters of Psychedelic Rock

Years Active

1955-1966/1967-present

Band Members

Ron Petersen-Guitar
Joel Goodman-Drums
Chuck Schoning-Keyboards
Bob Hosko-Saxophone
Jim Manolides-Bass
Jon Keilehor-Drums
Jerry Miller-Guitar
Don Stevenson-Drums
Bob Mosely-Bass
And a cast of many more

 

 

Selected Discography

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)

 

Associated Bands

Moby Grape
The Four Frantics
Nancy Claire
Luminous Marsh Gas
The Daily Flash
Paleface
Jr. Cadillac
The Ventures
The Wailers
The Hi-Fi’s

FOG CUTTER
THE FRANTICS

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 Petersen 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), and Gary Gerke (piano). 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 Petersen (guitar), Joel Goodman (later, Don Fulton then,  Jon Keliehor) on 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 occassional 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.  Nancy Claire had such a high profile in the 60s that she will be covered in her own future post.

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 Read more›

Bonnie Guitar

Years Active

1945-Present

Associated Artists and labels

The Fleetwoods
The Ventures
Ned Miller
Paul Tatmarc
Dolton Records
Jerden Records
Dot Records
Columbia Records

DARK MOON
BONNIE GUITAR

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›

Ballin’ Jack

Years Active

1969-1974

Band Members

Jim Coile-Saxophone, Flute, Clarinet
Ronnie Hammon-Drums
Tim McFarland-Trombone, Piano
Billy McPherson-Saxophone
Luther Rabb-Bass
Glenn Thomas-Guitar
Jim Walters-Trumpet, Vocals

Associated Bands

Santana
War
Luther Rabb
Lola Falana
Jimi Hendrix

Selected Discography

Ballin’Jack-Columbia (1970)
Buzzard Luck-Columbia (1972)
Special Pride-Mercury (1973) 
Live And In Color-Mercury (1974)

SUPER HIGHWAY
BALLIN' JACK

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 had even played 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.  The name Ballin’ Jack has obscure origins.  It could be based on “Ballin’ the Jack” a 1913 song written by Jim Burris and  Chris Smith.  It could refer to the and the ensuing dance that became popularized by the song.  The expression “Ballin’ the Jack” also has ties to railroad workers who used the expression “to go full speed”.  But the band’s use of the shortened expression probably was chosen for one of two other reasons.  Sometimes the term “ballin’ the jack” implied having a great time.  There’s certainly enough examples of the expression being used in film, on Broadway and popular music….but sometime the meaning was (literally) deep, full-on sex.  Blues great Big Bill Broonzy sang in “Feel So Good”

My baby’s coming home
I hope that she won’t fail because I feel so good, I feel so good.
You know I feel so good, feel like balling the jack

As Bessie Smith sang in “Baby Doll” in 1926,

He can be ugly, he can be black
So long as he can eagle rock and ball the jack

There’s several ways to interpret the term, but “ballin the jack” was an expression often used in jazz and blues circles to mean deep, full and fast sex.  It may be this veiled, slang reference is the meaning the band intended their name to represent.

Ballin’ Jack found themselves moving to Los Angeles, living in a large … Read more›

Red Dress

Years active

1976-present

Band Members

Gary Minkler-Vocals
Bill Bagley- Bass, Keyboards, Guitar

Jerry Anderson- Bass

Walt Singleman-Bass

Gregg Keplinger-Drums

Bill Shaw- Drums, Vocals

Don Kamerer-Drums

John Olufs- Guitar, Vocals

Pete Pendras- Guitar, Vocals

Emily Bishton- Vocals

Rudy Harper-Trumpet
Don Kellman- Tenor Sax

Dave Conant-Guitar, RIP

Selected Discography

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)

BOB WAS A ROBOT
RED DRESS

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›