Monday, August 21, 2006

More photos from the vault.

The Owl Cafe (Seattle) 1988-1989

I took these snapshots in and outside of the late great Owl Cafe over a period of a couple of years in the late '80s. This was THE rockin' blues joint in Seattle's north end after the demise of the Jolly Roger Roadhouse. Operated by Patrick "Fatcat" Lynch and Uncle Ray Varner (Ray ran the New Orleans style Mizz Sadie's Kitchen in the Owl), this very popular club featured blues talent from all over the Northwest and the occasional touring act. The Owl was also the home of the long running Blue Monday jam session that started around 1980. Lots of great music happened in this place!

The good times at Owl Cafe eventually crashed and burned around 1992. The joint is still open as an Irish pub known as the Conor Byrne. The Broomdust Blues Band currently hosts a a blues jam at the Conor Byrne one Wednesday a month, but the blues has pretty much moved out of the Ballard neighborhood, with the exception of the regular Thursday night gig at the Salmon Bay Eagles a few blocks away.

The Owl Cafe - Ballard Avenue, Seattle

Left to right: Guitarist Ted Belushi, Cathy Cooper, and Patrick "Fatcat" Lynch

Bluescast. Left to right: Hal Merrill, Kevin Lynch, Peter LaPonte, unknown sax, and Eric Madis

This is most likely the Screaming Blue Jays (Chris Stevens' band). Left to right: Irv Kellenberger, Ron Nation, Howard Hooper, John Hodgkin, and Chris Stevens

Chris Stevens

Left to right: Dan Abernethy, Daddy Treetops, and unknown fan

Jim Mesi

Jack Cook (playing with Trouble at Home)

Kirk Tuttle (playing with Trouble at Home)

Kathy Hart and unknown fan

Kirk Tuttle and Jimi Jean

Drummer Les Hutchinson

Les Merrihew

Lloyd Jones

Tom McFarland and Mike Lynch

Left to right: Jim Mesi, Tom McFarland, and drummer Homer Leon

Left to right: Patty Mey, Kirk "KT" Tuttle, and Ron "Deacon" Weinstein

Nitelife. Left to right: Mark Dalton, Tom Boyle, Ron Weinstein, Larry Harris, and Mike Lynch

Tom Boyle

Daddy Treetops and Jack Cook

Trouble at Home. Guitarist Russ Meltzer and John Marshall

The Rockin' Rick Band. Left to right: Les Merrihew, Rockin' Rick, Jim Mesi, Mike Lynch, and Patty Mey

Note: Do you have photos of events at the Owl cafe that you would like to share with the Jet City Blues readers? If so, contact me at and we'll figure out at way to publish them. Thanks!

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Daddy Treetops at the Salmon Bay Eagles.

August 10, 2006

I dropped into the Salmon Bay Eagles after attending Tim Sherman's birthday party last week (thanks Tim!). Tree and I go aways back - the second band I ever played in was a very early (possibly the first?) version of Daddy Treetops & the Howlin' Tomcats. I believe this was around 1974 or 1975. That band consisted of Tree on guitar and vocals, my friend Bob Beebe on bass, myself on harp, and Twist Turner on drums. A guitarist by the name of Dwight Anderson also played electric piano in the band occasionally, going by the name of Wild Fingers Bo Folsum.

I recall playing at the old Rainbow Tavern in the University District with this band, plus at least one public radio benefit, a couple of private parties, and a memorable New Years gig at the long-gone Victrola Tavern (now the Bistro Restaurant) in the Public Market.

The Howin' Tomcats were sounding especially good to me last Thursday, for a couple of reasons. First - I could hear Tree's guitar! He was playing through a Magnatone amp with an extension speaker, and he was micing the extension speaker. He was playing slide on a Fender Telecaster, plus his standard Gibson ES-125 for the straight ahead stuff. For a change, I could hear his guitar just fine down on the lower level of the club. Not too loud, mind you, but just right.

Second - The rhythm section was doing a really great job of backing him up. Also not too loud, but just right! And why not? The rhythm section consisted of Seattle veterans Jim Plano on drums and electric bassist John Keski. John uses an unusual bass amp setup - a 50-watt Fender Bassman 10 combo (with four 10-inch speakers) and a Peavey extension cabinet with a single 15-inch speaker. Most bassists would consider this to be an underpowered setup, but it has always sounded fine to me, in clubs large and small. How does he do it??

Anyway, these guys were in the groove, and I'm glad I dropped in to see them. I even dug the one Beatles song that Tree sang. Oh yeah...thanks for doing Ludella for me Tree!

Daddy Treetops & the Howlin' Tomcats - Left to right: Daddy Treetops, Jim Plano, and John Keski.

Note: the photos for this article were created by Dennis "Zab" Zyvoloski.

Friday, August 11, 2006

James Harman's thoughts on Sam Myers.

I've received many replies from my Sam Myers obit. This one is my favorite. From one great bluesman/harp legend, about another. I've long called James Harman (left) "the blues' best story teller." Whether in a 12 bar song or an e-mail, this helps prove my point.

Phil Chesnut

Very nice Phil,

I'm sure we all thank you for this most kind and thoughtful piece, remembering a fallen brother. I will certainly miss my old buddy Sweet Sam Myers myself.

I wish you could have been there to see a dozen magazine photographers following us around when Sam, Charlie Musslewhite and I went 'walking the grounds' for a long overdue chi-chat-visit at the huge Peer Festival in Belgium. I finally asked one photographer why we generated so much interest for them. I was told that we represented their first look at all three of the real southern blues singer/harp players together. Of course we got a kick out of that! In fact Sam said, "Now ain't this a bitch, they act like we was Liz Taylor or some such bullshit." Then he proceeded to introduce me from the stage as being his old chum from way back in our high school days in Mississippi. He went on that after graduation we went our separate ways, since he went to 'Penn State' and of course, I went to the state pen! Ka Ka Ka Boom! Brother, that was a Sam kind of gag.

My personal favorite story was the time in Texas, when Sam insisted on showing us the way to the real-deal southern breakfast place called Maryann's. He insisted we all go in my bus, with him giving directions. He climbed up into the bus and sat right behind Jerome Starks, my 'coach operator' (now don't 'chu call him no bus driver)! Sam kept giving last minute and abrupt directions like "cut through this parking lot, it's faster...... go down that alley and swing-out behind the liquor store then hang a U-turn into that driveway... its a short cut!"

Jerome immediately started grimacing and giving me 'the look,' on every new piece of direction Sam gave him. Jerome was sweatin' it out, but as always, he managed to correctly guide that 40 foot long, 12 foot high, 10 foot wide and 30 ton heavy GMC Scenicruiser through this scary, way-too-narrow, road course event Sam had conjured up for our breakfast trip. To say the least, it was quite involved. However, he proved out to know exactly what he was talkin' about and soon we did find the joint.

For the next two hours we nearly killed ourselves on a great southern breakfast featuring serious fried eggs and green tomatoes, grits, biscuits and even more serious white ham gravy and wonderful coffee! For our return to the hotel Sam chose a different and even more confusing route. As we made one of the tight, difficult turns from one small street onto another Sam suddenly blurted out, "Damn James, did you see the tits on that fine chick in that Volkswagen?" That did it! "Stop the bus!", I screamed staring at Sam in disbelief. Still giving him a dirty look I said, "Look here Sam Myers...... I didn't even see the car or the fine chick, much less any tits.... man, I though you was supposed to be blind" Grinning that devilish grin back in my directions, while doing his patented eyes rolled way back thing, he slowly managed: "Heh heh heh heh heh, well, brother James... I just might see mo' than y'all think I can, sometimes!" Well, that did it for me, I never assumed he wasn't seeing everything going on again.

I only hope you didn't trick everybody out there, who knows less blues history, into thinking Sam played drums on all those Elmore James records. He only played on three songs, as a fill in.... and only for the Fire label. He never played drums on any of Elmore's famous earlier records on Chess, Chance, Modern, RPM or Trumpet! I also think you should have mentioned his one and only successful record under his own name, 1958's: "My Love is Strong" b/w "Sleeping in the Ground", which was his only claim to fame until resurfacing in the mid 80's and eventually joining Anson. I think those are important points. Otherwise, it's nice to hear from you and I hope you are doing well. You know I loved your rendering of that cool Sam photo.

Yo'boy... James

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

What I'm listening to this week.

Private Jungle
The Slamhound Hunters
Satin records

Ah...the Slamhound Hunters! Jet City Blues contributor Mark Dalton was kind enough to burn a copy of this CD for me recently, and I've really been digging listening to it. This now somewhat obscure CD by this great Seattle band is still available on Amazon (see the link above), and I highly recommend that you add this music to your collection.

So, what the hell is a Slamhound? Well, I'm not sure, but the first time I saw the name, it was a robotic bomb in William Gibson's sci-fi novel "Neuromancer." Perhaps Mr. Dalton can enlighten us as to some other meaning related to the band (please?!). Private Jungle was originally released in 1987 and released in 1999. The band members were Louis X. Erlanger (guitar and vocals), Kim Field (harp and vocals), Mark Dalton (bass and background vocals), and the one and only Leslie "Stardrums" Milton (drums and vocals on "Swap Crab"). All the tunes here are original, with the exception of the cover of Moon Martin's "Cadillac Walk," which originally appeared on the Mink DeVille album "Cabretta." What's the connection? Louis Erlanger was the guitarist in the Mink DeVille band in New York.

There ain't any bad tunes on this collection, folks! My favorites include the Slim Harpo-ish "Cadillac Walk" (more uptempo than the darker original), the rockin' "Hard Work," the sparse "Lonely Woman," the spooky "The Snake Sheds It's Skin," and the even spookier tune about a serial killer by the name of "Joe The Ripper." There is uniformly great playing throughout - the terrific rhythm section supports Louis' tasty guitar (including some great slide) and Kim Field's killer diatonic and chromatic harp playing.

The Slamhounds played around town quite a bit between recording sessions for their two albums (4/1 Mind was the title of the first recording). Various artist would play the live shows, depending on who was in town at the time. I recall seeing bassist John Lee and guitarist Dave Conant playing gigs with the band.

The Slamhound Hunters disbanded after a European tour in 1993. I hear that Louis Erlanger is living in New York, while the rest of the band is still living and working in the Seattle area. Mark Dalton plays with the Chris Stevens Band, Leslie Milton plays with pianist Lady Keys at the Alligator Soul Restaurant in Everett, WA, and Kim Field can be seen around town occasionally sitting in with various bands.

Here are some photos of the band members from that time:

Kim Field & the Left Hand Men at the Pioneer Square Tavern - Seattle, 1983. Left to right: John Lee, Leslie Milton, Kim Field, and Jeff Ziontz.

Louis X. Erlanger at the Central Tavern - Seattle, 1983.

Leslie "Stardrums" Milton and Cadillac. Lopez Island, WA - Mid '80s.

Mark Dalton at the Central Tavern - Seattle, 1983

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Musings from Mr. Solid

By John Lee

Like I promised last time, I’m going to lay on you some of the radio stations I listen to on the internet. I will give you the station name, the web link and a synopsis of shows and highlights. I won’t give links to shows that stations feature, you can get those from the station web site.

I’ve done a piece on WWOZ-FM 90.7 (, the granddaddy of community stations out of New Orleans. Lots of R&B, blues, Zyedeco, Cajun, and Jazz 24/7. It’s a treat!

WDCB-FM 90.9 ( is located in Glen Ellyn, Illinois on The College of DuPage campus. Laura Dufresne, the lovely wife of Mark Dufresne, singer and harmonica man of Roomful of Blues, went to school there! Lots of Jazz and numerous blues shows including the hard to find “Live from the Red Rooster”. They also carry American Routes and Beale Street Caravan. A very cool station. Glen Ellyn is a burb of Chicagoland.

KZUM-FM 89.3 ( broadcasts out of Lincoln, Nebraska. This fine station has a blues show on every day of the week. I sometimes listen to American Routes on KZUM. Check it out!

KUMD-FM 103.3 ( Duluth, Minnesota (Bob Dylan’s birthplace) has blues on Friday and Saturdays. They also carry great public radio shows like Mountain Stage, Beale Street Caravan, West Coast Live, American Routes, E-Town, and The World CafĂ© to name some. This is a cool station in The Great White North! I listen to Beale Street Caravan on KUMD.

KDHX-FM 88.1 ( St. Louis. An eclectic mix. Three blues shows on Sundays and a rockabilly show called Greasers Lunch Box are some of the highlights. KDHX- bringing cool sounds to Missouri.

KALW-FM 91.7 ( in San Francisco is a news and information station, very much like KUOW here in Seattle. Monday nights on KALW are blue. 9:00 PM is Beale Street Caravan, 10:00 PM make room for Mark Naftalin’s Blues Power Hour, and from 11:00 PM to midnight the great showcase show, Portraits in Blue with Bob Porter. Bob Porter also works with Beale Street Caravan. All showtimes are Pacific time.

For an international flare, check out Blue Ears, The Bluesy Difference from Amsterdam, Holland. Blues and blues rock 24/7 (

This is a pretty good list I think. If anyone out there in radio land knows any cool stations out in cyber space please email me ( and let me know, please!

Wishing you, good listening.

August Blues Birthdays

Robert Cray - August 1, 1953
Magic Slim - August 7, 1937
Joanna Connor - August 31, 1962
Louis Armstrong - August 4, 1901 (died - 1971)
Percy Mayfield - August 12, 1920 (died - 1984)
Son Seals - August 13, 1942 (died - 2004)
Luther Allison - August 17, 1939 (died -1997)
John Lee Hooker - August 22, (died - 2001)
Wynonie Harris - August 24, 1915 (died- 1969)

Electric bassist John "Mr. Solid" Lee was born in Alaska and has been active in the Seattle blues scene for about 30 years. He currently plays with the Crossroads Band. Photo by Mike Coyote.