Sunday, April 30, 2006

Musings from Mr. Solid.

By John Lee

It’s been eight months since the Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans. The New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival happens the last weekend of April and the first weekend of May. This year is no exception!

The Fest is back. With headliners like Bob Dylan, Etta James, Fats Domino, and Bruce Springsteen and hundreds of other fine musical acts of every genre, this Fest should be a good one! If you can’t make it, you can listen to selected portions of the Fest on-line at the great community radio station WWOZ 90.7 fm. This is one of the great music stations in the world and as their “about WWOZ” section on their web site says, “Playing blues, jazz, Cajun, zydeco, gospel, latin, Brazilian, Caribbean and a whole lot more.” Do yourself a favor and check out WWOZ. I hope you dig it as much as I do.

The Great Fats Domino has a new album titled “Alive And Kickin”, and all the proceeds go to Tipitina’s Foundation-rebuilding the music culture of New Orleans. I’ve heard a short clip of the title cut and it sounds mighty fine. You can connect with the foundation thru WWOZ’s web site. I don’t know how long it’s been, but it’s been a long time since the rock and roll/R&B legend has had a new recording. Check it out!

Recently my friend, Mark Ojala, from Sitka, Alaska turned me on to a great on-line record store located somewhere in California - Blue Beat Music ( These fine folks have over 10,000 blues titles and also a large selection of roots, reggae, R&B and soul. They also have a good selection of books, magazines, and DVDs. Anybody who has Louis Jordan on their T-shirt has to be good. Another outlet spreadin’ the word. Check it out.

May Blues Birthdays

Taj Mahal - May 17, 1940
Jimmy Thackery - May 19, 1953
"Little" Walter Jacobs - May 1, 1930 (died 1968)
Charlie Patton - May 1, 1891 (died 1934)
"Blind" Willie McTell - May 5, 1901 (died 1969)
Amos "Bumble Bee Slim" Easton - May 7, 1905 (died 1968)
Robert Johnson - May 8, 1909 or 1912 (died 1938)
"Big" Joe Turner - May 18, 1911 (died 1985)
Aaron "T-Bone" Walker - May 26, 1910 (died 1975)

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.
Curtis Salgado Benefit Update

By Uncle Ray Varner

There will be two benefits for Curt on June 12th and 13th. On the 12th it will be at the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, the 13th it will be at the Rose Garden Arena (Concerts in the Clouds is what they call the venue, I think). Both venues are in Portland, OR. It is likely that there will be no NW acts. Shane Tappendorf (Salgado's manager) is putting together a bill of national acts, that I can't talk about at this time.

Curt is undergoing treatment to shrink the tumor on his liver, in hopes that he may be able to qualify for placement on the transplant list. At this time the tumor is too large for him to be considered for a transplant.

Uncle Ray

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Curtis Salgado is seriously ill.

Curtis Salgado, the fine Northwest harp player and vocalist, has been diagnosed with liver cancer. The following is a press release from his web site ( regarding his illness:

April 17, 2006


Singer Curtis Salgado has been diagnosed with liver cancer and has begun preparations for treatment according to his longtime friend and manager Shane Tappendorf.

Salgado who is battling a chronic liver condition will receive treatments next month with the hope of a liver transplant surgery in the future.

"I am fortunate to be under the care of an incredible team of doctors and nurses and am inspired by the courageous people that have faced this fight before me," the 52-year-old performer said from his home this week. "I am also extremely grateful for the overwhelming support from my family and friends."

A concert performance in Spokane, WA has been rescheduled for June 3rd and doctors are confident that Curtis and his band will be able to continue to perform this year.

The singer-songwriter and harmonica idol was raised in Eugene, OR where he is best known as the inspiration for John Belushi's character of Joliet Jake in the Blues Brothers as well as his six year involvement with the Robert Cray Band. Salgado went on to become a member of the Grammy Award winning band Roomful of Blues and enjoyed a short stint as vocalist for Santana. The former Handy Award nominee has currently been working in Nashville, TN on new material for his next album as a follow-up to his last three critically acclaimed CDs for Shanachie Entertainment.

In the Pacific Northwest, Salgado is also highly respected for his 17 year commitment to sobriety and for his continued dedication and countless speaking engagements in educating young people on the dangers of alcohol and drug abuse.

A special account has been created for donations to help Salgado with medical costs and an all-star benefit concert is also being planned.

Donations can be made for the "Curtis Salgado Fund" at any US Bank or can be mailed to: US Bancorp, 2550 NW 188th Avenue, Hillsboro, OR 97124.

I remember the first time I saw Curtis. I saw him with the Robert Cray Band at the old Hibble & Hyde's nightclub in Seattle's Pioneer Square in the early '80s. This was a friggin' great band, which also include Dave Stewart on vocals and piano, and Richard Cousins on bass. These guys could do it all, from gritty blues, to Southern soul, to Charlie Rich's "Mohair Sam."

Curtis Salgado and Lloyd Jones at the Waterfront Blues Festival - Portland, OR 1988

The Curtis Salgado Band at the Owl cafe - Seattle, WA 1989

Later on I saw Curtis perform many times at the Jolly Roger Roadhouse in Lake City with In Yo' Face (which included guitarists Lloyd Jones and Joel Foy), and also at the Owl Cafe in Ballard with his own band. Sometimes members of In Yo' Face would flop at my house during the Jolly Roger gigs, and I received a couple of impromptu harp lessons from Curtis during that time.

Keep a good thought for Curtis' recovery, and keep an eye out for the all-star benefits that are sure to occur in the Portland, OR area in the near future.

Monday, April 10, 2006

The Fremont Chronicles - Pt. 3

Out Cold

By David Brewer

The Fremont Tavern on a Saturday night. Outside the rain was fallin’ hard and the wind off the canal was blowing it sideways. Inside the joint was jumping with wall to wall revelers. The windows were fogged and the beer and wine flowing. The Brewer Band was really on that night, running on all cylinders - top fuel!

In those days there were no Yuppies attending the festivities at the Fremont. It was strictly a blue collar bar, a place for the working stiffs to unwind - dock workers, welders, machinists, and a bunch of deckhands and fishermen. Into this mix of blues, booze, smoke, and sweat one of the fishermen brought in a box of 20 to 30 giant crab legs the size of softball bats.

So feature this; over 120 people crammed into a space that the fire marshal says is good for 75 or so, all drinking and dancing dangerously close to the band (there was no stage, so we just set up in the corner next to the bathrooms), one large woman with massive amounts of dirty blonde hair in particular, all waving these monstrous crab legs around! Several times this chick came crashing into the band, mostly into me. I kept telling her to get it together, but her boisterous response was always the same: "You guys are hot!”

We were about to take a well deserved pause for the cause. As we were finishing the tune we were playing, I turned my back on the crowd briefly to cue the Spiderman to end the song. When I whirled around for the dramatic climax, there was a pretty violent impact! The headstock of my Gibson now had long strands of dirty blonde hair hanging from the tuners. The large woman who thought we were so hot, the one I had warned to stay back, now had 6 small puncture wounds in the side of her face (from the freshly cut string ends). Temple to cheek, a nice bruise was already starting to show and a glazed look was in her eyes. As she crumpled to the floor unconscious, the place became eerily quiet.

Everything just stopped. As we all stood there, the smell of beer, smoke, and crab hung heavily in the air. One of the regular cast of Fremont characters, Yo-Yo Don (so named because of his ever-present yo-yo), stepped forward, his red, white, and blue yo-yo bobbing up and down inches from the woman's head. He looked at me and calmly said, "Damn Brewer, she’s out cold!" The silence broken, the body was removed to the recovery zone and the fandango resumed.

More adventures from Fremont to come...

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Photos from the vault - the Polaroid series

Speaking of the Fremont Tavern, I took most of these photos there (with the exception of the Blackie Jo James and Mike Lynch/Les Milton pics) with a Polaroid camera that I owned for a while. That explains the less than stellar quality!

There are also a couple of photos here that were taken at the gone, but not forgotten Old Timer's Cafe (Pioneer Square) and the Cotton Club in Seattle's Central District neighborhood. Enjoy!

Abu Nafay (David Brewer Band) - Fremont Tavern, 1987

Blackie Jo James - Fremont Tavern, 1987

Blues fans Dave and Marsha Green - Fremont Tavern, 1987

David Brewer - Fremont Tavern, 1987

Glenn Castonguay (sitting in with the Bluestars) - Fremont Tavern, 1987

John Lee and Jeff Ziontz (the Bluestars) - Fremont Tavern, 1987

Kevin Milton (sitting in with the Bluestars) - Fremont Tavern, 1987

Leon Homer (sitting in with the Bluestars) - Fremont Tavern, 1987

Leslie "Stardrums" Milton - Fremont Tavern, 1987

Brother Kevin Lynch and John Lee - Fremont Tavern, 1987

Ken Burns (denizen of the deep) - Fremont Tavern, 1987

Mike Lynch - Fremont Tavern, 1987

Tim Sherman - Cotton Club, 1988

Mike Lynch and Les Milton - Cotton Club, 1987

Jeff Ziontz and Mark Dalton - Old Timer's Cafe, 1987

Note: Do YOU have some great old snapshots of Northwest blues bands that the readers of the Jet City Blues blog might enjoy? If so, send 'em to me, and we will post the worthy ones here.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Musings from Mr. Solid

By John Lee

I was going over my book shelves recently to see what books were there that I haven’t read yet (there are 14 in all), when I came across a book that I haven’t read in 20 years - HONKERS AND SHOUTERS- The Golden Years Of Rhythm And Blues by Arnold Shaw (1978).

The first words written by Mr. Shaw are: “To the memory of Dinah Washington, T-Bone Walker, and Louis Jordan, and to all the great blues singers who helped give depth and height to American popular music.” As the synopsis on the back page of this great book explains, “Revolutionizing pop music over two decades ago (the book was published in 1978) with its unbuttoned, anything goes energy and irresistible summons to 'let the good times roll' rhythm and blues surged across the color line into the mainstream of American pop. Honkers and Shouters brings vibrantly back to life the pulsing electric guitar and honking tenor sax, the shouts of Kansas City’s Big Joe Turner, and the harmonies of Harlem’s Hill street-corner groups. Arnold Shaw recreates the history of the R&B era as it has never been done before-the whole foot-tapping, hand-clapping story.”

This work is both a good read and a serious academic endeavor. The great B.B. King sums it up perfectly: “HONKERS AND SHOUTERS is the first book that presents Rhythm and Blues in all its variety and gives recognition to its true status as a unique black art form. It’s a must for anyone who wants to understand where Rock & Roll came from.”

Do yourself a favor, and read this book. I hope you dig it as much as I do.

April Blues Birthdays

Otis Rush - April 29, 1934
Alberta Hunter - April 1, 1895 (died 1984)
Muddy Waters - April 4, 1915 (died 1983)
"Big" Walter_Horton - April 6, 1918 (died 1981)
Mance Lipscomb - April 9, 1895 (died 1976)
“Hound Dog” Taylor - April 12, 1915 (died 1975)
“Gatemouth” Brown - April 18, 1924 (died 2005)
Albert King - April 25, 1923 (died 1992)
Johnny Shines - April 26, 1915 (died 1992)
“Blind” Gary Davis - April 30, 1896 (died 1972)

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.