Observations of the Northwest blues scene by Mike Lynch and other noted contributors.
Monday, December 28, 2009
I played with the Maxwell Street Revivalists at the Highway99 Blues Club on December 17th. We featured the music of the great Jimmy Reed during the gig, and really had a ball doing it! I think that I'm going to have to start doing "Take Out Some Insurance" and "Found Love" at my gigs now.
These guys are the real deal, and you should try to catch their next show at the Highway 99 on January 21st, when they will be featuring Seattle saxophonist and vocalist Dennis Ellis (The Crossroads Band) and the music of Howlin' Wolf.
Speaking of my gigs, Revivalists guitarist Greg Roberts and bassist Guy Quintino will be playing with me at the New Orleans Creole Restaurant in Pioneer Square on January 2nd. That's gonna be a good 'un too!
I'll see you at the nightclub!
Saturday, December 19, 2009
By Dennis "Zab" Zyvoloski
Salmon Bay Eagles Music Coordinator
Since I had only come onto the local blues music scene a mere ten or so years ago, I was also particularly interested in having Sheri fill me in about the beginnings of the blues at the “Slammin’” Bay Eagles, as I’ve heard it informally referred to. I took some notes and wrote up the following story, and she failed to correct me in time before I sent this out, so she had her chance to stop me. Anyhow, the following tale is how I reconstructed the conversations.
Back in 1988, David Duff was the president of the Salmon Bay Eagles. Dave had this idea that music would attract a younger crowd and that younger crowd would increase their membership. He was a fan of the Kevin Wallace Exchange Band, so he hired Kevin’s Band, as long as they would play Dave’s favorite song, “Loan Me A Dime.”
At that time, Jimi Jean Tuttle was a bartender at the Eagles, and she and her husband, drummer Kirk "KT" Tuttle, lived in an apartment next door to the club. Jimi Jean and Dave put together the concept of a jam with guitarist Kevin Wallace organizing and running it on Sunday nights.
The original Kevin Wallace Band consisted of Kevin on guitar, Raven Humphries on sax, Pete “The Beat” on drums, Jeff Davies on bass, Dr O. (aka Kevin O’Reilly) on keyboards, with Eddie Garr sometimes filling in on bass and Sam Pierce stopping in to crank out some stellar vocals. KT would sit in on drums when Pete (aka Gig Pig) would have other commitments. Raven would provide the PA system, because the club didn’t have one at that time.
Kevin and Raven ran this jam for about two years and it grew with a lot of our well-known musicians showing up to jam. At that time, there weren’t any other jams like this on a Sunday night. After two years of Raven dragging in his equipment into the club and packing it out every night, Jimi Jean and Sheri decided to look for ways to raise money for a house PA system. They started having special dinners, raffles, tip jars, etc. and raised enough money to buy the present system. It was a lot of work!
Shortly thereafter, Kevin had some conflicts that prevented him from playing every Sunday night. He started putting together replacement bands for the Sunday nights. That is how he got into trouble with the IRS. All the contracts were in his name, and the replacement bands would just cash the check at the bar. With the contracts in his name, the IRS assumed that it was all his income and they wanted their cut. As far as they were concerned, he owed them a lot of back taxes, which of course, he didn’t have. This was a hard lesson to learn. About this time, Dave retired as the Eagles President and Jimi took over booking the bands, since she knew all the musicians in the community. The music was then moved to Thursday nights, where it has remained for the next twenty years.
Like the majority of self-employed musicians, Kevin had no health insurance and rarely, if ever, went to the doctor. In December of 1999 Kevin passed away due to an easily remedied health condition. Kevin’s untimely passing was a great loss to the Blues community. There’s a memorial plaque on the wall next to the stage honoring Kevin and his efforts to promote the blues community. At this time, Sheri was the Vice President of the Blues Society and this incident prompted her to personally donate $500 to start off the Kevin Wallace Musician’s Relief Fund. She told me that she felt that no musician without money or insurance should ever be unable to see a doctor. This Musician’s Relief Fund is still in place with the Blues Society to this day.
After Kevin’s death, the band was forced to re-group, and Stan Eike joined to replace Kevin on guitar and vocals. The band was re-named by Jimi Jean as The All Stars, No Stripes Band, which by this time consisted of KT on drums, Howard Hooper on bass, Scotty Lind on guitar & vocals, Stan Eike on guitar & vocals, and Raven Humphres on sax.
As an aside, Sheri shared with me a humorous story from the earlier days when the club was without a PA:
“As I said earlier, Raven always hauled the PA into the club, but one night we had equipment problems, so we called a local sound person to bring in some gear. His name was Badger. Later on that evening we found out Eddie Garr wasn't able to play bass that night, so Stan Eike’s bass player filled in. His name was Rabbit. Of course when Raven and I showed up, we just looked at each other and said, “Let me see if we have this right…we have Raven on sax, Rabbit on bass, Badger is running sound, and we are at the Salmon Bay Eagles. We know we have a lot of party animals at the club, but we couldn't believe half of them were on stage!”
While I’m telling stories about the Blues & the Eagles, here’s one that musician and promoter, Bill Freckleton gave me:
“I was playing with Isaac Scott, John Stephan, and Paul Wager at the Salmon Bay Eagles 11 or years ago. We got there about 30 minutes before stage time. Isaac pulled up a table and laid his guitar on it. Just like a Marine, Isaac field striped his guitar like a gun. He unscrewed every nut and bolt he could. Around 8:30 pm Jimmie Jean asked Isaac what the heck he was doing. She looked at Isaac like he had lost his mind. She said he should be playing by now! Isaac was busy fumbling with his guitar. He looked up at her with a sheepish grin and a guitar pickup with a bunch of loose wires in his hand, and asked Jimmie Jean if she had a soldering gun? Luckily his friend, Monte Price, had one in his car. We finally started playing around 9:30.”
O.K., just one more story about the club, this one is from Robert Sawyer:
“My wife, Carol, and I were at the Tractor for a John Hammond show, which was just John, doing his Solo gig. We were representing the Washington Blues Society and we helped John sell his CDs and such. I think Daddy Treetops opened for John that night. After his show we asked if John and his wife wanted to go up to the Eagles for the Thursday Nite Blues show and meet Jimi Jean, who had been running the Blues Night for about 12 years at that time. John Hammond and his wife both said yes, and away we went. Coming thru the door, I noted that Jimi didn't see us enter the club's front door, nor saw us take a table on the north wall across from the bar. John and I went to the bar to meet Jimi and get drinks. The Tractor was only a beer bar back then. I hid John behind me so Jimi couldn't see him, when Jimi came to the end of the bar where I was - I told her someone was here to thank her for the many years supporting the Blues and I stepped aside to expose John Hammond. BAM! It blew Jimi away! John thanked her (big hugs). The John Hogkin band was playing that night and during all the breaks John Hammond took a big interest in all the tunes the band was playing. Hammond was also telling stories and remembering shows they all had in common in the past- truly one of the great nights at the Eagles.”
I also got an email from David Brewer, which I suppose he didn’t think I’d include:
"Zab - I hear you’re looking for stories about the Eagles? Well I'd love to tell you about all of the biker parties and poker runs, all of the New Years bashes (Jimie always had me play New Years Eve when I was in town) and all of my birthday parties (I always have my birthday party there) as well as being on the regular Thurs night rotation. However I don't think I should reveal all the stories of debauchery, too many people might get in trouble. And truth be told, thanks to Jimie Jean’s bartending skills, I can't seem to remember them all that clearly. I'd just have to say that, over the years, The Eagles has become one of the local blue community's favorite places to hold court. It sure has for me. Let's hope it never ends. You’re doing a real good job, and Jimie would be proud of you."
I think that Brewer sums up a lot of people’s recollection of the past 20 years or so!
During the past two decades, we have had a virtual parade of the finest local talent, as well as some national blues acts that have crossed the modest stage of the Salmon Bay Eagles on Thursday evenings. In less than a minute I wrote down a dozen names of people and bands such as Little Bill & The Bluenotes, Mike Lynch and Nitelife, Duffy Bishop, Sweet Talkin’ Jones, Mark Dufresne, Mark Riley, David Brewer, Jack Cook, Paul Green, Chris Stevens, Mark Whitman, Tim Sherman, and many, many more that played the club during this period. Let’s figure this out…20 years times 52 weeks equals 1,040 Blue Thursdays! No wonder that, to this day, Blues musicians and bands continue to play the club as homage to the dedication of the club to this genre of American Roots Music.
New musicians to the area feel that they haven’t quite been accepted in the community until they have been hired to play a gig at this humble venue. The Washington Blues Society (check them out at (http://www.wablues.org/) has had a long standing, and close relationship with the Salmon Bay Eagles, off and on holding concerts, benefits as well as monthly membership and business meetings at the club. Due to its private club status, many people are reluctant to just walk in to hear the music and they feel that they have to be in the presence of an active member when they walk through that door. Not true! Anyone can walk through the door as a visitor and/or guest and enjoy the activities and events that occur in this all-ages venue! All visitors and guest need to check in with the bartender, who will orient them to the club and its activities. Due to this “Private club” status, the Salmon Bay Eagles has remained one of Seattle’s best kept secrets in the greater Seattle music scene. It’s a venue that the Blues community appreciates and, to a certain extent, reveres as the backbone of the Blues community, and certainly a major contributor in the history of the Blues community.
As one those who have been coming to the Blues nights going back a few year know, I have taken over booking the bands in 2009, due to the untimely loss of our friend Jimi Jean earlier this year. Jimi played a huge role in the Blues community and was the recipient of the 2008 Washington Blues Society Keeping the Blues Alive award. A plaque for Jimi Jean is being made and will soon be mounted on the wall next to the one for Kevin Wallace, hopefully, by the time you are reading this. Their memories will live as long as we keep the blues alive.
The only complaints I’ve heard at the club in regards to the music, is that sometimes someone says, “It’s too loud!” To which I can hear in my mind, David Brewer’s retort: “It’s not too loud…you’re too close!”
Come down any Thursday night, after 8pm, as I’ll be there and I would be glad to sign you in as my guest. In times such as these, those of us who value such things as music, art and community need to turn off the TV, get up off the couch, and go hear some live music! Check our website at http://www.salmonbayeagles.com/ and we are also on Facebook…heck, you can also call us at 206-783-7791 to see what’s going on at the club!
Long live the Blues!
The 20th Anniversary of Blue Thursdays at the Salmon Bay Eagles info:
Address: 5216 20th Avenue NW, Seattle (in Ballard)
Date: Sunday, January 17th, 2010
Time: 3:00 to 9:00 PM
This is a no cover, all ages event. Food will be available for purchase.
Monday, December 14, 2009
3. Robert Cray Band at Hibble & Hydes in Seattle
Saturday, December 05, 2009
The twins and I went down to the Pacific Place mall in downtown Seattle on "Black Friday" night to see Eric "Two Scoops" Moore and his band. Getting there was a total hassle because of the crowds of shoppers, and several streets in the area were closed for thousands of other folks who were apparently waiting to see a Christmas tree being lit up in the Westlake Center area.
The band was set up in the lobby and was rocking the joint when we arrived. The band members included Two Scoops on piano and vocals, Hank Witherspoon on saxes and vocals, Guy Quintino on acoustic bass, and Cutts Peasley on drums. Two Scoops was his usual irrepressible self, and my boys got a kick out of it when he played their favorite song "Big Buffet."
This was a two hour show, but we split after the first set - the lobby was getting way too crowded, and there was no place to sit. Believe it or not, this was the first time for me to see the Two Scoops Combo, but I hope to see them again soon. On our way back to West Seattle, we drove through the Pioneer Square neighborhood, which looked like a ghost town compared to the downtown area. Not good, since this is the nightclub part of town!
Sunday, November 29, 2009
Tim Sherman and Charlene Kern - October 12th, 2009
Yep, Tim and Charlene Kern were married on October 12th, 2009 at the Schafer-Baillie mansion on Capitol Hill. The Reverend Dave Brown was the officiant.
Congratulations Tim and Charlene!
The Surf Monkeys will be performing with several of the sidemen that have worked with the band over the years, including yours truly on harp, guitarist Jack Cook, and saxophonists Brian Kent and Les Clinkingbeard. Chris Stevens tells me that there may be some surprise guests also. It's gonna be a good 'un - come on down and check it out!
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
As I mentioned in my most recent blog, I will be playing with the Maxwell Street Revival band on December 17th at the Highway 99 Blues Club as part of a tribute to the music of the great Jimmy Reed.
So give a brother a hand here, please, and suggest some of your favorite Jimmy Reed tunes that you might like to hear at this show. Here are some of the tunes that I'm considering:
Honest I Do
You Don't Have To Go
High And Lonesome
I Ain't Got You
Bright Lights, Big City
Down In Virginia
Hey, it's a start...come on now, lay some of your favorite Reed tunes on me for consideration. As they used to say in Chicago, vote soon and vote often.
Thanks, and see you at the nightclub!
Sunday, November 22, 2009
I dropped by the Highway 99 Blues Club last Thursday to check out Seattle's Maxwell Street Revivalists, and got to see a great show featuring the music of Robert Nighthawk. The core of the Revivalists features guitarist Greg Roberts, drummer David Hudson, and bassist Guy Quintino, and the band appears at the Highway 99 on the third Thursday of each month (as long as enough fans show up, of course).
Each show features different local artists backed up by the Revivalists performing the music of classic blues artists. So far, the band has featured the music of Magic Sam and Robert Nighthawk. I missed the first Magic Sam show, but was lucky enough to see the band perform the music of Robert Nighthawk with guest artists Mark Dufresne and guitarist Jack Cook. The band sounded awesome (a tip o' the hat here the the club's soundman, who was doing an excellent job), and I particularly enjoyed the band's takes on the tunes "Anna Lee" and "Bricks In My Pillow."
I will be playing with the band on Thursday, December 17th. We will be featuring the music of the great Jimmy Reed. We're gonna have a ball, so be there!
Friday, July 24, 2009
A memorial will be held for the late Jimie Jean Tuttle this Sunday (7/26) at the Salmon Bay Eagles club from 5:00 to 8:00 PM. The club is located at 5612 20th Avenue NW in Seattle's Ballard neighborhood. There will be a potluck dinner and music will be provided by Kid Porno & the Blues Nazis and many jammers (we hope!). Come on down and help celebrate Jimie Jean's life with us!
Friday, July 10, 2009
Tuesday, July 07, 2009
If you are in Seattle this Friday, I recommend that you drop into the Highway 99 Blues Club to see Tim Sherman's fourth annual West Coast Guitar Killers show.
The featured guitarists this time will be Tim Sherman (Tim Sherman Band and the Blues Orbiters), Brian Lee (Blues Orbiters), Chris Stevens (Chris Steven's Surf Monkeys), and Tom Boyle (Beckie Sue and her Big Rockin' Daddies. The swingin' rhythm section will include seasoned Seattle blues veterans Mark dalton (bass), Conrad Ormsby (drums), and Ron Weinstein (Hammond B-3). Oh yeah, I will be singing a couple of tunes with Mr. Boyle and Mr. Sherman also.
It should be a good 'un - see you there!
Sunday, June 21, 2009
Sunday, June 07, 2009
I just finished reading a great book by Seattle author Peter Blecha about the Seattle pop music scene, titled Sonic BOOM - The History of Northwest Rock, from "Louie Louie" to Smells Like Teen Spirit."
This is a great read, and I highly recommend it to anyone interested in the history of Northwest rock and roll. It's all in here, from Ray Charles' first recordings in Seattle to the rise of the teenage rock bands (including Dave Lewis, the Playboys, the Frantics, Little Bill and the Bluenotes, the Wailers, the Sonics, etc, etc.), to DJ Pat O'Day's commercial grip on the music scene, the hippie years, the wasteland '70s (hey, Brian Butler and Isaac Scott get a brief mention here!), and the development of the punk and "grunge" music scenes.
I read this book on my way to Montana today. Great stuff - I just wish that there were more photos!
Wednesday, June 03, 2009
Thursday, May 28, 2009
All photos that appear in this blog were created by Dennis "Zab" Zyvoloski.
As many of you know, long time Seattle drummer Kirk "KT" Tuttle has been battling sever liver disease for some time now. As the disease has progressed he has gradually been forced to quit playing. However, thanks to the help of Seattle Bluesguy John Lee, who provided transportation for KT, Kirk was able to play a few tunes at a KT's Kicks gig that we put together recently at the Salmon Bay Eagles Club.
KT played the first three tunes with the band and then the drum seat was taken over by veteran drummer Les Merrihew for the rest of the evening. KT sounded great as usual, and it was a real pleasure interacting musically with him again. Believe me, it's a real treat playing with this group of guys anytime!
For the record, KT's Kicks was formed by Kirk a few years ago, originally to play a gig at the Eagles while one of his sisters was in town. We continued playing at the Eagles occasionally over the years, and I can't think of any reason why we shouldn't continue.
Please keep a good thought for for our old friend and musical conspirator, Kirk Tuttle!
Thursday, May 07, 2009
All photos included in this blog were created by Dennis "Zab" Zyvoloski.
I moseyed on down to the Salmon Bay Eagles Club a few weeks ago to see the award winning Portland guitarist Robbie Laws' band. This was the Seattle version of Robbie's band, the one that usually plays at the Highway 99 Blues Club with an additional two horn players (I believe that that band is called the Robbie Laws Bigger Blues Band).
The band included Robbie on guitar and vocals, Charlene Grant on bass and vocals, Steve Sarkowsky on drums, Frank "Hot Rod" Holman on keyboards. There was an open invitation for Seattle musicians to sit in, but only a few showed up, including yours truly, guitarist Jack Cook, harp blower Jeff Hertzog, and 'bone player Mike Tooley.
The band sounded great, and I wish that I had made an earlier appearance to listen more. The fan turnout was pretty light, especially for an unusual show like this. Zab was asked me: "What in the heck do we need to do to get people in here?" I dunno know, but consider this:
1. There is never a cover at the Eagles - never.
2. The drinks are nuclear powered, and practically free compared to other joints.
3. You are always going to run into some of your other blues lovin' pals there.
Mike Tooly and Robbie Laws
Sunday, February 15, 2009
Here are some photos from a recording session set up by Seattle singer Dana Lupinacci in January at Fastback Studios in North Seattle. It was a pleasure playing with Dana and the other guys that Dana invited to the session, including aces Mark Dalton (bass), Conrad Ormsby (drums), and Tim Sherman (guitar).
We recorded several tunes, including an original written by Dana and Charlene Grant. I was impressed by the professionalism of the studio staff - owner Mark Naron and his guys are very friendly and knowledgeable, and were able to help us get the tracks recorded with a minimum of fuss. Can't wait to hear the finished recordings!
Note: All photos created by the Blues Boss.
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
Here's a nice selection of posters from blues shows in both Seattle and Portland that span the years from late '70s to 2007. My thanks to John Marshall and Isis Thor, who contributed most of these posters (those contributed by John Lee and Phil Chesnut are the exceptions). I have identified a couple of the artists only - if anyone can identify any of the others, I would appreciate it. I suspect that John Marshall and Kim Field created several of these blasts from the past.
My apologies for the large size of so many of the files. Click on any poster for a larger view.