Tuesday, February 21, 2012

B-Town on the Radio

It is a cold and blustery day in B-Town. The trees are bending over in the wind and it is howling. Since I have the day off, Charlie and I decided to have an indoor day. Doing chores and laundry. And writing a blog post! The fire is raging as are the sounds of SoKing Radio! I have some Prime Rib Eyes from B&E Meats and a bottle of great Cabernet ready for our Fat Tuesday dinner. (Moon Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon 2007, fantastic) 

This past week our friend and neighbor, Scott Schaefer the publisher of the award winning The B-Town Blog as well as five other local blogs in the south King County area,  went live with the first internet radio station tied to a local blog.  SoKing Internet Radio went live last Wednesday at 6PM from a launch party at the Tin Room Theater in Olde Burien. Unfortunately due to my work schedule, Rog and I missed the party. I have however been listening to the station for about a month as a beta tester and I have to tell you they have done a phenomenal job of showcasing local artists!  Bands like Treehouse Dreamers that include the King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg who helped kick off the station at the launch party. I seem to miss the best parties!  Anyway... they are playing the best tunes. Whether you are a fan of the music of the Pacific Northwest or just want to discover some new bands and tunes, give it a listen.  You may even hear my voice giving a station ID!

One of the things that the Seattle area is known for is its music.  The parts of musical history that have roots in the Pacific Northwest are legendary. As soon as I say Seattle Music, I am guessing that you immediately thought of Jimi Hendricks or Nirvana, and these native sons have left a giant imprint on the world to be sure. But let me tell you about some others. Some you know and others you may not....

Did you know that one of the first inventors of the electric guitar was Seattle musician Paul Tutmarc who experimented with amplifying all sorts of instruments in the 1930's. He developed a number of variant types of stringed musical instruments, such as electrically amplified double basses, electric basses, and lap steel guitars.

World War 2 brought many changes to Seattle, including a flourishing vice scene downtown, where booze, gambling and prostitution were unchecked by paid-off cops. The Showbox Ballroom was a major center for these activities, and was open twenty-four hours a day, geared towards active members of the military, featuring popular performers like the racy Gypsy Rose Lee. In addition to the Showbox, Washington Hall, Parker's, Odd Fellows Temple and Trianon were also major big band ballrooms, all of which eventually became major rock venues. Police officers also tolerated an after-hours jazz scene, based in Chinatown, Seattle and including most famously the Black and Tan Club. This period produced a few local performers of note, including Hollywood star Ray Charles, who recorded his first single and made his first TV and radio appearances in Seattle, and Bumps Blackwell. Blackwell was a bandleader whose band's members included the instrumentalist Quincy Jones, later to become a major record company executive, producer and composer. Harry Smith was a college student in the 1940s when he found a number of recordings of folk music about to be recycled at a Salvation Army depot. He rescued the recordings, which became hot commodities when released by Folkways on the landmark Anthology of American Folk Music.

The 60s brought about a vibrant dance scene and bands like the Wailers. the Fleetwoods and the Ventures.
The city's black music scene include Ron Holden, a soul singer whose "Love You So" was a Top Ten hit, vocal group The Gallahads and  instrumentalist Dave Lewis, who had several hits like "Dave's Mood" and "Little Green Thing". Perhaps Seattle's most famous black musical export is Jimi Hendrix, who began performing in the city but didn't gain a major national or regional reputation until moving to England. Though Hendrix had to move to England to start his recording career, the reverse also became true for the musicologist Ian Whitcomb, who performed in the city in the 1960s. He recorded "This Sporting Life" with Gerry Rosalie of The Sonics, and the song became a major hit, and an early anthem for the gay community.

The later years brought us Queensryche and the Dead Kennedys and a great underground and punk scene.
The earliest local alternative music scene was based around a gay glam theater group called Ze Whiz Kids, one of whose members, Tomata du Plenty, became a fixture in New York before returning in 1976 as part of The Tupperwares  with long-time boyfriend Gorilla Rose ; Blush described this as the first punk rock in the area.

Prior to the mid-1980s, the local hardcore and metal scenes were often violently confrontational with each other. The opening of the Gorilla Gardens venue changed that by offering two separate shows at the same time; as a result, both hardcore and metal were frequently played on the same nights. The softening of relations between the two groups helped inspire the look and sound of grunge, a term allegedly coined by Mark McLaughlin of the brief joke band Mr Epp and the Calculations who gained some local notoriety. This movement gave birth to bands like Nirvana and Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, Faith and Disease and Sky Cries Mary to name just a few.  Yes the music of the Pacific Northwest has influenced most genres and continues to bring some of the top acts to the world.  Like Ann and Nancy Wilson of Heart. The more notable current acts that you may be familiar with from the Seattle area,,,,

Death Cab For Cutie
Modest Mouse
Fleet Foxes

Seattle has recently been noted as the new face of (underground) Hip-Hop. From the beginnings with Sir Mix-A-Lot to now being known by Hip-Hop artists such as the Blue Scholars, Common Market, Oldominion, Jake One and Macklemore.

If you make a trip to the Seattle area, you must visit the Experience Music Project. EMP is a leading-edge, non-profit museum, dedicated to the ideas and risk-taking that fuel contemporary popular culture. With its roots in rock and roll, EMP serves as a gateway museum, reaching multigenerational audiences through our collections, exhibitions and educational programs, using interactive technologies to engage and empower our visitors. At EMP, artists, audiences and ideas converge, bringing understanding, interpretation and scholarship to the popular culture of our time. They currently have exhibits on Avatar, Nirvana and Battlestar Galactica as well as live performances pretty regularly.  A haven for music lovers of any genre...SEATTLE!

Til next time, Denise in B-Town