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Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition (1909): Music at the Fair
Washington's first World's Fair -- the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition -- was held in Seattle on the grounds of the University of Washington campus between June 1 and October 16, 1909, and drew more than three million people. Visitors came from far and wide to be entertained while Seattle promoted itself as a gateway to the rich resources of Alaska, the Yukon, and Asia. Among the many attractions were musical performances -- parades, dances, and concerts in the Auditorium, Amphitheatre, Music Pavilion, and central bandstand -- by a wide variety of entertainers representing various towns in the region, states in the union, and nations of the world. Included in the offerings were the exotic sounds of various foreign music traditions, big-time bands from Chicago and New York, a down-home southern vaudeville revue, and numerous local ensembles from Tacoma, Spokane, Yakima, Long Beach, and homegrown headliners from Seattle.
File 8876: Full Text >
Allied Arts of Seattle
Allied Arts of Seattle is one of the city's most influential advocates for urban design and the arts. It grew out of the Beer & Culture Society, a small circle of academics, architects, and artists who first met in early 1952. On October 3, 1954, they convened a Congress of the Arts that established Allied Arts as a permanent organization to advocate for public funding of the arts, better urban planning and architecture, and other civic improvements. Allied Arts has since played leadership roles in promoting the creation of the Seattle Arts Commission; the development of Seattle Center; the preservation of Pike Place Market, Pioneer Square, and other historic landmarks; and other causes.
File 2212: Full Text >
Anderson, Ernestine (1928-2016), Jazz Singer
Ernestine Anderson launched her amazing career as a jazz singer while still a teenaged Seattle high school student back in the 1940s. By the 1950s she was an experienced performer who'd toured widely and sung with big-name bands led by Johnny Otis, Lionel Hampton, and Eddie Heywood. Anderson's debut album brought rave reviews from leading music critics which led to her being included in the all-star lineup at the very first Monterey Jazz Festival in 1958, and she was soon heralded as an important new singing star by both Time
and down beat
magazines. In the succeeding decades, she cut more than 30 albums of sophisticated and sensual jazz and blues music, received four GRAMMY award nominations, and was honored with a command performance at the White House.
File 8520: Full Text >
Anderson, Otto (1857-1938), Furniture Designer and Guitar-Maker
The excellent wood-working skills of Swedish immigrant, Otto Edward Anderson provided him with good job opportunities upon his arrival in the Pacific Northwest in 1888. One highlight of his career must have been winning a gold award at Seattle's first world's fair -- the 1909 Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition -- for the innovative designs of some fine handcrafted furniture. But in hindsight, it seems that it was his years of making musical string instruments -- guitars, violins, and perhaps a mandolin -- and an association with the region's legendary instrument manufacturer, Chris J. Knutsen, which may bring him longer-lasting fame.
File 8916: Full Text >
Barnett, Powell S. (1883-1971)
Powell S. Barnett, a Seattle musician, baseball player, and community leader, was the organizer and first president of the Leschi (neighborhood) Community Council. He was a leader in organizing the East Madison YMCA and was the first black person to become a member of the once all white Musicians Union.
File 307: Full Text >
Barons, The: The Northwest's First Hit-making '50s Teen Rock 'n' Roll Group
A half-decade prior to the Pacific Northwest's great rock 'n' roll eruption of 1959-1960 -- a period that saw a series of teenage groups (including the Fleetwoods, Frantics, Shades, Gallahads, Wailers, Ron Holden and the Thunderbirds, and Little Bill and the Bluenotes) all suddenly burst onto the national scene with hit records -- yet another local group blazed that same trail. Tacoma's talented doo-wop singers, the Barons, were signed to one of America's most esteemed independent labels, the Los Angeles-based Imperial Records, and scored a series of promising hits. Unfortunately, the group was a bit ahead of its time -- the Northwest didn't even have an organized teen-dance scene yet -- and the Barons disbanded before they were able to make the most of their remarkable success. As a result, the group's legacy nearly slipped through the cracks of history. They are absent from all rock encyclopedias, they remain unheralded even in their home region, and the Barons' story has never been told until now.
File 9207: Full Text >
Barton, Kearney (1931-2012): The Man Who Engineered the Northwest Sound
Seattle's Kearney Barton was the man whose audio engineering work can be credited with forging the powerful aural esthetic that became widely known as the "original Northwest Sound." Numerous musicians also contributed to the process, but it was Barton who established what that "Sound" sounded
like on classic records by pioneering area rock 'n' roll bands, including the Frantics ("Werewolf"), Playboys ("Party Ice"), Little Bill ("Louie Louie"), the Kingsmen ("Jolly Green Giant"), the Counts ("Turn On Song"), the Sonics ("Psycho"), and Don and the Goodtimes ("Little Sally Tease"). But Barton's half-century of work also saw him produce recordings for a wide range of clients, including the Seattle and Portland opera companies, jazz/pop icon Quincy Jones, Scandinavian humorist Stan Boreson, country/pop diva Bonnie Guitar, the Supersonics and Sounders sports teams -- and even the performance soundtracks for Washington's 1984 Summer Olympics Gold Medalist swimmers, Traci Ruiz and Candy Costie. Perhaps most significantly though, through instructional classes held at his Audio Recording studios over the decades, Barton trained and mentored an entire generation of students in the arts and sciences of audio engineering. Kearney Barton passed away peacefully on January 17, 2012.
File 8719: Full Text >
Birdland: Seattle's Fabled 1950s R&B Hotspot
Seattle's long-time musicians and music fans alike hold fond memories of numerous long-gone 1950s nightclubs and dancehalls. But of all the fabled rooms, there is one that is probably missed more so than all the others: the Birdland. Because its unique location (at 22nd Avenue and E Madison Street) placed it on the border between a largely African American portion of the Central Area and the more homogenously white north-end neighborhoods, it eventually attracted an ethnically mixed clientele, evolved into a catalytic nexus of social tolerance in a then still-segregated town, and ultimately became a fertile musical laboratory that helped forge the original "Northwest Sound."
File 8415: Full Text >
Boles, Joe (1904-1962): Seattle's First Hit-Making Sound Engineer
Jay F. "Joe" Boles -- well-known founder of the Seattle Harbor Water Tours -- is far more famous as the proprietor of Seattle's first truly successful recording studio. A one-time hi-fi audiophile who initially snuck into various local concert halls in order to surreptiously record his favorite touring acts, Boles progressed from being a dedicated hobbyist to a recognized master of the recording arts. Although he conducted countless sessions in his home studios, his skill behind the mixing console will always be associated with seminal Northwest rock 'n' roll classics including the Fleetwoods' No. 1 hit ("Come Softly to Me"), the Ventures' smash ("Walk -- Don't Run"), and Rockin' Robin Roberts and the Wailers' timeless No. 1 regional fave, "Louie Louie."
File 8924: Full Text >
Boreson, Stan (b. 1925), Comedian and Musician
Musician, recording artist, humorist, and pioneering '50s kiddie-TV show star -- Stan Boreson was Everett's king of Scandinavian humor. He has brought joy to generations in his native Northwest, across America, and around the globe. In his six decades of recording and performing, Boreson became a regional icon, an American treasure via sales of his 15 albums and a half-dozen appearances on Garrison Keillor's radio show A Prairie Home Companion, and an in-demand act who once accepted a direct concert request by King Olav of Norway, and later in 2005, was further honored by Norway's King Harald V with the St. Olav Medal of Honor -- one step shy of full knighthood.
File 8553: Full Text >
Cage, John (1912-1992)
Experimental music pioneer John Cage created some of his most astounding work while teaching, composing, and performing at Seattle's Cornish School during the pivotal years 1938 through 1940. At once a bold innovator, brilliant essayist, philosopher, iconoclastic rebel, poet, lecturer, raconteur, and certified eccentric, Cage continually confounded plenty of his admirers, as well as critics, who linked him to every art movement from the Dadaists to the Surrealists to the Minimalists. He was, to be certain, a ground-breaking explorer of atonal music, an early adopter of electronic devices in music-making, and a leading theoretician (and practitioner) of employing two aural extremes -- noise and silence -- in his compositions. Cage embraced a radical vision that, by design, would ideally produce music without order, harmony, or even sound. Cage relentlessly pushed the creative envelope: He formed America's first all-percussion group, penned songs for a piano "prepared" with odd objects wedged between its strings, and created recordings and mixed-media performances based on snippets of various records, spoken word recitations, and/or random radio broadcasts and static. The result was anarchic music that the general public barely noticed, and mostly rejected, but that thrilled those listeners blessed with open ears and progressive minds.
File 9423: Full Text >
Century 21 Exposition (1962): Music at the Fair
Seattle's Century 21 Exposition (Seattle World's Fair) was initially conceived to be the major attraction of the decade -- and with over 10 million tickets sold to both locals and visiting tourists during the fair's six-month run of April 21, 1962, through October 21, 1962, it proved to be exactly that. In addition to the many other entertainments offered up to those attendees was music. It was all booked by a Performing Arts Division team directed by a big-time New York-based classical music talent agent, Harold Shaw. The vision was to have varying forms of music (and/or dance) presented at such fairground venues as: the Opera House, the Playhouse, the Arena, the Stadium, Show Street, the International Bandstand, the International Fountain, the Rose Garden, the Plaza of the States, the United Nations Pavilion, the Horiuchi Mural area, and the Space Needle. Thus, there would be an incredibly wide range of music -- excellent music imported from nearly every corner of the globe including: England, Germany, Norway, Romania, Serbia, Russia, Spain, India, Ceylon (Sri Lanka), Japan, China, Tahiti, Mexico, Jamaica, Canada. Not to mention top-notch music brought in from all across America: New York, Philadelphia, New Orleans, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Honolulu. Just about everywhere, it seemed, except from the Pacific Northwest itself -- where mainly volunteer amateur musicians were welcomed, and so visitors were largely deprived of hearing the best professional groups from this region.
File 9367: Full Text >
Charles, Ray (1930-2004)
Ray Charles was a poor, blind, newly orphaned teenager living in Tampa, Florida, in 1948 when he decided to move to Seattle, picking the city because it was as far away as he could get from where he was. He stayed only two years, but during that time he cut his first record and began to develop the genre-bending musical style that would make him an international star. Charles often spoke of Seattle as a pivotal point in his long and hugely successful career as a singer/songwriter. "I met a lot of very good friends here," he told one interviewer. "I liked the atmosphere. The people were friendly, the people took to me right away. Seattle is the town where I made my first record. And if you ever want to say where I got my start, you have to say that" (MacDonald).
File 5707: Full Text >
Coppock, John Lee (1899-1959) and his Deluxe Electric Guitars
As the Electric Guitar Era progressed from its infancy back in the 1930s and 1940s into the "Space Age" 1950s, many new ultra-modern models were being introduced into the marketplace. But of the numerous well-known companies that produced such instruments, very few can compete with the visual splendor of one particular, if wholly obscure, brand that was created by the hitherto unheralded Peshastin-based guitar-maker, John Lee Coppock. Although a member of one of the pioneering families of Peshastin, Coppock was not the first local to make electric guitars -- Seattle's Paul Tutmarc (1896-1972) and Harvey Hansen (1898-1990) were both active with their respective Audiovox and Hanburt lines by the 1930s, as was Bud Tutmarc (1924-2006) with Bud-Electro by the 1940s. Coppock was, however, an early West Coast recording artist, an innovative luthier, and a popular music teacher who over the decades helped bring a lot of music-making to the small Washington communities of Peshastin, Dryden, Cashmere, Leavenworth, and Wenatchee.
File 9160: Full Text >
Country Music in the Pacific Northwest
Country music has a remarkably long history in the state of Washington -- but just as with the genres of jazz and rock 'n' roll, some of the earliest players actually brought their music to the Pacific Northwest from elsewhere. America's geographic frontier of the "Wild West" attracted newcomers who brought their cultural traditions along with them, and the opportunities for homesteaders, miners, cattlemen, loggers -- and musicians -- abounded. Although other locales in America -- like Tennessee and Texas -- are more closely associated with the hillbilly yodeling and "twangin" tunes of country music, history reveals that there has also been a thriving-if-underappreciated scene based here for many decades.
File 7441: Full Text >
Crocodile Cafe: Seattle's Icon of the Grunge Rock Era.
A beloved local live music venue, the Crocodile Cafe & Live Bait Lounge (located in Belltown in Seattle at 2200 2nd Avenue), was founded by Seattle attorney and local music fan Stephanie Dorgan, along with a couple of other business partners. The "Croc" opened in April 1991 and for 16 years was hopping with live performances. As the grunge scene exploded, it became a leading venue for local bands and for numerous famous touring stars. On the night of Saturday December 15, 2007, the Croc closed abruptly after a final show. And although reports and rumors of the Belltown neighborhood fixture's financial woes had been circulating for some time, it was still an event that shocked the area's music scene for its sheer finality. (On March 21, 2009, the Crocodile Cafe reopened under new management.)
File 8448: Full Text >
Crosby, Bing (1903-1977) and Mildred Bailey (1907-1951), Spokane's Jazz Royalty
The music careers of a couple of the twentieth century's most significant singing stars -- Bing "The King of the Crooners" Crosby and Mildred "That Princess of Rhythm" Bailey -- are so intertwined that their stories are perhaps best told as one. Those two innovative Jazz Age vocalists both went on to conquer the music world in big ways, but their shared beginnings on the fringes of the Spokane, Washington, Prohibition Era speakeasy jazz scene were quite humble.
File 7445: Full Text >
Dellaccio, Jini (1917-2014)
Jini (pronounced "Jeanie") Dellaccio's remarkable life -- plus her sweet demeanor, stylish ways, energetic manner, and multi-faceted artistic career -- embodied certain delightful ironies: She was a Midwestern country girl who made her initial splash as a California-based fashion photographer, and the former jazz musician and longtime fan of classical music will likely be remembered most by history for her stunning (mainly black-and-white) 1960s images of many of the Pacific Northwest's toughest "Louie Louie" era rock 'n' roll bands.
File 8953: Full Text >
Dolton: The Northwest's First Rock 'n' Roll Record Company
The Pacific Northwest has produced its fair share of pioneering record companies over the years including early ones like Seattle's Evergreen, Rainier, Linden, and Morrison Records; Portland's Rose City Records; and Spokane's SRC Records. Although such labels enjoyed a fair number of local sales by issuing discs of provincial pop singers, country roadhouse bands, or Scandinavian dance music in the 1940s and 1950s, each lacked either the savvy management, adequate capital, or effective distribution channels required to break out and score "hits" outside the region. It took the formation of Dolton Records in 1959 -- the region's first rock 'n' roll-oriented label -- to achieve that goal.
File 7636: Full Text >
Engholm, Ben (1899-1945): Seattle's pioneering radio loudspeaker designer of the 1920s
At the dawn of the commercial radio industry in the early 1920s, Seattle became an unexpected early hotbed of technological innovation. No less than three different companies began producing radio speaker-horns in those years before more advanced "field coil" cone-speakers were invented around 1928. That trio of innovative firms were the Star Radio Co., Kilbourne & Clark -- and most importantly, Bernard "Ben" A. Engholm's incredibly successful Rola Company.
File 8923: Full Text >
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