WHAT LITTLE IS KNOWN about the young tenor banjo-playing woman seen in this recently discovered cabinet card photograph is quite intriguing. A handwritten inscription on its reverse informs only that this is: "Annie Jackson (Mrs. J.N. Pyncheon) My Mother."
But info gleaned from the photo's credits are enough to get one's imagination roiling. The image was captured at Seattle's Roxwell Studio in the Roxwell Building (at the "Corner of Front and Columbia" streets -- today's First Avenue & Columbia Streets) on the Roxwell Block. Alas, the name "Roxwell" does not appear in Carl Mautz' authoritative 1997 tome, Biographies of Western Photographers: A Reference Guide to Photographers Working in the 19th century American West.
The circa 1880s Roxwell Building (106 Columbia Street) was, however, home to numerous notable tenants -- including Conrad Rideout, the African-American lawyer and Democratic politician who arrived here from Arkansas in 1891 -- the same year that Augustas Koch's famous illustrated birds-eye-view map of Seattle (which included the Roxwell Building) was printed by the Hughes Lithography Co. Around that same time the prominent African-American photographer James P. Ball arrived from Montana, moved into the Roxwell, and established his Ball and Sons Studio which operated there for a decade. During those early times, Seattle was still transforming from a soggy sawmill town into the bustling jump-off point for thousands of crazed gold-seekers heading up to the Alaska and Yukon Gold Rushes. Judging by her appearances alone, Ms. Jackson was perhaps more likely to be a musician who would pluck out a few old-timey hymns for her family's fireside gospel hour than entertain the leering loggers, miners and sailors swarming rough-&-tumble bars like Pioneer Square's Bucket of Blood room -- or even perhaps the clients at Madame Damnable's infamous house of ill-repute just down the block at First Avenue & Main Street. But is it at all possible that our Annie Jackson is the same one that was -- as noted by local historian Quintard Taylor in his 1994 book, The Forging of a Black Community: Seattle's Central District from 1870 through the Civil Rights Era -- listed in the 1891 Seattle Directory as an African-American music teacher?


NEARLY FOUR DECADES after Tacoma's pioneering rock 'n' roll band, the Wailers, formed in 1958, the still-active members discovered that their garage-rock legacy was being dangerously overshadowed by that other group with the same name. Jamaica's upstart reggae band, the Wailers, released their debut album -- the obscure & hit-less The Wailing Wailers -- in 1965. By that late date, our boys from Tacoma had already scored international hits (1959's "Tall Cool One," "Dirty Robber," & "Mau Mau"), issued an influential album (1959's The Fabulous Wailers), scored a No. 1 regional hit (1961's "Louie Louie"), issued a best-selling LP (1962's At The Castle), and enjoyed more regional radio hits (1964's "You Better Believe It," & 1965's "Out Of Our Tree" & "You Weren't Using Your Head").

They had also appeared on national TV (ABC's Dick Clark Show) & on the Alan Freed Show, toured the East Coast (1959) & California (1961, etc), played shows headlined by the likes of Gene Vincent, Jerry Lee Lewis, the Rolling Stones, the Kinks, Mitch Ryder & the Detroit Wheels, the Standells, the Royal Guardsmen, Sopwith Camel -- & enjoyed the release of a half-dozen additional 45s and four LPs. So, the band was rather well-known.

Thus it remains a bit of mystery why they (& their lawyers) did not react when the Jamaican band – which included future superstar, Bob Marley -- emerged with the exact same name. Except, to consider that by the time Marley's crew followed up with a new LP in 1970 (plus three more in 1971) – they scored no hits in the United States -- & those years were a low ebb for our local heroes. By the time the Tacoma boys began reuniting & playing more regularly in 1977, Marley's Wailers had caught fire in the British & American marketplaces: album's like 1973's Catch A Fire charted & Burnin' went gold, 1974's Natty Dread charted, 1976's Rastaman Vibration went platinum, & 1977's Exodus went multi-platinum.
Final sad proof that just enough time had passed by so as to have thoroughly confused some people about these two Wailers arose in 1993 when Bill Graham's San Francisco-based rock 'n' roll empire issued a series of limited-edition silk neckties with designs based on his old psychedelic Fillmore West & Avalon Ballroom posters. Seen here is Graham's "Reggae at the Fillmore" (!) tie – with artwork borrowed from Wes Wilson's classic poster (BG 11) for the June 17-18, 1966, Fillmore shows which featured Haight Ashbury's Quicksilver Messenger Service & the Wailers (with special mention noted of their latest Top-5 West Coast radio hit, "It's You Alone"). Clearly there were no shantytown Rastamen at the Fillmore those nights – but such shoddy handling of history caused the band, in 1993, to begin rebranding themselves on various CDs & gig posters as "The Boys From Tacoma."

In June 2007 surviving memers of Tacoma's Wailers – bassist Buck Ormsby, & keyboardist Kent Morrill – finally brought suit [Ormsby v. Barrett, No. 07-5305] against the reggae band after they discovered that the internet domain name "" had been grabbed. Their complaint was that of trademark infringement, dilution, unfair competition, & cybersquatting, based on their registered trademark of the word "Wailers." Too little, too late: in January 2008, Western District Judge Ronald Leighton ruled for the defendants. Cased closed.