SONGS IN SHEET MUSIC FORM were being published in the Oregon Territories by at least the 1870s. Local musicians and songsmiths -- both professional and amateur -- would typically pay a local printing house to design some cover-art and then print a number of copies either for use onstage, or possibly to satisfy their personal vanity by seeing them available for sale at a local music shop, or even with the far-fetched goal of scoring a hit song. Their lyrical topics ranged from sentimental notions, to romantic thoughts, to regionally relevant ditties about the area's natural appeal. Notable examples over the decades include: Olympia's Francis Henry and his "The Old Settler" (1874); Bellingham's Alice Nadine Morrison and her "My Love Is All For You" (1920); and Seattle's Harold Weeks and his "Little Cabin in the Cascade Mountains" (1929).
They include: The Merchants cigar shop (109 Yesler Avenue); Butler Cafe - The Choicest of Wines, Liquors and Cigars (Second Street & James Street); Gill & Gill liquors (806 Front Street); Delcho Beer, Wines, Liquors & Cigars (111 Yesler Street); The Demijohn Wines, Liquors and Cigars (910 Second Street); The Drum Fine Wines, Liquors and Cigars (812 Second Sttreet); L. Jaffe & Co. liquors; R. Satori & Co. Wines & Liquors (115 James Street); Harms & Dickman Wines Liquors & Cigars (corner Front Street & Marion Street); P.J. Smith's Oyster House (202 Yesler Street); and Seattle's fabled Horse Shoe tavern.
A few of the 20+ songs included here are: "A Pretty Girl, A Summer Night," "Kiss and Let's Make Up" -- and the new technology-inspired "Telephone In De Air." However, the commercial genius behind a publication such as this one is that it only included the lyrics to each composition, rather than those and the musical notation required to actually play the songs at home on your parlor piano. Thus, at the bottom of each song's page is a helpful reminder that: "The music for this song can be obtained at O. E. Pettis & Co.'s Music house." As for who the authors of these songs might be, we may never know as this publication failed to bother to mention them!
SEATTLE MUSIC FANS had a long and mutual love affair with the pioneering Harlem-based jump-blues / R&B bandleader, sax-man – and widely renowned “King of the Juke Box” – Louis Jordan (1908-1975). For decades Jordan brought his band through the Northwest thrilling throngs of dancers with explosive shows that were spiced with a comedic edge. Today Jordan is best remembered for a couple of his many, many hits: “Saturday Night Fish Fry” – which has been touted by historians as a contender for the title of “First Rock Record” – and “Choo Choo Ch’Boogie.”
When the final time was that Jordan performed in Seattle is yet to be determined, but this photo (from the estate of his widow, Martha Jordan) recently surfaced showing the couple visiting the Century 21 World’s Fair in 1962. Jordan’s band probably first toured the area pushing their 1930s recordings for the giant Decca label. Then in the 1940s they came through town quite regularly, playing major shows in large venues like the Trianon Ballroom (218 Wall Street) and the Palomar Theater (1300 Third Avenue). But the fun-lovin’ band also enjoyed after-gig jams at various jazz rooms around town – and even a bit south of town.
In the 1940s a legendary but short-lived nightspot called the New Orleans Club – not to be confused with Seattle's more recent (1985-2014) New Orleans Creole Restaurant (114 First Avenue S.) – was founded just down the old dirt road from the Longacres racetrack west of Renton. As Seattle jazz historian Paul de Barros noted in his 1993 book, Jackson Street Afterhours: “The club had a barbeque pit and a New Orleans chef; the band was as hot as the food. …There was a complete floor show and, for a while, big-time traveling acts…performed there.”
I recently acquired the New Orleans Club’s original owners’ amazing collection of vintage promotional photographs of many of the artists who gigged there. Among these images are those of Billie Holiday (who sang there in March 1949), Christine Chatman (the boogie-woogie pianist who toured with bluesman Joe Liggins), sax-man Jimmy Jackson, sax-man King “The Pied Piper of Swingdom” Perry, Texas blues-shouter Smilin’ Smokey Lynn, Mabel Scott, blues singer Mickey Champion, Johnny Otis, Mel Walker, & Little Esther, and as shown here, two pix of Jordan and his band.