A DOZEN YEARS ago I was handed this odd brochure while strolling thru Seattle's U-District Street Fair. Now, usually I decline to accept freebies from strangers, but a single glance at it – & its cartoon images of various pop culture icons (especially of my Northwest homies, Jimi Hendrix & Kurt Cobain) – caused me to pause and grab the thing.

The graphics also included other notables (Elvis, Garcia, Lennon, Morrison, & the Duke), a bit of a benjamin poking out at bottom, & a banner offering a "CELEBRITY INTELLIGENCE TEST." That "test" was comprised of two questions: "Who are these people?"...and what do they have in common?" I was mildly intrigued...until, that is, I read the back-page's text and realized that the thing was merely an inane religious tract (produced by some California-based sect) whose fear-mongering message was simple: what those pop stars all had in common was that "They all earned big money. They are all big name celebrities...and they are all dead." Then comes the expected pitch to reject a sinful life, a final inquiry ("Why is one box empty on the cover of this tract? That's reserved for you"), & the brain-dead closer: "INTELLIGENT PEOPLE READ THE FRONT FIRST."

SEATTLE's 1st PUNKS: 1976

MAYDAY 1976: While much of Seattle was out doing the "The Hustle" at area discos – or square-dancing to local country-rock tavern bands – a small coterie of younger musicians were busy making history.

This is the ultra-rare poster for a 3-band gig held at the old IOOF Oddfellows Hall (915 E. Pine Street) in the Capitol Hill neighborhood.

The event's title – The TMT Show – was an acronymic reference to the trio of participating bands: the Telepaths, the Meyce, & the Tupperwares. In hindsight, this first stirring of the Northwest's punk scene – well, at least since the Sonics' heyday way back in the '60s – would help spark the rise of an independent "alternative" scene that would ultimately come to fruition with 1980s-1990s grunge rock.

But even more significantly: rock historians have recognized that the TMT Show was a bit of a trail-blazing event. As a harbinger of punk things to come, it predated by months even the very first gigs in Britain by the Clash, the Damned, the Buzzcocks, & Siouxsie & the Banshees – not to mention, the many Los Angeles punk bands that followed (including the Screamers: the revamped and relocated Tupperwares). Interestingly, because Seattle had a few busybodies who enjoyed tearing down legally posted rock handbills, the racy graphics of the TMT poster caused it to be especially targeted, and thus, exceedingly few have survived.

10¢ DANCES & A 5-PIECE BAND: 1933

THREE YEARS into the Great Depression – & one month prior to FDR's inauguration (& the beginnings of his New Deal's efforts to turn the American economy around) – the first in a series of community fund-raiser benefit dances was mounted on February 18, 1933) at the Juanita Park Pavilion.

The events were organized by the Kirkland-based East Side Association of Unemployed – one of several area groups committed to cooperative activities intended to provide help to the growing ranks of the newly jobless. But they were not the first: one history book (by Sara Bader) records that the nation's "first Depression-era 'self-help' organization took root in Seattle... There in the summer of 1931, the Unemployed Citizens League was organized" & by year's end 12,000 members were engaged in bartering: garden vegetables for services; unwanted automobiles for free rent, etc. But one year later – and across Lake Washington –100 Kirkland-area men joined forces and began chopping firewood and planting shared gardens. Along with that hard work, were the dances held nearby at Pop Bergeron's Juanita Park Pavilion. For the entry fee of ten cents, attendees could have their spirits raised a bit by dancing to music performed by a small ensemble – quite possibly, Milt Gootee & his Band. Interestingly, on the flipside of this poster is a hand-scrawled sign that reads: "POTATOES: To Members – ONLY – of East Side ASSN of Unemployed – At 50-cts A Sacks."


SEATTLE'S GREATEST native-son musician, Jimi Hendrix, has been gone now for almost four decades. His music is considered immortal & his image remains iconic. Sadly though, Jimi's memory continues to be dragged through the mud of endless courtroom battles. In February 2009, yet another Hendrix family feud was settled in a legal judgment that favored the position of the family faction headed by step-sister Janie Hendrix – & against a firm associated with Jimi's brother, Leon Hendrix. At issue was the recent marketing of alcoholic products called Electric Hendrix Vodka.

Janie's March 2007 lawsuit challenged Leon's assumed right to exploit his brother's name, & asserted that the use of Jimi's image to promote booze was an affront: the Seattle Times quoted her statement that "As a matter of strict policy, we have never promoted an alcoholic beverage ... In view of the circumstances of my brother Jimi's death, this attempt to associate his name with the sale of alcohol beverages amounts to a sick joke."

Well, yes and no. While Jimi-related booze is itself a distasteful concept – given that an over-abundance of red wine played a role in his death in 1970 – the fact remains that Janie's company, Experience Hendrix, did help promote (& sell through their Hendrix product gift catalog) 750ml bottles of Celebrity Cellars' 1997 vintage de-alcoholized "Red Table Un-Wine."

Made from "premium grapes grown in select California vineyards," the juice (60,000 bottles!) is purportedly "rich and smooth with complex aromas and subtle flavors." While Experience Hendrix may wish that they had never tied themselves to this product – which bears Jimi's photograph & "signature" on the label – the nicely aging bottles are 100% proof that they did.


ONE OF SEATTLE's oldest 'hoods – Youngstown – grew up around William Pigott's Seattle Steel Co. mill which was built in 1905. Immigrant new-hires settled into company-owned homes & rooming houses, & a rough-&-tumble working-class business district – including a church, grocery store, pool hall, & tavern – arose along 24th Avenue S.W. (today's Delridge Way in West Seattle).

By 1914 neighbors had formed the Youngstown Improvement Club as a social group & a means for helping lift their area up to the middle-class standards of West Seattle in general. They founded a clubhouse & held many community events there over the decades. Even as a Seattle-native I knew none of this history until I began researching a new discovery: this poster which advertises a dance on January 1, 1938. Now, where are all the fotos of that toe-tappin' band: Grantier's Harmonizers?


IN 1873 A TRIO OF FOUNDERS of the tiny town of Spokane Falls – including Salem, Oregon's James Glover – acquired ownership of a 158-acre tract located at the center of today's Spokane. After building a saw mill near the town's namesake waterfalls, he eventually donated about 40 prime acres (from Front Avenue to Broadway Avenue, Post Street to Monroe Street) to Frederick Post for the establishment of a flour mill. The one-square-block of that parcel which he retained is where the grand Auditorium Theater was built (NW corner of W. Main Avenue & N. Post Street) in the aftermath of the Great Fire of August 1889.

The seven-story, 1,750-seat Auditorium Theater opened in 1890, boasting an impressive exterior, an over-sized stage, three balconeys, deluxe loge seating, & eventually a house orchestra which was led for years by noted cellist, Ferdinand Sorenson. The facility was welcomed by Spokane's early residents – as well as touring musicians & entertainers (ranging from Sarah Bernhardt to Al Jolson) who presumably appreciated such a fine outpost of genteel culture out here in the Wild West. When the motion picture industry finally overtook old-school vaudevillian entertainments in the 1920s, the Auditorium added a "silver screen," but time was running out and the hall was razed in 1934. Today River Park Square marks the historic site.

MYERS MUSIC SHOP (1930s-1984)

I WILL always have a soft spot in my heart for Seattle's Myers Music shop. Although the old retail store is long-gone, memories of going there with my father to buy my first drum-kit in 1967 remain vivid. That little shoebox of a building (1206 1st Avenue) was crammed from floor to ceiling with racks of instruments and musical supplies of every type. The proprietor, Julius M. Myers (1906-1994), was most helpful in advising us & I ended up going home happily with a brandless Asian-made set of beautiful copper-colored "tiger-eye" finished tubs -- & a snare-drum case that bore a small metal logo badge as seen here. And it seems that I was in pretty good company: many previous local musicians had also received Myers' assistance: in the 1940s he'd sold young Quincy Jones his first trumpet, & in the 1950's young Jimi Hendrix got his first electric guitar there. Myers -- a Romanian immigrant who originally founded his Empire Clothing Co. in 1928 (renaming it the Empire Exchange in 1931, & then eventually, Myers Music) -- was a mandolinist, a leader of a balalaika orchestra, & a radio host on Seattle's KVI. It was in 1984 that Myers shuttered his shop -- & in 1993 a large psychedelic mural was painted on the building's south exterior wall in tribute to Hendrix.


THOSE NORTHWEST grunge rockers, Nirvana, were always targeted by profiteers who cranked out "collectibles" for the band's fans to glom onto. Among the questionable items marketed over the years have been bogus concert posters issued well after-the-fact – & others representing gigs that never happened. Then there are the ones touting gigs at concert venues that don't even exist. Here is a recent example: a specimen found on eBay that purports to advertise a hella lineup of Nirvana & that esteemed British punk/pop '70s band, the Buzzcocks. The eBay listing blithely notes that: "This poster is promoting Nirvana and a show to be held on Friday-Saturday 11-12 October, at Lakeland Arena in Seattle, Washington."

Those dates correlate to a point in 1991 when Nirvana's Nevermind album was just breaking out. But the "Lakeland Arena" attribution is mystifying as Seattle has no such concert hall – although Minocqua, Wisconsin & Waterford, Michigan both apparently do! Interestingly, the Buzzcocks did actually reform briefly and serve as the opening act on a tour with Nirvana – a group which Buzzcocks guitarist Steve Diggle saluted as "the only band we considered worthy of supporting" – but those gigs occurred only days before Kurt Cobain's demise in early 1994. Oh well...whatever...

KJR RADIO STAMP: circa 1921

THE DAWN of the radio industry saw various associated trends, fads, and crazes emerge – including the marketing of radio kits to hobbyists, the formation of amateur radio clubs, & the issuance of "Verified Reception Stamps." First produced for Chicago's EKKO Company (by the American Bank Note Co.) in 1921, the stamps were intended to appeal to radio enthusiasts whose goal was to keep track of the many distant stations that they'd successfully tuned into.

The stamps were sold by EKKO to specific stations who would then provide one to each listener who wrote-in stating the date & time (along with details about the specific broadcast content that they'd heard in order to verify their claim). Those listeners could then assemble their collection of stamps – each bearing the call letters of participating stations – into a book that EKKO began producing in 1924. Among the 800+ stations to participate were Spokane's KHQ, & Seattle's first commercial station, KJR (950 AM).