NEARLY 20 YEARS AGO the Seattle-based Seafair-Bolo record label released the classic album, The Dynamics with Jimmy Hanna. It was 1960s Northwest teen-R&B in peak form as performed by the premier band of the genre.

The Dynamics saga began in about 1959 with the release of “Baby” / “Aces Up,” a joyfully raw single pairing up two :”Kansas City”-type “originals.” Both songs featured good gritty sax solos by young Jeff Afdem, in whose living room the recording session took place.  The band’s leader, Tom Larson, soon approached Tom and Ellen Ogilvy – the operators of Seafair Records – and in 1960 the band’s second single, “Onion Salad” was released and enjoyed modest radio airtime.

Then in 1961 personnel changes occurred: founding members Terry Afdem (keys), Jeff Afdem, and Pete Borg (bass), regrouped with drummer Ron Woods, and the Ogilvy’s singing son, Jimmy “Hanna.” Soon Yakima’s Checkers lost their guitarist, Larry Coryell, to the band, and then Mark Doubleday (trumpet) became the last to join. The Dynamics’ next series of singles (on the subsidiary label, Seafair-Bolo) were excellent: 1962’s cover of Dave Lewis’ “J.A.J.” was so fine it briefly saw national distribution. Then came “Wild Girl,” 1963’s “Tough Talk,” and “Genevieve” (featuring guest organist, Mike Mandel, of the Checkers).

Coryell, of course, eventually split for New York and the rest is jazz history.  Harry Wilson left the Casuals to replace him and also excelled in his guitar duties.  Both he and Gary Snyder (who took over for Borg) appear on the 1964 album The Dynamics with Jimmy Hanna and the boss singles “Busybody” and “Leavin’ Here” which was briefly distributed nationally by Atlantic Records.

The Dynamics had started out by playing house parties and school dances, but later became mainstays on the teen-dance circuit promoted by KJR radio’s kingpin DJ, Pat O’Day. Highlights were the gigs they shared with the Beach Boys, Roy Orbison, Bobby Freeman, Jan and Dean, the Astronauts, and Vancouver B.C. Canada’s ‘60s Invasion modster, Terry “Unless It’s You” Black.

Hanna, who had built up quite a reputation with his rich, smooth – almost Bobby Bland-like – vocals, left the band and by 1966 was fronting his own 11-piece “blues big-band.” He released several singles through 1967, before taking up studies in San Antonio, Texas, where today he owns a studio and is a music instructor.

The Dynamics forged ahead, signing with Seattle’s Jerden Records, and later revamping themselves as the Springfield Rifle. This band became a highly successful performing and recording outfit for several years, scoring airplay with discs including 1967’s “Will You Love Me Tomorrow” and 1968’s “That’s All I Really Need.” Alas, that enterprise eventually mutated into the Springfield Flute, a vehicle for Jeff Afdem’s saccharine arrangements of tired pop tunes.

Meanwhile, Ron Woods had exited just prior to the Rifle’s formation. He headed to Los Angeles to sit in on the last gigs of Seattle’s own psychedelic folk-rock tripsters, the Daily Flash.  Over the following few years Woods also did stints with the Buddy Miles Express, Pacific Gas & Electric – not to mention session work with Jimi Hendrix, Barry Goldberg, D. J. Rogers and others. Mark Doubleday went on to play with Miles’ band, the Electric Flag, and numerous other bands.

Back up in Seattle, Seafair-Bolo Records went into mothballs in 1968. But now the label marks its return with the release of a new Dynamics album: Memory Bank of Early Northwest Sounds. Like the Dynamics’ previous LP, this one also includes material cut live at Parkers, along with a couple studio cuts. The nine live tracks were recorded on three separate nights between 1962 and 1965, and therefore features both Coryell (most of side one) and Wilson (side two) and both Borg and Snyder on bass guitar. The stereo master tapes were lovingly mixed by the legendary Northwest audio engineer, Kearney Barton, and the album sounds properly vintage. No, this is not a “Dynamics 1984 Reunion” LP or even a Greatest Hits package. Instead, it is offered as a song-set typical of countless local teen-dances from a long-ago time. In truth, it is a remarkable historical record by a band of musician’s musicians: The Dynamics.

[Note: This is an edited version of an essay that originally appeared in the “Northwest Music Archives” column of Seattle’s The Rocket magazine back in January, 1984.]

Text copyright © 1984, 2014 by Peter Blecha.