Northwest Underground rock 1980 'til the End of Time


June 2012: Psychedelic Seattle – History of NW Rock

We have liftoff.

From last month’s Summer of Lust to the “Summer of Love”…do we have a treat for you. On the 45th anniversary of the Summer of Love (1967) we have the Pacific Northwest musical equivalent from the vaults of Jerden Records. The Psychedelic Era of sixties music has always been a favorite of mine. It was like sci-fi on record to a young teenager back then. The local scene didn’t disappoint either. Most of the R&B flavored Northwest sound gave way to the happening that was that period: Light shows, Eagles Auditorium, underground FM radio, Helix magazine, protests, Viet Nam and the draft with patchouli and other new aromas filling the air.

The closest thing to a hit on this lineup is the New Yorkers Mr. Kirby. Most of the rest of this fantastic Album of the Month will be almost new to most of you who are younger than 50 and maybe to most of you over 50 even if you did live in the Seattle, Portland or Eugene areas at the time. Press play, tune in, “…sit back relax and let your mind float down stream…”

Peace and love,


PS – TD will be back next month with the brand spanking new Green Pajamas album “Death By Misadventure” as our July Album of the Month (watch your email for special offers). He’s also feverishly working on his own fabulous new album. TBA.

June 2012

Excerpts from History of Northwest Rock Vol. 3/Psychedelic Seattle by Peter Blecha

Jerden 7008.

Psychedelic Seattle 1965 – 1969 Takes us on a trip back to a wonderously tumultuous period in American history when all sorts of established notions were challenged by “beatniks,” “peace-niks,” and “hippies.” Hair was grown. Guitars got fuzzy. Authority was questioned. Free speech was reasserted. Civil Rights were won. A war was stopped. Banana peels were smoked. And…for just one shinning moment-and against all musical odds-harpsichords and sitars came together to jam in perfect peace! Weird and wonderful times!

Ground zero in the cultural upheaval was, of course, San Francisco, which gained notoriety for it’s mind bending Light Shows, eye-straining psychedelic Fillmore dance posters, radical underground newspapers, and revolutionary groups like the Jefferson Airplane and the Grateful Dead. However, freaky youth culture flowerings also popped up like little psilocybin mushrooms in a number of other West Coast towns, including Seattle, Bellingham, Eugene, and Portland.

Trips Festival poster March 19, 1967In retrospect 1965 was the turning point, LBJ accelerated the Viet Nam war igniting the draft resistance movement. LSD hit school campuses. Light Shows emerged as a perception-altering visual augmentation at dances. In the wake of the Beatles‘ influential psychedelic musical experiments on their Rubber Soul and Revolver albums a sizable segment of the youth population suddenly had no time left for “Louie Louie.” The first homegrown hippie bands like Daily Flash, Emergency Exit, and Crome Syrcus were comprised of musicians who essentially shunned the R&B foundations of traditional Northwest sounds in favor more experimental and eclectic musical vocabularies.

But, of course, more was changing than simply the personal tastes of some musicians. In fact the whole music industry’s playing field was shifting. Record stores, record labels and radio stations were consolidating all across the land. The mainstream’s Top-40 AM radio empire was challenged by the newly emerging “underground” FM world. In the Northwest in particular, the long-established star structure that had supported the teen dance system was faltering as sock hops in school gyms and roller rinks gave way to freaky Happenings, Be-ins. Acid Tests, Trips Festivals, and ultimately, huge outdoor Rock Festivals.

By ’67’s Summer of Love, Seattle’s hip community had created a quite promising counter-culture. Now instead of continuing to attend teen-dances controlled by the city’s kingpin, Top-40 radio DJ Pat O’Day, kids had options: weekly light-show dances at the Eagles Ballroom. Instead of tuning into mainstream pop radio, hip locals could now hear alternative music on way-out stations like KRAB and KOL-FM. Rather than peruse mainstream papers radicalized youth could get their news in our local equivalents of California’s Berkeley Barb and Oracle papers, like the Helix, the Seer, and the Seattle Flag. In short: It was a new dawn…

…”It’s Tomorrow” was the exact sort of playfully stoned declaration that made a lot of sense to the new breed of young hippies who were finding their own life path in the mid-’60s. Seattle’s Brave New World penned some typically addled lyrics about “green clouds,” and trees with “blue leaves.” The Seattle-based Jerden family of labels first issued a track by Brave New World on Battle of the Bands Vol. II compilation LP which was produced at a time when the band stuck out like a sore thumb from most of their contemporary teen-R&B peer bands on that album. While most were still pounding out variations of sub-“Louie” type tunes, this band was already producing a musical vision on songs like “It’s Tomorrow” and “I See.” The Spindle provide us with a perfect example of an early branching of the new rock sensibility-and a tune that really shoulda been a hit! The band’s classic “Little Lies” explores a sort of middle path somewhere between Beatles-influenced pop and an exuberant folk-rock akin to San Francisco pioneers, the Beau Brummels. Charming stuff.

In addition to the new bands, a few veteran bands from the “Louie Louie” garage rock era simply updated their image and sound continuing into the Psychedelic Era. Jerden Records felt strongly enough about a young Portland band, the New Yorkers, to win them a deal with the same big-time pop/R&B label that had taken on the Kingsmen, New York’s Scepter/Wand Records. Hopes were high, but unfortunately the tune, “Mr. Kirby,” with it’s faux-sitar embellishments and “high art” lyrics never managed to go beyond its status as a regional favorite and win the band a national audience. That process would take a few more years, a name change, and the group’s very own national TV program, the Hudson Brothers Show.

Seattle’s Tom Thumb & (the) Casuals had been kicking around the scene for a couple of years as one of the Northwest’s bazillion sax-and-organ instrumental combos. But by 1966 most American kids were wising up to the threat of forced military inscription and songs began to reflect these concerns. “The Draft,” in particular, is a genuine “period piece,” an odd and tellingly conflicted little number that somehow manages to voice some anti-war concerns yet concludes that fellas should “enlist to beat the draft.” Huh?! Another veteran band, the Bumps – who like many of their peers, had begun life with a simple goal of becoming the “next Wailers” – began altering their “Louie Louie”-fueled sound and in ’67 cut a string of tunes including the fuzzed-out “Please Come Down” – a plea to some gal who was “flying on wings no one could see.”

The era also saw the release of the debut recordings of singer/songwriter extraordinaire Danny O’Keefe. After moving from his home town of Wenatchee WA to the big city and signing a recording contract with Seattle’s biggest label, O’Keefe began cutting a stricking string of original songs including 1966’s British inflected 45, “Baby.” Within a couple years O’Keefe, along with a couple former members of Emergency Exit, helped form a very eclectic rock band, Calliope, and then by 1970 he moved on to a big time deal with Atlantic Records and is today remembered best for sublime masterpieces like “Good Time Charlie’s Got The Blues” and “The Road.”

The Doors, Crome Syrcus and Magic Fern at Eagles Auditorium poster…in Seattle, the Crome Syrcus was winning a following with their highly eclectic sound. Formed originally in 1965 the band became mainstays of the weekly dances at the Eagles hall (with Strawberry Alarm Clock, the Doors, Big Brother, Vanilla Fudge and Iron Butterfly) and cut the very impressive acid-damaged LP Love Cycles along with a slew of lysergic singles including…the wah-wah spiked “Long Hard Road.” This fabulous furry band of freaks also made their way to Frisco and performed at the Fillmore and Avalon with the likes of Canned Heat, the Loading Zone, and Velvet Underground. Their greatest notoriety resulted though from an international tour they made in conjunction with the esteemed Joffrey Ballet Company, for whom they’d composed a soundtrack for a dance piece titled Astarte.

…Among the ex-patriots who settled in the Northwest in ’65 were members of the PH Phactor Jug Band. That band’s Seattle recordings showcase the same sort of revivalism of turn-of-the-century Southern “jug band” music as also practiced in California by the Grateful Dead and Sopwith Camel. PH Phactor won the hearts of locals and their good-timey music was the soundtrack at many a groovy show between Seattle and Portland over the next few years. Signed to Jerden in ’67 the band cut numerous goodtime tunes including…that timeless hippie holiday singalong “Merryjauna.”

The Magic Fern was a young band that formed in Seattle’s U District and became a top draw at Summer of Love dances with a sweet sort of Youngbloods-esque sound. They recorded a few singles for Jerden including…”Beneath A Tree” and shared the stage with bands including: (Family Tree), Country Joe, theGrateful Dead…and the Seeds.

Meanwhile, another of the old guard Seattle bands, the Dynamics, retooled themselves with a new name, image and sound. Abandoning the jazz-infused R&B that they’d been making since ’59 and starting basically from scratch as the Springfield Rifle, the band began honing a new radio friendly folk-pop sound. While not exactly rallying the era’s street revolutionaries, their pop-oriented songs like the moody, Beatle/Zombies-tinged, “Start At The Bottom“…did win significant airplay across the region. Airplay that, incidentally, caught the attention of the then-hot chart-topping LA-based group, the Buffalo Springfield. It was that group’s guitarist, Neil Young, who indulged in a little onstage griping in Seattle about how a certain local band (hmmm…) had ripped off his band’s name. Ouch! Interestingly, it was a different Seattle band, Bluebird that was actually considered by locals to be, musically, our own Northwest version of the Buffalo Springfield. Though Bluebird seemingly did possess a similar country/folk-tinged vibe on their original tunes-like…their metaphorical maritime epic, “Modessa“-they also blended in a certain jazzy element that helped make them quite popular on the scene.

Trips Festival poster 1967One long-standing teen-R&B band, Salem OR’s Live Five, released a string of fun 45’s including their ’67 single, “Move Over & Let’s Fly,” which evinces both tried tried-&-true Northwest teen-R&B underpinnings as well as freaky new musical ideas like the undulating “fallin’ fallin’ fallin’…” refrain. Another veteran Northwest band that persevered into the hippie era, evolving their sound along the way, was the Bards. Originally formed in Moses Lake WA as a typical Wailers-like teen-R&B combo, the Fabulous Continentals. Then in The Year Of The Beatles, 1964, the band adopted a British Invasion vibe and a new name-as the Bards the guys even covered the Who‘s “My Generation” before honing a softer folk-soul sound with their big regional radio hit, ’67’s “Never Too Much Love.” Songs like the countrified “Freedom Catcher” represented the final evolutionary phase of the band. Northwest rock had weathered a ton of changes over the years covered here-hell, what region’s music hadn’t?! But by 1969 the fabled Northwest teen scene was crumbling. The long-standing weekly teen-dances tradition had faded and giant outdoor rock festivals were on the rise. By the end of the sixties, just about all of the original recording studios-as well as the locally based record companies, including Jerden, had folded.

Consider though: While times change and trends and fashions come and go, the heart of Northwest rock remains true. It seems no matter what transpires, there is one factor that will never fade away…And that is the hold that “Louie Louie” has on us as a people. Thus we wind down with a final rendition of the region’s signature song as captured for posterity by Seattle band, the Feelies. Though the song itself obviously harks back to an earlier era, their version displays a heaviness befitting 1968…”Louie Louie” somehow remains the most appropriate last word (well, two actually)to wrap up this look back at a long-gone era in Northwest rock.

© 2000 Jerden Records

The bands – The songs.

Brave New World1. The Brave New WorldIt’s Tomorrow

George M. Guilmet, keyboards and vocals
Paul Trousdale, lead vocals and songwriter
Gus Molvik, lead guitar
Mike Beck, bass
John Kennedy, drums

The Spindle2. The SpindleLittle Lies (John Carter/Jeff Tassin/Tom Wilson)

Rick Belyea ~ Percussion
Bill Carter ~ Bass
John Carter ~ Guitar, Vocals
Jeff Tassin ~ Guitar, Vocals
Tom Wilson ~ Guitar, Vocals

The New Yorkers3. The New YorkersMr. Kirby (Hudson, Hudson)

Kent Fillmore ~ Guitar
Bill Hudson ~ Guitar
Brett Hudson ~ Bass
Mark Hudson ~ Drums

4. Tom Thumb & The CasualsThe Draft

Tom Thumb & the CasualsSteve Alcobrack ~ Guitar
Tom (Thumb) Blessing ~ Saxophone, Guitar
Larry Evans ~ Bass
Scott Letterman ~ Drums
Brad Miller ~ Guitar
Gary Snyder ~ Bass
Steve Valley ~ Guitar
Jim Wolfe ~ Keyboards

The Bumps5. The Bumps – Please Come Dow
John Cleaver ~ Saxophone, Vocals
Bob Greer ~ Bass
Pat Hewitt ~ Guitar
John Knapp ~ Guitar
Steve Moshier ~ Bass
Larry Richstein (aka Rube Tubin) ~ Guitar
Hugh Stotler ~ Drums
Crome SyrcusRobert Van den Akker ~ Drums
Gary R. Walsh ~ Keyboards

6. Danny O’KeefeBaby (O’Keefe)

7. Crome SyrcusLong Hard Road

John Gaborit ~ Guitar
Lee Graham ~ Bass, Flute
Rod Pilloud ~ Drums
Jim Plano ~ Drums
Dick Powell ~ Harmonica, Keyboards
Ted Shreffler ~ Keyboards

PH Phactor Jug Band8. PH Phactor Jug BandMerryjuana

Paul Bassett ~ Drums, Washboard
John Browne ~ Guitar, Harmonica
Davy Coffin ~ Guitar, Mandolin
John Hendricks ~ Mandolin, Mandola, Banjo, Guitar, Kazoo, Jug, Vocals
Dennis Long ~ Drums
Steve Mork ~ Bass, Jug
Nick Ogilvie ~ Guitar, Banjo, Harp, Vocals
Chris Robinson ~ Guitar
Mike Rush ~ Drums

Magic Fern9. Magic FernBeneath A Tree

Mike Allan ~ Bass
Brian Conrad ~ Drums
Tim Cooley ~ Bass
Tom Sparks ~ Guitar
Mike Waters ~ Guitar

10. The Springfield RifleStart At The Bottom

Jeff Afdem ~ Saxophone
Springfield RifleTerry Afdem ~ Keyboards
Dennis Ashbrook ~ Saxophone
Mark Bishop ~ Organ
Danny Brabant ~ Drums
Joe Cavender ~ Drums
Larry Duff ~ Trumpet, Trombone
Ron Hendee ~ Trumpet
Bob Perry ~ Bass
Dean Quackenbush ~ Trumpet
Dave Talbott ~ Bass
Marty Tuttle ~ Drums
Mark Whitman ~ Guitar
Harry Wilson ~ Guitar
Sam Wisner ~ Drums

Bluebird11. BluebirdModessa

David Baroh ~ Guitar
Tom Chapman ~ Guitar
Emerson Hoefs ~ Guitar
Phil Klitgaard ~ Drums
Kevin Marin ~ Bass
Ric Niemer ~ Bass
Tony Pugel ~ Guitar
The BardsJohn Soltero ~ Guitar

12. The BardsFreedom Catcher

Mike Balzotti ~ Keyboards
Bob Gallaway ~ Drums
Mardig Sheridan ~ Guitar
Chuck Warren ~ Bass

Live Five13. The Live Five Move Over & Let Me Fly

Craig Martel ~ Drums
Don McFadden ~ Keyboards, Vocals
Jerry Meier ~ Guitar
Bill O’Brien ~ Vocals
Joe Smith ~ Bass
Stan Steiner ~ Keyboards
Roy Van Broekhuizen ~ Guitar, Vocals

The Feelies14. The FeeliesLouie, Louie

Rick Bullard ~ Bass
“Shuga” George Clark ~ Drums
Rick Fondell ~ Bass
Wild Bill Hornibrook ~ Keyboards
Gordy “Flash” Kjellberg ~ Guitar
George “Shakey Roe” O’Brien ~ Drums
Vern Palm ~ Drums

All info courtesy of Pacific Northwest Bands “Your Guide to Musicians of the Great Pacific Northwest from 1954 to 1979 and their bands from 1980 to Present.”


History of Northwest Rock Vol. 3/ Psychedelic Seattle (1965 – 1969) Produced by Jerry Dennon. Creative Direction Peter Blecha. Cover design by Art Chantry. Mastering Producer Bob Wilkstrom. Engineer Kearney Barton. All songs published by Burdette Music Company BMI except “Louie Louie” by Longtude Music BMI.

The New Yorkers photo Courtesy of Sandy Weedman

History of Northwest Rock Vol. 3Trips Festival poster image courtesy of Don Edge

The Bumps photo courtesy of Bob Greer

Crome Syrcus photo courtesy of Ross Hannan

PH Phactor Jug Band in 1966 – Photo Courtesy of Steve Mork

Magic Fern Seattle Post Intelligencer Photo, 8 September 1967

Springfield Rifle Photo Courtesy of Rod Nichols and Bob Dye

the Feelies photo courtesy of Gordy Kjellberg

The Doors at Eagles poster courtesy of Howie Wahlen

All other photos courtesy Pacific Northwest Bands


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