The KRAB Audio Archive
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One of the earliest surviving programs, recorded and aired just five months after KRAB went on the air. Here are Roger Perkins and Nancy Keith with Pooh song, Cock Robin, Duncan and Brady, Coney Island Washboard, and four more.
Recording courtesy of the Jack Straw Foundation, JSF M0222
From 1963, here are Mike Russo on 12 string guitar and piano, and Ron Brentano on banjo. KRAB recorded their concert at Eagleson Hall in the U District, and aired it sometime later. Exactly when, we do not know, as most of the program guides from 1963 and 1964 have not yet been found. Eagleson Hall (1417 NE 42nd) was built and and owned by the YMCA until 1964, when it was purchased by the University of Washington. For more about Eagleson Hall see HistoryLink.
In the early days of KRAB, Russo was a relatively frequent guest, and participated in the 1967 Downhome Blues Party with Lightnin' Hopkins at Washington Hall Oct 21, 1967, cosponsored by the Seattle Folklore Society and KRAB. The program guide listing above is from guide number 43, Aug 1964.
Recording courtesy of Linda and Leonard Good, LG0012
If I am following the chronology correctly, in Phil Williams's "Early Bluegrass in Western Wa and the PNW", Phil, Vivian, and Mike Nelson first encountered Ron Ginther, playing with John and Sally Ashford, as "The Cascades" at an open mike in a club in the basement at the corner of First Ave and Yesler Way during the 1962 Seattle World's Fair. Ron saw Phil holding a banjo and asked him if he played "hillbilly" music, and if he could join them. They played a set, and were immediately hired to perform Friday and Saturday nights at the "Place Next Door" adjacent to the Guild 45th Theatre. This was the birth of the "Turkey Pluckers".
Recently Vivian Williams wrote that "Ron was and still is" something of an activist, "participating in demonstrations and writing various manifestos". Some of which one might attribute to him being a son of Ronald Debs Ginther, an artist known for depicting the plight of the poor and efforts of workers to organize in the 1930's.
Ron, and his brother Fred, are also heard in a KRAB program produced in 1975, US Labor Movement in Story and Song.
With most program guides of 1963 through 1965 missing from our collection, we cannot say for sure when bluegrass was first heard on KRAB, but are pretty certain the first regular bi-weekly broadcast started Jul 1, 1964.
Recording courtesy Linda and Leonard Good, LG0002; Photo of Ron Ginther found on "Early Bluegrass in Western Washington and the Pacific Northwest, A personal account by Phil Williams"
Although the tape and its box provide little information about this program, the KRAB Archive Special Consultant in Traditional Music and Musicians of the Pacific Northwest, Vivian Williams, has shared some exciting details:
Yup, I absolutely recognize the voice, "Virginia Slim" is Ron Hyde. "Virginia Slim" was an alter ego that he occasionally donned for satirical purposes.
Ron Hyde moved to Chesaw, Washington (up by the Canadian border not far from Tonasket) many years ago, and made mandolins in his workshop. There are several videos of him on YouTube; the latest was made in 2017 so he's probably still around.
You might notice that they mentioned that Phil Poth and Ron Hyde were making F5 style mandolins in a workshop on Alder Street; that was Ron's house. Ron was a pretty good mandolin player, and he might be playing mandolin on some of the "pickup band" numbers, although those may be Phil Poth. At the end we were switching instruments around like crazy, so it's pretty hard to tell who's doing what.
The original "Krapp Family," mentioned near the end, was a tape that Phil W. and Peter Langston and I made ca. 1963, playing several overdone folk-scare standards incompetently on various weird instruments (toy glockenspiel, banjo-uke, & others), which I guess we were more or less reviving at the show by playing instruments other than our usual ones. Hey, my banjo playing wasn't all of that bad! But Phil on the dobro, I dunno ..... And that's me giggling obnoxiously in the background throughout the last part of the show.
[Editor's note: Before we receved Vivian's comments, about all that could be said was Mac Wiseman (supposedly), George Henmar from Waukegan, Phil Poth, and Maynard Peterson are the "pickup band hanging out around the station" and making life difficult for Virginia "Verge" Slim, until Phil and Vivian Williams show up with Dick Gordon in tow. At least that's what it sounds like though it is to difficult to separate whom is actually there from the hallucinations.]
Recording courtesy Linda and Leonard Good, LG0024
The first bluegrass programmer on KRAB was Ron Ginther. "Uncle" Dave Wertz was the second. Tonight his wench is out of town, so its an opportunity for the groupies, and an excuse for Dave to tell a joke.
Dave Wertz' Bluegrass show is named in the FCC's complaint against KRAB that resulted in the hearing of 1970: "Dave Wertz describes himself as an amateur expert on bluegrass music. He had a program on KRAB which consisted of bluegrass music and pertinent accompanying commentary. Wertz tried to imitate the style of such well known programs of bluegrass as Nashville's Grand Ole Opry and Richmond's Old Dominion Barn Dance. Between broadcasts of music selections, Dave Wertz would tell what he called "corn country jokes".
"When Wertz came to work for KRAB it was made clear to him that he was not to use any obscenity on the air. His type of joke does not contemplate the use of obscene words. He had no recollection of what he may have said on his broadcast of October 1968, but he had been told that someone had called to complain about the program. He may have told a few of his country stories. An example which he gave is the one about "the hillbilly whose bathroom caught on fire but, fortunately the flames didn't reach the house."
Program guide 222, Jan 1972, with a photo of Dave Wertz, has the following:
We have no intention of writing a eulogy to Dave Wertz. Not because he doesn't deserve one, but perhaps because it's the kind of thing he would have detested. He was simple, and direct, and the kind of maudlin sentiment attached to death would have seemed pointless to him.
Let us just say that one of the best friends we ever had is gone, and we'll miss him.
Is there anyone out there that remembers Dave and can share a memory?
Recording courtesy of the Jack Straw Foundation, JSF M1574
"Folk" music, traditional or revival, American or world, live or recorded, was part of the KRAB repertoire from the start. One of the earliest shows was started in February 1963 with Judy Buck hosting live concerts in the studio every Sunday evening featuring performers from as far away as Portland and Vancouver. So far, no tapes of those broadcasts have been located.
In 1969 Greg Palmer was a KRAB volunteer producing the Sunday Show while attending the University of Washington. In the Drama School he encountered one Jeffrey R Thomson, AKA "Magic Fingers", another student of theatre. Jeff was also a musician, playing a 12-string guitar and singing everything from "Plastic Jesus" to "Cocaine", as well as his own compositions. And, he was a visual artist responsible for several program guide covers. On at least four occasions Greg persuaded "Magic Fingers" to perform live on KRAB and take requests from the audience.
We have six tapes. The labels are a little unclear, but the program guides do give us some description. With the exception of Tape, 6, which was recorded in Laramie, Wyoming for broadcast during a fund raising marathon, Jeff is joined by Greg in the closest thing we have found to a KRAB hootenanny.
Tape 1 - The first tape seems to have been recorded during a two day fund raising marathon Saturday and Sunday, the 29th and 30th of March 1969 (32:50)
Tape 2 - Sunday, Aug 17, 1969, 11:30 pm (It is unclear why this tape starts with the voice of Michael Wiater introducing his program "Toothpick, Lisbon, and the Orcas Islands". Michael, where are you?) (33:14)
THE ROACHDALE REPORT - Featuring the triumphant return of Magic Fingers to Seattle. Yes, fans, about six months ago, an unscheduled after-hours show took place, featuring the phenomenal 12 string guitar playing of Magic Fingers, plus the exciting throbs of his magic Throat. The next day M.F. left for Wyoming, but now he's back! He'll be taking requests for all your favorites and playing his own compositions.
Tape 3 and 4 - Sunday, Aug 31, 1969, 11:30 pm (68:17 and 40:58)
THE ROACHDALE REPORT - Produced by the Roachdale Radio Network for export to all Universal Life Ministers. Tonight, a farewell party for Magic Fingers, who is ending his all-too-brief stay in Seattle to return to the wilds of Wyoming.
Tape 5 - Wednesday, Jan 28, 1970, 11:00 pm (18:46)
MAGIC FINGERS IS BACK AGAIN - That's right, kids! If KUOW can bring back Big Jon & Sparky, KRAB can masticate the air waves with that snappy kid from Wyoming, Magic Fingers, playing his 12 string just like Glen Campbell used to do and warbling his way into your heart. Requests will be taken (LA2-1111) for all your blues and folk favorites.
Tape 6 - Wednesday, May 20, 1970, 9:30 pm (29:17)
THE MAGIC FINGERS MARATHON MUSICOTHON - Over the past two years Jeffrey R. 'Magic Fingers' Thomson has appeared on four late-night, folk-blues-other live music requestothons, playing his twelve string guitar and warbling as only he can do. Tonight's effort is, unfortunately, not live, as M.F. is in Laramie, Wyoming, bringing the magic of set design to the cowboys. However, he made this tape there a few weeks ago, singing some Leadbelly, some Simon, and some vintage Fingers. Mag (we call him Mag) is joined, occasionally, by Cathy Fermilia, John ' Lightning Digits' Sundahl, Steve Jacobson, and the Singing Mayonaise.
You can listen to the individual tapes or play as a continuous stream.
Recordings courtesy Jeffrey R Thomson and Cathy Palmer
Tuesday nights at 8:00 John Burke alternated with Phil Williams, playing and talking about things musical and old timey. Here are two shows, probably from 1971 when the program was preceded by William Mandel's Soviet Press and Periodicals.
Anyone know what has become of John Burke?
Recording from the collection of Dennis Flannigan, DF0251
Bluegrass and the picket line. Tonight, Mike talks about the Seattle City Light strike, and he is joined by guest Thane Mitchell playing and talking about the bluegrass.
Cassette recording courtesy of Dennis Flannigan, DF1005
Live Music From the Inside Passage. Bluegrass, live from Pioneer Square.
Advertisment in KRAB program guide
In the Fall of 1974, shortly after the success of the first broadcast of the NW Regional Folklife Festival, KRAB staff decided to venture into the world of live shows from local music venues. The first was from the Inside Passage tavern, First and Washington in Pioneer Square, Friday’s 8:30 to 9:30. “Are we on?” “The band is getting ready and will be here in a moment”. Tiny Freeman can be heard in the audience. Leila Gorbman announces from the Passage.
Recording courtesy Dennis Flannigan, DF1043
There can be many obstacles that get in the way of telling an accurate story. Sometimes, even when documentation is contemporaneous with the events, people hear things differently or it is difficult to read what has been written or . . . . who knows? So it is always helpful when we hear from someone who was there, knew the people, remembers, and can reference details. In this case we received an email from Peter Langston, and he has straightened us out on a number of misstatements in our earlier post of these recordings. Song titles, places, and performers have been corrected below.
Looking at photographs and posters on the Entropy Service web site, the core of Entropy Service was Peter Langston, Linda Waterfall, and J. B. White, though on some occasions they were joined by Judy Cook or Sharyle Patton. Linda Waterfall passed away in January 2019. Paul de Barros wrote about her in the Seattle Times.
Selections of Entropy Service at the Inside Passage Tavern (First and Washington in Pioneer Square), early 1974. Performed by Peter Langston, Linda Waterfall, and J. B. White
Selections of Entropy Service on tour - Recorded at either the Cantab Lounge in Cambridge, Mass or at Jeremiah's Restaurant in Allston, Mass, in early 1975. Personnel: Peter Langston, Linda Waterfall, J. B. White, & Sharyle Patton
Recordings courtesy Bruce Kirkman and Robert Weppner, RW0001 and RW0002
The Willow Creek Ramblers and the Tall Timber String Band alternated on Friday nights at the Passage
Tonight, the Willow Creek Ramblers are Phil Poth, banjo; Don McAllister, mandolin; and Paul Gillingham, guitar and emcee. On Nov 1st Willow Creek had technical difficulties, which eventually were fixed by Phil Williams throwing a switch. Oh well. At the end of the performance. Leila speaks briefly with Phil Poth.
The Nov 8 performance by The Old Hat Band was the broadcast portion of a longer bluegrass festival at The Passage that evening.
Announcing for KRAB is Leila Gorbman. KRAB technical support was Ken Heller. Where is he now?
Recording courtesy Dennis Flannigan, DF1007
Frank Ferrel's program, "Country Fiddling", eventually became "Fiddling KRAB". Here he talks with National Junior Champion old time fiddler Mark O'Connor (then 14) and his 10-year-old sister Michelle, who play's mandolin. They are joined by Hank English on guitar, and Nell Carter editor of the Old Time Fiddler association newsletter. Mark reveals his secret for winning, and Frank persuades him to play some guitar.
Begins mid-sentence and ends abruptly.
Recording courtesy Dennis Flannigan, DF1017
In 1975, among other things, I was producing a late night variety show – mostly recorded music and readings, occasional interviews of people with strange stories, and, rarely, something special. On the Saturday of the Memorial Day weekend, a little after midnight, after a day of playing at the NW Regional Folklife Festival, Robert Force, Albert D'ossché, Jake Bell, and Mark Weinberg arrived at the KRAB studio, where they played and improvised for the next couple of hours.
Robert and Albert wrote the book about dulcimer, In Search of the Wild Dulcimer. In addition to dulcimer it seemed as if they could play any instrument they got a hold of: doumbek, piano, trombone, or kazoo. It sometimes was unclear when the music stopped and the impromptu comedy started – it just kept coming. Albert, in Robert’s words, “departed the planet” in 1990. Although Robert went on to other things, he continues to perform and teach dulcimer.
Robert Force, dulcimer and vocals; Albert D'ossché, dulcimer and vocals; Jake Bell, guitar; Mark Weinberg, banjo and vocals
Recording collection of C Reinsch
The Corporation for Public Broadcasting has sunk the hook deep in the KRAB's throat, and KRAB is trying to raise $75,000 in non-federal funds in order to qualify for a $19,000 grant. This is the first day of a marathon drive that went to the end of the month. By 1975 CPB and PBS stations had trained their listeners to expect rewards for contributing in the form of CDs, cookbooks, and trips to the Bahamas. KRAB volunteers did their best to find premiums that KRAB subscribers might appreciate, and that KRAB could afford. It being the month that Americans consumed turkey, someone found a case of Turkey Lifters, and they were offered to anyone that subscribed. I think they looked something like the one pictured above.
Meanwhile, in the music studio the heat has been tuned on to deter frostbitten fingers, but with the result that the musicians are tuning to the progressively further out-of-tune-piano. Phil Williams offers a subscription (and a turkey lifter) to any piano tuner willing to come in to the cold. If there was a program guide for Nov 10 through the 30th of 1975, it has not been found. Phil Williams talks about a schedule that lists a "Bluegrass Ensemble", but there is no sign of it.
Part 1: Larry Hanks; Phil Williams announcing and mandolin; Barbara Lamb; Hank Bradley; Vivian Williams
Part 2: Vivian Williams; Phil Williams does a pitch; Hank Bradley; Twin Fiddles - Vivian Williams and Barbara Lamb; Earl Bradley, banjo; Darrel McMichael(?), bass; Stuart, whistle; Red Herick, mandolin; Vivian and Barbara, fiddles; and ?; Bob and Carol Waller
Part 3: Larry Hanks; Jeff Thorne; Dick Gordon of Rag Daddy visits for the last song; Break for Chinese Radio Hour; KRABgrass with Phil Andrus in the out-of-control-room; Mountain County Co-op
Part 4: More Mountain County Co-op; Phil Andrus doing the KRABgrass
Recording courtesy Dennis Flannigan, DF1016
Albert and Jake, playing with dulcimer, guitar, kazoo, doumbek, kalimba, and politically irreverent imaginations.
Recording collection of C Reinsch
Yet another another fund raising marathon (Apr 1 to 10, 1977) and Okie Doke comes in to play and raise some money. The players are Marc Bristol, guitar; Quentin Rhoton, washtub bass; and Dan Kersten, mandolin. The following week, on Apr 16, they were appearing at the Big Hat Ball in Carnation's Odd Fellows Hall.
We (Marc first, me second) think this recording is actually from two appearances on Patchwork, the first during the pledge drive marathon on Apr 9, and the second on the Saturday (May 28) evening before they were scheduled to play at the 1977 Folklife Festival. On May 21, Marc got a big spread in the Seattle Times (click here to read it).
The program producer formerly known as "Patchman" can be heard at 41:25 and again at 48:56.
Recording courtesy Marc Bristol
10:00 OTHER COUNTRY MUSIC
The Sons of the pioneers sing from saddle and sagebrush. Moskowitz presents classic and unusual music drawn from the diverse world of country music.
12:00 AFTER MIDNITE
Blues by Elmore James, "The Sky is Crying." But what color is the rain? blue, blue, blue the wiling chicago sound with neil normal.
Here are a couple of voices we haven't heard from yet. Known to his fans as Moskowitz, Bob Baron became known for the rare and peculiar, and comedic. According to Bill Virgin in an obituary for Baron (d. Aug 18, 2006) in the Seattle PI "His radio career started in earnest in this region in the mid-1970s at KRAB-FM, but he had stints at KMPS-FM, KRPM-FM, KKBY-FM and KYCW-AM. The Moskowitz name came from an artist's signature on a poster of a rabbit." In 2006 he had a show on KSER.
Nearly Normal Neil had a show on KRAB from 1980 until near the end, Apr 13, 1984.
Recording courtesy of Paul Dorpat
If you possess any souvenirs (program guides, tapes, or photos) or have a story about your experience with KRAB you are willing to share, please email firstname.lastname@example.org