After years of redevelopment-related doom staring it in the face, Capitol Hill’s beloved B&O Espresso and Bistro finally closed last month. B&O will live on, however, in a soon-to-open Ballard location, and might return within the new mixed use structure to be built on the old site. Word is another Hill coffee institution, the Bauhaus, might also resurface in Ballard.
Winged angel stage prop featured on Nirvana’s “In Utero” tour. Photo by Marlow Harris
Krist Novoselic speaks at the Nirvana: Taking Punk to the Masses opening party at Experience Music Project on Friday April 15th, 2011. Jacob McMurray masterminded this exciting exhibit, which is scheduled to remain in place at EMP for the next two years.
Dave Grohl, Kurt Cobain, and Krist Novoselic boarding an airplane, Australia, circa February 10, 1992. Courtesy of Shelli Hyrkas
Here’s a link to our full report on the opening party celebration, with our photos and videos, and also photos of Selected Artifact Images from the exhibit (like the one above) provided to us from EMP.
All about the Northwest Music scene
“Tracing the steps of “grunge” from its subversive inception in neighborhood basements to its global rise to the multimillion dollar pop culture phenomenon, HYPE! incorporates hilarious interviews with rare concert footage of bands like Nirvana, Soundgarden, Mudhoney, and The Melvins. Filmed over three years in 24 track digital sound, HYPE! casts a discriminating look on how the fuse was lit on the northwest rock.”
Watch the Entire Film for free thru the link below…
…and here’s another free rock and roll documentary that I really dug…
“Seven years in the making and culled from 2000 hours of footage, DIG! plunges into the underbelly of rock n roll, unearthing an incredible true story of success and self-destruction. Anton A. Newcombe of the Brian Jonestown Massacre and Courtney Taylor of the Dandy Warhols are star-crossed friends and bitter rivals – DIG! is the story of their loves and obsessions, gigs and recordings, arrests and death threats, uppers and downers, and the delicate balance between art and commerce.”
…and OK, here’s a free Bonus documentary
Kurt and Courtney
“Beginning as an observation of the music of Kurt Cobain and his Seattle/Portland contemporaries, Kurt and Courtney took a different turn when Courtney Love intervened. What emerges is a powerful examination of the destructive power of corporate America, economic depression and freedom of speech”
Maybe one more, Seattle boy…
Jimi Hendrix – Jimi
“The music career of Jimi Hendrix is well documented by films such as JIMI PLAYS BERKELEY, LIVE IN MONTEREY, and LIVE AT THE ISLE OF WIGHT amongst many others. This release takes a different tact, and explore the life behind the musical genius. Taking in his early days in Seattle, as well as his infamous stint in London, this is a comprehensive guide to Jimi’s life, that is fully endorsed by his family and many close friends.”
Please CLICK THE “Watch the Entire Film” link, or it’s “Title” below to see the film
There will be a free reception for Come Out, Come Out Tonight, the new exhibit of Charles Peterson photographs highlighting the history of the local grunge music scene, it’s musicians and personalities. See Peterson’s masterful captures of Seattle’s cultural icons.
Charles Peterson will be in attendance Thursday October 14th, 6:00 – 9:00pm. The Crocodile is located at 2200 Second Ave, Seattle.
We at Seattle Twist support Thunderbitch, a very cool project our friend Daniel R. Smith is putting together. Support Thunderbitch if you can, and you’ll get the exhibit catalog and have fun at the associated events, and get to see me there having fun too. Can’t go wrong! Just announced a super live music lineup for the opening, Aug. 5th. How about a set by VISQUEEN (7pm), plus BARBARA IRELAND + STONE GOSSARD (6pm) PLUS show by DAMIEN JURADO (8pm) to celebrate his new album St. Barlett…? Not to mention an appearance by the PISTON PACKIN’ MAMAS, Seattle’s all-girl vintage car & motorcycle club.
Thunderbitch: Women Designers in Northwest Rock 1966–2010
From DIY Xerox flyers for bands you’ve never heard of to big budget rock albums that sold in the millions, women designers have shaped the visual identity of music in the Pacific Northwest since at least the late 1960s. Some never considered themselves designers, simply making Xerox posters out of necessity to promote their bands. Some are artists and illustrators synonymous with various music genres and some are career graphic designers. Thunderbitch is the first attempt to document these women artists and their work. Taking its name from a pseudonym for Catherine Weinstein, an early rock poster maker in Portland, this exhibit spans the emergence of psychedelic rock, DIY punk and new wave, grunge, riot grrl and today’s contemporary silkscreen gig poster movement from Washington and Oregon.
The Exhibit Catalog
With so many previously undocumented Northwest posters, flyers, etc. in this exhibit, I want to share the full-color images, plus some of the unexpected stories gathered along the way. Like the life story of Catherine Weinstein, who raced cars in Portland in the ’60s, created psychedelic posters and in 1984 was convicted of attempted manslaughter. Like Seattle’s Judith Bissell, member of the Weather Underground who spent time in federal prison for two attempted bombings, and who created a precursor to feminist riot girl fanzines. And Kim Kalliber, founding member of the Piston Packin’ Mammas, Seattle’s all-girl, vintage car and motorcycle club, who designs rock posters and pinstripes hotrods.
Tether (tetherinc.com) has generously provided graphic design support for Thunderbitch, including the exhibit catalog. Mohawk Paper (mohawkpaper.com) has donated paper to print it on. Seattle’s woman-owned print shop, Girlie Press, has offered a deep discount on printing the 40 page, 7.5 x 9.75″, full-color catalog. All I have to do now is cover the remaining hard costs, $4,000 for the printing. Donate $20 or more and receive a copy! Or donate more and get great stuff, including recognition in print.
See the Exhibit
The exhibit runs August 5th – 28th, 2010, at Tether Design Gallery, 323 Occidental Ave South, Seattle, 98104. www.tetherdesigngallery.com
Lynda Barry, Judith Bissell, Deborah Brown, Rachel Carns, Neko Case, Chelsea Conboy, Cindy Crangle, Shari Critchley, Louise Crowley, Katha Dalton, Dotty DeCoster, Ellen Forney, Candy Fowler, Sharon Gannon, Marianne Goldin, Kathleen Hanna, Chanda Helzer, Jane Higgins, Lucy Huntzinger, Barbara Ireland, Kim Kalliber, Eva Lake, Molly Neuman, Lisa Orth, Tammy Packs, Gina Papen, Cielito Pascual, Emily Pothast, Robynne Raye, Mary Rivard, Helena Rogers, Rachel da Silva, Helene Silverman, Clara Sims-Mulligan, Heidi Snellman, Dana Squires, Kim Stringfellow, Ashleigh Talbot, Tobi Vail, Jeanne Wasserman, Joanna Wecht, Catherine Weinstein (aka Hedda Goldspace, aka Thunderbitch), Alice Wheeler, Bon Von Wheelie, Allison Wolfe
Object sculpture by Kim Kalliber of The Piston Packin’ Mamas.
Come up north on Saturday Feb 13th to celebrate the rebirth of a great neighborhood dive, Darrell’s Tavern at 18041 Aurora.
I’d passed by Darrell’s Tavern (just off Aurora Avenue, a bit south of Aurora Village) so many times, and never happened to find it open when it was convenient. Then when I started to make trips specifically to go there, I’d find it closed even at the most unexpected times. As I visited other area bars and chatted with the locals, I began to pick up pieces of the story of the aging, interesting owner — the CPA business upstairs (where he may or may not have lived for a while), the fleet of Lincoln Continentals in the parking lot, the Korean wife who spiced up the place for a few years, then left him, subsequently caring less and less about the bar as a going concern.
I despaired of ever being able to add Darrell’s to my Project K-Bar list of bars where I’ve had a drink. So I was delighted to be driving past one night and notice that it was actually open. And I was even more pleased to find that it had a new owner, Dan Dykman, who appreciates the character and the history of the place while simultaneously bringing some much needed upkeep and upgrades. Dan dropped a healthy sum just to fix, move, and preserve the old sign out front, and while cleaning up the classic 60s decor and neighborhood feel, he is bringing in live music, adding liquor, and making other improvements.
This Saturday Dan is having a “grand re-opening” party with live music at the bar “where your dad used to drink.” If you love great old neighborhood bars, you owe to yourself to drop by — on Saturday night if possible, or sometime not too long after that.
DarrellsTavern.com – 18041 Aurora Avenue North
The sweet sounds of Henry Boy kicked off a night rock n roll – The world debut of The Spooges comprised of Rob Morgan and The Fags – The 79ERS featuring The Enemy divided, part of The Dynette Set, a couple of members of The Frazz and many more. The Thirty Year Reunion Of THE GIRLS with the one-and-only Rick Smith topped off the evening of magic.
Here’s a teaser video below by jodavid. Click the “ALL VIDEOS” link to see lots more videos by Marlow Harris and JoDavid from the fun evening of music.
It’s Repeal Day!
We’ve reviewed some of the very oldest bars in Seattle, some out of the way and often overlooked prohibition era bars, and what may be the oldest continually operating gay bar in the country. Tonight’s the night you should celebrate your constitutional right to booze at one of these historic saloons or just your favorite neighborhood joint.
Below is a list of Seattle area bars that I’ve found which have origins preceding 1950 (and my best assessement of the bar’s date of origin, as per the guidelines I described in Part 3). Any one of them would make a fine Repeal Day setting, especially if you’ve never been to it before. If I have missed any, of if you have any information or questions on these old bars, please drop me a line at email@example.com.
[Update: This list has been amended considerably since the original publication of this post. See the Seattle's Oldest Bars page.]
Seattle’s Oldest Bars
- 1890 – Merchants Cafe
- 1892 – The Central Cafe/Saloon/Tavern (originally Watson Bros. Famous Restaurant, then “Seattle Bar” in 1901, and “Central Cafe” in 1919)
- 1890s – Doc Maynards Public House (refurbished 1890s pub, in the Pioneer Building, built 1891)
- 1907 – Jules Maes (building constructed in 1898, leased by Jules Maes himself in 1936)
- 1908? – The Virginia Bar/Inn
- 1933 – Athenian Inn (restaurant since 1909)
- 1933 – Five Point Cafe (restaurant since 1929)
- 1933 – Caroline Tavern (building constructed 1926)
- 1933 – The Cabin
- 1933? – Fifth Avenue Tavern
- 1934 – The Double Header (est. 1930?)
- 1934 – Blue Moon Tavern
- 1938 – The Buckaroo Tavern
- 1940 – Al’s Tavern
- 1945 – North City Tavern (Since at least 1945, probably 1933; oldest commercial building in north city (1929))
- 1948? – The Comet Tavern
- RIP – J & M Cafe and Cardroom (Closed 2009; J&M established in previous location 1889, move to recent location in 1902)
This post continues the discussion of some of Seattle’s oldest bars in honor of the upcoming anniversary of the repeal of Prohibition (Sat. Dec 5).
The Oldest Bar in Seattle
Establishing the date of origin of Seattle’s oldest bars and determining which is the oldest bar in Seattle is a more complex undertaking than it may seem. Not only do a few of these dates rely on hearsay history or just dates written on old photos, but the decision is sometimes further complicated by a succession of different owners and businesses in the space, which may or may not have retained the name and may or may not have been bars at all. Of course if we require that an establishment has been continuously running as a (legal) bar, then none can date further back than the ratification of the 21st Amendment in December 1933. But I mark a contemporary bar’s start date as either 1) the earliest date a bar was established in the same physical space (regardless of any non-bar businesses intervening between then and now); or 2) the earliest date some location first used a continuously maintained business name. Let’s first discuss one of my favorite bars, and one which commonly makes the claim to Seattle’s oldest.
Jules Maes is fairly commonly reported as having been established in 1888, and ergo the oldest bar in Seattle’s current city limits. This date is displayed prominently in signs within the bar itself, and various media reports have Jules Maes himself running a saloon/speakeasy from the location since that date. However, I have found little evidence to confirm that claim, and based on the most comprehensive histories I could find, this cannot be true. The building was constructed in 1898, it was first a saloon in 1907, and it was first leased to Jules Maes in 1936 (Jules attended and/or owned other bars in the area in the early 1900s, but not earlier). Thus I see no credible way to date it back to 1888, and I count its date of origin as a bar on 1907. I do so even though it has not been a bar at all times since that date (of course no building was officially a bar through Prohibition) and even though Jules Maes himself did not lease it (and rename it) until 1936.
Even though I don’t count Jules as Seattle’s oldest, I do think that more than any other bar it does preserve that great vintage saloon feel. And I am delighted that it remains in business despite many scares, such as the time of its sale in 2000 when it was widely assumed that it would be shut down as a bar. And if any bar in Seattle would be haunted, surely it would be Jules Maes, which inspired a recent ghost story set in the joint written by Funi Daniels
The Pioneer Square Elders
If we place the start date of Jules Maes at 1907 or later, where does that leave the search for Seattle’s oldest bar? From what I can find, it leaves us smack in the middle of the tourists among the old Pioneer Square classics: Merchants Cafe (1890), the Central Saloon/Tavern (1892), Doc Maynards (1890s) and the J&M Cafe (1889-2009). Of course Merchants too claims to be the oldest bar in Seattle, and indeed the oldest restaurant on the West coast continually running in its current location. The claim looks fairly well-founded, although “continually running” should be used with caution, e.g. in 2006 the business was shut down for several months after the landlord evicted the owner and did some remodeling. Merchants arose, as we all know, out of the ashes of the Great Seattle Fire of 1889. It was designed by W. E. Boone (a direct descendent of Daniel Boone) in “a very pared down version of the Victorian style with elements of Richardsonian Romanesque/ early Chicago School.” (seattle.gov) Merchants’ history and its grand 30-foot bar make it a fine choice for your Repeal Day celebration.
Doc Maynard’s was not actually owned by Doc Maynard, but it is routinely refered to as occupying the refurbished space of an 1890s public house, and this seems quite credible given that it is in the Pioneer Building, which was built in 1891. Dating “Doc Maynard’s” itself back to the date of this earlier pub may be a bit questionable, but this is how I mark it given the guidelines described above. The Central was established in 1892 as “Watson Bros. Famous Restaurant,” and claims to be the “oldest saloon in Seattle,” (perhaps because Merchants refers to itself as a “cafe”?). Watson Bros. was renamed “The Seattle Bar” in 1901, and then again to the “Central Cafe” in 1919. And while it may not be particularly relevant to Prohibition, the Central of course played a much larger role in recent Seattle music history, as throughout the 80s it was the steadiest of a very small number of clubs that would regularly host interesting music, including many fondly remembered sets by the little known local bands Nirvana, Mudhoney, Alice in Chains, and Soundgarden, as well as college station favorites like Sonic Youth and Janes Addiction.
The J&M Cafe could have made its own claim to being Seattle’s oldest bar. It was clearly in the recent location by 1906, and it is said that Messrs. Jamison and McFarland opened their bar in 1889 and moved it into the “new” location in 1902. The J&M Cafe didn’t attract a sort of crowd I prefer, but it always seemed packed on weekend nights, which made it all the more shocking when it closed earlier this year. While I won’t miss the frat-like crowd and the cover bands, I will miss its grand Austrian mahogany bar and cathedral ceilings. The J&M closing reminds us how suddenly these venerable establishments can disappear forever, so go out and support your local saloon on Repeal Day!
In honor of this Saturday’s anniversary of the repeal of Prohibition, we continue the discussion of the oldest bars in the Seattle area. This post again focuses on some of the lesser known historic bars of the area.
The Cabin – Est. 1933 – Shoreline
The Cabin is in a now suburban neighborhood where you’d never stumble upon it if you weren’t seeking it explicitly or lived next door. But it was a working port with a few summer homes when the structure was built in 1927, and when, in 1933 it received one of the first five or six post-prohibition liquor licenses in the state of Washington, and became what is now the oldest continually running business in Shoreline.
The Cabin has better than average tavern food, a good selection of beers and standard drinks, and a very nice patio area where you can see the sound. But what gives the place it’s essential character is the undulating floor and bar as the place has unevenly settled over the years after being moved on (and apparently left on) logs. The unique slant — which may make one feel wobbly even before your first drink — makes The Cabin well worth a drive to Richmond Beach.
The Cabin Tavern – 19322 Richmond Beach Dr NW., Shoreline, WA
The Caroline Tavern – Est. 1933 – Lake City
Lake City’s Caroline Tavern is another three-quarters-of-a-century-old bar that is virtually hiding in a suburban neighborhood (on 15th Ave NE across from the Jackson Park golf course). The Caroline not only feels like a home, it very much looks like an ordinary home from the outside. They also snagged one of the earliest liquor licenses after Prohibition and has been serving ever since. Among those served is said to be the great Will Rogers, in 1935.
The Caroline Tavern – 13702 15th Avenue Northeast, Seattle, WA
Old 5th Avenue Tavern – Est. 1933? – Maple Leaf
I could not find any real age information on the 5th Ave., but it is definitely one of Seattle’s oldest bars, and James, the bartender, was quite confident it dated back to very near the end of Prohibition. In any case, it’s worth a trip for the company and conversation, and for the trippy mural around the pool table in the back room.
The Old 5th Ave. Tavern – 8507 5th Avenue Northeast, Seattle, WA
The 18th Amendment has been repealed — go out and support these historic places. In Part 3 we’ll discuss the very oldest bars in Seattle. Cheers!
Conveniently landing on a Saturday this year, December 5th marks the highpoint of the holiday season — the 76th anniversary of the ratification of the 21st Amendment and the repeal of Prohibition. Why not mark the occasion at one or two of Seattle’s oldest bars — establishments that have been around since the end of prohibition and sometimes longer? The Seattle area has a number of bars dating back to 1933 or 1934 (and earlier), and not all of them are in Pioneer Square or the Pike Place Market areas, or particularly well known.
Let’s begin with some historical sites that even many long-time locals tend to miss.
The Double Header – 407 2nd Ave – Bar since 1934
Seattle now has the second largest LBGT community in the U.S., but relatively few people recognize that hidden behind an undistinguished dive exterior in Pioneer Square is a bar that once was the gay mecca of the west coast, and which has a solid claim to be the oldest continually running gay bar in the country. “Mecca” perhaps more aptly applied to the bar downstairs, the infamous “Casino” in the space currently occupied by Heavens nightclub, and the Double Header has not been dominated by gay patrons since gay culture shifted to Capitol Hill in the 70s. But it retains a mixed, if smaller, straighter, and more sedate crowd, and remains a silent testament to drag queens dancing on tables, the occasional fights between lesbians and visiting sailors, and celebrity visitors from Rudolph Nureyev to Johnny Ray to Margot Fonteyn to Tallulah Bankhead (who is said to have entered ringing a cowbell and shouting, “Avon calling all you beautiful mother ****ers!”
Here is a snippet from HistoryLink.org, which quotes from Paulson and Simpson’s “An evening at the Garden of Allah:”
- In most cities, men were not allowed to dance together. The Casino paid Seattle policemen “protection money” and there men danced happily with other men. Nicknamed “Madame Peabody’s Dancing Academy for Young Ladies,” the Casino was considered the most open place for gays on the West Coast. Shortly after the Casino opened, a new patron, Vilma (1912-1993) visited the Pool Room. “Vilma,” one of Seattle’s “best known gay men,” arrived in Seattle in 1930. He worked in the Double Header Tavern, a gay bar, on the weekends until the illness that led to his death in 1993. He was interviewed in the early 1990s. Following is a description of his first visit:
“Two friends of mine [had] visited Seattle and raved about it. That’s all I heard, Seattle, Seattle, Seattle and this fabulous place called the Casino and all the neat kids there…. The Casino was the only place on the West Coast that was so open and free for gay people. But John [Delevitti] paid off the police; he was good at working the payoff system.”
More on Seattle’s oldest bars over the next few days.
More information on the Double Header:
More photos from the Double Header
A list of Seattle’s oldest bars
A very informative book on the history of gay bars and culture in Seattle is An evening at the Garden of Allah: a gay cabaret in Seattle, by Don Paulson, Roger Simpson. Used copies are available on Amazon and a portion of the book is available online here Entertaining snippets of Double Header and Casino history, usually relying in large part of the Paulson’s work, can be found at SGN, historylink, historylink again and the Seattle PI.