Bluegrass to KRABgrass
American traditional, Folk, Fiddle, Banjo, Old Timey, Country
Program guide Number 1 Feb 1963 has The Folk Blues drawn from Mrs G Wallace (Kay) Umphry's collection of 78's, and Scots Folk Music from the University of British Columbia; In Spring 1963 a biweekly Live Folk Song Concert is hosted Sunday nights by Judy Buck; KPFA sends up tapes of Rolf Kahn hosting a series in 1964; Mike Russo and Roger Wheeler appear live in the KRAB studio Aug 1964; Bluegrass sprouts in 1964, nurtured by Ron Ginther, with a program every other week, becoming monthly in 1965. In February of 1966 he turns the turntables over to Dave Wertz, who creates great havoc with his collection of stories and double entendre. "Laughin' Dave" resumes the every other week schedule. Oct 1967 Linda and Leonard Good run Folk Music: "a mishmash of anything from anywhere". For a few weeks in Jun 1968 Dave goes on vacation, so Ramblin' Charlie Green, Vivian and Phil Williams take a turn at it. Dave comes back and the Tall Timber Boys move to another night. He is joined in July by straight man Jim Conrad. The Country Victrola starts alternating with Tall Timber on Thursday nights. At some point Dave started calling it "mountain music", and someone called him the Prime minister of the Funk Republic. And then on December 24, 1968 somebody named Tiny Freeman, with hands and fingers that seemed out of proportion to the "tiny" knobs and switches of the controls, wearing a locomotive engineer's cap and carrying enough beer to swamp a gut bucket, gets behind the board with a flat bed full of bluegrass and banjos. Until Fall of 1969 Wertz and Freeman alternate, then the show with Freeman moves to Saturday afternoon, a little early in the day for a hard partier. In 1970 Tiny seeks his fortune in California via tug boating, so Phil Williams and the Folklore Society take another crack at it. But he's back in April with food-stomping and lip-smacking. In August the show is moved to 11:00pm Saturday night. Did I say it is weekly now? May 1971 it moves to 10:00pm. July 1973, Tiny leaves, and the Peanut Special rolls in with Mike Toennessen conducting at 9:00pm still on Saturday where it will remain for the next 12 years. It is late 1974 and phone lines are run down to the Inside Passage in Pioneer Square which is just beginning to be wired for electricity. Every week there is a live show from the Passage. It could be Willow Creek Ramblers, Tall Timber, or Entropy Service. Sometime in 1975 the lawn turned blue and walked sideways - The Saturday fiddle and banjo show started being called Bluegrass and KRABgrass. If it is KRABgrass, it must be Dennis Flannigan. As if Flannigan's show wasn't enough, in 1976 there was also Thane Mitchell and Bill Scott with TrueGrass and a Folk Show Tuesday nights with a host of hosts; Margo Murphy Jun 1977 The Folk Show, Charlie Sharpe Jun 1977 The Folk Show, Neil Strassman Jun 1979 KRABgrass, Frank Davidson, Aug 1979 Folk Show, Eric Hummel Aug 1979 does KRABgrass, Tiny returns May 1982 returns and subs for Flannigan, Phil Andrus Jun 1973 American Folk Music, Paul Roepke Dec 1979, Kevin Saunders May 1980, Bob LaClair Sep 1979, Jamie Hix Jul 1980, Kathy Cody does KRABgrass Country for a marathon Oct 1980, Bill Pierce Mar 1983, Bryan Johnson Jun 1983, Shirley Oberg Feb 1984.....
Finger-picked Guitar Folk and Blues, Roger Perkins and Nancy Keith live at KRAB - KRAB Apr 12, 1963
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
Bluegrass with Dave Wertz - Grand Old Uproar - KRAB Jan 30, 1968
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
A KRAB Hootenanny - KRAB 1969 to 1970
"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
Bluegrass with Tiny Freeman - KRAB Jul 15, 1969
The listing in guide Nbr 170 for Jul 15, 1969 says Bluegrass - with Tiny Freeman and Dave Wertz, but it meant with Tiny Freeman or Dave Wertz. They were alternating, or, to judge from this recording, Dave was substituting when Tiny was working elsewhere.
Although the tape label has nothing to indicate the air date, Tiny left a clue: He says that someone brought in a "bunch of AP stuff from the newswires" and then proceeds to read the intro of a story about a Seattle police officer announcing his candidacy for mayor. A search of the Seattle Times revealed that on Jul 15, 1969 Ross S Roddam announced he was running for mayor. Click on tape label thumbnail to see the article.
This program seems much more old-timey acoustic than the electrified bluegrass of later years.
Recording courtesy of the Jack Straw Foundation, JSF M0482
Bluegrass with Tiny Freeman - KRAB Sep 13, 1969
(On Aug 9, 1969 the bluegrass show and Tiny had moved to 3:00 pm Saturday afternoons. Not sure who was writing the program guide descriptions.)
Recording courtesy of the Jack Straw Foundation, JSF M0483
Bluegrass with Tiny Freeman - 1970 - 1973?
First he was on Tuesday nights (Doughnut Shop, 1968), then Wednesday, then Sunday afternoons, then Saturday afternoons (Fire Station 25), then Saturday nights alternating with Dave Wertz, then Saturday on his own, and after all that he was still always willing to sit in at a moments notice. Listeners, musicians, and assorted other characters would surround and egg him on as he regaled them with no end of slightly salacious jokes. And the musicians, whom Tiny had forgotten he had invited, would show up with their instruments and it would be live till dawn, with Tiny "dragging his fiddles, guitars, banjos, gut buckets and empties behind him." (Guide 172)
Here’s an excerpt of live music with Tiny in the wheelhouse, courtesy of Dennis “KRABgrass” Flannigan, made sometime before 1974. Could be at the Doughnut Shop or it could be at the Fire Station. The vocalist is Sandy Willard. About the band, Tiny is as perplexed as we are.
Tiny also sat in with Dennis and others on The Penultimate KRABgrass-April 1984.
Recording from the collection of Dennis Flannigan, DF1002
Old Time Music with John Burke - KRAB 1971 - 1973
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 with Tiny Freeman and his guests from Bremerton - KRAB Apr 10, 1971
Someone (can you make out his name?) wrote to Tiny and told him about some musicians in Bremerton that ought to be on his show. So, Tiny being Tiny, here they are: Ronnie Wallbar, a 13 year old fiddle player from Port Orchard; Tim Berry, banjo; Henry Mitchell, fiddle; Joe Hanson, fiddle; Boyce Stuckey, fiddle; Frank ?, banjo; Ed Markham, accordian.
Recording courtesy Dennis Flannigan, DF1019
Bluegrass with Tiny Freeman - Jul 3, 1971
Vintage Tiny from the Doughnut Shop. Dick Shurman (his blues show normally preceding Tiny) has taken the summer off, so Tiny has appropriated some of Dick's time for old timey mountain music. This will later give him an opportunity to make a beer run. Tiny's got a summer cold, and seems a little subdued as he talks about judging the Pike Place soapbox derby, where he will be wearing his derby, and about a bluegrass shindig happening on the 25th at a secret location on Cherry Valley Road in Duval. There will be shin kicking and eats for those inclined.
This, like everything else heard on KRAB before 1976, is in marvelous monophonic.
Recording from the collection of Dennis Flannigan, DF0271
Bluegrass with Tiny Freeman and the Tall Timber String Band - KRAB Feb 20, 1972
Tiny's having a good time with Phil (mandolin) and Vivian Williams (fiddle), Barney Munger (5 string bass), Lou Harrington (bass), and Dick Marvin (guitar).
Dennis' notes indicate this was recorded in the AM, so this is probably the show that started at 10:00pm on Saturday the 19th.
Recording courtesy of Dennis Flannigan (5" reel), DF1004
She Packed Up My Heart and Took a Kenworth to Tulsa - Bluegrass with Tiny Freeman - KRAB Apr 29, 1972
Is it payola? Did Tiny sell out for a beer.....or a twelve-pack? Well, it is marathon time, and Tiny has a special guest: "Billy Joe Stillwell", who has already been outed by Vic Stredicke and revealed to be the "alter ego" of Tom Murphy of KOL (apparently an habitue of the same dives frequented by Mr Freeman). It took some searching to find a 45 of "Kenworth to Tulsa" on a Swedish used book and vinyl record site,where it can be had for 35 Krona ($5.29). Buyer beware.
Recording courtesy of the Jack Straw Foundation, JSF M1550
Entropy Service at the Inside Passage, 1974
This recording may be from a couple of shows at the Inside Passage (Tavern in Pioneer Square, now defunct). "Entropy Service", composed of Peter Langston, Linda Waterfall, Judy Cook, and J B White, performed at the Passage every Wednesday. They must also have done the occasional Friday to be included in KRAB's live broadcast. For more about them, and some photos, see the Entropy Service web site.
Singin’ Songs to Myself
Recordings courtesy Bruce Kirkman and Robert Weppner
The Peanut Special, hosted by Mike Toennessen - Apr 13, 1974
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 from the Inside Passage - Willow Creek Ramblers and The Old Hat Band - KRAB Nov 1 and 8, 1974
In the Fall of 1974, shortly after the success of the first broadcast of the NW Regional Folklife Festival, KRAB 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”.
The Willow Creek Ramblers (Dick Gordon, Thane Mitchell, Bill Scott, and Phil Poth) and Tall Timber String Band were regulars, alternating Friday nights at the Passage. It is likely that The Old Hat Band (John Burke, Ellen Bush, and Jeff Thorne joined by Phil Williams on this occasion) filled in for one of Tall Timber's scheduled appearances. On Nov 1st Willow Creek had technical difficulties, which eventually were fixed by Phil Williams. Oh well.
Announcing for KRAB at the Passage is Leila Gorbman. KRAB technical support was Ken Heller. Where is he now?
Recording courtesy Dennis Flannigan, DF1007
Country Fiddling with Frank Ferrel talking with Mark and Michelle O'Connor - KRAB May 19, 1975
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
Dulcimer Deathwatch – Robert Force and Albert D'ossché - Live at KRAB, May 24, 1975
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 Turkey LIfter Marathon - A Night of Live Bluegrass Hosted by the Three Phils: Andrus, Williams and Bannon - KRAB Nov 10, 1975
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 D'ossché and Jake Bell with a Bicentennial performance - KRAB Live Jul 4, 1976
Albert and Jake, playing with dulcimer, guitar, kazoo, doumbek, kalimba, and politically irreverent imaginations.
Recording collection of C Reinsch
Okie Doke String Band Live on Patchwork - KRAB Apr 9, 1977
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
Late on a Wednesday Night in 1981......Moskowitz and Nearly Normal Neil - KRAB Feb 18, 1981
10:00 OTHER COUNTRY MUSIC
12:00 AFTER MIDNITE
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