KRABgrass with Dennis Flannigan
Somewhere there is a program guide that lists an interview of a young freedom rider who came to KRAB in 1964 shortly after returning from Mississippi. For now though, the earliest Dennis Flannigan appears in our program guide collection is Feb of 1972 with a wanted ad for "Old Timey Music":
He no longer lives at that address, so please don't pester the current residents.
He began to be included on the volunteer list in early 1975 when the only description for the Saturday Tar Heels show was "Bluegrass". It might have happened in Apr (the guide is missing), but it was official by May of 1975: "KRABGRASS with Dennis Flannigan and Harry St Amand" had arrived. For the following nine years he played records, interviewed younger (Mark O'Connor) and older (Sheriff Tex) musicians, produced live music specials, and all the while kept the tape recorder running. Which is to say we have a lot of recordings courtesy of Dennis Flannigan of both his programs and other American traditional music.
What is "KRABgrass"? If I understand correctly, the KRABgrass title gave Dennis the freedom to stray from playing pure bluegrass (whatever that might be). So it was a bit of old timey, hokum, country, novelty, and, yes, sometimes bluegrass. Artis the Spoonman, Baby Gramps, and the Cackle Sisters were regulars.
On this page is a collection of programs that Dennis hosted. Elsewhere on the site are other recordings from the Dennis Flannigan collection that people either copied for him or he saved off the air, from the NW Regional Folklife Festival or other favorite programs.
An Old Timey Christmas Tape - Dennis Flannigan's Traditional Ozarkian Hill Country Production - undated
One of a number of tapes borrowed from Mr Flannigan. The whole thing was probably not broadcast on KRAB, but he may have played some of them. The playlist is typed on Dennis's KRABgrass letterhead, so it has some appearance of officialness.
Lulu Belle, Scotty, Grandpa Jones, Gene Autrey, Bob Wills, and all the rest of your holiday favorites.
Recording courtesy Dennis Flannigan, DF0066
KRABgrass Live with the Arkansas Trawlers, Jeff and Ellen Thorne - undated
The "Arkansas Trawlers", made up of Jeff Thorne, guitar; Ellen Thorne, banjo; and Tom Moran, mandolin and guitar perform during a live KRABgrass show. Dennis Flannigan hosts. No date on the tape label. Somewhat later, Jeff and Ellen Thorne were two thirds of The Old Hat Band.
Recording from the collection of Dennis Flannigan, DF0253
KRABgrass Live from the Fiddle Shop - KRAB, Aug 16, 1975
Dennis Flannigan's KRABgrass has a special live broadcast from Frank Ferrel's Fiddle Shop. Did Frank pay for the phone line?
Here are Joe Pancerzewski, Vivian Williams, Phil Williams, Sandra Dean, Thane Mitchell, Mark Graham, John Hodges, Dick Marvin, Michael Murphy, Colin Manahan, Mike Saunders, and hosting in the Fiddle Shop, Frank Ferrel
Were you there? What do you remember? Is there anything you can share? A picture or a memory? Send us an email firstname.lastname@example.org
Recording from the collection of Dennis Flannigan, DF0078 and DF0079
Champion Fiddler Mark O'Conner talking with Dennis Flannigan - KRAB January 25, 1977
Here is Mark O'Conner talking with Dennis Flannigan about fiddle styles, fiddlers, and his latest album.
Recording from the collection of Dennis Flannigan, DF0242
Okie Doke String Band Live on KRABgrass - Jan 14, 1978
Dennis Flannigan presents finger pickers, nose pickers and skillet lickers.
Dennis arrived prepared tonight, wearing a parka and thermals, but they keep rubbing against the microphone.
The trio is composed of Marc Bristol, guitar; Quentin Rhoton, washtub bass; and Dan Kersten, guitar and dobro and mandolin.
Note: The first minute is a little rough, with a couple of dropouts, but it quickly improves.
Recording courtesy of Marc Bristol, MB0002
Yet another KRABgrass Marathon: Live and In Person, The Gypsy Gyppo String Band - Apr 1, 1978
Dennis Flannigan careens on into the first night of the KRAB marathon with special guest stars The Hurricane Ridgerunners, and Warren Mayo and Jerry Mitchell from the remnants of the Gypsy Gyppo String Band. The Ridge runners - composed of Jack Link, Jerry Gallagher and Scott Nygaard - will be donating their talents to beef up the KRAB coffers, and trading sets with Jerry and Warren (fresh from entertaining at Morningtown's birthday party!), no mean musicians themselves. Tune in for bluegrass heaven!
The Gypsy Gyppos and Hurricane Ridge Runners are dividing their affections between KRAB and Morningtown, leaving dollops of tomato sauce as they go. About 30 years after this session, John Ross wrote this in Seattle Met Entertainment, "50 Most Influential Musicians", Dec 9, 2008:
"Inspired by the rural fiddlers, banjo pickers, and country bands who recorded and performed before World War II, the Gypsy Gyppos played string band music with a ’60s sensibility that respected the old-timers’ style but treated it as source material rather than holy writ. Though carriers of the Southern mountain tradition, they didn’t try to duplicate the originals note for note. In the mid-1970s the Gyppo band turned on a whole new generation of urban enthusiasts—who had never been anywhere near old Grange halls or rural community centers—to square and contra dances by holding them in town. Audiences at the Gyppos’ shows were young computer programmers and social workers in blue jeans and long skirts; they had almost nothing in common with the organized square dance club whose members sported string ties and fancy shirts or crinolines under pastel dresses. The band’s Monday Night Dance was the starting point for today’s thriving dance scene; it continues with other bands to this day. The dances in the Folklife Festival’s Roadhouse, where thousands swing their partners in contras and squares every year, owe their origins to the Gyppo band’s influence. —John Ross"
Technically, this recording sounds as if it might have been digitized from my borrowed Tascam. But it wasn't.
Recording courtesy Dennis Flannigan, DF1008
KRABgrass Marathon - Tall Timber and Friends Live - KRAB Apr 9, 1978
It is another fund raising marathon and everybody gets in the act trying to get the money to pay the bills. Dennis Flannigan hosts, with Phil Andrus in pledge central; Tiny Freeman and Tall Timber show up on tape from a 1971 program, and later in person.
Beginning with Tall Timber (Vivian and Phil Williams, fiddle and mandolin respectively; Barny Munger, banjo; Lou Harrington, bass; Dick Marvin, guitar) takes requests.
Followed by the No-name Band comprised of Bill Scott, banjo; Thane Mitchell, guitar; Stu Harrick, mandolin; Daryl McMichael, bass; Ken Landruff, banjo.
The Tennesseans (Hank English and Harley Worthington) are next, joined by Tall Timber. Followed by Paul Gillingham of the Willow Creek Ramblers. Tiny then arrives and occupies the music studio after which it is impossible to understand how it can hold all those people.
Do you know any of these musicians? Please let them know their performances are on www.krabarchive.com.
There are occasional blips, bleeps, and a hum with clicks that seems to be coming from one of the music studio microphones.
Recording from the collection of Dennis Flannigan, DF0290 and DF0291
KRABgrass - The Jimmie Rodgers Memorial Show, Live on KRAB May 20, 1978
A Tribute to Jimmie Rogers: A five-hour special! May marks the 45th anniversary of Jimmie Rogers' death. Krabgrass brings you a five-hour tribute with Jimmie's music, and lots of his imitators from Gene Autrey to Merle Haggard. We promise a few surprises and even a few yodel lessons for the shower singers.
Yes, his name was misspelled in the program guide. If you don't know them already, by the end of the show you will know the words to "T for Texas" (Blue Yodel No 1). "The Screamers" are not heard. Begins with the last 2 minutes of the previous program "The Mouldy Fig" with Val Golding. (For information about the program that followed KRABgrass on May 20/21, 1978 see THE SCREAMERS' WEST COAST TOUR)
Dennis Flannigan hosts a live free-for-all with a number of Washington State musicians who perform material of Jimmie Rodgers. These include: Earl Jones of Moses Lake; Tom Lindsey of Guemes Island; Doug Bright, Hugh Panchet, Jerry Burns, Hugh Panchet, Sue Thompson, Hank Bradley, and Libby, all of Seattle.
Recording from the collection of Dennis Flannigan, DF0262, DF0263, DF1033 (Looks like the boxes for reels 263 and 1033 at some time were switched, but will not change that now.)
The Okie Doke String Band Live on KRABgrass with Dennis Flannigan - KRAB Nov 11, 1978
According to the program guide, this show was to be songs of railroading, "hobos and brakemen", but it seems that was put off once the Okie Doke String Band took over the music studio.
Quentin Rhoton, washtub; Larry "Mr Jugs" VanOver, lead vocal and jug; Marc Bristol, washboard; Dan Kersten, 2nd lead vocal and guitar.
Pictured at right are the Okie Doke's in KRAB studio.
Recording from the collection of Dennis Flannigan, DF0279; Photo courtesy PNWbands.com
KRABgrass with Dennis Flannigan interviewing Frank Ferrel - KRAB Mar 3, 1979
Dennis plays a couple of songs from the Byron Berline and Mark O'Connor concert at the Market School on Feb 24, 1979. Then Dennis and Frank talk about musicians, records, and the Market School, while playing samples from the records.
Recording courtesy Dennis Flannigan, DF1018
KRABgrass Marathon with Dennis Flannigan - KRAB Apr 23, 1979
Dennis hosts a brief memorial for Mr Ed. He is then joined live in the studio by Artis the Spoonman, who plays the spoons and miscellaneous other cutlery. Then Dennis talks with Sheriff Tex (Texas Jim Lewis), all the while trying to raise some money.
Recording courtesy Dennis Flannigan, DF0288 and DF02890
KRABgrass with Dennis Flannigan - A Tribute to Lester Flatt - May 12, 1979
Lester Flatt died on Friday, May 11, 1979. So the greater part of Dennis Flannigan's program the next evening became a tribute to Lester Flatt. Also featured is "the last half hour of the Sherriff Tex interview", which he started during the marathon Apr 23, 1979, and which can be found here.
Recording courtesy Dennis Flannigan, DF1009
KRABGrass - Dennis Flannigan's "Last Show" - KRAB June 2, 1979
Dennis plays 78's and runs out of tape before the tearful farewell. The tape label says "June 1, 1979", but it must've actually been June 2nd as the 1st was not a Saturday. Turned out, of course, it wasn't his last "last" show. So far, all we have is the second half, but part one may eventually surface as Dennis works his way through his basement.
Recording from the collection of Dennis Flannigan, DF0177B
KRABgrass Christmas - KRAB Dec 15, 1979
Just like it avoided rock, KRAB avoided "Christmas music" and any other popular music played to distraction by mainstream radio, elevator, or supermarket. Every other radio station you tuned to would be playing the stuff ad nauseam: On KING-FM it was either "Messiah", the flitting of the Sugar-Plum Fairies, Robert Shaw, or the Bach Oratorio; Elsewhere it would be the Chipmunks, Elvis, Bing, or the Carpenters. The best you could hope for would be Otis Redding's White Christmas.
So, KRAB was the place to go if you wished to avoid the worst of the holidays.
The bluegrass folk, though, were always breaking rules, and the winter season was no exception. All we have of Dennis Flannigan's 3 hour (reduced to 2 hour by request of management) KRABgrass spectacular is 30 minutes, but it is better than nothing. (Note: Blues programmers sometimes broke the rule too. Who can forget Butterbeans and Susie with "Papa ain't no Santa Claus (and mama ain't no Christmas Tree"?)
Recording from the collection of Dennis Flannigan, DF1010
KRABgrass with Dennis Flannigan and Three Damp Duck Live in Studio - KRAB Oct 11, 1980
Three Damp Duck (pictured below) is Rick Tuel, Mary Litchfield, and J W McClure. This was recorded and broadcast from KRAB's 23rd and Jackson studios, where the technical glitches were still being turned into enhancements.
Recording courtesy Dennis Flanningan, DF1021
KRABgrass with the Tall Timber String Band, and a bit of Bill Monroe - KRAB Nov 1, 1980
Phil Williams passed away in February 2017. Phil's history at KRAB goes back to at least 1968. For someone who had his hands, and mind, in the creation and maintenance of so many NW traditions, he was the most unassuming and least pretentious one could imagine. I suspect that many will remember him from the public performances of Tall Timber, where his joy in the music and culture was easy to see. But he will also be remembered for the institutions he left, as he was one of the founders of the Seattle Folklore Society, a co-founder of the Seattle NW Regional Folklife Festival, he and Vivian started Voyager Records, and he served on the KRAB Board of Directors. See Seattle Times.
There is a lot of Tall Timber in the archives, going back to the 1960s. This is the most recent we have found so far, recorded at KRAB's 23rd and Jackson studios in Nov 1980, the day before Tall Timber opened for Bill Monroe. Phil is wearing his handpainted Mount Rushmore necktie, and is playing mandolin and bass and vocals; Vivian Williams, fiddle and vocals; Sue Thompson, guitar and vocals; and Barney Munger, banjo and bass.
Recording courtesy of Dennis Flannigan, DF1064
KRABgrass with Amen Corner and the Hillbilly Sunday Band with Live Bluegrass Gospel - KRAB Feb 7, 1981
The Hillbilly Sunday Band joins Dennis for an all gospel bluegrass show live. Host Dennis Flannigan.
The show leads off with Three Damp Duck, recorded at a previous performance, with "I'd Rather Be A Turkey from Tacoma".
Then (part 1-1) it is The Hillbilly Sunday Band, about which little is known, including the spelling of their names: Dwayne Schin, guitar; Rick Arons, banjo; Hal Johnson, mandolin; Mary Ellen Burns, autoharp; Jerry Burns, bass. If you know of them, please share any corrections.
The next (part 1-2) band is Amen Corner, comprised of Justin Petersen, guitar and banjo; Kathy Peterson, vocals; Steve Davis, bass; and Mary Davis, vocals. Justin Petersen died in 2005, and the following was published in the Everett Herald:
Justin was a music lover since childhood. At age five, he built a banjo from an ice cream bucket. When he was a bit older, he got a ukulele and taught himself to play in all the keys. At age sixteen, he got his first banjo from Phil Williams and learned to frail the banjo from Pete Seeger books and records.
In 1974, he and his wife, Kathy, and Steve and Mary Davis formed the group Amen Corner. They performed gospel, folk, and old time country music. They played in churches, at the Folklife Festival, the Darrington Bluegrass Festival, and Coombs British Columbia Music Festival on Vancouver Island. Over the years they were joined by many other musicians, including Michael Wooten, Kristen Forster, Dan VanderPool, Ralph Sherrill, Justin and Kathy's daughters, Katie and Ellie, and son-in-law, Jim Meenk.
Justin's special gift and love was in the area of old time music. Informal and family sessions were much more a part of his life than performing on stage, and it was always fun to hear him sing one of the hundreds of songs he had written or arranged. A cassette tape "Fame Apart" was produced in 1991 by Voyager Records, and Amen Corner was included on the Rounder Records compact disc, "American Fogies".
The program wraps up (parts 2-1 and 2-2) with the return of the Hillbilly Sunday Band.
Recording courtesy of Dennis Flannigan, DF1265
The Last(?) Live KRABgrass, Baby Gramps and Guests - KRAB Nov 19, 1983
For awhile it seemed as almost every KRABgrass was "the final" or "the last", but Dennis persisted until near the very end. The tapes are still being digitized, so we're not sure if there was another show with live music before Apr 1984. This one is about six months before. Tiny Freeman does a pitch for a show at the Comet Tavern Monday Nov 21, which with the help of a perpetual calendar narrowed it down to either 1976 or 1983. It took assistance from Marc Bristol, and email from Lindsay Haisley and Orville Johnson to settle on Nov 5 or 19 of 1983. Which means this was produced at KRAB's last location, 23rd and Jackson - almost 4 hours of live music.
Guests include Lindsey Haisley (guitar and vocal); Ray Ashby (vocal); Tiny Freeman (jug); Marty LePore (dobro), Orville Johnson, and others. See the Tape Label and Notes (on right) for musical numbers on part 2
Recordings courtesy of Dennis Flannigan, DF1013 and DF1014
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 email@example.com