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Bluegrass with Tiny Freeman

If you have put off your Christmas shopping because you think your local PBS (TV) station is going to be offering this collection as a premium, forget it! They are busy with Karen Carpenter and John Denver, Lawrence Welk and Celtic Woman, or Perry Como and vitamins to make your brain smart.

The only place you are going to hear Tiny Freeman is in the KRAB Archive, and the cost now is just right since the president announced everyone in America is "loaded up with money."

Tiny wasn't the only volunteer programmer to play good bluegrass. There were others like Ron Ginther, Dave Wertz, Phil Williams, Shirley Oberg, Marty Corey, and Dennis Flannigan who played it and had fun at it. But probably not as much fun as Tiny.

Now there are enough of Tiny's programs in the collection to deserve a page of his own, so here we go.

Problems listening, or comments? Please let us know. E-mail

You may also find these other pages of interest:

Bluegrass Jamborees with the Tall Timber Boys

KRABgrass with Dennis Flannigan

Bluegrass with Tiny Freeman

Northwest Regional Folklife and other Festivals

Concerts Sponsored by the Seattle Folklore Society

The Folk Show with Phil Andrus

From Bluegrass to KRABgrass - American traditional


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.

"Super-Put" is Steve Putnam, but who are Cliff and the other people Tiny is harassing?Tape label

This program seems much more old-timey acoustic than the electrified bluegrass of later years.

Listen now Listen now - Bluegrass with Tiny Freeman - KRAB Jul 15, 1969 (111:49)

Recording courtesy of the Jack Straw Foundation, JSF M0482

Bluegrass with Tiny Freeman - KRAB Sep 13, 1969

BLUEGRASS J. L. "Tiny" Freeman plays git-fiddle pickin', gut-thimpin' (I gut thumpin' for ya, Louie. Oh yeah? What is it?) and sawbones music.Tape label

(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.)

Listen now Listen now - Bluegrass with Tiny Freeman - KRAB Sep 13, 1969 (48:16)

Recording courtesy of the Jack Straw Foundation, JSF M0483

Tiny Freeman 1971 Doughnut ShopBluegrass 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.

Listen now Listen now - Bluegrass with Tiny, Sandy Willard and friends (36:38)

Recording from the collection of Dennis Flannigan, DF1002

Bluegrass with Tiny Freeman - Party Time - KRAB Mar 20, 1971

BLUEGRASS- Tiny Freeman and the music of rednecks, Ned Recks (mountain poet) Flatt, Scruggs, and the new hit duo, Obese and Pegs.

We do not really know when exactly this was broadcast - there was no date on the tape label. Though Tiny says he's having a Christmas party, other clues indicate this wasn't in December. According to the Dec guide he didn't do a show that month. He mentions the short term license renewal hearing which was in Nov 1970 but he quotes from the Findings which were not released until Mar 1971. He says he will shortly be moving from starting his show at 11:00pm to starting at 10:00 pm - a change that happened May 1, 1971. So, we think it was sometime in Mar 1971, and arbitrarily picked the Saturday with the above program listing.

Now about that party. It was to be "tomorrow", Sunday the 21st (first day of Spring) It was happening at his house in Leschi. Is that house still standing? Just go down Lake Washington Blvd, take a right at East Alder and go up to Spruce. There's a dirt road. Walk up the road (no room for parking). You will hear the bluegrass and smell the beans. If its raining, get under the plastic.

He was cooking up two kinds of beans, The Evergreen State Boys would be playing before taking some time off, and Phil and Vivian Williams were going to be there.

Tape labelThe photo? We think this was his favorite train whistle sound effect record and he played it in this program.

Listen now Listen now - Bluegrass with Tiny Freeman - Party Time - KRAB Mar 20, 1971 (193:25)

Recording courtesy Dennis Flannigan

Bluegrass with Tiny Freeman and his guests from Bremerton - KRAB Apr 10, 1971

Someone 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.

Update Nov 3, 2018: When this was first posted on the site, since there was no information with the tape, the description and credits were based on what a local bluegrass ignoramus was able to decipher from Tiny's announcing. Thankfully, we now have the benefit of Vivian Williams, who has played at one time or another with just about every bluegrass, oldimey and fiddle musician in the North West and knows them like the fingerboard of her fiddle.

"The 13-year-old fiddler from Port Orchard is Ronnie Waldbauer, and his brother Bob is playing bass.  His dad was also named Bob, and played guitar, but I don't think he was in this show."

"The banjo player from Winlock is Frank Bolden.  He was originally from North Carolina, and played regularly with the Waldbauers.  Here is Frank's obituary"

"In spite of the way Boyce pronounced his name, the accordion player's name is Ed Morken.  He was from Centralia, and was a buyer and seller of musical instruments, and used to regularly patronize the Folklife instrument auction.  And I'd recognize his playing anywhere!!  2 of his accordions, decorated with his name, were eventually sold to local musicians (Phil Katz, and Jane Anderson), and are still being played upon."

Joe Hanson, fiddle; Boyce Stuckey, fiddle; Henry Mitchell, fiddle - to which Vivian adds this note: "And we bought the bass fiddle that is still in my living room from Henry (a.k.a. Hank) Mitchell!"

We are still unsure about the second banjo player. I thought I heard "Tim Berry", but Vivian thought the name sounds more like "Tim Barrett".

As to the "someone" that wrote to Tiny prompting this live show, Vivian suggests "It sounds like the name of the person who wrote the letter to Tiny about these guys is Jim Atwell.  I wonder if he was the father of Doug Atwell, who won the 2nd Washington State Fiddle Championship, and later moved to California and became a professional musician there.  I looked up Doug's obituary online, and his father's name was Jim, so it might be the same guy."

Listen now Listen now - Bluegrass with Tiny Freeman and his guests from Bremerton - KRAB Apr 10, 1971

Recording courtesy Dennis Flannigan, DF1019


Tiny with derby
Tiny with his derby

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.

Listen now Listen now - Bluegrass with Tiny Freeman 1971-07-03 (74:00)

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.

Listen now Listen now - Bluegrass with Tiny Freeman and the Tall Timber String Band - KRAB Feb 20, 1972 (49:53)

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

Billy Joe Stillwell

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.

Tape labelClick on the photo at left to see how Vic Stredicke blows Tom Murphy's cover (Seattle Times Apr 23, 1972).

Listen now Listen now - She Packed Up My Heart and Took a Kenworth to Tulsa - Bluegrass with Tiny Freeman - KRAB Apr 29, 1972 (25:28)

Recording courtesy of the Jack Straw Foundation, JSF M1550

The Penultimate KRABgrass - KRAB Apr 7, 1984

This was almost the last KRABgrass show, one week before KRAB went off the air. We shared it in the archive as a memorial for Tiny shortly after he passed away Jun 12, 2013. It is a 5 hour extravaganza with each of the following taking a turn at the controls: Dennis Flannigan, Tiny Freeman, Bob Laclair, Shirley Oberg, and Marty Corey playing their music, and Tiny kibitzing all the while.

Tiny Freeman - Like a train whistle around the bend,
you can still hear him long after he's gone

Listen now Listen now - The Penultimate KRABgrass - KRAB Apr 7, 1984 (5 hours)

Photo and off-the-air recording courtesy Paul Dorpat

Tiny in front of the Central


For a photo essay of Tiny getting physical, see Tiny Freeman - Concrete Buster - Feb 1969, a Photo Essay by Michael McKeag

Here's a T-Shirt from the Tiny Freeman for Congress Campaign in 1972

Here is A collection of articles appearing mostly in The Seattle Times featuring J J Tiny Freeman

Bryan Johnson shares some photos and memories of Tiny

Mar 3, 1970 - Logging's Rich Past - Creating an exhibit at the Whatcom museum of history and industry, Michael and Steve Mckeag

Aug 8, 1970 - A Night With the Buoys - Searfaring, Glen Carter

May 9, 1971 - Galley Cooks can be dangerous to health, Glen Carter

Aug 4, 1971 - The Seattle Sea Farce, Glen Carter

Apr 4, 1971 - Coming Out, Paul Henderson

Sep 24, 1972 - Knock the Brock - Tiny runs for congress, John Bell

Oct 25, 1972 - Adams has easy tread on new turf - more on campaign, Shelby Gilje

Nov 2, 1972 - GOP Disowns Tiny, Richard W Larsen

Nov 8, 1972 - Last visit to campaign headquarters, John Hinterberger

Tiny working on the railroad

Jun 22, 1973 - Cinderella Liberty - Tiny's brief Hollywood adventure, Paul Henderson

Dec 1, 1973 - Political Giant retires, John Hinterberger

Dec 3, 1973 - Back from the North - Return of the tugboatman, John Hinterberger

Feb 4, 1978 - Fat Tuesday, John Hinterberger

May 8, 1978 - More Fat Tuesday Walt Evans

Feb 6, 1986 - Mark Tiny's words - Tiny's passionate about Pioneer Square, Emmett Watson

May 25, 1990 - A Potourri - Tiny staying afloat , Rick Anderson

Jun 21, 2007 - Maybe big-living Tiny can bring character back, Susan Paynter in the Seattle Post Intelligencer

Tiny Freeman
Dressed up with somewhere to go

Tiny's switch key from the
Snoqualmie Rail Museum

Photographs courtesy Mike Toennessen

James J. 'Tiny' Freeman: One of the reasons for the Paynter piece was that Tiny was moving back to Seattle after far too many years in rural Montana--he got a little tired of dealing with the Vet's Administration there about medical stuff. So there was a very nice fete in his honor in Dan Grinstead's machine shop--many old KRABbies, and others from Tiny's colorful past and present. He is indeed now back in Seattle, although essentially retired except for judging the annual tugboat races and a few other things. I'll alert him to this Crosscut inquiry--very big on the internet is Tiny, I get approximately 20 humorous e-mails from him a week, mostly forwards from what I suspect is a vast network of people who send him funny stuff--and perhaps he will respond. But as we all know, predicting what Tiny will do is always a haphazard thing. — G Palmer, Crosscut, Sat, Dec 1, 2007

And, a couple more photos of Tiny before Seattle and KRAB.

Here are two photos taken shortly before Tiny's arrival in Seattle. Is there anyone from the 84th Engineer Battalion, Company B, that can tell us about them?

JJ Tiny Freeman 84th Engineers Battalion Midway Island 1965
JJ Tiny Freeman (left front)

JJ Tiny Freeman 84th Engineer Battalion
LeRoy Thompson and JJ Tiny Freeman

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

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