Never offbeat with Seattle music, since it is one of the best cities for music of all kinds. Offbeat is the quest for something new and different. Perhaps the quest for something exciting. Or maybe just something often overlooked or perhaps too mundane upon first glance. It can happen anywhere in the world, but I would bet that Seattle has more offbeat per capita than most places I have been.
I doubt that the “Gum Ball Wall” in Pike Market provides enough culture, unless it has spawned its own bacteria after decades of exposure to the elements. But it does have a curious look to it, both disgusting and colorful. My suggestion would be to pour a thick coat of resin or shellac to preserve and protect. This tradition began in the 1990s, and has been wiped clean, twice! Obviously to no avail. This is what your Microsoft millionaires do in their spare time.
On the other side of art, how about a visit to the Chihuly Garden and Glass at Seattle Center. It opened on May 21, and offers a look into the life of Dale Chihuly. The interior portion of the exhibit will highlight his most popular works. The exterior will focus on his large signature works in a lush garden. The exterior portion includes a 43 foot high glass house, featuring a 1400 piece, 100 foot long sculpture. As you might guess, it is not cheap. General admission is $19, and $17 for seniors.
Dale Chihuly is a graduate of the University of Washington, with a degree in interior design. He then enrolled in the first glass program in the country at the University of Wisconsin. In 1968, he received a Fulbright Fellowship, then went to work at the Venini glass factory in Venice, Italy. He came back home and founded the Pilchuck Glass School at Washington State University in 1971.
His work is included in more than 200 museums around the world. He has won many awards, including eleven honorary doctorate degrees, and two fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts. I saw his exhibit a few years ago at the deYoung Museum in Golden Gate Park. More to my liking is the fabulous Jimi Hendrix statue, shown below. Jimi was a Seattle native, and considered one of the best, greatest and most influential guitarists in rock music history. His role at Woodstock and playing the National Anthem will stand the test of time. The statue is located in front of the AEI Music Networks corporate offices on Broadway and East Pine (900 block).
Jimi, the Great!
He was born Johnny Allen Hendrix on November 27, 1942 at Seattle’s King County Hospital. He was renamed James Marshall by his father, James Hendrix. He was entirely self-taught on the guitar, and could not read music. By the age of five, James bought Jimi a used $5 acoustic guitar, since his broom guitar lost all of its straw. He spent three months with his first music group, The Velvetones. Soon after, James purchased a Supro Ozark 1560s (his first electric guitar), Jimi joined The Rocking Kings. But in 1961, Jimi left home and joined the Army, where he earned the right to wear a “Screaming Eagles” patch since he became a paratrooper. He was discharged after breaking his leg while jumping, and became a session guitarist under the name, Jimmy James. By the end of 1965, he had played with the Who’s Who of music, including Ike and Tina Turner, Sam Cooke, the Isley Brothers, and Little Richard. When he left LR, he formed Jimmy James and the Blue Flames, finally taking the lead guitar position. It was Animals bassist, Chas Chandler, who signed Jimi to a contract in 1966, that would lead to a move to England and forming a new band. It was Chandler who changed his name to “Jimi.” He added drummer, Mitch Mitchell, and bassist, Noel Redding. The newly formed Jimi Hendrix Experience became the talk of London, even while the Beatles popularity was ascending.
Their first single, “Hey Joe,” topped out at No. 6 on the Billboard charts in early 1967. Then came the full length debut album, Are You Experienced?, a psychedelic compilation featuring anthems of a generation. It includes tracks of all-time favorites like Purple Haze (my favorite), Foxy Lady, and Fire. Upon his return to America in 1967, he “ignited” the crowd at the Monterey International Pop Festival, with “Wild Thing.” In a short time, JH Experience became one of the most popular, and highest grossing touring acts in the world.
He followed up with Axis: Bold As Love in 1968, and began spending more time in the studio, trying to bring clarity to his musical vision. He even built his own studio, called Electric Lady Studios in NYC. Then came the fabulous two LP collection, Electric Ladyland. The JH Experience disbanded in 1969, due to the heavy concert tour schedule and studio work Jimi demanded.
But in the summer of 1969, along came the Woodstock Music and Art Fair. I was not one of the more than ten or fifty million music lovers who claimed to be there. I was interning in a pharmacy in the Central Valley, and playing summer baseball up and down the state. Jimi joined forces with the Gypsy Sun and Rainbows. His renegade version of the “Star Spangled Banner” brought the weary, mud-soaked Woodstock crowd into yet another frenzy.
He joined up with Buddy Miles in 1969, and formed the Band of Gypsys, again highlighted by four New Year’s Eve performances in NYC in 1969 and 1970. Later in 1970, he re-formed the JH Experience with Mitch Mitchell and Billy Cox on bass. But his tragic death on September 18, 1970 ended his fabulous musical vision and hectic worldwide touring schedules. Thanks to Paul Allen for preserving much of Jimi’s legacy at the Experience Music Project here in Seattle. RIP, JH!
So, I found out that King Tut is here, but I am passing. The hotel offered VIP tix for $40, but I voted no. It was so disappointing last time the “boy king” exhibit was here, about twenty years ago. Such a build up, and then …… But I did make it over to the fabulous Seattle Public Library after getting back from Mt. Rainier. That is the most amazing library in the entire world!!!