Thursday, November 19, 2009

Parker's Ballroom

Parker's Ballroom on Aurora Avenue in North Seattle was already a northwest landmark when I moved to the area in the mid- 1960's. My new friends told me about it.

An album had been recorded there by Jimmy Hanna and "The Dynamics" and was hard to find. We found one copy and shared it but now it's long gone.

The record had some familiar instrumental hits on it including "Work Song" and "JAJ." That's what I liked about the band-- the horn section-- a trumpet and tenor sax. A couple of the garage bands I joined worked out our own versions of these hits. Still, the Dynamics were the model for me.

While I got to Parker's a few times, I never saw the Dynamics. Never saw Dave Lewis, either, but listened lots of times to him play "David's Mood" (another northwest standard) on his Hammond B 3.

A lot of big names played at Parker's over the years-- Ray Charles, The Beach Boys, BB King, Ricky Nelson, Guy Lombardo, Tina Turner, Tower of Power, Stevie Wonder, and many, many more.

The "big names" I saw there were Van Morrison and Them (when "Gloria" was their first big hit) and Doug Kershaw ("Louisiana Man"). Van Morrison had on a dark brown suit with a blue shirt which I thought was cool enough to imitate in a courtroom years later. I remember disliking Doug Kershaw because he embarrassed his bass player on stage in front of all of us-- we didn't hear the mistakes that Kershaw had to point out on stage in the middle of a song.

All the good northwest bands performed there, including-- Don & the Goodtimes, Paul Revere and the Raiders, Merilee Rush. But, I didn't see them at Parker's. Normana Hall in Everett was "our" place to go see and hear Northwest Bands, including Tiny Tony and the Statics. This is an excellent site for the history of all the northwest garage bands and more.

Parker's opened in 1930. "Like a few other local dance halls, it spanned all of the sequential musical eras from the wild jazz days of the Prohibition Era right on up through the forties swing scene, from the rise of rock ‘n’ roll in the fifties, to the psychedelic sixties, and onwards to the heavy metal, disco, and punk rock scenes of the seventies. Unlike most other historic dance halls though, Parker’s still stands."

Check out for more pictures of the Dynamics and a sound clip of JAJ.

UPDATEParker's Ballroom was demolished in December 2012.

1 comment:

  1. I remember Parkers, although I don't think I went there. It was dying about the time I moved to Sno Co in 1980. Wasn't there another venue across the street, kinda? I'm trying to remember the name of it...