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Seattle’s Funky History Comes to Central Cinema

02 May

Brown Paper Tickets’ hometown of Seattle, Washington is mostly known musically for the grunge movement of the early 90’s. But this town has been home to some incredible music scenes that did not get much national attention.

There was the Jackson Street jazz scene whose heyday started in the late 30s into the early 50s. This scene gave living legends like Quincy Jones and Ray Charles their start. The early 60’s Northwest garage rock era spawned seminal bands like The Sonics and The Wailers. And Seattle’s incredible punk scene of the early 80s sowed the seeds for the grunge scene that would follow.

There was also, in the late 60’s, a flourishing funk and soul scene with groups like the Black On White Affair and The Soul Swingers packing clubs around town. Many of these groups teetered on the verge of breaking out of Seattle and garnering national attention, until the advent of disco squashed any dreams that these musicians would have of full-time music careers. As a result, the Seattle soul scene slipped into the shadows and these hopeful musicians relegated themselves back to their day jobs.

This dire outlook for Seattle soul prevailed until 2004 when a compilation called Wheedle’s Groove was released by local record label Light In The Attic. The album was a critical success and exposed music lovers to hidden gems that had been buried in 99 cent bins and musty garages for the past 40 years. Record collector DJ Mr. Supreme was the one responsible for spearheading the whole project after finding a Black On White Affair 45 at a Seattle Center record show. He began to amass an impressive collection of Seattle funk and soul and approached Light In The Attic with the idea of reissuing these forgotten gems. The rest is, as they say, history.

In August of 2004, in celebration of the release of the “Wheedle’s Groove” compilation, Light in the Attic hosted a concert and re-united many of the musicians from the original groups. Some of these musicians hadn’t performed together for 30 years! They documented the whole affair, interviewed the musicians and released the film Wheedle’s Groove in 2009. The film attempts to bring to light the Seattle soul scene through the stories and memories of these great, forgotten musicians as well as commentary by notable Seattle music luminaries like Quincy Jones, Sir Mix-A-Lot and Mark Arm of Mudhoney.

Central Cinema is showing the film on Wednesday, May 4th and I highly recommend this film for all fans of funk, soul, R&B and great music in general.

Sure, according to the most recent survey, Seattle is one of the whitest cities in America but that doesn’t mean we don’t got soul. This film is proof!

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Posted by on May 2, 2011 in Film, Music

 

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