Now & Then
A trip down Seattle's musical memory lane
Many Seattle musicians are honored in author-musician Kurt Einar Armbruster Armbruster's splendid new book "Before Seattle Rocked."
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JEAN SHERRARD and I recently met Alice Stuart and Kurt Einar Armbruster on the University District's "Ave" where the Pamir House — featuring "variety coffees" and folk singing — might have been, had it not been replaced by a parking lot more than 40 years ago.
Alice led us from the sidewalk through the parked cars two lots north of Northeast 41st Street to the spot where she sang and played her resonant Martin D-18 guitar nearly half a century earlier. It was the beginning of a remarkable singing career for the then-20-year-old folk artist from Lake Chelan. Blessed with a beautiful voice, she still uses it regularly. (This past year Stuart was on stage an average of three times a week, often with her band, Alice Stuart & The Formerlys.)
Stuart is one of the many Seattle musicians honored in author-musician Armbruster's splendid new book "Before Seattle Rocked." The index of this University of Washington Press publication runs 25 pages and covers most imaginable music-related subjects in our community's past, from Bach through the Wang Doodle Orchestra and beyond. Stuart expressed amazement at his elegant edit of what she thought of as her "rambling on" about her long career.
Armbruster's first book, "Whistle Down the Valley" was built on interviews with railroad workers in the Green River Valley. His second book, "The Orphan Road," unraveled a difficult subject, Washington's first railroads, with wisdom and wit. Now with "Before Seattle Rocked" Armbruster's place is ensured among those who chose important regional subjects that waited years to be revealed.
Armbruster, a "proud member of Seattle Musicians' Association, AFM Local 76-493," dedicated his book "To Ed 'Tuba Man' McMichael (1955-2008), a working musician."
Check out Paul Dorpat and Jean Sherrard's blog at www.pauldorpat.com.
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