Politics

Dave Lewis and The Black Tones


Dave Lewis was a gifted keyboardist, vocalist and key participant within the Pacific Northwest’s booming rhythm and blues scene of the Fifties and ‘60s — a scene that eventually morphed into Seattle’s iconic tackle rock ’n’ roll. Zoom ahead to the twenty first century, and The Black Tones, led by Seattle-born twins Eva and Cedric Walker, are a genre-busting rock band taking Seattle by storm.

Getting people on the dance floor was a priority of mine.

from The Seattle Times obituary of Dave Lewis

Starting at Meany Junior High, Dave Lewis formed The Five Checks (1953-1957), a doo-wop group directed by his father David Sr. who had moved his family from Texas to Bremerton for work during the early 1940s. (The family landed next door to the Joneses, whose teen son Quincy was proving to be a skilled trumpeter.) When Lewis moved on to Garfield High School, the group morphed into the Dave Lewis Combo (1955-1962), which soon became hailed as the “Northwest’s greatest rock ’n’ roll band.”

Person behind a key board in a suit
Musician Dave Lewis at Dave’s Fifth Avenue nightclub within the Nineteen Sixties. (Courtesy Lewis household)

The Combo recurrently performed as the home band on the Birdland Supper Club, one of many many widespread Black-run music venues alongside Jackson Street. But it was additionally notable for taking part in exhibits in majority white venues, together with in Bellevue and across the University of Washington. During the Seattle World’s Fair, the band performed nightly standing room solely gigs at Dave’s Fifth Avenue downtown.

Lewis launched his first album, Little Green Thing, whereas enjoying with the Dave Lewis Trio (circa 1961-1968). The album’s symphonic collision of jazz, swing, ragtime and a dose of blues mirrored the “Original Northwest Sound” Lewis helped invent. He was inducted into the Northwest Area Music Association’s Hall of Fame in 1989 and his grandson, D’vonne Lewis, has continued the musical line, enjoying drums in lots of Seattle bands and instructing his personal son find out how to play.

One person plays on drums while the other sings and plays guitar, both in front of a black screen
Twins Eva and Cedric Walker of The Black Tones are photographed within the basement of their mom’s house in Mt. Baker, which was their unique observe house when beginning their music profession. (Meron Menghistab for Crosscut)

Twins Eva and Cedric Walker (b. 1989) of The Black Tones obtained their begin of their grandmother’s basement within the Mount Baker neighborhood — Eva on guitar and Cedric on drums. Once Eva revealed her highly effective singing voice to her brother (she had been secretly working towards), the band was a no brainer. “When I found out she had the voice, I was like: I can’t not do anything about this,” Cedric informed Crosscut in 2019. A potent mix of Seattle grunge, Jimi Hendrix and New Orleans spice, the band’s first album, Cobain and Cornbread (2019), highlights Eva’s full-bodied voice on prime of Cedric’s hard-hitting drums. The duo performs packed reside exhibits everywhere in the metropolis, typically with Eva’s husband, Jake Uitti, on organ and Ezekiel Lords on bass.

The band’s punk rock tackle rhythm and blues carries the historical past of the Northwest Sound ahead. You can hear traces of not solely Dave Lewis and his band’s hodgepodge of rock and soul, but additionally of grunge vanguard Tina Bell’s growls and shouts. With songs spanning from “Ghetto Spaceship,” a couple of house nerd on the lookout for love, to “The Key of Black (They Want Us Dead),” about police brutality, the band manages to each attraction audiences with goofball humor and unite them in a name for justice.



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