There are legends among us in our area. I look forward to featuring some of them in this monthly article and telling parts of their stories. And I look forward to meeting the future musical legends that are currently practicing their instruments, booking their first gigs, writing their first songs or perhaps haven’t even started yet.
This month I had the opportunity to sit down for a cup of tea with a musical legend who has made Edmonds his home. As a fellow bass player, this particular cup and casual conversation was one that will remain on my epic list. My only regret was being so captivated by the stories and the moment that I forgot to ask if we could take a selfie. So, Gerald, if you read this, can we grab a selfie next time? A cup of coffee at Red Twig on me?
Gerald Johnson is a bass player originally from Washington, D.C. He knew at a very early age that bass was his instrument. He described his love for the bass as visceral, as something you can physically feel from the instrument while playing.
Gerald started playing bass in 1966, telling his mother that this was what he wanted to do with his life. He took to the instrument quickly without any formal training. His mother and brother were both able to read music and his mother was very involved in gospel music, but Gerald went by feel and by his ear. He started out with a cheap bass and booking gigs as soon as he was done with school in 1968, making $15/night.
Quickly into his playing experience he was discovered by The Sweet Inspirations. As luck would have it, they were the opening band for Elvis Presley. Gerald played and toured with them for two years. As Gerald gained more stage time, Steve Miller noticed his skills and asked him to come play, record and tour. You can hear his bass riffs on the Joker (and many more).
Gerald has played with The Sweet Inspirations, Elvis Presley, Steve Miller Band, Crosby Stills & Nash, John Fogerty, Gregg Allman, Dave Mason, The Pointer Sisters, and more.
He spent 35 years living in Hollywood. He described the age-old tale of following a love interest that brought him up to the Pacific Northwest, where he has lived for the last decade. Gerald now makes Edmonds his home and plays with local band Miss Sydney and the Downtown Saints.
Over the many years of his bass career, Gerald has been writing music. That has culminated in his recent solo release, an album called Whatcha Gonna Do Now, that was recorded in Shoreline at Robert Lang Studios. This is his first solo album (with hopefully many more to come) and is available to stream on multiple sites. It features Gerald Johnson on bass, Alvino Bennett on drums, Mike Finnegan on B3, and Shane Fontayne on guitar. In addition, there is one song by local singer Sydney Englehart on vocals.
The album took R&B and put a new spin on it with some bluesy tones and fun tempos. Make sure to give it a listen! And to hear Gerald’s bass licks on other popular tunes check out this Spotify playlist.
My Recommendations for March
Local songwriter Kellee Bradley will be playing at Anderson School McMenamin’s in Bothell. Kellee is an award-winning songwriter with beautiful vocals who’s been compared to Karen Carpenter, Carole King, Sheryl Crow, and the Cranberrys. The show goes from 7-10 p.m. and is free, all ages welcome.
Seattle-band The Davanos will be playing Shoreline venue Woody’s. These classic rock superstars will get you dancing and moving. Check out their calendar for more shows.
The Cascade Symphony Orchestra is performing its Brahms Fourth concert Monday, March 6. This evening event features trumpet virtuoso Alexander White, a member of the Seattle Symphony Orchestra. Tickets can be purchased here.
Engel’s has music all month long so make sure to check out their events calendar. My top pick is March 17 with a doubleheader, Lumberjax opening up and Mukilteo-based band The Industrials headlining the night. Should be a really fun night of rock and roll and danceable music.
Head across on the ferry to see local band The Swaggerlies at the Slippery Pig Brewery in Poulsbo. Listen to their most recent release and check out their upcoming show list for a chance to catch them soon.
Edmonds-Woodway High School Music Boosters is hosting a big band dance at the Edmonds Waterfront Center, with doors opening at 6:30 p.m. Both high school jazz bands, plus middle school jazz bands from Madrona and College Place, will be playing. There will be swing dance lessons at 6:30 p.m. Free admission with a $10 suggested donation.
Local venue Darrell’s Tavern in Shoreline has a variety of music all month. Check their calendar for updates. For those interested in an Open Mic, they have one every Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. My top pick from the calendar is Seattle-based Kitty Junk, an all-female glam grunge junk rock band. Think heavy-hitting guitar and drums with some screaming lyrics and a dash of hot pink. They are playing S at 8 p.m.
Enjoy the music! Please email if you want to add upcoming shows featuring local artists or local venues.
— By Rachel Gardner
Rachel Gardner has a heartfelt appreciation for art in all forms and believes everyone is an artist, some just don’t know it yet. A dedicated and involved Edmonds resident, she can often be spotted onstage cracking jokes between sets or in the audience enjoying local live performances. She enjoys being playful with her art and finding unique ways of expression, like forming a boho-grunge-folk ukulele trio with local Edmonds moms.
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