Friday, June 17, 2011

Travelin' Light - Blues Attitude

By Rev Deb
July 13th marks 10 years of a prevailing Blues Attitude in Olympia. Blues Attitude has hosted a blues jam, nine to midnight, on Wednesday nights for the past decade. Originally, at the Fourth Avenue Tavern in Olympia, the Blues Attitude jam band consisted of Perry Sanders (harp/vocals) and Smoke (drums), from the Steamers band, and Jerry Bentley (guitar/vocals) and T-Bone (bass), from the Blues Torpedoes. You may also know Smoke as a long time volunteer for the Washington Blues Society, he has been distributing the Bluesletter to venues in the South Sound area for many years.

Jerry said, “Smoke was the cat that got us hooked up with the new owner of Charlie’s Bar and Grill, Karen, in 2001. Karen really loved the blues and wanted live music playing mid-week in Olympia. The first couple of
years at Charlie’s were pretty lean, but Karen kept us going and soon word spread that the blues were downtown on Wednesday nights and cats could sit in and play. Soon folks were coming in just to listen to the blues. Smoke coined the phrase ‘we’re the host, not the heroes,’ meaning we want each player to shine their best, sound their best and have great time at the blues jam. (We accept all skill levels at the Wednesday night blues jam.) From 2002 through 2006, our jam was also the host of annual cancer benefits.

“With the trio playing every week, we soon we had to let our other bands go. As Blues Attitude began playing around the northwest, we invited other players we met to attend the jam when they were in the Olympia area. In Spring 2003, Stan ‘the Man’ Foreman joined us as a ‘summertime’ forth player for several years before retiring. Mike “Dr. Silk” Shea started coming to the jam in 2007 and now joins us at some gigs as fourth player. The Dr. is a stand-up guy, a fantastic horn player with a wonderful family which attends most of our gigs.”

“Charlie’s has great support for the blues jam at their club. Owners Bruce and Chris took over the club in 2005 and are very supportive in trying new things with the jam theme. They have been great in keeping the jam going, and Steve Bonnet, sound guru, has tweaked the sound system at Charlie’s to perfection. Steve mans the sound booth Wednesday nights, keeping all the players heard and balanced. We’ve had some challenges for him -- one night we had 10 players on stage at once! Great staff at Charlie’s help keep everyone served and happy – our thanks go out to Amy and Rich Neff, Ziggy, Annette, Nicole, Michael. Other great supporters include the WBS, the Rev., the Blues Sheriff, Blues-To-Do, Music 6000 and Capital City Guitars.”

Bruce J. Maier,, wrote: “ . . . [T]his is a real band. A group of guys who play Blues influenced music, not because they have to, but because they want to, and they feel it with every heartbeat. They boogie, then they rock and then maybe they take you down, way down. But not for long, because they’ve got a mission to fulfil, and that’s to rock the house, get it jumping, and fill up the dance floor!”

Over the past ten years, some great players have been keeping the jam alive, including: Perry Sanders, Alice Stuart, Randy Oxford, Randy Linder, Dave Shriver, George Barner, Doug Mah, Steve Munger, Becki Sue and T-Boy, L A Guns, Bottoms Up Blues Band, Joe Ty Band, Bruce Maier and Malcolm Clark, Rex and Lynn Wolff, and so many others. A few individuals stand out as regulars, Lauren Elle, Jackie LaVern, Pete Crossman, Joe Schiavi, Gary Elsey, John Gibson, Mark Dobson, Chucky Sticks, Darlene, Bill, and long-time super supporter Roy Munroe.

Smoke said, “Ever been to an open mic and found yourself wanting for a decent shuffle, or even longing to hear someone who knows who the Three Kings are? This is not the case at the Blues Attitude jam at Charlie’s in Olympia. On several occasions blues artists on tour have stopped by, having found out about the jam via internet search. As a result, Blues Attitude has been able to play with some bad-ass cats from Chicago, Memphis and Kansas City. Also, every Summer Blues Attitude takes the jam on the road, hosting the Friday Night Jam at the Backyard Blues Bash at Pine Springs Resort, Goldendale WA. This year the Backyard Blues jam will be Friday, August 5th, dusk to midnight.”

Blues Attitude is looking forward to several more years of the Wednesday Night Blues Jam at Charlie’s, starting with their 10th anniversary party on July 13th (at 7PM in the parking lot beer garden and moving indoors at dusk). Signed on for the 10th anniversary show so far are Blues Attitude with Perry Sanders (now front man with the Fabulous Roof Shakers), Becki Sue, The Malcolm Clark Band, The Joe Ty Band, Ryan T. Higgins Band, Bruce Maier Band, Jam Kings, Al Earick Band, and of course, a number of their regular blues players will also be on hand. Great food, no cover, killer blues; what more could you ask for? Band schedules and bios at


  1. Congrats Guys!!! Great decade of work.

    Olympia Eagles (just down the block).

  2. Love you guys! You've been a piece of my life forever. Love you Uncle Jerry!