Monday, March 29, 2010

Greg Thompson

Our head sound engineer, Greg Thompson, passed away this morning.

He had a mild heart attack on Friday, at which time we began circulating an envelope among staff and regulars, figuring he'd be out of the hospital within a couple days and we'd have raised enough to cover his weekend pay and send him and the misses to a nice dinner with whatever was left over. On Saturday, he slipped into a coma and after around 40 hours on life support his family made what had to be the most difficult decision, the one they knew Greg would want them to make.

Greg was with us at Highway 99 from the beginning, and his pedigree of running and installing sound around Seattle is legendary. Surely, it was our pleasure to have him. He neither drank, smoked, nor used. At work, he almost exclusively ate gumbo, but he was most happy when we had BBQ on the menu. He was more reliable than a morning sunrise and nobody - we mean this, nobody - ran a better board in a live environment. More than all that, Greg was absolutely the most upbeat, energetic, positive, straight shooter we've known. In the Northwest, where passive aggression prevails, we noticed these qualities in him as much as we enjoyed them. If you walked into a room he was in, he'd find you and say Hi. Didn't matter who you were: a musician he's done sound for, a dishwasher in a club he's worked at, security guy at a festival he did production on, a volunteer at a church where he did a sound system install (Greg did more than a few of those), he'd find you and make your night with his huge smile, wide eyes, the above-the-head wave from across the room accented by the big slap of a handshake once he got to you - it was genuine and that's why it made your night every time.

The Highway 99 Blues Club community will surely be doing something to honor and celebrate Greg, and to extend some assistance to his surviving family in the immediate future. More info on that is forthcoming. For now, if you knew Greg or even just knew his face as a fixture behind soundboards across the Great Northwest, please think of him, reflect on how fortunate you are to have been blessed with his presence in your life. At least, that's what we're doing at the moment.

God Bless You, Greg.

Monday, March 8, 2010

The I-5 Houseparty

Among all the types of shows and events we host, our favorites are the ones which juxtapose a line-up of musicians you wouldn't ordinarily see on one stage together, the kind of once-in-a-lifetime occasion that makes us all say to ourselves, something that usually ends with, "...and I was there." The I-5 Houseparty is a show we did last year and again this year, where top blues and r&b players from Seattle and Portland - two markets which are normally competitive with each other - play together in a rare offering of musical goodness. These stellar musicians are joined not just by a love of the same kinds of music, but by that golden roadway of the West Coast, Interstate 5. From Seattle, multiple Washington Blues Society award winner The Crossroads Band held down the fort like The Band in The Last Waltz. Out front, Portland's Terry Robb and Jim Wallace tore it up. Our new friend Dmitry Kraskovsky took some marvelous photos and we'd like to share them with you: