SIMF #3 – 1988

“After a one-year hiatus and a noticeable increase in improvised music activity in Seattle, musicians Wally Shoup, Dennis Rea, Charley Rowan, and Doug Haire formed a planning committee with the goal of giving the festival a higher profile through advertising, writing about improvised music, and bringing in notable players from outside Seattle. Their efforts resulted in the Third Seattle Festival of Improvised Music, held on February 28, 1988, at the New Melody Tavern [later the Tractor Tavern] in Ballard. The success of that festival, both musically and in terms of attendance – more than 200 audience members squeezed into the room on a Sunday night for five hours of performances – far exceeded expectations and confirmed a growing interest in free music in the Seattle area. From that point on, the SIMF became an annual event that has grown with each succeeding year.” (Dennis Rea, Seattle Improvised Music Festival: A History)

The poster, designed by David Hartz, billed the event as “5 hours of improvised music and dance performance.”

My personal take has always been that as a “festival” – that is, a deliberately public-facing event that made concerted efforts at audience outreach, rather than simply being a gathering of the organizer’s friends – SIMF truly began with the third festival in (I believe) 1988. I had proposed staging an improvised music festival to Wally, Doug Haire, and Charley Rowan, and some of those guys wanted to acknowledge Paul [Hoskin]’s previous gatherings (I wasn’t aware, and Paul was in NYC by then), so I was happy to call ours the third in a presumed series, recognizing Paul’s role as a catalyst of the local improvising community…certainly not trying to rewrite the accepted history, but those first two events were basically parties in my understanding… (Dennis Rea, email exchange, Feb. 3, 2020)

…had the Third Fest failed, this whole discussion would be moot. It was organized and presented as a public event and, much to many’s surprise, was a resounding success. It went from a niche friends-playing-w/ friends tiny scene to a cultural event. Many folks became “improvisors” after that. (Wally Shoup, email exchange, Feb. 3, 2020)

Participating artists:

Eric Amrine, guitar (Nördströms); Rob Angus, electronics/guitar/found percussion (Metaphonics, Operavisation); Marc Barreca, synth/sampler; Jan Bartlett aka “Jano”, found percussion (Metaphonics); Jesse Bernstein, text/voice (Operavisation); Johnny Calcagno, guitar/electronics/bass clarinet (Calcagno/Hinrix/Hunt); Nancy Campbell, tenor sax (Campbell/Djll/Granlund/Greinke/O’Looney, Campbell/Denio/O’Looney); CATABATICS (Rea, Rowan, Shoup, Vale); Alison Laird Craig, found percussion (Metaphonics); Amy Denio, bass, alto sax (Campbell/Denio/O’Looney); Tom Djll, trumpet/electronics/synth (Campbell/Djll/Granlund/Greinke/O’Looney; Bay Area); Craig Flory, clarinets (Operavisation); Lori Goldston, cello (Nördströms); Scott Granlund, tenor sax (Campbell/Djll/Granlund/Greinke/O’Looney); Jeff Greinke, trombone/guitar/found percussion (Campbell/Djll/Granlund/Greinke/O’Looney, Metaphonics); Adam Griffen, found percussion (Metaphonics); John Hawkley, found percussion (Metaphonics); Robert Hinrix, guitar/voice (Calcagno/Hinrix/Hunt); Kathleen Hunt, dance/voice (Calcagno/Hinrix/Hunt); IMPROBABLE BIRDS (Jefferson, Keliehor, Russell, Stephan); Keith Jefferson, percussion (Improbable Birds); Robert Jenkins, guitar/euphonium (Nördströms, Operavisation); Jon Keliehor, percussion (Improbable Birds); Pete Leinonen, bass (Operavisation); Jeff McGrath, drums (Operavisation); METAPHONICS (Angus, Bartlett, Craig, Greinke, Griffen, Hawkley, Zucker); THE NÖRDSTRÖMS (Amrine, Goldston, Jenkins, O’Looney, Rea); Katie O’Looney, drums (Campbell/Djll/Granlund/Greinke/O’Looney, Campbell/Denio/O’Looney, Nördströms; NYC); OPERAVISATION (Angus, Bernstein, Jenkins, Leinonen, McGrath, Setzer, Valenza); Dennis Rea, guitar (Catabatics, Nördströms); Charley Rowan, synth/sampler (Catabatics); Richard Russell, percussion (Improbable Birds); Beverly Setzer, bass clarinet (Operavisation); Wally Shoup, alto sax (Catabatics); John Stephan, “aviary politics” (Improbable Birds); Harlan Mark Vale, drums (Catabatics); Roberto Valenza, text/voice (Operavisation); Jon Zucker, found percussion (Metaphonics)

Set list:
Marc Barreca
Johnny Calcagno, Robert Hinrix, Kathleen Hunt
Nancy Campbell, Amy Denio, Katie O’Looney
Catabatics (Dennis Rea, Charley Rowan, Wally Shoup, Harlan Mark Vale)
Solo – Tom Djll
Jon Keliehor’s Improbable Birds
Metaphonics (Rob Angus, Jan Bartlett, Alison Laird Craig, Jeff Greinke, Adam Griffen, John Hawkley, Jon Zucker)
The Nördströms (Eric Amrine, Lori Goldston, Robert Jenkins, Katie O’Looney, Dennis Rea)
Operavisation (Rob Angus, Jesse Bernstein, Craig Flory, Pete Leinonen, Jeff McGrath, Roberto Valenza) 

Doug Haire recorded the festival and compiled a cassette of some of the performances. Thanks to Doug for contributing these photos and recordings.

(9:09) Nancy Campbell / Tom Djll / Scott Granlund / Jeff Greinke / Katie O’Looney

(6:02) Metaphonics

(10:13) Catabatics

(3:33) Tom Djll

(7:06) Operavisation

(7:01) Marc Barreca

(6:13) Nancy Campbell / Amy Denio / Katie O’Looney

(13:30) Improbable Birds

(10:09) Johnny Calcagno / Robert Hinrix / Kathleen Hunt

(3:58) Amy Denio

(11:36) The Nördströms