While Seattle is best known for its grunge musical style, it’s been on the cutting edge of music since Vaudeville days in the mid-1800s. Learn about the groups that were instrumental in fostering Seattle’s music scene at the Museum of Pop Culture downtown, then walk in their footsteps by visiting their old stomping grounds.
Meet the “Man in the Mirror“: Quincy Jones
Grammy Legend Award winner Quincy Jones had an unlikely start in music after breaking into his Bremerton neighborhood community center to eat lemon meringue pie with his friends. He discovered a piano inside, and at age 11, music became his life. Quincy’s Navy base neighborhood folded after WWII ended, but you can picnic just west of the old community center at Pendergast Regional Park.
By age 14, Q played along 16-year-old Ray Charles at the Seattle Tennis Club. Afterwards, they’d head to Black and Tan Hall to jam late into the night. Listen to local jam sessions at a remake of the original at the new Black and Tan Hall, set inside an old 1920s movie theater.
A bit of “Spanish Castle Magic”: Jimi Hendrix
Legendary guitar player Jimi Hendrix grew up in Seattle in the early 1960s, but left the city to join the Army when he was 18. Head to his old school—Garfield High School—to walk in his footsteps and see his larger-than-life-size bronze bust. Little else remains of Jimi’s childhood stomping grounds. You’d often find Jimi at the Spanish Castle Ballroom, trading use of his amplifier for a little time onstage. Both the Castle and his home no longer exist—there’s now a Walgreens on the Spanish Castle site. Instead, “just float your mind around” to its heyday while listening to “Spanish Castle Magic.”
“All Nite Diner“: Modest Mouse
Birthed in a shed in Issaquah on Seattle’s east side, Grammy-nominated rock band Modest Mouse scorched the Seattle music scene with its unique rock sound in the mid-1990s. While most of the early venues where they played have closed, you can still catch concerts from up-and-coming artists at The Crocodile. Nab a build-your-own wood-fired pizza from The Back Bar at the venue while you listen. It’s open daily until 2 a.m., concert or no. When the showroom is silent, enjoy other local entertainment such as burlesque, Tuesday night karaoke and DJ nights.
“Welcome to the Culture”: Macklemore
If your favorite restaurant only does one or two dishes (but does them well), you’re not alone. Star rapper Macklemore—one half of the hip-hop duo Macklemore & Ryan Lewis—heads to Than Brothers when he’s in the mood for pho and cream puffs (the only two foods on the menu). It offers many options of the comforting rice noodle soup, though. Try the Pho Bo, Macklemore’s favorite, and select your favorite cuts of beef to complement the ingredients.