Tuesday, February 26, 2008


"I wouldn't call him a normal person," says Jeff Andrew, former manager of Tommy's Nightclub — but definitely one of those people who's "just born to perform." Andrew is talking about guitarist BluMeadows. Also known as Maurice Mitchell Mills-Culpepper. And as Looking Bird in Blackhawk County, Iowa, where he was born.

With a wreath of buffalo teeth, bells and deer hoofs around his neck and a black suede hat with Macaw feathers on his head, BluMeadows stands out in a crowd. So does his voice as it drifts through the dark corners of a nightclub and out into the afternoon rain. A crowd watches him from an open window. Some begin to dance.

When BluMeadows performs, it's almost as if one of Seattle's guitar gods has risen from the grave.


BluMeadows and Jimi Hendrix are alike in some ways. Both have called Seattle home. Their ancestors were black and Indian. Their musical love, the guitar. Played left-handed.

Hendrix was, in fact, a big influence on BluMeadows. But BluMeadows says he doesn't suffer from a case of hero worship. He just respects and covers the legendary guitar anthems.

Lamar Lofton, who sometimes plays bass with BluMeadows, says his colleague is able to connect to different types of crowds by playing a few tunes, seeing what moves people and then performing those songs well.

BluMeadows has played jazz, funk, reggae, blues and rock with musicians like Bruce Hornsby, Branford Marsalis and Dave Lewis. He says he's toured with various groups through five continents. This past year, he played on tour with Jamaican reggae star Eek-a-Mouse. He also creates his own music, which he describes as "consciousness rock."

Wayne Rabb, a longtime Seattle professional drummer, took a few minutes trying to sum up his friend: "Words can't quite describe that gentlemen . . . He's a colorful artist, that's for sure."

For his part, BluMeadows says he's "just a visitor among all living things," going his own way. "I try to look through my eyes and no one else's."

As for his passion, "One lifetime isn't half enough to get into music. You are just scraping the surface."

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Welcome to the Shoreline

Last autumn, I was approached to photograph a story about the north Seattle suburb of Shoreline.

At first, it seemed like an ordinary, everday Seattle suburb. But... the writer had some good ideas and from there we started talking about:

What makes this place different? Completely ordinary? What is the heart of a neighborhood? Does Shoreline have one? Can a neighborhood, built around cars, evolve into something else? Who lives here? Who first lived here? Are they old? Young? Caucasian? Asian? Latin American? What do they like about where they live? What are the schools like? Where to people come together? How is the neighborhood changing? How might it change? Oh yeah, where is the good food?

It's good to be reminded to keep my mind and eyes open. Keep talking and meeting people. Keep going back.

Below are some of the images from the story:

To read Paula Bock's story: http://archives.seattletimes.nwsource.com/cgi-bin/texis.cgi/web/vortex/display?slug=pacificpthere09&date=20071209&query=shoreline+and+bock

(Thanks PB for the help.)

Luis Bandala and his 7-year-old daughter, Miriam, finish dinner inside Taqueria El Carreton, on Aurora Avenue North in Shoreline. The Mexican eatery is housed inside a school bus lined with stools where customers can sit, watch Spanish television and enjoy a horchata. Shoreline's Latino population, now 5.5 percent, is growing fast.

Else Gerber, 4, walks with her father, Mike Denlinger, after attending pre-kindergarten at the Evergreen School in Shoreline. The city is known for its highly regarded public, private and parochial schools.

Patrick Hartley and Cindy Libengood tease one another in privacy before the start of the movie "Transformers" at the Crest Cinema Center, home of the $3 movie. The two Shoreline Community College freshmen met at the film early to catch up. Right now, there aren't any cafes open at night within walking distance. Some hope that will change as the neighborhood develops

Sooho Lee (center), an elder of the Korean Zion Presbyterian Church, talks with elders and deacons after the morning service. Sunday services draw around 200 members of all ages each week. The congregation, formed in 1985, has been in Shoreline since 1994. In Shoreline, nearly 1 out of 5 residents is of Asian ancestry.

A driver waits at a stoplight at the corner of 185th and Aurora Avenue North. Shoreline's piece of Highway 99 carried about 45,000 vehicles per day as of 2000, and more are coming. The neighborhood is about 15 miles from downtown Seattle and is split by three major thoroughfares: Interstate 5, Highway 99 and 15th Avenue Northeast. Shoreline's proximity to Seattle and public transit make it desirable for redevelopment.

Drummers in the Shorecrest High School Highlander Marching Band perform during their homecoming half-time show. School spirit in Shoreline is such that parents continue to attend home games years after their kids have graduated.

A car whizzes along Aurora Avenue, a tunnel of strip malls, casinos, ethnic restaurants and car dealerships.

According to King County's Metro Transit Trip Planner, you can hop a bus at 5:10 p.m. on a Tuesday at Third Avenue and Pike Street and make it to the intersection of Shoreline's North 145th Street and Aurora Avenue North in 32 minutes. The bus stops at that intersection about to cross into Shoreline.

Ahmed Ahmed, a 15-year-old Shorecrest High School student, walks past a long row of shopping carts lining the front of a soon-to-open Goodwill store on the corner of 15h Ave. NE and NE 155th St.

Aurora Avenue North both divides and unites the Shoreline. The commercial corridor bisects the neighborhood with busy traffic, strip malls and casinos. However, residents are drawn to its convenient shopping and ethnic eateries. The Taboo Video sign peaks from behind a sandwich of other boards.

Alberto Ortiz decorates a Day of the Dead alter inside his sister’s Mexican grocery store, Lupe’s Tienda. The three siblings, whose family originates southwestern Mexican state of Michoacán, celebrate the return and union of their deceased loved ones souls each November. They crafted an alter— decorated with fresh flowers, pictures, skeletons, saints and sugar skulls — for the last four years in the Shoreline shop. This year’s commemoration was a chance for the family to cope with the death of six relatives, and also to revisit their family’s history.

Ray Thacker is nervous around traffic. In June, a drunken driver hit Thacker when he was walking with his best friend, Blake Nelson (pushing wheelchair) to a Richmond Beach grocery. The accident left Thacker with a broken arm, wrist, leg and fractured spine. Thacker, his girlfriend Melinda Wheeler (above) and Nelson favor taking the bus, and using Shoreline's Interurban Trail.

Ron Fulgham mows around his backyard gazebo in Shoreline. Ron and his wife, Carrie Fulgham, married for 50 years, have lived in the neighborhood since 1969.

Ricky Zambrano, 9, fishes out his soccer ball while playing with his sister and cousin in their Shoreline cul-de-sac. The family moved to Shoreline from an Everett duplex around two years ago.

Families circle around the parking lot in a hayride at a pumpkin festival in Shoreline.

A couple walks in a neighborhood on the border of Shoreline and North Seattle.

Evening fades on the Aurora strip.

Before the Aurora Cooridor Project, sidewalks were only available along about 20 percent of Aurora Avenue North. Today, a section of Aurora between North 145th St. to North 165th St. is more pedestrian friendly.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

All images copyright Erika Schultz or The Seattle Times