The Shows Must Go On - A benefit to save the Historic Everett Theatre

Monday, February 24, 2020

Interior of the Historic Everett Theatre


By Rob Oxford


With little pieces of our beloved community disappearing on a regular basis, it is essential for us to do our part to save what is important to each of us and what is most important to this writer is music. That’s why I have taken it upon myself to do what I can to save the Historic Everett Theatre.

It is a fact that the Seattle of even 10 years ago is drastically different than the Seattle of today. Bike lanes, Condominiums, Sound Transit Stations and a new NHL practice facility at Northgate have each contributed to the changing of our landscape. Although not as severe, Everett and even Shoreline are now undergoing transformations almost daily.

On any given afternoon I drive by specific sites that were once cultural landmarks. Parker's Ballroom on Aurora Avenue, once a world-famous music venue. The Twin Teepees (also on Aurora) where rumor has it that as a line cook, "The Colonel" Harland Sanders perfected his 7 herbs and spices. The Green Lake Aqua Theatre where Led Zeppelin performed on a floating stage … all are but distant memories.

Closer to Shoreline, Playland was once a family destination for vacationers from miles around and the great Will Rogers played his last game of polo at the once opulent Olympic Riding and Driving Club near Lake City.

Now I’m not suggesting that we shouldn’t find ways to accommodate our ever growing population or that a certain amount of change isn’t essential for a community to thrive, but I am suggesting that some places must be preserved ... at all cost.

The historic Everett Theatre played films
and hosted live entertainment
 

As a singer, I am honored to have had the pleasure of performing on the stage of the Historic Everett Theatre in Everett, WA more than once. A venue that first opened its doors on November 4, 1901 as the Everett Opera House and has played host to some of entertainment's biggest names including the likes of Lon Chaney, Helen Keller, Al Jolson, Nat King Cole, as well as some of the biggest stars of today.

I hear it said all the time by musicians and music lovers alike...“there just aren’t any places to play or to see live music any longer.” Indeed for many years now the Everett Theatre has filled a niche. One that is becoming more and more difficult to fill. Hosting events of every kind including local bands, comedians, singles nights, classic movies and as mentioned above national acts.

So, if you’re one of those musicians complaining about having nowhere to play, here’s an opportunity to put your money where your mouth is.

The manager of the Everett Theatre, Curt Shriner, recently experienced the loss of his beloved wife Laura whom he would describe as the glue that held the theatre together. Having met them both I can testify that every community needs local citizens like Curt and Laura - stewards who are committed to the preservation of local landmarks. Her loss has certainly dealt a blow to the family as well as the Everett and surrounding music communities.

A theatre this old is expensive to maintain and without help, it is sure to become just another memory.

The truth is it would be easy to close up shop and sell this prime piece of real estate to developers, something Curt’s brother, who owns the property, has proposed. However, on behalf of his wife Laura who put her heart and soul into its operation, Curt hopes to prevent that from happening and so far his brother is amenable to the idea.

Unfortunately, that requires support. Support from local musicians, local music lovers and even those who might not find themselves attending a show at the Everett Theatre all that often. So, we are now faced with a desperate situation.

Musician Lee Oskar calls
Everett home and wants to
save the Theatre

Everett is lucky to have as one of its citizens Lee Oskar. Lee is an internationally acclaimed harmonica virtuoso, composer, producer, harmonica manufacturer, and lifelong musical explorer. 

He is renowned for his iconic role as a founding member and lead harmonica player of the pioneering funk/jazz band who composed and recorded such hits as “Low Rider,” “Spill the Wine,” “Cisco Kid,” “The World is a Ghetto,” “Slippin’ into Darkness,” “Why Can’t We Be Friends,” and many more chart-topping hits from 1969-1993. 

The band received Gold and Platinum awards for its nearly 30 live, studio and compilation albums and some 60 singles. Since then, Oskar and several of his original bandmates from that era continue to perform internationally as the Low Rider Band.

Lee and his wife Sri, who couldn’t be happier to call their beloved Everett home, have enlisted some of their famous and very talented friends to perform a benefit March 6th at 8pm. 
Also performing that evening in an effort to preserve this iconic structure will be School of Rock at 7:15pm. These young musicians understand the importance of protecting this historic venue for future generations, including their own.

Tickets are being sold via the Theatre's website and all proceeds will be donated to assist in its continued operation.

If you’ve never been to this incredible venue where American composer George M. Cohan and Hollywood royalty John Barrymore entertained audiences, you owe it to yourself to witness its majesty… at least once.

If for some reason your schedule won’t allow you to attend, a Gofundme campaign has been set up to assist in its preservation. 
Be a part of saving one of the area's last great movie houses and concert halls.

When, in the future, your grandchildren are able to attend an event there or better yet, perform on its magical stage, they’ll thank you for your kindness and generosity.



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