Uncle Cookie Plays Whitey’s Good Time Tavern

Posted: July 6, 2011 in Miscellaneous

In the late 1970s, with few available Seattle venues, Conrad Uno’s Uncle Cookie ventured into rural Washington in search of a place to play.  Cookie’s agent got the band a show at Whitey’s Good Time Tavern, a biker bar about halfway between Seattle and Olympia.  The bar attracted soldiers from nearby Fort Lewis and thus had its inevitable military-biker confrontations.  As one might expect, Whitey’s was not the ideal place for a Seattle punk band to play.  Desperate for a gig, however, Cookie agreed to play the club.  “We had figured out that we could get weekends in some crummy clubs if we learned to do cover songs,” says Uno.  “And [we] played our cards fairly close to the vest, because some of us in the band weren’t sure if we were gay or not.”

Uncle Cookie began their first set without incident, playing Rolling Stones covers while sprinkling in an occasional original.  Uno, playing bass, wore what he calls his ‘typical rock garb,’ basically a black tee semi-covered by a long sleeve shirt with rolled-up sleeves.  The t-shirt had the words “Harley Davidson” embossed on the front in gold glitter.  That didn’t sit well with the biker crowd.  After the first set, a biker approached Uno and told him Gorgeous George, the biker gang leader, wanted a word with him.  Uno ambled over to George, who turned out to be an imposing specimen.  “And he reaches over and pulls my [outer] shirt forward,” Uno recalls, “and looks down at my t-shirt, puts it back and says, ‘Don’t wear that tomorrow.’”  Uno’s response?  “Yes, sir.”

The highlight at Whitey’s was the nightly sign-off.  At closing time, Whitey himself would get on the PA and shout obscenities at the patrons to get them out.  The bemused bikers knew the drill and would quietly get up and leave.  The effect was enhanced by speakers that were in such bad shape that Whitey’s screaming insults came out as garbled shrieks.

(Quotes used with Conrad Uno’s permission.)

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