Whispering Johnson

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Jim Fricke - Guitar and vocal Oren Sreebny - Bass Kurt Fricke - Drums

Whispering Johnson plays "Roots" music.

It's just that their roots are a bit twisted. A few years ago, Whispering Johnson - brothers Jim and Kurt Fricke on guitar and drums, and Oren Sreebny on bass - were playing primarily R&B and blues covers, happy in having finally mastered the arcane art of the formless Delta blues. Searching for a new challenge, Jim decided it was time to own up to his real roots - instrumental pop music of the '50s and '60s. See, Jim and Kurt grew up in Issaquah, not Clarksdale, Mississippi, and the records they heard around the house were Henry Mancini, Acker Bilk & Bent Fabric, Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass. For their next gig they played some old standards like "Alley Cat" and "Whipped Cream," and discovered that these songs touched their Northwest audience in ways that "Do the Do" and "I Can't Be Satisfied" couldn't approach. Jim promptly gave up his quest to write the great pop song and went back to his first love, writing little instrumental ditties.

The repertoire is new, but the group isn't. Jim left his lounge-funk band in 1976 to join Oren's granola-rock collective Wet Paint. The group played around the Northwest until 1979, when Jim and Oren quit to form Art Object, a punk/no-wave group whose 1980 EP is now a highly sought-after collector's item. In 1980 they drafted Kurt into their next outfit, Eddie & the Atlantics. The Atlantics were staples of the early-'80s Northwest club scene, and continued to perform when Jim and Oren quit in 1983 to pursue higher education and real careers. The trio got back together in 1993, and recorded a demo of this material, included here as What Happened to the Noise?

In 2004 the trio went back into the studio to record The Birthday Numbers.

Currently (as of September, 2004) Jim is residing in Milwaukie, Wisconsin having been lured away from Seattle to be the head curatorial person at the upcoming Harley-Davidson Museum.

Oren and Kurt are still in Seattle, wondering what musical experience will happen next. We're open to all suggestions!