Blue Scholars and Tuba Man

First – probably for today only, the Blue Scholars new album, Cinemetropolis, is available for $5 from Amazon MP3. Everyone should buy this. If you’re unimpressed by the beats in the first cut you need to check your pulse.

While listening to their homage to Seattle’s neighborhoods and unsung heroes, Slick Watts, I went looking for information on Slick and found this short form video they made for the song and featuring the ex-Sonic.

The video seemed a little weird to me because I can’t pretend I’ve got the sports or local roots to fully appreciate it. But toward the end of the video while they’re sitting around a gabling table reflecting on the games, Saba nails it:

…out of all of that – nothing’s gonna compare to seeing Tuba Man playing outside the game.

Tuba Man (Ed McMichael) was practically a Seattle institution. He was this awesome, friendly guy who you’d find outside almost every sports event in the city and usually inside the game, too. Before the games, he would sit outside the Kingdome, Key Arena, or Safeco gently tooting his tuba. A lot of the time it didn’t really sound like music, but that was well beside the point – his bleating was the perfect soundtrack to a dark Seattle night before an NBA game or even in the summer. He played for money and was always happy to talk with anyone who approached. If I was on closer terms with him he might have shared some of the giant jugs of juice he always seemed to surround himself by, I don’t know, but I definitely remember introducing to my dog, Io, one winter while he was playing near the fountain at Seattle Center. Io was VERY curious what animal was making the noises coming from Tuba Man’s horn and wanted to go up and say hello but as soon as he heard Tuba Man’s booming voice he decided they wouldn’t have a lasting friendship. Tuba Man laughed about this and kept playing.

My other memory about Tuba Man is that trying to find him inside the games was always like a real life “Where’s Waldo?” He was usually there – I remember during Mariner’s games he had a big foam M he would put on his head and whenever the home team scored he would get up and dance (march) in his seat until they stopped playing the “we scored” music over the PA. He was awesome. His story ends sadly and if you’re interested, you can read about his murder on the wikipedia page. I think he’d be happier to be remembered as he was in life, like in this video:

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