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Perspective of Seattle through the Moore Theater

Adam Carolla at the Moore Theater in Seattle with Ron and Don. (Nicole Thompson, KIRO Radio)

Last night Don and I stepped onstage at the Moore Theater as guests for the Adam Carolla Show. We were tasked to match wits with Adam to a nearly sold out audience. While I can’t say that happened, Adam definitely had command of the stage, I do think I landed a few jokes of my own.

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While we were waiting to go on in the wings stage right, I couldn’t help but flash back on a vivid memory that seems like a lifetime ago. It was right before we started our radio career. August of 1995, and I was trying to find my way into the entertainment business. I was hired to be part of the crew for the Mad Season concert at the Moore Theater.

If you weren’t in Seattle at the time, Mad Season was a local super group made up of Pearl Jam’s guitarist Mike McCready and Alice In Chains lead vocalist Layne Staley. Rounding out the group was the drummer from Screaming Trees Barrett Martin and my favorite vocalist of the era Mark Lanegan, the front man from Screaming Trees.

They had one fairly popular song at the time  — “River of Deceit” — and their album went Gold.

The band decided to film this show at the Moore and they wanted some behind the scenes footage. My job was to set up a multi camera video set in the  catacombs under the stage. Picture in your mind the “Hello Cleveland” scene from Spinal Tap for the location. My producers wanted interview footage of Mike McCready and Layne Staley together. At the time, this was a very big gig for me. I was super nervous.

I studied up on all the bands, and had my notes written out on index cards. I showed up extra early so I could set up all the cameras and lights. I tested the microphones about 10 times, and then I waited. And waited. And waited some more.

Finally Mike McCready came by and said that Layne wasn’t going to make it. We did a quick interview on camera, but I don’t think it was ever used in the final edit.

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Ron Upshaw and Adam Carolla at the Moore Theater in Seattle. (Ron Upshaw, KIRO Radio)

I heard rumblings backstage about Layne and drugs, but I just kept my head down and tried to do my job. I do have a strong recollection of Staley showing up in August wearing a long sweater and fingerless gloves. I was sweating bullets and “this guy needs a sweater,” I thought.

Alice In Chains had a number one album shortly after this date, and then Layne Staley essentially became a recluse. Don and I were doing morning drive here in Seattle on April 5, 2002 when Layne’s body was discovered. It seemed at the time like the end of an era.

An era for me that was summed up that night I was backstage at the Moore. It was a who’s who of Seattle music royalty. I feel lucky that I was a fly on the wall that night, and lucky to be asked to be on the stage last night.

Something special happened musically in the Pacific Northwest in the ’90s. I’m glad I was here to experience it.

“What Are We Talking About Here” can be heard every weekday at 4:50 p.m. and 6:50 p.m. on the Ron & Don Show on KIRO Radio 97.3 FM.

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