Before Eric Claption, Eddie Van Halen, Jimmy Page, Ritchie Blackmore, and Mark Knopfler, there was this kid from Puyallup - Nokie Edwards. Lead guitarist Edwards, who performed with his longtime band mate rhythm guitarist Don Wilson and The Ventures Thursday at the Crystal Ballroom in Portland, rocked their famous hits such as "Walk Don't Run '64," "Telestar," "Apache," "Penetration," and "Wipe Out," as well as surf-out themes from "Hawaii Five-O," "Secret Agent Man," and "The Outer Limits." The packed balcony of hipsters from the early ‘60s from the Ballroom's balcony enthusiastically rattled the keys for their 1963 Ford Galaxies.
"Walk Don't Run" was the first song I learned how to play on guitar," said the 20-something bellhop at the Hotel deLuxe down the street from the Ballroom.
The Ventures, the pioneering instrumental surf band formed in Tacoma 53 years ago, performed before a half-capacity crowd - most in their 50s and 60s - and a contingent from Tacoma. The crowd danced. The Ballroom employees played air guitar. The Tacoma contingent drank.
Joining golden-era guitarists Edwards and Wilson was "The 5th Venture" bassist Bob Spalding and drummer Leon Taylor, the son of the late Mel Taylor, one of the earlier drummers for the Ventures. Co-founding guitarist Bob Bogle died in 2009. The band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2008.
The Ventures brought their A-plus game for this rare Northwest concert appearance. With Wilson hanging 10 on the rhythm chords on his left, guitar god Edwards took center stage, in chair, and proved why many famous musicians name Edwards and The Ventures as the reason why their in the business.