Edmonds Art Beat: Catching up with John Pinetree and the Yellin’ Degenerates, plus Wreath Walk and vintage Christmas cards

An interview with John “Pinetree” Paynich

John Paynich

I had the fantastic opportunity to catch up with Edmonds’ own John “Pinetree” Paynich recently and am excited to share what I learned with our readers. I have been following John Pinetree and the Yellin’ Degenerates for a while now. Before COVID, they were playing quite a bit — over 40 gigs in 2019 and scheduled for 30 shows coming into the beginning of 2020. Like many other musicians, when live music was shut down, the group had to shift its focus. This eclectic grouping of incredibly accomplished musicians and the energy of their collaborations are what drew me in from the beginning. I discovered there is so much more about this band than I ever knew!

John has brought together a stellar group of musicians. Another John — John Tobin — is on keyboards. John Tobin grew up in Ireland and has toured with several national acts. He has incredible jazz chops and feel and loves funk and blues. John Paynich’s good friend Eric Thompson is on guitar and is also a singer/songwriter. Paynich and Thompson have been working closely together for a long time, most recently writing music together and spending a lot of (socially-distanced) time hanging out on the porch and collaborating on new tunes. Paynich shared that Thompson is a musician with an enthusiastic performance style and is a great songwriter, someone who is helping Paynich craft and arrange tunes. There is another Jon in the mix too — Jon Grant plays both upright and electric bass. Paynich refers to him as “the perfect bass player, holding the band together like glue.” Grant grew up in Alabama, spent time in Memphis, and toured with a jam band for some time before ending up in the Northwest. To complete the group there is a Grammy-award winning drummer, Bill Ray. Ray has done numerous recordings all over the world. Paynich warmly described him as a “really special drummer, incredibly intelligent with one of the best internal metronomes ever experienced.”

Paynich himself is a singer/songwriter. For a good portion of his earlier musical career he was a harmonica player, playing with some of the greats like G Love and Special Sauce, Taj Mahal and even James Brown. After touring and playing, he moved to Seattle and picked up the guitar. Paynich jokingly shared that when you move to Seattle, they give you a guitar. After several guitars were gifted to him over the years, he took it as a sign to start playing and writing his own music.

Paynich’s songwriting has been a way for him to find his voice and to speak to issues, both politically and compassionately. Many of his tunes are about inequity, climate change and racial division. The band will be debuting a song that Paynich and Thompson co-wrote last spring during the week of Juneteenth called Highway 51. It is about an actual highway that runs from New Orleans to Wisconsin, and the song follows some of the racial atrocities that have befallen the American people — and culminates in a moment of hope.

Paynich’s influences are a mix of jazz, funk, soul and even a little country gospel. Each member of the band brings influences and music from so many different time periods and genres. Paynich shared that he is incredibly thankful for the support he has received from the Seattle music community and for the opportunity to play with such a talented group of musicians.

Talking with Paynich was incredibly uplifting and inspiring. I think I can now be described as a mega-fan of John Pinetree and the Yellin’ Degenerates, and I can’t wait to hear their newest recording, which will be live taped on Saturday, Nov. 14 at 5:30 p.m. from the Firehouse AEC in Bellingham. Follow John on Facebook for updates on the band and where you can hear their newest originals. Can’t wait to see this band play live again!

DeMiero Jazz Fest is going virtual

The DeMiero Jazz Fest is officially up and running virtually. The DeMiero Jazz Festival YouTube channel has two video masterclasses available and also includes information about the 2021 JazzFest. In addition, there will be a week of virtual auctions and live performances for an upcoming One FanJAZZtic event happening from Nov. 27 through Dec. 5. The community’s support during this event will help continue one of the country’s most important non-competitive vocal jazzfestivals. The event is free and registration can be completed here.

Check out the inaugural Wreath Walk Edmonds

With Art Walks still in pause, there is a new way to experience the wonderful artistic presence in our city. Art Walk Edmonds is starting a new tradition this year. All around downtown Edmonds you can find original, artist-designed and decorated wreaths from now through Dec. 31. A map of the wreaths with descriptions can be found here.

Vintage Christmas cards are back at Cascadia Art Museum

Santa Resting in a Hardoy Chair, 1952, relief and halftone print

Cascadia Art Museum’s annual holiday exhibition, Vintage Christmas Cards by Northwest Artists, 1900-1990s, is now open. The annual exhibition of more than 200 handmade Christmas cards by Northwest artists and designers is consistently one of the most popular shows at the museum. You can also pick up a copy of the publication Vintage Christmas Cards by Northwest Artists and your own selection of holiday cards at the museum store. Learn more here.

— By Rachel Gardner

Rachel Gardner has a heartfelt appreciation for art in all forms and believes everyone is an artist, some just don’t know it yet. A dedicated and involved Edmonds resident, she can often be spotted onstage cracking jokes between sets or in the audience enjoying local live performances. She enjoys being playful with her art and finding unique ways of expression, like forming a boho-grunge-folk ukulele trio with local Edmonds moms.


  1. We had John do a remodel on our bathroom last year, great work. He had just completed the same kind of job for our neighbors and that is how we found out about him and we were glad we got to know him. Then we went out to hear him play one night and really enjoyed the music. Catch him if you can it is worth the effort.
    David Thorpe

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