Singing the blues with Duffy Bishop

No conversation about the Pacific Northwest blues is complete without a nod to Duffy Bishop.

The legendary singer has been honored time and again for her powerful vocals, as a member of both the Washington Blues Society and Oregon Cascade Blues Associations Halls of Fame, while also earning the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Cascade Blues Association in 2010.

If you’re less inclined for that genre, you may also recognize her name from her mid-90s easy listening holiday favorite, “Sippin’ in Seattle’s Latte Land,” which is played to this day in the lead-up to Christmas. 

A few years ago, Bishop made the move across the country to St. Augustine, Florida., but she’ll be back in Seattle later this month for a one-night performance at Teatro ZinZanni (222 Mercer St.) in partnership with the Highway 99 Blues Club.

Tickets for the July 20 show, which begins at 7:30 p.m. (doors open one hour prior), start at $20 and are available at


Q: Take me through your history with Teatro.

Duffy Bishop: I joined Teatro ZinZanni in 1999. They opened three months prior to that, the end of 1998, and Ann Wilson of Heart was doing a show, and I think [Founder and Artistic Director] Norm Langill thought he was just going to try doing the show for a month in Seattle to see how it went, and it ended up being successful, and Ann needed to go on tour, and I auditioned and got into the part of the chanteuse at the time. And did the show for eight months then, and then took a break because I was working on the band, and didn’t want to be away from home for so long.

But the next time I went back to do the show, they hired my husband, Chris Carlson, also, and he played in the band and we’ve been doing that ever since. The last place we played with the show was in Costa Mesa, I think it was 2012, and then I took some time off.


Q: And what makes the experience of performing at Zinzanni so different than any other venue?

Bishop: It’s a magical place that, as a kid I always dreamed of getting to play in a place like that. Those beautiful, hand-crafted Spiegeltents that are enchanting, and old buildings, you know, from I guess there’s 13 of them left that are owned by a family in Belgium … they’re like little jewel boxes.

And getting to meet people from all over the world, great performers, acrobats, magicians, tap dancers, aerialists, contortionists, opera singers, drag queens, and all in that great, great tent with wonderful music and lights and costumes, and just, it’s great. IT’s been like a family for us. We’ve met people that we will always have in our lives.


Q: You’re back on the 20th, what is that show going to look like ? What should be people expect?

Bishop: That show is our band, so it will be some of the original members of the Rhythm Dogs, we used to play in Seattle back in the 1980s through the 1990s, and now, two of the members are playing with Zinzanni, so this will be in conjunction, supported by Highway 99 [Blues Club] and also Peter Dammann and Erika Olson — they have a lot to do with the Waterfront Blues Festival, and Winthrop [Rhythm and Blues Festival], and the Blues Society, and so we’re doing a show that is part performance, but certainly there for people to dance also, and we’ll have some guests that sang on old recordings that we did, and it should be a lot of fun.


Q: Besides this set of shows, what have you been up to recently?

Bishop: Well we live in Florida, St. Augustine, Florida, so we’ve been playing with different musicians down here. We’re coming to of course, we’re getting into town of the 16th, into Seattle, but we’re also doing other festivals out there. We’re going to do the Ellensburg jazz festival, we’ll play at the muse, and a night down in Portland, but we’ve been playing a lot up and down the coast here in Florida, over on the West Coast of Florida, and down in the south part, and then we have a few gigs that we do normally, once a month, around here in St. Augustine, the oldest city in the country.


Q: How does it feel to be coming back to the Northwest for a bit?

Bishop: Oh, it will be wonderful. It’s always good because, of course, we’ve got years and years in the Northwest. Chris grew up here in Jacksonville, but he went to the University of Washington, and I met him in band called Cool Ray & the Shades back in 1983, and we lived in the Northwest until two years ago, so, it will be great to come back and play with our friends and see our family of friends, so to speak.


Q: And for those who may be on the fence about going, what your pitch to them?

Bishop: It’s going to be a reunion! It’s going to be so much. There’ll be old and young, old music, new music, and just a chance to really have a great time. And be in the tent. It’s hopefully an evening to remember, that’s what we’re hoping for.