Center for Disease Control Boys

This page was last edited on 11 October 2017, at 10:32.

The Center for Disease Control Boys were a Western swing band formed in Seattle, Washington in 1986. Their performances included a blend of original compositions, older songs written by such artists as Bob Wills, Asleep at the Wheel and Woody Guthrie, and populist artists whose opposing viewpoints and politically incorrect lyrics were more in sync with the politics of the times than the ubiquitous punk bands.

Their stage show used an array of props and costumes such as bales of hay, stuffed roosters, rubber trout, and wads of self printed "country currency" tossed into the crowd to mock the Federal Reserve and the demise of the dollar.

The band was only in existence for six months, but they are noteworthy for their ever-changing lineup of musicians and performers which included Chris Cornell of Soundgarden,[1] Jonathan Poneman, founder of Sub Pop Records, and Ben McMillan, lead singer for Skin Yard and Gruntruck.

Center for Disease Control Boys
CDC Boys Live, Central Tavern, Seattle 1986
Background information
Genres Western Swing
Years active 1986–1987
Labels Fin de Siecle Records
Past members Dean Wartti, George Hackett, Chris Cornell, Ben McMillan, Orville Johnson, Bob Maguire, Jonathan Poneman, Tamara Jones, Gary Heffern, Tim Bowman, Artie Palm


The CDC Boys were a design and musical collaboration between Dean Wartti and George Hackett. Wartti had a background in theatrical performance and design. He was manager and booking agent for the Ditto Tavern, which filled a void in the local music scene by providing a venue for folk, punk, art rock, and emerging grunge bands from the Northwest. Thus, he was in a perfect position to start the project.

Hackett was an accomplished guitarist who shared Wartti's interest in cultural satire, diverse musical tastes, politics and Austrian economics. As they wrote the songs and assembled the props and graphics, the two realized that a diverse cast of band members could be found within the roster of Ditto performers.

Rehearsals were held at the SKUD artists collective in Belltown, Seattle, Washington and an opening performance was booked at the Rainbow Tavern as part of a KCMU Showcase. Thus began the band's short but illustrious career.


The line up for the debut of the CDC Boys was:

The show also featured singing cowgirls who freely dispensed hay, empty Shake 'N' Bake boxes, and wads of 'country buckeroos.'

  • Cowgirl No. 1: Juliana Wood
  • Cowgirl No. 2: Debra June Connor

As the CDC Boys existed mainly as a side project for all concerned, the band's line up continued to change, and included at times:

  • Jonathan Poneman (bass)
  • Artie Palm (mouth harp, saxophone, and guitar)
  • Tim Bowman (accordion and musical saw)
  • Ben Thompson (Clay Alien, The Fantods) drums, and hay bale procurement following Cornell's departure to tour with Soundgarden

The CDC Boys concluded their brief career by releasing a 45 single "We're The Center for Disease Control Boys" b/w "Who We Hatin' Now, Mr. Reagan?" on their own Fin De Siecle label. Their final performance was at Seattle's annual Bumbershoot Festival, where they debuted a stirring opus to the Kennedy Assassination entitled, "Grassy Knoll."


Throughout their career, The Center for Disease Control Boys played only nine shows, but they put out a 45 vinyl single on Fin de Siecle Records in 1986.



  • Information from Sub Pop Records on Soundgarden and the CDC Boys:

  • Infopedia reference that list the CDC Boys as one of Chris Cornell's first bands:

  • Tribute to '80's bands, including the CDC Boys, from Variant Cause:

  • CDC Boys featured on Dr. Demento radio show, October 5, 1986:

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