The Evin Rudes Walk the Line Between Love and Danger

They are the antithesis of hip.

The Evin Rudes are a cover band consisting of three middle-aged men—Ed, Dan, and Jim—who met in high school and wear monogrammed polo shirts onstage. Drawing liberally from the catalogs of Men at Work, Foreigner, Stevie Ray Vaughan, and Grand Funk Railroad, the band is named after a popular brand of outboard boat motors. One member lives in Burien, another in Kirkland; the third is a high-school English teacher who resides in Bothell.

They are, in short, the antithesis of hip.

Content to simply be playing with one another after bandying the idea about for some three decades, the Evin Rudes, after playing the likes of Al Lago Ristorante in Lake Tapps, the Hat Island Yacht Club Commodores Ball, and the Olde Burien Block Party, recently found themselves at a crossroads. Specifically, they wanted to start playing in the big city, and told their booker to “book us anywhere,” says Ed Kion, the band’s lead singer and keyboardist.

Their booker took them at their word and then some: He booked them to play the County Line.

Situated next to the decrepit South Park Bridge on a sliver of unincorporated King County surrounded by incorporated Seattle—the city won’t annex the land because it doesn’t want to bear the brunt of the bridge’s repair tab—the County Line is a roadhouse’s roadhouse. On certain nights, it can make the Patrick Swayze film of the same name look tame. It could be the most dangerous bar in the city (but not technically in the city), situated next to Seattle’s most dangerous bridge (also not technically in Seattle).

There’s a fine line between love and danger, and that line exists somewhere between the fifth and ninth whiskey. The County Line is set up to tempt such combustibility. Its interior can best be described as mess-hall chic, with awkwardly placed ceiling beams, drywall galore, and a pay-to-spray cologne dispenser in the men’s room (no condoms, though—Hugo Boss hit-and-run bastards in the offing). The crowd is an odd mix of all-day drunks, blue-collar clock punchers, carton-a-day lovelies, and Mexican cowboys, and none of these people are shy about springing from their chairs to perform a dance solo underneath a tiny disco ball between stage and bar. Sometimes they dance in pairs, and when such a pair is really hammered, the floor show is more reminiscent of a Greco-Roman grapple than dancing.

All of this serves to create a natural tension in the air; love could turn to danger with the spill of a glass. This is a bar on the edge, where it’s gotta be—100 percent irony-free, much like the band gracing its stage on a recent Friday night.

Between renditions of John Cougar Mellencamp’s “Hurts So Good” and Journey’s “Lovin’, Touchin’, Squeezin’,” Evin Rudes keyboardist Ed Kion quips from the stage: “Can I have the jambalaya with a side of Condoleezza Rice?” This follows his earlier one-liners: “I put the wrong tape in; I’ll never be able to lip-sync this one,” and, “If we don’t do all these fast songs now, we get all fucked up.”

Peculiar between-song banter is a staple of an Evin Rudes set, and Kion’s patter spans the globe. Oftentimes, he will speak in a manner similar to the politically incorrect Mexican caricature Speedy Gonzalez, a ballsy choice considering the ethnic makeup of a good portion of the County Line’s crowd.

“They don’t speak English, and I do Speedy in English,” jokes Kion, in mock redneck posture.

Walled in by freeways, heavy industry, and the Duwamish River, South Park is a south-side, working-class neighborhood that most Seattleites don’t know how to get to. Its main drag is a bilingual cornucopia of Mexican tiendas, inexpensive restaurants, and austere work spaces. In a predominantly Caucasian city that loves to preach diversity, South Park is the rare walk to that talk, with the County Line serving as its nightly rainbow-flavored chemistry experiment.

Far removed from environs such as the Past Time in Sultan and the Gig Harbor Eagles, the County Line has evolved into a monthly gig for the Evin Rudes, who first played the bar this past June. Toeing the fine line between love and danger, the trio has felt the former attribute in abundance.

“We look forward to this gig every month,” says Kion. “The people are wonderful.”

Shortly before midnight, the Evin Rudes retake the stage for their final set of the night. They play, in succession, tracks by Dire Straits, Kenny Loggins, and Hall & Oates before easing into “Drive” by the Cars.

“Who’s gonna drive you home tonight?” beckons Kion to the crowd, some of whom are slow dancing.

Hopefully a taxi, and hopefully not alone.