Drown by the River

Rhythm, blues, and The Annex.

Based on its location near the south end of Boeing Field, the Annex should be a bar where a bunch of pot-bellied machinists come to obliterate the daily grind with whiskey and bitch about their jobs. Yeah, well, not quite. The Annex's crowd, especially for weekend karaoke, is mostly middle-aged black people. Many of them dress neatly; no grubby coveralls on the barstools here. Everyone seems to know the lyrics of virtually every song that comes on the jukebox, and virtually every song is of the rhythm-and-blues variety. A pebble's skip from the Duwamish in the midst of heavy industry, the Annex benefits from about zero foot traffic—it's not the sort of bar you just stumble into. To wit, on a recent Thursday evening, there was a man named Harold seated at the bar. Harold lives in Atlanta, but he used to live in Detroit, and is a ringer for Pistons legend Joe Dumars. Harold's in town on business, and is staying near the airport, as he always does. Tired of unwinding in the monotonous hotel bars of International Boulevard, Harold was steered north to where Seattle meets Tukwila. The bar came highly recommended, so Harold came to the bar. And judging from the smile on his face, the booze in his throat, and the songs in the air, he had no regrets—not a one.  

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