Prowler returns to the Valley to rock the Snoqualmie Casino

By Brian Woodwick, For the Valley Record

By Brian Woodwick, For the Valley Record

40 years ago, Snoqualmie-based band Prowler won the Battle of the Bands in Bellevue against musicians that would go on to become Queensryche, Alice In Chains, Faster Pussycat and others. All the original members reunited Sept. 17 for a show at the Snoqualmie Casino opening for Stephan Pearcy of Ratt.

The band was very appreciative of the raucous and warm welcome received from old and new friends in attendance. The band played a set of all original songs this night. In memory of the Battle of the Bands anniversary, the band has been working on recording and releasing a CD of their work. They had set out to have a CD release show somewhere in the Valley. They were having a hard time finding a place to play when the casino stepped in and offered a place to perform to their hometown crowd.

The band features Carl Busser on drums, Tim Divers on bass and Ryan Stillwell on guitars, all from Fall City, along with vocalist Michael Orr from Snoqualmie/North Bend and Mark Benzion from Bellevue on lead guitar.

The band was formed from two rival Valley bands and their first show was for Alpine Days at Si View Park community center in 1981. They would play at the Union Hall in Snoqualmie (now a wine tasting business), the Fall City Gymnasium, Mt. Si High School and Littlejohn’s Field near what is now the event facility. They also branched out to bars and clubs around the Seattle area, mostly on the Eastside. After Ryan Stillwell left the band, they entered the Battle of the Bands, which was run by former Unicam booking agent Craig Cooke for the Crossroads Skate Center in Bellevue’s Lake Hills.

Prowler had been working on attaining bookings in the bigger clubs and were gaining traction at this time. It was thought this Battle of the Bands may gain them some contacts and further exposure.

They ended up cruising through the opening rounds and ended up in the finals, which was on the same night as they were slated to play another Alpine Days show.

Electing to play the showdown for the battle instead of the North Bend show did elicit some ill will from the North Bend Chamber of Commerce, but was the correct business decision for the band, as they ended up winning the competition and their place in the local musical history books.

They were then booked by Craig Cook’s booking agency and played many shows in high schools from Marysville to Vashon Island to Morton. They opened for Rail and their last show in this era was opening for Missing Persons in the Wave Spectacular at the Seattle Center Arena in 1982.

Following this event, the band imploded and band members went their own way. Mark and Carl ended up playing in various bands, with Mark playing continuously since then in one band after another. Carl was placed in several bands and played on several CD releases, mostly for Colorado-based acts. Mark worked at Boeing before retiring this past year. Carl runs a successful plumbing business, Avalanche Plumbing in Alamosa, Colorado, near the Great Sand Dunes.

Michael relocated to Port Townsend and worked at the mill there for many years while lending his voice for various projects.

Tim Divers started Divers Street Rods and then Notchead Fasteners in Sultan, Washington. He won the Riddler Award at the Detroit Autorama in 2009 for his Ferrambo car and has multiple cars in the LeMay Auto Museum. Their stage manager and sound engineer James Westlake started Frankie’s Pizza with his wife in North Bend and is still active in the Valley. The band members have kept in touch and have gotten together periodically over the years.

Northwest Metalworx, a Northwest company specializing in bringing 1980s local metal bands to vinyl and CDs, started writing an encyclopedia, called Rusted Metal, to encapsulate the local hard rock and metal scene and bands from the 1970s through 1995. This treasured and extensive door stopper of a book was released in 2020. The book was written by James R Beach, with Brian L. Naron, James D. Sutton and James Tolin. It also includes many photos by the photographer of this piece as well. ( In addition to the books, they reissue or release music, primarily on vinyl of Northwest metal bands including the Metal Fest compilations (volume 2) called “Lake Hills Revisited” that featured the Prowler song “Lady of the Night” from the band’s demo tapes. The owners of this company also reimagined the Metal Fest concept and put together live shows featuring local metal bands. James reached out and offered a spot to Prowler and they reunited and played the Northwest Metal Fest in Seattle in 2019.

In 2019, Prowler started thinking about getting together to record a CD of their old songs. They had recorded a few demos back in 1982, but were never happy with the quality of those recordings and had several songs that had not been recorded. They began to target 2022 since that would be the 40 year anniversary of the Battle of the Bands.

That project led to the Sept. 17 show at the Snoqualmie Casino.

The band is very appreciative for all the help and support from Snoqualmie Tribal Chief Nathan Patrick Barker in making this show happen.

For this show, the band’s set list was all originals. They opened the show with just Carl on drums and then into “Sweet Sixteen” and “User Abuser.” The Valley crowd was in full-throated support for their band that had not played here in 40 years. Following a little interaction with the crowd, they proceeded to “Play to Win,” “Bark Like a Dog,” which was never recorded before, and then “Rocked on Anyway.” The audience was enthusiastically and vocally supportive as they went on to play “Say You Love Me” and then “Room to Run” before closing with the song that was included on the Northwest Metal Worx compilation album “Volume 2 – Lake Hills Revisited” released in 2019, which was “Lady of the Night.” This song received some airplay on KISW when it was released.

Prowler has played some big halls and large and small venues including bars and schools. But the casino is one of the nicest rooms they have played. Certainly one of the better, if not the best, sound systems they played with. Prowler was very satisfied how they were received at the casino and by the fans. They have always been treated well in the Valley and were happy to play once more in their original stomping grounds, and were very happy to have survived without serious injury! The music for the CD has been recorded and is currently being mixed for release shortly. The CD will be distributed by Northwest Metalworx through their network. Prowler can be contacted on Facebook or email at