Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The Boss Martians new CD

The Boss Martians is a band who's sound seems to be constantly growing and evolving. Yet, even from their surf rock beginnings, through their garage rock and punk middle period, to their current power pop explosion, the band has always incorporated a mix of elements from each genre.

Boss Martian's guitarist and frontman Evan Foster met the band's keyboard player Nick Contento back when they were still teenagers in the Tacoma rock scene. They formed The Boss Martians with the idea of incorporating their shared taste in garage rock, surf, punk and power pop. While the other band members have changed around a bit, they've been a solid unit with Scott Myrene on bass and Thomas Caviezel on drums for years.

The band recently released their tenth full-length album, for their full discography look here. With a large following around the States and Europe and so many releases under their belt, The Boss Martians always seem on the verge of making it bigger, but never quite make it there. I'm thinking with their latest album, "Pressure in the SODO," it might actually finally happen. In part because it's a major step up in production and features Iggy Pop, in part because it's their most polished and pop release yet.

The song "Mars is for Martians" was co-written by Foster with Iggy Pop. The story goes Iggy Pop liked the band and met Evan and they talked about writing a song together... months later Iggy gave Evan a list of the letters of the alphabet with a word for each one as the song lyrics. Ever creative, he was able to work them into a song that actually turned out great. I like the trade off in vocals between Pop and Foster, with Iggy's deep creepy and Evan's high-octane almost Rick Simm's style. The guitar riff and chorus are super catchy and it's one of the heavier songs on the album.

There's quite a bit of slower poppy songs, probably half the album, that leave me wanting more from the band. They are excellently executed, have great use of keys and play off '80s pop at times, but the music is just a little too clean and nice for me tastes. I really like the punchier stuff on the album, songs like "Power of Doubt," "Don't Wanna See You Again," "You've Taken Everything," "Stiletto," and "Hey Hey Yeah Yeah" - all catchy power pop songs with enough speed and garage rock sounds to keep me happy. I think the band excels the most on the songs that are a bit rougher around the edges and maintain a bit more of the rock'n'roll swagger of their past.

You can preview a few songs off the album and get a lot more information about the band on The Boss Martians Myspace page:

Useless trivia fact: They used my smoke machine to get the fog in the background in the photo used for the cover.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Briefs News: New bands and they still won't have beards!

From one of Seattle's funnest bands, The Briefs:

We are not broken up but we are doing other things for a little while!

DANIEL J. TRAVANTI is now playing with some of our friends from THE BODIES in a new band called MODERN ACTION! They have a single or two out and you can find them on the place we hate to love and love to hate, myspace.

CHRIS BRIEF is living in Berlin and has a new Band with CLOROX GIRLS front man, JUSTIN MAURER. The Band is Called SUSPECT PARTS. They have a single out and you can also find them on myspace.

STEVE E. NIX has started a band with STEVIE KICKS, and ZACHE ACTUALLY (of THE GIRLS), called THE CUTE LEPERS! They have a few singles, a video and a full length album out.

Guess where you can find them? Chances are you can find them playing in your town in August!!!! Go to their myspace page for tour dates! If youre low on cash you can email Steve direct, he'll send you a stack of posters, you put them up at all your favorite skate spots, bathrooms, and public swimming pools and you and 3 of your friends are in!!!!!!! For info on that you can visit the Cute Lepers myspace page....Help them out they need some posters up in COLORADO SPRINGS, KANSAS CITY MO, INDIANAPOLIS IN, PROVIDENCE RI, PITTSBURGH PA, RICHMOND VA, DALTON GA, PENSICOLA FL, NEW ORLEANS LA, OKLAHOMA CITY, and ALBUQUERQUE NM

As for the Briefs.....well think of us as traveling through space in a deep sleep, only when we finally wake up, we STILL wont have beards!!!!

Friday, July 25, 2008

This weekend in Seattle

The Capitol Hill Block Party is hitting Seatown starting today. I really won't bother to give a preview of it since it's The Stranger's festival and they are thoroughly covering all the bands on their blog Line Out, hop over and check out the action. I'm probably not going this year, the biggest acts I'm not into (Vampire Weekend and the Hold Steady) and while there are some smaller acts I'd like to see, I'm not too willing to brave festival crowds to do so. I really prefer dark booze-filled clubs and night time shows. I think the two acts I'd wanna see most are Jay Reatard, who I've seen a few times in his various bands, and Grand Ole Party, who have a big buzz going on in San Diego, but I haven't heard much of yet.

Along with the Block Party, there is of course, other shit going down. Most notably tonight, is this free show at the Comet with the Valkyries and Girls:

And then Saturday, The Funhouse has a day and night of fun planned starting at noon with a BMX bike exhibition featuring trick bike riding, DJs, beer, bbq and more. After the bike action, they have a doozy of show with 3 Found Dead, Old Man Smithers, noisemakers Bacchus, the return of Olympia's mighty Fitz Of Depression, The Shut-Ins (featuring Ben Shepherd of Soundgarden) and Brothers Of The Sonic Cloth (featuring Tad Doyle of TAD and Eric Akre of Christ on a Crutch).

The Sub Pop 20th Anniversary may be over, but members of some of the mightiest Sub Pop bands are gonna be rocking The Funhouse tonight for a measly $6.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Diner reviews: The Country Cousin

Halfway between Seattle, Washington and Portland, Oregon lies the town of Centralia. In pioneer times, the town was apparently the halfway stopover point for stagecoaches operating between the Columbia River and Seattle and hence the origins of it's name. My grandpa used to tell me about driving in an early Model T packed full of guys from Portland to Seattle for work and how the drive would take eight hours on dirt roads, so it's not hard to imagine the trip by stagecoach taking two days.

These days, the trip between Portland and Seattle along Interstate 5 generally runs 3 to 4 hours depending on traffic. Which still makes Centralia a convenient halfway point to stop at for gas, food or just a break from the road. But since there are now plenty of pit stops along the I-5 corridor, each one tries to have something unique to lure people to their town to spend money. Centralia's main attraction seems to be antique stores if you venture a few miles from the freeway to the proper downtown, as well as one hell of a crazy art house made out of piles of scrap metal. But closer to the freeway, for the casual stop, it's outlet mall stores, a big Safeway, competing gas stations and fast food.

Nestled in-between a Chevron station, Arby's and Denny's, is a gem of a restaurant that's easy to pass as too gimmicky, but is really worth checking out. The Country Cousin opened in 1973 and has been providing delicious comfort food for weary travelers ever since. The goal, claim the owners, is to be much more than just a restaurant, they want it to be an experience. And that experience is supposed to kinda be like visiting grandma's old farmhouse, complete with chickens outside, a barn-like exterior, and more old farm equipment and antiques then you've ever seen assembled into one place. There's even a rooster sound when you walk in the door.

Kitschy and tacky? Hell yes! And they know it and revel in it. The thing is though, they back it up with killer small town diner and comfort food, stiff drinks, and a fun atmosphere. I used to always stop at the Arby's in Centralia on road trips, while I'm generally not a fan of fast food, their Super sandwich always was a secret delight for me. But one year on Thanksgiving, Arby's was closed, so the girl and I decided to check out the nearby Country Cousin. We had turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy and all the fixings and it was great. Then on my way to the bathroom I stuck a buck in a pull tab machine and won $100, paying for our dinner and then some. Ever since I've been coming back, exploring the menu, and amazingly winning $100 or $200 at pull tabs here quite a few times, to the point where I think the place is lucky.

It wasn't until the second or third visit to the Country Cousin where we discovered the lounge, now that's the only place we eat here. It's 21+, dark, has fast drink and food service, never has a line for seating like the main restaurant... and it features an incredible painting of Burt Reynolds naked from an old Cosmopolitan photo shoot in the '80s. Damn, check this shit out:

Generally we stop at the Country Cousin for breakfast. They've got great biscuits and gravy, along with about every diner type of breakfast imaginable, they also make a mean Bloody Mary. But for lunch and dinner they have excellent pot roast, pulled pork, sandwiches of every kind, really quite a full menu. And it all tastes homemade, they don't skimp with prepackaged or fake tasting ingredients, everything tastes rich, heavy, cooked just right... just like grandma would do.

You can find the Country Cousin in Centralia, Washington just off Exit 82 from Interstate 5. Head West off the freeway and take your first right, just past the Chevron. You can't miss it, it's the big red barn just a stone's throw from the offramp. Definitely eat in the lounge, buy a few pull tabs, and take a picture next to Burt, but most importantly, enjoy their killer food.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Portland band The Prids in vanwreck on tour!

Portland rock band The Prids has a pretty bad van wreck in California Sunday night on their way to a show in LA.

"A tire blew, they lost control of the van and it rolled several times. David was airlifted from the scene of the crash, he suffered a broken collar bone, broken ribs and has 6 staples in his head. Chris broke his arm, and they are waiting for MRI results to determine if he's sustained a spinal injury. Maile has a broken vertebra and toe and a severe cut with stitches on her knee. Joey broke ribs, Mistina suffered a concussion, and as far as I know Kristin is in similar shape. As of late tonight, everyone but Chris has been released from the hospital, and they are staying at a hotel in Fresno."

As of this morning Chris was released from the hospital, but David went back during the night because he was vomiting blood. He's on a morphine drip and stable. Friends are picking up the band members and any equipment that survived the wreck. Their van is totaled and they are going to have pretty hefty hospital bills. Fundraisers are being planned and anyone that wants to donate to the band via Paypal is encouraged to do so to:

Profane Existence ends it's record label

From the new Profane Existence newsletter, truly a sign of the times:

Yes the rumors are true and PE will cease to be an active records label once the current batch of new releases are complete. These include the following releases that will be out in July and August.:

IMPERIAL LEATHER "Do You Know Where Your Children Are" LP
IMPERIAL LEATHER "Do You Know Where Your Children Are" 2x7"
RESISTANT CULTURE "Welcome to Reality" LP
WARTORN Tainting Tomorrow with the Blood of Yesterday LP/CD

ALL OTHER SCHEDULED RELEASES WILL BE CONSIDERED CANCELLED and any pre-orders received for other titles will be cancelled and/or refunded. Current subscribers to the CDs of PE subscription are given the choice of having their remaining subscription balances refunded, converted to magazine subscriptions or applied to cooperative memberships membership. The publication of Profane Existence Magazine will not be affected by the
record label shutting down and PE Distribution will continue to operation into the foreseeable future.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Green River secret show videos!

Jim Hucks shot some cool video action at the secret Green River reunion show last week at Ballard's Sunset Tavern. He was cool enough to let me repost them here, so check it out. It gives you a pretty decent feel for the evening.



Jim shot a bunch of other cool stuff, including Mudhoney and Green River at the Sub Pop 20th Anniversary show, check all his videos out here.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

The Bronx: New album coming soon!

The first album by LA band The Bronx completely blew me away, it was a great mix of hardcore and rock that featured songs that were both hard and totally catchy. Their second album not so much, it was a bit less punk and more rock. I hated it at first, honestly, it was a big let down to me. But after repeated listens, it really grew on me and I began to like it a lot. It's really a different beast to be appreciated in a different way, but still, I loved the energy level of their first LP and it's become one of my favorite albums. Recently The Bronx has been on the Warped tour, which I won't go see, and their role as Black Flag in the Germs movie will finally see the light of day as "What We Do Is Secret" is finally getting distribution. They've also been recording and working on a new album. Well, actually two albums, reportedly the band is also recording a mariachi album and has added new members to fill out their mariachi band. Crazy. Meanwhile, the band released it's first song from the new electric album for free download via MySpace and it both rocks and is a promising for the energy level of the album to follow. Check it out, it's called "Knifeman".

Wanna catch the band live on the Warped tour? Their Northwest dates are below:
August 8, 2008, Idaho Center Amphitheater in Boise, Idaho
August 9, 2008, Gorge Amphitheater in George, Washington
August 10, 2008 Columbia Meadows in Portland, Oregon

And for the curious, here's a video of the band doing a Mariachi version of one of their songs live:

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Seattle: Weird movies and rockin' rock Thursday!

Nuthouse is a newish media and arts organization in Seattle starting to make some noise. This Thursday at the Rendezvous they have a cool event with a DJ, short movies by local filmmakers, and a few bands: The Shankers and The Femurs. I haven't seen The Shankers before, but The Femurs are great, they are a poppy punk two piece featuring Rob Femur, who used to do the punk show on The End (and always seems to be wearing a different Ramones shirt every time I see him!). The whole shindig is only $5. Here's The Femurs live at the High Dive, shot by Ryan Worsley, one of the filmmakers that will have a movie at the show:

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Hey Seattle, free Jesus & Mary Chain tickets!

Occasionally when shows at the Showbox don't sell out, they offer free tickets to people on their promotional email list. I'm sure the plan is to fill the venue and make it more fun for the band and bring in more drink revenue, so it's good all around. They are offering a bunch of free tickets right now to tomorrow's Jesus & Mary Chain show at Showbox SoDo. Want to go? Email by 12pm/noon tomorrow, July 16th, with your full name. If there's still room you'll be put on the guest list +1.

Show details:
Wednesday July 16th
Showbox SoDo, 1700 1st Avenue South
with special guests THE TURN-ONS
Doors at 8pm - All Ages

Enjoy the show!

Les Thugs

Anyone see the free Les Thugs show at Nuemo's Friday? I'd love to post a review and/or photos. Sadly I was out of town and missed it.

The return of the mighty Fluid!

In Denver, Colorado in 1985, two ex-members of the punk band Frantix formed the band Madhouse with friends. The Frantix are mostly known for their 1983 single "My Dad's a Fucking Alcoholic," a song which made it on to a few Killed By Death type of comps. In July of 1985, John Robinson, who had moved to Denver from Texas, joined the band as their singer. The new band decided to call themselves The Fluid and played their first show a few weeks later. The venue was the German House and it had 400 people packed in to see the music the night of July 5, 1985. By all reports, The Fluid blew the crowd away at their very first show.

The Fluid's first album, "Punch N Judy," came out on Denver's local label Rayon Records. Over the next two years the band toured a bunch and gained a good reputation for their live show. Glitterhouse Records in Germany, who did the European releases of a lot of Sub Pop records, pick up The Fluid's first album for a European release as well. In 1988 the band became the first non-Seattle band signed to Sub Pop and began playing shows in Seattle a couple times of year and getting a big local following. They appeared on the "Sub Pop 200" and their second LP, "Clear Black Paper," was released by the label.

The band remained active until 1994 releasing records and touring, blowing away one live audience after another. They reformed very recently to play Sub Pop's 20th anniversary and kicked things off a few days earlier headlining g the secret show at the Sunset Tavern with Green River and the Press Corps, which is where I shot these photos. They were just as energetic and rocking as I remembered them from the late-'80s/early-'90s and put on one hell of a show!

Band members:
John Robinson on vocals, James Clower on guitar, Rick Kulwicki on guitar, Matt Bischoff on bass and Garrett Shavlik on drums

  • 1986, "Punch N Judy" LP (RayOn)
  • 1988, Song "Is It Day I'm Seeing?" on "Sub Pop 200" compilation (Sub Pop)
  • 1988, "Clear Black Paper" LP (Sub Pop)
  • 1989, "Tin Top Toy" 7" (Sub Pop)
  • 1989, "Freak Magnet" EP (Glitterhouse)
  • 1989, Song "Madhouse" (live) on split 7" w/Loveslug (Glitterhouse)
  • 1989, "Roadmouth" LP (Sub Pop)
  • 1990, "Glue" LP/CD (Sub Pop)
  • 1991, Song "Candy" (live) on split 7" w/Nirvana (Sub Pop)
  • 1992, "Spot the Loon" CD EP (Fellaheen)
  • 1992, Cover song "Oh, Shit" on "Something's Gone Wrong Again" Buzzcocks covers compilations (C/Z Records)
  • 1993, "On My Feet" 7" (Hollywood)
  • 1993, "Purplemetalflakemusic" CD (Hollywood)

Monday, July 14, 2008

More Seattle venue changes: Chop Suey & King Cobra

Somehow I missed this, a Reverb blog entry by Hannah Levin about Chop Suey getting sold to a Japanese company. Damn, the Japanese invade the Chinese yet again! Well, a fake-o Chinese-themed American club anyway. I haven't really gone to too many events at Chop Suey in the past few years... if any, but it's still sad to see a big out of town corporation buying up yet another Seattle music club. The company that bought the venue is called K's Dream. They own a nightclub in Chiba City, Japan, and Chop Suey already has the subtitle of "K's Dream Seattle" under their name on the website. The club info on the website says "The ‘Seattle branch' is intended to be a full service live music entertainment venue. K's Dream will invite Japan based bands to Seattle and provide them with opportunities to publicize themselves and to acquire experience in the United States. At the same time, K's Dream will send Seattle based bands to Japan to play in the ‘Japan branch'. By doing this, we will be able to establish a bridge between Seattle and Japan to create cultural awareness and enhance the music scene in both places through music." Interesting... I just hope it won't be all pop music, I'd love to see more Japanese garage rock and punk bands playing Seattle.

In other Seattle club news, King Cobra on Capitol Hill is up for sale. This doesn't exactly surprise me. I think the owners, who previously owned the smaller dive bar Kincora's, were a little too ambitious and opened a much bigger club than they had experience for. The space, previously Sugar's nightclub, fits 500 people and is huge. As I mentioned when they first were opening, parking absolutely sucks where they are and the booker, while a great guy, didn't have experience booking a big club. The Stranger also gave them a hard time, which couldn't have helped at all. Bringing in the more experienced booking of Jenny Bendel made me rethink my criticism, but then she left after a few months. I just think they were spending too much time trying things out instead of following one solid vision, which can happen with someone's first club. It's probably also hard to compete for booking bigger and middle tier bands without an established reputation and club. The space is definitely cool and could be a money maker with the right vision and booking. It will be interesting to see what happens, I wish the current owners and staff the best of luck, they did a cool thing trying to open a big rock club DIY-style on Capitol Hill and I certainly appreciate their efforts.

Amy's Green River Photos:

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Green River secret reunion show review!

I love this first photo of Mark Arm last Thursday hanging from the rafters of the Sunset Tavern after he had pushed through the audience and climbed the bar and was singing over the crowd. And my favorite bartender Holly looks totally not worried at all in the background on both photos as Mark screams and knocks over drinks.

So I got word about a week before that a show simply billed as "The Press Corps plus 2 Guests" was going to feature Green River, The Fluid and Love Battery on Thursday, July 10th at the Sunset Tavern. The Love Battery part was wrong, but the rest was correct. So stoked! It was mostly a Sub Pop insiders show, but they did put up a small number of tickets for sale on Ticketweb for $10 each, so I immediately bought two and told a couple hardcore Mudhoney/Green River fans who grabbed tickets as well. The show was kinda hush hush, but The Fluid were talking about it in interviews and word was out, so the for sale tickets were gone by the next day.

The last time I saw Green River I think was in highschool opening up for PIL on their Generic tour... 1985 maybe? Mark Arm played in a pink negligee and at the end of their set said something like, "If you want to see someone that really sold out, stick around for the next band." Ouch. Johnny Rotten came out pissed and PIL only played about 45 minutes. They put out that song "Seattle" on the next album, I always though Mark Arm's comments were the inspiration for it. So it had been about 23 years and I was uber-excited for the show. I've seen Mudhoney like 20 times, the Monkeywrench quite a few, Steve Turner solo, etc., and honestly I probably like early Mudhoney the most as far as what I listen too, but damn, Green River!

My friends had a pre-Green River party in Ballard where we gathered for drinks and to gear up for the show. Awesome! Word was Green River would play first and you'd be a sucker for showing up late. A phone call from the Sunset said Green River would hit the stage at 10:20pm, so we all got there by 10pm. Indeed, the word was true, the place was packed by around 10:30pm when they took the stage. They kicked off with "Come on Down" and sounded surprisingly great. I guess I was expecting them to be more sloppy and unrehearsed, having the extra guitars on stage (they had the dudes that played in both eras of the band all playing together) really gave them a full sound.

The crowd was weird. On one hand there were people I totally recognized from Sub Pop shows in the '80s and '90s. A dozen or so of my friends were there. There were total 1990 time capsules with long hair and flannel action, also tons of "Ride the Fucking 6-Pack" tshirts. There were also younger folks, probably hoping to spot the Pearl Jam guys and relive an era they missed, which I'm sure was true with the weekend event at Marymoore Park as well. The funny part is that is was grey-haired old timers started dancing and got the floor moving a few songs into the set.

The show was awesome. Green River were fucking on. They definitely played all their shit heavy and loud, people were talking about their ears ringing after their set. So the set list I think was: "Come on Down", "33 RPM", "PCC", "Ozzie", "Baby Help Me Forget", "Unwind", "Leech", "Queen Bitch", "Together We'll Never", "Swallow My Pride", "New God", "10000 Things", "This Town" and "Ain't Nothing to Do." Yeah, "Queen Bitch" is a Bowie cover, I don't know if they used to do that live all the time or if it was something new, but their version was great! After their set I ran into Steve Turner in the bathroom and told him it was great and he did his normal humble thing and patted me on the back, smiled and said, "Thanks, that's great to hear."

The Press Corps followed, they were a bit of a supergroup with guys from old grunge bands. I thought they were pretty boring actually, I'll have to read up on who is in the band, I think the Fluid's drummer was singing. The Fluid were fantastic! I need to dig up their old stuff, I never picked it up on CD but have it on vinyl. I remember seeing them play a few times, including an excellent 4 Band for 4 Bucks show at the HUB back in the day, it seemed almost like they never stopped playing, they were that on it. The singer is a fucking great front man too. Pix of their set soon!

For more Green River photos, music and news, check out Dana and Alex's Green River MySpace Page. Also many more Green River photos coming within the next 24 hours.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Green Fucking River!

Insanely awesome secret Sub Pop show tonight with Green River and The Fluid. Both bands far exceeded my expectations. And the kids in the audience totally did not know how to rock. But their shortfalls are not my problem, fucking Mark Arm and Steve Turner... and those dudes from Pearl Jam, totally brought it!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Seattle, go to Candyfest!

I'm not super fond of the name Candyfest, but as local music promoter Dave Meinert says, "Dan, you always have to find something to complain about!" This mini-festival looks awesome and is brought to Seattle by the two venues on Capitol Hill that still constantly feature established and up and coming punk, rock and powerpop bands. It's packed full of glam, power pop and pop punk bands..., and those in the know that got tickets, see you at the secret Green River, Fluid and Love Battery show at the Sunset Tavern tonight. It's gonna be fucking awesome!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

"What We Do Is Secret" Germs movie


The long-delayed Rhino Films production of What We Do Is Secret has announced a theatrical run this August.

The film aims to document the life and untimely death of Germs vocalist Darby Crash. While it does not cover his entire life, the movie focuses on Crash's "five-year plan" to become a legend before comitting suicide in 1980. To ensure that the film was true to the story, Director Roger Grossman enlisted the help ex-Germs guitarist Pat Smear, as well as members of Crash's family and others involved in the late '70s/early '80s Hollywood punk scene,

The film is opening in New York on August 8, 2008 and in Los Angeles, Chicago and Orange County, CA on August 22. From there it comes to theatres around the country.

An early review of the film was published in June, with notoriously hard-to-please critics, Film threat, calling the film "an absolute blast" and "a more than worthy tribute to one of punk rock’s largest heroes."

Monday, July 7, 2008

Poison Idea

I've talked about Portland punk band Poison Idea before and surely will again, they are one of my favorite bands and one I saw a lot live during the '80s and '90s. This is a picture of singer Jerry A from a show in the mid-'90s... he was looking surprisingly normal with a goatee, tan and baseball hat, instead of crazy singer with blood dripping down his forehead. Or the time he performed with a cast on his leg from stage diving and it was the Northwest "Out of the Hospital Tour." For the last couple of years since guitarist Pig Champion died (and even the couple years before) there was a revolving door in band members, but Jerry A still has kept the ship afloat and piloted it onwards. And their last album, "Latest Will and Testament" from 2006 wasn't half bad... and last year they released a split single on TKO with Kill Your Idols.

Poison Idea are playing Musicfest Northwest down in Portland September 3-6, along with Murder City Devils, Seaweed, TV on the Radio, Vampire Weekend, Deerhunter, Steel Pole Bath Tub (!), Trans Am, Nebula, Fucked Up, These Arms Are Snakes, Monotonix, Bobby Bare Jr., Supernova, Pierced Arrows, U.S.E., Akimbo and many more, check out for more details.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Diner reviews: The Logs

When heading up Washington's Highway 14, then Highway 141 from the Columbia River Gorge, you pass a string of small towns like White Salmon, Husum, and BZ Corner on the way to Trout Lake, which lies at the bottom of Mt. Adams and at the edge of the Gifford-Pinchot forest. If you blink you might miss any of these towns. They are generally composed of a handful of houses and a store front or two along the highway where you are forced to slow down to 30 miles per hour because there is more traffic and a few cross streets.

Located right along the White Salmon river is BZ Corner. Well, I think the town is called BZ Corner, but actually, there is some debate over the town's actual name. Half the maps and signs seem to say BZ Corners instead. Since there is really only one intersection in town, I'm inclined to call it BZ Corner, but when you say it out loud, the plural version just seems to sound better. I noticed the locals pretty much use either interchangeably, so I guess there really isn't too much debate about it.

BZ Corner was an area harvested for timber and settled in the 1920s and '30s by William Biesanz, originally from nearby White Salmon. The name BZ Corner developed from Biesanz' name as he cleared the area and harvested it's trees. Eventually a sawmill was built and the families that came to work the mill began to build and settle in the area.

In the past 15 years of visiting the area, I've seen BZ Corner grow dramatically, due almost entirely to white water river rafting in the nearby river. When I say grow dramatically, I mean a few more businesses opened up, mostly competing rafting companies, and I recently spotted one new cafe when driving through. But the one business that's been there all along is The Logs.

The Logs was built in 1932 and along with being a dancehall, was rumored to be a speakeasy until prohibition was repealed. I quick fact check shows prohibition was repealed in March of 1933, so while it may have been a speakeasy for 8 or 12 months, I think those stories of the wild and crazy speakeasy days might be more local folklore than grounded in reality. But when before my wife's grandparents passed away, they talked of going to The Logs in the '40s and '50s and had stories of huge dances, crazy parties and drunken brawls there. There's a great old photo of them, along with many of other locals from the '50s and '60s, shellacked into the bar's counter.

These days The Logs has expanded to both a bar and family dining area. It's popular with river rafters, people going hiking and camping in the area, travelers to Mt. Adams, as well as the locals from BZ Corner and nearby towns. The building is old school, it's really a log cabin that's 80 years old, with a newer edition added on in the same style maybe 20 years ago. Inside it's pretty kitschy, with an area of rooster related country artwork, dear/elk related stuff, and tons of old photos, rusty farm tools, and other eclectic stuff mixed in with modern country decorating.

The Logs' most popular dish is their chicken dinner, but they have a pretty full menu of fried foods, pizza, sandwiches, burgers and salads, pretty much your typical pub fare, but with small town flair. As far as I'm concerned, when I know what the dish is most locals are getting at any restaurant, I generally order it as well. You might as well go with the obvious signs of what a place excels at. So at The Logs, it's fried chicken. And I've been going to The Logs a couple times a year for probably 15 years and they are always consistent with the chicken dinner (although not so consistent with being open, apparently the owner has picked up a bit of a meth habit). The Logs chicken dinner consists of a couple pieces of fried chicken (breast, thigh, leg and something else), toast, jo jo potatoes, and coleslaw, along with squirters of ketchup and ranch. The chicken and jo jos are amazingly good, the toast is fine, and the coleslaw generally sucks because it's soggy. But really, it's all about the chicken and taters anyway, and they are delicious!

On tap they have Rainer, Coors Light, and their "good beer," Michelob Amber Bock. A chicken dinner will run you around $10, a pitcher of beer right around $10 as well (the Amber Bock may be $12). The tables are sticky, the place smells like a deep fryer, and the decor is fairly tacky, but don't let that scare you off! The staff and customers are all nice and the food is usually great, so the place is fairly popular. It's generally a "must stop at" place for me when I'm heading up to Trout Lake or Glenwood after a long road trip from Portland or Seattle. It would probably be a fun part of a day trip from Portland, Hood River, or Vancouver, WA if you are up for an adventure.


Rancid was formed in 1991 by ex-Operation Ivy members Matt Freeman and Tim Armstrong. Their debut self-titled album was released on Epitaph Records in April of 1993, not long after Lars Frederiksen had joined the band (he was in the band but not on the album), instantly gaining them popularity throughout the punk scene. Frederiksen would appear the following year on their "Radio" 7" on Fat Wreck Chords and "Let's Go" album, as well as every subsequent release. Rancid seemed to come along at the perfect time with the perfect sound. The popularity of Operation Ivy helped them initially get attention, but the band had a great way of combining street punk and catchier pop punk and writing great tunes. People took notice and they rode the wave of punk's resurgence into popular culture along with The Offspring and Green Day. Today they are rock stars, but back in the mid-90s, they were just another punk band with a great sound starting to get popular.

I'm pretty sure this photo is from July 13th, 1994 when the band played Olympia, Washington's Capitol Theater as part of the Yo Yo Festival. It was taken by long-time 10 Things contributor Diona Mavis.

Diner reviews: The Shade Tree

Glenwood, Washington is a small town of about 500 people, located near Mt. Adams, about a 20 minute drive off of the not very beaten path of Highway 141. A reference point most Northwesterners would know of would be Hood River, Oregon, about and hour South. Glenwood's two claims to fame are the Conboy Wildlife Refuge and it's yearly Father's Day weekend rodeo (which is pretty small on the rodeo circuit when compared to towns like Goldendale or Ellensburg). Glenwood was first settled in the mid-to-late 1800s by homesteaders that came West in search for free land to build a home and life on. My wife's family homesteaded the area in droves in the late 1800s, along with a few other large families. Today the area is mostly farms and ranches, all with a striking view of Mt. Adams.

These days Glenwood feels like a dying town. The one bar closed a few years ago... the only place in town locals can go out for a drink is at the beer garden at the rodeo when a big event is happening. A few of the farms have switched over to organic farming during the past decade, which has proven to be successful not only in Glenwood, but in a lot of the neighboring towns as well. But the logging industry has slowed down and machines have taken over many of the jobs men once did. And while people still run small ranches and farms, it's an ever-increasingly risky business that isn't always profitable, especially in today's era of mega-farms. Amway and other large corporations have bought out local farms and ranches, but at least they keep locals on to help run them.

The Shade Tree Restaurant and Inn is about it for Glenwood's retail corridor, all the other businesses are boarded up. And when I say all, I mean about 3 or 4 other buildings, this was never a hoppin' town. The Shade Tree includes a gas station, video rental store, six room inn, restaurant and convenience store. It's the only hub for community gathering besides the church, highschool and rodeo grounds. I go to Glenwood a couple times a year to visit family, inevitably I end up eating the the diner a couple times each trip. It's the only option in town for eating out beyond the occasional Cowboy Breakfast fundraiser at the highschool or hot dog stand during the rodeo weekend.

If you've been to any of the country-flavored restaurants in Seattle like King's Hardware, Smith or Linda's, you will notice very few similarities between them and the Shady Tree, pictured above. While they all may have dear heads, at the Tree, it's not mounted on the wall above the bar, but rather on a weird tree stump sculpture in the middle of the place that includes a bunch of fake plants, plastic flowers and brightly painted birdhouses... complete with fake birds and nests. Country kitsch, used to brighten up old broke down buildings, tends to be the decorating trend in the real small town bars and restaurants of Washington. A far cry from the piney, Twin Peaks, log-cabin feel the country-in-the-city establishments tend to favor.

What seemed like a good idea at the time, to use old tractor seats as the stools at the Shade Tree's counter, turned out to be about the most uncomfortable seating option, at least according to the locals. But then again, the locals seem to like to complain. While the atmosphere at the diner seems relaxed, when you walk in the door, whether you are a local or not, expect every person in the place to stop and stare at you. And if you spend enough time here, you realize the locals pretty much talk shit about everyone they don't recognize, as well as locals they have some gossip on. As is often the case in small towns, everyone knows everyone's business. And they sure seem to like to talk about it.

Stained foam tiled ceilings, cheap wood paneling, and badly painted nature scenes dominate the landscape here, although there is a rusty old tool mounted here and there (the father-in-law is fairly annoyed about the painted saw blade above the kitchen... "It ruins it's value!"). The bathroom looks like that of the worst dive in the city. It's tiny, smells like ass, often has shit on the seat, has had a broken fan that sounds like a misfiring motorcycle engine for years, and the soap dispenser is in pieces. It's saving grace is an old photograph of a cowboy taking a bath in a cattle water tub above the pisser. This is a small town diner, it's old, stinky, broke down, low-fi, beat up, and rough around the edges. It's well-worn feeling is part of the appeal, it somehow makes it feel cozy.

The meals at the Shade Tree are nothing to write home about. The German Sausage as a breakfast side looks suspiciously like the lunch hot dog, only cut in half and fried. And the hamburgers you can tell come from pre-formed frozen patties, a pet peeve of mine. But the hashbrowns, fries, fried chicken, biscuits and gravy, eggs, and chicken fried steak all are great, they definitely know how to fry stuff here. And the service is quick and friendly and the prices are totally reasonable. I'd have to wager, even if the Shade Tree weren't the only meal in town, I'd still be inclined to stop here for a bite to eat when traveling through. Only, no one really travels through Glenwood, save for a few bikers out for a roadtrip around the loop at the end of the small highway. Want to visit? The details are sparse, small town Washington hasn't exactly hopped on the Internet bandwagon, but a few can be found here:

Urban Cowboys

I want to be a Cowboy
I got to be a Cowboy
I'm born to be a Cowboy
I want to be a Cowboy
A Cowboy! Uh-huh
Tonight we're taking me fast car
Were gonna go down to the Cowboy bar
I'm gonna wait till the club is full
and I'm gonna ride the mechanical bull
Cowboy look is the one I sought
Can't change now cause the clothes are bought
To be a true Cowboy was my fate
I can't help it if I was born late
All the Cowgirls in their Stetson hats
and their tight fitting jeans so they don't look fat
We'll all be listening to the Cowboy tunes
and stomp around like a bunch of goons
Cowboy look is the one I sought
Can't change now cause the clothes are bought
To be a true cowboy was my fate
I can't help it if I was born late
We're all OD'd on the Olden West
seein' who's Cowboy clothes look the best
I can ride that phony bull so damn good
Sometimes I think I'm Clint Eastwood
Cowboy look is the one I sought
Can't change now cause the clothes are bought
To be a true cowboy was my fate
I can't help it if I was born late
I know I'm a Cowboy deep inside
My hat band's made out of synthetic rattle snake hide
After a couple shit kickin' Cowboy movies
I'll check out the Cowboy scene down at Zubie's
Cowboy look is the one I sought
Can't change now cause the clothes are bought
To be a true cowboy was my fate
I can't help it if I was born late
Find out who all fights the best
We start fights with them punks at the Cuckoo's Nest
Those damn punks are crazy (though)
and meaner than a bull at a rodeo
Cowboy look is the one I sought
Can't change now cause the clothes are bought
To be a true cowboy was my fate
I can't help it if I was born late
You call me an Urban clone of course
A big deal if I'm afraid to ride a horse
With a broken nose and a fucked up knee
Maybe this Cowboy scene just ain't for me
Cowboy look is the one I sought
Can't change now cause the clothes are bought
To be a true cowboy was my fate
I can't help it if I was born late
Yee Haw
Cowboy look is the one I sought
Can't change now cause the clothes are bought
To be a true cowboy was my fate
I can't help it if I was born late
(I couldn't make it as a Punker)
-Lyrics to "Urban Struggle" by The Vandals

I've been somewhat fascinated by the trend in the past ten years in the urban cities of the Northwest to embrace what the Seattle Times recently joked as the "Grange" movement, a play off grunge. There seems to be a still growing trend to bring a small town, country, cowboy flavor into the big city, to the point where whole subcultures have evolved around it. Back in the late '70s and earl '80s we saw a similar trend through popular music, movies, bars and nightclubs. The phenomena was exemplified in the 1980 movie "Urban Cowboy," starring John Travolta, and movies like "Roadhouse" and "Footloose" only fanned the flames. At the time, you'd see guys walking down The Ave and Broadway in full leather dusters and cowboy hats and think, wow do they look out of place. The trend had a backlash, like in the song "Urban Struggle" released by The Vandals in 1982 that's quoted above. Soon the cocaine, neon, big hair, and synth-driven pop music of the 1980's seemed to take over and the whole country in the city trend faded away.

Now it's back. And truthfully, it's been growing steadily in Seattle and Portland for quite some time. 14 years ago Seattle entrepreneur Linda Derschang opened Linda's Tavern in the Capitol Hill neighborhood. Linda's was decorated with animal heads and tables cut from giant logs, beer lights, had a jukebox filled with both country and indie rock and punk, and served small town diner types of meals. It seemed to capitalize on many of the aesthetics one would imagine a typical country bar might have, it almost felt like you were in a giant wood cabin restaurant, and it was a hit instantly. It was interesting to see what followed in Seattle's hipster scene. People to some extent began to dress the part of what they perceived people in a small town bar might. Trucker hats, cheap beer t-shirts, cowboy boots all followed. The Doug Fir opened up in Portland a few years later and seemed like an upscale version of Linda's.

Over the years, the fashion and trend continued to grow. "Coyote Ugly" came out in 2000, a pretty horrible movie, following the trials and tribulations of women working as waitresses in a cowboy bar. In Vegas at NY,NY, a Coyote Ugly bar opened, with all the aesthetics of the bar in the movie and added flash. It even feels like a movie set, with fake props and no bathroom inside the bar. Soon similar bars started to pop up around the country, including Cowgirls, Inc. in downtown Seattle and American Cowgirls Bar & Grill in Portland. And other bars started featuring mechanical bulls, like the Ballroom in Seattle's artsy gone trendy neighborhood Fremont.

They're servin' up poutine at Smith!

Derschang smartly capitalized on the country trend going mainstream, opening Smith on 15th on the backside of Capitol Hill and King's Hardware in the now hip neighborhood of Ballard. Both restaurants/bars were decidedly more upscale than Linda's, for the whole country style had begun to appeal to city-folk outside the hipster scene that packed Linda's each night. Yet each restaurant was filled with all the accouterments of what one might think a country diner would have, from animal heads and shooting range targets, to old farm tools and equipment. But where Linda's was more burgers and fries, Smith featured pork shank and English pea soup. Where most of the patrons of Linda's drank cheap PBR, the patrons of King's Hardware drank expensive microbrews. Both Smith and King's Hardware packed in the crowds, and odd mix of aging hipsters, Eastsiders, yuppies, and neighborhood folk, the broad appeal of their shtick was evident from the day each restaurant opened it's doors. While Seattlelites may love living in a big progressive city, they want to embrace what they think of as the homeyness and down-to-earth feel of America's small towns... even if it's somewhat of a bastardization their aesthetics.

Redwood on Capitol Hill opened in 2006 with the same sort of style as Derschang's establishments (animal heads, beer lights, and targets on the walls), but it somehow seemed a little more authentic and gritty, which drew more of the rock crowd in, especially since Derschang's restaurants were scaling up and courting a wider clientèle than just Capitol Hill residents. In the two years since, the country-in-the-city trend in bars, restaurants and fashion, has really started to also develop within Seattle's music community as well. Bands with beards and an urban-country look, playing music influenced by country, folk, and Southern rock (or as they would probably say, Americana, alt country and roots rock) began popping up everywhere. While KCMU/KEXP had featured shows like "Shakin' the Shack," "The Roadhouse," and "Swinin' Doors" for years and years, and venues like The Tractor always had a good turn out, suddenly it seems, the whole country in the city thing it the Capitol Hill hipster scene in a bigger way... the kids suddenly were taking notice, rockabilly and alt country weren't just for aging skinheads, punks and rockers anymore. Bands like The Fleet Foxes, Grand Archives, Moondoggies, Sera Cahoone, and Band of Horses (who relocated to South Carolina)... almost all seem associated with or signed with Sub Pop.

Personally, I'm not really into the bands Sub Pop is signing and that are part of the current trend. It's not because I'm more of a punk rocker, I just find the Fleet Foxes totally fucking boring. But I still think this trend is cool because it may turn some people on to different music and I do dig some alt country bands. Musicians like Neko Case, who I love, seem to be gaining popularity because of the trend. But what does annoy me to some extent is the country flavored restaurants and bars. There's just too many in Seattle now and it has been taken too far. One place is kitschy and unique, but 4 or 5 makes it seem... trendy. Maybe it's weird for me because I spend a fair amount of time in small town Washington and go to real country diners and bars, rather than the high-falutin' aesthetics of Smith or King's Hardware. But, complain as I may, I still seem all these bars for a drink once in a while.

Next up: Small town diner reviews!

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Name this band!

The show was at the Off Ramp in Seattle, sometime between 1992 and 1994. They were probably either an Am Rep band or a California punk band, but for the life of me, I can't recognize them. Any help would be appreciated! (Click for bigger version)

Girl Trouble brings it!



As you may know, the first Girl Trouble album, “Hit It or Quit It”, was released on K/SubPop in 1988. In fact, this was the first full-length record SubPop ever released. The record matrix number was K/SP-20.

This month SubPop is hosting a huge, two-day concert of SubPop bands in Marymoor Park on July 12/13 to celebrate their 20 year anniversary. It’s billed as the SP-20 event, one letter off from the old Hit It or Quit It matrix number. Coincidence? You be the judge. Of course, Girl Trouble awaited the invitation to join their old friends and label-mates on stage for this most festive occasion.

Unfortunately. the band now suspects that a mistake has been made. They have yet to be contacted by their old label! With only weeks to spare it was obvious there was some sort of unintentional oversight by SubPop.

Girl Trouble has never been a band to let a small detail like not being invited deter them from joining in on any celebration. That’s why they have decided to bring some instruments and play the show anyway, somewhere in Marymoor Park, as close to the venue as they can legally get. This will be the first all-acoustic Girl Trouble show, playing selections from their SubPop album, Hit It or Quit It, in order.

Feel free to look for Girl Trouble somewhere in the park (possibly by some picnic tables or a tree) starting at noon, where they promise to entertain anybody who happens by. Unlike the $30 ticket price for the bands inside the Marymoor Park venue - there will be no charge for this one-day-only performance. Please join us on Saturday, July 12 for this special event. Don’t forget your picnic lunch, blanket and sun screen. Complementary bag of chips to the first 40 K/SP-20 attendees.

Hope to see you there!

Murder City Devils reunion

The Murder City Devils have had a few reunion shows in the past few years and now it seems like they may be gearing up for something bigger, with rumors of more live shows this Summer and Fall. So far, the only announced live date is September 6th in Portland as part of Willamette Week's MusicFestNW. More details are here: Stay tuned for more info!