Thursday, January 31, 2008

The Mayor's Office of Film + Music blows!

I used to think James Keblas was a cool guy. He helped found The Vera Project, Seattle's publicly funded and supported all-ages venue that not only hosts all-ages shows, but provides young people access and training in all elements of the music industry. He was an activist for Seattle's music community for over a decade. But a few years back he was recruited to be the director of the re-vamped "Mayor's Office of Film + Music." And ever since, we seem to see ever-increasing support for more regulation and harassment of local clubs by the mayor and the Office of Film + Music. What gives?

I'm a small government, less rules, less laws, let the free market decide things kind of guy. It's not exactly a popular position in Seattle, where people seem to love nanny state laws to govern civility at the expense of freedom of expression. And what's really changed in Seattle to cause this sudden need for more government oversight and regulation? Violent crime is actually way down. Clubs are ten times more safe than they were ten or twenty years ago. Clubs no longer have smoking, free flowing drugs or other problems they once did. Yet they still need more regulation? Do they want to take all the fun out of rock and roll?

The biggest push for government regulation of Seattle's music community has come from city in just the past few years after the Office of Film + Music was established. And it's come through a large number of proposals to regulate live music clubs. There have been attempts to force clubs into special licensing, to pay off duty cops to police public streets and sidewalks near clubs, increased fines related to noise complaints, and gearing more tax payer dollars towards creating new city positions for club inspectors. All during a time when there are less problems with clubs.

One would think having an long time music activist as director of the office that regulates live music clubs would help lessen the red tape and make it easier to promote and support local music. After all, the Office of Film + Music boasts about how much the music scene helps the local economy. One would hope Keblas would be working against increased club regulations and provide a buffer between the Mayor and the music scene. Sadly, things definitely seem to have gotten worse in the last couple years, rather than better. Is this what it feels like when a small local band you've grown up with sells out? Or when your highschool drug dealer becomes a cop? The transformation from music community advocate to music club cop has been... well... disappointing. Am I making too big of a deal out of the actions of this office in recent years? Maybe.

Want to see you your tax dollars at work? Check out the job listing for Nightlife Regulatory Coordinator. Apparently we are willing to spend $40 an hour for someone to "Design and implement a comprehensive regulatory program regarding nightlife establishments in the City of Seattle which includes outreach, technical assistance and enforcement efforts. Current efforts regarding nightlife are spread across numerous departments and are poorly monitored, coordinated and implemented." This person will "Coordinate the activities of the Joint Enforcement Team (JET), an interdepartmental team responsible for the regulation of the nightlife industry to ensure a safe and vibrant nightlife in the City. Identify and forward policy recommendations to the JET Policy/Action Team and defend those recommendations." It's a $75,000 a year city job, not bad pay for regulating and harassing local clubs! Just to put it in perspective, the new Club Czar will be paid a higher salary than your average Seattle teacher, librarian, UW college professor or local nurse. Do you think that's fair? Do you want to see your tax dollars spent on this new position, when we already have building inspectors, fire marshals and police doing the job adequately?

Ironically enough, the Mayor's Office of Film + Music hosted it's first monthly happy hour last night... AT A NIGHT CLUB! "This will be a great time to learn more about the Film + Music Office, meet new people in our music and film industries and discuss current issues spanning film and music in Seattle." Or so was the plan... the turn out at Moe's however was lackluster and some local music club owners and bookers weren't even invited, so the very real issues that have been everywhere in the Seattle press and most on club owner and music fans' minds over the past year regarding new nightlife ordinances and regulations didn't get aired. Maybe next month? Maybe the real music community can show up in bigger numbers and give Mr. Keblas and his office a piece of their mind.

ps- To the Mayor's Office of Film + Music, generally when you throw a happy hour you at least have some free food, if not free drinks. I can't see being stingy on a couple veggie platters when you are so willing to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on government bureaucracy, nightclub regulations and their enforcement.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

The Mexican Blackbirds

I love this description The Mexican Blackbirds used to have for themselves on their old website:

"No goofy stage costumes, no stupid pyrotechnics, no deep, meaningful lyrics to try and impress the locals with, no inside jokes, and no gimmicks to fool anyone into believing we're superheroes. No preconceptions or in-depth notions that one day the world will see it our way and we'll be the ones making the millions. The Mexican Blackbirds — A fucking group of mismatched idiots whose only common ground is alcohol and real rock'n'roll, who in-between bickering with each other, just happen to be hell-bent on turning out rock and roll — not merely rock music or 'hard rock.'"

The Mexican Blackbirds put the punk back in rock from Tacoma in the first half the the 2000s. On their album "Just To Spite You," released by Dirtnap Records, they blast through eleven adrenaline and booze fueled songs in about 24 minutes. It fucking destroys. Remember bands Northwest bands like The Derelicts, Fumes, Fuckers and Zip Gun? Yeah, these guys were totally in the same territory, yet charting a path of their own. Fronted by Chris Trashcan (brother of Stu from the Valentine Killers & Midnight Thunder Express), a bunch of Tacoma band vetrans on guitars, and ex-Valentine Killers drummer Jill, the Mexican Blackbirds put out a string of great releases and played tons of kickin' live shows. These photos are from April of 2002, I think the venue was Industrial Coffee in Georgetown.

Band members: Chris Trashcan on vocals, Mekko Pillbox on guitar (I think he left the band after the first single came out), Kill Trueblood on drums (and some vocals), Corey Knafelz on guitar, and Marty Sparks on bass.

  • 2002, "Ain't Got The Time" 7" (Tacoma Records)
  • 2003, "Just To Spite You" CD (Dirtnap Records)
  • 2003, Song "Burn it Down" on "Dirtnap Across The Northwest" compilation CD (Dirtnap)
  • 2004, Eleven songs on split LP with Pink Swords entitled "Black Vinyl Revenge Chapter 1" (Rockin' Bones)
  • 2005, "Fear Of Texas" 12" (Mortville Records)
  • 2006, Song "Second Time Around" on "The Funhouse Comp Thing" compilation CD (My Fat Ass)

SSP Wrestling + Lilly Warner photos + Cafe Venus = Awesome

Ronald McFondle of the SSP Wrestling league, photo by Lilly Warner

Lilly Warner, who took photos for both 10 Things and Tablet over the years, is the featured photographer in a show opening tomorrow night at Seattle's Cafe Venus and Mars Bar. This time around Warner focused her lens on the wrestlers of Seattle Semi-Pro Wrestling, who have been wowing Seattle audiences for years. The walls of Cafe Venus and The Mars Bar, located at 609 Eastlake Avenue E, will be covered with photos of the different SSP wrestlers, both in action and hamming it up for the cameras. I've had a sneak peak at a bunch of the photos and they are awesome. And even though I over-use the word awesome, it definitely holds true in this case. The show runs from January 31 through February 29th and it's a cool place to stop by for a drink and food anyway, so check it out! The opening reception is Thursday January 31st, starting a 6pm.

Mudhoney still kicks ass!

Before the national and international press pounced on "The Seattle Sound" as the next big thing and started calling bands like Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, and Alice in Chains grunge, the main pillars of what I thought grunge was at the time were Tad, Nirvana and Mudhoney. And personally, I always liked Mudhoney best. Mark Arm seemed to harness some of the same energy Iggy Pop had when fronting The Stooges, and I definitely heard more garage and punk influences in their early work.

There is this little tradition among my friends of having a "Mudhoney Freakout" at parties that always reminds me how great of a band they are. There is nothing like 30 drunk people screaming along to "Touch Me I'm Sick," "Burn it Clean," "You Got It" or "In 'n' Out Of Grace" at midnight. Granted, "In 'n' Out Of Grace" has a long jammy guitar part that always slows the party down a little, but then it builds up to the part where everyone yells "Oh god how I love to hate!" and it's pretty damn awesome. Seriously. Go play "Superfuzz Bigmuff" right now (or for those that don't have it on vinyl, your "Superfuzz Bigmuff Plus Early Singles" CD) and rock the fuck out. You will feel much better.

(Oh, these live photos are from a fantastic show Mudhoney put on in April 2002 at the Crocodile Cafe)

Yes, even more Catheters photos!

2002 was apparently the first year I owned a digital camera, I found a CD I burned with about 1000 show photos recently, hence the overabundance of photos from that year on the blog lately. I promise you no rhyme or reason to the timeline of band photos, stories and info here, it's like a funhouse ride where you get on and don't exactly know what to expect. I am quite delighted with the number of people reading this blog lately, generally between 150 and 200 people stop by every day, which ain't bad. It's really hard to compare it to print though, when I did 10 Things as a zine I printed 3,000-5,000 copies of every issue, but it came out only every 4 or so months. It's hard to compare web readership vs. print, but I do like the immediacy of it all, the instant feedback, and being able to put up a bunch of color photos, links and music.

Anyway, The Catheters. These photos are from a show at the Sunset Tavern February 16, 2002. I've already written about their history and discography here and featured past live photos here, so there is not much I have to add. Except... one year they had a garage and punk festival in Vegas called the Vegas Shakedown. Headliners included bands like The New Bomb Turks, Nashville Pussy and The Donnas, but tons of garage and punk bands played over the weekend, including a bunch of Seattle bands. The Valentine Killers and the Catheters both played great sets at the smaller stage at The Gold Coast casino. I was watching the Catheters set with Brain LaManna, singer of the Valentine Killers, and he was saying to me how the Catheters were going to be huge. He just had a gut feeling about them, that their sound and live performance would propel them into popularity. We made a bet right then and there, $5, he saying they'd be on MTV within a year, and me saying they wouldn't be. LaManna, you still owe me $5.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008


I've been meaning to plug for a while. It's a project I've spent a lot of time on editing and working as an administrator on, a Wiki entirely devoted to zines that has grown into the largest zine resource on the Web. It's full of zine listings, zine history, zine publishers, articles and more. It's definitely worth wasting some time on if you are into zines or small publishing.

Dead Low Tide

In December of 2001 ex-Murder City Devils Spencer Moody, Nate Manny and Coady Willis formed Dead Low Tide with Mike Kunka (ex-GodheadSilo and ex-Enemymine). The band was reminiscent of the Murder City Devils in many ways, especially Moody's singing, but they had less of the boom swagger swagger and a bit of a heavier rock feel (gone were the keyboards and Kunka definitely brought a harder edge to the music). Because of the MCD's connection, even before the band had released a record, they got on some pretty high profile bills, including opening for Reverend Horton Heat in early 2002, where these photos were shot. They also toured as The Melvins opening act during 2002. Dead Low Tide ended up breaking up while recording their debut album, which was released posthumously in 2003 by Tiger Style Records.

Band members: Spencer Moody on vocals, Mike Kunka on bass and vocals, Nate Manny on guitar, Coady Willis on drums, and roadie Gabe.

Spencer and Mike went on to form Smoke and Smoke with drummer Dan Haugh. Coady Willis went on to form Big Business with Jared Warren from Olympia band KARP.

Right On!

This is Seattle garage band Right On! playing at Shorty's around 2002. I don't remember much about these guys beyond they had more of a '60s garage sound then a garage punk one. I saw them a few times and know I've seen the singer in another band. Any band info would be appreciated if you remember the band!

The Epoxies

Portland band The Epoxies play new wave punk rock to the extreme! DIY costumes, synths, '80s guitars, tons of energy, songs about robots and the atomic age, and a great live show are all trademarks of this band. The first time I saw them I didn't exactly know what to expect... I'd been a fan of FM Static's pop punk band The Automatics and he emailed me to say his new band was coming to town and I should check them out. They came out in full costumes and opened the show with a cover of "The Professionals" from the movie Ladies and Gentlemen, The Fabulous Stains, a wonderful underground punk movie, which I finally recently found on a DVD bootleg of on Ebay. They continued by blasting through their own fast-paced keyboard driven punk songs and topped things off with an Adam and the Ants cover ("Beat My Guest"). That was back in 2000 or early 2001. Ken Dirtnap signed them to his label and released two singles and their first album and the band took off. They toured the States and got tons of attention and ended up getting signed to Fat Wreck Chords. They continued to play Seattle once or twice a year and released one album on Fat. In 2007 they switched labels to Metropolis, known more for industrial music than punk rock, and released and EP on the label in August of 2007. The band is working on their next album, which is slated to be released in Fall of 2008.

  • 2001, self-titled 7" (Dirtnap Records)
  • 2002, "Synthesized" 7" (Dirtnap Records)
  • 2002, self-titled LP/CD (Dirtnap Records)
  • 2002, "Epoxies" CD EP, includes first two 7"s (self-released)
  • 2003, song on Dirtnap Across America compilation CD (Dirtnap Records)
  • 2004, "Need More Time" featured on Rock Against Bush compilation CD (Fat Wreck Chords)
  • 2005, "Stop the Future" CD (Fat Wreck Chords)
  • 2005, song "Don't Talk to Me" on Old Skars and Upstarts 2005 compilation (Disaster Records)
  • 2005, song "Synthesized" on Rock Against Floyd compilation (Fat Wreck Chords)
  • 2007, "My New World" CD EP (Metropolis)
Band members: Roxy Epoxy on vocals, FM Static on keyboards, Shock Diode on bass, Viz Spectrum on guitar, and Ray Cathode on drums

The band's website has all kinds of more information, music and videos, you should check it out! These photos are from a live show at the Crocodile Cafe in January 2002.

Midnight Thunder Express

After The Valentine Killers broke up, Stu, Brian and Scott recruited Willie from The Backstabbers and Jimmy Flame and formed the Midnight Thunder Express in early 2001. Where the Valentine Killers leaned towards guitar driven garage punk, MTE leaned more towards the guitar driven rock'n'roll of AC/DC crossed with '70s glam rock influences (think the swagger of a band like the New York Dolls). They recorded one 10-song CD with Jack Endino that was put out by Empty Records.

Here is a weird promotional video the band used for their 2003 tour of Europe. These photos are from a show at the Sunset Tavern in January 2002.

Band members: Willie Crane on vocals, Stu Miller on guitar, Brian Coloff on guitar, Scott Myrene on bass, and Jimmy Flame on drums.

Monday, January 28, 2008


Vandemonium ranks up there pretty high when it comes to awesome band names. And it's even better when we're talking an all-female punk band with lyrics like "I'm gonna make you a man in the back of my van baby... Get in my van!" In the late-'90s and early 2000s, Cari, Beth, Courtney and Diana rocked Seattle stages with Bratmobile inspired punk rock. They self-released two albums and were always fun live. This shot is from a show they did at Re-bar in July of 2002.

You can hear a few songs on their old MySpace profile:

Friday, January 25, 2008

Old 10 Things covers

These are my five favorite covers from 10 Things. The first cover (Issue #22) I think was probably the best cover. It was drawn by by Jamie Burton, who is still drawing and painting and having stuff in gallery shows. For more of Jamie's art, check out The second cover, Issue #15, was by Daniel Fortine. Daniel is a graphic designer for Filter and does rad stuff today, check out The fourth cover, for Issue #21, was done by Fred Fredrickson, who I can't exactly remember how I hooked up with, so I sadly can give you no information on. The third and fifth covers (Issues #20 and #14) were both done by Jay Barber. In recent years Jay has focused on online and interactive game cartooning and drawing, but still occasionally does poster work, including one for the Rat City Rollergirls that kicked ass, and he'll hopefully be doing the poster for this Summer's Northwest Pinball convention at the Seattle Center.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

The Hollowpoints at the Pirate Radio Benefit

Brian Foss and a bunch of other people used to run a pirate radio station in North Seattle during the late '90s and early 2000s. It was a pretty cool station that played a lot of local music, way more than you would ever hear on KEXP. The station is long gone, but Brian went on to become a "real" DJ at KEXP doing Saturday night's punk show "Sonic Reducer" and the movie "Pirate Radio USA" also came out of the project directed by Jeff and Mary, who also were pirate radio DJs. There were quite a few benefit shows for the station when it was going, these photos are of The Hollowpoints playing one at a house in the University District. The show was August 3rd, 2002.

New Luck Toy

Named after a dive bar/Chinese restaurant with questionable food in West Seattle, New Luck Toy burst on to Seattle music scene in the early 2000s with a refreshing brand of power pop mixed with '70s punk. If you closed your eyes and listened to frontman Stevil Dead sing live, you might just imagine it was a young Pete Shelley from The Buzzcocks screaming his heart out a UK pub (complete with the little high-pitched squeaks or hiccups that were Shelley's trademark). In this case the imitation wasn't annoying at all, it was near brilliant! 2002 was the year for this band, they played a ton of great live shows... I'm guessing they broke up in 2003. As far as officially released material goes, they had a split 7" on Dirtnap with The Cripples and one single of their own ("Battery Acid For Love"), they also put out a number of demo CDs. Here's what I think is their first 3-song demo (if you were in the band and object to me putting these up, just let me know):

Battery Acid For Love (mp3, 320kbs)
Jet Lips (mp3, 320kbs)
Zero (mp3, 320kbs)

Band members: Stevil Dead on lead vocals, Ken Jarvey on guitar, Steve Centari on bass, and Kelli Pain on drums.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Edge of Quarrel movie released on DVD

In 2000, Dave Larsen from Excursion Records put out a movie called "Edge of Quarrel" featuring a lot of local band members and a pretty loose story line of straight-edge kids versus punk kids. It was just re-released on DVD for the first time with new commentary and scenes and is available through Excursion.

Even when it was first released, the premise of the movie seemed ridiculous and out-dated to me. The sXe vs. non-sXe arguments in the punk scene had been something more of the '80s and early '90s, it had died down after the militant straightedgers of Vegan Reich and other bands finally grew up or lost interest. The arguments that once filled the letter pages of MaximumRocknRoll about straightedge were completely absent by 1995, punk kids and straightedge kids were mostly friends again going to the same shows, so in 2000 for a movie to come out about them fighting and hating each other seemed... silly. Throw in bad acting, goofy situations, ridiculous lines and it's a pretty cheesy, but in a good way. And I say this liking both the director and a lot of the people in the movie. It's pretty funny to watch once, especially with a group of people, kinda like a b zombie movie only you can play spot the late '90s Seattle scenester. And some of the live band footage actually rocks.

Here's the basic story. A kid named Brian has been out of town and comes back to Seattle to find two old friends now enemies. Both are hanging with different crowds, one with somewhat militant straightedge kids, the other with drunk and ridiculous punk kids. And the two sides are arguing and brawling at every opportunity. Can Brian get his two friends and the two gangs to see the light? Can straightedgers and punks be friends once again? Ha ha ha, yeah, it's that ridiculous. But again, it's pretty funny to watch once. I wonder if the guy on the cover with "VEGAN" tattooed across his chest is still vegan and straightedge today...

The movies stars: Rocky Votolato (from Waxwing) as Brian Johansen, John Pettibone (from Undertow) as Jason Talbott, Dann Gallucci (from Murder City Devils) as Chance Linstrom, Mahdis Keshavarz (ex-Old Firehouse employee and old music activist), and many other people from old Seattle punk and hardcore bands, including the the kids from the Murder City Devils.

Bands featured playing live: Trial, Botch, and The Murder City Devils.

The November Group

When it comes to political hardcore, you'd have been hard-pressed in the early 2000's to find a band more politically active and wearing it on their sleeves in Seattle than The November Group. The band played heavy and harsh punk with lyrics about sexism, capitalism, and struggling to remain true to yourself... no guyliner, dyed black hair, love songs or other weak shit that passes for hardcore today.

I first heard the November Group through the song they had on the 2002 Excursion Records compilation 7" "The Power of Ten," along with the bands Himsa, Left With Nothing, Staygold, Himsa, Contingent, Screwjack, Spitting Teeth, Positively Negative, The Entropy Project, and To See You Broken. Over the following years they put out an EP and two albums and played quite a few live shows. These photos are of the band playing a crazy live show on the anniversary of N30 in 2001 in the old Tablet warehouse.

Discography: (updated with help from Matt Leonard!)
  • 1999, 3 song demo (self-released)
  • 2000, 3 song EP (recorded with Steve Carter, DIY hand-done packaging)
  • 2002, song on "Power of Ten" 7" compilation (Excursion)
  • 2002, song on "All That Was Built Here- Ten Years At The Old Fire House" compilation CD
  • 2003, "Hang Us All As Traitors" CD (the 2000 EP + new songs)
  • 2004, "From Below Upwards" CD

To hear a few songs from The November Group, check out their old MySpace page.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

The Sicko Reunion Show!

August 3rd, 2002, Seattle pop punk almost-superstars Sicko reunited for a show at the Sunset Tavern. The place was packed to the rafters with smiling, singing, sweaty fans and a good time was had by all:

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Jimbo Wallace (from Rev. Horton Heat)

Jimbo Wallace has played upright bass and sung backup vocals in The Reverend Horton Heat since 1989. In May of 2002 when the band played the Showbox, Amie Nelson and I lined up an interview. We ended up hanging out in the tour bus with the band shooting the shit for quite a while over beers. They were totally down to earth and fun to hang out with before they rocked the stage a few hours later.

Nate Manny

This is s photo of Nate Manny (ex-The Murder City Devils and Dead Low Tide) I snapped during an interview for Tablet in the Green Room of The Showbox in May of 2002.

The Midnight Evils

The Midnight Evils from Minneapolis put out a self-titled album in 2001 on Dart Records that knocked my socks off. Since then they moved over to Bellingham, Washington label Estrus Records and released two more CDs, "Straight Til Morning" in 2003 and "Breakin' It Down" in 2005. The band definitely brings the rock to their brand of garage punk and live they are fast and furious. These photos are from a live show at the short-lived Georgetown venue Industrial Coffee from early 2002. The band lost their singer by the time their third album came out in 2005, the remaining band members took over vocal duties. I have to say I was more partial Johnny, who is on the first two albums and pictured here.

The Dark Places

The Dark Places were around for a few years in the early 2000's playing Seattle. I checked out the band because I knew Chris the guitar player, who had played in a couple punk bands, most notably the UK band Suicidal Supermarket Trolleys. The Dark Places were way different, they combined punk, gothic elements and indie rock. These photos are from a January 2002 show at Seattle's Sunset Tavern:

Vocalist Kilynn Lunsford and guitarist Heath now look and sound drastically different in their Portland, Oregan band Little Claw.

More Popular Shapes photos

I found another set of Popular Shapes photos from another basement show in January of 2002. Quite possibly also in ex-Stranger music editor Jennifer Maerz' basement:

Friday, January 11, 2008

The Black Fairies

If I was a betting man (and I am), I'd reckon most people in Seattle don't recognize the band name Black Fairies, much less realize that they broke up towards the tail end of 2007. That's your fucking loss, because this band was great. They had an excellent guitar driven punk garage sound. The first time I saw the band live something seemed familiar... the lead singer's voice and the guitar sound I somehow knew, but for the life of me I couldn't figure out where from. So I just sipped my beer and nodded my head along to the music, thinking, "These guys rock!" The next day I listened to some of their songs on the Web and it clicked with me, the singer was this guy:

James from the old Empty Records band The Putters. The Putters were around in the first half of '90s playing places like The Weathered Wall, OK Hotel and OffRamp. Their debut 7" on Empty was entitled "Muscle Cars" and totally fit their sound, gasoline powered amped up rock'n'roll, the kind of music that should have been playing from muscle cars during the '80s instead of Aerosmith. The Putters went on to put out one album, "Fear of Women" in 1994.

I decade later James started The Black Faires with Tony and Matthew on guitar, Denny on drums, and him up front singing and on bass. The old saying about the apple doesn't fall far from the tree was true in this case, because if you still play your old Putters CD (OK, I might be the only person in Seattle that does, who knows) and listen to The Black Fairies, you will hear a hell of a lot of similarities. And that was a good thing. I caught the band three or four times during their existence and they rocked, usually all playing dressed in black with a guitar-driven assault of catchy rock. Check out a few songs on The Black Fairies MySpace page. These photos are from the band playing live at the Monkey Pub on May 13, 2006.

Like I said, they broke up without much fanfair in 2007, the members are now moving on to other projects. Tony is playing guitar in Lords of the North and Matthew is playing bass in Sindios. No word on what James is doing next, my vote would be for a Putters reunion!