Friday, October 31, 2008
For the past decade or so there has been a loose association of bands flying the Pyrate Punx banner, in the past couple years they seem to have gotten pretty organized into chapters, putting on events, parties, and more, with an emphasis on DIY, drinking, supporting each other and having fun and trying to shake off some of the drama and violence that can plague the punk rock scene. It's become a healthy DIY network down the West Coast (and elsewhere) of punk bands that help support each other on tours... plus, there is the added bonus of pirate speak and pirate accouterments!
The thing is though, most of the Pyrate Punx bands aren't really that piratey, they are straight up punk bands. There's nothing wrong with this, but when along comes a band like Rum Rebellion from Portland, the tag of pirate seems way more fitting. Offstage the band members look like anyone else you'd see at a bar like Funhouse, but onstage they pick up acoustic guitars, a bouzouki, and tin whistle, along with more traditional rock/punk instruments and blast out a mix of sea shantys, Irish music and punk rock. Awesome! Growing up listening to a lot of traditional Irish music, I love this kinda sound. They are more in the vein of The Pogues or Mutiny than anyone else, with a much more traditional feel than a band like The Dropkick Murphys, who only flirt with traditional Irish music in their sound. Live they do covers of both Stiff Little Fingers and The Pogues, clearly wearing some of their influences on their sleeves. And I love that the biggest guy in the band plays the smallest instrument, their whistle player completely dwarfs his instrument, which totally works with the rebellious feel to their music.
Rum Rebellion have one CD out, "Cruisin For A Boozin'," which I picked up at a recent show they played in Seattle and have been rockin' the past few days. It nicely captures their sound and is still rough around the edges how I like it (which is where the sea shanty feel really comes in, as opposed to the Irish records my dad played all the time while I was growing up, which were sometimes too polished sounding). For more information about Rum Rebellion, check out their website.
ps- Blogger is being lame and no longer automatically resizing my photos to fit the page. Click them for the full pics, more of the band members are actually in them!
Monday, October 27, 2008
Skill Shot... In the game of pinball, a skill shot generally is a shot that scores bonus points when your ball first enters the playfield. Pulling the plunger back just the right distance can land the ball in precisely the right place to score maximum points, be it Rudy's secret hiding place on Funhouse or the ball getting grabbed by Thing's hand on Addams Family. It's a shot that takes practice and skill by playing the same machine over and over. Even on the same game at a different bar or arcade, the skill shot will be slightly different. In Seattle, however, Skill Shot can mean something different, for it's also a fanzine dedicated to Seattle pinball.
Skill Shot, like most zines, has a sloppy homemade feel to its layout and is published fairly irregularly. When you spot a new issue at Shorty's or in a record store on the shelf of free publications, it's like a special treat. And it's free! Upon opening an issue of Skill Shot, you can tell it's a labor of love. For pinball fans, it has a guide to the various neighborhoods of Seattle and the pinball machines that can be found in their bars, coffee houses and clubs. For the pinball fanatic like me (geek alert, I own and collect pinball machines and am currently ranked as the 890th best pinball player in the world), it's also got pinball news, trivia, graphics, game reviews and playing hints.
The latest issue to hit the streets is #6, pictured above, which features two different covers (both from the same pinball game, bonus pinball fan points to any of you that can name the game the artwork is from and/or the pinball machine I set them on for the photo shoot). Issue #6 has reviews and breakdowns for playing Champion Pub and the new Dark Knight games, Seattle pinball locations, pinball news, and suggestions for new ways of playing pinball with your friends. What's amazing is how positive the writing is, which in zineland is pretty unheard of, zines far too often are a platform for whining and melancholy. It's a cool little zine for pinball fans, keep an eye out for it! More info on Skill Shot can be found on their MySpace page.
Thursday, October 23, 2008
If you've read some of my small town diner reviews, you've probably realized I have a soft spot in my heart for the greasy food and Americana nostalgia that gets served up in these fine establishments. Even in the big cities of this wonderful country a few holdouts remain that hearken back to an era long gone. This time I turn your attention to one of those establishments that is now long gone from Seattle, but still, is fondly remembered by many...
The Dog House (also known as Bob Murray's Dog House) was a Seattle institution for nearly 60 years. This lead photo is of some friends of mine hanging out drunk out front on an excursion there one night in 1985. For 24 hour diner food downtown in the '80s, and I presume the couple decades before it, The Dog House was the place.
The Dog House was located at 2230 7th Ave, the corner of 7th and Bell. The Hurricane Cafe now operates in the original building, and the outside appearance really hasn't drastically changed. It was built in 1940 and originally housed a paint store called General Paints, but in 1954 the building began down the path of serving up hot meals to hungry Seattle citizens when it reopened as Clark's Restaurant. In 1958, a restaurant called Bob Murray's Dog House relocated over from Aurora Avenue to the space and a Seattle legend was born (or continued, it sounds like the original log cabin-style restaurant on Aurora was pretty popular, although I can't find much information on it). Here's a great picture from the UW photo archives of the original Dog House from 1938, and here's what it first looked like at the 7th and Bell location:
This is a scan of the menu, circa the early '90s (courtesy of John Hubbard):
Here's my friend Sarah back in the '80s holding the menu when we were grabbing some late night grub:
For goth, punk and club kids, The Dog House was just a few blocks away from Skoochies (which later became The Oz and Club Amp) and City Beat, so it was a spot people would hit before or after a night of clubbing (or drug buying/selling). Check out the cool '60s chairs behind my friends playing around with their french fries:
Somewhere I have some more photos of the organ player, waitresses and inside, when I dig them up I'll scan them in too. When you'd go to the Dog House you were always guaranteed a few things: lots of cheap diner food often with dog-themed names (like the Mutt Burger), a wide variety of clientele, drunk singing and organ playing in the bar, and old-school waitresses with names like Ethel and Bernice. Good times! In college in the early '90s we'd go into the bar area because they were a little slack on IDing people. Older guys around the bar would buy our girlfriends drinks, Dick Dickerson would be playing the organ, and everyone would sing along. It was almost like some David Lynchian timewarp back to a time long gone--with a vintage '50s styled diner (one actually from that time, rather than a modern one made to look that way) and a bar and clientele that seemed to have been beamed in from 1965. And you know what? As young people getting to experience this little slice of Americana mostly long-gone, we loved it!
The Dog House closed it's doors January 31st, 1994. And while The Hurricane opened a few years later in it's place, I just haven't had the heart to visit it, I want to keep my memories of hanging out in the old restaurant pure, for it was one of the last vestiges of old Seattle to go, an era that gave way from unique and original businesses to Starbuck's and other chains throughout the more modern city.
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
Sarcasm aside, I'm not really sure what's up with this. Mayor Nickels has been a rock and club hater, going so far as to hire a "Club Czar" to police local music clubs, but recently he announced he'd try to reduce club taxes. So maybe there is a glimmer of hope that his cold dark heart towards music clubs is thawing just a little. And now this! Some vaguely worded event announcement that the city is throwing a celebration of local music next week. It may just be a way to get all the music fans, club owners, bands and bookers all together to take 'em out in one spot, it may just be a political move where they trot out a few grunge rockstars from the '90s, or who knows, it may turn out to be something cool (like say when Rocky Votolo and a bunch of kids staged an all-ages dance at the public hearing on the Teen Dance Ordinance, much to the dismay of city counsel members!). While I doubt the latter, it's free if you RSVP ahead of time. Click the pic for the big readable version with all the details:
A little more info:
"Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels and dozens of music-related entities - both private and public - are coming together to celebrate and honor Seattle's rich music history and its ongoing importance in our city's economy and culture. On Wednesday, October 29, from 5pm - 7pm at The Paramount Theatre, Mayor Greg Nickels will host a celebration of music and announce a strategy to make Seattle a destination for musicians and music-related business in the coming decade. The night, which replaces our typical monthly Happy Hour event, will include performances by a variety of Seattle musicians young and old, from Pike Place Market to Benaroya Hall, including a spectacular finale! The event is free to the public, but an RSVP is required."
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
Belltown's unique gallery/club/bar/lounge/community the McLeod Residence is set to shut down in it's current location at the end of the month. In it's final weeks the bar is still open, art is still hangin', and lots of events are going on, so stop by before it's too late! The event calendar.
Thursday, October 16, 2008
KCMU was the University of Washington's radio station from 1972 through 2001. In 1971 UW undergraduates John Kean, Cliff Noonan, Tory Fiedler, and Brent Wilcox started talking starting talking about and planning a college radio station at the UW. The Communications Department agreed to host the station, the FCC was petitioned by the University for a broadcasting license, and in 1972 it began broadcasting at 90.5. The CMU in KCMU, as most current students or alums of the UW know, was the abbreviation for the Communications Building where the station broadcasted from. The station was student run and grew slowly throughout the '70s. In 1981 after a funding cut, KCMU started running on-the-air fundraisers and asking listeners to help support the station.
During the '80s, the station was able to boost it's signal (400 watts was a milestone they'd talk about during fundraisers constantly) and the station moved to 90.3. KCMU became one of the first radio stations to play hip hop music and it also dove heavily into alternative rock, featuring bands like Green River and Soundgarden long before the mainstream knew who they were. The station was called "one of the most influential commercial-free stations in the country" by Billboard Magazine, and this is long before it morphed into KEXP.
In 1992 there was a powergrab at KCMU that forever altered the station's future. Volunteer student and community DJs were fired and syndicated programs were run in their place. The DJs that were retained, got strict guidelines about what music they could play. Many of the remaining volunteers quit in protest and formed an organization called CURSE that put on a bunch of benefit shows, sued the station, and tried to raise awareness about what was happening to public radio in Seattle at the time. The lawsuit failed, but the station administration did listen and drop the syndicated programming, but they bitterly would not rehire the fired volunteers.
After a big donation from Paul Allen in 2001, the station moved off-campus down to Allen's Experience Music Project and adapted it's name, KEXP. It became almost a commercial station at that point with paid DJs, a less eclectic format, and was no longer run by the college students and University that birthed it and helped it grow. Don't get me wrong, I love KEXP, but it's sad that to get KEXP, Seattle, and the University of Washington in particular, had to loose KCMU.
For a great insider's history of KCMU, check out JC Coleman's account of attending the UW and becoming a volunteer during the mid-'90s. He talks of what working at the station was like and peppers his stories and information with all kinds of scans of old stickers, station artwork, playlists and more. For anyone into local music history, this guy's archive of KCMU is a goldmine for good info!
Not much has moved along in the project since I mentioned it seven months ago, Anderson says the official announcement that it's happening is coming soon. Apparently it's taken a long time to organize the files, which are on a series of hard drives, and their has been some discussion of how they will be hosted at the Undergraduate Library Media Center. For music fans anxiously awaiting this awesome resource, I think you have to cool your jets. It's possible this project could take a long time, possibly years, to get up and running. Funding something like this may prove hard as the state squeezes the University of Washington's budget, plus it's fifteen years of live recordings to organize, convert to a streaming format, and to serve to the public in a way that won't be ripe for bootlegging.
Let's hope the project gets rolling soon though! I know Nirvana fans especially are dying to hear the recordings of the band on stage, as well as the banter between band members and the crowd between songs and during set up that often isn't present on the crowd-recorded bootlegs of their shows. Anderson explains, "What makes this collection unique is that in archival recordings from other clubs, there’s not a whole lot of the between song banter. I did blanket recordings, and was able to capture everything... Bands and people talk about politics, sports, events, the environment, equipment issues, technology, and so on. There’s a lot of stuff that gives you the flavor of what people were thinking and talking about at that point in time."
Plus, the sound quality I've heard on the recordings Anderson gave to bands (he'd offer to burn a copy of the show for a band for a small fee) were excellent. The Nirvana live music in particular should be a lot better than bootleg recordings done from the crowd that most people have heard of Nirvana playing at the Crocodile Cafe.
Next week The Bronx will be playing CMJ with Seattle's Akimbo, I'd love to see that show! The Bronx will release their third album in less than a month, on November 11th. This week they released the first song from the album to the press as a preview, check out "Young Bloods" here. It's not totally rocking my world yet after two listens, but it's a good song, and dare I say, it has a bit of an Against Me! feel to it.
Monday, October 13, 2008
I got there around 6:30pm and a band that was a little too pop for me was playing, so I walked over to Hattie's for a drink. I came back right before The Love Me Nots hit the record store's small stage. Under the bright lights in a toned down booze free environment I wasn't expecting too much, the venue just didn't seem very conducive to The Love Me Nots' brand of sultry soul and garage rock. And while the show was a bit more subdued than the night before, the band still brought a lot of energy to the show and kicked the crowd's ass. Super rockin' and fun. I wish I could have stuck around for The Greatest Hits, but when I headed for a drink on the break, I realized I hadn't eaten since noon and was starving and had to grab some grub. A few pix:
Saturday, October 11, 2008
Friday, October 10, 2008
Studio 66 at the Lo-Fi Gallery on Eastlake
429 Eastlake Ave East
9pm, $9, 21+
The Love Me Nots
Have you ever been to Emerald City Soul night at the Lo-Fi Gallery? It's pretty awesome. Unique space, cool crowd, great rockin' music that takes you back to an era that was nearly left forgotten until a few dedicated folks totally into it helped bring back a Northern soul revival. It just has a great vibe, which has made it hugely popular.
In a similar vein, but a different bent, is Studio 66. Rather than focus on Northern Soul however, Studio 66 more tries to capture a time in the '60s when the airwaves and fashion revolved around mod, garage rock, early psychedelic, soul, acid jazz and Brit pop. Think live bands with organs and mod haircuts, dancing girls in mini skirts with white vinyl boots, flashing lights, and a crowd ready to boogie. Tonight's the night for the action and there are two outta town live bands that are gonna burn up the stage:
Montreal band The High Dials play guitar driven psychedelic rock along the lines of an updated Cream/Beatles/Byrds hybrid. But if you were to ask me who to hit Studio 66 for, it would be The Love Me Nots from Phoenix. The Love Me Nots have a total garage rock with organs sound going on with a couple of cute girls in miniskirts in the band. If you click the band links above you'll find their MySpace profiles, give "Move in Tight" by The Love Me Nots a listen and tell me this band doesn't rock!
There will also be a pile of DJs, the Tangerine Tonic go go dancers, projectors, lights, two bars and lots of beautiful people!
Thursday, October 9, 2008
Easily one of the most heavy and brutal metal bands in Seattle right now, The Book of Black Earth is all set to release their second album next week. Now on Prosthetic Records (home of a bunch of screamo and metal bands from All That Remains to Testament), the new album, entitled "Horoskopus" is due out October 4th. The label is doing a limited edition of 500 of the vinyl as a double gatefold album, my advice is if you want to snag one, pre-order it now here. I just pre-ordered the LP and tshirt, vinyl runs being so small these days, releases like this sell out instantly and become collectors items you'll have to pay twice as much for on Ebay within a few months.
Book of Black Earth was formed in 2003 by former members of Teen Cthulu, Skarp, Wormwood and somewhat surprisingly Rebekah from Kill Sadie and The Fitness. They've had a few member changes over the years before cementing into the current line up (press photo by the esteemed Miss Kelly O):
The band will be in Seattle on October 15th and Portland on the 16th, for you non-Northwest folks, here's their full tour dates:
Oct 09 2008, 31st St Pub, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Oct 10 2008, Peabody’s, Cleveland, Ohio
Oct 11 2008, Reggie’s Rock Club, Chicago, Illinois
Oct 12 2008, Vaudeville Mews, Des Moines, Iowa
Oct 13 2008, Cervantes Masterpiece Ballroom, Denver, Colorado
Oct 14 2008, Urban Lounge, Salt Lake City, Utah
Oct 15 2008, Studio Seven, Seattle, Washington
Oct 16 2008, Rotture, Portland, Oregon
Oct 17 2008, The Metro, Oakland, California
Oct 18 2008, Knitting Factory, Hollywood, California
Oct 19 2008, The Jumping Turtle, San Marcos, California
Oct 20 2008, The Sets, Tempe, Arizona
Oct 21 2008, Gator’s, Farmington, New Mexico
Oct 23 2008, Reno’s Chop Shop, Dallas, Texas
Oct 24 2008, Walter’s On Washington, Houston, Texas
Oct 25 2008, Red 7, Austin, Texas
Oct 26 2008, Dragon’s Den, New Orleans, Louisiana
Oct 28 2008, Brass Mug, Tampa, Florida
Oct 29 2008, Masquerade, Atlanta, Georgia
Oct 30 2008, Volume 11 Tavern, Raleigh, North Carolina
Oct 31 2008, Jaxx, Springfield, Virginia
Nov 01 2008, The Sterling Hotel, Allentown, Pennsylvania
Monday, October 6, 2008
I can tell it's with a heavy heart that the fine folks behind the McLeod Residence announced today that they will be closing down their gallery at the end of the month. In the last three weeks of the gallery's existence, I challenge everyone in Seattle to stop by and check out the current show, buy a few drinks in the bar and tip the staff well, and give a few words of encouragement and support to the people that started and kept McLeod running. They could use a lot of thanks and support from Seattle right now. If you read through the whole blog entry I linked to, they do say they plan to regroup and start up the gallery in a new location at some point in the future. That, at least, is encouraging.
Thursday, October 2, 2008
I was attending classes at the University of Washington in the early '90s, so I decided to put up some flyers looking for "punk or rock poster artists and cartoonists for a cool new underground fanzine" in the School of Art. I got a couple of responses, and the one that worked out by far the best was this kid Brent Watanabe who was doing posters for shows at the Old Firehouse in Redmond. Brent had a twisted style that I loved, one that I've seen a lot of other people do since then, but was very original in the early '90s. He'd draw cartoons and illustrations of happy, cute animals, only they'd be totally fucked up. They'd have 4 sets of eyes, holes dripping blood, a bottle of liquor or a cigarette... you get the picture. And he was super gung ho and enthusiastic. He did covers, spot illos, comic strips and section titles all in his crazy unique style for 10 Things starting from the early issues until I stopped publishing. Stuff like:
I think in part Brent liked doing artwork for 10 Things because I was open to anything and gave him no restrictions, whereas for posters for the Redmond YMCA sponsored all-ages shows he really couldn't have animals with their heads lopped off pouring booze down their throats or bears walking around with their heads sizzling in a frying pan. You know, the kids. And honestly, the more twisted stuff he gave me, the more I dug it and the more positive reinforcement he got to keep pushing it that direction. He definitely started branching out doing film, mixed media and developing his skills as a more serious artist (like a cool video for the industrial band Kill Switch Klick), but every time I'd tell him I was working on a new issue, Brent would work up some great fucked up cartoons and illustrations for me. Early on when I was asking him about his creepy characters and why they'd have two sets of eyes or limbs, he said he actually had double-vision and wanted to reflect that in his art. A few years later he got lasik to fix his vision and got the Japanese symbol for vision tattooed on his arm. Totally cool.
In recent years Brent's had shows and video screenings at places like Soil, the Decibel Music Festival, Cornell University, the Henry Art Gallery and a bunch of festivals. He's got a great website up of his stuff at Creepco.com.
This Friday, October 2nd, Brent has an art opening at Seattle's coolest art gallery, The McLeod Residence. You should go! It's called "Mixed Media Matters" and features a number of mixed media artists from the high Tech and low tech. Here's part of Brent's piece:
From the press release:
"A mix of media, from high-tech computer programming to low-tech street art, makes its way to McLeod next month in four new exhibits. An animation installation by Brent Watanabe, paintings by Curtis Taylor, photography by April Brimer and an urban art installation by a variety of street artists open on Friday, October 3 with a reception from 5-9pm. The exhibits will be up until November 22.
Brent Watanabe will create an environment in the Conservatory that is a cross between a large, ever changing drawing, a runaway video game on the fritz, and an experimental animation, complete with surround sound. Stack:Heap:Loop consists of an animation portraying a mother duck pulled in an endless trek through a desolate man-made environment, her head trailing behind on a distorted/elongated neck, ducklings falling from her mouth. In the corner of the room a nest of ducklings face the wall, visible only by their reflection in a mirror.
The installation is controlled by multiple networked computers, with each element interdependent on the other: the mother duck communicates with the landscape, which communicates with the nest of birds across the room, which communicates with the soundscape. See a sample of the animation here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qo26fn5I4C0&fmt=6.
Brent is a local artist who programs computer applications to connect the gap between his interests in drawing, audio and video, mixing high tech tools with low-tech techniques. He works primarily in video and animation, and will have an artists residency at Jack Straw New Media Gallery in 2009.
The Parlor will house Curtis Taylor's Chinese Factory Paintings, 26 eight-inch-square photorealistic oil paintings, each of a different anonymous factory. The factories were documented in snap-shot form during a trip in 2003.
According to Taylor, "the Chinese factory is an engine of creation and change. Whether it produces consumer electronics, toys, pharmaceuticals, clothing, low-cost weapons---anything desired by a global marketplace---they each transform the life and political economy of the planet." His paintings are a distributable homage to the power of these buildings.
Curtis Taylor is a filmmaker living in Seattle Washington. From 1996 to 2006 he operated Vodvil, a film-and-performance storefront that made original narratives in opera and ballet. He has written, designed and directed shows which have premiered at Vodvil, Northwest Film Forum, Film Brigade of Chicago, Toronto Film Festival, SXSW, Center on Contemporary Art and On the Boards.
Portraits of Curiosity, a series of photographs by April Brimer, will hang in the McLeod Residence Foyer. The photographs tell a story in magical realism, with characters that are strong, adventurous, curious and sometimes mischievous. April creates portraits that are open-ended, inviting the viewer to speculate on the setting and motivation.
April Brimer has been taking photographs for over ten years. A former Seattle resident, she currently lives in Santa Barbara, CA, where she is pursuing fine art digital photography."
The important details:
-The McLeod Residence is located in Belltown at 2209 2nd Ave
-The opening is Friday, October 3rd, from 5-9pm
-It's free and they do have a bar!