used for the "Big Rock Candy
Mountain" cover above is a 1940 publicity shot of Woody Guthrie
and Burl Ives in Central Park. Their casual closeness mirrors the
homoerotic storyline of the song, in which a burly bum recruits a young
boy into an alternative lifestyle, at least for awhile. Since
first being released in 1928, everything about "Big Rock Candy Mountain"
has been controversial, especially its liquor references and its
cheerful championing of sloth and laziness. It has been released in many
versions, and sanitized as a children's tune. In the bite of its true
form it is a true product of the Depression Era, an artifact of a
yearning need to believe in a place of ease and plenty. In that,
it is a story type as old as written language, represented by the
mythical land of "Cockaigne" in Middle French. This may be why my
generation has long wanted to believe that the real meaning of this
"children's song" we all grew up with - we got the clean versions on
daytime TV - was that "big rock candy mountain" was code for
cocaine. The true concept is far deeper than that, which is why it is
this election cycle's offering. U.S. politics is a sort of Cockaigne
that is offered up in a presidential election year, with hard choices
related to both "the home guard" and "the union card". Click on
the cover above to have a listen and see if you don't think 1928 sounds
a lot relevant in 2012.
Interscope Records CEO
was featured in a recent piece in Rolling Stone, and it was one
of those rare celebrity interviews that actually yield insight and
useful information for people interested in music production and
New Releases on
RARadio: "1,000 Leather Tassels"
by The Blank Tapes;
"We Are All Stone" and "Those
Outer Minds; "Another Dream"
by MMOSS; "Susannah" by
Jim Morrison, Elvis Presley, Michael
Jackson and other dead celebrities / news by
A SECRET PARTY; "I Miss the Day"by
My Secret Island,
"Carriers of Light" by Brendan James;
"The Last Time" by Model Stranger;
"Last Call" by Jay; "Darkness"
Cohen; "Sweetbread" by
Simian Mobile Disco and "Keep
Actress off the Chronicle
movie soundtrack;"Goodbye to Love" from
October Dawn; Trouble in Mind 2011
Black Box Revelation Live on
Minnesota Public Radio;
Apteka "Striking Violet";
Mikal Cronin's "Apathy" and "Get
Along"; Dana deChaby's
At the northwest end of the
Northwest Passage, rain falls as a constant drizzle in the
winter months, adding up to a misty 37 inches per year, while
the clouds hang low for over 200 days of every 365. It isn't
torrential, and isn't even the biggest rainfall recipient in the
U.S., but it factors into the thinking and the lives of the
locals. Seattle, along with Portland and San Francisco, ranks as
the "Greenest City in the U.S.", according to a Tufts University
study reported in June 2012. People in the Seattle area feel in
touch with the elements and they adapt their outdoor styles to
the natural environment or they stay indoors, either of which
tends to push people inwards. It shows in the clothes they wear,
like camping gear, and in the scrubby preference in facial hair.
It is no accident that "Grunge" emanated from Seattle. It is the
"muddy boots" of Rock, the distortion of a perfectly clean space
that happens naturally when it is soaking wet outside. The cold
moisture seeps through the walls and becomes mold if you don't
stay on top of it, and it is dark. Ferns flourish, as if some
portal to dinosaur land has allowed in too much low-hanging fog
and wood smoke, and god knows what else. Hippies, probably, and
itinerates, though why they travel to here is also part of the
story. Seattle connects, as could be said of the State of
Washington itself, which dictates "Fish Windows" in its winter
construction season, when workers in waters around Pugett Sound
must step aside for spawning finned species. Of human species,
Seattle is a magnet for creative types from this region, who
move here to be part of a music community as vibrant as any in
the U.S. The sounds range from chainsaw rock to delicate folk,
and it tends to be highly literate and predominantly White.
There are exceptions to the latter, but relatively few.
Jimi Hendrix was a Seattle
native, though he exited town early for the service and was not
really a Seattle product, such as exists here today. In 2012,
Seattle was beginning to replace the image of it being the
Grunge Capitol of Rock with something more gentle and thoughtful
and a lot woodier. No place in the U.S. seems to be producing
more sensitive, melodic voices than Seattle, Washington. Like
spaces between rain drops, Seattle music tends to be a delicate
mix of shimmering sounds layered carefully so that everything
has room. Grunge had that element to it, if you check out most
of Soundgarden, Alice in Chains,
or Nirvana tunes of
yesterday, or the Chris Cornell
stuff of today (Audioslave).
I attribute this to the influence of the cozy drizzle.
Last Year's Best Seattle New Band?
The Head and the
Seattle's City Arts Magazine
devised some sort of a way to determine Seattle's best band for
2011, and they came up with The Head and the Heart
landslide. Music writer Jonathan Zwickel has quite an interview
read here. And check out this video for their tune "Down In
"Strange Like We Are"
Here is a Seattle band that puts us in
mind of an earlier City favorite, Death Cab for Cutie.
OK does a sophisticated and intelligent thing, and they do the
articulate outsider to a "T".
City Arts Magazine
found them to be Seattle's best new entry of 2011.
From this outsider's perspective,
the Seattle bands of 2012 all have an earnestness that is unlike
that found anywhere else. Perhaps it is something to do with
geography or environment, but whatever these folks perform as if
unaware of the harsh glare of critical assessment that
apparently doesn't penetrate the mists of Washington. And that's
a good thing, as witnessed in Ravenna Woods.
You might find this video, which features Band of
Horses doing a really lovely tune, particularly entertaining after first
watching the video in the column at the right. Present-day Seattleites
have struggled to separate from the Grunge heritage, and have
successfully done so by morphing to an alt-rock characterized by a sort
of scruffy urban explorer. Is there another music Mecca that is equal to
Seattle in its massive shifts of personality? The City that gave the
world Kurt Cobain and Nirvana, also gave the world Heart and Alice in
Chains and Death Cab for Cutie, each of which pretty much exemplified
the "Seattle music" of their eras. Seattle doesn't transition easily,
but when it does it goes wherever it is going to go "whole hog". Today
it is the look and sound of "beard music" ala the video below.
Amanda Hardy Band
Seattle band plays their original tune "Surface"
live from the Showbox Market in Seattle. They opened on 8-3-2012 for The Classic
The Lemons @ El Corazon Seattle WA 04-28-2012. The
four original members of The Lemons - Jimmy Paulson (lead vocals, guitar), Greg
Lovell (guitar), Brent Saunders (bass) and Jeff Ramirez (drums) - got together a
few times in 2012, including this show at El Corazon. One of Seattle's seminal
punk rockers, The Lemons first got together in 1991.
Rauls (pictured left in white shirt with Roger
Fisher) - a curator of rock history based on his many years
in the music business as an artist & repertoire rep for
Atlantic Records, and related labels - brings to our
attention this video of Seattle musician Roger Fisher's
ambitious remake of the Heart
classic "Love Alive". Fisher and his brother Mike were on
the Seattle scene as sisters Ann and Nancy Wilson were
coming of age, and Roger Fisher was in the founding lineup
of Heart. He has songwriting credits on numerous Heart hits,
including "Barracuda" and "Crazy On You".
"Up In My Kitchen"
Fly Moon Royalty
Oh-oh, coolness with a dose of fatback. Our girl
can flat-out sing and beats producer
creates a sound that is irresistible.
Check out their MySpace. 11-30-2012
Marseilles came together in 2006 as a duo featuring
University of Washington students
Nick Ward and
Matt Bishop, and has since grown into a seven-piece
band. They released their first album, To Travels & Trunks,
independently and to good reviews in 2008. Their next is
expected in March 2013. One might put them at the "The
Letterman"-end of the new folk revival, Seattle style, where
sensitivities are so keen they would be wrapped in nice sweaters
were flannel not available. These guys have much in common with
Mumford and Sons, not just in instrumentation, sound, and
presentation, but in an absurd degree of passion regarding the
slightest of things. It is as if they imagine that singing
really hard will somehow make it all seem authentic and true.
Hey Marseilles and Mumford and Sons would not be the first to be
wrong about this.
Curtains for You
Seattle-based pop band Curtains For You, played a
sold old show in opening for The Head & The
Heart on October 12th in Western Washington University's
Multi-Purpose Room. This partial was uploaded from the university's
student media group. 11-30-2012
Tiny Vipers play a special acoustic session at
Neuer Markt in Vienna in March 2010.
Band of Heathens
The Band of Heathens performing "Medicine Man" -
Live @ the Tractor Tavern in Seattle,WA on 8/24/2012
2008 Look at Seattle
This is an amazing documentary-style look at the
Seattle Music scene from the perspective of Seattle music community
members, with particular focus on guitarist
Matt Brooke. This appears to have been produced by a visitor
(German? Belgian?) to the U.S.. It was uploaded to YouTube in 2008 with
the following description, and has received way too few views. This is
Seattle has musically always been more
than grunge although it was bands as Nirvana, Soundgarden and Alice in
Chains that put the city on the map at thebrginning of the ninties.
Bands Of Horses successes with record "Everything all The Time" got the
world to face its ears to Seattles musicscene again. The band has today
moved from the town, but guitarist Matt Brooke
stayed and started up "Grand Archives". Follow Matt into Seattles music
scene 2008. Also meet Tiny Vipers
and Fleet Foxes.
Uploaded by CopkillahP on Jun 18, 2008