Without spending on advertising…aside from a few days of testing out Google Adsense and realizing that clicks mean next to nothing in terms of connecting with actual people…some pretty awesome people found their way to my walking tours during the past handful of months. I’ve done a few tallies to illustrate the dynamism of who’s come along (here’s a brief snapshot). I’ve met visitors to Seattle from 18 countries. I’ve had along journalists from right here, a German “Rolling Stone” reporter, and a documentary TV film crew from France. I showed around as many as 15 people in one group (a hopeful mistake) and as few as just one woman visiting from South Korea (a total delight). There were boundlessly positive waves of Pearl Jam fans especially around the time of the Home Shows in August. So often there were tough questions asked that drew me obsessively deeper into the research of Seattle’s cultural history. We’ve experienced the sudden loss of Paul Allen, watched the unfolding debate over The Showbox, awaited the evolution of the former Galleria Potato Head/Black Dog Forge space into something new and exciting, appreciated MoPOP’s Pearl Jam exhibit and the unveiling of the Chris Cornell statue, celebrated with Sub Pop their first 30 years of going out of business, and prepared for places like Studio X/Bad Animals to leave behind their Belltown digs. The list of discussion worthy points along the way through Seattle’s landscape and history goes on.
And now it’s time for me to drop to mic.
I have one more tour scheduled for this week. Given the current warm and sunny weather, it should make for yet another lovely walkabout. I even have a few more fun details to share that I recently learned from both the Andrew Wood documentary (available from Seattle’s awesome Public Library) and the obsessed folks behind Northwest Passage’s reporting on the story behind the Deep Six compilation by C/Z Records back in 1986.
Whenever I finish a tour, I scrutinize what I forgot to mention. I don’t have a script…as might prove obvious to most…even though I have some reliably retold tales and a good memory for detail. Although I shouldn’t push the analogy too far, I’ve seen this little side project take on the elements of a live show. In that light, the thing that I’ve learned above all else from this particular performance is that I respect the power of nostalgic yearning. I often say that I don’t want to ever fall into any form of “your band sucks” criticism as we conversationally amble through music history. That’s not to say I’m without strong opinions on what music then or now matters. Either here in Seattle or beyond. I’ve simply tried to offer an entertaining mix of stories tied to the places from whence the stuff came.
If you’ve found your way to this humble post and want to reach out in hopes of still scheduling a tour, I’m always open to hearing your pitch. But I’m not planning to put up anymore regularly scheduled tours for the foreseeable future. Not that you asked, but the year ahead will be an extremely busy one for me and my family. I have a book project that demands my immediate and full attention. My family and I are planning for a sabbatical year starting next August in Ethiopia. I’m thinking about developing this material further for a self-guided podcast/audio tour. Yada yada yada. We all have our plans and dreams and day-to-day distractions. I’m nonetheless glad to have met all the people I did while trying to share a small slice of Seattle.
This isn’t the end. The conversation will continue. Thanks for checking in. Holler back if you have questions. And rock on.
30 years ago this month, a series of curious events occurred that would eventually shift the plates of Seattle's seemingly sedate cultural bedrock. Sub Pop Records signed a lease on office space in Belltown on a metaphorically significant April Fools Day. Nirvana played their first two Seattle shows. Mudhoney also played their first show, seven years after their lead singer, Mark Arm, unintentionally coined the much-loathed yet essential term "grunge" in a letter to the long-since defunct punk zine, "Desperate Times." To go further down that rabbit hole, Mudhoney formed from the split nucleus of the band Green River, which also led to the formation of Mother Love Bone. For the non-geeks out there and/or anyone else still reading, Pearl Jam formed in part from Mother Love Bone, after the tragic death of their lead singer, Andy Wood, in 1990. As one might say in a deep, movie-trailer quality voiceover, "in a world where few bands dared to believe they could succeed...now there were many...and soon there'd be many many more."
Whether or not its obvious, I've continued to polish the chrome and tweak the carburetor on my Grunge Redux walking tour through parts of downtown Seattle. And without being a noodge...too late...I want to point y'all toward my revised calendar for upcoming tours.
This Friday, 4/6, I'm doing another Happy Hour tour starting at 4pm. And then the Saturday after next, 4/14, I'm doing my first Brunch tour starting at 10:30. In both iterations, we'll walk an approximately two-mile path through Belltown and finish up at KEXP's Gathering Space in Seattle Center. The many stops along the way make this a two-hour-plus-a-skoch storytelling journey.
If you've not received or just not bothered to read through one of my promos previously, there's more detail on my website along with a schedule through August. Tickets are $50/person, although cheaper as pairs or even more so in bigger groups. I'll happily reply with timely answers if you lob back questions. Or I'll send along all the logistical details you'll need if you pick out tickets that appeal to you.
As has always been the case with my Grunge Redux tours, there's an element of improv drawn from the particular interests of those along for the walk. Feel free to tell me what you yearn to hear covered. Please bear in mind that you needn't be versed in the grunge era (which I bookend with stories that place the action between 1985 and 1996-ish). Or if you're a Seattle music super geek, I still believe I can add to that with deep cuts and thoughtfully researched connective logic. All ages are welcome, although there will be opportunities for the grown ups to stop briefly for beverages along the way. In which case, the all ages ticket holders get to play in the figurative street.
I believe this immersive history tour makes an essential boom era in Seattle's history return to life. Imagine the Underground Tour of Pioneer Square. But with careful research, fresh air and even fresher shtick. I'd be stoked to show y'all some of what I've learned along this path. Regardless, I hope you're well and ready for whatever new stories are being currently generated all over the Great Northwest.