pearl jam home shows
The summer's been hot and the news has been steamy in Seattle. A brutal report about Dave Meinert's sexually abusive actions shocked many, and the backlash has been severe from all quarters (I will continue to mention his background, but with the essential update that came from that KUOW story last week). News of The Showbox's possible demise and/or pending landmark status may be stirring people into action (I strongly suggest signing the Change.org petition as I've done to do whatever's possible to protect this essential big room venue, and putting your words into action as I'm also doing).
And this all comes as Pearl Jam prepares to play their "Home Shows" in less than two weeks from when I write this. I've sold out my Grunge Redux tours for that week, and the far flung members of the "Jamily" arriving soon have reached out with much excitement and earnestness. MoPOP long ago tapped into that energy by organizing a new exhibit set to open on Saturday, August 11th.
Sub Pop's 30th Anniversary Weekend celebration adds an equally amazing river of energy to that week's festivities. KEXP has kept them fresh in everyone's mind as they've played something off the entirety of Sub Pop's 1200+ release catalog for months counting down to the parties themselves on 8/10 and 8/11.
It's a head-spinning mix of awesomeness. To show some of my priorities...and to give a hopefully helpful cheat sheet for that week...I'll offer the following list of activities that deserve to be on your schedule. In chronological but certainly not entirely complete order:
Saturday, 7/28 @ Georgetown Records - Punk Flyer Retrospective 1979-85
Wednesday, 8/1 on-air with KEXP - The Home Shows spotlight (from 6am to 6pm Best Coast Standard Time)
Thursday, 8/2 @ KEXP's Gathering Space - Storytelling Session with members of the Black Constellation collective
Tuesday, 8/7 @ MoPOP - Member Preview Day of "Pearl Jam: Home and Away" exhibit at MoPOP
Tuesday, 8/7 @ Optimism Brewing - MoPOP + Optimism "Pop Culture Trivia Night (focus upon Pearl Jam)
Thursday, 8/9 in Magnuson Park/NOAA Campus - Chris Cornell tribute
Thursday, 8/9 @ KEXP's Gathering Space - Storytelling Session with Mudhoney
Thursday, 8/9 @ Nordic Museum - Danish music journalist Henrik Tuxen's book talk for his fascinating bio titled "Pearl Jam: The More You Need, The Less You Get"
Friday and Saturday's redonkulously interesting lineups of Sub Pop Concerts @ Seattle Center's Mural Amphitheatre and West Seattle's Alki Beach. Check the SP30th website for all the updates.
Saturday, 8/11 @ MoPOP - the opening of "Pearl Jam: Home + Away" exhibit. Expect that it will sell out incredibly fast.
Please note that I will be adding more details and/or suggested events for that whole week soon.
Plus, I've got just two more tours left before the end of the summer (Tuesday, 8/14 and Saturday, 9/1). Some other fascinating media outreach has cropped up. So there's much going on, and much to look forward to. Rock on y'all.
It's been a few months since I put up one of my periodic time capsule-heavy how-you-doin' updates. Today seems like an especially apt time to do so. Because on this date, Nirvana's first album "Bleach" was released back in 1989. While the album was well-received by critics, it barely reached the broader public still quaintly thinking of Seattle as an out of the way "noun" rather than a soon-to-be ubiquitous "adjective" (as in "Seattle sound" or "Seattle band" or the like). The relative lack of promotion eventually led Nirvana to leave Seattle's own Sub Pop Records. "Bleach" sold just 40,000 copies by the time their next album "Nevermind" fully cracked the cultural firmament two years later. However, it would go on to become Sub Pop's biggest selling album (1.9M and counting). Not bad for an album that cost just over $600 in studio time to record.
Music journalists eventually dug way deep to learn that Cobain wrote most of the lyrics for that first batch of songs in a "pissed off mood" (Kurt's characterization, not mine) the night before their first recording session with Jack Endino at Reciprocal Records in Ballard. The sound was somewhat shaped to fit what Sub Pop was looking for at the time. But the energy and the originality and the off-kilter melodic fury endures. I still spin it from time to time. In fact, that's what's playing in the background as I write this.
As I also like to point out at the start of my Grunge Redux tours, six days prior to "Bleach" dropping was an especially fortuitous date for the 2000-ish lucky people who made it into Sub Pop's "Lame Fest" at the Moore Theatre. The kind, naive people running that venue misjudged a billing with Nirvana, Tad and Mudhoney on the marquee. Hardly anyone aside from the in-the-know local fans thought it could sell out (which it did). Surely including the management of The Moore, who chose to send home early their security. And maybe not even Sub Pop, who were (reportedly) banned for a decade from that neighborhood venue as a result of the mayhem that resulted.
Shifting forward to the now-ish...two months on down the line, we'll all most likely be lamenting "where did the summer go?" Before then, I've got big plans. Travel, family fun, a pile of work that's staring me down. Not that you asked, but I like to keep y'all in the know. Regardless, interspersed until mid-August on some special dates, I'll be running more Grunge Redux tours. Then after Pearl Jam finishes up their first Seattle shows in five years and Sub Pop throws itself a 30th birthday bash out on Alki Beach, I'll be dropping the ol' tour guide record bag (aside from a few charitable outings and the occasional special request). My subtle wink wink nudge nudge point here is to say that I'd love to have you join me for one before I stop doing encores. Next Friday even. Which could be an unseasonable warm day. What better time to skip out of work early and make a few Happy Hour cooling stops wrapped up in my uniquely Seattle storytelling experience? Tickets are available. Questions, as always, are welcomed and answered as soon as I can get to them.
Or you can also check me out for a limited time on Airbnb. If you've joined me before and want to say something about the experience, reviews can be placed there. No pressure. Just another friendly nudge.
Now if you'll excuse me, time to get back to rocking out. I hope you're doing the same...or will be soon...on this room-temperature and sunny Friday.
No one should aim to dwell too much in the past. But who doesn't love an entertaining ride in the ol' time machine every once in a while? If you set the flux capacitor for 27 years ago right about now, you'd be able to make the grand opening of the Crocodile Cafe (with The Posies and Love Battery on the bill). Looking around Belltown in the Springtime of 1991 might seem delightfully primordial. Or well past prime for those locals who'd grown up going to venues well before the Teen Dance Ordinance starting shutting them down. No one, however, could have foretold that two of the biggest-selling albums of the entire decade (Pearl Jam's Ten released that August and Nirvana's Nevermind in September) would soon come from here. Who wouldn't get a charge out of skipping that rock back to before Seattle largely became an adjective and grunge became a noun in common worldwide usage?
Or what about a trip back to 1989 around the time of "Lame Fest" at The Moore (with Mudhoney, TAD, and Nirvana introducing their first and only Sub Pop album Bleach). Or the turbulent watershed year of 1994 when Seattle's Big 4 (Alice in Chains, Nirvana, Pearl Jam and Soundgarden) all hit #1 on the then-still-important Billboard Album chart. You could easily wear out the dial flipping back and forth between the dates that could showcase Seattle's unlikely rise and evolution as a music City of sizable awesomeness.
Thankfully, you don't have to. You can instead sign up for one of my Grunge Redux tours.
As we leap into May, I've got three tours on the calendar, and another 5 scheduled in June. I'll be on the road in July, but then back in August with a prescheduled slate of tours the week of Pearl Jam's "Home Shows" and Sub Pop Records's sure-to-be epic 30th Anniversary Party. Nothing's rock solid, however, since even the most beloved side projects get shelved when the proverbial band gets back together.
This is, nonetheless, a rather long-winded wink wink nudge nudge way to say that there are available spots on my Happy Hour tour this Friday, 5/4, starting at 4pm. As usual, 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. Tickets are $50/person, although cheaper as pairs or even more so in larger 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.
In the past month alone, I was been delighted to lead around folks from Germany, Denmark, Scotland, England, New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Detroit and the Great Pacific Northwest. As always, people ranging from the most casual of music fans to the randomly obsessed lobbed back new insights along the way. Snippets from those conversations and other newly discovered grunge-y gems factor into the storytelling I'll be doing along the way. If you've not yet heard my backstory on this, my love for that era's music developed both prior to and after making my own way out West in 1993. As I like to say (on purpose), "grunge is people." One of these times on this evolving loop around Belltown, I'll figure out just what I mean by that.
But in all seriousness if you're looking for a more tangible sense of what gets covered on my Grunge Redux tours, I've dug deeply for places where the essential music of the mid-1980s through later-1990s was both created and consumed. The course of a few hours gives us time to explore a workable overview of the grunge era in Seattle and beyond. More material will come your way later to inspire additional exploration. I'm happy to proclaim that this ain't no sucky suicide and sadness tour. Although I certainly don't shy away from giving those chapters their due inclusion. I'm just firing up the wayback machine, and hopefully connecting some of the dots you might have missed along the way. With more than a few yucks thrown in. Hopefully.
Whether or not you can make it on a tour, feel free to pass this or future friendly promos along. There are no guarantees of how long I'll be offering this. Passion projects are like that. I'm nonetheless happy to accommodate y'all and any special requests that arise so long as I do.
Regardless, here's hoping we cross paths at a show sometime soon. Be well, and rock on always.
I spent part of a lovely Seattle morning this week with Ana Sofia Knauf (storyteller extraordinaire with Seattle's essential The Evergrey) talking grunge history. You can find the resulting feature on their website. Whenever I'm in the position of qualifying this passion project's existence, I come back around to what's important to me. History. The music. And the friends I made while experiencing them both. During that interview, I mentioned once again my dear friend, Bob Wayman, and our shared, hilarious meandering through those crazy years in the '90s. Sadly, Bob's not around to keep me in my lane by not over-sentimentalizing what transpired as the world turned Seattle from a noun into an adjective (e.g. Seattle sound, Seattle band, Seattle style). But I know he's looking over my karmic shoulder.
If you've not noticed, I've put up other future dates for tours if you're not able to join this Friday's Grunge Redux Happy Hour tour. I'll be traveling for research on an unrelated book project in July. Still there are 16 total dates on that calendar, including the handful the week of Pearl Jam's "Home Shows" here in Seattle. I'm planning to drop the mic on Saturday, August 11th when Sub Pop's 30th Anniversary Party is held out on Alki Beach. For those fact checkers out there, Sub Pop's actual 30th anniversary is this coming April Fool's Day. Who can blame them for planning for a sure-to-be epic free festival in the summertime? I'm looking forward to it mightily.
More updates coming soon on this site, I assure you. Including better e-commerce capabilities. You can always email me, in the interim. As those who've done so can attest, I'm quick on the reply. Rock on.