rpm series

Spring Brings a Grunge Era Focus

Spring arrived in stellar form here in Seattle. We’ve actually been sweating through record temps - with record temps near 80-degrees for three days running. 3/19/19 was even the warmest Winter day EVER recorded in Seattle. This comes little more than a month after an equally rare snowy stretch dumped a foot on us and canceled a week worth of school. What better time to shine some light on a few noteworthy dates as the days lengthen and brighten.

April Fools Day is the true anniversary of Sub Pop Records’s official founding. They turn 31 this year. After last year’s “can you believe we’re 30?” parties and countless features, this birthday may prove easily missed. There’s still much to celebrate. Like the return of Sub Pop’s famous “Singles Club” in its 4th Volume (sorry - no longer open for new subscriptions). They tell me that the first two 7-inch vinyl records will ship in April. I’m certainly not alone in my stoked-ed-ness.

Which reminds me to mention something that is still available - Gillian G. Gaar’s new book. World Domination: The Sub Pop Records Story sheds beams of new light on their history (as the first in the “RPM Series” of titles from BMG Books). Gaar got plenty of access to Bruce Pavitt and Jonathan Poneman, and a full roster of insider perspectives. I saw her talk about the book a few months ago at Seattle’s Elliott Bay Book Company. There was a room full of old school Seattleites present to ask Gaar obscure and sometimes pertinent questions. Even if Sub Pop’s not officially shining a light upon itself this month, I’ll be telling some of my favorite old and new Sub Pop stories as we walk around Belltown.

A far less celebratory but certainly significant milestone comes up that same week. April 5th marks the 25th anniversary Kurt Cobain’s death. When he was found on April 8, 1994 at his home here in Seattle, I was in grad school at the University of Washington. One of the stories I share on my tour focuses upon what I experienced on the day Kurt was found, and over the melancholy days that followed. I suspect I won’t be alone in recalling in the coming weeks what I experienced and thought 25 years ago. Judging by the contact from fans I’ve recently received, this date merits a variety of worldwide observations.


Viretta Park

The bench used as an informal memorial since April 1994.

I should note for those just tuning in that by design I don’t take people by Kurt Cobain’s former home. I’m actually somewhat uncomfortable with that location being used as an informal memorial, although I certainly understand the need it serves for some. My walking tour around parts of Seattle functions more as a tribute to where the scene lived in the mid-1980s through the 1990s. All of us who feel a connection to the music that came from Seattle and the Pacific Northwest during that era can and likely do have something to say about what occurred here. With all due respect to other forms of memorial, I hope you’ll join me in observing not just where the tragedies happened. Maybe then we’ll have a better sense of where we’ve traveled since. And possibly where we’re we should be looking for what’s next.