February’s almost over, which means that my Grunge Redux tour schedule kicks back into gear. I’ve recently led some special tours (including one awesome group of high school age music fans from Seattle on a particularly rainy January day). I’ve done some special advance scouting travel for an August overseas move (more on that later). But for those interested in regular walking tours around Seattle’s fascinating cultural geography, I’m happy to announce that I’m getting back out on the streets.
As always, you can drop me a quick line if you have plans to visit Seattle when you don’t see a tour on my schedule. More often than not, I’m open to thoughtful pitches and special requests. There’s really nothing else out there like what I do for those obsessed or at least curious about the Pacific Northwest’s grunge era history. As I’ve often said on my tours, “I’m not trying to ‘out cool’ anyone.” This is a labor of love and my (self-appointed) ambassadorial duties have introduced me to an expanding atlas of far-flung tour takers. So far, people from a few dozen countries and more than 30 American states have toured with me. Why not jump into the mosh pit yourself? It’s a friendly, invigorating way of seeing a slice of Seattle - both past and present.
I need to add some links to some recent media that has featured Seattle Grunge Redux. I’ll preview them with a link to a recent conversation on Seattle’s NPR station (KUOW) that I was honored to join. Host Bill Radke’s from “The Record” brought a few of us into the studio - Ean Hernandez (from Seattle band Sicko and many other bands with a signature pop punk ethic) and Gretta Harley (writer, musician, educator with a new album coming out this weekend from her latest band, Love and Fury). and yours truly. The segment used the 25th anniversary of Green Day’s “Dookie” being released as an intro to ponder when the grunge era and Seattle’s presumed dominance came to fade away. I had recently come back from a trip to Africa, so my jet lagginess took the edge of my insights. I did the chance to voice my opinions that marketing shaped much of the world’s view of Seattle and that nostalgia is actually a worthy lens through which to view the music from the grunge era. Give it a listen and let me know if you have any thoughts to contribute.
I’m going to expand upon my usual sparse posting here to reinvigorate the conversation. Let me know if you have any questions. Sign up for a tour. Or just check back. More to come…
The rumor(s) spread (by me…) about the extended hiatus of my Grunge Redux tours have been quashed. Due to popular demand, I’ve added some new scheduled tours starting on Valentine’s Day (with more to come). I’ve actually been out rockin’ and rollin’ on the streets of Seattle often enough recently that I should offer a fuller update. That will come soon, I pinkie swear. But the bottom line for anyone curious about when you might be able to book a storytelling journey into Seattle’s fascinating past/present/future is the band is back together! If I can call myself a band (I can’t) as a solo artist (loosely speaking, of course) out on the road (here in Seattle) trying to entertain and educate the crowds (generally limited to less than 10 people).
I should mention a special tour I ran earlier this week for a cool, thoughtful bunch of local high schoolers. Plenty of musicians in the group, with a super-cool adviser who got our “field trip” approved with the administration of their Seattle-area high school. If you’re also angling at a special group event, feel free to give me a holler. No promises. But I definitely love the chance to tailor the research I’ve done to audiences with special interests.
As visual evidence, here we are outside MoPOP. Good looking crew, I must say.
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.
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.
Concert billing from the second show Nirvana played in Seattle, on April 24, 1988.Read More
Nevermind the clichés. Grunge Redux, my always-evolving and deeply-researched storytelling tour, returns! Peek into some of coolest corners of the over-exposed yet still somehow superunknown grunge era. Dig deeper into the dirt around this Town's musical roots. Gain insight into what led to the sonic boom that turned "Seattle" from a proper noun into an adjective (think "Seattle band"). And connect a whole lotta dots for a clearer picture of the upheaval caused by the music and culture that came from here.
Expect to walk a path where many influential bands from the mid-80s through the late-90s cut teeth, stumbled repeatedly, and earned cred. Stops will feature largely unmarked notable locations worth remembering throughout Belltown and beyond. This short-term side project will split up and go our separate ways at KEXP's Gathering Space in Seattle Center.
This will be a motivated trek...with a few well-timed pit stops...covering approximately two miles. Be prepped to walk and withstand the elements (chilly temps are forecast through the weekend). No matter how long you've lived in Seattle, expect that you'll hear funny and real stories that provide a new context for an influential era.
Send me an email (eric "at" seattlegrungeredux.com) if you'd like in. I'll respond with detail(s) of where to meet. Space is (very) limited. Payment will be up to you...this is a one-time offer before I roll this out more regularly...I typically charge $50/person. Future tour offerings will occur approximately twice monthly.
Please note that my tour isn't connected with The Croc's gathering later Saturday to celebrate the 40th anniversary of The Bird (Seattle's first punk club @ 107 Spring St.). Although that gig's highly recommended.
You know you want to know more about Seattle's grunge era. So why not join me for the walk that rocks? Rain or shine, it'll be a good time.