Archive for October 2012

The History of Punk, Class #12

2012/10/31

The Edmonton Free School
Sunday November 4 1:30PM
Location: Humanities 1-14, The University of Alberta (enter Humanities through south door)
All-Ages, All-Welcome

“The Edmonton Punk Scene, part II”

Last class, we did some digging around the history of the Edmonton punk scene, and planned out our first punk homework assignment: to look around the current local community and see what we could find.

So, this time around, come to class with a little info on an Edmonton band and tell us a little about ’em. Playing a song means your mark will be moved up from an A+ to an A++. Try and find a band that fits the punk “attitude” we’ve been discussing. Afterwards, we’ll compile a list of all the bands and get it out there to people using this worldwide web thing that seems to really be catching on.

Also, we’ll have punk stalwart Jim Nowhere join the class to talk about his participation in the local scene!

Readings: TBD

Playlist: TBD, but it’s going to be AWESOME.

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Sparkling Lights at Midnight

2012/10/25

Wool on Wolves have released a video for their new song “Midnight Avenue.” It’s ahead of their sophomore album Measures of Progress, out on November 13th. Directed by aAron Munson, the video was filmed in Edmonton with a lot of help from the community, AND sparklers.

The band is also heading out on a Canadian tour with the Great Bloomers, so try and catch ’em live!

2012 Festival of Ideas: The Importance of Music Communities

2012/10/24

On Wednesday, 24 October, I’m helping launch the University of Alberta’s 2012 Festival of Ideas at Edmonton City Hall. It’s free and open to the public, and runs from Noon-1:00PM:

Here’s what my talk is about:

When it comes to research, my interest lies in the relationship between music and society. The best way to do this is to study music communities. So, in this presentation, I’m talking about 3 different scenes from Seattle history, and each can tell us something about the past. Seattle was far removed for the traditional music centres in the United States – cities like New York, or Los Angeles. But that didn’t stop the kids living there. Youths making music can spark big change in culture – and kids participating in music communities allows them opportunities they wouldn’t otherwise have.

Take a kid named James for example. He grew up in the Seattle ghetto in the 1950s. At this time, Seattle was still inherently racist – blacks couldn’t live outside the Central District, a section of town only a few square miles wide. They couldn’t work outside of it either, or go to school. It was an amazing music community though. Folks might not have had good jobs, but that didn’t stop them from playing jazz, the blues, or R’n’B. And despite the intolerance, it was still part of a network that spanned the entire continent. Locals were exposed to some of the greatest musicians in the world.

Now James, at first he couldn’t afford a guitar – so he played a broomstick. When he finally saved enough money to buy one, he was taught by the other players in the community – the ones who had nothing to lose by passing along their knowledge. This kid James? He’s better known as Jimi Hendrix!

Have you heard of the Baby-Boomers? They’ve probably made sure you have! If not, chat with your grandparents. They’re the HUGE generation that came of age in the 1960s. When it came to music in Seattle and the Pacific Northwest, these youths went out and did it themselves. They created a successful teen dance network throughout the region, where everyone participated by attending the shows. They had FUN. Friendly rivalries between bands meant that if a band’s members went to the same school as you, you had to get out there and show your support. As the Baby-Boomers grew up, they moved out of the community halls and went on to dominate mainstream culture.

When the next generation was coming of age, the Baby-Boomers didn’t pass control of mainstream culture over to their descendants. Instead, they held on to it. This meant the next generation, Generation X, had to create an alternative to the mainstream. They were a small generation, and didn’t have the same opportunities of their predecessors. So, they worked on a shift underground. The foundation of this was personal expression. In music communities across North America, participants developed their own cultural institutions, and  throughout the 1980s built a stronger and stronger network. This all culminated with the Seattle music scene, and the band Nirvana – whose song “Smells Like Teen Spirit” finally brought the cultural spotlight onto a generation. If you don’t know Nirvana you might recognize the name Dave Grohl, who went on to form the Foo-Fighters. Also, you might be hearing “Smells Like Teen Spirit” a lot in the near future, since it’s the name of a sitcom being created by the writer of Big Bang Theory.

The 3 examples from Seattle show that youth create change by participating in music communities. And each shift meant this was no longer their parent’s music. For Jimi Hendrix, it was helping him overcome a life of poverty. For the Baby-Boomers, it asserting cultural dominance, and having fun doing it. For Generation X, it was speaking out against the status-quo and doing something different.

It might just be for themselves, or it might spark ideas that impact the whole world. If you have different ideas, your local music community can do the same for you. For example, in Edmonton, there’s record labels, music venues, and magazines. The only thing a local scene doesn’t have is an excuse NOT to participate. So go get your ideas out there!

 

Life Without Instagram

2012/10/23

Life Before Memes

2012/10/22

The History of Punk, Class #11

2012/10/13

The Edmonton Free School
Sunday October 14 1:30PM
Location: Humanities 1-14, The University of Alberta (enter Humanities through south door)
All-Ages, All-Welcome

“The Edmonton Punk Scene”

Music scenes in Canadian cities like Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver get lots of attention. But as everyone in Edmonton knows, there’s lots going on here too. We’ll trace the connections bands like SNFU had with the wider punk network in the 1980s. We’ll look at contemporary bands too, as well as venues, radio shows, and other musical institutions.

Also, local punk rocker David Gault will be presenting a video he made about a song written by Ben Sir from Worst Days Down. After that, we’ll plan out our first punk homework assignment, where everyone picks an Edmonton punk band to do a short presentation on for next class. Don’t worrk, everybody already got an A.

Playlist:
SNFU – “Cannibal Cafe”
The Smalls – “Dan Diddle A Na”
Ben Disaster – “Where the Night Goes Darkest”
Zero Cool – “We’re Not Fugazi” 

Adventures in Edmonton Music!

2012/10/08

So the other Thursday I missed the Collective West play at the Artery, and this left me pretty sad because not only are they nice people who put on a fun show, but their new music proves Darwin was right about that theory of evolution thing, and, if you really think about it, them growing as a band actually serves as a microcosm for the Edmonton music community, so even though I was chapped I didn’t catch their gig I knew I could redeem myself the upcoming weekend and to get things going I got on the LRT Friday evening  and hopped off at Culture Days downtown in time to catch  everyone talking about how good Mad Bomber Society’s set was and then I ran into a bunch of my friends and we danced to Shout Out Out Out Out as they played new music, did impossibly high high-kicks, and had folks like Cadence Weapon join them on stage for a free show in beautiful autumn weather that anyone could come to, including the mayor who drifted through the crowd right past me, but after the show people wandered off and my friend Gord from Wool on Wolves, (get ready for their rad new album in November by the way), ran into me and we decided it was a good idea to head across the river, pick up his bandmate Eric, and go to the community hall in Bonnie Doon where CJSR was hosting a Fundrive show so they could stay on the air, which us and a lot of other people thought was a great idea, including the host of the show, the guy from the girl-guy combo who make up the Awesomehots, who introduced the Uncas, who put on a fiercely amazing show, including a song that included playing the guitar with a skil-saw, and after that Scenic Route to Alaska went on stage and were joined by Lyra Brown and somehow by joining forces they’ve created something that is incredible and gives the audience the chills and has to last, but they played pretty late so afterwards it was time to go home and I didn’t see anymore music until Saturday evening when Tyler Butler took the stage at the Elevation room at another CJSR Fundrive show and somehow his music can make me feel like I’m back in the deep south of the United States even though he’s never been there, and I knew it’d been worth it to catch his set even though my girlfriend and I had to hike across the river right after he was done and go to the New City Legion because Ben Disaster, and then Mike McDonald, and then Joey Keithley played acoustic punk for everyone lucky enough to be there, but once again things went late and when they were done it was time to go home. Good thing too, because I was running out of breath.