Archive for the ‘voices from the underground’ category

Raising the Maximum Punk Age

2012/08/20

Back in the early days of punk, the kids used the age of 30 as the marker for when someone was too uncool to be part of the scene. Who would ever get that old, right?

Well, this summer, one of the most important punk institutions passed through that barrier.

Happy 30th birthday to the fanzine, Maximum Rocknroll!

Not so funny now, is it?

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Personal Expression vs. the Powerful’s Repression

2012/03/12

Personal expression takes on many forms. Got something to say? Write a song. Draw a picture. Compose a poem. Do a dance. Heck, you can even express yourself by going for a run – as proved by Kevin Bacon in the film Footloose. As everyone knows, Bacon used running and dancing to not only express himself, but to help solve his problems and save the youth in his town from the repression of Jon Lithgow. Oh, and I guess he used gymnastics too.

pick up your Sunday shoes, Kevin.

Lithgow thought he was keeping kids safe from the dangers of rock ‘n’ roll. He decided that music and dancing threatened youth, and used his authority on the Town Council to get them banned. He connected personal expression with societal ills that were a blight on respectable values, and kids’ safety. Dancing was a gateway drug to trouble.

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Not Just White Noise Supremacy: The Diversity of the Underground Punk Network in late 1970s-early 1990s America

2012/01/22

Recently, a book called White Riot: Punk Rock and the Politics of Race, edited by Stephen Duncombe and Maxwell Tremblay, was released. Race has been at the forefront of debates on punk, probably before, and definitely since, Lester Bangs wrote his article “White Noise Supremacists” in the Village Voice in 1979. Reactions to White Riot reveals the diversity of opinion on race and politics in punk milieux, especially this review of the book in Maximum Rocknroll, White Riot: Another Failure.”

Discussions on punk and race instantly brings to mind not only the Clash song “White Riot,” but also the Minor Threat song “Guilty of Being White.” The song was written by Ian MacKaye, who was frustrated by being mistreated, because of the color of his skin, by black youths in the community he grew up in. Highly contentious, debate and different interpretations continue to surround the song. As the book White Riot and the reactions to it show, this contention extends to the issue of race and punk as a whole.

The thing about punk is, as D. Boon said: “punk is whatever we made it to be.” From the late 1970s to the early 1990s, punk was a melange of not only different races, but also voices, messages, outlooks and ideas. Music scenes sprung up across the United States (and parts of Canada), forming an underground network where people could raise voices differing to the status quo of the mainstream.

In the following, I try to touch on the diversity that existed in the underground punk network in the United States. It is by no means comprehensive, but should provide a taste of what was happening, and how the varying elements of that diversity mixed together.

Well, except for Diversity being an old wooden ship from the Civil War era

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Creating Space for Questions

2011/12/18

Writer, musician, and all around punk rocker David Gault has made a video. Produced for a class taught by Dr. Michael B. MacDonald at the University of Alberta, it explores the role of urban space in politics and music.

By focusing on a song written by Ben Sir from the Edmonton punk band Worst Days Down, Gault highlights the importa…actually, instead of me going on about it, just see for yourself:

Check out more from Worst Days Down at: http://www.myspace.com/worstdaysdown

are you listening? one more time with feeling

2011/10/28

So just in case you didn’t know – the lyrics sung by Paul Westerberg of the Minneapolis band the Replacements delve deeply into the theme of yearning. Now, maybe not as popular as the feelings “hungry,” “envy” or even “love,” this was a still a feeling many kids across the United States were feeling in the 1980s. And I’d bet that even GOB Bluth at some point in his life  has yearned for something too….probably.

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Subcultures, Popular Music and Social Change

2011/08/25

On September 15th and 16th, I’ll be in Foggy London Town reading a paper at the Subcultures, Popular Music & Social Change conference. Folks like Dick Hebdige and Caroline Coon will be there too. Will you?

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YEAH! Magazine: An Alternative to the Telephone Pole

2011/08/18

Seattle. The summer of 1987. Local musician and writer Wendi Dunlap decided to start a fanzine documenting the city’s flourishing music scene. Calling it YEAH! Magazine, Dunlap intentionally focused on the bands that other publications didn’t cover, like the Squirrels and the Fastbacks.

The Internet. The summer of 2011. Wendi Dunlap starts putting up digital versions of YEAH! Magazine online, over at her fantastic blog Slumberland. Giving the ‘zine a gander opens a doorway into the history of a diverse music community – that was right on the verge of making a huge impact on popular culture. Not all the bands made it big, but they all played a part. Dunlap helps shed light on their story.

www.slumberland.org
24 Years ago this week: YEAH! Magazine
24 Years ago this week: YEAH! Magazine #3

YEAH! Magazine #1
YEAH! Magazine #2
YEAH! Magazine #3