I'm breaking up the column and going solo. In the words of Jim Morrison, this is the end. (Hold the mother/father part, please.) Strike up the Band's...
I’m breaking up the column and going solo.
In the words of Jim Morrison, this is the end. (Hold the mother/father part, please.) Strike up the Band’s “Last Waltz.” Night Watch — or at least this Night Watch-er — is knock knock knockin’ on heaven’s door.
It’s my last call at the Night Watch cafe, thanks for stopping by, drink up, folks!
The Times is reducing its work force, and I’m one of the Voluntary Buyouts (great band name, by the way). After nearly a decade on this local music/clubs post, I’m taking the golden — more like bronze, in this case, but I’ll take it — parachute and D.B. Cooper-ing into the night.
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Some highlights of my bullets-and-bolds coverage of the local music scene:
• OK, so there’s probably never going to be another Nirvana, and hopefully never another Pearl Jam, but still there have been dozens of talented bands that kept this job so fresh and, really, so easy. Every time I started to get bored doing this, I’d find in my mailbox a demo by Horses (later called Band of Horses), or I’d get tipped off to check out bands like Juno (the late band, not the movie), Unnatural Helpers (Funhouse, May 23), Fleet Foxes, Throw Me the Statue, the Hacks … Better than drugs, some of those bands.
• Overheard earlier this week from a glassy-eyed fellow to the Shorty’s bartender: “Permission to leave the bar?” Shorty’s, by the way, has a “hangover special”: hot dog, veggie dog or German sausage; Bloody Mary; Alka Seltzer; single cigarette; no substitutions. Keep on keeping Belltown real, Shorty’s …
• Blue Scholars and Grayskul made me believe in hip-hop’s potential, again (I lost interest, after Tupac and Biggie went down). The best of a lively bunch of young Seattle rappers: Fatal Lucciauno. This mad word-flipper will go national, if he: 1) gets the right producer, 2) gets the right manager and 3) gets his head right and avoids what James Brown used to call “that free vacation.”
• It was fun to track the rocket-rises of Modest Mouse and Death Cab for Cutie, and slightly more moderate national successes of Brandi Carlile, Band of Horses (nice commercial soundtrack, Ben), Minus the Bear … yet just as entertaining to follow dozens of local talents who haven’t made it big, and may never.
Wonder if I’ll get cancer from all those wrist stamps … Any dermatologists out there want to weigh in? Anyone?
• Shamefully underappreciated: Mike Johnson, so over the scene he left not only Seattle, but the country … IQU (whatever happened to K.O.?) … Jeremy Enigk‘s post-Sunny Day stuff … the spooky slinky Willow … the soul-stabbing jazz-rock of Dead Science … our local tortured-pop genius John Atkins (764-HERO, better than Modest Mouse?).
• Starting with Neko Case (who a few years ago moved to Chicago), Seattle has been launching one talented female vocalist after another. A few of the best: the aforementioned Carlile and Willow; super soul talent Choklate; Andrea Zollo, who howled Pretty Girls Make Graves to national prominence; the spectacular noir-pop singer Jesse Sykes; wise, soulful Laura Veirs (one of a growing number of musicians to ditch Seattle for Portland; she’s back in town to play the Triple Door, tonight); restless, genre-hopper Bre Loughlin; newcomers the Kindness Kind and Mono in VCF; the ingénue-pop of the sisters Smoosh (Neumo’s, May 18); Jenn Ghetto‘s S; sassy punkers the Rotten Apples.
• “Everyone’s a critic,” sure, sure … but with blogs and reader feedback sites and all those sorts of things, anyone can claim to be a published critic. Makes me feel as superfluous as a match in hell.
• Some talents who made this such a great gig: Kinski — the graduate school of rock, in an age of high-schoolers; Damien Jurado, Seattle’s own Nick Drake; the Lights (one band member works for The Times, so it wouldn’t be proper to plug them too much, though they deserve it); the showboating blues-garage rockers Thee Emergency (Funhouse, May 10); the mournful rock-country of the Maldives, Conrad Ford (Sunset, Saturday) and the Crying Shame; the extraordinarily amusing cowboy punk of Brent Amaker & the Rodeo (King Cobra, Saturday); the Band disciples the Moondoggies (Funhouse, May 9); space rockers Voyager One and Hypatia Lake (Tractor Tavern, May 11); the promising garage-punk of young bands like the Whore Moans, Feral Children (sure, they rip off Modest Mouse, but who didn’t Modest Mouse rip off?) and Das Llamas (Funhouse, May 30); my favorite neo-grunge band, the Valley (King Cobra, May 17); sax man Skerik‘s blissfully all-over-the-place Crack Sabbath (High Dive, May 9-10).
• Yes, I’ll keep my day job. All these years, I’ve had another life, as a quasi — and, on some mornings, queasy — social worker.
• It was a pleasure having a front-row seat to watch the amazing renaissance of Sub Pop Records, rumored to be cracking up in the mid-’90s, now riding high. And it just keeps getting better. The Shins, Iron & Wine, Band of Horses and Fleet Foxes aside, for the moment, look out for my favorite new Sub Pop band, a chaotic dance-rock band from England called Foals (Neumo’s, May 30). You’ve still got it, Poneman.
• And oh, those clubs … Adieu, Rendezvous. Stay punk, Funhouse. Crack those speakers, Comet. Fight the power, Blue Moon (which proudly wore my “Seattle’s scariest bar” tag). Peace, Chop Suey. Ride on, Tractor Tavern.
• Clubs came and went, and some of my favorites — the unpretentious Sit & Spin, seductive 700 Club, down-and-dirty Lobo and multidimensional I-Spy — closed on my watch. But I always comforted myself that I’d be all right, as long as the Crocodile was still up and running. Well, the ol’ Croc got locked down in December, and here I am a couple of months later, turning in my laptop and building badge. It makes sense, to me.
• Thanks to a long line of editors who have shown patience, encouragement and mild ulcers. Handling my copy is not only annoying, but also downright perilous. One editor who was trying to figure out one of my obscure allusions had his eyebrows spontaneously combust.
After another editor briefly slipped into a coma proofing yet another of my Death Cab for Cutie stories (“I followed that story — right into the dark,” she said, on coming back), the “two-editor rule” was implemented. One on the copy, one standing by, with defibrillators.
• Special thanks to my wife, Desiree. Looking forward to hunkering down with you and old movies … (Cold sweat moment: Realization that I’ll never again be able to say, “Sorry, hon, I can’t watch ‘America’s Next Top Model’ with you — gotta go cover a band.”)
• Just fired my last bullet. And now, for the last and most literal time, I’ll hit a button that sends my story off to the patient, harried, wise, hazardous-duty editors. That button is called — and so, in moments, am I — “done.”
You can reach Tom Scanlon today, his last day, at firstname.lastname@example.org. The Seattle Times
will continue to cover Seattle nightlife with staffers Patrick MacDonald and Marian Liu, and a team of freelancers. So long, Tom.