Two nights at the Tractor showcase a stable of locals who are “world class.”
Mike McCready is a vinyl nerd.
“I love, love, love it,” the Pearl Jam guitarist said the other night. “I just went to Sonic Boom and bought a Joey Ramone single, an MC5 .45 and a Cat Stevens record.”
The Pearl Jam lead guitarist is so devoted to wax that he started his own label, Hockeytalkter Records, which will showcase local artists who haven’t signed to labels and aren’t getting the attention he thinks they deserve.
Last Monday and Tuesday, McCready booked Ballard’s Tractor Tavern to give the label a proper launch and the bands a proper boost — tinder that he hopes will catch, and ignite their sounds on a bigger label.
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Anyone who knows Seattle music history — and the Pearl Jam family tree — was familiar with the lineup.
(“They had to get out of here really quickly,” McCready said of The Pink Slips, “because they’re underage.”)
They were followed by The Stereo Embers, with Rob Benson and Tim DiJulio, who will release a single called “Wrong Way.” DiJulio is a friend of McCready’s from their days at Piecora’s and a member of the disbanded but beloved North Twin. DiJulio is also a member of McCready’s UFO cover band, Flight to Mars, which will play its annual benefit show for the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation at the Showbox May 1.
Monday night’s closer was Danny Newcomb and the Sugarmakers, who will have the first Hockeytalkter single, “One Wish,” to be released this spring. (The song was released on iTunes last December.) Newcomb is self-releasing a full vinyl record later this year.
“I love her dearly and I want her to be hugely famous,” McCready said.
She was followed by The Young Evils, whose Hockeytalkter single includes a cover of Def Leppard’s “Bringin’ on The Heartbreak,” with McCready sitting in. They also recorded another song with Def Leppard guitarist Phil Collen — but McCready is waiting for the rights to release that.
The night ended with a reunion of The Rockfords, a band McCready started with Newcomb, Carrie Akre, and Chris and Rick Friel. They hadn’t played together in 14 years — and will record for Hockeytalkter.
Not only is he releasing singles, McCready is using the power of Pearl Jam to promote, interviewing the artists himself for broadcast on the band’s Sirius XM radio station, Pearl Jam Radio.
“It gives local bands here more exposure with all the fans,” McCready said, “and I am doing the radio thing. I write out the questions and get on my radio voice.”
The label’s name came from McCready’s son, Jaxson.
“It’s how he pronounced ‘helicopter,’” explained Chris Adams, the label’s president.
Production of the singles will be slow, Adams said. Vinyl is back — but the six or seven factories in the country that produce it are backlogged, now that major labels have tapped into the collectors’ market and joined independent labels in the annual Record Store Day events.
McCready has no plans to sign artists, just to produce inexpensive, collectible singles three or four times a year. And maybe slip in some autographed copies.
“Obviously, we don’t want this to be a money pit,” Adams said. “But we are going to promote artists that Mike cares about and people who make good music.
“They’re all world-class musicians. Mike just happened to be in a band that broke.”