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Frequent Portland performer, Olympia resident and rock legend Calvin Johnson was terrifically injured in an auto accident in Montana in 1993, breaking ribs and his shoulder, and injuring his brain.

Johnson, the genius behind K Records, a frequent contributor to the Lost Music Network and to OP Magazine, also fronted the seminal Beat Happening (which as I loosely remember was named after a painting by drummer Heather Lewis, Beatnik Happening), Dub Narcotic Squad and the Halo Benders, and there most likely are more I don’t know about.

Travis Nichols
writes, A punk-rock legend is back from serious injury with a new intensity, for the Seattle PI.


Black Candy – Beat Happening, from March of 1988.

If you’re unfamiliar with this genre, sometimes called lo-fi, or DIY, your might think, huh – are they retarded? No, all college graduates, and that might have been part of the issue.

Joey Ramone and Iggy Pop may have started punk rock, but both signed to major labels and veered immediately in the direction of higher sales.

KAOS radio’s station manager John Foster, in about 1980, redirected the station’s format to being largely non-commercial. Located at The Evergreen State College, KAOS marked all it’s LPs (that’s what we used to call CDs kiddies) with red tape on it’s spine for a commercial release, and green tape for a non-commercial release. The colored tape allowed DJs to quickly assess the amount of commercial music in their stack. Foster’s goal was to keep airplay of red line records to 20% or less per hour.

Foster argued a dominant percentage of radio came from a small number of sources creating a creative monopoly, pushing out new sounds, international music, music from minority groups, and anyone who didn’t kowtow to corporate culture. He was stunningly right.

Many and soon most DJs grokked this revolutionary notion and commercial airplay evaporated. Instead Olympia was treated to eclecticism, and with Calvin Johnson’s radio show, excellent pop music from all over the world and every eccentric garage.

There were other stations using the same method; I remember one at Fordham University, and another at the U of Washington. Foster wasn’t alone; pinpoints of radio revolution were happening at college stations across the country.

The punk rock ideal was access. Lower the stage – we can all get on. Lower the necessity of high musicianship – make it simpler. Get rid of the theatrics, the costumes, sets, lights, and fancy instruments of the time – a voice and a drum would do. Be simple, encourage the kids to join, make it fun, make money a non-issue, be emotional, be human, be alive, be collective.

The result was not only Beat Happening, but thousands of other kids started bands and took them on tour, wrote zines, made artwork, gave parties, opened clubs, started businesses, made movies, made apple pies, wrote books, and carried the message in an overtly non-commercial and subtly anti-authoritarian way.

EXTRA – INFO: FAQ from K Records
EXTRA – Wikipedia, The Music of Olympia
EXTRA – HistoryLink.org Rock Music–Seattle

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They’re rockin’ on tour in Stockholm tonight, and you’re sitting in front of the computer imagining you’re in Portland, Oregon when you’re not really anywhere at all.

Watch more – http://www.dailymotion.com/BlitzenTrapper
Know more – http://www.blitzentrapper.net/
Myspace – http://myspace.com/blitzentrapper
Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=19099288648
Pitchfork – http://www.pitchforkmedia.com/article/record_review/43359-wild-mountain-nation
OPB – http://www.opb.org/programs/music/blog/?p=21

Video for Blitzen Trapper’s song Devil’s a-Go-Go off their album Wild Mountain Nation. Frickin cool.

Listen – Wild Mountain Nation (mp3) really good.
MySpace – Blitzen Trapper
Review – Pitchfork
Review – Mercury

Oh yeah they play tonight at Holocene.

They are the Holy Model Rounders reincarnate (whereas Wilco is the Dead) with the clangy bangy foot-stomping camaraderie bonhomie. The blogs are uniformly hot on these guys.

Consider the list of active Portland bands – The Thermals, The Decemberists, Menomena, The Gossip, Stars of Track and Field, Quasi, The Shins, The Blow, The Minders, Viva Voce, The Shaky Hands – and more. Right now is definitely the best music scene in the city’s history.

More popular in London than in their hometown of Portland, Beth Ditto and The Gossip have charmed the charming set; from Arkansas, to Olympia and Portland to merry olde England.

You may not know, or if you know may have thought it an obscure cockney joke, like the French have for Jerry Lewis, but NME (and if you haven’t parsed NME I can’t help you) designated Beth Ditto as the coolest person of the year, scooting ahead of prior year models Lily Allen, Karen O and others. It’s a peculiar beauty pageant, of tremendous interest to rabid Brit youth.

One-time interesting person Germaine Greer comments on Beth Ditto in the most recent issue of NME, “Her intention is to force acceptance of her body type, 5 ft tall and 15 stone, and by this strategy to challenge the conventional imagery of women.”

The Gossip have been touring constantly for over a year and are about to get to work on a new album for a new label. Beth’s a foot-stompin indie queen Ethel Merman with a big brassy voice reminiscent of Alison Moyet in her first moments of fame. Out of Arkansas Beth dragged two bandmates, drummer Hannah Billie and guitarist Brace Paine, who keep the spare sound rough and loud. It’s fun, but not fulfilling music. Is it a comment on post-modern feminist theory? A bleak category!

No – Ditto takes over for Kathleen Hanna as a spokesperson for women who reject objectification and social standards. See Beth Ditto’s gay rant in FemaleFirst. She’s an answer for questions girls have, big girls, girls who like girls, girls who want to be rock stars. And that’s a lot of girls.

NME’s The Gossip page
The Gossip’s web site
Plan B Magazine interview
NME / Beth Ditto photo shoot (SFW)

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y2WpbTAWKGo”>
The Gossip – Standing in the Way of Control. This video is far more “Kill Rock Stars” than The Gossip. See next video.

The Gossip – Standing in the Way of Control Live from Belgium. This version is the real deal – skip the silly studio vids and see the sweat and power of this live show.

The Gossip – Listen Up

Cass Elliot on H.R. Pufnstuf sings – Different. If you haven’t seen this, it’s a classic of its vertical genre.

Menomena Wet and Rusting, on Barsuk Records. Latest DIY stuff from Portland’s experimental art rock trio. Imagine Pink Floyd mixed with XTC, Pond, and a slight hint of Triumph. Aside from MTV, I think this is the first look at this video by Lance Bangs.

Menomena interviewed in PSU Vanguard.

Menomena on wikipedia.

Menomena in Seattle Weekly.

Dave Allen podcast interview with Menomena.

Dead MoonRetired. Who would have imagined that? Dead Moon hangs it up after 20 years and a lot of miles.

Lollipop ShoppeIf you’re a Dead Moon fan and haven’t heard You Must Be A Witch, by the Lollipop Shoppe, start there and don’t overlook a key moment in the development of rock & roll. It’s not the standard 4 4 beat, it’s not the lyrics swiped from The Sonics, it’s not the faux hippie garb or the long locks and handsome faces of the boys; it’s something completely different. It’s tense regret, suffering, teen angst, the mindshit of stalkers.

The sound is earlier incarnation of Fred Cole, from the beginning of his long career – but you can hear his unquenchable fire, deep inside.

Listen – download You Must Be A Witch, by The Lollipop Shoppe, from the 1968 Just Colour.

Fred Cole, his wife and partner, Toody, and Andrew Loomis have been churning out intense, powerful rock & roll as Dead Moon without reservation or fame fantasies, touring regularly to new fans and old.

Fred’s history is well chronicled at the Dead Moon web site. I count over 60 releases by Fred since 1964, and dozens as Dead Moon. Quite amazing endurance.

Video below shows Dead Moon push through It’s Ok, September 2006. Made popular by Pearl Jam, it’s a song of affirmation and resignation, of teen heroics, of space age platitudes; definitely a post-Beach Boys / pre-Wipers world. (Vedder misunderstands the tune, channeling Everly Brothers instead of Fred Cole – just awful.)

Forty years on a thousand stages and Fred Cole’s passion and intensity hasn’t changed a bit – as is true with all great artists, the unquenchable fire burns.

You know I love you anyway
It’s ok
It’s ok
You don’t have to run and hide away


It’s S Clay Wilson meets Adam & The Ants with a rollicking yar har har. (And for those cautious pop wizard parents, CB&S is completely perfect for kids 2 through 14 – which reveals an opportunity for the evening set as Captain Pissgums and his Pervert Pirates.)

Pieces of 8ight, shot at Kennedy School by Food Chain Films and Vance Malone makes a send up of 16 Military Wives by those god awful bores, the Decemberists.

Catch Captain Bogg & Salty circulating in local libraries and digging for the lost treasure chest in public school sandboxes.

Eat a Lime!

Captain Bogg & Salty – web site
Portland Pirate Festival – web site and photos

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