Less than 17% of Frederick city voted in the last election in 2013. That is atrociously low – and as a consequence, Mayor Randy McClement was re-elected. In office since 2009, McClemment is Republican that has – how do we put this- has done virtually nothing. In the meantime, gentrification has blossomed in the city like weeds, and little cultural improvements to the Frederick landscape has encapsulated his time as the hands off mayor. In a moment captured several years ago over the future of the Carmack/Jay building on 5th and Market, he was laughed at by hundreds in attendance when he said he thought things were going well in Frederick. Status Quo, same old same old? Naw. The people in that crowded city hall weren’t buying that.
An opportunity has emerged: Frederick City wide primary voting will take place September 12 from 7am and polls close 8pm.
Early voting has come and gone, but here’s a chance to take the reins of democracy in your hands. It’s the punk thing to do. Subversive Zine’s debut in March highlighted the incredibly low participation rate in the 2013 elections. Can the narrative be flipped? Both WM and Subversive thinks so, especially in light of how galvanizing the threat to democracy ‘president trump’ has been. The question is will it translate to a city election tomorrow? Continue reading Frederick City Election Tuesday: WesternMachines + Subversive Zine want YOU to VOTE!→
This non-frequent posting thing just has to end, might as well end the loooong break on labor day weekend as Tuff Junior AND Mr Husband team up for a killer show at Nola tomorrow – that’s Saturday night Sept 2.
Tuff Junior is a post Old Indian project of frontman Cory Springirth and while we’re waiting for their EP, the few shows they’ve done in Frederick and the 2 online singles released on their bandcamp page have given a pretty good indication of the awesomeness that awaits.
Mr Husband – we’ve written about before so I’ll let the promo from Cafe Nola do the talking…
Mr. Husband is the songwriting and comedy persona of Kenny Tompkins. He is best known as co-founder of noteworthy indie-upstart Yellow K Records who released one of 2016’s most critically acclaimed albums “Psychopomp” by Japanese Breakfast. In his live band Tompkins is joined by Chris Morris of Cotton Jones on drums and Jasen Reeder of Page France on bass. The group is quickly making a name for itself with their unique live show which mixes in small doses of comedy, theatrics, and faux-self-help all centered around extremely well crafted songs. Mr. Husband is currently on tour in support of their debut “Plaid on Plaid” which was released on May 5th, 2017 via Yellow K Records. Continue reading Tuff Junior & Mr Husband Sept 2 @ cafe nola→
If u can attend: starting around 4:30 today, come by the old Artomatic building on 115 E. Church st – it’s been rebranded as New Spire Spaces (not to be confused with New Spire Stages – the old Frederick Cultural Arts Center on 15 Market St that’s set to activate next year while they tear down some walls & expand ceiling space for a 400 standing room multi-purpose venue). Today’s open house will intro officially to the public what is in store as ‘Spaces’ already started hosting arts classes (pretty wide ranging and frankly – pretty spectacular programming). Here’s some highlights of the new facility that will double as a art education & cultural event space:
Green screen room for film/production/YouTube broadcast quality classes
Recording studio for music, aforementioned YouTube classes & for Podcasting classes
Various sizes of rooms that could serve multiple functions, be they classes or intimate ArtHouse screening rooms for older and possibly even first run releases.
Dubbed the ‘Great Room’ – it’s an approx. 150 capacity room for dance instruction/performances and music concerts (or even a 1st run indie film screening if it’s going to be BIG). One can creatively think of any kind of event appropriate to the size of the room and book something there.
It’s the last 2 items that catches our attention immediately since WesternMachines has been all about culture pushing Frederick to another level via an appropriately mid-sized venue ( since like forever). And it presents opportunities for all culture pushers, from all scenes (indie film creators — and folks in music scenes that typically get under-reported like metal or hip-hop) in Frederick, independent of New Spire Arts. After a ribbon cutting opening ceremony, beginning at 4:45 and repeating at 6pm, Elizabeth Lucas – the artistic director for New Spire Arts will be presenting —well let’s let them describe what’s going to happen:
4:45 and 6 p.m. — Our Plans and How You Can Be Part of Them: Elizabeth Lucas will talk about New Spire Arts’ plans, from what’s available now to what the community can expect will come online within the next couple years, then will answer questions about working with us. Suitable for everyone, whether you want to teach for us, rent from us, present in our facility, or learn about what’s going on in your downtown.
And there’s another program at 7pm:
7 p.m. — Co-Presenting with New Spire Arts: Learn about how you can get involved as a presenter or performer. We will do a recap of our plans, then talk about how you can get involved in our curated performing arts series.
Register at http://newspirearts.com/events/open-house.
I wrote about New Spires Spaces (and Stages) for the FNP last Thursday, and I mentioned that Alexa Johnson – who started the rad house show venue The SQUAT with other Hood College alums – has been in conversation with Lucas about trying to replicate some aspect of the underground house show vibe at ‘Spaces.’ That conversation becomes even more prescient as the SQUAT’s lease is ending August.
There’s a couple of other aspects to ‘Spaces’/’Stages’ that is potentially positive for the Frederick music scene:
As Ashli Cheshire (of the indie rock band Cheshi) put it in the FNP piece: all music venues currently existing in Frederick now are bars first, with music as a afterthought. That affects some of the dynamics of putting on shows in downtown Frederick currently, with atmosphere and people’s focus being a challenge for bands to perform in. That’s not the case necessarily with Spaces (and Stages next year). ArtsFirst could be a new mantra – and quite possibly could fit in this new context. That and the sizes of the bar/venues in downtown Frederick are usually too small to book certain kinds of national touring bands (with the Weinberg having the opposite challenge with over 1100 seats to fill).
Let’s stay on the bar/venue situation – it leads to college and high school kids getting shut out of shows downtown. Tentatively at Spaces – shows booked there can be / or at least should be all ages. That may require more stringent efforts to self-police so this doesn’t get a rep for underage drinking to spoil the party for everyone, but getting ahead of ourselves – but the fact is the Artomatic Music shows (held in the same building on the 3rd floor gym) last year were an absolute all ages success – and few problems resulting from the process (wristbands. It’s that simple. Yes it could be abused but 9:30 Club with 18+ shows utilizes handstamps under infra-ray. Low % chance of problems with either system, both more or less work.
All music scene stakeholders can utilize the Great Room space. Metal/Hip-Hop/Electronic/Experimental, you name it – it’s built -so if you book it (and book it right -however you want to intrpret that given the size of the room) they will (hopefully) come. If these various shows are successful – and this is the important part…if these shows are packed, it will allow Lucas to show to the Ausherman Foundation (who has bankrolled the arts facility) that envelope-pushing music & film can work here and next year when they finish remodeling Stages on Patrick & Market st.
And put this on yr calendar for July 19 – I’ll let New Spire say a few more words about it:
MEDIA TOWN HALL, July 19
From traditional filmmaking to podcasting to new technologies like virtual reality, storytelling through technology is a constantly developing industry. New Spire Arts would like to explore how the performing arts and these new technologies intersect. However, developing a robust media education and presenting program takes time and resources. Join us for a conversation about what you are excited about. We will look at some examples of what others are working on and talk about how we might bring that type of work here, through teaching it, encouraging its production, partnering with commercial organizations, and more. Share your priorities, tell us what you can bring to the table, and help us develop a strong, innovative media education program.
Register at http://newspirearts.com/events/media-town-hall.
Moving on, last Friday, too many shows to attend. I tried to transmorgrify but the damn machine in the cardboard box didn’t work so I could only get to the Slayground for their coup d’etat in booking Rozwell Kid to play a semi-secret house show there. Rozwell Kid treated everyone as they start their national tour with an album release show. True to the venue name, slay they did. I don’t know – I’m not good with estimating numbers, but it looked like 100 people packed in the hot sweaty Slayground. Atmosphere? hell yes. It was absolutely encouraging to see all these people come out -and that gives me hope that Frederick is more than just a greying gentrifying exurban shell – that it has some goddamn potential to be a dynamic cultural city.
This blurry photo above does NO justice in capturing what happened there. Biking to the house, I arrived late 3 songs in and just as I was about to open the door inside, the power went out. Minor circuit break, an impromptu intermission and here’s the sequence I witnessed:
door opens. literal steam from human sweat comes rushing out.
people start streaming out, band members and audience alike to take a break from the sweat box. Smiles all around.
and people kept coming out. That procession did not stop for several minutes. When the last person exited, I took a quick peek in at the setup. Drums, amps, guitars precariously leaning and… a decent moderately sized bedroom. The question I asked: how on earth did all these people squeeze in there?!? Logistics aside, it was a remarkable feat in of itself.
Electricity restored, show continues. Bloody good rocking commences. Heads are nodding in sync.
Set ends after about 5 more songs – it’s just too hot in there so they end a bit early but everyone is cheering full throated – having bared witness to a super dope house show by a WV band blowing up in real time.
Orderly exit to the backyard, fireflies intermittently glowing all around, and…instant community as most stick around to talk about what they just witnessed in the cool June night.
No cops called. Neighbors were cool with everything – especially since Slayground show started and ended in a reasonable time frame for the neighborhood.
Good signpost for Frederick. Look for a different POV from Chad Wilkes – he’s back from travels out west and while here temporarily in Frederick, will start freelance writing on local cultural matters. He wrote about this show and his unusual concert review will appear in the Frederick News Post soon (at least I think it will be published soon).
Last postscript from the show: Rozwell Kid donated some money from the show proceeds (DIY house style – they passed around a bucket!) to Subversive Zine. Cheers to Rozwell Kid!!! (confession/disclosure: I’m part of the ad hoc Subversive Zine committee). Subversive issue #2 is out now at a subversive joint near you. Submission deadline to contribute to the upcoming #3 is July 1-ish – email firstname.lastname@example.org to contribute.
I got a bit more to converse about but my time is up. I’ll post soon about the Open House and conclusions from it later this week but I leave you with this insightful op-ed titled “Density Matters” from Matt Edens. He’s writes about true crime for TV, but last Friday opined about ‘micro units’ being built in downtown Frederick – designed to be affordable units for millenials who are increasingly being priced out of living downtown. This is vitally important as Frederick is trying to (or at least should be trying to) attract young people – and keep young people already here to stick around instead of fleeing to DC/Baltimore/Chicago/Denver, you name it. Interesting facts:
“Currently, 20- to 29-year-olds still constitute the largest age group living in the core of downtown (25 percent according to 2015 census estimates). But 50- to 60-year-olds — prime empty-nester years — are the fastest-growing segment, more than doubling from 6.9 percent of downtown’s population in 2009 to 17.1 percent in 2015 (the percentage of 20-somethings scarcely changed over that same interim),” according to Edens.
“The number of housing units in downtown’s core has also decreased: down to 1,052 in 2015 from 1,134 in 2010. And there are fewer for rent, too. Since 2010, the owner occupancy rate in downtown climbed from 29.7 to 32.8 percent. Downtown, it seems, is slowly becoming a neighborhood of older homeowners.” This is a trend Edens seem to regard as a concern – obviously something WM shares -particularly in this regard: young artists/musicians/filmmakers are gradually being priced out of the city- and I dare say most are probably looking around the nation to see what other options exist.
In a nod to both the young and old: “…not only do I think that downtown needs the energy and vibrancy that young people provide, perhaps more importantly, it also needs density to attract the sort of services that older homeowners desire.”
That corresponds to why something like New Spire Spaces/Stages is important to keeping younger people in the city. From the FNP article:
Referring to a long-term study about the environment businesses face in thinking about locating in Frederick, an immediate concern about the perceived lack of exciting cultural programming comes to the fore. “The Work Force Development Component, from what I understand, [said] large businesses are having trouble convincing young professionals to move here,” explained Lucas, “because it doesn’t feel like there’s enough. We hope we can fill that gap.”
Ok I really have to go. Peace / Resistance / Bye !
I’ll get to the Thing at Sky Stage in a jiff – but don’t forget: Dashing Emancipation tonight 7pm at McClintock Distillery (ethical clothing symposium), and on Wednesday the first volume of Films & Fermented Foods featuring “Black Dynamite,” a fantastic homage to blacksploitation films (also at McClintock). More on all that later.
I’ve been quietly talking about the Sky Stage (corner of All Saints & Carrol St) for awhile -Heather Clarke’s brilliant repurposed venue getting some love from publications like Dwell Magazine and just a few days ago from the Washington Post.
Rewind to the cold of January, WesternMachines was asked to curate the lineup at the Sky Stage as part of the 2nd Thing Fest set to go this Saturday May 20 (weather forecast so far so good). It just might end up being the last Thing (the Frederick News Post was sold to Ogden News) but we’re going to go all out anyway. We’re stoked to present both new and stalwart indie rock awesomeness this Saturday. Let me deconstruct the lineup if you’re not familiar with some of these bands – this will convince you to drop that cell phone and get your ass out the door to go. Another reason: subVersive Zine issue #2 will be hot off the press and available to pick up at Sky Stage (and other downtown locations).
TUFF JUNIOR [5pm]
The final event of the Thing fest at 200 East Art Haus back in July 2016 was Old Indian’s last show ever. That was a blast, but since then frontman Cory Springirth has not gone into the gentle night (to misuse Dylan Thomas) but instead, from bedroom recordings, developed a new sound just as cool as Old Indian’s – but takes it a step further into adventurous avenues. It turned out to be a new band project Tuff Junior, which officially debuted in March at Cafe Nola. For those lucky enough to catch the show -the whole of the music just shimmered – starting from the familiar Black Sabbath vibe that made us fall in love with Old Indian – then suddenly without warning, the band transitioned into a slower but wild psychedelic country-fried medley, then new wave hybrid surfer rock. Like I said, adventurous. Absolutely. Everything, the vocal arrangements that crackled with vibrancy and confidence of someone who sounds like they’ve walked down a hundred different roads, the rainbow jangling coming out of his guitar, the mysterious bassist in the corner keeping the low end in perfect transcendent time with Heavy Light’s Derek Salazar’s vital drumming…it made listening just pure joy – fine barrel aged bourbon pouring slowly and deliciously on down – top fucking shelf.
Check their bandcamp for their first two singles, Denim v Leather and the newest single that emerged a few days ago, Vacation Daydream.
MR. HUSBAND [6pm]
a new project from the creative force that brought you New God and Yellow K Records (entities that NPR Music, Pitchfork, Fader and other national media outlets have heaped praise & blessings), Kenny Tompkins decided that he lost his mind. Too many hours spent promoting bands in conventional social media ways and Kenny simply cracked. He put on a wig and dressed as a man in a time machine stuck between only the years 1968 and 1985. He made self deprecating ironic videos talking about his new ‘professional musical career’, complete with yearbook pictures from hell and 80’s elevator music. He sold band t-shirts hilariously out of order – violating a sacred unwritten rule: thou shalt not sell band t-shirts before putting on a single show or releasing music to the public. And he wound up making some brilliant music along the way, releasing Plaid on Plaid on cassette – a sound simpatico with the elephant 6 collective or panda bear/animal collective – all of whom spent copious amounts of time worshipping in the house of Brian Wilson. Stereogum had this to say about his first single, “Riding a Lighting Bolt”: like Brian Wilson refracting through Animal Collective and boomeranging back to the ’60s, leaving behind sonic contrails in its wake. To further his “professional music career” he thought it best to go on tour -in character. Mirth, hilarity and brilliant music all in one. He’s joined by some heavy hitters like Chris Morris of Heavy Lights and Jason Reeder of Cotton Jones. [FYI – I wrote a feature story about Mr. Husband in last week’s 72 Hours – check that here. ]
They would say they’re not legends – but I say they are. They are in fact indie rock gods of Frederick (and central PA – they’ve been in continual transition with members in both MD and PA) – and that ain’t no goddamn ‘alternative fact’ brought to you by some fucking trumpist. That they formed in the 90’s makes them OG. seriously legit OG. I flipped thru a zine, Shredding Material – it was from 1998 and they interviewed the (then) young band who were struggling with what Frederick was about, musically and culturally. Can you imagine, in the midst of a city transforming from frednecksville into -well, whatever the fuck it is today – and this incredible music that you could fit into the same sentence as Superchunk, Pavement, Mission of Burma- it’s pretty mindblowing. Miss Lonelyheart performed with the likes of Fugazi – stop right there. I can’t handle all this awesomeness. Sky Stage brings the people who defined indie rock in this city for so long full circle (and for once, WesternMachines will neglect his kids in order to watch them live).
DROP ELECTRIC [8pm]
Let me drop 2 words: electronic shoegazer. That’s not exactly an apt description, but with a band that’s as versatile, creative and hard to pin down as Drop Electric, it will suffice [for now]. Hailing from DC (mostly DC, some work DC but live in MD) Drop Electric started to make a name for themselves thanks to a shout from Bob Boilen, who said this: …they knocked me out. I’d seen Sigur Ros earlier in the week, we’d webcast that show, Sigur Ros is on my mind. Epic sounding instrumental band, with beautiful, beautiful vocals and here was Drop Electric, doing something sorta similar. “ – Bob Boilen, All Songs Considered (NPR).
What they do is gorgeous as they envelope you in this sonic wave that carries influences far (most of the band members are Persian and bring in a neat middle eastern percussive element) and wide (shoegazer has punk rock/indie rock roots mixed in with neo-psychedelic elements).
So yeah, Sky Stage // like Frederick Artomatic Music fest before it, will be here and gone tomorrow -or sometime in the fall – as it will cease to exist as a temporary community public art installation and open air performance venue.
don’t forget all the other rad bands playing the Thing like…
underground hip hop at Cafe 611 with Stitch Early, Retro/Ricole and J Berd
DIY instrumentalist Kai Orion and emo rocker Middle Kid at Gravel & Grind
Appalachian rockers Crooked Hills playing Guidos – plus Mess, Cosmic Halitosis, and Atomic Mosquitoes will makes Guidos a really eclectic lineup
bluegrass band Platescrapers/Kretzer Brothers at McClintock
Luna, Thom Huenger and Declan Poehler at Vini Culture
Fun Boys, Silent Old Mts., DoubleMotorcyles, Cheshi and Time Columns playing 200 East Art Haus outside -and the headliner, Rozwell Kid – who returns after playing the first 200 East show in July 2015.
and the official aftershow at Cafe Nola : My Friday Anthem closes it out at midnight!
All access/all shows, there’s a wristband for that which will set you back $30.
There’s even a VIP option -a tshirt and pint glass to commemorate the Thing (hint: last option is not worth it but you didn’t hear that from me. shhh. remember snitches get stiches).
You can get wristbands at this point on the THING website here – or day of on May 20th at various venues, including Sky Stage.
And DON’T forget to pick up a copy of SubVersive Zine #2 – it’ll be available at all the usual suspects, Pit Crew, Gravel y Grind, Record Exchange, Nola and of course at the Sky Stage.
Shameless plug, I wrote a little something about the McClintock screening event for the FNP – the event seeks to raise funds for the Frederick Film & Music Fest that’ll take place late in June – you can read that here, ’cause Black Dynamite is one bad mother-shut your mouth!
Meanwhile LEDA is still filming but rapidly finishing all the shooting soon. They are facing a major fundraising hurdle, if you can help out via indie gogo – they could use all the help.
Let me start by saying I missed 2 DoubleMotorcycle shows in around Frederick in March, one at Nola and the EP release show at Guidos. With all the high marks given on social media about these shows, not to mention a house show at the Squat in early April, I was kicking myself. Count those shows under my miserable “Goddamnit! Shows I missed in Frederick” list.
But I did get to hear their EP, thanks to drummer Colin McGuire dropping it by -yes, Mr. Frederick Playlist himself. To get a sense of what the sound is like, think Coheed and Cambria circa 2003, speed pop and power choruses with a touch of emo to it. The EP had a shiny aura about it, even before popping the CD into my car stereo (true to living 21st century style, I just don’t have CD players in the house anymore).
Start with a tune called “The Record.”
Every time I see your face, the record is always the same these days – leave me alone but keep me away…
I feel this song – the lyrics are something I have to parse throuh a bit, but eventually it’s a universal mutual feeling – especially on some record always sounding the same these days. Jalette personifies that allusion with perhaps a love interest he knows (and seems tired of).
Joe Jalette voice has a subtext of menace to it that cuts through the middle of the song and force listeners to put down the cell phone to pay attention. It’s a voice that’s not just good on one gear: it’s malleable enough for fast transitions between high and low notes. There’s some tried and true rock vocalizations of ooohs and ahhhs. That’s not to say it follows a rigid formula per se. There’s enough to throw an old cynical music listener off the trail here and there to make it varied enough to take it along for multiple spins. That – in a world of flash-and-it’s-gone-like-it-was-so-2-weeks-ago actually does say a lot for the record.
From “The Pyramid” …we we can play even if the CD skips – oh oh skips. This is pop that’s a bit gnarly around the edges, lyrics might seem dada-ist, but is demonstrative of a band having fun with itself. Tension flares up as the song flips from playful to minor keyed angst and the bizarre question emerges: maybe I’m a pyramid?
“Is Your baby alright?” Here, among other tracks, Joe channels unconsciously some 90’s indie rock icons, notably Smashing Pumpkin’s Billy Corgan (even the cover kind of alludes to the Pumpkin’s Siamese Dream cover of kids framed in a slightly out of focus way). The record meanders a little with “The Darkness” before recovering the narrative with a strong closer “Pick Me Up.”
I don’t mind riding my bike – it’s all right – I just got to get out in the night…
Alright all night – I’m waiting for it – I just need my friends to pick me up – pick me up – spin me around. Cause I don’t want to ever grow up.
And that last line – isn’t that the rock and roll dream – drinking from the eternal fountain? DNA strand nod to Seaknuckle detected with a loud chorus aiding the cause.
[To be updated: Joe Jalette and I have tentative plans to meet up so I could ask a few questions about DoubleMotorcycle. I wanted to get this post out sooner than later so I’ll update this when I get a chance to talk to him]
Produced and Engineered by Derek Salazar (Seagulls and Heavy Lights) – another stellar production by the Seagulls and Heavy Lights man (he somehow also juggles another band project, drumming for Cory Springirth’s post Old Indian project Tuff Junior.
Both Tuff Junior and DoubleMotorcycle will be performing at the Thing Fest on May 20th. Tuff Junior will be at Sky Stage while Doublemotorcycle will be at 200 East.
To check out and listen to tracks from DoubleMotorcycle self titled EP further, go to their bandcamp page here.
BTW: Today is May 1st, happy May Day! It’s also due date for submissions for the 2nd issue of Subversive Zine. It’s had a pretty successful launch in late March and I’m told there’s a clamoring for more. We need more advertisers on board, so if you are an owner/manager of a local rad company and want to advertise in the next subversive zine, email email@example.com
Culture is one damn good way to help the cause of fighting fascism. Tonight, Tuesday April 4th across the nation, theaters both above and underground will be screening “1984.” Frederick’s underground screening is being organized (and properly agitated) by Gravel & Grind. [they’re also raising some $ for Subversive Zine to publish their 2nd issue, more on that in a moment].
been absent a few weeks – a lot has happened, I’ll try to sum up soon BUT before I do, SUBVERSIVE ZINE everyone! Some of you (maybe all of you) have been waiting with anticipation for this thing to come out. The inaugural issue will unofficially hit the streets Friday March 24 — the quasi-official launch party is Saturday March 25 at Guido’s Speakeasy (543 N. Market St) for the dRIVIN BEATS show -plus the debut of Dead Byrd Pie. And for a pic of the first issue: