Could You Be The One?

Back when life was simpler and a lot less sad, I went out to see bands because I thought music might save my life. Music as a life saver? Please do tell.

Lot’s been written about Mark by me and others. In death, there is a tendency to enlarge one’s life, or attribute qualities to people in the dead person’s life that may or may not have been present. In Mark’s case, he was the real deal. I did my best as a dad and things turned out pretty well until last January.

In 1986, I was simply a father and husband with a three-year-old son. We were living on a dead-end street in Chesterton, Indiana.

Mark had a tricycle and was making a few friends in the neighborhood. I worked at a prison and Mary had just started working breakfast at Wendy’s prior to me heading off to the med room at Westville Correctional Facility.

Mark and dad playing in the snow [1986]

Things were looking up for our little family, trying to scrape together enough money to return to Maine. I also had aspirations of being something more than an hourly wage slave. It would take me another 15 years to recognize that the writing muse was calling. Unable to recognize its beckoning however, caused considerable frustration and angst in my mid-20s. Continue reading

Bands That Suck

Indie rock is something I’ve blogged about before. The DIY mindset that permeated the period between say 1979 and 1995, pre-interwebs, was a unique one. If you happened to have tapped into it in some small way—simply as a fan, or perhaps a DJ, let alone as an actual band member—you know that it’s something we’ll never replicate again.

Jon Fine played in what he’d call one of the “weird bands” of that period, first with Bitch Magnet, then later with some bands even less well-known (like Coptic Light and Don Caballero). It’s not like Bitch Magnet’s a household name, but in the world that counts Black Flag and Sonic Youth as the best-known of a group of bands that were all a bit off-center, the period was worth recounting in some detail.

"Your Band Sucks: What I Saw at Indie Rock's Failed Revolution (But Can No Longer Hear)", by Jon Fine

“Your Band Sucks: What I Saw at Indie Rock’s Failed Revolution (But Can No Longer Hear)”, by Jon Fine

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Rattled by the Rush

I try not to get too nostalgic for the past. Lately, though, I’ve been thinking of a time—back before Google, and their quest to turn our brains into a hunk of Swiss cheese. Was it a better time? I don’t know. There were certainly positives. Oh, I know—thou shalt not speak evil of any technology! And believe it or not, there was life and a social scene before Facebook—arguably a richer one.

A reminder of that time came the other morning, listening to WMBR’s “Boomerang” program, sliding back into some 90s post-punk that I know and love. Erik Morrison is a DJ who once a week (on Tuesday mornings) spends an hour time-traveling back to the days before MP3 players,iTunes, and nearly everyone who is under the age of 25, walking around with earbuds jammed in their ears, oblivious to the world around them. Track lists mattered and artists cared about things like the sequence of 10 or more songs, crafted to fit alongside each other on an album. Granted, we’d transitioned from tapes to CDs, but indie rock still meant independent of corporate control. Obviously, that’s long gone and we’re not in Kansas (or Columbia, Missouri) anymore. Continue reading

Music by Year

Another 12 months have passed. I recapped my reading during that period on Tuesday with my list of books. As I mentioned in that post, 2014 was a decent year for me as a writer with a new book, and host of bylined articles for a variety of publications.

When I’m writing, I like to listen to music—not always—but more often than not. What I enjoy listening to remains eclectic. I’m not sure I could assign a category to all of it. However, I’ve stayed true to a musical genre that I first latched onto following leaving behind theological structures that weren’t working for me. This was back in 1984. Then, my radio oasis was a commercial station in Chicago, WXRT, that played a pretty wide selection of music and bands. I first heard Husker Dü on their station, along with fellow Minneapolis rockers, the Replacements. Their late-night Friday night program, “The Big Beat,” opened me up to all kinds of new music with dissident elements, including Billy Bragg. Continue reading

Music in my Life-Silkworm

Silkworm: Michael Dahlquist, Tim Midgett, Andy Cohen.

Silkworm: Michael Dahlquist, Tim Midgett, Andy Cohen.

Back in the days before interwebs and free music downloads, people went out to venues and saw bands play. Sometimes these bands were obscure, hinting at danger and the unknown.

There was a place in Portland on outer Forest Avenue called Raoul’s Roadside Attraction. Some of you remember it, I know you do. You may have seen some big time artist, playing in a small, intimate setting, and like me, you might have gotten to talk to your music idol like I did, when I met Jorma Kaukonen; that was probably after my journey with God in some place called Hammond, which seemed more like a post-industrial hell, than heaven. Continue reading