The honor is all mine.
Tim Midgett of Silkworm and Bottomless Pit has provided me with one hell of a set comprised of his musical influences as well as crib notes about many of the tracks I will be playing. Tonight from 7PM to 9PM on WRIR I will be sharing two hours of music hand picked by Tim that in turn tells the story of how he as an artist developed his signature playing and writing style. The members of Silkworm have mastered a meticulously crafted next generation post-punk that never wastes a second of time. There is dissonance fist fighting melody. They precisely hammered out songs using a combination of wit, humor, and darkness. They didn't have just one talented member of the band. It was all four of them. I mean how often does that happen to a band? Shit!
Oh, and what happens when a band does it right and for all the right reason? (IE artists in every sense of the word verse pandering to a dumbed down pop audience) They go widely ignored and unrecognized for their talents. What can I say, people are stupid and don't understand the greatness of group this articulate and this able to fire it off into song form.
Often with the recording partnership of Steve Albini (more Montana goodness) their catalog ended at full length number 9 due to the unfortunate death of their drummer Michael Dahlquist. It still angers and saddens me to think about this loss and how a remarkably great band's place in history now carries a permanent scar of this tragic event when their music is what really deserves the music community's attention and recollection. The one light at the end of this tunnel is Bottomless Pit. With Silkworm laid to rest, Tim and guitarist Andy Cohen formed a band with 2 fellow Chicagoians (is that even a word?) including the drummer from Seam. Part outlet for grief, I am thankful that Tim and Andy decided to continue making music, something that according to my ears is something they were born to do.
You can listen to the show this evening on the dial in RVA at 97.3 FM or stream the show live at www.wrir.org. This will be my first attempt to record the show for a podcast so keep your fingers crossed that all goes well and hopefully for those of you who missed the show, I will have a podcast to share as well.
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At the age of 22 going on 23 I picked up and left NJ without much of a plan other than my final resting stop was to be Seattle, WA. I had a small van of possessions and with two friends helping divide the long drive across the county, we arrived there in late winter / early Spring. Thinking back, I am horrified at my lack of planning. While I did have a job waiting for me at C/Z Records as a sales rep, I didn't have an apartment lined up and the only people I really knew were some of the folks at the label, Sub Pop, and a handful of band people who were pen pals but not on any deeply personal level.
Terry, a -co-worker from C/Z was kind enough to let me crash with him until I found a permanent place and even more amazingly he allowed me to store all my crap in his cozy one room loft. While this move across country could have been utterly disastrous, in reality I couldn't have been much luckier. The people at C/Z were all so friendly and incredibly welcoming. I felt like I had an instant family and in just a matter of days, I had been introduced to many of the bands on the label and their friends. This tight kit group of people became not only my world almost overnight but many of them were a bit older than me and introduced to me to mountains (culturally speaking). Sure they knew about art, music, food, and places I had never been to... but they also proved to me that adults didn't have to be boring. They were a true network of friends who supported each other, inspired one another, and seemed to be some of the most passionate artists I had ever met in my life. My concept of adults up until this point in time was based on my parents and their friends, their homes, their grey lives, none of which included much of a creative edge that included sharing a bill at a local rock club. Within this group of people were members of Silkworm, Engine Kid, Jessamine, and my eventual roomie, Bill who went on to join the Downer Trio among many other groups. As a young woman still very much not a real adult in many ways, this group of people showed me the best possible scenario for combing talented bands and a communal like support system. It wasn't always perfect, but when you have a base of incredibly talented people fine tuning their craft around the clock, bouncing ideas off of one another, and actively recording / touring...as a green music fanatic, this was the best accidental education a girl could ask for.
It took me some time to raise enough money to afford an apartment so my first 3 months if not longer included a great deal of couch surfing (often in cycles that matched Michael the drummer of Silkworm who was also a couch jockey at the time) and house sitting. When Silkworm toured for their release In the West, I stayed in Tim Midgett's (bass player) and his fantastic lady's house which gave me one of my first looks at a home that was nothing like my parents. It sounds absurd now but in hindsight but it never occurred to me that adults could decorate any way they wanted and that I too one day would have the freedom and maybe the good fortune to be in a loving relationship that would afford me the opportunity to build a home of my own that didn't have to look like my parent's, or theirs, or anyone's for that matter. Besides their impeccable taste, there was one heck of a record collection. Much like my stint house sitting for Yo La Tengo I was blessed with the exposure to a a host of artists and genres I wasn't familiar with and so began my first hefty exposures to Jazz, NZ guitar bands, and oh so many others.
It is easy to romanticize my brief time in Seattle (just under two years) but when I think of the people I was fortunate to work along side, the music I had a chance to help sell / spread the word on, and then this incredible group of friends I made, I have every right to boast and glow. These were amazing people and by dumb luck, at a time when Grunge was finally dying and indie rock bands like Modest Mouse, Built To Spill, Sunny Day were all actively playing and on the rise. I saw probably two or three shows a week back then and most of them were bills that would make any indie rock nerd's jaw drop.
Tim and I in 1994 at the Crocodile Cafe in Seattle, Wa.
So tonight's show is certainly about the music first and foremost (Thanks again Tim!) however it would be remiss of me not to admit to the importance of this band's accidental role in the shaping of who I am and a landmark of where I came from.