Scribes Sounding Off: 33 Days – An 80s Road Diary

This December brings to Seattle two exciting live events tied to authors of books fully formed in the underground rock experience; both involve musicians from the deep post-punk and hardcore American scenes — and revolve around the risks that frequent dreams attempting to be made real. For two Saturdays in a row, December 10 and December 18, four different musicians will give their take on growing up in public… and how that was all joined with guitars, bass, and drums. (And there will be music present at these readings too, though more stripped down.)

I’ll be posting information about the David Yow (Scratch Acid) and Eugene Robinson (Oxbow) Comet reading/signing/Q&A before their combined show at Neumos in the next few days, but coming up first is a softer, sweeter, yet similarly lit-and-music-entwined performance at Vermillion, in the same Cap Hill neighborhood.

33 Days: Touring In A Van. Sleeping On Floors. Chasing A Dream is the story of author Bill See and his 1987 tour with Divine Weeks, and much of the personal and musical inspirations and memories leading up to and ignited this experience. It’s awesome that See kept track of so much in his life, from hard-scrabble family interactions to frantic spins in self-awareness occurring in the moment, put down here candidly. It’s especially enjoyable reading about the delicate but affirming balance he had with fellow guitarist Raj, as the intricacies of playing music and collaborating to touch the world with it can ring true even if one has never heard anything of theirs (other than say a track like the mesmerizing “Bittersweet” on You Tube). Along with George, Dave, and Ian, Bill and Raj find the apex of their adolescence within a bubble of transformation that is battered about by the greedy impulses and lies of others, and the hope in the eyes of the next music fan you meet in the next town’s dimly lit club.

In the cycles of bands rising up and succeeding or falling down as substrate for further awakenings, there is often a profound sense of familiarity in many band histories, and the romantic yet realistic material here will seem familiar to any fan of 80s new-era guitar bands influenced by the hastening embers and emblems of REM and the ‘Mats. Rather than turn it into a more generalized novel, which would lack the snap of relational tension and flatten out the actual drama involving race, compromise, and temptation, See keeps it all journal entry vivid. Family weight, fathers being released from jail, details about tornadoes hover with the morning cereal, fears of every kind are battered back by playing out. Mojo Nixon and Country Joe Montana and a whole bunch of other $5 or $1 bin album names will take you back to a much simpler time, and the coarse ache a kid in a band felt realizing just how big this country really was, especially in very class-conscious Reagan America. And that weird feeling you had no choice to pursue that dream, and you were sharing it with people placed in your life for a reason.

For more information:

Bill See reads from 33 Days along with musical accompaniment shared from Divine Weeks guitarist Raj K. Makwana at Vermillion Art Gallery & Bar on Capitol Hill on Saturday, December 10, 6 – 8 p.m. 1508 11th Avenue North, Seattle WA. Free admission.

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