My friend, singer/songwriter Julie Vik recently posed the question, “What is west coast music?” because as she said, I was there for the “transition.” Well, I replied, I can only speak from my own experience. I used to tour up and down the west coast, play the west coast circuit. I always say we shared more camaraderie with our American punk cohorts than those in the rest of Canada. I know some bands like DOA toured across country and around the world but most of us were strapped for cash and stayed closer to home, or at least west of the Rockies. A fellow islander and musician Chris Corrigan said that in the traditional music community there are strong connections within the scenes in Washington and Oregon and not so much with the rest of Canada. “When I was really active in the scene in the 1990s, you could look at the repertoire of traditional Irish tunes we played and see that they were heavily influenced by what was happening in Seattle. We’ve always been closer to Cascadians.” Makes sense to me. Cascadia, as a region, certainly, draws musicians, the arts together. I’ve noticed lots of overlap between the San Juan and Gulf Islands as well in the spoken word, literary scenes.
In any case, it was always more expedient for us to tour in a southerly direction than back east. The snowy passes and mountains certainly are formidable, then you have three days or so of flatlands-prairies-and then three more days of bush-Ontario!
The Dils (from San Francisco) came up and played Vancouver often, hung out with us and were very comradely. Black Flag from LA as well. I became friends with many Californians introduced to me by Brad Kent who had done a stint as the Avengers guitarist; Chuck Dukowski, Gregg Ginn, Darby Crash, Margo from the Go-Gos, Jello Biafra, Kid Spike and Karla MadDog from the Controllers. I got so weary of driving up and down the 1-5, pooling pennies to buy gas and arguing over which fast food drive-in to pull into. One time I begged to take PCH, just for a change of scene, and mentioned that it would be fun to go visit Henry Miller in Big Sur. They thought I was crazy. “Henry who?”
I shared these opinions with Scott Beadle once too, in an interview. He is Vancouver’s defacto punk rock historian, did a talk at the Vancouver Museum a few years back. Man, does that make me feel old! I recall being at the Experience Music Project in Seattle, in the punk rock section and looking at flyers under glass, flyers I have copies of at home!
In my humble opinion, Vancouver was Continue reading