Seattle Rock Class, 10/2/12: Appreciating the Underappreciated

Posted: October 2, 2012 in The Strangest Tribe: the College Course

Today was our first venture into what I call “appreciating the underappreciated”…great Seattle bands that haven’t received as much recognition as some of their peers.  So, for this class, we took a look at the Young Fresh Fellows and the U-Men, two of my faves.

First, though, we spent about 15 to 20 minutes sort of decompressing.  It’s been a pretty hectic schedule over the first few sessions and, given we meet just once per week, I never really had the opportunity to take the pulse of the class.  Students had some great ideas…one of which involved the use of a “discussion ball” to allow for easier discourse (which worked great, by the way.)  One student essentially asked me to be a better moderator…to keep discussions focused and on topic.  Another suggested we listen to song snippets when we’re talking about the music (that one is up to the students as I’ve got the current week’s playlist queued up on my computer.)

Next, we enjoyed three student presentations. Shanae talked about the Nashville country scene of the 1950s.  She listens to contemporary country and wanted explore her roots, so she told us about people like Patsy Cline, Eddy Arnold, and Jim Reeves.  Next, Gabrielle focused on Nashville in the ’80s, again exploring her country roots…she played us some Alabama and other contemporary artists.  Following that, Kristy talked about something completely different…Japanese Visual Kei.  I don’t know how to describe JVK…take Twisted Sister and add David Bowie and Slipknot. She did a nice job talking about an art form that borrows from Western and traditional Japanese traditions.

We spent the last half hour chatting about the Fellows and U-Men.  Clearly, the students (as I expected) dug the Fellows, but not so much the U-Men.  I brought these two contemporary bands together to illustrate the diversity of music within the same music scene.  Folks enjoyed the humor of such Fellows classics as “Amy Grant” and “Searchin’ USA” (I also played them snippets of “Taco Wagon” and the Minus 5’s “Emperor of the Bathroom,” both of which brought chuckles.)  I think they connected with the Fellows because that band wrote songs…with catchy hooks, easily deciperable lyrics, and melodies.

The U-Men were another story.  Their music actually struck fear in the hearts of some of them…which I guess is the point.  A couple people did mention the dark twisted humor associated with this band. While not present in the music, humor manifested itself in the road stories I talk about in my blog (See the U-Men section under “From the Cutting Room Floor.”)  Specifically, they mentioned two David Duet* stories…one where he was drunk and queried a couple of LA gangstas: “Do you know where I can buy me a human head?” and another where he held a loaded gun to the skull of U-Men bassist Jim Tillman while chanting “Redrum” (Don’t worry, it ended well.  Jim’s fine.)

In all, I think I enjoyed this particular session most of all.  We had some great discussions, new ideas, and enjoyable presentations.  And David Duet stories.

* – note, Duet kind of acted as road crew during U-Men tours, and later fronted Cat Butt with James Burdyshaw.

(The U-Men play a New Year’s Eve show [1984] at their home beneath Larry Reid’s Graven Image Gallery.)

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