November 6 Seattle Rock class recap

Posted: November 8, 2012 in The Strangest Tribe: the College Course

Ever have one of those days where everything seems off? Tuesday was like that for me. I arrived late to my first class, because PENNDOT decided to remove a road detour sign making me believe a certain bridge had been completed…which of course it wasn’t.  Later, I stepped in dog shit. Yes, it was that kind of day.

The Seattle class went well enough, but losing the October 30 session to Hurricane Sandy threw off our rhythm.  We chatted about the Boston and New York scenes of the ’80s, discussing bands like the Pixies, the Lemonheads, Dinosaur Jr, and Sonic Youth. The students seemed to really like Dino Jr, surprising the hell out of me.  I think that band’s combo of distorted guitar mishmash and hooky melody connected with them. Sonic Youth ellicited an expected reaction: half the class loved their weird, arty constructions; the other half found them boring.

Next (and here comes a weird part), Kelly began to talk about the Memphis scene of the ’50s. How is that weird, might you ask? Well, she was supposed to present last week, but I rearranged the schedule and pushed her back two weeks after the 10/30 class was canceled. Kelly never got my email about the scheduling change because she lost power.

It gets weirder. As she began to talk about the Memphis rockabilly scene, I found myself in the midst of a Groundhog Day. “Didn’t she already do this?” I thought to myself. “I know I’ve heard this before.” I began to look around to see if I could spot Needlenose Ned Ryerson. Later when I got home, I realized Kelly had submitted a draft of her paper (students have to prepare an essay on the same music scene they presented on in class) that I had read a couple of weeks prior.

Finally, Gary Minkler and Rich Riggins of Red Dress joined us, via Skype, for a Q&A with the students. Abbie led the questioning about that unique band’s career, including musical style, the sublime interaction between guitar players John Olufs and Pete Pendras, musical influences, and crazy opening stage acts including a hula dancer and a snake charmer (I think a snake charmer…the sound cut out at times, thus adding to the day’s overall annoyance.) Maya (sp?) the pitbull joined Gary and Rich, adding to the students’ enjoyment. Overall, we greatly appreciated the Red Dress guys providing us with an insider’s view of their wonderful band.

(From left, Red Dress’ Rich Riggins, Maya the pit bull, and Gary Minkler join us from Seattle.)

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