CKUT FM ‘s annual funding drive starts on April 25! The station is looking forward to delivering the next 30 years of kick-ass radio. I’m hopeful that you might consider pledging a few dollars to my radio show, which airs on April 30 this year. It’s also going to be my last show on CKUT FM, as I will soon be piling all my stuff into a truck and moving to Winnipeg!
I’m proud to have been part of CKUT FM since its inception as an FM campus-community radio station in November 1987. When CKUT launched in 1987, I was doing a show called In From The Cold, and in 1988 I had a theme program called This Show Is History. I have been on-air at CKUT every Tuesday from noon to 2 p.m. since 1995, first on Victorious and Invincible (with intrepid co-host Victoria Stanton), then with my current show, spinning tunes and interviewing guests from the cultural communities of Montreal and beyond. I also devoted a year of my life to the CKUT library, organized a few fundraising events (back in the 1990s), put in a couple of years on the Steering Committee (2009-2011), pitched in with volunteer library work, contributed reviews to the music department blog and recently dug up a bunch of stuff for CKUT’s Time Capsule project …
I’ve always been proud to be part of a community that isn’t about making a profit. Instead, CKUT FM is about consciousness-raising, 24/7, 365 days a year. Playing the music you love, carrying news and information you won’t hear anywhere else – on the topic of social justice, human rights, environmental activism, gender equality, you name it. We do it all on a shoestring budget, so when we come calling for your help during our funding drive, you know we really need it.
My radio show, The Kitchen Bang Bang Law, has been about cutting-edge culture. It’s about dreaming beyond the barriers of cynical ‘common sense’ through radical sonic art forms, be they the working blues of the 20s or the avante garde drone of today. I program thematic segments that span all genres and styles of music, breaking down boundaries and (hopefully) opening minds.
Over the years I’ve interviewed musicians like Jellyfish Babies, Danielle Dax, Colin Newman and Band of Susans (all in 1988), Rufus and Martha Wainwright (1995), G.W. Sok (of The Ex) and Mack Mackenzie (of Three O’Clock Train) (in 1996), Sam Shalabi, Veda Hille, Annabelle Chvostek and Lisa Gamble (all in 1997), Mecca Normal (1998), Kathleen Yearwood (1999), Lori Freedman and Danielle P. Roger, Kid Koala (all in 2003), Old Time Relijun (2004), Harris Newman (2005), Maggie MacDonald of Republic of Safety, Stephen Bean of Pink Mountaintops (all in 2006), Gordon Krieger, Molly Sweeney (2008), Lady Katalyst (2009), Rainer Weins, Josh Zubot and Jean Derome, Emily (of gmackrr) and A.J. Cornell, Jason Selman (all in 2010), Jahsun of Kalmunity Vibe Collective, Malcolm Goldstein, Brahja Waldman, Xarah Dion (all in 2011), Nasir of Avec le Soleil Sortant de Sa Bouche (2012), Jean Smith of Mecca Normal (2014), Colin Bryce of Dub Rifles, Rebecca Foon (all in 2015), David Lester of Mecca Normal (2016), Julie Doiron (2017), Malachi Vale (2018) …
I’ve interviewed writers and poets like Jacob Wren, Anne Waldman, Gail Scott, nah-ee-lah, Wayde Compton, Catherine Kidd, Taqralik Partridge, Moe Clark, Trish Salah, Kaie Kellough, Carolyn Marie Souaid and Endre Farkas, Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore and Anna Leventhal. I’ve also talked to a wide range of other artists, like Lorraine Oades, John Greyson, Lisa Vinebaum, Frieda Abtan, Victoria Stanton and Colleen Wolstenholme.
This year’s special guests for the very last funding drive edition of The Kitchen Bang Bang Law are the two founding members of Mecca Normal, David Lester and Jean Smith.
Photo: Steve Louie
Jean Smith and David Lester formed Mecca Normal in 1984 with the express purpose of changing the world. Smith turned her zine Smarten UP! – A How to Change the World Publication into a record label to release the first Mecca Normal LP in 1986.
Mecca Normal is known as a fore-runner and inspiration to the riot grrrl movement in the 90s. As part of the regional D-I-Y scene at that time, Mecca Normal co-founded the Black Wedge – anti-authoritarian poets and minimalist musicians – setting wild hearts free, spreading the damn difficult word of how to combine poetry with activist resistance culture. At the Black Wedge show in Olympia (1986) Jean and Calvin Johnson met and traded LPs, Mecca Normal’s first album (re-issued by K Records) for the first Beat Happening record.
Through the 90s and into the oughts, Mecca Normal albums were released by K Records, Matador and Kill Rock Stars in the United States.
In April 2009, Mecca Normal celebrated its 25th anniversary with 25 shows in 25 days, including university and high school presentations of “How Art & Music Can Change the World”, a lecture intending to inspire audiences to consider adding political content to their creative self-expression.
In 2010 Smith and Lester launched The Black Dot Museum of Political Art with a four-person exhibit in Olympia. In the fall of 2010, K Records released the 7″ single ‘Malachi’.
Empathy for the Evil, Mecca Normal’s 13th album, was released in September 2014. During a barnstorming tour, they were featured in an interview on Democracy Now, where they performed ‘Malachi’ and a new and highly topical song, ‘Anguish / Misogyny’.
In 2016, Mecca Normal opened three shows for The Julie Ruin (Bikini Kill members) at which Kathleen Hanna said from the stage: “Their music is still as relevant as it was 25 years ago when I first saw them. It makes me happy that their music is still relevant because they’re doing it better than ever. And their new songs are so fucking great and hilarious.”
Mecca Normal’s first ever live album was released in March 2019 by Artoffact Records, as part of a series of releases documenting sessions recorded for CBC’s eclectic Brave New Waves program. From Artoffact’s Bandcamp site: “For a brief time in the mid-90s, New Zealander Peter Jefferies (Nocturnal Projections) was on drums. Known for the intensity of their live shows, this one borders on incendiary. Recorded at The Cabaret, a beautiful little theatre in Montréal, Québec on April 16, 1996 for later broadcast on CBC’s Brave New Waves, Smith’s unparalleled delivery of songs about injustice is viscerally enmeshed with Lester’s furious guitar. As for the drums… while there is wisdom in not allowing romantic partners in a band, that tension had been intensified after the couple in question started a new band (2 Foot Flame on Matador) while living in New Zealand. ‘Maybe it’s just me, but I figure the guitar and the drums are both trying to get the last word, while I felt I needed to elevate my performance to justify the drama,’ Smith recently divulged about the show.”
Jean Smith is the author of two published novels: I Can Hear Me Fine (Get To The Point Editions, 1993) and The Ghost of Understanding (Arsenal Pulp Press, 1998). Recent publications include the chapbook Two Stories, a regular series of posts on the Magnet blog, and a ten page fiction excerpt published in 2012 in West Coast Line. She’s also a practicing film-maker and painter. Since 2016 She’s been making a living selling her paintings via Facebook – she’s sold 690 to date. From the Jean Smith Painter website: “The $100 USD painting series all started with The Hat in January, 2016. I posted the first one on my FaceBook page and it sold that same day. Hours later, someone was offering me money in advance for the next one! Since then, paintings in this series have been purchased by instructors from the Yale School of Art, the University of British Columbia and the Art Institute of Chicago, painters whose work has been exhibited in the Museum of Modern Art and the Whitney Biennial, 2014 in New York City, and by art critics for Artforum Magazine and the Winnipeg Free Press – as well as a few indie rock luminaries.”
When he’s not windmilling his guitar, David Lester keeps his hands happy by creating politically-charged posters, illustrations and graphic novels. In 2010, David Lester’s poster series Inspired Agitators became part of the permanent collection of the Center For The Study of Political Graphics in Los Angeles. His second book, a 312 page graphic novel called The Listener, was published by Arbeiter Ring in the spring of 2011. In 2014, David Lester’s poster, ‘Malachi’ was included in the 2014 Whitney Biennial at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City, as part of the exhibit Public Collectors: Malachi Ritscher. The exhibit also included a recording of a live set performed by Mecca Normal, and both sides of the cover — featuring Jean Smith’s painting “Discovering Utopia” — of the Mecca Normal 7″ record that includes the song ‘Malachi’, about war protester Malachi Ritscher. Lester’s latest work is 1919: A Graphic History of the Winnipeg General Strike, by the Graphic History Collective & David Lester. He took on the project during the ongoing work on his graphic novel about Emma Goldman’s final years in Toronto. The book is expected to be published in 2020.
During the funding drive edition of The Kitchen Bang Bang Law, Jean Smith, David Lester and I will talk about their recent and current artistic activities.
If you’ve ever enjoyed one of my shows, please consider pledging some cash during my last funding drive radio show (and last show ever on CKUT FM!). It happens on April 30, from 12 to 2 p.m. Call the PLEDGE LINE during my show, 514-907-9424, and talk to the friendly people at CKUT.
OR consider pledging to my show any time, on-line. Go to http://www.ckut.ca!!
SPECIAL GIFTS OFFERED ON THE KITCHEN BANG BANG LAW!
Of course, there’s a lot of remarkable gifts available from CKUT for your pledges. But these items are exclusively available if you pledge on my show:
To mark my departure from the CKUT FM roster, I’m offering three tempting gifts for underground musicians: A ‘Crate’ TG10R Guitar Amp; a Yamaha YPT-200 Electronic Portable Keyboard; and Chris Migone’s Hondo Electric Guitar. Chris Migone is a former CKUT programmer and staffer, and the guitar was repaired for me by Marc Montanchez, another former CKUT staffer, so it’s definitely a piece of CKUT history! Each of these gifts will be available for a $30 donation. (All items are used, not new! Keep it street!)
“A truly affordable portable keyboard that also doubles as your own personal music teacher, the YPT-200 offers it all – 134 voices, 100 accompaniment styles, Yamaha Education Suite, Portable Grand, General MIDI, and more.” (In other words, this beast will make infinitely gnarly sounds for you! Actual gift may not exactly resemble this image I stole off the internet, plus, it lacks a power cord.)
“This rugged amplifier provides you with serious clean and distorted sounds and features two bands of equalization, reverb, CD Input jacks, and a jack for headphones.” (Gift may not exactly resemble this pic I stole from the internet.)
Hondo Electric Guitar, once owned by the elusive Christof Migone.
Also, exclusively for listeners of The Kitchen Bang Bang Law, I’m offering a special selection of vinyl LPs from this year’s crate-digging (all in sweet shape). Impossibly rare Canadian indie vinyl by Three O’Clock Train and Courage of Lassie, Aphrodite’s Child still in the shrinkwrap, Tangerine Dream, Roxy Music, Joni Mitchell … something for everyone! (None of the vinyl records are current reissues, they’re all from back in the day.) There’s also a clutch of vintage cassettes, and a really sweet CD box set of John Oswald’s Plunderphonics just for you!
(Important – please note, you should only choose these gifts if you can pick them up from CKUT FM’s offices – we don’t ship gifts, since postal rates are so idiotically steep!)
Vinyl Records (and some CDs) crate-dug by the hands of Vince:
Laurie Anderson: Home of the Brave soundtrack LP, Warner Bros. 1986 ($15.00 pledge)
Aphrodite’s Child: Rain and Tears – The Best of Aphrodite’s Child LP sealed in shrinkwrap, Philips Records 1977 ($15.00 pledge)
Blue Oyster Cult: Agents of Fortune LP, Columbia Records 1976 ($15.00 pledge)
Tracy Chapman: 1st LP, Elektra / Asylum 1988 ($15.00 pledge)
Courage of Lassie: The Temptation to Exist LP, Amok Records 1986 ($15.00 pledge)
Evangelista: In Animal Tongue LP, Constellation Records September 2011 ($15.00 pledge)
Human League: Crash gatefold LP sealed in shrinkwrap, Virgin 1986 ($15.00 pledge)
Rickie Lee Jones: Pirates LP, Warner Bros. 1981 ($15.00 pledge)
Joolz: Love Is Sweet Romance 12″ single, Capitol / EMI Records 1985 ($15.00 pledge)
Gordon Lightfoot: Back Here on Earth, United Artists Records 1968 ($10.00 pledge)
Los Lobos: How Will The Wolf Survive LP, Warner Bros. / Slash 1984 ($10.00 pledge)
Joni Mitchell: Hejira gatefold LP, Asylum Records 1976 ($10.00 pledge)
Orchestral Manouevres in the Dark: Organisation LP, Polygram / Virgin / DinDisc Records 1980 ($15.00 pledge)
Public Image Ltd: This Is Not A Love Song 4-track EP, Virgin UK pressing 1983 ($10.00 pledge)
Public Image Ltd: Rise extended mix 3-track single, Elektra pressing 1986 ($10.00 pledge)
Rough Trade: For Those Who Think Young LP, Boardwalk Records American pressing 1982 ($10.00 pledge)
Roxy Music: Avalon LP, Warner Bros. / EG Records 1982 ($15.00 pledge)
Tangerine Dream: Thief soundtrack LP, Elektra Records American pressing 1981 ($15.00 pledge)
Three O’Clock Train: Muscle In LP, Pipeline Records 1986 ($15.00 pledge)
Yaz: ‘Situation’ / ‘Situation Dub’ 12″ single, Sire / Mute Records 1982 ($15.00 pledge)
Various Artists (Lou Reed, Marianne Faithfull, John Zorn, Dagmar Krause, Tom Waits et al): Lost in the Stars LP, A&M Records 1983 ($15.00 pledge)
Various Artists: Out of Sight! LP, Design Records Canadian pressing, 1967 – pre-Velvets Lou Reed performances / compositions ($15.00 pledge)
Einstürzende Neubauten: ½ Mensch CD, Some Bizzare French pressing 1985/86 ($10.00 pledge)
The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill CD, Ruffhouse Records / Sony, 1998 ($10.00 pledge)
John Oswald: 69 Plunderphonics 96 2xCD box set, Seeland 2001 ($30.00 pledge)
Arthur Russell: World of Echo CD, Audika Records reissue 2005 ($10.00 pledge)
Klaus Schulze: Irrlicht CD, Thunderbolt / Magnum Music Group British pressing 1991 ($10.00 pledge)
Vintage Cassettes crate-dug by the hands of Vince:
Laurie Anderson: Strange Angels cassette, Warner Bros. Records American pressing 1989 ($10.00 pledge)
Julian Cope: Saint Julian cassette, Island Records 1987 ($10.00 pledge)
Iron Butterfly: In A Gadda Da Vida cassette, Atco / Warner Bros. Records 1968 ($10.00 pledge)
Love and Rockets: Express cassette, Vertigo / Beggar’s Banquet 1986 ($10.00 pledge)
Paul McCartney & Wings: Band On The Run cassette, Apple / EMI Records UK pressing 1973 ($10.00 pledge)
Nirvana: Unplugged In New York cassette, David Geffen Company 1994 ($10.00 pledge)
Prince: 1999 cassette, Warner Bros. Records 1982 ($10.00 pledge)
Never Mind The Bollocks, Here’s The Sex Pistols cassette, Warner Bros. Records 1977 ($10.00 pledge)
Stray Cats: Built For Speed cassette, EMI America Records 1982 ($10.00 pledge)
The Name of This Band is Talking Heads cassette, Sire Records 1982 ($10.00 pledge)
Violent Femmes 1st album cassette, Warner Bros. / Slash 1983 ($10.00 pledge)
Vintage Indie Cassettes
Male Bonding: Daytrotter limited edition cassette (no. 109 of 300), Sub Pop Records 2010 ($10.00 pledge)
Wooden Wives / Lee Harvey Oswalds: Together We Make Sense of Life limited edition (100) split cassette, Hamburger Tapes June 16, 2011 ($10.00 pledge)
various artists: Cassette – last canadian mixtape cassette, Out Of Sound Records 2008 ($10.00 pledge)