Now Playing: Several Shades of Why by J Mascis
Favorite quote from the Armbruster article, it is proto-hipster: “‘The menace of
the popular song looms big,’ warned the Town Crier, ‘and . . . the need for
its suppression is woefully apparent'” (83).
The Armbruster article raised many interesting points.
One thing that came up a lot was the role of unions and local government on music. I had never thought about this, and comparing it with the music performance scene in modern Seattle, I’d say it was much more restricted. These days it seems like somebody can drink a can of soda on a stool and it will be hailed by somebody as art, which I support; people should be encouraged to express themselves, create their own masterpiece. Back to the unions though. The upside of them was definitely there in terms of supporting musicians in terms of wages and protections, but the article made it sound like owners and Seattle residents had such a high demand for entertainment that the trade offs of having a union (restricted freedom, aggressive tactics for making musicians join, etc) seemed to maybe be not worth it. Government payoffs/regulation of local music were also abound, a climate that is definitely different from today. The social aspect of the unions such as Local 76 seems to have been beneficial though, as countless groups were named off in the article.
Race relation’s exploration through not just music, but Seattle music, was also interesting. I wonder how different the development of jazz and our Seattle sound would be if Local 76 had allowed full integration of colored members, rather than deny them entry, which allowed them to develop their own sounds free from mixing with the popular union styles.
The struggles of African American musicians were arguable small compared to the plight of Chinese workers on the West Coast, Seattle included. This begs the same question as before; what if our bigotry was eliminated and we had allowed a strong, thriving Chinese element to our musical scene?
The Blecha article was a nice macro review of some points started in the previous article in the context of the AYP. I don’t think the AYP’s positive effect on the NW music scene can be understated, with the exposure to so many different styles which undoubtedly mixed creating a unique Seattle sound, something that I think repeated in the late 1980s.
The other side of the coin is explored in the Yee article. While there was a blossoming music scene/city, this was not done without some casualties along the way, such is the story of American growth. The Japanese-American story is a unique one with the reader’s foreknowledge of WWII, as well as comparison’s with Chinese American’s and immigrant Whites in the area. One thought I had was that much of the early Seattle music scene was funded by wealthy elites who supposedly had closer mindsets to the middle and working class than Easter aristocracies. Therefore, the treatment of foreigners in music (and in other areas) by owner’s and donors may have been different than the treatment of foreigners by the consuming and working public, and of course these forces would interact and most likely converge to a mostly uniform sentiment. I’d be interested to read more into this.