Rabble Interview: David Lester

AUDIO: the radical origins of Mecca Normal guitar player David Lester – long time mixer of art and politics, profoundly influenced by the Emma Goldman bio “Living My Life”

TRR_mar18-22_2019_david_lester_rect

Tagged , ,

“I Am Here”

Bikini Kill quote-about-Jean-2019-1Bikini Kill Records shared our video snippet of “I Am Here” on International Women’s Day!

“Feminism was not a phase or a failed experiment. We are here!”

Tagged , , ,

Better Things “I Walk Alone”

Thursday, March 7, 2019 episode of Better Things included 3 snippets of “I Walk Alone” (original studio version, 1986).

Season 3, Episode 2: Holding

We’ve played “I Walk Alone” at a ton of shows since 1985. I think we gave it a rest for some time in the late 90s, but it’s in our current set list. Here’s a snippet of the LIVE version at Horses Records a few years ago.

“I Walk Alone” is on the New Album: LIVE in Montreal, 1996 (Artoffact Records, 2019) — part of a three- song ‘medley’ with “Man Thinks Woman” and “Strong White Male”.

Tagged

Alternative Toronto Archive at the Art Gallery of Ontario

Black Wedge Saskatoon

Black Wedge Tour, Saskatoon, 1987

Dr. Lilian Radovac (media and cultural historian at the Institute of Communication, Culture, Information & Technology at the University of Toronto Mississauga) presented an introduction to the award-winning Alternative Toronto archive at the Art Gallery of Ontario.

The archive includes Mecca Normal’s “Strong White Male” video directed by David Lester (1987) with additional references to the ‘part way across Canada’ Black Wedge tour in 1987.

Alternative Toronto:

A tour of activist resistance culture organized by Jean Smith of the band Mecca Normal, which set out to “spread the word of how to combine poetry, music and politics and have a fun time doing it.”

The Black Wedge was an anti-authoritarian response to Britain’s earlier Red Wedge, and began on the West Coast in 1986 before continuing across Canada in 1987. The performers included Vancouver’s Mecca Normal, San Francisco’s Peter Plate, Montreal’s Rhythm Activism and Toronto artists Bryan James and Mourning Sickness.

To learn more, read this excerpt from Smith’s essay “The Black Wedge Tours: Take Something You Care About and Make it Your Life” in Sounding Off — Music as Resistance / Rebellion / Revolution, eds. Ron Sakolsky and Fred Ho, (New York: Autonomedia, 1996).

Tagged , , , ,

David Lester’s Self-Referential TOP 25 List

My Self-Referential TOP 25 List of 2018 (in random order)

1. Designing an anti-fascist poster for the Montreal International Anarchist Theatre Festival.

2. Mecca Normal’s “In January” used as a soundtrack for White Death (2:40), a film made by Amsterdam-based Jocelyne Moreau. White Death is about passion, tuberculosis as ‘consumption’ and ‘romantic disease’.

3. Surpassing 500 columns in the Mecca Normal collaboration for MAGNET Magazine online.

RRR11-Goldman-Web

4. My poster of Emma Goldman included in the “Remember | Resist | Redraw: A Radical History Poster Project” exhibit at the Peel Art Gallery, Museum and Archives (PAMA) (Brampton, ON).

44766987_10156873879062509_7603174149325848576_n

5. Collaborating with the Graphic History Collective to illustrate a 93 page comic, in 53 days, on the Winnipeg General Strike of 1919.

Joelene 5 800

6. Mecca Normal performing a set at my art exhibit at the Heart of the City Festival (Interurban Art Gallery, Vancouver).

Ballantyne

7. My illustration of The Battle of Ballantyne Pier used in promo for the musical version by Vancouver playwright Sherry MacDonald.

8. Mecca Normal’s “I Walk Alone” is slanted for use in next season’s feminist FX series Better Things.

9. Seeing my book cover for “1919: A Graphic History of the Winnipeg General Strike” on display at the Frankfurt Book Fair and on the cover of the Spring 2019 catalogue of publisher Between the Lines.

10. Another year of friendship and collaboration with Jean Smith. We worked on new Mecca Normal songs and we were asked by Patrick Maley to play YoYo a GoGo in 2019.

11. Completing a 5 x 3’ mural commission for an exhibit at Cumberland Museum and Archives.

Best Praxis rehearsing “Strong White Male” before the show (below)

bp

12. The thrill of hearing London-based UK band Best Praxis (“We are non-binary and female people of colour taking up space”) cover Mecca Normal’s Strong White Male.

13. Performing with Wendy Atkinson as Horde of Two, playing two poems by Bud Osborn at the Vancouver book launch of “Busted: An Illustrated History of Drug Prohibition in Canada” by Susan Boyd.

HERE

14. Seeing the great cover art by Jean Smith for Calvin Johnson’s solo album, featured in articles and reviews in Rolling Stone, SPIN, Stereogum, and Pitchfork.

15. Being approached to illustrate a graphic biography on the life of radical anti-slavery activist Benjamin Lay.

16. Jean Smith’s excellent cover art for Lisa Marr and the Tranzmitors‘ benefit 7″ for the Girls Rock Camp Vancouver.

17. The great Seattle cellist Lori Goldston uses two of Jean Smith’s paintings as album covers.

18. Another year of the amazing paintings by Jean Smith and the fun of seeing the diverse range of people responding to her art. It gives me great hope for this world that people buy art.

0001 crop 1200 NO TEXT

Jean Smith $100 USD paintings (11 x 14″) for sale on FaceBook

19. Putting together the insert art for the upcoming Mecca Normal live in Montreal album on Artoffact Records.

20. The challenging and profound 3-night sold-out stand of Tanya Tagaq/Laakkuluk curated by my partner Wendy Atkinson for her Beyond Words series at The Chan Centre for the Performing Arts at UBC. The 2018 season also included an evening with Laurie Anderson.

Paul%20Robeson

21. South Korean publisher Book Sea releases an edition of “Celebrate People’s History: The Poster Book of Resistance and Revolution” which includes my poster of Paul Robeson.

22. UK-based artist Rita Isaac asks Jean Smith for a painting to be used in an art book series by Laurence King Publishing “that aim to shed a new light onto the contemporary practice of different art forms and use of materials.”

18192734_10213153277165593_1032969709904792759_o

Jean Smith, Rose Melberg, Jon Manning, Wendy Atkinson, David Lester

23. Celebrating 20 years with my partner Wendy Atkinson by cycling in Germany and Holland and travel to Shanghai, China.

6365.JPG

24. The fun of doing a Mecca Normal interview with Allison Wolfe for her podcast, I’m In The Band.

25. Another year of work on my graphic novel about Emma Goldman. I’m getting closer.

Tagged

Video: In Canada

“In Canada” is from “Who Shot Elvis?” (Matador, 1997). Jean Smith vocals. David Lester guitar. Charlie Quintana drums. Video by Jean Smith.

Tagged , , ,

Cover: Strong White Male

Late last year I got a FaceBook notification that someone had mentioned Mecca Normal. It was very early in the morning, and when I clicked on the link, I really did have a sense that I was still in dreamland. The video snippet (Instagram) showed London band Best Praxis rehearsing Strong White Male “a cover by the amazing Mecca Normal” for a fundraising show two days hence. The band description: “non-binary and female people of colour taking up space. We make DIY punk music.”

Very timely with the Man Thinks Woman / Strong White Male / I Walk Alone medley on Mecca Normal’s new album: Live in Montreal, 1996!

Best Praxis rehearsing Strong White Male before the show (below)

The show!

Mecca Normal opening for The Julie Ruin in Portland, 2016

Tagged , ,

Review: Calico Kills the Cat

Calico

Mecca Normal – “Calico Kills The Cat” (1988)

One woman said,
“I don’t like the way things are going.”
One woman said,
“I think I’ll change it all.”
— “One Woman”

This encapsulates the Riot Grrrl dream. The Riot Grrrls didn’t get there, because society moves slowly, like a glacier. But it was a step in the right direction. Today we have #MeToo. We’re continuing to make progress. It’s just sad that after this many years we still have so far to go.

Mecca Normal were a duo from Vancouver, BC, and their sophomore album Calico Kills The Cat was released on Olympia, Washington’s forward-thinking label K Records. I’m not sure I can truly say that Mecca Normal remind me of anyone else. The songs are simple – David Lester on guitar and Jean Smith doing vocals. That’s basically it. You don’t even notice the true simplicity of their sound until you focus on it, because you’re so focused on Smith’s forceful and agitated singing.

Their songs are forceful and message-driven. There’s an honesty here that runs deep. And I like everything about it.

Life in the Vinyl Lane, music outside of the mainstream (July 31, 2018)

Tagged , ,

David Lester Art Show at InterUrban Gallery, Vancouver

InterUrban Gallery, 1 East Hastings (entrance on Carrall Street)
Wednesday, October 25th to Saturday, November 3
1:00 – 4:00 PM

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Mecca Normal at David Lester’s exhibit of graphic novel panels (including Emma Goldman, Winnipeg General Strike and The Battle of Ballantyne Pier), MAGNET Magazine cartoons and Inspired Agitator posters at the InterUrban Gallery during the 15th Annual Downtown Eastside Heart of the City Festival in Vancouver. Photos by Joelene Clarke.

Hanging the images on Wednesday, October 24 , 2018.

584958505848

At the opening, Sunday, October 28, 2018.

5873.jpg
5874587158725866

44766987_10156873879062509_7603174149325848576_n

Winnipeg General Strike (1919)

Ballantyne
panel 1

Emma Goldman (work in progress)

Malachi-Poster-by-David-Lester-WEB
Inspired Agitators poster series

Normal History Vol 168 by David Lester sm

Normal History Vol. 168 for Magnet Magazine online

Tagged , , ,

LP insert

LP insert for the live album in the CBC Brave New Waves series.

0001 crop 1200 NO TEXT

$100 USD paintings (11 x 14″ acrylic on canvas panel) by Jean Smith. For sale online.

Tagged , , , , ,