Thursday, January 17, 1985 (photo by David Boswell)
Word on the Street, Vancouver, 2012
Photo by Sean Raggett, 2014
Jean Smith and David Lester formed Mecca Normal in 1984 with the express purpose of changing the world. Writer Jean 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.
“Arguably the greatest rock band without a rhythm section ever, the duo of acid-voiced singer Jean Smith and guitar hero David Lester must be seen to be believed.” – Douglas Wolk
“Empathy for the Evil” September 16, 2014 on M’lady’s Records
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.
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 met and traded LPs – Mecca Normal’s first album (re-issued by K Records) for the first beat happening record.
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 INTERNATIONAL POP UNDERGROUND CXXXII – Malachi and Blue Sky & Branches.
Guitar player David Lester is the author of The Listener graphic novel (Arbeiter Ring Publishing, 2011).
Profits from the sale of David Lester’s first book The Gruesome Acts of Capitalism have raised over $2000 for the Canadian Centre for Victims of Torture. David is the publisher at Get To The Point Editions – a small press publishing poetry, graphics and fiction by community activists. His ongoing series of Inspired Agitators posters are featured in both the lecture and the Black Dot Museum of Political Art.
Vocalist Jean Smith is the author of two published novels and a recipient of two Canada Council for the Arts Awards as a writer of creative fiction. Jean is represented by the Carolyn Swayze Literary Agency.