Music Review: 100 Years Ago Tomorrow

100 Years Ago Tomorrow Cover Art

Last year the Everett Public Library undertook a project to re-frame the conversation about the series of events that had become known as the Everett Massacre. It was the 100th anniversary of the most notorious chapter in Everett’s history, and there was a desire on all parts to move away from the usual recitation of ‘who shot first?’ speculations. Early on, members of a variety of historical organizations and City offices gathered together to brainstorm how to best approach the topic, and one name was repeatedly put forth: Jason Webley.

Jason, a hometown favorite known for his eclectic and often political mix of folk, punk, and alternative music, had recently captivated local audiences with his Margaret project. For those unfortunate enough to have missed that one, it was a night of music, and later a book, that was inspired by the chance discovery of a scrapbook in a dumpster in San Francisco. By all accounts, Jason Webley not only created music that night, he made magic out of local history; his rare talent seemed to be a natural fit to tell the story of the Everett Massacre.

As Jason freely admits, he had some reservations about undertaking the project, but thankfully for all he changed his mind. From there, he was able to assemble a remarkably-talented team of musicians and artists and began working with them on his concept. At least this is the part of the story most people know from his telling. What I think gets lost, but is incredibly important, is the amount of time and effort Jason himself spent poring over sources related to the Everett Massacre. Jason was a regular in the Northwest History Room, spending hours talking with David Dilgard and peppering him with questions. His curiosity about the topic was passionate, and seemingly unquenchable; you could tell that when he undertook a project it consumed him until it was completed. Emails requesting clarifications or more resources arrived at all times of the day, and from all over the globe (Jason seems to constantly be traveling). There was such a strong desire on the part of Jason, and by extension the other artists, to get everything just right that you couldn’t help but be incredibly excited to see the final result.

Needless to say, the final product met and exceeded expectations. You could feel the audience ‘getting it.’ All the nuances about what is an extremely complicated series of events. All the tragedy, and all the missed opportunities to avoid disaster. All the harm done in oversimplifying how we see historical figures, even those that can be clearly painted as villains. Hauntingly, the show also made easy ties to current events that were unfolding in November of 2016; the same fear, animosity, and sense of mistrust that inflamed passions in 1916 seemed to be permeating the political climate 100 years later. The audience was rapt and quick to respond. At the end of the night the overwhelming question was: did anyone record this?

Well, as it turns out, yes and no. At the time, some video of the event was uploaded to YouTube, but nobody had made a professional recording. Thankfully, due to the high-level of interest, Jason and his colleagues decided to meet up and record their pieces in studio and to produce the album via an Indiegogo campaign. The project was fully funded, with all proceeds going to the ACLU. I’m happy to say that we now have a handful of copies available for check out so that those who were there could relive the event, and those who missed it can take part in their own way. Listeners to this powerful collection of history and protest in musical form will not be disappointed. Place your holds now!

For a preview, and a little behind the story information about the project, check out Jason Webley’s intro video for the project.

Locally Grown Music

For years we’ve heard a lot of noise from the music industry about the death of CDs and other physical media, and how downloadable media has doomed the CD and vinyl pressing business. Guess what? Much like the rumors of the obsolescence of libraries, this is patently untrue.

Happily this is amazingly awesome news for library users like you. Don’t want to commit to purchasing an album by an artist you haven’t yet heard? Can’t spare the cash to order in a CD you are dying to hear? The library must be your BFF and, if not, we’re looking to change that.

localmusicStarting like, right now, I’m knee-deep in relabeling and reorganizing a small but mighty subsection of our music collection. And our music buyer? She’s been doing her utmost, tirelessly contacting local bands and artists and gathering as many CDs as she can for this collection. By the time you read this there should be a choice selection of CDs by bands local to the Puget Sound area, finally grouped together and just waiting for you to discover them.

For those of you in a local band, now would be the time to let us know you’ve got an album that you’d like to see in our collection. That can be done by shooting an email to libref@everettwa.gov with your band name, contact info, and, if possible, a link to where we can hear and order your music online.

We’re naming our brainchild Local, and we’re adding some names you’ve heard (Hey Marseilles!) and some you may have not yet had the pleasure of hearing (Jason Webley). The bulk of these CDs will be available just in time for Fisherman’s Village Music Festival, another Everett brainchild that we think has achieved gifted genius status.

And as we look toward the future? Well, we’re going to keep growing this amazingly diverse and charming collection. And a little birdie told me that summer may bring some big news for local bands collaborating with us bibliophiles here at the library. Stay tuned, and I mean that both literally and figuratively.