I moved here around 13 years ago from the great state of Montana. I brought that guitar and not much else. I left everything I had grown to know and love in my young adult life back in the sleepy college town of Missoula.
I remember driving over the mountain passes through the panhandle of Idaho and bawling my eyes out while listening to Billy Corgan’s cover of Fleetwood Mac’s “Landslide” over and over. I’d been afraid of changing because I’d built my life around Missoula. But there I was, peeling down a mountainside in a beat up red Ford Aerostar headed out west with $940 cash and the promise of a spare room at my Great Aunt Merna’s home in Kirkland. I had blind faith and a blue collar work ethic, I figured the rest would work itself out upon arrival.
The music scene out here was my beacon. I would thumb through issues of The Stranger that the only indie record store in Missoula kept laying around and ache with a longing I couldn’t define (FOMO was an acronym that didn’t exist in the early oughts, it bears noting). Bands and DJ’s I didn’t think anyone else had heard of were gracing stages all over town, every night.
It was through that publication I discovered M.I.A. was the opening act for LCD Soundsystem at a little venue called the Showbox in 2005. My friends and I bought tickets, packed the car, and drove 8 hours for the show. That show was ultimately the catalyst for why my butt is sitting on a barstool at Pony on Capitol Hill as I write these very words. It sealed the deal. I had to have access to this community of music, I didn’t want to drive 8 hours for it, I wanted, no NEEDED, to live and breathe it.
My life since coming to the Emerald City has been filled with triumphs and failures, brutal heartbreak and ridiculous romances, petty annoyances and outrageous inspiration....and so, so many musical adventures.
The only constant these days in Seattle seems to be change, but if you take a bit of time to reflect on the history of this city and region you’ll quickly glean that the grinding edge of modernization has always sharpened an axe out here on the Puget Sound. (Pro tip: an excellent resource for a charming crash course regarding the history of Seattle lives at MOHAI on South Lake Union...seriously, that museum stands as the most beautiful love letter ever written to this city in my book). From the Indigenous people that streamlined their efforts for the highest yielding salmon harvests to the technological advances beyond our current scope of knowledge that are being put into motion at this very moment by brilliant minds at companies no one has heard of... yet.
The grind here is real. This place is a corner of space and time that has always been a bastion, where creativity lays the groundwork for an outcome that virtually everyone you know has a day to day interaction with. Music, technology, aviation, coffee...the list goes on and on, and something about that will always feel like home to me. A home I made on my own accord, a home that beckoned me away from the only one I thought I’d ever know.
I think back about that scrappy twenty-something country mouse, with tears of uncertainty streaming down his face as he drove west, headlong into uncertainty, and I am proud. I want to thank him for being brave enough to follow his yearning for something bigger, for daring to be the pioneer of his life...and I’d especially like to thank him for remembering to bring this dusty old guitar along for the ride.