Read This, Then That: Oral Musical Histories

March 2, 2023

Originally released in 2009, Greg Prato's  Grunge is Dead (ECW Press) shines a light on the grunge-rock era that was borne out of Seattle in the early 1990s. Just up the coast, the forthcoming  Rubymusic by Connie Kuhns (Caitlin Press) chronicles women musical artists and groups in the 1980s-90s as heard through Rubymusic Radio, a groundbreaking, all-women music show on Vancouver coop radio. We take a closer look at both books below.

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Read this:  Grunge is Dead: The Oral History of Seattle Rock Music by Greg Prato (ECW Press)

Then that:  Rubymusic: A Popular History of Women's Music and Culture by Connie Kuhns (Caitlin Press)


The cover of Grunge is Dead by Greg Prato.

The result of over 130 interviews with musicians and family from bands like Pearl Jam and Alice in Chains, music writer Greg Prato compiled a comprehensive oral history of Seattle's early 90s grunge scene in his book  Grunge is Dead. Of course, no musical movement exists in a vacuum, and Prato's exploration starts in the 1960s with bands like The Sonics, then its rise out of hard-rock and punk scenes in the 1980s, and its inevitable decline in the mid-90s due to both overreaching music executives and widespread drug use. While Prato hears from almost every major band in the grunge movement, it's his conversations with smaller - yet still very influential - local Seattle bands and Riot Grrrls that fleshes out this book into something truly comprehensive and worthy of a revisit.


The cover of Rubymusic by Connie Kuhns.

Releasing this March 31, journalist Connie Kuhns's  Rubymusic discusses her Vancouver Coop Radio show of the same name that began in the early 1980s. Her half-hour of all-women's music programming was considered controversial when she pitched it to the station - they asked if there was even enough women's music to fill 30 minutes - but it soon became a platform for the feminist movements growing out of Vancouver's punk and hard rock scenes. This book details Rubymusic's influential 15-year-run as well as some of the landmark interviews with women artists and feminists that the program had over the years: Etta James, Gloria Steinem, and kd lang, to name just a few. In this age of Beyoncé and Taylor Swift, it's hard to imagine that women musicians ever had to fight to be on the radio; and Rubymusic is an excellent viewing window for music fans and feminists alike into that time.


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