When Justin Henderson signs copies of his new book Grunge Seattle (Roaring Forties Press, $14.95, 107 pages) at Moe Bar on Wednesday July 28 at 8:00 p.m., there will be a fitting symmetry--Moe Bar is affixed to Neumos, once Moe's Mo' Rockin' Café in a previous incarnation and a hub where many bands the book examines ignited the stage--and also something terribly askew. Was grunge, a genre as beloved as its name is loathed, ever meant to be codified and studied? Seventeen years ago as we lurched from a show did anyone think that two generations later the era's relics would be examined like ancient Greek ruins?
No, of course not. And it's a credit to Henderson that he acknowledges as much in Grunge Seattle, a compelling tome that sidesteps many well-worn anecdotes to instead focus on various Seattle locales and the city's pre-boom economy and how these resulted in the nation's last organically-grown, pre-Internet music scene. Henderson moved here from New York in 1991 and says, "I thought it would be a dead zone. Instead, it was crazy happening. You just had to follow Art Chantry's posters! Unlike New York's easy-to-get-around, all-night transit system, you really had to figure out where the fuck anything was around here."