Mecca Normal started 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 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 Johnson met and traded LPs – Mecca Normal’s first album (later to be re-issued on K) 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, Mecca Normal released International Pop Underground Vol. CXXXII, “Malachi and Blue Sky & Branches”. Check the website for lyrics and videos.
Guitar player David Lester is the author of “The Gruesome Acts of Capitalism” — profit from sales 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 a painter, filmmaker and the author of two published novels. She is the recipient of two Canada Council for the Arts Awards as a writer of creative fiction. She runs Smarten UP! Records, a D-I-Y label for poets and minimalist musicians.
Mecca Normal has released thirteen albums on Matador, Kill Rock Stars Records and K Records.
- Mecca Normal - “Malachi” [IPU132] (2010)
- Mecca Normal - “Paris In April” [IPU068] (1996)
- Mecca Normal - The First LP [KLP038] (1995)
- Mecca Normal - Flood Plain [KLP022] (1993)
- Mecca Normal - Jarred Up [KLP018] (1993)
- Mecca Normal - Dovetail [KLP014] (1992)
- Mecca Normal - “Rose” [IPU032] (1992)
- Mecca Normal - Armchairs Fit Through Doors [IPU028] (1991)
- Mecca Normal - Water Cuts My Hands [KLP008] (1990)
- Mecca Normal - Cardboard Box House Of Love [IPU011] (1990)
- Mecca Normal - Calico Kills The Cat [KLP004] (1988)
- Mecca Normal - Oh Yes You Can [IPU004] (1987)
Also appears on:
From Mecca Normal’s first K release Calico Kills the Cat [KLP004], which has got it all: love, murder, hate, frying pans, jealousy, prison, bullets, bonfires and a blue TV behind the iron curtain. …Mecca Normal - Smile Baby
From the new Mecca Normal International Pop Underground 7″ Malachi [IPU132]…
Malachi Ritscher (1954-2006) was an American musician, free speech and anti-war activist who for many years made high quality recordings of other musicians (often jazz and experimental) performing live in Chicago. He would give a copy to the performers and sometimes these would become official releases. After the U.S. invaded Iraq, he became a vocal opponent of the war at demonstrations and was twice arrested. Like monks opposing the Vietnam war, his final act of protest culminated in an act of self-immolation.Mecca Normal - Malachi
|11/17/12||Mecca Normal in Vancouver, BC||W2||United States|
|Address: Hastings Street. Real Vancouver Writers Series / CanZine West. Two events: Mecca Normal performs and Jean Smith reads.|
|11/09/12||Mecca Normal in Ft. Lauderdale, FL||Radio Active Records||United States|
|Address: 845 N. Federal Highway.|
|11/08/12||Mecca Normal in Miami, FL||Churchill’s Pub||United States|
|Address: 5501 Northeast 2nd Avenue.|
|10/19/12||Mecca Normal in Olympia, WA||Evergreen State College||United States|
|Time: 4:00pm. Address: 2700 Evergreen Parkway NW. “How Art & Music Can Change the World”|
|10/14/12||Mecca Normal in Los Angeles, CA||Loyola Marymount University||United States|
|Time: 4:00pm. Address: 1 LMU Drive.|
|10/13/12||Mecca Normal in Los Angeles, CA||Echo Park Film Center||United States|
|Time: 3:00pm. Address: 1200 N Alvarado St..|
|10/13/12||Mecca Normal in Los Angeles, CA.||HRLA||United States|
|Time: 3:00pm. Address: 410 Cottage Home St..|
|10/10/12||Mecca Normal in San Francisco, CA||Cafe Du Nord||United States|
|Time: 9:30pm. Address: 2170 Market Street. w/ The Corin Tucker Band|
|10/08/12||Mecca Normal in Salem, OR||Willamette University||United States|
|Time: 8:00pm. Address: 900 State St.. “How Art & Music Can Change the World”|
|10/08/12||Mecca Normal in San Francisco, CA||San Francisco Public Library||United States|
|Time: 6:00pm. Admission: FREE!. Age restrictions: All Ages. Address: 100 Larkin. RADAR Reading Series / LitQuake … Jean Smith and David Lester will both be reading in the Latino Reading Room.|
|10/06/12||Mecca Normal in Olympia, WA||Olympia Timberland Library||United States|
|Time: 8:00pm. Address: 313 8th Ave SE, Olympia, WA.. Venue phone: (360) 352-0595. Presenting… The Listener graphic novel by guitar-player turned author-illustrator David Lester.|
|09/30/12||Mecca Normal in Vancouver, BC||Word on the Street||United States|
|Time: 2:00pm. Presented by CUPE Local 391. Featuring: David Lester’s graphic novel The Listener – a finalist for a ForeWord Reviews’ 2011 Book of The Year Award in the graphic novel category! Jean Smith’s two recently completed novels, The Black Dot Museum of Political Art and Obliterating History!|
|09/08/12||Mecca Normal in Vancouver, BC||Waldorf, The||Canada|
|Time: 8:00pm. Admission: $12. Address: 1489 East Hastings Street. Venue phone: (604) 253-7141. w/ Chain & the Gang, Channels 3×4|