Pre- and post-grunge: Andrew Wood, folk scene
Seattle Times staff reporter
Andrew Wood was the David Lee Roth of Seattle grunge.
The Mother Love Bone singer's journey from Seattle club-scene poseur (KISS makeup, Landrew the Love Child alter ego) to almost-famous (major-record deal, early-stage hype) is detailed in neophyte director Scot Barbour's "Malfunkshun: The Andrew Wood Story." After playing the Seattle International Film Festival, it has a run at Capitol Hill's Northwest Film Forum, 1515 12th Ave., today-Sunday (7, 9 and 11 p.m.).
The documentary takes the title from Wood's first act, a Bainbridge Island glam-metal band — with Andrew's brother Kevin on screaming guitar. Malfunkshun became a staple on the then-minuscule Seattle club scene, along with Green River and Soundgarden. After Green River split into what became Mudhoney and Mother Love Bone, Andrew ditched his brother and best friend Regan Hagar to join Jeff Ament and Stone Gossard's band.
After a self-produced debut, Mother Love Bone — along with Soundgarden — soon caught serious record-company buzz ... but in mid-March of 1990, two weeks before MLB's debut "Apple" was released, Wood died of a heroin overdose.
This documentary goes far below the surface of most rock bios, detailing the dysfunctional family (boozing, brawling parents, bullying elder brother) that probably contributed to Wood's personal dysfunction. The one place it malfunctions is in failing to explore how Wood felt drugs fit into his rock-star persona — and this is a guy who wanted nothing else in life but to be a rock star.
Even so, it's an often-fascinating look at one of the often-forgotten building blocks of the Seattle scene. Wood's story has some startling similarities to Kurt Cobain's, though he never approached Cobain's musical prowess (some would argue he might have, had Wood stuck around).
"Malfunkshun" also tangentially — and nostalgically — relives the pre-scene Seattle scene, with Soundgarden's Chris Cornell and producer Jack Endino recalling the late-'80s, when Seattle music didn't seem to exist to the outside world.
For a review of the film, which played at this year's Seattle International Film Festival, go to www.seattletimes.com/movies.
• Post-grunge, the Seattle scene is again booming, with diversity and depth that go well beyond the usual suspects (Modest Mouse, Death Cab for Cutie, etc.). While the indie- and garage-rock band population is almost staggering, with hundreds of rockers competing for bookings and local radio play, a relatively small but hearty folk/alt-country environment lurks below-the-surface here.
"We don't rock — on purpose!" might be their motto.
The beacon of Seattle's nonrock underground is Ballard's Tractor Tavern, and it has a busy week of local acts.
Danny Barnes, Western Washington's banjo stud, plays from his new "Get Myself Together" CD at the Tractor tomorrow (9 p.m., $10). Grazing in blues as well as bluegrass, the recording is a blend of originals ("Get Me Out of Jail," "Wasted Mind") and covers ("Sympathy for the Devil," "Let Your Light Shine on Me").
Later this month, Barnes will tour as a member of bluegrass superstar Tim O'Brien's backing band. Banjoman Barnes — he plays a half-dozen other instruments on his album, by the way — toured with Bill Frisell in July, and earlier played in the Wayne Horvitz opera "Joe Hill."
A native of Texas who started the Bad Livers in Austin, Barnes has been living in Port Townsend since the late '90s. For more info, check out www.dannybarnes.com.
Local folkers Kym Tuvim, Holly Figueroa and Rachel Harrington join forces at the Tractor on Sunday (8 p.m., $10).
The three-night "Shake the Shack Rockabilly Ball," sponsored by KEXP, starts at the Tractor on Thursday (9 p.m., $12 each night, $30 for three-day pass).
• The alt-country publication No Depression celebrates its 10th anniversary with a series of shows across the country. The Seattle leg has Peter Case and Christy McWilson at the Sunset Tavern on Thursday (9 p.m., $10).
• Back in the rock world, there's definitely no depression for Sub Pop Records. The Seattle label's next big band might be Wolf Parade, an Isaac Brock-approved (and Brock-produced) indie-garage outfit from Montreal. Since its Sub Pop debut was recorded, Wolf Parade has added Hot Hot Heat guitarist Dante DeCaro. With Dan Boeckner's weirdly catchy singing (especially on "You Are a Runner and I Am My Father's Son"), this could be a sensational combination.
Wolf Parade plays the Crocodile on Thursday (10 p.m., $10), after opening for Arcade Fire at the Paramount on Wednesday (8 p.m., $22.50).
Tom Scanlon: email@example.com
Information in this article, originally published September 16, was corrected October 19. The article incorrectly listed the date that banjo player Danny Barnes moved from Texas to western Washington. He moved in the late 1990s, not the late 1970s.
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