Home Alternative Music Not Simply A Native Hero: Remembering Caleb Southern

Not Simply A Native Hero: Remembering Caleb Southern

Not Simply A Native Hero: Remembering Caleb Southern


Caleb was a key determine in one of many U.S.’s nice DIY scenes

In the event you had been lucky sufficient to come back up in a sturdy music scene you recognize there are three issues required to make it occur:

Infrastructure – This will vary from golf equipment and VFW halls, to basements. Wherever folks can arrange and play. Locations to follow for reasonable or free. Locations to stay for reasonable or free. Locations to eat for reasonable or free.
A great barter system by no means hurts both.
And, in fact, people who find themselves keen to point out up when issues are occurring.

Expertise – It goes with out saying that good music must be made, however usually the infrastructure conjures up that to occur. You’ll be able to’t construct a home with no basis.

It’s troublesome to elucidate the third part, however possibly we are able to simply file it underneath
Fixer/Vector/Connector. The good friend who not solely runs sound for the native bands, however reveals up at a second’s discover to deal with issues for the out of city act whose soundperson is sick. The one who offers recommendation to bands about effectively loading on and off, with no trace of condescension. A form and beneficiant member of the group who lends the gear, or can reply your questions on residence recording. An individual who wears many hats, paperwork the scene, or makes the data on a budget for younger bands who’re skint, and don’t know how any of the stuff works. Heroes who had been completely important earlier than the web and, frankly, at the moment are too.

These items are respectively the gas, warmth, and oxygen that permit a scene to combust.

The early ‘90s is remembered as a golden period of DIY scenes within the U.S., notably in college cities, or comparable, somewhat than the standard suspects, like NYC and LA. Some you might be acquainted with, like Seattle, Portland, Minneapolis; and a few chances are you’ll not know, like Northampton Massachusetts, Norman Oklahoma, Athens Georgia, and Chapel Hill North Carolina. I attended College within the latter, and favored it a lot I stayed.
I’m nonetheless right here.
It’s been 35 years now.

Athens and Chapel Hill had been already recognized for his or her cultural richness, being out of step with the remainder of the south, and giving the world music as wide-ranging as that of The B52’s, James Taylor, Billy Strayhorn, Elizabeth Cotten, Let’s Lively, R.E.M, Pylon, Southern Tradition on the Skids, Flat Duo Jets, and Floyd Council, whose identify is honored, together with Pink Anderson’s, in Pink Floyd’s.

All eyes had been notably on cities like ours once more within the early ‘90s, although. The international press had been sniffing round. Native heroes, Superchunk, had been on the quilt of the NME above the caption “The Yanks are Coming.”

Not Just A Local Hero: Remembering Caleb Southern“No extra mopey shoegaze or saggy music, thanks mate. Guitars that sound like guitars will do exactly positive.”
These scenes had been influential sufficient to ultimately assist morph bands like Blur from unapologetic customary bearers of Estuary English pop into the Fender Mustang-driven indie rock.
Through the snarkily-named Massive File Stardom Conference, which was actually none of these issues, British journalist Everett True travelled to Chapel Hill, allegedly “the subsequent Seattle.” He was proven a very good time, however the natives additionally playfully satisfied him we had been all of the descendants of hillbillies and moonshiners, somewhat than the progeny of fogeys with twin PhDs in Thanatology and Indonesian Ceramic Research, or no matter.
We secretly favored the eye possibly greater than we let on, however we didn’t need to be the subsequent something.

We had been blissful frequent guests Sonic Youth wrote a music about us, although.

Conditions like this normally occur as a result of some shot is heard ‘around the world. For Chapel Hill, the projectile was comprised of the trinity of Superchunk, Polvo, and Archers of Loaf. Additionally within the combine was Merge data, plus maybe lesser-known, however completely important bands, like Pipe, Zen Frisbee, Spatula, 81 Mulberry, The Veldt, Picasso Set off, Shark Quest, Erectus Monotone, Willard, Dillon Fence, and the massively underneath rated Metallic Flake Mom, simply to call just a few. It ought to be clearly said that “The Chapel Hill Scene” was actually additionally Raleigh, Durham, Carrboro, and Greensboro. Squirrel Nut Zippers and Ben Folds 5 had been much less rockist, however got here from the identical DNA, and broke out as a large pop acts.

Not Just A Local Hero: Remembering Caleb Southern

And it’s unlikely any of it could have occurred the way in which it did with out the contributions of individuals like Caleb Southern.
Sure, that was his actual identify, in addition to his geographical location.
An sickness took him from us this week.
He was solely 54.

Together with recordist Jerry Kee, Caleb was a kind of completely key third part folks. Greater than as soon as he’d run sound for some large act on the legendary Cat’s Cradle, wave goodbye to the bus, then set as much as file a band in the identical house, till daybreak. That is how era-defining data like Archers of Loaf’s Icky Mettle had been made. Caleb’s efforts made it so bands like Polvo and Ben Folds might ultimately be heard exterior of our space, and he was a welcoming presence to anybody who handed although city. I can’t rely the variety of instances I’d be in one other metropolis, speaking to different musicians I’d by no means met earlier than, they’d study the place I used to be from, and instantly ask “how’s Caleb?” My first classes in how you can file a band, stay off the ground, got here from him. He gave me the recommendation and lent me some gear.

Not Just A Local Hero: Remembering Caleb Southern
[photo: Jeanne Snodgrass]

We’re dwelling in a second the place we’ll be studying the obituaries of our well-known heroes each week, for the foreseeable future. After all will probably be bittersweet, nevertheless it’s additionally to be anticipated as they enter their eightieth yr on earth. It’s when folks like Caleb, or Rick Froberg, go away us far too quickly that I get really melancholy, as a result of they need to have had no less than three extra a long time. I assume Caleb ran sound for Drive Like Jehu greater than as soon as.

For this reason I’m dedicating column inches in a British journal to an American most of you may have by no means heard of. I hope it can function a reminder that a variety of what you’re keen on about your scene, wherever you might be, and others’, is commonly due of the arduous work of people who find themselves keen to finish a grueling, 9 hour shift, then soar proper in to file the bands, supply up a settee to crash on for the night, or act as such an awesome ambassador that artists need to return to your city. Many of those heroes don’t go on tour, however are recognized in different cities as a result of the bands got here to them, and had been handled proper. You might not be acquainted with among the teams I’ve listed above, however most of the members went on to be actors, writers, composers, and painters of observe, they usually all rubbed shoulders with Caleb sooner or later. He labored on over 250 data earlier than turning into a metropolis planner, then laptop scientist. I don’t suppose any of us anticipated Caleb to in the end turn into a beloved professor on the Georgia Institute of Expertise, however then once more, why wouldn’t he? He was all the time our beloved professor, he simply went on to get an precise doctorate.
The largest shock was when he fashioned Worry of Pop with Folds, they usually recruited… William Shatner?

After all Caleb Southern wasn’t the one individual doing this stuff right here, however he was an absolute linchpin throughout one in all our heydays. We owe him a lot. Bands from different cities, who fashioned after listening to artists he recorded, owe him one too, even when they missed his identify within the credit. Scenes don’t exist in a vacuum, they’re interconnected by the roads that girdle the globe, so the work of individuals like Caleb are a part of the butterfly impact.
Take a second to understand whomever your Caleb is, when you can. Allow them to know your scene is due to their contributions.
Chances are high they’re too humble to comprehend it.

Caleb Southern
December 26, 1969 — July 6, 2023


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