David Lester’s TOP 16 Mecca Normal MOMENTS of 2014


Mecca Normal at Wrong Wave Festival, Vancouver, 2014.

1. Playing with Tobi Vail‘s Spider & the Webs and Calvin Johnson’s (K Records) band The Hive Dwellers in Portland at the Red and Black, an Industrial Workers of the World run cafe.

2. Having my poster included in “Public Collectors: Malachi Ritscher” at the 2014 Whitney Biennial – an exhibit curated by Marc Fischer at the Whitney Museum of American Art.

3. Catching up with Todd P at Trans Pecos in Queens, New York just before opening for Mount Eerie.

4. Being thrilled that Jean Smith now has a literary agent.

5. With great relief, paddling ashore after playing in a row boat on Lake Washington for Clyde Petersen‘s show, Boating With Clyde.

6. Playing the Unknown Music Series in Anacortes, WA, organized by Phil Elverum and Geneviève Castrée.

7. The exhilaration of working with Jean as she created the words and vocal to the songs, “Anguish / Misogyny” and “The Ferry To The Launch”.

8. Looking up at the sky as we played in Patrick Maley‘s back yard in Olympia (at least until the mosquitoes swarmed us).

9. Ripping into the first box of the new Mecca Normal album sent by Fiona and Brett at M’lady’s Records to start our eastern tour in Queens, New York.

10. Waking up in New Jersey at 6:00 a.m. in order to beat the traffic and get parking in Manhattan for an interview on Democracy Now! with Amy Goodman.

11. Playing to an inspired audience at The Back Alley Theatre in DC, organized by Gideon L. Jaguar and Amanda Maude. Great to meet and see Laughing Man play!!

12. Meeting Dan Traeger, who came to our rescue by on-the-spot storing of Mecca Normal merch after a show in Seattle.

13. Playing our last show of the year in Vancouver with Mirah who did a fantastic set.

14. Watching as Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) cuts from her interview with Anita Sarkeesian, to play our song “Anguish / Misogyny” over visuals illustrating rampant violence against women and misogyny in video games.

15: The pleasure of watching 75 Dollar Bill (Rick Brown, Che Chen, Sue Garner) create music on our eastern US dates. Playing with them at Troost, along with Arrington de Dionyso and it was an especially fun show because we got to meet up with Madigan Shive, Tae Won Yu, Franklin Bruno, Bob Banister, Tara L. Key, and so many others.

16. Jean making espresso on a hot plate in a New Jersey motel at the start of another day on tour. 30 years of espresso and creativity!


Mecca Normal on tour in 2014

Tour-graphic-featuring-MN-by-building-WEBMecca Normal will be playing shows in support of their new album Empathy for the Evil in 2014.

SEATTLE, July 15, Hollow Earth Radio
PORTLAND, July 16, Red and Black Cafe with The Hive Dwellers and Spider & the Webs
OLYMPIA, July 17, Pat’s house
ANACORTES, July 18, Unknown Music Festival

For up-to-date tour info click HERE

New MECCA NORMAL album in 2014

Final MN cover for webOn September 16, 2014, David Lester’s rock duo MECCA NORMAL will release their 13th album, Empathy for the Evil on M’lady’s records. They will be on tour in July, September and October. The album is produced by KRAMER.

Songs about grand gestures and chance meetings that dramatically alter and derail lives.

12-page history comic

Battle of Ballantyne PierIn July, 2014, David Lester’s 12-page comic The Battle of Ballantyne Pier is published on the Graphic History Project website in Vancouver. The “Battle of Ballantyne Pier” will eventually be published in book form, along with these other political comics artists and writers Alex Alkana, Linda Kelly Alkana, Lorna Alkana, Sam Bradd, Paul Buhle, Sean Carleton, Robin Folvik, Ethan Heitner, Steph Hill, Sarah Mirk, Kara Sievewright, Julia Smith, and Khris Soden.

3 month exhibit of political comics


“The Battle of Ballantyne Pier” at the Cumberland Museum and Archives.

In June, 2014, panels of David Lester’s comic The Battle of Ballantyne Pier is displayed as part of the exhibit Educate! Illustrate! Organize! Working-class and Labour History Through Comics, a 3 month exhibit curated by Graphic History Collective member Robin Folvik (Cumberland Museum and Archives). The exhibit was in conjunction with the Pacific Northwest Labour History Association and Miners’ Memorial Weekend.

Mecca Normal artifacts in 2014 Whitney Biennial


Public Collectors: Malachi Ritscher
(Whitney Museum of American Art, New York City).

Malachi (18 x 28″ poster) by Mecca Normal guitarist David Lester is included in the 2014 Whitney Biennial at the Whitney Museum of American Art (March 7 to May 25, New York City). The exhibition also includes a recording from a live set performed by Mecca Normal in 2002, and both sides of the cover of the Mecca Normal 7″ record that includes the song Malachi about war protester Malachi Ritscher. The painting on the record cover is by Mecca Normal vocalist Jean SmithThese four artifacts are part of Public Collectors: Malachi Ritscher – an exhibit curated by Chicago’s Marc Fischer about American activist and music documentarian Malachi Ritscher (1954 – 2006) who self-immolated on a freeway median outside of Chicago to protest the war in Iraq. During sessions for their new album, Mecca Normal recorded an acoustic version of MalachiWatch the video here.

David Lester poster in 2014 Whitney Biennial


Malachi (18 x 28″ poster) by Mecca Normal guitarist David Lester.

Malachi (18 x 28″ poster) by Mecca Normal guitarist David Lester is included in the 2014 Whitney Biennial. The exhibition also includes a recording of a live set performed by underground rock duo Mecca Normal, and both sides of the cover of the Mecca Normal 7″ record that includes the song Malachi about war protester Malachi Ritscher. The painting on the record cover is called Discovering Utopia by Mecca Normal vocalist Jean Smith.

These four artifacts are part of Public Collectors: Malachi Ritscher – an exhibit curated by Chicago’s Marc Fischer about American activist and music documentarian Malachi Ritscher (1954 – 2006) who self-immolated on a freeway median outside of Chicago to protest the war in Iraq. Ritscher made a video of this action that was not widely seen.

“It was Malachi’s intention for the video of his protest, his death, to reach people through mainstream media, to jar them from complacency, to have them raise their voices to end the war. But that wasn’t what happened. The video was not released in that way. When we added our song – and the poster – to our performances and classroom events, we regarded them as extensions of Malachi’s intention. We had created documents about the documentarian whose final statement on war was not heard. We created art and music because Malachi’s voice was not heard.” – Jean Smith, from the 2014 Whitney Biennial catalog

David Lester is a visual artist and the guitar player in the rock duo Mecca Normal from Vancouver, Canada.

Malachi cover by Jean Smith HIGH RES

Mecca Normal, Malachi 7″ cover art. The painting is called Discovering Utopia by Mecca Normal vocalist Jean Smith.

Jean Smith is a novelist, a painter, and the lyricist/vocalist in Mecca Normal.

Malachi – the title of David Lester’s poster – includes text about Ritscher’s beliefs and a drawing of Ritscher attending an anti-war rally in Chicago. The poster is part of his ongoing Inspired Agitators series of posters which tours in the USA and Canada as an element in a classroom and art gallery event called How Art and Music Can Change the World, co-presented with Jean Smith. Of his poster series, Lester says, “Presenting the ideas and lives of activists and artists this way is a form of social protest.” David Lester is giving away the poster as a pdf.

Free poster http://meccanormal.wordpress.com
How Art and Music Can Change the World – classroom and art gallery event http://howartandmusiccanchangetheworld.wordpress.com

Public Collectors: Malachi Ritscher will include artifacts from Ritscher’s work as a documentarian focused on recording the Chicago music scene, including a Mecca Normal performance at the Empty Bottle. The live set was recorded by Malachi Ritscher on November 11, 2002 while Mecca Normal was on tour with their album The Family Swan (Kill Rock Stars, 2002). On this occasion, a touring version of How Art and Music Can Change the World was being exhibited upstairs at the Bottle Cap. Malachi visited the art exhibition, which included many of David Lester’s Inspired Agitators posters and Jean Smith’s paintings depicting politically-charged events.

Malachi – the Mecca Normal song about Malachi Ritsher’s intentions and his death – was released as a 7″ record in 2010 by Olympia, Washington’s K Records. An acoustic version of the song and a video by Jean Smith were released on November 3, 2013, the seventh anniversary of Malachi Ritscher’s death.

Malachi poster, 7″ cover art, Malachi videos and lyrics:http://blackdotmuseum.wordpress.com/malachi-ritscher
Inspired Agitators posters: http://blackdotmuseum.wordpress.com/inspired-agitators
Jean Smith’s Discovering Utopia series: http://jeansmithpainter.wordpress.com/discovering-utopia-2010

During July and August of 2014, Public Collectors: Malachi Ritscher will be exhibited at the Experimental Sound Studio in Chicago.

Mecca Normal – NEW ALBUM out in September, 2014 on M’lady’s Records – produced and mixed by KRAMER. http://meccanormal2014.wordpress.com

MN Judith Baumann big crop

Mecca Normal

Mecca Normal Newsletter http://meccanormal.wordpress.com

ARTIST BIOS: Jean Smith and David Lester formed the electric guitar and voice duo Mecca Normal in the early 1980s with the express intention of changing the world. The band has released thirteen albums (K Records, Matador, Kill Rock Stars). Together, Lester and Smith run a small press, a record label and a political art museum.

David Lester is the author of The Listener graphic novel (Arbeiter Ring, 2011) – the story of Hitler’s rise to power correlates to questions about the power of political art. David Lester lives in Vancouver, Canada.

The Listener graphic novel: http://thelistenergraphicnovel.wordpress.com
Graphic Design: http://davidlesterartmusicdesign.wordpress.com

Jean Smith is the author of two published novels and a two-time recipient of Canada Council for the Arts awards as a writer of creative fiction. Her paintings have been included in two Black Dot Museum of Political Art exhibitions in Olympia, Washington, in 2010 and 2012. Jean Smith lives in Vancouver, Canada.

Paintings: http://jeansmithpainter.wordpress.com
Writing: http://jeansmithwriter.wordpress.com

CONTACT: meccanormal@hotmail.com

ONLINE PRESS RELEASE: http://blackdotmuseum.wordpress.com/2013/11/15/x/

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THE LISTENER and social justice

AEC-CESA-Conference-Program-2013The Listener graphic novel will be presented by Karen Jacobson at a conference, October 24th, 2013, at the University of Alberta (Edmonton) in a session called Promoting Social Justice and Belonging in the Classroom with Canadian Literature. It is all part of The Association For Canadian Studies & The Canadian Ethnic Studies Association 4th Joint Annual Conference: Transforming Citizenship: Ethnicity, Transnationalism & Belonging in Canada.

THE LISTENER goes to high school

The-Listener-by-David-Lester-(Arbeiter-Ring)-2011In 2013, THE LISTENER, my graphic novel, was taught in two high schools in Alberta, including Eastglen High School in Edmonton after it was selected for a research project called Engaging Teachers with Canadian Literature for Social Justice funded by The Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. The other high school introduced THE LISTENER alongside the graphic novels Skim by Mariko Tamaki and Stitches by David Small.

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Book cover design and illustration

Best of BookWorld COVER 2013 REVISED 2.pmdPublished in 2013, UNDAUNTED: The Best of BC BookWorld (Ronsdale Press) with a cover design by me, plus 20 of my cartoons, and Kristin Bomba‘s review of THE LISTENER. Also includes my review of The Master Plan: Himmler’s Scholars and the Holocaust by Heather Pringle.

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