If the FCC had its way, the same six companies would own every print outlet, radio bandwidth, and TV station in the country. What resistance there is comes largely from people like Jerianne Thompson, a Murfreesboro resident who spends her spare time scanning and collating articles from America’s underground press.
As editor and publisher of Zine World, an influential reader’s guide to small, independent publications across the country, Thompson regularly gathers articles on subjects the mainstream media won’t touch. That doesn’t just concern politics, although the current issue has its share of underreported storiesincluding a controversial study on the correlation between Fox News’ rightward stance and its viewers’ perception of the war on terror. Zine World also covers the broad spectrum of personal zines covering everything from obsessive takes on movies and music to diary-like entries on day-to-day life. Taken as a whole, it’s like the secret journal under America’s mattress.
“The more consolidation you have of media outlets, especially book publishing, the harder it is for independent voices and perspectives to be heard,” said Thompson. “It’s more conservativenot politically, maybe, but in the sense that it’s harder to find original, unusual views. [Zines] are the last places you can find fresh ideas.”
To help spread the word, Thompson has joined Saturday’s massive Clamor Music Festival, an event taking place simultaneously in 32 cities from Seattle to New York. Designed to promote awareness of independent media and raise money for publications like Zine World, the festival involves more than 140 bands across the country. It is at once national and localized, in keeping with what organizers call the three basic principles of indie media: accessibility, community control, and mutual aid.
“It’ll attract and educate people locally about what zines are,” explained Thompson, who relocated Zine World to Middle Tennessee three years ago from San Francisco. “Not that many people know about us here locally, and I’ve only met a couple of people who do zines here. I hope this brings out more.”
The Nashville show takes place Saturday night at The Boardroom, which hosted a release party for Jeff Meltesen’s zine RR two weeks ago. (We hear that the guy who got poked during a prop dismantling of Glen Campbell’s photo is recovering nicely.) School of Industry, featuring members of Serotonin, joins a five-band bill that includes SourPuss, Apollo Up, the Robber Barons, and the Whole Fantastic World (a new band consisting of Lotus Halo and Dixie Dirt personnel).
In addition, the night will serve as a release party not just for Zine World’s 20th issue, but for Thompson’s own zine Rejected Band Names. Between acts, Thompson and other local zine writers may read their work, and the Boardroom’s pool table will serve as an impromptu media center. Zines and books will be available for donations. If all goes well, Thompson hopes the night will convince more people to publish their independent perspectives on the city, the country and the world around them. “Creativity fosters more creativity,” she says.
For more information, see www.undergroundpress.org. And if you know of a good, cheap place to make copies around here, Thompson wants to hear about it. Contact her through the site.
♦ Good old arena-rock showmanship is alive and well at the club level, thanks to Murfreesboro’s Laws Rushing. The combination of a flamboyant frontman and his brother on flamethrower guitar has already prompted comparisons to spoofy glam-metal heads The Darkness. But siblings Laws and Dwayne Rushing, last seen in the Boro band Evil Twin, don’t act like they’re pining away for a Van Halen II tribute night. Their just-released five-song EP showcases a hammering new rhythm section and a rougher more-guns-less-roses sound. Check 'em out Saturday night at the Mercy Lounge with special guests Josh Bennett and the Plastic Rulers, the new group featuring songwriter Warren Pash (“Private Eyes”), Black Crowes guitarist Audley Freed, Billy Mercer and Brad Pemberton.
♦ For the duration of its two-year run on ABC, from 1969 to 1971, The Johnny Cash Show brought country and rock audiences together like no network show before or since. A mix of folk music, comedy, relaxed performances and often defiant politics, the show’s tapings at the Ryman Auditorium brought together an improbably wide assortment of talent, from activist singer Odetta and Kirk Douglas to Neil Diamond and Louis Armstrong.
The show’s first episode will be shown in its entirety 2 p.m. Sunday at the downtown Country Music Hall of Fame. Bob Dylan and Joni Mitchell were the featured guests, along with Fannie Flagg and fiddler Doug Kershaw. Cash sings “Girl from the North Country” with Dylan and duets with Mitchell on “I Still Miss Someone”the song Elvis Costello chose to remember the late Cash at his Ryman Auditorium show last Tuesday. The show is free with a paid admission to the Hall of Fame. For more information, call 416-2001.
♦ The Bellydance Superstars hit town 7 p.m. Wednesday for an exclusive engagement at the Belcourt, promising an evening of colorful costumes and choreography. The 14-member dance troupe and percussionist were assembled by music impresario Miles Copeland (The Police), who recently released an accompanying compilation of favored bellydance music on Mondo Melodia, the world-music offshoot of his Ark 21 Records. The troupe was a hit at last year’s Lollapalooza, and they’ll reportedly be scouting for more dancers while on tour. For more information about the show, call 846-3150.