Tag Archives: Mecca Normal


The new Mecca Normal album (original release date September 30, 2014)
was delayed at the pressing plant until NOW.

FINALLY available!!

Mecca Normal, Empathy for the Evil, CD cover art, M'lady's Records - Copy
“Never before have my novels, my paintings and my song-writing been as closely attuned to each other and to my understanding of human interactions.” – Jean Smith

Most of the songs on this album are directly out of Jean Smith’s two recently-completed novels – including the one that her literary agent is shopping around to large publishers in the USA.

This is the album that includes “Odele’s Bath” – the song that 2014 Giller Prize winner Sean Michaels called “a masterpiece of story and manifesto, a lesson in life.”

This is the album produced by KRAMER – who also plays bass on all songs.

It’s on a few BEST OF 2014 LISTS and there are some decent REVIEWS floating around.

ORDER the CD and LP
through these fine establishments


Light in the Attic Records
in Seattle


Revolver USA
in San Francisco

M’lady’s Records
in Portland


K Records
in Olympia


Dischord Direct
in DC


Rough Trade
in the UK

In Canada, ask your record store to order the album through F.A.B. Distribution.

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West Coast Shows 2014



Seattle, Lake Washington, July 14 Boating with Clyde
Seattle, July 15 at Hollow Earth Radio
Portland, July 16 at the Red and Black Café
Olympia, July 17
Anacortes, Washington, Friday July 18 at the Unknown Music Series

Mecca Normal on FaceBook 

Press Release Empathy for the Evil

Mecca Normal at Hollow Earth Radio, Seattle


 Jean at Hollow Earth Radio, Seattle

David Lester, Calvin Johnson, Tobi Vail, Jean Smith at the Red and Black Café, Portland

Motel 6, Portland

Boating with Clyde on Lake Washington, Seattle

Unknown Music Festival, Anacortes

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Video: Wasn’t Said

From an album to be released in September of 2014 by M’lady’s Records. Recorded in Miami Beach by KRAMER and Rat Bastard at the Laundry Room in November, 2012.

David Lester guitar, Jean Smith vocals and a bit of piano. KRAMER on bass and organ.

Video by Jean Smith.

Mecca Normal Newsletter


Mecca Normal Archive

Lyrics are from Jean Smith’s (yet to be published) novel Obliterating History – a guitar-making mystery, domination and submission in a small town garage.

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Malachi (acoustic)

FREE mp3

Jean Smith vocals, David Lester acoustic guitar, KRAMER on bass and keys. Produced and mixed by KRAMER.

“Malachi” is a stand-alone track from the “Empathy for the Evil” sessions produced and mixed by KRAMER, November, 2012 in Miami Beach with Rat Bastard at the Laundry Room.

The album “Empathy for the Evil” will be released on M’lady’s Records in September, 2014. KRAMER plays bass on all songs with keys and organ throughout.


Poster by David Lester from the Inspired Agitators series about activists and actions that intend to create progressive social change. FREE poster

No Coal 11 by Jean Smith  (16 x 16)

Paintings by Jean Smith from the series “No Coal” protesting the Raven Coal mine on Vancouver Island.

Video by Jean Smith.

Malachi Ritscher (1954-2006) was an anti-war activist who made high quality recordings of musicians — often free jazz and experimental — performing live in Chicago.

After the U.S. invaded Iraq, he became a vocal opponent of the war. Like monks opposing the Vietnam war, his final act of protest was self-immolation.

“If I am required to pay for your barbaric war, I choose not to live in your world. I refuse to finance the mass murder of innocent civilians, who did nothing to threaten our country. I will not participate in your charade — my conscience will not allow me to be a part of your crusade.”

“Malachi” by Jean Smith

And camera goes click as you press record
and you hand the document to the jazz musician
after they perform

And you talk and you listen
and you protest this war

And there is pain and it instigates change
And there is frustration that your voice is not heard
when you protest the war —
with a sign above your head — in words

And your camera goes click as you press record
and the can of gasoline is there on the ground
for this final document – your protest against the war
and some of us understood
you know the history well

And your camera goes click as you press record
and you pour the gasoline
and Malachi you light match
that ends your life
in this final statement
and some of us heard your final words

and Malachi you light match
that ends your life
in this final document – your protest against this war
and some of us understood
and some of us heard

your final word

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KRAMER’s notes for listening to the mixes

“Please listen to the entire LP as ONE WORK OF ART before you dissect individual tunes for “mix issues”. It’s important to me that you hear the flow of it all first. It does seem to me that what you two do is as much symphonic (the songs being more akin to  “movements” in a symphony than “songs”… small parts of a whole) as it is a collection of individual statements/chapters.

Perhaps I can say this better… I’ll try; this LP, to me, seems to be more like LEAVES OF GRASS (meaning an “epic poem”) than a collection of brief haikus (for lack of a better comparison) with no interconnecting motif. Between the lyrics, the music, the instrumentation, and the SEQUENCE of the individual parts, it just seems to me like a novella with 11 (or 12) chapters, as opposed to a collection of disparate “singles”. Of course each song is a separate THOUGHT, but they are all of the same MIND, and that is what I wanted to convey in the final results. More like a great gig, than like someone sitting down in front of their record player with a stack of singles. ONE WORK.”



Drawing of KRAMER by David Lester.

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Video: recording

“Naked and Ticklish” didn’t end up on the album.

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Video: Odele’s Bath – live

Jean Smith and David Lester of Mecca Normal performing “Odele’s Bath” live at Radio-Active Records in Fort Lauderdale. November 9, 2012. Filmed by Jim Hall

“We’d just finished recording the new album that day – including this song – with KRAMER at Rat Bastard’s studio in Miami Beach. The lyrics are an excerpt from my recently-completed novel The Black Dot Museum of Political Art in which a museum curator cures narcissism, a personality disorder widely-regarded as incurable. In this section of the story, the protagonist’s past in examined for clues as to why he is a narcissist. ” – Jean Smith

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Photos: recording in Miami Beach

David Lester at the hotel before heading off to start recording Empathy at the Laundry Room in Miami Beach.

KRAMER considering SMITH’s explanation.

Jean on trombone (no trombone on the album!)

David Lester doing overdubs on the Gibson hollow body, Rat Bastard at the board, KRAMER (texting).

Lunch break in Miami Beach.

Jean in the zone doing overdubs.

Preparing to create feedback on the Gibson SG through the Orange amp

Vocals. Neumann microphone

Jean, KRAMER and his wife Valerie at Mecca Normal’s Radio Active record store show in Fort Lauderdale. It was a good show. A fitting conclusion to our time in Florida.

Mecca Normal show at Radio Active Records in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Jean Smith, KRAMER< David Lester, Rat Bastard, Steve Toth.

Rat and David outside Shorty’s BBQ.

At Shorty’s BBQ where David Lester got the half rack of baby back ribs with chicken and sampled my pulled pork, yet he’s still ominously eyeballing Rat Bastard’s full rack. See Bastard’s left hand? He’s on to Lester’s baby back grab and run scheme.

Jean waiting for pulled pork at Shorty’s Bar-B-Q — last day in Miami, recording is done!

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