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No Depression magazine - a Blue Collar tribute
By Mick Polich - 02/21/2008 - 09:57 AM EST

Well, I found out this morning that the latest issue of “No Depression” magazine will be the LAST issue, at least in print – it will be continuing on – line, thank goodness.

In the rapidly changing music industry, economics, pulp and gas prices, and the loss of brick-and-mortar buildings that can carry ND, the last print edition will be out very soon (if not by the time I get this blog to the website). A sad day, indeed, but we all press on…

I’m, at heart, a pulp-and-print guy – I like to hold the book or article that I’m reading in my hands – like the feel of paper, the smell of it, and the connection to the hopefully good journalism that will be held within. No Depression magazine (named aptly after a Carter Family song) had me hooked from the first issue I purchased, that had an angelically white cover of Emmy Lou Harris, 1998, I believe. Back then, ND helped me, along with some prayer, meditation, and movement forward, when my life was in transition. In 1994, my wife Mary Beth and I had moved to Columbus, Ohio in a transfer with UPS. I had never lived anywhere other than good ol’ Iowa, and certainly no farther than outside the 50 mile ‘donut’ of property around Des Moines and central Iowa – certainly a life-changer for me, as well as Mary Beth.

Well, in my discoveries around Westerville, our new town, and the Ohio State campus (weird area for a life-long Hawkeye to be…), I found some cool little indie musical instrument shops and record/CD stores. One such store, Sour Records, was located in Westerville (it, too, is being phased out from brick-and-mortar to selling on-line: Steve Louis/ Jon Vincent, thanks for the memories, great tunes, and community – you  will be missed!). Now, again, for the sake of my tall tales, I’ll just say that I picked my first issue of ND at one of these shops (what’s a story without a little ‘elaboration’?) – I  think there were barely music industry terms for the ‘alternative country/Americana’ movement, even though it was in full swing by 1995, the first year of ND’s publication.

Well, the journalism, ads, show reviews (hey, there’s a few shows that someone caught from not only Columbus, but Iowa City, too!!), album and film reviews – it was all good in my book: I lapped up every issue, probably one of the very few pubs that I read from cover to cover. So, since then, I’ve either had subscriptions or purchases at local merchants for ND.

And I’m going to be unabashedly unapologetic and nakedly nostalgic on how ND made me feel about this new form of music, and music in general. Roots rock, country, blues, mixed with overtones from such disperse sources as punk, hard rock, bluegrass, folk, and jazz – all that got thrown together by several bands and individual musicians that I found out about with ND’s help. I grew up with all those music forms – can’t hold one above the other because it was all good in my eyes – but I listened to said musics as a child, and played the same stuff when I started to gig around central Iowa as a young man. It reminds of the usual clichés, yes – good and bad times, and measures of my life that I had hope, regrets, guilt, and happiness.

Yes, there have been other publications before and since, but none with the cheap-beer/ honky tonk/punk country attitude that ND had (for it’s ‘sister’ industry, Blood shot Records comes to mind out of Chicago…). ND had a style and feel all it’s own in it’s pulp incarnation – with it’s ability to unite thru a common goal pf exposing indie roots-rockers, left-of-center country and folk artists, and the anti-Nashville pop machinery stance, ND became an industry stalwart, a beacon to let people know about the OTHER artists that weren’t getting coverage in USA Today, Newsweek, or People.

And what artists ND had brought forth: per the magazine, I discovered a slew of folks.

Whiskeytown, the Sadies, Lucinda Williams, the Anti record label, Mary Gauthier, the Bottle Rockets, Ryan Adams, Patty Griffin, Laura Veirs, Gillian Welch, the Derailers, and the rediscovery of such luminaries as Loretta Lynn, Hank Williams, Connie Smith, and Porter Wagoner. It’s been a bountiful wealth of music, journalism, and review every two months – an amaranth in a stone field. 

Man, I’m missing my subscription already….

Thanks, ND, and thanks Grant, Peter, Kyla, and the rest of the dedicated staff for everything

Soon, the last issue will be hitting our mailboxes, Barnes and Nobles, and whatever free-standing indie music shops are left in the world for one last hoot and holler. Do yourself a favor if you don’t have an issue coming to you by subscription – go out and buy a copy, nope, buy a few more copies, and spread ‘em around – gotta have a party while we can, kats and kittens!!!!

See you folks on-line, ND!!!

Post-script: Well, folks, the May-June issue of No Depression will the LAST one, not the just-released March-April. Still, it would behoove you all to purchase the latest ish, and the last one in May, because that will be the end of the trail, cowpokes!




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