Greetings from the elbow of Cape Cod! Dig deeper than the beaches, shark attacks, Chads, Brads and Beverlys and you will find a DIY music and cultural scene that is rich, resilient, hungry, passionate, survivalist, and delightfully strange. Being the proprietor of one of the only currently functioning house venues on Cape, The Black Lodge, Chatham, I thought it best to reflect on this past year in terms of what it meant (and didn’t mean) to our lil’ scene.
So, didn’t 2019 just seem like the deep breath taken for the new decade?
Not to invalidate 2019 with this question, but it seems to be a popular opinion. Taking a deep breath is often an act of preparation, after all, which is a crucial element of any larger effort. Many exciting starts and ideas materialized this year, from new traditions to new bands and projects. What also interested me was the phenomenon of several traditional events in our Cape Cod calendar not happening for the first time in years. “Save it for 2020” or “2020 is coming, and it will be the best yet…” popular comments that would follow the cancellation. It leaves me wondering if we will earnestly make the greatest effort with these beloved and traditional projects, or is it a kind and dignified way of putting these traditions to rest and moving on to things that are completely new? I suppose time will tell. Either way would be fine by me.
This year I saw so much ground work, so many foundations being laid for the new decade, both in our socio-cultural salty microcosm and in much bigger pictures as well. 2019 proved to be a very daunting year personally, and others have expressed the same opinion. The world has had a daunting year. We have been thrashed, destabilized, humankind’s bad habits are catching up, and it often seems as though we are on the cusp of this dystopian nightmare that could have only read as fiction 20 years ago. However, a gorgeous response to all of this madness really comes through when I take a look at my own lil’ scene. It often seems as though we are bracing for some really wild (hard) times by reinforcing and nurturing the elements of life that will provide levity, comfort and an imperative sense of community. Over the past 20+ years of my life on the Cape I have watched the scene ebb and flow, like the tides (haha, forgive me and my ultra-cheesy analogy). The creative people of Cape Cod have really had to work hard to keep all “alternative” cultural things alive. When the public wants lighthouse paintings and quaint sea-shanty style folk music it is very hard to find places for outsider art and punk rock, however, we have found our way over the years. The brightest shining light I have seen in 2019 is the honing of many different elements and energies that will be the Cape’s alternative culture in the Raging Twenties, as I like to call it. It will undoubtedly morph, as do all cultural movements, but from the fist to the elbow (Provincetown to the Lower Cape) I can already see a beautiful and cohesive, directed momentum forming, and a new “wave” (haha, get it? Like the ocean?) eroding whatever cultural complacency and comfort of the Teens. It looks and sounds pretty unhinged, untouchable by age, class or gender, discordant with crazy good hooks, with a few really bitched-up, hodgepodge throw back elements (20’s, 80’s, early 2000’s), and ALWAYS WITH A PINCH OF SALT. I am absolutely ready. So, here’s to 2019, the deep breath year. We needed it. Wild times are definitely ahead!
Greta Ribb is a performer, musician (Ghost of Schoolboy, Dump Betty, Klunky the Clown) and cultural activist. A lifelong Cape Cod resident, they run a house venue and Free Play Collective.