Thursday, March 11, 2010

Exene Cervenka

Really, Exene Cervenka doesn't need an introduction. "Punk legend" should suffice.

In 1977, she co-founded X with John Doe. Fusing Chuck Berry riffs and Beat poetry about Los Angeles's decay and unrest, X went on to become a seminal band for the oft-overlooked West Coast punk scene. Cervenka co-fronted the group, writing much of their material. While guitarist Billy Zoom may have more to do with fans picking up an axe, Cervenka assuredly influenced several boys and girls to scribble poems, fit it around some chords, pick up a microphone, and let it rip.

In addition, Cervenka intermittently records with Doe and X drummer DJ Bonebrake as a member of country group The Knitters, a side project formed with Dave Alvin and Jonny Ray Bartel in 1982. She also formed Auntie Christ with Rancid's Matt Freeman in the late 1990s and The Original Sinners in the 2000s. She has released a few books of poetry, recorded spoken word, and put together several art exhibits.

Cervenka has also struck out on her own. Last year, she released Somewhere Gone on Bloodshot, a collection of political songs that fuse punk and her country roots. Her SXSW performances in support of that album were highlights for me last spring. As a lead-in to her free West Coast record store tour in April, I can't wait to see her take the stage next week at the Girls Rock Camp Austin SXSW day party.

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