Archive for Thursday, November 5, 1998


November 5, 1998


The Mag's new music writer has both a classical and rock background.

Editor's note: Chris Bulgren, the new music writer for The Mag, was asked to introduce himself in his first column for our arts and entertainment magazine. His column will appear twice a month and contain information about the Lawrence music scene. If you have any tidbits you'd like to share with him, please call the Journal-World at 832-7146 or e-mail him at

At age 8, I rose early every morning to practice the piano with my father. Since then, I have performed and watched many kinds of music. But one thing has never changed: I love buying albums and going to shows.

Up front, I would like to tell you about my musical tastes so you can gain insight into the way I write about music. Several bands have influenced me in many ways.

I adore classic rock acts like the Rolling Stones and Led Zeppelin. Although my interests have changed somewhat, Metallica still occupies a large space in my heart. I have a different Metallica shirt for every day of the month. KISS's costumes and stage antics changed musical performance forever. Bad Brains formed a bridge to new and unusual music. Currently, bands like NOFX, Screeching Weasel, Propaghandi and The Queers are on my CD player.

Having said that, because of The Beatles' songwriting skills and breadth of style, they are the best band ever and occupy a clear No. 1 on my all-time-best list. Listening to albums is great -- I could listen to the White Album over and over. But for me, the live show is where it's at.

I was lucky enough to stumble onto a band called Joe Worker when I was younger. This group fueled my love for live music -- especially at a club called The Outhouse. It is truly a travesty that this club is not around for kids to experience. In this all-ages club, the musical tapestry of national underground music was woven, and some of these nights represent my fondest memories. Over the years, my favorite groups graced its stage.

Besides seeing Nirvana at The Outhouse (and picking up a really offensive T-shirt that I loved to wear to high school), bands like the Nation of Ulysses and Fugazi with their wild in-your-face anti-industry politics and unique sounds changed the way I think about music. It was also a great place to see regional and local music. Many people prefer local acts to national acts because of accessibility.

Let's face it, it's just more fun to see a band you know and love in an intimate atmosphere. Local music has been my main inspiration and joy since I moved away from my classic rock roots. My local music philosophy can be summarized by three bands: Joe Worker embodied what music should be -- gritty and tough rock played by guys who are in it for the music; Zoom's self-titled release and "Helium Octipede" are wildly original and amazing records that were more than aptly represented by their live shows; and the Sin City Disciples were more fun live than humans should be allowed to have.

The best sportscasters are often athletes. I believe that music writers should be musicians or have a strong grasp of the industry and music theory. Musically, I have played in everything from rock bands to jazz and percussion ensembles to marching percussion to the Lawrence Symphony. I also play classical piano.

As far as writing, I am finishing a master's degree in magazine journalism at Kansas University. I hope to share with you what I know and give a fresh and interesting perspective on today's music.

-- Chris Bulgren is the music writer for The Mag. His e-mail address is

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