Normal History Vol. 659: The Art Of David Lester

Every week, we’ll be posting a new illustration by David Lester. The Mecca Normal guitarist is visually documenting people, places and events from his band’s 37-year run, with text by vocalist Jean Smith.

Fun to see my painting (from the “Sunday Morning” series) on the new Scarlet Drops CD (Harriet Records, 2021)! This collection of the Ottawa band’s songs (1984-1992) has just been released by my friend, New York history professor Tim Alborn.

How do I know a history professor in New York you may ask? Tim was in Boston during Mecca Normal’s most active touring years and we almost always stayed with him. He’s a very solid individual who had a very civilized set up, which is what one looks for in a host with free accommodation. To be blunt.

Back in those days, we played Boston (Cambridge) a couple of times a year. Tim was probably a student when we met him in the ’80s. A student who went on to teach history at Harvard! Tim put out a great D-I-Y zine called Incite!, which has been archived online. He came to all our shows, which were usually at the Middle East, enthusiastically booked by the legendary Billy Ruane, who had approximately the exact opposite personality of Tim’s—except for their appreciation of what is now known as indie music.

At some point along the way, Tim asked me to do the art for two Scarlet Drops seven-inch singles on his small label Harriet Records. This might have been discussed in person, but could also have come through the mail. Doing art was a matter of cutting and pasting bits of paper and tape with acetate overlays for color to be shipped back (nervously) by mail.

Last time I saw, Tim he very generously handed over his apartment in the Bronx while I was in New York after a show in Toronto. Scarlet Drops on the other hand, I don’t know at all, but this CD—a historic document—is a slice of the underground scene that so many of us still feel part of, now miraculously connected via the internet.

Drilling” from Dovetail (K, 1992) (download):