The Postcard Community
Back in the dark days of dialup and baud rates - aka the early 1990s - the
Postcard From Hell mailing list was started as an online meeting place for
fans, friends and followers of Belleville, Illinois alt.country stalwarts
Uncle Tupelo. Taking its name from the band's song "Postcard," the digital
community continued onward after Uncle Tupelo's split in 1994 with keen
interest in the successive careers of Jeff Tweedy (Wilco) and Jay Farrar
Fifteen years on, the list not only survived but has grown miles beyond
people trading live tapes and talking about the band that inspired it.
Like Uncle Tupelo's very essence —not quite punk rock, not quite country,
enough classic rock influence, folk traditions in the mix, and plenty more
bubbling up— the Postcard from Hell community is a true music fan mélange.
Postcard from Hell is not a bunch of music snobs but is a collective that
knows what it likes and why it likes it: not that everyone ever agrees
wholly. There's always passion in every post.
Currently boasting 1500+ members strong, it's a hive of talk centering on
all kinds of music past and present. Of course, Son Volt, Wilco and Uncle
Tupelo still come up plenty but so might Spoon, the Smiths, Seger & Silver
Bullet, Slayer or Bessie Smith.
There's discovery here, too.
Postcard from Hell has been instrumental in helping point toward the future.
Buzz from "Postcarders" —through album and show reviews posted to the list—
has led many others to find great new music and proven concurrent with the
increased power of the internet for bringing awareness to bands on the rise.
Postcard from Hell has been a place to champion many great artists early on.
Some of them might not know it (Neko Case, the Arcade Fire, Midlake) but
there's plenty who do (Two Cow Garage, Centro-matic, Glossary) and will tell
Sometimes even the barrage of music talk subsides and as Paul Westerberg and
the Replacements —another one of Postcard From Hell's totemic artists—
once examined: idleness can make one shiftless. You have to keep moving!
Thusly, in between the rarely capsizing waves of music talk, Postcard from
Hell's conversations veer across the boards heavy with pop culture fun and
arcana, food and drink, sports, tech talk, current events, advice and every
other friggin' topic under the sun.
All in all, Postcard (or PC as it's often referred to by it's denizens) has
proven to be a place where people from all over the planet have taken one
minute common thread and turned it into something well beyond that. It's a lot
more like a backyard beer blast with a loud stereo and stash of good records
than it is a bunch of people sending emails.
It's helped expand global and localized music scenes, been the starting
place for life-long friendships and even a handful of marriages and
occasionally raised quizzical looks and quips of disinterest and distaste
from both Farrar and Tweedy. Not bad for a bunch of monkeys typing!
-Donny Kutzbach 2009
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