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 (Son Volt.)

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 you so.

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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