Well, it looks like Seattle just might be getting South by Southwest's faltering North by Northwest music conference after all. A music festival and industry conference, North by Northwest originated in Portland and lasted for seven years before main sponsor Willamette Week pulled its backing; since then, the SXSW folks have been lobbying hard to continue their venture here in Seattle. (Organizer Hugh Forrest has recently become a resident of Capitol Hill.) Invitations to a "mixer" have gone out to the local music community, inviting folks to the Showbox to discuss the heated topic "Should North by Northwest move to Seattle in 2002?"

Drawings for passes to the annual SXSW conference in Austin, along with drinks and hors d'oeuvres, are the "freebies" and "stimulants" being offered to entice heavy attendance, and Aveo will provide a sample music "showcase." I've said before that I don't think Seattle needs NXNW, because in the end, SXSW and the clubs are the only ones benefiting from this kind of thing. However, much of the Seattle music community has felt jealousy over the fact that Portland was host to a major festival showcasing Northwest bands when Seattle is the Northwest's "true" music city. Frankly, I'm tired of the argument already, especially since writing about it requires the endless use of sarcastic "quotation" marks.


Speaking of Portland, Everclear is now in the car-designing business. The band has designed three Honda Civics, to be given away in contests during its current Honda-sponsored tour. One car has already been given away, a black-and-red-striped monstrosity featuring autographs and artwork based on the band's latest album. On the subject of Northwest hucksterism, did you all get a load of designer Marc Jacobs' latest ad campaign? Jacobs is probably most remembered around these parts for being the first of the big-time New York designers to hop on Seattle's grunge wagon back in the early '90s, when he created his couture line of plaid slip dresses and thermal-inspired casual wear (without a single price point under the $800 range). Well, Jacobs still has his eye on the Northwest, it seems, because in the August edition of Vogue, none other than Portland resident and former Pavement frontman Stephen Malkmus is hawking the designer's wares. Malkmus is looking very intelligent, mind you, posed in an architecturally fashionable bookstore setting and all. I guess if the latest Gap commercials can feature Blonde Redhead, Seventh Avenue is more than up to speed with its use of Malkmus.


Heard about the Spectra Sonic Music Conference? Hosted by the Vera Project on August 25 and 26, the weekend conference is a tool for young and emerging musicians, promoters, bookers, and sound engineers, and features panels "comprised of experts and performers from the Northwest music scene." Sounds a hell of a lot better than any old NXNW, if you ask me. Two-day event passes are $10; one day is only $6.

Included in the conference are two shows--the first, on Saturday, August 25, features the Lashes, Jen Wood, and Schoolyard Heroes; Sunday, August 25 boasts performances from Scared of Chaka, Shiloh, and Dead Americans. It all happens from noon to 5:00 p.m., and it all takes place at the Local 46, located at 2700 First Avenue. More info can be found at www.theveraproject.org.


This just in at press time: Gibson's, a downtown club that has made a name for itself by booking punk and not-yet-popular bands, has abruptly closed its doors. In other last-minute news, Murder City Devils have just officially announced the cancellation of their European tour. More details next week.