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Changing times close unfinished chapter

Lewis and Clark High School students Matt Levesque, left, and Isamu Jordan interview Sir Mix-A-Lot before his September, 1990 concert in Spokane. (File / The Spokesman-Review)
Lewis and Clark High School students Matt Levesque, left, and Isamu Jordan interview Sir Mix-A-Lot before his September, 1990 concert in Spokane. (File / The Spokesman-Review)

Columnist is out, but not down

I wrote my first story for The Spokesman-Review when I was 15 years old.

It was a Q&A with Sir Mix-a-Lot.

That’s when I learned that I could actually get paid to go to concerts and hang out with celebrities.

So I stuck with the paper.

I wrote for the teen section until I graduated from Lewis and Clark High School, and kept internships at the Review during summer breaks while earning a bachelor’s degree from Washington State University.

Since puberty I had been groomed for a career in journalism and it finally started on the first Monday of 2000.

And with the launch of 7 , the dream became a mission to engage the voices of a demographic that had been largely overlooked and underrepresented in the paper.

It was – and in many ways still is – a crucial time to be covering music, and in Spokane of all places. There were earth shattering shifts in music brought on by the Internet. The world became smaller and it was getting increasingly difficult to cash in.

Ironically, while I was reporting on these trends in music and how they relate to Spokane – the rise of independent musicians, mp3 blogs and MySpace – the same thing was happening in the print journalism industry. Like recorded music, the service we provide is one people are now used to getting for free and the industry is in a panic.

The Spokesman-Review’s newsroom had been making an aggressive effort to change with the times. I was ready to put my pad and pen out of business and rely on telling stories with new tools, video cameras and digital audio recorders.

Meanwhile, the local music scene, too, was evolving exponentially. Spokane has grown strong arms in acoustic, experimental, and hip-hop genres, among others.

And Spokane has become a destination stop for a growing number of touring bands, thanks in large part to the arrival of The Knitting Factory Concert House.

Consider some of the most notable shows to come through town in the last year: Modest Mouse, Bright Eyes, Josh Ritter and Andrew Bird, Wilco and Fleet Foxes, The Faint, Michael Franti, Lucinda Williams – shows that would typically require a road trip to Seattle or Portland.

While nightlife continues to grow, the newspaper is shrinking, and it’s unfortunate that Spokane’s music scene is finally something worth celebrating but Spokane’s only daily newspaper will no longer cover it in depth.

This dream of a job at the paper has become yet another casualty in the print journalism massacre as most of 7 ’s staff, including myself, are among those cut in the latest round of layoffs at the Review.

The local music scene’s story is far from finished, though, and I hope to find a way to continue to help with narration.

I plan to freelance for the Review and possibly pop up in other media outlets, so don’t think you’ve gotten rid of me that easily.

For this, the last installment of my Soundwave column before I become a free agent, I’ll leave you with a quote from a song by one of my favorite Spokane bands, the now-defunct Chinese Sky Candy: “Don’t let them take your dreams to bed.”

Isamu Jordan can be reached at


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