He’s essentially an expert on the Pacific Northwest’s music scenes.
Ron Averill, an Everett musician and music historian, is the lead researcher for the Everett Public Library’s music collection, which includes a database of original bands from Washington, including the Ventures, the Sonics, the Heats, Mondo Vita and Huge Spacebird. He also is the voice behind “Mr. Neutron’s Record Closet,” the library’s podcast about the region’s music.
Averill, 55, will talk about the past, present and future of Washington’s rock history — and where Everett fits into the picture — at “Northwest Rocks,” Sept. 15 in the library’s auditorium. Everett-based pop band Oliver Elf Army also will perform after the lecture.
Here, Averill shares what he’s learned through his research, and his thoughts on the future of Everett’s music scene.
Tell me about your “Northwest Rocks” lecture.
The Pacific Northwest is home to many great bands, but it isn’t always easy to know about them. I want to pique people’s interest in local music, to encourage them to check out Everett Public Library’s local music collection, to know about the vibrant music scene that currently exists in Everett.
What should we expect from your presentation?
It’s hard to talk about music meaningfully — sort of like smelling a painting to evaluate it. So we’ll listen to excerpts from each of the bands I talk about. There will be a handout with band names so people can make notes if they like some music in particular. And, hopefully, this will lead to excitement, enjoyment and an expansion of our local music collection.
What is surprising about Everett’s music history?
Everett’s music history is, to some extent, nonexistent. I’m occasionally surprised when I find out that a particular musician or band has ties to Everett, but there aren’t too many individual success stories or a particular Everett music scene to point to.
Tell me about Washington’s music scene vs. Everett’s.
Seattle, Tacoma, Olympia, Bellingham, Spokane and even Anacortes have been important to Washington music. Not so much for Everett. Part of the problem with the “Everett music scene” is that many Everett bands have identified as coming from Seattle, and a lack of venues in Everett has encourage those bands to play mainly or entirely in Seattle. There have been occasional breakout bands from Everett, such as The Moondoggies, but in general I think we’re just too close to Seattle to be differentiated from their scene.
Do you see that changing for Everett?
I do. There are now more venues open that encourage bands to play original music, there are people promoting events and making things happen (such as the Everett Music Initiative and its flagship Fisherman’s Village Music Festival), and there is the potential for things to take off.
How did you become a so-called “music historian”?
Self-guided research. I studied music composition at Western Washington University and the University of Washington, but not music history. I spend a lot of time researching the rock music scene in Washington. “Music historian” is a bit pretentious for what I am, but it’s a label that gives some idea of what I’m about.
Are you a music nerd or a music snob?
I’m definitely a snob, though I fight against it. Music is so important to me, and I don’t want people mocking my likes, so I try not to mock others’ likes, even if they are very, very wrong.
How did you go about researching Washington’s music history?
The internet. I look for local gigs to find out band names, research the bands on the internet, listen to their music and keep a record of what I learn.
What all do you do for the library?
I’m the senior library technician. Music is a small part of my library job. Mainly, I perform customer service and clerical-oriented tasks. I also help build and promote the library’s local music collection, write for the library’s blog and create podcasts.
Tell me about your podcast.
“Mr. Neutron’s Record Closet” focuses on the local music collection at Everett Public Library. It includes musical excerpts, brilliant information and high-brow humor. And sometimes ferrets.
Ferrets are just intrinsically funny.
Name some of your favorite bands from Everett.
Everett doesn’t have a real history of original bands. In fact, I’ve only discovered most of the Everett bands I know as a result of research, not just from knowing about them because they gig around. Ryan LaPlante is an amazing blues guitarist and singer from Everett. Oliver Elf Army produces great original music. Sleepover Club is a newer band that I think is very good. Jason Webley is also an astounding talent.
I hear you’re a musician yourself. What do you play?
I mainly play guitar, but mandolin, trumpet and keyboards also lurk in the background. And a variety of other instruments that I seldom play.
Are you in a band?
What are your favorite Snohomish County music venues?
In the distant past, there was a bar in Snohomish called The Speakeasy that was a blast. The Anchor, which I haven’t played at for years, is a great venue. Tony V’s Garage is fun. The Sno-Town Brewery in Snohomish is building a good reputation as a music venue. Oh, and Bubba’s in Sultan.
Evan Thompson: 360-544-2999, email@example.com. Twitter: @evanthompson_1.
If you go
What: “Northwest Rocks: Music Concert and Lecture”
Where: Everett Public Library, 2702 Hoyt Ave., Everett
When: 2 p.m. Sept. 15
More: 425-257-8005 or www.epls.org