For as long as I can remember, depression has been a part of my life. I didn't think anything of it, this persistent weight on my shoulders and ache in my heart. Winston Churchill famously characterized depression as a black dog, sitting in his lap and never giving him peace. That's how I tended to think of it, as well, though I could never put it into words. Things came to a head when, at 13 years old, I was lying in bed and James Taylor's "You've Got a Friend" came on the radio. I started sobbing uncontrollably, and went into my parents' bedroom to tell them that I had been thinking a lot about hurting myself.
Fifteen years, two therapists, and a few stretches of taking anti-depressants later, I more or less have a handle on the black dog, but the truth is that someone with clinical depression will likely never be able to fully make that dog heel. This is why it's so important to be as open as possible about your emotions, about when you're going through a turbulent time, about when you ever feel like you might be a danger to yourself. I feel comfortable talking about it because my friends and family have gone through similar experiences, and I've been lucky enough to be surrounded by people who would stand with me, and me with them, as a united front against the black dog.
This isn't always easy for people, though, which is why the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention is such a valuable organization. Friday night, the Half Pint Pizza Pub will be holding "We Belong, Tacoma Together," a fundraiser benefitting the AFSP. There's no cover at the door, but donations are strongly encouraged, and silent auctions will be held throughout the night. On top of supporting this amazing cause, Half Pint have sweetened the pot by giving us three amazing acts, in the form of local favorites Mirrorgloss, the percussive folk-punk of Seattle's Ravenna Woods, and Vashon Island rapper Colin Loch.
Mirrorgloss' star has been steadily rising since their inception in 2013, which roughly began after singers Del Brown and Najamoniq Todd teamed up for a Jeff Buckley tribute concert. Soon after, they enlisted Danny Kenny on guitar, forming a barebones outfit consisting of programmed beats, athletic guitar, and Brown and Todd's soulful voices standing front and center. Mirrorgloss still represents something of a unique presence in Tacoma's indie music scene, fronted by two black women, bridging the gap of cliques with their mix of R&B and electro-rock.
I first saw Ravenna Woods many years ago down in Austin for South by Southwest, of all places. This was during a time when the Pacific Northwest's affair with indie folk was hitting its breaking point, so it was refreshing to see a group of bearded, acoustic guitar-wielding musicians take the stage and utterly decimate it with fiery music that was folk in instrument only. Snare drums were wailed on, guitars were strummed nearly to ruin, and first impressions were aggressively challenged. In the years since, Ravenna Woods have fleshed themselves out, incorporating a wider range of sounds, but losing none of that fire I saw burning in the pit of their stomachs.
Colin Loch is new to me, but a listen to his tracks reveals a graceful, emotionally connected hip-hop soul. Loch finds inspiration in observing the little details in life, as well as the messiness of relationships and everyday struggles. His words should resonate with the message of the night.
Mental health is no different from the aches and pains and more serious maladies that affect the rest of your body - it's just harder to see. This is why we need to say its name aloud, and why events like this Friday's are so important.
"We Belong, Tacoma Together," w/ Mirrorgloss, Ravenna Woods, Colin Loch, 7:45 p.m., Friday, Feb. 24, donations suggested, Half Pint Pizza Pub, 2710 6th Ave., Tacoma, 253.272.2531