Bikini Kill shows! Art show! Graphic novel news!



Mecca Normal is thrilled to be opening three Bikini Kill shows in March – Olympia, Seattle, Victoria. We’re doing a “sea legs” show in Vancouver on Feb. 29th. Jean will have paintings at all shows.


Live in Montreal 1996 released last year

Jean Smith promo image

Jean Smith solo painting show at Land Gallery in Portland May 9 to June 7, featuring the $100 USD (11 x 14″) series. Mecca Normal will perform at the opening May 9.

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900+ SOLD – mostly from Jean Smith’s regular FaceBook page

Sales started going through the roof after The Jealous Curator mini review in 2017.

Interview with Jean about selling her paintings to raise money for the Free Artist Residency for Progressive Social Change.

“All sales above my $1000 USD monthly expenses go towards buying property and opening the facility which will be legally bequeathed to an activist art group yet to be named. Friend me on FaceBook to see new paintings almost daily. Lately I’ve been selling up to 50 paintings a month.”


David Lester is becoming the go-to artist for historical graphic novels. His remarkable, world-class style is being praised by reviewers for its ability to enliven meaningful narratives that often serve as cautionary tales.

1919: A Graphic History of the Winnipeg Strike (Between the Lines, 2019) by The Graphic History Collective and David Lester has been short-listed for the Ryga Award for Social Awareness in Literature. The book has been translated into French and German.

David is currently working on graphic novels that illuminate the lives of radical abolitionist Benjamin Lay and Emma Goldman.

Mecca Normal Press Kit


Mecca Normal. Photo by Sean Raggett

Jean Smith – vocals
David Lester – guitar

In 2019, “I Walk Alone” was featured on Better Things and it was on the New York Times “Riot Grrrl United Feminism and Punk” list of “25 songs that fueled a rock revolution”

13 or so albums on K Records, Kill Rock Stars and Matador

Irritated by the standard four-guys-on-stage scene in the early 1980s, Mecca Normal – Jean Smith and David Lester – formed their voice-and-guitar duo with one thing on their mind. Changing the world. Weirdly, they succeeded.

Jean Smith turned her zine Smarten UP! – A How to Change the World Publication – into a record label to release the first Mecca Normal LP in 1986.

“I Walk Alone” from the first LP (1986, Smarten UP! re-released by K Records)

Frequently cited as an inspiration to the co-founders of Riot Grrrl, Smith regularly spoke from the stage between songs in the 80s and 90s, encouraging women in the audience to form bands of their own, and a few key figures did just that. “Jean Smith was really poetic and had feminist ideas at the core of a lot of her songs and she wasn’t ashamed of it. And when I saw her, I was just like, that’s it. I’m done. I’m sold.” Kathleen Hanna, Bikini Kill (The Fader, 2010)

In 2016, Mecca Normal opened three shows for The Julie Ruin (two Bikini Kill members) at which Kathleen Hanna said from the stage: “Their music is still as relevant as it was 25 years ago when I first saw them. It makes me happy that their music is still relevant because they’re doing it better than ever. And their new songs are so fucking great and hilarious.”

“I Am Here” opening for The Julie Ruin, 2016

Mecca Normal’s most recent album LIVE in Montreal 1996 was released in March of 2019 on Toronto-based Artoffact Records.

Jean and David’s incredible creative partnership continues, but its focus is currently visual art. David is working on a graphic novel about Emma Goldman and Jean is selling her 11 x 14″ $100 USD paintings on FaceBook. Money from sales (above her expenses) is going towards opening the Free Artist Residency for Progressive Social Change in western Canada. 800+ paintings have sold so far.

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Jean Smith’s paintings on the LP insert for LIVE in Montreal 1996

Guitar player David Lester is the author / illustrator of “The Listener” graphic novel (Arbeiter Ring Publishing, 2011) and the illustrator of “1919: A Graphic History of the Winnipeg General Strike” (Between the Lines, 2019)

Illustration by David Lester from “1919. A Graphic History of the Winnipeg General Strike”

“Arguably the greatest rock band without a rhythm section ever, the duo of acid-voiced singer Jean Smith and guitar hero David Lester must be seen to be believed.” – Douglas Wolk

Most recent studio LP produced by KRAMER, “Empathy for the Evil” (2014, M’lady’s Records)

In April 2009, Mecca Normal celebrated its 25th anniversary with 25 shows in 25 days, including university and high school presentations of “How Art & Music Can Change the World” – an event intending to inspire audiences to consider adding political content to their creative self-expression.

As part of the regional D-I-Y scene in the 1980s, Mecca Normal co-founded the Black Wedge – anti-authoritarian poets and minimalist musicians “setting wild hearts free, spreading the damn difficult word of how to combine poetry with activist resistance culture”. At the Black Wedge show in Olympia (1986) Jean and Calvin met and traded LPs – Mecca Normal’s first album for the first beat happening record.



Business Opportunity


It’s not just business. It’s everything we’ve worked on for the past 35 years wrapped up in a location where other artists can come and stay for free while they work on projects that intend to change the world. I’m nearly ready to buy the property and open the Free Artist Residency for Progressive Social Change, but I’m taking a last minute chance and offering 5% of my net profit from my painting income in exchange for a $100K USD investment to get a place that functions as accommodation, an artist residency program and an art gallery as opposed to the lowest price house in the region and all that implies.

$100 USD paintings (11 x 14″) 800+ SOLD


35th Anniversary Micro Tour

Vancouver, July 13
photos by Bob Hanham
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Seattle, July 18


Olympia, July 19

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Anacortes, July 20

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David Lester Interview

North by Northwest (CBC Radio) interviews illustrator David Lester about “1919: A Graphic History of the Winnipeg General Strike”


1919 Winnipeg

Jean Smith Interview

Jean talks about raising funds to open the Free Artist Residency for Progressive Social Change by selling her $100 USD painting series on FaceBook.


No Hat #347 800

“No Hat #347″ (11 x 14”) SOLD

No Hat #348 800

“No Hat #348″ (11 x 14”) SOLD



“I Walk Alone” on Better Things

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Better Things with “I Walk Alone” by Mecca Normal (original studio version, 1986).

Season 3, Episode 2: Holding
March 7, 10:00 p.m. (EST), FX channel

“Because it’s my right to walk alone in any city at any time of day wearing whatever I want to — I walk alone.” – Jean Smith

Buy I Walk Alone on BandCamp

We’ve played “I Walk Alone” at a ton of shows since 1985. I think we gave it a rest for some time in the late 90s, but it’s in our current set list. Here’s a snippet of the LIVE version at Horses Records a few years ago.

“I Walk Alone” is also on the New Album: LIVE in Montreal, 1996 (Artoffact Records, 2019) — part of a three- song ‘medley’ with “Man Thinks Woman” and “Strong White Male”. Pre-Order // Limited Edition