This story originally aired on November 9, 2019.
Rachel Ratner is in a band called Wimps. She’s also a software engineer and a brand new mother — and the creator of the Seattle Band Map.
“I was in a band called Partman Parthorse, and that’s where the idea started," Rachel says. "I remember I was talking to one of my friends about the band and how I was able to, through other people I played music with, connect my band to my friends’ bands, and we started to diagram them out, like a six degrees of Kevin Bacon, just to see how we were all connected.”
Eventually, Rachel had mapped out hundreds of connections.
“I showed it to my friend Keith Whiteman, who is an artist, and he thought it would be neat to make it into an actual art show, like an art project. So he took it, my little paper sized map, and he blew it up huge — it was like 10 feet by 10 feet."
In November 2009, they invited people to view, and add to, what they created. "I knew there were a lot of things I was probably missing, so it became a pretty neat interactive art show where just over that weekend like 600 new bands were added.”
With hundreds of people adding their bands to the map with Sharpies, the 10-by-10 sheet of vinyl started getting quite crowded. So in 2011, Rachel took the Seattle Band Map online. At last count, there are more than 6,000 bands on the Seattle band map, with more being added all the time.
Rachel shared a “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon” that she found interesting on the Seattle Band Map: how the Seattle band Tacocat is connected to Green Day, one of Tacocat’s influences.
“One of their members played in a band who was connected to a band called See Me River, who was connected to a band called Dutchess and the Duke, who was connected to a band called The Intelligence," she says. "Through that, there was a connection to The Shins, who are much larger. And through The Shins there was a connection to Modest Mouse. There was a connection to a band called Jawbreaker, and through that there was a connection to Green Day.”