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Ode to Capitol Hill’s bygone days

J GRGRY, or Joe Gregory, one of the performers at Capitol Hill Block Party.
J GRGRY, or Joe Gregory, one of the performers at Capitol Hill Block Party.

Capitol Hill's Block party is happening this weekend and Joe Gregory, also known as J GRGRY, will be one of many performers.

But this performance is especially important for Gregory. The Capitol Hill neighborhood made an impact on him when he was a teen in the 1990s.

“There were so many artists and musicians and the culture up there was just so vibrant and engaging. It was really just a place I would go up to as much as I could and just feed off that energy and creativity and get inspired,” he says.

Gregory’s song "Rare Poisons" is about that feeling he used to have when he went to Capitol Hill. But Gregory says Seattle’s growth and change has turned Capitol Hill into a neighborhood that he feels isn’t his anymore. He says it’s getting so expensive, and that’s changed the culture of the area and who lives here.

“Back then there was so much diversity and now it’s pretty homogenous. There are a lot of restaurants that are popping up that are the same $17 cheeseburger, the same $30 steak-frites,” he says.

Gregory can’t afford to live there. He says he and many his musician friends are planning to move to Tacoma.

Gregory just released a new single called eFlower that deals with his alcoholism and addiction issues.

The chorus goes, “You make me so nervous I shake/I want to be near you every second I’m awake.”

“I couldn’t get up without my hands shaking before I got my first drink,” he says.

Gregory says he had to take a year away from music to tackle his alcoholism.

“Music is so intertwined with alcohol. It’s just the culture. At first I thought I didn’t have a drinking problem because I was in a band," he says.

"You drink at practice, you drink at shows, you drink in the bus – you are just drinking all day. But when I uncovered it all, [I realized] I’m depressed and I’m anxious so I’m drinking. So I had to take a step back from music for a while to get stronger internally.”

Gregory says now that he’s been sober for three years he realizes that he can write music better and at a higher level.

“For so long you write with the bottle next to you. You want to be Ernest Hemingway or whatever and there’s a big fear of, 'Can I do this sober? Can I do this without alcohol?'”

Joe Gregory, or J GRGRY, will perform at Capitol Hill Block party Sunday night at 6:45 p.m.