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Spoke: Images and Stories from the 1980s Washington, DC Punk Scene


An oral and photographic history of the Washington, DC, punk rock scene, including Minor Threat, Bad Brains, Fugazi, and more.

$24.95 $18.71

Available as an e-book for:

What people are saying…

“The pictures, which include some posed portraits but are mostly concert shots, are the chief attraction. They freeze moments of adolescent release, vein-bulging intensity and sweaty communion that fuses performer and audience . . . Vivid and evocative.”
Washington Post

“Bad Brains, Minor Threat, Void, Swiz, Government Issue… Where would hardcore be without the ’80s DC scene? Spoke: Images and Stories from the 1980s Washington, DC Punk Scene features rare images from the photographers that documented the movement. Curated by Scott Crawford—the guy behind the superb Salad Days documentary—Spoke covers all of the usual suspects but also includes lesser-known yet important DC bands like Beefeater and Marginal Man. Its coffee table size is also a bonus, making any living room 100% cooler with it in it.”
No Echo, Included in the Holiday Gift Guide 2017

Spoke . . . explores a dynamic music scene that could not be ignored. Each chapter reveals a different band, their oral history and photos with the same intensity of the documentary.”
Punk Globe Magazine, Included in the 2017 Gift Guide

“As a visual record, the coffee-table book succeeds commendably with page after page of gorgeous, oversized, black-and-white images of the prime movers in D.C. punk circa the Me Decade. So you get the expected – Bad Brains, Minor Threat, Fugazi – but also a hefty dose of the underdogs – Fire Party, Beefeater, Nation of Ulysses. The photos tell the story better than accompanying texts – all kinetic action, the pages are almost humid with sweat and spit.”
Orlando Weekly

“Scott Crawford, the man behind the acclaimed documentary Salad Days, has given us another taste of the best-kept secret of 80s in his new book Spoke: Washington DC’s hardcore punk scene.”
Dazed, from a Q&A with editor Scott Crawford

“This coffee table version of the documentary [Salad Days] follows the D.C. scene’s often politically-charged brand of punk rock, from Bad Brains to Jawbox, and of course the legendary Fugazi. And there’s even the near-forgotten SOA, whose frontman Henry Rollins took his D.C. energy to L.A. where he stepped in as the singer for Black Flag.”
Yellow Scene Magazine, Editor’s Pick

“This book has been published to accompany the recent (and rather excellent) documentary Salad Days, which was directed by this book’s creator, Scott Crawford. The core of the book features over 200 high quality photos from the likes of Jim Saah, Cynthia Connolly and Bert Queiroz. Most of these are monochrome (some with a sepia tone, a few others in full colour), several never published before and all strikingly clear and evoking the era perfectly. These images alone captivate, bringing this most influential and politically progressive Punk scene to life.”
Scanner Zine

“A must-have for any rock historian or pop-culture buff . . . The perfect punk coffee table book.”
Shockwave Magazine

Spoke . . . adroitly uses both photographs and oral histories to capture the importance of what can best be described as a cultural revolution within the nation’s capital.”
Shepherd Express

“Highly recommended . . . A must read for punk fans.”
Chorus.fm/HiFi Noise

“Loaded with photos (lots from photographer Jim Saah), the volume is a joy to thumb through, or read cover-to-cover. The images practically jump off the page and a reader can’t but help be energized just looking at this.”
A Pessimist Is Never Disappointed

As seen at Pitchfork and Disposable Underground

“This volume serves as a visual and narrative companion to Salad Days, a 2014 documentary, also by Crawford, that explores the 1980s Washington, DC, hardcore punk scene. Like the film, the book sheds light on the ways in which the music coming out of the nation’s capital, by bands such as Bad Brains and Fugazi, served as a mode of political and economic critique.”
Publishers Weekly

“A forthright testament to a kaleidoscopic community. This is a rounded collection, with surprises on every page . . . It’s a collection that rocks.”
Shelf Awareness for Readers

“A worthy addition to the growing amount of literature on the American hardcore/punk scene, Spoke will look great on any aging punks’ coffee table as a document to a vital, electric time.”

“Pockmarked with burned-out buildings and boarded-over storefronts, Northwest DC was once home to a vibrant and sometimes violent punk movement beginning in the early 1980s. For geeky 12-year-old Scott Crawford, that changed everything: He chucked comic books for punk rock and self-published a music zine from his mother’s kitchen table in Silver Spring. This month, Crawford releases a book about those days, Spoke—a companion to his 2014 documentary, Salad Days—featuring stories from local players such as Dave Grohl, Henry Rollins, and Ian MacKaye.”
Washingtonian Magazine, selected as the February #1 event pick of the month!

“Features profiles of more than two dozen bands, beginning with the Bad Brains and including Fugazi, Minor Threat, Shudder To Think, Jawbox, Government Issue, and SOA (with a young Henry Rollins).”
Bay Area Reporter

Praise for the film Salad Days:

“Acts not only as a musical primer but as a monument to a moment: when punk was both a way to find kinship with like-minded oddballs and a tool for fighting issues like racism and economic disparity.”
Rolling Stone

“An enlightening documentary.”
New York Times

“A sharp exploration into what made DC punk tick, and how it continues to inspire.”
MTV News


The Washington, DC punk music scene of the 1980s gave birth to influential bands like Bad Brains, Minor Threat, and Fugazi. Here that era is portrayed in its purest form: an oral history by the creators themselves, including nearly two hundred photographs capturing the power and spirit of this politically progressive corner of American underground music. This stunning and intimate collection features rare images from Jim Saah, Cynthia Connolly, Bert Queiroz, and many others who documented this vibrant community. Compiled by Scott Crawford—whose critically acclaimed film Salad Days provided an unprecedented exploration into the 1980s DC punk scene—Spoke delves deeper into one of the most dynamic movements in US music history.


Read an interview with Scott Crawford at Cinepunx.

Listen to an interview with Scott Crawford at Red Velvet Media.

Scott Crawford put together a playlist inspired by Spoke for Largehearted Boy’s Book Notes feature — check it out here.

Book Details

  • Hardcover: 132 pages
  • Published: 2/7/17
  • IBSN: 9781617755002
  • e-IBSN: 9781617755088


SCOTT CRAWFORD is a filmmaker, music journalist, and graphic designer. As a teenager, he founded Metrozine, a fanzine dedicated to the DC hardcore punk scene. In 2001, he launched Harp magazine and served as its editor-in-chief for over seven years. His documentary debut, Salad Days, played around the world and received critical accolades from the New York Times to Rolling Stone. He lives in Washington, DC. Spoke is his latest work.

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