The idea started, as it often does, with a random search engine query recorded in my web logs. A member of the public, and it doesn’t matter who she was or where she lived, wanted to know something about an alternative rock band that she followed. The band was Bethany Curve and she was trying to find the actual Bethany Curve, not the band specifically but the geographic feature which lent its name to the band.
According to Wikipedia, members of the band "saw a local street sign reading ‘Bethany Curve’ and decided amongst themselves it would make be perfect name for their recently formed band" in 1994. That source and others note that the band came out of Santa Cruz, California so it doesn’t take a genius to drop the information into one of the map websites.
View Larger Map
Sure enough, there is a Bethany Curve in Santa Cruz. Google Street View doesn’t travel down it unfortunately, so we’ll have settle for peering down its length from a larger street. It looks like a completely nondescript suburban drive. Open the page in map view and one can observe that it’s composed of a single block straight section, a break, and then a two block curved section. The larger portion forms the western boundary of a really interesting section of streets aligned in concentric circles that kind-of reminded me of Corona’s Corona in miniature.
Holy Smokes! I just read the first comment on that Corona’s Corona page from reader "Jesse." and my response to him. The link he provided and my mapping of it go directly to the same neighborhood in Santa Cruz containing Bethany Curve! I swear I didn’t know that before I started typing this article. At the time I even mentioned Bethany Curve and I never even made the mental connection. Maybe it’s been lodged in my subconscious since September 2009? I also wonder if Jesse may have been a Bethany Curve fan and perhaps that’s how he discovered the circular geographic feature? Either that or this is one of the more bizarre coincidences of geo-oddities I’ve encountered.
This article took a completely unexpected, um… curve, but let’s see if we can get it back on track.
The bands as geography theme has been explored rather extensively, as I’ve discovered. This hasn’t been done by the geo-community but by the music community. Here are a couple of sites that you can enjoy on your own time for your amusement. Open them in another tab if you like and come back when you’re done.
- Horrible Bands Named after Places: Music from Hell and Elsewhere
- Set Yr Sights: 20 Bands Named After Places
As an aficionado of geo-oddities, I prefer bands that derive their inspiration from the most obscure locations. I’m not endorsing them musically — which is absolutely irrelevant for my purposes — so I’m simply referring to their geographic association. Some are named after cities (Chicago, Boston) or states (Alabama, Kansas) or even huge multinational swaths of land (Asia, Europe, America, Arctic Monkeys). I see no challenge trying to find a map of Alabama as an example, so I’ll put them in the discard pile with no disrespect intended to either the fans or the residents.
How about something a bit more out-of-the-ordinary like Linkin Park? The name hearkens to a geographic feature known originally as Lincoln Park which is now Christine Emerson Reed Park in Santa Monica, California.
View Larger Map
Holy Smokes #2. Again, I didn’t know this until just this moment, but I’ve been there! My wife had a business trip to Santa Monica several years ago and I took a week off from work to join her. My son, who was a toddler at the time, and I had a great few days touring around the Los Angeles area together. I took my baby to the playground at Linkin Park! I just informed him of his extremely tenuous brush with fame and he had absolutely no idea what I was talking about, as he stuck his face back within his Nintendo DS.
Let’s try one more. The band Marcy Playground was named after the grounds of the Marcy Open School in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
View Larger Map
I have absolutely no connection with this location. Thankfully the weird coincidences end here.
If you have any favorite musical groups that are named after geographic locations, please reply in the comments below with a map link. Your challenge is to try to toe the fine line between a band so obscure that nobody has ever heard of it and a band so renowned that the geography becomes irrelevant.