With very little fanfare, the day before Thanksgiving, an email landed in my inbox. It was the 100th issue of The Skyway, an internet mailing list about legendary Minneapolis band, The Replacements, that has been published since 1993.
The 100th issue features a poll of over 1,000 ‘Mats fans about their concert experiences and favorite songs. (Confession: It also had a link to this page buried in the content, so if you’re here because of that, “Hi! Welcome!”)
I can honestly say I was there at the beginning. Sometime in 1993 or late ’92, I was walking through the Student Union at Truman State University (which was just switching from being called Northeast Missouri State).
Standing at a public computer terminal, typing furiously, was Matt Tomich. Tomich was the guy you called if you needed a ride to a rock show in Columbia or Kansas City or St. Louis. Tomich and a batch of his buddies in Dobson Hall called themselves the “Bastards of Young” and did everything they could to foster Kirksville, MO’s little music scene. He took me to my first Guided by Voices show, and I think I drove him to see Superchunk for the first time.
“What’s up, Matt?” I asked.
“I’m creating a listserv for Replacements fans. It’s called the Skyway.”
“What the hell’s a listserv, Matt?” I said. (In 1993, that was a completely appropriate response.)
“It’s a mailing list that a group of people sign up for, and it sends them content over the Internet to their email.”
“What the hell’s an internet, Matt?” (Again, 1993, and totally appropriate.)
From that start, Matt Tomich launched the first computer-age, online venue for Replacements fandom. He connected people across the country, creating a fan network that led to bootleg cassette tape sharing, band creation, and probably a few marriages and a baby or two. Fans sent him content and he consolidated it into regular “issues” that are now also hosted online.
Even backward-ass luddites like myself eventually signed on as the technology became prevalent, then outdated, and now sort of pleasantly nostalgic.
Happy 100th issue to The Skyway!
As a tribute to all the bands who connected via The Skyway, I’m attaching a video from one of Matt’s former bands. (Did I mention he was a sought-after bass player in Chapel Hill during 90s/00s?)