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Pussy Riot

February 8, 2012 1 comment

Love this story from about punk-feminist-performance-artists in Russia. Pretty sure NPR just aired it to see if they could get away with using the word “pussy”, but either way, it warms my heart to see pissed off punk rockers taking to the streets (or Red Square, in this case), turning their guitars all the way up and making a statement. Music will always be the best medium to get your voice heard over over the establishment. They may have the guns but we have the amplifiers.

Categories: Music, Politics Tags: , , ,

Never Apologize

February 7, 2012 1 comment

Sasha Frere-Jones on why MIA shouldn’t have apologized for flicking off America.

If you’re gonna make a statement like that, you better be up to standing by it. Don’t let the media focus on the finger. Make them talk about why you want middle America to sit on it and spin.

Categories: Music, Pop Culture

George Harrison’s Lost Guitar Solo

January 30, 2012 1 comment

This is just awesome. Watch Dhani Harrison and George Martin stumble onto a lost solo during the bridge of Here Comes The Sun.

Via @RollingStone

Categories: Music

Etta James

January 20, 2012 Leave a comment

Word on Twitter is that Etta James has passed away. I actually still remember the first time I became aware of her. Of course, I knew the song At Last, but didn’t know her name or her history.

Then one night I was in a cabin in Maine with a girl who loved Etta James. She loved her spirit and her soul, and they way it came out in her music. We turned on the TV and Etta was Letterman and blew me away.

I can’t find video of that on YouTube, so I wanted to post another personal favorite. Thanks to the success of At Last, people tended to think of her as a balladeer. But she had incredible range, and was also a great blues shouter. This song rocks as hard as the best 60’s soul numbers.

Categories: Music Tags: ,

Bridge To Nowhere

January 19, 2012 Leave a comment

In the swamps in southern Ocean County, on the mainland side of the Barnegat Bay, there’s a dirt road that takes off eastward from an otherwise empty stretch. It’s a bit after the American Legion, and about a mile before the porn shop. After rattling your way down this unmantained isthmus, suddenly there was a mound in front of you. I only ever tried this at night, but it sure seemed to come out of nowhere. There are steps that lead up to a wooden platform. It’s a foot bridge about 6 feet wide, over one of the tributaries that criss cross the swamp.

The strange thing about this bridge is that there’s really nothing on the other side. If you walk across, there’s another short set of stairs that… leads you right into the marsh. There are no paths on the east side of this bridge. Just waist high swamp grass. Other than a couple of radio towers and the LBI bridge in the distance, it’s about as remote as you can get in the most densely populated state in the union.

This was one of my favorite out-of-the-way spots in New Jersey. I’ve seen sunrises from there. I’ve drank whiskey. I’ve shot off model rockets, almost been thrown into the river, confronted wasted rednecks, and wandered into the dried out swamps during a drought. To make our mark, sometimes we would bring chalk or magic markers and scrawl phrases that meant something at the time. The locals who probably went out there to fish the next day must have had no clue what these writings meant. We didn’t mean them to be graffiti. We just wanted to leave a little something permanent.

Unfortunately, there’s nothing permanent out there. The Bridge To Nowhere burnt down several times. The last I heard they gave up rebuilding it.

You should still be able to make it out there. The remains of the bridge are nearly as beautiful as it was in it’s prime. It used to symbolize the temptation of wandering into the unknown. Now you can go and think about what it’s like to see a while other world that’s just out of reach. Either way it’s a good place for some writers to go drink by moonlight.

Telling you all this is really an excuse to play the song Bridge To Nowhere by the Stone Lonesome, featuring vocals by Zach Jones, one of my favorite local musicians. I can only assume this is the spot he’s singing about. How many places like this can there be?

Categories: Adventure, Music

The Cost Of Rock And Roll

January 13, 2012 Leave a comment

I don’t go to shows as much as I used to. Not that long ago I would go see local bands several times a week. I became friendly with many of the musicians and the other regulars at these clubs. There was a communal aspect.

Nowadays, not so much. I tell myself that I’m not getting old, I just can’t afford to go every night, pay an average $8 cover and then buy drinks on top of that. And I don’t think I’m alone, because when I do go, I don’t see the same crowd. Maybe I’m imagining things. Maybe I’m remembering things being greater than they were. But I can’t imagine that the Great Recession hasn’t affected music fans. People have less disposable income, and knowing that it costs almost $10 just to walk in the door places is going to keep at least some people away.

At least a few non-traditional venues have started having original music in the area. These are bars that are not known for hosting music, but I’ve seen more people attending these shows than I have at most nights at the Saint or the Brighton recently.

Part of the reason has to be that these venues aren’t charging covers. You come in with, say, $20, and that’s what you can spend on booze for the night. Chances are once you start drinking, you’re going to spend the whole $20. Whereas, at the Saint or the Wonderbar, you go with $20, you’ll end up spending the amount, but only half of that will be on beer. So you spend most of the night nursing your drinks and wishing you were able to get another drink. It’s a worse experience.

So either way, the bar is getting that $20 from you. But by being more inviting about the cover, these new venues are probably going to be appealing to a lot more people. More people, each spending the same amount of cash, leaves a larger pot at the end of the night.

My band recently played EJ’s, a dive bar at the end of the Seaside boardwalk. Normally this part of the boardwalk is more or less abandoned during the winter, but somehow we were able to draw people out on a Friday night to come dance and drink. Everyone there had a much better time than if they had had to lighten their wallets just to get in. And that means they’re more likely to go back. And at the end of the night we were paid as much as, if not more than, we would have been playing to a half empty bar with an $8 cover.

The goal should be to get as many people as possible to come out. Build a community around the music. This benefits the club owners as much as the musicians.

Ultimately, we can’t afford to turn anyone away. Money shouldn’t be a barrier to going out and experiencing a show. We all want to get paid. The club owners want to make money. The bands want to go home with something in their pocket. Some of these guys have aspirations of doing this for a living. It’s tough to remove a source of income. You don’t have to squeeze every dollar out of your audience. Open the doors and let people in. It’s a win for the fans, the bars, and the musicians.

Categories: Music

Very Funny, NPR

December 6, 2011 Leave a comment

Someone somewhere must be playing a trick on me. I tried to listen to a story about atheist chaplains in the US Military, a topic I find interesting as this is one of the great fuzzy 1st Amendment lines left untouched. Religion is engrained in the culture of the military, it seems. Especially at the higher levels. And it seems no one has the political will to truly change this and make the service more inclusive.

However, when I first clicked on it, I discovered the link instead took me to 8 minutes of Greil Marcus talking about The Doors. This seems to me the type of lecture they might have in hell. A wonderful art critic extolling the virtues of one of “Classic Rock”‘s worst bands.

While it may just be my personal opinion, The Doors have always represented to me most of the worst aspects of 60’s rock. They were pretentious while being utterly vapid. They were in love with their own playing at the expense of the actual song. In fact, it seems like they rarely gave any sort of consideration to the people who had to actually listen to these songs. The music was self indulgent and the lyrics were at best trite, and at worst pseudo-profound garbage. About the only good things this band contributed to popular culture was Ray Manzarek (clearly the worst of the bunch) somehow discovering X, and Jim Morrison giving Iggy Pop the idea of whipping his dick out on stage.

Luckily, the glitch has been corrected. But in case you were wondering if someone as eloquent and thoughtful as Greil Marcus could possibly change my mind about The Doors, it turns out the answer is “No”.

Categories: Music