----- Original Message -----
From: "Gary Atkinson" <[log in to unmask]>
> Here in the U.K. it was commented only last week that audience attendance
> to live performances, in particular music, is on a definite up.
> This is hardly surprising, as far as pop and rock is concerned. Though CD
> sales are down in the U.K. by between 10% to 8% compared to twelve months
> ago, depending on whose report one takes notice of, the teenagers to thirty
> year olds appear to be listening to more music than ever. Downloads,
> Streaming, MySpace, Peer-to-Peer, YouTube, MTV, Internet Radio, Ipods,
> Iphone, Ringtones, it's endless. People now walk and jog around with
> hundreds, if not thousands, of tracks neatly concealed in their pockets.
> Imagine the scene of someone walking into his friends living room and the
> host proudly saying "So, what do you think to my music collection.
> Impressive, eh?" as he points to his computer in the corner of the room.
> Born in the mid fifties, I suppose I am part of the vinyl generation. The
> choice of format that would be yours to collect was... vinyl. And as a kid
> or teenager, if you could be bothered, there were spool tapes. Not many
> bothered. The way to find out about the artists that one was hearing and
> get and idea what the faces were behind their music were limited. By the
> late 60s there was a thriving music press. Here, we had the all important
> "Top of The Pops" which has since being woefully been axed by the BBC and in
> the 70s there was the good old "Old Grey Whistle Test" also on the BBC.
> There was that wonderful listening experience of hearing a record for the
> first time, either on the radio or TV, or, perhaps at a friends house, which
> gave an incredible sensory rush coupled with the thought of 'My God, I've
> never heard anything so fantastic, what shall I do, what shall I do?' Before
> anything else in life was attended to, everything, no matter how important,
> had to be put on hold until the record was bought, taken back to the family
> home and smuggled through parents customs "What have you been buying dear?"
> And up, past the gun towers and beyond the razor wire of parental opinion
> and at last to the safety of one's bedroom.
> Undoubtedly the best format was the LP. What, for me, would usually be an
> hours tedious bus ride from town would turn into an experience like being
> gently transported to Heaven as I would sit, staring at the perfectly sized
> 12" x 12" cover, then the back, then the cover, then the back, then the
> cover, then the back, then the cover then the back... Reading everything;
> sleeve notes if any, track list, artists, instrument, engineers producers,
> equipment, cover artist. Everything, even down to who the printer was. Names
> and fact would be mentally stored and the discussed with friends at a later
> The LP, along with it's sleeve, art, photographs and printed words was
> highly visible and tangible. It was bought and it was owned. It physically
> represented the band or artist. You were looking at and holding exactly what
> the artist had held, excitedly, when it came off the press. You owned part
> of what they had produced and there it was for you and everyone else to see.
> On your shelf was part of there project.
> I would like to say that the CD has carried on that tradition. Since their
> inception there have been some incredible attempts to make this format do
> the same as what the LP did. But it's problem is exactly what it set out to
> be...compact, small and indestructible. It is its strength and weakness. As
> I write this I have CD's lying around on my desk. 'Oscar Woods & Black Ace'
> and my favourite band from near by Manchester 'The Fall'. I would never,
> Never, NEVER leave LPs lying around. Never! Because LPs were, like the
> artists, are venerable, could easily be damaged and needed looking after.
> I'm not a teenager anymore. Only partly. And although I have a fourteen year
> old son living with me, I don't pretend to know exactly how the download or
> Mp3 thrills a kid. I think that I would be right in saying it would not
> compare with the experience of hearing a record and then having to rush out
> like a man possessed and buy it, as described above. In addition, the music
> press is in decline and though there are the visuals on on-line mags, blogs
> and YouTube, is it really the same? Certainly, many of the well known and
> respected music critics here feel that they are not.
> Visually, a download is no more than an icon with a title, in a file. So, I
> am not surprised to hear that live music is on the up both on a local pub /
> club level and on the larger, festival scale. There is no shortage of music
> and the way of accessing it seems to increase by the month. But people and
> in particular the younger generations, are no different now to how they have
> always been in as much as they want to see their music heroes,
> understandably now more than for a long time, or at least check them out
> before being awarded such status.
> My son and I were chatting. I think it was about an early encounter with
> "girl trouble". His, not mine. My advice, gleaned from experience, seemed to
> be hitting all of the right buttons and I congratulated myself on being the
> wise father that I was proving myself to be. At the end of the discussion I
> suggested that he might ask the girl in question if she would like to go to
> the cinema or the disco. At this point he fell about laughing "Disco!!" he
> said. "There's no such thing as disco these days". Being aware that my
> apparent wisdom was falling into the icy waters of incredibility like the
> melting ice of the north pole, I said "Well, what do the kids do then?" He
> exclaimed "Gigs!!! They go and watch bands."
This may well be true "On your side of the pond" but is very definitely NOT
true here in North America! Here, the "dance clubs" still rule...usually
playing what is now called "Urban Music," bit is better known as Hip-Hop or
Rap (or the vast collection of applicable sub-genres that come and go...!).
This music is set the the same beat that was once the specialty of James
Brown...but later was called "Soul Music" and then "Disco." Such live
music as still exists (excepting major shows by "name acts...)is, for the
most part, aimed at middle-aged "baby boomers"...and can be anything from
"blues bands" (mostly playing the "rock blues" of the sixties...to
"tribute bands" (which learn note-for-note versions of vintage hits, and
play for the folks who still remember those acts...!)...to, on occasion,
shows by "The Original <whomevers>," which usually feature a couple of
the original group members...grey of hair and wrinkled of mien...with
younger "fill-ins" completing the original musical line-up. In fact,
modern-day nostalgia has inspired any number of groups to re-unite
(or as close as they can come thereto...)...!
The remainder of "live music" is provided by very new and very young
bands, playing for minimal pay (mainly because they WILL, since they
think that once their dubious talents receive public attention, it
will only be a very short time before they are "rock heroes/heroines"
known throughout the world...!
Finally, there are a very few bands who still play pre-rock'n'roll
music..."swing revival" bands and "dixieland" bands. In most cases,
these are groups of rather elderly musicians, still playing the same
music (often in the same beer joint[s]...!) as always...because they
enjoy the stuff (as do their ever-sparser audiences, usually of the
same age group as the players...!)
Of course, here in Ontario these tendencies are also brought about
by strict liquor-licensing laws (those under 19 can't get into
licensed rooms) as well as recent anti-smoking laws that make tobacco
use illegal in about 99% of enclosed venues...!
If I could find paying opportunities to play the blues music I love,
I should be very happy (and wouldn't worry too much about minor
details like rates...!)
Steven C. Barr