On Tue, Jan 4, 2011 at 8:17 AM, Tom Fine <[log in to unmask]>wrote:
> As for small-venue live music, there is none out here in the 'burbs, just
> really amateurish cover bands here and there. Also, the loudness level that
> rock and blues are typically performed precludes me going anywhere near
> these live venues without heavy ear protection. I can't afford to lose any
> hearing by my own doing, time and nature are doing it to me beyond my
> control (...ellipse...) I would argue that the typical trappings of a rock
> performance get ridiculous when you get into your 40's and are outright
> embarassing when you're eligable for Medicare. It's a young man's game, know
> the rules and play by them.
I'm speaking as an active rock musician, now 49 and hardly feeling
"ridiculous" about continuing to ply my modest trade. I know the rules; I've
been at it 30 years:
Here I'm singing a song I wrote when I was 18, and I can't sing it in the
same range as I did then, but the crowd doesn't seem to mind. I still do it
because there is still a demand for my work in my community; people like it,
and they come see me. Admittedly our communities are different; here in
Cincinnati, the kids (and grown ups) come out from the 'burbs to the inner
city, or to Northern Kentucky, to attend shows, and the average admission
for which is about $5. I don't do it because of money, but because I like
it, it's fun and a way for me to expend some of that creative energy that
has always been with me. When people stop asking me to play, I will stop
playing, but so far they're still asking. I refuse to believe what we do,
and what people around me do, doesn't matter simply because it doesn't
figure into the plans of the major music industry. In this sense, rock music
is still very much "alive."
Incidentally, we don't play very loud, because we have ears we're concerned
with also. And there are really groups out there that play interesting,
original, and fresh music -- the Heartless Bastards and The Hard Nips come
to mind -- who are not terribly better off than we are in a business sense.
But they are motivated by many of the same principles, have their following,
and it's enough.
> One other thing, with the collapse of the record business, playing arenas
actually IS a pre-requisite to the kind of success that was the norm in
I deliberately used the words "artistic success." An artist like Buddy Holly
-- who to me is like the Mozart of rock music -- is really very unusual;
sheer genius and inventiveness employed from track to track to track and
onward. In the major music business, "the norm in previous times" was really
more like Three Dog Night or Air Supply; in the first instance, make a hit,
play it until it was totally exhausted and everyone was sick of it, or in
the second have one huge hit, get out of the business and collect residuals
forever. But you also have groups like The Velvet Underground, none
of whose seven original albums cracked the 10,000 unit mark in sales, yet
you cannot imagine or understand the landscape of rock music after 1976
without considering them. And of course as legacy artists their albums
finally did crack that mark, by far.
All of this added up may not prove my point, but saying that "rock is dead"
and "major music business/record label/booking agency rock is dead" is not
necessarily the same thing. And for many of us, the latter statement is not
reason to mourn; we'll be fine without it.
Uncle Dave Lewis