Hi David:

I hear what you're saying, but I've often been disappointed by amateurish "garage" bands. There have 
been some gems over the years, and indeed Rhino, Sundazed and others have made an honest living 
mining the vaults. Having been raised with a lot of classical and jazz music, I expect a decent 
level of musicianship from rock and blues artists. Many fall short, but when that exciting music is 
combined with excellent musicianship, even on "simple" music like was played by Buddy Holly and 
Elvis Presely, it's a beautiful thing. Even back in my youth, I was often disappointed by how poorly 
my favorite rock bands performed in a live setting. But, there were some wonderful surprises. When 
tickets cost a couple dozen dollars max, it was OK to go and check many out and wait for the few 
surprises. At hundreds of dollars, forget it. 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.

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 previous times. And it's expected of any 
band being given any upfront money by what's left of the "major companies" in a "360 deal".

I'm really happy that finally some critics called the hand of these dinosaurs on the mailed-in 
performances and high ticket prices. I saw the Bob Dylan and Willie Nelson minor-league ballpark 
tour a few years ago and they were both mailing it in back then. At least you could understand what 
Willie was singing, and even though it was basically the same show he had been doing for 20 years, 
he still did it well. Dylan was unintelligable and the band behind him was sloppy and inept. And it 
was so loud that it was ear-damaging even with protective foam in. We left soon after he started 
"performing." Hint to aging rockers -- when you need to "fill out" your band with people younger 
than your children in order to produce enough noise to hold attention in a stadium, it's time to 
retire. 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.

-- Tom Fine

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "David Lewis" <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Tuesday, January 04, 2011 7:52 AM
Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] RIP rock n roll

> Tom,
> Thanks for sending. It *is* thought-provoking, though like you I would have
> said around 2000 the well was already dry. In response, though, I would say
> that you can sidestep the arena experience altogether by checking out bands
> that never made it to that level. A fair number of those groups have done so
> by choice and still put on a mighty good show. Playing arena shows is not a
> pre-requisite to artistic success in rock music, and the very idea that this
> is so is one of the many elements that helped to doom the form at the top
> level. However, the band traveling in a car, playing for $100 guarantees and
> a portion of the door remains a sustainable business model. Groups willing
> to put up with such discomfort are doing so because they want to have an
> audience for their work, and sometimes this means better music, though it is
> not neccessarily an attraction for those who feel they've had their needs
> met, somewhere along the way, by the 50-plus-year heritage of rock music.
> One thing he didn't address was that in the 1980s there was a shift between
> supply and demand; in the 1960s, demand was high and supply was such that
> just about anyone claiming to be a pop musician could make records and even
> get signed to at least middle-level recording deals; certainly not all were,
> but the possibility was there. While front office types have always had a
> hand in cultivating to some extent what gets recorded, the grass roots
> artist pool still enjoyed a lot of freedom and were, for the most part, left
> alone to create what they wanted. This became somewhat jaundiced in the
> 1970s, with artists doing double-live LPs no one wanted and utilizing other
> strategies to get out of their record contracts, not to mention throwing
> huge parties in order to celebrate the release of albums that ultimately
> wound up in the cutout bins. These excesses delivered huge losses to the pop
> music industry and even brought down a major player, ABC, in 1978. The
> record companies became far more careful afterward.
> The majors, at least, were not successful in dealing
> with emerging grass roots trends around 1980 and decided instead to
> cultivate their own pop artists, with MTV taking a major role in getting
> this out to the masses, a calculated plan to divest the business of radio
> and to control trends in pop music. Then you had artists at the grass roots
> cultivating their own plans to create something that would appeal to the
> suits at the record companies. That the form got diluted, and stale, was
> inevitable. The re-emergence of the grass roots style of 1980 that came
> along in 1991 or so only helped to temporarily stave off rock's eventual
> bust. Add to that the killing off of the common single -- a format in which
> people could enjoy a hit in a manner convenient and inexpensive to them --
> and you have the golden goose with its entrails hanging out of it. As Carl
> Sandburg once put it, "The lawyers, Bob, they know too much..."
> David "Uncle Dave" Lewis
> Lebanon, OH
> On Tue, Jan 4, 2011 at 6:48 AM, Tom Fine <[log in to unmask]>wrote:
>> even if you don't agree with all of this essay, it's thought-provoking. I
>> would have written an obit for anything new and original called rock music
>> 10 years ago, but Meyers makes a good point that the Geriatric Stadium Tours
>> (some actually sponsored by Viagara) kept filling the coffers and thus kept
>> rock in a living-dead zombie state for an extra decade. Personally, I find
>> 60+ rockers spilling out of their spandex and limping around a stadium with
>> tickets costing over $100 more pathetic than all the poseurs and copy-cats
>> making up the "new" performers in the genre. At least a few of the "new"
>> performers are good musicians, worth listening to on that point alone. Rock
>> is definitely a young man's game, but two generations of young men (and
>> women) have dropped the ball and just fed off the old carcass. My theory --
>> rock got suburbanized and where is there any drama or struggle in a suburban
>> experience, so therefore no cause for new and rebelious musical directions.
>> Those of us who love rock and jazz, and for that matter blues, and lament
>> the death of anything new and original in any of those genres can at least
>> revel in the fact that all three styles lived all or most of their lives in
>> the era of recordings and almost every "for the ages" song was captured on a
>> musically-satisfying recording at some point. I have enough CDs, LPs and
>> downloads to keep me rocking for the rest of my days, even if I'm keeping
>> beat from a wheelchair.
>> -- Tom Fine