Till My Head Falls Off 10.07.02: Musicians And Rock Stars

For Your Listening Pleasure

Elvis – 30 #1 Hits

News to You

If your Week in Music was as busy as mine, you probably missed one or two essential items in the Music News section on this site. That’s where I come in, throwing that little tid-bit at ya, in case you didn’t hear, and patting myself on the back for doing my part to inform YOU, the anxious reader.

Actually, the one thing I’m most amazed about is the big news that Guns and F’n Roses’ New York concert sold out in FIFTEEN MINUTES. I wonder how many of the same people that sent me anti-Axl feedback following my Video Music Awards column were lining up at their nearest Ticketmaster, praying they’d be among the few fans lucky enough to get their hands on some tickets… Or, for that matter, how many of you will end up dropping a couple of bills to your Friendly Neighborhood Scalpers outside of Madison Square Garden this December 5. So what if the poor cat is all bloated, has emphysema, and is trying to pass off some dude with a bucket on his head as a viable Slash-replacement? He’s STILL a f*ckin’ ROCK STAR. Period. But more on that later…

Let me also use this space to pimp one of my fellow 411 Music columnists, Cody Webster, who can give you all the commentary you need on the latest news in his latestThe Good, Bad, and Sad. Cody: you think, possibly, that Justin and Lance may have a little “go where no man has ever gone before” side-bet goin’ on?

Musicians and Rock Stars

Allow me to recap one of the most satisfying weeks in music I’ve had in a long time for you, because it really doesn’t get much better than this… Actually, it does, but that would entail me getting off my ass, finding the TV remote, and hitting mute — as hot as Miss Aguilera may be, I can only take “Xtina” in small doses, and this Making of the Video is making me sick. Although, there’s something to be said about a celebrity that, whenever you see her on TV, you don’t know whether to masturbate or vomit. Now that you have that imagery in your head… let’s get on with my recap!

Saturday, September 27 – CB’s 313 Gallery (the soft-spoken little sister to CBGB’s angry, punk, older brother) for Brian Dewan, the Trachtenburg Family Slideshow Players, Jed Davis and RV Wolfsegg. Brian Dewan plays the coolest instruments, ever (I believe many of which are home-made), and has collaborated with They Might Be Giants and Blue man Group, need I say more? The Trachtenburg’s consist of a 9-year-old girl (who usually plays drums, but this night was armed with only a microphone), dad (vocals/acoustic guitar) and mom (slideshow projector). These Seattle natives jump from garage sale to garage sale, buying up any slides they can get their hands on. Then they write songs based around the slides, which are projected on a screen behind the band. You just can’t make this stuff up. Jed Davis is one of my favorite NYC singer/songwriters (and front man for Collider, who I’ll mention more later), and I can’t do him justice in one or two sentences. Look for a review of one of their upcoming CDs, or just go to what seem to be monthly shows at the Gallery, and tell him to plays “Bowery Electric”, the touching tribute to Joey Ramone that he wrote (and recently recorded with Tommy, Marky and CJ Ramone, and Daniel Rey). RV Wolfsegg got funky to end the night, and there’s no one like lead singer Domenic Maltempi.

Tuesday, October 1 – You Know You’re Right. I got around to downloading some songs from KaZaA that people have been recommending to me, and finally heard the “new Nirvana song” everyone’s been talking about. Yes, I’m admittedly a huge fan, but I don’t care – this song rocked. I’m actually struggling to find a proper way to explain it, except to say how refreshing it was to hear a “typical, verse-chorus-verse” grunge song yet still feel like you’re hearing something new. The song even has a bit of a groove to it that isn’t generally found on Nirvana songs, which was a nice twist. Of course, now I want more…

Wednesday, October 2 – Meadowlands Arena, Billy Joel and Elton John, Face-to-Face. I could write a column just about this show, and if I get around to it this week, I may do just that for the concerts section of this site, with complete set-lists and all. Let’s just say that by the end of it, I knew what I had just witnessed: Elton John, still one of the best rock/pop musicians in the business; and Billy Joel, a rejuvenated Rock Star trapped in a singer/songwriter’s body. I tried to count the number of times these two had the crowd on their feet, when the truth was they had the crowd in the palms of their hands from the moment they opened, face-to-face, with “Your Song”, “Just the Way You Are” and “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down On Me”; to the hour-long sets they each did separately; to closing the show with encores of “Candle in the Wind” and, of course, “Piano Man”. When I was in a band in high school, and I’d spot my girlfriend in the crowd, singing a lyric that I wrote, I’d be shocked and flattered all at once. I can’t begin to imagine how 12,000 fans singing those last two songs — to the point where Elton and Billy didn’t NEED to — made these two feel. The Musician and the Rock Star… in all their glory. Talk about getting your money’s worth.

Friday, October 4 – Collider at CBGB & OMFUG; y5o at the Elbow Room. Just for those of you who were wondering: CBGB & OMFUG stands for “Country Bluegrass Blues & Other Music for Uplifting Gormandizers.” Gormandizers being, of course, voracious consumers of music, according to this punk landmark’s Web site. And I, my friends, was a voracious gormandizer this past Friday. ::Burp:: Excuse me. Collider’s one of those “best unsigned bands you’ve never heard,” and when you combine smart lyrics like “if you love someone, set them free / and if they don’t come back, then you’re f*cked forever” to hot punk hooks, you have a fine, tasty recipe. After Collider whet my palate, I walked a few blocks down Bleecker to the Elbow Room, for some sweet dessert in the form of the Yellow #5 Orchestra (y5o). I’ve been following this hip hop group, featuring emcees Josh Dick and Unda Kova and a kick-ass live band, since they were playing the Campus Pub at SUNY Binghamton, and JD and UK were just ON this night, spitting out smooth lyrics, having fun, and making sure that everyone that came out to party went home happy.

What a week! On top of everything, I hit up Tower Records yesterday and left with the new Elvis Presley hits collection, Rolling Stones’ Forty Licks and Nas’ excellent rarities CD. Plus, I’ve spent all day today recording a couple of songs, that actually feature my lyrics, with a couple of friends, then sat down to write this up for you.

This was just a little taste, though. I met a very cool Irish singer/songwriter at the Collider show, so look for a review of Mark Geary’s 33 1/3 Grand St. (set for mid-November release) later this month, as well as a First Listen of “The Bowery Electric” once I get my hands on one. Also, let me know if you want a full review of the Elton John/Billy Joel show, and I’ll write it up later this week.

Audience Participation

Now’s where you get up out of your seats, sway back and forth, and start singing “Piano Man” while I ask for your help… Actually, in a bit of an unrelated note, I’m planning on writing a column on soundtracks (movie or TV). To help me out a little, please email me your favorite soundtrack album(s), and why you think so.

OH! I just did a “spell-check” (inspired by the reader who sent me a very nice, long email about the importance of not confusing the words “bollocks” and “bullocks”), and check THIS out: Microsoft Word keeps trying to get me to change “Aguilera” to “uglier.”

See you next week, with more news, some rambling about soundtracks, and — if you’re lucky — more Fun With Spellcheck!

peace. love. moe.

– Matt

Till My Head Falls Off can be found weekly on 411 Music (old columns are archived in the pull-down menu below). Already read them all? Already read everything on the entire 411 site? In that case, Matthew Michaels also writes about various topics for 1-42.