Summertime Blues, News, and Views: I'm the DJ, He's the Rapper

I have a tale to tell. Sometimes it gets so hard to hide it well.

Okay, no… but I do have a story.

For those who have never been in a band, had friends in a band, or dated someone in a band, there’s only one thing I can say: audiences vary. More than likely, if you’re a typical person, you go to see bands that you like. I’m not talking about walking into a club or bar with your friends and there just happens to be someone playing. If you head to a venue that is primarily intended for the enjoyment of music, the general idea is that you’re going for the music, whether it’s music you like or something you just want to discover.

All of this logic is null and void if you are under 18.

I recently attended a showcase of electronic bands hosted by a youth center in the suburbs. They certainly had themselves a lovely little center, too — one big stage and one additional smaller stage in an adjacent room, a lounge room with foosball, vendors with food and drink… really, much like grownups going to grownup nightspots. They also had an outside courtyard area. I believe there were 8-10 bands/musicians playing that night.

It’s fair to say that at least half of the kids were outside during every performance. In fact, the majority of the artists played to nearly barren rooms.

It’s not that there was any sort of shortage of people in attendance, either; had everyone decided to use their cover charge money to actually experience the festival being put on for them, even the large room would have been 2/3 full. And it’s certainly not as if the bands were terrible, as many were getting quietly complimented by random stray kids who crossed their paths.

Nay, the bands had something much larger to fight: teenagers adopting apathy in an attempt to look cool.

I’m no innocent. I remember those days, when it was definitely taboo to show interest in anything that some other group might deem as immature or stupid. I particularly remember our high school talent shows where, even if a group of geeky kids had done something pretty well, there would be a silent response. I recall one kid who was dressed in a clown suit and did a five-minute slapstick routine that was actually quite clever, but do you think any high school kid in the universe would admit to liking a clown? Hell no. So I do understand the mindset — I’m not that old. But bands? And never mind bands playing in a venue meant for music and targeted toward their specific audience.

What the kids don’t understand is the effect of their apathy on the musicians. Yes, bands are used to being dissed or ignored at times, particularly those who have played a mismatched bill or opened for a crowd specifically attending for the headliner. But most bands don’t go out of their way to play shows at a youth center. Had any of these musicians been shown proper appreciation and enthusiasm by the crowd who — according to their comments made to the artists post-show — actually really liked the music, perhaps they would be more willing to return and help raise money to keep the center functional. Instead, the kids choose to shoot themselves in the foot, promising that their teenage haven will run out of people who are willing to help keep it alive.

Man, I do not miss high school. Not one bit.

Alice in Musicland

Things aren’t all that exciting in the world of music right now. There are probably much more important things to be reading about, like Israel attacking Lebanon or Iran developing nukes. But I won’t judge you for taking this break to read something frivolous. The problem is that “frivolous” doesn’t even begin to describe what’s newsworthy at the moment.

For example, from the AP:

Avril Lavigne has married a fellow Canadian musician.

Lavigne married Deryck Whibley, guitarist and frontman for Sum 41, on Saturday, at a private estate near Santa Barbara, People magazine reported on its Web site.

The young rockers had a mostly traditional ceremony, the magazine said.

Lavigne wore a Vera Wang gown, carried white roses and was walked down the aisle by her father as Mendelssohn’s “Wedding March” played.

Lavigne, 21, and Whibley, 26, exchanged vows under an awning covered in white flowers.

The pair began dating in early 2004; they bought a house in Los Angeles later that year. They became engaged in Venice in 2005 while Lavigne was on a European tour.

The singer is working on her third album. She recently voiced the possum Heather in the movie “Over the Hedge.”

Awwww. Canucks in love, gettin’ hitched. I almost care.

I do have to say something for Ms. Lavigne: unlike her earlier years when she was insisting she was punk while playing girly-pop, she has at least stopped making an ass out of herself in public. This I do appreciate. I’m also very interested to hear what she’s planning to do for album three. Will she ever actually make punk-flavored music, or will it continue to be nothing more than a fashion trend for her? Yes, I know the answer will always be the latter, but I’m hoping this kid wakes up and does something artistically interesting one of these days.

As for Sum 41… didn’t they have a song once? Next.

From our pals at Reuters:

In life, Johnny Cash was merely a legend. In death, he is proving immortal.

Almost three years after he died at the age of 71 after a decade of poor health, the country outlaw is the most popular artist in the United States, currently at No. 1 on the pop and country charts with an album of new material.

The album, “American V: A Hundred Highways,” recorded in Cash’s final months as he looked forward to reuniting with his late wife, June Carter Cash, sold 88,000 copies in the week ended July 9. It’s his first chart-topper since 1969’s live prison album “Johnny Cash at San Quentin.”

It also marks the fifth — but not the final — installment in the “American Recordings” series, which resurrected the singer’s career in the last dozen years of his life. The comeback was masterminded by rock producer Rick Rubin, who has already topped the album charts this summer with the Red Hot Chili Peppers and the Dixie Chicks.

Cash and Rubin started work on the acoustic set the day they finished 2002’s fourth volume, which featured one of the biggest hits of his career, a Grammy-winning cover of hard rock band Nine Inch Nails’ “Hurt.” With a frail Cash sensing the end was near, he recorded 60 songs over eight months, often singing in an improvised bedroom studio at his home near Nashville.

I grew up having to listen to dirty old country music thanks to my grandparents. Both my mother and father rebelled heavily against their parents’ tastes (and for that I’m eternally grateful) and so my exposure was limited mostly to holidays. It took a lot of research on my part to understand why Cash was so revered and why he stood apart from others until MTV started showing the video for “Delia’s Gone.” A lightbulb went on at that point.

Knowing that Cash spent his last days creating piles of music to continue his legacy for many years is comforting. It’s becoming rarer these days to find musicians who are truly passionate about the music they make instead of just looking for a boom boom dollar. If you knew the end was near, what would you do with your last days? Chances are, that answer is reflective of what matters to you more than anything else. And that speaks volumes for Johnny Cash and his legacy.

And to continue the string of stories which begin with a single sentence, here’s one from E!:

All you need is luck–and a psych evaluation–to avoid jail time.

A schizophrenic man who allegedly tried to sell boxes of stolen tapes of rare Beatles recordings is free as a bird Friday after a British judge decided not to order him locked up on account of his mental illness.

According to the BBC, Judge Jeremy McMullen of London’s Southwark Crown Court ruled that 55-year-old Nigel Oliver will not have to serve what would have likely been a four-year prison term, citing a jury’s finding at an earlier hearing that the defendant was mentally unfit to be held responsible for his actions. Instead, the judge sentenced Oliver to two years of mental health supervision.

“It is necessary for the protection of the public that you take advantage of medication and treatment and counseling that you are getting,” McMullen was quoted as telling Oliver.

In January 2003, Oliver was nabbed in a sting in Amsterdam after he allegedly tried to sell some hundreds of pilfered tapes along with other band memorabilia to undercover police officers for $460,000.

Among the Fab Four swag in his possession were 504 recordings the Beatles made during their historic “Get Back” sessions that was meant to accompany film footage that eventually became the 1970 movie Let It Be, more than 80 hours of sound footage of the legendary band, as well as George Harison’s 1960 passport.

Neil Aspinall, the Beatles’ original road manager who became managing director of the group’s Apple Corps, says the tapes had gone missing sometime between 1969 and 1973 and featured over 200 one-off performances by the Beatles, including covers of Bob Dylan’s “Blowin’ in the Wind” and Rod Stewart’s “Maggie May.”

“There’s lots of very unknown stuff and music on there that they wouldn’t have recorded in a normal session,” Aspinall told the court during the trial.

No one has been charged in the theft and it’s unclear how Oliver came to acquire the stash. When police searched his apartment, there were written directions on how he should sell the merchandise.

Apple hasn’t said whether it intends to release the rediscovered tracks anytime soon, though the company did announce plans to digitally remaster the group’s entire catalog and, for the first time, make it available for download via online stores, but no timetable has been set.

Those fans dying to get back sooner might try flying to Las Vegas and take in Love, the new Cirque du Soleil extravaganza set to Beatles music handpicked by their main producer, George Martin, which premiered two weeks ago at the Mirage Hotel.

Surviving members Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr, along with John Lennon’s widow, Yoko Ono, and Harrison’s wife, Olivia, gave their stamp of approval to the production and were all on hand for opening night.

I don’t know that I really have anything to say about that, but it sure is amusing.

And in other news, Syd Barrett died last week and there’s a movie being made about Joy Division’s Ian Curtis. But all of that is pretty downtrodden while the rest of this news area has been celebratory, so I won’t bring your day down.

Your Band Here

…will be back next time as MySpace is being dumb. Like MySpace. GRRRRR.

My Opinion Matters

Hell, what don’t I have an opinion on. I can’t choose, so here is a sampling of the thoughts that go through my brain when I’m listening to the radio, reading music news, or plugging away on my elliptical trying to keep myself from staring endlessly at the time elapsed:

  • Stone Temple Pilots had maybe three good songs on each album
  • Bjork’s ballads are coma inducing
  • Corey Taylor has a sexy ass voice
  • What did I ever do with my copy of the last God Lives Underwater CD?
  • How did my mom go from liking Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix to Michael Bolton and The Coors to Drowning Pool and Creed
  • The Soilwork/In Flames switcheroo videos are awesome
  • Foo Fighters’ second album was by far and wide their best
  • Chris Cornell is a marginal artist who has been championed far beyond his worth. See also: Scott Weiland
  • I want to yank Axl Rose’s hair
  • Nu-metal music video cliche: the sound gets crunchy, the camera shakes violently
  • I prefer Bon Scott to Brian Johnson
  • So many bands/musicians used to make instrumental tracks of their hits as the B-side of their singles, yet I can’t seem to find any of ’em anywhere
  • T-Rex covers have been played out since Power Station
  • Why in the hell does Chumbawamba have a two-disc hits collection
  • Gwen Stefani looked best during her pink hair period
  • I still don’t get the allure of Velvet Underground
  • A band could never call themselves Caramel unless they really didn’t care how anybody pronounced it

    Yeah, living in my head is an interesting venture to say the least.

    The Rad Ones

    KDP rants about rejection. Or at least, I would have ranted had that been my column. Did I ever mention that I rant a lot?

    Greg Wind numbers his columns. Why do you people number your columns? Never mind that v3 will overhaul all that. Did I just say v3?

    Tom D’Errico praises an album I’ve never heard of before.

    Mikey McCullar reviews stuff for Music sometimes!

    Rob Sutton writes about a move that I saw for free in the theater. And received a call for a job interview which I eventually won and am now enjoying very much, so I have a soft spot for it.

    Ted VanHouten IV and his overly complicated name discuss high-brow comparisons from wrestling to literature.

    And there’s this punk kid named Alex Lucard who is still kickin’ around these parts.



    Someone this past week asked me what new bands/albums I’ve been digging these days. I hate that question if only because the truth is an ugly one: the only really new bands and albums I’ve had time to discover are ones I’m reviewing for IP. It’s kind of depressing when the love of your life becomes work, but I suppose it’s better to be working doing something you love than not. Or something. I’m not getting paid aside from all the music.

    I would like to get out of the slump. Anything new coming out in the next few months that you would like to recommend? Shoot it on over. Of course, I prefer metal/industrial/darkwave types of stuff above everything else, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been impressed by a pop album or two in my day. I mean, Madonna is still a goddess, even if she’s totally kooky. And yes, I’m gleefully ignoring American Life.

    But that’s enough outta me.

    What’s the source? The ass, of course,