Thursday, May 8, 2008

What makes an essential band essential

Looking back to when I first discovered the 77's, I was a sophomore in college. I wrote about this in one of my early blogs, so I won't belabor the details again. Suffice it to say, I fell in love with the band. Their sound was infectious. Good melody lines, strong hooks, creativity and nuance. Mike Roe and company had my money and commitment. It was at Cornerstone 1992, my second time in the dustbowl/mudslide festival, that I finally got to see them. What a show on main stage too. I still remember the JPUSA guy coming out after their last song in the encore, Do It For Love, and the crowd was still singing the chorus, refusing to go away. The gray bearded guy stood there, laughing uncomfortably, because we wanted more.

Wanting more. This is what an essential band/artist leaves you...wanting more.

I'm not sure if it's the overall sound of a band, their lead vocalist, the style, or their relentless touring that puts a band in that category of "essential" for me. When it happens, though, I feel driven on the inside. I can't explain it either.

I was just talking with my friend about this a few days ago. I have been getting into The Autumns' latest, Fake Noise From A Box Of Toys, over the last few weeks. I have never seen this California band. Maybe someday. I used to be really good at convincing people about a particular artist, and turning them on to it. I was telling my friend about how they've been around since 1997, but I've only discovered them, through another friend, about maybe seven years ago. I have searched high and low for anything by The Autumns. Sadly, with all of this market-driven nonsense and labels that either support a band, or leave them high and dry with no promotion, a lot of good bands are never heard of, even from the diehard fans of "good" music. Another region of the country usually will never get a clue about a particular band because of the conglomerate radio stations in virtually every city in America playing the same homogenous music from said labels.

Needless to say, the people working at my neighborhood record store, never heard of The Autumns, the 77's, the violet burning, Bill Mallonee/Vigilantes Of Love, Lies Damned Lies, etc... and etc...

Maybe I am out there in my tastes. Then again, maybe not. Payola and lucrative contracts have never crossed paths with most of the bands I find essential to my wholeness as a musician and supporter of music.

Everyone has their own distinct tastes in music. I get that not everyone has the same passion as I do about music. I also get that digital music and ringtones are for the masses, watered down as much of it tends to be. What I don't get is why so many good, and aspiring artists/bands get overlooked by a dinosaur music market that just caters to the watered down tastes of the public, who many times don't know something of quality can exist around the corner, and are content with the mass fodder.

I guess the major labels are playing Russian roulette with their feet. Maybe, the independent scene, creating all of the little fires out there on a regional basis, is destined to survive in this whole thing.

I just know that what drives me is still searching for that gem in the rough. It continually pumps through my veins.

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