"Do I contradict myself? Very well, I contradict myself. I am vast. I contain multitudes." -Walt Whitman
Friday, June 04, 2004
dancing about architecture, #1
i've spent the last four thursday nights at a bar that's within spitting distance of the term "dive." it's been several years since i've willingly placed myself in an establishment where the napkins got carried away on six legs. admittedly, these thursday-night ventures were to a tavern with decidedly cleaner environs; but there was no mistaking this bar for a meat market, nor was there a likely chance of any trend-setters dropping in anytime soon, even to go slumming.
so why was i there?
i went to see the band magic elf. magic elf is a trio that play a breed of instrumental progressive fusion that send fans of the dixie dregs, king crimson, and rush into joyful convulsions. guitarist carl roa is equally at home playing beck or bach, and has a tone of such excitement and emotion normally seen in blues musicians. drummer dave miranda is a master of time changes, and his animated performance is simply fun to behold. bassist joe ferlito gives chris squire a run for the money.
over the course of four weeks, the band displayed songwriting skills and musicianship on par with steve morse, joe satriani, steve vai, and the like. joined by special guest joe nardulli on guitar, the foursome decimated jeff beck's freeway jam with enough decibels to rattle the ice in our glasses.
there were, i think, six of us in the audience on any given night.
these guys will never see the billboard top 50.
and isn't that a damned shame?
the issue i have with popular music is that it's so, well, popular. do we, who are not marketing executives, need to see the billboard or rolling stone top 100 lists? what do they mean, or matter, to the listener? by definition, popular music will make its way into our lives by its very nature, whether we want it to or not. radio and tv stations catering to the least common denominator will provide avril lavigne and slipknot ad nauseum. why should i, as a consumer, care what britney's ratings are on the charts, unless i want to be sure that i'm purchasing what everyone else is purchasing so that i can be part of the denominator in "least common denominator"?
what we need is a bottom 50 chart. something that let's us know about music of quality that we might not find out about through mass media. music that displays originality or talent exclusive of marketing interests. music that, in and of its own self, might enrich our lives through the qualities characteristic of those aspects of culture that we call 'art'.
best kept secrets.
welcome to dancing about architecture.
these are my hundreds of desert island discs.
these are the musicians and recordings that act as the antidote to the crumbs on the breakfast table at your hotel.
these are the cds whose charms soothed the savage breast, thereby saving the life of that guy in front of me on the parkway.
these are the tales of woe from i, who have a stunning bass player living in the barn behind his house, whilst michael jackson's fans let him get away with the unspeakable.
this is not vh-1 babylon.
this is for the audioadventurous.
this is your host at the UN buffet saying, 'try this, i think you'll like it'.
no promises. only opportunities.
ones you won't find on the top 50.
i'm not a musician, so i can't comment on the technical expertise of the music. on the fourth thursday, opener joe nardulli commented that he was playing with 'more soul than technique,' which struck me as funny, because his fingers had become a blur during several solos.
i'm not a critic, because i don't have any criteria by which i judge music, other than (1) i like it, and (2) it keeps me interested long enough to decide on item (1).
i won't claim to be as far-reaching as john schaefer, or to have any backstage dirt like allan jones. i'm not a tenth as cultured as james jolly.
but, by god, do i love music.
so scroll back up. click the links. download some tunage. buy some good music.