The Culture Maven: Gee, any idea why this ‘expert’ was ‘left behind’

Jul 25, 2006 at 7:56 pm

OK, it was bad enough just reading last week’s issue of this rag, an annual rite dedicated to the local music scene. My editor had asked me for nary a syllable of contribution. This despite the fact that he first recruited me to LEO centuries ago to review music. Yo, dude, remember the admonition of Allen Toussaint, “The people you misuse on the way up, you might meet up on the way down.”

The music beat was mine for some time. Until I, on the cusp of altercockerdom, realized that sounds for twentysomethings should best be considered by somebody with at least a hint of that perspective left in their bones.
Though miffed, I perused the entire issue examining Derbyplace’s status in the musical universe. All the while mentally regaling myself with musical memories from days of yore, which if used last week would have certainly kicked the issue up a notch.

Upon reading Stephen George’s piece on renegade DJ Ron Britain, I immediately passed along a boffo anecdote to our music editor. How Britain and his wife Peach snuck my pal Moop (Ron’s cousin) and yours truly backstage at a Beatles concert in Chicago during the Fab Four’s last tour. I forgot to mention how we sat in a box with Chad Mitchell, he of the then moderately well known, eponymously named folk trio. I didn’t fail to mention that the highlight of the show wasn’t the moptops at all, but The Ronettes.
Be my baby. Be still my beating heart.

What really scorched my shorts was a statement by the normally estimable Jay Ditzer. He and the usually reasonable T.E. Lyons vented their spleen on musical genres that get their goats. Tongue-in-cheek though it may have been, but one of J.D.’s statements cut to the core.
The abominable quote: “Also, if you have a conga player in your band: YOUR BAND SUCKS.”
To someone who has spent more than a few life segments chasing after the Allman Brothers and the Santana Band, these words, even in jest, seemed idiotic at best, worthy of a smackdown at worst. J.D., Jaimo is the High Priest of Rock Percussion. Some things are sacrosanct. You’d best be genuflecting before Jose “Chepito” Areas instead of satirizing the sacred.

OK, maybe if a band has a conga player named Hermie Schwartzfarb, it sucks. Or certainly deserves to suck. But other than that, I’m aghast that my editor — a fellow whose hearing has never been the same since he stood in front of the speakers at an Outlaws gig at O’Malley’s — would allow such tripe. How does such heresy find literary legs?

Jessica Farquhar’s piece on the viability — or lack thereof — of the local music scene was a reasoned examination. I will not hold it against her that she didn’t seek a Culture Maven’s perspective. Even if I did attend my first concert decades before she was a gleam in her parents’ eyes.

So here’s one more take on live tuneage in the ’ville.

It’s always been a crapshoot.
There is no shortage whatsoever of world class musicians. Since white soul ace Tommy (Cosmo) Cosdon started singing “St. James Infirmary,” the city has produced many truly gifted singers and players. Actually before then, but that’s when I came in.

There was a time — and what a time it was — when garage bands could play teen hops and VFWs and on the Belle two or three times a week. Now it’s mostly DJs and iPods.
The truth is this. Louisville’s never been a super concert town. While I’m no longer hyperactively on the scene, it would appear that ’tis just the same as it ever was. The number of people out and about for the purpose of listening to live local music pales compared to the legions seeking the hippest new meat market.
Besides, some things on the concert scene just aren’t being done right.

There’s too much cigarette smoke and not enough smoke pots.
And crank up the sound so those who left their best hearing at a Grand Funk Railroad gig back in the day can enjoy. If you don’t believe me, ask Mr. Editor if the extreme decibelarity at that Outlaws concert doesn’t still resonate.

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