Apr 112014
 
Natalie Merchant interrupts her set at World Cafe Live to take her first selfie.

Natalie Merchant interrupts her set at World Cafe Live to take her first selfie.

At a recent performance at Philadelphia’s World Cafe Live, former Michael Stipe separate tour bus buddy Natalie Merchant stopped performing to personally confiscate phones from members of her audience.

Merchant did lose patience with cellphones, however, as she confiscated multiple phones (even getting help from Dye) between “Texas” and Ophelia’s “Kind & Generous,” an apt ending for Big Day Out. Asking why it could not still be 1998, when people did not feel the need to be on phones and take pictures all the time, she took a stance rarely taken by performers at a show. And the crowd seemed to be fine with it, as they were joyously partaking in the familiarity of an old tune.

http://thekey.xpn.org/2014/04/07/stirring-spunky-and-sublime-natalie-merchant-enchants-the-crowd-at-big-day-out/

That’s right, Natalie Merchant actually confiscated phones – and had venerated WXPN DJ David Dye help her. She doesn’t have better things to do onstage, like sing and perform? I’m cool with artists having their say about people’s inability to “be in the moment,” but leave it at that. It’s 2014. Revive the Latin Casino or Palumbo’s (two long-closed Philadelphia-area “supper clubs” from the pre-rock age) if it’s that hard to perform in the modern age. She annoyed me when she was relevant. She should be grateful that anyone cares to tweet a photo from the show, or whatever nonsense is important to people these days.

To what degree is it acceptable for artists to react negatively to fans snapping photos and video on their smartphones?

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Apr 112014
 

Quick: What are the first rock ‘n roll intros and outros that come to mind for you! It doesn’t matter if they are from live or studio recordings.

The first intro that just came to mind for me (not my favorite) is the alternating 2-singer count-in to The Rascals’ “Good Lovin'”. That is what’s going on at the start of that song, right?

The first outro that just came to mind for me (possibly my favorite) is Ian Hunter’s “I’ve wanted to do this for years!” during the fade of “All the Young Dudes.” WHAT is it he’s wanted to do for years? That always sticks with me.

KISS Alive I & II are loaded with classic intros, that even I would recognize if I had to hear them again.

Sometimes the outro can come via a show’s MC: “Elvis has left the building!”

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Apr 082014
 
Straight stand. Round base. It's cooler. Simple as that.

Straight stand. Round base. It’s cooler. Simple as that.

Straight stand. Round base. It’s cooler. Simple as that. Prove me wrong!

For the purposes of discussion, let’s leave the benefits of boom stands for drummers, keyboardists, and dudes playing Ovation roundback acoustic guitars out of the equation. Anyone can argue for boom stands and stands with the tripod bottom for reasons of comfort. James Brown might have worn beige orthopedic shoes had he been concerned for his onstage comfort.

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Mar 312014
 

Before or after reading this brief post, please click on this link to watch The National perform live on The Tonight Show. Thank you.

The core seven.

The core seven.

There are times when even I have trouble mustering the energy to keep the Halls of Rock open for business. Our online culture and community have changed. Our daily crew of hearty participants has thinned out. I’ve got a half dozen other projects that have been keeping me busy. Sometimes I get sick of complaining, or what seems like complaining as I rail against the injustices in rock critical thinking. Then I see something like The National perform live on The Tonight Show. Then I regain the strength I need to do my part to keep Rock Town Hall chugging along. Here’s what I’m talking about…

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Feb 282014
 

Tonight my band plays its first live show in a few years. We took the last few years off from playing live owing to apathy (our audience’s as well as our own), long before a bandmate’s illness sealed the deal. With our lineup reformulated, a new record to play live, and a refreshed ego (speaking for myself), I’m really looking forward to playing live again. I’m also trying to quell the slight butterflies I get by remembering my gig-day rituals. Let’s see what’s ahead, and I’m curious to learn your gig-day rituals.

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Jan 302014
 
http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xtrooe

For me, The Beatles’ rooftop performance from Let It Be is one of the most fascinating musical performances ever put to film. It’s not the “greatest” performance ever committed to film, or anything like that, but it’s like stumbling across the gods of Mount Olympus playing a pickup game of touch football on an open city lot. Just the still images of them playing live and in the studio on the cover for Let It Be resonate with me as deeply as they did when I first stared at them, as a kid.

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