May 182020

This is a difficult topic for me to write about, because for all my god-given deficiencies for rock ‘n roll stardom, from having a “big-boned” build only suitable for being a member of The Guess Who to the even-more challenging hurdle of an overall lack of talent, I am blessed with a good head of rock hair. At nearly 57, my hair is wavy, thick, and still maintaining enough of its original territorial hairline borders that, even as I run a few weeks past my usual time for a haircut and wild, wiry tufts won’t behave, I don’t run the risk of being called the “bald guy with long hair,” like David Crosby.

Nevertheless, sometimes I panic, walk up to my wife, turn around, and ask her if I’ve got a bald spot. I notice continued traces of thinning at my part line and, for a few seconds, allow myself to silently mourn those lost follicles in front of the bathroom mirror. In hair terms, I’m basically the multimillionaire asshole who’s griping about the hardships of our current pandemic lockdown on the economy, the business owner who’s laying off “nonessential” staff to keep his investors happy. I apologize profusely for being, possibly, the wrong messenger to cover the topic of Hollies drummer Bobby Elliot‘s cutting-edge role as a balding, hat-wearing fashion pioneer. But someone’s got to tell this story.

Jun 182014

What’s the deal with musicians performing barefoot? Are they not aware that a lot of electricity is surging on stage? It’s not like they’re performing on a beach. Aren’t they afraid that a clumsy bandmate might step on their foot? Or that a pointy guitar might impale a toe? What motivates any musician to go barefoot on stage? Beside a drummer, who might make the case that they have a better feel for their kick drum and hi-hat pedals when they play barefoot, does any other musician have much use for their feet beside standing on them?

I’m not the world’s most dedicated follower of barefoot fashions, but I’ve got no beef with being barefoot around the house, on the beach, or in the yard. You may have a beef with my gnarled toenails, so I don’t make a habit of going barefoot in the homes of people I don’t know well. I respect those “No shoes, no shirt, no service!” signs when I go out to dine. Why would I want to stand on an elevated stage and play guitar with my bare feet at eye level with hundreds or thousands of fans?

What’s your take on barefoot musicians? Is it cool? Sexy on anyone beside a young Linda Rondstadt? Disgusting? Do you find it distracting, as you fear for their safety? If you are a musician of any stripe, have you ever performed in bare feet?

Aug 022013

Before the summer slips away and yet another musician commits perhaps the most egregious rock ‘n roll fashion faux pas, it’s time we address shorts.

For everyday summer activities, shorts are fine, even recommended. I’ve seen Europeans snicker at American tourists in their shorts. With all due respect to our European Townspeople, bite me and my July tourism shorts! This is not the time or place to examine this side question, but what is the beef Europeans have with shorts? It’s not a matter of modesty, as would be the case for tourists trying to enter the Vatican in shorts. The cameras on European shampoo commercials, for instance, pan back enough so that you can see soapsuds washing down a woman’s bare breasts. It’s not about a sense of rock ‘n roll cool, because most continental Europeans can’t make rock ‘n roll music to save their lives. (I’m leaving our friends in the UK out of this completely. They wear shorts with high dress socks and ties and jackets, don’t they? That’s another kind of weird, but I bet our rock ‘n roll capable UK brethren don’t snicker at their US visitors wearing a comfortable, utilitarian pair of cargo shorts.) If the hang-ups my friends in Italy, Hungary, and France have with us wearing shorts were centered around a sense of rock ‘n roll cool I would understand completely, because…

Nov 192012

Did any of you read the article about the New Disco in yesterday’s New York Times? As a rock nerdist who will admit to loving dance music, I thought I would check the scene out.

Holy Crap! I thought that Psy’s “Gangnam Style” was a record of excess, but The Crystal Ark put that video to shame. And it’s so much cooler.

I admit that I continue to lament the end of LCD Soundsystem, so have had to make do by playing my “12” Eighties Electro Pop” compilations and old Deee-Lite cds. And I’m aware that RTH is not typically a place to hyperventilate about dance music. But check out the new video by The Crystal Ark. I think you’ll find at least a little something to love.

Note the signs and signifiers of music from our cultural past. How about the “Letting Your Freak Flag Fly” multicultural and pansexual ethos? If Van Halen is worthy of a Critical Upgrade, maybe you, too, can enjoy this bands’ Unfulfilled Fashion Ideas? There are even uniforms! Yeah, yeah, yeah, the old “cello or guitar = stand in for a woman” has now been updated. Even tonyola had probably never seen keyboards like this!

If you dare, check out this earlier video. It features zombies, visual commentary on the NY lifestyle, and some very beautiful animal costumes. Equus, eat your heart out!


Uniform Rock

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Aug 102012

Here’s an old topic I would have thought, when it was first posted, would have stoked the fires of the Hall’s collective fashion sense. But it did not. Perhaps we were distracted by John Lennon’s birthday. Or John Entwistle’s. Or Jackson Browne’s. Or Chickenfrank’s. Today is Distraction-Free Friday. Let’s give it another try, shall we? (And whatever happened to Townsman eh?)

This post initially appeared 10/9/08.Here’s a question that’s probably too encompassing and open to discussion to fit in a poll:

Which uniform/costume of a non-rock group has been most successfully co-opted by a band as their Look?

  • Cowboys (The Band/The Charlatans)
  • 18th Century fops (The Upper Crust)
  • Pirates! (Adam and the Ants)
  • Soldiers/Paramilitary guys (the Clash, circa Combat Rock)
  • Other (please specify)

Looks that don’t count:

  • Angus Young- the Look was not incorporated by the entire band
  • Devo – the Look is entirely made up
  • Village People – various different Looks
Jun 122012

You say you’ve been meaning to check out Gentle Giant? Well, here’s your chance: an entire concert from 1978!

Watching this entire concert is daunting, but I encourage you to click on any point in the video, spend a minute or two, and and see if your highly developed Rock Town Hall sensibilities do not kick in. This performance, by a band dressed in the gamut of Rock’s Unfulfilled Fashion Ideas, is ripe with odd rock details that our Townspeople have made their specialty. For each RTH quirk you spot (eg, fashion/hair oddities, rock stances, specific soloing faces, instrumentation, RTH Glossary-defined behaviors) list it in the Comments section with an indication of the time in the clip—one detail per post—in Last Man Standing fashion!

Right off the bat, for instance, the clip features a guitarist in overalls. Another example: I clicked on the concert at the 14:35 mark to witness a man in an Oakland A’s jersey and hat playing vibes. Then I clicked again, around the 28-minute mark, to hear a guitarist playing a Dr. Q solo! Normal people don’t readily identify Dr. Q solos. We’re not normal.

Make sense? In short, click on this concert video at any point and I bet within 1 minute you’ll see something that delights your RTH sensibilities. Please share your discoveries so that others might see through your eyes. Thank you.


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