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?

Jun 062014
Combat Rock!

Combat Rock!

This week’s Last Man Standing seeks artists in military garb. A link to the photo or video demonstrating the artist dressed for battle will be helpful but is not necessary. As always, please limit your entry to 1 response per post. The goal is to compile as many artists in military garb as possible, collectively, then to stand atop the heap of useless information with the last answer any of the brilliant minds in the Halls of Rock could fathom.

This LMS was inspired by the anniversary of the release of a certain landmark rock album and a chance viewing of my favorite old rap video. I’ll leave it to you to cite the artists who inspired me, although I suspect the talent pool for this topic is deep! Following reasonable completion of this thread, stay tuned for at least one related foll0w-up thread.

Let the games begin!

Nov 182013

A couple of things regarding rock photography caught my eye last week. First somebody sent me a link to this little story on Dan Corrigan, the house photographer at my favorite rock club, First Avenue in Minneapolis. He’s also known as the photographer for the cover of the Replacements album, Let it Be.

In the video, Dan talks about his strategies to get good photos at shows and the trials of the digital age. I’m not immune to the temptations of taking a photo at a show now and then, but some people really go over overboard.

The other thing that somebody sent me was this treasury of bad indie rock band pix.

I’ve had a (very) small amount of photos published over the years, so I know how hard it is to get a good shot. My rock photos are almost uniformly bad.

My questions to you: Have you ever snapped a good rock photo? And if so, can you put a link in the comments?

Nov 052013

I had an unfortunate experience on Monday morning. I’m sure it was exacerbated by driving to work in heavy traffic, and thanks to Daylight Savings, right into the sun. I was tired, I was cranky. And I made the mistake of listening to The Lumineers. A colleague lent it to me, and stupid me, trying to be open-minded about new music these days, decided to give it a listen.

I made it through about two thirds of the album before switching it off. I had to put on the Mamas and the Papas to get the bad sound out of my ears (tangent: “Shooting Star” is such a goofy and weird track that it always puts me in a good mood).

But back to The Lumineers. This band is the epitome of many things I am hating about a current trend in popular music. What is that plinky-plonky sound? Oh, it’s the arrangement of multiple acoustic instruments. What is that echo? Perhaps it’s to make us think that that wash tub bass is being played and recorded in a barn. What is that horrible whining sound? Yessirree folks, it’s the nasally, earnest voice of the lead singer.

And then I looked at a video:

You don’t want to hear their cover of “This Must Be the Place (Naive Melody).”

Monday evening, Mr. Royale listened to my rant and came up with an interesting analogy: The Lumineers are like Haircut One Hundred. Instead of artfully-draped sweaters, we have suspenders. No more classic haircuts; we’ve moved on to facial scruff. Created for style; substance is of limited value. The recipe has been changed up, but the intent is the same.

But my question to you is How did we get here? Why is faux folk played on acoustic instruments by bands most likely from an urban hub so popular now? Is this Retro Retromania? Don’t tell me that Fleet Foxes started it. Say what you like about their beards, but those bad boys can sing. Was the start of this evil trend Arcade Fire, the band that tried to temper their bombast by telling everyone that at least the recording was made in an old church? I really liked that first album of theirs, but I’m guessing that if I listened to it now, I might feel differently. Help me, and please explain what happened.

And you can not tell me the answer is menopause.

Oct 222013


We’ve discussed the importance of a band’s LOOK. There are the Winners. And there are the Losers:


Granted, we can’t all be fetching, but we can choose our art director carefully. Let those photos serve as cautionary images for The Bearded Set, The Wee Precious Ones, Those With Suspenders, or Anyone Playing a Mandolin.

While it’s easy to scoff at many of these photos (and laugh at the captions), is it easier to determine what makes a GOOD band photo?

Apr 052013


If you’ve been following Rock Town Hall for even a couple of weeks you probably have an inkling of my severe distaste for the mainstream culture of the 1980s. If you didn’t live through that era and find it “charming” or whatever, I feel slightly worse for the future of humankind. That’s OK, I’m used to feeling that way. What troubles me is how we got to this point considering how great my generation was and how much greater our parents’ and grandparents’ generations were. If we were so great, shouldn’t the youth of today be better?

If you lived through that era and look back on it fondly, I am not-so-secretly jealous of you. I had a lot of youthful energy and love to give to the world at that time, and for all my exquisite taste I would have been happy to spread my energy and love on a mutually appreciative world, as you may have been able to do back then. Bravo, ’80s Mainstream Culture Beneficiaries!

Many of my associations with the ’80s, then and now, were filtered through my not-always exclusive pursuits of rock ‘n roll and girls, as I was young enough to call them through most of the decade. I desired a mastery of both, yet constantly found myself falling short of the mark. Most of the roadblocks encountered were part of my genetic makeup and/or self-erected. I think of all the poor decisions I made and inflexible stances I took owing to my born and bred stubbornness. I did have good taste, however, and I have no regrets about that. The mainstream culture of the 1980s threw its share of roadblocks at me. Perhaps no cultural artifact was a more daunting roadblock than a copy of Duran Duran‘s Rio placed at the front of a stack of albums in a girl’s dorm room or apartment.

Feb 112012

Fleet Foxes with J. Tillman (the bearded one).

As you certainly heard a few weeks ago, Fleet Foxes drummer J. Tillman has announced he is leaving the band after their upcoming tour of Japan to concentrate on a solo career. Tillman, like most other members of Fleet Foxes, wears a beard.

Although the band has not announced its plans for replacing Tillman, it is believed they will pick another bearded drummer. Beards play a major role in the music of Fleet Foxes, adding to the depth of the band members’ tightly woven Rug Harmonies. The challenge will be finding an appropriately bearded drummer, one whose beard compliments the beards of the other band members. This promises to be no easy task. It’s no surprise that the continuing members of Fleet Foxes have called on Rock Town Hall to consult them in the selection process.

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