Local Rhythms – Music Biz Blues Have Me Seeing Red

ioda.jpg One day I may run out of music business horror stories, but it won’t be any time soon. In the last few weeks, an industry built on creativity has twice called attention to its’ current growth strategy, one that requires more lawyers than lead guitarists.

In the first instance, a record industry lawsuit reached an impasse when the defendant, accused of file sharing, died during the proceedings. RIAA lawyers announced that the family had 60 days to grieve their loss, at which point the dead man’s children would be deposed in the case.

Now, before you cry foul, realize the record biz has been getting rich from dead musicians like Elvis for years, so going after a barely-cold defendant probably made complete sense to some boardroom bozo. After a period of reflection, however, they called off the dogs, citing “an abundance of sensitivity,” which in industry-speak means “really bad publicity.”

The second involves OLGA, a web site where musicians post the digital equivalent of a “fake book” for guitarists, songs transcribed from memory. The Music Publishers Association shut it down at the end of July. I didn’t realize they hated cover bands so much, but there you go.

In the midst of this concerted effort to make music less available, there are lots of performers who love the exposure file trading affords them. Relentlessly posting free songs on their MySpace and purevolume sites, these creative communists apparently didn’t get the memo about the questionable wisdom of giving it away.

A bunch of them recently formed a consortium of independent musicians and labels. The idea evolved out of the podcast phenomenon. New radio renegades are recording shows and putting them on the Net, but copyright issues make the danger of getting sued ever-present.

The organization, called iodaPromoNet, authorizes tracks from affiliated artists for podcasting and file sharing. I’ve put a link to “One Foot Down,” from Peter Bradley Adams’ new album on my own web site, http://www.localrhythms.com. The songs are teasers for full-length albums, available for online purchase.

It’s all good, despite lawyers lurking at funerals and acting like 1920’s sheet music hawkers. Records are so easy to make that bands almost always have music at their shows and on their web sites.

As Chris Anderson observes in his timely new book, “The Long Tail,” everyone’s a producer in this brave new world. The old order’s scared, while everyone else is excited.

What’s exciting on the local scene this week?

Thursday: Starline Rhythm Boys, Chester Green – Local purveyors of the “Bakersfield Sound,” a mid-60’s movement led by performers like Merle Haggard and carried on by Dwight Yoakam and otheres. Eschewing the gilded sound of Nashville for something purer, but just as beautiful, the Starline Rhythm Boys have built a solid area following. Tonight’s free show is a good chance to see why.

Friday: Kan-Tu Blues Band, Anchorage –
This popular original blues outfit is the middle band for three nights of music in Sunapee – it must be high season. Sleazy Listening plays Thursday, a jazzy drums/bass/keyboard combo with new vocalist (and Norah Jones dead ringer) Andal Sundaramurthy up front. Saturday it’s Wherehouse, led by guitar gunslinger Jason Cann – another fine young area band.

Saturday: Jazz Concert, First Congregational Church – Led by versatile keyboard player Dan Formidoni, a member of what I think of as the Von Trapp Family of Claremont, this is an evening of standards, ballads and classic jazz. It features vocalist Ashley Martin, with bassist Brian Wright providing rhythm. I love the fact that our local youngsters are making and playing music. This is a great opportunity to see the kind of talent that’s right here in our community.

Sunday: White Mountain Boogie n’ Blues Festival, Campton (N.H.) –
The second day of a two day festival featuring some great guitar players and top-notch singers, including Albert Cummings and Chris Fitz on Saturday and Ana Popovic Sunday. The young Popovic is the whole package, playing slide guitar like a demon and singing with a throaty yell that’s utterly captivating. Also on hand is Mighty Sam McClain and the Chicago styled Mission of Blues.

Wednesday: Country 92.5 Big Day Off Concert, Six Flags Agawam – Neal McCoy, Darryl Worley, Julie Roberts, Megan Mullins, and Gary Nichols headline this show, free to paying park customers. Roberts just released a gem of a new album; her set will probably compensate for Worley’s jingo windiness. Six Flags management is offering a nice enticement: one day paid admission entitles you to a pass for the rest of the season. Not bad.

For those who hadn’t heard, the August 6 “Rock The Whale” local music festival was a huge success, drawing 750 or so sun-drenched fans. Plans are underway for next year. Congratulations to Steve Smith at Rock 93.9/101.7 for his labor of love.

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