One of the great things about post-millennial life is the plethora of entertainment technology available. There are giant television screens pumping out high-definition pictures with teeth-rattling surround sound, and hundreds of channels to choose from.
The best use of such wonderfulness is obvious to my eyes and ears. Alas, my so-called “content providers” aren’t on the same page.
Where’s the music? “I want my MTV” isn’t a slogan to me; it’s a way of life.
So when Comcast yanked my favorite high definition music channel a few months back, I decided it was time to end our relationship.
I’ve fallen for the Dish.
On the Dish Network, MTV isn’t a lifestyle channel anymore. Well, MTV is, but MHD, their new high def offering, plays, simply – music. From Akon to Springsteen, they’ve got it, and that’s just a slice of what’s on Dish’s plate. The Rave Network features commercial-free reprises of Soundstage, the great PBS performance showcase (Alison Krause and Union Station took my breath away the other night).
Over on HDNet, the channel Comcast yanked for A&E (do we really need to see reruns and reality shows in HD?), Earth, Wind and Fire teamed with Chicago; the look and sound was front row seat perfect. It’s not all about boomer music, either. HDNet’s “Sound Off” and “True Music” series showcases up and coming bands.
There’s good stuff in standard definition too, like the International Music channel, which scours the world for the best non-domestic clips. It can be a little freaky at times, but hey, that’s the spirit of discovery.
Plus, if you just want to listen, Dish offers plenty of audio-only channels. To be fair, so does Comcast and Dish competitor DirecTV. But they don’t have the Sirius lineup of music stations, including the exhilarating Sirius Disorder, a bit of chaos right out of 70’s FM radio.
Imagine a Louis Prima big band number followed by Frank Zappa and topped with a Meat Puppets B-side and you get an idea of what Sirius Disorder is about.
Not to go all fanboy on you, but at the moment, Dish is my musical BFFL (ask your teenager, they’ll tell you what it means).
However, if you want to tear yourself away from the TV, here’s where you should go:
Thursday: Steve Forbert, Middle Earth Music Hall – A rare visit to the Shire from an underappreciated folksinger. You know him for “Romeo’s Tune,” which is a Rock Business 101 lesson in how not to name a song. If Forbert had called it “Meet Me in the Middle of the Night” he could have sold a million more. But 30 years later, the infectious hooks still deliver, and he has much more than that in his song catalog.
Friday: Hitchelfit, Electra – While local bands drop like flies (City Divide is no more, Transcent is mutated), Hitchelfit’s star is happily rising. Another area rock venue recently went dark (farewell, Royal Flush), and the last home-grown music friendly radio station, Rock 93.9/101.7, will soon switch to an all-talk format. Sad days all around, but Electra continues to support live music with an edge to it.
Saturday: Apple Pie Festival, Newport – With August feeling more like autumn than summer, an apple pie festival makes complete, if melancholy, sense. With Pete Merrigan as musical master of ceremonies, things should warm up in spite of the unseasonable weather. He’ll be joined by sideman Mickey Seretney. Did you catch Pete’s recent Sophie & Zeke’s set with Florida pal T.C. Carr on harmonica? Magical.
Sunday: Celia Sings Sinatra, Canoe Club – Paul Celia wears a lot of different musical hats, but he’s really building a following with his tribute to Old Blue Eyes. This performance, with support from the superb Bob Merrill Trio, starts at 7. Celia is celebrating the release of his new CD of Sinatra tunes. This special Canoe Club night is a popular diversion, so if you’re planning to go, book your tables early.
Monday: Mike Payton, Firestones – Blues on a Monday – need I say more? As the calendar creeps closer to September – school, cooler days and a new slate of soon-to-be-cancelled network TV shows, life needs a soundtrack; preferably, one with twelve bars and a bit of a growl to it. Payton’s one of the many players putting Quechee on the musical map these days.
Wednesday: Jason Cann & Spring Romer, Elixir – The owner of this fine WRJ bistro spent a year at Canoe Club, where he learned a little about music and food. The small plates of food are exquisite, as are the soups. There’s still enough summer for a bowl of avocado gazpacho topped with a dollop of crab meat. Cann, accompanied by a female vocalist should tantalize. Romer is new to the scene; she had her first “official gig” last weekend at Salt Hill 2. Welcome!