I need to vent this week, mainly because of a recent email. A friend wrote asking me to send any pictures I might have taken of Eilen Jewell and her band. She’s my favorite throwback chanteuse, and I’ve had a couple of occasions to photograph her over the years (resisting the urge to shoot in black and white).
The reason for this request is at the source of my crankiness.
After playing a great set in Vermont last weekend, Eilen and the boys drove out to California. While they were playing a gig in San Francisco, some cretin broke into their van and took drummer/manager Jason Beek’s laptop.
With all the talk about not stealing music, you’d think people would know enough not to actually, you know, steal from musicians.
The laptop had all the band’s photos, and there’s no backup, so the call went out to friends to replenish their history. If you’re a Eilen fan and have anything, shoot me an email.
I grew up in the Bay Area, so in addition to ticking me off, this makes me ashamed for my former home.
At least these creeps didn’t get Eilen’s autographed guitar, or Jason’s custom tom tom head. In 1970, Pink Floyd had to cancel their third American tour when all their equipment was stolen in New Orleans.
These days, it happens more frequently than I care to admit.
Matt Costa (“Mr. Pitiful”) lost $25,000 worth of gear during a tour stop in Winnipeg last January, and country rockers the Pullman Strike were shut down earlier this year when some jerk drove away with a trailer containing all of their equipment.
There’s even a web site devoted to ripped-off musicians. Called stolengear.org, it has links to reported thefts from all over the world. The latest victim reported a lap steel guitar and fiddle taken from a parked car in West Philadelpia.
This is outrageous.
It’s bad enough that most of the profits in the music business go to guys in suits who can’t play a note, and that an entire generation of fans thinks that songs are free because they can find them on the Internet.
But stealing a guitar from a musician is like taking a toolbox from a carpenter. In these techno-centric times, a laptop isn’t much different. It’s how a lot of struggling musicians manage their livelihood.
Until some criminal comes along and grabs it.
Oh, there’s some music happening in the next few days:
Thursday: Roxanne and the Voodoo Rockers, Newbury Gazebo – There’s a new drummer, but the focus of this working class band remains the same. They play the blues, everything from Ruth Brown to Stevie Ray Vaughn, with sass and flair. Outdoor shows around Sunapee Harbor are a summer highlight for me. I just hope the sun’s out when Roxanne counts the band down. The Voodoo Rockers will be at indoors next month (Anchorage, July 12).
Friday: Wherehouse, Salt hill Pub – Tonight marks five years in business for one of the local music scene’s best friends. Helping them celebrate is a band with a good ear for covers, and a healthy collection of tasty originals, the latter courtesy of front man Jason Cann. Jason, as regular readers of this column know, has a big following as a solo artist. With a band, he rocks, so it should be a fun night. Happy Birthday!
Saturday: Vestal, A Taste of Claremont – The annual downtown gathering features many surprises this year – a first look at the Common Man restaurant in the food court, an art show in the old Latchis Theatre lobby (what a great idea!), and a special unplugged performance by Claremont’s own Hexerei, performing as Vestal. There’s plenty more, including an indoor Harpoon beer garden at Hullabaloo, oldies music from Flashback, and a DJ spinning records.
Sunday: Phil Lesh & Friends w/ Levon Helm, Meadowbrook – In what can be taken either as a nice gesture or the bellwether of a struggling business, the Gilford shed is offering a free gallon of gas with each ticket purchased. The whole region is holding its collective breath during Motorcycle Week, worried that high fuel costs will keep bikers away. Here’s an ironic fact – this summer’s Meadowbrook calendar is co-sponsored by a propane company.
Tuesday: Orchestra Baobab, Hanover Green – A free show from the Hopkins Center showcases one of the originators of the Afro-pop sound. Ochestra Baobab, hailing from Senegal, feature “shimmering Ghanaian-style guitar riffs, rich African and Caribbean percussion, and tangy vocals,” says one critic.
Wednesday: Juke Joynt, Canoe Club – The Hanover restaurant’s schedule lists this as Dave Clark, but Clark’s own web site reports that this band is playing. Juke Joynt, one of Dave’s 10 or so groups, plays original music inspired by blues masters and classic rockers. That’s pretty lively for a mid-week CC gig.