Local Rhythms – This Getting Old Is Getting … Old

A reader and I are currently engaged in a rather lively exchange.  He wants me to write about his hip-hop trio, and I may eventually do that.  I tried to explain my reasons for waiting in an email.  When you have a gig scheduled or a completed record, give me a call, I said.  But I don’t review press kits or MySpace pages.

This apparently didn’t sit well with the young MC, who excoriated me in his reply.  If you won’t do it, I’ll find someone who will, he stated tartly.

Unbowed, I wrote back.

I try to keep an open mind, but most hip-hop leaves me cold, I told him.  Talking in rhyme is not, to my mind, a rigorous musical discipline.  This doesn’t mean I hate rap, but mix in some chops, please.  Even the Beastie Boys had their own drummer.

“You didn’t listen with the right type of ears,” he said.  “Here you are clinging on to Jazz and Metal and weird Indie Icons in the midst of the Hip Hop Revolution.  Watching your stars burn out and fade away with the same heartbroken look on your face like Frank Sinatra seeing Elvis’s debut on national television.”

Wow – I’m talking with the Michael J. Fox character from “Back to the Future” – impressive.

However, the hip-hop “revolution” began when Grandmaster Flash released “The Message” and ended with Tupac and Biggie trading bullets.  I don’t have a problem with that.  Just don’t tell me you’ve invented something new when you’re simply refining a proven formula.

But what really cut deep was the assertion that watching my past fade makes me teary-eyed.

As if.

Even a casual reader of this column knows that I’d like nothing more than to wipe musical dinosaurs from the earth.  When Mick Jagger breaks his hip and finally retires from live performing, I’m throwing a party.

For me, paradise is stuffing my iPod full of new tracks, hitting shuffle, and waiting to be blown away.

Unfortunately, each new day brings more 14-year olds in Led Zeppelin t-shirts.

What about your generation’s music, I ask them.  Well, Fall Out Boy’s OK, they tell me, but Jimmy Page is AWESOME.

When they can’t afford a 500-dollar ticket to see them play, they’re the ones with heartbroken looks on their faces.

Not me – I’ve moved on.

If there’s a weird Indie icon in this list of picks, I apologize:

Thursday: Red Molly, Upper Valley Events Center (Norwich) – I’m a fool for Americana girl groups, and this is one of my favorites.  Their latest album, “Love and Other Tragedies,” features several of Boston’s best itinerant players, including Jake Amerding and Duke Levine; Ben Wisch’s production is perfect for headphone listening.  But you need to see Red Molly live to truly get them.  After all, they met around a Falcon Ridge campfire.

Friday: Billy Rosen Quartet, The Prouty – Now in its 27th year, this event raises money for cancer research and patient services.  Hundreds of walkers and bike riders converge upon Hanover on Saturday; tonight, they’ll meet for a pre-Prouty pasta dinner at Richmond Middle School, catered by Lui Lui, with entertainment from one of the finest improvisational jazz combos in the area.  Participants planning to cover as much as 100 miles will welcome the carbs, I’m sure.

Saturday: James Montgomery Band, Freight House – This Detroit-born, Boston-based harmonica player always puts on an amazing show.  He’s an inspiration to old guys like me – he’s in his mid-50’s, but doesn’t look a day over 30, and plays like an 18-year old.  Blues, rock, soul, all delivered with infectious kinetic energy. Chicago’s Killborn Alley Blues Band opens the downtown White River Junction show, which starts at 2:30.

Sunday: John Lovejoy, Bistro Nouveau – The biweekly “Voodoo Deck Party” features a local piano man who is a one-man jukebox, and I don’t recommend playing stump the band with him.  Well, maybe you should at that.  He’ll beat you five ways from Friday and leaving you singing along to whatever you failed to baffle him with.  Bistro has good margaritas, too.

Tuesday: Thoroughly Modern Millie, New London Barn Playhouse – Following a recent Broadway trend, this musical was adapted from the film, not the other way around.  It’s a classic plot: Millie moves from Kansas to Manhattan, hoping to land a rich husband.  Instead, she takes up with a paper clip salesman (did such a job ever exist?), and becomes embroiled in a Chinese white slavery ring. Much mirth ensues.

Wednesday: Tammy Jackson Band, Ben Mere Bandstand – On a warm summer night, there’s no place quite a comfortable as the green lawn just a stone’s throw from Sunapee Harbor. A cold beverage, a warm sunset and some smooth country music, performed by this long-time area favorite – just the right combination to make your troubles disappear.  Check sunapeeharbor.com for a season-long schedule of free shows.

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2 thoughts on “Local Rhythms – This Getting Old Is Getting … Old

  1. I understand your ignorance to a form of music that you have no viable information to collect from. The reality of the situation is we have accomplished what no other hip hop artists in this area have. I myself have been on two DJ Green Lantern Mixtapes in the past 4 months. This is DJ is one of the top five most well known DJ’s in the world. So to hurl the limits of the accomplishments that I and my fellow group members have enjoyed only adds to your mis-information. Due to your lack of understanding what it takes for a hip hop artists to get a record deal, and then put out a label CD, you show no ability to take in what you are listening to. We live in an area that has less than a handfull of venues to perform at. Unfourtantely you have decided no to attend Hip Hop Palooza at Electra, you didn’t go to the Hexeri shows we performed with them, and you didn’t show up to my CD release party 3 months ago. I myself have done 4 CD’s to date. The truth is you don’t appreciate what Hip Hop represents. Its beauty is not of the Roots, Kid Rock, and out dated names of the past. Rap is a form of speech where music is its only platform to be heard. You wouldn’t know about the reality that goes on in the poorest place in America without it. Time life informed you that blacks were being beaten by cops in L.A. . Trying to belittle the efforts we have put forth only makes you one of them. One of those people that sniffle at somebody you don’t fully understand. This has been the fight since hip hop began, and i guess it looks like its still here, alive as ever. If your supposed to know the music scene in your area, how is it, from all the shows we have done, you know nothing about those you are speaking about. Appreciate the support though, always nice to know there is an open mind out there to touch.

    -Reese45 (Open Case Records Founder and Chief)

  2. Michael,

    I’m disappointed that you gave no mention to this weekend’s music festival in Piermont NH, the “Wallow in Clay Hollow.” Here you have a handful of young people trying to get an event off the ground with little or no financial backing. The fact that they have endured and expanded 6 years running is a testament to their resolve. They need and deserve all the help they can get.

    While you may be based in Claremont, NH, some distance from the Bradford area, the newspapers that publish your column do include readership in this area. Now that I have closed Middle Earth, I feel I can freely say that your coverage of events in the northern reaches of the Upper Valley have been spotty at best.

    While I do appreciate the exposure given, I have always felt we deserved a little better considering the programming we were offering. We were trying to offer a product that was focused on the artists and their muse rather than the standard which is to pump alcohol and food using live music as a tool to fill the room.

    It all has it’s place. But if your focus is on the artists and their music first and foremost then I would think, when you come across a venue that shares that focus, you would do all you can as a person who controls a vital media outlet to help them survive.

    Middle Earth is gone now and will not be resurrected. I do not anticipate a return to presenting anytime in the near future. But I do hope that what we did here will inspire some others to carry on. I would also hope that when you see or hear of a venue starting up that relies on admission revenues rather than alcohol sales, give them all the help you can. They can’t make it without you.

    Carry on,
    Chris Jones
    Middle Earth Music Hall

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