Local Rhythms – Don’t get fooled at the Super Bowl

Pete Townshend once wrote, “I hope I die before I get old.”

I won’t go that far, but I wish he’d retired, sparing me the agony of having to watch him and Roger Daltrey perform Who songs at this year’s Super Bowl halftime show.

It’s wrong on a few levels.

First, why has the Super Bowl become the venue of choice for every dinosaur rock star aching for a second look?  The game itself now seems to be just one ingredient in a bloated media stew, with every attention junkie in the world jockeying for screen time.

A better food analogy is a baked potato – fattening enough with butter and sour cream, loading it up with bacon, cheese, chili and anything else you think to chop up is overkill.

Why does this game have to be a conduit for a million other distractions? How about just 60 minutes of football and a few overpriced beer commercials?

Isn’t that enough?

There is true athletic drama on the field this year.   The city of New Orleans has never produced a world champion in professional sports, and it’s been just a few years since Hurricane Katrina. The whole world is pulling for the Saints.

The other Super Bowl team is led by Peyton Manning, one of the most gifted athletes in the world, who happens to be the son of the Saints’ former star quarterback.

How much more drama do you need?

Make no mistake – I love rock and roll as much as anyone. But what does the music of the Who have to do with any of that?  Besides, they’re English – when someone says football, Pete Townshend thinks of soccer.

In any case, the Who isn’t a band – it’s a brand name, now owned by two surviving members of the legendary group.  A case could be made that it ended when Keith Moon died in 1979; John Entwistle’s passing left no doubt.

If Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr tried to tour as the Beatles, would anyone believe them?

This whole mess began when Whitney Houston sang the National Anthem before the 1990 game and turned it into a hit record.  A few years later, Michael Jackson appeared with 3,500 kids (isn’t that ironic?) and three body doubles to sing “Heal the World.”

It’s been spinning out of control ever since. Let’s call an end to the ridiculous excess.

Just play the game – please.

On to the rest of the week:

Thursday, Feb 4: Lannen Fall, 802 Music – In a world of minimalist pop bands, Boston-based Lannen Fall bring a big sound to the stage, influenced by modern rockers like Blink-182, Fall Out Boy and A-list producer Butch Walker.  The five-piece band plays tuneful songs with memorable choruses, tight harmonies and solid instrumentation. This is a good excuse to hit an off-night show at the downtown Springfield venue.

Friday, Feb. 5: Saylyn, Salt hill Newport – Saylyn is the area’s hometown reggae band, an authentic sound that always makes me think of summer. The band is best enjoyed under the stars on a hot night, but since the elements have other plans, at least for the next few months, indoors at Newport’s most bustling nightspot will have to suffice. Fronted by two brothers born and raised in Jamaica, this band is the genuine article.

Saturday, Feb. 6: Steve Gillette & Cindy Mangsen, Plainfield Blow-Me-Down Grange – Folk music in Plainfield – what a treat.  Check out Gillette, a                terrific songwriter, performing “Darcy Farrow” on YouTube with Mangsen, and see if you don’t wonder like I did – where’s the other guitar?  When Gillette and Mangsen weave their tapestry of music, with deft playing and lovely harmonies, the result is spellbinding.

Sunday, Feb. 7: Celia Sings Sinatra, Canoe Club – The Super Bowl plays on a 91 inch high def screen in the bar, while one of the area’s most popular doppelgangers performs on the other – a pleasant schizophrenia, indeed, especially when factoring in the Chinese box effect of the game broadcast, with half of the viewers wondering how far the Go Daddy Internet ad will go and the other focused on Peyton Manning’s passes

Tuesday, Feb. 9: Open Mic, One Mile West – The Sunapee restaurant recently changed ownership, and plans to expand the music offerings are in the works.  The weekly open mic continues, hosted by a rotating crew of the Moore family, George Johnson and Steve Currier. The beer menu and the vibe of the room, covered with old concert posters, are both great.

Wednesday, Feb. 10: Jason Cann, Salt hill Pub Hanover (Grand Opening) – The Tuohy dynasty expands into downtown Hanover with a formula much like the Newport and Lebanon locations, comfort food, perfectly poured pints of Guinness and a great music lineup.  Opening night features one of the area’s best singer/songwriters – Cann, who will continue to appear every Wednesday.

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