Clubbin’ NYC 2: Electric Guitar Boogaloo

What’s this? Another post already? That’s right I’m goin’ classic rock with a Two Fer Tuesday edition posting.

First off. I would like to address the previous post and say that I am not opposed to rap music. I think there has been groundbreaking music from the hip hop genre over the last 30+ years, and I am a fan of the music of NWA, Public Enemy, Outkast, and the Wu Tang Clan. Yeah I know they aren’t cutting edge anymore, but I like some new stuff like Rocky ASAP and Shabazz Palaces too.

What I detest is the stuff that is Pop music, which is slightly hard to define. Just like New Wave, Alternative, Indie, and Classic Rock; they are stupid names invented by music journalists, or THE ENEMY if you’ve seen the movie Almost Famous. New Wave was just a new wave of rock music, because they were still playing guitars, bass, drums, and keyboards, but they had cut their hair and the sound was evolving. Alternative was an alternative to the heavier rock sounds of the ’80s and was originally bands like They Might Be Giants, New Order, The Smiths, and Siouxsie and the Banshees, until Nirvana, Alice In Chains, and Soundgarden showed up and they were Alternative too, but they were also Grunge because they wore sleeveless flannel and Doc Martens, had a heavy Black Sabbath influence and looked like they needed a shower. I hate the term Grunge. Anyone who grew up in the Pacific Northwest knows that you could always find used Pendleton flannels at secondhand stores. They are logger shirts. And for a poor, unsigned musician, they were cheap.

Black Sabbath were considered the Godfathers of Heavy Metal. And what’s Heavy Metal? Not only is it a funny old cartoon movie with a very un-Metal soundtrack, it’s a line from Steppenwolf’s Born To Be Wild. As in “Heavy Metal Thunder.” Which is in reference to racing a car or motorcycle down the road. Classic Rock was invented in 1985, right after the failure of New Coke brought about Classic Coke and suddenly music made by bands in the ’60s and ’70s had shown some staying power. Rock N’ Roll was invented by a Cleveland DJ referring to what you wanted to do with your girlfriend in the backseat of your Chevy. What’s weird is how bands who emerged in the ’80s and weren’t a part of Classic Rock are now on those stations. Do you think Ludwig Von Beethoven set out to write Classical Music? What do you think he called his music when he hit on girls at bars? And most importantly, where did teenagers of the day go to have sex since it was at least a few hundred years before the invention of the automobile?

Of course Pop music just means it’s popular and sells singles, and makes hits, and next year it’s so uncool. But at the moment the coolest of the cool is to be Indie, which started out as independently produced music that avoided major labels yet somehow became “Pop”ular and tended towards whiny songs by guys in skinny jeans with ironic facial hair.

The point of my rant is that I love music from all of these genres, and have taken different things from these different influences. The best bands and musicians in my opinion have this attitude. Nothing more boring than a band that never listened to music outside of the genre they chose to play. Much of this is the fault of the industry itself, because it’s purely about making money. If you look at much of the entertainment business today, the CEOs all have a background as accountants. It all about the bottom line. Quality and originality are secondary to finding ignorant people to buy, buy, buy. Generally its kids because they just don’t know any better through lack of exposure. And the media sells them on the attitude that you’re young and nobody’s ever done it like you before. All your parent’s music that came before was nothing. Yeah, The Beatles never really did much.

I’ve been around long enough to see bands come and go, and it’s interesting to see their legacies. Time gives an interesting perspective. Remember when Creed was popular?

Last night I dropped in on a Blues Jam in the East Village because I want to get my guitar playing chops up. I didn’t play, I felt more like scouting the competition, this being New York and all. Now when I say competition it’s in a friendly way, because I don’t want to “beat” the other musicians, but yeah, I want to look good. Guitar players especially seem to have fragile egos when it comes to their craft, and may not always be friendly. Back in college I would go to the Monday night Blues Jam at Good Times, and it was a lot of fun with a mix of old and young but as always there was a little bit of that, “I’m better than you” attitude.

Last night had a few impressive performers, Black, White, Asian, old, young. There were also more than a few dogs as well. There was the Heavy Metal guy who didn’t know how to play rhythm and his leads didn’t say much either; the white kid who was up there only to sing, but had bad pitch, sung too quiet, and had no stage presence; and the old guy who got up to sing and play and really couldn’t do much of either. He bore a striking resemblance to Skeletor from the He Man cartoons and when he stiffly sang “I’m gonna rock you baby all night long” or some sexual reference I nearly snorted beer out my nose.

But it wasn’t all bad. There was an older black guy in a fedora that sang soulfully and played some great guitar, and a few young black kids that were impressive on the guitar. One of which was paired up with Skeletor, and I later heard Fedora tell him he needed to be louder, at which point he said Skeletor told him to turn down. Which goes to show you how in the fragile world of guitar player egos, the worst skilled will always try and find a way to sabotage you. Right Ian?

In all fairness, there were some good white guitar players, and an Asian kid that was good on the drums. And this Puerto Rican guy in all leather was playing some great saxophone, I’d even seen him playing earlier in the day in the subway. In all it seemed a decent blues jam, and one I could definitely keep up with, because I’ll admit it, more than a few times I thought, “I’m waaaay better than that guy. At singing too.” And while far from the oldest, I certainly wouldn’t be the youngest person there either. The crowd was a good mix too, with NYU nearby there was also good talent from a visual standpoint. So I’ll make my way back to be a part of the music and hopefully like in college, have some Good Times.

Thanks for listening, this is Stevie Tre Pay signing off the digital airwaves with a Two Fer from the guy that first inspired me to pick up the electric guitar. James Marshall Hendrix.

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