CloseToYouWith the size of my band growing and costs rising to feed and house those wild animals, don’t think it hasn’t crossed my mind to cash in on some of that retro bliss a tribute band can offer. I’ve been told that I do a mean Karen Carpenter and I wouldn’t mind losing a few pounds in order to make an extra dollar every now and then… (jk) ahh but if I only played the drums.

I’ve met a tribute band or two, some just paying homage to great music and some who are flying around the world making wild amounts of money. Oddly, those acts often assume the personas and art of other people, who in some instances are actually still alive and playing!

A tribute band, for those of you who do not know, is a band that plays, pretty much exclusively, the material of another band.

Usually, these bands catalogs are the ones that stroll you right down memory lane in your baby blue angel flights or banana yellow dittos. They take you right back to your first hard on at the school dance or the raspy bong load in your cousins garage that made you cough for ten minutes like a newbie. And if you were not alive back then rent “Dazed and Confused” for your anthropological homework. 500 words by Monday double-spaced.

For some recapturing old glory days through musical nostalgia is the whole point of seeing a tribute band. It’s seems I am on the outside, again, with this one. For me the very idea of reliving any high school moments is abhorrent. Not being chased by bullies is nice these days.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ll never forget the first time I was given a Black Sabbath record by my cousin, sans the pot. He was trying to walk the straight and narrow and lucky for me Black Sabbath was on his shit list of evils to be avoided at all costs. That record was the gift that kept on giving but that doesn’t mean I’ll pony up to see some kid bite the heads off plastic bats just to relive my occult past.

If someone finds an article suggesting why people calcify musically at a certain age I’d like to read it.  My guess is it may have something to do with changing diapers, acquiring jobs and getting thrown head first into the existential muck of real life. Thus limiting one’s musical day dreaming to the soundtrack of the moment from some “edgy” cable TV show spoon-feeding America a culture of pabulum. More diapers please.
And suspiciously the tribute band is right there with its well-worn memories like your favorite jeans – which no longer fit by the way.
The overall quality of music since that golden hey day of rock n roll royalty is arguably limp imho, and makes us wonder if the current music we hear on most radio is getting any job done.

The side effect of the tribute band phenomena that pisses me off most is that some venues are closing their doors to original acts. No really. Why book a band no one knows, with songs that might not make people drink, when you can have a hot, all girl band called “INSERT CLEVER SUGGESTIVE LESBIAN NAME HERE” cranking out the classics? I have no issue with Lesbians btw, it’s the faux Girls Gone Wild types that I find silly, but I digress. Anyhow as the wise and super talented, oft curmudgeonly singer songwriter James McMurtry says, “I used to think I was an artist. Come to find out I’m a beer salesman”.  Is the future of live music like the recent past of food, a national homogenization of sound where in every town you can see the same band playing the same songs? Horrific.

Now there’s nothing wrong with those of us who just want to sing along with a good song to someone sweet by our side. There’s nothing wrong with folks wanting to keep the doors open to their clubs. But next time you look in the local calendar to see where you’re gonna spend your hard earned bucks, consider supporting some unknown band every once in awhile, why don’t cha?

I mean, where would we be if no one gave a chance to the greats who inspired tribute musicians to get up there and copy cat in the first place?
And don’t worry I’m not getting all goofy and romantic about artists and our duty to support some kid who just wants to ditch school and get laid ‘cause he can play three chords. Although that is often how it starts ….

This is not some happy ending story. Some, if not many of the original acts you may see out there will indeed suck the holy living life out the room with their out of tune guitars and juvenile rhyme schemes.  But better that then sitting at home watching “INSERT IQ INSULTING SHOW HERE”.  Think of seeing live bands as reality TV with a bartender. Or think of the moment you hear something real that makes the hair on the back of your neck stand up, or the lyric that makes you feel awake for the first time in a day full of hamster wheel repetitions or the wild abandon of doing something new and different for a change because you have a choice to do so, for now.

4 thoughts on “Tributes

  1. Couldn’t agree more…nostalgia is great but limits both the singer AND the listener. I’m one of the few people I know of in my age group (of course I live in a very small conservative town too) who thrills to the idea of hearing new artists (as long as the music is good; I abhor those who fancy themselves musicians but cannot even keep a beat, let alone stay on pitch) and I have to tell you, I have been overjoyed to discover your music. I’m sharing it with everyone I know! Sure I love hearing you & Christian do a cover of some great classic – you have done some great ones. But your freshness, your originality, and the impossibility of assigning a singular genre to your music are the very qualities that draw me to you. You are to be encouraged – stick to yourself and what YOU know is right for you. Thanks!

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