Thursday, July 19, 2007

Cover Bands, what do you think?

What do you think of cover bands? As a musician, do you respect their work? Do you feel that they deserve to be put in the same group as a musical artist? Cover musicians certainly study their instrument. Sometimes they play very complex songs. Sometimes they play a better version than the original artist does. These questions can fuel aggressive debate, threats, anger, disgust, etc. Here is a thought: If Ted Nugent walked out on stage and played Styx, Journey, Doobie Brothers, Van Halen, Motorhead, then took a bow and left what would you think? Would you feel ripped off? Would you think, "dude should play HIS songs, what's up with the covers?"
Another example: If you went to Milwaukee's lakefront festival of the arts, and as you walked by each booth, you found artists that painted copies of Rembrandt, Monet, Mondrian, Hopper, and Dali, would you feel like the festival is completely perverted? Add a twist: If these artists got paid five times more for their copies over original works of art, would you think that's just fine?
If then, these musicians and artists talked smack about how great they were, how talented they are, how much they rock when they play all the hits from the 70's, 80's and beyond, or when they paint another copy of some well known artist, would you accept that?
Finally, I'm not talking about tribute bands, those musicians that try their level best to perform the music of a single band, or star. I'm talking about the three-set-per-night-playing-at-some bar-in-Muskego type of group.
If anything is worth mentioning it's this: Cover bands are NOT composers, writers, or creators. Cover bands are imitators. These people learn how to play an instrument, and in some cases they bastardize the live music market by mimicking someone else's proven, popular, or time tested hit song. Let me put out another thought: How many cover bands record a cd of all covers, and then try to get national distribution? Is there a cover band section in the CD aisle at Best Buy? So I tipped my hand a bit..... cover bands are as thin as paper to me. They may be ten times more talented musically than original artists (In some cases), but they are just pretending. They may feel vindicated by the money they earn. They may feel vindicated by the people who step out and dance, or sing along to the chorus. I don't insist that I have the answer. I could be wrong, but I have yet to hear a solid argument against what I have been saying over the past 20 years. Finally, I'm just throwing down the words to see if anyone replies. I look forward to what others have to say.

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