Monday, July 30, 2007

Don't forget the Wisconsin State Fair!

In the past ten years, The Wisconsin State Fair has received mixed reviews when it comes to the musical acts it provides to the nearly one million visitors that walk through the gates. Personally, I have bought Wisconsin State fair tickets for acts as tame as Harry Belafonte, as "out there" as The Village People, and as "old school" as Billy Idol. This year, The Doobie Brothers, Corbin Bleu, Kool and The Gang (with Rubin Studdard), The BoDeans, Switchfoot, and others will appear over the ten day run.

The Kids From Wisconsin are always there, the fake putumayo/world music players can be seen at a side stage, but my favorite band for a side stage is SHAG at the Double K ranch (food tent). They rock and rule.

See you around the cattle barn!

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Alice Cooper at The Riverside Theater

Poor Alice Cooper. I really liked his theatrical shows. I admired his ability to get off the drugs and alcohol. While surfing for news about Alice Cooper, I came upon this blog interview from a few years back. Sad to say, his interview with Chrenkoff shows that Alice is peering through the looking glass when it comes to the Iraq war. " INTERVIEWER: It doesn't worry you, the false connection that was made between 9/11 and Saddam Hussein, all that stuff that's been shown? ALICE COOPER: No. It doesn't bother me because I honestly think it's all connected." Poor Alice is blind. No, not blind drunk, but as politically blind as a newborn puppy. None the less, he's coming to Milwaukee, and playing the Riverside theater on August 21st.

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.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Cheap Trick is a humble band worth seeing

According to The Sixth Station, Cheap Trick and Blue Oyster Cult played Beloit Riverfest last weekend. If you are lucky, you can catch Cheap Trick at Summerfest some years. I live a block away from the biggest Cheap Trick fan in Milwaukee. Ron from follows them religiously.

It's nice to know that there are down-to-earth bands banging out gigs for the normal people who don't have $100 per ticket.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Keith Urban at Bradley Center July 26th

Keith Urban's tour vehicles use bio-diesel fuel. That's very green. Keith Urban is GAC's artist of the month for July. Mr. Urban performed at Earth Live last Saturday. I wonder if Ted Nugent would have the stones to admit that the world is getting hotter? Keith Urban's set list from a past tour included: Once in a Lifetime Where the Blacktop Ends Faster Car/All Right Now Raining on Sunday (acoustic, solo) Shine Stupid Boy Walking in Memphis Better Half* Making Memories* You’ll Think of Me* I Told You So* Days Go By I Can’t Stop Loving You Used to the Pain Tonight I Want to Cry Who Wouldn’t Want to Be Me Somebody Like You.

Keith Urban will be seen and heard at Alpine Valley on July 26th. Don't let it be said that I don't cover the country music happenings.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Who's hot at Summerfest?

We're one week into Summerfest, and I think it's time to comment on the best, worst, and in between.
Best Marcus Amphitheater show by consensus: Roger Waters. The reviews were good, the show was a mind blowing experience, and Roger didn't disappoint the fans.
For side stage headliners with more to come, my current vote is the old timers Heart.
I saw young and less young checking out Heart and loving it.
Best side stage local band: I have to give it up for Binky Tunny and the Farmland Chokehold.
This year, (their 7th I think) they stripped down to their core band and it made for a solid show.

Their new guitar player Jon Marsh shredded the stage, and the band looked really relaxed. Binky Tunny threw out roses, t-shirts, beef sticks, cheese, candy, blow-up guitars, and chewing gum. No wonder they keep coming back. They know how to please the crowd.

Worst of the fest: I have to save that vote because Toby Keith plays the last night. So far, I have to give the vote to that "Putumayo" tent. People stand and watch those guys play, but little do they know that most of the music is fake. It's a "lip-sync" version of Central American music.
Why don't they just play for real?
I will return with more at the end of the fest.