Thursday, February 26, 2009

No Doubt Coming To Summerfest

No Doubt is a lock for a headline spot during Summerfest 2009. The date is July 2. The price is pretty darn good for a headliner. Considering that the $15 admission fee is included, you are basically going to see No Doubt for $52. The band has not toured since 2004, and they all seem to get along.

Their statement included a hint that they might go back into the studio to record. Paramore will be the support act for the evening. No Doubt has a sound that is part rock, part ska, and part ballads that support Gwen. Clearly, Stefani took hold of the fame and ran with it. She has a clothing line called L.A.M.B., and had a pretty successful solo career.

After Gwen went out on her own way, No Doubt recorded a second album titled Return of Saturn. It flopped. The band stayed true to their roots. It seems that there are good feelings between all band mates, seeing that they are happy to tour once again.

As for Paramore, I first heard one of their songs last summer. I thought it was Avril Lavigne coming through the speakers. Ok, I’m going to sound cynical here, but when an artist hits the big time, you can bet that there are other labels scouring the country in search of their own version of that hit maker. I don’t think that it’s a coincidence that the singer from Paramore could easily be mistaken for Avril.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Steven Adler Coming to Turner Hall

My singer plays the role of bass tech for Kliff McBurtney of Beatallica when they open for Adler's Appetite on March 5th at Turner Hall. She's stoked to do Mr. McBurtney the favor of warming up his bass guitar. As she explained to me, she gets to play a couple of sound check songs with Beatllica, one of her favorite local bands, and then watch Mr. Steven Adler rip it up on drums.

Adler was the original drummer for Guns and Roses. He played drums for the first five years of the band's existence. Ultimately, the lifestyle he lived blew up in his face. He was booted from the band. I didn't know who Steven Adler was until last week. Back in the mid 80's, my musical tastes were diametrically opposed to what Guns and Roses produced. You can't blame me for not knowing this man from a hole in the wall. I was busy listening to (and playing) hardcore punk. Any band that wore black spandex and had hair bigger than my sister's didn't deserve my attention.

Adler can be found on the show Sober House. How you can get to the bottom of your addictions while a camera records your every word is beyond me.
My singer was a GNR fan from the start. We opened a Summerfest gig with Welcome To The Jungle. That was the first time I sat down and listened to one of their tunes. Let's just say a three year old child could play the drums to that song.
Slash plays some serious guitar in that band, but that's it. I give the band no more credit on the talent front. I have always felt that Axl Rose sings like Ethel Merman, and my wife says that anybody named "Duff" is fighting an uphill battle for respect. With all that being said, GNR did break the mold when it came to L.A. bands of their ilk. They didn't wear make up, they didn't prance around on stage too much, and they seemed to stay true to their sound. I don't want to offend the Guns and Roses fans, but this is my blog and I get to say what I like.

I hope my singer has fun.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Miller Park, the Unused Concert Venue?

Professional baseball players would not like to chase down a fly ball, only to twist an ankle on some overly-trodden grass. Imagine the wild hop a baseball would take if the surface at Miller park was trampled flat by 50,000 fans. Some sports venues are routinely used for non-sports events. Soldier Field comes to mind. Jimmy Buffett played there a few years back, as did Pearl Jam and The Grateful Dead. I suppose that it's a bit easier to fix a football field when you have months to get it ready for the NFL season. You could have a concert in July, and still have nearly two months to get the grass back in shape.

For a "baseball only" venue there is the problem of trying to have a concert, then most likely a baseball game within days of each other. I remember the plywood covered outfield at County Stadium for Pink Floyd. 60,000 people crushed the field flat, but it didn't matter, the Brewer season was over.

Miller park keeps the roof open during the winter months. The snow can pile high in that place for sure. It's actually good for the natural grass to have a blanket of snow. Will that venue ever host a concert? They did just that during the 105th Harley Davidson Rally. Kid Rock headlined a two-night event there. The Miller Park Tickets you needed to get into the event allowed access to the parking lot only. The event was held outside of the ballpark.

As the years roll on, we might see a show inside the ballpark, but I don't see it happening during the baseball season. Perhaps there would be a show in late fall, with the roof closed, after the Brewers season is over. As a venue, Miller Park is not hurting for revenue. That may never happen.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Grinding it out behind the drums

My band is preparing for a show up in Door County this weekend. We are under contract to play at least two hours. We have to bring the P.A. system, the lights, everything. Working bands do this every weekend, all over the United States. They work their day jobs all week, and then do what they really love on the weekends. This particular show requires that we play a few cover songs to fill the time slot. We certainly have over two hours of original material, but we made the decision to play some covers too. The writer in our band tires of the older original songs. She feels that her material evolves and changes. Playing a song she wrote ten years ago is painful to her. I understand that.

When you write, or paint, or compose, your creation can seem stale as time goes by. You tend to feel as if you are currently a better writer, or artist when looking back at what you did so long ago. Sometimes a song becomes a classic. It might be something that you must play at every show. When I was in this old punk band, we had a song that everybody wanted to hear on every occasion that we played out. We wrote the song in 1985. We were still playing it in 2006. When the opening chords to the song started up, I never got that loathsome feeling. I embraced the vibe of the crowd. They are the reason that we played the song, or any song for that matter. If they were whipped into a frenzy by a twenty-one year old song, then so be it. I am happy to oblige.With that being said, I must say that there is a difference between playing the old songs, and being an oldies band. That's something I hope I never have to resort to. If my band is playing twenty year old songs exclusively, we have a problem. If the fans don't want to hear anything you have written after 1990, it might be time for you to find an outlet that satisfies the writer in you.

Have you ever listened to an old hit on VH1 and thought to yourself “everybody was writing songs like that.” Listen to some songs from the old glam bands of the late 1980’s and they all sound the same. The drums are mixed the same way, the singers sing the same way, and the guitar solos all sound the same. The bands are forced by their management to have a sound and style that says “I’m wearing a lady’s wig and makeup, but I’m not into guys.” How do those musicians feel when they do oldies tours long after the wigs and makeup were stripped away? The songs have to stand on their own merit, and that can be a tall order.

Lastly, I have to touch upon the difference between being in a band that "plays all the hits from the 60's, 70's and beyond." That's a cover band, and they don't count. Playing your own songs from the 60's, 70's and beyond is different. You wrote them, you own them, and people want to hear you play your songs. I have no problem with that, as long as you don't have a problem with those pesky fans demanding to hear them decades later.