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Author: Subject: What will save rock 'n' roll?

Zen Peach





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  posted on 5/20/2009 at 01:39 PM
By Todd Leopold
CNN

(CNN) -- Steven Van Zandt did not mince words.

"I want to spend just a minute on a topic that never ever gets discussed in the music business -- the music," the Bruce Springsteen guitarist and "Sopranos" star said in a speech to the SXSW music and arts festival in March. "The reason nobody wants to talk about it is because it mostly sucks!

"Who are we kidding here?" he said. "Nobody's buying records? Because they suck!"

He called the speech "A Crisis of Craft," and implored listeners to get back to rock 'n' roll's roots. Learn how to play cover songs, he said. Get people to dance. Harness your working-class energy. Take pride in craft.

It's been two months since that speech, and Van Zandt is still passionate about the subject.

"[Rock 'n' roll] is a craft that has to be learned," he tells CNN. "There are things you learn by listening to great records, copying heroes." He believes that he said some things that people were thinking, but haven't said out loud.

But the rumbles are out there. The music business is in a state of flux, with the sales of more profitable CDs continuing to fall even as single downloads climb. "American Idol's" season is coming to an end, with rock purists once again assailing the show's slick pop sensibility. Commercial radio, country, rap and hip-hop -- they all have their critics, many of them wishing a return to the way things used to be. Blog: What do you think of the state of rock 'n' roll?

Van Zandt has sympathy for all sides, coming at the issue from what he calls "a unique perspective" -- he's a musician, a DJ (with his radio show and Sirius XM channel, "Little Steven's Underground Garage") and record label honcho (Wicked Cool Records). He's quick to observe that he's not slamming all pop music. There's vibrancy in some hip-hop, he says, and he admires "Idol," particularly when it promotes music history.

"But it's quite an alien world to my traditional rock 'n' roll world," he adds. "It has nothing to do with it."

Within that rock 'n' roll world, he worries. Today's bands, he says, look down on performing covers, and as a result many have gotten lost in a musical wilderness. "The result is an extraordinary amount of mediocrity," he says. "There are no standards to live up to."

Which is part of the problem with rejuvenating rock 'n' roll, says Steve Greenberg, founder of S-Curve Records, which includes alt-rockers Tinted Windows and We The Kings among its acts.

Technology is one problem, he observes. "I think in the old days, in order to even be decent, it took a lot of work," he says. "And today, relatively untalented and uncreative people can actually make rock 'n' roll music that sounds kind of decent. And I think that kind of fools people and causes people to be lazy."

But for Greenberg there's also a sense that the "square pegs" -- the naturally rebellious types -- are getting shoved in round holes. "A lot of opportunities inevitably these days go to people who fit the format, whether the format is Top 40 radio or 'American Idol' or [Radio] Disney or whatever it is," he says. "There's so much pressure to fit those slots. And it's the square pegs ultimately who are going to change the world."

The spirited Greenberg wants to channel that rebellious energy. He's high on a band he signed named Care Bears on Fire, a trio of 13-year-old Brooklyn girls who sound like the Ramones with a touch of Shonen Knife.

"Their attitude is maybe one size doesn't fit all," he says. "I feel like the spirit of rock 'n' roll lives in those guys. ... They're having fun playing rock 'n' roll."

Scott Booker, the manager of the avant-pop band the Flaming Lips ("She Don't Use Jelly," "Do You Realize??"), is also hoping to foster creativity. He's serving as the CEO of the Academy of Contemporary Music, a music school based at Central Oklahoma University. Drawing from a British concept, the school plans to offer courses in music, music production and the music business, many starting this fall.

Booker observes record labels aren't spending as much money on developing talent. He hopes the ACM not only makes bands more signable, but also teaches them business strategies, such as setting up their own label and distribution apparatus.

"This could become a think tank for how the industry could go," he says, musing aloud. "People think of music as a throwaway cultural item [nowadays]. I want to change that. ... Make things more exciting."

Technology, adds BMI executive Phil Graham, can also be rock 'n' roll's friend. "The opportunities the digital world give the population as a whole to throw their talents to a very wide audience is a very good thing," he says. More people have gotten the chance to put their music out there and connect with fellow music lovers, he says.

Of course, there are also old-fashioned connections. BMI sponsors dozens of showcases for new acts; young bands play clubs and hawk their CDs (or Web page). Van Zandt welcomes the efforts, but hopes there's also a connection to rock 'n' roll history. He's founded a Rock and Roll Forever Foundation to foster music education in schools. (To its credit, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum has similar programs.)

"The spark comes from whatever people are into these days -- and that very well may be 'American Idol,' " he says. "You start with whatever singer you're rooting for, and you start to trace back where they come from. It's up to the artists themselves to make sure that their fans know where they're coming from, to make it clear that music doesn't fall off trees."

 

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Zen Peach



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  posted on 5/20/2009 at 01:40 PM
Creativity & Musicianship

 

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Zen Peach



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  posted on 5/20/2009 at 01:49 PM
Vinyl records will. A large economy that was spread around was lost when the CD took over. Record companies did it to themselves by going " digital".
Certainley its more convenient...thats about it.
Everybody and their brother and their cousin has a CD " Release Party " every other friggin week. Big **** ing Deal. My armpit could have a CD release party.

Bring back more vinyl . Bring back the beauty of a record, the sleeve, the fold out , the cover and type you can read without the aid of the Hubble Telescope.

 

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Zen Peach



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  posted on 5/20/2009 at 01:50 PM
quote:

Bring back more vinyl . Bring back the beauty of a record, the sleeve, the fold out , the cover and type you can read without the aid of the Hubble Telescope.


And a big AMEN to this!

 

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Zen Peach



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  posted on 5/20/2009 at 01:54 PM
quote:

Bring back more vinyl . Bring back the beauty of a record, the sleeve, the fold out , the cover and type you can read without the aid of the Hubble Telescope.


Good luck with that wish.....It's all about the $$$

Which is cheaper to produce?... A record or a CD?

 

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Zen Peach



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  posted on 5/20/2009 at 01:58 PM
quote:
quote:

Bring back more vinyl . Bring back the beauty of a record, the sleeve, the fold out , the cover and type you can read without the aid of the Hubble Telescope.


Good luck with that wish.....It's all about the $$$

Which is cheaper to produce?... A record or a CD?


Cheaper got us cheaper.

Too bad its only about $$$.

25 bucks for an LP and tonal eargasm is well worth it.

 

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  posted on 5/20/2009 at 02:25 PM
quote:
Vinyl records will. A large economy that was spread around was lost when the CD took over. Record companies did it to themselves by going " digital".
Certainley its more convenient...thats about it.
Everybody and their brother and their cousin has a CD " Release Party " every other friggin week. Big **** ing Deal. My armpit could have a CD release party.

Bring back more vinyl . Bring back the beauty of a record, the sleeve, the fold out , the cover and type you can read without the aid of the Hubble Telescope.
Vinyl won't save sh!t!, if the performance sucks, what good is sonic bliss?. the best thing Steve van zandt said was " go back to THE ROOTS!, PLAY COVERS, GET PEOPLE TO SHAKE THEIR ASS ON A DANCE-FLOOR. rock nroll is still alive here in beer joints in Tucson, and im sure, many other parts of the world. Fu*ck american idol! that crap is part of the problem. put on some Chuck Berry, and turn it up to 11!.

 

A Peach Supreme



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  posted on 5/20/2009 at 02:36 PM
Keep playing it (for those that do), going to it and supporting the acts you love. The rest is filler and nothing else that I waste my time on.

 

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  posted on 5/20/2009 at 02:56 PM
Davy Knowles will save rock 'n' roll.

[Edited on 5/20/2009 by cmgst34]

 

Peach Master



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  posted on 5/20/2009 at 03:14 PM
"[Rock 'n' roll] is a craft that has to be learned," he tells CNN. "There are things you learn by listening to great records, copying heroes."

Every band ultimately starts out as a cover band, you can't just throw a bunch of people together and play music without a common starting place.

 

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Zen Peach



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  posted on 5/20/2009 at 03:18 PM
it is not pretty...the record industry strangled themselves with greed....the downfall of radio is a big part of it too...

it's never going back to the way it was..

 

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  posted on 5/20/2009 at 03:19 PM
quote:
it is not pretty...the record industry strangled themselves with greed....the downfall of radio is a big part of it too...

it's never going back to the way it was..


Sad, but true.

 

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Zen Peach



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  posted on 5/20/2009 at 05:03 PM
quote:
quote:
quote:

Bring back more vinyl . Bring back the beauty of a record, the sleeve, the fold out , the cover and type you can read without the aid of the Hubble Telescope.


Good luck with that wish.....It's all about the $$$

Which is cheaper to produce?... A record or a CD?


Cheaper got us cheaper.

Too bad its only about $$$.

25 bucks for an LP and tonal eargasm is well worth it.


Absolutely .....I've been buying a bunch of heavyweight Vinyl LP's lately...picked up "Bitches Brew today...Many stores are carrying Vinyl agsin....I could'nt be happier.

 

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  posted on 5/20/2009 at 05:25 PM
Kids will save it.

A new radio station started in Jax and my kids and all their friends are all over it. It's all new and they are doing the standard new station thing where they don't play many commercials at all at the beginning, but they are playing alot of new stuff that my kids are "discovering" because no other stations in town are playing it.

My kids love good rock, they like the classic standards but they want to like young/new bands too, so are searching...and are able to weed out the fluff.

 

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  posted on 5/20/2009 at 05:33 PM
I don't think rock n' roll will ever die. It's always changing. It may not be what we, meaning most of the people on this site, enjoy but I don't think it will ever die. I think maybe it starts in the home. Look at Derek Trucks' parents. I think I read how young Derek saw how music made his father feel on an emotional level, if I'm not mistaken. So, I guess pointing a young one in the direction and then encouraging them if they express a desire to learn an instrument or sing.

From what I've heard, music programs are always being cut from schools around the country, so I guess it's got to come from parents, uncles, aunts, etc.. I also think that as long as their is teen rebellion, frustration, the adjectives are endless here.......there will always be rock and roll. It may really suck for the most part, but thank goodness for younger ones like Derek, Pedro, OakII, Jackie Greene etc..

 

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  posted on 5/20/2009 at 09:29 PM
rock'n'roll doesn't need saving. There are so many bands out there making really good music:

Radiohead
Death Cab for Cutie
Ray Lamontagne
Joshua James
Fleet Foxes
John Mayer
DTB
Mule
Robert Randolph


Obviously not all of it is guitar rock but the songwriting and creativity is still there. It's a different time with different sounds that not all of you could be into. But the creativity is definitely there. CD sales prove nothing anymore.

 

Peach Master



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  posted on 5/20/2009 at 09:35 PM
Lefty got it right.

 

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Zen Peach



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  posted on 5/21/2009 at 12:19 AM
quote:
quote:
Vinyl records will. A large economy that was spread around was lost when the CD took over. Record companies did it to themselves by going " digital".
Certainley its more convenient...thats about it.
Everybody and their brother and their cousin has a CD " Release Party " every other friggin week. Big **** ing Deal. My armpit could have a CD release party.

Bring back more vinyl . Bring back the beauty of a record, the sleeve, the fold out , the cover and type you can read without the aid of the Hubble Telescope.
Vinyl won't save sh!t!, if the performance sucks, what good is sonic bliss?. the best thing Steve van zandt said was " go back to THE ROOTS!, PLAY COVERS, GET PEOPLE TO SHAKE THEIR ASS ON A DANCE-FLOOR. rock nroll is still alive here in beer joints in Tucson, and im sure, many other parts of the world. Fu*ck american idol! that crap is part of the problem. put on some Chuck Berry, and turn it up to 11!.


All that crap is digital also ! Record companies might be just alittle more choosey if it came down to LP releases vs canned rock stars.

 

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  posted on 5/21/2009 at 12:21 AM
Much as I love vinyl, it's always going to be a niche product. And there are digital options now that can deliver great sonic results. Blu Ray can format 24/96 PCM, or some of the new DTS and DD formats that have far greater resolution.

The problem isn't technology, as the article clearly points out. Its the quality of the product. There's a few newer bands that put out decent music. But when you compare it, both in terms of scale and quality, to what happened in the late 60's thru the mid-70's, none of it would have even made a ripple back then.

Great artistic expressions have often come in bursts. We're in a lull right now. I think this is true of other art forms as well. Personally (and some will probably flame me on this) I don't think "comfortable people" make great art. Obviously this is somewhat of a generality, but western culture has been very comfortable for the past 30 years or so. Look at the giants who established R&R and are still its top performers. Most were born in the mid-to-late 40's, in an era of post-war rebuilding where memories of very difficult times and challenges were present as daily reminders. Compare that to today's 20-somethings. Very different indeed.



[Edited on 5/21/2009 by Fujirich]

 

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  posted on 5/21/2009 at 05:51 AM
quote:
rock'n'roll doesn't need saving. There are so many bands out there making really good music:

Radiohead
Death Cab for Cutie
Ray Lamontagne
Joshua James
Fleet Foxes
John Mayer
DTB
Mule
Robert Randolph


Obviously not all of it is guitar rock but the songwriting and creativity is still there. It's a different time with different sounds that not all of you could be into. But the creativity is definitely there. CD sales prove nothing anymore.



agreed....well,maybe not on John Mayer

I'll add a few to that list :

The Black Crowes
North Mississippi All Stars
Hill Country Revue
Ben Harper (w/either of his bands)
Susan Tedeschi
Kings Of Leon




[Edited on 5/21/2009 by hughduty]

 

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  posted on 5/21/2009 at 06:55 AM
dtb

 

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  posted on 5/21/2009 at 07:01 AM
Derek Trucks
 

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  posted on 5/21/2009 at 08:22 AM
I agree someone like Derek will go a long way in "saving" Rock & Roll . He's already got over a decade in the buisiness and wouls at least have to be on the radar of guitar players everywhere , who are teens growing up now. When you read about Derek and he tells you about his influences , which are also apparent in his playing , I think that will clue others to the past and that will get them curious about where did that come from ? Then you start your own digging and it becomes a happy addiction ! I think a lot of people might be hungering these days for music with a little more meat to it instead of the excessive amount of candy & fluff that's out there right now.

 

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  posted on 5/21/2009 at 10:12 AM
It's about educating the next generation. I teach music and have several students coming to me looking to learn crap. Gradually i turn them on to the 'Good stuff' by loaning CD's and getting them to check out bands such as the ABB, DTB on YouTube.

So, next time you hear a kid talking about American Idol just point them in the proper direction!

 

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  posted on 5/21/2009 at 12:59 PM
I enjoyed these posts, and one thing that I'll add that's related to the education and lack of covers is the total lack of continuity in rock and pop music. The pop / rock / R&B of the 60's and 70's could be seen as a continuation of all the great American music that had preceded it. I just don't see that in today's bands, it's as if they think they must be 100% original in order to be "artistic". And it's really a shame. I enjoy some alt-rock, but could any of those bands entertain you in a bar with some '50s rock and roll covers like the Stones or E. Street Band could (can)? Not a chance.
 
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