As some of you may know, I’ve got a new favorite radio station. It’s 98.9 on your FM dial, and 1220 on the AM dial. The format is called Fox Oldies, and what it is, is basically what used to be called “Top 40” when I was growing up, only they weren’t oldies then! When Top 40 dominated the airwaves, we couldn’t wait for it to go away! When FM Rock appeared on the scene, everybody loved it, because no longer would we have to listen to Engelbert Humperdinck with our Beatles, Stones, Dylan, and Airplane. (No offense to Engelbert. “Release Me” is a great country song, but you get the idea.) Top 40 mixed rock and roll hits with country, R & B , easy listening, pop, and, well, whatever was a hit. You could hear Johnny Cash, followed by The Dave Clark Five, followed by The Four Tops, followed by Mr. Acker Bilk, followed by The Beatles, followed by Marty Robbins, Sam and Dave, Tom Jones, The Stones, and on and on. Listeners were exposed to great music of all types.
But, as I said, FM Rock entered the scene, and all the easy listening pop stuff went away, which we all cheered, but little did we know what it would lead to. In the current radio universe, everything is formatted, and all music played must fit into that format. We’ve had several generations now who’ve never been exposed to anything outside of their personal comfort zones, and this is where radio has let us all down! When I was growing up, and even beyond my formative years, you could listen to the radio to be exposed to new and innovative music. I’m talking about Jimi, The Who, Pink Floyd, The Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, Traffic, unreleased tracks by The Beatles, Stones, and Dylan, and more. Now that’s a format – Classic Rock. Like nothing has happened since then. Most of my White friends think they hate Hip Hop, but I guarantee you, I could put together a 2 hour Hip Hop show that would blow their minds, if they could lose their preconceived notions for a while! The same goes for Hip Hop fans who think they hate Rock n Roll! And Hard Rock fans who think they hate Country! How would they know? They’ve never heard real Country music! It’s not played on the radio anymore! What they call Country music now is a mix of Pop and 70’s Rock. Barbra Streisand meets Bob Seger, if you will. A Country song is not about how happy you are and how much you love your girlfriend!
But, I digress! The point is, radio has failed the music listening public by being too restricted and too narrowly focused. This, in turn, has caused the record companies to react in kind, and finally, this restrictive atmosphere has trickled down to artists and music fans, which has created the current state of affairs in the music business, which is to say, there ain’t no music biz no more! And when multi platinum record producers tell me that, and they do, it’s true! And I put the blame squarely on the shoulders of radio and radio programmers. Did you know that 98% of all terrestrial radio stations are programmed by professional programmers from LA, New York, or somewhere where the station isn’t, which has killed the regional breakout hit and the regional DJ’s who used to bring variety and local flavor to their broadcasts. I believe the only local exception to this is WKZE, which from what I’ve heard, does give their DJ’s a bit more freedom, but only a bit. WDST DJ’s have no freedom to spin what they want, and neither do any other radio stations in our area!
If this situation was in place for the last forty years of music history, The Beatles, Stones, Dylan, Blondie, Ramones, et al. would never have made it in the music business! And there’s more, lots more. Open the airwaves, open the record companies, open your minds! We’re all missing a lot of great music today!
But if you go to some of this week’s live music picks, you can hear some great music this week! Here ‘tis!
Thursday, December 1 – The aforementioned BOB SEGER returns to Madison Square Garden for one night. A lot of great songs! So many that you’ve gotta like at least some of them!
Friday, December 2 – My Pick of the Week is PATTI SMITH AT The Metropolitan Opera House at Lincoln Center. She’s a rocker and a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee, although I don’t know if this is a solo gig, or it’s The Patti Smith Group. My guess is the latter, but she could just be reading her poetry or her book, which would be good too, but would not warrant the Pick of the Week status. Call ahead to find out.
Also tonight, is a special Ramble at LEVON HELM’S with the immortal DR. RALPH STANLEY, the last living link to the beginnings of bluegrass music.
And also, tonight is the first night of a two day engagement with STRING CHEESE INCIDENT at Reverend Ike’s former church, The United Palace, on Broadway and 175th Street in Manhattan. This place is so far uptown that you barely have to enter Manhattan to get there, and you can be back in Kingston in just over an hour.
Saturday, December 3 – String Cheese finish up at Rev. Ike’s and DAVID BROMBERG stops by The Bearsville Theater.
Sunday, December 4 – The fabulously entertaining MIKE AND RUTHY are at the lovely Empire State Railroad Museum in Phoenicia. Actually, the museum is also fabulously entertaining! A great place to enjoy music.
Tuesday, December 6 – RYAN ADAMS brings his Americana based brand of Rock n Roll into what is definitely one of New York’s, or anywhere’s, most divine musical venues, Carnegie Hall. This should be well worth the price of admission.
Alright, that’s it! I’m out! Have a great week!