Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Live (rhymes with "jive") in The 'Noog

Mountain Girl - Blue Mountain (mp3)
Take a Ride - The Dirty Guv'nahs (mp3)

I owe my partner Bob a minor apology, or at least a clarification, in regards to live music and the worthiness of it in comparison to recorded music. (If you're just dying for Bob's original column and my response, there you go.)

You see, we were two of many hundred who attended last Friday's NightFall, a night in downtown 'Nooga where bikers and other strange people with a variety of fashion senses all gather to listen to talk to one another over the din of some random live music played on stage. NightFall is to concerts what the Macon Braves are to baseball, which is to say, people really go because it's cheap and a fun place to have a conversation whilst getting inebriated, all under the umbrella excuse of liking whatever's being offered at the venue.

Still, NightFall does have its true music fans, such as Bob and many other regulars. People who truly love live music but tolerate having to talk with others because they enjoy that, too. Best of both worlds for the Bobs amongst us.

Anyway, toward the end of Friday's set, we were all gathered to actually stop talking (more or less) and listen more intently to the band of the hour, Blue Mountain. Just three members. Geetar, bass and drums, aka Bob's preferred live music arrangement.

They had gotten themselves good and lathered up an hour into their set, it being hot as the fourth circle of hell in the D'town 'Noog, but they kept playing like they needed redemption and really wanted it. And I'm in total agreement with Bob that, with every additional instrument past three (four if you count vocals ala Rock Band!), live music risks getting muddier and more muddled, harder and harder to hear the the singer or any particular instrument. [NOTE: Bob, if I'm not expressing that correctly, just come on in here and edit it! You have the powah!]

The five or six songs I actually got to listen to (as opposed to just overhearing) were very appealing. They threw in their own rendition of "Squeeze Box" by The Who, which gave me an ecstatic moment of actually knowing the words they were singing. Fine job covering that song they did, sez Yoda.

I was so impressed with the 30 minutes I got to savor that I got in line and purchased one of their albums. (Yes, it just so happens that a ridiculously attractive woman was in line before me, but all we talked about while waiting was our children and how courageous she was to bring her 5-year-old boy down and watch over him while rockin' out. No exchanging of phone numbers. Or names. Or )

On Saturday, I popped that CD in... and it was OK. I'd hoped for a little more than OK. Could be that I picked the wrong CD to purchase. (The hot mom in front of me bought Midnight in Mississippi, their newest of all-new songs, so maybe I should have followed her on that, too.) Which offers me an opportunity to confess to a hole in my preference for recorded music over live music.

For bands about which I know little or nothing, live music can be every bit as vital, if not moreso, than their recorded music. Hundreds upon hundreds of wonderful live acts can probably put on one helluva show, wowing the crowd and wooing their die-hards, but somehow this electricity never quite makes it into the studio.

One key difference, and this can't ever be given enough respect in the music world, is the producer. It's tough for a Walkman powered with Everready or Ray-O-Vac batteries to hold up against something running on Duracell or Energizer. Likewise, it's hardly fair to compare these bands, with the only producers they can afford (and maybe on less-than-stellar equipment?), to the bands I adore and the producers their labels can bestow upon them.

For the Blue Mountains and Dirty Guv'nahs* of the world, give me the live act. Seeing these bands live is better than permanently possessing either of their CDs. In their cases, the explosive moment is far better than the long-lasting light bulb. That's hardly the kind of compliment I'd pay to my favorite bands.

* -- I discovered the Dirty Guv'nahs playing at Market Street Tavern early this summer. No cover charge, and we're enjoying a drink when this band kicks into a set that sounds more sincerely Rolling Stones-esque than any 'Nooga-centric band deserves to sound. They even closed the night by putting together a rendition of "Sympathy for the Devil" that not only seemed to last 20 minutes, but was also mighty damn good, as in I honestly think Keith and Mick could have sat there and said to themselves, "These redneck blokes ain't half bad."

"Mountain Girl" comes from Blue Mountain's 2008 compilation Omnibus. "Take a Ride" comes from The Dirty Guv'nahs' debut EP Don't Need No Money. The first picture was merely stolen from Google. The second was taken by my own cell phone on Friday night. I have not yet repented.


Bob said...

You're right, Billy, their song here is just okay.

Was John at that Nightfall for awhile or am I dreaming?

Hank said...

Great band. I like the album Dog Days in a late 90's Americana kind of way. You should have posted "Jimmy Carter"...a more seasonal choice. I also really like their version of "Rye Whiskey" (the live one).

Bob said...

Billy, for continuity, it seems, you have posted the same Nightfall picture I posted. Or else Google needs to expand their offerings.