Author: Daniel, Bert

Itís So Different Live

I listen to a lot of music in my spare time but Iím sorry to say that only a very small percentage of the professional music I hear is live music. Of course I canít very well hire a live band to make music for me in my car during my drive to work. Even if I made it out to more local music venues my listening would still be heavily skewed toward recordings.

I love my CDs and audio files. Thereís so much richness there by my favorite artists and I can get something worthwhile out of each new listening if the music is done well. Sometimes a period of time on the shelf makes one of my old friends sound even better.

We get accustomed to everything after time, including music. I can remember a time in my life when my music appreciation was much more limited. If I went to a dance and the band didnít play a Beatles tune as closely as possible to the original recording, I felt disappointed. People would go to concerts and feel cheated because the bands insisted on playing all their new stuff from their next record instead of the songs we had listened to hundreds of times on their old records. And if they dug out a familiar hit from their past and tried to give it new life with a different arrangement, that might not be a popular choice.

As the years went by my own music appreciation matured. I became a fan of jazz and there is just no way a jazz band is going to play anything the same way twice. Each performance is a new creation based on a rough outline. And I discovered the same principle could apply to other musical styles as well. When I moved from Boston to our nationís capital, Paulís Mall became the Birchmere.

Itís hard to describe the connection a listener can have to a group of musicians at a live venue. When it works well the listener feels like an essential part of the music. Musicians can sense a good crowd and it can make them play even better. They might be in a groove up there on stage but a good listener can be in a groove too. You the listener are so keenly tuned to whatís going on musically that when a perfect phrase comes from the soloist, you have the feeling that it was actually you who produced it.

Hereís the way the novelist Thomas Hardy (a musician himself) describes an inspired singing performance in The Mayor of Casterbridge:

ďHe was to them like the poet of a new school who takes his contemporaries by storm; who is not really new, but is the first to articulate what all his listeners have felt, though but dimly till then.Ē

I get the bulk of my live music fix each year at Grass Valley. The big stage acts are superb and if I like them up there I always try to catch them in a more intimate setting like the Pine Tree Stage or Vernís. Music from the pros can really elevate your music appreciation and inspire you when you get out there for that other form of live music: jamming!

Hereís wishing all my friends in the CBA a happy and prosperous New Year! To those of you fortunate enough to attend the Great 48 in Bakersfield: Jam till you drop! But donít forget to check out the live concerts by polished bands when you get the chance. My advice is to get there early and sit right up front.
Posted:  12/30/2013

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