HORROR STORY OR NO BIG DEAL. You may or may not be aware of it, but music’s role is changing rapidly in our “new normal” world. Live music, especially at the club level, is practically in free fall. Venues have lost a lot of appeal, except for established acts who can eek out enough people to fill or almost fill a room. No one is going to the neighborhood bar to hear the latest thing or even last week’s thing, anymore. People are going out to drink craft beer and mingle, but musicians, if any are around, are mainly part of the wallpaper; not necessarily a reason for anyone to be there. The concept of a record album is losing relevance, giving way to the single or rather the song or rather the track. And who knows what’s catchy? It all depends on what kind of sound you prefer, if any, as you go about your day. Some youngsters and some people with the brains of youngsters still like to crank the volume while they drive around. In Denton, the low hip-hop bass frequencies almost always come out of big pickups, letting those around the truck know there’s a cool person nearby. Sort of a public service thing, I guess. But it’s like music is just another part of the cloak; something that represents the person, rather than something the person just digs a lot and supports. I mean, it’s always a been a little like this (Were you a Mod or a Rocker in the 60s?), but the specialness of being moved by something beyond day-to-day routine is pretty much kaput. No one separates the artist from the professional athlete or the soldier or the accountant or the plumber. Everything is equal and that’s not a bad thing. Musicians have enjoyed sitting on invisible pedestals for a long time and, granted, usually for no good reason. But across the board, in the make-believe land of entertainment, the mystery is over. Movie stars no longer glisten, either. It feels like everything is just some sort of con game. Or maybe the truth has just recently been revealed. All I know is when I was a kid, in a high school of about 1000 students, no more than ten of us had any desire to play the guitar and sing in front of people. Now, I bet the number is more like 800 out of 1000 who want to be on the stage, sharing their gift with humanity. I’ve always cringed at that idea, by the way; that a person was magically chosen to receive a talent, which he or she then felt obligated to force onto everyone else. For some reason, I always felt better about art or music created for no other reason than to just be itself.
JOKE OF THE DAY
Interviewer: What are your plans now that you have won our Prairie Dog Days’ “Sing Your Butt Off” contest?
Singer: I want to make a record and tour the world so I can make people happy with my voice.
Interviewer: That’s quite giving of you.
Singer: I know.
It seems like I’m complaining, but I’m not. I’m just telling it like it is. And nothing can change the trajectory. There has been a huge shift in attitude towards music. It’s just not as special to as many people as it once was. Musicians are not as mythical to the masses as they once were. Social media has created fame and diminished fame. If it’s not new and fresh, it’s old and “been there, done that,” no matter how precious those memories of one’s “wild” past might be. But beyond the obvious, who know where this path is headed. Downloads are way down, losing to immediate streaming, CD sales are actually up, but mainly because this is one of the only ways touring musicians can make any money; to sell souvenirs as impulse items and although vinyl LP sales are holding steady, most people don’t listen to them. They’ve become the new coffee table book. And, the above-mentioned streaming situation will never put money into the average person’s pocket. But, once again, this is not bad or good. It just is.
So, what is a musician to do? Try a new hair conditioner, perhaps. Well, I don’t know. I can only imagine what I should do. And what I’ve done my entire career is just to entertain myself. To do weird things with songs and see if anyone else is interested. Sometimes they’re definitely not, which is cool and to be expected. I have mainly been completely selfish in my pursuit of nothing in particular. My guiding voice says stuff like, “Hmm, I wonder how it would sound if I did this or that.” That’s about it. So, that will probably be how I approach the future, as well. Brave Combo has been back in the studio. We have several songs well on their way and have no plans to make another full-length album. For now, it’s just a bunch of individual tracks which will become who knows what? And, I’m oddly comfortable with this. As bleak as it all sounds, the tension and desperation could, ultimately, produce some of the coolest music ever. History sort of proves that, actually. There’s certainly a lot of angst in the world right now. What better time to stir one’s emotions and use music and art as an outlet?
So, in my pursuit of different, I decided to start making music which was not even bound by the super-loose constraints of Brave Combo. Thus, The Carl Finch Sound. At least that’s what I’m calling it for now. I’m not sure if it belongs on the stage or in a dark corner and I’m trying not to care. I just want to explore certain things with no goal in mind; no particular purpose. Maybe it’s background music to accompany a meal or maybe it’s a total immersion involvement. I hope to blend into the fog and invite others to get sucked in, if they want. It might be more about transforming the atmosphere than rocking out as a band. Whatever, it appears to be working, on some level. Here’s a sample from a phone recording at a rehearsal recently, to give you an idea.
But, enough about me. My band, Brave Combo, is pretty damn busy right now and happy to be so. Please look over our itinerary and come out when you can. There are some exciting things brewing and we’re encouraging everyone to be curious. Okay, I am in our home office with our oldest cat, JJ, by my side. Although she’s very loving, she hates our other cats and usually wants to attack the dogs, who are both about ten times bigger than she is. Just thought you’d want to know. Okay, I’ll say goodbye, for now. Here’s a song you might enjoy before you tackle the next problem.