Things are getting heavy now. The street noise is ratcheting up, it’s getting harder to walk a straight line sober. The audio pieces I promised are not really happening, although I’ve picked up a lot of sounds. It is just going to wait until next week and it will be one long piece, because the time is getting sticky, stretchy, tiresome and enthralling at once. I am committing to one new thing for each day: facetime interviews. I will snag one artist minimum for the next few days and do a short improvised interview using FaceTime on my iPhone. It requires a degree of whimsy and intimacy to pull off, as we stand connected by ear buds, making eye contact with each other through the display screen, it lends itself to silliness.
Of course the big thing that happened was a keynote speech on the history of pop music relating to Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band. Yes indeed, Bruce made the festival and covered a few songs. He looked amazing, I must say, he moves cool, but he’s also my Father’s age and my Father doesn’t move that cool. He also doesn’t have magic youth potion like Bruce. It was a treat to hear him sing and relate his wisdom to the masses of young musicians and industry types. He was thirty minutes late luckily, because I was late too. But why does everyone yell, “Bruuuuuuuuce!” when it sounds so much like a “Booo”? Maybe that’s how cool he is.
Bruce started off saying that since Elvis, nobody agrees on anything in music, listing a ridiculous but mostly real list of genres appearing at SXSW festival. He says, “We live in a post-authentic world.” With Elvis there was the television revolution in the industry, making the pop star of today. Roy Orbison “is the coolest uncool loser” and nobody could relate heartbreak and love like him, making Bruce believe that “life is tragedy broken up by bliss”, but he would later realize that only pop music is that way. The Beatles broke and suddenly it was about independence, bands that wrote their own music, regular guys paving the way for the myriad bands of now. The Animals was the biggest driving force for Springsteen in those days, the first group to blow his mind with perfect songs and poetry together. “Every song I ever wrote was [an Animals] song”. Then with punk rock came a new excitement for him. The Sex Pistols frightened people, “Any band can do shocking” he points out, but these guys frightened. Were it not for Motown, he wouldn’t be the performer, the producer, and big band leader that he is because Motown was his school. And of course, James Brown remains the pinnacle of all performers. “Bob Dylan gave us the words,” Bruce reminds us, he is “the father of my musical country” while country music is the land. Woodie Guthrie ties the knot of it all together. He tells us about singing “This Land is My Land” at the inauguration of President Obama, and we sing together that famous Guthrie tune in the auditorium together. It was a fine monologue and left a lot of fans excited.
Yesterday the Trade Show ended. It was another thing that I hardly dug in to. I mostly passed through it on the way to the Meet Up Pavilion … for the meet ups … so that’s over. But I promise to relate the Gear Show to you. I tried to see Sleepwalk With Me, a film featuring comedian Mike Birbiglia, but it was massively full. Fortunately, I managed to catch him for a stand-up set at Esther’s Follies. He is a storytelling comic, as am I, and he is a great influence on me, writing a book, performing it as an off-Broadway monologue, and finally making a hit feature film. He told the story of how he first made out with a girl as a teenager and embarrassing failed attempts leading to it; the hilarity ensues.
I caught an awkwardly empty panel about called Getting Off the SOPA Box, but as moderator Ted Cohen said, it’s five o’clock, “free beer outside; free speech inside.” And we proceeded to clumsily discuss a big issue with far-reaching points of view, but from a panel of somewhat defensive people who kind of mucked up the argument resulting in very little enlightenment on the legislation. It did however manage to go in to the whole world of entertainment industry and market evolution. I also learned that Google outweighed the lobbying financials greatly against the pro-SOPA groups. It is unclear what Google’s motivation is, considering the overhaul of their own privacy law when the bill was getting voted down; they knew something, but this discussion remained too shallow to deal with these devilish details. Sorry guys.
Fiona Apple packed an audience in the limited seating of the Presbyterian Church. I managed to convince staff to let me in long enough, as Press, so I could cover the event. One hit song was in swing as I stepped up the balcony and it was good, sounded different but I still can’t place it, and I’m scanning for it, but the two songs that followed were unique, soulful, jazzy, soft spoken, and original. I wished I were better organized, because it would have been worth it to catch the whole show. She was sort of a flash in the pan probably because she is too authentic for the mainstream, yet continues releasing Platinum and Gold albums, so good for her.
It was fun to make a friend at the festival and then see them play, and that friend is Krista Muir, hailing from Montreal, she sings in English, Spanish, and French, she’s part of the Canadian block. Her charming presence is the something she brings whole-heartedly in performance, charming with a humorous, whimsical personality through her personal songs. She performs with stereo tracks and a baritone ukulele and honestly it’s her own sound. The songs are good and special.
If I explained how confused I was already, you get it, missing shows over and again. I didn’t get in to Laura Gibson, Soft Metals, The Shins, Goldenboy, and finally, when I was admitted to YACHT literally the moment they said, “Thanks, we’re YACHT!” I said, “Forget it!” to Tenacious D and every other great show in the works. I went home and got some sleep. And by home, I mean the place where I’m crashing on a couch. And by that I mean I was locked out because nobody was home and I slept in my car until the nightly party train rolled through again, up until 3am again. If I had my own hotel room, I’d be alone all the time. I count my blessings.