Okay, that’s a trick title for this post… although, after reading it, you still might decide to write your congressperson, and I would wholeheartedly support that.
But I wanted to warn you, I am going to get on a soap box. (Metaphorically, of course. There is no soap box in my house that would support my weight.) This is an impassioned plea for us all to listen to original, independent music. It includes shameless plugs for two of my favorites, Avolition and the Panindias Brothers, but you can apply it to any musician, band, type of music you love.
Last Saturday I got to hear both bands play. The joy of these bands comes from a lot more than their talent, musicianship, and the giddy pleasure they express in playing with each other. That’s all wonderful. But what makes them even more special is the joy of discovery – hearing a new song, an original, being part of the creation of art.
The P-Bros played at Iron on the Lawn, a great event in its own right, a birthday party for Brendan Adams (see details here). Like a lot of outdoor events, the crowd at this one was multitasking – checking out the hot rods, classic cars, and motorcycles; eating; wishing the guest of honor happy birthday; engines revving and smoking tire contests on the road behind the stage. Not exactly the symphony, where an errant rustling of the program will earn you dirty looks from other patrons. And that’s great – music is a part of our lives in all kinds of ways. The couple hundred folks there heard songs like Anchor, It Goes Like That, She’s Not the Girl for Me, and Dream Time – gems of songwriting and soulfulness, sorrow and humor. The gratitude of Thanks for the Moon was part of their day; they got to laugh at the Harley Song, and feel the subversive beat of We Came to Rock. All part of a performance that included rain, hot dogs, hot rods, flat congas, a broken bass guitar string, jokes, joy, love, and silliness; and all original works of art.
Later that night, at Raw Space in Ellensburg, Avolition took the stage, opening for Robbie Walden (also a great band, check them out here). Avolition’s been posting a demo song a week all year, an incredible piece by piece work of art (and pure guts). All originals. The too-few people at Raw Space were treated to a set that, not to put too fine a point on it, made most younger bands look like slackers. Not only are these guys good, their energy does not stop, flag, pause, or rest, on songs like Boom Boom Boom, Letting Go, Please Don’t Worry, Hold On, Halfway, and Take the Time. (You can hear the demo versions of their songs at Avolition.bandcamp.com. And you should. But if you don’t see them live, you won’t get high off their energy, and you won’t hear Andy sing AC/DC, and that’s all I’ll say about that.)
I love a good cover band. I love a good cover done by a great band out of love for the original song. No great music should die with the songwriter – keep Johnny Cash, Townes Van Zandt, John Lennon alive by playing their work live, too. But there’s something special about getting to carry on your conversation with the artist him or herself. Every Avolition and Panindias Bros tune I love, it tells a story I can relate to – more than that, it tells a story I can make my own. Thanks for the Moon (P Bros) reminds me how I love knowing the same big bright beautiful moon shines on everyone I love, no matter where they are. No Evidence (Avolition) keeps me on track, no wasting years, no feeling more bitter than I feel today. Storm (P Bros) gives words to the feeling of looking at life through a rear-view mirror. At this show, I heard a line in Hold On (Avolition) I’d not noticed before: hope, it springs eternal; is that supposed to set us free? Well. I’ve wondered that, too. Haven’t you?
So write your congressperson and request, no, demand these bands get more live gigs, and then insist all your friends go see them. Or whatever band you love that does their own work. Be part of the conversation. Own an original work of art, for the cost of a few dollars at the door and a couple of hours of sheer, ridiculous, priceless joy.