One of the big problems with Hollywood movie studios nowadays (or at least prior to the COVID-19 outbreak) is that everything is a remake, reboot, or sequel.
A dearth of new ideas can plague even the best of writers. None of these follow-ups seem to be as good as the originals. However, they are also extremely popular.
Who am I to argue with a successful formula? In this week’s blog I do what I’ve done a few times since I started writing these columns towards the end of April… answer questions posted on the Record Archive Facebook page, and @recordarchive on Twitter.
Yes, I know I just did that last week, but to be honest there were a couple questions I never got to in that previous column that I really wanted to tackle. I blame my own long-windedness (if that is a real word). By the time I got around to those unanswered queries I had already written so much I was afraid I’d used up the whole worldwide web and would have to rent a second internet. That’s how technology works, right?
I decided that we’d all be better off if I saved some of my babbling for the following week, which is now…
Q: What is your favorite release so far this year?
A: It’s been a very strong year in new music for me. Sure, it feels like I’ve lost more jobs this year than I had in the first five decades of my existence, there is a global pandemic that has negatively affected every aspect of life, and politics has divided society more than any other time in history, but the soundtrack to this infernal period of time has been awesome.
I’ve listened to many excellent new albums during the past ten months. There are also some that are in my musical wheelhouse that I haven’t gotten around to checking out yet, and a few that I’m really looking forward to over the coming weeks (including the new Springsteen this Friday, and Elvis Costello next week). I plan on doing a year end “Billy’s Top Ten Discs Of 2020” so that I can put some real thought into this “favorite release of the year” question… I just hope no one steals my highly original idea of doing a year end Top Ten list.
With all that being said, the album that popped into my head as my favorite so far is “Alphabetland” by X. They always say go with your first instinct so I’ll say that. You can pick up a copy at Record Archive like I did, or order it here.
Q: Who is your favorite underrated band?
A: I spent at least a week trying to figure out my answer for this one, and then Sunday morning I woke up with the song “Strangers When We Meet” in my head. This ear-worm wouldn’t leave until I listened to it… and then “Blood and Roses”… and then “Behind A Wall Of Sleep” … and then “Top Of The Pops”… “Blues Before And After”… “A Girl Like You”… “Too Much Passion” … and on and on and on. The Smithereens deserved to be way bigger stars.
Q: What would be your ultimate show lineup? You have to pick a local opener, a lesser known touring supporting band, and a headliner.
A: This is the question I’ve been contemplating the most, and the longest. I made up a few self imposed rules to make answering it a little easier for myself…
1. Everyone on this bill has to currently be alive and/or able to tour. If I have a legit shot at putting together my ultimate lineup they have to actually be available to play tomorrow if a COVID vaccine gets perfected and distributed today. No Elvis Presley or Prince. No Barenaked Ladies reunion with former lead singer Steven Page… they may have gotten back together for two songs to be inducted into the Canadian Music Hall Of Fame, but I don’t think that’s happening again. The same with the other Canadian band Moxy Fruvous and their troubled drummer Jian Gomeshi.
2. I don’t want to hurt the feelings of my many musician friends (who could easily fill the first two slots of this dream concert) by having to do a Sophie’s Choice and pick one over the other. Therefore I’m not going to choose any of them. I don’t want JunkYardFieldTrip to be sad if I choose Miller and the Other Sinners, or Sirsy to feel slighted if I pick the Adam Ezra Group, etc… I’ll have to settle for seeing these acts, Chris Trapper (with or without the Push Stars), The Earthtones, Tegan and the Tweeds, Cinnamon Jones, Reporter, The Tommy Burnett Band, and many more at the next Fairport Music Fest, Lilac Festival, or Party In The Park.
3. My first instinct for the headliner slot is Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, but I’m used to them playing for three hours without an opening act. I don’t want to cut Bruce short. Granted, they only played 90 minutes to two hours for the 2004 “Vote For Change” tour (which was opened by Bright Eyes, middled by R.E.M, and featured a couple songs by special guest John Fogerty during the headliner portion), but for my special show I’d want to go old school and make The Boss and his band play as long as they can without support acts. Let’s see who else I can get to fill that top slot.
Okay, enough about who isn’t playing. Here is your lineup for BillyStock 2020….
Local opener: Danielle Ponder and the Tomorrow People.
I did consider Blue Jimmy for this slot, but I’m not quite sure what their status is as a band. I know they did a reunion show this summer at Lincoln Hills Farm, but that’s not a regular thing.
Whenever I’ve seen Ponder and her band they have knocked me out, so don’t be late. You won’t be sorry. Check them out here.
Lesser known touring band: I’m going to cheat a bit and put the Arizona based Roger Clyne and the Peacemakers in the “friend” category. Thanks to my pals Brother Wease and Peacemaker Brewing owner Todd Reardon I’ve had the chance to hang with Roger a little bit. By putting Roger into the friend zone I can take him off this show (as per rule #2). The connection is tenuous, but it makes my decision a little easier.
I’ve narrowed this down to two bands. Both are from Philadelphia and I haven’t seen either live in concert yet, unless you count internet streaming and YouTube. Now how do I choose between…
A) Low Cut Connie
B) Dave Hause and the Mermaid?
Actually, the selection is easy… it’s the one that would make my wife happier. That would be Low Cut Connie.
We’ve become especially big fans of this band since the pandemic started and Adam Weiner and Will Donnelly of LCC began doing fun, funny, high energy rock and roll live streams just about every Thursday and Saturday. Adam is like a modern day Jerry Lee Lewis (without the whole marrying his cousin thing). Here’s just a little sample of what has kept us sane for the past seven months.
If you haven’t heard of my other choice of Dave Hause and the Mermaid they are very much in the vein of Springsteen or Petty. They may have still jumped into that middle slot if Hause could promise me that sometimes/sometimes not Mermaid keyboardist/guitarist Kayleigh Goldsworthy would be with the band that night. There is something that really drives me crazy about this punk rock Laurie Partridge. I think even Susan would understand my attraction to her. I guess I’ll have to be happy with this fantastic concert from Germany,
As long as I’m pointing you towards D.H. videos I hope you can take about four minutes for one of my favorite music videos ever. It’s the really sweet story of a little boy who falls in love with rock and roll. I identify a lot with that little boy. Stick around for the kicker at the end. Video here.
FINALLY!!!! Who is the main draw of ultimate concert lineup?
Headliner: Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, of course.
I’m never happier than when I’m at a Springsteen concert, whether it’s with his legendary backing band, solo, on Broadway, or even with that group he formed for the Human Touch/Lucky Town tour in the early 90’s.
For this show I’d even give the 71 year old rocker the choice of doing a slightly shorter set, or his normal full three hours if he wants.
“But Billy”, you’re asking, “what about Rule #3?”
There are two old sayings (not just one) that apply here…
1) It’s the exception that proves the rule, and 2) Rules are made to be broken.
At least I didn’t say “Finders keepers, losers weepers”. I would’ve, but it just doesn’t apply.
Bruce’s new album “Letter To You” comes out this Friday, and we all know where you can buy it. I suggest you pick it up while you’re at Record Archive for Record Store Day Drop #3 this Saturday.
What are your answers to these questions? You can connect with me (Billy D’Ettorre) on Facebook, or on Twitter @RadioFreeBillyD trying to find people who care about the things I have to say.
Stay safe and healthy. I’ll be back next week.