Monday, December 10, 2018

Well here we are in 2018 and The Lovin' Spoonful is still playing gigs and the audiences are still enjoying hearing the songs we recorded back in the 1960's. Back in that great decade of music and social change most of us thought that once we turned 30 it would be time to find a new occupation perhaps still in music but surely not in Rock and Roll. It was the heyday for the baby boomers and the vicissitudes of popular music from the 50's to the Beatles onward made it difficult for the creators of pop music to project much into the future as far as a career goes. The Vietnam war had changed the face of social mores for many draft age men and the women's movement was beginning to gain steam. The combining of folk style lyrics with the beat music of rock and roll had it own dynamic and technically the advent of multitrack recording had made much more complex albums possible and the future for rock was in the balance. Motown was cranking out hit after hit and country music was also growing legs that could reach far beyond WLAC and Nashville but by 1969 was Rock and Roll still a viable term to use for popular music.
Beginning back in the early 1950's small combos that were mostly guitar, keyboards, bass, horns and drums along with lead and back up vocals were moving from clubs and lounges to the recording studio where the adaptation of delta blues and Irish/Scottish folk songs to a simplified beat and where the guitar was a lead instrument along with great vocals began producing hit records that was popular with the young folks. However this music had a hard time reaching an older audience due to consternation caused by the beat. At this time television was becoming a household appliance and where before listening to the radio was how one consumed most popular music, you could now turn on the "tube" and see performers playing and singing and OH NO moving to the beat of the music.
This did not sit well with many tastemakers as the beat was deemed 'devil's music' or some variation of that theme and would surely lead to the end of civilization as it was then known.
Bill Halley and The Comets had what was called by many the first Rock and Roll hit record with Rock Around The Clock in 1954 which may have led to calling this new music Rock and Roll but nonetheless the flood gates were opening and Rock and Roll was here to stay...but was it?
I need not review how Rock flourished for the next 50 years as technology advanced so did the quality and complexity of the recorded music the only slight glitch was the band's ability to perform accurately on stage what they had created in the studio.
Then in the 1990's computers which had been becoming more and more user friendly since the mid 1980's evolved into the lap top computer and music production software that could in fact be used as a recording studio.  Rock and Roll was now on death watch as the computer with its digital precision was about to take away what may have given Rock its bona fides.
It is important to make clear that I have fully embraced the digital world. I use both desk & lap top computers as well tablets and todays music creation software is the bomb, photography has become user friendly for even the most novitiate photographer and research has become beyond easy with digital strength.
So is there a problem here? Is it still rock and roll? I will leave commenting on that to readers of this blog. I will however make clear that however complex the recording of both the music and the visuals become, the art of playing that music in front of a live audience is still rock and roll to me.
So whether you don't like today's music or embrace it fully, I would love to hear from all about what their feelings are. Is It Still Rock and Roll?

Monday, February 9, 2015

Reading the transcript of Bob Dylan's acceptance at the MusiCares Person of the Year 2015 award gave me plenty to think about and some that I would rather not. Dylan was the first person that I was aware of that became a star in the world of what I call Pop music, although I gather he would rather I not call his music Pop, that went against the rules, i.e. didn't have a "nice" voice, his songs were too troublesome, they made you think, he took on the establishment (fine for folk music but not for AM radio) Remember this is 1963 when he first came into my universe and the Pop music of the day was mostly bubbly boy meets girl and girl gets run over by a train running back for a ring, fun songs about surfing and hot rods and of course slow songs made for getting closer to your best other than you were allowed to do when the music stopped, silly songs, Charley Brown and Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini and then that disturbance from across the ocean called The British Invasion who wanted to Hold Your Hand and Something Tells Me I'm Into Something Good. Mrs. Brown You've Got A Lovely Daughter
Bob said then and today that this has to stop. Silly songs about boy meets girl are not serious, not worthy of acceptance. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is a popularity contest, not worthy of representing what Rock and Roll was really about.
But then Bob goes on to say that "My gal is red hot, Your gal ain't doodly  squat" is what the essence of rock and roll is all about. I guess he is serious about comparisons and truth be told I loved that song by Billy Lee Riley as well. Where would the Spoonful fit in to this world. Hand in your Rock and Roll membership card Mr. Boone, your songs are not serious.
Actually I think I know where Dylan is coming from and he does go on to comment about the insular atmosphere in the music powerhouses of Nashville and New York as well Southern California. Once the clique is established the rules are set against newcomers and the entry bar is not set high but unclimbable.
Today's Rock and Roll: The one thing that I agree whole heartedly with Dylan is that todays' rock and rollers ain't got no rhythm. The have grown up with drum machines and pro tools and at least in the studio have never had to play in time as a band would have had to 50 years ago. It is all about attitude today and attitude breeds volume both noise levels and verbal roller derby.
So Rave on Bob Dylan, you led the way in 1963 and who's to say you can't still in 2015 at the least MusiCares does.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

I miss hearing new music and old on my FREE fm/am radio

I really miss the sound of a familiar disc jockey playing the newest release by an artist I have been in to lately. I have tried many of the new services like Spotify and Pandora and SiriusXM and while the newest music can be heard there and the selection between all of the providers is great, there is something missing for me. That is the sound of a LOCAL disc jockey. People of a certain age would surely remember "submarine race watching" and getting the current hot slow dance tune dedicated to you main squeeze on the radio. Calling in and voting on the latest release and even going out to Palisades Park with Cousin Brucie. Then there is the cost. With all of the electronic gadgets and services we have to play with and use, many of them come with a fixed monthly cost. Whether you use them or not, you are paying the $9.95 or $4.95 or maybe even $12.99 per month. Now multiply that by 12 and what you get is how much your paying a year even if you don't listen for one (1) minute. Meanwhile over there on the FM band is commercial radio which to you is absolutely FREE. Same thing with AM..FREE. You might even hear about a product or LOCAL service you can use without having to scan the yellow pages or google a search engine. I also miss the personality of a DJ who lives in the area they reach on their program.  You just knew that when they recommended a local dance hall or concert venue that they had been there and done that and could count on their pitch.
With the record/music business in such disarray lately they could use a little looking inward to what worked in the past to get people excited about their artists and music and inevitably it would have involved radio both am and fm. To be fair, I think that commercial radio itself contributed to it's slide in popularity over the years. They started subscribing to national rating services and using playlists that were sent down from corporate HQ instead of letting the DJ's make up their own local response generated top 20 and especially breaking new artists with putting their first record on the air before anyone else had it. When I broke into the business with the Lovin' Spoonful it was a very exciting time to be in a rock and roll band and putting out your record for the fans to hear on local radio stations where they would surely come to where you were playing if they heard it on their hometown radio station. Lastly in times of keeping ones monthly costs under control for me my entertainment budget would be one of the first to get tightened and that would mean shedding off those monthly fees that I rarely used anyway and getting my entertainment fairly for the cost of supporting local businesses and products. The way capitalism should work!

Friday, August 1, 2014

Lovin' Spoonful's bass player releases his book!

steveboone.netFriday August 1, 2014
The cat is out of the bag!So to speak. Actually the book is out on the shelves of your favorite book store. The early reviews have been very favorable and I can only hope that enough folks hear about it and spread the word. The Spoonful came on the scene like a shooting star flying across the night sky and after 3 short years disappeared almost as quickly. Why did that happen? What was going on behind the scenes that caused this disappearance? That and a whole lot more are in my book and while it was just the catharsis I needed to write it, I think it will be fulfilling for anyone who enjoyed the music scene of the mid 1960's. But hold on tight because Steve Boone had one hell of a ride and it is shared  in this book with no holds barred. Written with his bud and senior editor at CBS Tony Moss. Hotter Than A Match Head, Life on the Run With The Lovin' Spoonful! Buy it now at: