So what seemed at first like a really good idea…
We flew in last night after spending a couple of weeks on the road. There were a few days spent in Boston but mostly we were in the NYC area visiting family and doing a little exploration. My wife is still back there attending a seminar at a university, and the boys and I are spending the day doing not much of anything. I should be plunging hard into work but since I do what it is I do from home, the re-entry is slow. Sleep was tough to come by last night after a late arrival and I’m moving like a turtle.
We had spent a Saturday the weekend before last at Clearwater’s Great Hudson River Revival which is a music and environmental festival held each summer on the banks of (obviously) the Hudson River. Hosted by Pete Seeger…and yes, we should all be like him at age 91…it was a wonderful day for enjoying water and sunshine, eating healthy vegetarian fare, doing the people watching thing and hearing some fine music from some of my favorite artists.
Throughout the day I used my cell phone to post Facebook updates…Pete’s singing now, Steve Earle is doing an Odetta tribute with Sarah Guthrie and friends, Sara Watkins and brother Sean sound great, Buckwheat Zydeco is tearin’ it up…well, you get the idea. Lots of folks “liked” my updates but the wife and kids thought it was dumb and they were probably right. I was recycling paper plates and plastic water bottles but killing off bytes and file storage space.
So this morning, what seemed at first like a really good idea…was posting my expanded thoughts here about the various performances I saw, a little about the crowd and the vibe, and whatever else came to mind. I like this blog thing I’ve been doing since ND became a community site, and sort of missed it a bit while away.
But on the other hand, I came across a study last week that looked at where people learn about new music and it’s sort of taken the wind from my sails. Because it turns out that music blogs…at least according to this survey…are almost dead last as an influence. Now that sort of surprised me.
For myself, I read dozens of music blogs every week and it’s how I usually find new things to listen to. I generally think they are much more interesting than the old school record reviews (apologies to all of you out of work music critics), and often the links make it easy to hear samples, see videos, get free legal downloads and visit the artist’s own website. You’d think with over 120,000 releases per year a music blogger with similar tastes as you would be your beacon… a guiding light if you will. But according to this study…nope.
It would seem that about 90% or so of the people interviewed said that they hear about new music from family members…and 85% from friends. From there the numbers drop rather quick and steep to the usual suspects: radio, TV, cable, live shows, traditional print media, soundtracks, taxi drivers, hairdressers, pet walkers and then at the bottom…music bloggers.
I like to say that I write and post for only myself. It’s a form of self-therapy, as well as a way to organize various thought-threads that drift aimlessly inside my head into a single strand that I hope others might find of interest. But a part of me also enjoys that “like” experience and I’d be lying if I said it didn’t matter.
So quickly…back to the festival and the music. Let me just give you a quick, two minute recap:
-Pete only did one song early in the day, but sat on stage strumming his banjo along with some youngsters who performed a nice set. In the afternoon he passed us in a golf cart and smiled and waved at my youngest son. It was his highlight.
-The Felice Brothers performed like a bottle of pop that was shaken up on a hot day before you twisted the cap. A crowd favorite.
-Toshi Reagon sang it like a steam locomotive barreling down the tracks. Powerful.
-For you fashion-istas, Sarah Lee Guthrie looked divine and cool as a cucumber in a short white summer dress. And she sang like the songbird she is along with husband Johnny.
-Le Vent Du Nord and the Slavic Soul Party were the two new discoveries of the day.Go find them.
-Buckwheat Zydeco had me dancing…something that doesn’t occur all that often anymore.
-Sara Watkins had great stage patter along with her incredible vocal range.
-Seeing David Amram play “Amazing Grace” on the tin whistles was magical.
-Steve Earle’s closing set at dusk was very moving. He had the right audience to play some things he doesn’t often play, and he really slowed it down to take the time to share stories. And politics. He brought Allison and baby John Henry out for “City of Immigrants”…she sang harmony and the baby just looked damn cute.
We had to miss the Sunday show, but maybe someone else who attended can add their experience. Or not.