Music Conferences

Another evite.

CBGB Festival: Music Conference

Good Lord, is nothing not sacred? I mean, I can’t figure out the trajectory from the Ramones and Johnny Thunders to the head of Viacom Music. Maybe I missed something.

It’s funny that the music industry will pay more attention to CBGB’s as a brand than they ever did to the bands that played there. But a brand is something their lawyers can understand. Music? That’s a little iffy.

Anyway, fuck music conferences, all of them. I never attended one. I’m not gonna go hear some shyster babble about how he made his millions off other people’s music. I’ll just go hear the music.

Ya know, they reduce music to a business model, and they wonder where the sales went. Well, people don’t feel a business model. But they feel the real. Alas, real doesn’t fit into the business model. A conundrum. We’ll discuss it at the next conference. And can you turn down that damn music? I’m trying to think here.

Grammy Museum

One night I finally gave in and went to one of these events at the Grammy Museum they were always after me about. It was dull, dull, dull. There was the inevitable private reception afterward with an open bar with expensive wine. The bored waiters slipped about with trays of bite sized things I couldn’t identify, but generally tasted odd. The crowd was all music industry types and hangers on and ass kissers and aging star fuckers and their rich kid freeloaders and not my scene at all. Not one bit. I slipped away for a minute and looked at some photo display in the gallery. Big shiny photos perfectly positioned and mounted and framed and very artily significant. Most of them were of rock stars, this being the Grammy Museum. Boz Scaggs and Rod Stewart and Bonnie Raitt, some Debbie Harry and David Byrne and Sting, like that.  For some ungodly reason, right there in the middle of them, was a shot of crazy, hardcore, anarchist, music business-hating Black Flag, with Henry Rollins all serious and fierce and young and not quite so buff. I recognized the beat up van they were sitting in and laughed….I remembered smoking dope in that very same van. Getting very high. That was, what, some thirty years ago? A couple party attendees came up, maybe wondering what I found so funny.  I got high in that van I said, aloud. Maybe too loud. They backed off. I laughed again. Nice people did that when we laughed back then too, thirty years ago. We would laugh, they’d retreat, we’d laugh again. Funny how laughter can be dangerous. Everyone took themselves very seriously in the seventies. So we’d laugh at them. It worked. This and the rest of my life three decades ago passed before my eyes. I was dying in there, surrounded by these photographs,  these people, this place. 

Suddenly I wondered just how the fuck I wound up hanging around a bunch of music industry hacks at the Grammy Museum. I hate the Grammys. I hate the music industry.  At that moment I knew I would never make it in this business. Me, who’d shared a bill with Black Flag in some hole of a club long ago. And me now, who only wants to sit in a small bar somewhere and listen to intense jazz improvisation. I just want the music, the pure stuff, all creativity and inspiration and intensity. Not this shit. Not this ultra hip industry crap. Not their fine suits and  fine cars and arm candy. I was hating myself for even being there. I had promised I never would, but there I was. Just another jazz journalist on the make. I had to get out of there, so I gulped down my two hundred buck chuck and split. The valet brought my car around. I got in and cranked up the radio. A saxophone screamed. I pulled into the city traffic and went looking for some jazz, feeling clean.