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CBGB Festival, July 5 – 8, 2012, New York City

5 September 2012

Let the record state that I am a cynic, and, have low regard for business entities. But I remain hopeful and idealistic because I am a devout Billy Bragg fan (among other reasons). That said, I am glad I attended three conferences during CBGB’s first (annual?) festival. Clichés and buzzwords were bandied about, like “transparency and clarity”, “game plan”, “best possible team”, and “be aware”. And of course there were funnies, like Eric Ambel’s “No one at the record company takes you out shopping for leather pants anymore”, about the then versus now, and Linda Chorney (a Grammy nominated singer, ooh!) offered her butt to the audience when someone said record companies screw over bands. And naïve me learned of things, like Tunecore. But my stomach turned when I heard George White (of Counter Productions and former SVP Warner) say “Spotify is the best we have now that pays artists, even if it’s very little. It’ll slowly change to their favor.”. But he could simply have been practical for he also said “There is no political moxie in Congress to taxing ipods, computers…to compensate musicians.”. Another panelist said “If cable had a $10 add-on for me to get music then yes, I’d get it!”. Ah, but how much of the tax or add-on will trickle down to Charles Ramsey? (I mention him because I recently got his new new cd-ep, “Love Don’t Need To Feel So Foreign”, after a marvelous show recently.)

Of course a CBGB festival means music, and can you believe (THE) Glen Matlock played the small Living Room? He was all smiley and jokey (“Bo Diddley used my bathroom once.”) and kinda pub-rocky, standing alone for his 50 minute set. He won us over with new songs and oldies. The latter included “Stepping Stone” (GM so looks like Davey Jones, r.i.p.), “God Save The Queen”, and “Pretty Vacant” (After the lyric “We’re pretty vacant and we don’t care”, he turned aside and said “But I’ll bet you do when you go home at night”. Haha!!). Now ask me of his funny entrance and exit, and how classy he was to us, the non-paying (i.e., free, and mostly seated) crowd.

The following night was Williamsburg, for Redd Kross and The Men. The former were lively and wild (I never saw them before) and the latter was primitive enough to make hair grow on my knuckles (a compliment). But a total surprise was Labor Pool, who played by-the-books yet careening Replacements-y rock. And how come they had no cd at the merch table? Somebody needs to manage this 4-piece rookie.

Saturday was a day game at Central Park, and we all know who played there, right? And we all know how funny Bob Pollard is, right? Well just to confirm, he cited the last time the band played here (~1996, a blistering show) and said “I threw a beer into the crowd. I’m sorry about that. It’s in the past, let’s move on.”. However, I failed in selling a single copy of THE BIG TAKEOVER issues 39 and 48, when the band was on the cover. I am not worthy. You may leave me now, sans guilt.

(All the above quotes are written from memory.)


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