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False Idols

The dog days of summer. Fresh breeze blowing a slight scent of chlorine to me as I linger in the verdure near the swimming pool. I've been for a walk and just cooling off - I'm not here gazing at the young and tanned females, although there are always a contingent of middle aged men spending their noon hours in ultra gawk mode. Wonder if those Orkin guys are supposed to be off poisoning vermin somewhere?
Pool Not much seems to be happening these days to peak my interest. Spent most of yesterday recovering from an evil hangover (thanks Tony and Phil!). I have been doing this for how many years now and still haven't gotten that "don't drink on an empty stomach" rule down. I had so much work to do, and the call to duty was strong, but my will was (as is often the case) weak, and I sat on the couch watching some taped programs from the weekend. A Black Adder episode I have seen multiple times (yet still find amusing), followed by Red Dwarf's encounter with Cassandra - hilarious, but Rimmer's begging for sex hit a tad bit too close to home.
Said shows slid by as I sat adrift in my hangover haze. Then "Mountain Stage" came along. Used to be cult fave "The Prisoner"in this time slot, but the programming changed. Now my normal reaction is to leap to my feet and shut the damn thing off (ok - you got me - I use the remote), but the dratted remote wasn't handy - so my lethargic state prevailed and I succumbed to inertia. Now I have nothing against the country/bluegrass genre per se, but sometimes the effect produces in me a kind of nervousness not akin to hearing a plucked banjo coming from the woods on a long canoeing trip.
Much to my pleasant surprise the show turned out to be quite good, with a focus on southern r&b with an experimental flavor. Featured artist Derek Trucks is so young (23) and talented that I was nearly sick with envy (or was it the gin-soaked olives raising their blue-cheese stuffed heads). I had already been impressed with his slide guitar work on the latest Allman Brothers Band (of which he is a member) cd, and his performance as bandleader was quite startling in the gravity of his playing and steady demeanor. Combining a nasty, dirty SG with (jazz saxophonist) Dexter Gordon covers was an interesting blend and his well-oiled band made a joyful noise. Colonel Bruce Hampton (formerly of the Aquarium Rescue Unit & co-founder of the H.O.R.D.E. Festival) followed and led his new group - The Code Talkers through a couple of tunes that were quite compelling as well. A blend of jazz, southern-fried rock & hellacious roadhouse blues with a clever literary bent provided by chief songwriter Bobby Lee Rodgers - a former Berklee guitar instructor - whose jazzy acoustic riffs and scat singing pumped up the energy as he bounced around the stage. Perhaps the highlight of the show was "The Body in the Lake", where Rogers sneered and snarled his way through a riveting pulp fiction tale of murder and redemption. Accessed their website and found they will be appearing in Chicago at The Boulevard Caf October 3-4 - may have to check that one out.
One hour - three acts - surely all three couldn't pan out. Well I was mistaken. Jeff Lang - a solo guitarist from Australia might have opened my eyes the most. Accompanying himself by stomping on a beatbox and hammering rhythms with his fingerpicks on the various parts of his steel guitar, the down under troubadour howled and wailed like a cold wind over the outback, while his fingers convulsed in a blues style that was steeped in tradition, yet highly individual and innovative. This guy is something else! (http://www.jefflang.comau/).
The show was an excellent example of what public television can do, and gave me pause for reflection on back when commercial TV used to produce decent music shows. Remember when people used to be able to tune into an In Concert, Midnight Special and/or Don Kirschner's Rock Concert? For those too young - you used to be able to several different acts in one night. And they weren't all pigeon holed into one type of music either. You could see Bowie, the Stones, the Bee Gees, Foghat, Roy Orbison, Kiss, Lou Reed, Ike and Tina Turner, the Ramones and many more, all on the same bill. You may not like it all, but at least you were exposed. Heck even American Bandstand had Talking Heads and Marvin Gaye, and Bowie played Soul Train. Now we are so fragmented into special interests that we run the risk of never having our horizons opened to the full variety that exists out there. Instead, the current televised music forum is either empty TV, sex-shilling Christina and Britney clones or blandness spoon fed to Idol minds by idle hands. Maybe the future will bring better programming . We can only hope.

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