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These Days, Rock Cover
Bands Can´t Seem to Get It On

Wall Street Journal, by Neil Shah

Original Article

Posted By:tisHimself, 7/17/2014 11:06:11 AM

Rock ´n´ roll is here to stay, Danny & the Juniors sang more than half a century ago. Rockers on the bar-band circuit aren´t so sure. Among the downbeat is Steve Brown, a 44-year-old guitarist who plays classic-rock tunes for a living. Despite a brush with fame, Mr. Brown doesn´t shy away from even the most cringe-worthy of gigs. One day he´ll perform for thousands at a festival with his rock band, Trixter, whose videos briefly topped MTV´s charts in the 1990s.

      


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Reply 1 - Posted by: Safari Man, 7/17/2014 11:15:03 AM     (No. 9928682)

Advice to Steve Brown: get a Mariachi outfit, an acoustic guitar, and some maracas. Prepare for your future.


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Reply 2 - Posted by: BaseballFan, 7/17/2014 11:22:36 AM     (No. 9928691)

LOL #1. Well, let´s see... there´s May 5 for sure... a few birthday gigs here and there. But after that...

I feel for Mr. Brown, but the fact is, tastes have changed. I don´t want to have to pay a cover charge or a concert fee to see/hear a guy my age "playing all the hits", and I seriously doubt any 20 or 30 something wants what he offers.

I own a restaurant & bar in a very nice neighborhood (office district). We dumped the live music idea years ago; it simply doesn´t pay for us to fork over four figures of cash, because the live music thing just doesn´t pay off. Quite often, the only people in the place to hear the bands we´d hire were the wives/girlfriends of the band, and a few hangers-on. You can´t make book with that crowd. Once we dumped the live music, we found the late dinner crowd would stick around for after dinner drinks more often.

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Reply 3 - Posted by: FL_Absentee_Voter, 7/17/2014 11:38:11 AM     (No. 9928719)

Even in my younger years of rock stupidity, I never enjoyed spending time in bars where 2-bit cover bands had the volume turned up to distortion levels so that they could live out their rock-and-roll fantasy. But I admire Steve Brown for keepin´ the faith and working hard for a buck. Sounds like a good guy with some great stories to share over a few beers.

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Reply 4 - Posted by: steph_gray, 7/17/2014 11:44:25 AM     (No. 9928734)

My classic rock band coalesced into an eclectic acoustic trio years ago - we do plenty of originals (yes, they are good ones, not cringe-worthy) and interesting spins on covers we want to play. We get a paying gig here or there but mostly do it for the joy of it. I have two such acoustic groups, same story for both.

The restaurants that hire us do in spite of the Obameconomy because they love our music and we do bring in a number of actual followers - people who signed up because they want to hear what we play. Not a huge number but enough to help margin on a slow night.

As for the bar music business, the first nail in its coffin was the raising of the drinking age in the 70´s. But these days the most interesting music I hear anywhere is original, acoustic, live, and off the cuff.

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Reply 5 - Posted by: jj1319, 7/17/2014 11:53:36 AM     (No. 9928759)

If I am fortunate enough to plan my own funeral, I would hire an Asian Monkees cover band and have them play "I´m a Believer" over and over again.

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Reply 6 - Posted by: Mushroom, 7/17/2014 2:44:17 PM     (No. 9929027)

Darn it #5 now I´ve got THAT running through my head. I did a year in Korea and I still love ´It´s so Easy´ ..quick! Put on a Barney tape so I can get rid of it.

I am empathetic to the subject and #5. Both know things change and one has to move with the customer base. I admire those that still slog it out over the weekends. With Karoke, Rocksmith, and quickie stuff like Guitar Hero many kids don´t see the big deal in learing theory and moving on. Consider the massive abilities of the average Jane to get editing software and *sigh* Vocoder is the sound they want? That´s supposed to be buried deep in the engineer´s tool chest so no one knows.
Is it any wonder the garbage that passes for pop is spread all over...and all sounds the same.



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Reply 7 - Posted by: jj1319, 7/17/2014 3:09:44 PM     (No. 9929045)

Sorry, Mush, but the comedy must continue.

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Reply 8 - Posted by: tank, 7/17/2014 4:31:00 PM     (No. 9929148)

Well, part of it is also that, some of the bands they are covering have returned to the bar/club circuit.

I´m a big live music fan and the fact is, the big arena rock shows are dead unless you´re the Foo Fighters or the Stones. The last ´´arena rock´´ show I remember seeing was Clapton and Winwood a few years ago. But when I can go to a bar to see Dr. John, Leon Russell, or some once-big rock act, I´m usually in a club or small outdoor venue.

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