Five Touring Musicals You Must See

Five Touring Musicals You Must See

WickedJersey BoysThe Lion KingLes MisérablesPhantom of the Opera.  When one of those musicals comes to your town you drop everything and attend.  It doesn’t matter who’s in the cast, who’s the director, or the name of the production company, you have to get tickets.  To put it another way, those five shows, regardless of geography, are can’t-miss musicals.

Of course, they aren’t the only traveling Broadway shows and they aren’t the only musicals worthy of your hard-earned cash and precious time.  Below are five other touring musicals that you’ve absolutely must see when they come to your corner of the world.  The following five shows are entertaining, inventive, and enthralling—a few are even hilarious.  These shows are so good they might even usurp the aforementioned quintet of musicals as your favorite.

The Book of Mormon
The Book of Mormon is in the argument for the greatest musical of the century.  The side-splitting show is the brainchild of Trey Parker and Matt Stone (the guys who created South Park) and Robert Lopez (co-composer of Avenue Q and the music from the movie Frozen).  The original cast included Andrew Rannells (from The New Normal) and Josh Gad (the voice of Olaf in Frozen).

The production, which makes more fun of musicals than of Mormonism, is about a pair of missionaries stationed in Uganda.  These intrepid proselytizers try to teach the Book of Mormon but the villagers are more concerned about AIDS, war, and famine then their spiritual life.  It’s hard to believe but that’s the backdrop to arguably the funniest musical of all-time. 

The Book of Mormon is currently playing on Broadway at the Eugene O’Neil Theatre.  The show is so popular that it has spawned two national touring companies.  One will be in Philadelphia until Sept. 14.  The other will visit Seattle, Spokane, and Minneapolis during that same time frame.  Also, look for TBOM in Miami from Dec. 2 to Dec. 14, Houston from Jan. 20 to Feb. 8, and Chicago from Feb. 24 to May 15.

Kinky Boots
Kinky Boots came out of nowhere to be the smash hit of the 2013 Broadway season.  When it debuted in March of 2013, it was not well liked by critics and it struggled at the box office especially against its rival, Matilda the Musical.  Undeterred, the musical kept plugging away and a month later it had surpassed Matilda.  Not long after that, Kinky Boots was nominated for 13 Tony Awards.  It won six of them, including Best Musical.  The following day, fans snatched up $1.25 million in Kinky Boots tickets.  The show became so popular that a special lottery system was created to prevent fans from camping outside of the Al Hirschfeld Theatre.

Based on the 2005 film of the same name, Kinky Boots is about the relationship between Charlie, a prim and proper shoe factory owner, and Lola, an outrageous and vivacious drag queen.  With Lola’s help, Charlie saves his factory by producing shoes for drag queens and kings.

Kinky Boots’ music and lyrics were written by Cyndi Lauper.  Her first attempt at writing a musical earned her a Tony Award for Best Score.  By winning, Lauper became the first woman to ever snatch up that award all by herself.  The book was written by the incomparable Harvey Fierstein.

Kinky Boots will be in Los Angeles from Nov. 11 to Nov. 30.  In 2015, look for Kinky Boots in Houston from Feb. 10 to Feb. 22, and Philadelphia from April 28 to May 10.

Newsies
If you want a great old fashion musical with memorable melodies and rousing dance numbers, then you need to see Newsies.  Nominated for eight Tony Awards, Disney’s energetic musical landed on Broadway in 2012 at the Nederlander Theatre.  The show is set to close Aug. 24, 2014 after more than 1,000 performances.

The North American tour kicks off Oct. 11 in Schenectady, New York.  The trek is scheduled to last 43 weeks and will visit 25 cities including Philadelphia, Chicago, Atlanta, Las Vegas, and Los Angeles.

Newsies probably sounds familiar.  It’s based on the 1992 film of the same name and it’s about the Newsboys Strike of 1899 that occurred in New York City.  Two historical figures are characters in the musical, Joseph Pulitzer and Theodore Roosevelt.

Alan Menken wrote the music while Jack Feldman penned the lyrics.  The duo won the 2012 Tony Award for Best Original Score.  Newsies is also the second musical on our list with a book written by the great Harvey Fierstein.  One of the best things about Newsies is the dance numbers.  The extravagant routines are choreographed by Christopher Gattelli. 

Once
Once is the third musical on our list based on a movie and the third that won the Tony Award for Best Musical.  The show made its Broadway debut in February of 2012 at the Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre.   The stage adaptation contains many of the songs from the movie, including “Falling Slowly,” that were written by Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová.  The book was the product of Enda Walsh. 

The original Broadway cast starred Cristin Milioti.  You may remember her as “the mother” from the CBS sitcom “How I Met Your Mother.”  She originated the role of “Girl.”  The male lead is called “Guy.”  When actors are done with their scenes they sit on chairs situated on the outskirts of the stage.  They also play instruments and serve as the musical’s orchestra.

The touring production of Once is currently in Los Angeles at the Pantages Theatre.  In the near future you can catch the show in San Diego (Aug. 12 to Aug. 17), Costa Mesa (Aug. 19 to Aug. 31), Baltimore (Sept. 9 to Sept. 14), and Nashville (Sept. 16 to Sept. 21).

Pippin
The U.S. national tour of Pippin begins Sept. 6 in Denver.  After that, the show relocates to San Francisco and the Golden Gate Theatre.  Then, from Oct. 21 to Nov. 9, Pippin will be in Los Angeles.  Other cities on the itinerary include Las Vegas, St. Louis, and Washington D.C.  In 2015, look for Pippin in Atlanta, at the Fox Theatre, from May 5 through May 10.

Pippin is the only revival on our list.  It premiered on the Great White Way back in the early 1970s.   Most people know the work through a watered-down, amateur version.  The Broadway version, if done in the vision of its original director, legend Bob Fosse, is actually one of the deepest, surrealist, and most unsettling shows to ever hit the boards.  The revival, which adheres to Fosse’s concept, is directed by the incredible Diane Paulus who won a Tony Award for her efforts.

Pippin tells the story of its titular character, the son of Charlemagne, and his search for purpose and meaning in life.  Although Pippin and Charlemagne are representatives of their famous namesakes from the Middle Ages, the plot adheres little to historic events.  The musical was originally conceived by its composer Stephen Schwartz as a student project.  If you recall, Schwartz went on to concoct the music and lyrics for Wicked.

As you might imagine from a musical originally directed by Bob Fosse, the dancing in Pippin is done in his iconic style.  The show also features the amazing acrobatics of Les 7 Doigts De La Main.  The touring production will star Sasha Allen as the “Leading Player” and the brilliant John Rubinstein as Charles.  Rubinstein originated the role of Pippin when the production premiered at the Imperial Theater on Oct. 23, 1972.  Also in the original cast were Ben Vereen, Jill Clayburgh, and Irene Ryan.

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Ten Unsung Heroes of Rock And Roll

Ten Unsung Heroes of Rock And Roll

What exactly does it mean to be “unsung?”  Well, it’s easy to know who isn’t unsung.  Paul McCartney, Lagy Gaga, and Justin Timberlake are NOT unsung.  They are sung.  They are way sung.

What about “underrated?”  Is that the same thing as “unsung?”  Well, to be underrated means you’re better at what you do than most people give you credit for.  Again it’s easier to point out who isn’t underrated.  Bruce Springsteen, Tom Petty, and The Eagles are NOT underrated.

Being “unsung” means you’re good but you don’t get the same attention as others that are equally or less accomplished.  Choosing the “unsung” heroes of rock is very subjective.  If ten pundits each made a list we are likely to get 100 different artists.

You may disagree with one or all of the names on our rundown.  That’s okay.  We’re confident you will learn a thing or two about a bunch of artists you should know a thing or two about.   Who knows, maybe we can get you to sing a song from an artist that’s unsung.

Andy Partridge
Andy Partridge is the founding member, singer, guitarist, and songwriter for the British pop/rock band, XTC.  If you need someone to write a catchy, complex, and superior pop song, Partridge is your man.  He’s right up there with McCartney, John, and Joel although you’ve probably never heard of him.  XTC’s fame was throttled by Partridge’s adult onset stage fright.  You need an upbeat love song?  Andy has “Mayor of Simpleton.” You want an accessible rocker?  Andy has “Respectable Street.”  You crave a melodic apocalyptic dirge?  Andy has “This World Over.”  You desire a more psychedelic offering?  Andy has “The Mole from the Ministry.”  We could go on but you get the picture.

Cheap Trick
Cheap Trick is the quintessential unsung rock band.  While they are known as the “American Beatles” in Japan, in America they’re only known for the single “I Want You To Want Me.”  Cheap Trick is an amazing live band who seems to be perpetually on the road.  They have also influenced a plethora of artists like Kurt Cobain, Pearl Jam, Billy Corgan, The Red Hot Chili Peppers, and Kings of Leon.  The band probably has more fans in the music industry then out of it.  Cheap Trick might not be in the same stratosphere as Van Halen, Journey, or Green Day but they were one of Joey Ramone’s favorite bands.

Deep Purple
Is Deep Purple really unsung?  Well, they are mentioned in the same breath as Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath as part of the three best British hard rock bands of the 1970s and the first song most guitarists learn is Purple’s “Smoke on the Water.”  However, Deep Purple are not members of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.  Yeah, we can’t believe it either.  The reason why this band wasn’t more “sung” is their lineup fluctuated greatly and they took a lengthy hiatus in the late 1970s and 1980s when they really should have been making music.  Go back and listen to their stuff.  You will be deeply impressed.

“Little” Jack Lawrence
His name may not sound familiar but it’s probably on a bunch of albums in your music library.  “Little” Jack Lawrence is the bassist for The Greenhornes, The Raconteurs, The Dead Weather, and City and Colour.  He also plays banjo for the alternative country outfit Blanche.   If that wasn’t enough, Lawrence does session work on side.  For example, he played bass on the Bond theme “Another Way To Die.”  Lawrence constantly overshadowed by his frontmen—Craig Fox, Jack White, Dallas Green, and Brendan Benson—but the contributions Lawrence makes to a song should earn him more recognition.

John Paul Jones
It’s hard to say John Paul Jones is “unsung.”  After all, he was in Led Zeppelin, one of the greatest bands of all-time.  Of all the members of all the major classic rock bands from the 1960s, Jones is probably the least heralded.  After all, when the band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall Fame he thanked Plant and Page for finally remembering his phone number.  Known as a bassist, Jones can play a bunch of instruments including the keyboards, violin, cello, sitar, and koto.  He’s also a composer, arranger, and producer.  Jones is now a member of the supergroup, Them Crooked Vultures.

Malcolm Young
Everyone knows Angus Young, the duckwalking lead guitarist of AC/DC who’s always dressed like a schoolboy.  The charismatic axe player gets all the attention, but his brother, the band’s rhythm guitarist, Malcolm Young, handles things away from the spotlight.  He’s the business brains behind the scenes and plays a major role in shaping the band’s sound—he’s even composed some of AC/DC’s most famous riffs.  Malcolm is widely considered one of the greatest rhythm guitarists in rock history.  Unfortunately, Young fell ill in April.  We wish him a speedy recovery.

Martin Barre
It’s hard to get attention when you play in a rock band and your frontman is a lanky flautist.  That’s part of Martin Barre’s problem, the lead guitarist of Jethro Tull.  His amazing guitar skills are the second most interesting thing in the band.  How do you top a guy playing rock flute?  You can’t.  Barre’s style is like Eric Clapton and Jeff Beck playing in a progressive rock band.  Barre never gets mentioned in conversations about rock’s great guitar players but he has received praise from Guitar Player, Guitar World, Mark Knopfler, Steve Vai, Joe Satriani, and a great blog called Clickitticket.

Phish
If you’re an average to below average music fan chances are good you have at least one Beatles album, a few U2 songs, “Baby’s Got Back,” and Michael Jackson’s Thriller in your music collection.  You may not be fans of any of those acts but their music is in your collection. 

Chances are also good that your music collection is Phish-less.  You probably can’t name one of their songs or albums.  Despite all that, the Vermont jam band can sellout any venue in the United States and that includes three nights at Madison Square Garden (which they did last December leading up to New Year’s Eve).  If they aren’t rock’s premiere touring act then they’re definitely in the top three. 

You can see for yourself this fall when the band launches a 12-concert tour of the western United States. The tour begins Oct. 17 in Eugene, Oregon and ends Nov. 2 when Las Vegas welcomes Phish to the MGM Grand Garden Arena.  The band will also visit Seattle, Santa Barbara, Inglewood, Chula Vista, and San Francisco.

They’ve only sold eight million albums in their 30-plus year career, they’ve never won a Grammy Award, and no one will ever sing one of their songs in a televised singing competition.  Yet, there isn’t an act that can pack an arena, amphitheater, or performing arts center better than Phish.

Producers
We can make an entire list with nothing but producers.  They are the unsung heroes behind our favorite recorded music.  Some have gone on to become major artists (Kanye West) while others were major artists who became producers (Ric Ocasek).  Some producers have become famous in their own right like George Martin, Phil Spector, Rick Rubin, and Timbaland.  Most producers remain nothing more than a small name on the back of the album.  Popular music’s all-time great producers include Todd Rundgren, Brian Eno, Robert John "Mutt" Lange, Bob Rock, and Glen Ballard.

Roadies
When you go to a Phish concert, or a Dave Matthews Band show, you probably take the stage, lighting, and sound quality for granted.  Don’t worry, we all do it.  Someone had to set up all those speakers and lights.  Someone had to erect the drum kits, tune the guitars, and hook up the microphones.  The hard workers who do all that stuff are part of a unit called the road crew—more commonly known as roadies.  They not only set up all the stuff necessary for a rock concert but they do it quickly and in complete anonymity.  There are no credits at a rock show.

Popular musicians that were once roadies include David Gilmour, Lemmy Kilmister, Krist Novoselic, and Noel Gallagher.

By David B.

For Trace Adkins Performing Live Is Therapeutic

For Trace Adkins Performing Live Is Therapeutic

There must be something magical about performing on stage.  It must energize, enthuse, and invigorate.  Sure, the travel that comes with touring is tiring, and it keeps you away from family, but having thousands of fans cheer for you and your music must be an immense rush.

As Jackson Browne sang in “The Load Out:” “…the only time that seems too short is the time that we get to play.”

The embodiment of Browne’s sentiment is Trace Adkins. 

The country music superstar is currently on the road and will be through Dec. 21.  That’s amazing when you consider how bad his year started.

In early January, Adkins was the headlining act on a country music cruise.  He left the cruise early after he had a terse run-in with a Trace Adkins impersonator and momentarily lost his battle with alcoholism.

Adkins immediately checked himself into a rehab facility.  He then left rehab early to tend to his sick father who soon passed away.  Days later, his heartache was compounded when his wife of 16 years filed for divorce.

Most people would retreat and hide.  Adkins is not most people.

“I owe a debt of gratitude to everyone for the outpouring of encouragement and support over the past few months.  It’s hard to put into words how much comfort you take from hearing, ‘We’ve got your back.’  So these shows are for you guys.  Thanks.”

All the bad stuff previously mentioned occurred in the first three months of 2014. 

Did Adkins lock himself in his mansion or retreat to some remote resort?  No, he went back to work.  He got the band back together, Sarepta Gentleman’s Club (named after his hometown), and routed some concerts.

Amazingly, the 52-year-old was back on the road by June.  In fact, he performed at the Grand Ole Opry on the third of that month—he was inducted into that Nashville institution in 2003.

Look for Trace Adkins to perform live in Huntington, New York on Aug. 1; Hyannis, Massachusetts on Aug. 3; and Cincinnati, Ohio on Aug. 28.

While Adkins had more than his share of sorrow in 2014, he also had some successes.  On June 21, Adkins was inducted into the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame.  He received the honor during his concert in Baton Rouge.  Participating in the ceremony was Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal.

Adkins also starred in the comedy Moms’ Night Out alongside Sarah Drew and Patricia Heaton.  The film hit theatres in early May.  Adkins played a biker named “Bones.”

The country singer would have been inducted into the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame regardless.  The movie release is nice but strictly coincidental.  He could have been on the moon or at the bottom of the ocean and Moms’ Night Out would have hit theatres.

Also, Adkins is set to release his twelfth studio album later this year.  And from everything I’ve read, recording an album can be tedious and frustrating.  I’m sure it’s more enjoyable then most jobs, but when compared to performing live it doesn’t even compare.

One has to believe that what has kept Adkins going isn’t the honor of awards or the attention of debuts but the fans in the stands.  For Adkins, there’s something cathartic about taking the stage and performing.  In fact, he recently said “I’d die if I’m not on the road."

Adkins isn’t going through the motions and collecting a paycheck.  Judging from recent reviews, he’s knocking them dead everywhere he goes.  His 2014 tour is already one of the top country concerts of the year.

The most interesting part of Adkins’ schedule is his last few shows.  Beginning in mid-November, Adkins launches “The Christmas Show Tour.”

This will be the second year in-a-row Adkins will spread Christmas Spirit via song.  Like he did in 2013, Adkins is touring to support his first Yuletide album, The King’s Gift. 

Christmas Gift Track List
The Wexford Carol
Tannenbaum
O’ Come Emmanuel
Away in a Manger
I Saw Three Ships
Silent Night
We Three Kings
Carol of the Drum
Oh Holy Night
What Child Is This

The Christmas Show begins Nov. 14 in West Point, New York.  From there, Adkins and his band travel to Worcester, Massachusetts (Nov. 15); New Brunswick, New Jersey (Nov. 18); and Englewood, New Jersey (Nov. 19).

Adkins continues his Christmas trek on Nov. 20 in Wilmington, Delaware.  The next night he’s singing carols in Providence, Rhode Island.  His fifth show in as many nights occurs on Nov. 22 when Baltimore welcomes Trace Adkins to the Modell Performing Arts Center.

His final two shows are spread throughout December.  On the sixth, he’s in Salina, Kansas for a gig at the Stiefel Theatre.  On the twenty-first, Adkins decks the halls in Clearwater, Florida at the Ruth Eckerd Hall.

Obviously, Adkins needs a few days off to do his shopping but he can still do more than two shows between Nov. 23 and Christmas Day and still have plenty of time to buy for everyone on his list.  So expect more Trace Adkins Christmas shows to be added. 

I think Adkins’ Christmas tour is the wave of the future.  Okay, maybe that’s over selling it, but it’s a very good idea that other artists should copy.  I know Kenny Rogers has been doing something like this for years.

People love Christmas music and families love to go out around the holidays.  A show comprised of holiday tunes seems fairly easy to put together.  A lot of carols are in the public domain and you don’t need a huge stage—just a Christmas tree and maybe some fake snow.  To make it even a better value, the artist can play their secular hits during the encore. 

In an era where recorded music is worthless, a Christmas tour is a great way for an artist to generate more revenue.  If the performer adds something like “$1 from every ticket goes to such-and-such charity” then you have a win for the artist, the attendee, and the community.

For artists like Adkins, who love to perform, what better way to celebrate Christmas then with a 15- to 25-date tour of North America? 

Whether or not Christmas tours catch on, Adkins will definitely see out the year in a much better place than when it started.

By David B.

Nine Rock Stars That I Want To See Get The ‘Nine Days And Night’ Treatment

Nine Rock Stars That I Want To See Get The ‘Nine Days And Night’ Treatment

Don’t let the big “X” on the album cover fool you.  The name of Ed Sheeran’s sophomore effort is not pronounced “X,” or even “ten,” but “multiply.”  Of course, if you want to have a lot of fun with fans of the English singer-songwriter just refer to the album as “X.”  It will drive them nuts.

By the way, the album drops June 23.

Sheeran is launching a world tour to support his second studio effort.  Throughout June, July and August, Sheeran will be all over Europe and Japan performing at various music festivals.

Then the North American portion of his world odyssey begins Aug. 21 in Seattle.  Later that month, there are two Ed Sheeran shows scheduled for Las Vegas on Aug. 29 and Aug. 30. 

Another highlight of his U.S. calendar is Sept. 9.  That’s when Ed Sheeran plays Mansfield and the Xfinity Center.

Ed’s final date in the New World is Sept. 18 in Toronto.  After that, Sheeran has a series of concerts planned for Europe.  Some of the cities on Sheeran’s EU itinerary are Dublin, Belfast, London, Manchester, Berlin, Munich, Milan, Barcelona, and Paris.

To promote X, as well as the Ed Sheeran tour, the redheaded-crooner appeared on a new MTV series called “Nine Days and Nights of Ed Sheeran.”  The hour-long show premiered on the network on June 10, but I’m sure it will be repeated several times.

This “new music documentary series” got me thinking about rock stars I want cameras to follow around for nine days and nights.  Only in my imagination I’m not bound by things like time and space.  I’m not confined to only selecting rock stars currently in their prime.  I’m picking musicians from all eras even those that have left this mortal coil.

Below are nine rockers I’d liked to see followed for nine days.  Some selections feed my penchant for watching human train wrecks.  While other picks are just plain interesting.  Regardless, spending a week and two days with any of the following rock stars will be (or would have been) thoroughly entertaining.

Adam Levine
When it comes to Adam Levine, I’m more interested in the “nine nights” parts then the “nine days” part.  We already know what Levine does when the sun is out.  He fronts Maroon 5, serves as a judge on the The Voice, runs a record label, has his own fragrance, and manages his own menswear.  At night is when things really get interesting for Levine.  That’s when he tries to be a faithful, one-woman guy.  In July, Levine is set to marry model Behati Prinsloo.  The fact that he’s getting hitch surprised a lot of people because he’s widely regarded as a hound.  Remember, Levine broke up with Nina Agdal by ignoring her calls.  Hearing Levine say “Yes, dear” and watching him hold his fiancée’s handbag while she goes to the bathroom will make for hilarious television.

Blake Shelton
No, this article isn’t a commercial for the NBC singing competition.  It just so happens that my first two picks are judges on The Voice.  Also, I know Shelton isn’t a rock star, but the country musician is quite a character and he’s married to one too (Miranda Lambert).  Shelton and his wife are known for their hard partying.  As we all know, “partying” is a euphuism for “drinks a lot.”  And when it comes to Shelton and Lambert, they do a whole hell of a lot of “partying.”  Nine days and nights with Shelton should provide plenty of sidesplitting moments of insobriety.

Bruce Dickinson
Bruce Dickinson is the lead singer of Iron Maiden and a polymath.  What is a polymath?  Don’t worry, it’s nothing dirty.  A polymath is someone who is an expert in more than one field.  Besides being an expert in heavy metal music, Dickinson is also a pilot, published author, and a nationally ranked fencer.  It would be fun to follow Dickinson around for nine days to see if he really knows how to do everything.  Or is Dickinson just one of those polymaths that can fly a Boeing 757 but can’t make a good cup tea or change a flat tire?

Fleetwood Mac
I’m cheating here, but I’m picking anyone from Fleetwood Mac circa 1975 to 1979.  I don’t care who it is, heck it can even be John McVie.  Fleetwood Mac is one of the bestselling bands of all-time.  They owned the second half of the 1970s thanks to their self-titled 1975 release, 1977’s Rumours, and 1979’s Tusk.  They managed to create all that great music, and perform all over the world, despite being utterly and thoroughly dysfunctional.  The McVies were divorcing, Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks were splitting up, and Mick Fleetwood suffered his own woman troubles.  When they sang about heartache and betrayal they were generally singing about someone on stage.  During the mid to late 1970s, spending nine days with anyone from Fleetwood Mac would have been akin to watching a telenovela.

Lady Gaga
Lady Gaga has received something similar to the “Nine Days and Nights” treatment before—remember her Thanksgiving special?  I think it would be fascinating to follow Lady Gaga around when she’s not touring or recording an album, but at home doing nothing.  Does she lounge around in yoga pants or does she wear a sweat suit made of cold cuts?  Does she watch Homeland on her couch or does she watch it from inside an egg?  These are questions “Nine Days and Nights” could answer.

Jim Morrison
This selection is a no brainer.  Can you imagine nine days and nights of Jim Morrison sleeping with groupies, using drugs, and obsessing about death?  We’re talking award-winning entertainment.  Grace Slick once told a story about how The Doors and Jefferson Airplanes were performing in Amsterdam.  As the bands walked down the street between gigs they were approached by fans offering them drugs.  Slick said everyone would take a puff here and a pill there then pocket the rest for later—there were just too many drugs.  Morrison, on the other hand, consumed everything everyone gave him right there on the spot. 

Morrissey
I admit that following Morrissey around for nine days might not be the most uplifting of experiences.  There would be a lot of brooding, a lot of staring out of rain-soaked windows, and a lot of reading.  My only goal for “Nine Days and Nights” of Morrissey is to catch him eating meat.  Morrissey is a world renowned vegetarian and animal rights activist.  Even so, you know he eats a hamburger every once in a while.  How do I know this?  A properly prepared hamburger is the greatest food on Earth.  Everyone loves them!  It would be priceless to catch The King of Mope chomping on a Big Mac.

Nikki Six
If reality shows had been around in the 1980s, we’d still be talking about Motley Crüe’s.  Their legendary debauchery would have been television ratings gold.  I could have picked any member of the group, but I selected Nikki Sixx because the hell he raised mainly hurt himself while Vince Neil and Tommy Lee hurt others.  Sixx overdosed about half a dozen times and died for two minutes in December of 1986.  If you disagree with me just read Sixx’s book: “The Heroin Diaries: A Year in the Life of a Shattered Rock Star”

Rod Stewart
It would be fascinating to follow Rod Stewart around for nine days during any stage of his career.  He’s one of rock’s greatest singers and one of popular music’s most notorious womanizers.  He’s had several famous trysts, children with five different women, and he’s been married three times.  Yet, he seems like a down-to-earth fellow.  Someone you could have a pint with and talk about football (the world’s game not the NFL).  Finally, Stewart is a big-time model train enthusiast.  Basically, he’s this unique mix of cool and nerdy who’s always surrounded by hot chicks.  That’s a recipe for must-see TV.

By David B.

Dave Matthews Band Defended From Rock Snobs

Dave Matthews Band Defended From Rock Snobs

Fourth of July.  Watermelon.  Baseball.  Dave Matthews Band on tour.

Those are four of the most popular hallmarks of summer.  You may balk at the final item on my list but for the last 21 of 22 summers, the Dave Matthews Band has gallivanted around the United States.   This year is no different.

The one summer DMB took off, 2011, they still managed to host four three-day music festivals called “Dave Matthews Band Caravan.”  Oddly enough, 2011 was the group’s 20th Anniversary.

This summer, Dave Matthews Bands has a slew of dates planned for the U.S. and Canada.  In fact, they’ll be on the road until Sept. 6.

Tour Schedule
DMB has two dates planned for Camden, New Jersey on June 11 and June 13.  After that, they’ll play back-to-back nights in Noblesville, Indiana at the Klipsch Music Center.

Look for Dave Matthews Band in Chicago on July 4 and 5.  The group is booked at the FirstMerit Bank Pavilion at Northerly Island.

When will Dave Matthews Band will be at the Gorge Amphitheatre in George, Washington?  I’m glad you asked.  Dave and company descend on that beautiful venue over Labor Day Weekend also known Aug. 29 through Aug. 31.  Labor Day comes early in 2014.  It’s Sept. 1.

What To Expect
This summer, DMB is doing something a little different.  They’re playing two sets.  The first is all acoustic while the second is all electric. 

Their acoustic set lasts about an hour.  They’ll stay plugged in for more than two.  The acoustic portion of the show is just the musicians.  The lights and video projections show up when the juice is turned on.

If you throw in a 30-minute intermission, you’re looking to spend more than three and half hours with Dave, Carter, Stefan, Boyd, Tim, Rashawn, Jeff, and 25,000 of your closest friends.

The show is billed as “A Very Special Evening with Dave Matthews Band. “

There’s no opening act.

Resume
Without a doubt, Dave Matthews Band is one of the all-time greats.  The living legends are destined for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as well as the “live performance hall of fame” is there was such of a thing.

Their last six studio albums have debuted at number one—no group has ever done that.  Overall, they’ve sold more than 30 million albums and earned 14 Grammy Award nominations.

If the band quit playing music today—or let’s say for the sake of those with Dave Matthews Band tickets, after the conclusion of their summer tour—their place in rock and roll history is secure.

Rock Snobs
Besides being an integral part in the annuals of rock music, Dave Matthews Band is also a central figure of another group’s history.  This group is far less illustrious and far less important.  I’m talking about rock snobs.

Dave Matthews Band is a seminal artist in rock snobbery because they constantly defy classification.  Are they cool?  Are they not cool?  Can you listen to them ironically?  Or can you not listen to them ironically?

Former Rock Snob
I know this because I’m a recovering rock snob.  I entered myself into a 12-step program and now I’m cured.  I urge all rock snobs to purge themselves of their snobbery.  You won’t regret it.

It’s so nice to be able to participate in conversations about Glee and American Idol without having to fain ignorance. 

It’s reaffirming to be able to sing along to Air Supply when they come on the radio without having to make sure no one is watching (as well as listening to a radio station that plays Air Supply). 

It’s refreshing to be able to wear a Bon Jovi t-shirt because you like their music and not because you’re being ironic although that’s a difference without a distinction.

Bottom line, it’s an absolute pleasure to be able to listen to whatever I want to listen to without having to worry about what others think.  Yes, The National and Bon Iver albums I own don’t get played anymore but Kid Rock and Kelly Clarkson sure are fun.

Cool?
What makes Dave Matthews Band so difficult for the rock snob is they used to be a slam dunk “cool” band,” but over the years, for some reason, their standing amongst the snob-gentsia has changed.  Since DMB’s debut in 1994 and now, conventional wisdom amongst rock snobs (if you can use “wisdom” and “rock snob” in the same sentence) has done a complete one-eighty.

In a recent blog entry on LA Weekly, Dave Matthews Band was named the worst band of all-time.  DMB can’t be the worst band of all-time as long no one has gone back in time and eliminated all evidence of The Black Keys.

Top Worst
In the forward to the article titled “Top 20 Worst Bands of All Time: The Complete List” (don’t “top” and “worst” contradict one another?), Ben Westhoff writes that all the groups on the rundown create “simultaneously pretentious and dopey, derivative and uniquely craptastic” music.

That’s an interesting description.   Oddly enough, it also describes most of the music championed by rock snobs especially the “pretentious” part.

In the entry explaining why Dave Matthews Band is “tops” at being worst, writer Jeff Weiss, in true rock snob fashion, claims that DMB’s music is for “folks whose favorite book is The Da Vinci Code and favorite TV show is Two and a Half Men.” 

This comparison isn’t pithy.  It’s mean and pretentious. 

Rock Snob Argument #1
The rock snob spends an inordinate amount of time listening to music and discovering new bands.  There’s nothing wrong with that except they berate people who don’t follow suit.  The expect everyone to spend the necessary time and energy to make bands like Beirut and White Rabbits tolerable.  The rock snob doesn’t understand, and won’t comprehend, that sometimes people want to see a jam band and the only jam band they know is the one fronted by Dave Matthews.  There’s nothing wrong with that and ultimately it’s a compliment to DMB. 

5 Reasons We Love To Hate Dave Matthews Band
The snobbery doesn’t stop there.  On May 28, Chris Baker posted “5 Reasons We Love to Hate Dave Matthews Band” on Syracuse.com.

He starts by going to the first page of the rock snob’s playbook.  He ridicules the band’s fans and calls DMB “jam rock for people who don’t like jam rock.” 

Jam Rock For People Who Like Jam Rock
I responded to a similar sentiment earlier in the article, but let me also say that all throughout the history of popular music, the really great artists have taken a marginalized, or somewhat marginalized, genre and made it accessible.  Elvis did it with rhythm and blues.  The Beatles did it with folk music.  Dave Mathews Band did it with jam rock.

Baker then writes that DMB is “Nickelback for Kids with bachelor’s degrees.”  I don’t know what that means.  Kids don’t have bachelor degrees.  

What I do know is Nickelback is the go-to-band when a rock snob needs a punchline and the second bestselling foreign band in the United States in the decade of the 2000s.

Reason #1
Baker’s first reason why we love to hate Dave Matthews Band is “because they’re generic.”  I think DMB is anything but generic.  After all, not too many rock bands have a full-time violin player.  Dave Matthews Band has one of the most unique sounds in all of music.

Funny, in this section of the article, Baker writes “DMB is music for people who aren’t fans of music but want people to think they are.”  It’s funny, because you can say the same about people who hate Dave Matthews Band.

Reason #2
Baker’s second reason is “because they’re safe.”  This is a trick rock snobs love to pull.  They call something safe because in popular music “safe” is bad.  In their eyes, dangerous is good.  Do they mean dangerous like Volcano Choir or dangerous like the ultra-scary Poliça

Josh Groban is safe.  OneRepublic is safe.  Dave Matthews Band is not safe.

Later, Baker explains that Dave Matthews Band is not as “inaccessible” as Neutral Milk Hotel or Umphrey’s McGree.  As if being “difficult to understand” is a good thing.  How many people listen to Neutral Milk Hotel and Umphrey’s McGee?  The answer is (relatively) no one.  Rock snobs consistently punish artists who have the ability to relate to large numbers of people and extol artists who connect with very few individuals.

Reason #3
His third reason for why he loves to hate Dave Matthews Band is “lacrosse jerseys, flat brim hats and beer pong.”  In other words, he doesn’t like their fans.  I get that.  All bands have a swatch of obnoxious fans, even the ones beloved by rock snobs, but that’s no reason to dislike someone’s music. 

Rock Snob Argument #2
Let’s talk a little bit about this because it’s the great contradiction of the rock snob.  They chide people for not listening to “cool music” but when the band that makes “cool music” becomes popular the rock snob stops liking them.  Rock snobs are never happy.  That’s why you should ignore their punditry. 

Reason #4
Baker’s fourth reason is “because they dumped crap on a whole bunch of people in Chicago.”  He’s referencing the 2004 incident where Boyd Tinsley’s bus driver emptied the vehicle’s septic tank while on a bridge.  The contents, 800-plus pounds of human sewage, rained down on a tour boat.  I actually agree with him on this one.  The bus driver took the fall, but I think the band, or at least a few of its members, was culpable. 

Reason #5
The rock snob’s final reason is “because they’ve made ‘Under The Table And Dreaming’ eight times.”  Baker is referring to the band’s debut album and how their subsequent seven studio releases sound similar. 

Rock Snob Argument #3
This is another trap rock snobs love to set.  They think every artist has to be revolutionary and on the vanguard ALL THE TIME.  Being cutting edge doesn’t necessarily make your music good just as being “dull edged” doesn’t necessarily make your music bad.

Listener Supporter
Overall, I think this criticism is a little harsh.  Has DMB changed their sound as much as U2?  Of course not, but their eight studio albums are not interchangeable.

Furthermore, Dave Matthews Band is a live product more than a studio product.  Their greatness is best experienced at a live venue and not via the mp3 player.   

Conclusion
You don’t have to enjoy the music of Dave Matthews Band.  You don’t have to enjoy attending a Dave Matthews Band concert.  Love them or hate them, it doesn’t matter.  Just don’t dislike them because they’re not blazing new trails, or their concerts are attended by a certain ilk of people, or their fan base has exceeded a certain size.

Don’t listen to rock snobs and especially don’t listen to them when it concerns DMB.  Instead, attend one of their concerts and experience the group and their music for yourself.  Chances are very good you’ll leave realizing that there’s just one reason to love Dave Matthews Band and that reason is they make great music.

By David B.