Thursday, July 19, 2007

Music Reviews

We recently went to see The Police here in St. Paul. It was a good show (quick video clip above, though you can't see anything... we weren't that close to the stage, it was dark, and it's a lousy cameraphone video). The Police were the first rock-and-roll band I ever liked (and likely, had ever heard of). You see, I grew up in a classical music household. We went to Tanglewood once a year and to Handel's Messiah most Decembers. My idea of "new music" was Stravinsky. I have no recollection of Elvis' death (I was 5 years old) because I'm sure I had never heard of him. Ditto John Lennon (I was 8 then). To this day, I know few Beatles songs and have never owned one of their albums.

So it was only when I switched schools in 5th grade and made friends with one Derek Sperry that I was introduced to non-classical music. Derek loved The Police, and Derek was my hero, so I liked them too. Synchronicity was the first non-classical album I ever bought (on cassette tape, natch). I still think it's a great album...

The Police also held significance for me in high school, though for a rather odd reason. I joined the marching band during my sophomore year of high school, having been recruited by other friends. The band needed people to join the percussion section, specifically what's called "sideline percussion." That is, things like xylophone, marimba, timpani-- instruments that are too big to march with the band. Since I had played piano for many years, I could play the keyboard instruments-- substituting mallets for fingers, it's really about the same.

So I joined the band and had a great time. The percussion section (or drum line)'s instructor was a crazy man named Bob Rush. Bob was very good at motivating us, particularly by inculcating the belief that we were better than everyone else in the band. This occurred primarily by making us work harder than all the other sections. If the band was required to be at practice at 8:00 AM (as we frequently were, on Saturday mornings during band season), the drum line had to be there at 7. We took great pleasure (in between groaning about it) in being out on the field marching, in full uniform, as the rest of the band yawned their way into the parking lot. (It may add a bit more coherence to this rather incoherent story to mention that Derek Sperry, my 5th grade friend, was the drum line's section leader...)

Bob was also very good at motivational speeches. One of his favorites involved drawing a contrast between Stewart Copeland (The Police's amazing drummer) and Ringo Starr (who I eventually figured out had been the drummer for the Beatles, but you already knew that). "Do you want to be Stewart Copeland or do you want to be Ringo?" Bob would ask, as we reluctantly played a part for the 50th time. "If you're content to be Ringo, then we can quit now and go home. But if you want to be Stewart Copeland..." Needless to say, we all wanted to be Stewart Copeland.

So while I've never been a fanatical Police fan (there's an etymological contradiction there, but you know what I mean), they have always held a special place in my musical heart.

Speaking of fanatical fans, I am beginning to get geared up to go see Rush in September. Yes, Rush. Yes, I know it's a bit geeky, but what would you really expect from me? I've been a fan since high school and have been to more Rush concerts than I can count (though not as many as the Bela Fleck and the Flecktones concerts-- seeing them in August!). Rush's new album (their 18th studio release), Snakes and Arrows, has received a good deal of acclaim (though I think I like the one before a bit better). They've been making music and touring for more than 30 years, and I can't wait to see them once again. So I've been listening to old and new material on my iPod (Daniela, not surprisingly, is not a fan) and while alone in the car....

Anyone else been to any good summer concerts?


Post a Comment

<< Home