Monday, July 9, 2012

Notes on the CBGB Festival July 5 - 8

Most of NYC may have cleared out for the week, but after inviting over 300 artists to perform around town the CBGB Festival had plenty of people participating in programs throughout the day.  It all began tastefully late after noon at the Landmark Cinemas, home of independent film in the city on East Houston Street. Krist Novoselic of Nirvana set the tone as the keynote speaker, providing a rich musical history with a call to get involved in the country's political process befitting his new role as activist and chairman of FairVote.  Music panels followed on the business of getting noticed and all the new tools available, as well as a discussion of way things were in the original club.  A film conference addressed the visual side of things simultaneously, and then there were film screenings along with the music showcases at night.
Krist Novoselic, another bass player!

The brand CBGB seemed alive and well, with opportunities to pick up T-shirts (like the festival staff already had on) everywhere.  There was a nice, quirky but handy CBGB Club Etiquette Guide which filled the back page of the handouts listing the events -- see below. I'm old enough to have gone to the place, but certainly not in its hay day.  But I know the music from those years well, as familiar songs from house bands such as Blondie, The Ramones and Joan Jett played before the presentations.  As with the New Music Seminar, most of the speakers were of the male gender.  The panel on stage for the "Music Industry: Today and the Future," were actually EX-record label guys, a statement in itself. And the next generation listened to it all, though usually while multitasking away (in the last panel on day two I was actually surrounded by people playing with their phones held high in full view!)

Subjects crossed into new territory, for example whether a music artist even wants a record label or not.  And new music outlets in film and television were readily embraced for a infusion of cash and exposure.  There was a slight tangent over an argument regarding Spotify, even though other free or nearly free online music outlets were hardly mentioned.  And the old beef over the quality (or lack thereof) of mp3 files surfaced again -- as one who has fond memories of music discovery while listening alone in my room to an AM transistor radio or driving with a basic car radio I can't get crazy about this... besides, my ears just aren't that good to pick up on the all the nuances of fancier formats.  Isn't that what musicians are here for in the first place? Make it sound as nice as possible and thanks for all that, but we music fans will listen how we please. Rock on!

"Music Industry: Today and the Future"

"CBGB - Tales from the Club"