Tuesday, August 31, 2010

No fun? No, fun!

September's just a day a way, school is back in session in a week. What's an academic boy to do?

Go see Iggy and the Stooges, that's what!

I'm going to see them tonight at House of Blues in Boston. I saw the Stooges earlier this year when I attended the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony in NYC (which I blogged about below). It was awesome but they only played two songs that night. So now I'll get to see them play a whole set.

I usually don't make a point of heading out of town for shows. Chalk it up to my non-driver status. But who would I make a special effort to see if not the Stooges? I mean, Iggy's on the cover of my book fer Chrissakes! (Look to your upper right for proof.) And amazingly this Boston show is only one of three U.S. shows they're doing to lead up to their appearance at the big All Tomorrow's Parties shindig next weekend in upstate New York. Thanks to my friend and neighbor Bob Moore for providing the evening's transport. Should be a real cool time.

A more detailed report to follow in the days to come...

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Sifting Through Memory for a Song

Anyone who's deeply into music has those moments when you have a song that has implanted itself in your consciousness somewhere along the way, but you can't quite remember what it is. I've had this happen more times than I can count, sometimes such that my effort to figure out what the song is has become borderline obsessive. I still remember as a teenager having a guitar melody in my head that I knew I'd heard before but could not for the life of me identify. Over the course of a couple years, it would come back in my head periodically, and its source was so elusive that I almost convinced myself that I'd made it up. Then, when I bought Jeff Beck's Truth album, I realized the melody that had been haunting me all those years was "Beck's Bolero."

Today I resolved another such mystery. Like many a guitar nut who came of age in the '80s, I love the guitar playing of Michael Schenker. The platinum blond German guitarist made some great solo albums after he left the pivotal hard rock/metal band UFO in the late 1970s. His output started to go down in quality though, by the later 1980s, when he teamed up with one of those driftless frontmen that seem to have a knack for teaming up with ace guitarists, a guy named Robin McAuley. I bought their first McAuley/Schenker group album, Perfect Timing, when it came out in 1987 and then, disappointed, I stopped paying attention. But a couple songs from that album have always remained in my head even though I've hardly listened to it over the past 20-odd years.

This afternoon, after listening to some tracks from the much superior Michael Schenker Group record, Assault Attack, I put on Perfect Timing, wanting to listen to those couple songs. Thing was, while I remembered one of the choicer cuts being the first song "Gimme Your Love," I couldn't remember the other one I liked best. And I didn't want to waste 40 minutes listening to the whole album. So I started putting the needle down on track after track - yes, I own this one on vinyl - until I found the song that fit my memory.

It turned out to be the next to last song on the album, called "I Don't Wanna Lose." It's something of a power ballad, and overall the song is fairly unexceptional. But it has a dramatic guitar solo, classic Schenker, that tears the song apart and redirects it for the minute or so that it lasts until the surrounding ordinariness reasserts itself. I was glad I rediscovered it, and I'm going to listen to it again as I soon as I post this. For the curious, here it is.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Time Keeps on Slipping: Popular Music Histories

I'm chairing the program committee for the upcoming conference of the International Association for the Study of Popular Music, U.S. chapter. I'm trying to get the word out as widely as I can, so anyone reading this, feel free to pass it along to any interested parties or post it to any relevant listservs, forums, etc. Here's the call for papers:

International Association for the Study of Popular Music, U.S. Chapter – Call for Papers.

Time Keeps on Slipping: Popular Music Histories

The International Association for the Study of Popular Music, U.S. Chapter (IASPM-US) will hold its annual conference Mar. 9-13, 2011 in Cincinnati, OH, in a joint meeting with the Society for American Music.

We invite proposals for individual papers or panels of three or four presenters. Alternate presentation formats, such as lecture/performances and roundtable panels, will also be considered.

We welcome proposals concerning all facets of popular music in the U.S. and abroad, but especially encourage submissions that address the following themes:

Canonical Histories: What aspects of the popular music past have assumed greatest authority, and why? What sort of power do canons (of music, of scholarship, of criticism) exert over the writing of popular music history?

Alternative Histories: What parts of popular music’s past have gone unrecognized? How can we re-imagine popular music history through the lenses of:
- Race and ethnicity?
- Gender and sexuality?
- Nationality and colonialism?
- Cultural hierarchy (high, low, middlebrow)?
- Bodily ability and disability?
Conversely, how can the study of popular music in historical perspective help to shed new light on these critical subjects?

Archival Approaches: What sources can we use to uncover popular music’s many pasts, and where can we find them? How are musical archives changing in the digital age?

Historical Methods: What counts as “history,” and what role does history play, in the various disciplines and sub-disciplines that comprise the field of popular music studies?

Local Histories: How can we decipher popular music’s connection to specific places at specific points in time? How can we use the location of this year’s conference – Cincinnati, Ohio – as a starting point for reflection on aspects of popular music history?

The deadline for submissions is October 1, 2010. Proposals should be submitted electronically to Steve Waksman, chair of the program committee, at iaspmus2011@gmail.com. Individual presenters should submit a paper title, 250-word abstract, and author information including full name, institutional affiliation, email address and a one-page c.v. Please send abstract and c.v. as separate MSWord attachments. Panel proposals should also include a panel title and abstract for the whole session.

All presenters at the conference are required to be current members of IASPM-US. For membership information, go to www.iaspm-us.net.