Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Lay Down the Beat

1920s - Grandfathers
Music defines Kentucky across all lines of area, race, age, politics, creeds, and anything else that divides a people. Be it Bluegrass, Rock, Rap, County, Swing, Jazz, Blues, Gospel, Symphonic, Choral, or any other style somewhere in the state you'll find someone playing, singing, jamming, or performing.
  One of the most interesting people I ever met was one of the 85 original founders of the Libertarian political party. His home was in Louisville, KY, he was elderly, his grandparents were slaves, during the concert season he held a chair in the Louisville Symphony, and in the summer he jammed in the New Orleans Jazz Hall with his friends. Music and freedom were his life. His talent broke barriers long before courts and laws opened doors.
  Churches, garages, barrooms, and porches have produced a long line of musicians who have achieved fame and fortune in the music industry as performers, writers, and promoters. Getting together to pick-a-tune occurs wherever people gather. Some make it big while others with equal talent fall by the wayside, but the participants never lose the love of music that drew them together.
   School dances, lunch hour jams, bands, orchestras, sock hops gave and still give many a young performer a venue to exercise their talents and gain necessary stage presence. I once heard a
1950s - Grandsons
young man who'd returned from a world wide tour as a polished professional exclaim in panic, "God, what'll I do. My whole family is out there." He was so scared he didn't realized the mike was open. The audience enjoyed a good laugh.
  Nash Black uses this old tradition in their mysteries every time the Young Brothers get together to advance the story line. Each session has a purpose to the story, the songs are carefully selected from the period of the action. They use only the titles of the selections to invoke a memory in the reader. If the reader isn't familiar with the music little is lost in the reading.
2015 - great-great grandsons
 Late spring and summer is the time for dozens of music festivals through out Kentucky - each is dedicated to a favorite style or a good mix. Most are outdoors where acoustics are not a problem. This isn't true in small theaters - especially in the Star Theater in Russell Springs, KY which recently inaugurated a new program "Sounds of the Star" to showcase local talent. We want to see and hear this program grow, but I'm going to hand out some unsolicited advice.
   Be kind to your audience. When a singer is singing, lower the volume on backup, so the words to the song can be distinguished. That doesn't mean the boys & girls in the band should take a backseat. Each should be given a chance to strut their stuff for a solo, but never try to out play each other so all is lost in a jumble of catatonic blare.

Note: The colored photo was supplied by Stuart Simpson of Somerset Community College, Somerset, KY. It fit so well with this post. Thanks for letting me use it. 

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