Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Justice is Served

New Jersey needs to find some better cops:

Federal prosecutors in New Jersey said Wednesday that they were dropping drunken-driving charges against musician Bruce Springsteen.

Mr. Springsteen was arrested on Nov. 14 by federal law enforcement rangers in Gateway National Recreation Area. He had faced charges of operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol and for reckless driving, according to prosecutors. He was also charged with consuming alcohol in a closed area.

During a hearing Wednesday, prosecutors from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of New Jersey said they were dropping the two driving-related charges because tests showed Mr. Springsteen’s blood-alcohol level was under the legal limit. Federal Judge Anthony R. Mautone subsequently dismissed the two charges during the hearing.

During the hearing, Mr. Springsteen pleaded guilty to the third charge of consuming alcohol in a closed area. Judge Mautone imposed a $500 fine on Mr. Springsteen for the charge, citing the rock star’s mostly clean driving record and lack of previous criminal convictions.

If it were any other elderly male in that jurisdiction, he would have gotten off with a warning. I don't think he was treated fairly at the time of his arrest. This was largely a "fuck you" from law enforcement to a recording artist who has been holding cops accountable for decades with a consistent message of "apply the law fairly."

That's all this was. Springsteen could live anywhere in the world and he chooses to stay in New Jersey. That should say something about his character and his belief that you should not be a hypocrite in your life or your art.

Saturday, February 20, 2021

Bring on the Lucie (Freda People)



Former The Verve frontman Richard Ashcroft has released a cover of John Lennon's "Bring on the Lucie (Freda Peeple)" which was originally on 1973's Mind Games. Ashcroft recorded it at Abbey Road Studios as well as California's Redtone Studios in East Palo Alto, and worked with frequent collaborator Chris Potter who has worked with Ashcroft since The Verve’s Urban Hymns. It sticks pretty close to the original but Richard brings his own flair to the overtly political song, not to mention his distinctive voice.

Monday, February 15, 2021

Steve Vai


Over forty years ago, Steve Vai had a mental breakdown. Because of the shame and stigma that surrounds these types of things, it seems like he hasn't really felt like he could talk about it:

Appearing on the Cassius Morris Show, Vai said: “Things came to a head for me when I was touring with Frank Zappa and I was in Montreal in 1980, and I just had a complete, sort of, breakdown, anxiety attack, that lasted a year and a half.”

“It was panic, it was all fear, there’s a fear that was in the background that just overcame me. And I didn’t know what it was. I wasn’t doing drugs, nothing. I harboured a fear of going insane when I was younger.”

Later in the interview Vai discussed his difficulties reconciling his fame as a guitarist with his mental health: “I love music, I love the idea of playing music and all, but I was under the impression that if you become famous you would go insane,” he said.

What I think we're missing here is a chance to ask Vai how he dealt with this challenge to his health and what he's doing today to take care of himself. We attach so much baggage to the idea that you're supposed to always be perfect. It would be better if we could make it so that people could talk openly about these issues and not have to wait decades to revisit what went on.

IN any event, please support Backline. They provide mental health services to people in the music business.

Tuesday, February 9, 2021

Brexit Threatens to Destroy the British Music Industry


There may be a day when you won't be able to see musicians from Great Britain continue as recording and touring artists. The British Tory government has decided that getting rid of an entire industry is fine as long as their bet on Brexit pays off.

Figures from the music industry have hit back at the government’s response in a recent debate about the potential for visa-free touring for artists and crew wishing to tour Europe post-Brexit.

After over 280,000 people signed a petition calling for the government to establish visa-free touring for artists and crew through EU member states after Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal failed to do so, the campaign was debated by MPs in Parliament yesterday (February 8).

Cross-party MPs repeated fears that the new added huge costs to future live music toursof the continent would prevent rising and developing artists from being able to afford it, as well as claims from European promoters that they’re likely to book fewer UK acts for events and that a great deal of jobs and income for crew, haulage and production will be lost to the EU with operations based in Britain now unviable.

Another repeated sentiment was that Brexit only stood to damage the UK’s “soft power” as a leading force in music, and that visa-free travel throughout the EU for artists and crew would be the easiest solution.

After the UK government said they put the responsibility for the lack of arrangements for artists at the foot of the EU and the European Commission then denied that they had rejected the UK’s “ambitious proposals”, yesterday’s debate saw the Conservative Minister for Digital and Culture in the Department for Digital, Culture, Media Caroline Dineage reject the idea that negotiating visa-free touring was an option and repeated that “the UK pushed for ambitious arrangements” but claim that “quite simply the EU rejected this and there was no counter offer”.

Modern artists can't survive on Spotify checks alone. They need to play live, they need to sell vinyl records (which is weird, but yeah, people do pay $29.99 for something that goes on the shelf and never gets played), and they need to survive in this very strange period of transition and change. The government should subsidize artists and help them get through the COVID-19 era. This is true in Great Britain, all throughout Europe, America and wherever else live music and recording artists are struggling. 

The government of Boris Johnson is hell bent on destroying the country's music industry. There's a cultural thing at work here. Artists lean left in terms of politics and, if you're a Tory, you're sick and tired of widely admired people telling everyone what a piece of shit you are. That's no reason to eliminate an entire industry.

Friday, February 5, 2021

God Bless the Go-Gos


The Go-Go's were the bane of uptight Catholics and humorless stiffs, a band who went to number one and said nah, we're sick of this shit. They fought with each other and did drugs because that's what everyone did. They were probably the loudest band of the 1980s. I'm a sucker for blue vinyl and God Bless the Go-Go's is coming out in that format.

What I really like is that the digital download version will give you bonus tracks and help you relive the rebirth of a great American band.