On amplified music, digital accordions, and Johnny D’s

Terri and I had dinner at Johnny D’s last week. We almost never go see music there, because for the most part, the kinds of acts they book… well, they suck. It’s all this jumble of world zydeco funk blues reggae folk roots crap. But their food is actually decent, they have a varied tap, and it’s on the way home from the T. As we were eating, a guy was setting up a bunch of gear, presumeably for his gig later that evening. It seemed like a lot of effort. And I had an epiphany. I hate amplified music. All of it. It’s ridiculous. This guy is spending hours setting up equipment to spend about the same number of hours playing music. And the room is basically the size of, say, a shoe store. Just get up and play, guy. If someone in a crowd of a hundred or so people picks up a hollow hunk of wood with strings on it, and starts whacking at it and yelling words at specific pitches in rhythm, the other 99 people are going to listen. We’re wired to.

Yes, you say, but what about bigger venues? Well, bigger venues inherently suck. So, no amplified music also means no sucky big venues.

So I toyed with this idea in idle moments the past week or so, and became more and more enamoured of it.

And then, like most ridiculous extreme ideas I toy with, I found something that made me drop it immediately. And that was the new Roland FR-7 digital accordion. Fun fun fun! But I’d have to plug in somewhere…

Before I wrap this up, I have to also soften my stance on the kind of music Johnny D’s books. I confess to owning a klezmer disc or two. And confess that I saw Brave Combo, a polka band, at Johnny D’s. More than once. So I’m not immune to the occasional allure of world zydeco funk blues reggae folk roots polka klezmer crap. I guess it’s the whole Weltanschauung and the lifestyle that goes with it that I can live without. Like if I start liking it too much, I have to grow a beard and send checks to PBS and buy an old Volvo to plaster with bumper stickers.

5 thoughts on “On amplified music, digital accordions, and Johnny D’s”

  1. This has nothing to do with amplified music, but I’ll have you know that with the new improved Google index, your picture of my brother’s feet is now the number 1 hit on the search “Helmecki”. I’m not sure if that’s better or worse than most of the next hits, which are about garbage, courtesy of my uncle Dave.

    Pray for us.
    Mike Helmecki

  2. Oh Ezra, be honest, you love that schlock. :) And you just like to kvetch, don’t you? I guess I really have been dragging you to all of those shows. I suppose we should all just get into really obscure musicians that no one else wants to hear so that we can get them to play just for us on our front porch, where there’s no electrical outlet available, even if they do bring their digital accordion.

  3. Terri: Where can a guy kvetch if not on his blog? And you are totally misrepresenting me. Artists represented on my 25 most played on my iTunes are Andrew Bird, Robyn Hitchcock, Brian Eno, Interpol, Outkast, and The Dresden Dolls. Nary a “Rambler” or “Cha Cha” or “Bo Bo and his Zydeco Weeds” among them.

    Mike: Bow down before my mighty page rank! The name “Helmecki” will live in infamy! Ha ha ha ha ha!

  4. I’m not misrepresenting you. I’m saying that YOU are misrepresenting you–at least, a little. Can’t ya read the sarcasm? Even from yer own wyf? And you do kvetch, here and elsewhere, with varying degrees of charm. ;) I wasn’t the one dissing on Johnny D’s, btw.

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