Did you ever have a conversation that was worth dying for? No, me neither. I did see a guy that had such a conversation. He was yakking on his cell phone while walking across the busy four lanes of Belmont Ave. in Liberty. Cars were swerving into other lanes to miss him. He was deep in a “cell phone coma” and oblivious to where he was. Either that or it was Clark Kent and he knew he wouldn’t be injured by a two ton car hitting him. What gives with these idiots?
Mrs. Elecpencil and I went to Pittsburgh Wednesday night. We went to Club Café to see 48 year-old singer/songwriter James McMurtry. He is the son of novelist Larry McMurtry who wrote “Lonesome Dove.” Like his father James is a gifted storyteller. James’ songs are about working-class life and all of its struggles. Some of his songs are about getting older and wondering how your life went by in a flash. They also make you question whether you did enough with your life. These are questions folks my age ask themselves every day. Recently, I was looking in the mirror at all of the age spots I ‘m getting on my face. I was contemplating that it just seems like yesterday I was struggling with teenage acne.
Writer Steven King has called James McMurtry “the truest, fiercest songwriter of his generation.” John Mellencamp co-produced McMurtry’s 1989 debut album, “Too Long in the Wasteland.” Every time McMurtry releases an album many critics will call it album of the year. Though he has had lots of critical acclaim he plays clubs like Club Café that hold 150 people. The crowd on Wednesday was age 30-70. That is the age of people that want a message in their music and James delivered the goods for two hours. The crowd was very exuberant all except the guy sitting next to me at the bar. He spent the whole time yakking on his cell phone and texting. What gives with these idiots?
If there was any fairness in the world McMurtry would be playing at stadiums. Instead we have acts like Lady Cucka, Goo Goo or GaGa or whatever her name is selling out stadiums. Notice I said act as I wouldn’t honor her by calling her a musician.
Warren, Ohio is featuring a concert series called “River Rock at the Amp.” It features tribute bands that should be electrocuted with their amps, weighed down with a rock and tossed in the river. I don’t think I’m being harsh at all as I wouldn’t go see any of the acts they are covering let alone an imitation. Tribute bands are also called, “tribute acts.” Most of the bands they pay tribute to don’t deserve it. I won’t go into how sad I think tribute bands are because I’ve already done that sometime back here. I would like to see Warren be more progressive and have a new music review like Austin, Texas does. Money would be better spent on artists like James McMutry instead of tribute acts. Let’s move into the future instead of trying to capture the past. Seriously, does anyone need to hear that screechy “Stairway to Heaven” for the millionth time.? If so, we need to set up Rock ‘n’ Roll rehabs.
I prefer leaving a concert thinking, life is short what can I do to make the world better. Others want to leave a Kiss concert singing, “I Want to Rock ‘n’ Roll All Nite and Party Everyday.” Which is more constructive? I’m told Nero fiddled, “Rock ‘n’ Roll All Nite and Party Everyday” while Rome burned. I’m just saying.
We drove home from Pittsburgh on the PA/OH Turnpike. We stopped at the first rest stop in Ohio. It was a McDonalds in Mahoning County. The bathroom was filthy. Stall doors hung open revealing unflushed toilets. The garbage cans were overflowing and the counter tops were flooded with water. I went and got in line at McDonalds to get an unsweetened iced tea. Several people were off to the side waiting on their orders. One elderly woman was making the food at a speed one notch above stopped. The girl at the counter was one speed above crawl. She had a frown and a bored look on her face as she looked over glasses slid low on her nose. Her face seemed to say I’m only working at McDonalds until I get that job that show cases my best talent. I’m thinking her best talent is being bored, so she’ll be retiring in thirty years from Mickey D’s. I know that patience is a virtue but I didn’t have the time so I got out of line and left.
This rest stop and McDonalds is the first thing tourist may experience about Ohio. What a sad ass note that is. Citizens of Ohio we can do better. Citizens of Warren we can do better than tribute bands. I contacted the Ohio Turnpike Commission about their rest stop. I’ve e-mailed RiverRockattheAmp.com about how sorry their tribute band concerts are. Please, please for the sake of real musicians click on the above site and say, NO MORE TRIBUTE BANDS. Let’s make Ohio a place we are proud to call home.
James McMurtry: We Can’t Make it Here No More