Thursday, January 26, 2012

Hey, isn't that cheating?

I'm obviously a western gal, not a southern one, and I'm admittedly woefully ignorant of what is happening in the entertainment world. So, forgive me, but I just gotta say a few things about today's musical trends.

We met a few wonderful families and entertainers at the showcase. Groups with very talented members of all ages, and in different music genres. When one group was getting ready to go on stage, I was chatting with another family band mom and wondered aloud where their instruments were. She said they just sing and used recorded music, sometimes with a piano though. She explained that they are a southern gospel group, not a band.


Wait. They have nicer clothes than we have, a great big, shiny bus, a full tour schedule, and they just sing to recorded music? Isn't that karaoke? (Ducking...)

Ok, I'm trying to be funny here, but I swear that was a puzzle to me at the time. To be fair, they were fantastic, and I would probably pay money to sit and hear them sing canned music. I really would! I've just been hanging out at places where people play instruments, not computers. Maybe I'm a music purist snob? I don't mean to be. I prefer to be simply clueless on what's cool these days. A good 60% or more of all of the acts booking down in the Rio Grand Valley had canned music. I told Michael not to worry about when the kids leave, because we can make it big down there if that's all that is needed! I can definitely sing good to a recording! All I am missing is the sparkly sequin outfit.

I admit, even in church and the choir, I can simply never stand the piped in music with the synthesized drums behind the choir, children or adult. I just sounds fake, like eating canned green beans, even with French's Onions and cream of mushroom soup, when you could wander the garden and enjoy them fresh.

Later that week we had a nice lunch conversation with some dear friends of ours, who happen to also be a family band... who play instruments. (Some are even the type you plug in or beat, so I'm not a bluegrass/acoustic purist and please note that I have great respect to anyone who can pull off an amazing a cappella piece of music!) They mused with us on the trend. There is a local gospel festival they have played where they are almost a novelty by bringing instruments. There are groups of singers, one after the next, all with computers programmed with their music sets. Nice harmonies, but I couldn't help but to think, "Really??? There are whole festivals of professional karaoke singers?" (I'm so digging myself into a hole with this post.)

I am not what one could consider a world class mandolin player. I picked it up just 3+ years ago and I've tried learning it in between running a family band, a household, and homeschooling children. Basically, I am learning on the fly because I simply cannot practice much, but the band needed a mandolin chop, so I learned it. I now know most of the main chords used in bluegrass, and I can accompany the band with no problem, and sing lead or harmony, smile, and even occasionally give a firm "mom" look to a stray child on stage, all while not missing a beat. Just give me 3-4 weeks notice if you expect a break, of course, since I still need to practice those, and have I mentioned I don't have much time to practice?

So, I figure, just about anyone should be able to learn 4 chords on a guitar and buy a capo. Bass is even easier. You may need a few lessons on piano and fiddle, but you can do a lot with just a guitar and assign the hard learning to the kids, right? The ones with the sponge brains and reflexes?

However, we are pretty dern good singers, and I bet the sound tracks needed to accompany all that pretty singing, with your little software package to make it play your selections and talk to your sound system, is less than the cost of a real instrument, doesn't need strings replaced, additional microphones for the acoustic instruments, and certainly doesn't need you to dump money into lessons or make room in a bus for storage. Maybe we should sing southern gospel? We will then get lots of festival invites, and sold out shows, but the kids have informed me they don't want the big, shiny bus. They like the dumpy looking Benny school bus.

Ok, you can throw tomatoes at me now, though I really was simply clueless about this trend (Yeah, I really don't get out much...)

1 comment:

  1. Personally, I like to hear music 'live' and to me, that means instruments. I admire people who play and sing well. To get to that level has taken a lot of hard work and dedication!