Wednesday, October 11, 2017

A Musical Exploration: Tribute Bands

At one time or other, we have all wondered just what it would feel like to be a famous musician, touring around the world performing the music we love, with a crowd of people singing right there along with us. I personally, have put on a show or two for a huge crowd of fans (albeit, imaginary) in the comfort of my own living room, hairbrush in hand, and enough confidence to make you think I do it for a living.

However, though many of us dream about it, few ever actually get to experience that feeling. That is, unless you are a part of a tribute band.

I have to say, I was pretty unfamiliar with this world, but I've discovered that people love tribute bands

Some things you may be surprised to learn:
  • They aren't trying to deceive anyone. In fact, a majority do this as a side gig and are just having a lot of fun.
  • They have a huge prominence in markets like Seattle, Portland, and the scene in LA has actually been called oversaturated!
  • They have their own festivals such as Harefest, The Great Cover Up and The Big Fake Festival
  • Some of the real artists even end up performing at some time or other with their tribute bands. 
  • Many up-and-coming musicians start out in tribute bands before launching their careers. 
  • Replacements for the real band members have been found within tribute bands!

Some of the reasons why people start tribute bands in the first place:
  • Bring the music to places that don’t have a big music scene (which the crowd appreciates!)
  • Express a deep love for the music and/or pay homage to the bands they grew up listening to.
  • They were a real-life doppelgänger and thought "Hey, why not!"
  • Revive the culture, community and camaraderie that's felt at the real band's shows.
  • Art. Replicating a band or artist as well as they do is seriously astounding to me.
  • And, because well, nostalgia.

I could continue sharing all that I've uncovered about tribute bands (which has been quite an interesting exploration), but instead, I'll introduce you to Greg West, the 'first Jason Aldean tribute artist in America.' Turns out, the Florida native dreamed of making music in Nashville, and when he finally made the move, he was often mistaken for Jason Aldean (seriously, it's remarkable how much he looks like him). Because West already loved Aldean's music so much, he thought he'd give the tribute act a whirl, and now tours nationally playing casinos, fairs, festivals and more on The Ultimate Aldean Tribute experience. It may never be you and me, but I suppose some do get just a little closer than the rest of us. 

When the lights come on and everybody's screamin'
Lighters in the sky yeah everybody's singin'
Every word to every song
To the girl they're takin' home tonight



Tuesday, October 3, 2017

You Don't Know What You Don't Know... But You Should Know

What do you get when you combine a music video director, a father of two, and an actor and underwear model? 

One of the hottest and most interesting trios in country music right now. 

I bet that's not what you expected, but yes, the band Midland is lighting up the country music landscape right now. Made up of Mark Wystrach (lead vocalist), Cameron Duddy (bass player) and Jess Carson (lead guitarist), the band just released it's debut album, On the Rocks (Big Machine), and it is fire. In fact, I loved it so much I sent a copy to my mom in Florida the day it was released, and have been listening to it on repeat ever since. 

Drawing inspiration from the likes of George Strait, Gary Stewart, Merle Haggard and even the Eagles, it's no surprise this album has a throwback sound that will keep you tappin' your toes every bit of the way through all thirteen tracks. The band is even wearing Nudie suits on the album cover; I mean come on. It's a fabulous mix of 70s country and 80s crossover, yet is somehow still so modern, and I'm sure that can be partially credited to the other contributors on this album -- Shane McAnally, Josh Osborne and Dann Huff. No matter what kind of country music, or music fan you consider yourself, you'd be lying if you said you didn't love this album (or at least like it just a little).

Of course there's Drinkin' Problem, but my other personal favorites from the album include: Out of Sight (mom loves this one, too) and Somewhere on the Wind. I'm also a huge fan of how they so cleverly play on words with every track, but most obviously with songs like Altitude Adjustment and At Least You Cried. Though to me seemingly indescribable, the band says this is "music made for wide-open skies, endless deserts and wondering where the road is going to take you next" and I could not agree more.

If you want even more Midland, you can listen to their Spotify Sessions, which is where I first fell in love with their music (and it's got me dying to see them live). Lucky for me and all my little country concert-goers out there, you can see Midland on The Breakers tour with Little Big Town and Kacey Musgraves, but you'll have to wait until 2018

Bye bye baby


P.S. Rolling Stone felt them coming, and also directed this article at me.