"Muddy Roots Music Festival 2024"

Giving My Bones to the Western LandsMuddy Roots Music Festival is a recurrent musical event in Cookeville, TN. I don't have any plans to attend, but I checked up the line-up. I'm familiar to a couple of the bands and artists: Slim Cessna's Auto Club, Munly & the Lupercalians, Gogol Bordello, Viva Le Vox and Possessed by Paul James. They are all renowned. However, I have never heard of the other artists and bands that are announced. I don't know what to make of this. Is this a sign of the festival becoming a minor-league event or just the sign of the times? Or could it just be that I'm living in oblivion and have not yet discovered all the new branches and twigs that are growing in the darkness. Hmm, I venture to doubt that this is the case. I do credit myself for having some insights in the dark roots genre. The pricetag for these two days is high, $175. This include entrance, free camping, free hot showers and bring your own beer. Personally, festivals are not on my bucket list. I have never had any desire to crawl in mud, to engage in crowd surfing or use portable toilets. In Sweden, there's an urban legend that has flourished since the 1980s. It's about the "poop man" who allegedly appears at music festivals, where he is said to overturn portable toilets when people visit them. The result: people were covered in urine and feces. It's also said that the "poop man" smears feces on people, in tents and on bicycles. A few events have occurred in Sweden that include at least some of what is described in the urban legend. To be honest, that is all the basis of information I need. No hot shower in the world can change that. 

"Philately, anyone?"

aimlowandhit1I found this badge on an auction site and it triggered childhood memories. Back in the early 1970s, I wore the badge myself. This is the member badge of Bridgnorth Stamp Club, located outside Birmingham in the UK. The stamp club had members all over the world. In retrospective, their business model was of Byzantine dimensions. This is how it worked. You received a booklet with stamps in the mail, and selected the stamps you wanted to keep, and returned the booklet together with your payment. The payment was, if I remember correctly, made in unstamped Swedish stamps. They must have been redeemed in a mysterious way. In hindsight, randomly chosen stamps in booklets are in conflict with serious collecting. But, nevermind. I was young and at the bottom of the collecting pyramid. Back then, you didn't need to be a nerd to collect stamps (but it helped). It was quite common. If you are an ambitious stamp collector, a certain monomanic disposition is an advantage. I could spend many hours trading stamps or arranging and re-arranging the stamps in my albums. Not to mention, the time-consuming procedure of removing used stamps from envelopes, rinsing and drying them and, last but not least, putting them under pressure to wrinkle them out. This process was conducted in an almost industrial scale.      

Nowadays, stamp collecting is dead. It peaked in 1980, and has been declining ever since. There are many reasons for this development. The hard core of collectors have grown older or/and died. There's no younger generation standing by to take over. When I grew older and lost interest, I always thought that I would give my collection to some deserving kid. However, very few kids are interested in stamps. In fact, I haven't even found an undeserving kid to give it to. I still got my collection. The prices of used stamps have plummeted. Many older stamp collectors finds this fact hard to take in since they lived under the impression that their collection would be worth money some day. However, if you have one of these gems, read more here (opens in a new window) you can retire. The rise and fall of stamp collecting isn't just about the actual collecting. The internet and use of e-mail have reduced and replaced letter writing, resulting in lower stamp sales. Metered postage have replaced stamped postage för business and government agencies. And moreover, self-adhesive stamps contains oil-based glue, which means that stamps can’t be soaked off paper anymore (they can still be removed, but it's a more complicated process). Stamps are definitely not a collectible item anymore. The development is not unlike cds. Some, but far from all, will be valuable in the future.    

Whatever happened to Bridgnorth Stamp Club? They became insolvent and went belly-up. A meeting was held "on 26 February 2009, at 11.15 am, for the purpose of having an account laid before them, showing the manner in which the winding-up of the Company has been conducted and the property disposed of, and of receiving any explanation that may be given by the Liquidator, and also determining the manner in which the books, accounts and documents of the Company shall be disposed of." And so ends the tale of Bridgnorth Stamp Club.

"A History of Rock Music in 500 Songs"

Giving My Bones to the Western LandsPodcasts have become an outlet for the chattering classes. Very few have any content worth listening to. But there are brilliant exceptions. A good friend introduced me to "A History of Rock Music in 500 Songs" created and hosted by Andrew Hickey. The floodgates opened, not to be closed again. Andrew Hickey presents a history of rock music from 1938 to 1999, looking at five hundred songs that shaped the genre. The project started in 2018 and will take nearly ten years. This is "slow podding" at its finest without mannerism. Andrew Hickey reads his manuscript in a monotone voice, only interrupted by short music clips under the (non-existent) 30 second "fair use" rule. The, to say the least, fact-filled episodes are truffled with dry british humour and quirky understatements. However, the source criticism is razor sharp and the myth-busting is brutal. Andrew Hickey is tackling this enormous task with a broad approach with references to economy, history, philosophy and psychology. In some episodes, I get the feeling that this time he has derailed, but he always manages to get back on track and connecting the dots. And there are a lot of dots to connect. The podcasts contains more names than a novel by Tolstoy. So far I have listened to seven episodes*). The episodes vary in length. Some episodes are about 40 minutes. No. 165, devoted to "Dark Star," by the Grateful Dead, is 4 hours and 36 minutes. The podcasts are highly educational and equally addictive. Andrew Hickey goes above and beyond and leaves no stone left unturned. He gives you the facts and the context, but always leaves something for you to think about. The episodes ends in the same way: "If you have enjoyed the show and feel it's worth reviewing, please do leave a review wherever you get your podcasts, but more importantly, tell just one person that you like this podcast. Word of mouth, more than any other form of promotion, is how creative works gets noticed and sustain themselves." Now, I have told you. 

Episode 170: “Astral Weeks” by Van Morrison, 1h 40min
Episode 169: “Piece of My Heart” by Big Brother and the Holding Company, 2h 05min
Episode 167: “The Weight” by The Band, 1h 56min
Episode 165: “Dark Star” by the Grateful Dead, 4h 36min
Episode 158: “White Rabbit” by Jefferson Airplane, 1h 22min
Episode 130: “Like a Rolling Stone” by Bob Dylan, 57min
Episode 53: “I Put a Spell on You” by Screamin' Jay Hawkins, 40 min

"Retirement planning gone wrong"

aimlowandhit1Music is a young man's game. It's a hard fact. Even the longest, the most glittering reign must come to an end someday. When you retire, the best you can hope for is that your music will live on. Maybe just in some close-knit circles or to a limited extent. But, still live on. Some artists are keen to prolong their career. The latest of abominations is becoming an avatar. Kiss is known for their merchandise. According to some figures, Kiss has sold more than a half billion dollars in merchandise. Kiss played their farewell concert at Madison Square Garden last year. When the band walked off the stage, they were replaced by avatars projected above the stage. These digital avatars will continue to earn money. "We can be forever young and forever iconic by taking us to places we’ve never dreamed of before" said Gene Simmons in a statement. Kiss was active 1973-2023. I only acknowledge the original line-up with Paul Stanley, Gene Simmons, Peter Criss and Ace Frehley. I was never a huge fan. I never understood the shock value. Kiss is more of a cartoon for me. To be honest, after Kiss Alive! (with its post-production fixes) in 1975 and Destroyer in 1976, it was downhill. What is wrong with this picture? It should depict avatars in their seventies. However, the hair colour is darker and the skin is more smooth than most men in the same age. When you retire, you have to plan your exit thoroughly. Retirement planning includes identifying income sources, sizing up expenses, implementing a savings program, and managing assets and risk. Kiss has went through all the steps and are future-proofed when it comes to securing revenue streams. However, this latest craze with avatars lacks all dignity. It's just retirement planning gone wrong. 

"Moonage Daydream"

Giving My Bones to the Western LandsMusic documentaries are cast in the same mold. A narrator, random people telling their rationalized and fabricated stories, L cuts and J cuts, archive material mixed with genre footage and, last but not least, a standardized narrative technique. Normally, I can't stand music documentaries. The Swedish public service television company, SVT had the good taste to show "Moonage Daydream" recently on their streaming platform. I was flabbergasted. Watching this 140-minute documentary is probably the closest you get to a LSD-trip, without the actual LSD. The film is literally bursting with colours and trips: concerts clips, rare behind-the-scenes footage, still photography, archive interviews, interviews and news reportage rearranged into a huge collage not unlike Bowie's cut-up technique. Maybe the filmmaker Brett Morgen with this film not altogether reinvented the music documentary as a concept, but he definitely took it to a new level. What I particularly like is when Bowie (uninterrupted) speaks of his perceptions, ideas, visions and thoughts. The film gives a deeper understanding of what Bowie was trying to achieve with his brilliant artistry. Broadcasters with ignorant and conservative point of view never understood the concept of a persona. And when they did, Bowie had already moved on to another persona. The film captures Bowie's restless creativity and his constant need for reinvention. One of the most interesting parts in the film is the decision to move from the glitterati- and cocaine-infused Los Angeles to West-Berlin in the late 1970s. In Berlin, the locals are unimpressed of rock stars, which suited Bowie very well. Here, Bowie made the Berlin trilogy: Low (1977), Heroes (1977) and Lodger (1979). On a "beer-trip" to Berlin in April 2023 we went to Hauptstrasse 155 in Schöneberg where David Bowie lived during his time there to pay our respect and take some selfies (in that order). What is more to say? This is a must-see film. "Keep your 'lectric eye on me, babe / Put your ray gun to my head / Press your space face close to mine, love / Freak out in a moonage daydream, oh yeah!"  

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