It has not escaped my notice, over the years, that the young and formerly-young performing people in the underground of the music world make a lot of hay about ‘casting off the shackles of the Man,’ ‘being an individual, not a sheeple,‘ and ‘sticking it to Mr. Charley.’ Nor has it passed me by that these performers are all in costume, no matter what they may say about ‘keeping it real‘ or ‘being authentic.’ I’m sure your scrappy indie performer would protest, but they’re not all that different from the cosplayers you see every couple months at the convention center.
Which isn’t to say there isn’t a tremendous variety; I mean, there’s all kinds of stormpooper costumes out there.
So I go out last night — sometimes, a guy’s gotta get outta the house. A couple guys on my FB feed recommend some dude playing a
not completely shitty mildly cool-ish dive dump and I see this guy: the Blues Stormpooper.
I see tons of gig pix daily of guys in the roots/blues/Americana idiom who all have costumes just like this: funny hat, black t-shirt, pipecleaner arms, tats, and BIG BOOTS.
(I dunno what it is with BIG BOOTS. I think for young guys it’s the same impulse that causes professional-class dorks to buy hefty pickup trucks to sit in beltway traffic in.)
I was vaguely pissed. When I made music in that idiom of that mediocre quality, my friends in the music world ridiculed me. My loved ones turned their backs on me. I couldn’t talk Northport high schoolers into drumming for me. I’d get the Sandman’s hook after 10 minutes. The concept of a dude making music that warmed-over and getting even the slightest whiff of support blew my mind. That, according to my experiences, is not how the Universe works.
YOUR MILEAGE MAY VARY.
When I came up, this is who was gigging everywhere:
And people loved it. You couldn’t sell the idea of ‘stripped-down’ to anybody. Wasn’t happ’nin’, cap’n.
Roots-ish bands did play the local legendary indie dive. Booking dude was a blue-ribbon though, upon being presented with the idea of a local guy he didn’t even know opening up for some of these bands when there were cancellations.
I’m back in the same boat I was in all those years ago. But for a few years there, I didn’t have to suffer that shit. I don’t know how it happened, how I went from getting the violent throat-slashing gesture from Fratty McBarback:
…to being welcomed in my own Blues Stormpooper costume: