Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Old Folks

Joan Baez charmed me last night. Here's my review. Even though she still seems slightly uncomfortable on stage, she has a lot to offer beyond her innate beauty and talent. Baez, 69, is armed with a fifty- year-old recording career, a handful of pop hits and the mystique of a genuine music legend.

By all accounts, 68-year-old Paul McCartney floored the audience at Sprint Center a few months ago. While I missed that show, I've seen plenty of other old-timers perform this year. They include Clark Terry, 89, Ray Price, 84, Randy Weston, 84, Marilyn Maye, 82, Bobby Bland, 80, Dave Frishberg, 77, Ahmad Alaadeen, 76 (since deceased), Allen Toussaint, 72, Billy Joe Shaver, 71, Levon Helm, 70, Bob Dylan, 69, and Bobby Rush, 69.

Not every one of those concerts was great, but older performers have a lot going for them. The music-loving public is understandably conservative with their time and money. Buying a ticket to see Jackson Browne or Stevie Wonder can seem like a safer bet than splurging on younger, less established artists.

How can ambitious youthful acts possibly compete? I'd encourage them to consider following these simple guidelines. I'll them the Four P's.

1. Be punctual- Old artists are rarely late. They don't keep their fans waiting. Baez stepped onto the stage last night exactly five minutes after the scheduled start time. So who are you to test the patience of your fans?

2. Be polite. Old artists know who foots the bill. Money from fans has paid for their mortgages and the educations of their children. They're invariably grateful. Baez introduced the audience to her personal assistant last night. She also told endearing anecdotes about her accompanist Dirk Powell. These compliments didn't cost her a dime but they probably meant just as much as a bonus in their pay. Follow Baez's lead- praise the audience, their city and the venue.

3. Be professional. Old folks know how to work a crowd. Proper staging, pacing, flow and audience interaction is an art form. Learn it. Baez changed the instrumentation and mood with every song last night. One more thing- try not be a jerk to music bloggers and journalists.

4. Be powerful. Old folks are, well, old. They can't jump around, execute flips, dive off the stage or do shots with fans. Baez required assistance while kicking her shoes off last night. Exploit this advantage. Get sweaty. Get dirty. You may not have a platinum greatest hits album, but it's inexcusable to allow old men like Little Richard and Paul McCartney to show more energy than you.

Good luck. I'm looking forward to attending your highly-anticipated comeback tour in 2030.

I didn't realize that B Double E's "My City" was an actual crossover hit until I witnessed a group of Lookin' Bro's rapping along with it outside Kauffman Stadium last weekend.

Gayngs on Kimmel!.

Kansas City Click: Hey, Alice Cooper! Please play "Elected" Wednesday at the Independence Events Center.

Bone Thugs-N-Harmony return to the VooDoo on Thursday.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)


Fanny said...

The Four Ps - I'm sure Alaadeen would agree with you whole heartedly. Thank you for your wisdom. Fanny

Steve said...

My advise to young musicians (and their audiences) is stop seeing everything as a competition.

You don't compete music.

Duncanmusic said...

Well said. As an 'older' musician (just a few years behind these folks and many miles out of their league) I practice many of the same tips you suggest during my small mo0nthly concerts at the library in town. It ain't much, but it makes me happy and the audience enjoys seeing me have fun.

Happy In Bag said...

It's always a pleasure, Fanny.

Rising tide, Steve.

Nicely stated, Duncan. And I enjoyed your Jeff Riales post at your blog.