Drop and release

Whenever I hear the term “CD release party,” my mind jumps back to a quite different time in the music biz.

Now, it would be easy to slip into the kind of “wasn’t it great”-style nostalgia for an era when albums were pressed on 12-inch vinyl, and the companies that manufactured and distributed them seemed willing to blow huge wads of cash to bring those albums to the public’s attention. Yes, those days had their moments.

The release party served several purposes. One, it focused the attentions, for a millisecond or so, of various cultural gatekeepers—radio, retail, press—on whatever new product the label was hawking. The party also served as a massive ego wank for the band whose new album was being released, unless that band was smart enough to realize that the cost of, ahem, “entertaining” said cultural gatekeepers would be deducted from their royalties after its album had sold a few copies. If it did.

But more importantly, at least to those of us freeloaders in radio and press, the release party functioned as a social mixer, where label promotion weasels and radio talent and the programmers they serviced could engage in drunken arguments with label publicists (think This Is Spinal Tap’s Bobbi Flekman), and the writers and editors they attended, over liberal amounts of free booze while the new record got played in a continuous loop. Which resulted in such slurred questions as: “What album are we listening to again?” “I dunno, but they keep playing it over and over, and it’s starting to piss me off.”

Release parties held today are different. Sure, what’s left of the big-label machine might rent a studio lot or a boat for an evening, and it’s a given that Kanye West-level egos demand a Cecil B. DeMille-scale production when they have new albums to launch. But most acts aren’t signed to big labels; a good percentage of them are entrepreneurs who put their own music out. And when they want to call attention to their new CD, they land a gig somewhere with a couple of other bands and set up a table where a friend holds court, selling the new CD and other merch to fans while the band plays.

Two local acts are hosting new-release parties on Saturday, June 28. Ricky Berger is throwing a party for her long-in-the-making debut, Ricky Berger’s First Album, at Bricka Bracka, the gallery space at 2114 P Street. The G-rated ice-cream social starts at 7 p.m. and will feature Berger along with performers Liz Ryder and the Chuck Botelho Quartet.

The same night, at the Blue Lamp, Americana rock band Trainwreck Revival brings its fat Gibson sound to celebrate the release of its new disc, Open Country, a show that also will include Brian Ballentine (with band) and Dave Gleason (solo). That 21-and-over show begins at 9 p.m.; go to R5 Records at 5 p.m. and you can see Trainwreck Revival play for free.

And on Friday, June 27, local hard-indie band Lite Brite will host its CD release at the Blue Lamp at 9 p.m., with the Snobs, Goodness Gracious Me and Holiday in Spain.

Cocktails at all the above gigs will be, in the parlance of the trade, “no host.” In Berger’s case, they’ll also be nonexistent.

For those of you with a jazz bent, Javalounge is hosting Thursday night performances featuring local bassist extraordinaire Byron Blackburn and whoever he brings in. It runs from 8 to 10 p.m. and cover is $5, a pittance for an excursion into adventurous music. Blackburn also plays Sunday mornings at Old Soul Co.