Drop the razor, gramps

Jeez. The week I mentioned getting a backache in this column had to be the same week some young whippersnapper complained on the Letters page that I might be too old to write about music. Since the subject has been broached, let’s discuss.

It’s a peculiar conceit of a certain age bracket to believe that they’re the only ones who “get” music, especially music made by chronological contemporaries. This isn’t to say that there aren’t talented young writers who have a firm grasp on the arc of musical development, because there are. But many young writers have no firsthand experience with live music that predates the turn of the millennium. They can respond to new music’s immediacy, but often can’t place it in any kind of historical context, because when the precursors of that hot new band were making their marks in clubs, the writers were more likely dancing in their Pampers in front of the TV to Barney the Dinosaur than swilling warm beer in a mosh pit somewhere.

Sorry if that’s unnecessarily harsh, but so be it.

There’s a popular assumption that writers or music fans, when they grow older, lock into the music they listened to in high school and college, and stay with that music until they’re resting uncomfortably in a nursing home, gumming lyrics to those songs as played by Rudy the accordion player who visits the third Sunday of every month. This “music of your life” meme was originally foisted by Kent Burkhart and Lee Abrams—the two radio consultants who wrecked rock radio in the 1970s by tightening station playlists and getting rid of any element of surprise, a rigid formatting that persists to this day—to advance their own career prospects.

The reality is that many music fans, as we grow older, still keep abreast of changes in the music world. We may not be raving about the latest fashionista faux-punk band the kids are all up in arms about, but that’s probably because said band is the fifth or sixth iteration of the same act, and this latest rehash is a bit threadbare. But show a little originality, or any real depth of musical knowledge, and we’ll be there rooting.

The letter-writer also took issue with me slagging the Press Club. Someone a little older, who had been to that club when the stage was located where the bar now sits, and the bar lined the western wall where the stage is now sited, might argue that the earlier arrangement, with its raised stage behind a proscenium arch, made more sense, and that the new layout, with the stage jammed uncomfortably into a corner with really bad sightlines, is decidedly inferior. And the older person might add that when you advertise a show as having a 9 p.m. start on a night when many people have to show up for work the next morning, don’t start it an hour-and-a-half later. That’s just plain rude.

On music, saw the Ancient Sons, a trio featuring brothers Chris and Brad Teichman, with Matt Kanelos on drums, at Old Ironsides last Thursday. It was like the second coming of the Kinks, and hardly anyone was there. Shame.