I was downtown a week or so ago and ended up in a club where a ridiculously talented musician was serenading the patrons.
He was doing a lot of older cover material, and at one point he explained that, well, he didn’t really like any of the new music.
This is a refrain I hear more and more from friends and strangers. Frankly, I don’t know where it comes from. It’s like a kid who says he doesn’t like peas even though he hasn’t tried them. I don’t mean that in an insulting way; I’m not the most adventurous new music explorer myself. I understand musical nostalgia — I really do. I still
listen to everything from Sandy Denny to Talking Heads.
But I’ve grown increasingly weary of the “old” tunes, except perhaps when gathered around for
an impromptu singalong. Frankly, some of it sounds threadbare, and not nearly as clever as I felt it was at the time.
When people complain about new music, they’re thinking only of what they hate the most. Rap music, for example, gets a bad rap, although it’s hardly new anymore. Mind you, there are a couple of solid rap numbers out there if you give it a chance, even if most come from talentless wannabes blurting out lame, cynical rhymes.
I like all sorts of music — classical, experimental, jazz, even country — but lately I’ve fallen back on simple, unplugged sounds for the most part. And there is a cornucopia of new material to choose from in that category. Some is brand new. Some is a few years old. Some local, some not.
I discover most things by osmosis. My wife, a teacher, tries to keep up with what the high school kids are listening to. We might catch something on the radio, or on the soundtrack of a TV show or film. Occasionally, I’ll sample music online, something you couldn’t do in the days of vinyl. And, of course, we’ll take in a scattered concert or recital.
Right now, homegrown trio The Once are on a world tour with popular British singer/songwriter Passenger (Mike Rosenberg). You can follow their escapades online. They’re all over social media, and are even posting a scattered video on YouTube.
On top of that, The Once has signed on with the Nettwerk label and just put out a new album called “Departures.” It’s hard to believe they only teamed up five years ago.
Numerous other local musicians have caught my ear in recent years. Sherman Downey, The Fortunate Ones (Andrew James O’Brien and Catherine Allen), and Amelia Curran come to mind. I’ve bought their music, and I play it.
Hey Rosetta! has earned every accolade they get. They have a unique, sizzling sound, cemented by Tim Baker’s passionate voice and inspired lyrics.
These purveyors of folk and rock don’t even begin to scratch the surface in terms of local music. And don’t even get me started on the wonderful world of new music outside this province.
The next time someone is playing your song, ask them to play something new, too. You might just enjoy it.
Peter Jackson is The Telegram’s
commentary editor. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.