If you were paying attention this summer (and hopefully paying admission), you know that a bevy of local music lovers (and bevy is the correct term) were going out of their way to sidetrack cool touring acts out of their way and into the region.
One Lucky Guitar’s Matt Kelley, C2G’s Brad Etter, Rich Lee and Rob Wood of NIPR’s Little Brother Radio, WhatzUp writer Greg Locke and the folks over at the Brass Rail on Broadway risked all to bring to the area bands so cutting-edge that they will probably break up before Ryan Seacrest has had a chance to call them cutting-edge.
We can only hope.
Now another group of plucky promoters has entered that fray.
Visionary Promotions of Van Wert, Ohio.
The goal of Visionary Promotions is to encourage singer-songwriters to perform at the Marsh Auditorium in that northwestern Buckeye town.
First up is Boston folk phenom John Gorka on Oct. 11.
Gorka hasn’t agreed to perform any closer to Fort Wayne than Van Wert as far as I know.
“This whole journey began when I discovered the music of John Gorka while totally looking for something else on the Internet,” Visionary Promotions spokesperson James Clay wrote in an e-mail. “I listened to a few seconds of one of his songs, liked it and went to my iTunes to buy a couple of his songs. By the time I was done I had bought 35 songs and spent nearly $40. This was followed by trips to Toledo and Dayton to hear John perform live and I was hooked.
“I wanted to bring that kind of uplifting music back to my hometown and the surrounding area,” he wrote. “There is an old saying among these artists that says ‘There is literally hundreds of dollars to be made performing folk music,’ and that is so true. They are in it not for the fame and fortune but for the craft of making great music.”
I was working at an eclectic western Massachusetts radio station in 1990 when Gorka’s first CD, “Land of the Bottom Line,” came in.
My favorite song of Gorka’s, “Raven in the Storm,” is on that CD. I can’t think of a more ominous and chilling confessional song in folk music.
The task that Clay and his friends have set for themselves is tougher than it might seem to someone unschooled in the economics of folk and acoustic music. Touring singer-songwriters tend to stick to college towns and certain big cities with a lush history of supporting folk music.
“Not sure if this venture will be a success or not but I have enjoyed putting it all together as much as anything I have ever done,” Clay, a youth basketball coach by day, wrote.
“I think if folks come out and give it a chance they will really enjoy the experience and come away from it with a new appreciation for great acoustic music,” he wrote. “Huge venues with thousands of seats and loud ear-splitting music are OK sometimes, but for my money there is nothing better than a guy and a guitar singing about life and making your spirit soar.”
Clay isn’t taking any chances where “encouraging people to give it a chance” is concerned – Visionary Promotions is offering an unprecedented “100% Good Time Guarantee” on all its shows.
If you don’t like a concert, you can get your money back after it’s over.
Upcoming performers include Kate Campbell, Red Molly, Bryan White and Storyhill.
To see a full list and to order tickets, go to www.visionarypromotions.org. Or call 419-238-7419.
Buckingham vibrant sans Fleetwood Mac
I listen to a lot of new music, and much of it leaves me flat.
I don’t know whether it’s the music or my age, but I began to suspect the latter when I received Lindsey Buckingham’s new CD, “Gift of Screws.”
Wow, is it ever good.
Is it hip to admit you like the new Lindsey Buckingham CD?
It is hip to say “Wow”?
Yes to both questions, as it turns out.
After all, the Fleetwood Mac frontman long ago moved beyond the California rock that made that once-famous band famous again in the mid-’70s.
The songs in “Gift of Screws” are catchy, of course, but they are also kind of crunchy.
There’s lots of fierce fingerstyle guitar and generally chilly atmosphere reminiscent of the late Chris Whitley’s full band recordings.
Only one song, “The Right Place to Fade,” sounds like it could have come off “Rumours.”
At the risk of using an adjective that is so overused it almost signifies its opposite, “Gift of Screws” is timeless.
In a phone interview, Buckingham said he doesn’t set out to make “timeless” music.
“I don’t think anyone writing music and putting together material does so with the objective of making it timeless,” he said. “We’re all just goofing around. Hopefully, in the process of that, we manage to make something that works.
“I just feel thankful when I get to the end of something that it is actually finished and it turned out OK,” Buckingham said. “ ‘By the skin of my teeth’ is always the sense I have.”
Buckingham performs tonight at the Murat Egyptian Room in Indianapolis.
These days, Buckingham has the luxury in his solo career of doing whatever pleases him: He doesn’t need the money and he doesn’t have anything to prove, he said.
But it wasn’t always thus.
“What really started me making solo albums was what I perpetrated in the wake of the mega success of ‘Rumours,’ ” he said. “Namely, the ‘Tusk’ album. That was a left turn.
“It was a bit risky and was, to some degree, confounding of people’s expectations.”
Where “Rumours” was filled with ingratiating hits, “Tusk” was a crazy quilt with occasionally cacophonous stuff that reflected the emotional chaos within the band.
“It wasn’t ‘Rumours 2,’ ” Buckingham said simply. “And because ‘Tusk’ did not fulfill someone’s idea of what the requisite number of sales should have been, the band decided it was not going to do anything like that anymore.”
“That decision created a line of solo material that was free of any artificial impositions about how things should be done and not be done,” Buckingham said.
If Buckingham’s words sound bitter, the man himself is not. He said he has mellowed considerably over the years.
“I have grown as an individual,” he said. “For a long time, I led a very emotionally defended life. Then I met my wife (Kristen Messner) and we had three kids. I have enjoyed the fruits of a lot of good karma.”
Buckingham has nothing but pride in the behemoth known as Fleetwood Mac, but he admits his outlook wasn’t always so upbeat.
When he first joined the band, he had to perform a lot of material that wasn’t his and mesh with people who had played together a long time. And then, of course, the band members decided (unsuspectingly) to mix business with pleasure, which led to a mix of business and resentment.
“The interpersonal dynamics were challenging,” he said. “It is difficult to break up with someone and see them move away slowly or not so slowly and then try to find it within yourself to keep doing your job in the band and doing it well, that job being constructing the music for everyone.”
“It wasn’t always easy to feel unconflicted about that,” Buckingham said. “Also, obviously, we lived in a subculture where no one was taking care of themselves very well.”
When the band reunited in 1997 for a tour and live album, there was still lingering bitterness. That began to dissipate only recently, Buckingham said.
What people have to remember, Buckingham said, is that Fleetwood Mac’s sense of itself is more about the relationships than the hits.
“All of that is something that remains and is more present to me now than any of the success,” he said. “Bands are a lot less connected to their success than what goes on behind the scenes.”
Buckingham said he has started finally to bury the hatchet with former lover Stevie Nicks, and the unwitting catalyst for this was singer Sheryl Crow.
In March, Crow announced that she would be replacing former member Christine McVie in Fleetwood Mac, and the band quickly unannounced it.
“That was ridiculous,” Buckingham said of the debacle. “We’d had a very hypothetical conversation with her.”
Buckingham said Nicks was craving for “more female presence onstage” in the wake of McVie’s departure, and the band floated a trial balloon with Crow.
Apparently, Crow floated away on it.
You can’t really blame Crow for her enthusiasm.
Well, Buckingham can.
“Sheryl took it upon herself to tell anyone and everyone that she was joining Fleetwood Mac, an announcement that wasn’t just premature, it wasn’t on solid ground,” Buckingham said.
But the misunderstanding led to “some good conversations” between Buckingham and Nicks.
“That’s one thing that came out of this Crow thing is that we started talking,” he said. “We acknowledged that we do need to approach whatever is going to come in the sense of caring for each other as people more than anything.”
Buckingham said it is unlikely that anyone will replace McVie at this point.
The band has none of the pressures it experienced in the ’70s, Buckingham said, and that frees it up to focus on more important matters.
“We just have to enjoy each other as people up there (onstage),” he said. “We don’t have to have any more musical agendas. It is absurd for us to try and keep competing with bands in their 20s.”