HOPE FOR THE FUTURE IN THE FANS OF AMERICANA MUSIc
Dennis and Brenda Kippa
It's Brenda again this week, and I've been thinking.....
This week, we aren't profiling a band. We want to talk about the fans
of Americana Music – which, of course, includes ourselves.
Readers of this column over the past few weeks may have begun to
realize that a couple of things seem to be true about us. Number One:
We don't write about anyone we don't love to listen to. And (Number
Two), we are what some people refer to as “old”. Those readers are
right on both counts.
The reason you won't read a bad write-up in this column is simple. If
we don't like the music, hopefully we don't go in the first place. And
the part about being “old” gives us an attitude that we don't want to
waste any of our remaining time with any performances that we don't
Actually,“enjoy” might be an insufficient word here. My belief is that
musical talent is a gift from a higher power, and therefore it can be
either a healing experience or a damaging one when we listen to it.
(Depending on which “higher power” bestowed the gift).
I suppose that we both knew that we might not see many people who
looked like ourselves in the venues where live music is found, but we
didn't dwell on it, and we didn't expect it to be a problem. And it
hasn't been. However, it has been amusing at times.
Once, we were being asked for our identification by a door person who
had probably been told “no exceptions” to the policy that keeps
underage drinking from being allowed. As we fumbled for our licenses,
a manager stepped in and said “they're okay” and “right this way,
sir”, and showed us to our seats. At first, we thought we had been
mistaken for “somebody”, but on further thought we realized that we
had just been profiled on the basis of age. It was a great laugh.
Another time, we were at the door to pay our way in to a concert by a
26-year-old performer. The person at the door asked us if we didn't
mean to come the next night, when the legendary Ray Wylie Hubbard
would be performing. We explained that we had already seen Hubbard
recently (great show!), and we were halfway through the show before we
realized that we had been age-profiled again... but wait, there's
more! When writing to the venue the next morning to offer a
5-thumbs-up review, Dennis decided to share the story of what happened
at the door. Having only communicated via e-mail to that point, Dennis
was shocked when the manager told him that SHE was the person at the
door. At that point, there was a full round of laughter, and she
insisted that dinner would be on the house on our next visit.
We've found that the music world is full of exceedingly nice people.
And being the oldest ones is not so bad at all. Even though it still
holds that most people at the events we attend are 20-something and
30-something, we have discovered that a much younger audience is
waiting in the wings.
You may recall that in our first column, we told you about Uncle
Lucius, and hoped you would mark your calendar for an event in
downtown Tyler on Sept. 7th, called the East Texas All-Star Revue.
Everything about the event was beyond expectations, including the
cooler-than-usual temperatures and the gentle breeze that stayed with
us 'till the end. There were a total of 8 bands on 2 stages, plus lots
of other things going on in the blocked-off downtown area. Uncle
Lucius was the headliner, so they took the main stage from about 11:30
until the city-mandated lights-out time of 1:00 AM.
What amazed and delighted us was the extra dimension to the fans
gathered below the raised stage, right in front of the band. A large
percentage of them were young kids – ages 12 to 13 and under. And
where did they all come from? We hadn't noticed them before Lucius
took the stage.
By now, surely you know that we really, really do enjoy and admire
Lucius. In addition to being totally amazing and entertaining
musicians, they are completely decent human beings – the kind who do
good things and don't talk about it. In going to see them anytime they
are within driving distance from home, we have also come to recognize
and appreciate their fans. From the first time we saw them perform, we
were slack-jawed by the way the fans knew every word to every song and
seemed to even have certain gestures that they did in unison. At first
we thought that this was the new face of audiences in general (which
was very intimidating to imagine), but we came to understand that this
bunch of people seem to truly be a breed apart; they are Lucius fans.
After all, who lets their 12-and-under kids attend a concert until 1
AM in an outdoor area?
The answer is Uncle Lucius fans, as long as it's Lucius the kids are
listening to. The parents know that there is no danger of lewd lyrics
or behavior, yet they also know that their kids will have full
bragging rights the next day as they talk to their friends, because
Uncle Lucius is cool - that's universally understood – and so are
their fans. We imagine that the fans who are parents are betting that
Uncle Lucius' unique quality of GOODness will be sufficiently
attractive and contagious to provide a lesson while the kids aren't
even aware they're being taught.
This much is certain: we have seen the happy faces of young people who
are being totally entertained – and they were listening to “Americana”
music. Forget “country”; most of it has jumped into the gutter. We
propose a new bumper sticker: “Real Rockers Go American