Band Nerds

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Band Nerds

Following up on some earlier comments . . . I have always been interested in the correlation between nerds and music.

One of the hallmarks of nerddom is an obsession with trivia, and the music world gives you many opportunities in that regard. CT and I had a coworker in the publishing business who bought CDs by metal bands from all over the world — especially the hokey old-school guys with the Dungeons and Dragons imagery and the leather pants.

I tend to go through different phases, but for several years, my bread and butter was “soul jazz” — very accessible blues/R&B/gospel flavored jazz, usually with a wailing tenor sax and a screaming Hammond B3 organ. During this phase, I was playing in an R&B/oldies band and got stuck driving to gigs with a guy who was into progressive jazz fusion kind of stuff. We took turns playing CDs and generally grew to hate each other’s music.

Nerds have an urge to categorize and put things into boxes, and that’s certainly how I come at music. When I get into something new — say, surf instrumentals — I’m always trying to figure out where the music came from, what defines the genre, what it evolved into. Some music nerds takes this tendency and become purists and get very intolerant about what is allowed in a particular style, too — bluegrass and Irish traditional music are full of these characters (although more often among the fans than the players themselves).

Me, I’m always interested in understanding the “pure” form of the music (although most music ends up being a hybrid of some earlier styles, on closer inspection), but I also want to know what happens when you add some different ingredient to the mix. An earlier poster mentioned Gaelic Storm, which is a good example — an Irish band that uses a djembe, an African drum. To mention another pet project of mine — a rockabilly band with a 50’s R&B-style saxophonist (not a huge stretch).

Another option for the music nerd is to find a more overt combination of nerd pop culture and music. The Renaissance Faire bands, the filk singers that do songs about fantasy and sci-fi, even Led Zeppelin doing songs about the Lord of the Rings. I’ve thought for a long time that a surf instrumental band could borrow imagery from Silver Age comics — Lee, Kirby, and Ditko, but also that old DC stuff like Challengers of the Unknown and Sea Devils. I helped my friends the Poprocks [www.poprocksfanclub.com] write a comic book awhile back that features the band booking a gig in Hell, too…

By | 2017-03-17T01:05:17+00:00 August 7th, 2007|Categories: Article|Tags: |5 Comments

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  1. fitz February 23, 2017 at 4:00 am - Reply

    I have to same I am the farthest away from music/band nerds as possible. I can't carry a tune and generally try to stay avoid public sing. Hence the reason I listen to a lot of trance and techno music – no lyrics.

    That being said I do have two bands that I absolutely love. 1) Gaelic Storm as mentioned earlier and 2) Fleming and John. F&J are kind of what plee has mentioned – they are a husband & wife group and he plays all kinds of different instruments in their songs. It is eclectic stuff. They only have two albums which stinks, but they are both good.

  2. PLee February 23, 2017 at 4:00 am - Reply

    Y'know, I've been thinking again about getting a button accordion. Probably a three-row G/C/F . . . that's the kind used by Tex-Mex conjunto guys like Flaco Jimenez, and some of the earlier zydeco players used them, too. Not suited to Irish music, unfortunately.

    Yep…when I start thinking about getting an accordion, it usually means I need a week off work.

  3. PLee February 23, 2017 at 4:00 am - Reply

    "Talking about music is like dancing about architecture."

  4. Carlin February 23, 2017 at 4:00 am - Reply

    I've always struggled with the mixing of music and my musical interests. Primarily because my musical interests cannot be easily categorized. I've heard the question, "what kind of music do you like?" so many times, but I cannot answer it. I simply say that I like good music.

    Recently I've been listening to one particular CD. I LOVE three songs on it, enjoy two others, and can't stand the rest. Yet, it all falls under the same musical category.

    I guess music to me is more personal than any of my other interests. I don't really like having discussions about my music because I can never articulate what I like about it. I just don't know enough about the mechanics of music I guess.

    I always feel like I'm on a quest with music. I'm looking for the next thing that I'll like.

  5. PLee February 23, 2017 at 4:00 am - Reply

    By the way . . . if I ever get around to recording a little acoustic roots music vanity project, I'm gonna try to work in "Theme from Firefly". And maybe "The Ballad of Jayne".

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