Monday, July 10, 2006

Still Fest-ering After All These Years

I'm sitting here this morning trying to figure out how I managed to instigate an argument last night about something that happened four years ago. I finally concede that all people (including myself) are crazy, and in the words of Paul Anka, That's just the (bleeping) way it is.

Here's the proof: about four or five years ago (I forget), the folks that participate in the Saturday Night Jam at Beatlefest (or whatever it is they're calling it these days), made an effort to try and prevent the thing from turning into the discordant, ear-splitting train wreck it had increasingly become over the last few years. The previous year's shenanigans challenged The Who at Shea Stadium for sheer blood-splattering decibels and The Clash for sheer lack of musicianship. It was an unmitigated disaster. Even the Red Cross refused to show up with blankets. You know it's bad when other Fest guests actually call the lobby to complain about the noise. But that's exactly what happened. No one really enjoyed themselves.

After much discussion between many of the jam regulars, right up until that Saturday night, it was decided that rather than have 100 people with AC-30s and Fender Champs bitch-slapping each other into permanent tinnitus, a professional P.A. system would be set up and people could sign up to take turns jamming for a few songs, a couple at a time, plugged into already-supplied amps and everyone would get a chance to play for a bit instead of turning the evening into another Hindenburg.

Sounded like a beautiful idea, except that as with anything and everything, there were a handful of people that got pissed off because they couldnt set their amps up and play all night. Wouldnt listen to reason, just stormed out. "Whatever", I thought. Screw you, I want to be able to hear when Im 50. Good riddance.

After the initial brouhaha calmed down, one member of the group stepped up to try and organize the sign-up. It could have been ANY of the 20 or so people already assembled there, but it just happened that this one guy stepped up first and tried to keep things organized. People signed up, people played, the jam went on until the wee hours of the morning and no one bled from the ears, no one called security - everything was beautiful. Or so it seemed.

The next morning at breakfast, everyone seemed pretty happy about the previous night's affair. I had missed the real bulk of it, but the folks that had stayed were very pleased with the resulting quality of the music and the crowds enjoyment thereof.

Some time between bacon and eggs and the start of Sundays festivities, things took a nasty turn. Word started spreading through the place via the 'Devil's Radio' that people had been prevented from playing, or were only allowed to do one song. I had seen just the opposite before turning in, but I checked with some of the gang that had remained after I left. "Thats not what happened at all", "Not true", and "No way" were the general responses.

It didnt matter. By the middle of the afternoon, the guy that had foolishly volunteered to manage the sign-up sheet (and it really could have been ANYBODY) was being vilified. Childish cartoon characterizations of the guy started appearing all over the hotel and the place was abuzz with bad vibes. None of the bullshit came remotely close to the truth, but once you start an avalanche, it cant be stopped. Things got so bad, the guy stopped coming to the Fest for a couple of years. All this because some people got their nuts in a twist because things weren't being done "their" way anymore. As a result, the organized jam idea was abandoned, and the next year, chaos and deafness ruled once again.

Now, fast-forward to last Wednesday. I'm on vacation with some friends and one of the guys has a CD of the audio from the ill-fated organized jam. I was taken aback by just HOW good it was. Musically, it was superb. No clashing amps on full volume. No sharp and flat guitars dueling like the 200 Spastic Musketeers.

So last night, I'm chatting with a bunch of friends and one of the guys there happens to be the one that (foolishly) volunteered to manage the jam sign-up. I off-handedly mentioned that I'd JUST heard tapes from that night a few days earlier, and that I was surprised at just how good it actually was, and how sad it was that a few people had to ruin a good thing.

We're talking back and forth about all the crap that had gone on when suddenly, without warning, someone jumps in and starts arguing about it! Four years later, and theres STILL crap going on about what supposedly went on that night - and heres the punch line - mostly by people that weren't even there.

I felt bad that the whole thing got re-hashed again, and I was sorry I'd even brought it up. But in the aftermath, I was mostly dumbfounded by how much info from that night is STILL 100 percent WRONG, and how people are still clinging to the phony-baloney bullshit version like it was Moses clutching the tablets.

Oh yeah - so at this LAST Fest back in March, I ran into a guy who no longer participates in the Saturday Night Jam. I asked him why, and he said because its become a train wreck that gets crashed into by a plane wreck.

What can you do.

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Today's The Day

Some good advice from the legendary Ray Stevens.