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Rock And Roll Dope

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fa this column two weeks ago, I ran down the ugly behind-the-scenes details of the now infamous Bob Bagaris Gabe Glance Rock and Roll Revival rip-offs that last month almDst gave Governor Milliken the excuse he's been looking for to ban pop festivals from the State of Michigan forever(see page 10). tt's kind of a drag to be writing about all this wierd shit - Pd much rather be playing, or at least talking about , the high energy music all of us love to get down with whenever we canbut stuff like what went down around the Revival is so dangerous to the very life of our music that I feel that I just have to say something about it. Creeps like Bagaris and Glance use our music and all the rest of our culture to rip us off everyday, and if we don 't start checking out what they are doing so we can put a stop to them and learn how to replace their trickery with some real people's programs then things are just going to get worse for us here in the Rainbow Colony, you know what I mean? In this issue it would be real nice if I could write about what a killer time we all had getting down with the MC 5 in Diana Oughton Memorial Park two weeks ago, or maybe I could talk about how great the Brownsville Station's new single sounded played live at the Free John Now! benefit at the Union Ballroom last Tuesday. Yeah, that would be groovy, but as you all know the MC 5 didn'tshow up at Oughton Park after they told us that they would for two weeks; and , contrary to what was supposed to happen as advertised in the last issue of the SUN, the Brownsville Station didn't join in the fun at the last Ann Arbor Free John Now! benefit either. R seems as if there is some more skonky shit going down in the music scène, so here we go again. . „ The reason I mentioned the MC5's and the Station's no-shows together is not simply because they happened so close together and so recently-but they are manifestations of a problem that has been rearing it's silly head all over the Michigan music scène just too much lately, and if we don 't exposé the problem for the phony ruse that it is we may just end up with no local music scène at all before we know what's happened to us„ The first series of benefits the Rainbow People's Party put together for the Committee to Free John Sinclair started May 21 with the big Commander Cody rockout at the Union Ballroom, and before it ended with seven-band Rock and Roll Marathon on June 13 at the Grande, we had started talking to people about doing some more benefits to help raise money to Free John Now! Back then, at the beginning of June, I called Nick Caris at DMA for some help. "DMA" means Diversified Management Agency (the name's a takeoff on CMA out of Chicago, one of the biggest booking agencies in Amerika) and they book most of the "big name" bands from Michigan. When I called, Nick talked to Dave Leone, the head of DMA, and carne back telling ma that "DMA can't get involved with helping you put on any benefits because we would just get in too much trouble with the clubowners, " but that I should feel free to contact "their" bands individually about the benefits myself . At that time I thought that DMA was saying that they just didn't want to spend any time helping us out - and I got some phone numbers from their secretary and went about putting together some concerts without giving it any more thpught. All the music ians I talked to were very interested in helping John out and s the only hang up-at was arranging dates that didn't conflict with paying jobs that they all had. After several weeks we f inally worked out the latest series of three benefits: one at the Grande July 29, one at the Union Aug. 3. and another at the Grande August 5. The Brownsville Station's manager, Al Nalli Jr. (whose dad owns the Al Nalli Music Store on Main Street in Ann Arbor) requested that the Station play at the Ann Arbor benefit "because we don 't want to play in Detroit" - again, we didn't give it too much thought but just agreed to what they were asking and put them on the halfpage ad that ran in the SUN along with the Amboy Dukes and everyone else„ The day that the SUN went to the printer, Al Nalli Jr. called us up and said that the Station couldn't play the benefit. It seems that Dave Leone told him that if they did play the Union Ballroom "it will ruin your chances of getting jobs from promoters in Ann Arbor. " Wondering what the honk was going on we called DMA and had a long conversation with Leone in which he explained that he thought the Station, and almost all of his bands, could not stand to be overexposed by playing at any benefits. At one point he admitted (in his own words) that "it probably wouldn't hurt the Brownsville Station one bit to play the benefit at the Union" but he was oppossed to the idea of his big "star" bands playing at benefits on principie, and he still didn' t like the idea of Brownsville doing the gig. What Leone was trying to run on us, and what he has been running on all of his bands for some time now, is the old Overexposure Ruse.What the Overexposure Ruse is is when a band ar their promoter thinks that people will get tired of hearing them, so they make it a point to play as little as possible in the same place. Like when the Brownsville Station didn't want to play in Detroit, because they didn't want to get "overexposed"there. Or when a club owner says something like "ii the people got to hear the MC 5 f or f ree in the park last Sunday they won 't pay to hear them in my club next as a matter of fact that's exactly what Punch Andrews, the manager of Wampler's Lake Pavillion, said two weeks ago when all this crazy stuff was going down, and that's why he told the 5 that he would cancel their apcoming job at Wampler's if they played for free at Diana Oughton Park. And that's why the 5 never showed up. What the people who run the Overesposure Ruse don't realize is that the people simply can 't get enough of the music--there are literally hundreds and hundreds of thousands of crazed rock and roll addicts in this área alone who will keep coming to hear their favorite bands because they HAVE TO HAVE THEIR MUSK no matter what. People like Leone and Nalli Jr. and Pinch Andrews just aren't hip to that simple fact, they're so caught up with keeping their bands' prices up and keeping their admission prices up that they go to ridiculous lengths to deal with their paranoid fantasies. When we talked to Leone the first time he agreed to giveour situation some thought and cali us back the next day. When he did he told us he stillhadn't changed his mind but he would leave it up to Al Nalli Jr. to decide what to do about the benefit. We checked with Nalli Jr. and he said that Leone had told him to go ahead and play if he wanted tobut Nalli wouldn't let the Station do it because he was afraid that DMA wouldn't get them any more jobs. So, Brownsville Station, one of the young bands that John Sinclair helped to push while he was out on the streets, refused to help the brother because they now have a big-time hit single and they don 't want to "get overexposed in the DetroitAnn Arbor area. " What's really amazing about this whole crock of crap is that the Station have never played in their hometown of Ann Art r! I don't know what they think peo ile will get tired of hearing if they i ver hear the Brownsville Station at all - but that's exactly what I mean about the stupidity of the Overexposure Ruse. It's just like the promoters and agents and managers who run this stuff think that music is a "commodity" just like toothpaste and seat covers are ccmmodities, and once people get tired of the music they just throw itaway and look for something new. They figure that if people see and hear their bands more than once or twice a year they just won't ever want to pay to hear them again. So they keep pushing their bands' records and writing about their bands in the newspapers, all the time TEASING the people so that once the band finally gets off its ass and plays some live music they will be sure that the people pay five bucks a seat and their band will get several thousand dollars so they can split and go hit some other town with the same bullshit. But what these people don't realize is that our music is NOT a commodity. ft is not something that wears out like a hairdryer, it's not just another fad like hula-hoops or a new style like hot pants - it's the high energy stuff that we NEED all the time to keep going and, j even more important, it's something alive and growing just like we live and grow. as a people on this planet. Music is one expression of our very Bfe force, and like our lives the real music keeps on changing and getting farther and farther out. High energy bands never have to worry about people "getting tired" of their music because they constantly change their tunes and their show to reflect what's going on with the people here and now. And the people will always want to come back and hear them because they know what they'll get something new and even more beautiful than the last time. What's really wrong with the Overexposure Ruse is not that ifs just funny and stupid it's really DA.NGEROUS, just as dangerous to our music scène as the rip-off festivals of Bagaris and Glance. What's happening right now is that the Overexposure Ruse is spreading like some ugly cáncer over almost every band in the area-it's already taken over places like Los Angeles and New York where the phony trick was first invented -and it's getting harder and harder to hear anyof the bands that we have supported for so long now that they're big shots anymore. SomeContinued on page 6 . f M@Ê W HUL Éiffi 1 Continued f rom page 5 times, llke in the case of the MC 5, this isn't the band's fault; and in other cases like with the Station, it is their manager 's fault; but eitherway it has the same effect - the only bands we get to hear are some pop stars that are shipped in from some other place while our own brother and sister musicians are out star ring in some different place. The bands are so worried with "keeping their price up" that they spend horrendous amounts of money on travel expenses when they could be playing for a little less in their own área helping to keep smaller clubs going to playing a benefit or two in their i,home town to help a sister or brother out of jail or to help start a people's ballröom. The way it is now the bands keep waiting f or their chance to be the big stars and the promoters, agents, and managers just help them along because there's money in it for them- and once they get a hit record they got to "keep that price up there" making it impossible for the small clubs that don 't have much money to even exist. Punch Andrews should be able to teil you all about his Palladium in Birmingham was shut down because , among other things, he ran it according to the Overexposure Ruse formula. One by one all the small clubs close and all that's left is one big dirty ballroom in each major city, because it's only the big ballrooms that can pack enough people in a $5 a head to pay the bands. And then all it takes is for the owner af that one ballroom to get fat and lazy (like Bill Graham did) and the ballroom closes (like the Fillmore E ast did) and one day there just ain't now more rock and rol 1 scène, because there just ain't nowhere to play or hear the music (like in New York City). People that say it can 't happen here should be reminded that the Eastown in Detroit was closed while Bob Bagaris was vacationing in Greece last week And the only rock and roll in town was at the Free John Now! benefits at the Grande. POWER TO THE MUSICIANS WHO KNOW THEIR PEOPLE! RAINBOW POWER TO THE PEOPLE OF THE FUTURE!