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Rock And Roll Dope

Rock And Roll Dope image
Parent Issue
Day
26
Month
November
Year
1971
OCR Text

We said in our first column uiider this byline two weeks ago that we wanted to do more, together with other bands from all over and especially from right here in Michigan, to help get John Sinclair out of prison and back out on the streets with his people where he belongs. One of the most beautiful and progressive things about this scène has always been the band 's willingness to particípate in benefits for righteous community causes and we intended to work right away to see that even more reeularlv. Even before the last issue of the SUN went to press we had started work on our first series of benefits, at the Cinderella Ballroom in Detroit. We were in for some surprises. Like we said, the Michigan music scène has alraost always been out in front of everything else in terms of service to its community, and the biggest problem at benefits in the past has not usually been getting bands to play at all. Generally the main hassle is more something like getting someone to give up a build - ing where you can have the dance, or getting enough people to hear about the event and come check it out. But this time things were just about reversed. To start with, we heard from the people that run the Cinderella that we were welcome to use their place for a benefit some time, and we called them up and decided on a date. Our next step had to be to get some bands to play, and that's where we got tripped up. There was a lot planned for the Detroit Ann Arbor area the weekend the Cinderella was available to us (November 19 and 20 - five large concerts plus Eastown stuff) and we knew we had to put together a solid bilí so that it would be worth our time, and the Cinderella's, to put on the dance. We had to get some bands that were popular enough in the Detroit area to draw a crowd, and we did all we could, called everyone we could -and we couldn't find enough rock and roll bands to put together a concert. Anyway, we had to cali off the dances for the Cinderella those nights- but that, in itself , is not the important part of what we want to say here. What is important is that we see that there has been a growing trend inside of the business part of this scène to put a stop to benefits altogether, and this is a trend that we have to speak out against. We've talked about this before in the SUN but we're sorry to say that things haven 't gotten any better. It has, after all, gotten to the point where it is impossible to put on a benefit one night of a given weekend and be successful at it, and we think that's a bunch of buil shit. Again, we're not trying to point to this one event as au example of everything that is wrong, we aren 't saying that any individuals, particularly musicians, are at fault. That's not impor tant here - we 're not trying to push 'Individuáis" or "individual solutions", ours or anybody else's, at all. We're talking about very real stuff in our own music scène that is happening because people are being fooled. Lots of people are getting fooled into thinking that playing for the people is not where it's at, that playing for the people has nothing to jjp with being a musician. Nonsense! But it is_ happening. DMA, the bigtime booking agency in the area run by Dave Leone, has a philosophy opposed to the idea of benefits pretty much entirely. The DMA philosophy interprets itself as the "Hands Off the Top Five" policy - Leone has been known to teil various people in Detroit and Ann Arbor that they just "shouldn't touch my top five" when looking to set up a benefit. Leone's top babies are Alice Cooper; Brownsville Station; Amboy Dukes; Seger; Teagarden and VanWinkle; and ParlimentFunkadelic. Since DMA's bands allow quite a bit of control to Leone, it gets pretty hard to put on a big benefit, you dig? On this one particular occassion the biggest round of honks and squeals should go to the Musician's Union. As we ran it last week, The Union wasn't letting Mitch Ryder 's Detroit even play until there was a settlement on money owed to Local 5 in the Motor City, by members of the band. Detroit's album was getting played á lot on the radio while this was happening and the Union was literally squeezing them into making a quick deal so the band could cash in, finally, on all the hard wout they've been doing. The Union moves also made it impossible for the members of Detroit, all of whom wanted to play once again for John, to make a commitment to playing at the Cinderella in enough time to adverüse the dance. The point being that there are torces that move against the peoples righteous events but these forces are not musical ones at all. The idea that benefits are not good to play at is an ideavhich is contrary tothe life of the people 's music finally, CONTRARY TO THE LIFE OF ROCK AND ROLL. We are a community of people, an interlocking system that together is all of us Rainbow People, and we are either musicians who rapognize that we are part of the people and that we must stay close to the people for our very survival, or we are a bunch of lost "artists" ñoating somewhere out in space waiting to be picked off by the big record companies and booking agencies and bought and sold and told what to do like a piece of shit. The reason we are here to play music at all is because we are part of this big thing, our growing Rainbow Culture, that is happening to brothers and sisters all over the place; we can do it because of members of the community like John Sinclair who put their lives, and their freedom, on the line so that we could do what we want and play what we want to play. John Sinclair was the key figure in the Michigan scène 's rise to prominence, and because he was so successful he was RIPPED OFF on the phony two joints ruse, and they've shown time and time again they are going to keep him off the streets by any means necessary unless people force them to do something. Just as John had given everything he could give to his work for the people and the scène as a whole, the people of the community have got to give him all the support he needs. Especially the bands. What we 're saying, first of all, is that the times are calling on all of us to do more, and not less, for John Sinclair. John was unique in that he worked hard for the people in his community and he helped make his community unique as a thing in itself. And the community has responded to John 's plight with support - lots of killer benefits for John, for instance. But John is not free yet and we have to KEEP ON PUSHING just like John did so we can get him back with us. Number two, and just as important, is that benefits are a vital part of community activity that must be kept alive, especially by the bands that carne out of that community. It's no secret that there just aren 't enough places to play any more and that's the biggest dragon the whole music scène now, making it even more impossible to keep a band together in the middle of honky Amerika than ever before. Lots of bands have depended on benefits and free people 's events to keep themselves alive and in front of a receptive audience in the past, and the showcase that benefits provide for all kinds of bands is even more necessary as the music industry now goes to bigger and bigger pnces, leaving a vacuüm for all but a few musicians to breathe in. We know that there are some people out there who disagree with this, but this stuff is too serious to be left unsaid. WeVe heard more and more folks talking about the need for more rock and roll ever since the Eastown became the only regular thing happening in the area, and the talk just keeps happening, There is plenty of room for more concerté on the scène that's for sure. The papers say that the market for music is growing faster, that the economy was in a litüe trouble but old Uncle Dick fixed everything up with his price freeze, right? And, all the time we check out reports of bigger record sales and more money in the industry, the jobs keep getting harder to get and the money we see as the people who really make the music gets smaller. What is going on? What is going on is that most of the money in the music scène is being ripped off by the cig record compnies and big promoters, and almost none of it gets back down to the musicians or any other people who make this stuff happen with their work. It's always in the interests of the big people on top to keep pushing the idea of "Big and BIGGER and eliminate everything else "because that way they make the most money- monopoly. And it just so happens that the businessmen in the area have pushed their thing to such an extent and competed with each other, and they've been so greedy in their acüons they've taken almost everything with them. So to keep our music alive, to survive as musicians, we've got to start looking out for our own interests and those of our people and help each other buüd something we can depend on a litüe more than what we've got right now. We have to start thinking more about what we can do together - because we have the same basic interests - and there just isn't any other way that we are all going to make it if we don 't. One of the biggest problems we've got to deal with is that of not enough places to play, not enough concerts, and one of the most immediate solutions is for more benefits to happen. And there are other, more long range solutions to this and other problems worth getting together to check out. There's really no space left to go on so well just close by saying that we're going to keep working on more benefits to Free John Now i - so watch for word as to what 's happening about John as best you can. And if there's anything you can help us do or want to talk about you can get ah old of us through the SUN. More later. FREE JOHN NOW' .