Access All Eras: Tribute Bands and Global Pop Culture

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The Liverpool Scene. Substance in the Music of the Beatles and Their Forebears. Peter Gordon Other Friends. Enter Brian Epstein. Please Please Me. Composers at Work FebruaryJuly Composing for the Epstein Stable.

With the Beatles. Initial Reception in America. Pop Music in America. A Second Feature Film. These kinds of statements are not merely canonical cheerleading. It is important to remember that tributes play their part in the ideological work that constructs the pop music canon that is often conservative in terms of genre and era.

If there is remembrance, there is also forgetting: the more faithful tributes privilege the most commercially successful songs and band periods, at the expense of less well known material. The messy narratives of band break-ups, court disputes and bad albums are often erased although as we have seen with the Australian Beatles acts, court battles can be reluctantly re-enacted. I thought they were pretty awful on stage, to be fair.

There is very much a sing-a-long element. Dyer ; as intense copies in vain search of the original; as an embodiment of artificial sincerity; in their open celebration of surface, rather than essence, tributes invite associations with postmodern affectivity. This is most apparent where the sincere is stacked against parody in a jumble of histories and genres. So we allow a costume change for the girls, and the guys do a rock song. It is a strategy employed by most of the successful tributes: the need to locate and emphasize an interpretation that serves as an internal narrative anchor.

So I began doing it on stage, and the letters I got from people complaining! Harrison interview This amounts to an excess of authenticity, with the Fab Four mythology open to investigation. As a shared ironic gesture, the joke here confronts both industry and audience memories of Lennon-as-icon. Perversely, too much attention to detail produces a mythic complexity that the tribute structure cannot endure. Instead, both history and performance-ashistory is applied with a broad brush that privileges more direct assumptions about the music industry and how bands have managed their stardom.

My thanks to all for their patience and insights. Notes 1 2 3 4 The musical is also often misinterpreted.

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An Independent newspaper article about Mamma Mia! Popular music legal histories abound with musicians seeking to prevent band reformations as hollow tributes to former line-ups. It would be so weird. Liverpool Philharmonic Hall, 5 December, References Auslander, P. Barnard, S. London: Hodder Headline. Benedictus, L. Benhamou, F. Berland, J. Bennett, S. Frith, L. Grossberg, J. Shepherd, and G. Burns, G. Byrnes, P. Cavern Beatles www. Columbia Law School Fantasy v Fogerty. Cooper, T. Cunningham, M. London: Sanctuary Publishing. Cuppitt, M. Sydney: Australian Broadcasting Authority. Dyer, R. Talbot ed.

The Business of Music. Liverpool: Liverpool University Press. The uneasy relationship of music and television, Popular Music, 21 3 : — Gracyk, T. London: Duke University Press. Grainge, P. Green, C. London: British Phonogram Industry. Green, L. Aldershot: Ashgate. Grossberg, L. Does anybody care? On the state of rock, in A.

Ross and T. New York: Routledge. Dickinson ed. Movie Music: The Film Reader. Hayler, S. Huntemann, N. Lewis and T. Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing. Jones, S. Joy, S. Middleton, R. Moore, A. Potts, J. Hayward ed. Rampton, J. Robertson, P. Romney, J. London: BFI Publishing. Shuker, R. Turner, G. The death of teen radio in Australia, in T. Shepherd and G. Wall, D. Wallis, R.

I seek to first place the argument in historical context, focusing primarily on contested and conflicted views of Beatles-oriented, vernacular heritage-based tourism schemes. In a city so regularly caricaturized by the national media as scruffy, lazy, and aimless, prone to violence, crime and alcoholism, native Liverpudlians, or Scousers, as they are known across England, suddenly found themselves in the midst of a celebrated and frenzied Beatle-band production line. They were now exploring transcendental meditation, mind-expanding drugs and the Tibetan Book of the Dead.

Musically, intellectually, and spiritually, by , Liverpool and the Liverpool Beat music scene were being passed by. Inner cities with a heavy industrial base were hardest hit by a country-wide recession, few worse than Liverpool. Wilson and Womersley 17 Without its industrial lifeblood of the docks or the cultural core of the Beatles and Merseybeat, Liverpool seemed mired in its own depression, both economic and spiritual.

With little more than token national support for investment or redevelopment programmes, the well-worn social fabric of Merseyside unravelled even further. Across the main streets, police lined up in medieval battle rank, with helmets, sticks and shields. There was charge and counter-charge, petrolbombing, looting and the first CS gas used outside of Ulster.

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In the avalanche of explanations that followed, unemployment was the favourite culprit, followed by police harassment. Moreover, the Cavern Club, the venue that catapulted the Beatles to stardom, where they played nearly gigs, was demolished in Long-time Merseybeat locals like club owner Allan Williams an early Beatles manager and former Cavern compere Bob Wooler seized on this perceived opportunity and lobbied stridently for a Beatle-specific development plan, but Merseyside officials were far less enthusiastic.

The coexistence of two such divergent views regarding the role the Beatles should play in the regeneration of Liverpool underscored the longstanding ambivalence local residents felt towards the group and their legacy. Ron knew that Beatle fans visiting Liverpool would like more information on the city and its Beatles connections. Despite its notoriety for the guzzling of regeneration monies, Liverpool was, gradually, beginning to see signs of improvement: from —9, total employment in the city grew by As the day ended, many convention attendees would informally gather at sites that were of importance to the Beatle legacy, especially the pubs and clubs of Mathew Street, the home of the Cavern Club, reconstructed in and integrated into the surrounding upmarket shopping centre now called Cavern Walks.

As both the owners of the Cavern Club and the organizers of the Beatle convention, CCT saw a natural link between tribute bands and the reconstituted Cavern, and sought to exploit the economic potential inherent in having a captive and Beatlefriendly audience already present in Liverpool. Groups with names like the Aussie Beatles, Ringer, the Repeatles, and Tripper travel from places as remote as Tokyo, Argentina and Australia to provide Beatle music to festival-goers in venues across the city. Firstly, it can be argued that the MSF serves a transformational function for both fans and entrepreneurs, temporarily altering 21st-century Liverpool into a re-creation of its s image.

Finally, this melding of high and low culture legitimates the involvement of public-private enterprise and investment in popular music and Beatle-related events in the city. This administrative and aesthetic shift in spirit also underscores the importance, although perhaps obliquely, of the economic and social benefits of tribute bands in a cultural industries-based economy.

Waterman writes that festivals transform landscape and place into temporary environments, but ones that are imbued with meaningful cultural status by a particular group or segment of the population. This seems especially true of the MSF, where the reconstruction is both literal and metaphorical. That is to say, there is a clear peculiarity in , people making a trip to Liverpool each year, a kind of popular music pilgrimage, when the Beatles as a group ceased to exist in , and left Liverpool even earlier still.

So it may be argued that the Beatles or their music actually have very little to do with the motivation and expectations of the festival-goers. Indeed, in personal observations made during the last four MSFs, many attendees arrive in Liverpool in fancy dress. Some demonstrate their fandom in less noticeable ways, through the wearing of Beatles T-shirts, jackets or by carrying rucksacks with Beatles patches or designs. Liverpool as a site of musical pilgrimage By distinguishing themselves from the crowd through such visible and memorable displays of fancy dress or mimicked s behaviour, it may be suggested that many of the fans attending the MSF are at least partially motivated to do so through a desire to experience the full festival environment.

By extension then, it could be argued that MSF attendees are looking to experience Liverpool as a place — perhaps firstly as a festival spot, but also, more critically, as a social, historical and symbolic site Waterman of personal significance. The MSF may serve as a catalyst for fans to reminisce about events from their youth, to relive through the tribute band experience how it was to be in Liverpool, in the Cavern Club, listening and dancing to the music of the Beatles. Connell and Gibson argue this kind of commodity fetishism can segue into place fetishization.

For fans who live either far away from Liverpool or are simply too young to have participated in the first wave of Beatlemania, a trip to Liverpool very much serves two purposes of pilgrimage: first, like a true religious pilgrimage, fans may seek to make a journey of reverent homage.

It is an everyday sight in Liverpool to see visitors laying flowers and cards, taking photos and listening to music on headphones while standing in front of Beatle-related local sites. Kruse argues that this is a kind of discursive practice, with fans seeking to reconcile and contextualize their own meanings of the Beatles, of their music and of Liverpool with their own imagined and perceived notions of them. By allowing festival attendees to stand where the Beatles stood, to see what the Beatles saw, to be where the Beatles were, the MSF serves as a medium for the transmission of social and personal knowledge.

I would now like to turn my attention to some of the implications of the MSF for city leaders and local entrepreneurs. He makes a second point in stating that escalating and exorbitant ticket prices for concerts by chart acts like Robbie Williams, Madonna or U2 make a night out to see a tribute band in a small local venue an increasingly attractive proposition. Tribute bands are increasingly becoming a very specific micro-market in Liverpool, operating under a unique set of cultural and economic practices.

A newspaper article estimated the number of Liverpoolbased Beatle tribute bands to be around , including acts such as the Bootleg Beatles, Help, Revolver, the Apple Pies, the Roaches, the Scarabs and the Nowhere Men Moyes 9. What the festival lost in focus it certainly gained in breadth, as the two headlining bands, the Buzzcocks and the Stranglers, played alongside acts as diverse as Tony Christie, McFly, Lemar and a variety of local acts including Amsterdam, Zombina and the Skeletones, and Tramp Attack. The event unfolded at six main outdoor stages dotted around the city centre and Pier Head, including one across the River Mersey at Woodside, Wirral.

Indeed, their position could be extended to include the MSF. From a historical perspective, it would appear that local leaders were slow to draft any formal Beatles-based tourism and regenerations plans, but quick to adapt and enhance them when the promise of Capital of Culture beckoned. While this may be true, I feel it is perhaps an unduly cynical view.

By contrast, Waterman takes a more moderate and pragmatic theoretical stance, one that I feel ultimately has more resonance for the MSF, the Capital of Culture plan, and Liverpool in general. He argues that festivals, like any kind of arts development, are part of the inevitability of the fusion between the commercial and the creative. Liverpool has always been a city slow to appreciate its own worth; a place determined to pave over its history only to re-create it decades later.

It is the city that bulldozed the Cavern Club only to excavate it not ten years afterwards. This behaviour suggests the city has always been uncertain of the worth of its cultural assets: whether to throw roses or rotten tomatoes at the legacy of the Beatles and Merseybeat. But I would argue this view is only a superficial reading of the MSF and its full cultural worth.

To an extent, this is true. A walk through the city centre is all that is necessary to plainly understand that Liverpool is being figuratively and physically transformed through and because of its Capital of Culture status. Through their very definition, tribute bands may not be producing original creative material, but they nevertheless need musical instruments, rehearsal spaces, performance venues, promoters, agents and outfitters. The festival-goers that come to Liverpool for a week each August patronize pubs, hotels, restaurants and shops.

They take tours, they buy souvenirs, they dine out.

Instead of heightening the tensions between high and low, authentic and inauthentic, and vernacular and globalized culture, detractors should instead consider embracing the multifarious perceived ideas of Liverpool that the MSF encourages, and the linkages between art and place, and celebration and enterprise.

Scally, deriving from scallywag, is derogatory British slang for a Liverpudlian, stereotypically classed as an unemployed, uneducated thug, often with a criminal record and a penchant for wearing tracksuits and baseball caps. Following the announcement of Liverpool as the winner of the competition. Bourdieu, P. Cavern City Tours www.

Chapple, M. Shepherd, D.

Horn, D. Laing, P. Oliver and P. Volume 1: Media, Industry and Society. London: Continuum International Publishing Group. Crouch, R. Jackson and F. Connell, J. Couch, C. Du Noyer, P. London: Virgin Books. Fab Productions www. Gifford, A. London: Karia Press. Jones, B. Jones, P. Kruse, R. Liverpool: Liverpool City Council. Liverpool: City of Liverpool, 12 August. Liverpool: City of Liverpool.

Liverpool: Merseyside County Council. Moyes, J. Riley, J. Shaughnessy, J. The Word is Love www. Tinniswood, R. Waterman, S. Wilson, H. London: Department of the Environment. I was raised in Australian suburbia by parents well versed in the Beatles. This became clear to me throughout my childhood: being woken at midnight to watch the first television screening of Help! In terms of my ongoing Beatles education, in the eyes of some of my family, the extent of personal investment demanded that I experience all the Fab Four tourist sites on offer. Two memories stand out from my professional and personal tour ist of duty.

Persisting, a visit to the Liverpool Beatles Museum provided one flash of insight among the array of stage costumes, anodyne timelines and Ringo pencil cases. The combination of high volume and multiple screens is effective in conveying the heightened sense of fan emotions. As part of the famous circuit of Beatles tourist pubs, the Jacaranda continues to host Beatles tribute and cover acts and discussion nights in its small cellar performance space. On the night I met Tony and Karen, several well-known Liverpool Beatles acts played short sets, while the crowd was populated with tribute band musicians and older Beatles fans.

While aged under 40, both Tony and Karen provided interesting accounts of how the Beatles have always been present in their lives: K: When John Lennon died we were still in middle school, about My dad used to play Elvis and the Beatles, it was something he encouraged. Was that ever a problem? SH: Was it the same for you Tony? T: Very much so actually. My mum and dad used to [pretend to] be Jimmy Saville on a Saturday afternoon and play old songs. The first album I ever bought was called Beatles Love Songs and I just played it and played it, the songs I thought were brilliant.

I remember one Christmas I got a radio cassette player and I could record off the radio. I used to wait of an evening, wait for a Beatles song. I remember coming home early from school just to watch them on telly. I mean, we tried to buy every single Beatles CD. The importance of youth as both social and economic category in popular music has been at least partly eroded by the purchasing power of older music consumers. In this chapter, I want to briefly reflect upon the interesting position of the tribute band fan, located between personal and generational histories, identities and contemporary music experiences.

Young children are introduced to the Beatles, for example, through their parents taking them to a Beatles tribute performance; many of the more successful tributes gained their popularity with university student audiences. However, for most tributes, those aged over 30 remain a core demographic group. Firstly, their own personal music narrative — why and how particular popular music stars and genres mattered to them at particular times — must be taken into account.

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Secondly, the tribute fan engages with the historical narrative of the imitated, recalling their own hierarchies of career highlights, key recordings and live performances, videos and television moments. We can add to these three layers of interpretation a further consideration: understandings of how music celebrity circulates at the level of everyday life, and that of the music industry.

Tribute bands employ a range of music and media texts, and historical moments, in their representation of the original. The intertextual nature of the performances obviously calls upon audiences to similarly acknowledge the tribute as the height of textual mobility that incorporates texts from different spaces and times. As I aim to show, attitudes toward the tribute are informed by fans making historically specific connections between their earlier music memories and their categorization as youth audiences; and their later understandings of genre, performer and social histories.

In this chapter, I draw upon interviews with tribute musicians and tribute audience members, conducted in Britain in , to provide a snapshot of the interweaving of history, industry and personal memory in fan interpretations of the tribute. Tribute performers openly position themselves first as fans, stating a case every night for the musical and social innovation of the original.

The early experiences of the Bootleg Beatles in Russia in remind us of the importance of regional and historical contexts of reception: Suddenly from playing in these really small clubs [in Britain] we were in Russia playing ice hockey stadiums to 10, people. I got the impression that some people thought it was the Beatles.

As with other aspects of popular music, the most intense relationships between tribute and fan are located in the ever-expanding Elvis tribute industry. As Rodman argues, Elvis fans in general seem more likely to advertise their feelings than other music fans. This is reflected in the circulation of Elvis tributes: marriages between male and female impersonators; fans having sex with impersonators in the belief that they will be closer to the King; fan clubs bestowing credibility upon particular acts as appropriately sincere tributes Doss As Jenson and Jenkins have shown, such discourses are predicated upon particular structures of class, race and gender.

I am interested here in the processes of discrimination employed by fans in assessments of the tribute-as-representation: what kinds of band, celebrity, industry knowledge do tribute audiences bring to bear upon liking or disliking the performance? Girls and gay guys would be into the band. Dave, 25 This argument — that most tributes fill a vacuum left by retired or dead stars — was made by different tribute audience members, and for different genres. They were original, but old. Tribute bands keep it fresh and young. If tribute audiences disagree about their favourite original bands and imitations, they share a sense of such events as entertainment.

I would say most people would enjoy it or find some things that are good are about it. Clare, 32 Clearly, some audience members do not regard themselves as fans with a deep knowledge of the original act. At the same time, other fans clearly showed a greater investment in both the original act and the tribute-as-event. At the same time, they emphasize such performances as audience events dominated by dancing and crowd singing.

In the final sections of the chapter, I wish to examine the ways in which tribute audiences actively judge performances against their own well-defined personal histories and understandings about what is at stake, both for the tribute act and the fan. For years, he refused to sign autographs for people who mistook his identity. Similarly, another audience member at the Preston gig had a series of interesting observations about the tribute: I think [the Bootleg Beatles] will be too good. They probably only had some good amps. Here, the tribute can be seen as part of a much longer entertainment tradition; for the fan, its manufactured nature is not isolated from its other qualities.

This final section begins to map the types of personal and historical knowledge that fans bring to interpretations of the tribute performance. Pop consumption is socially constructed Shuker , requiring attention to how audiences are located within specific times and spaces of music consumption. The audiences I interviewed and observed at several tribute concerts in Britain in late were dominated by groups of men and women, and couples, aged over 35 years. While fans bring a range of often deep knowledge to the tribute, it is worth noting the many ways that the tribute act frames such performances through the use of elaborate stage props: Union Jack flags as an almoststandard backdrop for tributes to the Who, for example.

These symbolic parameters attempt to encode the performance as a series of taken-for-granted moments; some of the interpretation, in a fairly loose historical sense, has been performed for them. For those under 40 years of age, the tribute proved to be an intergenerational link: I mean, my parents played the Beatles.

Yeah, my parents were in their teens in the 60s, so I grew up listening to their record collection. I never really had any records of my own but I listened to theirs. I used to play drums as a kid. Chris, 54 At the Bootleg Beatles performance, many fans seemed willing to place themselves within the montage of memories presented to them. This was evident in the repetition of phrases put to me that emphasized the pleasures of personal memory over the contemporary performative moment.

Unlike other attendees of the Beatles charity concert staged at the Jacaranda pub in Liverpool in December , Tony and Karen were unable to draw upon their own memories of attending a Beatles performance in the s. All you wanted him to do was sing; it was fantastic. Karen, 37 Conclusion It is not surprising that tributes to well-known acts thrive, when industry icons remain so visible. These forms of consumption, still lucrative for the original act, are not deemed appropriate for the tribute. The tribute performance is exceptional in having fans on both sides of the stage.

For many, the tribute offers the chance to articulate the role of their favourite acts in their own personal development. Displaced from the original locus of affection and desire, fans employ the tribute as a filter for reviewing a complex of memories, generational assumptions and personal narratives. My thanks to all the interviewees, and to Justine Lloyd and Sarah Baker and the managers of each venue for allowing interviews to be conducted. References Benedictus, L. Egolf, K.

Fiske, J. Lewis ed. The affective sensibility of fandom, in L. Hall, S. Hall, I. Connell and L. Curti eds Culture, Media, Language. London: Hutchison. Jenkins, H. Jenson, J. Moores, S. Scannell, P. Schlesinger and C. Morley, D. London: British Film Institute. It was then that he decided to get out of music and into comedy.

You know you are in a rut when you start complaining that the wrong person is pretending to be the man who pretends to be the man who co-wrote Chess. Dessau Repetition has a primacy in the ontology of popular music Redhead ; Frith ; Potter The history of jazz is in many ways variations on a theme with standards, motifs, melodies and phrases Carr providing a lineage and a continuity from the present to the past.

Both aspiring musicians and established recording artists have long paid tribute to the previous influences and formative musical experiences through the tribute album. It is this repetition-as-difference that has caused much difficulty for cultural criticism. In this contemporary aesthetic, the tribute band, with the cover song as its stock-in-trade, occupies an ambiguous position in the popular music and entertainment landscape.

The abiding discursive formation of the tribute band is found in its relation to a measure of authenticity, and in this respect the tribute band speaks of a redolent postmodernism, at best parodic, at worst a spectral simulacrum that permeates contemporary culture. The song itself is the sine qua non of the tribute act, yet specific tributes cannot be reduced to the veracity of their reproduction of particular songs. Similarly, image, style and marketability are as primary a consideration for major label talent identification as the substantial core of original prerecorded material Shuker The tribute act is itself immanent to these shifting configurations across the popular music and entertainment industries.

These circuits of affective production, or what could also be called visual-aural sensibilities, are increasingly deployed in the production and consumption of cultural products. A primary mode of affective production is the contexts and circuits of nostalgia, which are themselves determinant productions within and alongside particular cultural formations such as the tribute band. One estimate is that almost 10, tribute acts exist in the UK Cox The false chronology that positions Australia as the origin of the tribute industry see Introduction and Chapter 2 has been related to arguments of geography and cost.

Australia has been off the path of major touring acts; the associated logistics and cost involved have dissuaded major artists from touring the country Pearlman and Moses A casual glance across even a small sample of tribute bands operating in Australia would seem to support the supplementary nature of the tribute band, based on the simple fact that for at least half of the tribute acts listed in Table 5.

Increasingly, the historical remit of tribute bands is being brought forward to include an expanding range of contemporary tributes: from Anastasia to U2; from Coldplay, Jamiroquai, REM and Robbie Williams, to Atomic Kitten and the Foo Fighters. The line between the tribute as historical project and the contemporary artist as heritage act is increasingly blurring.

Such a situation is captured in a much cited and most likely apocryphal story about former Australian Crawl frontman James Reyne and the Australian Crawl tribute Sons of Beaches playing competing venues in the same country town with the tribute attracting twice the audience of the original artist Baker ; Murfett Underpinning these accounts is an overdetermined semiotic overlay of the social.

Unlike emotion, however, affect is the modality of sensation, or intensity proper. Its registers are the somatic, the biophysical and the energetic in the first instance, and only ex post facto psychological. The contexts of nostalgia and of emergent affect are increasingly utilized within cultural formations and these contexts of affective production are increasingly primary contexts of the production of cultural products.

Nostalgia, as a context of affective production, is utilized as one such risk mitigation strategy. These contexts of affective significance are a domain that is certainly interrelated with symbolic and discursive sets of significance Ewen ; Ryan but not reducible to them. This chapter examines the place of tribute bands in these specific contexts of production and the construction of contexts of affect that in part constitute these circuits.

I will not be examining particular consumption audience contexts that are examined elsewhere in this volume. Instead, by examining a specific top-tier tribute, its contexts of emergence and status in live entertainment and recorded music, I hope to provide an examination of the specific contexts of affective production. Indeed, I would argue that these circuits of affective nostalgia across the complex cultural assemblage are indicative of broader changes in the cultural economy. In the first 12 months of its release Abba Gold sold more than 5. So basically we fundamentally do the songs that are on that album as a given, as a starting point to any show we do.

But the selection of back-catalogue songs, depending on the show, part of the machinations of putting a theatre show together, are the ones that lend themselves to a particular theme. Leissle interview Not surprisingly, the majority of Abba tribute bands emerged after the release of Abba Gold with only four bands existing prior to its release see Table 5. In the band attracted increasing interest in their Melbourne pub shows and began a series of tours to Sydney.

From that time, the band began to split their time between Australia and Europe. Similarly, music frequently features in televisual contexts as moments of nostalgia. Tribute band appearances on television initially were limited to curios for news stories but this changed significantly as they became integrated as content into numerous televisual contexts.

In May , to coincide with the Melbourne opening of the musical Mamma Mia! An affective imprimatur The hierarchy of value inherent in popular music places important, but often ineffable criteria of judgement upon particular artists and genres. The forms of direct and indirect legitimacy not reducible to representational or explicitly legal sanction are becoming increasingly important within cultural industries.

These types of legitimacy are granted across interrelated and often informal sets of sanction in what may be referred to as an affective imprimatur. For the first time a tribute band appeared alongside some of the major original recording acts at the time in a festival setting. This move was paralleled four years later when Oasis requested the Bootleg Beatles to be their support act at Earls Court in The roar which goes up is one of the loudest of the day. It was a brilliant piece of crowd warming.

Pause while Reviews Ed inserts snidey aside. Weddings, parties. There was an organic growth about the band, there was no grand scheme to it, or to forge a career. It was all about having fun on a Friday night at a pub in Melbourne. People could sense it was just good fun.

Access All Eras: Tribute Bands and Global Pop Culture

The tribute band offers a ready-made audience and mitigates some of the risk associated with untried or emerging original bands along with the cost savings of booking established acts. The reduction in live venue contexts through the s and s was accompanied by a broader shift to themed performance contexts, reflected in the emergence of tribute-specific venues. The transition from smaller pub venues to larger theatre11 and arena shows marked a significant commercial shift for specific acts, and also indicates a further integration of the tribute into the mainstream live entertainment market.

During this time co-founders Rod Leissle and John Tyrell took up roles as backing band musicians, allowing them to focus on the managerial and promotional operation of the band. I was a big fan of the [New Zealand] band Split Enz and they had an amazing stage show with great sets and big costumes. The broad appeal of particular tributes is not only reflected in their ability to fill larger venues; they are also common features, often with headline billing, in special events. More recently, tribute bands have appeared in their own dedicated festival setting.

Do you want platforms with that? Mamma Mia! Figure 5. This is a particularly effective strategy in an increasingly competitive local and global market, not only in the Abba-specific tribute niche, but the increasingly global tribute market. On average shows would be performed in the UK; in Europe; in North America and 50 in Australasia annually Leissle interview This illustrates the ability of top-tier tribute acts to use their premium position in the tribute market to expand into the international live entertainment market, and points to a further structural homology with the culture industries.

The cultural industries are characterized by their high degree of risk and central strategies for risk mitigation, in an increasingly globalized and competitive market that often experiences a fast moving turnover of product, and the contingencies of evanescent taste preferences. In such a climate this de facto franchise model is becoming an increasingly common operational strategy for cultural producers.


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Branding strategies provide a key mode of differentiation in an increasingly saturated niche. Branding and the widespread theming Gottdiener of entertainment venues are key indexes of significant changes in the cultural industries. Personal communication between several bands and band members was also used, including Karen Graham from Abba Gold on 14 May In some cases, original bands have directly recruited members from their tribute. The Australian band the Angels, for example, reportedly hired a bass player from one of their at least five tributes Scott while in Judas Priest, following the resignation of singer Rob Halford, recruited Tim Owens as his replacement, plucking him from British Steel, the tribute band he formed to pay tribute to them.

The current Cavern is only partially sited on the original club location, a further problem for its authenticity as a tourist location Cohen Abba Forever Promotional material emailed to author, 17 August, www. Appadurai, A. Baker, G. Richard Nice. Brown, A. Burnett, R. Carr, I. Chamberlain, D. Cohen, E. Butler and D. Cox, T. Deleuze, G.

New York: Columbia University Press. Dessau, B. Duffy, T. Ewen, S. New York: Basic Books. London: Constable. Leppert and S. McClary eds Music and Society. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Garnham, N. Gibbs, A. Gottdiener, M. Boulder, Co: Westview Press. Grossberg and A. Hesmondhalgh, D. Jameson, F. Litz, R. Comparing the performance of independent retailers and trade-name franchisees, Journal of Business Venturing, 13 2 : — Massumi, B.

Patton ed. Deleuze: A Critical Reader. London: Blackwell. Melody Maker Reading festival review, 12 September: 31, Mugan, C. Neuman, W. Pearlman, J. Potter, R. Swiss, J. Sloop and A. Malden, MA: Blackwell. Rojek, C. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. Ryan, B.

Access All Eras

Berlin: Walter de Gruyter. Savage, J. Frith ed. Facing the Music. New York: Pantheon Books. Scott, J. Stanworth, J. Straw, W. Strobl, E. Sweeting, A. London: Pimlico. Toynbee, J. Weinstein, D. Wolf, M. London: Penguin Books. I was the right age at the right time; but I bought none of his records Richards Perhaps Hendrix was just too much on show. But the accumulation of subsequent images seemed to flip over, in their excess, from cool to uncool, productive more of embarrassment than identification. Following Are You Experienced? Because I neither went to see Hendrix, nor bought his records, I heard only the most widely-played tracks on TV and radio.

His musical innovations, and his subsequent influence, were thus unknown to me. To read something a body or object as excess is to render it beyond the bounds of propriety, to locate it within the inappropriate, the matter out of place, the tasteless. Excessive sexuality, as Mercer and Julien detail, is the thing which, par excellence, is a threat to the moral order of Western civilization.

This brief sketch of my own response to Hendrix, during his life, illustrates a problem: the construction of Hendrix, then and since, as a fetishized and racialized body, the extraordinary locus of, simultaneously, sexual and musical virtuosity. To disassemble such a construction, even to open space for some irony in its performance, has seemed a long time coming. In reading many of those who have written about Hendrix since his death, I have found plenty of expressions of reverence, awe and admiration.

Many of these writers, both black and white, also implicitly sustain aspects of the sexual mythology of the black male body in paying their often lavish tributes to Hendrix. This mythology is central to the posthumous debate around Hendrix examined in the following pages of this chapter. The issue is one of clarification — of the terms on which to re-engage with Hendrix so long after his death. To begin with I want to examine the comments of several prominent black commentators on popular music, particularly Nelson George and Greg Tate.

I turn then to a variety of white authors, some specialists in popular music studies, others offering memories of Hendrix in the context of more general autobiographical reflections. The mapping of these debates in this section provides a basis for the subsequent reading of the Hamsters, a white band paying musical tribute to Hendrix while refusing to become a Hendrix tribute band.

The result is an almost uncompromising dismissal of Hendrix, representing him as turning back to blues and isolating himself from the forward movement of black music. Whites document and then recycle. In the history of popular music, these truths are self-evident. Hendrix drew from a style blacks had already disposed of. Unfortunately, Hendrix fatally damaged his connection with black audiences because of his innovative brilliance on the electric guitar, an instrument that, with the declining interest in the blues, fell into disfavor.

Sexuality and authenticity have been intertwined in the history of western culture for several hundred years. These are broadly convergent accounts, together suggesting that his music was anchored in a dying genre blues and an instrument falling into disfavour electric guitar ; that he did not produce music within a currently live and popular black genre; and that he was performing to a white audience in terms suggesting complicity with white fantasies about black sexuality.

Jimi was known world wide, but not in Harlem, his symbolic hometown. In fact, his play-list was controlled by the Sonderling Corporation of Dallas, Texas — a white corporation that owned a string of the biggest black radio stations in America and ran the stations as a component of specialised radio for black markets. Their seven-day, hour air time was the heaviest advertisement-saturated format in radio.

Henderson For Henderson, Hendrix was unknown because he was unheard, not because he played blues, or the guitar, or too much for a white audience, or appeared to have embraced hippie rhetoric see also Tate 30—1. But his project is to intervene. Tate, a performer as well as a writer, is implicitly aligned with a movement of musical recovery concerned to revisit the blues. As Tate further argues p. Someone who tried to show by example what life as a Black Man without fear of a white planet might look like, feel like, taste like. Is the cover of the British edition of Electric Ladyland thus more appropriate than Hendrix himself acknowledged, in that it implies precisely this liberation from the fear of violent reprisal castration, lynching for the act of miscegenation?

This is an issue especially central to any consideration of white emulators of Hendrix, including, as I will discuss below, the Essex-based band the Hamsters. Some comment on him in the context of more broadly focused autobiographical reflections. The culture of consumption had peaked. On a noise guitar note you understood the American Century was fading; the dream was over.

In that moment Hendrix sounded the death knell for an economy predicated on consumption and waste. Ruler of haircuts and dress codes, now as in the hour of our deaths. I put it down in a general sort of way to the impotence of the community he played for. We had no way of making him understand what he meant to us.

This provoked the mass sexual ecstasy often associated with his concerts, which moved towards a corporeal sense of tribal unity. Ruth Padel 81 , for example, offers this graphic elaboration of the usual phallic metaphors: In Greek terms, a hero is a man with a bit of god in him, divinity that flares in heroic daring and the way women keel over before him. Hendrix was also a world-wide sex symbol, a guitar ejaculating over the world: far out innovation plus daring technique went with legendary sexuality. A guitar hero, brandishing the magic weapon that turned him into a god.

There is an important paradox here. They thus further indulge an insistent fascination with Hendrix alone. All that is exceptional, intense and innovative is located only in the black member of the trio. This is, in part, an effect of the individualizing, and essentializing, discourses of genius. Of course blues in Britain in the s had a substantial place alongside soul and Motown and, eventually, psychedelic rock.

Blues, unlike other black music, was probably first encountered by many, both live and on record, as it was played by white performers. To play blues guitar was, as Skeggs suggests, a very cool thing to do. King or John Lee Hooker. It was serious, plain and accomplished. And yet they are known as a band substantially devoted to performing and recording material produced by the Jimi Hendrix Experience.

They play regular sets, sets dedicated entirely to Jimi Hendrix and sets combining Hendrix with ZZ Top, largely on a pub rock and beer, biker and blues festival circuit in England, and to some extent in Holland and Germany. But the Hamsters are not young men.

Photograph courtesy of Chris Richards and are now in their fifties. They are thus men entering later middle age, largely playing music associated most strongly with the s in Britain, when they were teenagers. Andy Billups Zsa Zsa Poltergeist plays bass. Alan Parish plays drums and is also known primarily by a facetious pseudonym, the Reverend Otis Elevator. In interviews given to various music magazines,7 they present themselves with a selfdeprecatory humour and position themselves as addressing an audience construed neither as young nor with pretensions to musical expertise.

Not really. Bateman n. Marten The successful growth of the audience for the Hamsters in the early s is substantially attributed to their inclusion of an increasing proportion of material from Hendrix. The people who are interested in the kind of music the Hamsters play are the same people who bought Stevie Ray Vaughan records. The recovery and perpetuation of music from between 35 and 40 years ago seems unarguably backward looking, and the audience invoked in all three interviews appears to confirm such a view, being mostly composed of white men seeking to hear the music they listened to in adolescence Frith Equally, there seems little evidence that the Hamsters have any interest in repositioning Hendrix as a distinctively black musician — as Greg Tate has advocated he should be.

In their repertoire, Hendrix is thus seemingly assimilated to a blues-rock tradition to which black players are by no means central. However, it is crucial that the Hamsters do not emulate, in the sense of seeking to re-embody, Hendrix.

But they do not dress or perform as if to replicate Hendrix himself nor, though they are a trio of bass, drums and guitar, to replicate the Jimi Hendrix Experience. The band has consistently constructed its own identity. They have developed their own stylized cartoon iconography — mainly featuring hamsters — and gestures to Hendrix are confined to the addition of bandannas, military jackets, left-handed guitars and playful parodies of album titles — Electric Hamsterland, Band of Gerbils. They routinely end their performances walking among the audience, swapping guitars, while playing a ZZ Top track.

But hearing both simultaneously seems equally possible. Though the first of their appearances I attended the Cauliflower, Ilford certainly seemed to be favoured by white men over 30 years of age, there were women present. At The Torrington there were also several much younger white women, in their late teens and early twenties, mostly located close to the stage. The Hamsters do not play Hendrix as primarily a psychedelic or protojazz guitarist. From some standpoints, such a relocation of Hendrix will imply a dis-authentification, a degradation and perhaps a whitening of his music.

Slim, on To Infirmity and Beyond The audience is addressed here with familiarity, acknowledging implicit loyalty to the band and distance from the music press, and inviting an awareness of ageing and its consequences. These are not performers putting their bodies on display. Conclusion The Hamsters are one among many of those who continue to recover, and variously pay tribute to, Jimi Hendrix and the Jimi Hendrix Experience.

Moreover, as they work on into their fifties, they provide a wry commentary on a faltering masculinity, and thus an implicitly ironic counterpoint to the image of Hendrix as phallic guitar hero constructed in the late s and after his death. Coda Of course I have often regretted not going to see Hendrix when he played in Hull, in , just a few miles from where I grew up. I probably missed something extraordinary. Prior to that, all I had was a cassette, bought to play while driving in the early s Cornerstones, PolyGram International Music.

I just liked the irony of it — vicious group, cuddly name. I find that whole macho posturing thing rather silly. References Bateman, D. A different perspective of a working drummer, www. Basingstoke: Palgrave. Duncan, S. Metcalf and M. Humphries eds The Sexuality of Men. London: Pluto Press. Foster, M. London: Sanctuary. Gaines, D. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. George, N. London: Omnibus Press.

Gilbert, J. Blake ed. Living Through Pop. Gilroy, P. Hall ed. Representation: Cultural Representations and Signifying Practices. Henderson, D.

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