First the movie, now the band
When the Reverend Carl Musker needed a name for his band of trash-talkin', boot-stompin', gar-chawin', shades-sportin', cow-punkin', Australian (the city of Sydney, to be exact) rock & rollers, he wanted to make sure he picked something that sounded just right. Something trashy. Something redneck-y. Something that rolled everything the band held dear ("Love gone wrong, rodeos, drugs, alcohol, Jesus, porn, preaching, gambling, temptation, sinning and murder," according to their press release) into, say, four punchy little syllables. Something like . . . Orange County! It sounded so perfect—until someone tipped him off about us. "When we found out about the real Orange County, USA, we were extremely disappointed," explains the Reverend, which we'd like to assure him is a very, very common reaction. "But we'd been using our name for a while and were quite fond of it, so it was going to stick. We came up with it because we wanted a backwoods-sounding name. I suppose it would be like calling a U.S. band Warringah Shire, where I live." Warringah-wha? Good point, Reverend, but don't feel too bad. Their name has led to some pretty unintentionally hilarious (to us locals, at least) press releases, with lines like "Orange County—A world where mirrored shades, sequined suits, stylish boots, gritty raunch-and-roll and high-octane cow punk meets the trashy glitz of Vegas!" But you weren't that far off, either—we've got plenty of Jesus and preaching, lots of temptation and sinning, drugs and alcohol up to our bloodshot eyes, and even our own share of homegrown porn. Your predilection for sequins and tacky jewelry (as well as temptation and sinning) would surely get you a guest slot on TBN. And heck, we bet they'd love Orange County the band's rollicking Horton-Heat-meets-Radio-Birdman shtick over at the Doll Hut. Tell you what: throw in a few songs about freeway congestion, urban sprawl, spiraling civic corruption, Disneyland ber alles, withering old people and their stultifying voting habits, that gol-durn illegal-immigrant menace, and those guys who strut around with bleached-blond tips, wifebeaters and generic Oakleys, and we'll look at it as a cultural exchange. And besides, the Reverend notes, "What else would you call yourself? Something dumb like Limp Bizkit, Eminem or Korn?" (Chris Ziegler)
JAWING ABOUT JAZZ
Sales of jazz albums may have fallen since receiving a brief spike a year ago from Ken Burns' Jazz TV series, but that certainly didn't cast a pall over some 7,000 teachers, musicians and industry reps who congregated around the Long Beach Convention Center last week for the 29th annual International Association for Jazz Education (IAJE) conference, a four-day fiesta of panels, seminars, workshops and performances/appearances from players both huge (Dave Brubeck! Diane Schuur! Poncho Sanchez! Artie Shaw!) and not-so (The Brigham Young University Dixieland Band! What, are they allowing such public displays of sin and wickedness now at BYU?). It's sort of a South By Southwest for jazzers, and during the afternoon we spent at the confab, we found the vibe to be just as humming as that Austin, Texas, gabfest. Though we found some of the information to be of the no-duh! variety—at the "How Many Records Does Jazz Sell?" panel, we learned that if you're a jazz musician and you take a couple of boxes of your CDs with you to your gigs and sell them there, you get to keep all the money instead of having to cough up a percentage to some evil label (astounding!)—we also learned at the same panel that in 1999, two Kenny G titles made up a whopping 49 percent of all contemporary jazz albums sold in the U.S., a stat that elicited more than a few chuckles of disdain from the audience. The Burns series—and its aftermath—was also a hot topic, with one panel devoted to discussing whether Jazz ultimately helped or hindered the music (last year, for the first time since anyone could remember, traditional jazz recordings outsold contemporary recordings, a direct result of Burns shining a light on such heroic figures as Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Miles Davis, Benny Goodman and Charlie Parker; if you're Kenny G, who went totally ignored by Burns' camera, then we guess you'd have reasons to dis Jazz). Other panels ranged from the complicated-sounding ("Cognition and Audiation of the Blues Among Novice Vocalists: A Descriptive Inquiry"—snore!) to the thought-provoking ("Jazz Elitism: Do We Hurt Our Image by Putting Ourselves in the Fine Arts Box?") to the kind created for the technique-obsessed ("Exploring Vibe and Marimba as Part of the Rhythm Section") to stuff that sounded like they were Soon to Be a Major Motion Picture ("Two Worlds Collide: Karlheinz Stockhausen's Influence on Miles Davis," "The Lost Years of Charlie Ventura") or an Oprah episode ("Jazz Singers and Instrumentalists Negotiate New Terms for Their Relationship"). We were intrigued by the "After Napster, Does Anyone Care?" panel (yep, jazz lovers are criminal downloaders like everyone else), and one clinic was presented entirely in Japanese, a reflection of the global gumbo of registrants who flew in from more than 35 countries. All told, the state of jazz, at least at the IAJE conference, is as healthy as it has ever been. And damn well-organized, to boot. (Rich Kane)
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