Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Time flies when you're....? Well, here are some random items:

The Art Institute of Chicago has a major exhibition of the work of William Eggleston through May 23rd. Big Star fans of course know that he took the photos for the cover of Radio City and was a long time friend of the Chilton family. But far beyond that, he's one of the great art photographers ever. I absolutely love his work and was thrilled to learn about the exhibition. My wife and I will be paying a visit soon to the Windy City celebrate our 25th anniversary. In some weird way my love of Big Star actually paved the way to our marriage. It's a long story but two long-time girlfriends ended our relationship because I let it be known that I would rather focus on playing with Alex (the first gig in '79) or go see him at Danceteria on his "comeback" tour ('84) than do whatever they had in mind. To quote one about-to-be-ex-girlfriend "I've had enough of you and this Big Star thing."

All you Big Star fans are aware by now the Big Star is not only playing SXSW (Bob Mehr will be hosting a discussion panel that will include Andy Hummel and Jody Stephens) and a benefit in May in Memphis for the refurbished Overton Park bandshell (the site of the band's last gig in 1974). Some readers have asked me if I plan on going to the Memphis gig (probably not but there's a possibility). That triggered some thoughts about seeing the current Big Star live...something I've never done. For a band whose work I love dearly I've been fairly ambivalent about seeing the band since the reunion. I'd certainly go to a gig within reasonable driving distance of Buffalo (which would include Toronto) but I'm not about to hop on a plane to see them (something I might do for Prefab Sprout). I thought about why seeing Big Star isn't on my "must do" list and it comes down to this: despite In Space, I don't get the feeling that Big Star is a band that exists in the present. They're more of a museum piece, playing more or less the same set (without much rehearsal that involves the entire band). That doesn't mean that I expect them to be putting out albums on a regular basis. But there are ways for bands who are missing key members and / or whose most-beloved records were made decades ago. For an example, take the Allman Brothers. Missing several key members but have retained enough of their original sound to get past that hurdle. They haven't made a classic album since 1974. What they do is constantly mix it up from night to night. Different set lists. Digging out rarely performed songs from their catalog. Throwing in new covers to the mix, some of which are related to their past (would be cool to hear Big Star pull out a Badfinger song or Hot Burrito #2 or ...something besides Baby Strange or Slut). Even tweaking the line-up over the years. As a result, the ABB seem very much a current, vibrant band in the present (I could name a lot of bands in this same category). I know that Jody works overtime to bring his A game to every performance and the Posie fellows would probably love to do something less static. But...

On the other hand, I know there are shows were the current line-up hits the sweet spot and I'm sure that if I was in the audience, I'd wonder what took me so long.

No comments: