Saturday, October 10, 2009

Vegas and Beyond

Las Vegas, Nevada, the center of the artificial universe.
We really enjoy working in the schools here; there is such a bouquet of cultures and students of color! They are eager to hear music and to participate and even though there are some language barriers, we have a great time with them. We also enjoy our concerts here; proving that there are small clusters of thinking people who live here and enjoy acoustic music.

But last night, as we walked the strip, it was amazing to witness humanity’s craziness in all its glory. The hawking of pornography (we counted 17 card pushers on one corner alone), the glitz of flashing lights and loud music, rent a Ferrari, rent a tuxedo, rent a wedding chapel, rent a girl, see an overproduced and over priced show, eat overly expensive food that was trucked in from someplace else, and above all… watch the glazed eyes staring into blinking, noise making machines.

It was simply an out of body experience. Ken suggested a ‘folk club’, a place where folks could relax in a quieter atmosphere and hear good acoustic music, as a relief from all the over stimulation. I suggested that it would not make the casinos any money, and might in fact have the opposite effect of causing the stunned humans to awaken from the stupor and come to their senses! Neither of those outcomes is in the best interest of the casinos, so it would never happen.

The absurdity of the use of electricity and the use of water in a desert, all for the sake of entertainment, gave me pause. For we (Willson & McKee) are also in the ‘entertainment biz’. We don’t like to think of it in those terms, we imagine our work as more soulful than that. Educational, meaningful, thought provoking, perhaps even life altering somehow. But the reality is, that people flock to this circus of extremes, and leave thousands of dollars to be ‘entertained’. While at the same time the live performance of acoustic or folk music hovers over the abyss, with little or no visibility.

In a culture, which is always after the next big stimulation, our type of music and those like us will never enjoy mainstream popularity. I wonder about how far the boundaries can be stretched in order to accommodate the ‘extreme entertainment’ that so many seek. I also wonder what is says about a society who feels the need to fulfill every desire and beyond, even to the point of ‘renting’ the fun and the appearance of fun. Where does such opulence and indulgence end?

No sour grapes here, we understand the many faces of entertainment and showbiz.
We are happy to perform tonight for a handful of people who live here and crave a different experience. No tigers, no magicians, no stand-up comics, no free alcohol, no scantily clad babes, no flames, no ‘player cards’ to add gambling money to if they attend… just a few songs and tunes from a couple of ‘aging folkies’…
How… low key…
Can’t wait!!!!

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