By now I’m sure you have heard of the fantastic web-exclusive program on KFAI called The Fun Time Music Festival. You may be asking yourself, “What exactly is Fun Time Music?”
Read on, friends, and find out.
There has to be others like me.
I could probably summarize The Fun Time Music manifesto concisely by just quoting the infamous Ted Nugent. He once said, “Anyone who came here tonight to get mellow can just turn around and get the F*%$ outta here!” However, that is not very inclusive. I would like to welcome others into the fold. I want to invite others to become “part of the body”, like that old Star Trek episode.
I know that much of the music I like is an acquired taste, so I have no delusions about becoming the next Simon Cowell. I also want to say that I do not believe that my musical tastes are any better than anyone else’s. Everyone is entitled to like what they like, even if it’s insufferable tripe like Iggy Azalea.
But, I have to admit upfront that I am a music snob and I can’t help it.
I’m not a snob in an arrogant, “My music is better than everyone else’s” sort of way. I am a snob in that it is not likely that anyone is going to impress me with their musical tastes unless that music has “Fun Time Music” attributes (which I will go over shortly). I believe the reason I like or dislike music is mostly genetic. I literally mean that the reason I like my music a certain way is physiological.
I can actually remember my first favorite song. I’m talking way back here. I was definitely a preschooler like 3 or 4. My mom and dad were not particularly into music that much, but they did have this old .45 record player. My parents and my brother would typically put on pop hits from The Partridge Family or The New Christy Minstrels. They were ok to me, but I was not blown away.
Then one day, somebody put on this old .45 by a Texas Bluesman named Ray Sharpe called “Linda Lu.” What that record was doing in my parents collection is beyond me, but there was something about the Blues groove in that song that totally wrung my bell. I have basically been pursuing the emotion of that groove ever since that day. If the music does not contain some kind of groove, I won’t like it.
Much of contemporary music is so boring to me that it sucks the energy from my body. I mean it actually makes me physically weak. I equate it to going to church. I believe it is a good thing to go to church once in a while, but there is only one problem for me personally. It’s too boring. There is no energy. The pace is way too slow. I dread the thought of even going. Not because of the message, but basically because it’s forced boredom. If church was more like the James Brown scene in The Blues Brothers movie, I would go every Sunday–hell, I’d go every day.
About three years ago, I went to the Lowertown Blues Festival in St. Paul to see Walter Trout. Trout used to rock ass when he played lead guitar for John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers in the 80’s. But this time he was super-serious and played like five consecutive slow Blues songs sucking the energy out of my body and I had to leave. I need my music to be a little more energized so I can get energized.
My friends invited me to see Four On The Floor at the Lake Harriet band shell a couple summers ago. I was told that they “rocked out pretty good.” Someone else told me that I should “view the show from rear” because they expected the volume to be pretty high. So, I went. I only had to hear 2 seconds of the first boring song to have the energy sucked from my body and I had to leave. In fact, I had biked to the show and they did such a thorough job of draining me of my energy that I almost didn’t make it home. I mean it. I had to stop at Davanni’s on the way home to get some food.
So now you understand why I am so particular about my musical tastes–it’s innate in me and I can’t help it. That is why I’m a music snob.
This whole idea of my musical tastes being genetic leads me to ask, am I the only person like me? There certainly has to be others like me out there, right? I refuse to believe that I am alone in this world. That is when the vision for The Fun Time Music Festival became clear.
The Fun Time Music Festival is a means of reaching out to those of you who share my vision of how music should be. Well, let’s not go that far. Let’s say how music could be–just a little more frequently.
Attributes of Fun Time Music
One of the good things about Fun Time Music, is that it has tangible attributes. One of those attributes is that the time period is irrelevant.
It strikes me how many people actually believe that in order for music to be considered “good” it has to be from the current time period. I understand that some of the younger people out there are weary of being told how great the 60’s were and all that. But to dismiss music out of hand simply because it is not current, is really shallow.
Another attribute is that genre is irrelevant.
Fun Time Music covers a wide array of genres–as you will be able to tell if you listen to the program. I play Jazz, Blues, Classic Rock, Punk Rock, Progressive Rock, Funk, New Wave, Ska, Show Tunes, Oldies, Rockabilly, etc.
The third attribute is the one that ties all these genres together–and that is a downbeat. Something you can snap your fingers to, tap your foot to, bop your head to or air jam to. I once read in the liner notes of a CD that put it perfectly. “Today’s music is all Rock and NO Roll.” There needs to be some “Roll” in the music or it ain’t Fun Time Music.
I have been to many so-called “Rock” shows where there is no rhythm at all. Yet I see these people staring into their iPhones and bopping their heads in this futile search for the downbeat. It’s almost as if they have been programmed by watching concert footage from the old days when people were bopping their heads to actual rhythm and then determined that that was what they were supposed to do–bop their heads. The fact that these people are staring into their iPhones is proof positive how boring the music is. No one will have their heads in their iPhones when the Fun Time Music Festival comes to town.
Fun Time Music is more about the music and less about lyrics. Again, this is primarily due to another physiological fact about me. I have had hearing problems most of my life and am not able to understand lyrics as well as others. I have listened to songs over and over again and have had to have friends tell me what the lyrics are saying. Therefore, I never bothered to listen to lyrics. Because of this, I will frequently play instrumentals. I will also play songs with, GASP, guitar solos.
Way too often I’ll go to a bar and hear a combo playing and just when it seems like they’re about to hit the groove and start jamming a bit, they end the song abruptly. To me that’s like having sex with no climax. Keep the groove going for a little bit! It doesn’t have to be the “Mountain Jam” by the Allman Brothers, but for God’s sake, 48 bars of jamming won’t hurt anyone. If the groove is good, stick with it.
If there are lyrics in Fun Time Music, you are not likely to be emotionally inspired by them–unless you are inspired to laugh. I like music with stupid lyrics that are songs about nothing. Some meaningful lyrics may make their way into Fun Time Music, but that will be only if they are accompanied by other aforementioned Fun Time Music attributes.
This segues nicely to another attribute of Fun Time Music. It needs to have a sense of humor.
There is an old Blues number I like called, “Get to Gettin’” by Big Walter Price. It is basically a song about Walter and his wife squabbling. He’s telling his wife to stop her crap or he’s going to smack her upside the head. Honestly, I don’t think Walter really intended to hit his wife. It is more of an empty threat. The same way Ralph Cramden on “The Honeymooners” would threaten his wife with the “Bang! Zoom!” However, I’m sure some people today would condemn me as some kind of sexist misogynist who advocates for wife-beating simply for playing this song. That is not why I would play the song. I don’t advocate for wife beating. I just like the groove of the music. I love the lead guitar work. Besides, I listened to what Big Walter had to say and I’d have to agree that his wife had it coming.
Just kidding. It’s called a joke, so “Lighten up Francis.”
One thing Fun Time Music is not is sanctimonious crap. Fun Time Music does not have time for bullshit political opinions. Too many artists believe their going to change the world with their boring music. The last thing we need in this world is more ignoramuses who are going to change the world–particularly popular artists. They are the very last people on earth we should be listening to for our advice on life. They live in a reality distortion zone. They should just keep going to their orgies and keep their opinions to themselves. They’re not Martin Luther King no matter how much they imagine they are. Besides, all their political BS results in only one thing–division.
It provides a positive energy.
I called it The Fun Time Music Festival for a reason. The music is fun and about having fun. Nothing brings people together better than having fun.
When I say “having fun,” I mean in the common understanding of the term. There are miscreants out there whose idea of fun is to get in fist fights and find someone to date rape. Those are automatic disqualifications from Fun Time Music. Like Jack Black said in “The School of Rock”, “Rock n Roll isn’t about getting loaded and acting like a jerk.”
Fun Time Music is about providing positive energy not negative energy. Not like a Donny Osmond/Up With People sort of positive energy. And not in a pushy “inspirational” Super Bowl ad sort of positive energy. It is more like a “gettin’ loaded and gettin’ laid” sort of positive energy.
Rap and Hip-hop rarely fall into this category. Don’t get me wrong, I mean no disrespect to those who like Rap. However, Rap is not Fun Time Music. Rap is the epitome of “gotta make a statement” music. It’s all about “telling it like it is” and “speaking truth to power” and all that. Moreover, too many Rap artists hold themselves in very high regard. They take themselves way too seriously. They think of themselves as modern day prophets who are going to change the world with their tired old statements about society.
Heavy Metal rarely falls into this category either. Again, no disrespect to those who like it, but Heavy Metal actually epitomizes “All Rock and No Roll.” Heavy Metal is also so dreadfully serious. It’s all dark commentary on the world and visions of the apocalypse. It’s filled with anger and angst to the point that it drives people to suicide. What’s fun about that?
Then there is all that other stuff. I don’t know what to call it, but it ain’t Rock N Roll. The Maroon Five’s and The Imagine Dragons…I don’t know what to say about this stuff. I find this stuff so contrived and disingenuous that I can’t find the words to describe my disdain for it.
When it comes to this kind of music, I would like to repeat the infamous “Disco Demolition Night” that occurred before a Chicago White Sox game back in 1979 (Look up that one on YouTube). I would like everyone who hates this crap as much as me to gather in Times Square (or some other high profile location), bring Imagine Dragon and Maroon 5 CDs, put them in a box and blow that box sky high with ten sticks of dynamite.
With all that said, Fun Time Music is meant to bring people together IN FUN. While most of the music in the Fun Time Music Festival is likely to be considered heterosexual male music in nature, it is not intended to exclude or divide–not divide us by ethnicity, by gender, by sexual orientation or by political affiliation. About the only people it excludes are people who are ultra sensitive, have no sense of humor and who are always looking to “make a statement.”
In other words, boring people.
Like I said before, nothing brings people together like having fun. So hang up your hang ups and set your soul free with The Fun Time Music Festival.
Mister Fun & Games