• Writing in the deepest, darkest part of the winter, when the regular gigs are few and far between and the bigger shows not much more common, I note that the conversations between players get grimmer by the day. It may be just the players I run into; the younger ones playing metal seem to be about where most young players are, which is to say arguing a lot about who's getting what show and what politics are involved. The older players, on the other hand, are genuinely worried, as the kind of jobs they have been used to getting are simply not around.
Some of this can be attributed to the miserable state of the economy, of course, but not all. More and more clubs are booking a single person to host an open stage of one sort or another, with the hope that the entertainers will bring their friends. A great many clubs book only karaoke, so that the patrons entertain each other. Taken together, the message is that musicianship is steadily being devalued in the market, which does not bode well for the industry. Pretty soon, the clubs will be holding nothing but Guitar Hero contests.
• The 332-point decline in the Dow-Jones Indexearlier this month included a number of music-related stocks. Final closings looked like this: Warner Music Group(WMG), skidded 10.39 percent to $2.07, an all-time low. Applefell 5.02 percent to $78.20, the lowest since December of 2006. Live Nation(LYV) dropped 7.09 percent to $4.85, Ticketmaster(TKTM) slipped 7.39 percent to $6.29, and RealNetworks(RNWK) lost 7.23 percent to $2.95. Finally, Sirius XM Radio(SIRI) plummeted 2.22 percent to just 11 cents.
• Two pre-teen bands from Louisville .showcased at the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) Show in Anaheim on January 17. The Hi-Topsand The Trouble With Boysboth made the trip to California, under the guidance of Mark Maxwellof Mom's Music. (Mark send us a invite but budgetary restraints intervened.) I expect to hear from Mark shortly about any positive outcomes.
Mason, Richard "Ricky" N., 54, died in Louisville on January 1, 2009. He was a blues guitarist who playing with many Louisville bands. Read Keith Clements' "I've Got A Mind To Ramble" column on page 9 for a more extensive biography of Mason.
Schooler, Frank O.,84, died on January 10. He was a violinist who played with the Louisville Philharmonics (Orchestra) in the 1930s and 1940s/