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Rock Tales #207 pt II-Jay Vaquer
I want to thank all the Rock Tales readers for such an overwhelming response. It must be true that ignorance brings out the worst in people, as evidenced in the June issue of Playgrounds. Out of misguided gratitude, I will address each of you, cover to cover.


Beginning at the beginning, we have the Letter from the other Editor, Vicky. I was truly disappointed that my other editor chose to ally herself with my opposition, instead of either remaining neutral or standing behind me. Her opening paragraph is a disclaimer, denying involvement in the $2 cover scandal. She asked me not to say anything, but she called Buddy Nelms before the issue was published to inform him of R.T.#207. He said he agreed with me, and wanted it stated in all their ads that there would be no more cover for musicians. Although I do not personally know Buddy, he must have known the issue was not the $2, but the principle. For centuries musicians have been considered second class citizens. It was not until Ludwig van Beethoven, a true Rebel, in the late sixteenth century, that a musician took a stand on this issue. He ranks among the supreme immortals of music not only because he represents the transition from late classical to romantic music, but from the domination of aristocratic patronage to individual artistic freedom. Everytime Ludwig got a gig playing piano for the aristocrats, they would make him use the servants entrance and told him not to mingle with the guests. Everybody thought he was whacked for protesting. He thought he was just as important as they were, even though he did not have the money they had. A couple hundred years go by, and I get a gig playing for a wedding. I get the same story, "Don't eat any of the food until the guests leave and when you take a break go sit outside." Well, this is 1996 and Homey don't play that. Anytime I see a musician exploited in even the most benign fashion, I'm going to sound off that Rebel Yell. Vicky needs to take a cue from Dave Bryant at The Columbus Forum. He said no matter how much money you have, or what your social position is, he will always print the truth. Now that's my kind of game. Tell me not to say anything, then hold back the rest of the story, then turn around and oppose my position- "panties in a wad?" I don't have any idea how much money Buddy pays for his ads in Playgrounds. It makes no difference to me, I'm not in it for the money. But, if you want to put it against the nine months of FREE writing I've done for Playgrounds, I'd say you should stand behind me, especially in matters where I at least have a clue and you publicly admit incompetence, i.e. music. Your statement "my point is music is about pleasure" is true for you, but is also a total denial of music as art and part of our total culture. Music history is studied against the backgrounds of social, economic, political, cultural, and philosophical developments. If your kid takes a crayon, and scribbles on the wall, you could frame it and call it art. If it gives you pleasure, then does it have the same value as Picasso or Rembrandt? If you read a Donald Duck comic book and it gives you pleasure, then you don't care about Shakespeare? And if Radar Rose play 3 chords all night and it gives you pleasure, to hell with Beethoven? Is this some new hedonistic philosophy? Live for the moment and forget the history of civilization? I was probably taking music appreciation with Harry Kruger at Columbus College while you were still in diapers. I have spent years playing and studying music. Naturally, from someone who could care less how many chords are in Amazing Grace, I get no respect for accumulated musical knowledge. I'm supposed to pretend I'm really grooving to Radar Rose's A minor to D vamp, but the truth is, I'm not going to apologize for learning enough about music to know what bores me. Music has three elements which I listen for; the melody, the harmony, and the rhythm. People started using chords over 400 years ago. They were built on a tertial basis-superimposed thirds. Then the chord vocabulary was expanded in the twentieth century by further addition of thirds- eleventh and thirteenth chords. Some chords became famous. Scriabin created "the mystic chord"-C, F-sharp,B-flat,E,A,D. Then we have chord clusters with seconds and combinations of heterogeneous intervals precluding a root basis of construction. Also, mixed chords, or polychords with two or more different roots like Stravinsky's famous " Petrouchka chord"-superimposing the triad C-E-G and F #, A #, and C #. There is even the "Jimi Hendrix chord", a raised nine. When the music is playing, a plethora of musical information is passing by for a trained ear. When I have to listen to an hour of music where all the chords are major or minor triads, I'm falling asleep. By enriching the harmony and harmonic sequences of virtual music, we can heighten awareness to the world of existing real music. To deny its existence is called de-evolution. Rock Tales is written by a musician for musicians. All others should read, and comment, at their own risk. Music can be many things to many different people, but to the musician, music is their life, and that is taken very seriously.


My next fan mail came from Tanya E.(no big) Deal. I don't know who, or what, a Tanya E. Deal is, but I know what she is not. And that is, a refined lady, deserving respect from others. Go to finishing school and study the principles of democracy, then read your vulgar letter again. I will never "shut the hell up" but thanks for taking the time to tell me.


The next reference to R.T. # 207 comes from Mike Childree. Now, I respect Mike musically since he reviewed one of my favorite L.P.'s "Heavy Weather" by Weather Report. Due to a misconception of the term virtual, he went on like a Gilda Radner bit where Roseann Roseanadana delivers a fiery editorial, then, discovering she had the wrong topic, modestly says, "never mind." Mike, the musicians were not virtual, their music was. Instead of using terms like erudite musicians and pop musicians, I distinguish the two basic types of music with virtual and real. Virtual is neither a condescending nor demeaning term. It refers to music which exists in essence, like Amazing Grace, but not in actual form, like Beethoven's Symphony #6- Pastorale in F major. You know, like Jaco Pastorius is a real bassist and Jose Castellanos is a virtual bassist. Or, Pyramid could play "Birdland" but Radar Rose or Rat Race could not. So we have two types of music. If Elwood Madeo, Robert Carr and maybe you (I've never heard you play knowing it was you) got up there at the Perky's, I have no doubt we would have heard more real music. I would estimate 90% of the gigs I have played were virtual. It is what the listening majority want to hear. So next time I say something you're not sure about, just E-mail me. We could virtually have a real jam.


The final R.T. # 207 letter came from within Ralph A. Frank Jr.. He and Vicky are conspicuously harmonized, in that, he is willing to trade technical perfection for spirit. If you could listen to Leonard Bernstein conducting the New York Philharmonic to Gershwin's "An American in Paris" and tell me there is no spirit there, I would have to say you dropped too many Quaaludes. Or listen to Herbie Hancock's new release, "Thieves in the Temple." Technical perfection includes spirit. I know what you are trying to say, that a guitarist like John McLaughlin, running scales at light speed, is not as esthetically pleasant as Carlos Santana, laid back. I agree with you there, but to say that real music has no spirit because of its complexity is far from the truth. And while we're out here, that $2 cover was not used to pay rent. Since you are willing to donate cash, how about helping me pay for my Les Paul? And that "nipping feeding hands" thing was a little too strong. Buddy knows that a little controversy is still free press. Everything is cool. Lighten up.


Well, that just about does it for Rock Tales # 207. Once again, thank you all for responding and I encourage you to write again. I'm going to leave you with a Rebel Hymn from one of my favorite virtual singers, Elvis Presley.

If you're looking for trouble...da-da-da-da-da
You came to the right place...da-da-da-da-da
If you're looking for trouble...da-da-da-da-da
You just look right in my face...da-da-da-da-da
I was born standin' up...........da-da-da-da-da
And talkin' back.... vrruuumm
My daddy, he was a green-eyed mountain jack.

Rock Lesson # 207-Remains- Never play the sucker






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