Jun 5, 2019 • 3M

adventure lies off the grid

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Purists may whine that the best days of music are behind us, that capital “M” music has seen its peak and is no longer relevant. But here at Play It Like It's Music we believe the opposite: not only is the act of musicmaking an essential life skill with a lineage stretching back to the beginnings of human history, but the vocation of the professional musician is more vital today than it ever has been. Once a month, join musician, songwriter and producer Trevor Exter as he drops in on working musicians from every genre.
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Sending love from Eagle Rock!


New Yorkers are not "nice", but we are friendly.  
Angelenos are not friendly, but they are "nice".

[last word spoken through a clenched perma-grin]

In this edition:

  1. Some happy cello

  2. A bit o’ moanin

  3. A podcast I listened to twice

[the Santa Monica beer kundalini is strong. Horchata?]

It's easy to look at the music career landscape these days and feel like we're stuck in quicksand, with the machines taking over and whatnot.

Artificial intelligence may be a slick bit of mythmaking, but artificial music has definitely been dominating the scene for awhile now and the results are debilitating.

I like a lot of the noises made by machines, but I hate the power dynamic.

Where we used to have all these different kinds of bands and orchestras led by all manner of currupt people - with doors nevertheless open everywhere for an enterprising musical human to wend our way to expertise and success - now we all have the “means of production” at our fingertips - but very few places in which to bounce sound around.

A DJ event can feel like the musical version of a fascist rally. Led by the machines, a DJ is merely an operator with the thinnest set of instructions.

What we miss when the instruments are stashed away in closets is the very voice of democracy, of humanity. Forgetting how to play is like forgetting how to speak.

(Folks have forgotten how to dance too, but that's someone else's soapbox.)

Meanwhile, "Jazz" has become like dentistry. There’s only room in there for the most studied, qualified, pedigreed professional players. Slightly less exclusive than the NBA but with 1/1000th the paycheck for the winners.

The folk scene, the rock scene... plenty to complain about: as professional playing opportunities get ever rarer, machines are an outlet which emerged to fill the void of human engagement.

I can now make a record on my phone, as long as I stick to the grid.

But the adventure lies off the grid.

Off the grid is where you'll find friendship, power, delight, freedom, freshness, luxury, respect, romance, tension, strength, sex and the safety brought by full-organism involvement.

The digitized music scene of today has everything and nothing. More sound in it than ever before, but increasingly disintermediated, overpriced and more underpaid than ever.

So make yourself a classic record. If you're truly lucky maybe you'll get sampled by a rapper. Meanwhile the Irish group from the corner bar has long been replaced by a TV and the jukebox sounds like a perpetual beer commercial.

I've written myself into a hole. What's the way forward Trev?

Get your head off the bar and make your noise.

In the meantime, The Dirty Three will save you.




a podcast I listened to twice:

The conversation gets deeply wonky and goes slow as molasses. I started it while doing the dishes and then let it run in the background. Then I tuned out for a bit, but the last half hour really caught me and I found myself rewinding to listen from the beginning.

David Brooks has really been through it, and it changed him. He’s beautifully vulnerable in this wide-ranging interview.

I’ve never been a huge fan, but this one felt like a valuable listen.


gigs this month:

Still on the road! I’m living out of a bag for the next little while:

Thank you for reading and subscribing.

I appreciate you.

Big love to your ears,





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