Thursday, March 7, 2013

Random Thought Thursday: Does my tweed vest and fedora make my music sound better?

For decades stage presence has been an ever evolving art within the music world. KISS make-up, hair metal bands, and most recently in my comfy little folk corner of the world: dressing like you grew up in 19th century, rural West Virginia. While there is something to be said about embracing your craft as a performer, I often find myself looking at a band and thinking “why are they doing this?” rather than “wow, this is a great tune”. So where does theatrics overtake the quality of the music?

I come from the school of thought that music should speak for itself, but at the same time a guy playing sad folk songs in a pearl-snap plaid makes more sense to me than the same guy in a Metallica t-shirt singing the same songs. I, myself, am guilty of wearing plaid yolked westerns most of the time…hell, I even own a pair of cowboy boots (what, they are comfortable. Don’t judge me). But I think I am on the lesser end of the spectrum when it comes to taking it to the next level, Gram Parsons style. This is just one blogger’s opinion, but seriously, I have pondered this long and often. Am I the only one that this occasionally "disconcerts"? Can we draw a line in the sand and just say “No. That’s just not working”?
I guess the ultimate thought is that there is a thin line between “playing a part but still be true to your songs and your music” and pure, unadulterated douchebaggery. Hopefully we as musicians don’t find ourselves on that “other” side of the line anytime soon, but then again, stranger things have happened. What do you guys think?


  1. I definitely agree that the music should speak for itself and that there is a fine line between appropriate stage presence and "pure, unadulterated douchebaggery." Ultimately, though, shows are meant to be experiences and I think anything the artist can do to make the audience feel like they are part of a genuine musical experience is a good thing. If you're going to play folk songs wearing heavy metal t-shirts, then go for it, but make your "thing." In other words, be consistent with your image so that when people come to your shows (no matter how trite this sounds), they feel like they're seeing the real you.

  2. Thanks for the comment! It's really something that has become more and more prelevant in this genre especially. I am all for creating a whole atmosphere around my shows...granted I play mellow, folk/roots stuff and there isn't much to add in the way of theatrics that wouldn't see slightly "off"...

    I guess I see this as very easy, potentially spiraling out of control. Yeah, its true 'Americana' is music with "hints of country/folk/blues/bluegrass" but if I see someone on stage from Brooklyn, or Boston, or the general North East thanking the audience by using the phrase "y'all" I begin to question their authenticity, both to the music craft and them as a person.