Back in the 1980’s, the company I worked for had a warehouse for the products we sold. The people working in the warehouse listened to the music of the time. One day the warehouse manager, who was about a year younger than I, said, “I swore I’d never say this, but that’s not music.”
You can go back at almost any point last century and find that the music of young people was considered garbage by older generations.
In 1980 I had an Oldies Hour on my daily late-night shift. Sometimes the chief engineer would stop by. Ken was forty years older than I and we were pretty good friends. I would love it when he would tell me stories about working in radio in the ‘30’s and ‘40’s. Among other things during his career, Ken had emceed big band radio broadcasts over the Mutual Radio Network.
One time he stopped by and I was playing Topsy, Part II, a 1958 hit by Cab Calloway’s former drummer, Cozy Cole. Ken liked that. He would have been in his early 40’s when it was a hit.
Another time he came in and I was playing Lies, a 1966 hit by the Knickerbockers. To say that Ken was not a fan was an understatement. He would have been about 50 when that came out.
The reason I mention Ken’s age when those records come out is because the late 1990’s, when I was in my early 40’s, was the last time I enjoyed most of the new music on the radio. By 2006, when I was 50, there was little new music that interested me – just like Ken when he was 50.
It seems hard to find young people playing instruments and making “music” anymore, but there are some.
A while back I was surfing YouTube and saw a suggestion of a new version of the Hollies’ song Bus Stop by the MonaLisa Twins.
Mona and Lisa Wagner are twin sister who were born in Austria, which explains their accents. They currently live in the Liverpool area. They have gotten attention from famous people such as John Sebastian.
They are clearly talented, but many of their videos seem to over-emphasize that many of their recordings are studio productions with multi-tracking and over dubbing. I know “everyone does it,” but I would like to hear music that is being made, not music that is being manufactured.
That being said, they do write original material and can rock out with other musicians in live shows. They have appeared at numerous venues including the famous Cavern Club in Liverpool where they performed this original song, One More Time.
Another great group of young people making music comes from the Philippines. The REO brothers consists of the Otic brothers Reno, Ronjoseph, Raymart, Ralph, and Roy Mark. They started playing music with improvised instruments to help out the family finances. They were heard jamming with some friends and things went up from there. The name REO brothers come from their first initial (“R” for all of them), “E” from their mother’s maiden name (Evasco), and “O” from their last name (Otic).
Their videos look like they are recording in their basement. However, the acoustics are good and they are playing the music live as it is being recorded. They might make minimal use of multi-tracking to add another instrument, but most of what they do is performed as the video is being recorded. One of the reasons they have become successful is because they play their live shows with a polish usually found in more experienced musicians.
The first time they came to my attention was when YouTube suggested this video to me, again with the song Bus Stop.
They like to play the Beatles, from early songs such as I Saw Her Standing There and Boys…
…to later songs such as While My Guitar Gently Weeps.
The brothers have played a relief concert at Madison Square Gardens with several other performers such as Jennifer Hudson and Plain White T’s. They also were the first performers from the Philippines to play at the Cavern Club in Liverpool.
I am thrilled to hear young musicians playing music that is not dependent on sampling and computers.