A Shortage of Garage Bands
Riddle me this: What has a gray ponytail, gray beard, bifocals and a Led Zeppelin T-shirt? Answer: Every single person I saw at the Indiana Vintage Guitar show recently.
I have determined that the aging Baby Boomer may be the last generation of people who not only truly love music, but also can play it. And judging from attendance at the Guitar Expo, many of those people are about to need sound-proof rooms at their nursing homes.
In my most unscientific survey, very few young people create music for personal enjoyment. After talking with my high school- and college-aged children, the thought of going to watch a local band is about as foreign to them as sticking your finger into the dialing ring of a corner payphone. There are plenty of garages, but few garage bands and a concert would be considered a group of kids standing together listen to the same thing on their phones at the same time.
My generation thought music was important. It was more than just about entertainment, but also about the message. It was a way to convey thoughts, feelings and emotions to people who were linked together in a lot less ways back then. One had to work hard to search out information, but back then, music was one way for information to find its way to you. Throughout much of the 1960s and ‘70s, “social media” meant listening to music together and talking about it, and “sharing” meant loaning someone an LP (with your name written on the label in Magic Marker).
Live music seems to be following the same trends. People are just are not very likely to pick up an instrument. Most people over the age of 50 played an instrument at some point in their early lives. It might have been piano lessons, a school instrument or just the thought that with enough work, you could figure out the introduction to “Stairway to Heaven” on an old folk guitar.
I blame recent trends in education for the loss. In our race to improve the almighty test scores, it seems much of our music and arts programs have fallen by the wayside.
The reliance on electronic music and simulators also seems to be a fact of life as well. However, beautiful vintage instruments were still available at the Indiana guitar show. In fact, at one point, I saw the Holy Grail of electric guitars, a ‘59 cherry sunburst Gibson Les Paul. I looked it over and determined it was worth about $250,000 (because of my vast experience and knowledge garnered completely from watching YouTube).
“I have $200,000 on the price tag,” he said to me. “But make me an offer,” the dealer said.
At that point I felt my body, soul and brain all separate into different entities, as my soul and brain watched my mouth say, “Would you take $125,000 for it?”
As he thought about it, as did I, I began to realize the implication on how my offer was about to change my life. I realized I would only own it for about the final four hours of my life on this earth, before it would belong to the woman who would be known as my widow and/or the defendant whose defense would be insanity (mine) and my guess is she would not be convicted by a jury of her peers.
While he thought long and hard, he decided we were just too far apart on the price, not realizing that he just saved my children from seeing their mother being hauled off in handcuffs and extending my life at least until next year’s show.
As I was about to leave, he said, “I do have a 1974 gold top Les Paul that used to belong to Dickey Betts of the Allman Brothers Band. He traded it to a guy I know for two ounces of cocaine and I only want $7,000 for it.”
I thought for just a moment and realized I could save $118,000 …
When he’s not covering local sports, Todd Lancaster can be found playing a guitar. He keeps the number of guitars he owns secret for security and matrimonial purposes. Follow him on Twitter @blasterdog
By Todd Lancaster