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Friday April 18th 2014

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The Local: Go See Live Music

While writing a different version of “The Local” and listening to a bootleg Grateful Dead show it occurred to me: I was writing about the wrong thing. A few weeks ago, I went to Vinyl Music Hall and saw Hot Tuna play. There are a lot of music venues around town, and I love live music, so that’s what I want to talk about.

From the time I saw my first concert, I was hooked on live music. It was Bad English back in the early 90s. Since then, I’ve been to rock, country, jam band, metal, blues, bluegrass, gospel and classical music concerts and festivals. Sorry, R&B and rap, it’s not you, it’s me. There is a different vibe at each kind of concert, but people want to connect with the music and the music makers.

Listening to a CD is a good way to make friends with a song. If you want to start a relationship, you gotta get that song live and naked so you can experience all of its parts at the same time. Studio recordings can often be made of several different takes of the band members playing their parts. The music gets tweaked so that it sounds as good as it possibly can, sometimes at the cost of producing something the group can’t recreate on stage. For instance, I saw Modest Mouse at Bonnaroo in 2005. Before I realized it was them, I thought, “Who’s murdering ‘Black Cadillacs’?” What a disappointment. I lose a lot of respect for a band if they can’t deliver musically on-stage. Maybe I’m a snob that way.

During a live performance the band and crowd work together to create a special, intimate exchange. At a concert, no matter the size of the venue or crowd, everyone experiences the same notes at the same time. Artist and audience create something only those in attendance can ever have. When the music moves us, we shake and holler. And the band responds.

If you’re not familiar with live music, think of it in terms of a comedy act. The comedian will tell a few jokes to feel out the audience. Their response sets the tone for the evening’s entertainment.

In Pensacola, there are more opportunities to see live music than our ears could ever survive. This laid-back, coastal town has become a major player in the live music scene. Nearly every bar and restaurant has a stage. Every couple of months at Gallery Night, downtown turns into a music festival—but that’s a different topic altogether. Apart from special events, more nights than not, there are musicians playing instruments and singing for our enjoyment, while people bring us drinks. There’s a lot of live listenin’ to be done around our area. I suggest you get out and do some of it. Don’t be afraid to make a fool of yourself either. The real fool is the one who doesn’t let the music take over. Relax, and let the instruments drive.

About the local: Dan Fugate is a writer and social media manager at Clever Ogre, a downtown Pensacola advertising and web development agency. He’s passionate about: family, friends, music, movies, writing, good food and beer. He was born in Ohio, raised in Alabama, and is proud to be a Pensacolian and Argo. Dan and his wife have two boys (the second due this month) and a big orange dog. Twitter, Facebook, Google+, he’s there.