A Musical Age

Nobody said life would be fair, but there’s a terrible double-standard when it comes to music.
There appears to be a dividing line, where the fountain of youth – and opportunity – vanishes and suddenly you’re past it in the eyes of the music execs.
The Rolling Stones are still going strong – and they’re all over 100! The amazing genius of Kate Bush has just been reacquainted with live audiences after a three decade hiatus, bar the odd appearance with fellow legends, like David Gilmour, whose reunited Pink Floyd wowed everyone at Live 8.
Alice Cooper’s still gigging, by way of another example, while a whole host of 80s and 90s bands have been riding a wave of unbridled nostalgia in recent years.
Midge Ure, lead guitarist and singer with the second incarnation of Ultravox, used to have hair, a moustache and sharp sideburns. Now he’s bald. Ms Bush is no longer the waif-like vision that first burst on to the music scene with vocals reminiscent of a banshee’s wail on Wuthering Heights. But who can doubt their musical talents?
Jeff Beck is still going strong, Led Zeppelin, The Kinks, The Shadows and Paul McCartney have all enjoyed high profile gigs in the last 10 years.
The common bond linking them all is ability, musicianship and, arguably in some cases, fantastic music.
Yet a friend of mine, in a Facebook post, said the other day someone had told him his band, The Wynntown Marshals, were good “for a bunch of older guys”.
Good is an understatement. Kenny McCabe, the drummer, in common with his erstwhile Marshals colleagues, has been playing for a long time and has honed his skills, his understanding of the art of drumming and live performance. I’d rather see someone like him play than some teen sensation who still believes that belting the bejaysus out of your kit is what makes a good sticksman.
The Wynntown Marshals make great music. They’ve toured Europe, but they probably won’t get the coverage, the promotion, they really deserve because of the unwritten rule about age.
The same could be said for other drummer friends, like Brett Stepto, who occupies the drum stool in Even Nine, or Mike Ellis in Derecho, or Art Pridmore in Dr X with the amazing fingers of Markus Reeves on all manner of home-made guitars. All bands of quality, of original and innovative material that, in the hands of lesser mortals a few years younger, might get the music machine showing interest.
Yet the reality show era has placed image as music’s god and ability comes somewhere at the bottom of the A and R man’s ticklist.
Personally speaking, I’ve tried to support live music. I refuse to watch the likes of X Factor, for a start. I’ll pop down the local pub or club to watch a band. Yet I’m tired of kids making a noise. Give me a bunch of old guys playing music any day.