Future of Music Coalition Benefit


November 06, 2006

It's funny how someone's opinion can change yours. I came out of the Future of Music Coalition benefit at Tipitina's Monday night having had a decent time. Nothing great, nothing horrible. Then I talked to a friend who said he heard it kinda sucked. And it made me think, "Did it suck?" "And yeah, I guess, it coulda been a lot better." But, I guess cause I never have the chance to see so many rock stars together in one place, I wasn't about to write this night off from the beginning.

The Future of Music Coalition, a not-for-profit collaboration seeking to educate both the music industry and general public to the challenges and concerns of musicians, was the financial backbone of this night. The benefit featured Steve Earle, Mike Mills(R.E.M.), Allison Moorer, Tom Morello(Audioslave and Rage Against the Machine), Boots Riley (the Coup), Corin Tucker (Sleater Kinney), Bonerama and Al "Carnival Time" Johnson.

The event was scheduled to begin at 9 p.m., and of course, it didn't start on time. Maybe 'cause people were so slow getting there. At the end of it all, there were probably 200 people there, and MC Steve Earle even acknowledged the lack of people as the show started.

First up was Bonerama, who, as usual, didn't really get the crowd into it until they pulled out their Zeppelin cover and "Crosstown Traffic." It was great to see Mills out in the crowd, standing next to Susan Cowsill, rocking out to Zeppelin. Yep, you heard it here first. Mike Mills likes Zeppelin. Al Johnson came out to do "Carnival Time," and I never realized what kind of weird meter that song is in until Bonerama had trouble keeping the song's pulse solid and on track. Johnson dragged the song out for a while, repeating the chorus indefinetely until the band stopped the song, only to find Johnson was still singing. Drummer Stanton Moore revived the song, realizing that Johnson was gonna keep singing, band or no band. About two repeats later, Johnson, who was accompanied onstage by Antoinette K-Doe, walked off as the band played on. Seconds later they could finally stop the song.

Next up was Tucker, who played a beautiful song from her younger days that she wrote about her first time in New Orleans. This is when things get blurry. Tucker played two more songs, I believe, after which Mills joined her for one number. Then Mills was joined by Moore for his three song set. I wish Tucker and Mills had played songs their bands were known for, but they decided to stick to the relevant and more obscure stuff. Mills played an early REM song I hadn't heard before.

Next up was Morello, who sang a few Nightwatchman songs. Nightwatchman is the name of his solo project. Morello stuck to protest country fare. It was kinda funny to hear him affecting a twang vocal. I think a lot of the crowd expected him to pull off some guitar heroics, but he only had his acoustic. Morello played a wack, slower version of RATM's "Guerilla Radio." It was only wack because he moved the accents in the song, making it hard to sing along. It was a cool cover because I could actually understand Zack De La Rocha's lyrics in that song for once.

After Morello was done with his solo stuff, he stayed onstage to accompany Riley, who sang a few Coup songs, most notably "5 Million Ways to Kill a CEO" and "Wear Clean Drawers." Riley was stiff at first, but once he got the rhythm, he was bouncing around the stage like a man possessed by the music. His militant songs were racially subversive and welcome in a crowd of white people. At least I welcomed them. The highlight of my night? Watching the white b-boy against the barricade spout "5 Million Ways" word for word as he looked at Riley.

Next up was Moorer, who I didn't have any interest in. I got tired and lost my drive to endure the rest of the performance. I hate them, but this night needed some loud, self-righteous monologues, some captivating speeches to keep the crowd's blood pumping.

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