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Musical Segregation

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JJ Rocks Article # 5: Musical Segregation

You would think that the musical youth of today would have learned a lesson from the history that was taught to them in school and broadcasted to them on TV. The struggles and horrors of the segregation of mankind have existed for centuries not only in our country, but in all countries throughout history. So why, at this time, when there seems to be a glimmer of hope and a light at the end of the tunnel, did music segregate so drastically?

I can remember a time when I would see race riots on the news and it would really frighten me. But then I would turn on the radio and listen to the top ten count down that would range from the Beatles to James Brown and everything in between. Being a young guitarist at the time, this confused me. The Top 40 radio station gave a child the impression that people of many colors and backgrounds were all in the same room playing music together. But yet on the news some people were tearing each other apart while others were reaching for the moon. And why was it that some early rock n roll bands would record blues songs that were written by black musicians, and then have some of its members be seen in picket lines in front of an all white diner that was serving black people? Well, thank God because it seems like most of us have risen above those times. But unfortunately, as we learned to unite in our social way of thinking, the one thing that we had from the past that used to bring us together has now split us apart in many directions.

While researching bands from around the globe  to be guest on The Spotlight Zone I was surprised at the amount of musical genres that I discovered. At first I was pleasantly surprised, then disappointed in the segregation of some styles of music. If a band on an independent music site submitted their music (on other sites) into the rock genre for reviews but may have sounded a bit like pop rock, they would be torn apart. If someone submitted a tune into the country genre but had a little too much story telling in their song, some bands were told to get out and resubmit in the folk category. This would be present in almost all the genres that I reviewed bands in. Fortunately most of my music is theatrical or instructional and theres not a category for either one so I just use these sites for demo storage just in case of another Hugo. (Thats a big nasty hurricane, for all of you that arent from St. Croix.).

So anyway, I would log on to one of these sites and listen to a song being performed by a nine year old from Russia, then read a review on it by a punk rocker from Detroit that was tearing the song apart piece by piece. I really felt for the child knowing that they had to read the vicious remarks written by someone who probably had a ring in his nose. Fortunately there are real musicians that are very kind when reviewing songs and most of the time that makes up for the morons. I also must make it clear that these are not just songwriting contest being judged by a panel of celebrities. These sites are where bands judge each other by performance, production, playing ability and much more. You could get high marks from some professional musicians one day, and on the next day have your score brought down by a twelve year old Emo rocker critic who just received his first guitar. It can be like throwing yourselves to the wolves and their puppies! But that is just one side of the coin.

Song contest are not generally known for producing top billboard hits. But on the independent band sites some artist that are coming in at #5 and #6 on billboards top 10 charts. They are also giving a band in lets say, Tampa Florida, the chance to communicate, or even jam with a band in France or Japan via the internet. My guess is that its the best thing to ever happen to bands that are trying to get noticed by the rest of the world. They didnt have that when I was a kid. But as I said before, they also didnt have todays self appointed genre guardians who stand at the gates of each musical style like pit bulls guarding a boom box thats playing a hot dog jingle!

This article is mainly about the separation and segregation of the people that so strongly believe in their styles of music and put up defenses that are totally uncalled for. And I dont mean just picky opinions of the listeners. I mean changes in entire lifestyles. Whether its the baggy pants and hand motions descending from LA Street gangs thats portrayed in hip hop, or the blackened hair and eyes of the Gothic heavy metal rockers, this time around, its the music thats separating people. Even the Grammy awards have been more like a circus with a different ring for each genre. Instead of something we can see like the color of ones skin or the actions of the ignorant tearing us apart, its now the music that we hear thats affecting how we feel about ourselves and the people around us. What will it be next? Will the people who eat one kind of food start to dislike the ones that eat something different? How about judging people by the cologne that they wear and forming different societies because of it?

It may just be human nature to always find some way to separate ourselves from one another. Personally, Im a big promoter of individuality. But theres a difference between finding ones own self and finding differences in everyone else. Musically speaking that is.

JJ Rocks - The Spotlight Zone