Tuesday, May 30, 2023

private performers

Weirdly fascinating article in the 5 June New Yorker about private party entertainers: if you have enough money, you can hire just about any performer you want for any kind of legitimate party that you're holding. Most of them are financially suffering enough in these days of lowered recording sales that they need the money, and the rest figure "a gig is a gig." Meanwhile, the nouveau riche figure that hiring these stars is a great way to show off.

The article starts with an account of an executive who hired his son's favorite rapper for the boy's bar mitzvah party, or rather from the rapper's point of view. His stage name is Flo Rida, for his home state. (I'm awaiting colleagues named Jaw-Jaw or possibly Tech's Ass.)

Of course, if I were there, when the music started I'd run away and hide, and I expect that's true for just about every example given in the article. This sort of thing has actually been around for a while. Back in the '90s when B. was working for AMD and they were riding high, Jerry Sanders rented the local hockey arena for a big corporate party and put Faith Hill in it. I lasted about two minutes. I don't dislike the music of Faith Hill, but the acoustics were hideous and the volume was worse. At least it wasn't the previous party, where he hired Rod Stewart, whom I don't care for at all.

And I was thinking about this bar mitzvah. If this sort of thing had been going on when I was bar mitzvah, and if my parents had been fabulously rich and terminally tasteless (they were neither: my bar mitzvah was followed by a reception in the adjacent hall, and no party), who would have been my favorite performer whom I'd have wanted to have?

And the answer comes immediately: Allan Sherman. That was the favorite performer of my childhood.

We probably could have gotten him, too. By that time he'd lost his record contract and his Broadway musical had flopped, so he could have used the gig. I actually saw Allan Sherman perform live once, in a hotel lounge in San Francisco, at just about that time, so I can just imagine it ...

In other news, this music-oriented issue of The New Yorker has a snippy review by Alex Ross referring to "the problematic new acoustics of Geffen Hall." What, have they still not gotten it right? I was assured by all the puff pieces at the re-opening that finally, after 60 years, that accursed hall had finally been fixed. I guess not.

And a long account of the Ed Sheeran plagiarism trial has a musicologist for the prosecution claiming that Sheeran is playing an F-sharp minor chord. Nonsense, says Sheeran, it's a D-major in first inversion. Well, that makes sense to me, but I wonder how many readers will follow the argument here?

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