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The Mail 8/6/14

Winter of our Content

2:27 PM EDT, August 6, 2014

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Little Music Issue

I would like to take issue with the alleged big “music” issue (Feature, July 30). Frankly, you should have called it the “Big Pop Music Issue,” or maybe the “Big Bar Band Music Issue” or perhaps the “Little Issue of Pop Bands and Vocal Bar Bands with a Little Color on the Side.”

In the Jean Cocteau movie “Orpheus,” the poet Orpheus asks a friend what he should do. His friend replies “Astonish us.” Well, the bands you champion have failed to astonish us. They all are bar bands. They make their living as background music for boozing. That may be all well and good, but that is not all the music there is. 

I suggest, for example, you go to the Waverly farmers market and listen to the wide spectrum of music there. Then you could go to Normal’s on 31st Street and purchase the latest Dan Carney recording or one of the other fine recordings by local musicians or groups that span the musical spectrum of Baltimore. Maybe go to An Die Musik and hear some good local jazz. The stellar keyboard artist Tom Reyes has a website. Perhaps you could visit it. Maybe you could review the local folk duo In the Clear or jazz drummers Louis Jones or Eric Kennedy. Then again, you have never written a single word about the late jazz pianist Albert Dailey, a man Baltimore jazz saxophonist Gary Bartz said was his favorite pianist.

No, you prefer to visit and promote music that comes from the pop-culture toilets of Charm City. Yes, I said “toilets.” I had the misfortune to wander into the SideBar. The place was a pig sty. The john was just as dirty. Oh, and the Ottobar—there’s another jewel of a place, complete with a restroom right out of a William Burroughs story. But the décor there—i.e., spray-paint chic—is not as raggedy as the club’s politics. When a Palestinian hip-hop band was booked there, the owner got political cold feet and cancelled at the last damn minute. This place is another loud booze-driven venture. 

And lastly you uphold the totally lackluster Deathfest! For God’s sake, there are hundreds of other musical festivals! You promote the armpit of all festivals. What is it, two or three days of people dressed like extras in the yet-unmade version of “Road Warrior,” drinking warm beer and listening to bands with names like Stasher or River Styx who play the same songs with the same three chords over and over again? Face it, after Jimi Hendrix and Cream it was all bad imitations. This Deathfest stuff is about as cutting-edge as a butter knife. Where is the astonishment? But what do you expect from Budweiser-drinking heavy-metal fans?

So to sum it up: We need a better Big Music Issue.

Alan Barysh
Baltimore

Constructive Crit

I am writing in regards to two articles that were published in City Paper. 

In the article “Heal Thyself” (Mobtown Beat, July 30), the suicide of Dr. Nikita Levy is mentioned. The reporter describes the means by which Dr. Levy killed himself. I would like to bring to the paper’s attention the National Institute of Mental Health’s recommendations for reporting on suicide. Through a meta-analysis of research on suicide, NIMH found that the risk of additional suicides increases when the means used to commit suicide is mentioned in a reporting piece. As suicide is a preventable public health concern, I would encourage your reporters to become familiar with the NIMH recommendations, found here: nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/suicide-prevention/recommendations-for-reporting-on-suicide.shtml.

Unrelated, in the article “Profusion Not Confusion” (Art, July 30), your art reviewer describes Chad Tyler’s piece, “There’s a Rhinoceros in the River,” as perhaps a work of Photoshop. A bit of research would have informed your reviewer that Tyler in fact constructed a life-size rhino and placed it near the Jones Falls for a four-month period, which is far more interesting than your reviewer’s musing that it was likely a Photoshop trick. 

Amy Greensfelder
Baltimore

Winter of our Content

Rafael Alvarez’ tribute to the late Johnny Winter (“Hey Edgar, Where’s Your Brother,” Music, July 22) was very touching and informative. Being a Johnny Winter fan, I never knew he had a long-time drug problem, which I was glad he finally kicked. After rehab, he put out his strongest record, “Still Alive and Well.” Johnny Winter was a guitar legend who will really be missed. It’s amazing he was still performing. He seemed to use that growl in his vocal style in his later years, but he was still the best guitarist around. We’ll miss you, Johnny. I recommend finding the following LPs at all costs . . . These are the most rockin’ Johnny Winter albums, period. Thanks, Johnny, for the music you left behind as a legacy to your fans.

Paul M. Hohman
Baltimore