Respect your elders.
We hear it a lot as we grow up, usually when sassing off at a grandparent or during that period of mandatory rebellion known as puberty. While I’m one to play Devil’s Advocate and point out that plenty of elders in this world are not worthy of obligatory respect, when it comes to music, it’s a statement cemented in the foundation of the craft. While sure, I may hate The Beatles on the whole (dead serious), I do respect what they have done for music as a whole.
It seemed fitting, then, to conclude CMW 2013 with two of the men who laid the groundwork for many of the other artists on the schedule. By the end of the night, I was lamenting all who’d opted for other showcases. They’d missed out on a tremendous display of talent.
Born in Elvis’ heyday, Kempner relates on his website that seeing The Stooges changed his music life. Many would say the same about Kempner. Most known for his tenure with The Del-Lords (recently reformed and releasing new music), Kempner and company contributed to the more urban roots-rock genre that endures and thrives to this day.
With a guitar, many stories and a mix of material spanning Del-Lords tracks, covers of songs he loves and tracks penned for others including Dion DiMucci, Kempner wowed the music appreciators in the crowd with the gritty storytelling style most think of Springsteen for (particularly the pre-Born In The U.S.A. era). The structure of his work is so classic, yet hardly cliched. It’s why I’m perfectly happy to blast a little Thurston Harris now and then, or why audiences of today still lap up Grease or Dirty Dancing. I had the sense that this was a man underappreciated, a silent hero of the music scene that ironically seemed tucked behind the curtains despite his stage history.
I have to say that as I stood listening with amusement to the tales of how The Del-Lords came to call themselves “The Elvis Club” and other youthful moments that this was a time of true elder teaching, and I say this with the utmost respect. The passing of knowledge, of truths and wisdom, is so critical to understanding where we are going. I felt lucky to have witnessed it.
Never mind the bollocks surrounding the departure of Glen Matlock from The Sex Pistols. It really doesn’t matter.
What really matters is the talent Matlock possesses and unfurls when given a guitar and a microphone. When the man gets going – be it material from The Sex Pistols, Rich Kids or anything else he feels like playing — it’s time to shut up and be wowed. Fear not: if you don’t realize it’s time to be silent, Matlock will give you a cue. Just ask the rowdy college kids who sauntered in just before his set and opted to drink and shout until Matlock browbeat them into silence from the stage.
Matlock knows he’s worth the listen, but more importantly, he knows that the rapt audience upfront deserves to hear him play without interference.
Rocking his way through a set heavily loaded with Sex Pistols tracks but peppered with Philistines material and even a delicious cover of The Kinks’ “Dead End Street”, Matlock delivered rousing anthems that awoke the rebellious spirit in all listeners, old and young. No wonder, then, that the crowd began to drown him out during “Stepping Stone” and the expected “God Save The Queen” (both fitting anthems for today’s times as much as when The Sex Pistols first began). Perhaps that’s why Matlock can’t stop touring and playing: the battle’s not over. The rebellion’s merely reached a new wave.
God Save The Music.