How expensive is free music? It's a lingering question behind Berklee's Summer In The City concert series, which continue to provide quality music throughout the city (for free). The Cheeks, a band comprised of three Berklee students, were at the Prudential Center today with an engaging blues/rock set at noon; an early engagement for the high-pitched choruses of their selected repertoire, but singer Dave Becker pulled it off with the help of Derek Toa (guitar, slide) and Dan Bernfeld (bass and background vocals). Hearing a galvanized version of Dylan's 'It Ain't Me Babe' and classics such as Rolling Stone's 'Loving Cup' -- heavily influenced by the bromancing modern version by Jack White and Mick Jagger -- was uplifting for the corporate suits and the meandering tourists.
It's a bit surreal to see the 'grandchildren' of Dylan and Jagger entertaining the unsuspecting corporate lunch-breakers, tanning teenage tweeters and their parents. Berklee's attempts in providing students access to notable public venues contribute greatly to the city's cultural sound spectrum. Producers Michael Borgida, Tom Riley and their associates deserve tremendous credit for adding an immeasurable (yet barely visible) value to Boston's musical texture.
Unlike the public perception, the event has a price. A big one, in fact. The 'free' events are a huge undertaking and cannot be pulled off without major sponsorships. The economics and the fundraising aspects of performance art sponsorship are quite tumultuous, leaving the bread and butter of music (and other disciplines) to the decision making boards of corporations and/or organizations linked to finance. After all, you do not see systems administrators and financial analysts passing down a hat at subway stations but, unfortunately, musicians know that the financial rewards of what they do will mostly likely be undervalued by society. The successful ones may be dependent on many corporate 'Medici's, public relations departments and obstinate advertising budgets. In our Facebook updated daily lives, the blurry lines of art and entertainment are currently not that nebulous at all; it is tilted heavily towards entertainment based popularity; which gives us Nicki Minaj instead of 'that incredible soprano at the Copley T-stop'.
The music industry reports a historic low in summer record sales this week as we 'stream away' our daily dose of musical uplifts. The incentive to remain (alive) in the industry for many new musicians becomes more and more challenging through each generation of music makers and Dylan's torch keeps loosing value faster than anything on Wall Street.
Tuesday / August 20, 2013 / 12:00 p.m.