Saturday, July 28, 2007

Atwood Summerfest 2007

As of this month, Wisconsin has a Truth in Music Law requiring at least one member of the group that performed or recorded under a groups name still be in the group before a performance can be promoted as a groups performance. Got that? It’s a copyrite thing.

In the 1967 Summer of Love, Canned Heat is playing blues based sets at the Monterey Pop Festival. 40 years later drummer Fito de la Para retains the name and continues to play gigs from stages set up in the parking lots of neighborhood bars. Hey, more power to anyone who spends his life doing what he wants.

Maximum Ink: How many lineup changes has the group had?
DE LA PARRA: We’ve had more than 30 lineup changes in 42 years, it’s been a crazy ride. So when people ask me, “Who is in Canned Heat now?” it’s okay, because as long as I’m there, it’s still Canned Heat.

It’s just another beautiful summer day in Wisconsin and the city has closed off a few blocks of Atwood Avenue so the neighbors can party in the street. The Maximum Ink stage speakers rebound off the new condos across the road but no one is out on the balconies to take advantage of those most excellent sight lines. The long time residents, however, turn out in droves with their children and pets for a grand afternoon.

Gentrification is following the same patterns with the same tensions in Madison as in every city of America. None of the people I speak with want their neighborhood marred by ugly overhead wires and their main avenue busted up by rail tracks to ferry high paid government employees to their downtown jobs. Be a man Mayor Dave. The best way to save face is to admit the public doesn’t want your toy trains and drop the idea.

Canned Heat plays through their 40 year old “hits” with the bored professionalism of anyone doing the same task for the thousandth time. Fortunately the local bands kick up the noise with the joy of people playing for fun and the striving of musicians earnestly working to build a legacy, like The Gomers and Bobby Bryan respectively. Around 3 PM a B-2 Spirit Stealth Bomber cruises overhead which reminds me why these peaceful community gatherings are still free of suicide bombers.