Pop Rocks: Goodbye, hello, and welcome back

There is, in music, a real circle of life. With few exceptions acts, venues, labels and genres will establish themselves, flare briefly and then fade from focus.

They may not disband or disappear completely – there are still some disco divas, for instance, who make a fair living belting their booty-bumping hits – but their popularity starts appealing to a more select demographic.

I bring this up because, on a very local level, we saw this circle this week – the Alpha and Omega of rock and roll.

Friday, the gifted rock act Mazes and Monsters played its last show. It’s a bummer. I always found the Mazes’ music to be interesting and engaging – indie rock that was smart without making the too-easy mistake of trying to prove to listeners how clever it could be.

The band, which never quite established a fanbase of the scope it deserved, leaves behind some recorded material and the memory of a few very fine live performances. It will be missed.

But as a band wraps its act, a new business downtown emerges to help artists with the business of show business – M.A.D. Studios, founded by Augusta-area musicians Brian Allen, Chris Libby and John ‘Stoney’ Cannon.

The company offers a variety of services including creative consulting, copyright advisement and, most importantly, a space where creativity can be fostered and nurtured.

Built on the idea that talent, that the ability to sing a song or play an instrument, plays only a small part in success, the company, if successful, will do a lot of the heavy lifting for area acts. Here’s hoping they succeed.

 

A LITTLE HELP FROM THEIR FRIENDS. I’m a firm believer that successful shows should be celebrated and then discarded. There is, I feel, too great a risk of stagnation and dilution when an act or concert is staged and restaged year after year.

I, for instance, consider myself a Robert Earl Keen fan. But we don’t need him back at the Imperial Theatre. Not for a while at least. The same goes for the usual suspects that have become Southern Soul and Song regulars and select other acts – I’m talking to you, Corey Smith – who have made Augusta a fairly regular stop.

I’m not saying they should be banished by royal decree. I’m just saying give Augusta a rest. Let audiences here experience some new flavors. We might find something new we like.

There are, of course, exceptions to that rule. Ed Turner’s annual Number 9 shows at Imperial Theatre is one of them.

Part of the success secret is Turner and company’s ability to change things up from year to year while ensuring that certain things remain the same. Last year, for instance, he laid off the Beatles, opting instead to focus on rock and soul hits from the ’60s and ’70s.

This year brought the Fab Four back, along with some new songs that highlighted the talented horns and strings that Turner brings in for the shows. The shows, which took place last weekend, sold out – again (that makes 12 sold-out Ed Turner and Number 9 shows in a row, a 95-year Imperial Theatre record). But it isn’t because of innovation.

Listen, Turner knows he’s not reinventing the wheel here. He’s basically leading a talented cover band through its paces. But it’s a good show. It’s entertaining. It still has surprises in store. That might not always be the case, but I believe his concept still has another year or two in it. Another bonus is that the proceeds benefit the children in our community.

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