What did you listen to when you were growing up? That’s the question on my mind as I get ready to put this issue of Bay Weekly out of my hands and into yours. You’ll see why this week, and next week, too.
In families with musical talent, singing and playing an instrument is as natural as talking. In many families, church music was the rhythm of life. Musician Rick Hogue, who writes two stories in this issue, says he swayed in utero to the sound of his mother playing church music.
In the middle of the last century, in the inventive days following World War II, Baby Boomers listened to their radios and record players. Portable ones, the record players packed into little suitcases, they could carry into their bedroom out of earshot of their parents, who probably didn’t want to hear what their kids listened to.
“In My Room,” as the Beach Boys sang in 1963, you got a kind of immersed, private listening that synced perfectly with the barrier-breaking music of the 1950s and 1960s. Black and blues and country music surged into the mainstream in a flammable mixture. The British invasion, led by the Beatles and the Rolling Stones, struck the match.
Everybody could listen to the music, pretty much the same music, and for a lot of years in the third quarter of the 20th century, music became culture. Those generations worshiped at the church of music. You were who you listened to, and the words and rhythms of those songs formed your philosophy of life.
There were years when my mantras alternated between I’ll get by with a little help from my friends and you can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometime, you just might find, you get what you need. And I’ve never been particularly musical.
From this culture rose garage bands, and the explosion of music and musicians that made the last half of the 20th century a Golden Age of popular and populist music.
That’s the culture celebrated this weekend at the Southern Maryland Wine, Jazz, Rhythm & Blues and Funk Festival at Calvert Country Fairgrounds.
Also from that culture were born the Osborne Brothers, national stars whose rising up out of Deale has made Southern Anne Arundel County complicit in their fame. Were you lucky enough to have heard them as kids playing with their dad, John Osborne Sr., at Happy Harbor? The trajectory that brings them to a near sold-out house in Calvert Marine Museum next Friday, August 25, was the wish of millions.
That culture may be past tense, according to Hogue, who gave his life to music a generation earlier. Musician, teacher, merchant, world-traveling guitar collector, Hogue says that it’s one technology killing another. Kids have plunged heads, hearts and souls into hand-held electronics. When they’re that wrapped up, who needs music?
Hogue is speculating, of course. But at Garrett Park Guitars, he’s well placed to see what’s going on.
Whether he’s right, I don’t know. But the possibility makes interesting background thinking as Chesapeake Country, particularly Calvert County, becomes the place to watch and listen.