Music News: Dave Grohl on why concerts will return: 'We need each other'


The Current Music News for May 12, 2020 (MPR Video)

It remains to be seen whether a planned social-distance country-rock concert in Arkansas actually happens this Friday night, but it's clear that at least some artists and fans are raring to go as soon as it's legally possible for live music to come back. When we described the conditions planned for the Arkansas show, they made it sound very different from any concert you've ever been to — and a new report from the Event Safety Alliance makes clear that right, concerts are not going to be the same again until we have a coronavirus vaccine.

In a 29-page report based on extensive research, the non-profit industry group recommends that venues concentrate their efforts on teaching patrons how to exercise caution, ramping up worker hygiene practices, thorough disinfecting, and ensuring social distance — especially for musicians. As the report puts it, "Musicians often breathe deeply and expel aerosols further than people engaged in non-physical activities." (Billboard)

You know who really misses expelling those aerosols? Dave Grohl. In an essay published in The Atlantic, Grohl writes, "I'm hungry for a big old plate of sweaty, ear-shredding, live rock and roll, ASAP. The kind that makes your heart race, your body move, and your soul stir with passion."

To be clear, Grohl is not saying that now is the time to pack sweaty venues again. He writes, "I don't know when it will be safe to return to singing arm in arm at the top of our lungs, hearts racing, bodies moving, souls bursting with life." But reading his essay may be the next-best thing to attending a Foo Fighters show, as he evokes the power of live music with reference to his own experiences as a fan, citing master performers like Queen and Bruce Springsteen.

"We need moments that reassure us that we are not alone. That we are understood. That we are imperfect. And, most important, that we need each other."

Doja Cat tops Hot 100, and brings Nicki Minaj along for her first #1

If you've been following our Music News for a while, you may remember back in August 2018 when we introduced you to Doja Cat, an L.A. rapper who had a DIY novelty hit with her goofy song "Mooo!" and an accompanying video in which she danced around in a cow suit.

Well, that video now has 72 million views, and Doja Cat has the biggest song in the country. No, it's not "Mooo!", it's her single "Say So," in a remix featuring Nicki Minaj. It's now number one on Billboard's Hot 100, making it the first song to top the pop chart not only for Doja Cat but for Nicki, who's had a handful of top five hits but never hit number one until now. Meanwhile, Megan Thee Stallion and Beyoncé are at number two with "Savage," making this a dominant week for the dominant women in rap and R&B. (Pitchfork)

Musicians over 70 staying patient amidst pandemic

The coronavirus pandemic has created a crisis for the whole music world, but it may be a cause for particular concern among older artists, who are especially vulnerable. How are veteran artists holding up? Pitchfork reached out to five artists over 70 and found that by and large, they're focused on staying safe, enjoying the simple pleasures, and holding on to hope.

Soul singer Betty LaVette is among the artists who've pushed back an album release until it's safe to tour and promote the new music. She's staying home with her husband and her cats, missing her grandchildren and mourning peers like John Prine and Ellis Marsalis. In terms of the day to day, she says, "You talk about coping! If I didn't have this champagne and this marijuana here, I'd have a story to tell you."

Outlaw country artist Terry Allen is waiting it out in Austin. He misses his grandkids too, and he waves to them from a balcony when they drive by to say hi. He says he's reminded of world-changing events like the JFK assassination and 9/11, so he's feeling reflective — but confident that music will find a way to bounce back eventually. In the meantime, he says, he's staying in touch with his friends in the industry, and for a lot of them, "it's the only time they've had enough sleep in 40 years."

Billy Joel helps New York "Rise Up"

A Monday night telethon called "Rise Up New York!" enlisted artists like Mariah Carey, Jennifer Lopez, and Lin-Manuel Miranda to raise money for COVID-19 relief. The star of the show, though, was of course Billy Joel. Times Square billboards lit up and the Empire State Building lights danced as Joel played "Miami 2017," an eerily prescient song of persistence in the face of apocalypse originally released in 1976. (Billboard)

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