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by Lee Tomboulian
Thank you kindly for asking me to critique Spectrum's music coverage. After all, a lot of us don't know quite who we are 'til we see ourselves in Spectrum, either under investigation or in the "Personals." Also, we are (or, perhaps, should be) glad, and our hearts bountiful with joy that you folks think well enough of our sometimes precious arts scene in Central Arkansas to devote a periodical to it over the last five years. And many more!
First, the sugar. The paper, especially in the last year, has become more concientious about presenting reviews of a wider, um, spectrum of music. In particular, I appreciate the increase in its classical coverage to one, and sometimes two items every issue. And the writers obviously know their stuff, in terms of intonation and interpretation, better than any of the food writers moonlighting as music critics at theArkansas Gazette , with no embarassing references to swirling tapestries of sound and the like. Good show!
The coverage of the alternative/ new music arena is pleasing, again, for its very existence. Michael Keckhaver's writing is excellent, showing both love for the music and wide-ranging knowledge of the different approaches, and their lineage, i.e., who or what does Eugene Chadborne sound like, besides an industrial accident or Captain Beefheart?
And Spectrum deserves a lot of credit for encouraging the scene through its Garage Band Giveaway Contest, although let's try not to mention Another Dumb Music Poll, which encouraged the public to condemn certain artists as "worst" without having to be properly informed---don't get me started.)
Yet, your choice of venues covered that was once notoriously limited to the now-defunct SOB's, is now limited to Juanita's, with an occasional trek to Barton Coliseum or B.J.'s Star Studded Honky-Tonk. We know that Juanita's is doing a great job of bringing in all kinds of amplified music. However,the obvious geographical closeness of Juanita's to Spectrum makes you guys look lazy, or inbred or both. What about black gospel concerts? What about covering the Oyster Bar more often? Where are the reviews of Kelly Franklin, and the other talented folkies? Where are you when Goose Bumps, the fine local jazzoid band, plays, or the New Directions Quartet, which is comprised of local folks like altoist John Stubblefield, who're now nationally known? It's original, homegrown music, folks. Does it have to be supported, for the moment, by Senor Mark Abernathy to be worthy of mention?
Thus ends the sermon. Really, keep up the good work, onward and upward, and I just want to say it's too bad ya'll don't have little plastic records included with this issue. Then, we could have a monstrous tune, played by all the entrants of the Garage Band contest at once plus all the lounge artists in town, plus Homicidal Briefcase, for a truly alternative version of "HAPPY annni-VERSARY [SSSCCCRRREEEEECH] DEAR SPEEEECTRUUUUUUM, HAPPY anni-VERSARY TOOOOOO YOOOOOOOOOOO [BOOM]"
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