There’s not a lot to say about this one — it’s a three-song single (Discogs calls it an EP) that Marshall Crenshaw was selling at one of his shows here at Steel City Coffeehouse. Just three songs, the new “Stranger and Stranger,” a cover of “Close To You,” and the always wonderful “Maryanne.” (My first record listed as being from the ’10s or teens!) While I’m not a big “merch” guy — I don’t wear a lot of printed T-shirts — I have adopted a policy of nearly always buying whatever CD or vinyl is being offered by a performer I’m seeing live. Because I prefer small venues and a lot of artists ranging from lesser-known to unknown, I know they are not raking in the money and the ticket price often just about covers getting them to the show (for local bands playing bars and clubs, not even that). So if they have something on offer, I try to show my appreciation, and if it’s something in vinyl, even better. That’s how I came to pick this up and carry it home after that night we were seated right up against Marshall — it seemed the only polite thing to do.
It usually is. Listen, for years, our ability to go out and listen to live music and support local musicians was pretty limited. We had kids and jobs, and being non-drinkers, we don’t relish hanging out in bars. Albany venues were particularly rock ’n’ roll with regard to timing, meaning a 9 PM show would often start much closer to 11. That just didn’t work for us, so our interaction with live music was usually through shows at one of the Capital District’s great theater venues — The Palace, Proctor’s, The Egg, or Troy Savings Bank Music Hall. In the summer, we had Tanglewood and Saratoga Performing Arts Center, though as time went on, I became less and less enamored of SPAC’s summer offerings, except for ballet and the Philadelphia Orchestra.
Then, our lives changed — we moved to the edge of a major metro area, somewhere between 35 minutes to an hour (normal worst case — there are outliers!) to Philly. We were empty nesters, not having to worry about getting anyone up for school the next day. And we were living three blocks from a very active local live music venue that brought in all kinds of talent, as well as hosting an extremely welcoming, supportive open mic night every week. We get to go out, we get to hear musicians we never would have heard, both known and unknown. And when we go, we always try to add a bit of extra support to the ticket price. Among the artists we see, no one is getting rich; they’re mostly ranging from starving to getting by to a maximum of doing all right. I’m always baffled that people will drop literally hundreds of dollars to go sit in a concrete cavern among thousands of others ,seated hundreds of feet away from the big acts, but local artists — and they were ALL local artists at some point — have to beg their friends to drop $10 to listen to people who may be equally (in a lot of cases, much more) talented. Want to improve your life? Pick out a band you’ve never heard before, maybe haven’t even heard of, that’s playing nearby, and go give them a listen. It could be great. It usually is.