Margaret Hair: Flight cost = free concert
February 15, 2008
Last summer, I interviewed Jack Blades.
Blades is not a name or personality that most people immediately recognize. But along with Ted Nugent and Tommy Shaw, he was one of the main songwriters in Damn Yankees. He’s toured extensively for about 30 years, raking it in by writing singable melodies and shoutable lyrics.
In pretty much every way, Blades is a successful man. And he wrote every song ’80s pop-metal band Night Ranger ever played – except one.
I wanted to get Blades on the phone partially because he would be playing for a free concert series in North Carolina sponsored by Bud Light the weekend after the article ran. But mostly, I wanted to talk to this guy about his one misstep: Blades did not write “Sister Christian.”
It’s the only Night Ranger song most people have heard, and certainly it’s the only Night Ranger song most people remember. Without a doubt, it’s the only Night Ranger song I can listen to the whole way through without laughing.
And I genuinely wanted to know how it made Blades feel to know that his band’s lasting legacy wouldn’t have his name in the writing credits (the end thesis being that he absolutely doesn’t care, and absolutely loves that song).
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As part of a free concert series lineup that went to a whole new level of digging up ’80s acts from the state fair circuit, Night Ranger was actually near the top of the barrel – other headliners included Everclear, Warrant and a U2 cover band.
The prevailing wisdom from people who wrote about music in the Raleigh, N.C., area (where this concert series was going on) was that the lineup was disgracefully bad – made up of acts that had only one song worth remembering (if not repeating), whether it was “Sister Christian” or “Cherry Pie” or “Santa Monica.”
The prevailing wisdom from absolutely everyone else in a three-city radius was that those songs were good enough for us in the ’80s and ’90s, and – so long as they’re being played for free – they’re good enough for us now.
That applies to just about every free concert series you’ll find, especially those meant to have mass appeal. Certainly, it applies to the Bud Light Rocks the ‘Boat aprÃs ski shows, which get started at 3 p.m. Saturday in Gondola Square and feature performances by Cowboy Mouth and Rusted Root.
Chances are it’s been 10 years since you purchased a Rusted Root CD, and that was probably to have a recording of “Send Me On My Way” on hand, before downloading music negated purchasing it.
It’s OK. “Send Me On My Way” is a good song. It was fun to dance to when it came out, and it might be even more fun now. We don’t like nostalgic things because they’re artistically staggering – we like them because they’re nostalgic.
So for nostalgia’s sake, I hope you’ll check out the “meet the bands” feature in this week’s 4 Points (see page 4). It’s a quick, light overview of the six acts that will make their way to the Bud Light stage in the next two months, complete with answers to silly questions from some of the best live acts of the 1990s.