Sunday, January 17, 2016

Intro to my blog

My name is Rich Hughes. Although I have little-to-no musical talent of my own, I've been a music lover my whole life. And while I sometimes enjoy folk, classical music, opera and various other genres, my first love is rock.

I don't remember how old I was when I got my first transistor radio, but I do remember listening to it at night, sometimes long after I was supposed to be asleep. At that time, the argument raged between grammar school kids as to who was the number one band -- The Beatles or The Monkees. Yeah, yeah, I know which side history has come down on, and rightly so. But I was firmly on the side of The Monkees, and you know what? While I recognize the genius of The Beatles, I still like The Monkees, especially the Mike Nesmith numbers. (And in my defense, I have to point out that at this time, The Monkees were putting out singles like "Pleasant Valley Sunday" and "Daydream Believer", while The Beatles weren't in their best form with stuff like "Hello, Goodbye" and "Lady Madonna".)

I was the oldest kid in my family, but my best friend Bob had 2 older brothers who exposed him to more sophisticated stuff, and Bob introduced it to me. And within a relatively short period of time, I started hearing things like "In Held 'Twas in I" by my new favorite band Procol Harum, King Crimson's "In the Court of The Crimson King", and the record I still consider to be best album of the 1960s, Tommy by The Who. As an avid reader and comic book lover, this was a dream -- music that told a story more way more interesting than just "I love you, you love me."

My parents bought me my first stereo for my grammar school graduation, which led to a whole new experience, the FM radio. I listened devotedly to 102.7 WNEW-FM, delighting to gravel-voiced Scott Muni's "Things from England" show, the weird and eclectic mix played by Jonathan Schwartz (who had no problem mixing Sinatra in with The Rolling Stones), and the late night poetry of my favorite DJ of them all -- "The Night Bird", Alison Steele. Together, they turned me on to such beloved bands as Jethro Tull, Pink Floyd, Yes and Long Island's own Good Rats.

For a music-loving child, the 1970s was an amazing decade in which to come of age. When I look back now, I still can't believe how much amazing music came out of that era, and how many bands came into existence who have gone on deservedly to have multi-decade careers.  Now don't get me wrong -- I've done my best to continue to listen to and appreciate the music of the succeeding decades. My brother-in-law maintains that music just stopped existing after 1974, and I completely disagree with him. But I know what he means. The '70s had more high-level and nearly perfect albums than any other decade, before or since.

Nevertheless, when the '80s and New Wave hit, I was right there. The music was less complex instrumentally, but the pop hooks and use of electronics and synthesizers kept me interested. And while bands of this decade didn't quite replace my '70s favorites, The Police, Blondie, The Cars and The Go-Go's joined a growing list of new favorites. 

I was still right there in the '90s with bands like Nirvana (far and away the best band of the grunge movement) and The Cranberries (who satisfied my more melodic cravings).

But when the mid-'90s hit, and the music industry started moving back towards more prefabricated stars who didn't write their own material such as Britney Spears and The Spice Girls, I had to check out for awhile, shifting my focus more towards indie bands like Future Bible Heroes (and the other various projects of Stephin Merritt), as well as local Long Island acts like The Slant, Iridesense, The Basals and My Favorite.

As you might expect, I went on the get as involved as someone with no musical talent of their own could in my local music scene, which began when I married my amazing wife Denise and started managing her band The Slant. This led to managing several other bands, to promoting local shows, to writing music reviews in local papers like Good Times, Long Island Entertainment and Aural Fix, and to splitting duty on a regular monthly music column in the national magazine Inside Connection. 

With the advent of the Internet, I increased my involvement in the Long Island original music scene by starting an online message board for local musicians, and eventually founded an organization for the promotion of Long Island original music, the late-lamented Long Island Music Coalition. I also began to DJ a local music show on the college/community radio station for Stonybrook University, 90.1 FM WUSB, and to direct a couple of cable public access television shows devoted to local music, The Jill Morrison Show and LIMC-TV.

I've been away from the scene for a few years now -- my wife and I had the blessing to adopt a teen girl and her then-preteen brother about six years ago, and being a Dad became my main focus. But I never stopped listening to music, or loving it, or even obsessive-compulsively writing up my lists of favorite albums, songs, local albums, etc. every year. And happily, while their tastes are very different from my own (and from those of my '80s-loving wife), music is just as important to my daughter and son as it is to my wife and myself.

Hence this blog. So now I have a place to write about the music that's making my world a better place, and maybe meet some like-minded people.

I'm planning to write about my favorite local and national acts, past and present. My blog will probably be heavily weighted with posts about alternate rock bands like Paramore and Bayside, because these days, that's the genre of much of the music I love best. But there will also be straight-up rock and acoustic rock write-ups, with sprinklings of posts about pop and some heavier fare.

As of this writing, I'm trying to finish up my favorites lists for the year 2015. Sometimes it takes me until March of the next year to finish this process, but this year, with any luck, I'll be finished by the end of January.

And when I do, I'll post them here.