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Music Savaged By The Average Beast

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for December 12, 2003

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To Whom It May Concern
An Open Letter by Jeff Raspe

[Editor's Note: Some background is in order. Recently, some of the folks in the local scene in Central NJ have taken to sniping at Val Emmich, after he was heckled (and responded angrily) while receiving an award at this year's Asbury Music Awards.]
Okay, it's taken me a very long time to get around to writing this, and perhaps no one cares anymore, but it was still gnawing at my insides. Gnawing at my insides because there were people that I've known and respected for years, industry professionals, taking unnecessary potshots at someone else I've known for years, a songwriter and artist that's caught in a whirlwind of activity and excitement. The news that Val Emmich has just signed to Epic Records reminded me to do this. Because if the "wolves" were out before, they're going to come out of the woodwork now.
October 15th...the Asbury Music Awards at the Stone Pony...multi-award winner Val Emmich's outburst. Was it the best way to react to some metal "doode" (yeah I saw you hiding behind people when the finger was pointed) heckling? No, of course not. And Val would be the first to say so and apologise for doing it. He essentially did three days later in a diary entry at his website. But that's not the point I'm trying to make here.
That is, the Asbury Music Company (Scott and Adam) puts on these awards shows (11 of them now), in part, to solidify a camaraderie, a brotherhood and sisterhood of New Jersey-based and specifically Jersey Shore-based musicians. Musicians of all genres. A "scene" needs camaraderie like that.
Having myself spent the last 15 years as a member of the scene, to whatever degree I am a part of the scene, I can tell you that for a lot of years it didn't exist. They don't put on the awards shows so that members of one "scene" can heckle members of another "scene" just because they don't "get" them or like them. That kind of petty jealousy has no place here. I'm not saying everyone has to love everyone, that would be unrealistic, but I am saying that name-calling and heckling and bad-mouthing your fellow Jersey musicians is totally uncalled for.
And I wonder why my comrades of the Jersey Shore media community have neglected to mention that. Having also spent time in the late-80s Hoboken scene and late 90s Lower East Side scenes I saw first-hand how that kind of pettiness and back-stabbing benefits no one. If I had a dollar for everytime I heard the Strokes called sellouts a few years ago for signing a major label deal with RCA...
Realise this, one major label signing from your "scene" that becomes a success means that more attention will be paid to the WHOLE scene. It happened in Athens, Manchester, Seattle, Hoboken, the Lower East Side, the list goes on. You don't have to like the one that gets signed first, but it just might end up helping you in the end that they did.
So, was Val's REaction the best way to handle the situation? No. But was the action of the "shadowy one" who decided to heckle the guy that just might remind major label A&R guys where Asbury Park is (and, that not everyone in Jersey sounds like Bruce and Jon) the right attitude to display at an awards show? An even bigger no. And why did everyone slag Val for his reaction and no one say anything about the heckling "doode?"
And to those of you who are taking his music ability and talent ever more lightly because of his "day job" as an actor in commercials and a couple of tv shows... Would you rather spend your days working in fast food or a beauty parlor or an insurance office and then rehearsing and playing gigs as many nights as your body can handle? If doing a few acting gigs would bankroll your year as a working musician and songwriter, wouldn't you do it? And would you be as harsh to some other "full-time musicians/part-time actors" like David Bowie...Tom Waits...John Lurie...Evan Seinfeld...John Doe...LL Cool J...Bruce Willis...(Oops, went one too far, didn't I?) as you're being to Val?
Just some thoughts from an old-timer of a number of "scenes" (Does that make me wise? Like, Yoda wise?)...thank you for listening...

Jeff Raspe
Music Director and mid-day host, WBJB-FM, 90.5 The NIGHT
former host of "The Underground" FM106.3
15 year veteran of Monmouth County radio

©2003 Jeff Raspe

All material ©2001-2014 Sean Carolan, except as noted.


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