The Dark Star Orchestra was at the Boulder Theater over the weekend, giving a bunch of young neo-hippies with ridiculous white-guy dreadlocks the chance to pretend they are at a Grateful Dead concert. My question is, even assuming everyone there was on drugs (a pretty good assumption) it still seems like a crazy idea to pay to see a band play songs exactly as another band used to play them. That's not art, it's theft!
The whole "Tribute Band" idea is a complete scam, that allows musicians without enough imagination to create their own music to make a living doing someone else's. If you had real talent, you'd make your own music.
Somehow, people get away with this lame mimicry in the music business. Can you imagine some other art form where people legally make a good living doing other's material? Name a re-make of a classic film that got any respect....and if it did, the director put a new twist on the film. Even better, think of my hobby of comedy. Rodney Dangerfield was hilarious, but is now unfortunately no longer with us. Can you imagine if I put on a white shirt, skinny tie, got some nervous ticks and started saying "I don't get no respect", calling myself a "Rodney Tribute Comic"? Even if I mimicked Rodney perfectly, would that get me booked in clubs around the country? I think not....in fact, I hope not.
Yet tribute bands have national followings, and I'm sure there isn't a city in the country without at least one group of 4 guys, one of whom plays bass left-handed, who are trying to be the Beatles. And here is the absolute dumbest thing: They sell CD's! That's right, people pay good money to buy a CD of a bunch of hacks trying to copy the work of great artists, when they could buy the CD of the real band instead.
I guess P.T. Barnum was right!