lifeblood: songs: backgrounds: all along the watchtower


2006-11-xx: in the coffee house with the indigo girls, sirius:

q: did you play a lot of coffee houses in the early days?

amy: it's funny, we tried some coffee houses, but it didn't work for us that well, so we played the more alternative music clubs. when we played the coffee houses, we were just a little too loud, and our fans were a little too rambunctious. we came out of playing cover songs at bars for drunk people on weekends, they all wanted to sing along and dance on the tables. so, to play at a coffee house, where everybody is just sitting there and very politely listening, it was almost academic. it felt a bit uptight to us.

emily: back then, we plugged our acoustic guitars in, and we stood up when we played. in that folk scene at that time, people would perform while sitting down, it was quiet and reflective. i remember very clearly that when we played, it was like the audience was being bombarded. it just seemed that we fit in better in the alternative rock scene.

amy: we just wanted to cut loose and party, i know that's hard to imagine, because we have so many ballads or whatever. but we used to do (bob dylan's) "all along the watchtower," songs like that, and it just didn't go over. so we started playing with bands from the athens scene, like drivin' n' cryin', and we just had a much better time. people could sing along and jump up and down, and do anything that they wanted to do, it just went along much better with our audience. plus, back then, the folk scene was a little bit homophobic, actually. if you had a "women's night" at a coffee house, it was fine. but if you were trying to sort of mix in with the folk scene as a gay musician, and you had rowdy gay fans, it didn't go over well. things have changed a lot. i think the coffee house scene is very different now, much more embracing of gay artists and loud artists, i think ani difranco really helped to change things. venues were scared of that ("gay") label at that time, they didn't want to limit their audience, and there was a lot of negative affiliations with quote unquote women's music... but now, economically, you couldn't afford to be that way.

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2019-02-20: amy ray of indigo girls: paying her dues all over again, the missoulian:

[amy ray] "we started out acoustic, playing clubs. the folk clubs were a little homophobic then, and we were loud. we were rowdy then, though we are tame now. we'd play 'all along the watchtower' plugged into the pa and not the microphone. i was young and in college studying religion and working on an english degree and fixed on getting my substitute teacher's license for income. it was either theology school or teaching in my future. i had an apartment for $350 a month and low expenses. music was fun and we had ambitions. ... short-term, it was to get into clubs, and then to other clubs, and to reach people, and then there were radio stations to crack. ... something fed the tenacity and the need to be relentless to get a gig, and you could get radio play back then, and it all worked if you weren't a jerk about it."


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