Huh? Whazzat? Contact!

Why the first rush of discovering new music is often the deepest

"My most recent musical discovery took place in a hotel-room showcase at the National Folk Alliance Conference in Toronto," says Red House Records' Bob Feldman, whose first discovery was Lightnin' Hopkins's Autobiography in Blues. "Celso Machado is a Brazilian musician living in Vancouver presently. I sat right in front of him as he mesmerized a roomful of people with his guitar and virtually his entire body. I had never witnessed so much music in another human being. At the end of his 45-minute set, the energy in the room was incredible. People literally jumped up from their seats shouting and clapping, crying and laughing. It felt like a once-in-a-lifetime experience. I was high from that for a year."

Tom Hazelmyer, founder of Amphetamine Reptile Records and owner of Grumpy's Bar and Ox-Op Gallery, wrote: "It was 1978. I had only seen pictures of Johnny Rotten and crew (pictures of the Sex Pistols were few and far between back then). There was no airplay, no MTV, and certainly nobody else near my age (a wizened 13) in western Michigan that even knew what that 'punk rock crap' sounded like. I knew this 'punk' alien invasion had to be investigated. Not only did this LP change my life entirely, but the fact that I had to hunt it down for months helped bolster the discovery aspects. Once I actually found a copy of Never Mind the Bollocks, it was literally a jolt. There was nothing else like it at the time. I had no reference point from which to approach this blistering slab of wax. This shit was dangerous. The following teenage years--full of fistfights, taunting, and derision over being a 'punk' back in the '70s and early '80s--bore that out. Other discoveries of art/music/literature have impacted my life and made me shift directions or change perceptions, but none so strong that I vividly remember the exact moment of where, when, and why I purchased a particular book, record, or print."

Hazelmyer's point about teenage revelation is crucial, for to undergo such miracles on a day-to-day basis would turn even the most experienced experimentalist into a quivering heap. Still, that night as I waited for Park, I found myself excited to be feeling the thrill of the unknown once again. When he took the stage and eased into the first song, my senses pricked up and I immediately knew I was in the right place. I listened carefully to Park's robust alto, and tried to decide why I was so moved when he dropped down low and sang, so desperately, "Hush hush before you say/Something you can't take away/You step out for a cigarette/You wait and you watch and you try to forget/How the world doesn't need you around."

The thrill of the new: Patrick Park
60 Cycle Media
The thrill of the new: Patrick Park

Maybe it was because I'd never heard anyone put it for me quite like that before; when Park did, it sounded like a confession I didn't even know I'd needed to make, and the latest in a long line of answers to the new music seeker's eternal question: Who am I this time?

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