Ron Onesti: Gotta keep music 'In the air tonight, oh Lord!'
Ahhh, technology. Love it. Hate it. It is what is propelling music into this new millennium, fostering the careers of budding artists and keeping music history alive and relevant.
Technology allows more artists to add effects and depth to their music, master their own recordings, livestream their own concerts and promote their music globally. New advances have added a level of excitement to the music experience, both live and recorded, even creating new genres and styles that have opened up the minds of music lovers all over the globe.
Being brought up in a pre-social media/technology era, I am spoiled in that I grew up with nothing but live music and "real" recordings. I found out about new music on the AM radio, and the only charts I was concerned about weren't the Billboard charts, but the WLS Music Survey that came out every week.
Seeing some of my pop music heroes on "American Bandstand" and "Soul Train" was really the only way I even knew if those high-pitched tunes were recorded by males or females!
Music has become a much more a private experience because of technology. High-end headphones, smartphone earpieces, iPads and iPods have made it so people can be entertained and not invade the airspace of those around them. Great.
There is even a trend where "silent" dance parties can feature different genres of music to a hall full of people. Those in attendance wear digital headphones that receive airwaves sent by a DJ, so in a room full of people, no music can be heard except through the headphones. Those with the green headphones can dance to new "House" music, red headphones would play old school R&B jams, and blue headphones would play country! And to watch a bunch of people dance to different beats in a silent room is entertaining in and of itself!
I believe in giving technology its due and I acknowledge the milestones made over the past few years. But as much as technology has advanced music, I fear we are slowly losing that subtle embracement of music during our everyday lives. The music that has always been around us must never go away, and we need to fight to make sure of that!
Beginning with the street-corner singing of do-wop wannabes in the Fifties and Four Seasons copycats in the Sixties, music has always been "In the Air Tonight" on Taylor Street for me, as Phil Collins put it.
Rocks songs being blasted from souped-up Impalas, disco songs coming from glittered navy blue IROC Z Camaros, and Skynyrd anthems from the radios of Harleys provided enough street music for us as we hung on Harlem Avenue.
There was more entertainment in movie theater parking lots than on the screens themselves! Kids playing music and just hanging out was commonplace, and just like the drive-ins of the Fifties, the drive-through hot dog stands are just as busy with music emulating from cars as there were back then.
I guess as long as there are Italian restaurants that still play the sounds of Sinatra and Martin while I enjoy my ravioli, the summer festivals still fill the air with live guitars, keyboards, drums and horns, and venues that feature live musicians are still around, we will be all right.
But to you, technology, I am watching you!
I will fight to the death to keep live music-live! I will secretly be a fan of yours and continue to be glad you are here. Just make sure microphones, drumsticks and guitar picks are still being manufactured, and there won't be any trouble!
• Ron Onesti is president and CEO of The Onesti Entertainment Corp. and The Historic Arcada Theatre in St. Charles. Celebrity questions and comments? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.