Cameron Paul and Billy Gibbons Tell All

My dear friends and enemies I come with a frightening picture of the future, a future that is coming upon us rather quickly. Those of you with a weak heart and those of you that prefer to avoid stories of the macabre should refrain from reading this any further. For the rest of you I come with a warning in need of great magnitude and dire need of a solution before it’s too late. It may already be too late as it is.

On one of many recent reckless trips to Las Vegas, after a special moment of what turned out to be cheap lust in the hotel room at one of the many popular tourist trap resorts promising immense wealth and a good time, I came down the elevator around 2 am to the main casino. Fresh with painful thoughts in my head of a recent demeaning declaration from the latest girl that I fell in love with I relocated myself to one of the few places in this world that still makes sense to me, a blackjack table. 10-dollar minimum tables entice me; the maximum minimum I’ll play at is 25 dollars. This way I feel more control of my funds, as it’s easier for me to keep track of how much I’m dropping out there on the table. The dealer dressed all in black had an emotionless look on his face. These are the kinds of dealers you get at 2 am in a Vegas casino on a Sunday in December, the time of year when only the worst of our species plan trips to such a place. The usual strippers dance on the poles above the gamblers in attempt to distract the card counters, big shots, and the average searchers of the “American dream.” They have no affect on me I proudly think to myself every time.

Right after my third complimentary vodka tonic was delivered by the poor soul of a cocktail waitress (I always make sure to tip them well), I decided it was a good moment to stand up and walk around a bit to keep my head straight as to not get lost in a gambling frenzy that most likely will end up kicking my ass. That’s just what I did and I made my way to one of many passageways in the casino lined with Starbucks, clothing shops, little bars, lounges, restrooms and restaurants. Right before I started down a passageway that sparked my interest of discovery, there was a little piano bar. Inside was a middle-aged white man pianist singing and playing loudly; the song was Biz Markie’s classic ‘Just A Friend’. I stood outside dumbfounded by my favorite thing about this city, performers like this. With me equally dumbfounded was a dreaded Stephen Marley sound engineer. We shared a glance as we stood next to each other reflecting a similar mixed look of “What the hell?” and “I’m loving this.” Words between us obviously unnecessary I turned away and continued down the passageway to a Mexican themed bar with a sexually ambiguous name. It was filled with neon lights and marionettes.

I was sitting at the bar enjoying my third one-dollar tequila shot when Billy Gibbons of legendary Texas rock band ZZ Top walked in with his girl. I did what anyone else who loves the album ‘Eliminator’ would do, I offered to buy him a drink. It was late but never too late or early for a drink in this city so needless to say (but I’ll say it anyway) he loved the idea of having a drink, as did I. I asked him what he preferred to drink when he put his finger up to me as a gesture to hold my question. Reaching into his jacket pocket he pulled out a flask and offered me a shot of it. We then ordered two whiskies, that being what he wanted and I wanted to copy him.  He took my glass and poured about a shot of his special drink into it. He called it the future.

Now bear with me this is the part that has something to do with the nature of a Generation Bass post. The next memory I have of this event was the vision I seemed to immediately dive into. I’m outside in NYC on a chilly morning, walking somewhere between 40th St and 34th St on what seemed like 7th Ave (just to give you a somewhat exact idea). It’s busy just like any other day with the hustling of the quick walking New Yorkers. I’m always paying attention to everyone around me and that’s how it came to my attention that these people were different when I nearly tripped over a homeless man begging below some scaffolding on the sidewalk. On his lap was a DJ controller attached to a MacBook Pro. He was performing a jazz and soul mix rather loudly. I continued walking down passed 34th St where outside Macy’s there were two nuns also mixing live on their MacBook Pro’s what sounded like Gregorian chants. There was a bucket in front of them with a few coins inside and a sign above with the words “St. Patrick’s Annual Dubstep DJ Night Oct. 28th, Confessional Also Open”. Then across the way Madison Square Garden went up in flames after a few loud explosions. The people scattered as the fire department arrived in their trucks. Jumping into action the firemen set up their portable DJ equipment outside and started to play. The passersby danced in front of the inflamed arena. Then people started to catch fire themselves and others emerged from wreckage due to the blasts. Crawling to safety they reached out and up for help. I yelled, “We need medical help! Is anyone a doctor?” I stopped the dancers one by one grabbing their shoulders but everyone said the same thing, “I’m a DJ.”

This is the vision of the future my dear friends. Everyone is a flippin DJ. The highest goal in this life besides winning American Idol (and all the other Idol-like shows) is to DJ. Once upon a time this was a labor of love. For those who got off on being able to gradually or quickly mix from 80 bpm to 130 bpm without the listener noticing using only vinyl and turntables. This post goes out to you such DJ’s. These DJ’s remember what it was like to be a DJ. Back then to see a DJ live meant more. It actually was an art and a unique skill. There are a few of them left. It wasn’t about wealth or fame; it was about the love of music. Everyone is a DJ now. I walk into bars and clubs to see people standing there behind their laptops clicking play on iTunes. Or they are there with their newest software visually watching sound waves matching beats. There are cool techniques with some of this but the merit and value of being a DJ has diminished in recent years. I’m not trying to attack specific people or all the people; I’m just pointing this reality out. It goes deeper than just being a DJ as I brought upon the point of American Idol above. But it’s bizarre to me that no one wants to be anything else.  As if they’re calling in this universe is to be a famous performer. This takes away from those that are truly unique talents. Back in the day we musicians had to study and practice incredibly hard, every day, for several hours a day, reclusive in our rooms with our instruments. Remember Cameron Paul? Probably not, some of you might just laugh at him. But for all the DJ’s reading this here goes a little bit of important history.

Here is a great classic mixing lesson.

To do what David Guetta or the beloved Skrillex do “live” is something true DJ’s like Cameron Paul would never even think of doing. Actually if optioned the idea of standing behind a laptop pretending to perform a pre-recorded mix, he would be offended.

I’m not a DJ. I am a musician with DJ friends. This is my observation. That is all. I hope the madness changes it’s direction soon because many of the “iTunes DJ’s” have ruined the paying gigs for the real musicians and DJ’s alike.

Give us back the nights! (At least a few of them).

Peace.

P.S. My good friend here in Phoenix Alex on the tables mixing cumbia with Cameron Paul.

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