Thursday, 27 August 2009

Rocking Across the Generation Gap

It has been a good summer for live popular music in Jersey, and I have been keenly enjoying many of the events.

It has struck me though, as I look around all the grey heads, that the idea of rock as a youth activity is somewhat past its expiry. Indeed, teenagers do tend to have more time available for listening to and playing music than those whose lives have moved on into fuller phases, but there has been a remarkable change subtly happening, since I myself was a teen.

In the 60's and 70's rock music really was very much a youth interest, and it was rather eccentric of the tiny proportion of older fans to show enthusiasm. The music press of the day liked to reinforce the generation divide. As a reader, I used to wonder if they envied their predecessors covering the original rock'n'roll phenomenon and wanted to bestow the same historic significance on their own times.

However, a taste for classic rock and blues seems to be a one way ticket rather than a passing fad for most people. Moreover the appeal of the musical genres seems to be intrinsic, and not about generational rebellion: These days, I sometimes find myself playing the sounds of my own youth with men young enough to have been my grandkids, had I started a family sooner. To these lads, the music is not a barrier to exclude my generation, but a bridge and a shared heritage. We are just fellow rockers and grey hair counts for no more or less than blonde or red.

The point I am working toward is that rock is no longer a “youth” activity but a “people” one, and although it attracts plenty of young people the operative word is “people”, not “young”. Jersey should continue to provide maximum opportunity for its extensive resources of talent to entertain the abundant audiences of all ages, not merely as a token amusement to patronise youth with, but as general public entertainment. Let us take pride in our burgeoning music scene as one of the upsides of 21st Century Jersey: it is fun, and, moreover, a force for positive social bonding.

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