Tuesday, May 02, 2006



My Morning Jacket To Play With The Boston Pops

BY Wayne Robins

You can't complain about the "commercialization" of rock anymore: That horse left the barn long ago, certainly around the time that the 1981 Rolling Stones tour was sponsored by the fragrance company Jovan. (About subsequent multimillion dollar Rolling Stones deals, Keith once told me, "I've got a lot of mouths to feed.")

But what happens when the music gets tied up with inappropriate Other music? It was with some incredulity that I read reports from last week's Coachella festival. In earlier incarnations it was something of an alternative culture event. So what was Madonna doing headlining there? From Madonna's point of view, it makes great sense: Expanding the fan base is every artists responsibility, and Madonna is nothing if not responsible. For something. Madonna sold her soul so long ago that she has been able to buy it back and reinvest it at a profit. But the presence of such a mainstream personality at Coachella says something about the festival's lost soul.

The forthcoming appearance of My Morning Jacket with the Boston Pops in June raises similar questions about who wins and who loses from such a matchup. The Boddhisatva boogie band (I'm talking about MMJ) performs with the Boston Pops Orchestra June 21 and June 22 as part of the "Pops on the Edge" series at Boston's Symphony Hall. (Other Pops presentations that week include "Bernstein on Broadway," "Gershwin Celebration" and "Sinatra Songbook.") The question to ask of MMJ and the Pops matchup is, why? Will MMJ appeal to Pops season ticket holders? Unlikely. Will MMJ's alt-leaning fans embrace the skillfully faux classical music of the Pops? More unlikely. This is a case of shrewd marketing by the Boston Pops, adding a veneer of hip to a schedule that will peak July 4 with its annual fireworks/patriotic music extravaganza, sure to include its best-selling renditions of "America the Beautiful" and "The Stars and Stripes Forever." As far as MMJ goes, all I can hear is "Mahgeetah" arranged for 76 trombones.

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