MUSIC TO YOUR EARS Discussion Series: Steely Dan’s debut album, Can’t Buy a Thrill

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Asheville, N.C., November 2022 – Hosted by the Asheville Guitar Bar, a discussion series provides deeper understanding and greater enjoyment of classic albums from rock, soul, blues and jazz. Led by Asheville author and music journalist Bill Kopp, Music to Your Ears is an interactive experience that shines a light on important music. Music to Your Ears is a 90-minute conversation, held at the Guitar Bar, a music magnet in Asheville’s historic River Arts District. The December 7 event explores the groundbreaking 1972 debut album Can’t Buy a Thrill by Steely Dan.

One of the most critically and commercially successful groups of the 1970s, for most of its time in the spotlight Steely Dan wasn’t really a band at all. Co-led by singer/songwriter/musician duo of Walter Becker and Donald Fagen, Steely Dan crafted a sophisticated, urbane and oddly inscrutable musical character that found a wide audience. Retiring early from live performance, Steely Dan became a studio project. To realize their ambitious and idiosyncratic musical goals – deftly combining witty and oblique lyrical concerns with elements of jazz, soul and rock into something that sounded like no one else – Becker and Fagen drew on some of the top session musicians.

But at the start, Steely Dan was a conventional band with a firm lineup and a conventional concert touring schedule. And it was in that period that the group released its debut album, 1972’s Can’t Buy a Thrill. Featuring the smash hits “Do It Again” and “Reelin’ in the Years” plus a bounty of top-notch album tracks, the Platinum-selling Can’t Buy a Thrill showed that the unique sound and character of Steely Dan was in place from the very beginning.

Before Can’t Buy a Thrill, few musical acts had successfully synthesized jazz, swing and Latin music elements into a rock or pop context. And those who did wouldn’t enjoy anything like the success that Steely Dan achieved; their debut album has been named among Rolling Stone’s “500 Greatest Albums of All Time.” Steely Dan’s first record was released 50 years ago this fall, making now the ideal time to take a look (and listen) at this landmark album.

Join host Bill Kopp and special guest Jake Wolf of Steely Dan tribute band Dirty Logic as they lead a discussion of Can’t Buy a Thrill. We’ll chat about the background, creation and legacy of the album, and listen to some key tracks that demonstrate the innovation and creativity of Steely Dan. And as always, we’ll facilitate audience discussion.

ABOUT THE DISCUSSION SERIES
Music to Your Ears is Bill Kopp’s monthly discussion series hosted by Asheville Guitar Bar and co-sponsored by AshevilleFM. On the first Wednesday of each month, music enthusiasts gather to discuss an important album, artist or musical movement. An interactive evening, Music to Your Ears isn’t a lecture; it’s a discussion led by experts and designed to enrich the listening experience. The character of each session is defined by the participants (that’s you). The conversation goes where the attendees take it: the person seated next to you might have attended Woodstock or seen The Beatles in concert. The insights of everyone in the room are what make each and every Music to Your Ears a unique experience.

ABOUT BILL KOPP
With over 500 bylines in Western North Carolina publications (Mountain Xpress, Bold Life, WNC Magazine and more), Asheville-based author and music journalist is an acknowledged expert on popular music. Author of two books – Reinventing Pink Floyd: From Syd Barrett to The Dark Side of the Moon and Disturbing the Peace: 415 Records and the Rise of New Wave – Bill Kopp writes for publications across the country and abroad. A contributing editor at Goldmine Magazine and contributing writer at GRAMMY.com, he has authored more than 30 album liner note essays and conducted more than 1000 interviews. He regularly hosts lecture/discussions on artists and albums of historical importance, and is a frequent guest on music-focused radio programs and podcasts.

WHAT: Music to Your Ears Discussion Series: Steely Dan’s Can’t Buy a Thrill
WHO: Discussion led by music journalist/author Bill Kopp with special guest Jake Wolf
WHERE: Asheville Guitar Bar, 122 Riverside Dr., Suite D, Asheville
WHEN: Wednesday, Dec. 7 @ 7 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. (doors open 6:30) $10 at the door / SEATING IS LIMITED
FOR MORE INFO: visit www.musoscribe.com/talks


PREVIOUS EVENTS

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Asheville, N.C. October 2022 – Hosted by the Asheville Guitar Bar, a discussion series provides deeper understanding and greater enjoyment of classic albums from rock, soul, blues and jazz. Led by Asheville author and music journalist Bill Kopp, Music to Your Ears is an interactive experience that shines a light on important music. Music to Your Ears is a 90-minute conversation, held at the Guitar Bar, a music magnet in Asheville’s historic River Arts District. The October 5 event explores a retro phenomenon of the late-late 1960s.

Thirty-two acts performed at the legendary Woodstock Music and Arts Fair, August 15-18, 1969. All but one of those acts had recording contract with record label. One was an unsigned band that had only formed a few months earlier. But thanks to being championed by a high-profile artist who insisted that they open for him, that group earned a prime spot at the festival.

That band was Sha Na Na. The rock ‘n’ roll/doo wop group from New York City would indeed open for their famous friend, and clips from their performance would feature in both the Woodstock soundtrack album and the motion picture documenting the festival. Sha Na Na soon landed a record deal. They’d go on to release several albums, open for John Lennon at a high-profile benefit concert, and (in later years) be featured in theatrical films and their own TV series. How on earth did all of that happen? Sha Na Na’s founding guitarist Elliot “Gino” Cahn will tell that story and many others (including – believe it or not – his work with The Offspring, Rancid and Green Day).

Join host Bill Kopp and special guest host Elliot Cahn as they lead a discussion on Sha Na Na. We’ll chat about the background, creation and legacy of the group, and listen to some key tracks from their catalog. And as always, we’ll facilitate audience discussion.


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Asheville, N.C. September 2022 – Hosted by the Asheville Guitar Bar, a discussion series provides deeper understanding and greater enjoyment of classic albums from rock, soul, blues and jazz. Led by Asheville author and music journalist Bill Kopp, Music to Your Ears is an interactive experience that shines a light on important music. Music to Your Ears is a 90-minute conversation, held at the Guitar Bar, a music magnet in Asheville’s historic River Arts District. The October 5 event explores John Lennon’s Rock ‘N’ Roll LP and the legal battles (with a known mobster) in Federal court that surrounded its release. The discussion features guest host Jay Bergen, author of the new book Lennon, the Mobster & the Lawyer.

In 1972 John Lennon teamed up with notorious producer Phil Spector to record a collection of rock’n’roll oldies. Those sessions took place in L.A. during a period the ex-Beatle would describe as his “lost weekend,” a time of drunk and drugged carousing and general misbehavior. Making matters worse, when the sessions were completed, the mercurial Spector disappeared, taking the tapes with him. Lennon was left with a rough mix cassette copy of the songs, and found them to be sloppy, badly recorded and sometimes out of tune.

But meanwhile, claiming a verbal agreement with Lennon, shady music industry figure (and associate of organized crime) Morris Levy released an unauthorized LP using the rough mixes. The affair landed Levy and Lennon in Federal court.

Jay Bergen represented John Lennon and Yoko Ono in those cases. In the process he became friends with the couple, both of whom were determined to fight Levy. That story is the basis for Bergen’s book, Lennon, The Mobster & the Lawyer.

As lawyer for John Lennon and Yoko Ono during the Federal court cases related to the Rock and Roll album, Bergen is uniquely qualified to discuss the John Lennon’s sixth solo studio release. Bergen’s book was published this year. And that presents a great opportunity to dive into the record, rediscovering the qualities that make it special, important and controversial. Join host Bill Kopp and special guest host Jay Bergen as they lead a discussion of John Lennon’s Rock ‘N’ Roll. We’ll chat about the background, creation and legacy of key tracks, and even listen to some unreleased tapes from the session.



FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Asheville, N.C. August 2022 – Hosted by the Asheville Guitar Bar, a discussion series provides deeper understanding and greater enjoyment of classic albums from rock, soul, blues and jazz. Led by Asheville author and music journalist Bill Kopp, Music to Your Ears is an interactive experience that shines a light on important music. Music to Your Ears is a 90-minute conversation, held at the Guitar Bar, a music magnet in Asheville’s historic River Arts District. The September 7 event explores The Beatles’ Magical Mystery Tour; the discussion features guest host Steve Stoeckel of The Spongetones.

Released in May 1967, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band was a fully conceived album by The Beatles. Developed as a complete work with a loose concept, it was the culmination of five months’ studio work. But on November of that year – a mere six months later – The Beatles returned with Magical Mystery Tour, a continuation of the psychedelic and art-rock explorations of Sgt. Pepper.

And unlike its predecessor, Magical Mystery Tour was a patchwork release, cobbled together from the soundtrack to an expensive home movie and a scattering of singles, some of which pre-date Sgt. Pepper. Yet belying the nature of its creation, Magical Mystery Tour remains an exemplar of The Beatles’ musical adventurism.

This fall marks the 55th anniversary of the release of Magical Mystery Tour. And it’s a great opportunity to dive into the record, rediscovering the qualities that make it special and important. Join host Bill Kopp and special guest host Steve Stoeckel of the Spongetones as they lead a discussion of Magical Mystery Tour. We’ll chat about the background, creation and legacy of key tracks, dig into some of the lesser-known gems on the LP, and even listen to some unreleased Beatles music from the period.

Join host and music journalist Bill Kopp for an evening in discussion with Steve Stoeckel. As bassist and songwriter for The Spongetones – the acclaimed Charlotte-based rock band that released ten albums of original music inspired by The Beatles – Stoeckel is uniquely qualified to discuss the creative and artistic breakthroughs showcased on The Beatles’ ninth studio release. We’ll listen to key tracks and facilitate audience discussion.


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Asheville, N.C. July 2022 – Hosted by the Asheville Guitar Bar, a discussion series provides deeper understanding and greater enjoyment of classic albums from rock, soul, blues and jazz. Led by Asheville author and music journalist Bill Kopp, Music to Your Ears is an interactive experience that shines a light on important music. Music to Your Ears is a 90-minute conversation, held at the Guitar Bar, a music magnet in Asheville’s historic River Arts District. The August 3 event is a conversation with acclaimed musician Jim Fielder.

You might not know Jim Fielder’s name, but it’s very likely you’ve heard him play. A key fixture of popular music beginning in the late 1960s, he lent his expert, expressive bass and guitar work to recordings and live performances by important artists both underground and popular. As a member of unclassifiable art-pop artist Tim Buckley’s band, he played on Buckley’s self-titled 1966 debut alongside Van Dyke Parks and famed arrange Jack Nitzsche. On Buckley’s second LP, Goodbye and Hello, he was joined by Jerry Yester and Jim Gordon.

Around the same time, Fielder was a member of The Mothers (of Invention) with Frank Zappa, playing on their second LP, 1967’s Absolutely Free. He left to join Buffalo Springfield, playing on “Everydays” before turning his attention back to Buckley’s music.

That same year, he would be a founding member of Blood Sweat & Tears, appearing at their Village Theater debut and playing on their first four albums (in other words, the era of all the band’s hits). Fielder would go on to work with George Benson, Neil Sedaka and others. Today, he’s retired and lives in Asheville, NC, where he’s a regular fixture of musical jam sessions at Asheville Guitar Bar and other venues.

Join host and music journalist Bill Kopp for an evening in discussion with Jim Fielder about his life in music. We’ll listen to key tracks that feature him, and invite questions from the audience.


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Asheville, N.C., June 2022 – Hosted by the Asheville Guitar Bar, a discussion series provides deeper understanding and greater enjoyment of classic albums from rock, soul, blues and jazz. Led by Asheville author and music journalist Bill Kopp, Music to Your Ears is an interactive experience that shines a light on important music. Music to Your Ears is a 90-minute conversation, held at the Guitar Bar, a music magnet in Asheville’s historic River Arts District. The July 6 event focuses on 1972’s Trilogy, the fourth album from Emerson, Lake & Palmer.

One of progressive rock’s leading lights as well as one of its first supergroups, Emerson Lake & Palmer exploded onto the music scene with “Lucky Man,” the hit single from their self-titled debut album. Featuring the virtuoso keyboard work of pianist Keith Emerson, the group also pioneered use of the Moog synthesizer, a then-new instrument developed by Dr. Robert A. Moog (later of Asheville).

Emerson Lake & Palmer enjoyed a successful and high-profile run through most of the 1970s, but arguably their creative pinnacle was their fourth release, 1972’s Trilogy. Featuring a deft balance of both the band’s ambitious “prog” sensibility (including classical music themes) and a strong melodic approach (in the form of catchy singles like “From the Beginning”), Trilogy is simultaneously the band’s most stylistic varied record and its most accessible.

Released in a banner year for music – one that included some of the best-ever albums form David Bowie, the Moody Blues, Lou Reed and countless others – Trilogy made the point that progressive music could appeal to a wide audience.

Join music journalist and historian Bill Kopp for an evening of music and discussion as we take a deep dive into ELP’s Trilogy. With special guest André Cholmondeley (crew and instrument technician for Emerson Lake & Palmer and for solo tours by both Greg Lake and Carl Palmer), we’ll explore Trilogy and gain an understanding of its place in musical history.


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Asheville, N.C., May 2022 – Hosted by the Asheville Guitar Bar, a new discussion series provides deeper understanding and greater enjoyment of classic albums from rock, soul, blues and jazz. Led by Asheville author and music journalist Bill Kopp, Music to Your Ears is an interactive experience that shines a light on important music. Music to Your Ears is a 90-minute conversation, held at the Guitar Bar, a music magnet in Asheville’s historic River Arts District. The June 1 event focuses on Pink Floyd’s 1972 album Obscured by Clouds.

When Pink Floyd lost Syd Barrett in 1968, there was good reason to predict the band would collapse. Barrett was the group’s founder, leader, guitarist, lead vocalist and songwriter. He was essentially the face of Pink Floyd. His departure – the result of erratic behavior attributed to mental illness and extensive use of LSD – left the band without its creative center. In any other era, the band would have been dropped by its record company.

But with a new guitarist and a more democratic approach, all four members became more involved in the band’s development. Within five years of Barrett’s exit, Pink Floyd would create, record and release what is widely considered one of the greatest albums of the rock era, 1973’s The Dark Side of the Moon. That landmark album didn’t simply appear out of nowhere. Pink Floyd’s eighth album, The Dark Side of the Moon was the culmination of a five-year creative journey, a time in which the group experimented with different sounds, concepts and song structures. That period is filled with rich (if not widely known) musical gems that provide a window into how the group went from creative crisis to musical masterpiece.

Concurrent with the development of The Dark Side of the Moon, Pink Floyd created another album’s worth of music. Released a mere nine months earlier, Obscured by Clouds is a little-heard album that showcases many of the same musical strengths as its better-known followup. June 2022 marks the 50th anniversary of this album, an important stepping stone on the path to The Dark Side of the Moon.

Join music journalist and historian Bill Kopp – author of Reinventing Pink Floyd: From Syd Barrett to The Dark Side of the Moon – for an evening of music and discussion as we take a deep dive into Pink Floyd’s Obscured by Clouds. With special guest Bill Altman (leader of Western North Carolina-based tribute band Floyd Philharmonic), we’ll explore Obscured by Clouds and gain an understanding of its place in musical history.