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Posts Tagged ‘Turk Murphy’

Our trip began in the middle of the Pacific Ocean and ended on the East Coast of the U.S. We covered almost 6,000 miles and passed over and through a few time zones and temperature ranges.  Needless to say, boarding our airplane in 80-plus temperature and deplaning (love that word) in one of those unpredictable East Coast cold spells, combined with a severe case of jet lag, shocked my system. As a seasoned traveler, my buddy seemed impervious to the trip’s rigors, which irked me because I wanted him to suffer along with me.

But more than time zones and temperature ranges, we flew out of, into, and over a few Music Areas.  These aren’t parts of the country with lines delineating a clear separation of musical preferences. When you leave one music area, you won’t see a sign that reads “You are now leaving the Hawaii Music Area and  entering West Coast Blues.” And when you cross the state line from Nevada into Utah, there will be no proclamations about “Entering Mormon Pop Area.” (I am not making this up.)

In fact, when traveling by air, you will lift off from one Music Area and hit the tarmac at the other end in a Music Area distinctly different from the one you just left. For example, we departed from the Hawaii Music Area and landed first in San Francisco. What preferred musical styles and genres did we leave behind and which ones did we encounter at our intermediate and final destinations?

The Hawaii Music Area
The modern music of Hawaii includes just about any genre you want to name, rock, hip hop, reggae, Jawaiian, and, of course, Hawaiian music. The local groups that become popular in the state seem to manage an amalgamation of the old and the new with sounds that appeal not only to the local population but also to the influx of tourists from the Mainland U.S. as well as from Asia. A listen up and down the radio dial will bring you the modern sounds of U.S. pop, Hawaiian, Country and Western, Japanese, Korean, Samoan, and some easy listening Frank Sinatra recordings. Maybe “eclectic” would be an apt label for the Hawaii Music Zone.

The San Francisco Bay-Area Music Zone
The San Francisco Bay Area Music Zone is also eclectic but with a slightly different emphasis on preferred styles. Although we remained inside the San Francisco International Airport (SFO) and thus had no opportunity to get out and around the city, we were somewhat familiar with the music. Many of you will remember The San Francisco Sound personified by the Grateful Dead and Jefferson Airplane, not to forget Santana and Journey. But long before The San Francisco Sound of the 1960s, San Francisco was a Mecca of blues, jazz, and Dixieland. Perhaps the personification of that era was Turk Murphy and his Turk Murphy’s Jazz Band, which played for many years in San Francisco. Oddly, or not as you see the world, the Bay Area has its Country-Western and Bluegrass aficionados, hangovers, perhaps, of the millions of World War II and Korean War servicemen and women from the South who transited San Francisco and other points in the Bay Area on their way to war zones in Asia. As for modern musical genres, some sources include a multitude of styles, including Skacore, Deathrock, and Cowpunk. However, confined as we were to SFOs terminal, the only local music we were exposed to at one a.m. consisted solely of elevator music.

The Washington, D.C. Music Area
Dulles Airport was the last stop on our flight and we were in and out of the airport and the surrounding area in a heartbeat. We didn’t have the luxury of pausing to soak up a little local culture because we were on our way to a Mother’s Day dinner in a distant corner of the Washington Metropolitan Area. But a quick look at a few internet sources made it clear that the music of the area consisted of more than the bleating, whining, and lying sounds of politicians. Today, the area is known for its hardcore punk, Bluegrass, and varieties of hip hop. At one time, however, in the distant past, the area was noted for the marches of John Philip Sousa and, later, swing bands such as Duke Ellington’s and vocalists like Roberta Flack. D.C. also has a plethora of symphonic venues, which, along with Bluegrass, seem to have an elitist tinge to them. We are, after all, surrounded by the most powerful individuals in the world. Dress and decorum must be maintained at all times, or at least shed only for the lying times when politicians return to their home music zones for the express purpose of pretending to be members of the lower economic classes just like everyone else. Washington, D.C. is, if nothing else, home to the highest per capita population of deceiving liars in the universe. Can we expect them to be honest about their musical preferences?

Postscript
Of course, there are more Music Areas than I have talked about in this post. There is the Tejano sound of the Southwest, the nasal sounds of Appalachia, the soothing sounds of Montana cowboys crooning to their cows, and the Southern blues sounds of the Mississippi Delta. For a more complete treatment of Music Areas, see Wikipedia.

Perhaps you’ve noticed that I use “Music Area” and “Music Zone” interchangeably. I have no other reason for this idiosyncratic preference but  to avoid using the word “Area” too often. It just doesn’t sound right to say “The San Francisco Bay Area Music Area.”

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