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Bonnie Raitt gives us something to talk about — show without sea of cellphones

on November 18, 2022 No comments
by Mark Woods | Florida Times-Union

For my wife’s birthday, we went to the Bonnie Raitt show at the St. Augustine Amphitheatre.

As we entered, staff told us that taking photos or video was prohibited at this performance. And once through security, paper signs said:

Out of respect to the artist, there is to be absolutely …

NO Photography

NO Video Recording

NO Audio Recording

Thank you for your cooperation!!!

As we headed to our seats, we talked about how this was surprising, because it seems to buck the trend of concerts being a sea of people holding up their phones, taking selfies and posting something to social media before the encore even ends.

There was a time, in the prehistoric days before cellphones, when artists zealously fought to prohibit unofficial photos or recordings. Some still do. But at some point many musicians not only gave up, they embraced the idea of fans using their phones to basically create free, crowdsourced marketing.

So we thought it was interesting that Bonnie Raitt had gone the other direction and prohibited it. We figured maybe she long ago reached the point in her career where she doesn’t need to create a buzz. She just needs to say she’s going to show up somewhere with her guitar and voice and, as was the case at The Amp, the seats will fill.

We thoroughly enjoyed the night, starting with Marc Cohn and leading its way to some surprises — one of Bonnie’s final numbers was a cover of the Talking Heads’ “Burning Down the House.”

I would share some video of that but … I adhered to the rules. Most people did.

A woman a couple of seats from us did record a bit of “Angel from Montgomery.” But for the most part, people didn’t use their phone to record anything. For the most part, even though some use of phones was allowed — for instance, you could text someone — people weren’t looking at their phones.

They were looking at the stage.

It turns out that’s why Bonnie Raitt has these rules for her shows.

It wasn’t until the end of the show that we realized this. As she and band members took their bows, she thanked everyone for coming, for not being glued to their phones, and said — I’m paraphrasing because, again, I wasn’t recording — something like, “It’s really nice to see your faces.”

I’ve been thinking about how this ever since then, how it made the show more enjoyable, partly because I wasn’t sitting behind a bunch of people holding up their photos — but maybe also partly because I wasn’t doing it?

That’s right. I’d like to point a finger at others, but I’m too busy trying to take a photo.

I realized that it would be a bit hypocritical for me to say people should just put away their phones and enjoy the experience. When Mia was doing plays at the JCA, I spent countless hours recording shows with what now seems like an ancient video camera. To be respectful of others, I almost always did it from the back of the room. And I think I always told myself that the act of the recording kept me engaged in the performance. But did it?

When I go backpacking, even if I’m completely disconnected from cell and wifi, I’m constantly pulling out my phone or camera, trying to capture the landscape, the light, the moment. So am I living in that moment? Maybe.

The Bonnie Raitt show made me think about that. If she didn’t have that rule, would I have taken some photos and video? Probably.

‘An unplugged, real-life experience’

Raitt is hardly the only artist trying to keep people off their phones.

Some still do it for control of what makes it outside the venue (Beyonce). But others do it for what happens inside it. Jack White, the former frontman of White Stripes, might be one of the most ardent anti-phone disciples.

He once told Rolling Stone magazine that people can’t even clap anymore “because they’ve got a (expletive) texting thing in their (expletive) hand.”

The solution for him: use lockable pouches from Yondr, a San Francisco tech company, to create “phone-free shows.”

Before White came to the Amp in September, a note to ticket buyers told them that the Yondr pouches would be distributed to all patrons as they entered, so that they could have “an unplugged, real-life experience.”

If people wanted to use their phone at any time, they could head to “Phone Use Areas” on the concourse. But when they were in their seats, the phones had to stay locked in the pouches.

“Why are you doing this and is it mandatory?” said one of the concert FAQs. “We believe this creates a better experience for everyone & yes, it’s non-negotiable.”

We had to do something similar when we went to a comedy club in New York earlier this year. But I’m guessing that it was for the old-fashioned reason — comics trying out material didn’t want it to end up out there on YouTube the next day.

You might think that what White does would lead to blowback, especially from audiences that typically skew younger than for a Bonnie Raitt show. But it turns out people of all ages seem to appreciate putting away their bleeping texting thing and having an unplugged, real-life experience.

Tap dancer Savion Glover has compromise: a photo minute

While some places — Broadway theaters, for instance — routinely restrict cell phone usage, many venues now allow it. To a degree.

Numa Saisselin, president of The Florida Theatre, said their official house policy is to allow photo and video taken discreetly from your seat with a smart phone. No cameras or flash photography. No full-size tablets held aloft.

But from his viewpoint, this isn’t just a matter of blocking someone else’s view.

“Speaking personally,” he said, “what I like about going to a show is allowing the show experience to take my mind somewhere else, and that’s not going to happen when you’re handling a phone.”

If the artist asks them to prohibit cell phones, they do. Saisselin will mention this during his curtain speech and, he says, they usually have 100 percent compliance. 

Some artists go to the other extreme and actually encourage taking photos and video all night. And then there’s the compromise of choreographer and tap dancer Savion Glover.

“His concern is bright lights,” Saisselin said. “They’re actually dangerous for dancers. You don’t want to be blinded mid-leap.”

So Glover makes a speech at the start of the show. He tells the audience that at the start of Act II, the whole company will strike a pose for a minute. And during that minute, people take all the photos they want.

That basically is what happened at the end of the Bonnie Raitt show. After the final song, as Raitt and her band took their bows and acknowledged the crowd, quite a few people took out their phones and snapped a photo or two. And at this point, she didn’t seem to mind.

It turns out Raitt has been doing this for a while. In 2014, Peter Cooper — a country singer, songwriter and music journalist — wrote a piece for The Tennessean with a headline, “Put phones away and enjoy show.” In it, he described going to a show at The Troubadour, with a few hundred people crammed into the legendary West Hollywood club. Beforehand, the audience was asked to put their phones away and “watch this show in 3-D.” Not everyone did.

“When Raitt walked onstage, a man who was five feet away from her raised his cellphone,” Cooper wrote. “She slayed him with a brutal glance and a finger-wag, and he and his phone disintegrated instantly into dust. It was cool, and special to see. Wish I’d taken a video of that.”

mwoods@jacksonville.com

(904) 359-4212


Source: © Copyright The Florida Times-Union

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Blues star Bonnie Raitt gives shoutout to Funny Farm in Mays Landing

on October 25, 2022 No comments
by Selena Vazquez
Laurie Zaleski, owner of Funny Farm Rescue in Mays Landing, New Jersey, talks about her debut book “Funny Farm: My Unexpected Life with 600 Rescue Animals.”

HAMILTON TONWNSHIP — The Funny Farm Rescue & Sanctuary in Mays Landing has received recognition from legendary rock/blues performer Bonnie Raitt, the farm posted on its social media accounts Sunday.

On Facebook and Instagram, the shelter expressed gratitude to Raitt for her comments.

“Bonnie, thank you,” Funny Farm wrote. “Who knew that 600 animals that for the most part, no one else wanted, could bring so much happiness to people all over the world, including to our friend Bonnie Raitt?”

In an article by Jon Bream from the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Raitt said one of her favorite ways to relax and unwind was by watching animal videos.

“The ones [animal videos] that get me the most are the unlikely pairing of friendships of animals,” Raitt, a 10-time Grammy winner and Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductee, said in the article published in July.

She cited a report by “CBS Sunday Morning,” which featured footage of animals roaming free and bonding at Funny Farm.

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“By the end of it, my oxytocin level was up to the level of what Grateful Dead fans must feel like at the end of the show,” Raitt said in the article.

Raitt is a guitarist, singer and songwriter who is best known for her folk, blues, country and pop works. One of her most popular albums, “Nick of Time,” earned her three Grammy Awards including Album of the Year in 1990.

“Bonnie, you have a personal invitation to visit the Funny Farm Rescue and Sanctuary for a personal tour with Laurie,” the post read, referring to Laurie Zaleski, who owns and operates the animal shelter on her wooded property off Route 40.

The sanctuary cares for various types of animals, including many that are surrendered for reasons of abuse or neglect.

Funny Farm Rescue & Sanctuary teamed up with Love, Tito’s Block to Block to make over the farm Friday morning. The makeover focused on growing produce sold to the community with 100% of proceeds going back toward the animals and the charity, according to a news release. (Funny Farm Rescue & Sanctuary / Provided)

© Ken Friedman

Contact Selena Vazquez:

609-272-7225

svazquez@pressofac.com


Source: © Copyright Press of Atlantic City
Funny Farm Rescue on Facebook
Funny Farm Rescue & Sanctuary website
Funny Farm: My Unexpected Life with 600 Rescue Animals by Laurie Zaleski

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Efforts by Harry Styles, Bonnie Raitt and more help register 150,000 new voters

on October 10, 2022 No comments
By wjjy
© Amy Sussman /Getty Images

The midterm elections are fast approaching, and many new voters will be heading to the polls on November 8 thanks to Harry Styles, Bonnie Raitt and the Dave Matthews Band.

The artists have partnered with HeadCount, a nonprofit and nonpartisan organization working to register all eligible voters. Thanks to their efforts in raising awareness about the upcoming elections, HeadCount confirmed to ABC Audio that 150,000 new voters have registered so far this year.

In a previous statement, Tappan Vickery, HeadCount’s senior director of programming and strategy, explained why the organization’s partnered with such well-known celebrities. “Midterm elections do not receive the same attention as presidential cycles and often see fewer voters at the polls – especially young voters,” Vickery told ABC Audio. “Working with cultural leaders, like the incredible Harry Styles, is one of the most effective ways to increase awareness and participation in the 2022 midterm election.”

The organization teamed up with artists like Harry and Bonnie after the most recent census data showed nearly half of all individuals between 18 and 24 years old were not registered to vote. In addition, over 8 million 18- to 19-year-olds are now eligible to vote; HeadCount aims to reach them through its registration campaigns.

Other artists to have partnered with HeadCount include BeyoncéAnderson .PaakAriana Grande, Panic! At The Disco and Billie Eilish.

We get people registered to vote and interested in democracy. We’re at concerts, festivals, community events – anywhere we can translate the power of music and culture into real action.

Source: © Copyright WJJY 106.7 / ABC Audio and Rolling Stone

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