By David Gasten, producer of Vintage Music compilation This is Vintage Now
Why do we come to Vintage? The answer is very simple: we come here to escape. When we pick up old magazines like Collier’s or Life, watch movies like Casablanca or The Seven Year Itch, or listen to music like Louis Prima or Julie London, it takes us to an alternate way of living that is similar to what we experience today, but better. It has many of the modern amenities that we have grown accustomed to, but there’s something fresh, invigorating and exciting in that old way of doing things that is a huge sigh of relief from the feeling of being sandblasted over and over by the same old cookie-cutter swill like we are used to today.
Furthermore, we see people having understanding conversations instead of looking for opportunities to be offended. We find appliances and clothing that are built to last instead of to be thrown away. We see people building lifelong friendships and strong communities instead of going through other people like candy in the quest to feed their narcissism. And, my favorite part, we see beautiful, confident ladies being treated like the queens and princesses they are, by gentlemen who are manly and strong, but also civilized and kind. With all of this to offer, who wouldn’t want to escape to Vintage?
But here’s the dirty little secret to all this. In order to truly and fully embrace Vintage, you have to embrace it from the inside out, otherwise it’s nothing more than a costume party. It is the values of the period that made them what they are; the artifacts are nothing more than the fruit of the tree. Think about it: if someone is full of themselves and condescending to you, are you going to like them more just because they are wearing a 1950’s outfit? Probably not. And yet that “costume party” issue is exactly the hurdle that the new Vintage Movement will need to overcome if it is going to be anything more than another silly fad. However, if we who are into Vintage can embrace the Vintage values first and let that guide us as we bring back and build upon what our grandparents left us, I am convinced that we will instead have a solid alternate culture that will be here to stay and will give current raunch culture a serious, pants-down run for its money.
Vintage Music (current and previous) is my specialty, and I got into it thanks to the 1990’s Swing Revival. The Nineties Swing Revival is actually a very good example of a movement that did not embrace the previous period from the inside out, and quickly tanked because of it. In the wake of its failure, I have devoted a large portion of my time studying what went wrong and learning from this cautionary tale. I launched a jump blues-style group called David Gasten & the City Kids that has sought to tap into what originally got people dancing and socializing, and bring that to today’s listeners without trying to be punk or some other current style. How we do this is by understanding what the original period was like AND understanding what people want and are used to today, and then finding the common ground between the two. We stay grounded in the original spirit of the period and its way of doing things, whilst projecting forward as though we were an artist from the time projecting themselves into the current day. We call this way of doing things “Vintage Now”.
While I was planning the recording sessions that produced our song “The Deacon Don’t Like It”, I found a number of other artists that are exciting and have that same “Vintage Now” way of doing things that we do, only in other Vintage-style genres. I also found original period artists like 1950’s jazz vocalist Beverly Kenney that are very compatible to the current day, but allow us to listen to the music of the time with fresh ears, therefore helping to bring the period back alive even more. I got the idea to bring these artists together under one umbrella, and came up with a name off the top of my head: This is Vintage Now.
This is Vintage Now just came out on CDBaby as an MP3 album on June 21st, 2011. Already we have received responses that the compilation is getting people excited about new music again, and are receiving reviews that state that it holds its own with the classics of the period—VERY high praise indeed that is really touching to receive. To make things even more impressive, a number of those comments are coming from living music celebrities from a host of different genres—check out the Endorsements Page on our website to see what we mean.
And speaking of This is Vintage Now’s website, we went really over the top with the website! We went out of our way to make it an information and resource site for not only This is Vintage Now and its artists, but for Vintage Music and The Vintage Movement as a whole. We wanted people to feel good when they read the site, and we wanted it to just seethe quality, passion, and substance, whilst being fully informative and entertaining. And again, it appears that we accomplished our objective, although we ask that you be the final judge. We’ve got pages for all of the artists on the compilation, including living jazz legend Big Jay McNeely, current Dutch hitmaker Caro Emerald, 20-year-old Australian chanteuse Ilana Charnelle, and my own group David Gasten & the City Kids to name a few. We have articles about Louis Prima (“Jump Jive, an’ Wail”) and Bill Haley (“Rock Around the Clock”) with Youtube Videos and loads of VERY rare information about both. And we have a Vintage Links resource page that samples some of the best in what’s available in Vintage Music and Vintage Lifestyle today. It’s very much like falling down the rabbit hole.
For those who bristle at the thought of embracing the values of the Vintage period, take the time to throw the “oppressed” caricatures aside, and really try to understand the underlying values as portrayed in the magazines, movies, music, and TV shows of the period. You will find out that they are largely based in simple common sense. The concepts of genuine communication and mutual respect permeate the period, as do the concepts of ladies and gentlemen. Music embraced a true integration of the races in jazz and rock n’ roll, and that would roll over into the culture as a whole with time. Music and pop culture in general centered a LOT around women, but as whole people, not as packages of body parts whose full identity hinges on their performance as sex objects as we see today. Look again, and take it in as a whole, and I think you’ll be surprised. And if you find something that’s not perfect, spit out the bones and eat the meat, don’t damn the culture as a whole because of one problem. Vintage people (i.e. our grandparents and great-grandparents) are/were people too, and we can always improve upon what they left us with as long as we understand and embrace their culture first.
This is Vintage Now, both the compilation itself and the companion website, was only made possible from embracing those values. Embracing the artifacts but not the values is nothing but a costume party, and the fact that it is fake and insincere at its core will come out sooner or later, as it always has in the past. There really is no other way, or else the other way would have worked by now.