New media tends to identify itself as a youth market, and is very self-aware of this. So too, a person of a certain, shall we say, vintage might feel uncomfortable popping around Facebook (and there’s no need to delve deep into MySpace which recently has forsaken its social network roots to focus primarily on music, much like ReverbNation). Where there’s a vacuum, there’s a potential market.
Jon Bard and Bruce Brodeen saw that group of people who, to be blunt, were tired of being shoved into the “adulthood” box. Their end result was a new social networking site called the Rock and Roll Tribe. While not excluding younger patrons, the space was designed with the 35-and-up crowd in mind; their goal is to create a web portal for the “adults” that just want to have fun again. The implied motto could be, “You’re not dead – so why live like you are?”
The site fosters meet-up opportunities, chats and conversation and, as the site’s name suggests, lots of talk about a shared love of music. We caught up with Jon and Bruce to ask about the site. Bruce also dropped a bit of a bombshell in the midst of the conversation that might upset devotees of his Not Lame Records shop, but we’ll get to that in a moment.
So, in the venerable words of Marty DiBergi, “Whaddya say? Let’s boogie!”
What is your background?
JON BARD: Musically, I cut my teeth in the NYC scene of the late 70’s/early 80’s. I’m the creator of The Rock & Roll Clubhouse on KRFC-FM here in Colorado.
I’ve been an online entrepreneur since 1995, and I’m probably best known as the co-owner of Children’s Book Insider, the Newsletter for Children’s Book Writers.
BRUCE BRODEEN: I grew up in Boston and the local scene there shaped and hard-wired my musical tastes. Had easy access to magazines like Bomp, Trouser Press, NY Rocker and outstanding college radio in the mid/late 70s and the local scene, based out of The Rat, was legendary.
Since 1994, I have run Not Lame Recordings, a record label that released over 100 CDs along with an online CD store that focuses on power pop and melodic rock. After 16 years, though, I am closing Not Lame at the end of 2010 to focus on other projects. (Editor’s note: The closing date is November 24, and the stock is being sold off in large, incremental sales. If you want to catch a great deal, or even fill those holiday gift holes, check the site out at www.notlame.com)
JB: I’d go to shows and see cool folks my age and think “I really need to know these people.” People who still love music and are passionate about leading a kickass life are still out there, but they’re scattered and disconnected. The Tribe is the means to bring them together.
BB: Co-founder Jon Bard and myself attend dozens of show every year and we always found that we were not only the oldest at many of the shows (we’re both 48) but that we were the most ‘rocking’ dudes in the place. The younger so-called rockers are so damn precious, self-conscious and just don’t know how to rock out – it occurred to us that many middle-aged rockers need to celebrate that ‘rock’ spirit and meeting others who feel the same would be beyond awesome. RRT was, thus, born after downing lots of cheap beer and listening to “Live And Dangerous” from Thin Lizzy.
Could you describe what the site/community is?
JB: A Global Army of Veteran Rockers. A place to connect online and a means to create local groups of friends. A place to find folks to see shows with, argue with, discover new music with, go record shopping with and generally celebrate a life led on an upward trajectory, no matter what the age on your driver’s license says.
BB: ‘Amen’ to all that Jon said. RRT is about living inside that youthful spirit of what drew us all to rock ‘n roll in our younger years and letting it live unleashed in our adult lives. Most of all, it’s a place – online and in our hometowns all over the world – to connect up with others who feel the same way.
JB: The intention is create a network of people who “have each others’ backs” when it comes to living outrageously. We’ve only been at it a short period of time, but we’ve heard time and again from members who tell us they feel invigorated by the connections they’re making.
BB: We have always wanted RRT to be support system where Tribers celebrate each other’s good taste and just have a good time with other people who share the same love of music and lifestyle interests. Call it ‘rockitude’ – hmm, that sounds kind of cool.
Do you have interesting stories that have sprung up from people meeting each other through Rock and Roll Tribe?
JB: It’s still very, very early in our history but chapters are forming and people are connecting.
BB: Marriage proposals, planning sessions for political anarchy, an Ayn Rand fan club and a “Smooth Jazz Must Die” support group have sprouted up in the last few months – we consider that a slice of momentum in the right direction.
The modern-life pressures are pretty severe, and none so severe as we’ve seen in recent years with economic downturn and such. What is the role of having some sort of release from it?
JB: I’ve always thought “If I lost everything, I’d still have my family, my friends, my health and music. So I’d still be OK.” For people who love rock and roll, we’re here to remind them that friendship and passion are free, and they’re yours no matter what else what might happen.
BB: Seriously, the choices we make in our lives have not only poignancy attached to them, but an under pinning of salve to the soul. So when Tribers are hanging out inside the site and making meaningful connections with each other, Jon and I recognize that our fellow rockers have made a choice amongst so many others choices to spend time in friendship with others like themselves. That is very, very cool – and what it is all about.
Is there a natural tendency, in your opinion, to “shut down” or “shut away” when you reach a certain age, or do you think it is a societal constriction?
JB: The people who preached that rock and roll is only for the young are now all old — and lots of ’em still love rock & roll. So they’ve proven themselves wrong. I like to put it this way: If there’s nothing at all odd about going to see 20 year olds play football, why is it odd to go see 20 year olds play music? If you feel weird going to a club and having fun, get over it. Life is way better when you allow yourself to pursue your passions.
BB: Yes, but I’m not sure it’s a natural tendency – it’s conditioned by societal norms. Simply, over the last 60 years of rock, rock ‘n roll has been viewed as a youthful, adolescent rebel call against one’s parents or society’s expectations. It’s an overly simplistic of rock ‘n roll that most people reference. I think we all receive an implicit expectation that rocking out in one’s 40s, 50s, 60s is a novel exercise ‘reaching back to our younger years.’ That limits the vibrancy and continual relevancy of the music and that’s just wrong.
Rock and Roll Tribe believes that rock is for life, straight up – and our best days, in every part of our lives, are very much ahead of us. Rock keeps us connected to that knowledge, I guess you could say. Sounds kind of trite but ‘we means it, maaan!’
Are there any plans in the works for Rock and Roll Tribe in the coming weeks and months?
JB: Oh, hell yeah, we’ve got more plans than time! We’re getting involved in a number of efforts to “give back” – to help the people who gave so much to us over the years. These days, there are many musicians without health insurance and pensions struggling to survive, and independent record store owners are an endangered species. We’re committed to paying them back as best we can, and we’re at work on some fascinating stuff.
Beyond that, we’re starting a weekly show on RadioRockCafe radio and we’ve got a very cool book project in the pipeline.
BB: On top of what Jon mentions, all that and more. As one thousand grows into many thousands of Tribers worldwide, Rock And Roll Tribe will continue to connect fellow Tribers in their hometowns to get together and not only do the obviousn(go to shows, go record shopping, etc.) but create new relationships with people who ‘get’ who we are, at our core.
Also, we want to meet Jack Black. He’s real rock ‘n roll hero. Sod off with Bono. Nice guy ‘n all, saving the world ‘n all but where’s the edge?!
Thanks again to Jon Bard and Bruce Brodeen for their time. You can find out more about the site at: http://rockandrolltribe.com/