Sorry, folks, my reviews are not about me


Time to answer a question 15 years in the making.

A decade-and-a-half: That’s how long I’ve been doing this full time.

By “this,” I mean blowing minds with musical insights on a daily basis — or blowing, for short.

In that span, there is one put-down, usually delivered in the form of a question, that someone inevitably poses just about any time I write anything critical of any act.

It goes a little something like this: Where’s your kickass band, (insert derogatory expletive of choice)?

The implication is clear: How dare I judge a musician without being one myself.

For some reason, this line of thinking tends to get applied primarily to music writers, as opposed to other critics.

No one ever slams a movie critic for her scathing indictment of “Smurfs 2” because she never directed a feature film herself.

Few people ever take a food critic to task for not being a chef.

Really, it’s kind of a counterintuitive way of looking at things, to suggest that you can only assess the value of something if you have direct experience producing it.

Look, I’ve never worked as a garbage collector either, and yet, somehow, I can identify trash when I see it.

So, why does this line of reasoning — if you want to call it that — get applied to music critics?

Simple: because a lot of people consider themselves musicians in the same way that some people who make the occasional blog posting consider themselves writers.

And so they feel like they’re speaking from a position of authority.

But, truth is, it’s not that hard to start a band and land a gig at your neighborhood bar — it is very, very hard, however, to develop your own sound, get good at it and build a following.

Even I was in a band in high school, on bass, the highlight of my tenure being a performance of Alice In Chains’ “Man in the Box” during a school “talent” show.

We were terrible, and, no, the experience didn’t qualify me as a musician.

What does qualify me to do this, then?

Really, only a passion for music and journalism and the knowledge of the importance of objectivity.

Despite what many think, my reviews are seldom a reflection of my personal taste.

I’ve covered dozens and dozens of concerts over the years that may not have been something that I enjoyed, but which were clearly compelling performances and so they earned favorable reviews even if the show didn’t necessarily make me a fan of the act in question.

Really, it’s not about me, even if the occasional agitated reader wants to make it seem that way.

And so, once and for all, you can stop asking me about my nonexistent kickass band.

But, hey, if your band is looking for a sweet triangle player, maybe we can talk.

Contact reporter Jason Bracelin at jbracelin@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0476. Follow on Twitter @JasonBracelin.