I am a member of the Los Angeles Free Music Society (LAFMS), as is artist/musician Paul McCarthy. Whenever Paul speaks about the music of the LAFMS he refers to it as “porch music.” I think Paul is trying to link the unrehearsed improvised music that we produce with the traditions of folk music. This form invites all comers to participate in a communal exercise of joining together to create a musical experience that is greater than the sum of its parts. Often the musicians are far from virtuosos in the traditional sense or are competent musicians trying things outside their comfort zones. They are learning as they play and they are learning from each other through direct exploration and experience. It is music that is made for the immediate pleasure of those producing it, with little interest in sharing it with “consumers.” This approach flies in the face of current commercial models.
As the artist and musician Robert Crumb puts it:
“The whole cultures’ one unified field of bought-sold-market researched everything, you know. It used to be that people fermented their own culture, you know? It took hundreds of years, and it evolved over time. And that’s gone in America. People now don’t even have any concept that there ever was a culture outside of this thing that’s created to make money.”
In the case of the LAFMS, our version of porch music began in late night sessions, often in living rooms or in the back room of a store after hours. There was no thought at the time that what we were involved in would ever go beyond the original participants and be heard outside those walls. I guess we were fermenting culture. As one LAFMS founder put it:
“We saw the future, we knew how it would smell, we got it out of our systems and we got upwind before it stank.”
–Chip Chapman 1995
So if you are interested in brewing up a batch of bootleg culture, just come on down to the next SASSAS soundShoppe!