It seems like no more than a couple weeks go by and we're looking at some sort of natural disaster in the world, and right here at home in America. Hurricanes, tornadoes, wildfires, floods, droughts – they somehow just keep on coming, seemingly at a greater rate than ever before. But tsunamis? They're rare, often accompanying earthquakes.
So, today's blog post refers to a very distinct tsunami – a silver one – referring to the millions of consumers here in the U.S. of AARP age – those collecting Social Security and paying attention to all those TV ads for pharmaceutical companies and Medicare ads. We've talked about the so-called “Silver Tsunami” before, better known as Baby Boomers.
Yes, there's a similar number of Millennials, and of course, Gen Z is already a force to be reckoned with. But Boomers still number in the neighborhood of 75 million strong. And many are in a position to spend money and have fun.
Classic Rock is their music. And in modern times, it's a rarity for a generation to have its own soundtrack. But if you grew up in the late 60's and 70's, that was one of the true perks of being a teen during those frenetic, historic years.
Of course, we know that younger generations have adopted the music, the artists, the concerts, and even the clothing styles. They're a big reason why Classic Rock is so ubiquitous on the commercial radio airwaves today.
But this post isn't about them. It's about that the people who literally grew up with the music – and still love, cherish and celebrate it today.
It's on display every Friday night at a club called Live in a town more famous for its college than its Classic Rock. It was covered in a New York Times feature story the other day:
A group of die-hard music fans gather on Fridays to dance to some of the most devoted live bands in southeast Michigan. The party’s official name is “Ann Arbor Hour Happy Hour at Live,” but many people call it “Geezer Happy Hour.” https://t.co/YwqLbWlNKQ pic.twitter.com/QOL4bmZ1Fo
— The New York Times (@nytimes) January 12, 2023
At a bar in Ann Arbor Michigan, “Geezer Happy Hour” – or just “Geezers” for short – has been going on for years. The story is worth accessing for the photos alone, all taken by Nic Antaya.
The story is celebratory, inspiring, funny, and a reminder of how this generation and its music is so cultural and tribal. These regulars even kept it together during COVID, including meeting – and dancing – on Zoom.
This spry group (“spry” is the go-to word for old people who can still get around a dance floor) gather in a Facebook group that's 2,700 strong. As its organizer Randy Tessier, 72 year-old University of Michigan instructor, explains:
“I call us the ‘Silver Tsunami.' There's a lot of us and we still want to rock.”
And drink coffee.
In another part of the country, there's this new joint opening in San Antonio, Texas – the Classic Rock Coffee Company & Kitchen. Its slogan: “Our coffee rocks.” The place is festooned with themed posters, guitars, and the other memorabilia so symbolic of the music.
And the flavors of coffee offered promise energy, rather than the quiet vibe so many coffee shops offer. They include names like “Barracuda,” “Cold Shot,” “Atomic Punk,” and even “Living After Midnight.”
But this new San Antonio store isn't the first. These stores are now franchised in eight countries, including Iraq. CRCC had its debut in Springfield, Missouri dating way back to 2011. Founder Kent Morrison is the guy responsible for putting this Classic Rock-themed franchise on the map.
He explains CRCC has “a focus on serving great coffees in a non-typical coffee environment.”
I'll have the “Back in Black,” of course.
And then there was the passing of Classic Rock guitar virtuoso, Jeff Beck, last week after contracting bacterial meningitis. Beck was a scrappy 78 years-old when he passed, so influential on the genre and his fellow musicians, writers, and performers.
No Classic Rock station went “wall-to-wall” Jeff Beck or “Jeff Beck A-to-Z” when the news broke. Perhaps a handful played “Freeway Jam” and called it good. Others perhaps spun a Yardbirds tune, Beck's seminal 60's band that produced a string of British Invasion-era hits. He was right there with Eric Clapton and Jimmy Page in rock n' roll's forefront.
As writer Peter Hodgson put it so well in Mixdown:
“Jeff Beck has the most rare of gifts as a musician: he never played the same thing twice, and yet no matter what he played, he did it with a mastery and intention that made it sound like he had done it that way all his life.”
The first two stories in this post are banging the same drum JacoBLOG readers can probably recite chapter and verse by now: why the rest of the world has cashed in on Classic Rock targeting millions of vital consumers whose only blemish is that they're over 55, while broadcast radio has sat on the sidelines, providing the soundtrack, but not making the money.
The Ann Arbor bar night and the coffee company stories underscore the billions of entertainment dollars that elude radio's coffers because of the industry's inability to get out of its “25-to-54 box.”
And the passing of Jeff Beck is a reminder of the music's eternal worth and relevance. Beck's influence on so many musicians and fans that were born during rock's true golden age is testimony to its never-ending appeal.
- In Radio, Whatever Happened To “4 And Out The Door?” - December 7, 2023
- An Open (News)Letter To Radio - December 6, 2023
- The Case For Handcrafted Radio - December 5, 2023