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February 18, 2003
Let's compare Britney Spears to
Ashley Adams for a minute. (If you have any idea
how insulting that
comparison is, forgive me.)
Odds are, you've never
heard of Ashley Adams,
but she's the reason I
ended up looking at
Britney Spears books
for a few minutes last
night. She was Album recommendation:
performing at Borders "Flowers for
on stand-up bass, in a Mrs. Dalloway"
duo with Diane
DeGrutola on cello.
These women are real musicians, both
composers and improvisers who can
just stand up and crank out
interesting music on demand.
At one point as an improvisation
game, they had a friend pull some
books and prop them up in front
of them on the music stand, to
use as inspiration for whatever
they were going to play. He
chose a copy of "Punk 77" and
some Britney book.
They had a hard time with this piece.
Diane DeGrutola threw in some
convincing "Black Angel's Death Song"
punk cello-playing, and Ashely tried
to hit a touch of trite melody here
and there... As it turns out neither
of *them* have heard any Britney
Spears music either, and they DROPOUT
literally didn't know what to do with
As far as her image goes, Ashley is
a buxom blond woman, with some kind
of silly, slightly ditzy California
girl mannerisms -- at least when
she's *not* playing. When she does
play, all of that goes away, and she
takes on an entirely different
persona: very serious, completely
focused on the music. She stays in
that mode until the piece is over,
and suddenly stops, grins, hugs her
contrabass to her breasts, and flips
her hair around.
In this contrast I think there's an
angle that any idiot music journalist
would have no trouble playing up.
Here you've got the condition of
American womanhood, nicely symbolized
in an easy-on-the-eyes package,
without the expense or effort of
re-packaging. What you see is what
she really is.
And she can really play.
I submit that if the world
*really* needs a female
musician's image to be And maybe we could all
obsessed with, they could just give Britney a
do a lot worse than Ashely break and let her slide
Adams. into a comfortable
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