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Podcast Review: ‘Rolling Stone Music Now’

A panel of experts weigh in on music news and events, but is it engaging enough for the everyday listener?

Sitting  in my bedroom, I recently listened to the current episode of the Rolling Stone Music Now podcast. It is described as the week’s biggest music news, what’s playing in the Rolling Stone offices, interviews, and more.

I downloaded “Fyre Festival and the Long, Wild History of Disastrous Music Festivals.” This episode included panelists and Rolling Stone writers, Brittany Spanos, David Browne, and Andy Greene.

The knowledge of the panel was very authoritative and as a listener I felt like I could trust their expertise. They offered up insider stories of personal experiences with some of these events. The subject of disastrous music festivals was quite interesting to me because it gave some historical background to a couple of other festivals that also did not go off without a hitch.

They primarily focused their attention on the two Woodstock festivals. The 1999 festival included extremely difficult conditions that marred this festival like excessive heat and high prices. They mentioned that the 1969 festival when Hendrix played the famous National Anthem cover that there was nobody actually watching him because it was 6 AM.

These writers had good chemistry, giving their commentary an engaging, storytelling quality to it, accompanied by some relevant humor. The podcast had a very informal sense to it making you as a listener feel as if they were talking in your favorite local tavern as a jukebox plays in the background. 

However, I did find some flaws as I listened to this 38-minute episode. All members of the panel spoke very quickly and did not always offer enough context for some of the things they discussed. For example, they started talking about promoters of these events with very little background on each one. You were almost required to already know some of these people before listening to the podcast.

They needed to provide much more context for Billy McFarland, the man behind Fyre Festival.

I also got a sense that this podcast seems to lean heavily to classic rock, rather than emphasizing a more current feel. For example, Lollapalooza was only mentioned on a minimal basis towards the end of the episode.

More time was devoted to Woodstock and its upcoming 50th Anniversary festival in New York. Looking at the topics discussed in previous podcast episodes, this classic rock theme was reinforced as I noticed episodes devoted to Pete Townshend, Rod Stewart, The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the Beatles, and Queen.

The only episodes that focus on current music were 2018 retrospectives on various genres. The description of the podcast probably should have reflected this in some way.

As for format, this podcast was fairly standard in that it’s a panel talking to one another. One thing that this podcast could do is offer more audio clips, but not necessarily music. Interviews from some of the people they discuss could really help in creating the context and background that was missing throughout the episode. This would also help in keeping the listener more interested in the discussion.

This podcast would probably be best for those listeners interested in more of a classic rock angle as opposed to newer music trends.

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