Bootlegging is alive and well

I remember when I was in (ahem) high school and bootlegs were this incredibly exotic and tantalizingly illegal passport to musical experiences that only the true rock and roll aficionado would cultivate. For me, the dream combo was the infamous “Destroyer” four album Led Zeppelin box set coupled with the legendary “Copenhagen Warm-Ups” double-album where you could hear “In the Evening” in all its psychedelic, extended bizarro glory. Of course there were the endless number of excruciating “Let it Be” bootlegs that made even the most passionate Beatles fan a tad bit nauseous and I could never really understand the Grateful Dead “Dark Star” phenomena but hey, that was just me right?

Well if you think bootlegging live performances a la Grateful Dead taping section has gone the way of the 8 track you will be surprised to note that it is still going strong, even in this day of peer to peer networks as revealed in Music fans keep bootlegging alive. Fans are still recording and trading shows and amazingly, they are trading them via snail mail! Yet that’s right, in this day of the Internet, tape traders (I know, I know..) are still trading amongst a vibrant population of dedicated (some say obsessive) fans who claim that the Internet removes all sense of community from the activity.

Hey, who am I to argue with that? Even though bands like Pearl Jam and the Tragically Hip now make recordings of all shows officially available, I have to admit that interacting with real fans is still somewhat cooler than just downloading off the net. Now where is that version of “Turn on Your Lovelight” from the Orpheum in Boston from 1972? Somebody’s got to have it….