By Dave Begel Contributing Writer Published Jun 03, 2008 at 6:15 AM

This may be a generational thing, but I would love to say a few words in defense of cover bands.

In the interest of full disclosure, I am a guitar player and singer in a cover band. I'm not very good, but I'm smart enough to play with guys who are absolutely outstanding, so we are a lot of fun.

What prompts this is the recent flood of music copy on the pages of, sometimes implying, sometimes saying it outright, that cover bands are just for fogies and people who don't know anything about music.

For a definition, let's say a cover band that plays music written and performed and recorded by somebody else. A band that plays "Proud Mary," for example, is a cover band.

What I'm suggesting here is that to lump cover bands into the category of "things I need to avoid at all costs" cheats you out of some awfully good music.

Let it be understood that I am the exact opposite of a musical snob. Here's some of the stuff I love and always will:

Some Broadway show tunes ("Soon It's Gonna Rain" from "The Fantasticks" is one of my all-time faves).

Classical (Tchaikovsky's First Piano Concerto and Leoncavallo's "Vesti La Giubba" are at the top of my list).

Country ("Funny How Time Slips Away," written and sung by Willie Nelson, Patsy Cline's "Walkin' After Midnight" and "Remember When" by Alan Jackson rank high).

Not a lot, but some New Age (I confess that the Celtic Women catch my attention).

And it's not all old stuff. I love Coldplay and 3 Doors Down. I could listen to Sara Bareilles all night long. Grupo Montez de Durango sounds like they could have grown up on Milwaukee's South Side.

I also think local music has some great stuff. I still say Paul Cebar is one of the best around and John Sieger is a troubadour who can command a stage with anyone. I'm absolutely in love with Fever Marlene. I think Scott Starr and Kevin Dunphy are so good and so unique that they actually stand a chance of making it big. And Eddie Butts can get a crowd going better than almost anyone I've ever seen.

I guess the point I'm making is that music is a big tent. The ideal thing is to say you love good music, but don't limit it by genre.

Think of songs like "A Change Is Gonna Come" by Sam Cooke, "Johnny B. Goode" by Chuck Berry, anything by the Four Tops, "Satisfaction" by the Stones, "Nowhere to Run" by Martha Reeves & the Vandellas and "Dock of the Bay" by Otis Redding are true musical classics. They were outstanding songs decades ago and they are outstanding songs today.

I will also tell you that as far as musicianship goes, cover bands have people who can play with the best of them. It's not like they know three chords and everyone else knows dozens.

I really hope that my younger friends, some of whom have written on these pages in recent days, will open their hearts, minds and arms to cover bands. Sure, there are bad cover bands. But there is bad music in every genre.

Plus, it's important to understand that certain music is appropriate for certain occasions. If I want to sit on my couch with my feet up and reflect on life, I probably don't want to listen to Angel City Outcasts, an L.A. band that can really make you sweat. If I'm in the middle of a long road trip, you won't hear me listening to Edith Piaf. And when people go to a summer festival, they fall in love all over again with "Gloria," "Stand By Me" and "Good Golly Miss Molly."

And there ain't nothing wrong with that.

Dave Begel Contributing Writer

With a history in Milwaukee stretching back decades, Dave tries to bring a unique perspective to his writing, whether it's sports, politics, theater or any other issue.

He's seen Milwaukee grow, suffer pangs of growth, strive for success and has been involved in many efforts to both shape and re-shape the city. He's a happy man, now that he's quit playing golf, and enjoys music, his children and grandchildren and the myriad of sports in this state. He loves great food and hates bullies and people who think they are smarter than everyone else.

This whole Internet thing continues to baffle him, but he's willing to play the game as long as keeps lending him a helping hand. He is constantly amazed that just a few dedicated people can provide so much news and information to a hungry public.

Despite some opinions to the contrary, Dave likes most stuff. But he is a skeptic who constantly wonders about the world around him. So many questions, so few answers.