(New York) The Black Hollies, from Jersey City, N.J., may have a misleading name. They don't sound like the Hollies, but they do sound like the Yardbirds, or the Zombies or the early Kinks, or the pre-"Tommy" Who. They stepped out of a time machine, from the era when bands had long hair but still wore suits -- 1965 or '66, but not '67. They're young-ish guys, too, playing vintage gear. Only the band members themselves were manufactured after 1970.

They capture a particular vintage sound, and they are dead-sincere about it. No spoof act here. They put on a tight, well-put-together set, one song right into another, and beyond the fuzztone guitars and Farfisa organ, they have some real tunes. On their first full-length album, "Casting Shadows," I like every single track.

My girlfriend Amy and I first saw them as an opening act, and they were way better than the headliner. We've gone back to see them a couple of times and have not yet been disappointed.

So, first of all, check out the Black Hollies. Second, even in this era when so much music is available for free, if I like a band, I want to buy something, and I don't think I'm alone. A couple of weeks ago, we saw the Black Hollies play an early set in New York, and the cover charge was very low. And they wailed. They played a set that gets you rocking and puts a smile on your face. They have a new drummer, who apparently went to school on Keith Moon records. So it all keeps getting better.

When the set was over, I wanted to buy something. The cover charge was so low that I wanted to give them something. A basic human impulse, to open the wallet. For centuries, buskers and public-house minstrels and Beatles have survived on this impulse, and free digital file-sharing won't erase it anytime soon.

So I'm at the merch table, talking to the guitar player (I don't know these guys at all), and he starts talking and talking about the band's wares, how they make their records and so on. He keeps talking, because he knows that the more he has me listening, the more likely I'll buy something. So I buy the band's new album, "Softly Towards the Light," on vinyl, for $10. And it's a fine record. In fact, it may even be a little better than "Casting Shadows."

What's the point? In this day and age when music is given away for free, and when there's so much of it that you can't possibly get to it all, then when you find something you like, you don't mind paying. Or at least I don't. I'd rather pay for something, to feel like I'm supporting it or participating in making it happen, in some small way. And to get hold of a genuine artifact.

Not a very original observation, but it's a data point, at least. (Some of these comments are from email correspondence with my friend Jimmy Guterman in Boston, who is an astute observer of music and media and the world at large.)

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