Anders Osborne Behind the Desk
Rural Rhythm Records & Sammy 3
Beyond The Song Vali Forrister & Actors Bridge Ensemble
The Indie Way Are You Ready for a Publicist?
The Writers Round | Now Media Three Questions for Radio APD Global Radio Indicator Charts Featured Artists & Reviews Killer Tracks | A Stranger Look November 2013
10 Cover Story – Anders Osborne
Anders Osborne is a true musical treasure with his detailed songwriting, his intensely soulful vocals and his piercing guitar work. Anders, one of the most original and visionary musicians writing and performing today, delivers the next chapter of his spiritual odyssey with his new cd Peace. Anders has created the most observational record of his career. “Peace is light from darkness”.
17 Behind The Desk – Rural Rhythm Records & Sammy 3: Honoring the Past, Shaping the Future Rural Rhythm Records has become a mainstay among Nashville record labels and has remained a champion of traditional country and bluegrass music when so many other labels have gone out of business or been absorbed. The label is run by Sam Passamano, Jr., and his son, Sammy Passamano III, more affectionately known as “Sammy 3”.
FROM THE PUBLISHER As we close out 2013 we have a lot of successes to celebrate and be thankful for. I am looking forward to 2014 with great anticipation. AirPlay Direct continues to grow and prosper at an extremely high rate. We are very proud that AirPlay Direct now delivers more Bluegrass, Folk, Americana and Blues music to radio globally than any other company in the world. AirPlay Direct currently has over 36,000 artist / label members and over 8,600 radio station members in 90 countries globally.
30 Beyond the Song – Vali Forrister & Actors Bridge Ensemble
The November edition of the Direct Buzz will be the last issue for 2013. It has been a lot of work re-launching the magazine, but it has been a truly successful endeavor and was very well received by the professional global music industry at large. 2013 covers of the Direct Buzz featured Colin Linden, Marty Raybon, Della Mae, Carl Jackson and Anders Osborne.
28 The Indie Way:
The Direct Buzz cover for November features Anders Osborne. Between the potency of his richly detailed songwriting, his intensely emotional, soulful vocals and his piercing, expert guitar work, New Orleans’ Anders Osborne is a true musical treasure. He is among the most original and visionary musicians writing and performing today.
Since 1995 Actors Bridge has produced more than 70 plays including 50 Nashville premieres and 13 world premieres of new theatrical works. As an actor training program and professional non-profit theatre company, Actors Bridge is committed to creating provocative theater and original work in Nashville. In an exclusive interview with Vali Forrister, she gives insight to why she co-founded Actors Bridge and their mission in Nashville. Team Building – “Are You Ready for a Publicist”
4 The Writers Round:
Interview with Kenny Lamb
29 Three Questions for Radio: 35 Now Media:
John B Mullinix – WDEB Radio
Using AirPlay Direct for Tour Promotion
25 Killer Tracks:
James Kahn, Valerie June, & Buck Owens
22 A Stranger Look: “Strangers” Go To Nashville 27 Featured Artists:
The 4 winners of tDB November “Buzz About
AirPlay Direct is also pleased to announce Rich Mahan’s appointment as the 2nd official APD Artist Ambassador. Congratulations to Rich and all involved.
36 APD GLOBAL RADIO INDICATOR CHARTS™
As always I would like to thank the APD Executive team and all of our partners for their dedication, professionalism and on-going support.
With fine regards and respect,
You” Artist Contest
Publisher & Founder: Robert Weingartz EDITOR: Lynda Weingartz Contributing Writers: Robert Weingartz, Michael Harnett, Fred Boenig, Rich Mahan, Rick Moore, Ryan Smith, Mark Logsdon, Barye Cassell, Elsie Sycamore, Dr. T. Roberts ART DIRECTION: Aleven Creatives (aleven.com)
© 2013 by AirPlay Direct, LLC. All Rights Reserved.
Robert Weingartz Chairman & CEO, AirPlay Direct Founder & Publisher, the Direct Buzz Founder & Executive Director, Collective Evolution
THE WRITERS ROUND by Robert Weingartz
Kenny Lamb AirPlayDirect.com/SongDriven SongDrivenMedia.com SongDriven Media was founded in 2013 by hit songwriter and producer Kenny Lamb and music industry executive and songwriter / entrepreneur Andrea Standley. Robert Weingartz, Chairman & CEO – AirPlay Direct sat down personally with Kenny for an exclusive one-on-one conversation. Robert Weingartz (RW): Kenny, give us some basic insight to your career as a songwriter and how that developed into you forming SongDriven with your partner Andrea. Kenny Lamb (KL): I have had a career as a published songwriter for the last 16 or 17 years, and I am fortunate to now be nearing the “100 cut” mark. What I started noticing over the last several years was that opportunities for song placements were becoming heavily guarded with new challenges. You could feel the window to these outlets becoming much tighter. When I was a staff writer for Warner / Chappell for 5 years, I began to have a sense of the “mind-blowing” amount of content that was being created globally every day. Quite frankly, there are just not enough outlets for the voluminous amounts of great music that is being written every day. Once you have this knowledge as a songwriter, you truly realize the challenge before you. There is just a very small percentage of these songs that will ever see the light of day, and even if they are “cut”, they will have a
“rare” possibility to become a “single” on a meaningful level. RW: I believe there was a more sophisticated approach starting to develop in the industry where “everyone” wanted to own the publishing. Songwriters, artists and publishers wanted to control their own synergistic relationships regarding songs and publishing. This evolution was based upon them developing a more condensed and “selfcontained” revenue objective. Your thoughts…? KL: We can go to the root of the issue; I was kind of hitting the effect and the reality. We can open that can of worms. As the various artists and their camps started to get more
involved in publishing, they started clamping down on the opportunities and claiming the publishing territory. Once the administration of publishing started to become more simplified and efficient, it started to make a lot of financial sense for songwriting and publishing to be moved in-house. However, it started to become increasingly difficult for songwriters to place songs. RW: Your company SongDriven is approaching this new music business paradigm in a very innovative way. Please share with us how your model differs from the traditional approach to “song plugging”, and how you came up with the name SongDriven?
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KL: Absolutely… With us, everything is song focused, song driven; whereas song plugging is more about connecting with the artists and the other big platform, film & TV. The great thing about the film & TV medium is that it allowed a lot of room for independent artists to place songs. Unfortunately, this frontier has now become a very competitive and crowded space as well. That’s why our focus is to create a new platform that can offer a world where songs have room to run, and are not limited to just the artists they could become attached to. Just to be real clear, with SongDriven it really is about the song. The fact is that there are more great songs written every day than there are recording artists to record them. So what’s the solution…SongDriven Media creates an outlet for these songs to be heard. We help songwriters to create exposure and create a brand and an identity by partnering with us. The power of a compilation is something we really believe in. This helps to give the songs a home. Yeah, there is some head scratching going on about “who’s the artist”. We welcome and love having that conversation with folks. We enjoy having that debate, because then the story gets told. SongDriven’s compilation “Hits Without Artists, Christian Vol. 1” is doing well on AirPlay Direct. We now have a vehicle, and a brand that can be associated to these great songs. RW: I really love what you guys are doing. I am a brand & marketing guy. So just hearing you speak so passionately about your brand and what it means to you is very exciting to me. It certainly fits very neatly with the AirPlay Direct eco-system. KL: It really was a natural first step and what a great partnership we have with AirPlay Direct. We couldn’t be happier. RW: The number one thing I un-
derestimated was how huge the technology “learning curve” was going to be for a lot of music industry professionals. That was almost 9 years ago now. Have you encountered the same obstacles in launching SongDriven? KL: Most people don’t know how many different professionals it takes to make a record. With each person having various levels of knowledge regarding the way the industry as a whole operates and changes, it can be a challenge to properly educate and inform. RW: So let’s change gears here for a minute. As we all know there is
a natural selection process where the cream eventually will rise to the top if properly branded and promoted. As a songwriter, please share with us how you have separated yourself from the masses and have enjoyed so much success as a songwriter. KL: It may be that I have been thinking along these lines before I was part of starting SongDriven with Andrea. You know I think for me, as I put the effort into what I could and should do to develop my craft and my songs, I have also been pretty “out of the box” when it comes to how I have thought about pitching songs and where they could go, not
limiting the thought process to just trying to pitch to established artists. I’m out there working with new artists. I am developing vehicles. I am always looking at angles for songs to reach listeners. These are songs I really believe in. Every time I have believed in a song and put that effort into it and really worked it, it has found a “home”. Well not every time, but there’s a higher percentage of success when you take that approach. It began kind of an “odd” trail of connecting the dots; really thinking about where a song could be part of something. Some of these placements were through artists, but some were through film & TV angles, and some were on the promotional / commercial levels. If I were to simplify the answer, I think that it would be that my approach to marketing and pitching the songs I write has been more entrepreneurial, and this mindset, especially these days, can serve you well. Wherever that effort takes me, the songs I represent come along as well. Not every writer thinks in these ways. If not, they need someone around them that does. A good manager, publisher or some sort of “go between”. And I know AirPlay Direct has filled a big space in that area. That is kind of the key as to why we work with you guys, and why we have great synergy with AirPlay Direct. RW: So writing songs and having that gift is something very special. But having a craft, and the craftsmanship and the responsibility that goes along with the gift is the real deal. Do you know what I mean? KL: Oh man, you couldn’t have said it any better. You know I get it. We all know that feeling when we are procrastinating or not getting it done in that area. We feel it weighing on us. Because there is a responsibility, there is another side to it. Nobody else is in charge of these tunes but us at the end of the day.
RW: I was once asked the question, “What is the difference between a dreamer and a visionary”? My reply “Dreamers dream and visionaries execute”. So where do you think the music industry is heading for you. How do you approach turning dreams into reality, and turning art into commerce? KL: You know, that is a great answer you gave regarding dreamers and visionaries. I have been trying to be in that mode these days. I have done a lot of thinking and I get a lot of ideas. I am like you, I like that side of things. But the actual doing, seeing things through and executing properly is a whole other process. You really have to be willing to step up and do the day-to-day that make those things happen and be inspired enough to do that. That’s what happened with SongDriven when Andrea and I started talking about it… it just snowballed into an absolute. We knew we needed to do this. We knew there was a great story and that there was a reason. When you have that, then the next question is “Now what do we do?” That led us to you and some other things that are starting to pop. Boy I tell you,
where this is going? Robert, there is a lot of great unknown for all of us in this business. However, my feeling is that as I have moved more into publishing and have gotten involved in helping other writers find homes for their songs and developing their catalog, I really enjoyed getting in and working with the talent directly. I really enjoy that side of the fence. So that takes me into why it is important for people to start getting more information out there on what we call songwriter’s rights. This is a side story to the marketing, and that’s why I love the two main veins of SongDriven—it is not only an informative, solution based new
platform, but SongDriven is branding multi-genre compilations as a vehicle for these songs. We have an Americana compilation and a Country compilation coming up in the works, and these will all have multiple volumes to them. RW: We have been working very hard to help songwriters gain acceptance at global radio as a mechanism to help them validate the strength of their songs and increase the chance of helping that song ultimately find a home. How valuable do you believe this tool is to songwriters? KL: It’s almost like having a personal built in “focus group”. This is very valuable data and information for songwriters. This is part of the next evolution for songwriters marketing themselves, exposing their music globally and ultimately placing their songs. RW: So tell us a little about your partner Andrea. KL: Andrea is an amazing people
person, as well as a strong ambassador for songwriters. She is a talented songwriter herself and has worked in the major label world. She sees the problems and the disproportionate share of royalties that songwriters receive. So when we work with writers it is a very nurturing environment. Everything we talk about is about us supporting their songwriting, encouraging them, but also not just being “yes” people. We set the bar very high for our writers. We push our writers and help them develop to the point to where they can get their songs to a level that is competitive with anything out there. RW: Is there ever the thought in your mind that one of the songs from your compilations could end up breaking an artist globally? KL: Absolutely, without question I believe that possibility is very real. You talked about the analogy of a song getting picked up by a couple of hundred radio stations and a ma-
jor artist getting wind of it and it going upstream into these areas… that’s the whole point. We hand pick and A&R every song that goes into the compilations. We feel like these songs, especially those few that rise to the top are worthy of major label cuts, or placement in film & TV opportunities. It is our responsibility to help create the visibility and opportunities for our writers to be successful. RW: Kenny, this was a great conversation and I am inspired by the inventive ways that you, Andrea and SongDriven are helping to re-define and shape the ever evolving role of the songwriter. KL: Robert, thank you so much for this opportunity to share some insights to myself, Andrea and SongDriven. For more information on Kenny, Andrea or SongDriven please visit www.SongDrivenMedia.com
Anders Osborne By Michael Harnett
etween the potency of his richly detailed songwriting, his intensely soulful vocals and his piercing guitar work, New Orleans’ Anders Osborne is a true musical treasure. He is among the most original and visionary musicians writing and performing today. Guitar Player calls him “the poet laureate of Louisiana’s fertile roots music scene.” New Orleans’ Gambit Weekly recently honored Osborne as the Entertainer of the Year. OffBeat named him the Crescent City’s Best Guitarist for the third year in a row, and the Best Songwriter for the second straight year. Osborne also won Song of the Year for his composition, Louisiana Gold. Since the release of his 2010 Alligator Records debut, American Patchwork, his 2012 follow-up, Black Eye Galaxy, and his critically acclaimed 2013 EP, Three Free Amigos, Osborne has earned hordes of new fans. He has toured virtually non-stop, either with his road-tested trio, as a solo artist, or as a guest with his countless musical admirers. These admirers include Toots and The Maytals, Stanton Moore, Derek Trucks, Warren Haynes, Keb Mo, The Grateful Dead’s Phil Lesh and Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe. He’s appeared on Galactic’s Ya-Ka-May album, and
in 2011 produced and played on critically acclaimed albums by Tab Benoit, Johnny Sansone and Mike Zito. Now Osborne delivers the next chapter of his spiritual odyssey, Peace. With the new CD, Osborne continues the journey started by American Patchwork and Black Eye Galaxy, emerging from a whirlwind of emotional chaos and moving toward a sense of inner peace. Peace looks at the title subject from all angles. Drawing strength and inspiration from his family and friends, Osborne created the most observational record of his career. According to Osborne, “Peace is light from darkness. The songs are written from the outside looking in. They are not making any judgments. I’m just stating facts. I’m writing from a brighter perspective. There’s less dusk and dark, and much more sunlight. The results are greater than I expected. The driving tones and sounds are free and natural. This is one of the coolest records I’ve ever made.” the Direct Buzz: The cover photo of “Peace” is a young girl ostensibly giving the finger with a look of sullen defiance. The image is quite a contrast with the title “Peace”. What was the impetus for this photo and what does it symbolize? ANDERS: I was in the middle of pre-production and planning for the record and a friend of mine had posted that picture several years ago. It resurfaced and I thought it was really great. For some reason the timing was right this time around, and it launched me into what I needed to do to make a record I would be excited about. When you start a record there are so many things on your mind, excitement, nervousness, etc. And then you look at the songs and what you should do with them. Once I got this image in my mind, it and everything else seemed to make sense with this record. This image spoke to me, so
I called my friend and asked him if I could use it as the cover art. Subconsciously you are looking at this beautiful little girl and she holds up that little nail polished finger and her chubby hand, deadpan look and composition wise it just looks great. In the background are a Volvo and the New Orleans architecture. She was in her private school uniform and I got a feeling for it and it was deep. The first work title was Generation Generation and then it was Generation Lost and it made me think about my childhood, my kids, my parents. That launched me into writing mode and it all made sense. From that point on I got it. The title went to Generation Peace and finally just Peace. tDB: On the new record there are shifting palettes of light and dark but in the end it seems like the light wins. Have you found “peace” at this point in your life? ANDERS: I think I have moments of peace. The consensus is that the jury is still out. I have made some big life changes the last five years and I’m at peace with the things that I do. tDB: When listening to the record, “Dream Girl” sounds very hopeful
and “My Son” expresses gratitude for being blessed. Your family is obviously a source of inspiration. What is the story behind “Sentimental Times”? ANDERS: It was a song that had been about 10 years or so since my mom passed. And then 7 or 8 years after Katrina, it was not that I was really thinking about those things but I picked up a guitar and a slow dirge type of vibe came over me. When I put the lyrics together I was in a sentimental mood and wanted to write about two events that have affected me the most. tDB: The lyrics to “47” are an interesting depiction of a station in life. Do you anticipate doing this forever like the greatest blues players . . . or The Stones? ANDERS: Yeah, I think so. At this point in my life its feels pretty clear what I’m talented at and what contribution I can give to the community. This is probably it. Based on my heart and my feelings right now it’s an exciting profession and it allows me to be who I am. tDB: Speaking of Katrina, how did this awful tragedy change the
roots music community in New Orleans? ANDERS: It changed a little. A lot of people didn’t make it back or chose not to come back. It opened up the doors to some new stuff, a wave of new bands coming about. tDB: Was “Five Bullets” written about a true event? It seems very real. ANDERS: Yes, there was a Martin Luther King parade shooting this year in New Orleans and it was just hard to wrap your head around something like that. It was just very strange. tDB: On the record you used a lot of New Orleans musicians such as Susan Cowsill, Brady Blade, John Gros and Jason Mingledorff. Were those conscious selections? ANDERS: Maybe not so consciously, I choose musicians based more on my personal contact with them and how that reflects in their playing with me. John Gros was my second keyboard player and we have been joined at the hip for a very long time. He is involved in most of the things I do. It is a really good crew. It was a pleasure to be around all of them. tDB: You produced “Peace” with Warren Riker. How did the two of you end up producing this album together? What did you enjoy most about working with Warren? ANDERS: I met Warren through Pepper Keenan, a guitar player here in New Orleans, from a band called Down. I called in Warren to mix some stuff on my release “American Patchwork” and then he and I hit it off and we have worked on all my records since then. Warren is world class in every way, engineering wise, ideas wise and personality. He is a really good friend and I trust him and we just have a lot of fun together. tDB: This is your 4th record with Alligator Records. This has turned into a pretty long-standing situation. What is it that you appreciate most about
your relationship with Alligator? ANDERS: Their openness to let me do the things that I do musically on my records. I really appreciate the way they have an open mind. They are great guys, really down to earth and easy to get along with. tDB: Are you pleased with the way “Peace” came out and did you accomplish what you set out to do with this record? ANDERS: Yeah, I think it is a wonderful record, there is very little about it that I’m not really excited and proud of. Most of the time there are things I wish I could have done
differently but in this case it is pretty close to what we hoped to achieve. Also when you record, the record takes on a life of its own and takes you in a direction that you definitely didn’t plan on when you start, so with that in mind it took us to a really cool place. It feels good. It feels complete. tDB: You are early into the release and promotion phase of “Peace” but . . . what’s next for Anders Osborne. ANDERS: I have thought a little bit about the next record but I am trying to really focus on the touring. I’m producing some young artists and then touring all spring and summer.
tDB: Six months to a year from now what you would like to see as the results for this record? ANDERS: From a business standpoint, we would like to reach as many people as possible and to keep touring and working behind the record. It is always fun when a record is getting a year, a year and a half lifetime before you have to do another one. I want to keep our show really interesting. Hopefully I would like to reach some new people who were not part of my fan base previously. tDB: You tour a lot and on your upcoming tour you have quite a few shows with Phil Lesh. How did you two hook up? ANDERS: Phil Lesh reached out to me regarding the “Phil Lesh and Friends” shows that he puts together. He was looking for something last April for his venue Terrapin Crossroads. He puts together different bands and combinations and they reached out to us and the relationship has continued. tDB: Do you consider him a kindred spirit? ANDERS: Yeah, and a mentor...a landmark of Rock n Roll. There is before those guys and then after them. tDB: Many artists have covered your material. Do you write songs primarily for yourself that end up appealing to outside artists or do you craft songs specifically and deliberately for these artists? ANDERS: I think the majority of the time I write for myself, but I do both. I have also written with other people in mind. Sometimes when I have produced projects, I will cowrite with the artists. We look for ideas, and they come about in all kinds of ways. tDB: What type of artists are you drawn to when you are writing songs? ANDERS: I don’t think I have a specific style or type of artist in mind. It is always important that I connect with somebody and they inspire me.
They have personality and their own style, and by looking at things from their perspective… that inspires me. tDB: Do most of your songs come from personal experience or as observations of the experiences of others? ANDERS: The majority are my own thoughts. I try to utilize other peoples’ experiences that make a good story or a good feeling. It varies, but the majority of the time I draw from what I have gone through. tDB: How familiar are you with
AirPlay Direct and what we do for artists like yourself and Alligator Records. ANDERS: I was first aware of your mail outs when I was working for Universal Music in Nashville as a staff writer for fifteen years. It is a good thing and we appreciate it. tDB: Anders, thank you for taking the time with us today to talk about your new record and yourself. ANDERS: God Bless and thank you so much.
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Rural Rhythm Records and Sammy 3: Honoring the Past, Shaping the Future www.ruralrhythm.com In a rapidly-moving business that shifts with the changing economy and evolving technology, Rural Rhythm Records has become a mainstay among Nashville record labels. In business for nearly six decades, Rural Rhythm has remained a champion of traditional country and bluegrass music when so many other labels have gone out of business or been absorbed, or have succumbed to whatever they think the “next big thing” is going to be. Having produced and distributed hundreds of albums, both compilations and first-time works, from such legendary bluegrass and old-time country artists as singer/songwriter Mac Wiseman, fiddler Vassar Clements, guitar genius Clarence White and many others, Rural Rhythm has survived by staying true to its roots and representing traditional, time-proven talent. Today, with a roster that includes former Shenandoah singer Marty Raybon, brother-sister bluegrass act The Roys, singer and multi-instrumentalist Ronnie Reno and more, the label is run by President Sam Passamano, Jr., and his son, Vice President / Acquisitions & Artist Development Sam Passamano III, more affectionately known as “Sammy 3,” who is also involved in video production for the label. Rural Rhythm was founded by Jim O’Neal, Sammy 3’s uncle, in 1955 with, as the label’s website puts it, “a few dollars and lot of dreams.” Sammy 3’s father bought the label from Uncle
by Rick Moore Jim in 1987, and today the company is still family-owned and operated. Though the Passamano’s have a long music business history, Sammy 3 decided to become part of the family business only a few years ago, and the acts he’s working with seem to be glad he did. “I had a successful personal training company in Pasadena, California and I did that for years,” Sammy 3 says. “It really groomed me for talking with people and working with one-onone situations. But I quit that to come work with the family business and I haven’t looked back. It was the best decision I could have ever made, and I’m really enjoying myself.” “My father, Sam Jr., worked for my uncle when the label was more like a catalog business,” Sammy 3 continues, “one of the biggest catalog mailing companies out there in fact. My grandfather, Sam Sr., was the head of special markets for MCA in their heyday, and then my dad later worked for MCA too. So knowing some of the stuff that goes on at the bigger companies, things that my dad and grandfather saw that they may not have liked, kind of set the tone for how we run our record label.” Having said that, Sammy 3 also knows that business is business, and that it always comes down to money in the end no matter how great the art is. It’s his job, in the 21st century, to figure out how to promote music that isn’t necessarily mainstream in a rap-
idly-changing broadcast environment. “The difference between an indie like us and a major label isn’t really that far off except for the amount of zeroes,” he says. “On a major label you obviously get a lot more zeroes, you’re in a much bigger pool, and radio’s playing you more heavily. The reason our bluegrass isn’t growing as fast as we’d like sometimes is because we don’t have the clear channel radio (referring to terrestrial radio, not necessarily the company), and we don’t have the television exposure. Without those it’s hard to grow. Social media and YouTube have been phenomenal, but you still need the exposure of those two.” So, to help get that radio exposure around the world, Rural Rhythm employs the global services of AirPlay Direct. Sammy 3 said that, without the services of AirPlay Direct to promote his company’s artists in the Internet age, much of what Rural Rhythm does wouldn’t even be possible. “The great thing about AirPlay Direct is that they allow us to see what stations are actually downloading our music,” he says. “AirPlay Direct gives us another way to compete, because it’s geared to helping the artists and the labels who are in more niche markets. Robert (Weingartz, AirPlay Direct CEO) called me years ago and said he had this platform, and after he told me how it worked I said, ‘I’m all in.’ I was spending money with other services and was getting nowhere with my artists. I believe AirPlay Direct is our future at Rural Rhythm, that it’s the future of bluegrass and Americana and more of the niche genres that don’t get a fair shot.” Sammy 3 said that using AirPlay Direct has helped ensure that the music of the label’s artists will get to where it needs to go to be heard. “Robert has built up AirPlay Direct to the point where I can send out a DPK and I’m going to get between 600 and 1,000 downloads,” he es-
timates. “There’s no comparison to anything else out there on the market that truly pinpoints what our needs are. AirPlay Direct is true grassroots, a service that really gets in there and helps the artists and labels and publicists and everybody. In our world it’s huge. I make sure AirPlay Direct is mentioned on everything we do, on our website, on every press release. I want everyone to know about it.” Only in his 30s, Sammy 3 loves and respects the music that is distributed by his label, but is also part of a new generation that is seeing rapidly evolving and changing styles of music. Because of that, he said he may be leaning towards Americana artists in the future when it comes to signing new acts to the label’s small, but talented roster. “The thing I like about Americana is that you aren’t necessarily pigeonholed, that someone isn’t going to listen to you and say, ‘Well, that’s not Americana,’” he says. “It’s so broad, it’s so big. Whereas in bluegrass, people expect it to sound a certain way or are afraid of changing and expanding. I get it. But people still love traditional country music too, and country radio
isn’t playing traditional country music anymore because they want to reach a broader audience. In bluegrass we don’t have that advantage so we have to find a way to expand it. We have to let bands like Trampled By Turtles, or even someone like Mumford & Sons who may not be true bluegrass, showcase what bluegrass could sound like if you added percussion, or if you changed up the arrangements. That’s the kind of genre I want to get into, and if you want to call it Americana, then that’s fine.” “I would like to be similar to Sugar Hill/Vanguard Records in some respects,” he continues. “I really love the way they market their artists and put themselves out to the world. My job is to get us up into that kind of place, and to do that, it’s important that we not be strictly a bluegrass record label. My dad loves bluegrass, as do I, but I also would like to go more to the country side since we are here in Nashville. But I have realistic expectations, so I’m probably going to hit Americana and slowly work our way up.” Sammy 3 says that he isn’t out to build a mega-label, but a label that
Helping Independent Artists to Succeed since 2001 www.AmericanaMediaPro.com
does extremely well with, and for, a smaller number of acts. “Five or six is the number of artists I’m zoning in on right now because I can really spend time focusing on them,” he says. “If we had 20 it would be impossible to get everything done. I would end up wondering if I was helping them or hurting them, or if I was spending enough time on them. That’s why I think a smaller roster is ideal for efficiently doing a good job.” Even though he wants to expand a little stylistically, Sammy 3 is a big fan of the artists currently on the label. “Another reason for a smaller roster is to pare down to certain artists we really believe in,” he says, “to have artists like The Roys and Marty Raybon, who are phenomenal entertainers. Like Ronnie Reno, who has his show on RFD-TV. That’s probably one of the biggestviewed television shows out there for bluegrass. Sirius XM radio and Ronnie’s show are probably the two biggest outlets for bluegrass music. Not all artists can entertain and perform at the same time, but an artist like Ronnie – and he is a real artist – helps bring the television aspect to the label as well. It’s important to me to have the right core group of artists on the label that we can all work together with.” Reno is a music business veteran who has worked with his father, the late banjo icon Don Reno, as well as Merle Haggard and many others. His weekly television show Reno’s Old Time Music can be seen on RFDTV, and he sings the praises of Rural Rhythm and its A&R director. “It goes to a lot of hard work and they all have that work ethic, Sammy and his dad and the family over there at Rural Rhythm, to make this music a success,” Reno says. “And Sammy 3 is so smart and enthusiastic...he’s going to be a true force in our industry.” Former Shenandoah lead singer Marty Raybon is a member of the Rural Rhythm roster, having released his latest album The Lower Forty with
his band Full Circle earlier this year. “I’ve been with Rural Rhythm going on three years, and I’m really happy there,” Raybon says. “It’s because of their performance; because I feel good about what they do and because they’re straight up with you.” Sammy 3 was the one I talked to originally about working with them, and I told him, ‘I’ve been wanting to talk to your dad,’ and he said, ‘That’s kinda funny because my dad’s been wanting to talk to you.’ They love what they do - they love the music, they love what it’s about.” Yet another successful act on the roster is The Roys, the sibling duo of Lee and Elaine Roy that has taken the bluegrass and inspirational worlds by storm. “We’ve done three records for Rural Rhythm, and we’ve been blessed that they’ve really taken a liking to us,” says Lee, the mandolinist/vocalist of the duo. “They’ve done everything in their power to get our music out to the people and that’s all you can ask for.” Sammy 3 has directed two videos for The Roys to promote their singles “Trailblazer,” from their Lonesome Whistle CD, and the video for the title track of their most recent album, Gypsy Runaway Train. Vocalist/guitarist Elaine Roy sings the praises of the director, who knows what it takes
to visually promote a record but still gives the act plenty of room for their own input. “Sammy 3 really believes in the genre and loves bluegrass music, and it’s really been a lot of fun to work on our videos with him,” Elaine says. “We’re able to discuss our ideas with him on the set, and it’s been so cool that, as a director, he lets us put our thoughts in there because some people don’t. And that’s how they are at Rural Rhythm. They pretty much let us do it and they market it.” Even though Sammy 3 runs the A&R side of things and is obviously involved in other areas of the company’s operation, his dad is still the president. Sammy 3 states, however, that eventually he will probably be at the reigns. “My running the company someday is something we’ve talked about,” he says, “though I don’t think my dad’s ever going to go away and he’s certainly not going away anytime soon. We have a great relationship both at and away from work, and you have to have a good relationship to have a successful family business. Plus, my dad and I both have the same passion for great music and hard work, and we both want to continue to get the work of great artists out there for everyone to hear.”
A Stranger Look:
“Strangers” Go To Nashville AirPlayDirect.com/TheHelloStrangers by Elsie Sycamore
The last time The Direct Buzz checked in with Americana duo The Hello Strangers (September 2013 Issue), sisters Brechyn Chace and Larissa Chace Smith were preparing for their first of several trips to Sound Kitchen Studios in Nashville to work with producer Steve Ivey on their first full-length release. The sisters were paired up with Ivey when they won AirPlay Direct’s “Win An Americana Record Deal” contest in January 2012. Since then, they have been hard at work getting everything (the contract, logistics, etc.) ready so they could get into the studio. Finally, in early October, after a year and a half of preparation, Larissa and Brechyn made the trek from South Central Pennsylvania to Nashville where they got to meet Steve and spend three long but rewarding days in his studio. The Direct Buzz checked back in with the sisters after their trip to get the full scoop on their experience. The Direct Buzz (tDB): So you’ve just returned from Nashville. Tell us about your trip. Larissa Chace Smith (LS): We left on a beautiful Wednesday morning, October 9. We had our team with us: our photographer (and my husband), Ryan Smith, and our guitarist (and Brechyn’s boyfriend), Spencer Pheil. Ryan docu-
mented the whole experience through videos and photos. Spencer was there for moral support, food runs, etc. We were in good hands! We all drove down in one car, stopping in Bristol, TN on the way to check out the Birthplace of Country Music and buy some extra guitar strings. We traveled that route a lot when we lived in Austin, so it was fun to relive some of those memories. Brechyn Chace (BC): We got to Nashville around 8 p.m. after a 12 hour drive. Being on the road always makes everything seem surreal, so checking into our motel that night we felt thrilled, exhausted, and a little strung out all at
the same time. We unwound with some sushi takeout and “Kindergarten Cop” on the motel T.V. We wanted to meet Steve and get into the studio around 9 the next morning, so we went to bed pretty early. tDB: What was it like meeting Steve Ivey? BC: The next morning we were incredibly excited. The plan was to have Larissa record all 13 of her acoustic guitar tracks first, so she was pretty keyed up that morning. Her nerves started to get the best of her at the motel’s continental breakfast. I think she managed to get a banana down. Ryan, Spencer, and I
had to give her a pep talk. LS: I definitely had butterflies! Not just because of the pressure of recording all my guitar tracks right off the bat, but there were so many factors involved with meeting Steve, working on a creative project with someone we had yet to meet, etc. We drove over to the studio and met Steve at the front gate. Sound Kitchen is a complex of amazing studios with a beautiful entrance into a southwestern-style courtyard. As soon as Steve came out and we finally met, I felt the anxiety melt away. All of us immediately had a great rapport with Steve. His relaxed, professional attitude really made the next 3 days so fun and efficient. tDB: Tell us about the highs and lows of your days in the studio. LS: Well, needless to say my guitar tracks took a lot longer than I had anticipated. You know, in your head you think that it’ll take half a day and it never turns out that way. You think, these are 3-4 minute songs, it can’t take that long. But there are always factors you don’t consider, so I ended up finishing the 13 tracks at 7 or 8 p.m. that night! I definitely had moments of anxiety throughout the day worrying that it was going to take longer than a day. I knew we had a limited time down there so I was relieved to get it all done the first day.
BC: Larissa worked her butt off that day. The rest of us rooted her on from outside the isolation booth. Steve helped keep the energy up, and we just enjoyed watching the process unfold, eating copious amounts of jelly beans and jalapeño chips, and walking around Sound Kitchen. We were very excited to start our vocals the next day. We finished about half the vocal tracks the first day, taking breaks to step out into the sunshine and throw a football, eat, and chat. LS: We each definitely had our challenges and low moments throughout the process, whether we were hungry, trying to nail a part, or stressing that we weren’t going to finish what we wanted to. But you always bounce back after you finish
a track and feel like you nailed it. BC: I had a moment where I was trying to perfect an intricate vocal part, and I just couldn’t get my head around it to sing it the way I wanted to. But Steve was calm and collected the whole time and talked me through it until I got it. He really gave us confidence in ourselves as artists. Every night after finishing up we would all just gush about the day, about Steve, and how amazing and fun the recording experience was. We were definitely pinching ourselves. LS: Then on Saturday, the day before we left, Robert and Lynda Weingartz stopped by the studio to meet us and check on how everything was going. A year and a half after winning the contest, and only communicating with them via phone or email, we finally got to meet the people who gave us this amazing opportunity! BC: At that point we were feeling like we were on the right track to finishing our vocal tracks that afternoon, so having Robert and Lynda come by (with Robert’s parents) when they did felt like the perfect way to tie up all the loose ends and celebrate a little. Finally, after over a year of dreaming about this opportunity, everything felt like a reality that day. The Direct Buzz will be checking back in with The Hello Strangers as they put the finishing touches on their long-awaited album. Stay tuned for more! Photo credit: Ryan Smith Photography
The Direct Buzz offers reviews by a team of professional music critics. Any AirPlay Direct artist or label interested in being considered for a review should contact us. Choose three songs from your DPK, and we’ll give you our opinion of them. We can’t guarantee a rave review, but we can assure you that it will be honest and constructive. We will try to honor all requests, but it might take awhile. As such, your patience is appreciated.
James Kahn takes you out on the town. If you want to know what to wear, don’t get dressed up, because we are going to one of those warm little watering holes that only a few know. It is not the flashy kind of place that you need to be someone to feel at home. “Man Walks Into A Bar”, is the party you did not even know you were missing. The music is simple, warm, and friendly. Once his smoky voice tells the story of the bar, you just want to hear more. Using a honky-tonk blend of Americana, Bluegrass, meets Blues, meets Pop/Rock you slide into that home feel of the bar. Each song is a solid stand alone tune. After listening to each song you don’t feel as if you have heard it all before. Imagine Bob Dylan, Billy Joel, and James Taylor all rolled into one and you will find James Kahn. My favorite’s are “Delores Quits Dancing” with its sexy sax, and the bluesy riffs, “Through a Glass Darkly” with its tasty Hammond B3 chops,“Light Blue” talking to you with the Trumpet, and harmonica flavored “The Bartender”. I would make this Bar my new favorite home. Don’t forget to tell them Barye said the next one is on me. Barye Cassell
Valerie June could be the next big thing among female vocalists, and her new Pushin’ Against a Stone is going to be hard for anyone of any genre to beat this year. The album’s opening track, “Workin’ Woman Blues,” combines such unlikely elements as Americana finger-picking ala Christopher Paul Stelling with Freddie Hubbard-inspired trumpet to complement a vocal that is equal parts Odetta and post-Supremes Diana Ross. Willie Dixon’s ghost lurks in the shadows of “You Can’t Be Told,” while the title track has the sonic presence of a 1960’s Curtis Mayfield production.With guest players like the legendary Booker T. Jones and former Squirrel Nut Zippers member Jimbo Mathus, and recorded in Los Angeles, Nashville and Budapest (yes, as in Hungary), Pushin’ Against a Stone is truly an international, multi-genre influenced affair by an awesome talent. Produced by the Black Key’s Dan Auerbach, and Joshua Radin’s producer Kevin Augunas, Tennessee native Valerie June draws from a striking range of influences, from Robert Johnson to old-time Gospel, from Billie Holiday to Appalachian country, from Memphis R&B to pure jazz, resulting in a recording that is a joy to listen to. Rick Moore
Man Walks into a Bar
Pushin’ Against a Stone
Buck ‘Em! The Music Of Buck Owens (1955-1967) AirPlayDirect.com/BuckOwensBuckem
The late, great Buck Owens and his group The Buckaroos helped to create what has become known as the Bakersfield Sound. This sub-genre of country music is defined by its catchy melodies, sparse instrumentation, twangy guitars, hillbilly edge, and rock and roll attitude. Lyrically, the story lines are simple, engaging, and memorable. Omnivore Records has just released a 50-track compilation of Buck Owens material that includes rarities, alternate versions and mono versions of hit singles. Are we pleased with the results? Buck yeah! Buck’s career initially took off in 1959 and he enjoyed major success for the next five decades as a singer, songwriter and television host. Owens had 21 number one hits throughout the years, and the scope of his influence is vast. A wide variety of younger musicians have covered his music, ranging from country artists like Dwight Yoakam and The Mavericks to indie-rockers like Ben Gibbard and Mark Lanegan. Of course, The Beatles most famously covered “Act Naturally.” For music fans who are not familiar with Buck Owens, this collection is the perfect introduction. For the die-hard fan, it’s got enough rarities to make it well worth the purchase. Ryan Smith
THESE ARE THE 4 WINNERS OF tDB NOVEMBER ISSUE “BUZZ ABOUT YOU” ARTIST CONTEST.
Elle Maze Pop Rock / Pop Folk / Alt. Country Elle is a nationally and internationally acclaimed young artist. Shortly after her arrival in Nashville, she caught the ear of noted Music Row Publisher Russ Zavitson (Achy, Breaky Heart) who signed her to publishing and development deal. Since then, she has had the privilege of writing with some of the finest writers on the row. Now, Elle is armed with a killer band, led by Lonestar (Already There, I’m Amazed) guitarist/co-founder Mike Britt. --------------------------------------------------------------------------Listen here: AirPlayDirect.com/ElleMaze ---------------------------------------------------------------------------
Gas House Gorillas
Country / Americana
Roots Rock / Rockabilly / Swing
Folk / Folk Rock / Americana
Audrey Auld is a fearless entertainer and witty writer. Audrey is never afraid to venture into the dark places of life and shine a humorous light upon them. Her songs are heard on the Grand Ole Opry, recorded by Nashville stars and descendents of the Carter Family, included in TV shows (‘Justified’, ‘The Good Guys’, ‘Longmire’) and played within the walls of San Quentin Prison where she hosts ongoing writing workshops. -------------------------------------------Listen here: AirPlayDirect.com/AudreyAuld --------------------------------------------
The Gas House Gorillas are considered by many to be the most fearlessly uninhibited performers ever witnessed and a sure fire guarantee for a rippin’ good time! Described as “Punk Americana”, GHG encompasses a broad range of styles including Jump Blues, Rock & Roll, Swing, Cajun Music and early Punk Rock. Artists as diverse as Wynonie Harris, Groucho Marx, Sam Cooke, Fats Waller, and The Ramones all coexist in the Gorillas’ musical vernacular. -------------------------------------------Listen here: AirPlayDirect.com/GHGPunkame... --------------------------------------------
Lost Hollow is where you get to hear the powerful songwriting of Lor and Tommy Harden. In Nashville, Tommy is a top call studio drummer, playing on many of today’s biggest hits. Lor has been called “the best singer in Nashville, she’s like a best kept secret!” With the dynamic range of Swell Season and Civil Wars, and the captivation of Carole King, their songs draw you in and won’t let go. -------------------------------------------Listen here: AirPlayDirect.com/LostHollow --------------------------------------------
By Mark Logsdon
Team Building: Are You Ready for a Publicist? Learning that you can’t do everything yourself, is one of the hardest lessons to swallow in your pursuit as an artist. Whew! Now that we’ve passed that epiphany, it’s important to educate yourself on the ever changing roles of potential team members. Since my expertise lies in the field of publicity, it’s important to learn if or when you are ready to engage a publicist. Below are pointers to follow. 1. Can You Afford It?
Unlike the traditional management and booking deals, a publicist does not work on the back end. You will need a budget to compensate your representative and their staff. Publicists are secured via a monthly retainer, per project and some even negotiate hourly consultation fees.
2. Are You Receiving Requests?
If you are garnering interest from media already, that is the perfect time to engage a publicist. Media professionals, like many other fields, have heftier workloads as cut backs hit new rooms and production crew. You must deliver a focused and worthy pitch/response in order to secure placements at TV, radio, newspapers, magazines and blogs.
3. Do You Have a Finished Product?
As publicists, we have worked years to build reputations with media professions so it’s very important that we deliver to them quality content in a time sensitive manner. If you already have a finished product, then just ensure that there is something
“new” for that publicist to promote. If you are finishing up the product, please do not hesitate to ask their advice as we can often suggest edits to save you from an embarrassing situation. A misspelled word, especially in a song title, could turn an emotional song like “Crying My Life Away” into an ode to greasy food should it be printed “Frying My Life Away.” #Fail.
4. Are You Performing?
If you are landing gigs as an independent artist, I applaud you for your unwavering efforts. Keeping a busy tour schedule is no easy task and takes lots of time and persistence. Are you making the biggest impact you can on the road when you enter new markets? Without a publicist in place, I would have to assume that answer is no. A publicist will connect with all local media to not only garner pre show exposure, but will also encourage journalists to attend the show for reviews and comments. In addition, we can help you connect with the area’s community. You may be traveling into a town that has been devastated by storms, experienced a loss in the community or has a need
that you can help with for example a food donation to a local mission or maybe they are experiencing an over population of animals at the shelters. Any opportunity for you to personally connect with your audience is going to not only make you feel good, but will also solidify you a fan base in that area.
5. Do You Need Help Refining Your Direction and Image?
You only get one first impression on a new audience and you had better make it a good one as your competition will quickly garner an opportunity if they see an opening. You need to make sure you have a professional package that matches your sound and personal goals. Each genre comes with its own underlying guidelines and it’s necessary that you develop a sound and image that simply makes sense. You won’t see a mainstream country artist posing next to an Aston Martin for his or her publicity shot. Just as you won’t find a metal band sharing pictures of their wife and kids from that beach vacation last summer in their packaging. It doesn’t mean those situation don’t exist; it just means that
those snapshots aren’t visualizations that will connect with their target audience. If you think it’s time to hire a publicist, now you must search for the one that you feel the most comfortable with and one that has the connections to take your career to the next level. There is power in saying no---this goes for both the artist and the publicist. Make sure you’re meeting with people who both understand your sound and have the time to commit to your project. Finding the right publicist is almost like dating. You want someone you can tell your deepest insecurities to so that they can avoid or tackle those situations moving forward. Our office has turned down projects for both of the points that I listed above. We’ve had artists send kits over on rap and hip hop albums most recently, and clearly that artist did not take the time to research the company that he or she was pitching. We have had no success in that market and simply did not have the relationships in place to make a quality effort in their career. I advised the client to look at firms located in cities that have a strong influence in that market like Atlanta. We’ve also referred clients to other agencies when we either didn’t have room for it on our workload, or when it would be a conflict of interest. If you classify yourself as the new Josh Groban, then you probably shouldn’t look into the firm that represents Josh. Overall, knowing when to engage a publicist can save and make you money when it is executed correctly. Find an agency that completely gets you and understand that it takes time to build a campaign. You didn’t write, record, mix, master and manufacture your album in a day, so don’t expect a publicist to be an overnight miracle worker.
THREE QUESTIONS FOR RADIO by Fred Boenig This month on “Three Questions” we interviewed John B Mullinix, 59 years old from WDEB a Country station in Jamestown TN. the Direct Buzz (tDB): What is your station I.D., location, format and how long have you worked there? John Mullinix (JM): I work at WDEB FM 103.9 Jamestown TN, which is a small Country station in a very rural part of North Central Tennessee; our entire county is about 17,000 people. We play Top 40 Country with a mix of older Country. The AM side of the station plays Classic Rock / Golden Oldies. I also have a Bluegrass Show on Saturday nights called “Bluegrass Saturday Night”. Bluegrass is very popular in our area. It was the Bluegrass music that led me to AirPlay Direct. I was searching for places to get access to Bluegrass music and APD was a Godsend. When I ran across APD I sent an email to apply as a radio DJ to access the music and Lynda (from APD) sent an email back. Lynda Weingartz has been a long-time family friend of mine from Jamestown TN and I hadn’t seen her in years. As it turns out, besides a radio personality, I’m also a pastor and I had the pleasure of marrying Robert and Lynda a few years later all because of APD. AirPlay Direct has made it possible for our rural hometown radio station to compete with the bigger stations in larger markets like Cookeville, Nashville and Knoxville. We do well in the 30+ with the local news. We also have the Trading Post, Obituaries and the County Commissioner Meetings. Our ratings are real strong in our area.
tDB: How long have you been a member of AirPlay Direct and why do you use AirPlay Direct? JM: I was searching for the top Bluegrass artists and found APD, a small gold mine with a great selection of music. I have used it now for a few years. We also use APD for Gospel music for our station’s Gospel programming. AirPlay Direct has a perfect blend of new releases, classics and great catalogue from the past. tDB: Tips for Independent artists on AirPlay Direct. Please share with us one tip on what “not to do” with your APD artist / release page, and one tip on what “you should do” with your artist page and songs. JM: I see APD as an opportunity for artists that don’t have the financial resources or another real opportunity to get their music out there. They now have an avenue to reach out to the world through APD. An important piece of advice for artists is that I like a short biography of the artist or group, especially on newer groups. Also, please include who wrote the songs and when it was recorded. What “not to do” is waste my time with a lengthy bio, or post songs that are not “radio ready”.
Vali Forrister – Actors Bridge Ensemble Actorsbridge.org
Actors Bridge was founded in 1995 by Bill Feehely and Vali Forrister. Bill is a professional actor, director and songwriter who moved to Nashville after working in professional theatre in New York for fourteen years. Bill is a master teacher, with an MFA in acting from the Mason Gross School for the Arts at Rutgers University. He is the head of the acting program at Belmont University. Vali Forrister has a master’s degree in performance studies and is an accomplished producer, director, writer and performer. She is also the creator and Super Goddess of Act Like a GRRRL. She serves as adjunct faculty at Belmont and Lipscomb University, and is the Producing Artistic Director for the organization. Since 1995 Actors Bridge has produced more than 70 plays including 50 Nashville premieres and 13 world premieres of new theatrical works. Actors Bridge has trained over 3,500 actors in the Meisner Technique. Their students have appeared on Broadway, Off-Broadway, in television and film, as well as on every stage in Nashville. As an actor training program and professional nonprofit theatre company, Actors Bridge is committed to creating provocative theater and original work in Nashville. The Direct Buzz (tDB): Vali, please share some of your personal history with us and why you decided to create and launch the Actors Bridge. Vali Forrister (VF): I’m a fifth generation Nashville native. I love my city, but when I was growing up there was not a wide breadth of theatre offerings here. I was lucky that my family trav-
By Dr. T. Roberts
eled to New York almost every year, exposing me to the best contemporary plays. By the time I reached college, I was planning my own annual trips to New York and Chicago to see theater. I wanted my hometown to have access to all the amazing theater experiences I was having in my travels. It never occurred to me that I could bring Nashville those types of experiences. Then, on my return home from grad school, I met a veteran New York actor, director and teacher and decided “why not?” I was young and stupid enough not to know how impossible an undertaking it was. I think we can
accomplish a lot when we don’t know what’s “impossible.” That was 18 years ago. I’m very proud to say that we have contributed to deepening the dramatic conversation in Nashville. We brought plays here that otherwise might never have come: The Laramie Project, The Vagina Mono-
logues, Never the Sinner and Marisol. We’ve written original scripts about issues Nashville holds dear, examining faith and doubt, illuminating Nashville’s role in the civil rights movement, and highlighting the experiences of women from our Kurdish community. I always thought I would go to New York to try to “make it.” Then, I met Bill (co-founder of Actors Bridge) and learned that I could have a much greater impact right here at home. I’m grateful for all the lessons Bill has taught me. That one’s number one. tDB: You offer quite a few different classes and workshops. Give us some insight to your various programs and services. VF: I think what I loved about all those New York theater experiences as a child was not only the gripping dramatic content but the authenticity of the acting. It was so real. I now train actors on how to shed their false theatricality and presentation style to deeply connect to their partners on stage and in the audience. The guru of truthful acting in America is Sanford Meisner. Actors Bridge is a Meisner Technique training program, in addition to a professional theater program. As part of our pursuit of authenticity, helping people rid themselves of the layers of pretense they’ve built as a survival technique; I also offer workshops in autobiographical writing and performance aimed at teenage girls and adult women called Act Like a GRRRL. I believe the Meisner Technique is a philosophy of living disguised as an acting technique because it teaches us in very practical ways how to get of our heads and be present in the moment. I’m the luckiest girl in town. I get to watch people not only improve their work on stage, their ability to interact with an audience in an unselfconscious way, but also improve their personal lives and connections. tDB: Some of your classes are designed specifically to help educate and train young women. What is your long-
term goal in working with young ladies? VF: I believe our culture is hostile toward teenage girls. Now more than ever. I take very seriously my great success (and therefore responsibility) of exposing the “competition myth” that keeps women and girls feeling separate and alone, sniping at one another for the crumbs under the table. I’m working to create a table where all women and girls feel welcome and can experience the personal expansion that comes when we abandon scarcity consciousness and bask in the realization that there is enough beauty, intelligence, and talent for us all to be fulfilled. Act Like a GRRRL is celebrating it’s 10th year of creating empowered, resilient, compassionate young women who trust their inner wisdom and believe in their ability to achieve their dreams. The adult women’s version of the program has more than 5 years of success in helping women reclaim their voices and celebrate their deepest truths. I’ve now done the program in communities as diverse as the Tennesse Prison for Women, the mountains of Bolivia, the suburbs of Washington, D.C.and some of Nashville’s lowest-performing public middle schools. It’s been successful everywhere I’ve taken it. My dream is that I can begin to train facilitators in my methodology, allowing the program to expand globally beyond
where my hands can take it. I’ll be piloting my first GRRRL Facilitator Training in Nashville in early 2014. tDB: Actors Bridge is a 501(c) 3 nonprofit. What challenges do you face daily in raising donations, obtaining grants and driving revenue in general? VF: Well, part of living an authentic life and helping other people to do the same is saying what you mean. There are a lot of people who feel personally attacked when I say “our culture is hostile to teenage girls.” It’s hard for me to imagine that you could watch TV or cruise Facebook for longer than 10 minutes without being smacked in the face with this truth. So, one of the challenges to raising money is fighting the myth that empowered women and girls are “man-haters out to destroy our democracy” (you’d be surprised how often I hear different slants on this message). I see the work of Actors Bridge and Act Like a GRRRL change lives daily. Yet, many people still view the theater as “frivolous and trifling.” Those who do get the importance of the work sometimes want to see enormous numbers of people being “reached.” Part of my success is that I reach people on a deep personal level. My total number reached may not be as great as programs with huge staff and budget, but the degree to which people are changed could not be greater. Quality or quantity, you know?
Those are my three greatest challenges in fundraising. Oh, add the fact that I’m a one-woman operation. Sometimes, there are not enough hours in the day to do the work and raise money to continue doing the work. I usually err on the side of the prior. You also asked about driving revenue in general. We exist on a combination of ticket sales, tuition from classes, Act Like a GRRRL and donations. I’m constantly creating new programs, but I never turn anyone away because of an inability to pay. I work hard to keep my programming affordable. tDB: What is the most important contribution you believe the Actors Bridge brings to the local Nashville community?
VF: My friend Rev. Becca Stevens once said, “Actors Bridge is amazing talent wrapped in an enormous, giving heart”. That’s the legacy I want to live up to every day. There is now some great theater happening in Nashville. Actors Bridge is lucky because the combination of our training program, theater company, GRRRL events, storytelling nights and other programming keep us in constant contact with our community. I view my patrons, my students and my actors as my chosen family. I know what’s going on in their lives. I miss them when I don’t see them. They call to check on me in my moments of personal crisis. I view this as sacred work. It’s not a job. It’s a deep personal calling. tDB: How do you think the Actors
Bridge approach to training and learning differs from other relevant acting programs? VF: I always tell my students, “I’m not teaching you to act. I’m teaching you how to be present in the moment and respond truthfully to what you experience on stage.” There are other acting programs that do a great job teaching the ABC’s of acting for the stage and the camera. Meisner work is deeper, more nuanced and more applicable across a wide range of performing arts. Meisner said actors (I would say humans) have two main problems: they are self-conscious and they don’t listen. What career path wouldn’t benefit from learning how to shed those two problems? Many of my students are lawyers, business executives, songwriters, filmmakers, poets looking for deeper authenticity and connection in their work with no expectation to ever be in a play. As the sociologist Irving Goffman says, we’re all engaged in the “performance of self in everyday life”. Let’s do it justice. tDB: Given that you are located in Nashville, TN, I imagine you might have quite a few musicians in your classes. Having said that, how do you feel your programs could enhance the live performance of recording artists? VF: I love working with musicians, songwriters and recording artists. They “get” the Meisner Technique quicker than anybody. They know what it feels like to stand on stage in an intimate room like the Bluebird and feel like nobody’s connecting to your words. They know how important it is to not be “thrown” by the unexpected. I love hearing their stories after 3-4 weeks in class as things start to click. Whether it’s a deeper truth in their writing or a more intuitive sense of their audience, they are bursting with stories of important change that they attribute to the Meisner work. tDB: What will you be doing in 2014 that will be new and exciting for the company? VF: We’ve just moved to a new studio at the LeQuire Gallery on Charlotte
Avenue. The new space is going to allow us to do more small performances of provocative plays as well as continue our very popular First Time Stories series. Because we love a good excuse to get our family together, we’re also going to be celebrating every holiday we can find. We’ll be doing The Vagina Monologues for Valentine’s Day (a fundraiser for GRRRL scholarships). We’ll have an interactive Star Wars party on MAY 4th (“may the 4th be with you”). We get to celebrate our 19th birthday on July 4th. We celebrate monthly community birthdays at each of our First Time Story nights. August 1-3 will be our 3rd annual Sideshow Fringe Festival, Nashville’s only fringe festival of performing arts. We’ll have circus acts, music, puppets, theater and so much more. tDB: Do you have any plans to open additional offices in different cities? VF: I would love to have offices for Act Like a GRRRL in communities around the world. I do a fair amount of workshops and retreats using the Meisner Technique, and GRRRL writing and performance strategies. I would love to do more of that kind of work. When I see how thoroughly people are changed by the work, I want to get it to as many people as possible.
What you can do to help: Your donation makes a difference! Please consider a tax-deductible contribution to Actors Bridge or by visiting their website: actorsbridge.org For more information contact: Vali Forrister Producing Artistic Director email@example.com Phone: 615-498-4077
by Rich Mahan
Using AirPlay Direct for Tour Promotion Hello Katz and Kittens, welcome back to another installment of Now Media, the place in the Direct Buzz where we talk about how to use AirPlay Direct to make the most of your radio related promotional efforts. Last month we talked about using the tracking feature to follow up with radio stations who have downloaded your music. Lets take that tracking feature a bit further this issue. To make the absolute most out of this feature and your efforts, enter the information about each station who downloaded your music into an excel spreadsheet. By organizing this data this way, you can easily search by station call letters, city, & state, and that makes it easier to narrow results to give you the information you need quickly. Spend a little time organizing your data in this way, and it will save you time every time you go to this database to pull info. Ok, so on to this month’s angle… Everyone needs help getting butts in the seats at shows, especially when you are on the road, away from your hometown fans. Using this tracking feature, you can find radio stations that have taken an interest in your music along your tour route. Check your AirPlay Tracking to see if there are any stations within the splash zone of any of your gigs. Send messages to those stations and offer them the following along with a message that adds, “We saw you downloaded our music on AirPlay Direct. Thanks. We will be playing in your area on (Date) at (Name of Venue) and would love to:
• Visit the station and play some songs acoustically live on the air. • Offer copies of a CD or vinyl release for on air giveaways along with tickets to the show. • Ask them to add you to their station’s concert calendar on their website, invite them to the show, and offer to put them on the guest list. • Offer to cut them a Liner or Station ID. (You know, it’s when you hear Tom Petty say, “You’re listening to WNRQ, Nashville’s Classic Rock.”) Most stations have a script ready to go that covers the necessary important parts they need, so don’t be shy about asking them for their script. Whenever you make it to a station and get some face time, always remember to take pictures with the staff and post them on your social media. Tag the station, and anyone in the pictures… make the most out of this opportunity! Build relationships with radio people, and they will help you spread the word about your band. Got some holes in your tour route between those places where you have radio support? Look for community, college, & other non-commercial stations in the markets you need support. Google (city where the gig is) Community Radio and find the email addresses for the Program Director and the Music Director. They are the decision makers you want to hit up. Send these jokers your DPK and hit them up for all of the aforementioned promotional opportunities. Go ahead, don’t be shy, they are use to it, and remember, the answer is already no if you don’t ask.
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