Welcome to the inaugural issue of Regional Musician! This first editorial is going to be about three times as long as what to expect in the future, so pardon my long wind as I give you the run-down of what we’re all about. It’s important that you know some basic fundamentals of the magazine. 1. We are going to do our best to keep it clean. Our audience is large, and while sometimes a solid cuss word really delivers a story or punch line, we’re going to tell the same story without it. 2. All genres are included. We are going to try very hard to be fair to everyone. Even a death metal touring act can learn from a Christian ensemble, and vise-versa. These first few issues will take time to build the coverage of bands. If you’ve seen too much of one genre, or think you belong in here, we want to know, and in the next pages we’ll tell you how! 3. RM is designed for the working musician, but it’s great material for the non-musician too! If you don’t play, or if you’re a closet-musician, don’t feel like this isn’t applicable to you! I know plenty of certifiable nut sports magazine readers who can rattle off the most mundane stats, and have never worn a jersey in their lives. We welcome you to enjoy RM’s pages too! 4. If you’re looking to read about the artists who appear in 200pt font at the top of a festival poster, you’re definitely in the wrong place. We’re writing about the bands in 9pt font at the bottom. We’re looking for the bands who would be happy to be the 9pt. We are putting out 5 issues every month, one for every region of the country. Most of the content in the regular columns will appear in every region. What separates them is the content about regional acts. We dedicate pages to bands from every state. You submit answers to the Q&A; a panel of musicians decides who earns the right to be in the pages; winning the cover spot is determined by you and your fans. We’ll create a Facebook contest for each region where you promote and send your fans to vote. This is where you need to make sure your FB fans are legit, and not bought! For now, we’re doing all the selection until we have enough artists to launch the program. RM is an online-only/digital magazine, and our intention is to always keep it free to readers. Plenty of magazines tell you the gossip of A-listers, show you their pics, and bring you star-studded interviews. No disrespect to the other mags or those celebrities; there’s a place for them. Our direction is a bit more concentrated on those who are trying to become a household name, or those hoping to write songs for those folks. You’ll hear from the people in the same trenches as you. Some people think you have to put “celebrity content” in the magazine to legitimize it. You know what? That’s counter to our thoughts. We are legitimate to you if we are bringing you stories and experiences from people you can relate to. To us, that’s legitimate. We understand that musicians aren’t necessarily gifted in the ways and means of navigating the business side of the industry, and that’s what we’re here for. We hope to enlighten you with tips and advice to advance to whatever level you are seeking, from making merch decisions that don’t waste your money, how to maximize studio time, how to understand a piece of gear, or just reading what others have done so you may learn from their mistakes. Stick around, this is going to be a fun ride, and we’re anxious to get started!
AUGUST 2013 EDITOR IN CHIEF Greg McNair BUSINESS MANAGER Tina McNair MARKETING MANAGER Greg Smith ART DIRECTOR B. S. Jones CREATIVE DIRECTOR Joe Argent CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Bill Young Joel Cornell David Keith Ricky Carden Gene Robinson Geoff Short David Koonce Hope Cassity Curt Granger Greg McNair CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHERS Curtis B. Reynolds Greg McNair Blair Hundley CARTOONIST James Hislope ADDRESS 5184 Caldwell Mill Road Suite 204-168 Birmingham AL 35244 www.regionalmusician.com Opinions and views expressed in this magazine are not necessarily shared by Regional Musician or 138 Media Group, LLC. Any references to trademarked organizations are not necessarily an endorsement of the products or services provided by them. Links provided in articles and advertisements are provided by manufacturers and service providers and are the responsibility of those entities. No content within these pages may be reproduced or redistributed in part or whole by anyone without the permission of Regional Musician or 138 Media Group, LLC. We will not be held liable nor accountable for any damages that may be incurred by anyone who visits our site. If you, the visitor, have any grievances with any guest material that is posted on this site, you are responsible for contacting the author in question. This disclaimer is subject to change without notice.
Letter from the Editor 2 The Columns 6 Letter of Thanks 8 Liner Notes 9 The Green Room 11 Region Map 13 Sound Check 15 Studio Session 17 Writers Rounds 19 Opening Acts 21 Backstage Pass 24 The Barricade 26 Random Acts 28 Geek Speak 30 Author Credits 32 Sustain 33 4
If you could have four hours in a car with someone from the
industry who has walked the walk, what would you ask them? Imagine being in a van full of those folks right now, and every month hereafter. If you don’t know what you’d ask, don’t worry, we have a pretty good idea of what you might need to know. For some of you, this may not be new information. For others, this could be an ongoing exploration. We try to keep both the seasoned pro and the newbie in perspective with every article, and we hope everyone will learn something new. Every issue will contain most of the same material, because the columns are relevant no matter where you live. What will be different is the content related to your region. More specifically, we’re going to highlight artists, festival coverage, venue information, and feature stories relevant to your region. This allows you to explore what’s happening in other parts of the country, and it gives more artists opportunities to be in the magazine.
This is where you get to hear advice and tips from recording studio engineers and users to help you make the most of your studio experiences.
We’ll bring you tips from sound engineers who work small shows to mega festivals to help you understand how to get the most from a live sound experience. You may be the guitarist in your band, but you also run the PA and may not have a good understanding of what you’re doing. We’re here to help!
Q&A interviews of an artist or band from your state. As the issues roll out, this section will expand to cover every state in the issues region.
We’re going to showcase some pretty nifty gear. Some may be boutique, some may be for the masses; some may be expensive, and some may be inexpensive. We’ll bring you the cool stuff.
This column is specifically geared towards giving you information which helps you become a better business person. As I said earlier, you can’t be great at all things at once, but this column may very well help you to be a better businessperson in addition to being a better artist. If you handle your business before you enter into any scenario, be it a live show, teaming up for co-writing, or simply starting a band, you’ll be better protected, and retain more of your earnings. We’ll show you how to market yourself, how to steer clear of scams, how to take advantage of social networking, how to work with everyone on and off stage, and how to generally be a smarter artist.
We break down technology categories an issue at a time. Want to understand the difference between digital and analog mixing consoles? We’ll give you the “guide for dummies.”
A humorous story or adventure that will give you an “I learned about being a musician from that” perspective. Think of it as an opportunity to laugh or cry at another musician’s adventure, and file it away for the time it may happen to you. We invite your stories, so please be sure to send us a liner-noteworthy adventure!
This is our section dedicated to the art and craft of songwriting. As the old saying goes, “Everyone has a song in them.” But not everyone knows how to get that song onto paper and into the studio. We’re going to bring in guest songwriters from around the country to give you their insights. From arrangement techniques to creating your lead sheet, you’ll learn what worked for them, and how their style may help influence your next hit. And of course we’re going to tell you how to get your song to market!
This is our parting photo, and we hope it leaves you smiling or thinking!
There are two sides of barricades when it comes to entertainment. One side is for fans, the other is for the people who make the entertainment happen. If you want to remain on the entertainer side, keep up with this series, because it’s going to take you through one bands journey from the garage to the big stage. You’ll go back in time to when it started, and eventually be brought to current day. At some point, we’ll be picking up with what will nearly be play-by-play because this band is still in the trenches vying for more radio airplay. Just because you may be a solo artist—don’t think this won’t apply to you. There are nuggets of gold for everyone in this series.
We’ll throw in a random article here and there, which may be national content, or it could apply to your region only. You never know what you’ll see here…could be a story written by a major artist, or a perspective from a venue operator. It might be a feature on something unique in the industry such as handbuilt instruments.
This magazine wouldn’t be possible without the help of some very good friends who have supported us since the beginning. Right away, I want to thank my wife’s bosses for not firing her when they found out we were starting a magazine. Because she works in the publishing industry, we were just sure this would be a conflict of interest that would make it very tough on us. Instead, we were given full support, so thank you Val and Loren! Next, we have this core group of friends who have been giving us financial and production support, starting with my attorney and friend Chip Dawson, who helped us get the ball rolling. Shortly thereafter, we had our first roundtable meeting at a pizza joint in town. That night, some very sharp minds in the industry came together to help formulate the columns you read, the Q&A’s that you answer, and provide input for the overall format of the magazine.
Shown in the photo from L-R are Greg McNair, Curt Granger, Mitchell McElroy, Ricky Carden, Greg Smith, Steve Jones, Rick Carter, and Tina McNair. In addition to the roundtable, we have to give thanks to Curtis Reynolds for his awesome photography, all of our contributing columnists and writers including Overkill Bill Young, Gene Robinson, David Koonce, Ricky Carden, Joel Cornell, Hope Cassity, David Keith, Geoff Short, Eric Navarro, Erin Markan and the MITCH Collective. We received some serious financial support, and I think those folks would prefer to remain anonymous, but you know who you are, and we love you for your help. Luca Grandi on the other side of the world in Italy gave us some fantastic script help with the placeholder website, and Nick Brattoli right here in the US helped get the final website off the ground. Joe Argent tackled the typesetting and layout task with a sort of energy I remember having when I was about
15. Steve Jones helped me keep my cool as I started pulling assets together, and spent many hours with me and on his own working up layouts. Mykel Lee with our digital publisher needs a drink after all the calls I’ve placed to him. James Hislope is one of the most talented artists I’ve ever met, and he’s the genius behind the cartoon work you see in the magazine. I gave him the Liner Notes story provided by Pretty Little Kennedy Curse, and he pulled a scene right out of it and brought it to life in less than a week. I am very sure I have missed some folks, and I may receive emails, phone calls, and social media messages from people who I failed to mention. For that I sincerely apologize, and I ask you to call me out, so I can give thanks in the next issue! - Greg McNair
II was a Thursday night in May, and my band played a show at a local bar on the East Coast. We stayed around until closing time to get paid. My rhythm guitarist and I were taking his amp and our merch boxes to the van, when two girls stumbled towards us. They were thin, blonde, and pretty. They were also covered in body glitter, half naked, and let’s just say they spent a lot of time on the receiving end of glasses of liquid encouragement that night. They yelled, “We just got kicked out of a bar! What are you doing?” I was still pumped from the show and forgot that "hot" girls typically don’t care about bands until they’re famous. I figured they were two potential fans so I told them we had just finished playing a gig. They said something along the lines of “ohhh you’re in a band?” I put my merch box down to look for a few download cards to give them. One of them yelled, “You have shirts?! Give me one!” I tried to say, “I can’t give you one, but take a download card and if you like what you hear, come to a show and then I’ll give
you a free shirt.” I got as far as “….” before she and her friend shoved their hands into the box and stole two shirts. As they put were putting them on I said, “You just stole from us. Either give us 10 bucks or give us our shirts back.” The ringleader said, “How about we flash you,” and her friend added, “Yeah, I’ve got piercings!” I showed them the wedding ring on my hand and said I wasn’t interested, at which point, they laughed at us and walked off into a nearby 7-11. My rhythm guitarist said, “Well I guess we lost those shirts.” I, however, have a serious issue with attractive people taking advantage of the world as if it’s their right. I had him watch our stuff while I followed them into the 7-11. I found them four aisles into the store, and when they saw me, the ringleader literally fell to the floor and the other one ran away. In the next 60 seconds, the ringleader tried every “hot chick” play in the book. First, she offered to flash me again. When I declined she asked, “What are you, gay?” When that didn’t work, she said that she just wanted to support my band. I told her that her support meant nothing to me. CONTINUE ON PAGE 10
She continued to argue that I should be grateful that she would even wear it. At that point I went full Louis CK and told her, “Just because you’re hot doesn’t give you the right to steal from other people. You stole my property and you need to give it back.” She took off the shirt and swore that she would slander my band online. She looked at the shirt and said “Pretty Life Crumbly Church sucks!” My band’s name is Pretty Little Kennedy Curse. I took the shirt from her and walked two aisles down to find her friend hiding her face behind a display of Combos (I swear this is 100% true). She tried the same “I’ll flash you/ you’re gay/ I just want to support your band” nonsense as her friend. I delivered the same Louis CK-esque speech, and she gave the shirt back as well. As I hit my stride towards the door, the ringleader yelled out, “Keep walking, loser!” A few guys in line turned and looked at her, and the last thing I heard was, “No, not you. Hey, do you have a fake ID that looks like me? Mine got taken tonight.” When I walked out of that 7-11 with both shirts in hand, the look on my guitarist’s face was priceless. Victory was mine. Editor’s note: The artwork you see was produced by James Hislope, and just like you, he needs work to stay alive and pay his bills! If you’re interested in commissioning him for a project of your own, please contact us at email@example.com and we’ll put you in touch with him. Our goal is to profile his work in everey issue in this column!
Musicians have an unimaginable number of hurdles to surpass in the constant struggle towards their definition of success, whatever that may be. Most of these challenges you’ll never see coming. But if tragedy struck when you were expecting it, well then it wouldn’t be so tragic. The number one thing any and every musician must do to ensure their ability to last in the industry is deal with the boring, the confusing, the unimaginable. Case in point: insurance. Inland marine, key man policies, special riders, homeowners vs. renters vs. auto, liability coverage, volunteer accident, small groups vs. individuals; these are all severely uncool topics that no musician can survive without. Whether you’re travelling with the band or if your home is your stage and studio, if you’re solo on the road or based locally in an orchestra, you will absolutely need to cover yourself through both insurance and knowledge thereof. So, where do you start? First, we must decide what needs insuring based on several qualifiers: where you play, what you play, when you play, and how you play. And while the decision of what to insure and for
how much, based on your needs and the needs of those around you, is entirely yours, it’s necessary to be aware of the possibilities. Be aware of when the insurance of others might cover you; be even more aware of when you are not covered. If you’re one person gigging at the local taverns with an inexpensive acoustic guitar plugged into a cheap amp, and singing into a mic that has 20 years’ worth of spit on it and smells like a rotten bar towel, you might not need any at all. If you’re hauling around a trailer full of highly technical and expensive equipment, you had better be darn well prepared for accidents, theft, car crashes, any form of damage or loss. Even if it’s not your fault, the other person’s insurance will rarely cover all of your need.
can acquire broader business/commercial insurance which will cover any additional gear, trailers, merch, anything basically essential to your show. If you generate an income through your use of instruments, where the loss of your essentials represents a direct loss in income, you need this form of insurance, and likely many more.
That’s on you, and no one else. Always know your options. Here are some of the big ones:
Event liability insurance again does what it sounds like it should, which is to insure you (and your band, crew and fans) as well as your property at any kind of one-off event: concerts, music festivals, private parties, sporting events, the lot. CONTINUE ON PAGE 12
First up, we have commercial general liability, also known as business liability, or in this instance as simply musical instrument insurance. While some forms of this instrument insurance will only cover specific instruments, you
Volunteer accident insurance is exactly that. It can (make sure it does) cover any accidents caused by or inflicted on any of your volunteers. Anyone you pay for their work needs to be covered under a workers compensation policy (stipends reimbursing volunteers do not count as pay).
Your insurance company should assume all risk for any legal claims brought against you during the event. Travel insurance is essential for nearly anyone travelling, internationally or otherwise. In the case of musicians, travel insurance can extend across a tour of any given length, and will make sure that you’re not left out on the streets away from home in case of accidents, medical problems or injuries, delays or cancellations, theft, and more. Traditional health insurance can be purchased for both small groups and individuals. While many companies specialize exclusively in musical instrument insurance, they may offer standard health and life insurance plans as well. Key person (or key man) insurance is necessary if your band, group, or business would suffer a significant financial loss if a particularly vital (key) member of the organization dies or is otherwise incapacitated. Know the limits and details of each policy you have. Homeowners insurance will typically only apply to items within the home. Auto insurance will typically cover the vehicle and not the contents. Renter’s insurance will cover anything inside your rented home (apartments). But remember that these policies can vary from company to company, and may change over time. Keep in touch with your agent to make sure everything is as it should be. If your instrument is irreplaceable, for sentimental reasons or otherwise, insurance might not do much to replace what was lost. Thus, we come to what needs to be considered first before insurance: proper care and forethought. You need to be prepared so that when accidents do happen (and they will), you can make sure it can be replaced easily, and on someone else’s dime. Documentation is your prime directive. It is always much more work to assume someone else has everything in line and properly accounted for, only to find that you now have to track down bills of sale, appraisals, claim forms, photographs, statements from witnesses, and much more, some of which may not even exist. If only you had written it down first instead of saving that hassle for later! This simple laziness has been the downfall of many an aspiring musician whose pockets have been emptied by their own lack of foresight. Simply put: keep everything. Take pictures—as many as the memory card from your camera can handle. Keep that memory card with your documents. In the case of accidents or other types of loss, get the names and numbers of witnesses. Most importantly, learn where and how to keep absolutely every tidbit of information you come across. If you do not have explicit documentation, the insurance company will rarely give you the benefit of the doubt. If they did, they wouldn’t be around for long. The common industry phrase is “the burden of proof is on the insured, not the insurer.” Inventory every piece of gear. Every. Single. Piece. How many cords? What kind of dB suppressor? What capacity amp rack? Don’t just write down the serial numbers on your gear; take legible photos of the serial and model numbers on your gear with each piece in full view, from every angle. Keep at
least one backup of your data, with one copy being physical. Data storage is cheap nowadays, and there is no reason not to have multiple backups in multiple safe locations. You can even store this information on the interwebs cloud! The documentation of your gear is meaningless if it is lost with the gear itself (house fire, theft). Plastering your band’s name on the side of the van might advertise to a few new listeners, but more than anything it’s an advertisement to prospective thieves, letting them know the potential for expensive equipment bound to be waiting inside. Tour buses catch fire and have accidents. People can be forgetful and not properly secure latches. Without specific insurance covering each piece, no one is liable should the equipment burn up or disappear. Please understand that no matter what they say, no matter how convincingly they do so, insurance companies have a bottom line to keep in mind above the needs of their customers. Though they may consider your needs sincerely and honestly, they simply cannot operate in such a way that allows claimants to bankrupt them. This isn’t necessarily because insurance companies are inherently evil, although some certainly are according to many who have had bad experiences. They just have a business to run, and they’ve been victimized by fraud. This means that they will do their best to minimize payouts, so please make sure you understand what your policies do and do not cover, and to the limits which these policies will cover you in the event of the unexpected. You are a musician. The tools you use, the people you entertain, and the places where you work are your livelihood. Learn to keep them all well. Curt Granger, a veteran of the Birmingham, Alabama music scene for nearly three decades and owner of Granger Amplification, has had coverage with an insurance company for many years. He never really gave much thought about his insurance until he heard about another local band whose trailer was involved in a wreck on the interstate. They lost the trailer, and most of the gear. So, Curt got his own insurance: a renter’s policy for the stuff inside his apartment and vehicle insurance for the trailer, on top of the usual health and life policies. When Curt’s trailer was stolen from his own parking lot in September 2011, his insurance agency did pay for his claim on the theft of the trailer. What Curt didn’t realize was that, while the trailer was covered and the gear inside his apartment was covered, the gear when inside the trailer was not (even though it should have been). Curt had to hire an attorney to get anything for the claim on the contents of the trailer. The agency fought Curt and his lawyer tooth and nail, and eventually his claim was settled for a measly 20% of replacement value. At that point, you’re lucky to get that much. We managed to pull Curt away from his amp business to answer a few questions. Regional Musician: Ain’t hindsight always 20/20? What wisdom did you pull away from your experience with theft in Sept. 2011? Curt Granger: Never rely on someone else’s security. My trailer theft occurred in a gated apartment community I was living in at the time. CONTINUE ON PAGE 14
The security gate wasn’t operating correctly. To deter the ever-present threat of theft, always face a trailer hitch away from the driveway or parking lot if possible. It can’t easily be pulled away, and it should make it difficult for any potential thief to quickly access. A lock that covers the bottom of the hitch is much better than just a padlock that keeps the hitch clamp from opening/closing, since the latter is very easy to cut off. RM: What’s the best way to deal with insurance companies who have their best interests in mind, and not yours? CG: Rule number one when dealing with any insurance company—do not agree to let them record you! Make them write down everything you tell them. There is always a possibility that they misunderstood you, but a recording will be cut and dry, and they will question you when you are still emotional (a day or two after the theft). It's always best to wait until the emotional impact has subsided, and you can think logically without emotion. Second, if you know the claim is substantial, consider hiring an attorney to represent you before you speak to your insurance company. They are removed from your emotions, and will also do as much as possible to collect, since they also stand to benefit. RM: What precautions can musicians take so they don’t have to deal with insurance in the first place? CG: Record every serial number on every item. Store it in a safe place (not on a computer hard drive, unless you've made a backup). Keep it up to date.
Never take valuable items on the road. Keep the expensive guitars at home, and if you do carry them out, do not leave them unattended ever! Only take what you can cover under your insurance policy and hope to collect on should a theft ever occur. Insurance companies very rarely pay exact replacement costs - they don't care if a 1969 Les Paul is worth $12,000, they will only pay replacement costs, which means a new Les Paul that cost $2000, unless you have a specific rider for the stated item, and have, in writing, what the policy will pay out in the event of a theft. And those riders tend to be very costly. RM: What's the best advice you could have given your 20-year-old self on the issue? CG: I would have never taken for granted the fact that there are always thieves looking for easy access to anything they think they can sell quickly. To never leave valuable items unattended, and to always keep vehicles locked and secured. RM: What are the main issues regarding security that musicians need to be aware of (e.g., theft, fire, and accidental damage by yourself or others)? CG: Theft is number one. Make sure you know what you have (inventory - cost, replacement cost, and serial numbers) and it's always kept secure and not easy for thieves to find. Do not advertise your band on the side of your trailer or anywhere else you store equipment.
RM: When, if ever, is buying insurance not worth the monthly/biannual/annual cost? CG: If you own old and/or used equipment, it's good to know the street value and how much the item depreciates. You can routinely check on eBay for street resale value. Weigh that against the annual cost of your policy. If you can save that amount of money in a year, and it's enough to replace your equipment, then it may not be worth insuring your equipment. If your gear never leaves home, then it's probably covered under your homeowner policy anyway. RM: How do different kinds of musicians need to consider different kinds of insurance?
Musical Instruments TotalInstrumentInsurance.com
CG: Touring musicians are the most likely to be affected, so they need to make sure their policy has enough coverage to replace their equipment fully, so that they would not miss any work. They also need to realize that insurance companies handle policies different for the hobbyist musician (i.e. one that plays music only for fun) and the professional musician, who has reported income, and therefore operates as a business. Most policies will not cover the maximum limits if the items lost were used for business purposes. Most policies have very low limits. Be sure to read and know your policy limits if you are professional musician. RM: When will musicians (their lives, their gear, everything in between) be covered under the insurance of others? (e.g., does the studio/bar/hall ever cover the musician for anything at any point?)
Event Cancellation TotalEventInsurance.com
Key Employee hcc.com/specialty
CG: This varies greatly. Rule number one is to always have coverage for yourself. Most venues will not assume responsibility for you or your equipment, as most venues consider entertainment subcontracted labor, not employment. If there is a loss, you will most likely have to go to court if you expect the venue to be liable (in that case, hire an attorney). The same can be said for musicians who are either directly or indirectly responsible for the liability of a venue and their customers. The venue should have adequate insurance to cover that, and it's rare for a venue to attempt to hold the entertainer liable. This is something that needs to be discussed with your insurance agent when you are shopping for or renewing your policy. At the end of the day, there’s no foolproof safeguard against loss. The safest gear never left the store shelf, but that wouldn’t be any fun now would it? If this article leaves you in doubt about your own readiness, pick up the phone and call your agent. We don’t have all the answers, and we certainly aren’t agents or brokers. Ask questions of your agent. Know your coverage, and be prepared. The last thing you want to deal with is finding out you had little or no coverage when you needed it most. Always be truthful in what you do with the items you’ve insured. If you lie and say you don’t gig with the equipment, and your loss happens at a gig or on your way to one, you can’t expect the insurance company to be there for you when you weren’t there for them. It’s a two-way street. They disclose their rules, sometimes in print so small you don’t bother to read it. But you signed the dotted line. Know and understand what you’re signing and paying for! -RM
Mind over risk: The secret weapon of music professionals and the people who insure them. hcc.com
into? How was it tuned? Where was the mic (or mics) placed? Did he have a gate on it? Did it have a side chain trigger? Where was Pete’s house EQ set? Where was his speaker processor set at? Crossover points? Slopes? All these things and more play a role in how that killer kick drum sound is achieved. The point is, what works for Pete, probably won’t work for you on your rig. There are simply way too many variables. So, what can you do to get on the road to a solid, great sound? Listen. When you turn a knob, listen to what it does! Don’t get into the mindset of, “when I did this last week, it sounded good.” Every gig is unique unto itself. Every room sounds different. Crowds moving around change the sound. Full house versus empty house changes it. Outdoors, temperature, humidity, and wind play major roles in how sound travels through the air, thus changing the sound. If you work with the same band with the same rig every gig, of course you will develop a baseline of what does work for them, and have great info to start with. But if you mix different groups, or the same group on different house/rental systems, you have to learn to listen to the differences in the room, the rig, the mics, the players and their instruments, even how the singer handles and projects into his or her mic. By: Bill Young A priest, a drummer, and a sound guy walk into a bar… The bartender says, “What is this? A joke??” Seriously, have you ever walked into a club, venue, concert and just been BLOWN away with how great the band or artist sounded? “Hey Johnny! Dude, The Velcro Pygmies are playing at KJ’s Outback Rockin’ Pub this Friday!! We gotta check em out! They bring in that killer PA and light rig, and their sound guy Pete rocks!! He must have a Golden Ear!!” Ah yes. The Golden Ear. Makes it sound like something out of an Indiana Jones movie. Mythical, magical, something beyond our earthly realms….CRAP! Don’t get me wrong, Pete is a great soundman. But what Pete has is not a Golden Ear, it is an average ear. Surprised to hear that? Think of it like this: When Pete runs sound, and makes it sound good to him, it sounds good to the majority of other people too. Simple! Right? Yes and no. What Pete does well is he listens. He listens objectively to his band while they play, and with his experience he is able to prioritize what to adjust and when to do it. Just as importantly, he knows what not to adjust. So, you peeked over Pete’s shoulder, wondering how he got that penetrating, solid kick drum sound. You notice he had some low end boosted on the kick channel EQ, a little low mid cut out, and some highs dialed into the top end. “Johnny, I got it figured out man! We are gonna shake the house at our next gig!!” Well, you get to the next gig, set the kick drum channel just like Pete did… and it sounds like a tissue box with a Radio Shack mic in it. Bummer. What the heck happened?? Hmmm. What kind of mic was Pete using on kick drum? What kind of drum was Chris Eddins slamming his talented foot
A few simple rules to follow with live sound: One, If it sounds good...leave it alone!! Before you start changing the EQ on a house system….give it a listen first! Chances are the system tech/owner or house guy who installed it, or and now keeps it up, has been tweaking it for some time and knows the room too. Lean on him for his experience and, ask questions! You will probably find him to be more than willing to help you if you just ask. Remember, sound guys can’t read minds, although I know some who think they can! Two, If it sounds bad or wrong…FIX IT. So, you give it a listen, and it doesn’t sound right to you, what do you do? Get back to basics! Make sure the sound console is zeroed out. Set input channel EQ’s to flat (no boost or cut), set preamps to zero, set house EQ flat, and start from scratch. Yup, it’s going to take more time and effort, but swallow your patience pill, tell the band to chill out, and get to work one channel at a time, all the while listening! Your hard work will pay off if you take the time, and proper steps. CONTINUE ON PAGE 16
Three, Work within the limitations of the system you are running! This rule is violated more often than not, especially with smaller PA systems. I can’t tell you how many times I have been called in to help bands or clubs with their systems to find the main EQ set to a “smiley face”, and the owner wondering why Mrs. Black Widow jumped out of her basket in their SP-2’s and let all the smoke out! The likely answer is because Mrs. Widow can’t reproduce a 20Hz bass note, but the QSC RMX 5050 amp they have on it can, and with that smiley face boosting 20Hz up 12db….That’s the speaker equivalent of putting a red hot poker up your… well you know. Duh! Now they have to send the speaker back to the factory and get new smoke put in it. I say this because I know better, but obviously there are a lot of people out there that don’t know this stuff that I and others consider basic knowledge. My goal in writing for this magazine is to enlighten anyone with an interest in live audio, and hopefully be able to point out the overlooked obvious at times. In the months to come, I will touch base on all areas of live sound, from consoles, gain structure, monitors, speakers, mics, cabling, electrical basics, dynamic processing, FX, and much more. Look for additional input from some of my corporate friends in the pro-audio manufacturing world from time to time too. There is more than one way to skin a cat. There are many more ways to run sound. I will give you tips, tricks and standards from my lifetime of experience in the biz. I am here to help you, the aspiring sound engineer. A sound man can make or break a band. Really! Don’t let this inflate your head, but know that you are only as good as your last gig. The music industry is a smaller world than you may think. Just one bad gig can hurt your reputation more than you might know, especially in the age of social networking! Four, Partying and mixing DON’T mix!! “Hey Johnny…get me another shot of Jäger man, I can’t leave the board!” Not only do alcohol and drugs affect your judgment, motor skills, and timing, it also affects your hearing! In a bad way, it dulls the senses. Party after the gig if you must. Even eating a large meal prior to a gig affects hearing adversely. There is a comfort factor for a band knowing they have a sound man at their helm that actually cares about how they sound. Appreciate that, and the respect for you as a professional will pay off in leaps and bounds as your name moves up on the call list for the next gigs!
owner of a large production company impressed with your skills. Or he just may be a drunk guy in a bar. Regardless, make friends with everyone! No one likes the bitter sound guy. Not only does a sound engineer need to be technically savvy, he needs to have great interpersonal skills. You are not only dealing with equipment, but also with the people who supply the inputs to that equipment so you can do your thing. Sometimes to get a great sound, it takes more than just turning knobs. It may involve asking a drummer to retune that floor tom that is too tight and has a gross overtone, or a singer who is cupping their mic like a rapper because it “looks cool”, but makes their vocal sound like a pile of midrange crap. You need to be able to approach them in a positive manner, without imposing blame, and diplomatically explain that this needs to be corrected for the better of the sound as a whole. Most of the time, they will comply and be willing to help out. Remember, musicians aren’t regular people; they are artists, usually with more passion and emotion than most. HANDLE WITH CARE! OK enough fluff. Back to working within limitations! Keep it clean, keep it GREEN! Another old saying, crap in=crap out. If you send a distorted signal in, your amp will send that same distorted signal to the speaker. Keep your input channels on the mixer at ”0” for analog desks, or -12 for digital desks. This is a good starting point. If the peak light is coming on a channel, turn the master trim down on that channel. The same applies all the way down the audio chain. Keep your signal clean, all the way to, and including your amps. The clip lights on the amps are there for a reason. Basically, you don’t want to see them, although a properly designed and set up system can tolerate occasional flashing of amp clip lights. More on that in a future article when we will go through gain structure in detail. Can you blame the guy who set the smiley face on the equalizer? Sure, if you are the club owner, and need to yell at someone for blowing up your stuff! But in reality, you can’t blame the guy, he just didn’t know better. Although, folks like that are why I put warning labels seen below on my club installs. Don’t be that guy. Happy mixing!
Five, Kill em with Kindness. Be nice! Be happy! You are doing something you like, and getting paid for it most likely! Meet people in the biz network. It is great to be good at what you do (a prerequisite actually) but life is much more about who you know! You never know who that guy in the bar you just met may be! They could be a tour manager for a national artist needing a FOH guy, or the
By: David Keith I am very excited to be a part of Regional Musician! I’m David, and my goal in this column is to help you make good decisions when buying studio time and getting the most for your recordings when you’re in there. So let’s jump right into it! For most people, the most common dilemma is figuring out how to spend money for your project. Some will tell you to pay by the hour. Some will tell you to pay by the song. There isn’t an easy answer, because it depends on what you want in the end product. Recording technology has made it very affordable for anyone to have a recording facility in their basement, garage, bathroom, etc., and it’s almost common to see studios on every corner. Chances are you know someone who says they “have a studio.” At worst, they have a mixer, mics, a drum shield, and a desktop or laptop computer, all set up on a carpet remnant in their garage or basement. At best, they’ve dedicated a room or building and made some effort to isolate sound and vibrations. And this is about where the notion of hourly v. song turns more into a discussion about pro v. amateur. A pro understands that tracking a single song can take many hours. An amateur doesn’t realize they may be getting in over their heads because they are thinking it’s as simple as setting levels, hitting record, and watching the sine waves bounce across the screen. Simple worksright up until someone makes a mistake, and the band has to stop and start all over again. If you baked cakes for a living would you charge by the cake or how much time and labor you put into making that cake? Professionals charge by the cake because it’s a whole creation, not something they punched a time clock to build for you in the back of a grocery store. Pros may build your cake over a few days, putting together elements one at a time until the final cake is ready to present. “Back in the day” you had very little to choose from when it came to a studio. You were considered big time to be able to record in a full-fledged studio, because you were buying time in block rates or full day rates, and that didn’t come cheap! Today that has changed. The idea of paying by the song comes from the concept you’ve probably heard before: CONTINUE ON PAGE 18
“My buddy just bought some recording software he is just learning how to use, so come on over let’s try it! He said he would charge you by the song.” I do not believe that Aretha Franklin strolled into Fame Studios and said “let me just pay you by the song.” When you’re dealing with purpose built studios, you are working with a professional, well trained, and seasoned recording engineer who has several recordings under his/her belt. They’ve gone the distance and gauge their time based on all past experiences. They’ve worked with solo artists up to multi-piece ensembles. They’ve recorded individual tracks and entire band performances. This is far from having a friend who just happened to buy some software for his PC and will record you off their mixer. You are getting what you pay for in either case, but with the “buddy system” you now see how the idea of paying by the song was developed. The buddy didn’t know how to charge, and didn’t have a true engineer value, and all you know is you have some songs to record! Steely Dan was known for spending a year recording Gaucho, and their popularity and reputation shows that approach worked for them. 42 studio musicians, 11 engineers, 7 songs. Recording a "demo" is one thing, but when you are out to cut a serious project with 10 or more songs, a day rate or block rate is the way to go. And those rates are determined by how many hours an engineer is going to put into the effort. If you are recording a single song demo, and both you and the studio agree to a song by song rate, well then you did well, because that’s not common! Remember that the professional engineer will help you produce and be a part of the entire project, and that my friend is worth a bundle! In return, you have a polished product, and you have something to be proud of! Here is an example of studio time in a typical session: An estimate for a simple arrangement with a well-rehearsed 4 piece group would be 2 hours per song (loosely figured). If you’re not well-rehearsed, you could spend up to 6-8 hours per song. Watch how this unfolds: If the entire ensemble lays down the basic elements live, you can expect 1-2 hours just for everyone to get happy with their personal mixes and sounds. Then you spend the time playing the songs, stopping to get fresh starts when someone makes a mistake. Next is when everyone sits down and listens to the takes. Don’t forget, there’s the need for breaks. All of this figures into your time. It’s like a taxi cab…you get in and the meter starts running, and it doesn’t stop even if you have to stop along the way to order take-out! While the bassist is outside enjoying a smoke, the guitarist is restringing their guitar, the lead singer is Tweeting her boyfriends, and the sound engineer is just counting the minutes going by, tick by unproductive tock. When it’s all said and done, you could have just recorded 3 songs in 8 hours. And that works out to a little over 2.5 hours per song. See how it adds up? In my past experiences, I have tracked great songs in 2 hours and I have tracked songs for 6 hours that sounded like mush. At the 2 hour pace for a 5 Song EP, that’s 10
hours of tracking! Overdubs, if any, will come into play as well, and that could figure in an hour per song. You must figure in more time for mixing as this is one of the key areas that will make or break a great recording! This can be upwards of an hour per song, to whenever you get it right, depending on how much your budget allows. Many engineers mix on a different day, and typically they mix just one song in a seating. The final step is mastering. Remember, mixing gets the levels right and blends into a single track. Mastering is the final step which optimizes the tracks with elements such as compression, stereo enhancing, equalization, and more. Mastering an album with no major hiccups averages about 45 minutes a song. There’s a middle ground—the semi-pro, who specializes in recording 2 or 3 song demos for bands. He or she may not have Grammy hits under their belts, but they do a fair job of cranking out demos for regional artists: players who want to lay down some tracks to get an idea of the overall sound, and regionally performing artists and cover bands who want to have a song or three to toss up on their EPK or to put on a disc to give to a bar owner. And usually these are the folks who invested quite a bit more in their backyard studio—isolation booths, proper mixing platforms, and expensive software. But they’ve already entered the negotiation with an understanding of all the things we talked about just now. They are well aware of the preparation, bumps, bruises, wasted time, and replays of a song until it is right, and they know all about the mastering left to do when the band leaves. So they tell you “4 songs” for a flat fee for a certain amount of time, and at some point, they’re going to run you out of the studio because you’ve used up your flat fee. If you push this too long, they may come back to you for extra dough to cover mastering. And if the live tracking wasn’t their fault, then they’re probably righteous for asking for more money! I’ll leave you with a parting thought. My good friend Tommy Talton of Cowboy and Gregg Allman’s Laid Back album was telling me that back in the late 60’s and 70’s, they would spend days at Capricorn Studios. It got to the point he did not really know if it was day or night, and he had no sense of time because of the work that was being put into the album. My point with all of this is this if you are recording and paying per song for a concept or 1 or 2 song demo, and you have worked the financials out with a professional studio, then that would be an excellent deal for you. On the other hand if you are recording a full band and have put the energy and time into a 5 song EP or a full 10-12 song album, paying the studio time by the day or block sessions makes for better time investment from all parties, and everyone is happy in the end. Perhaps a more appropriate question is now: "How long does it take my band to play a song properly?" In future articles, we’ll talk about how you can prepare for your studio time so that you maximize your return on the investment!
Hello! I want to kick things off with the basics of publishing your work and getting paid royalties when your music is played and performed. Many of you already know this stuff, so it may seem rudimentary. As an artist, I never stop learning, and perhaps there’s a nugget of help in this for even seasoned writers. Stick around a few words, and you may find something which helps you. You pour your heart, soul, and perhaps some blood, sweat, and tears into your songs. At some point, you’d like to get paid for the effort! The most basic element to know is that when you create a work, the composition is automatically copyrighted when it is “fixed” in a recording, or is copied for the first time. It’s entirely up to you to see that this work is registered with the Library of Congress through the U.S. Copyright office if you want certain protections under the copyright laws. There’s no legal defense provided by the government, but the registration gives you a leg to stand on in court as this serves as your official and legal documentation. Please don’t fall into the misconception that simply mailing a copy of your music to yourself automatically guarantees you protection from abuse or illegal use of your work. Visit http://www.copyright.gov/ for more information. And know that when you make a change to your song, you need to update the registration as a derivative work. That’s getting ahead of the intent of this article, so let’s get back on track. Once you’ve gone through the process of registering your songs, you will affiliate with a PRO. PRO stands for Performance Right Organization, and the three most widely known include BMI, ASCAP, and SESAC. Choosing a PRO is something that should be done as soon as possible if you want to be a serious and professional songwriter. Being affiliated lends the minimum amount of credibility you need to be seen and heard by a label or publisher. PROs are not your agent. PROs are not your publisher. They merely collect royalties on your music when it is played. You can only be affiliated with one PRO at a time. Some charge membership fees and song registration fees, some do not.
Your choice of which to affiliate yourself with should factor in many elements, including cost and benefit. I personally chose one based on popularity and success among my friends and peers. Your decision should include the same type of influence, because nothing beats personal testimonials and experiences from people you trust. Besides, you can always go back and kick them in the shins if they lied to you! I’m a little harder to reach. PRO’s share a single common practice, a reason to exist: They all collect license fees on behalf of their clients (you!), including songwriters, composers, and music publishers. The PRO then distributes those fees as royalties to members whose works have been publicly performed. For many, including myself, this is known as “mailbox money” because you simply have to reach your mailbox to pick up your check. Ok, so in the new age of computerized banking, your money may be directly deposited into your account, but the theory remains the same—you’re getting paid for someone else using and playing your stuff! So who is paying the PRO? The PRO issues fee-based licenses to various users of music, including television and radio networks; new media including Internet services and websites; mobile technology businesses such as ringback and ringtone providers; satellite audio services; nightclubs, discos, hotels, bars, restaurants and other businesses; digital jukeboxes; and live concert venues. You’re likely very familiar with seeing branding stickers on doors of establishments stating their affiliation or membership into any of the names mentioned previously.Now, are you ready for a whopper, something perhaps you didn’t know? And yes, I’m talking to those of you who have already published with a PRO. You can be paid for playing your own music in your shows. That’s not a misprint. You would be surprised how many songwriters just like yourself, who also perform your own work publicly, have absolutely no idea they can be paid for playing. There are rules which apply to this, so you need to consult your affiliated PRO to know the circumstances for when you are or are not eligible for payment. The bottom line is there are likely shows you’ve played where the most pay you could hope for was a tip in your jar, and if you were affiliated, and the venue where you played is a license-paying member of your PRO, you left money on the table. Hurts doesn’t it? As they say…the more you know! CONTINUE ON PAGE 20
If I may be so bold, I suggest right now is a great time to revisit the FAQ section of your PRO’s website or contact your rep at the PRO to learn more. The frequency and amount of royalties paid to you is going to vary from one PRO to another. Again, this is an element which should weigh into your choice. The PROs use fairly simple math to determine how much you’ll get paid, and their collection of data can be fairly intense. The ability to track all of your plays has gotten very sophisticated with regards to public broadcast, but obviously a computer can’t walk into a bar. Boy that sounds like the setup for a bad joke! Seriously the opportunity exists for human reps to visit venues where live music is performed, and follow up on that venues license. Are you picturing a stealth ninja lurking in the shadows, talking into cuffs of their jackets? PROs have direct contact with publishers, labels, and management agencies, and for that reason, building a personal relationship with your artist relations rep at your chosen PRO is a vital key to your success. When it comes to making contacts that can help place your songs into the right hands to generate income, you want this rep in your corner. You also want a rep that answers or returns your calls and texts. New artists who are still trying to establish themselves and find their place in the market are going to advance quickly if they land a rep who truly believes in their music. The best way to establish a personal relationship like this may seem plainly obvious, but the truth is we’re a digital age, and so many of us rely on computing and cell phones so this part is going unnoticed more frequently these days. Use the phone or email to set up in-person meetings. Go to lunch or
dinner, spend time with the rep, get to know them and help them get to know you. Putting a face and personality to your music is a huge component known as the “human factor”, and without it, you’re falling short trying to succeed. No email or phone conversation is going to build and maintain a healthy relationship. You gotta press the flesh! And when the PRO puts on a showcase, you’re going to want to be considered in that, and they’re going to remember personal contact. Being affiliated helps you with writers rounds. When you’re involved in rounds, you are increasing your network of contacts. If you co-write with others, the affiliation helps because it lends credibility to your level of dedication to the craft and pursuit of income as a professional. In other words, your fellow writers will take you seriously. Then you can get down to some meaningful songwriting and mutually benefit from the work. In addition to establishing credibility among your peers, an affiliation can ultimately grow your audience, and as your audience grows, so does the amount you can demand for your gigs. When calling on venues, you have a significant leg up when you have the opportunity to mention your music is played on radio stations in the venues market. Radio stations aren’t going to spin you if you’re not affiliated! See how it all comes around? I urge you to visit the websites of the PROs, do your research, and find one that fits you. It’s the most significant element of your profession, so be informed. Then one day when you receive your first payment, you can look back and say “Wow, I just got some of that mailbox money Ricky told me about!” See you in the rounds!
This section is dedicated to profiling hard-working artists who are making an honest effort to make it to the top. We are not going to profile bands who play all cover songs (except in the October issue which is dedicated to tribute/cover acts). It’s going to highlight artists and bands who “get it”…the artists who work hard to promote themselves, spend time in the studio laying down their own work, publishing their material in hopes of one day receiving royalties, and generally taking this so serious that it is their reason for existence in this world. Qualifications:
You must write your own music. You don’t have to play 100% original shows though! Most touring household name acts play covers. But if you’re a 20% originals/80% covers band, and have no aspiration to flip those numbers, this probably isn’t for you. Publishing is not required, but if you are published, that one element speaks volumes and increases your popularity among our roundtable decision-makers (more on that in a minute). It means that you take yourself so seriously that you are willing to protect your music and seek compensation for it. Any genre, any style is accepted. You may read about a gospel quintet from Arkansas, a heavy metal band from Oklahoma, a solo female performer from Hawaii, a bluegrass band from Vermont. You are wellrounded in the industry. In other words, you have pro photos, you have a website, and you are an active social media user. If you don’t have pro photos, but you have everything else, don’t fret. We can help you find photos. But if you’re a self-starter, you should already know how to handle that. How to submit:
Visit the website at www.regionalmusician.com and follow the steps to submitting from the main page links. Complete the questionnaire (Q&A). ALL bands must start here. Please understand that due to the anticipated volume of submissions, we may not get back to you. If you’ve submitted once, we’ve got it. No need to hammer us every month. If you didn’t make it this month, you may make it another month. If we select you, we will follow up, so be sure to complete the info. Submissions outside of the Q&A form won’t be accepted, not even if you wrap the demo cd in hundred dollar bills, stuffed inside a box of Ghiradelli Dark and Sea Salt Caramel Chocoloate, or wrapped in bacon. Wait….bacon? Hmm. What kind—thick cut?
Take this seriously.
We expect readers from all over the world, not just the US. And you NEVER know who is reading these pages. It could be a major A&R rep seeking the next big thing, a producer of Bonnaroo or the New Orleans Jazz Festival looking for an act, or the booking agent for a “brand name” touring performer who needs an opener. We don’t want the sublime or the mundane, and neither do they. Musicians and fans will be sitting at our roundtable, discussing your submissions. CONTINUE ON PAGE 22
It’s sort of like a beauty contest (uggh, not that we support those at all, but it’s the closest reference we could come up with). We’ll start by rating everyone on a 1-10 scale. If you’re a 1, you will at best get a Tweet. If you’re a 10, you are headed for the pages of the magazine. We’re supposed to entertain and educate, so approach this from your own point of view as a reader. Do you want to read boring material? We can only do so much with limited info from artists. If you give one-word answers, it’s hard to turn that into several dozen words. If you don’t give any answer, you just went to zero. On the flip side, if you’re too wordy, chill out a bit. You probably wouldn’t tackle Clive Davis, but likewise, you probably wouldn’t want to pass up a chance to shake his hand. Somewhere in the middle is what you should be striving for. If we ask you for one item in a question, give us one item, not three. An example: What one song would you
play on a late night show? ONE, people. If we wanted you to give us three, we would have asked for three! We say this because some folks just went a little beyond what was asked for! You could be the most awesome artist in the country with a horrible knack for telling others about who you are. So you know what? Find someone else to fill out the form for you, and let them be your creative writing side. We’ve read some really bad A’s to the Q’s from phenomenal artists. If you see someone else selected from your state, don’t hate us and don’t hate them. We’re all in this together, and your time may come. There may be something you learn from seeing others, and feel compelled to email and ask us
what we didn’t like. If we have time to get back to you, we will let you know, but we can’t make any guarantees. There’s a lot of submissions to wade through! So when do I get to be on the cover? Well, this is how it works. If you’re selected to be in the magazine in your region, that means we think you’re good enough to be on the cover. But we don’t make that decision. We will pit you against the rest of the artists who made it from their states in your region. We’ll create a Facebook “likes” contest which will run for a certain period of time and we’ll inform all of you. The winner of that contest earns the cover spot. How good is your fan base? We aren’t going to do it all for you; you have to put some skin in the game too. If you have 10,000 Facebook fans, we’re about to find out if they’re organically grown, or bought off a shelf! It’s not up to us to put you on the cover. It’s up to you to promote, it’s up to your fans to vote! It’s going to take us a few months to get this rolling the way we want, so for the time being, we may just hand-select the artists who appear on the cover. If you don’t see your genre represented, then we suggest you get busy answering questions! If you are selected for the magazine. We are going to come back to you for high resolution photographs that we can publish. This means you need to grant us rights to the photos, so be sure to get those rights from your photographer! Opening acts get a few Q&A lines and a pic or two, with info on how to learn more about you (links you submit to your web pages, etc.). If you win the cover spot, we’re going to publish all of your raw Q&A’s. And finally, what we are working towards. We at Regional Musician aspire to take you to the “next level.” This is the basic principle behind RM. To show that “next level” support on a greater level, we’re going to put you on a stage. How many city music festivals have you played that turned into shows headlined by mega acts, and you, the little-known, got edged out? All of a sudden, promoters got greedy and decided they weren’t selling enough tickets to their festivals, so the festival became all about the big acts who drew the big crowds. We’re planning to create a Regional Musician Festival in each of our regions. Our goal is to highlight the acts that appear in our pages. We are striving to put you on our stage, not some greedy producers’ stage. Yeah, it’s going to cost us money to do this, but it’s not about us making money on ticket sales. We’re going to turn that money around back to all of you and to non-greedy vendors and non-greedy host cities. We will be looking to create contests which gift to the bands in our pages things like recording studio time, professional gear, and promotion help. All of this will be possible with the help of our advertisers, so be sure to click links to ads in these pages. Support the advertisers who make it possible to bring you this effort for free! Good luck! -Regional Musician Magazine
You’re probably thinking right now: “What kind of musicians magazine is this that puts a DJ on the cover?!” And you know what? You’re absolutely right to question this decision. It all started from a backstage discussion I was having with Michael Warren who said “Greg, don’t discount the value of a DJ—a DJ heard my guitar work for a song I had written, and he saw to it being produced into a single that Jennifer Lopez turned into a hit. If it weren’t for that DJ, that song wouldn’t have gone where it did." And so began my change of heart when I questioned my own self--can a DJ also be a musician? As a live music performer, I personally saw DJ’s as “the enemy” because they could perform for less than a full band, they could play a much greater variety of music, and because of that, bands lost gigs. I am also not a “clubber” and I don’t dance, so it’s a genre that I’m not very well in touch with. However, that doesn't mean I don't appreciate it. But my personal opinion aside, it was Michael who helped me hear the wakeup call. DJ’s aren’t in competition with anyone. People listen to music that speaks to the soundtrack of their lives, no matter the genre. We all have our particular tastes in music, and to that end, we seek the venues which satisfy our tastes. Many people go to specific dance venues seeking the music that gets them dancing, that keeps them moving, and provides them with the high energy release they’re looking for. And if there’s one thing a DJ must do well, they need to know how to read the crowd and play music that speaks to them. That may mean playing or sampling songs from every genre imaginable. I have to stop right here and differentiate for a second. There’s DJ’s who simply drag and drop songs onto playlists and hit play, and are essentially human jukeboxes. There’s DJ’s who compose songs, either with music creations of their own played on various instruments and sampled into cuts, or by sampling music written and performed by others. I’m not writing about the first type of DJ. I’m speaking to you about DJ’s like the one profiled here, Tall Sasha, and DJ’s like the person who brought Michael’s music to your ears. These are the people who have a deep understanding of beats per minute, pitch, and control of their “instruments” to perform flawlessly to a crowd. They spend hours perfecting control of their boards, samplers, and loop stations to create seamless transitions between samples and songs, or to create crescendos with explosive energy releases at the height of the song. I want you to realize that performers and producers like these guys are the people who help put YOUR music into the mainstream. When you see hundreds or thousands of people dancing at large events to a DJ, that’s someone’s music they’re moving to, whether it was composed entirely by the DJ, or by parts a musician such as yourself may have written. I’ve spoken with many people on this topic, and the responses are almost equally divided between those who approve and agree, and those who don’t. At the end of our discussions, I have yet to experience someone who didn’t change their disagreement to an approval. It’s my hope that bring this to you, a songwriter and performer, that you also realize the value a DJ can bring to the industry. You’re about to read a Q&A session with Sasha Tosic, aka Tall Sasha, and you’re going to find out why he’s called “Tall.” His music includes creations sampling Queen to REM, U2 to Nine Inch Nails, and he’s performed in front of a crowd of 40,000 in China. With a tick over 47,000 Facebook fans, he’s definitely one to watch and hear. And who knows…he may very well be sampling something from you one day!
Q: How often do you rehearse? A: I never rehearse or practice before my DJ sets. I like to follow the crowd reactions and tailor my sets in real time according to the vibe. That's the best and hardest part of DJ'ing. Q: How do you approach arranging songs? A: As a DJ, arrangement of the songs is very important. I tend to say that it is all about the right song at right time that gets people to move, dance and enjoy the night for many hours. Q: Do you write the music or lyrics first? A: I tend to write music and instrumentals first. Q: For your live shows, do you stick to a setlist? A: Please tell us why you do or do not. I never plan my sets. DJ'ing is all about the moment so you can never plan what people will feel till you are at that moment there, with them. Q: About that live show, how much is original music you've written, and how much is cover? A: Most songs that I play live in DJ sets are from variety of artists and labels. I tend to include several of my original and unreleased songs as well into the mix. Q: When you release your music, do you prefer EP's and individual mp3's, or full albums? A: I prefer individual Mp3's Q: Is your band a culmination of members who each had bad experiences in other bands and learned from mistakes to make your band better? Or was it magic from the start? A: I am a solo DJ/Producer Q: What has been your best gig so far? A: Headlining Ruby Skye, San Francisco's premiere nightclub and voted one of the top 5 clubs in USA was a great accomplishment. This is the place where all of the world's superstar DJ's have played, and being able to headline this great club was a huge accomplishment. Q: What was your worst gig so far? A: I got booked to play at a brand new club opening night in 2010. Promoter knew I was a house DJ but crowd was filled with hip-hop fans. Q: Do you ever play a show without all members? A: Yes Q: Did you have to physically relocate the band to achieve success? A: No Q: What was your unexpected success so far that made you realize this is what you were meant to do, and you're sticking with it no matter what? A: My first three original releases in 2012 all ended up in Top 30 progressive house music chart, which meant that many people have downloaded and I got a lot of good comments and messages, so I wanted to do more releases and keep making music fans dance.
Q: Are you published and affiliated with a PRO? If so, with who? A: BMI
Q: How do you approach finances? A: All solo.
Q: How did you get your name? A: I am 6’4 and that is why my nickname comes out at Tall Sasha. I played basketball in Europe as a teenager for one of the best basketball teams ‘KK Bosnia’ in my home town of Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. That earned me a scholarship to play at the University level in the United States. I was one of the best players with hopes of professional level, but unfortunately after a serious knee injury, the career has ended and I’ve found a new passion in music.
Q: Where would you play your homecoming gig? A: Ruby SKYE, SAN FRANCISCO
Q: Are you a solo artist or a multi-piece ensemble? A: Solo
Q: What is your parting advice to all other bands and artists? A: Do it while you are young!
Q: You have 30 seconds in an elevator alone with Quincy Jones or Clive Davis. What do you say to them about who you are? A: I am a talented DJ/Producer from San Francisco, California and would love to show them my work.
Q: Tell us about your next original release? https://soundcloud.com/tall-sasha/tall-sasha-feat-lisa-donnelly
Q: Fallon, Kimmel, Conan, Letterman, or Ferguson? A: Conan Q: What is the first song you would play on that late night show? A: My new song called Indigo Sky
OUT ON SYSTEM RECORDINGS, JULY 9TH, 2013.
By: David Koonce This is the first in a series of one bands real-life experiences trying to remain on the entertainer’s side of the barricade. Here’s how that was born: The drummer and I worked all summer as stage hands at a local large act venue. At the end of the season, Chevelle was headlining a show, and we were loading them in. The opening band's bus had broken down outside of town, and they weren’t going to make it in time for curtains. The promoter at the venue knew we had been busting our butts all summer and he knew of our band, so he asked if we could play the opening slot. The deal was that we could play but we still had to go back to work and load Chevelle out after the show.
thing to say would be it’s about getting out there in the spot light, pouring your heart out and praying that someone will relate to your songs, which affords you the ability to live it up with your friends, picking up chicks (or dudes if you’re a chick reading this) and hopefully getting paid well to do all of those things. Both approaches are correct. However, if you want to make a career out of this lifestyle, then you need to treat it like a business. Don’t worry. There will still be room for Jager shots and night clubs. Hopefully one day Jagermeister will be
After the show, we went back to work loading gear down the ramp. Some local musicians were standing in the corner of the room mocking us saying "I guess we have to help load the band in to get on the bill!" That really bugged me. I told a local radio DJ friend of mine about it and he said something that will stick with me forever: "Don't sweat the small stuff man, look at it like this: At the end of the day you are on one side of the barricade, and guys like that will always be on the other."
paying you to take their shots, and the life you dreamed of will begin to unfold. But the road to get there starts with small, determined, and proper steps.
Part 1, The Party Is Over So being a musician is all about expressing yourself and having a good time, right? Well yes, and no. There is a lot more to it than that. The artsy fartsy thing to say would be that it’s all about expressing your creativity and getting an artistic release. The working musician
When you start out, I’d be willing to bet your first goal is to get out of the garage and onto the stage. Doing that takes a lot of work. If it were easy then every kid that picked up a guitar would have platinum plaques on the wall of their mansion in Laurel Canyon. But it’s not that easy. Just forming the band is a big deal. It takes the right people all sharing
a common goal, and everyone working together to reach that goal, nonstop. This will be the hardest job you have ever had in your life. To make a career in the music industry is all about sacrifices. This band is always your first priority. You’re going to be spending a significant amount of your life with your band mates—rehearsing, laughing, arguing, hanging out, gigging, celebrating holidays, sharing each other’s pains, living within each other’s business. Your friends and family will get really tired of you missing out on things and shuffling things around to accommodate your musician schedule. People are going to tell you that you are wasting your time. They are going to tell you that you are wasting their time. Spreading yourself thin is part of it. Living broke; being tired as hell from the road, coming home from a gig in time to grab a shower so you can go to work at a job you hate just to make the rent is all part of it. This is what we call “paying your dues.” It’s where your character is built. This concept is what the TV talent shows skipped over. Camping out in front of Phillips Arena for 15 hours with your mom and telling a reporter how hard it was growing up in a middle class family is not paying dues. Writing songs, sleeping in a band van, eating meals at gas stations and truck stops, seeing the country with your best friends and getting an emotional release on stage every night is paying your dues. There are many talented people who have paid those dues, and most got blown right past in those talent shows. Paying these dues is what I like to call crawling through mud. I promise you every single
one of your favorite bands had to do it, some through deeper mud than others. Are you still with me? If you haven’t thrown your mic in the garbage can yet, if you haven’t put your guitar rig up for sale, here comes the good news. We live in a world where technology is king, and music is on the crest of the constantly-building technology wave. For starters, look at how you’re reading this magazine! Ten years ago, reading a magazine on a computer wasn’t normal, and now it’s the evolution of publishing. There was a day you owned vinyl, and perhaps the day you had to buy your first CD player, you did so kicking and screaming the whole way. Now you can change your frigging ringtone on your phone to be your favorite song. All of these trends in electronics make your personal crawl through the mud just a little bit smoother; it makes the mud a lot less deep. Instead of mailing out newsletters, you can collect and send out info to email addresses. You can make inexpensive videos with some pretty impressive and affordable tech, and put them on YouTube and other social media sites and be seen in minutes by thousands, if not millions. If
they get a ton of traffic, you will get paid on them, if you know how to seek payment. It’s easier than ever to make a good record on a low budget. Once the recording is finished, you can literally put it into the pants pocket of every single person in the entire world that owns a cell phone. Thanks to Facebook and Twitter, you can have an instant relationship with each of your fans and connect with them daily, not just at shows. There is nothing better than a band having the ability to feed information in real time to a generation that spends much of their staring into the blue Facebook screen on their phone. There’s a downside to this—you better not disappoint, because both good and bad word now travels at ludicrous speed, and it’s quickly advancing to plaid! With the right tools and motivation you will get through the mud. It is completely up to you on how long it takes you to reach each level of your career. My first piece of direct and personal advice would be to put down the beer and open up your laptop and get to work. You can enjoy yourself; you can have fun, but take it seriously. The days of Motley Crue antics and partying are over, friends. This
industry now is a working person’s field, and there are a lot of talented musicians who know how to work and aren’t afraid of it. If you remain cool, be nice, stay humble, work hard, and try not to do and say anything stupid, you will be cleaning that mud off your clothes in no time. As you read through my series, I’ll guide you on what we did in each step of the process, or in some cases, what we are currently doing. You’ll hear about our wins and our losses. For some of you, this may be a repeat of your own experiences and you can say “been there, done that.” For others, you may have no idea to expect things you’ll read about. Making a living doing what we love is the endgame. It’s all about sharing so we can all walk those red carpets together. There’s plenty of room on the radio, plenty of room on the television, and there’s plenty of room at the top. Hang with me, and we’ll stay on this side of the barricade.
Who makes the music, the player of the instrument, or the builder of the instrument? A philosophical question similar to the chicken and the egg to be sure! As a young, bespectacled pre-teen I thought that I would like to make music too, so my parents, bless their hearts, decided to, err, bless me with accordion lessons. I did learn how to read music and even played competitively for a number of years until I was too “cool” for the squeezebox. It was easy to walk away because I also learned that I did not have that innate ability a true musician has to be able to hear a tune and just pick it up, which is what I really wanted to do. But, I really was interested in how those notes were made and it appealed to the budding craftsman in me that I might like to build musical instruments. Having built everything from bagpipes to hurdy-gurdies I was not prepared for the bug that bites from building your own simple stringed instrument! Cigar Box Guitars
Anyone can make a CBG The CBG is such a simple instrument to make. It can literally be constructed from almost any material lying around. Gallon cans, two by fours, screws, bolts and you are almost home. If you go all out you can get “store bought” material such as 1” x 2” poplar wood for a neck and a real cigar box from a cigar store for the body. If you reallysplurge, you can find a music store to grace your new creation with some bronze wound acoustic strings to bring out some real tone, or just use weed whacker line to keep it cheap. It has been demonstrated many times that a reasonable sound can be produced from less than $20 in raw materials! It has never been easier to be at once both the music maker and the luthier. One can learn two things that can be easily passed on to
The jump from keyboards to strings doesn’t seem very likely until you consider that you can reduce the complexity of many notes to just a few and make your music around those notes available to you. The diddley-bow is a simple one-stringed instrument (or a two-stringed instrument) that can play a pretty straight forward scale based on the 1-4-5 note progression in just about any key you might like. The old glass medicine bottle or the trusty ¾” socket completes the instrument and imbues it with a character that has become known as Mississippi blues style of playing. Sure it’s a challenge to get the notes right but it’s so easy that after a while, you just “know” where to put the slide as you strum. That glissando is a sweet, mournful sound that resonates when the start and stop lands on the notes that punctuate the wail. Cigar box guitars are just a logical progression of the two-string diddley-bow and brings into mind some great southern blues players like Muddy Waters, Lightning Hopkins, James Marshal Hendrix (yes, that Jimi!) and of course, the legendary Robert Johnson—a man so obsessed with his CBG that some say he sold his soul to the devil to make his strings sing like no others! Many of the most famous bluesmen of the 20th century made their own cigar box guitars just after they hit double digits in age, possessed as they were with the need to make music. A cigar box guitar is usually tuned to an open or “power” chord, the most popular combination would have to be G-D-G. With the top most string being the low G and the bottom string being a high G. This produces a nice, bright, steely sound that could easily be associated with bluegrass. The next lower stringing would be an E-B-E which produces the low growly sound associated with a resonator guitar. That does not mean it can’t be tuned to produce other chord shapes as well. You can pick any three consecutive strings of a standard six string guitar and use them. So you could set up your three-stringer as a 6-5-4, 1-2-3, or a 2-3-4. The absolute coolest thing about this instrument is that there are really no hard fast rules. If you can make sweet notes with your box, then that is all that matters!
young and old alike, and quite possibly, make a better guitar player out of the person that started out with a tin can and a stick. But seriously, real music? How serious can one really be with a three stringed instrument? Well, no one really takes the ukulele seriously until you hear someone like Jake Shimabukuro make the Beatles great “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” become a virtuoso performance on just four strings! So with that in mind, how about Sir Paul McCartney playing his left handed, upside down cigar box guitar at the Sandy Hurricane benefit. Is that serious enough for you? The CBG is enjoying a sort of renaissance recently and more musicians are looking to add something a little different to their line up. I believe that today’s musicians may be a little more adventurous and willing to expand their horizons a bit by learning new styles and playing methods. Sure, the “power chord” tunings are different, but when you get down to it, it’s still the basic 1-4-5 chord progression that we know and love. A CBG can be set up to have either a slick neck with no frets, and you are really free to explore what a string will tonally give you, or it can be set up with the standard 25-1/2 inch fretted scale, which will be familiar territory for most six string converts. The action can be set up high so that it is only a slide guitar or a low action for the “fretters” in the crowd. If you fiddle around a bit, you can hit the middle ground and do both! Remember what I said about there being no “hard and fast” rules? Another cool factor for CBG is that they are so easy to make you can have one set up in each of these different ways to try on your own and it won’t bust the bank. If you make one that really doesn’t fit your style of playing, then you’ve just made someone a really cool and unusual musical gift that could just as easily be displayed as “art” because of the wild possibilities available in cigar box lid art. The classic Cohiba Cubana boxes are sought after simply for the intrigue of owning something Cuban. This is how that “bug” bites and you and suddenly you have three or four instruments.
basic cigar box. The selection of a “premiere” box however makes a difference in the overall tonal quality of the final instrument. Some boxes have pressboard tops, while the premium cigars come in handmade, solid mahogany boxes. Mahogany is known for its tone carrying abilities. The neck is only keeping three strings tight so it really doesn’t need a truss like a six string might, but use of a good solid stable wood certainly doesn’t hurt. A good straight piece of oak or a finely figured piece of tiger stripe maple certainly does fit the bill, and is pleasing to the eye with rounded and smoothed corners that fit the hand comfortably. CBG’s these days come with all the usual electric pickups most musicians are familiar with: from acoustic electronics to humbuckers and hot wound embedded electronics that will make any box wail. The bluesman in you will always be drawn to the resonator CBG for its ability to punch through with that distinctive sound whether it is amplified or not. For the purist, and especially when playing in a small venue, the electronics are less important and the acoustic qualities of the box are emphasized since, if anything, a microphone would be near. Of course, with those select materials, the cost will be a bit more than $20 dollars and it will look anything but “home made”. That is the kind of instrument that you will see on stage producing some really amazing music. The essence of the instrument’s roots will be maintained, its humble origins
preserved, and its reputation as a solid musical instrument is secured.
Editor’s note: Special thanks to Conley Knott, Erin Markan and the MITCH Collective, Stephen Moore and the MeriCAN Canjo Company, and Gene Robinson for providing their beautiful instruments, photos, and time to instruct others in this craft.
OK, I’m ready to get serious! Aside from the charm of making music on your “homemade” guitar, there are possibilities on the other end of the spectrum. You can bet that Sir Paul McCartney didn’t just whack his CBG up himself the day before the concert. It was likely made by a highly skilled luthier and had significantly more than the $20 in materials mentioned earlier. This is where my story comes full circle, and where I have finally landed. As you might guess, the CBG starts out with the same
Today’s technology makes it easier and more affordable for independent bands to add visual excitement to their live shows. One of the most critical elements to consider when adding excitement to any live performance is lighting. Great bands are a lot more than just talented musicians — they are also great entertainers. They understand that providing an entertaining experience is first and foremost when it comes to playing live music in front of an audience. They incorporate key production elements into their live shows which include sound, wardrobe, stage and set design, choreography and of course, lighting. Band gigs don’t always have to be grand-scale productions —the postage stamp-sized stages at local beer-a-toriums don’t have enough room for a drum stick, let alone a full scale Broadway musical. However, audiences can tell right away if thought and effort was put into the presentation, or if they just paid $10 to see a garage band rehearsal. A common mistake some bands make is focusing solely on the music aspect of the show— especially if the band performs original tunes. Bands should not assume that audiences are there to serve as sound boards — they won’t. Bands must realize that audiences aren’t there to serve them; it’s the other way around —bands are there to serve the audience and entertain them. Venues are hiring bands to entertain their patrons and keep them eating and drinking. A band of brooding songwriters with more artistic integrity than actual paying, drinking customers is destined to be driven right back to the garage or the basement they came from. But, if bands learn to be entertainers, audiences will be more receptive to hearing the music they are so desperate to deliver. Playing ability alone — especially if it’s less-than-stellar — shouldn’t be at the
expense of a great show. A great show doesn’t need to include pyrotechnics that compete with a stadium performance — a great show can be as simple as developing strong rapport with the audience or designing a cool bass drum head cover with the band’s logo. Lighting adds an exciting visual element to any performance. Think of the dramatic effect that beams of light add as they glide through a slight haze or the excitement a dynamic strobe creates when it runs in sync with the bass. These effects let your audience know that you made an effort to deliver an entertaining experience. Like it or not, if you’re playing live music in front of an audience, lighting gear is a critical part of the setup. Of course, some venues have a lighting system, but you should never rely on the venue or put the control of your light show in someone else’s hands — especially if they are unfamiliar with your band. The great news is that it doesn’t take a major budget to pull off effective stage lighting. There are compact, lightweight and affordable lights that do everything from static color washes to programmable chase patterns that run in sync with music. Incandescent fixtures used to be the standard in entertainment lighting, but those have since been replaced with LEDs. Think of LED fixtures as the digital version of a light, while incandescent fixtures are the older, analog version — it’s like comparing an acoustic piano to a digital keyboard. The same way a keyboard can be programmed and controlled to make any number of sounds using midi controls, an LED fixture can be controlled using built-in programs, foot pedals and DMX hardware or software controllers. While incandescent fixtures are effective and still in use, there are so many
advantages of making the switch to LED fixtures. For example, LED lights draw far less power and don’t generate the amount of heat that incandescent lights do. There are even wireless, battery operated LED fixtures out there which are perfect for venues with limited power connections. Additionally, incandescent lights usually have duty cycles or specific lengths of time they can operate before having to shut down and cool off — LED fixtures don’t have duty cycles. Of course, the biggest advantage to using LED fixtures is the programming control available through digital technology. Most LED effect lights are designed for the mobile entertainer. In the time it takes you to plug in and tune a guitar, you can have a couple fixtures mounted to stands and ready to rock right along with you — all for a minimal price that will pay for itself in a gig or two. While some complex light shows may need to be controlled using DMX hardware or software from a dedicated operator, most effects and color changes can be operated by the musicians right on stage using foot pedals. Most LED fixtures include built-in automatic programs and feature a sound-active mode that allows the light to dance to the beat of the music. In addition to wash and effects lights, there are other types of fixtures out there designed to enhance any performance. Lasers and atmospheric effect fixtures, including haze machines and illuminated fog blasters, can easily make any garage band look like rock stars. The point I’m trying to make is that perception is reality. More specifically, The audience’s perception is the reality. If they are watching a visually interesting and engaging performance, they are likely to think of the band on a more professional level. An audience can even subliminally attach their positive feelings about the look of the show to the music itself. Think of it as wrapping the music you poured your heart and soul into, into a nice, flashy package the audience can easily digest. While it may be true that “the more you drink, the better we sound,” audience psychology suggests that “the better we LOOK, the better we sound” is more accurate. However it happens, getting the audience to talk, post and tweet about this amazing band they’re watching may only be a strobe, wash or beam away. Don’t just impose your music on an audience and expect them to thank you for the privilege —remember, it’s entertainment. You are the entertainer so entertain your audience and make your shows as visually interesting as possible. If you do, you can attract more people, generate more buzz, get more gigs and make more money. So, light it up! Geoff is the Assistant Marketing Manager and responsible for Customer Engagement and Education for CHAUVET® DJ
Bill has been around the block so many times in the tour bus that he can direct the driver where to go. Having played guitar in bands since his teenage years, he’s worked his way around every element of the stage, eventually focusing his expertise on running the sound from the front of the house. For the past 32 years, he’s been FOH and monitor engineer for many national acts including Grammy® winning bands and artists that have topped the Billboard charts. Bill is the Technical Director of the Montgomery Performing Arts Centre in Montgomery Alabama where he drives 48 channel Yamaha M7CL consoles. When he’s not mastering sound, you can find him hanging out with his hot wife, often on the drag racing track where he fulfills a need for speed. You might even catch him behind a six string if you’re lucky enough. In the pages of Regional Musician, Bill will pass along his nuggets of audio gold in hopes that the advice makes you sound better, no matter the environment, no matter the size of your rig. The big schools can teach you how to run a $250,000 board, but they don't teach the skills of setting up a beer-soaked 16ch PA in a smoky dive club for a 4pc band. For almost all musicians, these are the trenches where it all begins. He'll walk you through all the elements of sound, and he'll even dive deep into the same principles and rules which apply to the $250k boards. If necessary, suspend your belief that you know it all, because you may learn a thing or two from Overkill Bill. His brain is probably one of the best tools you can have in your gig bag, and fortunately we get to pour his knowledge out right onto these pages!
David Wesley Koonce is the bassist for the Modern Rock band Within Reason. “Koonce,” exhibits a dry wit that fits perfectly with his percussive, driving style of play. With Eric Wilson of 'Sublime' as his primary influence, Koonce too provides a seemingly effortless-- and thus inspiring, stage performance.
With a voice most often compared to the perfectly blended country styling of Patty Loveless, Hope Cassity's hauntingly familiar yet refreshingly unique writing style has always set her apart in music city. A town that consistently fills air waves with sound-a-likes, Nashville has opened its arms to this one-of-a kind fame-worthy singer/songwriter. A native of Monroeville, Alabama, the town that sparked Pulitzer Prize winner Harper Lee's creative writing, it's no wonder Hope's vivid imagery and stories turned to love songs by age fifteen. Armed with the ability to draw lyrical pictures, she taught herself to play guitar by ear after learning only a few chords from a high school sweetheart. Life caught Cassity by surprise a few years later when a series of unexpected tragedies struck her family. A high school drop-out at the time, she somehow gracefully turned into a college graduate and published scholar and proudly proving that adversity would not stand in her way. She turned obstacles into opportunities in Texas and in 2007 released an independent album titled, "Running in November." The project garnered such a large audience that she played to standing room only shows, was nominated as Dallas Best Female Vocalist, filmed her first music video, had TV placements, radio airplay, and set out on a national tour. Her down to earth nature and powerful stage presence has captured listeners of all ages. A loyal Texas fan base developed but Cassity decided to take the leap to music city.
At age 5, David Keith’s first set of drumsticks were fashioned from Hickory tree branches by his granddad. Wash tubs served as his first drums, then he progressed to making fine use of mom’s coffee table and a lamp-turned-cymbal. His first lessons at age 7 came from Sid Lammé, Louie Armstrong’s drummer. This was a little over 35 years ago. Fast forward through the years to include playing in high school rock bands, touring with southern gospel groups when not in class, and spending his early 20’s touring with Karen Wheaton. The list of musicians he has played with around the United States is staggering, including Greg Allman, Tommy Talton, Chuck Leavell, Taylor Hicks, Jimmy Hall, Bonnie Bramlett, and Paul Hornsby just to name a few. You’ve probably heard his drums without realizing it, when you heard tracks on As the World Turns, Desperate Housewives, The Ozzy Osbourne Show, Next, and Starting Over. David teaches what he knows. He’s been instructing since 1982, and his students have gone on to college with percussion scholarships, attending schools all over the country. Today, David finds himself with Gintown Studios in a rural city in Central Alabama, and has been producing and mixing tracks, ep’s, and albums for a list of artists so long you’d grow bored reading. Some hits being featured on XM Radio’s Bluesville came directly from Gintown. If you watched Café Racer on Discovery, you heard much of David’s music. We hope you enjoy David’s column contributions as much as we do. You can email him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Eugene “Gene” Robinson is a 57 year old wannabe musician and instrument builder. Imagine growing up with the name “Eugene”, wearing glasses, and playing the accordion! This period, although traumatic, allowed him to embrace his inner Nerd and move on to Alpha Geek status late in life. The love of building instruments began with dulcimers and progressed into more complex, if not offbeat instruments. Flutes, penny whistles, hammered dulcimers; hurdy gurdy, bagpipes and even steel pan have been attempted to varying degrees of success. The move to more conventional stringed instruments began only recently with the ukulele. This fascinating little instrument rekindled Gene’s need to re-explore long lost musical skills, and to embark upon the path of the luthier. The latter has been a catharsis as the shaping of raw wood into something that, in skilled hands, can produce a universal connection to people of all walks. The reduction of the number of strings made the transition to the old school, cigar box guitar very easy. Dropping one more string to produce cigar box guitars only accelerated the desire to learn both the instrument and the style. The latest offerings from Gene’s shop are far removed from the stick and box guitars learned on by the greats like Jimmy Hendrix and Muddy Waters, but still have the ease and feel of an instrument that just begs to be played. Gene continues his exploration of wood combinations, strings, pick-ups, bridges, frets, and will likely do so until some infirmity prevents otherwise.
"A glutton for media of every sort, Joel groks the soul of sound and has the experience to make that passion work. His writing varies as widely as his music. He's written for nearly a decade in everything from architecture, energy and international logistics to comics, video games, film and music. If you asked him tomorrow, his choices would differ greatly, but today's he's down on Mike Patton, Jacques Brel, Tom Waits, They Might Be Giants, Optimus Rhyme, and Raspigaous. Hey, we said every sort. You can find him online as Vrothgarr."
Ricky Carden is a songwriter and performing artist who calls Anniston Alabama home right now. He’s been a performing singer songwriter since 2001, and he lived in Nashville for 5 years. In 2008 Ricky independently released a CD titled Lust Luck Love that he was able to generate radio play from. That in turn generated royalties in the form of mailbox money. In all of his articles, he’s going to share his stories and experiences with you in hopes you can get some mailbox money of your own!