#Country Music

Phoenix Drive CD Release Party Live Music Review – Hard Rock Café 8/7/12

I was really looking forward to this CD release party as I have seen Phoenix Drive twice before and have been very impressed both times. I have to say I was blown away this time. Phoenix Drive took the stage with an energy that I had not witnessed from them before. I am not sure if the was the excitement of the night or the chemistry with new drummer David Rollins but it was a welcome sight to behold. I am a big fan of high energy and bands that realize that part of their job is entertaining the crowd.

Phoenix Drive in my estimation has always had impeccable vocal harmonies and this night was no exception. The blend of both lead vocalist Jon Scott and Felicity Combs along with bass player and background vocalist Brian Powers are smooth, melodic and always sound just right. Jon and Felicity both have beautiful voices and compliment each other so well and they both share the stage without either one overshadowing the other. Jon Scott has a fresh voice that I feel separates Phoenix Drive from many other acts out there that all sound the same. Scott’s shining moment to me is his live performance of “She Ain’t Coming Home.”  Felicity Combs vocals are sweet and melodic with a rich tone that brings it all the voices together. You can really hear her on my favorite “live” Phoenix Drive song “Trouble Down,” a sexy, swampy slow groove tune where Felicity really shines.

Guitarist Chris Combs is very capable player with an incredible sense of melody and top notch chops. Chris was the most-welcome surprise last night as for the first time I saw him really energized on stage. Watching him rip into the songs was a delight and made me want to pick up my guitar and play, which very rarely happens to me at a live music event unless the player is simply amazing. New drummer David Rollins fits well into his new role and really solidified the night. Rollins is a very tight pocket player that added a nice intensity that really showed through during the performance. Bassist Brian Powers is the “entertainer” and brings the “show” to the stage. Powers is a well rounded bass player who locks up perfectly with drummer Rollins to drive the bus like no other. A solid vocalist in his own right, Powers is a crucial fixture in the band and brings a ton to the live performance.

The thing about a Phoenix Drive performance is you are always in the “moment” with them. Their music is so good that you aren’t distracted by anything else. Their songwriting is very strong, the vocals are amazing and their performances are flawless.

This “CD” Release Party was the best performance I have seen at any CD Release Party and I would give it a 9 out 10 stars with the only knock is it wasn’t long enough. It certainly left me wanting more and I can’t wait for the next Phoenix Drive performance.

Phoenix Drive is a must see band and dare I say, no matter what genre of music you like. You will love this band.

You can find out more about Phoenix Drive here:

www.phoenixdrive.net

www.facebook.com/phoenixdrive

www.twitter.com/phoenix_drive

www.reverbnation.com/phoenixdrive

Phoenix Drive CD Release Party Live Music Review – Hard Rock Café 8/7/12

I was really looking forward to this CD release party as I have seen Phoenix Drive twice before and have been very impressed both times. I have to say I was blown away this time. Phoenix Drive took the stage with an energy that I had not witnessed from them before. I am not sure if the was the excitement of the night or the chemistry with new drummer David Rollins but it was a welcome sight to behold. I am a big fan of high energy and bands that realize that part of their job is entertaining the crowd.

Phoenix Drive in my estimation has always had impeccable vocal harmonies and this night was no exception. The blend of both lead vocalist Jon Scott and Felicity Combs along with bass player and background vocalist Brian Powers are smooth, melodic and always sound just right. Jon and Felicity both have beautiful voices and compliment each other so well and they both share the stage without either one overshadowing the other. Jon Scott has a fresh voice that I feel separates Phoenix Drive from many other acts out there that all sound the same. Scott’s shining moment to me is his live performance of “She Ain’t Coming Home.”  Felicity Combs vocals are sweet and melodic with a rich tone that brings it all the voices together. You can really hear her on my favorite “live” Phoenix Drive song “Trouble Down,” a sexy, swampy slow groove tune where Felicity really shines.

Guitarist Chris Combs is very capable player with an incredible sense of melody and top notch chops. Chris was the most-welcome surprise last night as for the first time I saw him really energized on stage. Watching him rip into the songs was a delight and made me want to pick up my guitar and play, which very rarely happens to me at a live music event unless the player is simply amazing. New drummer David Rollins fits well into his new role and really solidified the night. Rollins is a very tight pocket player that added a nice intensity that really showed through during the performance. Bassist Brian Powers is the “entertainer” and brings the “show” to the stage. Powers is a well rounded bass player who locks up perfectly with drummer Rollins to drive the bus like no other. A solid vocalist in his own right, Powers is a crucial fixture in the band and brings a ton to the live performance.

The thing about a Phoenix Drive performance is you are always in the “moment” with them. Their music is so good that you aren’t distracted by anything else. Their songwriting is very strong, the vocals are amazing and their performances are flawless.

This “CD” Release Party was the best performance I have seen at any CD Release Party and I would give it a 9 out 10 stars with the only knock is it wasn’t long enough. It certainly left me wanting more and I can’t wait for the next Phoenix Drive performance.

Phoenix Drive is a must see band and dare I say, no matter what genre of music you like. You will love this band.

You can find out more about Phoenix Drive here:

www.phoenixdrive.net

www.facebook.com/phoenixdrive

www.twitter.com/phoenix_drive

www.reverbnation.com/phoenixdrive

Delana Stevens and The Beggar Saints – Live at the Rutledge LMV 08/04/12

I had the opportunity to have a day off for once and decided believe it or not to go see live music which I never on my days off. A friend posted on Facebook a fundraising event at the Rutledge LMV and there was a artist on there I had been wanting to see for a few years but never had the chance to so I decided to go. I went early to help support the event but was really only there to see Delana Stevens and The Beggar Saints. I was not disappointed. They were hands and above the best band I saw that night.

Delana brings to the live performance much of what I write in my blogs and am always looking for in a front person and artist. First off let me say she can SING! She is a top-notch singer with a thick voluptuous voice that rocks your face off. Not once did I hear her go out of pitch which here in Nashville I find very rarely especially in the rock scene. She showed up looking like a star unlike many of today’s bands who dress like they are going to K-mart to go shopping instead of being entertainers with a job to do. She brings a ton of energy to the stage working it from side to side and completely owning it. Delana worked the crowd even though it wasn’t huge like this one unfortunately wasn’t. She makes great eye contact, engages the listener and talks to them. In other words, she didn’t treat it like an unimportant gig or act disappointed in the crowd size. Whether it’s 30 people or 3,000 you can tell she treats them all the same. Delana has an easy way about her which helps makes her personable, but when she is up there, she commands the attention and she leaves no doubt that she is a future star.

The Beggar Saints are a very tight and professional straight-ahead rock band. Their performance was crystal clear which is a big plus to me. They leave the spotlight to Delana but are energetic enough to balance out the stage and pick their spots to shine like a band should. The vocal harmonies were tight and clear. The songs were strong and even better live then the recordings in my honest opinion. They lend themselves well to live performance and the hooks are huge. Song after song, the choruses draw you in and you don’t feel like you are listening to the same song over and over again like many bands I have seen. The band performed “Magic Man” by Heart and anyone who is a musician knows how hard it is to cover any song sung by the amazing Ann Wilson but Delana pulled it off powerfully and flawlessly. That alone should tell you how good her voice is enough to draw you out and watch her.

This is one of those scratch your head and wonder why the hell Delana hasn’t been picked up kind of artists. She is certainly of the caliber to be on any stage of any size and can hold her own with anybody else in the business.  I am confident, with proper marketing and more shows, Delana has a great shot a major success.

All in all, they put on the best rock show I have seen in Nashville in a long time. All the pieces were there and if you get the chance, check out Delana Stevens and the Beggar Saints. I promise you will love it. I did.

You can find out more about Delana Stevens and the Beggar Saints here:

www.delanastevens.com

www.facebook.com/delanastevensband?ref=ts

www.twitter.com/delanastevens

From a Different Point of View

 By David Lowry

Many times when we read about money in the entertainment business, it’s from the perspective of what the artist makes. Most articles center on how artists are taken advantage of and that the “business” people are just greedy jack asses who do nothing for their money. Well for this blog we are flipping this point of view to that of the business that is putting everything on the line for the small artists that have no money, no fan base, have been gone so long that you have to basically start over or not enough tour dates to pay anyone for their time.

When an artist brings on a team member such as a manager, booking agent or PR consultant the artists considers it “hiring” this particular team member or members. Well if you aren’t paying the team member what his or her hourly fee or retainer is and your average show guarantee is say less that $2,500 per, then you haven’t “hired” anyone. What has happened, is the team member believes that artist is worth the extra work and lesser amount of pay at least for a short while unless the artist isn’t building up their business. If the artist isn’t building their business, then the team member will look elsewhere for it’s cash flow so it can stay in business. Making a small percentage of a tiny door deal where the artist can’t get 30 people into a room let alone sell it out is not enough money for anyone to survive on. Now most of the time, an artist like this doesn’t need any team members, but let’s say that an artist was lucky enough to find someone to help them in spite of the lack of fan base, gigs or cash flow behind them.

First off, if the artist is tiny and not established, then the artist needs to be realistic and know they are not going to get the bulk of the team member’s time. If the team member is working as hard as they can with what they have, then they expect the artist to do the same. That means everyone who gets on that stage and plays is responsible to work as hard as they can. Not just one of the band members. I know with my business, we make it abundantly clear before anything is signed, that if the artist doesn’t work as hard as we do then we will let them go. There are no guarantees in this business and we don’t want to waste time with artists that don’t work every inch of their career to the max.

What does this mean for the artist? It means that the artist needs to promote every show as much as possible in every form of media possible as much as they can. It means that they need to make sure that they sell as many tickets as possible so that everyone is making more money for the amount of work the artist isn’t already paying them. That means texting if no shows up, it means emailing last minute, it means having a superior social media campaign etc… this especially important for your booking agent to make money but also to be more effective in getting you better gigs. It means making sure you sell more merchandise at every show by being proactive and manning your merch booth, walking the venue with your product to sell. Engaging the crowd the whole time you are there. It means that understanding your job isn’t done until the bar is closing down. Once you get off the stage, you don’t head to the bar and drink. You work the crowd the whole night. These are your working hours. This is your opportunity to make the money you are complaining about that you don’t make. Your team can’t do this for you but it is why they work so hard to get you in this position. This is your time to shine.

This also means making sure your merch is in good shape. No crappy stickers, no broken plexi-glass holders, no pens that don’t work. Your merch area should be professional, clean and able to showcase your products and band to it’s utmost. It means always having a cash box with cash for your shows after we have told you a million times. It means having a checklist for your shows so you don’t forget anything after we have told you a million times. This is common sense stuff that for some reason has to be repeated over and over again. Eventually, we just quit telling those artists that just don’t care enough to make it happen.

I can’t tell you how many times an artist hasn’t paid our commission or fees to us but still expect us to work on their career. Has asked us to take less then our fee so they could make more. Has complained that because they knew someone at the venue they shouldn’t have to pay us what the contract states even though we booked the gig and the artist had nothing to do with it. Have made us push dates back time after time so we work three times as hard to just get paid way down the road. Has demanded we pay them the day of the gig but is always late paying us. If you aren’t paying us what the contract states, if you haven’t busted your ass for every second trying to get as many tickets sold or sell as much merch as you can, then you we don’t work for you. You haven’t hired us, you lied to us about how hard you were going to work and that you were going to do whatever it takes. Do you go to your day job and let them tell you they don’t want to pay you as much because they can’t afford it? Do you go to work everyday expecting to not receive a check?  Do you go to work every day to work for free? Don’t you go to work every day expecting the company that “hired” you to be able to grow their revenue to pay you your salary? Well guess what, we expect the same from you.

We aren’t going to babysit artists anymore that can’t get their business together. This isn’t the old days when contracts were huge and everyone had money to throw at an artist so the team actually made good money. It’s a new day, a new age in the music business and it’s harder than ever for your team members to make things happen for you. They aren’t going to do it for free, they aren’t going to “just believe in you,” especially since we see how most artists don’t have the work ethic needed to make this happen today we aren’t going to do it for a discount and we aren’t going to spend vast amounts of time on an artist that can’t sell 10 tickets on average per show.

You see, businesses like ours project how much income they see coming based on what the artists have coming in from bookings, deals, retainers and the like. If the artist arbitrarily decides it doesn’t want to pay, wants to pay less (which happens all the time) or constantly cancels dates or pushes them back, then it puts the team members in a very bad position and they aren’t going to work as hard on you and it makes you unprofessional. You are now an untrustworthy client on which you can’t be relied on and so your team members will find clients that can. You are messing with peoples livelihoods.

If the artist can’t commit to bring the absolute best work ethic, product and show to the table to make sure they are making as much money for their team as possible, they should never expect it from the team that is getting paid nothing to almost nothing. If you don’t want it bad enough to work your ass off, pay the people you “hire” and make sure you have a fighting chance at making this career, then don’t ever “hire” a team member. You can’t afford it and you shouldn’t ever treat your team like that. They are expecting you to bring it every show so they can make as much money as possible just like you are trying to do for your career. Remember, this is a team. A team works together to make it happen, not just the team members making the artist more money. If you want your team to make you as much money as possible, you should be doing the same for them as well especially in your beginning stages.

I hope this helps you see it from our perspective a bit. It’s not meant to be an harsh blog, it’s meant to point out that this is a business and we all have bills to pay and we can’t work with people who won’t do everything possible to make the team they “hired” as much money as possible to survive just like they expect the team to do for them.

Best of luck!

Live From Music City Special on Endorsement Deals on May 8th, 2012 with Debra Muller of Fuchs Audio and Kevin Bebout

“Live From Music City,” a weekly radio show that airs on Tuesday nights at 8:00 pm CST on blog talk radio (www.blogtalkradio.com/live-from-music-city), welcomes A/R representatives Debra Muller of Fuchs Audio (www.fuchsaudio.com) and Kevin Bebout who will share about to approach companies about getting an endorsement deal. The stuff you need to know as an independent musician only on “Live From Music City.”

It’s All About The Music… Or Is It?

It’s all about the music . . . Or is it?

And Fools Shine On

The great debate out there is it should be all about the music and not your image. This is true in a perfect world, but in a perfect world, people wouldn’t judge the book by its cover, all the band members would work equally as hard as the one currently doing all the work, and people would actually click on the music before seeing your pics, website or press kit. This isn’t a perfect world, not even close. Don’t get me wrong; I am not downplaying the importance of your songwriting. What I am saying is, if you think that your songwriting alone is going to be enough, then make sure you have the patience of Job. You need every advantage you can get in this business to get noticed.

Part of realizing why your image is so important is having an understanding of your core audience and understanding what the general public is looking for. Not everyone wants a deep song like Dylan would write, and not everyone likes a Lady Gaga pop tune that can be incessantly silly but catchy as hell.

Most people who go to live shows go to be entertained. Musicians sometimes forget that they are entertainers just as much as they are musicians or storytellers. Some musicians don’t have the immense musical talent others do, but they are much better entertainers, so they may have a much better selling tour than the more talented musicians. When I pay money to see a live band, I want to be entertained. I can see how talented you are by what you play, how you play, your phrasing, etc.

Most of us grew up wanting to be “Rock Stars” clutching a hairbrush microphone in front of the mirror, or playing air guitar to our favorite songs. We wanted to be larger than life. We wanted to help other people escape their busy stressful lives and transport them to a different place like all of our favorites did for us!

Most of the audience has dreamed of wanting to be that “larger than life rock star.” They look up to their favorite artists; want to get to know them. They want to spread the word about them. Well a big part of that is the image they put forward, the mystique they put out and being very cool while still somewhat accessible.

Small independent artists don’t usually have a back catalogue of hits to tour off of.  That means it’s a much harder road to book shows and win over fans. Decide what your goals are as a musician or band and then decide if you’re ok with possibly not having as many fans or not making as much money due to where your musical priorities lie, or if you’re going to be amazing entertainers who still write great songs people can related to and identify with.

There is no right or wrong here but there is reality. For artists that completely and totally have the drive like Tori Amos or Ani DeFranco to get their music out there and don’t take no for answer, you can make it in the business with non-stop hard work. But note, they both had a very distinct and defined image. For the artists that don’t have that skill set, the business mindset or a band where everyone is putting 110% forward in every aspect of growing the business, image becomes absolutely critical to set yourself apart and attract attention to you.

Here are a few hints to think about if you are going for an image. Don’t dress on stage like you are going to Wal-Mart.  Don’t wear a wife-beater tank top if you don’t have the body for it — it looks pathetic and laughable, not cool, plus no one wants to see your man boobs. Everyone in the band should look like they “fit” in the band, not half one way and the other half like they are going to go chop wood. Be original and find your own image and quit copying everyone else. If I see one more Dimebag Darrell wannabe, I’ll find another use for that very pointy guitar of yours. But most importantly, don’t skimp on your photography, artwork and press kit.  You get what you pay for, so take it very seriously and plan it out ahead of time. Know what you are doing and why you are doing it.

Good Luck!