Thursday, June 21, 2012

Folk Music is Boring!!!

And it's their own, damn fault

I've been looking around the web at different "folk" music sites. I've also started listening to the radio again. I live in Austin, so, yup. I listen to KGSR.

Here's the deal. It's like watching a soap opera. The songs and artists never change. Within two seconds of turning on the radio, I can recognize the song, and turn the radio back off. Same goes for folky websites. Same short list of artists. Same greying beard on the programmer.

That's another thing. All these damn programmers look exactly alike. 60ish male with greying, short cropped beard. He's wearing his newest and latest folk festival shirt and baggy jeans. Usually Keen's or Merrill's on his feet. You know the guy...

Why can't we shake it up? Kick new-age sexism in the ass? Start calling KGSR or logging onto Folk Alley and DEMAND some variety. There are a lot of great artists that need to be heard beyond their hometown or some friendly house concert along the road. And this is my theory. Most folk  programmers/producers are star f***ers. They are middle aged men who want to boost their ego by "getting to know" the big folk acts. You'll notice that you'll find plenty of photos of these guys mugging with somebody "famous."



I hate that crap.

I love a new discovery or re-emergence of an old artist. And, of course, I have my personal favorites. Some, I love because they are just so wonderfully talented. Others are just great people who are also wonderful artists. I still get excited when a new discovery comes to me. However, it's just little old me. If you read this, then you probably are somewhat like me. Demand that those great folks under the radar are deserving of some attention from the establishment.

Yes. Even folk music is an establishment.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Is Performance Important for a Songwriter?

That seems like a dumb question, and let me answer it by saying, "Today it is." The world of a singer/songwriter is really the world of performing songwriter, and those are two different things.
  1. I sing. I write songs.
  2. I am a performer who writes songs.
I know some perfectly good songwriters that are terrifically boring to listen to in a live setting. Therefore, I rarely go to their performances, and if I do, it's more about putting a few bucks in the tip jar to support their songwriting. I also know some amazing performers who write fantastic songs.

The Performing Songwriter


Jean Synodinos is a performing songwriter. 


Erika Luckett is a performing songwriter. 



Zoe Lewis is a performing songwriter.



What make these women (and many more) stand out is that there is an element of "theatrics" is their performances. It's not just two hours of story telling and singing. It's personal transformation into something that is partly a character of themselves... or the people they write about. Zoe throws in elements of vaudeville. Erika can throw off a sudden steam of conscious spoken word that would take Whitman to his knees is ecstasy. Jean seems to become the subject of the song, thus moving her performance to the edge of musical theater. 

These women define a subculture that quickens the pace of the craft, and therefore, they help bring their ilk out of obscurity. You don't have to know them or their music, but if you happen upon their shows, you won't forget them. It's magical fan making.

Yeah, So What?

Somewhere, on some blog, I've written about the ongoing challenge that songwriters face to get people to actually COME TO A SHOW.

Performance
Craft
A little theatrics

Otherwise, you better be the most charming person in town. You better be the master connector. If you aren't, then I suggest you explore the 4th wall idea and learn to perform. 

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Take a Break


I'm going to be a total hypocrite on this one. I'm sitting here with my back on fire because it's so stiff, and I've spent the better part of the afternoon emailing with Jessi about promo stuff. She's overloaded with work, and she won't be able to work on promo until the winter when things... slow down.

I start a new job in a week. I'll be working the usual corporate 8 and then book ending my day with writing and promo stuff. I'm not sure what will happen first. I'll get a chronic crick in my neck or I'll get fat.

Take a Break!

 

I'm not really sure how to tell you to take a break since I don't follow my own advice, but I do think it's important for your creative self. If you're in a fog, you need a break. If you piddle more than you work, you need a break, so figure out how to take one. If getting away is out of the question then:

  • Take a daily walk
  • Exercise
  • Ride your bike
  • Meditate
  • Read a trashy novel
Most of the time, I could get away if I'd just do it, but I tell myself that I can't. It comes with the fatigue. Denial. Can't, can't, can't.


Folks, we have to take care of ourselves. Otherwise, that stress just builds up in the body and makes us sick and unlikeable.

Try Something New

 

If the things you love to do seem boring or uninteresting, then you're probably burned out. Try something new. If you're a folk singer, write a rock song. Go to a jazz club. If you're a promoter, stay out of the clubs and off the internet for a day or two. Try a hike. Give up drinking.


The only way to survive this music business is to get a change of venue every once in awhile. Even healthy practices can become rote, so mix it up. Take a break! Really refresh. It will be good for your creative spirit.