A Desk, a Beer, and the Non-Popularity Contest

Video

When Jonathan found out that NPR’s tiny desk concerts and Lagunitas Brewing Company were holding their first annual contest for indie artists I was soooooo excited.

I know that what I’m about to say will sound like a complete fabrication in order to be all teacher’s pet-y, but I LOVE both NPR and Lagunitas. Little secret, my bucket list includes the entry “be interviewed by Terry Gross on Fresh Air.” And if the bar serves Lagunitas IPA, that’s what I’m ordering every time – no joke.

While I pinky swear that my professed love is tried and true, I’m also pretty sure that the amount I enjoy informative radio and delicious alcoholic beverages has no bearing on the contest results. It does, however, have a complete effect on how much I enjoyed this project!

Enter Chad McClarnon. Chad is very tall, has a dapper mustache, and possesses the uncanny ability to make a kickin’ professional video in a matter of hours. The rules of the video were to play live music – behind a desk. With Jonathan playing bass and Duane on drums, we came up with something pretty cool and had fun doing it, too!

Shenanigans behind a desk!

Shenanigans behind a desk!

But now let me express the REAL reason why I think this contest was worth the effort – because it was not based on how many VOTES or VIEWS or LIKES I corral from my friends or other poor souls that gets accosted by my persistent yet overly cheerful requests to “check out my page!!!”

Most contests that musicians enter nowadays make me feel like I’m in high school again – right back to the old popularity game. But has anyone ever noticed that the harder you try to get people to like you, the more they seem to not care?? 

Running after votes, views and likes, especially from my personal friends, is like whitening my teeth. Sure, a Crest-white smile looks nice, but does it really mean my teeth are healthier for it? In other words, if all my friends vote for my contest entry, am I really any closer to where I want to be in my music career?

I don’t think any musician should have to beg or nag people to publicly vouch from them. I think if our art is effective and accessible, people who feel moved to follow our careers will emerge. They will watch our videos, leave their comments and like our pages. This will grow into a happy byproduct called popularity.

Unlike the high school prom queen’s 15min of fame, however, this kind of popularity is the kind that sticks. It will stick if we respect our audience enough to let them decide when they want their voices heard and how they want to be fans.

So thank you, tiny desk concert contest, for giving us the space to following our Creative Light instead of a popularity gimmick. Hope you find an artist that shines like a torch in the night.

Showcase at The Hight Watt was the Jam!

 

Just had a killer Monday night playing at The High Watt for their weekly “8 off 8th” event (interpretation: the venue is off 8th Ave. and 8 bands play 3 songs each – it’s a marathon night, but a lot of fun, too.)  And WOW! I’m so blown away by the talent in Nashville!  The bands playing represented a very diverse picture of Nashville, from a progressive rock/metal/jazz group to a catchy southern pop act to an energetic
bluegrass/folk ensemble
to a steel drum-fronted funk/fusion band.

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The Art of Resting in Motion (When There’s Just Too Much To Do!)

Photo from Wikipedia.

Photo credit: Wikipedia.

The process of recording an album is different for everyone.  Some musicians complete their album in a week’s time, maybe it takes a couple of months, or if you’re Miles Davis, you can knock out an album in just two days – worked out beautifully for his 1959 album Kind of Blue. I’m not that kind of musician – at least not yet.  Teaching lessons during the week pushes recording time to the weekends.  And the fact that I don’t tour consistently means it takes longer to figure out how the song should sound on the recording. Nonetheless, I’m happy to report that the tracking for “The Shy Gemini Sessions” is now complete!  This marks the end of a six-month period where Jonathan, Bobby Holland (my

Here's Bobby and I working out some parts. Photo credit: Jonathan Morse.

Here’s Bobby and I working out some parts. Photo credit: Jonathan Morse.

producer and engineer) and I have spent almost every Saturday and Sunday exploring parts, experimenting with instruments and hammering out details.  We sure have had a lot of fun working our butts off!  Time for a break, right? Silly Rae, recess is for kids!  The moment I start thinking that I have my weekends back for a little R&R, I remind myself that when it comes to being an independent music artist, weekends simply aren’t for relaxing – there’s a LOT more to do.  In fact, I’m frequently saying to myself there’s too much to do.  For those of us that are moving towards bigger visions for our lives, there’s always going to be too much to do. Continue reading

Going for the Imperfect Vocal Take

Having a good laugh at Brown Owl Studios in Nashville, TN.

Having a good laugh at Brown Owl Studio in Nashville, TN. Photo by Chad McClarnon – http://www.mcclarnon.com.

Lately, when I’ve been recording vocals for my new EP “The Shy Gemini Sessions,” one of the most challenging things is to get The Imperfect Take. (uh…what now??…Imperfect?)  Yep, the “perfect take” is NOT what I’m looking for.  Instead, I want an emotional take, a moving take, a vulnerable take, and most likely that’s not the prettiest or most perfect one of the batch.

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