Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Bandmix.com: One Way to Find Musicians and Songwriters to Collaborate With

I recently bought a one month membership to Bandmix.com for just under ten dollars.  If I would have opted for a year or three months, it would have been cheaper per month, but I am betting that I will find someone in less than a month to jam with.  There is a fee membership level, but with a free membership you can't even directly message people through Bandmix.  So far I have contacted four people whom I think may have potential to be collaborators.  Two have responded.  One lives in Cartersville and because of my contact with him, he joined the Cartersville Songwriters Exchange, which I am helping to promote.  I am going to try to get together with the other respondent some time this week.  I think one of the biggest problems I have had is that I have been too reluctant to get out of my room and actively get involved in making new contacts and finding musicians to play with.  Well, I am a not the most outgoing person.  If I can get past the awkwardness of meeting with a stranger and possibly make a friend who enjoys making music as much as I do it will be well worth it.  The person I hope to meet with this week is roughly my age and has similar musical tastes, so I'll give it a go.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Buddy Holly v. Chuck Berry - Songwriter Match Up #1

The first songwriter match up – Chuck Berry v Buddy Holly & The Crickets – has turned out to be quite a challenge. Both were such great pioneers in a number of areas.

Buddy Holly was one of the first artists to write their own songs and produce their own music. He was also one of the first to use the recording technique of multi tracking (which had just been invented by Les Paul). Up until this time, most artists would often just record live on one microphone. Buddy Holly and the Crickets was one of the first to feature what might well be the most common band configuration; lead guitar, rhythm guitar, bass and drums.

Chuck Berry revolutionized the sound of rock guitar borrowing freely from boogie, swing and soul. His sound was famous for its use of two-note chords or double stops played fast and furious infused with the edge and energy that supercharged the rock'n'roll era. He also was a great showman and his trademark duck-walk and one legged-hop.

Lyrics – Chuck Berry

I had to give Chuck Berry the nod lyrically. His songs are about the classic rock'n'roll themes – cars, women, high school etc. I think there is more humor in his lyrics than you will find in Buddy Holly's songs – listen to “Too Much Monkey Business” or “Brown Eyed Handsome Man”. Ten points for Chuck.

Composition – Buddy Holly

Buddy Holly was such a pioneer in the studio and he had such talent as a composer that I have to go with him over Chuck Berry in this. There is a greater variety of sounds in the body of his work and he was moving towards to more complexity. Listen to the string arrangements in songs such as “True Love Ways” and the instrumental middle section of “Everyday”. Ten points for Buddy.

Influence – Chuck Berry

This was a tough call – but overall I feel that Chuck Berry should get the nod here. So many of the great classic rock bands either covered his hits or else ripped off his guitar licks! Buddy Holly songs were also covered by lots of other artists as well but not so many at such a pivotal time – The Beatles, Stones and Yardbirds all covered Chuck Berry songs. Five points for Chuck Berry.

Originality – Buddy Holly

I'm going with Buddy Holly here. His whole rock'n'roll geek look as well as mixture of pop and rock'n'roll helped define a new direction for music and bands. His role as an innovator in the studio also compels me to give Buddy Holly the edge. Five Points for Buddy Holly.

Durability – Draw

I admit it – I wimped out here. I think Chuck Berry's lyrics are definitely more rooted in the late 50's – whereas Buddy Holly's lyrics are more timeless in their expression of teenage love. But Berry's signature rebellious and energetic riffs and rhythms sound as good today as they did back then.

So the final verdict... A draw.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Cartersville, Georgia Bands - The Owens Brothers

Billy and Randy Owens have been part of the Georgia music scene since the 1970's. The bands that they have been part of include Fourty Fingers, Sundance and The Apple Corps...and probably a lot more, these are just the ones that I know.

As the Owens Brothers, Billy and Randy are available to perform at the usual venues for bands such as clubs as well as private parties. They cover hits from the 50's to the 80's and love to take requests. Their tight sound and vocal harmonies really do justice to their Beatles covers and other classic rock material. They are currently based in the Cartersville, GA area.

The Owens brothers also write their own material. They are talented songwriters and I have greatly enjoyed collaborating with them at meetings of the Cartersville Songwriter's Exchange. Randy is primarily a guitarist / volcalist, but he can also play drums and keyboards. Bill is a smoking lead guitarist who also can handle vocals, keyboards and bass. They have their own studio equipment and they love to help other songwriters develop their own songs.

The Owens brothers are always eager to find gigs - do yourself a favor and contact them to provide great entertainment at your next party or as headliners at your bar, coffeehouse or restaurant. To find out more, visit their website at theowensbrothers.com.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Webinar Review: The Songwriter and Social Media - Putting it all Together

While doing some research on the use of social media, I found a free webinar to attend last week on the site http://www.thesongwriteronline.com/. It was entitled "The Songwriter and Social Media - Putting it all Together." The author is Matthew Moran, who was generous enough to put this together and conduct the webinar free of charge as his way of giving back to the community of songwriters. In this post I will summarize what I learned from participating in the webinar.

First of all Matthew provided a list of important considerations that must be part of the songwriters plan of action. These are:

  1. The formulation of a marketing plan
  2. An assessment of your talent / ability
  3. Internet presence / creation of a website
  4. Product / merchandise to sell
  5. The creation of a mailing lists
  6. Building a list of useful contacts
  7. Becoming adept with social media and how to use it effectively

Your marketing plan should create an incentive for fans to follow you. Matthew recommended making sure to give them something that they can walk away with. Perhaps in exchange for their email address you could give them access to a free music download (Just one suggestion).

You will need a website, preferably a blog. Stay away from Flash websites as search engines do not index these well, meaning that your site will not show up in search results for desirable search terms. Matthew recommends Wordpress to create a free blog website. Provide visitors to the website the opportunity to listen to your music, find out where you will be playing, join a newsletter mailing list and access to buy your music or related merchandise.

Create a free CD sampler to give out when you play live.

Build your mailing list of emails and a newsletter that you can send out to let fans know about your upcoming performances. You can use an email marketing service such as Newsletter Builder to create your email newsletter and maintain your lists of recipients. This will also allow you to track how many people have opened the email and clicked upon the links that you may have provided in it.

You will need contacts at venues that play live music as well as other songwriters (working songwriters and performers) to help you find the gigs you will need to present your music to the masses.

Social media can be useful - emulate those who are having success. Don't spend too much time on this at the expense of the other things you need to be doing. Video is becoming increasingly important. Learn how to create your own channel on YouTube and promote this - create videos of your performances to post on your website or Facebook profile.

This was just a rough outline of the webinar, but I hope you will find it useful.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Best Rock and Roll Songwriters - Match-ups and Criteria

I have rethought how I am going to approach this discussion of what band or artist deserves to be recognized as the best songwriter - there are so many that are just so different that any comparisons might be too much like apples to oranges. Therefore, I looked over my list and came up with the match-ups below as well as how what criteria I will use to determine who is best. See below:

---------------------------

criteria:

lyrics  (1-10 points)

compostion (1-10 points)

influence (1-5  points)

originality (1-5  points)

durability (1-5  points)


---------------------------

Chuck Berry Vs Buddy Holly

David Bowie Vs Elton John

Pink Floyd vs Led Zeppelin

The Animals vs The Kinks

The Doors vs Lou Reed

The Eagles vs Creedence Clearwater Revival

Pete Townsend vs Eric Clapton

The Police vs The Clash

The Beach Boys vs Crosby, Stills and Nash

Bruce Springsteen vs Neil Young

The Grateful Dead vs Bob Dylan

The Beatles vs The Rolling Stones


--------------------------------


As always, any feedback is appreciated. I will start at the top of my list next week, so look for it!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Best Rock and Roll Songwriters - Week One

Dear Readers,

I thought it might be fun to compare notes on which Rock Bands or solo Artists we think are the best songwriters. To this end, I have compiled a list of some of the biggest names, the legends; I each week I will take two of them and argue the merits of each and choose the band or artist I consider to be superior. I will have to objectify the criteria somehow - some system that would perhaps try to assign some weight to areas such as lyrics, composition, volume of work and originality. I am sure that the list of bands I have selected for this competition will not make everyone happy - part of the rationale that I used in the selection process was based upon whether or not I owned enough of each band's music (so that I could go back and listen to the best of each) to make a reasonably well informed argument concerning whichever band is deemed to be the best. Here is the list I came up with:

The Animals
The Beatles
The Beach Boys
The Doors
Elton John
The Rolling Stones
Bob Dylan
Joni Mitchell
Neil Young
Crosby, Stills and Nash
Chuck Berry
The Eagles
Led Zeppelin
Credence Clearwater Revival
Eric Clapton
Blondie
Bob Marley
Bruce Springsteen
The Clash
Buddy Holly
The Grateful Dead
Jimmy Hendrix
The Kinks
Nirvana
Patti Smith
Pink Floyd
The Police
REM
Simon and Garfunkle
Lou Reed
Pete Townsend
David Bowie

So what do you think?

Friday, April 9, 2010

Learning Harmony

Lots of my favorite rock songs make use of at least some vocal harmony. At the last meeting of the Cartersville Songwriter's Exchange, I tried working on this with Randy on a couple of his songs. I could get it after he sat down and we figured out the third. Singing in the third of the key of the regular vocal makes for a nice harmony - the third and the fifth all will work for a major key harmony. Sometimes it is hard not to have a "sympathetic ear".

Having a "sympathetic ear" means that you tend to continue to sing the normal vocal part instead of sticking to your part, because you can no longer hear your harmony vocal in your head. Sometimes I am falling into this trap. It helps to practice by singing the harmony part solo while playing the individual notes on guitar to keep yourself in key; I'm finding that I may need to practice in this way every day in order to get my part down and to not lose the key when it comes time to perform. I will be meeting again with Randy tomorrow and I hope to impress him by being spot on.

Well that's all for now. I hope everyone has a fun and harmonious weekend.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Beatles Songwriting Trivia, Miscellaneous Trivia

The information in this post is from The Book of Useless Information which can be purchased at Amazon.com.

The Beatles featured two left-handed members: Paul, whom everyone saw holding his Hoffner bass left-handed, and Ringo, whose left-handedness is at least partially to blame for his "original" drumming style.

The Beatles performed their first U.S. concert in Carnegie Hall.

The Beatles song "A Day in the Life" ends with a note sustained for forty seconds.

The Beatles song "Dear Prudence" was written about Mia Farrow's sister, Prudence, when she wouldn't come out and play with Mia and The Beatles at a religious retreat in India.


When I'm Sixty-Four" was the first song to be recorded for the Sgt. Pepper album. "Within You Without You" was the last.

When John Lennon divorced Julian Lennon's mother, Paul McCartney composed "Hey Jude" to cheer up Julian.

John Lennon's first girlfriend was named Thelma Pickles.

John Lennon's middle name was Winston.

Ringo Starr was born during a World War II air raid.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Songwriter and Musician Auditions in Smyrna, Georgia



I just found this on craigslist.
----------------------------------------

CALLING ALL SONGWRITERS and MUSICIANS

OPEN MIC AND AUDITIONS


ZUCCA BAR & PIZZERIA
2860 ATLANTA RD
SMYRNA, GEORGIA 30080
EVERY THURSDAY
8:30PM TIL 12:00PM

Attention Musicians, Bands (Country, Rock, and Jazz) A JAM PRODUCTION is now holding Open Mic and Auditions for a touring recording artist and reviewing talent for bookings into local clubs, colleges, fairs and festival.

JAM is celebrating its 34 years in the Music Industry and now reaching out to you to help guide your music career. Come network with booking agents, music managers, clubowners, festival promoters, college talent buyers, music attorneys, film producers, record executives, etc. IT DOES NOT COST YOU A DIME! You may just meet the right person to help launch your music career.

All Open Mic and Auditions must register and be approved by JAM before you can perform. We are looking for exceptional talent in musicians, singers, and songwriters.

SUBMIT YOUR APPLICATION AS SHOWN IN THIS ADD TO ajamproduction@aol.com
WE'LL BE HOLDING THESE OPEN MIC AND AUDITIONS EVERY THURSDAY AT ZUCCA IN SMYRNA.

COMING SOON “OPEN MIC” NASHVILLE

REGISTER TO AUDITION PRIOR TO THURDAY 6:00PM
NO FEE TO REGISTER
CALL FOR MORE INFO:
678-508-1590,,
ajamproduction@aol.com

----------------------------------------

Here is the link to the original post:

http://atlanta.craigslist.org/atl/muc/1654284515.html

The information you need to include in order to register is below:

  • Name of Musician
  • Name of Band
  • Address (City, State, Zip)
  • Phone
  • Email
  • Website Address
  • Requested Date & Time of Performance

Thursday, April 1, 2010

The Songwriter's Poetic Tools

Songwriting isn't easy, but great songwriters know the power of metaphor, alliteration, imagery and symbolism. Below are some of my favorite lyrics to serve as examples of these devices.

METAPHOR - a figure of speech in which an expression is used to refer to something that it does not literally denote in order to suggest a similarity.

"There's a bad moon on the rise" - John Fogerty of Credence Clearwater Revival wrote this as a reference to Nixon being elected president.

"Squeeze my lemon till the juice runs down my leg" - I first heard this listening to a Led Zeppelin album, but bluesman Robert Johnson was the true author. I shouldn't have to explain what the lemon metaphor means if you are over thirteen.

ALLITERATION - the repetition of the same sound.

"Sitting on a sofa on a sunday afternoon" - from Simon and Garfunkel's Mrs. Robinson.

"My love she comes in colors, you can tell her by the clothes she wears" - from a song written by Arthur Lee of the sixties group Love.

IMAGERY - words that invoke poetic images.

You're eyes without a face - from the Billy Idol song Eyes Without a Face. It was a great video as well.

"Beneath the halo of a street lamp I turned my collar to the cold and damp" - more Simon and Garfunkel from The Sounds of Silence.

SYMBOLISM - similar to metaphor but often tied to religious or political messages. Bob Dylan is a master of this.

I want to know who'll stop the rain - John Fogerty and CCR again referring symbolically to the war in Vietnam.

"You don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows" - Bob Dylan's symbolic nod to the counter-culture referring to how you didn't need to be told be the establishment talking heads on television how to interpret and understand the great social changes that took place when this song was written in the sixties. The name of a group of sixties radicals known as The Weathermen was inspired by this lyric.

"It's a hard rain that's going to fall" - Bob Dylan's symbolic reference to the bombing of Vietnam.

Although I am sure that the vast majority of people who read this post are already quite familiar with these devices, it is helpful to be reminded sometimes about what makes great lyrics unforgettable. I'll end this post with one of the most unforgettable lyrics I know:

And in the end the love you take is equal to the love you make.

Peace.
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