Its Not Business As Usual
Real True Confessions With Padre Pienbique
The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There’s also a negative side. Hunter S. Thompson
Not long after I wrote that Myspace.com isnt worth squat if youre not out there working as a band, I received a message on my Myspace site. It was from a booking agent for a classic club on Cedar Avenue in Minneapolis- the only club the Wu never played. The gentlemen expressed interest in locking down a date.
I wrote back, asking him if he was interested in: The Wu? Banyan? Willie Waldman Project?
None of the above.
He was asking about a Padre show.
I was dumbfounded.
Then he went on to ask me what I meant about the Big Wu. He didnt know that I actually had a band that played music other than what I posted on Myspace. The freak actually thought the music on the site was an actual demo from a band.
If this wasnt silly enough, he asked me if I do comedy during the live act. (I had uploaded a couple comedy bits on the Myspace page in lieu of songs. I hope this doesnt mean Im supposed to be funny.)
Now, theres a million ways to look like a fool, and Im an expert at 900,000 of them. Dishing out hard-won and earnest advice tempts fate a-plenty. Even the remotest possibility of being slapped in the face with your own ignorance poses more temptation than fate can bear.
The same goes for a host of bands that sent in business plans to get out of the garage and into Bonnaroo. If we ever open up for (Insert Band Name Here), were going to peel out on this jam on this certain song, and the EVERYBODY will know!
Perhaps they will know as in NO!
Who the hell would be crazy enough to write some press on a nonexistent band? The good folks at jambands.com, apparently: A few days after Willie Waldman got me to sit in with members of Umphreys for an improv project that has come to be known as The North Indiana All-Stars during McGees three-night run at First Avenue in Minneapolis, a review of the Chicago version popped up on jambands.com.
Granted, when members of the headlining band collaborate with other musicians for a one-off gig, its not the same as a fresh band scoring an opening show. But the irony sticks- Perhaps a couple opening slots is all it takes to shake, rattle and roll the modern day music scene. (By the way, this is not a good sign of things to come)
As far as the New Business Plan contest from the last column is concerned, the less-than-creative wrote in with a monotonous reiteration of my advice: So, if we stick CDs in windshield wipers, and get a myspace.com site, were good to go Right?
Ummm. Good luck to ya. But, the answer is also still No. (Covered in the first of three columns Get Your Band Out Of The Garage And Into Bonnaroo)
Getting your bands name and music out to the public isnt about following orders; its about making a connection with people. Music is made by people, for people. The connection between a band playing well and someone having a swell time grooving to it doesnt fit into a business plan. Nor should it: Its art.
At any given time, any one of us is worried about making rent or is fretting about finals at school- its universal. Kicking ass on stage alone wont make these problems go away. But, if properly conducted, the business of playing music should free an artist to do whatever it is they do best. And that is what the Small Business Plan Contest is all about. Accepting the music business as a business is not a sell-out or a compromise- Its the key to crafting ones art without compromise.
After filing through the twenty-odd plans presented to me- thank you everybody- Ive decided split the contest honors between two bands: North Dakotas The Legionnaires and New York Citys Rich Casella Band. Both provided excellent propositions and ideas. The Legionnaires mixed legit marketing plans with pie-in-the-sky schemes to bring in the fans. Rich Casella is hard working dude, has a talented band, and lives to be highly organized. (How organized? Youll see)
Country & Western & Perversion bravados, The Legionnaires, are hoping to cross their Fargo-class cuntry (not a typo) with West Coast Hip Hop producer extraordinaire Dave Aron on their third CD.
From the Legionnaires official mouthpiece, Harry Cooterman: _ The third studio effort for The Legionnaires will be produced and recorded by multi-platinum, Grammy winning, world-famous engineer and producer, Dave ‘Dizzle’ Aron of Dave Aron Productions and Doggystyle Inc. In addition to being Snoop Dogg’s live FOH engineer, he also was the man in the booth for numerous acclaimed albums by Snoop Dogg, Tupac Shakur, and Prince. _
This is a great idea. Ive hung out at and recorded at Daves studio. Not only does it sport the best 360-degree view of Los Angeles money can buy, but Dave Aron is a fucking genius. I wrote about it in an earlier column, featuring a photo of his studio monitors instead of an Old Style Zealot.
(Check out the photo of the speakers in Dave Arons studio at the bottom of the column- those things sound unreal.)
Given the Legionnaires predilection for naughty lyrics and thinly disguised country & western picking, Dave Aron may seem like an odd duck to produce this particular band. But music is music, and when you get down to it, Miles Davis isnt that much different from Megadeth: There are only 12 notes in Western music. What we do with them is little more that personal preference.
Legionnaire front man Cactus Kristofferson stated that their promotion has always taken the simple steps, such as handing out 4,500 CDs at 10k Lakes Fest/Big Wu Family Reunion, etc. Promotion 101 aside, The Legionnaires dont mind making bold offers of their own: They offered to clean Willie Nelsons bathroom on his bus. Willie declined the gracious offer; citing principle, not fear. (If youre keeping score, its a draw: The Legionnaires didnt score any opening gigs from Willie, and Willie didnt find any Legionnaires in the crapper, smoking his dope 400 miles down the road)
Alas, Harry Cooterman continues: _Not only will the band travel to Hollywood to record at Dave’s studio, but we will be praying to every god we know that the Doggfather himself, Snoop Dogg, will catch wind of the raunchiest rednecks from North Dakota kickin’ in his hood and feel like he has some rhymes to add to our tracks about forbidden carnal pleasures, life on the road, indulging and over-indulgence. _
This should be fun- The Dizzle meets The Guys That Sing About The Dripple. I can see the production meetings now
Producer: Hey boys! Can we change the lyric from:
_My trailer-thrash whore, _
_I cant give you more, _
Despite the bulge in my pants
Besides, what is the chance
_Your husband beats me sore? _
The gals alright
I slap her up-tight
So when Daddy comes home
Bee-Yatch I gotta roam
Lets smoke crack
Ummmm… Looks like a winner!
Despite their saucy ways, Cactus Kristofferson embraces the jamband family ethic: Everybody that sits in with the band and all of their closest fans have either been bestowed upon, or have chosen a Legionnaires Name. (FYI: Mine is Duncan Spelunkin, Mark from Down Lo is known as Ripper Hymen, and so on.)
Other Legionnaire promotional events are to include the distribution of full-body condoms, (If you die, you cant live for the Legionnaires!), or possibly dumping free CDs from tall buildings or rented helicopters. (Does anyone else remember the Thanksgiving turkey giveaway episode from WKRP In Cincinnati?)
For the record, if anyone can beat the spread when it comes to crossover entertainment, I would bet the farm on The Legionnaires.
Although their latest masterpiece Dont Do Me Wrong, Because Ill Do You Back isnt up on their site, theres plenty of music to inspire unexpected Cleveland Steamers below:
Our Business Plan co-winner is a cat that not only plays in New York City, but has the audacity to keep playing there.
Rich Casella knows exactly why the attendance at his shows has gone up: Hes a marketing madman, and a motherfucker of a guitarist to boot.
Marketing-wise, Rich is the organizer for the New York/singer-songwriter chapter of www.meetup.com. Rich has gone from playing guitar for his two cats in the living room to become an under-the-radar music scene specialist, introducing freelance musicians to others looking to get it on.
His chapter of www.meetup.com doesnt bother judging the talents of individual members; it simply serves as a way for artistic folks to get to know one another. And in a city like New York, personal interaction is feast or famine: If youre crazy enough to talk to someone on the train, youre asking to get maced. If you dont introduce yourself to the right person at the right time, youll miss a million dollar opportunity.
New York is both the eye of an artistic tornado where music thrives and a toxic playground for players.
Richs advice for those guitar-slingin cowboys that think they want to play for a living: "The level of a bands success is directly proportional to its draw. While not exactly groundbreaking news (basically, the thrust of the last three columns summed into one sentence) it is, incidentally, more than the garden-variety rock-n-roller can handle. Its just too connected with reality, even bordering on responsibility.
Rich thrives on the diversity of meetup.com. People of all tastes can find like-minded heads. What follows, simply follows: The meetings are beautifully chaotic. says Rich. Im running with an anti-isolationist ethic people need to play with peopleartists need to be empowered to make mistakes.
Poking around www.meetup.com, fellow members left rather encouraging comments. But lets be honest folks: Different musicians bring different skills to the table. Some can sing, some can write. Others can play an instrument with Gods grace. Very few of them can leave the attitude at home.
Despite this small ripple, (actually an overwhelming tsunami) meetup.com boasts almost 30,000 members in New York City. Taking the 8.4 million different mind-sets into account, I would say Rich Casella is on to something.
As for his group, the Rich Casella Band (okay, not the most ingenious band name), they went from selling 30 tickets to 66, and then from 200 to 500 (playing Webster Hall in NYC has been a high point for him. Ill add the proper kudos: Not an easy venue to book, and harder to fill.)
So congrats to The Legionnaires and Rich Casella: You may have already won a million dollars (if Ed McMahon stops by your house with a comically-oversized check), but youve won some quality Relix/Jambands.com gear and some internet love from the site!
RECIPE OF THE MONTH
Summer is here and BBQ grills are being lit everywhere. Thats the good news.
The sad news is it takes about three weeks until all your favorites and house specialties have been enjoyed. Yet, Summer continues to roll on. What to do?
Unless you live in Alabama, chances are youve never done right by yourself and sauced your chicken with (drum roll please) Alabama White Sauce!
This is as cheap as its easy to make. (By the way; If it aint cheap and easy, its not BBQ. That means its grilled- like $100 tenderloins at Mannys.) For further clarity, BBQ is noun, not a verb. BBQ can be grilled, but its also smoked, thrown into a shallow grave with coals on top, etc.
ALABAMA WHITE SAUCE
This is traditionally served with smoked chicken in the deep south, either as a sauce one dips say, a thigh or drumstick into, or used as a sauce mixed with pulled/chopped chicken and then heaped between pieces of bread. You can also use it as the mixture for cole slaw with finely chopped cabbage or as a salad dressing. Its got all the zing and zest youll ever need to separate yourself from the grill jockeys you call friends.
Get out a big bowl and mix:
2 CUPS MAYO
1 CUP CIDER VINEGAR CUP PREPARED HORSERADISH
1 TBL SPOON CAYENNE PEPPER OR TABASCO
ANYTHING ELSE THAT YOU LIKE
Stir it up and let it chill in the fridge for a while. Yes, youll have plenty of leftover sauce, so store it in the fridge for often and repeated use. Since theres nothing in it that is going to spoil quickly (as long as its kept cold, itll be ready all Summer long.
Be nice to your Mother and drink your milk!