Tag Archives: WDVX
(by Levon who was listening to Christabel and the Jons in Knoxville’s Market Square on the WDVX Blueplate Special)
Upon the arrival of 1000 of each of my CDs, I implemented a rather peculiar marketing strategy: I got on a bus to Mexico. Yes, I smuggled a few across the border, and who could say if I’m bigger over there than here, but back in Tennessee I’m trying to think about music and its market. I’ve got a lot of CDs after all, and it’s hard to find shelves. But this is not a commercial, it’s just what always has me thinking.
Musicians record albums and then tour to support them. It takes a huge financial backing, traditionally by a label, and even then it is only the beginning of fighting the odds. Today, the old industry infrastructure has nearly collapsed. Labels are left to squeeze the dear life from sure-bet acts, and newer artists are so risky that they can usually self raise as much support as a label would venture on them. Everyone has stolen music, it couldn’t really be stopped. Now we have an industry with no barriers to entry, so bombarded by self marketing musicians that what is happening can be anybody’s guess.
Let me be clear that I’m glad every musician has a shot. No one needs a golden ticket to build a facebook page, buy some software, and even pay the CD manufacturers (who are the true beneficiaries of the current music industry). However, this fair shot is still dependent on the limited ears and patience of a market that only lifts an eyebrow to new music as much as it ever did when the industry sought to give them a mere handful of selections. Undoubtedly, great music has always been made and never discovered since people have sold records and made livings as musicians. Now perhaps it’s out there, somewhere on iTunes, and in the event you find it by chance or by add request, it can end up a mix playlist for $.99. The band takes $.70 as their profit to buy food, put gas in the van, a little in the band fund, and split the rest 5 ways.
My point? Something is happening to our music and the music of our decade will likely be coined as “overwhelming obscurity.” Public opinion of art matters, pragmatically, because it determines who eats and keeps making it. Maybe the best thing for music can occur now; it will be locally acclaimed. Someone must put themselves in the public face to get recognized, for there is no need to go peering for it in the saturation elsewhere. That would be a good solution on a few fronts: namely it gets musicians playing. Busking, anything. Let the marketing be done face to face with the community. It will be on the streets in a good music town. And so, the town knows it’s artists, it’s sound, and it’s traditions are given back to them.
Now, the obvious problem. Nobody says anything bad about the Boss in Jersey, but Jersey isn’t Knoxville. Doesn’t a musician have to spread his market like any other merchant? Of course. When good music is readily accessible, it is also accessible next week. However, the number one rule that any aspiring band reads when trying to go on the road is this: “Own your hometown.” To do that, they need their hometown to listen and buy in. Think of it as sending off ambassadors of the Knoxville (or insert town here) feel. And when the national scene comes by your door, it will be better with what it brings you; because you’ve made yourself a music town.
Back on the farm near D.C. With some distance now between us and Knoxville, I’ve begun to feel enough bravery to make some bold statements about the town and its residents. We shouldn’t be back for a while, and I hope that the buffer is enough to protect us from the repercussions of unleashed honesty. In no particular order of significance, the first thing I’ll say is that I hope that my eyes will once again readjust to the severity of dangerously high contrasted oranges.
Secondly, I will follow Jack Neely (author, historian, journalist, http://www.metropulse.com/staff/jack-neely/) anywhere and if he ever should run for any public office I would drop everything and support him at my own expense. I’ll go ahead and say it: Jack Neely for president. And James Trimble for mayor of Knoxville.
I already miss the Tomato Head.
When I return I hope that Central Avenue’s “Happy Hollow” is a destination point, and that if you say Old North Knoxville people don’t think you mean Fountain City.
Whether or not you see more homeless people on a daily basis in Knoxville or Harlem is something I’m prepared to give a statistical backbone. My unofficial opinion is that it will be Knoxville.
We have just decided to make today’s blog the Flight of the Walkers Best of 2009 Awards. We’ll see how many we get in sync with the Metro Pulse, who should release their list soon.
- Best local Financial Institution: Charlie’s Pawn Shop on North Broadway
- Best way to drive to West Knoxville: University to Southerland to Kingston Pike, or veer right halfway across the Henley Street Bridge.
- Best thrift shop: Amvets of South Knoxville
- Best place (for 2) to eat for $5: Domino’s, North Broadway
- Best place to eat for $8: El Charro
- Best place to eat for $15: Tomato Head
- Best place to eat for over $15: Where do you want to take us?
- Best Art Store: Jerry’s Artarama
- Best Music Store: The Music Room
- Best Lowes: Easttown
- Best Furniture and Home Decor: Abode www.abodeknoxville.com
- Best place to try a band/artist you may not have heard: The Square Room www.thesquareroom.com
- Best person to know globally if you want to share a mutual friend in Knoxville: Cozmo Holloway
- Best keyboardist: Ben Maney
- Best overall musician: Cruz Contreras
- Best local art gallery: Three Flights Up www.threeflightsup.com
- Best way to have the true Knoxville experience: Go to the WDVX Blue Plate Special (www.wdvx.com) with host Red Hickey. Spend the afternoon making the thrift shop circuits. Buy a Yee Haw print (www.yeehawindustries.com). Dinner at Tomato Head. Walk around the square, tip the musicians. Finally, the Dirty Guv’nahs at Barley’s in the Old City. Hold up your Yuengling draft with hundred of your fellow Knoxvillians having a good time. Buy a flower for your date from whoever that guy is. When they play the Blue Rose Stroll, sing at the top of your lungs.
Tags: abode knoxville, barleys, ben maney, black lillies, blue plate special, blue rose stroll, charlie's pawn shop, Cozmo Holloway, cruz contreras, dominos pizza, eastown knoxville, El Charro, fountain city, happy hollow, henley street bridge, homelessness, jack neely, James Trimble, jerry's artarama, knoxville flower guy, knoxville wall of freedom, knoxvillians, metropulse, old city, old north knoxville, red hickey, street musicians, tennessee orange, the Dirty Guv'nahs, the music room knoxville, the Square Room, three flights up gallery, thrift shops, tomato head, WDVX, west knoxville, yee haw industries, yuengling
The past two weeks of self/un employment has made me realize I need some structure. No longer do I have a boss, a place to go where I feel at work, and any responsibility to anyone besides us. So freakin awesome. But not reality. If I get up and play the piano for three hours, good, but that’s being unemployed. If I get up and rehearse for something I’m trying to prepare for, that’s a better idea. Oh, but what am I preparing for? Hmm, yes I’m self/unemployed.
Yesterday I went to the WDVX Blue Plate Special and saw an amazing and inspiring performance by two Nashville singer/ songwriters you should check out. Aron Wright (myspace.com/aronwright) and Dan Ellsworth (myspace.com/danielellsworthmusic). They were good. They put on a show. They had CDs. I was invigorated.
I haven’t had a gig since before I broke my finger on Valentine’s Day. This morning I had my last visit to the Doc and he said my finger is fine. I’m glad he thinks so, I’d already taken the brace off and built a piano stand, moved all my belongings into boxes; the typical precautions. I was thinking as I was waiting in the room for him that I’m going to start being careful. When I had tendon surgery three years ago, my finger has curled ever since. Now it hooks. And a size 25 wedding band couldn’t get over my knuckle. I went to a tattoo parlor to try and get one tattooed yesterday and they said that they don’t do it anymore. Wedding tattoos don’t fare well on fingers and people get unhappy. I said I understood, that I was having difficulties with the finger myself.
Back on subject: structure.
I have removed all my excuses for the stage and I have to step up. Ashley isn’t in school, so I don’t have to work. I have all ten fingers. Most importantly I’m relocating my whole world to New York City with no plans other than to play. If I pee in my pants, I have to play.
I began talking about structure and got way off track. I’m putting myself on a 9-5 routine. When should I practice scales, do vocal excercises, rehearse an hour set list, learn a cover, and yes, write my blog? Its on my daily planner now, just like a good little banker. Blogging is 4-5 p.m. The self promotional rambling that I do here is what I do instead of aggressive social networking like the rest of my breed. If you don’t see a blog here by 5 then I’ve dropped the ball.
We leave for the city next Wednesday night. We stop twice to see family and drop off pets. We have until mid May to find an apartment before our renters move in here. Then we get jobs. Silly jobs like holding signs, coffee shops, maybe a diner for me, maybe art scholarships for Ash if we’re lucky. I have a list of about 20 people I know or know through someone else. If you find yourself on that list, you will be hassled.
That’s the extent of it. My goal for the next week is to minimize my ass being in the wind. If landing in New York is anything proportional to what the take off has been like from Knoxville, oh help my nerves.