What’s it like playing Pop Music when you’re not a Pop Superstar?

Some time ago one of my friends and one of the owners of a local record shop/venue, Modern Cult Records, posed a question (friends only post, unfortunately) on Facebook:

Why do so many bands tour directly around Louisville? How can we change this frustrating f**king trend? Do I need to open my own damn venue?

While a number of folks piped in with their explanations and suggestions for how that might be changed, anyone who’s been in any local scene outside of the big music meccas like New York, Chicago, and Nashville has probably felt this way at some point. Indeed, a few (including me) brought that point up–namely, that it’s a pretty regular scenario in most cities. This comment by Syd Bishop, musician and music writer for the LEO (Louisville Eccentric Observer) Weekly, sums up the sentiment nicely:

It seems a little absurd to assume that whatever sort of cliques may occur in Louisville are either unique to our city, or of such widespread knowledge that they would make it out of town. I doubt very much that anyone in, say, Des Moines, is sitting around bemoaning how clique-ish the Louisville scene is when they are booking a tour. This is all about logistics and money and nothing more.

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R.I.P. Rachel Blanton (1974-2014)

I knew Rachel since we were both in the Floyd County Youth Symphony, so basically since High School.  While she and my brother Joe knew each other better (I believe they were in the same class) one of the unique aspects of classical music organizations in educational institutions is that folks are always interacting at very different age groups.

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Discovering your Band or Orchestra’s Roots

One of the local research projects I’ve been working on is charting the evolution of Classical Music in Kentuckiana (i.e. the Louisville-Jefferson County, KY-IN MSA). Being one of the MSA’s which lies over two states, this makes some of the data gathering a little trickier, but lately I’ve decided to focus very specifically on New Albany, Indiana which is where I currently live and where I spent most of my school years before going to music school.

After the recent passing of Rubin Sher and Don McMahel, two giants of music education in this area, I decided it might be time to really get my hands dirty with data in honor of them and all the other music teachers still with us that I’ve had the honor and pleasure of working with since I’ve moved back.

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5 Things Classical Musicians should know about being in a Band

So, why aren’t you in a band anyway? One of the things I think all Classical Music students (especially performers) should be required to do is play in a band.  No, this doesn’t mean they should take up a guitar, bass, drums, or sing.  What this does mean is that it should become an integral part of the performing experience–even if for just a semester.  Learning the ropes on how to put together a set, getting booked, and dealing with a non concert hall type of venue would do more for teaching kids about the business of music than a class would, I’d think.  Along the way, students would also be able to dispel a lot of myths about the Pop Music scene that we romanticize as a result of media representation or unrealistic portrayals of the industry through engagement with big name Pop Superstars.

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Covers vs. Originals: Why classical musicians might not want to think like rock bands

In the previous post in this series I mentioned that I would be exploring narrow ideas of “Success” in discussions from some Classical Music Crisis folks. I brought up the phenomenon known as Survivorship Bias and how our models for success can be skewed by survivors while missing possibly more relevant data that can be learned from “failures,” which are far more numerous. In this post I’ll be discussing one of the perennial debates that local band musicians love to have, Covers vs. Originals, and how that fits into the wider debate of “Success” and modeling Rock/Pop band marketing, entrepreneurial, or gigging strategies.

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