Worms on the Sidewalk

Oh the mind hole is working overtime today.
Just a couple of minutes ago I was walking outside and kept seeing these shriveled up leather looking things on the sidewalk. They almost looked like old pieces of shoe lace or something. On closer, not too close,inspection I noticed that they were dead worms, all shriveled up from getting baked on the hot sidewalk.
Hmmpfff I thought
Then the analogy machine started working in the old mind hole.
A large rain had come the day before and these creatures had been flooded out of the ground and sought safety on the most available surface they could, the sidewalk. Then mother nature played a trick on them by having the sun come back up and before they could get back to a new place of safety they were baked on the sidewalk.
Not fair. Not fair at all.
But then that spurned me to thinking. Where are the worms that did not get baked on the sidewalk? What made them pick the correct time to crawl back to the earth and not become a piece of shoelace?
Many of us, myself included, have been the worm sitting on the sidewalk just waiting to get baked, not knowing exactly where to go.
What do I draw from this analogy?
The only thing staying the same is the changes. Just because this one spot seems safe, or safer than the place that was once dangerous, does not mean it is going to stay that way. We have to be prepared to move and change with the changes even going back to a situation or place that was once inhospitable.And most importantly we have to know when that time is.
Perhaps I saw something there in all those dried up worms on the sidewalk. Perhaps I saw something analogous to my life or yours.
Or maybe I just saw some worms dried up on the sidewalk.

Derek Sivers, apparently, has done it again

Way back in 2000 and something I heard the name Derek Sivers. If you are in the musical world or the music making game and are not familiar with that name I will have to ask “where you been?”
Seriously Derek Sivers started, grew and then sold CDBaby. He revolutionized the way music was purchased and shook up an industry already reeling. Then, obviously, he had sense enough to move along.
Now he has written a book which I just purchased.

You can too here

It is already reverberating about and I am really looking forward to it.
Thanks Derek Sivers for being you!

The line it is drawn errr blurred

The line, it is drawn, the curse, it is cast
The slow one will later be fast
And the present now will soon be the past
The order is rapidly fading
The first one now will later be last
For the times, they are a changing

Bet Bob Dylan didn’t see all these changes coming way back in 1964. Sure his song is very topical for its time and makes excellent, perhaps the most excellent, commentary on the era, at least that is what the index of pretty much any book you pick up about the 1960’s will tell you. But now, flip that on its head, and fast forward to 2011 and that same artist could really be singing about his career if he weren’t,errr , Bob Dylan. But Bob Dylan as a young 20 something in 2011 sure as sand could be singing about himself. Except the times are not changing, they have changed.
I am working on helping other artists adjust to these changes and move into new, possibly uncomfortable, areas. And the question came up with a person I work with, it was asked by me, and made me think of the lyric above. “Where does the line start or end between musician and promoter, or artist and online publicist, or recording artist and manager?” It took me back a bit. I had posed a question to myself. Great I was talking to myself? But would I answer myself.
Where does this line begin and end? By being other roles to other people was I jumping into new skin? Was I being this person part of the time and then this person the other times and then I realized, in these crazy times I was being kind of like my dad’s definition of a man. He used to say, when I asked when I would be a man, “A man is a man when a man is called for.” I would always go “huh?” and pretend that I understood. But we are in this same conundrum. And here is the answer to the question.
“the line is now erased.”

Quit being a Rock N Roller!?

My Title/Question has the same intent that the title of article I am referencing below has: to get your attention. Hope it worked

Check out the article

The author Scott Austin has released a book called Quit Rock and provides an excerpt here for those who might be interested in the subject and hopefully his book.
And man is he dead on correct about the subject. He is not telling people to quit, quite the opposite, and he opines in the same spirit that I often do on this digital screed. I think you should read this, heck it made me want to read the whole thing, but I get the feeling that he is not going to tell me anything I already do not know, though I suspect he will highlight and give me some needed pointers I might be missing. Besides he is a good writer. Basically, to summarize, he tells you what I always would tell you: get off your arse and get to it. Get busy doing and stop looking for the label to make your career cause it is not going to happen. A label is probably, strike that most likely, strike again, is not going to really be an option to you.
He extols the ethos of hard work and making the best of what you have. He tells you to be an innovator in an unstable world and be a trail maker instead of looking for those blazed by others. Are you out of breath yet?
Does that make you want to quit? I darn hope so. It leaves more room for the rest of us willing to do the hard work and still make a legitimate go of it.
Get a dose of reality folks. This guy hits it out of the park for honesty and down right in your face “hello time to stop whining and wake up.” Fortunately for him he does it in a much more equitable fashion than I do, but of course I am not trying to sell a book so I can see why he want to tone it down a bit.
Keep on with the keeping on Scott Austin!

Old Radio and the Art of Simplicity

I have mentioned this in another blog but I really love listening to old classic music and I am not talking just about your run of the mill classic rock station. I am blessed to have a local station which broadcasts nothing but old country, rock, and really rare southern sounding things that you just don’t hear on the radio anymore. What this does is more than a simple burst of nostalgia because most of these songs were penned and released long before I ever drew breath on this planet. I really learn a great deal from the songs on there.
One song in particular is Bobbie Gentry’s “Ode to Billie Joe” which is an exercise is sweet southern gothic. First the arrangement is sparse and let’s her sultry vocal breath. You can almost feel like you are right there with her as she strums her acoustic and tells her tale of the mysterious suicide of the song’s title character.
What is amazing about this work is the depth of its simplicity. Bobbie Gentry manages to tell a novel length or movie length story in 4 verses. The words are not labored and are so totally conversational one could feel as though this was a simple telling of events done to music, which it very well may be.
This is the lesson of being natural and simple in order to write great material. Find a theme and tell a story. All you aspiring songwriters would do yourself no harm in listening to this one and others like it. It might also not be a bad idea to find some obscure golden oldies station on the radio or the internet and start absorbing some of the ways of these songwriters. They did not become legendary by accident.

Bobbie Gentry Article

Making the Best of any Opportunity

This is as much for me as it is anyone else reading this. It is easy to get bogged down in the to do list and forget that each opportunity is an opportunity to make the best out of any set of scenarios presented to you. When you book an event the event does not make nor define you, unless you let it. The key is that you make the event. No matter if it is a coffee shop gig for 25 bucks and a free latte, you make it the best 25 buck gig that place has ever seen.
Here is the logic.
Was CBGB’s any different from any dive bar in the Bowery? Not really. The groups and the community surrounding it made the scene. Arguably they may have composed most of its crowd but nonetheless they created an excitement and helped spark the flame that tipped the boat into Punk Rock. If not for events being made by the artists the public would have grasped onto something else and the one or two bands that tried to make a go of it would have given in to frustration and quit.
This is just one example.
I can also bet good money that there were bars all around that area that had live music and we don’t remember a darn one of the bands that played in the year Punk broke.
Is Punk seemingly bigger now than it really ever was when it was being publicized, maybe so, but it reverberates to this day, that is my point. Without the initial will of the people surrounding it and nurturing (yeah that kind of contrasts: Punk and Nurture but I am brainstorming here) it there would be no reverberation.
Start where you are. Scenes became scenes because people drew attention to them. Same with Grunge, same with Metal, same with Memphis in the 50’s. A scene is just an empty space, a room of brick and mortar, a bar full of Bowery drunks who get invaded by a bunch of kids with safety pins stuck in them. People make it thus.
Small or large it all starts from nothing. Just like your music.
It has to be cultivated before it can be manifested.

All the wrong reasons, Only one right one.

So you want to make music? Let me tell you something. It don’t cost you a dime. Want to become some kind of rock star? Good luck with that. Want to see a modest income and keep out of the straight world? Could be done. But get it straight right from jump street, and I do not mean the 80’s TV show. This “ain’t no childish stuff” or in the words of Sonhouse this ain’t no “monkey junk.”
It requires hard work and time. It requires you to be misunderstood by about 98 or 99% of the population because first what you are attempting is ludicrous and what you are doing is rare, that is being able to play music.
Here is the rub. You have to ask yourself this question: What is most important? In your daily grind of Tweeting and FB’ing and Tumbling and whatever new gimmick the techies are thinking up to control the world with are you putting back into the offering plate at the holy church of ROck N Roll, because if you do not tithe at this church the gods will most undoubtedly frown on you!
It is a hard balance but at the end of the day when all else is dripped away you have to make compelling music, with all your passion, care and artistry. That is the cover charge at the door. And by god you gotta love doing that piece of the work and learn to at least tolerate the other. I do the other work because it lets me get to do two things I love in life. One is perform in front of a crowd of people with a group of people I love making music with and love as kindred spirits and brothers. Two is it lets me get in a studio, same group of people, for hours and “art” which means to take these sounds in my head which possess me like demons and get them out where the rest of you have to hear them, hahahah. Crazy sounding right? I love it! It is probably the closest to a Zen experience I will ever know. Total focus, all else is silliness. That is what I was put here to do.
My time on this earth will be spent making music.
Those are my reasons.
But really it is one: I love making music!
What the heck is yours?

Red Hot Chilli Pepper: Beyond the lessons of Funky Monks

OK my comments should not count because I am an ardent Chilli Peppers fan but there is a lesson here, because, honestly, I used to not really get them and there is the lesson. I will explain.
I purchased and viewed the RHCP documentary, or should I say Rockumentary, Funky Monks which was made during the recording of their seminal, at least for them and their future, album Blood Sugar Sex Magic (Yes LAWD!) It was of course done in the now legendary mansion where Houdini lived, it was their first joint with Rick Rubin, and it basically transformed them from a popular Funk Punk band that was semi serious in the eyes of the public into a fire-breathing ROCK N ROLL monolith.
No slam on their older material but when you throw in By the Way it is amazing how much they have grown as a band. It is stunning really, like, this is not even the same band, and it’s not and I do not mean just from an instrumentation standpoint.
Let me qualify that the Chilli Peppers have released their finest work in the last 10 years and they just seem to keep getting better though letting John Frusciante quit again is not fair for me, yes me the fan, as I love him as the RHCP guitar player.
SIDENOTE: John please reconsider. Your replacement is great but remember how many players were burned through only to get back to the only guitarist right for the RHCP

Ok Funky Monks is a victory and in a sense a tragedy. You get to witness the silliest bunch of dudes, and when I mean silly I mean silly like I used to be with my friends but even more silly and let me tell you that is silly, living in this cool house and making what I consider a piece of rock history in Blood Sugar Sex Magic. Then only to realize that half the band is strung out on heroin and one of the key members of the crew (Frusciante) will be gone mere months after its release.
Start taking notes musician folk.
I was not at all down with the RHCP and their first 2-3 albums. OK Mother’s Milk was good but I think their attitude as a bunch of different dudes caught my attention as much as anything. So I was not at all impressed when they released anything new. It took a friend, the same friend who played TEN for the first time, to hand me a cassette and say “man you got’s to listen to this @#$$” I did and was properly blown out of my socks. I did not stop listening for a very long time and still return to it, though even it does not compare to the last three releases by them (especially Californication and By the Way) which are just spectacular. This of course is my humble opinion.
Now here is the lesson. The Chilli Peppers would not be allowed to exist today. Sure they might get it together enough to play some initial shows and might even get it together enough to record a demo but you put Flea, Kiedis, Frusciante, and Chad Smith out now as a bunch of 20 years olds (Yes I know they are not the original members and I am only making a point so stay with me) they would not have held it together, period. Why?
The label stuck with them and supported them through, well, basically everything. Labels today would not put up with that kind of nonsense, not in this economy and not in the current environment.
But thank god one did. This is why we may have seen the last of the great monolithic Rock Bands, there just are not the funds to risk supporting a group of guys artistically and financially for that long of a period.
Why is that wrong? The Chili Peppers are a shining example of why developing an artist or band is the real way to go, at least artistically. Why? Why take such a chance with a group that had so much struggle.
Because the Chilli Peppers were made of tough stuff and they pulled off the 9th inning grand slam with bases loaded and 2 outs. It took a few years to get back to Blood Sugar Sex Magic but by goodness they did.
They made good, and are still making good, on their end of the bargain: Making timeless music.
Music that sells and it just keeps getting better.
I would bet that the investment placed on the Peppers has been recouped 5-10 fold if not much more.
And I could not imagine a world without Californication, By the Way, and Stadium Arcadium. (I can imagine one without One Hot Minute but it had its moments).
But the Peppers are tough, they stuck it out, and most importantly
they never gave up on themselves.
With each new album they learned and tried new things.
With each year they honed their craft and built their fan base by making better and better music.
With each new song they were reaching further into the ether, deeper each time, and with each reaching they began not having peers and standing alone as one of the last active ROCK legends and as what they really were: great artists in the art of music making. Which, when you strip back all the money, the drugs, the womens, the whiskey, the dealers, and all the other bulls#$% that comes in that bag, is the goal so many reach for but never fully achieve.
But at the end of the day you have to remember one thing; The Red Hot Chilli Peppers never quit, not themselves, not their fans, and never the music.
They never quit.

Eddie Vedder was on TV!!! Eddie Vedder was on my television…did I mention Eddie Vedder was on the TV

Yes Eddie Vedder was on TV strumming a 4 string guitar and man I felt the usual thing I felt. A kinship with him when he does his art. What is that exactly. It is like “Yeah Eddie I am with you man.” He looked his usual un-shaven slouchy dressed self, my fashion cue for most of the 90s, and there were no visible marks of a surgeons hands. Eddie keeps it real folks and let’s just face it. You are witnessing, with or W/O 4 string guitar, one of the last ones: a real life rock star.
Why? What do I mean?
There are others and yes some are out there now but not at the regularity they used to be, or at least they are not noticed in the constant sludge of suck and glitter and sheen and plastic and collagen.
Before me that night was what made a rock star, scruffy shoes and all, and what was that? Pure unadulterated passion, great vocal, and a genuine care for his art. When Eddie does it I do not feel like I am getting ripped off. Of course this should not be surprising from someone who was willing to sacrifice his career as a million dollar rock star to fight the system in favor of the fans, his fans, when we did not know an internet from a VCR.
See the fans remember.
Here is proof
When Eddie Vedder and company took on Ticker Master, the only game in town, I thought then “THERE ARE OUR CHAMPIONS.” For the uninitiated you did not take on Ticker Master in the 90’s because they controlled everything in the live world. Imagine being a software company taking on Microsoft? Get the picture. Pearl Jam did they took that s*&^ to Washington. And you know what
Music aside (which is stellar, always)
I have been in their corner ever since.
Thank you Eddie Vedder for being your bad a#$ self!

All Apologies

No this is not going to be about some Nirvana song. I just wanted to tell anyone who has been coming to this blog and wondering “what the heck man where is the content” well I have been busy. I am a working recording artist and have been releasing an album and let me tell you when one is busy doing that there is very little time to do much else. Besides the point of this blog is to throw things out there to anyone interested in DOING MUSIC in some way so most of you understand anyway. But I have decided to do something that seems to always work with me and helps me prevent procrastination. When I think of a blog idea or have that random, what I consider, noteworthy brilliant burst of epiphany (you do get sarcasm right) I will immediately blog it out. Ok
Below is proof that I have not been slagging off somewhere listening to the entire Red Hot Chilli Peppers catalog, though that would not be a bad thing.

Press/Media Reviews
“This music kicks ass, like Hill Country blues on steroids! You guys rock, but the music is blues all the way – played in a raw and intense
manner, very deep. With so many cool songs under your belt I am sure you will see the “Zombie Nation” disc on a lot of radio playlists
worldwide, congratulations.” — Przemek Draheim, National Radio (Poland)
“After considerable spins of Elam’s Supa Good, this album takes his guitar-centric songwriting up a step in both presentation and production.
While it is a trend of sorts for modern busted blues duos and trios to forego having a bassist, here it allows two walls, one of guitar, one of harp,
to occupy a large sonic window that is paved with chords, licks and riffs, setting off Tom Hambridge’s drums as the sole supplier of staccato in
this ensemble. Both Bob and Elam keep their performances tied to the songs with grandstanding happily absent, and sound like they’ve spent
the last 15 years playing their way out of back alley brawls.” — Dave Gallaher Host of Talkin’ the Blues on WLRH FM
“Elam McKnight is the future of the blues. Zombie Nation is a breath of fresh air in a sometimes stale Blues world. Elam McKnight & Bob Bogdal
march to their own beat, and that beat gets my toe a tapping and leg a moving” — Robert Lynn KSPQ-FM West Plains,Mo
“Exceptional “blues music” from the delta. Some of the best traditional blues music available.”— Delta Frank, WGLT FM, Normal, Illinois
“Just to let you know, we be DIGGIN’ this fine CD “ZOMBIE NATION” on EIGHT TO THE BAR WITH TARR! I’m having great listener response
and I’m playing every track. Keep on keeping it Blue…”— Les Tarr, Eight to the Bar with Tarr, KMFB 92.7 96.7 FM Mendocino, CA
“You did a fantastic job on your album…it’s a real smoker!”— Steve Cagle, Blues Spectrum, KVMR San Francisco, CA
“blues songs should be like this: nice tight drum beat, feat harmonica work, and then that delicious voice of Elam McKnight.” (8 out of 10 stars.)
— Geschreven door Nathalie Bauland, Maxazine (Netherlands)
“A hard but straight forward blues sound is what you can expect from these guys. With a guitar in overdrive and a blues harp that finds its way
through the fuzz box its quite easy to imagine what the sound is on Zombie Nation. Sweat-nasty, Kick-ass blues with wailing harmonica, boogie
piano and deep southern slick guitar picking is of course another way to describe it. Zombie Nation has nothing to do with the film genre
referred in the title, however it is the first and truly exceptional venture between two great blues artists. Somehow I do hope that this is the first
of many albums to come.” (4 out of 5 stars.) — Mr. Blue Boogie Billy Bop (Belgium)
“ I loved Elam McKnight’s previous release, Supa Good, but I think Zombie Nation (Desert Highway Records), his recent collaboration with Bob
Bogdal, may be even better. Let’s just call his newest release “Supa Gooder” and be done with it. McKnight’s previous three releases have all
earned raves for their originality, fire, and grit, and Bogdal’s previous release was a haunting expansion of the Hill Country sound (Under the
Kudzu). Zombie Nation sticks to the basics….no bells and whistles here…just a scorching set of blues that will rock your world. These guys
complement each other so well; you would think they were joined at the hip. Let’s hope that Zombie Nation doesn’t prove to be their only
collaboration. Seek this one out at all costs. “ — Graham Clarke, Blues Bytes
“We are faced here with a fantastic release. This “Zombie Nation” is the result of a collaboration between two exceptional blues talents. For this
cooperation, the two gentlemen for their inspiration to rummage in the great traditional Mississippi Delta blues and traditional blues sound is
covered in the Hill Country and damn! Saying ‘this combination seems to work’ is an understatement. A right up front blues sound thunders from
the speakers. Nothing of frills, hard and direct with a guitar in overdrive and brilliant harmonica work are the thread running through this album.
But what are we impressed with McKnight’s work on the quoted Resonator! alone with the bar-blues harmonica Bogdal of such an exceptional
level that we will not hesitate to put forward this CD as one of the best we have in this genre in recent years have been allowed to listen. We
can only hope that the masses with this album to explore the men go back and look for their earlier work. These bluesmen pure and our
admiration for this piece is great!” — Luc “Bluesyluc” Meert Roots Time (Belgium)
“Zombie, zombie – man there’s zombies everywhere.” Sounds like a bit of dialogue from some 1970s-era “B” movie, doesn’t it? If that were the
case, one could imagine screams of terror and maybe even a gunshot in the background. But in this particular case, that line isn’t culled from a
black-and-white George Romero flick. It’s the opening line from “Zombiefication,” one of the standout cuts on the new album from the
Tennessee-based blues duo, Elam McKnight & Bob Bogdal. Appropriately enough, that album is titled Zombie+Nation (Desert Highway
Records). And in place of shrieks of terror, we get a healthy dose of screamin’ guitar from McKnight, topped heartily with some howlin’
harmonica, courtesy of Bob Bogdal. This disc kicks with all the power of a mule gone berserk.” — Terry Mullins, Blues Blast
Press (continued)
“Album Zombie Nation, to understand is not something you have not already heard, but its expressiveness, power and above all, the ubiquitous
‘blues feeling’ overwhelmed everyone, hear what it has to offer this sincere and a great album. Their distinctive blues expression cannot leave
anyone indifferent, and for that reason, I personally am very happy that I, even I am no exception. And that’s it, no what else to add, other than
a recommendation. RECOMMENDATION: If you are not burdened with any musical barriers, if you want to let people feel that the music is
dominated by life’s difficulties. If you love the blues … the right place. On the Album Zombie Nation – Elam McKnight & Bob Bogdal we have a
unique opportunity to hear how these great musicians, interesting and impressive, fusing the fact diametrically different expressions of the
blues. Traditional Delta blues electrified Hill Coutry are really excellent and highly connected originally derived. At first hearing, everything
seems easy, but then slowly realize that everything has a much more complex and more significant meaning.”
— Mladen Loncar Soundguardian.com (Croatia)
“This is of the better blues cd, from the genre I have heard in the last few years. These two artists can share the podium with anyone in the R&
B genre… if one wants vernieuwing’ then nevertheless go for it`… Hopefully a major record label will become aware to an awesome damned
good cd! Hey, Sony, alligator, delta… why look any further. These are the real thing… right under your nose….”
— Alfons Maes – Keys and Chords (Belgium)
“Elam McKnight’s sound isn’t punk, it isn’t Hill Country, it isn’t traditional Chicago, it isn’t straight rock. But you can hear all those sounds on
“Zombie Nation”, the latest release from this native of Jackson, TN. Though McKnight writes the occasional “woman done me wrong” blues
song, he separates himself from many of his predecessors and contemporaries with thoughtful and insightful observations of today’s world”
— Jon Norton, Program Director, WGLT/Peoria/Normal, IL
“From the Mississippi River To the highest mountain in Tibet the rage of Elam embodies the true spirit of the USA. Zombies of the world, welldressed
puppets of this universe and out of your souls, it is time to discover and love the ROOTS of our civilization. Knell down and let Elam
teach us a life’s lesson…we are not worthy!”
— Alberto Rubecchi, Blues Sunset (Italy)
“I love this CD, it’s fresh with excellent musicians, I really think they put a extra twist on the blues, I spin it often on cure for the blues show, very
tight group and Elam is the best PR man for his on band, I must say Zombie Nation is one great CD, I suggest everyone check this out, I spin at
least one track every week because it keeps sounding better !!!”
— J.C. Spinner, Radio Host, WCIN in Cincinnati and WDAO in Dayton
Also notable for Zombie Nation:
22nd on the Living Blues Music Charts for June, 2011
#14 on the Blues Music Report Chart
#1 for 5 weeks in a row at WGLT/Normal/Peoria, IL
#1 on KSPQ West Plains, MO
#7 on the Aquarian Librarian list for Breakout Roots Music for the Week of May 23, 2011
Debuted at #14 on The Roots Music Report
also reached #15 on the Roots Music Tennessee Report alongside the likes of Alison Krauss, the Steeldrivers, Buddy Miller, and Joe
Charted #4 in Australia
Featured on Nationally Syndicated ‘Blues Deluxe’ Radio show
Featured on Delta Sounds, KFFA, Helena, AR
Featured on King Biscuit Time, KFFA, Helena, AR
Featured on KTEP, El Paso, TX
Bob and Elam were the IBC representative for the Sonny Boy Blues Society (Helena, AR)