Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Springtime In Hawaii - My Letter To Scott Dean Agency

Yes, I wrote this to Ted at the Scott Dean Booking Agency earlier today.  This was after seeing still another act that has no business being on a stage, much less in front of a microphone - and this was in an upscale room in a very nice casino.  Actually, the guy wasn't that bad, his guitar playing was decent, apparently new to singing, but the girl - she hit maybe half of the notes, she played her tambourine backwards at least half the time, and she looked petrified on the stage.  There was not an ounce of professional from either one of them.  Anyway, on agents, and management of venues, these ignorant dimwits around here do not return phone calls or emails, and most of the horrid acts they book in the casinos are enough to lose your lunch over.  So, below is what I wrote to Mr. Ted, I used the unrelated subject line and different colored fonts to hopefully wake his sorry ass up - for all the goddam good that will do:

Actually, it's fall in Reno, but you knew that.
So you'll put acts in the Terrace Lounge and other venues that will bore people out of their skulls, hit half the notes at best, desperately try to outdo a guy in the SAME BAND, and wear silly hats, while a seasoned guy with a crappy attitude (three guesses who I'm speaking of) can't even get through the door - ok, I've seen this before, nothing new to me. Thankfully, there are some whose objective is to make customers happy, and to do what a business is in place to do - make money. Thing is, if things were straight up (as they rarely are), nobody would ever need to be subjected to my crappy attitude. I'd much rather be nice and polite, but we all know the great rewards that brings Disappointed smile . All this being said, I'm fully aware of the fact that most people can't tell the difference between good entertainment, and horrid entertainment - which works well for those who live to get by, pretend, contrive, manipulate, and otherwise fool people.

FTR, I'm writing this, not to try to get into the Terrace Lounge, but to vent a little - to let somebody in a position of what gets on stage and what doesn't, see that B.S. in any form makes some people's skin crawl.

Kathy, if you're the one reading this, I can send it any way you'd like - Special Delivery, Morse Code, Signature Required, or Pony Express, whichever works best (this is supposed to be funny, so laugh). Ted needs to see this stuff.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Astronomy Stuff

There are some glaring things about the sun, Jupiter, Venus, and Mars that I've noticed over the past few years.  As I've mentioned before, the sun is setting much farther north than it did before.  Besides that, when I was a kid, the brightest thing in the night sky besides the moon, was the North Star - these days I can't begin to even see the North Star. The only way to tell the planets apart from the stars back then was that the planets didn't twinkle. Venus looks like a little disc, and over the past 10 years or so, there are times when Jupiter also looks like a little disc. Back in the late 90s, Mars was looking closer than ever before. For this stuff to be noticeable, the planets have to be closer to earth by millions of miles. I know the government hides stuff from us - likely for their own benefit. I guess after seeing this sun and planet stuff, I think something drastic is going to happen in the next hundred years. Who knows, maybe our solar system is closer to death than we've been told. I don't really care in the way of human life, it's just kinda strange that this stuff seems to be happening so fast. It's also possible we're moving closer to the sun, which might explain why the planet is hotter than it was even 20 and 30 years ago - and I don't doubt this because every place I've been (and I've been to a lot of places) is much hotter now than it used to be. One of the things that irks me is that the climate records have been doctored - Hawaii as an example. I've read that back in the 60s there were highs of 90+ - that is absolute bullshit - I know because I was there. I lived in Prineville, Oregon in 88 - winters back then would get down to 35 below zero, and not above 0 for weeks at a time. The past ten years it's pretty much the same as Portland, where it gets down around 30 (not below zero), and not even close to 0 - that's about 60+ degrees warmer. There's more, but you get the idea.

I guess I just wanted to vent this stuff. I hate our government, and I hate even more the people who run the world. Other countries are even worse, but that doesn't make this one good - as we get f'd every minute of every day. Pop Psychology Crowd says we can change anything, and that we are in charge of our own lives. Yeah, well, I'd like to see any one of them change gas prices back to where they should be, change the fact that the day of small businesses are gone, that banks, insurance companies, in fact, all big corporations, are sticking it to every man, woman, and child on the planet.  I'm beyond disgusted by the lies and thievery committed by these parasites.

All for now.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Five Months And Counting

I guess I have about 5 months to get into the right frame of mind to face Nashville and all the bullshit that goes along with it. I think about it every day. I never was able to give it a fair shot - to be there without something screwing with my head - first time I was too new, couldn't play worth a damn, couldn't sing, didn't know how to be on stage. Second time I left my 9 year old son in Hawaii, and the nasty girl I was married to at the time liked to screw with my head, and I wasn't strong enough to fight it. Third time I didn't have any ambitions to do anything, I just wanted to see what was there - I was living in San Diego at the time and wasn't going to move. My head also wasn't in a good place, that was when my depression started to become obvious, and I was afraid of my own shadow. Well, now I'm not afraid of any of it, not afraid of being squashed, of being told I'm not good enough, or of any bigwigs feeding me their ego driven crap. I've already told a few here where to stick their B.S. I did that fairly regularly back in the 80s, but I systematically lost that confidence and backbone, and every time I got into any kind of confrontation, I fretted about it horribly. I don't really know why I seem to be doing better that way, it just seems to be happening by itself.

I'm fully aware of the condition of the music business, I know all the cheap tactics, the egos (not only from musicians, but everybody in the business), and I know they hate guys like me. What I mean by that is that I do everything that those numbskulls who go to their fancy universities think is wrong, and they can't figure out why people like it - and they really hate it when somebody breaks their stupid rules. Most musicians just follow suit - they do whatever the brass tells them to do, whatever the "artists" on the radio do - so they hate what I do every bit as much as the bigwigs do. I fully expect to be screwed with, bullied, shut down, lied to, and whatever else, but I also think that there just might be one small record label that might think I'm worth something - and if not, I'm ok with it. There's also the possibility that I might get tired before anything happens - and believe it or not, I'd be ok with that too. I'm no kid anymore, and if I think I've exhausted every possibility that I'm capable of looking at, or again, I just get too damn tired, then I'll be done. In the meantime, I'll have as much fun as I can, I'll go to every open mic and jam session I can find. I'm ready for all the smart ass mucicians, I have mouthfuls, and maybe a slam against the nearest wall for any of 'em who think they'll screw with me. I don't mean to sound like Mr. Toughguy, it's just the way it is - I only hope I don't lose that again. I also plan to look for people to play behind - singers, songwriters. Also also, I might think about going to venues other than just straight ahead country ones - I kinda like the folky type places that I've been in fairly recently. I feel like Rocky before the first Apollo Creed fight - expecting to get the stuff beat out of me, but it's what I need to do, and I expect to chase a few little peepee guys around the parking lot while I'm at it.

I guess I'm down to just a couple of tools. I used to have the guitar, fiddle, and banjo, and I guess the singing, but I'm minus the banjo these days - not sure if that'll ever come back or not. As sickened as I get when I watch any of those Country Music Awards shows, I plan to watch the one next Thursday - just to see what's out there. Most of these new guys (ones from the past 25 years) turn my stomach, but I need to see what they're doing. Country music has been in trouble for no less than 20 years - other than a small handful of half decent artists, the stuff just ain't selling. There are maybe a half a dozen playing 10,000 seaters, while the rest play 500 seaters. Of course, the publicists tell us how great the music is, and how this one sold millions, that one sold millions, but at the same time, they scream about "units" not selling, blaming piracy for their own ineptitude and ego driven B.S.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Time To Go For Bigger Rewards

Yes, after last week's "audition", and the flaming B.S. I had to be on the receiving end of afterward, I (actually we) made a decision.  I've been in this crappy, corrupt business since January 1, 1980.  Besides seeing much of our country, I've also seen other parts of the world.  I've played with good musicians, and bad ones, I've been dealt cowardly blows from booking agents, club managers, radio people, musicians, people who run the world, people who run the music business, and I'm still here, still playing music.  I guess I've been looking for answers here lately, after spending the first 20+ years doing what I thought I needed to in order to get "signed" by a major record label.  I've been to Nashville three times, the first time (in '81), I had no business being there, as I was too new, only been playing a couple years, didn't know how to deal with much of anything in the business; add to that not being very good at playing or singing.  Second time, in '91, I went there half heartedly and with no support.  I missed my son terribly, who was 9 years old at the time.  Some things started to happen in the short month I was there that time, but I couldn't be away from my boy, and I couldn't be in that cold town with that nagging at me all day, every day.  Wife at the time also seemed to enjoy playing games with my mind, and me being in the fragile condition I was in, I stumbled back to Hawaii after just a month.  Third time, in 2003, I just went there to see what was there, didn't really have any plans to stay or try to accomplish anything.  The second and third times I was there, the place was a ghost town, with scammers preying on young musicians and aspiring artists; while places where the real thing was happening being kept a well protected secret - as a matter of fact, that's still the case.  To make matters worse, there are less live venues to play than there were even ten years ago.  Another funny thing is that the last two times I was there, I didn't see many good musicians or artists - other than a good bluegrass band that was playing regularly at one of the bars on Broadway.

So, I've decided to take one last trip to Nashville to see if I can stir up anything.  My attitude this time is to see what I can discover, and to see if I can offend any of the people in the business.  At this point, I'm pretty disgusted with the whole music scene, the corruption, the egos, the bullying, the deception, the trickery, and the destruction of the music business itself.  I fully expect the same crap, but being that I'm not expecting anybody to sign a 50 something year old guy, I'm gonna enjoy going to open mic nights, songwriter venues, and whatever other places I can find where things are happening, where "important" people might be.

Looking back, I have to say that my first wife, the one who played in the band with me, she did everything possible to keep me from getting anywhere in the business.  It took me about five years to finally convince here we should get out of Hawaii.  She had relatives in Nashville who were in positions to help, but she refused to get in touch with them.  Based on what I saw while being on stage with her for 10+ years, she didn't want to deal with the groupie types on a national level, who go after guys who make their living on a stage - she foamed at the mouth enough just at the ones who hung out at the neighborhood bars and dance halls.  Her jealousy boiled over into abuse - had I been a smaller guy, I'm sure she would have beaten the daylights out of me every chance she got; as it was, I got lots of practice blocking punches every time a pretty girl danced by and smiled at me.

While I had my doubts up until recently about the girl I'm with now, it's becoming apparent that she actually does want to see me accomplish something at the next level - if that's what I choose to do.  She is supporting me all the way, and she seems happy to do it.  It would have been great to have some kind of support sooner, but well, it didn't work that way, so now I'm diving in.  While I've watched many people have things handed to them - college educations, good jobs, support, connections, money, etc., I've had to fight tooth and nail for every tiny thing I've ever had; that's not to mention being lied to, stolen from, tricked, manipulated, and exploited at just about every turn.  I know what some are thinking - some love to throw that word, "blame" around.  Well, first, you can take your worthless Pop Psychology bullshit and shove it, and second, as I've said so many times, responsibility is an all way street - as in I'll be responsible for my stuff, and everybody else be responsible for theirs - that especially includes the greedy, lying, vindictive lowlifes of the world.  Anyway, yes, I made a couple of decisions that turned out to be a bit stupid, but I'm pretty sure I'm not the only person in the history of the world to accomplish that feat.

The plan is to head to Nashville in early March, after the weather starts to warm up a little.  In the meantime, I research as much as possible, and try to play my instruments whenever I can.  There are times when I look forward to encountering all the lying, thieving parasites that surely will be there, and there are other times when I dread it.  Funny, I never fear competition, lack of my own ability, or somebody being better, it's always the cheap, cowardly tactics that the lowlifes, cowards, and parasites use in order to take me down.  I guess it's just part of my process.  I'm pretty sure that by the time March comes slamming into my life, I'll be ready - that's of course, seeing that nothing horrible happens before then.

In closing, I'll say to the Nashville bigwigs, as well as the ego driven musicians who would do anything to stifle me - you guys can all go screw yourselves :D .

Monday, October 15, 2012

To Those Who Are Too Chicken Shit To Be Honest

That was the subject line in my email to the agent in this town who seems to have connections in many of the casinos and events here.  This was following my "audition" at a casino last week.  What happened there is the typical guy in charge who has some kind of bias - in this case, the guy hates country music, and even though I only played 4 country songs out of the 17 I did for my set, it was enough for him to send his minion to try to convince me that my country music wouldn't work at "his" place.  Funny thing, when I see the reaction from the people who were there, then having to listen to the managements bullshit, it becomes obvious what went on.  The agent I wrote the following email to also books bands in the casino I auditioned in.  I can deal just fine if I don't fit in a certain situation, but as I say in my email, I know when I'm being snowballed, and I don't deal well with bullshit.  BTW, the minion who was sent to do the little weasel's dirty work got told straight out (by me) what I thought of her and her boss's blatant crap.  Her reaction was typical of the cowardly, bullying types who often get in positions of "authority" - she backed off and didn't know what to say.
So, here is my email:
I’m writing you to see if you’re among those who cannot be straight. I do, at this point, wonder, being that you have not acknowledged my last two emails. I’ll go ahead and write this, to see if I get a response.

I’m beginning to wonder what the story is here in this town – with the people in management and entertainment positions, and please, “You’re in Reno now”, as I’ll mention in a little more detail later - I’ve seen the live music in Reno.

Back to my point. I’ve gotten endless runaround, I’ve seen entertainment directors who won’t come to the phone, won’t return calls, won’t return emails, and most of whom are so full of themselves that it makes my skin crawl. While my ego is not part of any equation, I seem to have this bad habit of calling bullshit what it is, and what’s contained in this email will be no different. I’m sure you got a call first thing this morning, from that little weasel, Eric – at Baldini's. This is a guy who I had to listen to for 45 minutes, proceeding to tell me how his clientele are the only ones in this town who will tell a band that they are not worthy, that many bands and/or acts cannot make it in his casino, and, he candidly, albeit unintentionally, told me who his music buddies are. He all but told me that I was going to fail in his place. Well, I “auditioned” last night at Baldini’s. In my 30+ years of being in the corrupt business, my objective has always been to please the audience, the customers, and NOT the management. Yes, I’m fully aware that most management types think that the entertainers are there to lick their boots, kiss their ass, tell them how wonderful they are, and how much they appreciate the crumbs that get thrown on the floor in front of them. I do well in places where the management will put their customers first, and their ego somewhere where nobody has to be imposed on by it. On the other hand, I usually won’t bother to try to get past the self serving asses who have infested the music business with their endless need to stroke themselves. I’ve been in this business long enough to know when an audience is happy with the entertainment, and I’ve been in it long enough to know when I’m being snowballed (as I was in Baldini's last night), or otherwise B.S.’d. I also know all the revenge tactics – such as being put in a situation where the person in authority knows the act does not fit (and I’ve seen with my own eyes – this cheap tactic backfire), putting an act in a room where it’s known that nobody goes into, and, putting an act in a room on a night when it’s known that a major event will keep customers away for that night. I’ve also seen an act being put in a room and not have any advertising whatsoever, so that the customers have no idea there was even going to belive entertainment appearing on such a given night. I’ve witnessed the cheap tactic that Eric just pulled last night – where he set the stage (pardon the pun) for me to “fail”before I even walked in the door. Please allow me to elaborate: First, during no part of my hour of playing did he come anywhere near where I was. Second, Vonda did the same, except for about 3 minutes where she was behind the bar appearing to have something bar related to deal with. Third, they made sure to not pipe my music throughout the casino – as they do with the “regular” acts there, and believe me, I know all the justifications they can throw at me – all of which are nothing less than cheap excuses. They did not want the people in the casino to hear what I was doing. Funny thing, the people in the bar, and the people on the other side of the bar (the people within earshot) –they were having a great time (by the loud reaction from them) – including the couple of girls who were grinning at the stage the whole time, the little kid next to the stage who was dancing on pretty much every song, the people who were dancing in their seats, people singing along, and the big, Mexican bartender who was back there dancing during one of the songs I was playing. There was also the one little worker who came skipping up the stage while I was tearing down, asking, “So, when does he start?”,to which was replied, “He doesn’t, the management didn’t like him”. The look on her face was priceless and worth a thousand words. Moreover, when Eric was asked, “Did you acknowledge the people, or even look at the bar and the people in it?”, he danced the jig, not to answer the direct question that was asked no less than three times.
So, Vonda comes up to me after I’m done playing, with, “Well, I liked you, but we don’t think you, with your country music, would be good for the weekends here”. If that’s not blatant crap, somebody please tell me what is. She claimed that her customers would not like the country music that was contained in my set (4 out of 17 songs) – which is even more blatant crap. I do my research, I’ll go into a venue, observe the age group, and if there is any live entertainment at the moment, I watch the reaction of the crowd. I do not just walk into a place and say, “Hi, I play music, will you hire me?” I’ll ask this again – what the hell do these acts tell agents and entertainment people in order to get themselves hired, as they sure as hell aren’t getting hired because of their ability to entertain, play, sing, or whatever else? I don’t have a line of shit, that’s not my MO, I only present what I do, show up, entertain the folks, and there’s no more to it than that, if that’s not enough, then I’ll hang up my guitar right now (in the live part of this business). Thing is, it’s always been enough. Yes, I’ve run into self serving asses before, but I’ve never seen so many managers, entertainment people, and musicians, in one place, with the incessant need to overcompensate for their tiny, dysfunctional body parts and/or abilities in my goddam life. I’ve seen most of the music acts in this town. I’ve seen the burned out hippies in the dives with their entitlement attitude, as in, “I know I suck, but you should love what I do anyway, because it’s my right to subject the masses to my “art”. I’ve seen the burned out rednecks with their entitlement attitude, as in, “I know I suck, but the more you show me that, the louder and more obnoxious I’m gonna be”. I’ve heard the prissy lounge duos, including the cutesy 45 year old girls who are lucky to hit half the notes, and the coolie guys, their mudmouthed singing, mindless guitar scales, and their silly hats. I heard the lounge lizard from hell, who, according to Eric, “always delivers”.Oh yeah, and most of these guys have no idea what those little knobs and faders on the mixing boards do – as most of them sound like they have a mouthful of mud; and, as if that’s not enough, I’ve witnessed at least one “band”, where the guy running the sound was making damn sure that the whole room could hear him, while doing his damnedest to silence the other guy.
FTR, the little weasel, Eric, didn’t even have the decency or the backbone to come and face me – he sent Vonda to do his dirty work – who by, the way, told us right from the start that this was the first time she’d been asked to deal with an audition– fishy, yeah, fishy. Ya know why these guys haul ass out the back door – it’s because they know they’re full of it, and they know who isn’t going to be bullied, and who is not gonna kiss their ass, and they’re too chicken shit to want to face that. Also FTR, I’m perfectly fine with a situation where I don’t fit, in fact, nobody would even need to tell me if the audience didn’t like what I did, I’d find the person in charge, offer them a sincere handshake, and tell them thanks for having me, but I don’t think I’d work out in a room such as this one” – and, I’d pride myself in doing that. BUT, when I see the reaction I saw last night, and the person in charge (or in last night’s case, his minion) feeds me crap such as they did last night, my bad habit of calling bullshit what it is will do what it does.

My last “FTR”,I don’t need to do this, so I don’t need to take crap from these people who think they can talk down to me, insult me, or feed me cheap B.S., and that includes any and all of ‘em. If I work in this town, great, I get to entertain the folks, if not, I don’t live to play in live venues.
If you have anything you would like to discuss, any questions, any anything, please feel free to email me, or call me (***-****-****).

One last point, I’m hoping you can tell the difference between frustration and disgust. I’m not frustrated in the least, but my level of disgust is off the charts. I deal just fine with legitimate rejection, but I do not deal well with bullshit.

That’s all for now.