Monthly Archives: July 2010

Another Kickstarter Success Story

"I Won't Go Hollywood"

Looks like the new paradigm is DIY – with sponsors.

Got a note the other day about the upcoming Bleu album, Four. I’m a big fan; they even used my pull quote on the jacket of the first album which was my favorite record of the year. But although he’s had success on a major label and getting his music into film, he’s gone the truly independent route this time in an effort to release his music without compromise or interference – he’s gone on Kickstarter. Stacy from Speck Management, who handles Bleu, echoes my feelings about this type of DIY marketing plan:

“I think this is a full testament that indie music is alive and well!  Major record labels, and even some indie labels, I think, are underestimating the power of fans who truly love the artists they….love.  Fans seem to rally for artists on Kickstarter because they know their pledges go directly to the artist, and that makes them feel good about it.”

Unlike most of the projects on Kickstarter, Bleu has blown by his initial modest goal by a mile, but he’s still offering several inducement packages to invest directly with the artist; circumnavigating the old-school machine that sucks up most of the money and usually drops the ball.

The amount of money is a pittance compared to a major film or album budget, but I guarantee you Bleu is getting far more cash to work with and will have no debt to recoup, plus he has 100% ownership going forward. It’s a sweet deal for him, and for his fans – he’ll be able to get more projects completed and released and extend his career. In short, the new paradigm.

You’ll remember that a while back I touted the support of the Kinks film Do It Again, where Geoff Edgers had invested all he could from personal savings (and the wallets of friends and family) and used Kickstarter to get the film into festivals. The result was a rousing success, and he continues to take the film around the world and screen it for audiences and distributors. Having seen the film and the audience reaction to it, I know it’s only a matter of time before this gets a wider release.

Another project is the Graham Parker documentary Don’t Ask Me Questions which is making great strides after only a couple of weeks. Once again, people like you and me are getting involved to support worthy projects with reasonable budgets to help bring them to fruition.

The premise of a Kickstarter program is that the creator has a financial goal which is publicly posted. If they do not reach that goal in the allotted period of time, all bets are off and none of the pledges are enforced. For those who are skeptical about donating to a project and then losing their money when it never sees the light of day, this is about as big a safeguard as you can get.

Could a project owner raise the pledge money and then pocket it without producing the planned result? Of course. People could also request an insufficient sum of money because they planned poorly, or could wind up reprioritizing the effort and making a profit. You have to use your common sense, like you should do with any investment. Thankfully it’s easy to research the project owner, and since the artist involved has a lot more to risk career-wise, you can be pretty certain that they vetted everything thoroughly before getting their name and reputation involved.

And if the project owner makes some money, what’s wrong with that? As long as the album or film gets produced, I’m happy. Isn’t that what it’s all about?

Otherwise you can sit at home and watch the big industrial machine release make the decisions. So enjoy that Creed album on your way to see Transformers V.

Here’s the main link to Kickstarter – you might find that a favorite artist is trying to get something off the ground, and you could be an important part of making that happen. If for nothing else, you’ll get an advance, behind-the-scenes peek at what might be coming down the pike in the future.

It’s your eyes and ears and wallet, after all. Carpe diem

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T.G.I.F. – Rock Me Out Of This

It’s been a really shitty week.

Letdowns. Oral surgery. Roy Oswalt traded to the Phillies.

I need some great songs to break me out of this. I need loud guitars, sing-along choruses, air guitar opportunities. I need to rock my way out of this funk.

So from one of the greatest hits-that-never-was (“Understanding Jane”) to classic guitar wanking (Leslie West) to the Johnny Winter Experience (yes, you read that right), here are Ten Terrific Tracks sure to wipe that glum off your puss

(01) The Sex Pistols  –  “Anarchy In The U.K.”

(02) The Icicle Works  –  “Understanding Jane

(03) The Kinks  – “Rats

(05) The Johnny Winter Experience  –  “Bonie Maronie

(05) Izzy Stradlin and the Ju Ju Hounds  –  “Train Tracks

(06) Mountain  –  “Mississippi Queen

(07) Archie Powell and the Exports  –  “Enough About Me

(08) Iggy and the Stooges  –  “Raw Power

(09) The Wildhearts  –  “Battleship Chains

(10) The Faces  –  “Pool Hall Richard

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20 Years Of Tall Tales

No, not mine. Hell, I’ve been telling tall tales a lot longer than that.

20 Years of Tall Tales is the title of the web series The Black Crowes will roll out starting Tuesday August 3rd, which also happens to be the street date for their double album Croweology. I’m stoked to hear this collection of all-acoustic material; new arrangements of some of their best-loved classics as well as some choice deep cuts.

The Crowes have been around long enough to generate their own legacy of misdeeds, misunderstandings and folklore, and when you factor in a pair of (sometimes) battling brothers and a fiery independent spirit, the epic legacy is a bit daunting. So as a treat to fans and a middle finger to the naysayers, a series of webisodes were filmed at Chris Robinson’s home and will be released one per day at their website.

The press release says it all:

It’s all here: the highs, the lows, controversies, arrests, feuds and more.  20 Years of Tall Tales was directed and produced by John Vanover and filmed earlier this month at Robinson’s Los Angeles home.

• Did The Black Crowes – a band that has never played it musically or commercially safe and at times been crucified for it – really spend $1,000,000 recording an album (Tall) that went unreleased for more than a decade? 
• What really happened in that Denver convenience store that led to Chris’ arrest?  
• Why was the band really fired from the Aerosmith tour before being reinstated? 
• What really went on in the studio the night the band held a bacchanalia for the amorica album? 
• What really drives the relationship between Chris and his brother, guitarist
Rich Robinson?   
• How did the union of The Black Crowes and Oasis on the “Tour of Brotherly Love” actually cancel out the feuds of both bands’ brothers? 
• And what about the band’s recently announced lengthy hiatus that will begin when their upcoming “SAY GOODNIGHT TO THE BAD GUYS 2010” tour ends this year with an epic six-night stand in San Francisco at The Fillmore December 12-19?

Fasten your seat belts as The Black CrowesChris Robinson (vocals/guitar), Rich Robinson (guitar), Steve Gorman (drums), Sven Pipien (bass), Luther Dickinson (guitar) and Adam McDougall (keyboards)–share the ride in 20 Years of Tall Tales.

Megaforce Records

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Blast From The Past: The Vandalias

Pulled out this old powerpop chestnut and blasted it.

Unfortunately the band went the way of most of the powerpop bands that stormed the 90’s revival – nowhere. A brief flash, some great songs and a lot of memories for record geeks like me who treasure such things. It didn’t mean they weren’t great – they were – but as usual, without radio airplay or any muscular marketing scheme, it was rain through your fingertips.

Big Deal Records was the shit in those days; a roster to die for and a release every month or two by great artists like Splitsville, Cockeyed Ghost, Michael Shelley and The Wondermints. And the series of great Yellow Pills collections…what a time that was! Unfortunately the label didn’t last, either…and sadly, whomever co-opted the label name is doing something completely different these days.

Buzzbomb. Is there a better word to capture the essence of powerpop? Here’s my original review from TransAction

Man, these cartoon characters can rock! Incredible pop rock that hearkens back to Badfinger, Big Star and every “ooh-aah”band that took the lead from the Beatles and moved on. “Down”, “No OneTold Him” and “the faux live “Funk Monkey Baby” rip it up with Cheap Trick energy and harmonies straight out of…The Mamas & Papas?

You bet! Rock ballads too; “Say I’m Sorry” will melt the crustiest of hard hearts. Eleven great songs in thirty five minutes that will make you wonder why someone so talented shields himself behind the front of the “Vandalia brothers”. I won’t expose him directly, but if you want to pay this pop wizard some props, buy Mach V, the previous CD, and dismantle the packaging.

It’s now a decade later, so I’ll save you the treasure hunt. The Todd Rundgren-esque popster was Dan Sarka.

The Vandalias on MySpace

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Last Comic Standing: Really?

 

I may have seriously misjudged you, America. 

Lo and behold, when the whittling came down to the final two last night – one of whom would be going home – I almost couldn’t believe my eyes. Were they the two comics I would have axed? Absolutely. But I would have bet a serious sum of money that the two of them would have been in the final three vying for the title. America – and you long distance global people with too much spare time – take a bow. 

The format was a little different this time; instead of handing out the walking papers immediately, they kept saving comics one by one until the final death knell at the fifty minute mark. Of course, in reality (pun fully intended) the announcements probably happened one after another at the top of the show. Ah, the magic of editing! Although they never said so, I wonder if the announcement order was from most votes to the least votes.? 

The other new twist was the insertion of a filmed vignette after the announcement and before each comic’s performance. These were pretty funny; in some cases better than the material that followed. My favorites were Jonathan Thymius running his sideline business “Comedy O’Gram“, Felipe Esparza’s barrio workout and Myq Kaplan’s clever song. You can find these at the Last Comic Standing website and/or Hulu

After last night I am befuddled as to who gets axed next. I thought Thymius was pretty weak the prior show and he might have topped the vote totals.

Some thoughts: 

Rachel Feinstein being eliminated means no more women left in the competition. Really, LCS? 

Thymius wobbled but had one great line about not wanting to be a cowboy because he didn’t want to get milked every morning. Cow. Boy. You didn’t get that joke, Natasha Leggero? Really

Roy Wood Jr., your M.O. every week is going to continue to be describing an idiot you run into and then dressing the imaginary dude down? Really

Mike DeStefano, you spent the first half of your set pretty mush telling a true story about being a recovering addict just to get the “heroin is like swimming in a pile of puppies” line in there? Really

Felipe Esparza, you continue to milk the racial humor, although I guess that’s a fact of life for an East L.A. guy. But going Mencia on us with the lazy Mexican jokes? Really

Tommy Johnagin, you risk comedy death each week with a cockier-than-thou line that offends people before saving yourself. Penis-popping? Really

Myq Kaplan…you slayed last night. I have nothing to add. (Really?) 

At least the judges started to show some spine last night, wondering aloud if Thymius was running dry or if Johnagin did his best set – although I thought DeStefanos’s set was his weakest to date and Greg Giraldo called it his tightest. Leggero continues to find ways to tell Thymius that he creeps her out, and I’m wondering if her backhanded compliment to Kaplan (saying he’d win if it was Last Comic Writing) means he’s toast in her mind. 

But for all my complaining, I’m getting to see Andy Kindler on television every week, and that’s a great thing. And Craig Robinson continues to redefine the host role with great quips, delivery and energy. 

If it were up to me I’d have Kaplan and Johnagin in a dead heat at the top and Esparza would take the next bus home.  But my prediction for next comic corpse is DeStefano. He repeated the Blackberry joke from the audition, and then when a long set piece wasn’t killing, repeated another (the “Tibet” joke). Did America notice? Will they punish him? I hope not, but I fear it’s true. Really

Surprise me, America. 

Bring it hard or America will take you down.

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Big Star For A Big Cause

 

(Thanks to my buddy Ray Paul for forwarding this info…)

Channeling Chilton

The City Winery in New York City is presenting a night of remembrance and celebration this Wednesday, July 28th, as former members of the Box Tops, Big Star, plus Alex’s longtime friends and other collaborators come together to celebrate the man and the legend that is Alex Chilton.Part proceeds of the evening will benefit families and businesses affected by the Deepwater Horizon Disaster through the Gulf Restoration Network.

Artists so far confirmed include:  Yo La Tengo, Marshall Crenshaw, Jody Stephens, Jon Auer, Doug Garrison, Rene Coman, Alan Vega, Jon Spencer (of the Blues Explosion), Fran Kowalski, Chris Stamey, Lesa Aldridge (Elizabeth Hoehn), Jay Proctor (of Jay & the Techniques), Bill Cunningham, Gary Talley, Terry Manning, Evan Dando, Jesse Malin, Danny Kroha (of The Gories).

Check the City Winery website for updates as more artists are confirmed.

Take Me Home And Make Me Like It

December Boys got it bad. RIP, my friend.

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Mad Men

Great expectations tonight as Mad Men returns.

If you are wondering what will happen with Don Draper, Betty and the rest of the crew, click below. It’s probably the most anticipated returning show of the summer and I’m right there with you.

AMC official site.

But in a parallel universe, what about those slimy execs from Boston? You know…MA Men? Then you have to check out Funny Or Die’s hilarious parody at the link below. Kudos to Rob Delaney, Joey McIntyre (yes, that one!) and crew. Not safe for work, especially at an ad agency.

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