TO THE PRESS IN HOUSTON: WE, THE MUSICIANS, ARE DOING OUR OWN THING WITHOUT YOU

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(NOTE: THIS IS REALLY GOING TO PISS SOME PEOPLE OFF.)

As most of us in the music community are aware of, there was a blog piece put out last week by Jesse Sendejas Jr. from the Houston Press titled “Maybe It’s Time to Cool It On All The ‘Houston’s Music Scene is Awesome’ Talk”.

After reading our reactions to it, he then put out a “save my ass” piece Tuesday in response, titled “Things I Learned From the ‘Houston Music is Awesome’ Response”.

Let’s notice something first. He titled his response piece: ‘Things I Learned From the ‘HOUSTON MUSIC IS AWESOME’ Response’. Note how he didn’t include the entire title of the original piece, which was…. “Maybe IT’S TIME TO COOL IT ON ALL THE Houston’s Music Scene is Awesome’ Talk”. Wonder why that is? Wonder why he didn’t want to include that entire title in his response piece? Could it be because it’s too painful to be reminded of it? I think it’s because he knows he fucked up and now he’s trying to save his ass. We get it, Jesse. We’re a lot smarter than you think we are. I mean, right here, he admits it: “I’ve never been a fan of the follow-up article”. And even further reveals his true nature here: “I’m willing to don the jodhpurs, even at the risk of knowing how ridiculous I may look.” Well, yeah, you looked ridiculous after writing the first article, and now you look even more ridiculous trying to save your ass in this piece. But whatever. You gotta do what you gotta do to try to defend yourself. Moving on.

What was the fucking point of even writing that first damn article??? Really? Oh, I see. You stated it here in your defense piece: “I agree, that is a sensationalist title. It’s going to stoke a fire in the eyes of some before those eyes even set upon the first sentence. There’s no real defense of that except I wanted you to read the bit.” Well, that’s about the weakest defense I’ve ever heard. Why not put out something that actually has substance, and a title reflecting that? You wanted a sensationalist title, and you wanted a sensationalist article. You achieved just that, and not much more. Oh, and by the way, here’s that first sentence for any of you who haven’t yet read the article: “When we say the Houston music scene is amazing, as many of us do with bordering on annoying frequency these days…..”. Yeah. Sensationalism and being totally craptacular towards our music community in the same sentence. What an achievement.

We, the musicians and music fans of this town, are completely and totally over this kind of bullshit. I really don’t understand it from Jesse, either, since normally he puts out such supportive articles regarding the local music community. Both of these articles he wrote within these last two weeks bring some serious deductions against his former credibility.

The fact of the matter is, Houston Press has been putting out this TMZ quality (I use the word quality loosely) for YEARS now, and it’s not JUST Jesse that has recently contributed to this detrimental bullshit. Kristy Loye has been one of the demeaning “writers” the Houston Press has to offer us… I don’t even know how she still has a job there, to be quite honest. She’s written more pieces that have crapped all over the music community and music fans here than I can stand. There’s also been other numerous writers at that particular publication over the years who have loved to fuck with, criticize, and pick at the music community, bands,  musicians and music fans in this town, and we are really really sick of it.

These writers sometimes come back and try to save their asses like Jesse just did, too… especially when the article sparks as much of a “fuck this shit” response from our music community. They’re just trying to save face. They know they fucked up, and then, they attempt to “redeem” themselves somehow by writing some sort of response piece to pacify us, not because they are truly sorry in any way whatsoever. It’s a shame, but it’s the absolute truth. I liken it to a relationship where one partner is at times verbally abusive to the other, then apologizes, so the other partner says “well…… he/she DID say they were sorry… I guess I’ll stick it out and see if things get better”.

Well, things are NOT going to get better, people. I’m just here to tell you. I’ve spoken to some of you who feel that there should be a symbiotic relationship with the press here. I agree with you wholeheartedly. There SHOULD be, it’s just a matter of whether or not there ever truly WILL be.

Judging from the quality of articles I have seen come out of this particular entity and others, I am of the opinion that we will never truly every be able to achieve this kind of relationship. Here is one reason why:

We’re really nothing but pawns in their own game of “I want accolades as being a well known music critic in this town, and THEN, I want to move on up to a bigger job at the regional or national level”. They’re just trying to crawl their way up the food chain. For REAL. Think about it. It’s not that they REALLY support us, they want credentials and advancement at any expense. They will write anything at all, good, bad, ugly, whatever… just to get hits and shares. It brings them the attention they seek so desperately so they can get noticed and move on up the food chain of the editorial world. That’s it in a nutshell. The writers here that actually write our about our community because they really and truly want to support it are few and far between. Just examine the timeline of the Houston Press Music’s Facebook page and others and look at the quality and content of the articles there. You will begin to see the apparent pattern for yourselves.

Ask yourself this question as well: what have any of these people TRULY done to help further you or your careers in any real, tangible way? At the end of the day, it’s YOU, the musicians, who create your own opportunities. None of these ‘industry’ people or press people are gonna do it for you. Do you see these people putting their asses on the line and talking about the real issues holding us back in this town? No, because the money interest involved with the bigger venues in this town are totally hooked up with the press here, and the editors of these press entities won’t print ANYTHING even remotely touching on those issues! Someone out there would be out of a job, and the other would potentially lose money. THIS SYMBIOTIC RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN US AND THE PRESS WILL NEVER EVER HAPPEN, YALL. The money interest, the bigger venues, certain larger booking and management outfits, and the press here (and anywhere else you look in this world, for that matter), are all ONE BIG HAPPY FAMILY, PEOPLE. They will print anything and everything that furthers that relationship in whatever means they can. They use us for their own ends one way or another. You and your band might get a great writeup one day, and then the next, they will print something that craps all over our community. Think about it. You folks KNOW I’m right. It’s NOT real support, and at the end of the day, they are all answerable to their editors, who are answerable to the money interest, the booking and management firms, and the venue owners. It’s all one big circle jerk. Do some research and you will see that this is 100% fact.

I oughtta know all this for myself. I’ve done interview after interview with these people and tried to assert the same points I’m making here plus many more, and they never get printed. They just print the surface level shit, or write bullshit articles taking a negative tone towards our community like these last two we just read over this past week. Every single interview I have ever done with the Houston Press I have saved. I have these interviews time stamped and dated. I can show you what they DIDN’T print, and then show you the 5% of my interviews that they DID print. Some of the interviews I’ve done with them haven’t even been published at all. I know for a FACT it is because I always touch on the issues concerning our music community, those same issues I touch on in this blog, and these writers are too controlled by that money interest and the fear of their editors to print it! These folks don’t take REAL risks at all. Until they get some balls and start to talk about real issues facing our community, like the rental fee issue that venues charge local bands, for example (and there are MANY MANY OTHERS), the job has now fallen on US, musicians. We gotta take charge. This is our time, and this is our calling. We gotta get our shit together and NOW. I’m happy to be here doing my part. Don’t like it? Oh well, I really don’t care. I’m gonna keep doing this until something changes!! We aren’t just going to ‘TALK ABOUT HOW AWESOME WE ARE”, we’re gonna put our asses on the line and fucking show y’all what the fuck is up.

When writers publish “sensationalist” pieces like this, it makes any article they’ve ever written attempting to support something going on in the music community look like total bullshit. I’m all for their freedom of speech, but that freedom brings consequences. BELIEVE ME, I know that fact VERY well. If any of you have ever read this blog, heard my radio show, or been on my Facebook page, you’d be quite aware of it. There’s a LOT of motherfuckers who do not like what I’m doing here. I don’t care about them. They’re not getting me gigs or paying my band’s recording studio time or rehearsing with us to be kick ass or pounding the pavement hanging up posters and handing out handbills for us or anything else that tangibly helps my band or any of YALL’S BANDS survive! Think about it now!!! I stand by exactly what I say because it is THE TRUTH. It’s the truth that it’s fucked up that venues charge bands rental fees to play, and it’s the truth that on average, with a few exceptions, the press in this town does more to piss off and shit on the local musicians here than it does to help them. I’ll stand by those statements proudly, even if it costs me my “reputation” and certain “working” relationships. I don’t give a FUCK because they’re both FACTS and y’all all know it. Those ‘relationships’ obviously weren’t worth it to begin with and were NEVER working. And like Joan Jett said, “I don’t give a damn ‘bout my reputation”. I put my ass on the line every time I write one of these pieces and am proud to do it. I actually know a lot of people who are beginning to come out with the same points I’ve been making now for a long time. This is something that has been a running undercurrent of fire in our local music community for YEARS and I am not one fucking bit afraid to speak out about it, or anything else, for that matter. I’m focused on bringing out the truth first, and then building something better. Something REAL. A community that sustains ITSELF. We don’t need the bullshit. It’s over.

I know I speak for a LOT of musicians out there who want to say this, and I have talked to SO many that feel this way, but they are afraid to speak out for fear of losing gigs or press opportunities or other industry related relationships… well, I’m not at all, and I work only with venues and people who treat musicians right and support us. I don’t need any of these middle men industry types or press people to ‘have my back’, when I know they don’t truly give one rat’s ass about any of our success.

And by the way, you press people ought take at look at your DAMN selves. Y’all AIN’T the best writers we’ve seen around here and you’re not doing us any real favors. So stop fucking with us, we’re over it. Musicians AND music fans included. We don’t owe you jack shit, so stop trying to glorify yourselves like you run this place. You don’t. WE DO, and we are about to show you what time it is. You folks have NOTHING without us, and you KNOW it.

I’ve been talking about this kind of bullshit the press here puts out for a LONG time, and it wasn’t until last week when I saw some of you who never ever speak out against what they are doing that I decided it was officially time for a call to action.

As of last week, I put out a video missive calling for our local musicians to start setting the tone here and becoming our own press. We’re doing it, too. In just the amount of time it took ol’ Jesse to write and put out that piece of shit article, there’s been three people I know who have already begun this process: Catherine Catzilla Dietrich, who owns and operates Stilettobroadcasting.com (go directly to the website here: (http://stilettobroadcasting.com), local visual artist Katherine Strawn Erwin, and local music photographer Michael Villegas ( check out his local music and photography blog, Live, Breathe Music here: https://livebreathemusic.com ). You also have my homies Matthew Davis Buehrer and Andrew Karnavas running Yawp Records, ( check them out here at: http://yawprecords.com ), which is a true community based enterprise trying to help musicians empower themselves and get paid for their work. Local music photographer Mars Simons also reviews local and national shows AND does photography for worldwide music publication National Rock Review. You can check out some of her work by following this link: http://www.nationalrockreview.com . There’s gonna be more. Just you wait. We are over it. The only writers here that really do try to cover things in a positive manner are few and far between. Y’all know who they are…. Jeremy Hart from Space City Rock, David Garrick talks about almost every show going on at almost every venue any day of the week… But we need more of that shit. We need to break up the monopoly in the press here, and that is only gonna come from YOU ALL STARTING TO BE YOUR OWN PRESS. I’ve said it before, and I’ll reiterate it again:

This is a call to action for ALL musicians. Start a blog on WordPress, it’s free. Start a You Tube channel talking about what’s going on in Houston or use it to promote your band. IT’S FREE TOO. Do a Periscope live broadcast. FREE. Do a Facebook Live broadcast (I do those from time to time and it does help spread the word) all you need is an account, which is FREE!. Start a podcast. If you have the means, start a print publication. But for the LOVE OF ALL THAT IS GOOD AND HOLY, STOP RELYING ON THESE MOFOS FOR ANYTHING!! They are NOT doing a good job! WE CAN DO IT BETTER! WE ARE THE MUSIC COMMUNITY HERE, MUSICIANS! SO WE HAVE TO TAKE CONTROL OF THIS SHIT! I will personally review any album or show that y’all want me to! I’m not paid to do any of this, like these other writers are, I’m doing this because I BELIEVE IN YALL and I KNOW WE NEED A CHANGE HERE.

No money interest runs me nor does it run any of the other people I mentioned. No big money investors are involved. I’m not financially tied to any venue people or investor money like a few of these press people are (no names mentioned but y’all know who your asses are), so I say and do whatever the fuck I want. I will help y’all in any way I can. If these bitches are not giving you your fair level of press, or aren’t covering you at all, hit me the fuck up. Looks like you have some other people on your side, too. Can’t afford to pay a venue’s rental fees? Write about it! Don’t worry, you’re not alone! Hell, if you’re too afraid to speak up, drop me a message and I will! I know you’re just as sick of the horseshit as the rest of us, so you if you want someone who’s gonna have your back, first, have your own by starting your OWN THING, but just know that that myself plus the other people I just mentioned will, too. Also, know there’s more of us coming.

Like my friend Matt said yesterday, “Scenes have actors, communities are about GROWTH”. So let’s stop focusing on a “SCENE” and start truly building a COMMUNITY. The time is NOW.

So there you go, press people. If you’re all offended or pissed off about this, guess what, welcome to the fucking club. This is how you’ve made us feel for YEARS. Payback’s a bitch.

TK

The Interwoven Atmospheric Odyssey of Valeluna’s “Affinity”

Valeluna Affinity Cover

When lead guitarist Ty Mc Mahon reached out to me regarding his band Valeluna’s new album, “Affinity”, I was super excited to give it a listen. I immediately watched the teaser video for “Affinity”on their Facebook page, and thought to myself, “why the HELL haven’t I heard of these guys before??”… their sound reminds of me of so many bands I love: A Perfect Circle, Pink Floyd, and Coldplay, just to name a few… that dark, atmospheric aesthetic that swells into dramatic and vivid picturesque storms.

“Affinity” is an album that MUST be listened to as a whole. It takes you on a voyage, a spiritual and emotional journey on high, stormy seas to calm shores and then back out again. It is an album that will move you as you move with it. Every song is tied together with flawless segues… trumpet, delayed guitars, backwards loops, synths and pianos… at times I couldn’t establish when one song had ended and the next song began, which was a brilliant strategy for the overall theme of this record.

I learned  a bit more about Valeluna and some of their accomplishments after visiting their website ( http://valeluna.com ):

“Since the band’s outset in February 2014, Valeluna has made their presence felt in the Houston music scene. Along with performing for Houston’s 94.5FM’s Texas Buzz, Valeluna competed against and would eventually become the champions of over 50 bands in the Houston Battle of the Bands Finals in August 2014. Shortly after, Valeluna released their debut full-length album, In Your Absence. In addition, Valeluna would be voted “Best Rock Band” in the 2014 Texas Buzz Music Awards.”

Here’s the teaser video for “Affinity”. Valeluna says this in regards to the video:

“This video embodies everything we have worked for in the last two years. Literal blood, sweat, and tears have gone into our craft. This video represents every up and coming musician everywhere. It exhibits the art with the struggle. Be who you want to be. Do what you want to do. Fight for your passion. Because your passion, and your desire to fight for it, defines who you are as a person.”

I literally couldn’t have said any of those words better myself! What truth… what passion and respect these guys have for their craft. It’s EXTREMELY evident in their music.

“Affinity”will officially be available this Saturday, July 23, 2016, BUT…..  you can get the album before its release date by preordering it on Valeluna’s  website at: https://valeluna.com

There are also several preorder exclusives and bundles that can only be purchased through the band’s website.

ALL PREORDERS WILL RECEIVE FREE ENTRY FOR YOU AND YOUR PARTY TO VALELUNA’S ALBUM RELEASE SHOW AT SCOUT BAR (18307 Egret Bay Blvd, Houston, TX, 77058) on SATURDAY, JULY 23, 2016. 

This will be Valeluna’s first performance in eight months, so you will not want to miss this album release show!

Opening bands are: So Soon, The TruthSave The Fire, and Vox Vocis .

Ticket prices (without preordering the album) range from $7-$15.

Valeluna Scout Bar Flier

You can check out more of Valeluna’s music by visiting their Soundcloud and Bandcamp pages:

https://valeluna.bandcamp.com

https://soundcloud.com/valeluna-1

TK

Drop Out Vegas Releases Soon To Be Hit Single “Sleep Alone”

Drop Out Vegas- Photo- Taylor Brown

Houston’s Drop Out Vegas (Jason Bentch (co-songwriter, percussion) and Skyler James (singer, co-songwriter, keyboardist)

Photo Credit: Taylor Brown

I’ve never been much of a pop music fan, but when it’s done well, I give credit where credit is due. Drop Out Vegas has certainly sparked my interest.

They are mad hustlers when it comes to getting their business done, and it shows not only in the music they are creating, but in their business strategy. I’m pretty sure these two guys are set to take over the world, because they are making some HUGE noise about their latest single “Sleep Alone”.

These guys have virtually mapped out a clear destiny for this single’s release, including an appearance on Debra Duncan’s morning show on KHOU Channel 11 this Friday, July 15, from 9-10am (CST), and a release party at Raven Tower on July 16.

I didn’t know much about Drop Out Vegas, so I did a little research behind them and the single they are due to release. Writer Earl Dittman penned a piece about them on Buzzfeed, where I discovered the quality cast of musical talent Jason and Skyler have teamed up with to record “Sleep Alone”. Earl writes:

“Sleep Alone” was co-written and co-produced by James and Bentch and recorded at 226 Recordings in Houston. The single was mixed by Scott Jacoby of Eusonia Studios (Vampire Weekend, John Legend) and mastered by Emily Lazar of The Lodge (David Bowie, Paul McCartney, Beyoncé). The duo have spent most of 2016 crafting new music alongside powerhouse musical collaborator Jeff Franzel (Lady Gaga, Idina Menzel, N’SYNC) for more upcoming 2016 singles and their full-length debut in 2017.”

Y’all can read more about Drop Out Vegas if you click on this link to Earl’s piece:

https://www.buzzfeed.com/earldittman/drop-out-vegas-elecro-pops-fatest-rising-stars-2fdgx?utm_term=.lnqzdBK2Do#.gjRWPKNgln

Drop Out Vegas played at last year’s Pride Festival, and recently also rocked Warehouse Live’s Ballroom at the Springboard South Music Showcase. They also had a single, “Symphony”, which was played on 94.5 The Buzz. They have also spent a ton of time on the road the past few years, opening up for acts such as The Pussycat Dolls, Estelle and Big Freedia. They were also a featured artist at this year’s SXSW Music Festival.

Clearly, these two are not playing around! I give them mad props for their hard work and dedication to their craft, and wish them all the best for the rest of 2016 and beyond!!!

Here’s a link to the teaser from their upcoming video for “Sleep Alone”:

Don’t forget to catch them on Debra Duncan’s show Friday morning! Set your DVRs if you’re gonna be at work!

Drop Out Vegas on Debra Duncan

Catch Drop Out Vegas on their journey to the stars and beyond as they host their single release this Saturday evening, July 16th at Raven Tower (310 North Street). They will also be showing the FULL video for “Sleep Alone”, so you don’t want to miss that! Supporting acts on this bill are locals Children of Pop and Whale Bones. This is gonna be one heck of a night of general bad assery, so come up and dance your asses off! These two write music that will make you want to bust a move 0n the dance floor! I’m super stoked for these guys and the effort they have put into what they do. It’s clear they have the attitude and plans for major success and I’m sincerely proud of them. Thanks to Skyler James from Drop Out Vegas for contacting me regarding this single. You have truly opened up my eyes to two people that I am really inspired by!

TK

BLSHS’ Soulful Darkness of “Hold On”

BLSHS Hold On Photo

I have received the distinct pleasure of interviewing Houston’s own BLSHS about their newest album, “Hold On”. Right off, I have to say I hold the folks in BLSHS in the highest regard as musicians, and all of you will be able to understand why when you hear this album. But first, let’s learn more about BLSHS’ process behind the creation of “Hold On”, their goals for this year, and more.

 What was the inspiration for “Hold On”? Was it written with a concept in mind…. Or, was it pieced together from songs you already had been performing but hadn’t recorded….plus some new material you hadn’t performed yet?

Michelle Miears: “Hold On was not initially written with a concept in mind; it is a collective of songs that were written between 2014 and 2015 while we were still out playing songs from our first EP, Abstract Desires.  What initially started as a demo of Clarity that I sent to Rick and Chris slowly unfolded over the year in the form of 6 songs that were organically written in the time that we had between playing shows.  Three of the songs are co-produced by P On The Boards (of A$AP Mob).  P sent us a handful of demos, of which three became tracks on the EP.  I was quickly able to write vocals on those demos – I could tell they were going to be amazing songs from the second I heard each one, and they were super easy to collaborate with P on.  We actually had 13 total demos at the peak of our writing phase.  At that point, we listened to all 13 demos and grouped these particular 6 songs together based on their flow together.  We thought that, as a body of work, they felt cohesive and made sense.  I tend to write about real-life emotions that hit me in the moment, whether I am basking in the glow of a new love or if I am sitting around lamenting over a lost love.  I write about the past a lot, I write about my present state in relationships, and I also write about the future and my hopes and fears, but all of my writing tends to be centered around interpersonal relationships: mostly romantic relationships. Hold On is essentially a snapshot of the rollercoaster that has been my love life over the past handful of years.  I believe I am still healing from my past, and this EP sheds some light on that.”

 Y’all make AMAZING beats. What program(s) do you use to create your beats and samples?

 BLSHS:“For this EP, we used two different DAWs for production: Ableton and Logic Pro.  Ableton was the primary DAW used, but Michelle uses Logic for production work and vocal recording.  Eventually all demos/stems were shifted into Ableton to be finalized.  In And Out was started in Ableton, but finalized at Sugarhill Studios, where some analog synth work was recorded in-studio and vocals were recorded in-studio.  Our instrumentals are a culmination of various analog and software instruments and samples.  Rick used the Roland TR8 for a lot of his drum production, but he also used samples as well.  Michelle used VST plugins on this EP for instrumental work, and Chris laid down some heavy synth work using various hardware like Korg Poly 800, Yamaha DX-7, Roland U-220, Yamaha FB-01.”

What do y’all have planned for the rest of 2016? Local shows? Planning a tour? Out of town gigs? Festivals?

BLSHS:“For the rest of 2016, we plan to debut these new songs live at both local and out-of-town shows as well as continue releasing new music. We are currently working on new BLSHS songs, remixes for other Houston bands, and collaborating with Guilla on some tracks.  We have a handful of Houston dates already lined up starting late summer/early fall that we are excited to announce soon! We would love to play a festival like Day For Night here in Houston or get out to NYC for CMJ again – that would be a great way to cap off the year!  We have loved our experiences at festivals, so we would be stoked on any opportunities that come our way!”

BLSHS’ “Hold On” was written by Michelle Miears, Rick Carruth, and Chris Gore. It was mixed by Dan Workman at Sugarhill Studios and mastered by John McCaig at Panic Studios. Artwork and photography was done by SpaceTiger Audio Visual Club. It was  released by Synth Records on May 30, 2016.

Now, let’s check out the tracks on the new album!

The title track, “Hold On”, has a beautiful soulful feel with electronic/ programmed drums. It’s GOREOUS. Michelle KILLS it on the vocals with a melody that would make even the most accomplished R&B/soul singers swoon!

“Temporary Love” is a steadier groove with some absolutely STELLAR vocal harmonies and hypnotic beats. See for yourselves!
“Clarity” is probably the best expression of Michelle’s vocal range and dynamics. The lyrics are BEAUTIFUL, and the synths and beats blend with Michelle’s vocals in a way that sounds like another instrument all on its own!
The arrangement of the beats and samples on “Before You Miss Me” are super bad ass. This song has a dark lyrical beauty that truly pulled me into a whole other world, and Michelle’s vocal arrangements did the same. Listen for yourselves!
“In and Out” is one of the catchiest songs on the album. It has a dark, poppy, R&B feel to it. I found myself hitting “repeat” on this song multiple times. This song could EASILY be on top 40 radio. I think y’all will see that too! check it out!
Finally, “Savior” is absolutely, without a doubt, my favorite track on this album. The organ intro is absolutely RAD, and sets the mood in accordance with the title of the song. There’s also some very cool Moog-ish effects in the intro that I LOVED, and the vocals, beats, and lyrics are just top notch creations. Here it is!
You can catch BLSHS live with my band, PuraPharm at Warehouse Live in the Green Room on September 17!
Thanks so much to BLSHS for taking their time to do the interview and also for just being some of the best musicians and people I know!
You can hear more from BLSHS on Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/blshs
If you use Facebook, you can find out even more about them there: https://www.facebook.com/BLSHSmusic/

In “Pre”view: Devil Killing Moth’s “A Night In the Life Of”

A Night In The Life Of” is Houston, Texas’s Devil Killing Moth’s first album as a full five piece band.

Here’s the lowdown on their current lineup, the who’s who, and the who does what!

DEVIL KILLING MOTH IS:

Dan Oviedo– vocals and 12-string guitar

Anton De Guzman– guitar and back-up vocals

Ryan Galbraith– Drums

Chris Dunaway– bass and back-up vocals

Hector Oviedo– djimbe and sometimes everything.

ABOUT DEVIL KILLING MOTH:

(From their Facebook page):”Based out of Houston, Texas, DKM is a 5-piece band that bring its own flare in the eclectic Houston music scene. From various backgrounds and upbringing, the collaboration of these guys have always put a stop on finding the best way to describe their sound. Listen to a couple of their songs from the last album “Once I Used to Dream” and see if you can pinpoint the sound. But whether there is a genre for DKM or not, its music still resounds in genuine message of believing that everyone is capable of great things.”

WHERE TO HEAR DEVIL KILLING MOTH’S MUSIC ONLINE:

https://www.facebook.com/devilkillingmoth/?fref=ts

https://www.reverbnation.com/devilkillingmoth :

If you want a band that will take you on an ass kickin’ mind trip, this is gonna be the album for you! I’ve been following these guys ever since they were a three piece and thought they were the bomb then, but this album truly brings the band into its fullest expression of awesomeness yet. The best way I can describe Devil Killing Moth’s sound is an adventure through a psychedelic, percussive, tribal acoustic ionosphere. It’s beautiful stuff, people, and it’s something truly uplifting to the soul. Here’s a sneak peek at some of the tracks on “A Night In The Life Of“:

Bright Stereo:  Starts with an acoustic intro: “I know what you want, I know what you got, I know what need, I know what you’re thinking”… then builds into an avalanche of heavy acoustic bliss and vocal harmonies….. at the end they chant again to remind you that they “know what you want, know what you need and know what you’re thinking”! This song will make you want to hit “rewind” and hear it many more times. It’s SUPER catchy.

Oscar: Mix of percussive tones, darker chord progressions, almost like a tribute anthem of sorts to a dear friend. Very capturing song.

Mind Boots: Trippy  guitar into, then it goes into full on fast paced, full jam mode…. Daniel passionately singing “live forever” really makes you feel like you will. You will hear DKM in tribal chanting mode! This song made me want to get up and go run a marathon!!

Get Up: Reggage feel at the beginning… you will be bopping’ your head right along with them. Chris on vocals “get up, put up, shut up until you start to get it down”…. love it… drums are TIGHT. This is one of my favorites.

Chuey Kabluey: Slower, mind bending psychedelic guitar layers, lush reverbs on the vocals and guitars. BEAUTIFUL! Definitely a groove for a mellow, chillin’ sunny day.

WHERE AND WHEN IS THEIR ALBUM RELEASE SHOW?

You can buy Devil Killing Moth’s “A Night In The Life Of” at WALTER’S on FRIDAY, MAY 13, 2016! They will be playing at 11PM!

Also on the bill are local bad asses Only Beast, who are opening the show, Nashville’s Linear Downfall, who are going on second, and closing out the night is Houston’s own Rex Hudson! 

There will also be live painting by Black Cassidy and a photo booth for your enjoyment!

DOORS ARE AT 8PM. Cover is $10 AT THE DOOR, and $7 IN ADVANCE  (www.ticketfly.com for advance tickets)

SEE YALL THERE FRIDAY NIGHT!!!!!

-TK

 

 

 

 

Where’s the Solutions, People??

be solution oriented

Hey everyone! I’ve missed all of you. It’s been awhile since I have put out a blog piece, but I felt the need to write this one today because as of late, I have been noticing a trend that I feel is rather disturbing from music writers in this city.

I’m going to speak rather plainly about this, so just know that I’m not going to make any effort to soften up what I plan to address in any manner.

With that point made, I’ve taken notice of two pieces recently published by Houston Press writer Kristy Loye that are critical of aspects in the local music scene here in Houston.  I don’t take issue with the fact that she’s critical of what she sees; what I take issue with is the overall tone set in the first of these pieces I will address in this blog post today. It is titled “Become a Better Musician in One Easy Step: Practice More”.

The inconsistencies and failures between its intention versus what it actually accomplished, the overall condescending tone, and the factually incorrect and highly arrogant statement made by one of the musicians quoted in the piece (which I feel contributed to the overall sentiment of the article) are outstanding. I also take issue with the fact that in effect, this piece accomplished nothing whatsoever that was truly productive in the end. It didn’t offer any encouragement, positive solutions, or practical means to achieving something better. It was a piece that mostly served to criticize, not to encourage, and since I come mostly from a position of encouragement and actively finding solutions to problems I see in this musical community, I felt the need to address certain points within the article itself and then offer counterpoints and also some solutions I feel are applicable, since those were not provided.

Keep in mind, these pieces reach a large number of readers, many of which are musicians. Overall, this article was taken as an insult to many local musicians, which Kristy had stated in advance she knew would happen on Facebook.Kristy comment 1

Then, when the article came out, this was the post she made  on her wall on Facebook, furthering her stance:

Kristy comment 2

She also offered, in response to the criticism she received, an article written by Houston Press Music Editor Chris Gray, that discussed job opportunities in the music department of the Houston Press. In other words, if you guys didn’t like what she had to say, then here’s your chance to write your own material for the Houston Press and prove you can do better than she can:

Kristy comment 3

Well. Alrighty then. Let me begin taking this piece apart.

(If you’d like to access the full article for reference, you may do so by clicking this link here):

http://www.houstonpress.com/music/become-a-better-musician-in-one-easy-step-practice-more-8191295

I’d like to begin with addressing  the points listed within the first half of the article.

Kristy article 1

The first point I’d like to address is the intention she has behind this piece, which is: “We’re NOT TRYING TO DISCOURAGE anyone, rather we hope to ENCOURAGE those would be slackers seeking to be a part of the ever-hustling Houston music scene to further improve their craft”.

Keep in mind, she wants to accomplish ENCOURAGING musicians to become better at their craft in this article.

Okay. Moving ahead a few paragraphs.

kristy article statement 2

And I’d like to list one more section of this piece from the two paragraphs that precede it.

Kristy article comment 4

So. Let’s begin by starting to point out the logical failures first.

If the goal of her piece was to accomplish encouraging new bands to improve their craft, and become more prepared to hit the stages of Houston, this goal has failed in multiple ways.

Here are some definitions of the verb “encourage”.

encourage definition

There are three simple definitions of the verb “encourage” above. I have not read anything throughout Kristy’s piece that would make any new band feel more determined, hopeful, or confident… nor have I read anything that would make any new band feel that this article was written in a manner that would make playing their first few shows here in Houston seem any more appealing, or even more likely to happen… but in terms of the final definition, her article did make ME more likely to do something, or tell or advise (someone) to do something. Which is exactly what I am about to do right now.

First, Kristy states, as her own personal belief, that music is “a competitive elitist art form”. All the writer has done here is make a purely unqualified statement about music in and of itself, without crediting the statement through a definition or an example. WHAT about music makes it a competitive, elitist art form? Give examples of this. I didn’t see any of them listed.

It is my opinion that music, in and of itself,  is quite subjective. What may appeal to one person would not appeal to someone else. In this same vein, there is an error in fact in this same sentence. That music is “competitive”. No, music in and of itself is Not competitive. An art form, yes. I agree with that particular part of the commentary. But music in and of itself is NOT competitive. The MUSIC BUSINESS may be viewed as competitive, but music alone is not. It is simply an art form, which is highly subjective to each person’s tastes.

As we move through the next few paragraphs, we notice a few terms that have no place in an environment of “encouragement”:  “Therefore, the days of filler sets and lackluster openers need to become a thing of the past, immediately. If you’ve just created your starter band and have played less than a year, that’s great. Stay home, by which we mean keep practicing. ”

If someone could tell me how that is encouraging, I’d love to hear about it. “Stay home, by which we mean, keep practicing”.  While I would surely argue that a band should continue to practice, and practice a lot, doesn’t playing live over and over again serve as a FORM of practice? It can help work out jitters, teach the members of that band about playing on different stages, in different environments and with different sound people, and it also helps expose them to new audiences that aren’t their friends or family. Therefore, they can receive a more honest critique of their live show from the audience members that they don’t know. I fail to see how Kristy honestly believes she is still encouraging new bands at this point in her article.

Also, what qualifies as a “filler set” and also a “lackluster opener”? What are the definitions of these two terms? What are the examples? I’m sure she didn’t want to call anyone out specifically, but at the same time, she could have qualified this statement in some way. Also, it is ABLE to be qualified or is it also subjective, just like music in and of itself? What may be “lackluster” or “filler” to one person may be something fantastic to another. What is the measurement of a “lackluster opener” or “filler set”? Would it be qualified by the number of people that attend the bands’ slots? The crowds’ reactions to the band? Is the band off tempo? Out of pitch? Not listening to each other’s parts? Is there something wrong with the way the material was written? Is the material arranged poorly? Still, I feel that these statements were not defined well enough, so I feel that using these two terms was a poor choice.

And by the way, who is the”WE” she is referring to… “by which WE mean…” in this paragraph and also “WE’RE not trying to discourage anyone” in the opening paragraph? Is she referring to the attitudes of everyone in the Houston Press Music Department? Because if so, I can guarantee you not every writer there shares this attitude. I was unclear at this point in the article if she was now speaking for everyone who works in the music department, or if she was still speaking solely of her own opinion. I feel this reference was very unclear.

Continuing, let’s examine an excerpt from the comment by Dobber Beverly, who is the drummer from Oceans of Slumber. “….Because [investors] come here and they don’t hear the upper echelon; instead, they hear starter garbage. You can’t buy your way into music. It’s an exclusive club.”

I’ll begin by pointing out the obvious condescension this statement contains. “Starter garbage”is not only condescending, it’s also unqualified. What qualifies as “starter garbage”? We need to be concise in terms of WHAT this means. Nowhere in this piece so far have I found anything that qualifies ANY of these terms. If a term is going to be used in a critical sense, it needs to be well defined. Also, wasn’t he once a “starter” in music at some point? Yes, I believe ALL musicians were once “starters”. I’d like to remind him that before he calls other bands who are just getting their feet wet playing live shows “starter garbage”… he once had to do the same. I have a feeling that many of his first few shows weren’t 100% perfect and polished, as mine weren’t either and neither were anyone else’s. At some level, you have to remember and appreciate what you were and where you came from, what you worked so hard for, all the mistakes you made along your journey that ended up making you better… before you can marvel at what you are today. Humility is a gift that not all human beings have learned to accept. At least this is what I gleaned from reading his above statement.

There could be many reasons why neither Kristy nor Dobber could list examples of the terms they used in this piece (i.e., not wanting to directly call out any of the bands they may feel are examples of “lackluster openers” or “starter garbage”), but without a clear and concise definition of all of these terms, they then tend to become more and more subjective, ambiguous, and open to interpretation, and can’t truly be taken very seriously in a literal manner.

Now, let’s point to a factual error in fact in Dobber’s statement. “You can’t buy your way into music. It’s a very elite club”. What should have been stated was (because I know where he was trying to go with this) “you can’t buy your way into the ‘MUSIC BUSINESS.’ It’s a very elite club.”

The factual error is that one CAN, in fact, practically buy their way into the music business. Given that this is the digital age, and more and more artists are relying on digital platforms to get their music to the general public (and possibly to music industry people), there’s many ways one could, in fact, use certain options by simply clicking a mouse and having a credit card or debit card, that would help them open up all sorts of doors into the music industry.

First, before I list these methods, understand that You Tube is, in fact, the number one digital platform for music today. This screenshot below is from digitalmusicnews.com, and the article was written on March 28, 2016 (so, this is the most current information available).

You can click on this link to read the entire article: http://www.digitalmusicnews.com/2016/03/28/what-is-the-best-music-streaming-service/

you tube most popular music search engine

Also, let’s keep in mind that given this is the digital age, and You Tube is the number one music search engine out there, if you put your music or your music video on You Tube, it could reach a whole lot of people if you promote it well enough. Industry people (booking agents, managers, labels, PR people) want to see how a band’s social media pages (this includes their You Tube pages) reflect their fan base. It’s a factor they keep in mind when selecting the artists they work with. Just having quality music isn’t enough. If they are going to consider working with you, they want to see what your numbers are like on social media. It may not be the only factor they examine, but it certainly is one of those factors, and it can influence their decision to work with you. Here are ways one could literally buy their way into a being larger than life on any social media site,  including You Tube:

This information was found at this link here:

http://hiphopwired.com/2011/10/13/5-secrets-the-music-industry-doesn’t-want-you-to-know/

1. Views, Likes, and Follows

“Have you ever checked out a YouTube video only because it had a lot of views and you were curious to see why?  Are you more likely to follow an artist on Twitter who has 324,687 followers rather than one who has 54?  Are you the type of person to be first to “Like” an artist on Facebook or would you check to see that this artist already has a lot of “Likes” before you join in?

While you may think that looking at numbers is a ridiculous way to evaluate an artist’s worth (and it is!), millions around the world feel otherwise.  Sad as it may be, high numbers often propel artists to celebrity status.  Young and impressionable minds, which the industry targets since they’re the largest consumer base, often assume that if a video has millions of views, it must be good.”

2. YouTube views, Facebook “Likes”, and Twitter followers can be bought for a moderate fee.

“There are now dozens of companies who specialize in increasing numbers.  Some companies use special technology to achieve their goals while others claim to be able to get thousands of “real” followers.  If that weren’t crazy enough, “positive” YouTube comments supposedly written by real people can also be purchased!

This kind of practice is deceptive as hell and makes it difficult for aspiring artists who have to compete against those who have the means to buy such services.  I guess quality doesn’t matter when you can just buy your way to popularity.”

3. Professional Reviewers

“Ever read customer reviews on Amazon or iTunes?  Some are brief, misspelled, and poorly thought out while others are thorough and clearly expressed, almost as if a “professional” had written it.  Shockingly, that’s exactly what’s happening!

Writers are paid to act like customers and write positive reviews.  Sometimes, these writers are simply part of the artist’s team, other times, they’re professional writers who get hired for their review services.  Companies have gotten in trouble for this kind of practice but this hasn’t stopped it from happening.  Again, this makes it difficult for new artists who don’t have the means to compete against this kind of deception.”

So, I’m sorry to say, Dobber, but you CAN, in fact, practically buy your way into the music business. It’s so easy to do these days it’s almost sad to me. I’m sure many bands with some available funds have used at least one if not all three of these options, thinking it will help get them noticed by someone in the industry. Hell, look at Justin Bieber. All he did was post a video of himself on You Tube and he got noticed by American talent manager Scooter Braun. I wonder if he used any of these three options to help him along? How about Soulja Boy? Carly Rae Jepsen? Rebecca Black? These are all pop music examples, but I wonder if they used these three methods to help them get noticed by industry people on You Tube? I would imagine it’s entirely possible that either them or someone working with them could have. So your statement, is in fact, factually incorrect. If you weren’t aware of this factor when you made your statement to Kristy, then maybe I can understand why you may have made it. These surely are different times we are living in now.

Here’s the next section of the article that is anything but encouraging, and also contains many factual errors:

kristy quote 6

First, what makes the inner loop venues better than those in the suburbs? Places like Scout Bar and BFE Rock Club offer top notch sound, top notch stages, and great staff. They also get all sorts of national acts in there and are pretty selective about their openers. So bands that aren’t that good yet are only limited to those kinds of venues? That’s a total factual error. I think the people that book these venues could back me up in agreement.

Also, bands that play weddings are typically (but not always) cover bands. They also make a lot of money playing these types of gigs, and I’m fairly sure these bands have put in the due practice necessary to get paid what they are worth. Wedding planners seek out these kids of acts and go look at their various websites or social media pages to see how good they are and how much they charge. These are, in fact, professional musicians in every sense of the word (whether you prefer cover bands or not… they are still skilled musicians who are able to make good money at their craft).  Bands that play weddings are typically NOT amateur musicians by any stretch.

What criteria does one use to determine what a band’s level of skill is? What makes it “intermediate”? What makes it low? High? Again, these statements are all ill defined. And why does Kristy feel that our local bands should get better at their craft just to pander to these industry types anyhow? Some of these bands flat out just don’t give a shit about any of that. To them, enjoying playing music is enough. I’ve seen plenty of great bands in this city that don’t give one thought about the music industry factor. They just want to play. They love what they do, they work hard, it shows, and they’re great at it. Does this automatically exclude them from playing the city’s “best inner loop venues” just because they don’t have the goal of kissing the industry people’s asses?

And by the way, what are the city’s “best inner loop venues”, anyhow? Again, there are no specifics or any list of these venues. Would it be Rudyard’s? Raven Tower? House of Blues? Continental Club? Satellite Bar?  I think many of us would have liked more specifics on which venues Kristy had in mind. All of these are great venues, but which ones are “the best”? Maybe it would help some of us narrow things down a bit so those of us with “intermediate skills” can avoid playing there and leave things to the power elite music scenesters in this town and those who flock to them. There are many bands who don’t want to be a part of that whole cesspool anyhow. We just want to concentrate on writing the best music we can, putting our heart and soul into it, and getting up on that stage, and playing our hearts out… whether it’s to a crowd of 20 or 100, we still give it our all, no matter what any critic’s undefined, subjective terms may apply to our music, skill level, or our sets. We purely enjoy playing music.

Finally, this is the section that really stood out to me. This is near the end of the piece.

kristy comment 7

The statement “that’s why not only should our local stages feature ‘premium bands’….” Again, what constitutes a “premium band”? The definition is not made clear here. I feel many bands from here are “premium bands” and it’s entirely possible that most of them are not playing  “the best inner loop venues” either. But remember, since none of these terms she uses are well defined, I am left to use subjectivity in my application of all of them. Premium bands from Houston that come to mind for me are The Wheel Workers, Glass The Sky, Only Beast, Provision, Project Armageddon, Whit, Chase Hamblin,  Charity Ann, Devil Killing Moth, Jealous Creatures, The Freakouts, My Twilight Pilot, Since Always, A Sundae Drive, Electric Attitude, The Dirty Seeds….. I mean, my list could go on and on and on…. I’m sure each of you reading this have your own list of your favorite local bands as well. You see, when terms are not defined and remain ambiguous, there’s so much left to interpretation.

But, one thing remains entirely clear, and this will take me back to my original point. How is telling the bands in our local scene that our local stages should only feature these “premium bands” encouraging? Remember, Kristy wanted to be encouraging in her piece. I’ve outlined multiple points she has addressed that are anything but. The piece did not set out to accomplish its stated goals in any shape, form, or fashion. Its overall tone is very condescending and seems to cater to the the interests of middle men industry types she seeks to attract to this city, and further, the piece comes across as a calling card for more bands to cater to these industry middle men, not to simply create incredible music and enjoying playing it. There’s also no solutions in this article regarding how bands can make their practices more effective. Sure, there’s this general suggestion at the end:

“Practice until you ache, until your muscles are loose, your voice hits a new octave, your equipment is in perfect tune and the calluses on your fingertips are thick after months and months of dedication to the craft. Do all that, and we fans will come out to support you. Make us proud.”

I mean, great. All these points may or may not be side effects of practicing a lot, but are these effects actually indicative of a productive rehearsal?  In order to write an article with the title such as this one, I would imagine that somewhere in the verbiage there would be tips or solutions on how to actually put together more productive rehearsals. This is not addressed at all. Some solutions I would offer are maybe practicing two days a week instead of one. Focus on taking the songs apart and working on sections of it that need to be smoother. Maybe the drummer and bassist get together for a few hours and iron out solid rhythm patterns. The band might want to start recording its practices so they have something to listen to and check their progress (this is  something we do a LOT and it really helps). Maybe the person who writes the songs could spend more time bouncing their ideas off someone else in the band that has good ideas about melody structure or arrangement to get a different perspective. Everyone should be practicing their own instruments on their own time of course, but there’s also the aspect of how the band works together. NONE of these possible solutions were addressed in Kristy’s article or even hinted at. Also, I’d like to point out that even if a band practices their asses off and becomes as polished as possible, this is still no indication that by doing all that, that “the fans will come out to support you”. That’s absolutely factually inaccurate. Promotion for the show is what helps get people out the most. If a band is really well liked by a few people, there’s a bigger chance of that draw growing if the band promotes the shit out of their shows by hanging posters around town, giving out handbills,  staying on their email list and posting the show on social media. There’s a lot more to all of this than just being well rehearsed. And as far as “making us proud” goes, I’m really sorry, but the first people that should be proud of what they are doing is the band itself. They should love what they are writing, producing, and working on FIRST. Who gives a shit about all these “investors” and industry people? Good God, not me! If a band is  trying to be “more polished” simply to impress these people, then they seriously have a much bigger internal issue that needs to be fixed. For a music writer for a major local publication to suggest that local bands should be rehearsing more to cater to these middle men is an absolute insult to the bands’ creative integrity and ethics.

It makes me wonder if Kristy has ever been a musician, or is simply a fan of music in general and somehow she might think that gives her some sort of credibility as a music critic. It doesn’t. I have a feeling if she was a musician, she wouldn’t have approached her piece in such a condescending and poorly thought out manner. But it doesn’t matter, she’s already stated that she will “make no apologies” in any event. Thus far, she has stood by her word.

In conclusion, I’d like to address the only call to action Kristy made towards all of us musicians that took issue with her article. The offer to be a music critic at the Houston Press. For “all the haters who say they can do better, to prove it”.

Well, Kristy, I’m turning that Houston Press music writer position offer down. As you can see, I already AM my own press. I may not be as big of a name as Houston Press is, but I control everything I write. I make my own rules. I have complete and total freedom to write about whatever I want, in any manner I choose, with no editor breathing down my neck telling me what tone to take in my pieces, what words I can or can’t use, what topics I can and can’t address. I wouldn’t want it any other way. I also have my own radio show, where I am completely free to address any topic I want, in any way I want. Nobody is telling me what I can and cannot say. Everything I do is 100% my own, without anyone censoring me in any way. And even though I am a small operation, I am having an effect. It’s only going to grow from this point on. What makes you think that I or any other musician in this city would want to work for a publication that continually puts out material such as the article you wrote? Writers at the Houston Press have been critical of the music scene here for years but they hardly EVER offer viable solutions to the issues they see.  I wouldn’t want to work there, and neither would many of the other musicians in this town. I would actually encourage other musicians to do exactly what I am doing and start their own operation if they think they can “do better and prove it”. Here I am.  This is my solution. I would encourage others to follow suit.

TK

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Standards and Principles of Musicians’ DIY Fight Club

keys-to-success

These are some standards and principles which I believe are fantastic to have and hold as you musicians go out into the battlefield! ENJOY!- TK

  1. NO musician should EVER work for free, unless it is for a charity related event!
  2. We will NEVER, EVER, pay to play any show!
  3. We will be vigilant about staying educated about the music industry and how it works, so that we are not easily deceived about its semantics or misuse of terminology by those who wish to take advantage of or deceive us for their own ends!
  4. We will NEVER, EVER pay RENT to a venue to play a show!
  5. We will work as a community to be our own press- peer reviewing shows, albums, videos, etc., through our own blogs, printed publications, and radio shows- sharing our experiences about the industry and educating others of how to avoid deceptive practices.
  6. We will seek alternatives to venue based shows, such as house parties, busking, and any other means we can think of. We will come up with creative ways to put the power back into the musical community and take it away from those who wish to utilize deceptive practices.
  7. The only venue based shows we will book are with venues who offer a reasonable pay structure to the bands and are transparent about that payment procedure.
  8. We will NOT play venues that take a percentage of our merchandise sales!
  9. We will expose any individual or group PUBLICLY who seeks to take advantage of us in any way, so the musical community is fully aware of the dangers of working with them. We will not fear doing this (IE, being blacklisted from working with said groups or individuals or others they know) but will instead understand that we are working to preserve the integrity of the musical community.
  10. WE WILL NOT kiss the asses of or make any special efforts to hang out with or “befriend” the middle men! We will build strong alliances within our OWN community of musicians, and help EACH OTHER by all means possible without sucking up to these people! There is no honor in kissing ass! Stop doing it!
  11. We will work hard to promote our shows, build our draw organically, write better music all the time and VALUE WHO WE ARE AND WHAT WE DO! WE WILL NOT allow anyone else to determine our value! WE WILL DETERMINE OUR OWN VALUE AND WE WILL SET OUR STANDARDS HIGH! WE will build our draws and our reputations by being strong, continuing to produce great music and work with the RIGHT PEOPLE! It’s not about being nominated for awards, what other people write about you, or any of that superficial crap! Produce the best music you can, work hard to promote yourself, and surround yourself WITH ONLY THOSE WHO VALUE YOUR WORK! YOU CAN DO THIS!!!!!!

 

In Review: First Ever DIY Fight Club House Concert ROCKS!!

House concert1

(Photo from our first ever DIY house concert, December 12, 2015: In photo: Dominick Sotis-lead vocals and guitar, John Seaborn Gray-drums, Willie Guy Arnot-bass)

On December 12, 2015, my husband Paul and I hosted our first ever house concert and overall,  it was a success!!

In this post, I will detail the factors that motivated me to come up with my personal concept for our house concert, the steps we took to plan for it, the execution of those plans, which elements of that plan worked extremely well, and which elements will need some modification to improve future house concerts. I will also detail how I broke down the payments towards the bands and others who contributed to the production, and provide some direct quotes from people who attended.

WHAT MOTIVATED ME TO COME UP WITH MY HOUSE CONCERT CONCEPT

I came up with this concept for a house concert a few months back. The main factor motivating me stemmed from my observation that here in Houston, very few “middle of the road” venues exist where bands can steadily build their draws and get paid fairly. Many venues in this city are now charging bands high rental fees to play. A few other venues operate via a pay to play system, where they require the bands to presell tickets to a show, which can determine whether or not they get paid, or even sometimes whether or not they are able to play the show at all. Some venues don’t pay the bands at all, and tell them that if they want to jump on a larger bill, they can play for exposure. In essence, they expect the bands to take a cut in pay, or pay them exorbitant fees to play, while they, the venues, cover themselves 100%.

These same venues also continue to take in profits through alcohol sales. The bands help contribute to these alcohol sales by bringing people to see them play, who in turn buy the booze the venue sells. So in that regard, the bands are not only paying the venue a rental fee (or playing for nothing or close to it), but they are also bringing the venue more profits through alcohol sales. Some venues reportedly don’t even offer the bands drink tickets, forcing them to buy their own drinks, which further contributes to the venues’ profits. In essence, the bands are the venues’ vessel to bring them profits. Paying the bands are not the first and foremost goal. In my view, this modus operandi annihilates a local scene, and quickly at that. Although some artists do not care about getting paid for their work, there are many that do, and those artists may be forced to stop giving their business to these venues that are operating from this model. Another factor to note is that these venues generally do a minimal to no level of promotion for local shows, but heavily promote their regional and national shows. The whole system should function symbiotically, where both the venue and the bands do equal amounts of work and both can profit at the end of the night.

While I do understand that these venues are trying to survive (and I must note that I WANT to see them survive), I would rather not see them attempt to do so at the expense of making it nearly impossible for  local acts to play shows there and get paid fairly. Whether or not the bands make any money is typically insignificant to the venue because covering their own bottom line is the main concern. When a venue operates from this business model, it is sure to disappoint many local bands and cause them to seek another place to play where they can be paid fairly. Unfortunately, with the exception of a handful of local venues, the bands are finding that they have very few options left to turn where they will be paid fairly.

Hence, I decided that I would take action to assist these bands in their quest for not only a place to play where they would not only  be paid fairly, but WELL, where there would be no rental fees to pay, where they wouldn’t be required to shell out presale tickets, and where they could have a truly enjoyable EXPERIENCE all the way around. I also wanted to find a way to create a very unique experience for the audience, something more intimate that offered something different than a venue could offer them AND at a lower price. The action I decided to take was to host quarterly house parties at our home. One in winter, one in spring, one in summer, and one in fall. Our home would be DONATED, meaning that I WOULD TAKE IN NO PERSONAL PROFITS to host this event. The money brought in would go mostly to the bands that played, a little would go to cover the cost of food, and some would go to cover those people who were in some way contributing to the production of the event (cooking, sound, etc).

THE BRAINSTORMING AND PLANNING FOR THE EVENT

First, I began by surveying some friends on Facebook about how much they spend when they go out to see a local show. The costs included everything from the admission , the amount of drinks consumed (and how much those drinks cost each), the tip on the bar tab, if they had to pay to park somewhere, and if they bought the band’s merchandise. I asked them to provide me with a general figure. Most people told me they spent around $50-$60 on any variation of these factors. Those that had to pay for parking spent considerably more, as well as those who bought merch from the bands. Of course, the venue that one visits also plays a role in how much one spends… for example, if you’re going to House of Blues, you are most likely going to pay more per ticket (plus any surcharges that process incurs), and you’re going to pay MUCH more for drinks there, as the drinks are priced higher. This scenario would change if you went to a smaller local venue, where drinks are more reasonably priced and admission price is lower. But overall, $50 to $60 was the average amount most people quoted they spent when going to see a local show.

So, I began weighing in factors that would increase audience satisfaction by giving them more of a unique experience for a lower price. I already knew that I wouldn’t be charging the band rent, that I wouldn’t be requiring them to sell tickets, and that I would be able to provide them with a PA and even lend them some of our own gear, (which would enable them to bring less gear of their own) since the event would be in our home where we practice. I already knew that I was going to charge a door fee, but I wasn’t sure what that amount would be and what it would include. I began thinking what could make our house concerts truly special, something that people who attended would want to tell others to come to the next time we had a house concert.

I thought, “let’s provide a really bad ass meal, and include that in the admission price”!!! I immediately got in touch with one of my friends who is a sous chef at a local restaurant, and we discussed the matter further and he agreed to come cook at the party. We decided on a menu and I agreed to buy all the food and he would cook it.

Next, I made the party BYOB. No bartenders to pay, no tips, no reason to have to spend more than the admission fee unless you wanted to buy your own alcohol. Even then, people were still spending less than what they would spend to go to a venue to see a show, and so far, they were still getting a greater value for their money. GREAT, I thought! What else could we do to make this even more bad ass?

Here’s how. One of my very close friends who has provided laser lights for our band’s shows before volunteered to provide his lighting services for our house concert. I said to myself…  NOW this is going to be over the top! It’s going to be more like an actual show! I was really thrilled! The plan was really starting to come together.

The next step I knew I needed to take was to acquire a sound permit from the city of Houston. This would allow me to have music until 10 pm, and avoid getting ticketed for a sound violation as long as the decibel level wasn’t over 75 DB from the end of my property line. This is ALWAYS a good thing to have if you are going to have a house concert somewhere in a suburban area, or even if it’s in a location like a warehouse or other building near residences.

After taking all of these factors into consideration, I decided that $20 would be a great admission price. The meal was included, the audience  could have a mind blowing intimate experience with some great local bands, they could bring their own alcohol, and it would still cost less than having to go to see a show at a venue.

THE STEPS I TOOK IN IMPLEMENTING THIS PLAN

The first thing I did was create a Facebook event and made it PRIVATE. I only invited a select number of my friends, and allowed them to invite a guest. I explained the details of what we would be providing, the set times for the bands, the admission price, that we would have a sound permit… anything and everything that someone who planned to attend would need to know.

The next item of business was to decide where in our home the bands would play. We figured since it was December, and the weather would be cooler,  we could have them play in our garage. We felt that keeping the garage door closed and buying foam insulation to cover it from the inside would help prevent sound issues and also would keep more heat in for the guests and bands. So, we began cleaning out our garage fairly quickly. Our very good friend Steve Boriack assisted us immensely in this process, helping us sift through and haul away loads of trash and items that were no longer usable. He was a massive help to us. Steve is also the individual who offered to provide his laser lights for our party, so he also came and set those up in the garage. We took him out to a nice dinner afterwards!

Steve and Paul also moved our PA from inside our house into the garage and also discussed what gear the bands would need to borrow from us. Amps, cables, mike stands, mikes, and an acoustic guitar were all on the list.

I also bought our sound permit online. It was around $33.00 and it took about three days to get it approved.

Next came buying everything for the feast! We thought fajitas would be great and fairly simple to cook in large quantities so I went to the store and bought everything from chicken to beef skirt steak to portabello mushrooms (for the vegetarians), seasonings, minute rice (to make Spanish rice), beans, tortillas, guacamole, sour cream, chips, cupcakes, candy… anything I could think of that he could prepare easily in mass or I could just set out for people to enjoy while the meal was being prepared. I spent $220 on the food.

The days before the show mostly involved cleaning and decorating our house. My fabulous sister in law donated her full size christmas tree and indoor and outdoor lighting, and my mother in law donated ornaments, a wreath, and some smaller trees. We bought some additional outdoor and indoor lights ourselves and my husband picked up a Darth Vader light up yard decoration that we placed on our porch! We also had help from friends cleaning the house and more decoration donations! After all was said and done, the house looked really great!

darth vader

The day of the show our chef was the first to show, and he immediately began preparing the meal and putting the meats on the grill outside. I printed out a list of all the guests who had hit “attending” on the invite and also wrote down other names that those guests had indicated to me that they would be bringing. I did this so I could keep track of how many said they would attend vs. how many actually attended, and how much each person donated. In this way, I could track how the event itself did at the end of the night, and also compare or contrast data from this event to the next event we would have.

Paul and Steve were also busy prepping last minute details in the garage, making trips to Home Depot to get additional items, and generally tightening everything up for the performance. They had set up seating in the garage, as well as tables to set food and drinks.

By the time guests began to arrive, everything was set in motion. Most people arrived right around the time the bands were setting up to play. It was great to see so many other local musicians attend… Ian, Sarah, and Josh from Jealous Creatures, and Sherita Perez all showed up to support!

We had the bands load in through our garage door, which was an interesting process because one of the cables that connected to our automatic garage door system ended up being sliced as the garage door rolled back, but we were able to repair it. During this repair time, the garage door stayed about half open and it had started raining, which made for a challenging load in! I rerouted some of the band members through our front door and helped them any way I could getting their gear in safely. Whew, that was unexpected!

The drummer for Glass The Sky was kind enough to share his drum kit with the opening band, so we had them set up all their gear and do a sound check so they could start playing right after the opener had finished their set.

The opening act was a student of mine named Dominick Sotis. He is 17 years old and is a total bad ass on guitar. His set included some covers from John Mayer, Joe Bonamassa, and Cream and also some of his own original music. Two of the teachers from Sessions Music (where myself and both of them teach) backed him up that night: our drum instructor, John Seaborn Gray, and one of our guitar instructors, Willie Guy Arnot. I even joined them on playing and singing “Good Love Is On The Way” by John Mayer. THAT was super fun!

Steve had his light show going in full effect at this point (shown in the picture above). There were lasers, a fog machine, and other additional lighting and it looked GREAT!

Since the weather ended up being warmer than expected, Steve also brought a unit that converted the outside air into cooler air inside, but we had to leave the back door in our garage open to access the air outside. We also had a fan by the bands inside. The garage door was closed this entire time, and we also placed the sound proof materials that were purchased at Home Depot over the entire garage door on the inside.

About 20 minutes into the show, we got a visit from HPD. Someone had made a  noise complaint. A guest alerted me that the officer was at our front door. I made my way outside to talk with the officer, and at the same time I opened the door another guest was arriving. The officer looked at our sound permit, which was placed outside on our mailbox. He had noted that the complaint had come from someone from the street in front of us, not from anyone on our street, but he didn’t know precisely who on that street had made the complaint. He told me that the noise level was above 75 DB. He did not measure this with a decibel meter, as I found out from the guest who arrived at the same time as the officer. He didn’t ticket me, but noted that if he had to make a second trip, he would ticket me. He was friendly about the matter, and simply suggested that turning down an amplifier would help immensely… but I must admit at this point I was very hyper sensitive of the sound level coming from the garage.

We had to ask Steve to shut off the air conditioning unit and close the back door. We also had to stop the show briefly to explain to the bands what had just happened. Dominick turned down his amplifier level, and John played with hot sticks instead of traditional sticks. My husband Paul grabbed another fan from our practice space, placed it in the kitchen, opened the door from our house to the garage, and blasted the fan fully. It did help immensely in circulating air to the garage, but was most likely not in the most convenient space! All the food was already laid out in the kitchen, and the fan was a little noisy, so even though it wasn’t an ideal solution, it worked better than having the cops come out again and ticket us. Sometimes, you just have to roll with the punches, which was what we did. Dominick and his band continued to play, and the guests were having a great time.

By the time Glass The Sky went on, it appeared that our sound issues were settled. Throughout their entire set, we didn’t have another visit from HPD. Glass The Sky’s performance was FLAWLESS and Erin Rodgers, their pianist and clarinet player, even performed a song on acoustic guitar which was AMAZING! They also sold some merch to guests that had never heard them before! I was very excited for them!

THE RESPONSE FROM THE GUESTS AND BANDS

Overall, the guests and the bands had a great time and were very pleased with the experience. They said the food was amazing and were also very pleased with the bands. All the musicians gained some new fans and everyone got to mingle in a more relaxed environment.

Here’s a very nice “thank you” from Glass The Sky:

“On behalf of Glass the Sky, I want to say thank you to Tessa and Paul for hosting such a lovely gathering and say thanks to everyone that listened to us play and bought our music. It was an amazingly fun night!”-Michael Mazzela (Glass The Sky)

Dominick Sotis was happy with the whole night as well: “Thanks for looking out for the up and comers and being totally awesome!”

John Seaborn Gray also enjoyed the party: “It was an excellent party. Job well done!”

Erin Rodgers from Glass The Sky also told us: “We had a great time and the sound was awesome!”

 

glass the sky DIY house party

(Photo: Glass The Sky from Houston, Texas playing our house concert)

BEING TRANSPARENT: THE NUMBERS AND DATA

It did rain on the day of our show, so the number of people that actually attended was cut nearly in half. We had 51 people saying they would attend on the Facebook invite (10 of which were myself and Paul, the bands, our chef and Steve, who volunteered to do lights), plus those who we had contacted via text or phone, and then the additional list of people who said they would attend from our other guests. At the end of the night, we had 21 confirmed people who paid, and three of those people donated $40 instead of $20, which brought us to a grand total of $540. I took out $100 to pay myself back for slightly under half of the food, and paid each of the bands $220. Glass The Sky also was able to sell some merchandise. Two of the band members from our opening band donated their pay back to the $540, and the next day, a friend stopped by to contribute (who had donated decorations but couldn’t attend the party) $30, so we used that $30 plus an additional $50 to pay our chef. My husband volunteered to do sound and took no money for it. Of course, I took no money for myself either. In the final equation, I was able to pay myself back for nearly all the food, pay our chef, pay the bands well, Glass The Sky sold merch, and both musical acts gained new followers. I would assess that this first show was a success but still had some kinks that needed to be worked out to make the next event flow even better.

HOW I FEEL THIS CONCEPT CAN BE IMPROVED UPON

We will have the bands play inside our house the next time instead of the garage. First, it will be springtime and it will be hotter outside, so playing inside will keep the guests and bands more comfortable. Secondly, our practice area is already 100% soundproofed, and there are no residences behind our house, so we plan to move everything out of our living room and have the bands play there. We will use the garage again for our winter concerts, but we will definitely have the bands play at a lower level and make sure the back door is closed! We will use more fans for circulation, if needed, but not place them inside the kitchen!

Our chef commented that he wanted a light for outside by the grill in case it got dark early. He was still grilling when it got dark, and our porch light didn’t provide enough lighting for him. We had a large outdoor umbrella placed over the grill since it was raining, and that covered him entirely, but he definitely needed more light. We will make sure has that light!

Paul and I also downloaded decibel reader apps on our phones. This way we can check the decibel level outside to make sure it is within range. If for any reason the police ever do show up again, we can show them that the sound is within the 75 DB range as we plan on keeping it that way!!

THE SUCCESSES OF THE HOUSE CONCERT

The main success of this first house concert was the level of satisfaction of the guests and the bands. I was also happy to see video and photo shares of many of the guests on social media. Everybody loved the food, the relaxed environment, and just hanging out and talking about music, our music scene, and generally just enjoying each other’s company. All the guests wanted to know about when we would be throwing the next party!

In conclusion, I personally would love to see more people expand on this concept. I cannot lie, it’s a lot of work, but it’s extremely rewarding work. Plus, if you get a great team to help you, it will really come together in a more creative fashion and be something special for everyone. You can help some local musicians make some good money without all the frills that many venues impose on them, and also create a unique experience for guests that they can’t get at those same venues. You will also save your guests a ton of money that they can’t save when they go out! The way I see it, this city is calling for more of these parties. Until the venues change their ways, house concerts can really change the dynamic that the middle men here have created. I had a lot of fun doing this and I cannot wait until we host our spring show!

Thank you for taking the time to read!

TK

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In Review: Megsgiving Benefit Show at Rudyard’s

12246857_10153665153123911_5640313672147887168_nLast Wednesday, November 25, 2015 at Rudyard’s in Houston, Texas, there was an epic benefit show held for my friend Meg Cambern, who has recently been diagnosed with MS. This is a very special lady and it showed, as multitudes of people and great bands came to help raise money for her medical bills.

Bill Fool, who is known locally for putting on countless punk rock and rock shows, set this show up to help Meg and may I say he did a great job.

Many locals know Meg as the former bassist of The Freakouts, but also from local clothing shop Leopard Lounge, and now Guitar Center in the Heights. This is an all around fantastic person, who loves music, treats people kindly, listens to others  with an open heart, and generally just rocks. We were all happy to support this cause.

The bands on the bill were all super kick ass. Modfag, The Freakouts, Killer Hearts, Dead Roses, Talk Sick Brats, and Hell’s Engine.

Every time a band got rockin’, people swarmed up to the front of the stage to support them. It made everyone else who was sitting down at the tables feel as if they needed to get up there and be a part of the crowd’s collective energy. Most people attending swarmed the front of the stage during each band’s  set, minus a small group lingering at the bar talking and having drinks. I’ve attended far too many shows where the audience seems almost uninterested in what’s happening onstage, but this was anything but that.

Hell’s Engine opened up the night with insane energy. I had never seen them before, but I will definitely be checking them out again. They play hard and fast, and reminded me a bit of Motorhead. Next on the bill was Modfag. I have never seen them play before, either, but all I can say I was compelled to get up in front of the stage and dance my ass off to their entire set. The group features members of the Born Liars, The Freakouts, The Wrong Ones, and Gun Crazy.They were AWESOME. They did a few cover songs and also some originals. Their sound reminded me of a combination of 50’s rock n roll and just straight up good old fashioned 70’s rock. Next up were Dead Roses. The band’s Facebook page describes their style as “heart broken, sleep deprived, and glam damaged”.  It’s definitely rock, but with a mellow, dark twist to it. It’s been too long since I’ve seen these guys rock out, and I was really excited see them play again. Next up was Killer Hearts. This band features members from Electric Frankenstein, Texas Terri & The Stiff Ones, Down and Dirties, and The Wrong Ones. These are some seriously talented guys and I really enjoyed their set. Their sound is super heavy rock n roll, and as they state on their Facebook page”  Killer Hearts play rock n roll. Loud, sleazy, crass rock n roll with a bratty twist that only guys with their pedigree can”. Their front person, Pablo Ono, is definitely in a class of his own and brings the energy up to another level. It was my first time to see them play, as well and I plan to go see them again. Next, The Freakouts came up and rocked the house down. I’ve been following these folks for some time and watched them grow so much over the years. Their sound reminds me of a cross between The Runaways and The Ramones with a punk and rock edge. Ash Kay is also one hell of a front person… she has such a commanding presence, a strong voice, and a passion that cannot be controlled. Their cover of “Strutter” was spot on and Meg joined the band onstage to sing her heart out with Ash. It has been my pleasure to watch this band evolve over the years, and I think they have a very strong set and are playing and writing some very unique music. Last up that night was Talk Sick Brats. They had a short but bad ass set. Definitely punk as it gets, these guys set up in front of the stage and just rocked balls. They were amazing and I’d like to more of them in the future!

Overall, the event helped to raise a little over $2500 for Meg’s medical bills. There was also a raffle, which helped the cause even more. I personally loved to see the support all around for the bands AND for Meg especially. Everyone there made the night truly special and I absolutely give Meg, Bill, Rudz, and everyone who played and attended props. It was a special night that I personally will never forget.

TK

 

Take Your Power Back: Creating Your Own Shows Outside of The Venues

house party sign

As it becomes more and more expensive to play venues (due to them charging high rental fees or forcing bands to sell presale tickets to play a show, taking percentages of their merch sales, or even not paying them at all in some cases, especially when it comes to opening for a larger act), many musicians are getting really frustrated about their lack of prospects to book gigs where they can make fair pay. This problem compounds itself when bands get out on the road, and expenses incur like food, gas, vehicle problems, places to sleep for the night, etc. The list goes on and on.

One solution that I feel is viable is having house concerts. I plan to have my first house concert in December, and there are many factors that make a house concert WAY more beneficial to bands than booking a gig at a venue.

  1. The bands aren’t liable for rental fees or ticket sales as the space is donated for the event. There is a flat door cover for guests, which is split equally between the bands at the end of the night. In our case, the door fee is $20. It covers a meal, an intimate experience with the bands, and a super relaxed environment. If we get 50 people to attend, that’s $1000. A small percentage goes to cover food, but the rest gets split between the bands. A WAY better money making opportunity for the bands and also it allows for a more relaxed experience for them. I am also going to allow these bands to borrow any gear of ours they need, including the use of our PA, amps, cables, and a drum set. That way, they don’t have to bring as much gear with them on their trip. It lightens their load by quite a lot. This is WAY more cost effective for the BANDS.
  2. Our parties are BYOB. I did a Q&A on Facebook asking how much people typically spend when they go out to see a live show. The answers varied slightly, but the average amount spent was around $50. Let’s say a music fan goes to a local show and he or she pays $10 to see some local bands. That same person also runs a bar tab. It’s a weekend show, so mixed drinks typically run about $7, beers about $5 (some places charge WAY more than that).  If you have four drinks, that’s anywhere from $20 to $28, plus tip,  and that doesn’t include the band merch factor. If the same person buys merch from the bands, they could be spending anywhere from $5-$20, sometimes more. If there is paid parking (this happens mostly in downtown spots but it can happen outside of downtown, too) that can run anywhere from $10-$20 (sometimes more, depending on where parking is available). Now, this person has spent a LOT of money going to a venue to see a show. However, if you go to the house party, There’s a $20 flat cover and you get to bring all the alcohol you want. No tip, no paid parking as parking on the street is ample, PLUS you get a meal included and comfy couches to chill on. In this case, it’s WAY more cost effective for the GUESTS.
  3. We will be live streaming the bands on Periscope and linking that feed to social media. I will also be creating a You Tube Channel that has video from these house parties and the bands playing them. There will be a person interviewing the bands and the guests, and those interviews will also be available on the live stream and the You Tube Channel. This will help get the word out that house concerts are fun, viable solutions to the problems that venues present to bands.

The harder the venues make it on the bands to play and make money, the more things like house concerts and DIY venues are going to pop up. There ARE actually people that give a damn about a vibrant local music scene, like myself, and we plan to revitalize it in every manner possible without using the venues, and the promoters, and the managers, and the labels, and the bookers. We will be strictly DIY and build a STRONG community of DIY artists. We are sick of paying high rental fees to venues to book shows there. We are sick of not getting paid at all. If we open for a larger act, even throwing bands $50 would be something, but some won’t even do that. Lots of these venues do nothing to promote their shows, yet we are expected to do all the pounding of the pavement to promote and bring in the people AND pay them a rental fee to play there? No. We are sick of this scheme. The house party solves all these issues, from the bands getting paid well, and the guests spending less money and getting more bang for their buck. It is my hope that more people will come up with their own creative DIY shows using their own formulas, to TRULY build a kick ass musical community the way it supposed to function… by everyone supporting and building up everyone else, via fun and new methods that go completely outside the norms and the system. By having radically different types of shows and even DIY small music festivals. If you have the space, help out the musical community by offering it for a show. Be creative and come up with your own ideas. Pay the bands well. Make the guests 100% happy. Get the word out about what you are doing . It is the dawn of a new age, and we must break free of the doldrums of traditional thinking. It is our time, people. Believe in your own personal power and use it to uplift the creative community. Together, we can make this happen.

Thank you for your support

TK