Ken Stringfellow on Working as a Musician

Ken Stringfellow, who worked on my new record (The UnExplainable Billy Eli), is currently touring in Europe with his own new record, Danzig in the Moonlight.  He lives in Paris, grew up in Seattle, and rarely stays his ass in anywhere longer than a week.  Here’s a little interview he did about being a working musician.   Faces of the Music Biz: Ken Stringfellow     Image courtesy of Grant Cochrane and freedigitalphotos.net      Image courtes...

Marilyn Monroe, Life, Songwriting, and Moby Dick

Watched the movie Moby Dick again last night.  I’m kind of fascinated by the story.   Ahab is obsessed with this magnificent whale, and wants nothing so badly as to catch it for no other reason than because it is so magnificent.  What he doesn’t realize is that the very act of catching it will destroy what makes it magnificent. Ahab wants it because he admires it. My song She Looked Like Marilyn Monroe is written on this same theme, wanting to “catch” something that only exists in its natural state, but that can’t be caught because the catching of it destroys the very thing that is desirable.  Marilyn Monroe is just like the great white whale. She only existed in the context for which she was made.  She wasn’t a real woman.  Catching her would reveal that the real woman playing the character was just like everyone else.   Changing the context destroys the thing.  The great whale is not great and magnificent lying on the deck of a ship.  Marilyn Monroe is not the same always perfectly sexy, desirable and glamorous woman if you see her day in and day out, doing ordinary things like an ordinary person. Norma Jean may have been a wonderful woman and may have made a loving and devoted wife, but that would be Norma Jean, not Marilyn Monroe.  Marilyn Monroe exists only in the plane of existence which she was created to inhabit. In most of our lives, there is something that we see only through the lens that excludes reality.  The movie star we fantasize about and love as long we...

Meet My Producer

The UnExplainable Billy Eli wouldn’t be what it is without the vision and skill of my producer, Doug Robinson.  Without Doug’s ability to turn  my vague and inarticulate description of what I wanted this record to sound like and to do to people, it would have been just another flat recording.  Nice, but nothing special.  You would have had to see my play live to get any of the heat, any of the passion.  So I’m fortunate to have had Doug’s considerable talents devoted to my project for several months. Errant Music’s music biz blog ran an interview with Doug yesterday, and I wanted to let ya’ll know about it so you can meet this remarkable musician, my friend Doug Robinson. Read Faces of the Music Business: Doug Robinson...

Hey, I Didn’t Know You Had A Video

As most of ya’ll know, I Facebook obsessively. I played a short acoustic duo set a few weeks ago for the Never Heard Of ‘Em Concert Series. For those of ya’ll that haven’t seen it yet, Never Heard Of Em is a book written by my friend Sue Donahoe chronicling the DIY Indie Music scene that exploded in Austin in the mid ‘90s. My set Sunday consisted of seven songs performed by myself and my longtime friend and guitar player Jim Hemphill. We had decided to have our set videotaped just to see what might happen. Up until about a year ago I’d have never agreed to a home video recording of any performance of mine. I was of the opinion that there are just too many uncontrollable variables affecting quality control. I had nightmares at the thought of a really bad recording of an otherwise good performance, leaving potential fans who stumbled across the recording turned off. A while back I had a pretty lengthy debate about this topic with a Facebook friend of mine. I asserted that a bad recording lived on forever at YouTube and FB and that while I wasn’t concerned about the music being shared, I was worried about the quality of the videos. Mr. Moto’s position was that if the performance was good, fans and potential fans would get that and forgive the video anything it lacked in recording quality. We went at it for the better part of two days. As much as I hate having to admit it, Mr. Moto was right. Flash forward about a year. I did several tours...

There’s Power in Numbers

As most of ya’ll know, I FaceBook obsessively. I grew up deep in the piney woods of Southeast Texas. Now I’m not sure what ya’ll know about that particular region of the Lone Star state, but a significant percentage of the male population is made up of cowboys, roughnecks, and loggers.  As ya’ll might expect, a Saturday night of boot scootin’ often ended in a scrap or two followed by a Sunday morning of aspirin, ice packs, and band-aids. I remember playing a gig at a little roadhouse one time and there was a big ole roughneck at the bar who, noticing the lack of this roadhouse’s patronage by females, decided a good scrap would be an acceptable second choice. The problem was this guy was so damn big he had his own zip code and everybody in the place was giving him a wide berth. After about an hour of trying unsuccessfully to get somebody to take enough offense that they called him on it, he stood up at the bar and yelled “All you big ones line up, and all you little ones bunch up”. At that point a bunch of little ones beat the hell out of him. I got to remembering that incident recently after I got an e-mail from an Indie artist complaining that he was having difficulty getting any bigger because he wasn’t already big. If you’re not big enough to line up, then reach out to some artists that are your size and bunch up. Make some contacts and do some horse trading. Gig share with other acts. If you have a...

Support Indie Music. If you like it, buy it. And if you don’t buy it, at least steal it and tell everybody that you like it.

As most of ya’ll know, I FaceBook obsessively. I’ve been seeing a cool banner making the rounds on FB. It reads: SUPPORT INDIE MUSIC, IF YOU LIKE IT BUY IT. Now let me start by saying that I love selling records (I know technically they’re CDs, but to me they’ll always be records)  When fans ask me where they can buy my records I get almost giddy. When they actually buy my records, Hell I get over the top giddy. If they ask me to sign a record they just bought I get as giddy as a school girl. But what about the people who think they may like your music but aren’t committed enough to make a $15.00 investment. Or maybe they don’t have $15.00. Or maybe a $15.00 expenditure would seriously cut into their ability to pay the ticket price, or worse cut into their beer money. History hasn’t left us with a record of who the very first Indie artist was, but I can promise you that ten minutes after he decided to go indie he ran up against the hard cold reality that to a lot of people if they haven’t seen it on TV, or heard it on the radio, then it’s not real music. Hell sometimes even if it’s on the radio but not on TV it isn’t real music to a more than fair amount of people. In this modern age of easily downloadable songs and YouTube where every poorly recorded bootleg lives on forever it’s easy to forget that it cost somebody real money to produce and manufacture those records. That...