Category Archives: TMAP BLOGS

This and That Blog: Moon commentary on Atlanta music blogs

Many of The Moon and Pluto readers know that I started writing for Creative Loafing’s Crib Notes last week. Since then, I haven’t posted anything here on TMAP. It wasn’t making sense to try to bust ass doubling up on posts just to keep content coming out on this blog, when the Crib Notes blog gets 1000 times more views than this on any given day. Besides, I’m only one person and time is a thief.

That brings me to the point of this commentary: the blog. I never actually wanted to run my own music blog. That’s why I tried writing for established print and online publications. I wanted to help bring more Atlanta music to the attention of the local public. I wanted to highlight the diverse, talented musical groups in town. And I wanted to do it in a substantial manner, whereby the music and the artists were recognized for what they contribute and how they create. I wanted to help create excitement about the music in this city.

I wrote for The Silver Tongue Online, but the audience and content were not geared toward an Atlanta base. I wrote for Performer Magazine, but being a national monthly in print, I had only a limited opportunity to contribute pieces on Atlanta music. I wrote for Target Audience Magazine, but it is released quarterly, which again doesn’t allow for a consistent focus on the dynamic Atlanta scene.

Because I wasn’t finding a platform from which I could do what I really wanted, I created my own, here on The Moon and Pluto. However, like the Atlanta Roundtable 2010 proved, there are a lot of other people doing the same thing. And I love those bloggers: Davy from Ohmpark, Moe from Latest Disgrace, Denton from Little Advances, Adam and Chris from BeAtlanta…they all do a stellar job of regularly posting on new and interesting Atlanta music.

Since we teamed up for that year-end Roundtable (and actually even before that), I had a vision of teaming up with the other bloggers in a worthwhile attempt to bring our writing to a wider audience. After all, the goal for me, personally, was to get more people to notice more Atlanta music. However, I could never contemplate a way to make that work without each blogger infringing somewhat on the others. There would need to be a hierarchy that is non-existent when you run your own blog. There would need to be a schedule, which is self-determined when you work for yourself only. We would need to agree on a name, a website, and many other things. There would need to be commitment. My vision floated around these things, with no answer pertaining to a fair solution. Then there was the more important issue: would the other bloggers even want to do this?

The bloggers also began getting the same promotional emails from bands after the Roundtable went out. These emails are addressed to all of us at once, and though I understand the concept of fishing, it puts the writers in a predicament. We don’t want to put up redundant content, we don’t want to steal the content of another, but we don’t know who’s going to grab it, either, or when it will pop up online. Teaming up would eliminate these types of concerns, too. Again, it’s up in the air how that would work.

I suppose I could also try to recruit writers and build up my own blog. But, this is really an impossibility for me – day job, kids, and sometimes I try to sleep, too. In any case, when the opportunity arose to write for Crib Notes, I had to jump on it. For one thing, it has the widest audience and keeping my purpose in mind of focusing on a breath of Atlanta music that more people should hear, it offered the best course toward that goal. Yes, I’m allowed to write on what I choose. Amazing. I also like the fact that there is more than one voice, allowing readers to be exposed to a variety of musical tastes all at once. I’ve complained about the versatility and narrowness of content on Creative Loafing in the past, but it has really improved in that respect in the past year.  They have a group of contributors with an array of musical tastes that are posting these days, and I’m really excited to add to this flow on Crib Notes.

Someone I respect once told me, (and I paraphrase) “When there are too many, it all just becomes noise.” There is some truth to that, but I think each blog offers a unique style and perspective, making each valuable. This facet helps dilute the concern of content redundancy, since each blog may cover the same band in their own way. But then, the more blogs there are, the more each blog’s audience gets diluted. Crib Notes is another blog in this mix, it’s just got a more massive (in comparison) budget and more contributors. The same pressure exists among all blogs to post on certain music before the others do, gain the attention of an audience, and keep posting, posting, posting. It’s awesome that Atlanta has so many enthusiastic and eloquent music lovers. And there’s plenty of music around here to love.

I don’t know how I’ll use this space from now on. It will stay and I will use it, but my inspiration hasn’t focused in on how. I expect there will be a thing or two that I feel is better suited for this blog, rather than that blog. This is only the beginning. I have no clue what’s in store. In the meantime, I’m working on this summer’s Strange Daze Festival.

To all my fellow bloggers, I commend you for putting yourselves out there, sacrificing your spare time to listen to and write about Atlanta music, and being fervent seekers of the diamonds in the rough. Look forward to working together again and visiting your domain!

Nadia

 

Say Hi’s new album makes me feel music again

I hear a lot of music. I listen to music that I read about, I listen to music sent to me by publicists, I listen to Pandora, college radio, and music suggested to me by people. But, it has been a long time since I was able to feel the music in a way that I got obsessed with it and longed for it when it wasn’t playing.

I’ve had discussions with people about why I can’t find an artist or an album that transforms me, like I used to in my teens and early 20′s. The discussion usually revolved around how as we get older, we just don’t have the time to spend with our records, like we used to have before full-time jobs, kids, and responsibilities. But, ever since getting my hands on Say Hi’s newest album, Um Oh Oh (due out January 25, 2011), I am relieved to say that this is not the entire issue at hand.

Um Oh Oh is a brilliant record. It’s deceivingly lighthearted on the surface, with loads of depth and heart behind every note and chorus. It is symbolic of life; the way we shine our personas outward, making sure not to let anyone see the pain inside, the heartache of the moment, the regrets we harbor. But, a careful look into one’s eyes can reveal the hidden strife. Say Hi has made a record to reflect a phenomenon of life everyone carries. Say Hi has made me feel music again.

That’s not to say that I haven’t enjoyed a lot of music since the last time I became obsessed with a record, Continue reading “Say Hi’s new album makes me feel music again” »

The Closing of Lennys Bar: An Insider’s Perspective

The following statement reflects the perspective of a longtime Lenny’s supporter, who has witnessed the demise of his beloved club. In an attempt to help him convey his ideas and feelings about this unfortunate circumstance as he’s watched it develop, this post contains a summary of our conversations. Having been involved throughout the struggle to keep Lenny’s afloat, I sympathize and recognize the many facets that have lead to the owner’s decision not to renew the liquor license. At the end of 2010, Lenny’s Bar will close. This post is one person’s opinion as to why.

“Lenny’s was a staple in the community where you can bring your music and be yourself. Though rumors have been spreading for years that Lenny’s future was uncertain, it wasn’t until the tornado in 2008 hit that things started getting bad. The owners of the building refused to replace the air conditioners that were blown off the roof until the insurance companies paid them. We went weeks without air conditioning in the middle of the summer. At the same time, The Graveyard Tavern opened and all the hipster kids went there, along with our DJ, Brian Parris.

The next big problem was Bean Summer (booking agent) leaving. Bean left for a better job, he was awesome and still worked with us after he left. But, after that, the next two promoters made promises that they couldn’t keep, causing empty days on our calendar with no shows and poor promotional efforts. I don’t know how this is the venue’s fault, when they are the promoters.

Then there was a restructuring of activity and things were looking up. That’s when one Lenny’s owner decided to add promoter, Chris Conway to the club, thinking that he’d bring in national acts and take us to the next level. Chris turned out to be a con artist. He promised bands outrageous money that he didn’t have, double-booked, and didn’t follow through on any shows, leaving most of two months of the calendar empty. All these changes happened within a year and a half, causing utter chaos between transitions.

If a club doesn’t generate money, they can’t stay open. There are numerous bills that people don’t normally consider, like sales tax, liability insurance, inventory, employees, gear, upkeep and maintenance. Being a DIY club, we offered door deals like most clubs in town. But, the doors closed too often to keep up with the bills.

There are several reasons why Lenny’s (or any other club) ends up having to close its doors. These are the reasons I’ve witnessed during my time in Atlanta’s music scene.

1.    Poor promotion
2.    Elitist attitudes
3.    Bands forgetting where they came from
4.    Negative press
5.    Dishonesty

In order for a venue to work, it takes cooperation between the scene, the owner, and the press. Atlanta’s scene seems to be too cool for itself. Atlanta exists with so many small scenes that all hate on each other. It is truly hate city. As a venue, we tried to embrace a music scene, but we made you a salad and you wanted to throw out the cucumbers and tomatoes and keep only what you like.

Until you guys get behind the music, not just a scene, you’re always going to be losing venues.”

The Strange Daze Analysis

Forgive me for thinking of the festival within scientific terms, but I am a scientist by day and discovery, observation, data collection, trial and error, hypotheses, experimentation and results all come into play when I think of Strange Daze. So, here’s my final analysis and I hope you’ll add your experiences and observations to the comment board.

First, the reason for putting this festival together was to bring a variety of quality Atlanta musicians and artists together and to showcase this talent.  It was not a popularity contest, it was not about trends or friends, rather it was about craft, diversity, and community.  It was not just meant to be a party. It was meant to be an outlet and platform for a handful of local musicians and artists. In consideration of these goals, Strange Daze was a success.

I have no doubt that every band that played made new fans that weekend. It was exciting to have people approaching me constantly about a new band they just heard and loved. Further along the lines of creating an outlet for the musicians, many of the bands took advantage of the interviews and reviews that were offered to them by our wonderful sponsors, including BeAtlanta, Target Audience Magazine, MadeLoud.com, and The Silver Tongue.  I hope these opportunities have been beneficial to you and I want to thank these hardworking folks for helping bring some Atlanta music to the public’s attention.

Though the festival gained a lot of interest through our promotional efforts, the attendance during the day was disappointing.  There were plenty of folks out by evening, don’t get me wrong.  It was a great crowd! However, the bands that played earlier than 8pm didn’t get the same audience that the bands did playing later in the day.  There are several factors that could have contributed to this effect.  For one, it was rainy, nasty, and gloomy all day Saturday. However, this wasn’t the case Sunday and the daytime crowd was still a bit thin.

I also think many of the bands relied on Strange Daze to promote them, and they didn’t put much effort into bringing a crowd in or into promoting Strange Daze.  This is not something I try to push down anyone’s throat, because it is in a band’s best interest to promote their performances, even in a festival, and I assume they realize that.  However, it’s not always the case.

On the other hand, even with the most sincere efforts (of which there were also many), it is difficult in Atlanta for a band to get their folks out to watch them perform.  This is a conundrum I’m still trying to figure out, however, it is one that no doubt exists. My strategy was to put some really great, energetic, hardworking bands on earlier in the day to get things kickin and to bring a crowd for the early performers and artists.  This was only somewhat effective, and in future planning, early performances may need to be supplemented with an additional attraction to get folks excited, or else things just shouldn’t get started until evening to make it worthwhile to the acts and audience.  Suggestions are welcome.

The Masquerade. These guys are complete professionals.  I have nothing but praise for the staff at The Masquerade and how helpful and willing they were to keep this festival running smoothly.  I couldn’t have done it without them.  Though my experience working with the venue was phenomenal, I don’t think it was the proper atmosphere for Strange Daze. I feel like a more intimate space would have been more appropriate to the Strange Daze vibe. Although people were mingling all over the place, little pockets here and there, the massive space made it easy to simply pass by an artist’s table, instead of being drawn to it.

Or the crowd found it easy to hang out in areas outside of the music rooms, therefore taking away from the audience a band had during their slot.  These are not faults, but observations.  It would have been more beneficial to everyone involved, I think, if the space was smaller and not so widespread across the entirety of the venue.

There was almost a year’s worth of effort into putting on this festival. My feeling is it was worthwhile. Your feedback would be outstanding in determining what happens from here on out. Does Atlanta care to have this sort of local music and art exhibition? Are there enough of them out there already? Does Strange Daze offer anything unique to the scene? Was it rewarding to the bands and artists involved? In the spirit of sustaining a community aspect to what we do, I’m putting this out there.

Oh, and data….here it is (keeping the sources anonymous).  This will certainly prove that putting an event like this on is done from the heart. Ha!

Expenses:
$1550
$150
$350
$100
$100
$100
Total: $2350

Return:
$1230
$810
$500
$100
Total: $2640

Festival Payout: $290 (minus a recent $100) = $190

Sincerely,

Nadia

Conservation of Energy / Life After Death

Posted by Alex Aaron: The law of conservation of energy states that the total amount of energy in an isolated system remains constant. A consequence of this law is that energy can neither be created nor destroyed, it can only be transformed from one state to another.

From this we gleam the realization that every human being, every animal, every single thing we observe has always existed. The only difference is its state of being. The molecules that make me have existed since the beginning of our universe, perhaps longer. This means all of us have existed before, perhaps even as part of another living creature, perhaps even part of another human.

The question for me is: Does this influence how we learn and remember things? Obviously there is some sort of knowledge that is inherited when life starts. Knowledge such as the suckling reflex, breathing or running. Things that are essential to life and survival. Somehow every form of life just seems to know how to do certain things.

Could it be that molecules actually store bits of information? Or perhaps volumes of information? Knowledge itself (especially self awareness) can’t be seen or measured. How can something exist without us detecting its presence?

If I could travel back in time and tell Christopher Columbus that humans would one day travel up into the heavens and even to the moon and beyond, he would think I was crazy. Humans continue to have that same mindset today. If we can’t comprehend something, we never will. Its ludacris to believe we will be able to time travel or travel to different universes. Its equally as obsurd to say that there is some sort of ‘ether’ that consists of knowledge and understanding all around us.

But what if there were? What if humans, who pride themselves on being smart and advanced, were unable to detect such an ether because it was unnecessary for the continuation of life as it evolved?

UV, radio, and X rays are all invisible to us and unfathomable 150 years ago. Today we use them to enhance and prolong our lives.

There is undeniable evidence that knowledge is everywhere in every living thing. I propose that it even exists in inanimate objects as well as in the space that permeates every square inch of our universe. This certainly does not mean that inanimate objects are aware of their existance. They do however, contain matter that has always existed and has existed in other forms before, perhaps some life form. This matter may contain vast amounts of knowledge or the key to accessing such knowledge (Similar to DNA).

In no more than 50 years, I believe humans will discover this new medium and begin using it as we have used every other discovery to date: to preserve and prolong life to advance our civilization and to eventually conquer death.

We can’t allow stubborn people hiding behind the shroud of religion to stiffle our advancement. Most humans on earth are waiting for ‘god’ to fix their problems and save them from death. We are ‘god’.  We have shown the ability to control our environment, our weather, our destiny. We can make changes for the better or worse. We hold that power, and sadly, have largely used it to our own detriment.

Everything we want to know is already available. We just have yet to access it. This knowledge will be here even if humans are not. Life never gives up and is on a conquest to defeat death. Evolution has worked billions of years to get us to this point. If we can’t finish the job, evolution will continue to work toward that goal and will not stop until it reaches it.

How Creed and Nickleback have managed to kill Rock n Roll

Posted by Trey Bliss: Prior to Creed and Nickelback- rock and roll was a very “live” sounding affair.

Everything about both Creed and Nickelback is completely processed, pro-tooled, auto-tuned, overcompressed to clinical perfection. I HATE IT. The sound, the image…they were presented as the “rock” bands for the 21st century. I remember a cover of a guitar magazine with a picture of the Creed guitarist and his PRS, making his little devil horns with his hand and the cover emblazoned  “The Return Of The Rock.”

Look at today.  Look at the bands that are popular now.  Look how local rock bars are doing now.

There are so few “rock” bands these days- there are so few “rock” clubs open anymore because no one went there anymore.  Rolling Stone Magainze proclaims 40 reasons to be excited about rock and the #1 reason is The Black Eyed Peas?????

Think of this— if Creed or Nickelback were my idea of what “rock” was (they were two of the highest selling rock acts in the last decade), I would want no part of that scene and would definitely not want to go to a “rock” bar to hear it.

Now you’re seeing the result of that.

The kids that grew up in the late 90s thinking that Creed and Nickelback were what “rock” was all about are your prime bar patrons. They’re not going out for live music anymore because they were raised with the idea that “rock” music sucks.

Its not just Creed and Nickleback, but the corporate radio stations that perpetuate this generic sound, where no band is differentiated from another.  Its all a compressed mess, squashed down to the least common denominator devoid of dynamics and soul.

Out of this, the metal scene has re-emerged and the hardcore scene has emerged, but that isn’t really the music that speaks to me (Personally I don’t like getting yelled at for two hours during a show, but that is another topic for another blog post).

And most kids today want no part of it. They’re still going to hit bars, just not bars that have “rock” music in them, and especially not bars that have live original rock music in them.  I remember the early/mid 90s where you went out to hear live original music not because you knew anybody in the band, but because that is just what you did.  It rarely happens anymore, esepcially with kids 21-24, at least in my experience.

Your experience might be different….if so let me know what I’m missing.

Trey

What does 'selling out' mean to you?

Posted by Trey Bliss: This is always a touchy subject because the topic means different things to different people.  Some people think that because a band has risen in popularity, they have sold out to make it big.  Yet most of the bands I love dearly were or are big name acts, and I don’t know if I would call them sell-outs because to me they stayed true to their art.

In my opinion, a sell-out is somebody who changes who they are and what they do in order to make money.  Personally, I would not switch to country music or electronica just because it is selling more right now.  I’m a guitar player.  I like analog.  I don’t thumb my nose at country or electonica artists but its not for me and if I switched genres I would have trouble looking at myself in the mirror.

Do I want to be a successful musician?  Of course.  Nobody aspires to be a starving artist.

Does it make me a sell-out to have a full-time job instead of focusing purely and entirely on music?  I don’t think so.  In a way, my job has opened up opportunities that wouldn’t have been there for me.

Yes, in a way, I aspire to be a sell-out, in the regard that every show we play could be sold out.

What say you?

Trey

Why should I listen to you and not the dude you sound like from 30 years ago?

Posted by Kristin Thomas: Recently I was thinking about how one of the biggest complaints of mainstream music is how there is little to no variety, and the songs tend to sound just alike. And then I thought, well the same thing happens in indie/local level does it not? How many bands out there sound like an homage( or rip off) to the band/s that influenced them from 30 years ago? What is there to entice me to hear /buy their music and not the original band they got their sound from? I guess what I’m wondering is…is originality a necessary component to making good music? How important is it? And if it’s not that important, what would make that musician/s special? I just don’t know.

Promote Your Band!

I thought this was a cute list of ways to promote your band from CNJ Musicians.  It’s a nice reminder of 77 things every band should be doing to get their music heard:

1. Build A Website Online!

2. Play your instrument on the roof of your house/apartment.

3. Seek Out Ray Balconis and his New York Recording Studio

4. Contact Your Local Newspaper to see if they will do a write up on your band

5. Have business cards ready to give out.

6. Promote Your Band by sending out postcards to fans, venues, etc.

7. Ask to Open For More Established Bands

8. Seek Out the Services of a Professional Photographer

9. Making custom t-shirts is a great form of promotion, and it’s also a lot of fun; you can get the creative juices flowing and come up with some pretty cool designs to represent your band’s image.

10. Create a Myspace to Promote Your Band

11.Optimize Your Bands Website for More Traffic

12.Hire A Myspace Promoter

13.Build and Launch a Website if you do not have one.

14.Promote Your Band’s Website using SEO techniques

15.Post In Online Forums and Message Boards

16.Post in Free Online Classifieds Such as Craigslist in the Musicians Section

17.Keep in touch with fans and contacts with a system like aweber.com

18.Promote your band in Free Directories

19.Use Yahoo Pay Per Click to Promote Your Band’s Website.

20.Use Google Adwords to Drive Traffic to your website.

21.Get As Many Links From Other Sites to Your Website and Myspace

22.Create and Maintain A Blog on Blogger.com or WordPress.com

23.Submit Articles to EzineArticles.com

24.Post about your Band in Local Music Forums

25.Submit Your Blog to Blog Directories

26.Get Newspaper Ads Especially in local entertainment sections.

27.Play As Many Open Mics As Possible and Give Out Stuff!

28.Play At Festivals and Give Out Stuff!

29.Play For FREE Anywhere Possible

30.Signup For Battle of the Bands in your area (and give out stuff)

31.Play at Weddings! (If you do covers)

32.Join Ebay and buy stuff that will help you promote your band.

33.Hire a Booking Agent (choose carefully)

34.Email Your Fans – Stay In Contact

35.Give out Scratch And Sniff Stickers With Strange Smells.

36.Compete for prizes and band exposure on websites like ourstage

37.Contact the Music Critic at your local newspaper.

38.Submit Your Website To Good SEO Directories

39.Do A Good Deed. What goes around comes around!

40.Signup for the Bachelorette and play your new album on the show: abc.com

41.Suggestions Needed!

42.Get Kittens and Have them wear kitten tshirts with your bands logo on it.

43.Run for president and then when you get elected give yourself mad plugs when your doing your state of the union.

44.Yeeehawwwwwwwww…. Promote Your Band!

45.Get Color Stage Banners

46.Put up Color Flyers of your band up Everywhere

47.Have Someone Videotape and Take Pictures of You at Shows

48.Upload Videos of your music and shows on uTube

49.Hire A Publicist To Get You in Magazines and Newspapers

50.Release Demo CD’s to Record Companies

51.Promote Your Band on SecondLife (Virtual Reality, Really Weird but it can work)

52.Drive a White Bronco at High Speeds in LA running from the police with your band logo on the side of the SUV (just kidding don’t do that)

53.Blow up Beach Balls with your logo printed on it and throw them everywhere especially at concerts

54.Ask Your Local Radio or College Radio Stations to Promote Your Band by Playing Your Music

55.Submit Expert Articles to GoArticles.com with links to your website or myspace

56.Network, Network, Network.

57.Hang out at Karaoke Bars (and even perform!)

58.Try out for American Idol. If you are good maybe you will make it. If you stink at least act really crazy and wear something weird so you get 30 seconds on TV.

59.Streak while wearing only your Band T-Shirt or Hat (Where this would be Legal).

60.Do What the Naked Cowboy Did (of course only where legal).

61.Attach Promotional Material, Bumper Stickers, Lettering, to Your Vehicle and Drive!

62.Design and Distribute Band Shirts to fans and to wear yourself.

63.Host Local Open Mic Nights.

64.Give out Promotional Socks.

65.Participate in Local Charitable Functions (Network! Wear Your TShirts Etc).

66.Upload Your Songs Anywhere Possible

67.Give out as Much Stuff As Possible With Your Logo on it

68.Advertise Upcoming Shows and Events on Community Websites

69.Advertise Upcoming Album Releases On all fronts

70.Frequently Update Website, Myspace, and Blog if you have.

71.Name Your Cat After Your Band, and Put a Collar on it with it’s name on it, and then let the cat get ‘lost’.

72.Repeat #71 With Various Breeds of Dogs (Really Kidding About These Two).

73.Give Music Lessons and Bring Students into your following.

74.Participate in Community Groups.

75.Post in Local Forums on Craigslist and Other Websites.

76.Recruit Local Fans to Help Promote Your Band or Music for Free. Delegate!!!

77.One of the Absolute Best Ways to Promote Your Band is by Word of Mouth! Tell Everyone about Your Music and Ask Them to Listen or Come to a Show!

Benefiting the Local Bands

As you’ve probably already sensed, The Moon and Pluto strives to build a foundation of collaboration and unity among the local artists in Atlanta, as well as help promote the deserving artists that dwell among us.  There are several ways to navigate through this attempt, but I’m curious to hear from bands about what they think is most beneficial to them in terms of gaining attention, promoting their music, and establishing a camaraderie.

1. What types of opportunities do local bands feel are really valuable to them, in terms of their music and art?

2. What local resources, such as blogs, music publications, organizations, promotion organizations, record labels, studios do you find helpful and worthwhile?

3. What are the most difficult aspects of being a local band in Atlanta, and what ideas do you have about overcoming these difficulties?

4. What do you feel is working well within the local circuit, and what do think is struggling?  How does it affect you, as active members of the music scene?

5. Where have you had the most luck and where have you encountered dead-ends?

6. Where are the best venues to deal with in the area?  Where have you had the most problems?

It’d be great if you took a minute to express your feelings about any of the above…or bring up your own issues. Sharing our circumstances and thoughts on these types of topics can be a great way of brainstorming toward a better experience in Atlanta music!  And, if we can help out with any of it, you know we will!