Latest Articles

The 5 Minute Song Writing Class

If you have been reading this series of articles you know that I have been referencing film and screenwriting as another paradigm for creative use of technique in your songwriting. I have lately found a source of inspiration that has been quite a revelation to me in that I found someone preaching the same guerilla techniques for film that I have been preaching for songwriting. His name is Robert Rodriquez, and you may know his work from films such as “El Mariachi” and “Sin City”.
 

Montgomery Gentry Brings It Home with "Rebels on the Run"

Eddie Montgomery is quick to correct the use of the “f” word. “We call them friends, not fans,” says Montgomery, describing the basic, party-hearty, not-primped-for-media approach that he and Troy Gentry employ when dealing with die-hard enthusiasts. “Me and T-Roy, we come up through the nightclubs. We didn’t have media training or choreography,” said the hatted half of the rowdy duo, which has embarked on a new endeavor that capitalizes on the attitude and music that ignited...
 

Resolutions for Artists

With the New Year comes New Year Resolutions and by now tired and blown out voices are at hand with all the zest poured into the Resolutions to follow your singing passions. I spend a lot of time with Artist development as well as signed Artists who hit it hard in January to make themselves more competitive. One of the tips I have for these New Year “Resolutionaries” is to build up your vocal stamina. Begin 20-30 minutes of rehearsal time each day for a couple of weeks then begin to add more time in your daily rehearsal time as...
 

Emilie Autumn & The Bloody Crumpets in Atlanta, GA

Normally, writing a convert review is not all that hard... I talk about the show, the songs and the artist. However, when Emilie Autumn brought her Bloody Crumpets to Atlanta and performed her Burlesque-influenced stage show for a SRO crowd at The Loft, I found myself both intrigued and stumped. How do I describe her show to someone who's never been to one? Imagine a cross between DragonCon, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Victorian England and an erotic New Orleans Mardi ...
 

New Artist Spotlight: The McClymonts

From the moment Brooke, Sam and Mollie McClymont strode onto the stage at the CMA Global Artist Party, kicking off the 2010 CMA Music Festival, they owned the venue. Rocking hard, playing to the balcony at The Stage on Broadway, joining their voices in a tight, high-impact blend, they showed why they were already stars back home in Australia. That performance was followed in August with their U.S. debut release, Wrapped Up Good, on BSM Music. With 11 of its 12 tracks written or co-written by one or more McClymont, they concoct sharp hooks and well-crafted lyrics. “A Woman...
 

Concert Review: George Strait and Martina McBride in Duluth, GA

Country superstars George Strait and Martina McBride brought their tour to the house Strait helped open in Duluth, GA, back in 2002. The two country icons performed for a sold-out crowd at the Gwinnett Center Arena on Friday night. Opening the show, Martina McBride sang songs from her new album, Eleven, along with her chart-topping hits spanning her career. Always a crowd favorite, Martina didn’t disappoint her fans, belting out “This One’s For The Girls”, “I’m Gonna Love You Through It”, “Wild Angels” and more in a voice that is as clear today as when...
 

How To Be A Session Singer

Having done many thousands of studio and live background (aka “backing”) vocals, demos, masters, hit songs and jingles as well as training other singers, I’ve compiled a list of qualities that the specialized career of session singing requires. To be a working session singer you need: 1. …vocal training to be able to perform the feats of what I call a "stunt singer". It takes more stamina and control to be a great background singer than to be a lead singer, because you will have to trace and blend with another voice perfectly, taking on the lead voice's tone, personality, rhythm, phrasing and accent, or adding...
 

Structure Basics – Teaching An Old Dog New Tricks

Lately I have gone back to school so to speak – I have been researching and going back over the actual process of learning songs again. Very much the process of an old dog learning new tricks. I suppose in any field there is always something new to learn – but in music in general, and songwriting in particular, I don’t know if one person has the time in a lifetime to cover it all. I remember years ago sitting down with records (yes, that long ago) and playing them over ...
 

The Music In Your Head: Part 1

I wish I remembered who said this, because it's a great quote: the difference between songwriters and other people is that songwriters write down what the voices in their head tell them. It's a flip remark, but as creative people we do all hear things in our heads. Sometimes we have the means to articulate them, and sometimes we don't. A major component of songcraft is the ability to communicate our ideas in a memorable and compelling way. We do this with lyrics all the...
 

The Band Perry: 2011 CMA New Artist of the Year

“We’re still childlike,” confessed multi-instrumentalist/vocalist Neil Perry of The Band Perry. “We romanticize the business and the stuff that goes into it. But there’s a place where … “ “ … You’re not naïve,” picked up lead singer/pianist/guitarist/big sister Kimberly Perry without missing a beat. “One of the reasons we are what we are – especially if you’d seen some of the early shows we’d done – is our wonder and that attitude that nothing is impossible.” That easy back...
 

Songwriting – The Real Deal

Perhaps the best thing about being a teacher is how much you end up learning yourself. And some of the best lessons are the ones that are un-planned. I teach a class at Musicians Institute in Hollywood that is based on bringing in guests – successful songwriters, to interview them with the class and then open it up and have the students ask questions. It has been an amazing learning experience, for me as much as for the students. But the other day the inevitable happened...
 

Three Good Reasons To Love Your Songs

The kind of love I’ve been talking about is not something that happens overnight. It comes from putting in the countless hours necessary to perfect your craft, incorporating others’ suggestions that make sense to you and ignoring the ones that don’t. In order to suffer the slings and arrows that are an inevitable part of trying to generate income from your songs, it’s a good idea to love them first. I’m talking about a very specific kind of love here. What I’m not...
 

Bill Anderson: The Measure of Songwriting Excellence

It’s been more than five decades since a 23-year-old Bill Anderson became the youngest writer to earn BMI’s Country Songwriter of the Year honor – a record until 20-year-old Taylor Swift’s win in 2010. Since then, he’s received numerous accolades, including two CMA Song of the Year trophies in a three-year span. In November, he was honored by Bear Family Records’ release of a four-CD anthology, Bill Anderson: The First 10 Years, 1956-1966. And he’s seen a lot of changes on Music Row.
 

New Artist Spotlight: Tyrone Vaughan

There’s a ton of Country and lots of rockin’ blues throughout Downtime, released in January on the Kickitup indie imprint. And all of it is unmistakably Texan, which of course is to be expected, given Tyrone Vaughan’s Lone Star pedigree. His father is Jimmie Vaughan, whose steely guitar tone and funk phrasing surfaces in the rhythm that drives “Ladies Man,” with the spirit of his uncle — the late Stevie Ray Vaughan, summoned through wah-wah guitar fills. But though his playing...
 

Concert Review: Jeff Dunham in Atlanta, GA

Atlanta’s infamous traffic problems took center stage at the opening of comedian Jeff Dunham’s show in the southern capital. The show was delayed for ten minutes to allow the “idiots” to take their seats, as explained by Achmed, Dunham’s fan-favorite character. Jeff started off the show in his usual style of comedy. His childhood memories popped up on the screen, a majority of them showing how he found his calling in Ventriloquism. He was only eight...
 
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