Tag Archives: music nashville

Songwriting: The Motorcycle Boy Roadmap

In Francis Ford Coppala’s film “Rumblefish”, Mickey Roarke’s character, Motorcycle Boy, says – “A leader has to have someplace to go”. The songwriter is the leader in his/her song. My initial way of listening to lyrics has to do with how it feels when I hear / read them without thinking about it – is it clear, does it make sense? Do I understand on some level – emotional, intellectual, physical…
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Johnny Hiland – All Fired Up

There is nothing glamorous about the upbringing of Johnny Hiland. Diagnosed with nystagmus, a medical condition causing involuntary eye movement and rendering him legally blind, Hiland nevertheless fell oin love with music, taking up the guitar at age eight. In the years since, that love of music has taken him to Music City from his native state of Maine, where he has recorded with artists ranging from Ricky Skaggs…
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Songwriting: The Mechanics

When I was in high school back in Michigan they started students on what they considered practical courses that would teach them skills that would translate directly to getting a job in the real world. It is the idea behind trade schools – teach me something more practical than theoretical. I see that attitude more frequently in the questions I have been getting from people I teach or advise through…
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Is It Worth the Investment?

Today’s the day of the month that I usually do my monthly paperwork where I record all my income and expenses from the previous month. My business expenses are very different from the business expenses of my clients’. Below is just a snapshot of what a recording artist’s expenses include for just one album project. But there is one item on this list that, once the money is invested into it, it typically carries over into all future projects and other areas
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Red Meat Does Clash With Red Carpet, Just So You Know

“You can’t wait until that morning [of the awards show] to decide what you’re going to wear. You should put it on. Get in front of a camera. Tape it. Look at it back. See what it looks like on camera. Have some photographs taken. In other words, don’t just put it on because those images will be there forever!” Robert Deaton, co-owner, Deaton Flanigen Productions – CMA Industry InSite, June 2010…
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Songwriting: Tips from Michael Lloyd

As I have mentioned previously in this column, one of the great things about being a teacher is how much you learn. This past week I had the opportunity to interview producer/writer/music supervisor Michael Lloyd for a songwriting class. Keeping up with his cumulative credits has become sort of a running joke with us when I introduce him. The internet data bases where I get bio information are…
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Songwriting: Just The Facts, Ma’am

One of the points about writing lyrics I have made in these articles and in my book is to give the listener enough detail to get the idea of what you are trying to say. Many times songs feel overly generalized in an attempt to be too universal. They leave the listener wondering what is going on or worse, not caring about what is going on. But the other side of the coin is being too detailed in…
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Songwriting – It’s All About The Title

Most non-professional songwriters do not understand the importance of the song’s title. It is a gradual learning process to appreciate just how necessary an effective title is. I remember when I first started dealing with industry types; I was always a little surprised and even somewhat irritated when they would ask, “What’s the title?” At that time I didn’t understand what that could possibly…
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Picture Perfect

Recently I was in NY to speak to several performers including musicians, songwriters, and others on the importance of image in advancing their careers. In this session I covered a variety of ways to improve their image, including determining the right look that says what they want it to say, making their written and online marketing materials stand out, presenting themselves in the media, and…
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Dehlia Low – Ravens & Crows

I don’t really know how to describe the music of Dehlia Low. They are on Rebel Records, so that must mean they are Bluegrass, right? But, at the same time, there’s a tinge of old-school Country on this album that is very much apparent when Anya Hinkle and Stacy Claude combine their musical talents. Listen to tracks like “$40 Chain” and “State Of Jefferson,” and you will hear a harmony that will mystify and command your attention. They truly sound like one together. I tried to think of someone to compare their…
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Billboard Country Music Summit: Advice from Music Industry Leaders on Artist Imaging

A little over a year ago I attended the first-annual Billboard Country Music Summit here in Nashville, hosted by Billboard Magazine. During the event, there was much discussion about current trends and issues in the music industry such as monetization of recorded music, usage of new media, and more (my favorite title for one of the sessions was “Not Your Granddaddy’s Record Label: Will the Last…
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Help Me Like Your Song

When I hear a new song I want to like it. That may surprise some Taxi members who get my critiques. But I love a great song. I appreciate a well-crafted song – but mainly I want a song to hit me where nothing else can – to speak emotionally in an honest, personal way that I feel my life would be missing if I hadn’t heard it. That is the desire of the listener. But when the listener heads your…
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The Dirt Drifters – This Is My Blood

Every so often, a group comes across that doesn’t need a lot of refinement or fine-tuning. They are simply ready to hit the road. Warner Brothers has hit the proverbial jackpot with this new group that has a little bit of everything up their musical sleeve. Comprised of lead singer Matt Fleener, guitarists Ryan Fleener and Jeff Middleton, bass player Jeremy Little, and drummer Nick Diamond, the Dirt Drifters cover all the musical bases—–Traditional Country, Rock & Roll…
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Taking It to the Next Level

While I always enjoy working with new artists and working with a clean slate, sometimes I am hired to work with artists who already look great and already have some sense of style. This is when the details of wardrobe styling become even more important. It’s those small details found in just the right accessories and wardrobe tweaks that really make all the difference in the world. With artists…
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Jesse McReynolds & Friends – Songs of the Grateful Dead

OK….this title might throw you for somewhat of a loop, but if you are a true fan of Jesse McReynolds and the Grateful Dead, it might not be that much of a stretch. First of all, Jesse has always pushed the musical envelope, going back to his days as one-half of Jim & Jesse. The two recorded some material such as “Memphis, Tennessee” and “Thunder Road,” …
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Introducing Lara Johnston

If by chance you are fortunate enough to see Rock & Roll legends the Doobie Brothers on the road this summer and fall, pay special close attention to their opening act. You’re going to see and hear a lot more about her. Lara Johnston has one of those voices that have a way of captivating you from the first time you hear it. The daughter of Doobie Brothers member Tom Johnston, Lara is making an impact on the…
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Songwriting: The Experience

“Are you experienced? Have you ever been experienced? Well, I have.” – Jimi Hendrix. One of the only good things about getting older is you learn things. Sometimes the hard way. The only good thing about learning things the hard way is those are the lessons you remember best. Actually, another good thing about learning things the hard way is those lessons are the ones you really know…
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Sarah Lou Richards – Ruby Red Shoes

She was born in Wisconsin. She grew up in Connecticut. Obviously, those aren’t two places where a lot of Country Music artists hail from. But, make no mistake about it, Sarah Lou Richards has the talent to go anyplace she wants to. Her vocals, especially on cuts like “Space” and “He Wears Womens’ Jeans,” are especially strong. On the latter, her vocal sails almost effortlessly through various…
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Nu-Blu – The Blu Disc

In Bluegrass, there are few names more respected than that of Pinecastle Records, so it would stand to reason that if the label believes in you to sign them to their roster, you must be good. Well, this duet is good – and a lot more. Made up of husband and wife Carolyn and Daniel Routh, banjo player Levi Austin, and mandolin player Kendall Gates, this is Bluegrass Music, make no mistake about it…
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Karen Lynne – Heart Songs and Laugh Lines

Australian native Karen Lynne has established quite a loyal following across the sea, and Heart Songs & Laugh Lines was released with the hope that it would spread her name around the U.S. a little bit more. If there’s any justice, it should do just that. Lynne possesses a very expressive singing voice, one that is quite pleasing to the ear. Several of the cuts here are songs you know, such as George Strait’s “I Cross My Heart.” While the song has been played and played over the years, Lynne adds a little something different to the tune, bringing a bit of female perspective…
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