Tag - nashville

More Joy of Making Music: Suzy Bogguss

…This time with a Spotify player for the new CD (scroll down)

Suzy Boggus and Company

Suzy Boggus and Company

Full Photo Set Here

We had another one of those “Only In Nashville” kind of nights last night when Suzy Bogguss hosted an outstanding lineup the 3rd and Lindsley Bar & Grill.

Suzy is one of the few artists (and in this case, I use that overused term consciously and deliberately) who achieved some stardom during the “Country Music Integrity Scare” of the 1990s.  A lot of the performers who achieved some profile during that period have since disappeared down the backside of the arc of stardom, but Suzy Bogguss keeps turning out great new recordings and remains an absolutely engaging and entertianing performer.  I’ve been a fan all along and I’m pleased to see she’s still turning out great music.

Last night at 3rd & Lindsley she opened her own show, joined on stage by Matraca Berg and Gretchen Peters for the ensemble they call “Wine, Women and Song” – offering some of the sweetest three part harmonies since “The Trio” with Emmy, Linda, and Dolly.

That was followed by the real reason for the night, the official release of Lucky, Suzi’s new collection of Merle Haggard songs.  For this set she was joined by some of the finest players on the planet: Charlie Chadwick on bass, Chris Scruggs on all sorts of things, Guthrie Trapp on electric guitar, Pat Bergeson on guitars and harmonica, and a drummer, whose name I will insert into this space when somebody reminds me who that was …

Update (Feb 12 ’04): Good News!

Lucky was released yesterday and is already available on Spotify. So have yourself a listen:

P.S. If you see an entry where I have mispelled Suzy’s last name… I know now that there are two “S”s at the end of “Bogguss.”  I won’t be making that mistake again…

From ‘The Joy of Making Music’ Bonnie Bishop

Bonnie Bishop

Bonnie Bishop

I had the pleasure and privilege of photographing Bonnie Bishop when she performed a showcase at The Rutledge in Nashville back in the winter of 2009.

I’d only learned of Bonnie a few months earlier at the Americana Music Fest. Well, no, not actually at the Americana event, but a week or so later.

I’d sat down to go through some of the printed material from the conference, and then went online to LaLa.com – the site I had been using as my “celestial jukebox” before it was acquired by Apple and shut down in the spring of 2010 – to listen to the recordings of performers whose actual Americana showcases I’d missed. Read More

Introducing: The Joy of Making Music

Live Performance Photography for Nashville

Pru Clearwater

Pru Clearwater

Today I’m hanging a “virtual shingle” for one facet of my photography business. Find it on the web at

TheJoyOfMakingMusic.com.

Ever since the Internet started tearing up the the music business in the waning days of the 20th century, we’ve been hearing that music is now about the live performance more than the recording.  Musicians used to tour to sell records;  Now they give away downloads to attract an audience for their tours, then sell CDs and merch at the shows.

With live performance becoming the focus of the business, it is essential for touring musicians to have high quality photographs that convey the essence of their shows and the experience they offer their current and future fans.

I’ve been an a avid photographer all my life, and in the past few years I’ve shot a lot of shows around Nashville. I’ve nailed down some techniques for “getting the shot” even in the most crowded and poorly lit of conditions.

Capturing the essence of live music is something I enjoy doing, I seem to be pretty good at it, and I want to do more of it.

So I’ve come up with the ‘Caught In The Act Pack’ — a  very affordable package of my services as a club and concert photographer.

To learn more, kindly follow this link to TheJoyOfMakingMusic.com. to see a slide show of my best work over the past few years. Follow the links there for details on the deal.

Keep it in mind next time you go to a show.

Maybe I’ll see you there. I’ll be the guy with the cameras…

Here Comes The Sun

Olympus OM-D EM1, ISO 200, Olympus 12-40 f/2.8 lens @28mm; 1.5sec @f/22

I joined my friends Ken Gray and Kim Sherman at Radnor Lake for the sunrise on Sunday, January 12. Waiting for the sun to appear… this is probably as good a shot as I got…

Of course, as is usually the case, I saw what the other guys came up with and think they got the best of the situation.

Ken really nailed the actual sunrise, and got some great shots of the wildlife as well.

AndI love what Kim did with the sunburst through the trees.  Now why didn’t I think of that??

I wonder if that’s the way it goes with this business… does it always seem like the other guy got the better shot?  I’ll have to take that up with my therapist…

How Many Barcamps Have You Been To?

bcnlogoAs anybody who follows my Facebook/Instagram feed knows all to well, I had the privilege last week of being the “In-Kind Sponsor” for Barcamp Nashville 2013.  All I had to do was photograph the entire day long event. Which, frankly, was a blast.

As I mentioned in a post (before I carpet-bombed my own feeds with photos…) Barcamp has always been something of a landmark event in my personal reckoning, after I attended the first one in 2007 – an event that marked the beginning of my emergence from years of seclusion and book authoring.

Probably because I mark my own involvement with Barcamp from the very first one in 2007, I got the idea early that morning to start asking the people who were working on and attending this year’s event “How Many Barcamps have you been to…?”

The answers appear in the slide show below.  Hover your cursor over the top of the frame to see the suspects’ names.

We Can Gather, and We Can Sing

The "6 Chair Pickin' Party"

The “6 Chair Pickin’ Party”

Three things happened yesterday which, if I can adequately weave the path through them, attest to the current state of music, address the current debate on the subject and,  ultimately, gently, point a way into the future…

FIRST:  I had a moment on that antiquated old medium called “radio.”

As I was getting out of the shower yesterday morning and making the bed, I turned on WPLN (Nashville’s NPR affiliate) and heard a promo bumper for “On Point,” the program out of Boston that follows “Morning Edition.” I heard the show’s host, Tom Ashbrook, announce that he would be discussing the streaming music royalties debate that has taken on new strength in the past week since some guy in a band called “Radiohead” (irony abounds) announced  that he was pulling his music from Spotify and other streaming services, on the pretext that “it doesn’t pay new artists enough…”  or some such nonsense.

As soon as the show came on the air and they announced the call-in number, I dialed in.  Wonder of wonders, I was quick enough to get a ring instead of a busy signal (this might have been the second or third time I tried to call that program, parts of which I hear almost every morning).  A producer picked up the line a few moments later.  I told him what I had in mind to say and he said, “OK, if Tom takes the call, say ‘Hi Tom…’. Don’t say “good morning” because the show is rebroadcast at different times during the day…”

Commence heart pounding.

Then I went about making breakfast, and sat down to eat it, while listening to the discussion on my telephone headset.  And then in between a bite of eggs and grapes I hear, “Paul from Nashville, you’re on the air…”

Gulp.

I then proceeded to verbally fall off my breakfast barstool.  You can hear the whole embarrassing episode here, but since this is digital retrospect, I will repeat it more precisely as I would have said it if my heart had been pumping at something closer to a normal rate:

1) When this guy Tom Yorke says that he’s pulling his stuff off of Spotify because it doesn’t pay new artists enough, that is an “altruistic red herring.”  He’s really not concerned about new artists so much as he is about the apparent decline of revenue inherent in the shift from unit sales (i.e. 99c per download regardless of how many times you listen to a track) to fractions-of-a-penny payments per stream per listener (where you only get paid by how much a song is listened to – and then, not very much).

This professed concern for “new artists” strikes me as  a smokescreen, and actually contrary to what new artists need.  As I did manage to point out on the air, I’m much more likely to become interested in a new artist if I can actually hear their music, which is a lot harder to do if their music is not on a service like Spotify.

Actually, I really don’t know Radiohead all that well… maybe I should go listen to some of their music on Spoti….oh, wait…

2) Behind the smokescreen of his concern for “new artists,” I think that what Mr. Yorke and his ilk are really professing is that the industrial-age model of selling music in discrete units – that bear a high price because of their relative scarcity – should some how be preserved in the digital era – when the quantity of ‘content’ that is now available approaches infinity.  Well, get a clue buddy.  Buy a vowel.  You cannot drag the old model into the new reality.  Let go of the nuts, silly monkey, and you can at least keep your hand…

Anyway, that’s what I meant to say; Instead I made some clunky allusion to buggy whips.  I’m pretty sure the cliche police will be knocking on my door any minute now…

3) If these jokers really want to make an issue of something that is unfair in the music biz, they should join the crusade to get terrestrial radio (i.e. “broadcast” radio – which is actually radio; “internet radio” is just an oxymoron, and destructive one at that, because its use compels us to think that the medium is something that clearly it is not…) to pay royalties for the recordings that they broadcast.

As it stands, broadcast radio pays royalties only for the compositions – the songs – that are broadcast on the public air.  The United States is one of the very few countries in the world that pays nothing to the artists or labels who produce the actual recordings.

if you want parity between analog and digital, if you want more money from the use of your music… start there. Of course that’s assuming you can actually get your music on radio.  Good luck with that…

Anyway, that’s more precisely what I was trying to say in my 15 seconds of fame on the radio yesterday.  Thanks to whoever heard that and is now reading this for the opportunity to indulge in perfect 20/20 verbal hindsight.

SECOND: I direct your attention to a blog post by the erudite and pithy Kidd Redd, a partner at Nashville’s Flo Thinkery – which figures because he is clearly something of an original thinker in his own right.   In his “Stylerant” post yesterday, Mr. Redd addressed the same issue that “On Point” addressed that morning.  Follow the link to read the whole thing; In the meantime here’s the paragraph I thought was pertinent (scroll down to Starving Musicians):

So listeners download, and they stream. It is only natural for artists like Thom Yorke to suddenly stop dancing weirdly and say, wait a minute, I need to do something to make people understand that this making of music really is hard work, it has enormous value, and you can’t have my album for free. Slow clap, Thom. I’ve always thought that artists who don’t like the deal should simply pull their music. Good for you. Only thing is, no one will care. NO ONE, except music biz peeps and your Mama. People have lives in which music is only a part. Maybe a big part, and a part we would all be sad to live without, but then again, we won’t have to. We can gather, and we can sing.

“We can gather and we can sing.”  As anybody who has followed my musings on these subjects over the years will recall, that premise is central to my thesis, my as-yet unwritten “Grand Nebulous Theory of the Future of Everything, Music in Particular.” Which goes something like this:

At some point in the not-too-distant future, we will look back on the era of industrialized music – wherein music became a product, packaged and shipped and sold like soap – as a brief, anomalous period in the annals of human history.

The ultimate, end result of the disinter-mediation of the digital era is going to be a return to something more akin to music as it was before there were recordings:  less as an expression of popular, mass culture, and more a manifestation of community spirit.  We are going to stop expecting that music is something that somebody else – the Tom Yorkes of the word – does for us, and something that we do for ourselves.   Music not as something that you buy, but something that you make.

THIRD: That point was graphically – and aurally – driven home last night at a home in the hilly and leafy West Meade neighborhood of Nashville where a small congregation of hand-made music and song lovers gathered… and sang.

The event was the the revival of a tradition that was very much at the heart of my Nashville experience for the first 8 years that I lived here – Mike Williams “6 Chair Pickin’ Party” – where Mike and his wife Kathy would invite a half-dozen songwriters into their home – along with typically 40-50 guests – to swap songs and stories around a faux electric camp fire.

kateo6chairs

Another view of last night’s “Pickin’ Party” – photo purloined from Kate O’Neill’s Facebook page…

In the late 90s and early aughts, Mike’s Pickin’ Party was a Nashville institution.  Three Wednesdays of almost every month (the exception being when Mike and Kathy spent a month in Kerrville, TX, doing pretty much the same thing in the open late night/early morning air), some of the best singer/songwriters in the world would climb the steep hill to Mike and Kathy’s house, past the sign that said “Park on street… Sing on key…” to play their hits and their personal favorites for an enthusiastic audience tightly huddled in the living room.

The parties were discontinued in 2003 when  Kathy was chosen to serve as CEO of the whole international Girl Scouts organization, and she and Mike took up residence in a loft in lower Manhattan.  They tried to host similar parties there, but that effort was discontinued when the other residents objected to all the traffic in the one small elevator that served their entire building.

On a personal note (as if this whole blog post is not personal notes?) and as I explained to one of the performers last night, the best thing I’ve done since I’ve been in Nashville started at Mike Williams’ pickin’ parties, when I asked a few people I’d met there, “what would you think if I tried to sell some of your CDs on the Internet…?”  That was in the spring of 1995 (yikes!), so of course I had to explain to most of the people I was talking to just what the Internet was (and once they figured it out I sold the business to them…).

Mike and Kathy are back in Nashville now – they had the foresight to hang on their house here for the decade that they were in NYC – and they’re cranking up the Pickin’ Parties again with a series of events every other week in July and August.  They travel a lot in a big ol’ motorhome that was their retirement gift to themselves, but when they’re in town, Mike says, there will be parties.

And if you could have been there last night – as you are welcome to be at the next three parties, on July 31, August 14 and 28 (contact me for info) – then, I believe, you would have seen the real future of music.

If you had been there, you would have been part of room filled with talent and heart and whimsy and laughter, great playin’ pickin’ and singin’, an audience that did not hesitate to sing along and oh…did I mention heart? I heard some of the best songs I’ve ever heard last night.  Songs like Whit Hill’s “Stethoscope”, a song that you would likely never hear on the radio but nevertheless fires a harpoon right into your heart.  Or Laurie McClain’s “My Heaven.”  Here, listen for yourself:

 

So yesterday was an intriguing, unpredictable confluence of events and musings that, taken together, somehow demonstrate the trajectory that we’re somewhere in the still-early or maybe middle stages of: The real future of music is not about downloads, streaming, radio or “American Idol,” or who gets paid how much for what.  The real future of music is like its distant past: people… gathered and singing.

 

 

 

The New Music City Center: First Impressions

Music City Center: The Gutar-Shaped Grand Ballroom

Music City Center: The Guitar-Shaped Grand Ballroom

I went to an event at the Nashville’s shining new convention center, aka “Music City Center” yesterday, for a Kelby Training Photoshop seminar.

I have been in the building on several previous occasions, having been afforded an opportunity to photograph the building while it was under construction.  You can see the result of those safaris here. 

Because I got a close, first-hand look at the place while it was still under construction,  I feel like I have some stake in its realization and success.

This was the first opportunity I have had to visit the place since it officially opened last month – to enter not as an interested observer, but as an actual end user.   So here are my initial impressions of Nashville’s newest landmark, and some feedback for the developers and administrators that I hope they will find constructive:

1) Impact: The entire edifice is absolutely impressive from any angle – although it is pretty hard to see the whole thing from any single vantage point.  I say this knowing full well that if I’d been one of the people on the city council responsible voting to fund a monolithic gathering place in the era of virtual meetings, I probably would have voted “nay” and figured the money could have been better spent on, say, music education in our schools.  But now that it’s built and open, I have to just admit that this is one of the things for which the over-used word “awesome” was truly intended.

2)  Seating: As long as we’re over-using the word – and so that I continue on a positive vein before getting down to the “constructive criticism” – let me just say the chairs in the meeting rooms are also “awesome.”  This is no minor point, because most people who use MCC will be there for meetings, which will require considerable amounts of just plain sitting.  So my compliments to whoever selected the chairs.  They are thickly padded and impressively comfortable.  There were truly several times when I shifted my body into some awkward semi-slouch and notice how comfortably the chair responded.  I actually made a mental note: “wow, these chairs are comfortable.”

3) Music:  This point I want to make before I lose everybody with my wordy minutiae. It’s about the music.

“Music City Center” was so named in order to reflect and boost Nashville’s standing as “the” music city, and I’m completely on board with that.  But there was only one place in this entire, gynormous complex where I heard any actual music.



In the mens room.

And it wasn’t just “music.” It was “country” music  – by which I mean the cheesy, saccharine, under-conceived and over-produced mainstream country music which is the reason I never listen to country radio any more (and, yes, I did listen to country radio once upon a time, but that was literally a millennium ago…).



I object because making bubble-gum “country” the only actual music that a visitor to the “Music City Center” is likely to hear reinforces a stereotype that really needs to be crushed.

There is so much more to Nashville now than the crap they play on country radio!  Hell, even country music has more to offer than what’s on the radio today – hello, Willie?  Waylon?  Johnny and Kris?  Marty Stuart?? Dolly or Emmylou???  Where are you all now that Music City needs you? Lost to a an era of ear candy that doesn’t even serve well as Muzak.

Please…   Let our visitors hear the Black Keys or Jack White or Jeff Black.  Let ‘em hear how infinitely diverse is the musical universe that defines “Music City.” Yes, Nashville’s musical roots are more country than corn and dirt, but those roots have grown into a virtual rain-forest canopy, underneath which every imaginable kind of music flourishes.



“Music City Center” is going to be a lot of visitors central experience of Nashville. Please, don’t let them think that country-pop is all that “Music City” has to offer.  

(On the other hand, maybe a bathroom is an appropriate outlet for mainstream country…..)



Now that that’s off my chest….

4) Access: There needs to be a painted – maybe stop-lighted? – pedestrian cross walk between the egress from the underground parking garage to the entrance to the building – which is across a street.

Parking for MCC is found in some abundance (1,800 spaces) in an underground garage that is entered from 6th Avenue South, which is now a four-lane thoroughfare that runs right under the building.  After you have parked your car, you have to cross that busy street to get to the entrance that leads to the ballrooms and meeting rooms.

It does not appear that the designers and architects who did such an otherwise outstanding job took this detail into consideration (I can hear them now: “Oh, you mean, people actually drive cars to the building and then want to get in, too??).  So you have to take your life into your hands and cross an unguarded boulevard to get from the parking to the entrance.  A crosswalk is definitely in order there.

5) WiFi:  Anybody who has ever been to a tech-oriented event with me knows that I’m the wise guy who always wants to know the password for the WiFi – and squawks when there is none.



The good news about Music City Center is that it does appear to be equipped with a strong WiFi signal throughout the building.  

The bad news is the access is blocked by a login process that takes a virtual crowbar to crack.



It’s not a truly “open” WiFi service.  My own experience – with THREE different devices – was that it was impossible to get the “login / create an account” page to come up on any of them (This is actually a recurring problem with WiFi in a lot of places;  The local system hijacks your device, and then doesn’t present the door to which you can speak the password to actually get in).  

I only managed to get the login page when I saw the IP address for the page on somebody else’s device; I entered those numbers and got the page to come up on mine.

But that was not the end of the issue:  once I’d logged in, if I let my device go idle for any amount of time – 5, 10 minutes – the login was lost and I had to log in again.  And again.  And again.  All day long.  In the 8 hours that I was at the MCC I must have logged into the MCC-Guest WiFI close to two dozen times.

Let me be clear about my attitude here, so you can all appreciate what a spoiled digital brat I really am: I think WiFi should be like air.  You don’t have to register or login to breathe.  It should be the same way with WiFi.   Just open the damn gates and let me inhale the digits, OK?

And lest this seem like the overwrought whinings of a strung-out digit junkie, I hasten to add: this is NOT a minor detail.  We live in a connected – maybe overly connected – world, and everybody who enters the Music City Center is going to be looking for a signal.  WiFi is an issue in part because the availability of a conventional mobile wireless signal (i.e. 3G, 4G, LTE or even voice) is – not surprisingly – very weak in some places within the building.


If the authorities that operate the center truly want this to be a “state of the art” facility, then internal communications need to be as artful as the rest of the complex.  Wireless services should be a first thought – not a second or third thought.

6) Website? I was surprised to discover the night before my visit that there is no current website for the Music City Center. Nearly a billion dollars for the building but… no website?

I wanted to confirm the access point for the parking, so I searched the web, only to discover that the website for the joint is still the “Under Construction” site that has been in place since construction began (was it three years ago?).  You can watch a time lapse movie of the construction, but good luck finding out where to park.



I have it on good authority that the website will be relaunched before the end of this month, and that will be a welcome to development.  I only mention it here to suggest that the effort go even further:  

Music City Center? There needs to be “an app for that.”

Again, it’s a matter of how mobile and connected the world is now – and how “state of the art” does Music City Center really want to be?

When I enter a complex like the Center, it’s tough to get my bearings.  These days my first instinct is to reach for my mobile device and find that little blue dot that tells me where I am an orients me to where I’m going (like I wish there was an app that could tell me where to find electrical plugs at the damn Home Depot…)  

I don’t know if internal GPS is even possible, but Music Center is just so damn big.  It would be cool to have an app that aids internal navigation.  And while I’m at it…

7: The artwork hanging throughout the Music City Center is phenomenal.  I dare say there is more artwork to admire there than there is at the Frist or Cheekwood.  *

8: Restrooms (again): Can we please do something about those infernal infra-red activated paper towel dispensers?

God, how I hate all those infra-red gizmos – they never work for me.  Maybe my body doesn’t generate enough heat?  It’s bad enough just trying to get water to pour from a faucet or soap to squirt from a dispenser what with all hand waving to trigger the devices.  If you do manage to get your hands washed, then you’re standing there with wet hands trying to get a paper towel…



So you look at the infra-red paper towel dispenser.  There is a slot where the towels come out… and underneath the slot, a label that reads “place hands below to activate.”  So you follow the instructions and put your hand below the dispenser and wave them around and… of course… nothing happens.  

Because as it turns out, you’re not supposed to put your hand below the dispenser.  You’re supposed to put your hand in the slot.

How am I supposed to know that I’m supposed to put my hand ABOVE the label that says “place hands below”??? Hello… anybody??

1,800 parking spaces - ONE pay machine!

1,800 parking spaces – ONE pay machine!

9.  Parking (again):  Now it is 5:00 and time for everybody to leave.  You’re not in any particular hurry to go home are you?   Because we’ve got 1,800 brand spanking clean new parking spaces – and exactly ONE machine to pay for all that parking.

Yesterday when approximately 200 people were leaving the seminar at the same, everybody wound up standing in front of the pay-for-your-parking machine, reading the instructions, trying to figure out how it works, while the line is forming behind them.  At one point there must have been 50 people waiting to pay for their parking.

Only at that point did somebody who was arriving for another event inform the people in the line that they could pay for their parking at a machine as they drove out lot.  A sign with that information might have been really helpful.  Or a pay machine on every level.  

With a sign…

And, especially in these early days of operation, there really needs to be some kind of human being around to explain all this to people.  As I was walking to my car, I noticed that there was somebody riding around in the parking lot on a Seqway. When I got to the head of the line to leave, the guy in front of me had trouble with the machine and couldn’t get his parking paid for or get the gate to open.  He just threw his hands up, and we all sat there behind him while he tried to figure it out.  The guy on the Seqway woulda come in handy about that time…

OK, that’s my list.  I realize that some of this is pretty minor shit – the sort of bugs bugs that need to be worked out in the first iteration of any new program.

But I do hope they do something about that cross-walk on 6th Avenue.

And the music.  I hope they do something about the music – like hire a human to program the feed.  Because it’s supposed to be the MUSIC City Center, not the cheesy country music center.

–Paul Schatzkin
paul@cohesionarts.com
June 13, 2013

*Correction posted 130613 2:30PM: the first version of this post included a suggestion that QR codes be posted alongside the artwork displayed throughout the Center.  I have since been advised that, indeed, there are QR codes in the labels.  So, two things: 1) I should take a closer look before suggesting the obvious and 2) the builders are more forward-thinking than I was giving them credit for.

Meet “Powerglove”

Well, this is fun.  File it under “62-year-old acoustic folkie, goes heavy metal.”

Powerglove, the heavy-metal band whose show I caught the last few minutes of at MTAC last Friday, is using one of the photos I shot for their Facebook cover photo: Screen Shot 2013-04-01 at 8.40.07 AMNear as I can tell, Powerglove’s metier is heavy metal versions of your favorite TeeVee and cinema theme songs.  Get a gander on their version of “The Fllintstones”:

There’s more where that came from – an album called “Saturday Morning Apocalypse.”

Yeah, I think the kids are having more fun than we did.  I just hope their hearing holds up…

 

 

 

@MTAC 2013

If you’re looking fMTAC-1or the photos I shot Friday night at the Middle Tennessee Anime Convention in downtown Nashville, you can find them here.

I’ve also compiled a little video slideshow…

Clearly, these kids (?) are having a much better time than I did when I was their age. Which was, umm… like 40 years ago… when we were worried about staying out of a war… Oh, wait…