Tag Archives: Music

The Best Rock CD’s of 2013


I was going to do a Top 10 list but honestly even after two weeks of thinking about it, these CD’s are the only ones that stick with me. I feel these are the best rock releases in 2013 and what great releases they are! This won’t be a surprise to some of you as I have been posting about some of these since the day they came out. Yes, they are that good!

I am not going to gush over these as some of them I have done reviews for already and I want you to make your own judgements. Give them a listen and if you like, buy the music and spread the word. They all need your support.

1. Maragold

Maragold

The debut CD from Maragold is perhaps the freshest most original sound I have heard from a rock band and years if not the last decade. The band featuring world renown guitarist Greg Howe and company could be the scariest set of musicians this side of Dream Theater on one CD this year. Relative unknown singer Mehgan Krauss is the real deal and sings circles around just about everyone out there right now. She should be a household name and God willing, will be. Part of the reason this took the top spot is the absolute surprise at how good this CD was as a whole. Everything from songwriting, hooks, playing and production were top notch. I was not expecting this from a guitar hero as so many have not come out with strong band CD’s in their career with the exception of the gentleman in the number 2 spot.

You can read the rest of my thoughts in the CD review I posted in April here: https://lowryagency.wordpress.com/2013/04/03/cd-review-maragold-by-maragold/

 

 

2. The Winery Dogs

The Winery Dogs

The Winery Dogs CD is a masterpiece of blues rock featuring guitar virtuoso and underrated singer Richie Kotzen, former Mr. Big band mate and bass virtuoso Billy Sheehan and of course Mike Portnoy widely regarded as one the best drummers alive today. They only reason this wasn’t #1 on my list is because it is basically a Richie Kotzen solo album. It wasn’t different enough from I hear from his usual work. Not that that is a bad thing, it just wasn’t as suprising as our #1 placement. I won’t bore you with my thoughts twice as you can read them in this CD Review I did here: https://lowryagency.wordpress.com/2013/07/31/the-winery-dogs-cd-review-by-david-lowry/

 

 

 

3. Steve Lukather – Transition

Steve Lukather - Transition

Legendary studio guitarist and founding member of the band Toto, Steve Lukather released his 6th solo CD Transition in 2013 and it is brilliant. Well pretty much everything Steve touches is but this CD really hit home with solid songwriting, relevant topics and a more natural guitar sound. As always Steve’s playing was melodic and amazing and his ability to evoke many different moods with music is a rare thing from most bands these days. Here is my CD review for Transition: https://lowryagency.wordpress.com/2013/02/07/cd-review-transitions-by-steve-lukather/ 

 

 

4. Queensryche

Queensryche - Queensryche

After all the drama settled and the band Queensryche was able to get their music out, it was a treat to the ears and it felt like coming home! This is the Queensryche CD we have been waiting for since “Empire.” The band has returned with a strong singer, strong songs and a revived sound that takes us back to classic Queensryche and puts a smile on all our faces.

 

 

 

 


 

5. Dream Theater

Dream Theater - Dream Theater

Prog rock legends return in 2013 with the self-title “Dream Theater” and a return to a more melodic feel with less heaviness which isn’t a bad thing. Dream Theater broke through with 1992’s “Images and Words” one of my Top 3 CD’s of all time and this new CD has a bit of that in it. Dream Theater has come full circle with this project and the addition of Mike Mangini has fueled the creativity machine to bring forth the best Dream Theater effort in years. Don’t get me wrong, they have never put out a bad CD. This is just a touch above the more recent efforts.

 

 

6. Stryper – No More Hell to Pay

Stryper - No More Hell To Pay

 

Stryper returns in full force on this CD! Their strongest effort since “To Hell With The Devil,” this is the CD we have been waiting for since the return of the band. Michael Sweet is in fine form vocally and the songs are hook laden and in your face at the same time. Stryper has always been a talented band and underrated musicians as well as excellent live performers. This CD just gives us reason to make sure and not the miss the tour!

 

 

7. Delana Steven & The Beggar Saints

DeLana Stevens and The Beggar Saints

This is the biggest surprise on this list as DeLana Stevens & The Beggar Saints are a local Nashville band that is trudging through this morass of a music business trying to make it. When they sent me this CD to listen to, I was blown away by how great the songs were. DeLana and her band learned what many do not, how to write a really, really good hook and rock song. It was so good, I did a review immediately. You can read that here: https://lowryagency.wordpress.com/2013/08/15/delana-stevens-and-the-beggar-saints-cd-review/. DeLana Stevens & company bring back a classic rock sound very much like Heart and Delana is one of the most powerful and accurate singers I have ever heard. Watch this band as I am hoping for big things to come for them.

 

 


Practice? Yeah Right…


The Lowry Agency

I can’t tell you how many bands I have been a part of or worked where people would show up for rehearsal and someone (usually more than one) hadn’t practiced the material to be gone over in our rehearsal time. This is extremely bad when it is music that has been played for years within the band and the members can’t remember their parts or are just involved in to many other projects to take one seriously enough for it to be viable. In my experience it tends to be the same people over and over again. Always with some excuse whether it be work, family etc… but mostly it’s just people who don’t have the drive and discipline to take it serious. They would rather watch their favorite shows on T.V. or go out partying with their friends. This is a major problem within a band and needs to be dealt with immediately.

This Meme popped on my Facebook stream yesterday and it is of course an ageless problem within the entertainment community especially music. I consider it one of the major roadblocks for entertainers to overcome in order to have a decent shot at making it in the business. It is extremely important to deal with this sort of behavior immediately. How can a band or entertainer make it if the people involved are dead set on making it happen. That means putting forth every effort to be prepared. I for the life of me can’t figure out why so many musicians struggle with being professional or understand how completely critical it is for them to be prepared at all times for anything that might pop up. I quit trying to help bands get booked because they were never ready for a last minute gig. Their set lists weren’t done because they only knew so many songs and what was usually the reason? Someone in the band wasn’t learning the material or just didn’t think it was necessary to have a nice set list to draw from.

This eats away at the core of a band. People start to get irritated with each other and stop trusting each other. People will start to develop a “why should I bother” attitude because they get tired of working harder than everyone else but the people who keep letting the band down, expect to be equal partners and get paid the same while doing almost none of the work or having the work ethic it takes to succeed. This is about the most disrespectful behavior you can have in a band. Many of the other members are sacrificing time with family, friends or other things they love to have a real shot at it, but there is always some asshat that just doesn’t get it.

This isn’t a business that pays you for showing up. This is a business that pays you for hard work, work ethic, being prepared and having the ability to act at a moments notice if you are needed to fulfill a last minute opening. This also plays into people working with you. I make it abundantly clear from the get go before working withy any artist that we won’t work bust our ass for an artist that isn’t busting theirs. If this is a problem, they get cut. How can you expect anyone to bust their ass and do all the grunt work you don’t want to do, when you can’t even do the one thing you are brought into do. Learn your songs and put on the best show possible. You can’t do that if you spend all your rehearsal time learning songs that should have already been learned before the rehearsal at home. Rehearsals are for working on song structure, correcting small mistakes, developing set lists and most importantly performance. NOT LEARNING SONGS!

This of course is not a new revelation by any stretch of the imagination but yet things never change. The business is constantly changing, but musicians don’t. Same old story, same old song and dance. It’s a new business kids, gone are the deals, the money and now the people willing to working for nothing to bust their ass for a bunch of lazy musicians. Get with the program or get out.

To all bands and entertainers out there. Deal with this now or you will get absolutely nowhere. If it is a repetitive problem, fire them. Find band members that are willing to give 100% to make it happen or prepare to sit in anonymity for a very long time if not forever.

Good luck!


DeLana Stevens and The Beggar Saints CD Review


DeLana Stevens and The Beggar Saints

DeLana Stevens has been a Nashville staple for years now and unfortunately Nashville isn’t really a rock town because they are sitting on one of the best voices I have heard in this town easily. I wrote an article on her live performance for Metalholic Magazine a year ago here: http://metalholic.com/delana-stevens-and-the-beggar-saints-tune-up-nashville/. Miss Stevens is simply one of the most underrated performers in Nashville period. Not only can she sing with the best of them but she is a better performer than almost all of them when it comes to actually emoting and connecting with the audience. When DeLana Stevens sings you feel it. Everywhere. This is the kind of vocalist that shakes your soul and brings feelings up out of you that make you want to blush at the minimum.

Her new CD “DeLana Stevens and The Beggar Saints” is a tour de force of smokey, sexy vocals on a bed of rock guitar and hook laden songs that most bands wish they could write and pull off. A song by DeLana Stevens and The Beggar Saints means a song that is for the song only. Nothing out of place. Nothing distracting. Just pure solid rock and roll with tinge of souther rock or country hear and there. There isn’t a week on track on this CD and makes you scratch your head in wonder WTF is going on with people to let this artist sit here while others with questionable ability become millionaires.

I don’t know DeLana’s story or how her career has gone, but I know this. She deserves a lot more than what she is getting press and attention wise. This is an artist with serious vocal chops and ability with a smart band behind her that support her musically like they should. If you are looking for an artist to get behind with drive, actual talent and great hit potential songs than this is the one. To say otherwise is completely foolish.

To write a proper review for this CD is almost impossible and would be incredibly long as I truly love every song and it is hit after hit. Let me just say, if you don’t buy this, you are missing something big.

Track 1 – Drown: A mid tempo rocker opened with a finger picked distorted guitar and and from the first line you already know this song is going to be good. A nice pre-chorus build that draws you straight into a great chorus. A very strong opening track that lays down the law and announces DeLana is here to rock you out of your boots.

Track 2 – Forbidden: The new single track opens with a slinky little guitar line with arpeggiated chords setting a nice tone from the start. The layers are nicely done here with plenty of space for the song to breathe. Another incredibly strong track that pulls you in a different direction but still rocks and has your ears orgasming at DeLana’s seductive voice. It’s almost like she is right there singing in your ear. Chills…….

Track 3 – Leave on the Lights: This track starts slower but yet somehow the intensity from DeLana’s vocals are always there. It’s like she is singing into your soul. Another strong effort and deeply engaging song.

Track 4 – Sidewalk Prophet: Big power chord opening with a shift to another slinky guitar line. A sexy, fun song that I am sure will lead to lots of dirty dancing on the floor.

Track 5 – Fantasy: a slow burner that opens with DeLana harmonizing with herself. A powerful song with a huge chorus and shows DeLana’s ability to keep that intensity in her vocals no matter where the song takes her.

Track 6 – Bohemian Grove: Another mid to slow tempo burn. A nice use of rhythm in both the music and vocal lines.

Track 7 – Damaged: Slow, a bit sad and real. DeLana brings out the things we want to say but never want to be vulnerable enough to do so.

Track 8 – I Got Even: A completely different feel for the intro. Slow, chordal as well as ringing open strings with DeLana’s vocals echoed. Jumps right into a up tempo, in your face chorus.

Track 9 – Nobody: A up beat song, one of my favorites actually. Great hook with a fun groove and breakdown section that sets up the return of the big chorus.

Track 10 – Give a Little: This is a raucous raise your beer party party song. A decent hook and an upbeat end to the CD with a “play” on words to be heard not told.

I don’t have the details  of the CD as to who wrote the songs or who produced it but it is all top notch. Whom ever wrote the songs are very talented and the production is great. The band is I am sure much more capable than they show because they play only what is necessary for the song. There are bright spots for them but it’s all only to enhance the song and never a showmanship this. Complete musical maturity in the songwriting and playing. You never feel like you are listening to the same song on this CD like with so many artists. The writing is so well done and the hooks so completely their own and different, each song is it’s own experience and always for the better.

This is rock and roll at it’s best. Stripped down, sexy as hell and leaving space for the music and vocals to tug at your soul. I don’t like to compare one artist to another or say they are like so and so because it’s an injustice the artist I am reviewing. DeLana Stevens is the simply the best rock artist in Nashville. Her vocals can stand with anybody you can think of and her presence is big enough to tower above everything going on around her. It is her show and she owns it. More artists should learn this ability.

There is nothing packaged, corporate about this band. What you see is what you get and it’s everything we loved about the huge acts of the 70’s with today’s twist and possibly a better singer. Certainly one better than we are used to hearing today.

This CD is up there with The Winery Dogs, Maragold, Steve Lukather as one of the best CD’s of the year. 10 out of 10 stars emphatically!

Get a free copy of the song “Forbidden” here: http://www.delanastevens.net/ and hear for yourself your next favorite artist.

The Lowry Agency is in no way associated with DeLana Stevens and The Beggar Saints. All statements are my opinion and mine alone.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/delanastevensband?ref=br_tf

Twitter: https://twitter.com/DeLanaStevens


The Winery Dogs CD Review by David Lowry


The Winery Dogs

 

To call The Winery Dogs a supergroup would be a injustice in my mind. Sometimes supergroups are set up to sell CD’s not that is a bad thing and certainly not all did that with that intention in mind, but sometimes it just seems like a ploy and most don’t last very long. Even though The Winery Dogs consist of three of the most world renowned musicians especially in the rock world, this doesn’t feel anything like a super group. The three piece power trio of bass legend Billy Sheehan, world renown drummer Mike Portnoy, and guitar virtuoso Richie Kotzen who is also the ridiculously talented singer brings us the biggest wall of sound sings King’s X burst on the scene back in the 1980’s. If for some reason you are not familiar with these musicians, just click on their names to view their website and history. You won’t find a more accomplished 3 piece on the planet.

Anyone who knows me knows that these three musicians are probably my top three favorite in the world so when I heard they were coming together to put out a CD I was excited beyond belief to say the least. Anyone who knows me also knows that my favorite musician in the world is Richie Kotzen and it is about time the world finally hear him on a platform that show cases more than just his guitar playing which is what he has long been considered one of the best players in the world. Richie Kotzen’s vocalizations are reminiscent of the Philadelphia soul last really heard by Daryl Hall. If you ever go back through Richie’s solo catalog and listen, you will be amazed at how this guy has remained under the radar for so long. Having interviewed Richie twice on my radio show “Live From Music City,” I can tell you this guy is as humble as they come and more talented than just about everyone who thinks they are God’s gift to music.  Billy Sheehan and Mike Portnoy are no stranger to the musical limelight as they are widely interviewed for their well known virtuosity and have transcended their instruments in the mainstream to become household names in the music world.

The Winery Dogs are a classic rock trio that brings back the art of songwriting, melodies and bursts of virtuosity at just the right moments in songs which of course is a sign of musical maturity in their songwriting. Musicians like this could easily blow are minds with their virtuosity as it is specifically what all three are know for, but The Winery Dogs aren’t about that. This is rock at it finest level and one of the most poignant examples of how to be  incredibly creative, have a completely unique sound, using virtuoso talent and musical knowledge to showcase all of it and put out one of the best rock CD’s in years let alone 2013.

The first single  and track “Elevate” is an up tempo rocker with an incredibly hooky chorus that captures you right away with it’s charm and attitude. Richie and Billy have doubled instrumental lines that add something that in today’s rock that you don’t really hear anymore as well a very cool break down section again another lost art in todays rock songwriting. The versus are a nice contrast to the chorus as they have a slow, bluesy, slightly darker feel before bursting into the chorus which brings the song up to another level. Great rock song and great feel with of course amazing playing and a smoking melodic guitar solo by Richie.

The second single and also track “Desire” is another smoking rocker that opens with Richie vamping chords and then settles into a sexy groove pushed by just the bass and drums. The chorus drives the song into a new gear and rings with a simple catchiness that keeps you singing the song all day long in your head. The bridge really separates the rest of the song like a bridge should followed by a break down that showcases Billy and Richie again and keeps the song very fresh. The solo is a simple statement by Richie that is melodic with a slow build to a frenzy finish.

The CD’s fourth track “I’m No Angel” is my personal favorite on the CD and starts with a very sexy bluesy guitar line and by Richie that sets a mood that really allows the lyrics to stand out. The broody feel of the verse is highlighted by an up lifting pre-chorus and chorus. The way that the band highlights the parts of their songs with their melodic lines and creativity really shine in this song. Richie’s voice brings a haunted quality to the lyrics that make this song so relatable to many of us I am sure. Richie’s solo’s are melodic, phrased beautifully and as always tell a story within the story itself.

The sleeper track is “We Are One” a blistering rocker that strikes out on its own and screams single! The CD closes out with two ballads “The Dying” and “Regret.” Both songs are beautiful, haunting and show incredible depth in the songwriting.

Bottom line: This CD is what every musician who is serious about songwriting and learning to play should aspire to. Being able to play your instrument only allows you be more creative, add colors, textures, melodies and lines to enhance each songs “experience” for the listeners. Being able to create soundscapes should be the goal of every musician. The songwriting is top notch and this CD should not only reinforce the musical abilities of these musicians but showcase their songwriting in a new way that garners respect from the public as a whole. The Winery Dogs allow Richie to stand out and radiate his immense talent and this should solidify him as one the best all around musicians in music today as he does all the lead vocals, guitars and keys on this CD. He singing is among the best in rock today and let this be a statement to the world at how incredibly talented this man is. Take note world, this is simply one of the top 3 rock CD’s of 2013 besides Steve Lukather‘s “Transition” and Maragold ‘s (featuring guitar virtuoso Greg Howe and new vocal powerhouse Meghan Krauss) sef-titled CD . No where on the planet will you find a more talented, musical and gifted band than this. Go buy this now or forever miss out on one the best CD to come out in years.

Find out more about The Winery Dogs here:

www.thewinerydogs.com

https://www.facebook.com/TheWineryDogs

https://twitter.com/TheWineryDogs

 

 

 

 


Why Aren’t People Coming to Your Shows?


The entertainment business is incredibly tough to be in. We all think we are amazing talents and think we should be paid for all of our hard work and what it takes to put on a show of any kind but that isn’t the reality. The reality is it’s hard to separate people from their hard earned income and with all the entertainment being thrown at them from every angle now days, it’s very hard to capture their attention.

This is why is so incredibly critical that word of mouth spreads about your show the entice people to your future shows. It almost always takes lots and lots of shows before you start to see the crowds you want but there is a strategy to doing it and most importantly, it has to be an experience they will remember and always talk about.

The other day, Dana White of the promotions company UFC came out and said “If you want to get paid, you don’t want people doing the wave during your fight.You want them talking about you on Monday and Tuesday and that isn’t going to happen if they aren’t paying attention to your fight” (paraphrased.) This is completely true of any form of entertainment. If you can’t get people to talk about how completely amazing your show or performance was, you are not giving the audience the experience they are paying for and hence, you don’t deserve to get paid no matter how hard you worked nor should you expect them to. This isn’t an hourly paying gig based on the hours you put in. Lot’s of people work hard (most likely in the wrong areas) but may not be talented enough, visionary enough or a good enough producer to put on the entertainment experience of a life time.

This is the truth. Hard work doesn’t determine getting paid. Buying gear doesn’t determine getting paid. Nothing determines getting paid other than your show putting butts in seats no matter how hard you work or talented you are. This can be a very long and arduous process for any entertainer but it is usually the most common road. Time, effort, talent and an amazing amount of patience are absolutely necessary in the entertainment business. If you aren’t giving the public something that makes them want to part with their money, then you have no one to blame but yourself. You don’t deserve to get paid just for showing up.

Along with talent, planning, intense amounts of practice and the vision to make your dream happen and to also deliver something the public finds value in comes the actual real work that most entertainers don’t want to do and hope others will do for them before they are big enough for anyone to want to. The promotion, booking and business end of things. Somehow the entertainers have to be able to do all of this. It’s obviously very hard and if it was easy, every one would be doing it but they aren’t. However it can be done and there are plenty of examples in the business to prove it. It comes down to will, determination and talent not only to perform but design a show that will provide and experience, not just another so-so show that the public usually gets. They deserve much better than average if they are going to spend money on a ticket plus any other expenses such as drinks, dinner, parking or babysitting etc.

I would estimate that about 95% of what entertainers are putting out there in their performances or shows is completely average or below, yet all I see are entertainers demanding that they should get paid. Paid for what? Mediocrity? I won’t pay you for that. When you send in your material and tell me how amazing you are then that is what I expect. If you aren’t that, if you don’t deliver on your words of your live show, if you don’t put butts in seats or increase your crowd on average over time, then you simply are not as good as you say you are. That is reality. That doesn’t mean give up though. It means you need to re-evaluate your show. Take the time to make adjustments, improve in the areas that need it and learn to put on the show that people wan’t to see. If you don’t, you can’t complain about people not wanting to pay ticket prices. You aren’t providing the value to make it worth the price to them.

You want to sell tickets? Provide the experience that people can’t stop talking about. This means the most well rehearsed, professional dedicated performance you can deliver and it must keep getting better. Until then, you will be mired in mediocrity and low ticket sales and letting the business jade you for your perceived slights. No one owes you a living. In this business, talent, hard work, creativity and vision are all you have. Bring it or go home. Don’t complain about people not coming to your shows when you aren’t giving the very best for them to see.

This is the reality that haunts us all. You and me alike.

Good luck!


What Musicians Can Learn From UFC Fighter Chael Sonnen


Sometimes it amazes me some of the stuff I read on social media. Musicians complaining about other musicians “being posers” on Facebook or wherever trying to act bigger than they are or cooler than other bands. Well #1 that is their job and #2 just because someone takes it that way doesn’t mean that is what they are doing. They are simply trying to build excitement with their fans and followers.

 

Musicians are many times so eager to tear each other down, especially other musicians that seem to be having more success then they are and they don’t understand why or think their band is better and the world just isn’t fair. Of course the music business has very little to do with talent and everything to do with a budget, work ethic and marketability. If talent was the key than most bands have no shot at ever making it and jazz, fusion, classical and opera would reign supreme as that is where most of the worlds best talent truly lies.

 

What musicians have to learn is the art of promoting themselves and some people really struggle with this. They might feel funny about tooting their own horn but unless you have a major PR budget no one is going to do it with out getting paid. Musicians need to quit expecting someone to just help them out on a spec deal as there is no real money in this business anymore for people to work on the “hopes” of a band making it. Learning the art of self-promotion is extremely vital to making it and developing a new audience, gaining advantageous spots on tours etc. This is where they could learn from the UFC fighters.

 

Chael Sonnen was a middle of the road UFC fighter. He was always a very good wrestler but he wasn’t winning the big ones and certainly not all his fights. He was a quite, respectful fighter and never caused any controversy then suddenly there was a transformation. Chael came back after some time off and was a completely different media presence. All the sudden he was a smack talker. He learned the art of self-promotion and has talked himself into title fights he didn’t deserve necessarily. Now I am not taking anything away from his talent, but looking at rankings and records, he probably normally wouldn’t have been the one picked for these fights.

 

However, Chael learned to promote himself in the media to such an extent he became a major Pay-Per-View sell. Chael also never backs down from a fight; he doesn’t care what anyone else says about him, what the other fighter’s think of him or anything except for accomplishing his career goals. Now some people have said that behind the scene Chael is nothing like his smack-talking persona, he is a nice guy and an extremely hard worker, not the hard worker part. Chael has proven himself to be ready to go to his promoter the UFC by always being prepared not only being in shape to fight at a moments notice but that he will kick the shit out of the media schedule. He is a marketing machine and that is exactly what promoters want and look for. Their job is to sell tickets and the talent needs to understand that and me a major presence in making that happen. It keeps Chael employed and bumps up his paycheck quite dramatically.

 

You see, musicians need to quit worrying about what their local musicians buddies say and think. It’s not their goal or dream, it’s yours. It’s not their image; it’s yours to worry about. Who the hell cares what band ABC says about you online or behind your back. This business is nothing but shit talkers talking behind your back. It is your job to put out the very best show, product every night and to somehow get people to notice you, talk about you and most important bring more people to your next gig.

 

Whether or not you chose to be as controversial as Chael Sonnen is not my point, my point is Chael learned what he needed to do to separate himself from all the other UFC fighters looking for their shot beyond his fight skill which was already considerable. Chael talked himself into positions he probably shouldn’t have been able to be in because he created those spots by his selfless self-promotion. Chael has now secured himself a very good future outside of fighting as he now also a very popular TV host due to his self-promotion efforts. This is every band or musicians job period, to separate your band from the mass of white noise from the millions of others bands vying for a spot in the limelight.

 

Let me warn you though, do not do this if you can’t back up your talk. If your band isn’t as good as you say or your live show is just average, don’t even bother. Work your product to be the best, most creative and original thing your fan base will experience and then go out and self-promote the hell out of yourself. Don’t worry about anyone else but you and your goals.

 

Pull up your bootstraps, dig deep in the trenches and become a self-promotion powerhouse. You owe yourself that much in order to achieve your dream. Anything else is a waste of time.

 

Good Luck!


Maragold Has Something Most Bands Don’t.


Maragold

Earlier I was looking at my numbers for this blog and was completely amazed at how well it was doing the last couple days based on one CD review for the band Maragold. Yesterday when I released it it was already doing double it’s average daily but then around 11:00pm CST the band posted it on Facebook and holy crap did it explode. It his had more views by 10 times the amount of any other CD review or musician spotlight I have written. Here is the key, each one posted it pretty much on their personal and band page on Facebook. Most bands don’t do this. They maybe post it once on their band page and not on their personal pages and they interacted with their fans about it. When I released it in the morning two of the band members and the band twitter account RT’d it once and that was it. For further reference on this please read my blog “Creating The “Buzz,” It’s Your Responsibility.”

What does this mean? It means that Maragold has found a way to reach it’s audience like no other band I have reviewed for or spotlighted. It means “true” fans not Facebook likes are extremely excited about them. It means they have actually offered up something the public wants. They did this in spite of having never released a CD and the only member of the band with a real name is was co-founder Greg Howe who is a well known guitar instrumentalist. Well known being relative in the world of music. Yes most guitar players know who he is, but the world doesn’t. Please note that Maragold didn’t ask me for a review. I just did it because when I listened to the CD it was so good I really had no choice.

Everyday on Facebook I see bands complaining about how hard it is or how the industry keeps people down etc… That is complete bunk. Is it hard yes but most bands don’t work hard enough, give the public something they want to buy or shoot themselves in the foot with poor promotion and bad social media skills. Is it anyone else’s fault you can’t make it? No. For whatever reason, Maragold has touched an audience with no prior CD, no real history of gigging, nothing but the past success of guitar player Greg Howe and each other individuals past endeavors. They made it happen without anything other than hard work, determination, incredible talent and most importantly at this stage knowing how to build up a release. Now because of this, hopefully with continued hard work, the songs which are amazing,  will be the deciding factor in their long term success.

This audience interaction is what every band should be striving for, for without it, you have nothing.

Pre-order the Maragold CD here: http://www.maragoldband.com/


CD Review “Maragold” by Maragold


maragold_albumcover

Maragold

Maragold is a rock band founded by guitar virtuoso Greg Howe and bassist Kevin Vicchione. For those not in the guitar community, Greg is a world renown player  and has played with such artist as Justin Timberlake, N’Sync, Christina Aguilara, Michael Jackson, Rihana, Lady Antebellum, P Diddy, T-Pain, Salt and Peppa not to mention jazz fusion legends like Victor Wooton, Dennis Chambers and other world reknown players like Richie Kotzen and Stu Hamm. Actually Greg’s song “Jump Start” is my favorite guitar instrumental of all time. So needless to say I had high expectations when I heard about this project and holy shit does it deliver. Greg has the very rare ability to be a virtuoso and still play for the song. His solo’s are so amazing and vintage Greg but sound completely original in a sea of completely unoriginal players who all sound the same in today’s scene. You will never hear a “typical” lick or sound from Greg but you will be amazed and wonder why more players don’t strive for a unique voice like his.

First let me tell you about the other musicians on the project. Singer and relative newcomer Meghan Krauss is the best female rock singer to come out since Sass Jordan. This lady can sing with the best of them and evokes that excitement from inside you that you so rarely hear from singers anymore, as they are all canned and predictable. Meghan will knock you on your ass and remind you why you listen to rock in the first place.

Bass Player Kevin Vecchione is a SOLID player. Kevin is obviously capable of so much more and that is the beauty of his playing here. He plays exactly what is needed for the song, never anymore and drives the buss with drummer Gianluca Palmieri so that the pocket is strong and every song leads you like it should. I have a feeling we will be hearing a lot more about Kevin in the years to come as opportunities arise to showcase his immense talent.

Drummer Gianluca Palmieri is the epitome of a “pocket” player on this CD. It’s so great to hear players that know how to play for the song no matter how good a musician they are. It can be very tempting to play too much or show off and while Gianluca plays some incredibly fresh grooves to allow you to see his true talent without showing off, it’s never over stated and is truly a part of the songwriting as opposed to just being a drum track. The rhythm section of Vecchione and Palmieri is as good as it gets and something all players should listen to and learn from.

The single “Evergreen Is Golder” is a straight out knock you on your ass “Hello world I am Meghan Krauss and I am going to kick your ass!” statement. A great rock song with a blistering solo and incredible hook. Written by Greg, Kevin and Greg’s brother Al Howe, this song is a hit single through and through. I hope to God someone gets behind this for radio. Hell I’ll push it myself.

“Saturday Sun” and “Lullaby” are other rockers that shine, no pun intended. Another high point for me was “Paradigm Tsunami.” This CD is not your typical rock record by any means. It has blues, jazz, rhythmic displacement and all kinds of cool elements that really bring out the color and flavor of the songs. Meghan takes advantage of every opportunity is now in the “best singer you have never heard” of  category along with Richie Kotzen.

“Maragold” is a must buy CD and one of the top 2 CD releases of 2013 along with Steve Lukather’s new CD “Transition” and the best rock CD since “Forty Deuce” featuring Richie Kotzen. You can no longer say there aren’t any good rock bands anymore. Maragold may be just what the hurting rock genre needed, a good old shot of in your face, kicking your ass rock n’ roll. Thank God for Maragold.

Five out of Five ass kicking stars.

Go buy it now here:  https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/evergreen-is-golder-single/id619283574 NOW!


Common Sense… To Post or Not To Post


A couple years ago I wrote a blog on artists of any genre to include music, acting, variety, writing etc…, using social media as their soapbox for the personal political or religious beliefs and the possible cost of doing so. Now I am writing a new one to help clarify the importance of being professional especially when hot political and religious topics like what we just went through with marriage equality. Today I received an email that a financial backer would not fund a project because of a certain artists rants on Facebook. This has cost 20,000 dollars in funding for the project. This morning when I woke up to the email saying basically that they will not fund a show with someone in it with such an obvious hateful stance on something we believe in so if I wanted the funding I had to get rid of that artist and replace him with another or they wouldn’t fund it. Now this may not be fair but it is business. It’s their money, they don’t have to freely give of their hard earned cash to something or someone they don’t believe in. These projects are opportunities for artists to not only get paid, but hopefully grow their fan base and brand as well as gain crucial experience in the industry. This is an artist that I have to talked to before about this many times and now it has comeback to not only bit me in the ass, but the artist and possibly every other artist involved with the production. You must remember, that people use Google to research what they are funding! Don’t think people won’t notice what you are saying. Never put yourself in the position of losing funding if you can at all help it.

I know you all think we have free speech and we shouldn’t be censored, but with free speech comes responsibility. If you are an artist of any kind of entertainment and you feel so strongly that you should be allowed to speak your mind at anytime because you have free speech, then by all means feel free to do so. Just do it on someone elses dime. Once you decide to work with other people, you have a responsibility to them and anyone else involved to make sure whatever you are working on becomes successful, not to cause controversy. Take a look at what has happened to Michelle Shocked recently for a sarcastic comment at a live show. All her tour dates where canceled in response because of her free speech. Now certainly Michelle has the right to free speech, she has every right to support her beliefs however she wants, but there comes a price with it. Now she is holding “sit-ins” in front of tiny clubs that canceled her with tape across her mouth saying “silenced by fear.”

What about the Dixie Chicks? They got nailed for one comment on stage. Of course being in a foreign country and slamming your President is never a good thing but they didn’t see anything wrong with it and the result was radio stations across the country quit playing their music for years and huge loss of fan base. They had a slight comeback but they never achieved the same level of success. There are many more examples of this I am sure.

You see, this is a BUSINESS. Promoters, venues, financial backers or whomever have their own personal beliefs and if they don’t line up with yours and you say something controversial then don’t be surprised when you loose the gig. They may do it out of fear of losing ticket sales or they may just want to not support your beliefs and outspoken way of handling the issues. In Hollywood it has never been a secret that if you favor one side of politics it could be much harder to get roles. This is nothing new whether it is right or wrong. People are people and they like to work with people they feel they have things in common with and understand them.

I have seen so many artists or promoters on Facebook fail miserably at Kickstarter programs or have lagging ticket sales and they are always starting controversial topics on social media. Do they ever wonder why no one backs them? Good chance part of it at least is your rants about your beliefs let alone the quality of show being provided. I have even been emailed about some of these people asking me to talk with them and I have nothing to do with them. I don’t work with or represent them in any way shape or form.

So here are my recommendations on how to handle this if you are an artist. First of all don’t post anything controversial on your social media pages especially business ones. If you have a personal one with your “stage name” and you post a ton of business on it, it’s now a business page. Either focus on your business page for marketing or hide your personal one from the general public and Google search engines and make it for friends only so your personal “opinions” don’t affect anyone working with you but you and you still get to stand up for what you believe in. If you are in a collective group of any kind say a band, acting troup etc… make sure you talk and set some ground rules so one else suffers from someone’s rants on Facebook. If you are “political” artist then I assume you already know the consequences of your actions and that is fine. If that is your vision go for it. Just make sure you are open about it with everyone you work with. You have every right as a human being to voice your opinion, you don’t have the right to ruin someone elses chances with your opinion. Be responsible with your free speech and you will benefit from it. Once you are big as U2 you can say what you want, because now you can afford to live if everyone ends up hating you and never buys another ticket to a gig. Remember especially here in America, the country is very polarized politically and if you alienate one half of your possible audience with your own personal political views, you are in for a very long hard road to success. The beautiful thing about social media is you can’t post what ever you want, it’s your page, your right to do so. The bad thing about social media you can post what ever you want.

If you are a newer promoter, venue, talent buyer etc… avoid artists like this like the plague. Hire only professional artists that understand it’s a business and want to make sure that every event they do comes off as professional and successful as possible. You can’t afford to loose ticket sales on artists that don’t care about anything but themselves. As a promoter check with an entertainment attorney to see if you should have some recourse to come back at them and sue them for damages if an artist causes you to loose money like this. Have set guidelines for your events and make sure the artists are clear on them and also make sure you research the history of the artist. I made the mistake of trusting someone to be professional and it has cost me.

I have said it before and I will say it again, as an artist trying to make it in the very, very hard industry, you can’t give anyone a reason to say “no” to you. Do you really want to lose possible ticket or merch sales just so you “rant” on social media? Why work so hard to make it then if you are willing to take such risky chances? This business is already way to risky for most to even try it and now you want to add to the risk? Your marketing, performance, attitude, media savvy should all be top notch. You more than likely don’t have a PR department to “spin” your free speech or questionable actions so you have to be able to do all this yourselves. If you aren’t willing to be professional at all times with your brand there are plenty who are and will take your spot on the roster or gig.

I know you won’t all agree with me and that is OK and I certainly support free speech, it’s a matter of knowing when to exercise it. If you are going to exercise it, do it responsibly, not in anger or hate, refrain from pointing fingers at one side or the other. Just make a nice, solid statement that isn’t inflammatory and leave it at that. Don’t go posting on everyone’s time line that doesn’t agree with you, or posting those sarcastic photo’s everyone seems to like to create. I have learned from my mistakes and will handle things differently with artists. Artists won’t be costing me money anymore.

Good luck!


Originality… What Does Elvira Have To Do With It.


Elvira

When you look back at people who have made a very successful career at entertainment and are still going strong decades after launching it’s hard to think of many still around especially one that is still a marketing dream come true. This is where Elvira (aka) Cassandra Peterson excels. Elvira was launched in 1981 by Cassandra and to this day is one of the most iconic characters in entertainment. She has created a brand that encompasses 400+ product licenses, the most sold Halloween costume ever, music CD’s, books, pinball machines, guitars and the list goes on. Finding truly iconic characters these days is hard work. Most are known for their personal problems not their originality. Tell me the last time you heard anything negative about Elvira? Her success is due to her originality, extremely well defined character and marketing.

Why do I bring this up? Because it could be you. You could be the next Elvira, Kiss, Alice Cooper, or whomever you can think of that are still around 30+ years later even after their hay day. Sometimes these things happen by accident. Cassandra probably wasn’t thinking that Elvira would turn into this iconic character, but she did and Cassandra took full advantage of it. Now I have never interviewed Cassandra. I did know her sister back in Colorado Springs however. She hung out a bar called “The Gardens” that I worked back in the early 90’s. I remember talking with her. How proud she was of Cassandra and all she had accomplished. Cassandra hit a gold mine with her character, probably had a decent team behind her to capitalize on her character and today Elvira is as big as ever and her cult legacy lives on. She is all over Facebook, Pinterest and anything Halloween.

Sometimes as entertainers we take ourselves to seriously. I read on Facebook the other day a band posting about how they were “real” and they didn’t care about image etc… So just shoot yourself in the foot why don’t you. This is a lame excuse for people to not put in the work for thinking outside the box, finding something original and running with it. You can do this and still maintain your sense of you or who you are without sacrficing your “realness,” whatever the hell that means.

Everyday people say, “if people would just get behind me, invest in me then I would prove that I am worth it.” So what exactly are they getting behind? What are they selling? Are you sellable the way you are now? Why would anyone want to invest in your brand if you don’t really have one? What is going to make you stand out from the millions of other entertainers looking to get noticed? We are looking for stars, not our next door neighbors.

Now I am not saying you have to go get “gothed” up to be noticed. I am saying that you need to be original, marketable and dedicated to working you butt off. If you want longevity in this industry, which from what you all say about how you wish you could do it full time and that it’s all you want to do, then you need to be willing to put in some development, take some risks and forget what every other lame ass next to you is saying because they will only tear you down especially once you start having success.

Be bold, be brave, be energetic and works twice as hard as you think you need to. You see, you need to be ready to move on to the big time like Cassandra was. Elvira was born out of a need for a character for a classic horror “B” movie TV show that was being brought back to life. Cassandra had one character already and merged it with the “Elvira” concept to fill the TV show need. Once the opportunity knocks, you need to able to act on it. Cassandra did and look what happened. This couldn’t have happened without Cassandra’s creativity to come up with the original character. Once you get there, it only get’s harder and busier. You think you are busy now? Just wait…. Take the time to “develop” yourself into something the public will purchase. Don’t you think Cassandra thought it was worth it?

Good luck!

Find out more about Elvira here: www.elvira.com

Elvira (@TheRealElvira)
@lowryagency Great post! XX