Tag Archives: Pop

The Lowry Agency vBlog – Introduction


Welcome to my new video blog! I’ll try and put out a series of video blogs as well as my regular blog to be better able to communicate with you. Please feel free to comment or add suggestions for topics!

Stay tuned for more updates and thank you for watching!

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Hannah Ford – Drums Renaissance Woman


By David Lowry

In our second installment of our “Musician Spotlight” blog we are showcasing an amazing young talent in drummer Hannah Ford. When I say amazing, I mean more than just her ability on her chosen instrument. Having met Hannah, her family, having attended one of her clinics and watching her use of her endorsements, opportunities and social media, this is one artist that has really learned what this business is about and what it takes to make it. More importantly is she hasn’t lost focus on why she does it. As important as the “business” sides of things are in music, Hannah has somehow avoided becoming jaded, negative and still has a childlike love for playing. Hannah attended the Chicago College of Performing Arts and still works with multiple Grammy award-winning drummer Paul Wertico to constantly refine her skills. Hannah has also worked with music legends like Jeff Berlin, Wynton Marsalis, Ignacio Berroa and Butch Miles.

From a technical perspective Hannah is road ready for any gig. She has the chops, creativity and energy to drive the bus for any artist or band. Her performances are always energetic, engaging and her smile when playing is just as attention capturing as her skills or performance. She really is the whole package. Being an attractive young female, it would be easy to dismiss her skills and say, “oh, it’s all because of her looks,” which would be an incredible disservice to Hannah. She has substance, skills, and a drive that just wont quit. She works harder than just about any musician I have ever met and leaves you feeling like you have known her all your life when you meet her. She is engaging and most importantly she is there to inspire others. Hannah makes sure she focuses completely on the person she is talking too and you can see her passion for passing on her love of the drums and encouraging others to follow their dreams. She completely understands how to relate to her fan base and how important they are to her.

Currently Hannah is a rock band called “Bellevue Suite,” has a tour she puts on for her “Peace, Love & Drums” multi-media show and recently did some shows with bassist Nik West. Hannah is also doing workshops for Guitar Center, a judge for the “Hit Like a Girl” 2012 contest and is regular a feature on the drumchannel.com. In the recent past she has played with the fusion trio “Pandorum,” played drums for the musical “White Noise” produced by Whoopi Goldberg that ran for two months at the Royal George Theater in Chicago and the Hannah Ford Band.

Hannah and her father/manager Dave Ford with PLAD Productions have done an absolutely incredible job of marketing her without the money that everyone says you need in today’s music industry. Both are dedicated and hard working individuals that strive to make great things happen for Hannah’s career. It also says a lot about their relationship and family dynamic to be able to pull this off without all the drama many entertainment families go through.

Hannah is endorsed by: Gretsch, Zildjian, Gibraltar, Toca, Vater, Kelly Shu Concepts, Shure microphones, Wornstar Clothing, ThunderEcho Drums, Prentice Practice Pads, Roland, MaxHeads Custom Bass Drum Heads, and Evans. Quite honestly, I have never seen an artist work as hard to promote her endorsements and utilizes them to the full potential they should be used. She is one of the few artists the get the power of her endorsements and what you can accomplish with them if you are creative, hard working and are marketing to the hilt.

Hannah is rare jewel in the music world. She understands what it takes, works hard to get there and does it happily. She has set her self up since childhood to be as well rounded a musician as she could be. The breadth of her skills as a drummer, a businessperson, a marketer and being a genuinely nice person to work with are her major strength. While other musicians are out trying to be a rock star, Hannah is a rock star and is also building a career that most will never have because they don’t get it like Hannah does.

For more information about Hannah Ford please check out the following links:

www.hannahforddrums.com

https://twitter.com/#!/hannahforddrums

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Hannah-Ford-Fan-Page/111758348891232

At the time of this writing The Lowry Agency and Hannah Ford have no affiliation with each other.


What Makes A Good Front Man?


One of the biggest and most important things in live performance is the strength of the person fronting your band. This is a major area where lots of bands trying to make it need the most help. Take a look at the most popular front men/women of all time and ask yourself, “What is it about them that the audience connects with?”

Legendary front men or women like David Lee Roth (arguably the best front man ever), Mick Jagger, David Coverdale, Anne Wilson, Paul Stanley or Steven Tyler can give you great insight into what it takes to get your band to the next level. Doing your research into the greats and implementing what you learn can help make your band “larger than life” and allow you to capture the attention of the crowd you are playing too. Not all front men are electrifying or great looking but are still incredibly successful, just look at Ozzy Osbourne. Some front men/women are quirky or odd like Mick Jagger but there are two things they all have in common, they all have a very distinct style and presence and they all live for being on that stage. They revel in it. There is no doubt in their mind that they are where they belong. This allows them to own the stage like no one else. This is critical for successfully drawing in a crowd, creating unforgettable live shows and growing your fan base. It also means they work like dogs to keep their music out their and in front of peoples faces. Depending on the genre of music you are in, the front man or woman attributes my need to vary to certain style, but one thing always is constant, they always command the stage.

Let’s take a look at a very talented front man as an example. Gary Cherone has fronted the hit rock band Extreme and the legendary Van Halen. He is also currently fronting a band called Hurtsmile with his brother Mark. Gary has a very theatrical, animated and energetic stage presence. Gary’s style isn’t for everybody but it doesn’t have to be, as a matter of fact not one front mans is. Gary owns the stage and because of that, he has been able to front two major bands, one of the biggest rock bands of all time actually. Some people may not think Gary was a good fit for Van Halen but I completely disagree. Gary did his job and he did it well. Go back with an open mind (forget David and Sammy) and watch the live videos from the Van Halen 3 tour concert clips or any Extreme show. Trust me, he wouldn’t have gotten the most coveted front man job in the world if he wasn’t very good at what he did. Gary has captured audiences for years and has a strong fan base having sold over 10 million albums and a #1 hit single with “More Than Words” in Extreme alone. He has an incredibly compelling style and if you listen to the many different genres of songs he did with Extreme or on his solo album you can see how much a of a provocative singer and front man he is.

That charisma that Gary brings to the table is high energy, raw at times very intimate with the slower songs. You can see his theatrical background (he was in “Jesus Christ Superstar”) with his over the top stage presence, which always gives the audience something to look at. He allows them to see that he is completely into and lost in his “zone” during his performance. There is no doubt as to where Gary belongs when he is on stage. You know how much he loves his job every minute of every performance. Watch closely what he does when he isn’t singing such as during guitar solos. Notice how he doesn’t distract from or sing over the other musicians but yet he either adds to the moment or keeps the energy up while waiting for his spot to sing again. Watch how Gary interacts with the crowd and keeps them involved and how he makes them feel each performance is just for them. Watch what he says at the start of the show, in between songs and the end of the night as well. Gary gives it everything he’s got every performance and isn’t worried about the people in the crowd with their arms crossed. By the time the show is over Gary has left everything on the stage and he wins them over with a very honest and real performance. He doesn’t worry about the audience members who are negative. He let’s the people who love the show spread the word. He let’s the system work for him. Gary gives the audience what they want, a real powerful, energetic and professional show. He is a thankful performer and in return, he and the band develop a devoted international fan base and Gary is able to create opportunities very few front men have been able to do.

To many times front men or women don’t really take their jobs seriously or maybe are unfamiliar with everything it really takes to “bring it” to the show. Many are just lazy about preparing for a show. Don’t let this happen to you ever. Take a cue from Firehouse front man C. J. Snare and always be professional and prepared. Treat every show like it’s the most important show you have ever done. You have to learn how to own that stage and work the crowd. You have to “flip the switch” when you get on stage and become that “rock star.” Know what city or venue you are playing in. You should know the names of the bands playing with you that night. Engage your crowd and invite them to your party. You are the host. Bring them in and entertain them. Learn to lead them especially on a night that is tough or there are not very many people in the room and there is not an “energetic” atmosphere. You have to bring the crowd that energy and get them “into” the show.

Go back and do a study of not only your favorite front men or women, but also the ones who are very successful at being that leader. Your job is to constantly improve not only your singing skills but also your stage presence, charisma and speaking skills. Don’t let genres or eras prevent you from learning from the best. You can learn as much from a classical/pop artist like Lara Fabian as you can from a rock star like Brett Michaels.

Just remember that being a great front man or woman continues when you are off the stage as well. It is a 24 hour a day job. We will dive into that next time so stay tuned.

Good Luck!


“Rubicon Cross” EP Review


R U Angry

I get the opportunity to listen to all kinds of new music, and to be honest when it comes to rock/metal over the last few years I am usually very disappointed. It seems that the art of good songwriting and melodic lines have completely gone out the window. I rarely even get to hear good playing, let alone amazing guitar solos or great vocal harmonies. So when CJ Snare, the lead singer of the Grammy award-winning rock band “Firehouse” asked me to listen to his new four song self-titled EP “Rubicon Cross” that he cowrote with “Furyon” guitarist Chris Green, I was very excited. CJ has proven in the past he knows how to write a hit song and has always excelled in the vocal department, so I had fairly high expectations when I first decided to listen to and review this EP.

I have had CJ on my radio show “Live From Music City” a number of times, he even guest hosted with me for its one year anniversary, so I wanted to make sure I was giving this a fair listen and review and not letting my personal feelings cloud my judgment. Therefore, I have taken my time and listened to this EP many, many times. With that being said, please know, I have written this review from as honest and straightforward a point of view as I can with no bias whatsoever.

The first song, “Moving On” starts with an acoustic guitar instrumental and CJ’s vocal lines setting the tone or so we think until about 50 seconds into the song when it picks up into an energetic rock song with a great guitar riff. This song does what so many of them don’t anymore; it uses dynamics very successfully and adds so much more depth and dimension to the feel and mood of the song. Chris Green’s use of space, acoustic playing remind you that there is so much more you can do with a guitar than is being done with most rock music today. The guitar tone here is perfect. It is heavy with plenty of “aunch” but also crystal clear. You can hear everything perfectly which speaks highly of Chris’s ear and the production of this song. CJ has written another lyrically solid song with a good hook and his ability to create great vocal melodies to keep the listener tuned in doesn’t fail here. The guitar solo never strays from its purpose of telling a story within a story. Chris uses octaves and melodic runs very effectively without taking away from the song or feel. Nothing about this song feels out-of-place and the overall arrangement is very strong. “Moving On” sets the tone for the rest of the EP very effectively and is a very strong effort for CJ and Chris.

Song number two, “Next Worst Enemy” starts off strong right out the gate. A heavy, fun guitar riff with a different guitar tone, and to be honest Chris’ use of varying the use of rhythmic patterns and riffs keeps the song fresh at all times. This song has “hit” written all over it, as the hook is strong! CJ brings a great growl to the song but yet keeps the vocal melodies in place and has really excelled here at bringing back the something that is missing in rock music today, fun, while not messing with the integrity of the song. It still rocks your face off and makes you want to pump your fist in the air along with it. Again Chris Green proves he belongs in the big leagues with his guitar solo. Another very melodic song within a song. He never overplays and yet shows that he has the chops to hang with anybody. That is a sign of a mature songwriter and guitar player. There is a lot to be said in that and kudos to Chris for doing exactly what the song needs and nothing else. “Next Worst Enemy” provides a great example in rhythmic syncopation, which just keeps the song punching through without ever plodding or getting lost or boring.

“R U Angry” is the third song on the EP. Starting off mellow but immediately bursting into a great rock riff then settling into a chord arpeggiation for the verse. Chris then picks it up in the pre-chorus with a faster arpeggiation before big chords, single lines and variations in the chorus. Another huge hook for the chorus with a big CJ scream sets the stage for another “I told you so” it’s all in the songwriting moment from CJ. Chris lets it all hang out in this solo. I truly wish that more guitar players would listen to Chris and learn what it means to write a great solo. Chris has brought back something sorely lacking in today’s rock music. Solos with a purpose, statement, melody and just enough flash to make you go wow! The songs are so good that sometimes you forget that they were written out of their experiences and the message shouldn’t be lost on prowess of the individuals and that is another area where CJ tops most vocalists. He keeps you engaged and emotionally tied to the songs so that you experience the meaning behind the lyrics.

“Shine” is the fourth and last song on the EP. It starts off as an acoustic ballad and harkens back to a time when songwriting was about saying something not how outrageous you can be to get attention. As good as CJ is at writing a hook, he never lets the message get lost for the sake of a hit. The song builds a bit in the second verse with addition of clean electric guitars, bass and drums. Chris plays a sweet melodic solo with the use of wah-wah pedal that thankfully sounds like someone who knows how to use it correctly. “Shine” is another solid effort from CJ and Chris that sits perfectly in their wheelhouse of good contemporary songwriting.

In summary, “Rubicon Cross” is a very good EP that should remind people of what good songwriting, talent, production and creativity should bring to the table. Every song works here, there are no filler songs taking up space. CJ and Chris have shown that they have what it takes to make great music that never goes out of style and also the chops to take their songwriting to a different level then most. That is what good song writing is, songs that paint a musical picture in one’s mind and that is exactly what “Rubicon Cross” pulls off.

You can purchase the EP here: http://ht.ly/5JTa9 

Note: At the time of this writing, The Lowry Agency has no affiliation with “Rubicon Cross”, CJ Snare, Chris Green or “Furyon.”


It’s All About The Music… Or Is It?


It’s all about the music . . . Or is it?

And Fools Shine On

The great debate out there is it should be all about the music and not your image. This is true in a perfect world, but in a perfect world, people wouldn’t judge the book by its cover, all the band members would work equally as hard as the one currently doing all the work, and people would actually click on the music before seeing your pics, website or press kit. This isn’t a perfect world, not even close. Don’t get me wrong; I am not downplaying the importance of your songwriting. What I am saying is, if you think that your songwriting alone is going to be enough, then make sure you have the patience of Job. You need every advantage you can get in this business to get noticed.

Part of realizing why your image is so important is having an understanding of your core audience and understanding what the general public is looking for. Not everyone wants a deep song like Dylan would write, and not everyone likes a Lady Gaga pop tune that can be incessantly silly but catchy as hell.

Most people who go to live shows go to be entertained. Musicians sometimes forget that they are entertainers just as much as they are musicians or storytellers. Some musicians don’t have the immense musical talent others do, but they are much better entertainers, so they may have a much better selling tour than the more talented musicians. When I pay money to see a live band, I want to be entertained. I can see how talented you are by what you play, how you play, your phrasing, etc.

Most of us grew up wanting to be “Rock Stars” clutching a hairbrush microphone in front of the mirror, or playing air guitar to our favorite songs. We wanted to be larger than life. We wanted to help other people escape their busy stressful lives and transport them to a different place like all of our favorites did for us!

Most of the audience has dreamed of wanting to be that “larger than life rock star.” They look up to their favorite artists; want to get to know them. They want to spread the word about them. Well a big part of that is the image they put forward, the mystique they put out and being very cool while still somewhat accessible.

Small independent artists don’t usually have a back catalogue of hits to tour off of.  That means it’s a much harder road to book shows and win over fans. Decide what your goals are as a musician or band and then decide if you’re ok with possibly not having as many fans or not making as much money due to where your musical priorities lie, or if you’re going to be amazing entertainers who still write great songs people can related to and identify with.

There is no right or wrong here but there is reality. For artists that completely and totally have the drive like Tori Amos or Ani DeFranco to get their music out there and don’t take no for answer, you can make it in the business with non-stop hard work. But note, they both had a very distinct and defined image. For the artists that don’t have that skill set, the business mindset or a band where everyone is putting 110% forward in every aspect of growing the business, image becomes absolutely critical to set yourself apart and attract attention to you.

Here are a few hints to think about if you are going for an image. Don’t dress on stage like you are going to Wal-Mart.  Don’t wear a wife-beater tank top if you don’t have the body for it — it looks pathetic and laughable, not cool, plus no one wants to see your man boobs. Everyone in the band should look like they “fit” in the band, not half one way and the other half like they are going to go chop wood. Be original and find your own image and quit copying everyone else. If I see one more Dimebag Darrell wannabe, I’ll find another use for that very pointy guitar of yours. But most importantly, don’t skimp on your photography, artwork and press kit.  You get what you pay for, so take it very seriously and plan it out ahead of time. Know what you are doing and why you are doing it.

Good Luck!