Thursday, October 30, 2008


Dear readers,

It has come to my attention that the Internet and multimedia have made life harder rather than easier. Case in point: last night I was at work on my already overdue podcast, trying to figure out ProTools. But to be able to take clips from my tape recorder and work in Pro Tools, my WMAs had to be converted to AIFs. Then I had to take my files from ProTools and use a Quicktime Conversion into AIF. Then I could begin to use them in ProTools, but I still wasn't sure how I'd export. And apparently, in ProTools, you don't export files - you BOUNCE them out. "Like a PUNK!" Whoever the heck thought of "bouncing" ought to be shot for trying to introduce ghetto lingo into corporate media.
Otherwise, things are good. I'm working on A&R reps, artist and repertoires, the guys who make you famous, apparently. They're the ones who scout out the bands and ask them about record deals. Today would be a good day to read a bit more about them.
I would love any comments from someone who knows good places to read actual NEWS about the folk/Americana scene: all I seem to get from the online stuff are profiles of bands. What about news? Analysis of trends? Money being made, deals, stories about kinds of lyrics being put out? I believe Americana music has international appeal, but sometimes it feels real insular on these web sites. Anyways, that's all for now. Have good ones!

Friday, October 24, 2008

SUCCESS! And the next move...

So, the video came out really well. I'm glad after all the work I put into it. The class made some good suggestions for adjusting it, mostly cosmetics to even out the pace and the feel. So now comes the hard part: a business story from the other angle: the producers, the managers, the hit-makers. That's probably what I'll call it: "Hit-makers."
So who'll talk to me? Who to look for is probably a better place to start. I want somebody who's gotten a good recommendation from artists, so I'll start by asking the people I know here. Guitarists, bands, club owners, who are the people who you want to have as your managers? Who would you want to be discovered BY in this city...
A good week, off to a promising next step.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Lucky Tuesday

Last night, I managed to get to Banjo Jim's just in time to see Austin McCutchen do his acoustic set. It's good because I had no b-roll to go over his footage. Not to mention that Banjo Jim's was just a fun little spot. I didn't expect that it'd be as small as it was, but it made for a more intimate get-together, no real stage, just a small aisle between the audience and the performers. I liked it.
Afterwards, I was waiting on the L line and met "Freedom Tickler," a folk band with a bluegrass edge that sounded like they'd come straight out of Arkansas. They were busking, trying to get some cash through the music while working other jobs. The sound of their hooting among the construction workers and the late-night Manhattanite crowd was jarring: I hope it translates in the shots I got.
Off to editing tonight. Thankfully, I also got some help podcasting yesterday, so I should be able to have the rough cut and the podcast for Friday.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Stepping up the pace

This week went by quickly, and it reminded me of the joy of being a journalist. I did my second piece on folk about the lure of New York City for folk musicians: something that I don't quite get. I mean I understand that it's a big city and there's an opportunity for fame, but the people in Manhattan never quite hit me as "folksy." Pushy, loud, rude, busy yes. But I don't see that sense of folksy, and certainly not the inspiration that brings around a Joan Baez, Pete Seeger or a John Denver. If you're a country musician, Nashville makes sense. If you're a blues guy, I can understand Memphis. But I don't understand the attraction of New York for folk: is it perhaps because of Dylan's success in the Village in the 60s? I wonder if that could even be replicated today, and I started getting some answers to that this week.
I loved being out interviewing these musicians and talking to them about their craft. I know there are thousands of people like Matt Jones and Rebecca Hart across the city, people doing music on the side of another job and struggling to be known. Yet at the same time, their insights were deeper than I had expected, Matt talking about the lack of a scene and Rebecca talking about the respect for cross-genres.
Austin made a point that resonated with me: he said folk musicians don't come here because it's a scene for folk music. They come here because it's a scene for everything, and there's an opportunity to grow and be recognized and taken seriously for your music. The question is with all these musicians, how does one get recognition?
I suppose I should look into the generation of folk rockers like Suzanne Vega and see how they got to where they are, how they made their name. Who else has recently made it big after starting out here? Norah Jones...but then again she's Ravi Shankar's daughter. You'd think she'd have a leg up on the competition.
Meanwhile, on the technical front, the shooting went well. I managed to take shots of the crowd at Arlene's Grocery using a night-time feature on my camera: it had an odd side effect of putting the video into slo-mo. But it worked. The real problem at Arlene's was the sound: whenever the band laid it down with hard drums and loud guitar riffs, the sound got really distorted. I need to figure out how to shoot in that kind of performance space and buy a sungun for the night time shooting.
This weekend, I'll take care of that and write a script for the piece now that I've got a decent amount of footage to work with. I wonder if I should use a voiceover...