Monday, May 25, 2015

Mediocrity vs. Excellence!

I'm sure that a lot of professional photographers have had this complaint since about the time 35mm automatic cameras became so easily affordable that everyone had one. I'm just as certain that about the time disposable cameras became supermarket point-of purchase impulse items that these same Image635681275389662942professional photographers wanted to pull out their own hair in frustration.

The reasons for the frustration of course, on the surface, seems to be that the need for a professional photographer becomes more and more limited when amateurs can point and shoot.

However, the more serious situation that lurks underneath is the continual degradation of professional standards.

Now before I incur someone's wrath, let me point out that I'm not saying that professional photographers are lowering their standards. Rather that we as the consumer are lowering our standards for what we will accept.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Definition: Bluegrass News Reporter - See: Dream Job

Image635674055395083955One of the great things about working in bluegrass music is the almost constant influx of upbeat attitudes.

I suppose that many others have already recognized this in one way or another. But while researching the stories that made the news for our year-end review I noticed a little sideline to that concept.

One of the greatest things about working in the Bluegrass News field is that almost all of the news we publish is of an upbeat, positive nature. Not counting obituaries, because death is inevitable and depending upon a person's beliefs, the passing from this life to the eternal is cause for joy although for those of us left with the loss we often treat it with sadness.

Monday, May 11, 2015

FREE BEER! - Or At Least That's What The Sign Said

Image635669125448926171… Or did I read that wrong? Nope … FREE BEER … in big bold letters on a banner hanging on the front wall of the BBQ restaurant. Couldn't be?!? I said to myself! I just happen to know, from past experiences with a truckload of radio promotions in night clubs, that Arizona law prohibits the giving away of any alcoholic beverage in a licensed establishment where such beverages are intended to be for sale.

Many an unsuspecting night club has been caught unaware and paid a hefty fine for trying to get around the law with what they think is a loophole … such as giving away a free beer with the purchase of a steak dinner. Can't be done – not in Arizona. You can sell the beer for twenty bucks and give away the steak but you can not reverse the process – or so I've been told.

So you can imagine my curiosity when I knew that I'd read the sign correctly – FREE BEER! I just had to drive off the road and into the huge parking lot that was about a football field in size … just to see up close.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Keeping in Touch!

Image635662718667524921We got a new CD in the mail this past week here at Prescription Bluegrass and along with it came the record label's “One-Sheet” which is at least a page and in some cases two or three pages of pertinent data so that we in the media can be informed about the ins and outs of the new album.

Many times someone from the band or the label may also include a small personal note, handwritten on the bottom or back side. I always find the personal touch rewarding. It's a simple gesture that helps to cement the bond between the artist and the media on a personal level. It takes it out of the corporate world and right down to the family table.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

The "Value" and "Detriment" of Social Media and the Way We Use It!

Image635656635628376731Knights of old learned very quickly the dangers of the double-edged sword. One side could cut the enemy down; but, the other, if not handled properly, could also cut down the one wielding the blow.

Webster's definition of the "phrase" is: "something that has or can have both favorable and unfavorable consequences."

Today's double edge is not as easy to recognize. That fact is obvious by the sheer number of those who continually slice themselves up over and over again.

These are the social media sites on the Internet, like Facebook, where postings of all sorts and kinds appear in a common area called the “news feed”.

Monday, April 20, 2015

We Need More Than ONE Bluegrass Channel On Satellite Radio!

Image635651245696569185Many of us can remember the days when driving any long distance without a tape player in the vehicle was sure to present some surprises and also some disappointments.

Surprises, because sometimes you'd actually get to hear something absolutely wonderful, creative and different. You'd get treated to radio programming you would not be able to hear if you stayed home because very few markets overlapped by design.

Disappointments, because when you finally found a station that provided some entertainment that suited your tastes, you soon drove out of range and then the never-ending dial searching would begin anew.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Living In An Unfinished World -or- The Degradation Social Media has on Our Communication Skills!

Image635644994126616474What makes social media social? Why is it such a popular medium for communication? More importantly why do we as a society think that we need – underscore NEED – to communicate with people we don't know? And finally, what is so popular about the USE of social media that for some, it almost completely replaces all other forms of communication?

As a kid we were thrilled beyond belief when Ma Bell finally got enough lines and equipment installed that we could get off the party-line system. Now the whole world seems to want to go back to that party-line concept where you might say something you want only one person to know, but actually, the whole global neighborhood is listening in.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Moving Your CAR-eer Into The Future!

Websites for a band today are just about as mandatory as are the instruments they play on stage and in the recording studio. Not having a website today puts any band into the Milli Vanilli category of not being for real.

We’ve written about this subject before, and so have countless others; but, it seems that we (and they) can’t write it, say it or promote it enough. The subject is how to build your website if you are a band. But I suppose it could also apply to anyone who thinks that I, you, or any of us out here in the cyber-world want to hear your favorite song as soon as we land on your web page.

It’s old school web-building and it has been old-school since 1999 turned into 2000 or another way to say it, “Last Century” thinking.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Brand Loyalty!

Image635632521306791816Coca Cola does it, Disney does it, Southwest Airlines and almost every major corporation doing business anywhere in the world does it. That is to create a loyalty, among consumers of their product, so fierce that they'd rather “fight than switch.” Remember that campaign?

So what does brand loyalty mean for a bluegrass band, a festival, a record label or any other business that is primarily focused on reaching the bluegrass fan as their consumer base?

I recently had the opportunity for an advance review of a stellar bluegrass band's latest album.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Yes Men!

This topic has come up from time to time in our business dealings with musicians and their representation with regard to how hard they all work to produce the product that they eventually sell to the public.

Image635626418663543243There are those who feel that they can't have enough “Yes Men” on their team and continue to look for more and more – all the while avoiding anyone who doesn't fit the criteria and excluding them from entering into the circle.

I suppose it is necessary for everyone to have a few but, if all you have is “Yes Men” in your corner you've gotten short-changed in the friends department.

So, to be clear, just what is the criteria for owning that “Yes Men” label? According to Webster's On-line Dictionary it is: a person who agrees with everything that is said; especially: one who endorses or supports without criticism every opinion or proposal of an associate or superior.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Yard Sale Bluegrass!

Image635608259727605663I Once heard a band break-up referred to as “something like a bad divorce.”

At the time, I thought of that as a very interesting analogy. But after more reflection and investigation, it's not so strange after all.

Perhaps BAND BREAKUPS are like a bad divorce but during their lifetime, bands are more like a business than a marriage. So it is unfortunate indeed that the breakup probably does resemble a marriage breakup more than a business closure.

Bluegrass bands, like everything else in life, were never meant to last forever. So when the breakup of a band happens, why is it that both the band members and the fans seem shocked and then subsequently react in the strangest ways – sometimes going well beyond the bounds of decency. Tongue-Lashings, accusations and bad feelings are surrounding the band and everything associated with them in the most recent case I'm aware of.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Who Gets the Money?


Who Gets the Money?

If you've ever recorded your own CD for commercial resale, or known someone who has, you probably already have some idea of the amount of money that goes into a recording project before the project even hits the street and you or your artists/band friends begin to make anything back.

“Who gets the money?” has a multiple answer because it seems that everything and everyone the artist wants in the project, from the recording studio to extra guest artists, all want to be paid up front. I suppose that's only fair since they're hired to do their job. And, they have no investment in the project, and, therefore, no share in the potential reward.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Who Are You Trying To Sound Like?

Image635590517784232681Impressionists and “Sound-Alike-Artists” have been around since Noah first did his famous impression of Charlton Heston. Garth Brooks, Patsy Cline, Johnny Cash and, even, Little Jimmy Dickens, plus scores of others with celebrity status, have look-alike and sound-alike artists paying tribute to them on a daily basis.

Almost every single performer has mentioned someone in their past who has greatly influenced them. It goes without saying that all of us are influenced by others in our lives in one way or another if not in several ways. Dean Martin was influenced by The Mills Brothers, John Lennon was influenced by Hank Williams and Elvis was influenced by Bill Monroe. Yet, I would be hard-pressed to find anyone who said that John Lennon sounded like Hank or that Elvis sounded like Bill Monroe.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Did You Really Want to Say That?

Image635577859611827583Granddad always said, “Be careful what you do.” If he were alive today, I'm sure he might also occasional have added “electronically” as the last word in his advice.

Thinking something or saying something negative is sometimes easily retracted. But when you click on the “Send” button, hit “Enter” or “Submit,” you are committed to your actions which include whatever thoughts you just let loose onto the keyboard. You're never going to get the chance to say “oops, I didn't mean that”, “let me take that back” or, “pardon me for thinking out loud.”

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Lisa Leadbetter Celebrates Husband Phil's Good News!

GOOD NEWS! 2015 brings the long-awaited news that Phil Leadbetter is once more CANCER FREE!

For anyone unfamiliar with Uncle Phil's situation, he has been battling treatment sessions for Hodgkin's Lymphoma for at least 4 years, and was once before pronounced "Cancer-Free" by his doctors only to have a recurrence and live the nightmare with all of it's uncertainties all over.  ()  Through it all his wife, Lisa, remained a rock of support.  With the news of his victory she posted the following message on her social pages.  It is re-printed here with the Leadbetter's permission.

Lisa Lindsey LeadbetterCancer has been the worst nightmare I've ever known, it's cruel beyond words, you really have to deal with it yourself to know what a hell it truly is. I would of gave anything to have taken his Cancer, I prayed so many many times Please God make him well, give it to me, just don't let him hurt with it anymore. I just about lost hope, many many times, I never let Phil know this. For the last 4 years.....I watched the love of my life try and do anything and everything to make this go away. we kept getting knocked down time and time again. So for all of you out there, and I know some very precious friends who are in this same battle:  Try, try your hardest to not give up, don't lose your faith....they sent us home to die, nothing more they could do for him. But, what a strong brave man God made......he never lost hope, he never stopped trying, and God never gave up on him. So, no matter what the docs still, listen to what God can do!  Don't give up on God, cause he never gives up on you !!!! Our God is mighty and his love is the most powerful thing ever! Thank you Lord, with all my heart I thank you.....and I know he heard all your prayers for Phil. I am forever grateful for all your love and support.....God heard you, thank you !!!!!!

-Lisa Lindsey Leadbetter

Sunday, January 4, 2015

The Respect for Privacy Request vs. The Public's Right To Know!

Image635559845323762307Everyone who's ever followed an Entertainment Tonight news (and I use the term “news” sparingly) program for more than one day or read anything about the private life of Elvis has probably gotten a glimpse of to what extent celebrities will go in order to protect their privacy.

Elvis rented out entire amusement parks at night just for his entourage to avoid public crowds and the mobs of fans associated with his fame.

Entertainment Tonight and other tabloid broadcasts as well as print outlets for years have shown celebrities in all fields hiding behind sunglasses, ball caps, wigs and an incredible amount of other paraphernalia in order to fool paparazzi and over-eager fans.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

The Charge of the New Light Brigade!

Image635553546929793489Well, it seems that Bluegrass Music is not the only entity suffering from the clash of the modernists and the traditionalists. Just take a look around and you'll see it elsewhere as well.

The most obvious confrontation presenting it's discordant and ugly face occurs every night just after sundown and continues throughout the dark hours everywhere on the highways and by-ways, parking lots and city streets all over the world.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Look Good/Play Good - by Eric Gibson

Eric GibsonPeople often comment about how we dress up for stage.  In 2008 or so, we started wearing dark suits with ties onstage.  I had seen a picture of Bob Dylan and his band in Rolling Stone at the time wearing dark suits, and it looked so crisp that it really caught my eye.  Johnny Cash’s stark look always appealed to me as well.  

Dressing up is nothing new for bluegrass bands; so many of our heroes like Bill Monroe, Flatt and Scruggs, and Del McCoury had always done so.  However, we had gone through a stage of everybody in the band wearing whatever felt comfortable.  I see pictures of us from those days and cringe now. We all had different ideas about what looked ‘right.’   I don’t think the guys in the band were too crazy about the change at first. 

Monday, December 15, 2014

The Way It Is!

Here's something you'll never hear in the professional folk music business:

Promoter: I really love your music and I'd like to hire you for my festival next year.

Artist: Thanks so much, but I've actually decided to go with younger promoters next year to increase my number of gigs and the size of my fan base.

- Bill Evans

Image635542149499141981Bill Evans is an internationally recognized five-string banjo life force. As a performer, teacher, writer and composer, he brings a deep knowledge, intense virtuosity and contagious passion to all things banjo, with thousands of music fans and banjo students from all over the world in a music career that now spans over thirty-five years.

Bill Evans does for the five-string banjo what Van Gogh did for colour . . .treats it in a different way and then shares it with you."   —Tom Franks, FolkWords

Sunday, December 7, 2014

What Bluegrass Needs is More News!

PRESCRIPTION BLUEGRASS NEWS IMAGEWe've had a catch phrase on the Prescription Bluegrass Radio show for quite some time now that says: “Bluegrass News Happens Every Day – Somewhere in the World.” And while that is certainly true, you might not know it by reading the bluegrass media.

Over the last couple of years, I've noticed a definite decrease in the number of actual news stories being sent in to us as well as being published elsewhere. This isn't just isolated to our website alone but I've noticed a lack of fresh news stories being published on our fellow bluegrass media outlets' pages as well.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

James Reams' Thanksgiving Message!

PRESCRIPTION BLUEGRASS IMAGE  -  JAMES REAMSIt’s All in the Family: Sibling Rivalry Between Bluegrass and Old-Time is Just Part of Being Family!                                       – by James Reams

Thanksgiving  - it’s not a lukewarm kind of holiday. You either look forward to it or you dread it. For me, I love the food…and especially the pies! I remember Dad was always in charge of the turkey and he had this special electric porcelain oven that he used solely for the purpose of putting out the best tasting bird in the county. And, not to be outdone, Mom would spend days making pumpkin pies from REAL pumpkins. Most kids nowadays probably never had the pleasure of scooping out the soft, creamy pumpkin innards that are then magically transformed into that traditional delight for young and old. Oh man, I’m drooling just at the thought of it!

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