Dance More!

https://www.youtube-nocookie.com/embed/ICv95LWc3mM

I took the time to re-edit and remix this project and this is the latest version.

Though I was born in Ashland, Kentucky, I grew up in South Florida where music and dancing is a large part of the culture, salsa dancing in particular and finding a club whose live band has a horn section is a common thing.  Hence my love of horns, Latin rhythms and dancing.

As a songwriter I address a variety of topics, but sometimes I like to keep it light, fun and simple.  Life is beautiful so dance more!

 

The Bluegrass Grill

I took a few days off from my day job and am wrapping this project my sister from another mother suggested, a song for the Bluegrass Grill.  I heard my mother talk about the Bluegrass Grill and how it was a popular meeting place when she was young.  I did some investigating and found a menu online and wrote the lyrics over a few days.  The tune came easily.  The challenge was in writing the parts and figuring out how to convey the idea that cruising to the Bluegrass was a rite of passage for generations of teens.  Thanks to Audrey for the suggestion!  You can listen to it here and look for it on my next CD which I’m working on now…

Promo2

This Ain’t Working Anymore…. ♪♫♪♫

I’ve hatched a new one.  This is fresh from the mental factory and there are three main components driving this song.  At Monday night’s Fox and Goose open mic in Sacramento, I heard a performer effectively use the “repeat the same line 4 times technique” and I realized that I typically avoid that technique in my writing.  I like to go somewhere with the story and resist singing the same line.  He challenged me to write a song this week using that approach… so I did!

Carey Seward played Ani Difranco’s, “Both Hands” that night and that’s one of my favorite songs of Ani’s so I wanted to capture just a touch of that element as well.  And finally, another local songwriter, Allison Hallenbeck recently wrote a song with lyrics that impressed me so much I practically fell out of my chair.  So I thought of Allison and her lyric effectiveness as I pulled this together.

Carey is a songwriter from Alaska who has recently joined the music community here in Sacramento and she’s got oodles of talent.  Allison is a ukulele goddess with a sweet soprano voice.  Both frequent several open mic’s around the Sacramento region.

The second verse came first and then came the chorus and then the last two verses and ironically the first verse was the most difficult to write, but it’s so true that it sticks with me like butter.

2 Week Update:  I’ve changed the chorus.  It was too annoying. It’s become:

This ain’t working anymore.
This ain’t working like before.
The time has come to close the door
cause this ain’t working anymore.

photo 4

David Houston and String Theory

If you haven’t caught David Houston and String Theory, make it a point to get to one of their gigs.  I’ve nicknamed David, Professor Houston because his talent deserves that level of respect.  As a songwriter I have a particular affinity for wordsmiths and this man is a genius.  The way he turns a phrase will catch you off guard and open your heart before you’ve realized what’s happened and then here comes String Theory with a sweeping line to lift you out of the mechanics of the lyrics and into the job that music is meant to do –  move you to another level, another hemisphere, another view.  Several times during their performance I marveled that this combination is so powerful and effective.  It’s vibrational open heart surgery, hits you in the nostalgic area of your gut, but the strings and arrangement saves you. They hold you up, help you feel and keep you from falling too far down.  That’s the feeling of an open heart.

It doesn’t get any tastier than this delightful pairing of aural pleasure.  Solid song structure, expert musicianship and powerful lyricism that at one point brought up a few tears.  Now that caught me off guard, I can’t recall when a performance delivered that kind of punch, hence this post.  Kudos Prof Houston & String Theory, I look forward to your next gig!  Stay informed:  http://www.davidhouston.com

Photo by Carrie Jenkins.
Photo by Carrie Jenkins.
13420_10205955978156050_5961086153747973141_n
Photo by Carrie Jenkins

Blurred Lines in the Music Business (Mimicry and Risk Aversion)

Embed from Getty Images

Marvin Gaye’s family won the lawsuit to the tune of 7.5 million dollars.  So now Thicke and Williams have to pony up the loot. I’m a songwriter, a multi-instrumentalist and producer who strives for originality.  Now nothing in songwriting is purely original.  Most of us stick to the Western scale system and use I, IV, V as the root of our music.   Different formula’s for different styles but the fundamental platform in which we write a song has been an established paradigm for years.  So then what’s the problem? The business wants Mimicry! Repetition and for you to make it sound familiar!  One need only look to Glam Metal to see the obvious….lol.

IuAmz 

Making music is a huge business where ridiculous profits are possible (not probable for most).  Promoting the new and unique is akin to risk taking and like any big business, they’re risk averse.  They want to continue to reap profits from a proven method.  It’s understandable.  Fear of losing one’s paycheck is enough to incentivize them to want to err on the side of caution, so everything soon starts to sound the same.  Follow the rules, sound like someone popular, get to the hook fast, have production that sounds like the pro-sounds that the major houses put out.  One of the best examples of this is the Nashville sound, which has pretty much ruined country music.  The commercially produced music coming out of Nashville is sounding like pre-packaged meals, looks great on the outside, but inside it’s bland.  As long as the standard operating paradigm for the music business continues to be “do what has been done before,” we’ll continue to see judgements such as this.

We love songwriting for the framework, it’s like you’re given free range to roam within a certain set of rules and boundaries.  But there’s nothing new in the universe, so being creative is a challenge.  As a voice student, I was taught to never try to sound like anyone else, but to discover and cultivate my own sound.  The same approach applies to my songwriting craft.  I sonically isolate myself from popular music or even any music at all when I’m creating and let the words drive the melody.  Even with all safeguards, it’s still possible to end up with something that may sound a bit like something else.

To intentionally create music that sounds like something else flies in the face of true artistry, but we can’t help but wonder if the jury had really been peers of Thicke and Williams (meaning a jury of fellow songwriters) would the outcome have been the same?  I can easily distinguish the cowbell rhythm differences, and other major differences, but could the jury?

I use a submission service to place my music and I’d like to give you a little taste of my last rejection from Warner as it demonstrates this paradigm: “Hi Kally, First I want to say you are a true artist/writer.  I admire when an artist is not afraid to do something new.  The problem is, we work with straight middle America pop and RnB.  I wouldn’t know where to begin to place your project so for that reason, I have to pass.  If in the future I receive an opportunity that fits your style of music I’ll reach out to you.”  I’ll take the rejection over watering down my artistic integrity any day.

I’d be willing to bet that many artists get worn down over time and eventually bend to what the business wants, which is guaranteed profits.  It would be all to easy to sacrifice that integrity for the idea of “success” which is something every composer/producer must face.

Embed from Getty Images