Archive for November, 2009

Thoughts from the shadows of a great American city

November 30, 2009

Editor’s Note: “Underground Nashville” covers artists, authors, musicians, poets, political figures, and other compelling people and happenings not typically covered by the mainstream Nashville media. It also presents reflections and commentary from an underground/indie perspective. As I told ‘The Tennessean’ in 2008, “since moving to Nashville twenty-five years ago, I have met people whose lives do not remotely reflect the caricature of what many outside our city presume to be a Nashvillian” or the Nashville experience. “Underground Nashville” thus explores the soul of the city, not its surface—offering “thoughts from the shadows of a great American city.”

Dave Carew

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“Cappo’s Christmas Party” benefit for the Nashville Humane Association coming this Saturday to Douglas Corner

by Dave Carew

One of Nashville’s most beloved all-round good guys (that would be Cappo) is again hosting his popular annual Christmas Party/Benefit Concert to raise money and collect much-needed supplies for the Nashville Humane Association. The benefit, known as “Cappo’s Christmas Party,” will be this Saturday, December 5, at Douglas Corner Café, starting at 7 p.m.

Admission is free, but Cappo (pronounced COP-oh) always appreciates donations of dog or cat food, animal toys, leashes, beds . . . you get the picture. And money contributions to the Nashville Humane Association always are welcome, too.

I have a photo of myself holding my guitar at Cappo’s 1999 Christmas Party, so this annual event has been going strong for at least 11 years. If you like good live music—from everyone from Grammy winners to six-year olds getting their first-ever chance to perform before a live audience—this beloved annual benefit is not to be missed. And did I mention your host will keep you in stitches all night?

David M. (Dave) Carew is editor of “Underground Nashville” and the author of the novels “Everything Means Nothing to Me: A Novel of Underground Nashville” and “Voice from the Gutter.” He also is a freelance publicist and copywriter.

The “Grow Your Following” series

November 27, 2009

Editor’s Note: “Underground Nashville” covers artists, authors, musicians, poets, political figures, and other compelling people and happenings not typically covered by the mainstream Nashville media. It also presents reflections and commentary from an underground/indie perspective. As I told ‘The Tennessean’ in 2008, “since moving to Nashville twenty-five years ago, I have met people whose lives do not remotely reflect the caricature of what many outside our city presume to be a Nashvillian” or the Nashville experience. “Underground Nashville” thus explores the soul of the city, not its surface—offering “thoughts from the shadows of a great American city.”

Dave Carew

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When you support The Salvation Army, your contribution touches children and adults in ways that can dramatically uplift their lives. Among the many services offered by the Nashville office of The Salvation Army are disaster relief, housing, counseling, rehab, youth services, and social work. To learn how you can help, please visit Salarmy-nashville.org. Thank you.

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The “Grow Your Following” Series
for Singer/Songwriters and Bands

Part 2:  How to nurture a loyal following

by Dave Carew

One of the questions musicians often ask is “How can I build a loyal following?”  In other words, how can you not only get people to come to your shows…but keep coming time after time?

While there’s no magic formula, there are definitely things you should—and must —do if you want people to come see you repeatedly.

To learn some of the secrets, I talked to my friends Jack and Debra Harris. Jack runs one of Nashville’s best home-based recording studios, Lost Highway Studios (www.losthighway.com). Another cool part of Jack’s résumé is that he toured as a singer/guitarist in the seventies with The Association (“Cherish,” “Never My Love”.) Debra Harris is one of Nashville’s finest bass-guitarists and painters.

My conversation with Jack and Debra went like this:

UNDERGROUND NASHVILLE: What are some key things you’ve done, over the years, to cultivate a loyal, devoted following?

Jack: One of the revelations I came to, fairly early on, was that people in the audience really want to know what you’re about. To them, because you happen to be up on that stage, you’re intriguing. So when we work clubs we always make a point, during a break, to try to make a personal connection with people. Again, a lot of people feel a bit of adulation toward musicians. So they love it if they get to hang with the band.

Debra: Another key thing is how you present the music when you’re performing. You, as a member of the audience, can go into a club and enjoy live music. But if you feel the musicians are really performing for you—that they care about making a connection with you—that elevates the entire experience to another level. Lots of performers call out from the stage things like, “How y’all doin’ tonight?” but I think it’s much more effective to really talk to individual people in the audience—to make it personal and develop more of a relationship with them. That’s what makes people get involved and start caring about you as a person and artist—and interested in coming back to see future shows.

Jack: That’s definitely the best approach. But, like anything else, sometimes it can backfire. Here’s an amusing example: One night, several years ago, Debra and I were playing out, and, between songs—as we always do—we started talking, person to person, to people in the audience. I asked a woman, who appeared to be sitting with her husband, what she did for a living. She responded, “I’m a stripper.” Well, I was so taken aback that I didn’t really know what to say. I finally blurted out, “Well, you look like you’re well-equipped for it.” Probably not the best line when the woman’s husband is sitting right beside her, and my wife is right beside me.

See below for Part 1 of the “Growing Your Following” series, “Getting the Media to Cover You.”

David M. (Dave) Carew is editor of “Underground Nashville” and the author of the novels “Everything Means Nothing to Me: A Novel of Underground Nashville” and “Voice from the Gutter.” He also is a freelance publicist and copywriter.

 

 

Thoughts from the shadows of a great American city

November 24, 2009

Editor’s Note: “Underground Nashville” covers artists, authors, musicians, poets, political figures, and other compelling people and happenings not typically covered by the mainstream Nashville media. It also presents reflections and commentary from an underground/indie perspective. As I told ‘The Tennessean’ in 2008, “since moving to Nashville twenty-five years ago, I have met people whose lives do not remotely reflect the caricature of what many outside our city presume to be a Nashvillian” or the Nashville experience. “Underground Nashville” thus explores the soul of the city, not its surface—offering “thoughts from the shadows of a great American city.”

Dave Carew

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As we head into Thanksgiving week, please do not forget those less fortunate than you. The Nashville Rescue Mission just released a statement declaring “about 5,000 people will find their way here on Thanksgiving Day alone.” To make sure they receive love, friendship, and a comforting meal, please call (615) 255-2475 or visit Nashvillerescuemission.org.  Thank you.

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The “Grow Your Following” Series
for Singer/Songwriters and Bands

Part 1:  Getting the Media to Cover You

by Dave Carew

Let’s face it: If you’re an “indie novelist” like me—or an indie singer-songwriter like you or one of your friends—it’s not easy getting the media to cover you.

But here’s the deal: When my latest novel was published, I received positive media coverage in The Tennessean, The City Paper, The Vanderbilt Hustler, and Dish.com.

So how did I do it? More important: How can YOU?

Let me share a few publicity secrets I’ve learned over the years. First, don’t overlook what I call the “gimme’s.” This is the publicity you get when you’re automatically listed in the “club listings” of your local newspaper. Determine the e-mail address for submitting club listings (it’s often something self-evident, such as “listings@tennessean.com.”)  And make sure you e-mail a JPEG photo (at least 350 dots per inch) of yourself/ your band. You’ll “pop” in the club listings a lot more if your photo is there, next to your listing.

Next, move on to the next level of PR. Get the specific name, e-mail address, and phone number of every journalist in a given city who covers music. Then, at least 10 days before your gig, e-mail each journalist the essential information about your upcoming gig, starting with the “who, what, where,” but also sending interesting information about yourself or your band. In that information, try to quickly address the question” “What is unique about me or my band? Why would a music journalist and his or her readership find me/us interesting?”

Then, two days later, call each journalist, introduce yourself and say you’re briefly following up on the information you sent him or her. Specifically ask if he or she might like to write an article about you, in conjunction with your/your band’s upcoming performance. If the journalist says “no” this time, don’t give up. Implement the same PR strategy around your NEXT gig in your city, or when you travel to other cities.

The truth is, no one can predict how much publicity you’ll land thanks to any given PR effort. But using the strategy described above, I’ve helped artists land publicity in every single newspaper in Nashville, plus many others throughout the Southeast. Keep trying, and this activity will secure publicity for YOU, too.

David M. (Dave) Carew is editor of “Underground Nashville” and the author of the novels “Everything Means Nothing to Me: A Novel of Underground Nashville” and “Voice from the Gutter.” He also is a freelance publicist and copywriter.

Thoughts from the shadows of a great American city

November 21, 2009

Editor’s Note: “Underground Nashville” covers artists, authors, musicians, poets, political figures, and other compelling people and happenings not typically covered by the mainstream Nashville media. It also presents reflections and commentary from an underground/indie perspective. As I told ‘The Tennessean’ in 2008, “since moving to Nashville twenty-five years ago, I have met people whose lives do not remotely reflect the caricature of what many outside our city presume to be a Nashvillian” or the Nashville experience. “Underground Nashville” thus explores the soul of the city, not its surface—offering “thoughts from the shadows of a great American city.”

Dave Carew

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As we head into Thanksgiving week, please do not forget those less fortunate than you. The Nashville Rescue Mission just released a statement declaring “about 5,000 people will find their way here on Thanksgiving Day alone.” To make sure they receive love, friendship, and a comforting meal, please call (615) 255-2475 or visit Nashvillerescuemission.org.  Thank you.

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Getting zinged by The Salvation Army

by Dave Carew

So I’m coming out of Kroger yesterday, and I hear, for the first time this year, the evocative sound of The Salvation Army man ringing his Christmas bell.

I stop my shopping cart as a tall, old, African-American gentleman, ringing the bell, offers me a wide, warm, mischievous smile.

“You’re starting early this year, aren’t you?” I say to him, smiling.

He chuckles and says, “Well, you know what they say. Giving has no season.”

I smile, nod, and place a couple of dollars in The Salvation Party pot, as he continues to ring his bell.

As I walk off, the old man’s bell briefly stops ringing.

“You’re a man among men,” he calls out to me. “I don’t care WHAT your wife says!”

Somehow, that I am not even married makes his wisecrack especially audacious and amusing.

I look back at his beaming face and match it with my own.

David M. (Dave) Carew is editor of “Underground Nashville” and the author of the novels “Everything Means Nothing to Me: A Novel of Underground Nashville” and “Voice from the Gutter.”

 

Thoughts from the shadows of a great American city

November 20, 2009

Editor’s Note: “Underground Nashville” covers artists, authors, musicians, poets, political figures, and other compelling people and happenings not typically covered by the mainstream Nashville media. It also presents reflections and commentary from an underground/indie perspective. As I told ‘The Tennessean’ in 2008, “since moving to Nashville twenty-five years ago, I have met people whose lives do not remotely reflect the caricature of what many outside our city presume to be a Nashvillian” or the Nashville experience. “Underground Nashville” thus explores the soul of the city, not its surface—offering “thoughts from the shadows of a great American city.”

Dave Carew

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When you support The Salvation Army, your contribution touches children and adults in ways that can dramatically uplift their lives. Among the many services offered by the Nashville office of The Salvation Army are disaster relief, housing, counseling, rehab, youth services, and social work. As we head into this still-recession-plagued holiday season, please consider a donation to the Nashville office of The Salvation Army. Visit Salarmy-nashville.org. Thank you.

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“Underground Nashville” soon to post the “Grow Your Following” series

by Dave Carew

Back when I was writing my “Guerilla Publicist” column for the (now defunct) rock magazine Snakeskin, I ran a story idea by my editor. I told him, “I’ve been booking and publicizing musicians in Nashville for several years. When I first started, I was absolutely clueless as to how to get people to come to gigs…how to grow an artist’s following. But I’ve learned some basic, real-world strategies that actually work. I’d like to share those with the struggling, up-and-coming singer/songwriters and bands who read your magazine.”

Thus was launched the first incarnation of the “Grow Your Following” series. Now updated, “Grow Your Following” presents a series of fast-read interviews with Nashville-based artists, each describing how they successfully promoted gigs and built a buzz about themselves or their bands. In every interview, you’ll learn simple, low- or no-cost ways to grow your following—things that actually have been tried and proven to work.

Watch for the “Grow Your Following” series in upcoming posts on Underground Nashville.

David M. (Dave) Carew is editor of “Underground Nashville” and the author of the novels “Everything Means Nothing to Me: A Novel of Underground Nashville” and “Voice from the Gutter.”

Thoughts from the shadows of a great American city

November 19, 2009

Editor’s Note: “Underground Nashville” covers artists, authors, musicians, poets, political figures, and other compelling people and happenings not typically covered by the mainstream Nashville media. It also presents reflections and commentary from an underground/indie perspective. As I told ‘The Tennessean’ in 2008, “since moving to Nashville twenty-five years ago, I have met people whose lives do not remotely reflect the caricature of what many outside our city presume to be a Nashvillian” or the Nashville experience. “Underground Nashville” thus explores the soul of the city, not its surface—offering “thoughts from the shadows of a great American city.”

Dave Carew

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As we move toward Thanksgiving, please do not forget those less fortunate than you. The Nashville Rescue Mission just released a statement declaring “about 5,000 people will find their way here on Thanksgiving Day alone.” To make sure they receive love, friendship, and a comforting meal, please call (615) 255-2475 or visit Nashvillerescuemission.org.  Thank you.

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An old man’s baseball dreams

by Dave Carew

One of the reasons I set my novels in underground Nashville was to give voice to people whose stories otherwise would not be told. I was principally interested in giving voice to Nashville’s dispossessed—to the misfits, the alienated, the addicted, the profoundly lonely. I also was interested in shedding light on “average people” in our great city. These people, to me, have stories infinitely more interesting and poignant than the latest chapter in the life of Taylor Swift or Keith Urban.

I heard one of those stories the other day when I was—of all things—grocery shopping at Kroger. I was wearing a Red Sox T-shirt, and an old man (one of the Kroger employees) struck up a conversation with me.

“You like baseball, huh? A Red Sox fan?”

“Yes, sir. I’m originally from New England and been rooting for the Sox my whole life.”

“I love baseball, too,” the old man said. “Was quite good in my time. Got signed by the Yankees, right out of high school, here in Nashville. I threw left-handed. Had this mean curve ball. Man, I thought I was gonna be pitching in Yankee Stadium.”

“What happened?”

“Buddy of mine and I were out one night, with a couple of nice girls—double-date—and he fell asleep at the wheel, driving us home. We were all hurt real bad. Real bad. My left arm was broken in two places and never was the same. I tried learning to throw right-handed—even pitched some minor league games that way—but by that time my time had passed.”

The old man and I chatted for another few minutes. Then he said, “Well, better let you go, so you can get your groceries.” With that, he smiled cordially and ambled away, down the potato chip aisle.

I stood watching him for a moment, grateful for his story, grateful that he’d shared it with me, wondering what other stories lay in the hearts and minds of the nameless, numberless shoppers around me.

David M. (Dave) Carew is editor of “Underground Nashville” and the author of the novels “Everything Means Nothing to Me: A Novel of Underground Nashville” and “Voice from the Gutter.”

 

Thoughts from the shadows of a great American city

November 18, 2009

Editor’s Note: “Underground Nashville” covers artists, authors, musicians, poets, political figures, and other compelling people and happenings not typically covered by the mainstream Nashville media. It also presents reflections and commentary from an underground/indie perspective. As I told ‘The Tennessean’ in 2008, “since moving to Nashville twenty-five years ago, I have met people whose lives do not remotely reflect the caricature of what many outside our city presume to be a Nashvillian” or the Nashville experience. “Underground Nashville” thus explores the soul of the city, not its surface—offering “thoughts from the shadows of a great American city.”

Dave Carew

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As we move toward Thanksgiving, please do not forget those less fortunate than you. The Nashville Rescue Mission just released a statement declaring “about 5,000 people will find their way here on Thanksgiving Day alone.” To make sure they receive love, friendship, and a comforting meal, please call (615) 255-2475 or visit Nashvillerescuemission.org.  Thank you.

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Lightning 100 gets it exactly right . . . except . . .

by Dave Carew

So my friend and I are hunched over a cup of coffee at Fido, and he suddenly looks up, as if the entire weight of the world were on him.

“Anything wrong?” I say.

“No . . . it’s just that I don’t get it.”

“Get . . . ?”

“This thing about Lightning 100,” he says. “I mean, here’s a station that’s EASILY one of the best in the country. I should know. I’ve lived a lot of places, right? Heard a lot of pretty cool rock radio. And I’ve never heard anything that TOUCHES this station. I mean, before I came here, I had this very distorted view of Nashville. Very skewed view, based on TV and movies and what-not. And I come here and…it’s totally different. And I remember—very clearly—the first time I heard Lightning 100 I was like…man, this is way cool. It was, like, my intro to the real Nashville.”

“So what’s bothering you?”

“Basically….how can the coolest station on the planet NOT play tracks by the best singer/songwriter of the last decade, Elliott Smith?”

David M. (Dave) Carew is editor of “Underground Nashville” and the author of the novels “Everything Means Nothing to Me: A Novel of Underground Nashville” and “Voice from the Gutter.”

 

Thoughts from the shadows of a great American city

November 16, 2009

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As we move toward the Thanksgiving season, please do not forget those less fortunate than you. For decades, homeless, lonely people have been able to find warmth, shelter, and a wonderful Thanksgiving dinner at the Nashville Rescue Mission. In a letter I just received, the mission writes, “About 5,000 people will find their way here on Thanksgiving Day alone.” To make sure they receive love, friendship, and a nice meal, please call (615) 255-2475 or visit Nashvillerescuemission.org.  Thank you.

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Paul Simon’s son disappoints at 3rd & Lindsley

by Dave Carew

It’s not every day that a singer-songwriter featured that very week in Rolling Stone plays at one of your favorite local clubs, so I was pretty jazzed when I heard Harper Simon (son of Paul) was coming to 3rd & Lindsley on Sunday to promote his debut album.

Come to find out (according to Rolling Stone and several local papers), Harper’s ties to Nashville are substantial. His mother moved here in 1975 after she and Paul Simon split, and Harper’s first album was recorded here at The Tracking Room in December 2007 with assistance from his father (who co-wrote three of the tracks) and the legendary Bob Johnston, the genius producer behind all of Dylan’s greatest work, and most of Simon & Garfunkle’s.

So it was with that kind of buzz that Harper Simon took the stage at 3rd & Lindsley Sunday night. But sadly, to say he failed to deliver would be an understatement. Singing in a sleepy-coarse voice reminiscent of Dylan on “When I Paint My Masterpiece,” Simon led his folk-rock band through a thoroughly uninspired set of folk-rock (at times country-tinged) tunes that simply never demonstrated why anyone should pay him serious attention as a singer or songwriter. (At one point he dedicated his song “Tennessee” to his mother, then delivered a lyric so indecipherable it was impossible to determine how the song related to her…except that, evidently, she was born in East Tennessee.)

Anyway…it’s not my intent to trash Harper Simon or to go on and on about this; only to offer some honest feedback on a much-anticipated local club show that, I felt, was more memorable for what it failed to deliver than for what it did.

David M. (Dave) Carew is editor of “Underground Nashville” and the author of the novels “Everything Means Nothing to Me: A Novel of Underground Nashville” and “Voice from the Gutter.”

Thoughts from the shadows of a great American city

November 13, 2009

When you support The Salvation Army, your contribution touches children and adults in ways that can dramatically uplift their lives. Among the many services offered by the Nashville office of The Salvation Army are disaster relief, housing, counseling, rehab, youth services, and social work. As we head toward a holiday season in which we are witnessing widespread unemployment and the pervasive suffering it causes, please consider a donation to the Nashville office of The Salvation Army. Visit Salarmy-nashville.org and the just-launched web site ThankGodforYou.org.

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Wow . . . we finally have a real newspaper

by Dave Carew

Am I delirious or has The Tennessean REALLY improved as a newspaper lately? Long derided (justifiably) as “Pravda on the Cumberland” for its obvious and insulting Democratic-Party shilling, the Nashville daily has really stepped up lately, actually (for the most part) presenting “fair and balanced” coverage while other news outlets merely use that as a laughable slogan.

Particularly impressive was the paper’s decision yesterday to feature on page 1 an eye-opening article about the many gaffes committed by the Obama administration regarding the much-heralded (including by this blog) decision in January to close Gitmo. Trust me: Previous incarnations of The Tennessean, under much less capable leadership than that obviously being provided by Mark Silverman, would have buried that in the classifieds next to “Mystery Shoppers Wanted!”

In the spirit of “fair and balance,” the newspaper also ran a heart-breaking article this morning about the experiences of struggling Nashvillians to get health-care insurance after they’ve been mislabeled by insurance companies as having “pre-existing conditions.” That piece was particularly valuable coming in the wake of the paper’s recent investigative piece asserting health-care insurance don’t earn nearly the profits they’re “accused” of earning.

David M. (Dave) Carew is editor of “Underground Nashville” and the author of the novels “Everything Means Nothing to Me: A Novel of Underground Nashville” and “Voice from the Gutter.”

Thoughts from the shadows of a great American city

November 12, 2009

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As we move toward the Thanksgiving season, please do not forget those less fortunate than you. For decades, homeless, lonely people have been able to find warmth, shelter, and a wonderful Thanksgiving dinner at the Nashville Rescue Mission. In a letter I just received, the mission writes, “About 5,000 people will find their way here on Thanksgiving Day alone.” To make sure they receive love, friendship, and a nice meal, please call (615) 255-2475 or visit Nashvillerescuemission.org.  Thank you.

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Dissing Neil Young at Bongo Java

by Dave Carew

The other day I was over at Bongo Java, waiting on the front porch for Kenny Bernstein and another friend. My friend had a performance idea for Bongo Java After Hours Theatre she wanted to discuss with Kenny. While I waited, I suddenly became an inadvertent eaves-dropper to a conversation going on behind me.

“I mean, Neil Young, right? What’s up with that? Here’s a guy who’s one of the greatest songwriters who ever lived . . . and he hasn’t put out a decent album in 30 years!  Are you kidding me?”

I turned and looked over my shoulder, to get a glimpse of Mr. Young-Disser. From his Elliott Smith-esque features (complete with scruffy beanie) and over-all Gen Next vibe, I’d say he was about minus-10 the last time Neil Young put out a decent album. He was talking to a sweet-looking girl attempting heroically not to cringe at his every word.

“I mean, you know? If you’re a great songwriter, isn’t it because, in part, you know how NOT to be a CRAPPY one? Does he have so little self-awareness that he’s forgotten why his own first albums were so great? I mean, now, with Young, it’s just dreck after dreck after dreck.”

At that point, I’d pretty much taken in the gist of the guy’s rant, so I let my mind wander away. I’m pretty sure he went on to set the Guinness World Record for “most frequent use of the word ‘dreck’ in a five-minute period.”

God, I love hanging out at Bongo Java.

David M. (Dave) Carew is editor of “Underground Nashville” and the author of the novels “Everything Means Nothing to Me: A Novel of Underground Nashville” and “Voice from the Gutter.”