Saturday, July 28, 2012

Musicians, Protect Your Hearing - Alpine MusicSafe Classics

If there's one thing a musician needs to be sure they continue to do well, it's hear. The separation between "good" music and "great" music is often the smallest nuance in sound. It's the perfect amp tone, the spot on reverb or a very specific amount of gain that musicians often spend years seeking. Unfortunately, in a painful twist of irony, once musicians have spent too much time searching for that sound in a loud environment they gradually lose the ability to detect those nuances because of hearing loss (check outTinnitus if you want to know more).

Anyone who has been playing for a long time will tell you that protecting your hearing should be a priority. You'd be wise to listen (if you still can).

I'll state it up front: my preferred hearing protection method is to use an in-ear monitor system. There are plenty of decent ones out there to choose from. If you want to get started with a generic-fit, bargain setup you can check out the Shure SE215 and then go upwards from there until you want a custom-fitted setup (I'll write about those another time).

What if I want to protect my hearing but can't use an IEM system?

Not everyone is able to use an IEM system. Lots of people want to use wedge monitors for a variety of reasons. In those cases musicians who want to protect their hearing really only have one option. Earplugs.

But earplugs suck! I know... That's why I wanted to find unsucked ones. That was far more difficult than one might think.

I need something that attenuates the sound (makes it less intense without losing quality) instead of just blocking it. So your grandpa's foam woodworking earplugs aren't an option. It wouldn't hurt if the plugs were low-profile too so it's not obvious I'm wearing them.

That's when I found these...
Alpine Hearing Protection MusicSafe Classic Earplugs for Musicians

These things are the (Rainbow's) Cadillac of earplugs.

What You Get

  • Earplugs
  • Two levels of filter (medium and high)
  • Earplug insertion tool
  • Carrying case
The earplugs themselves are pretty standard fare in that they are the Christmas tree shaped soft rubber that you find on many generic-fit applications. They differ, however, in that they are hollow which allows room for the attenuation filters.

The filters come in two levels: "Medium" which has been fine for me so far; and "High" which seems to be made for people intent on putting their head inside a running jet engine on a regular basis. To change the filters you just pop them into the soft rubber earplug.

The earplug insertion tool is really just a plastic tube that serves as a handle to use to shove the earplugs further into your hear holes. You'll use it by putting the filter side of the plugs into the tube, lifting your ear a little and shoving the earplug into your ear canal. It helps to twist the plug a little as you work it in so you don't have to push too hard.

The carrying case is, as silly as it may sound, what set these apart for me at the time of purchase. Losing a plug is one of the most frustrating things that can happen and a nice case keeps it from happening. This one serves as a keychain as well... if you're that nerdy (I am). So that's even an added bonus which means you'll always have your earplugs with your car.

How Well Do They Work?

The real question is whether or not you can be an effective musician while wearing these things, right? The short answer is a resounding "YES".

While the sound is a tiny bit muffled, it's far less than the normal "blocked" sound you get with standard earplugs. You won't use these (or any sound dampening mechanism) while trying to dial in precise tone adjustments on your instrument, but they allow SO much more of the sound spectrum to pass through that I found myself preferring to use the plugs any time I play with a full band.

Interestingly, if you sing these will give you a little bit of a tone advantage. Much like putting your finger in your ear while singing so you can hear yourself over the stage wash these earplugs allow you to hear yourself better. It's a little weird at first but only takes a few minutes to get used to.

As an added bonus, when someone is talking to you, you can actually hear them. You can leave these things in all night and have conversations during set breaks.

Finally, they almost visually disappear when inserted correctly, so you don't have Frankenstein bolts sticking out of your ears while you're trying to have those set break conversations.

The Verdict

While I'll go back and mention that my ideal scenario is an IEM system, I've yet to find a better sound dampening solution than these earplugs. Don't waste your time buying a dozen other types or messing with the crappy cheap earplugs. Go pick up a set of these and start using them. Now. Do whatever you have to do to avoid losing your hearing


Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Locals on Locals: Who They're Following

By Lee Waites

Everyone has an opinion on what's happening with local music these days. There is so much changing in the industry that it's hard to keep up with. Watching the business end of it day in and day out can get somewhat frustrating, maybe take you a bit away from why you got into it in the first place. Let's not do that! 

I'm so proud of the local music community and how much talent there is from cover bands to hip hop, jazz, country, rap, genius originals, to just crazy experimental stuff. Our little city and our wonderful state have produced some of the best musicians around. It's amazing when you look at the big picture. And it's amazing when you look at the little picture. The community that has produced so many great artists does it one band, one show at a time. 

I thought it might be nice to get some idea of what other people are listening to. I will probably do this again. If you would like to know what a particular person likes to hear send me an email and I'll try to find out. Here are some of the answers I got this time. Thank you very much to those who responded.  

James Spann - Weather at ABC 33/40:
"I have the most bizarre music collection in the universe. On my iDooDads you will find anything from Led Zeppelin to Carly Rae Jepsen to Earth Wind and Fire to Frank Sinatra to DC Talk to Hank Williams Jr to Boney James.
"I grew up in a radio station in the 1970s working my way through high school and college playing rock and roll music, and music from the 70s was the soundtrack of my wonder years.

"Guess my favorite local bands from the "good old days" were Hotel and Telluride. Marc Phillips (of Hotel) and Kevin Derryberry (of Telluride) are close, personal friends, and I love their music. Marc does solo work now, and also has a local band called "Groove Daddy" that is just great. Kevin is a solo artist. Love the music of my friend Ryan Kinder too."

Janet Hall O'Neil - Anchor at WBRC TV and accomplished musician in her own right for any who didn't yet know!  (
"Sure, I'd love to throw in a few names. "Crooked Road" is one of the best bands around with great original tunes and fantastic covers. Nobody rocks Superior Grill like they do.
"The Roadsters include Dan Farmer, Kenny Hanks, Kent Peterson, Marc Navez, Buddy Hassler and Tommy Young. My songwriting pal Dan Farmer is absolutely among the best songwriters in town.
"Others to check out: Veteran Birmingham performer Lolly Lee is always fun no matter what she's doing. Love her songwriting. Kelli Johnson is another great songwriter crossing several genres from country to gospel. Beautiful voice!"

John Archibald - Birmingham News Columnist:
"I'm a big fan of Lauren-Michael Sellers. Just starting to appreciate War Jacket. Really love the whole Greyhaven thing that brings us folks like Joel Madison Blount and so many other good ones in one unique setting. Can't call the Alabama Shakes local, I guess, but load me on that bandwagon, too.
"Shoulda added the Dirty Clergy, too. Still new to me, but I like what I hear.
"About music. I am constantly amazed at how talented the musicians are in Birmingham. It's like, every time I turn around I hear someone that just blows me away -- Lauren-Michael Sellers really being the latest. It's like ... damn. Damn? Damn? This is Birmingham? And then ... Yeah! This is Birmingham!"

Charles Scribner, Executive Director, Black Warrior Riverkeeper:
"My favorite bands are the ones who support Black Warrior Riverkeeper. On July 21, local musicians played Avondale RiverFest to raise awareness about the proposed Shepherd Bend Mine, a threat to Birmingham's water -- and one that the University of Alabama can stop: Possum, Calling Station, Fire Mountain, The Poison Kitchen, Stuart McNair & Friends, Ryan Oconnor & The Renegades of Folk, DJ Jimi Fritz, and John & Jacob all put on a great show without charging our nonprofit a dime. Black Warrior Riverkeeper's next big event will be our 10th Anniversary celebration on September 22 at Good People Brewery, featuring the Locust Fork Band. It is inspiring to see talented musicians fight for clean water."

 I also asked some of our local musicians when they're not working on their own stuff who they follow:

 John Bella -  Thothamon, Sativa, Wretched Flesh:
"Ultimo Hombre is pretty rockin'. They've got a 4 song demo coming out shortly."

Roger Jones - Voodoo Jones, Jager Muffin:
"I love seeing the Naked Eskimo's, Elijah Butler Band, Who Shot Lizzy, Outshine. There are so many more... Lots of talented guys out there and everyone should really support the scene in B'ham. There are also some very talented original bands such as Within Reason, Lynam,

"Another band to check out Mr. Mayhem. One of my favs! Too many to name only a couple and I haven't even scratched the surface. I go see other bands when I'm off, just to hear their take on songs and song selection. Not to mention I know most of them."

SharBaby Newport - Blues Legend :) : 
"The Music Scene here in Birmingham, Alabama is sooo diverse!!!!! I am sooo amazed at all of the Talent, legends and all that came from The State of Alabama!!!!! From Blues Singers to Country, Pop and Jazz!!!!! I am so glad to be a part of the Alabama Music Scene!!!!!!"

Carly Frost -  "I hold a Doctorate from the School of Blues Hard Knocks.":
 "John Kulinich: Unique Tele Meister who will 'Bend The Spoon' of what we understand as lead guitar if allowed to flourish in a BAND context."

 Donnie Garvich - Pyrite Parachute:
"I'm into local, original music personally. Lately I've been digging Royal & Toulouse, Mile Marker 7 and The Green Seed. To round out the wildly varying styles representative of our local "sound" right now I'd also recommend checking out Beitthemeans and The Great Book of John."

 Roger Jones - Voodoo Jones, Jager Muffin (again):
" Oh damn i forgot to mention Frankie Velvet and the Veltones! Anything Rick Carter is in is good stuff!"

 Matt Ritchie

"Voodoo Jones, Todd Simpson, Erica's Playhouse. I don't go out too much when I'm not playing. However if I'm out having a drink these guys are fun to watch!"

 Russell Gulley - solo act and Jackson Highway:
"I'm starting to follow the B'ham scene more. "Back in the day", the 1970s, my brother and I were part of the B'ham scene thru our work with a band "CROSS" and then Jackson Highway, although a Muscle Shoals band, we played Birmingham a lot. Birmingham had a lot of influence on Muscle Shoals music, a lot of musicians migrated there and many of course would go there for the studios. Today, I actually feel that there's a new vital music scene all over Alabama, especially Birmingham. I've been watching in the social media groups like Royal & Toulouse, Who Shot Lizzy, and looking at the club scene to see who is playing and what folks are saying. That's important I think because the local clubs etc. are the breeding ground for new music. Although, I'm in my 60's, I still know that I'm creative and have much to offer the younger musicians out there. I've watched Birmingham for 40 years now and although I focus more on festivals, etc. for performance space, the clubs are still important. I appreciate this group and what BFP Music does to bring together a forum for the music community here."

Michael Knowles - Koralyst:
"As for Original bands, I love watching Ages Apart who very rarely play their home town. Which is a good thing, makes their shows better when you only see them maybe twice a year. I support any band that truly puts their heart in their music and acts like professionals. I don't get to get out much with my work schedule so I'm missing a lot of new talented bands in Bham."

 Jay Winks  - local musician/solo artist:
"Howabout some spotlights on veterans of the local scene, regardless of whether they are still local/working local or not. Lolly Lee. Rick Kurtz. Glen Butts. Libba Walker. Mark Lanter. Rick Carter. Leif Bondarenko. Eric Essix. Oteil Burbridge. Scott Boyer. Allen Parks. Maybe some retrospectives on some we've lost along the way. Topper. I know in a way some of this runs counter to the "latest-breaking" vibe that is so much of the BFP approach, but I think Ziggy Marley wrote "don't know your past, don't know your future" in Tomorrow People. There's lots going on today that's awesome and I catch all I can but there's a special place in my heart for some of the first local acts I saw. My first encounters with the Mortals, Foxxy Fatts and the Cast resulted in a lifelong love for local grooves."

 Dave Evans - Simone Durand Trio:
"Some of the musicians I have really been impressed by are a few who are just so brilliant at their craft. Ones that come to mind are the guys in Frankie Velvet and Mile Marker 7, and then some individual players like Brandon Peeples, Joe Breckenridge, Jacob Bunton, Mark Kimbrell, Gary Harbison, and Nicole McLean. I could go on and on."
Brent Gulsby - Black Veil:
"Tim Boykin is a great guitar player. Everybody should go and see him play at least once!!!! He's so fast that when he puts his guitar down after a set, the fret board is smoking, lol..."
If you didn't already know this there is something happening in Birmingham and's music, and it's amazing!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012



Friends, the new CD, "Dance All Day" is finished and in post-production,
and here is the last of my shows in the USA for a while. Check out the
info below about becoming a TOUR ANGEL!!!

                   at Stillwater Pub in Birmingham! No Cover! TEN BUCKS
                   gets you the new CD! With Sue Nuckols, Kevin Leon,
                   Onimus, and Mike Creager! Mike the mastermind behind
                   the recording of the new CD!

        Stuart Needs Your Help

        Friends, Stuart needs help. Yep, I'm sure you've noticed
after all these years that yours truly is an independent, unsigned,
DIY-type of artist. For all these years of recordings full length CD's,
booking shows, promoting, creating merchandise, performing all the time,
and handling all of the thousands of day to day details, the dream has
always been riding on my own two feet.

        I'm running a small business, and I'm doing it all by myself,
financing every little thing along the way out of pocket. And those pockets
are only as deep as the gigs that I'm playing at the time. You would be amazed...
there is ALWAYS a list of things to pay for, from worn out harmonicas to new tires
to posters to copyright forms. The recording process if FILLED with hidden expenses,
and I am now at the end of a very ambitious project.

        So right now I find myself in the midst of paying out of pocket to
launch my new CD, "Dance All Day", while at the same time financing a
trip back to Europe. I feel personally called to play at Scotland's International
Festival of Spirituality and Peace, and I think that the combination of the new
CD and this Tour is a good thing. At this point, I'm trying to pay off a big old plane
ticket, order fresh posters, replicate my CD, and do a thousand other things over
the next couple of weeks. NOW IS THE TIME to help!
 can you help? Well, I'm launching a new deal for those who wish to
donate and become official TOUR ANGELS! Here is the deal.

        TOUR ANGEL SPECIAL - A $50 Donation gets you a personally signed copy
of the new CD, "Dance All Day", and a full sized bumper sticker. You will also be
thanked on a special TOUR ANGEL section of the website! As a TOUR ANGEL,
you will get future discounts on merchandise as well.

        TOUR ANGEL FAMILY SPECIAL - Do you wish to make a huge impact
and donate more? If so, you get the above deal for every $50, so you've got extras
for the whole family to give as gifts! If you give more than there are names in your family,
then use the thank you space for your business or personal cause! Are you part of a family of 5?
Donate $250 and receive a CD for everyone!

        HOW TO DONATE: I have a Paypal account, under my name, and associated with the email

        Or, you can snail mail a donation to:

        Stuart McNair
       1851 Old Shell Rd.
        Mobile, AL 36607


        Gas giftcard
        Walmart or other gift card for supplies
        any old musical instruments, cases, books, etc.

        Please contact me with any questions, and if you make a donation, make sure and
email me so I can have a record of it for your merchandise and put your name on the website!


Monday, July 23, 2012

Today's Hard on BFP Music: Iscariot by Defeated Eden

~ James Hawkins

Defeated Eden is a progressive metal/hard rock band from Albertville Alabama. The band formed in May of 2009 drawing influences from a wide variety of music including many different genres consisting of Metal, Metal-core, Hard Rock, Experimental, Math-Core Metal, Classical, Blues, Djent, Classic Rock, Inde, Punk, and Psychedelic.

Album: Iscariot

Song one: So Hard To See - a spirited opener, has a "here we go now" feeling of forward propulsion. It's anthemic, a bit of Iron Maiden meets Children Of Bodom. The vocals are mostly melodic/clean, and do not sound auto-tuned. I hope they stick to their guns about the no AutoTune.

What is it about metalcore growls that's different from death metal growls? Death metal vocals tend to be more about the sound, texture. Not angry - more demonic, feral, maybe even a bit detached - occasionally reptilian. By Contrast, metalcore harsh vox make me feel that they are definitely supposed to sound EMOTIVE. As in, angry, forceful. Which, from a 17-20 year old, can sound a bit strident at times. By contrast, the clean-sung vocals tend to sound more detached and cool-temperatured. You notice the melody more than you think about the character or mood of the person singing them.

Uh oh, on Simple Message at 2:19, here comes the AutoTune. At that point I thought I was going to hear a lot of AutoTune, but after that I didn't hear it anymore, so it was an anomaly.

These guys can definitely play. There is some natural swing going on in the guitars (which I like), but they are playing some tricky parts, and they play them with alacrity and aplomb (as George Gobel used to say).

The song Eve starts with a breakdown. For the uninitiated, breakdowns are as intergal to metalcore as High Fructose Corn Syrup is to white bread. I imagine that some years ago, a well-inteded 'core band decided to add a chuggy halftime section to make their thrashy death metal song more intense and dynamic. And when they did, a bunch of kids with white belts and combovers broke into spontaneous faux martial arts moves. And the venue owner said "when can we get you guys back??" And the world would never be the same.

Endless Calamity has some tricky time changes and tight two-part vocal harmonies. The drummer is really good.

Fidelis Eternus has clean, dynamic, arppegiated guitar, with spoken vocals. This song and Blood Of Our Statues are the most experimental, non-typical songs offered here, and the most compelling to listen to.

Overall, this is technically solid and proficcient stuff. I would love to see them branch out and become more experimental, breaking out of the stylistic confines of this genre. But if metalcore is your thing, these guys deliver the goods.


Lucky Dog Records: CD to Benefit Breast Cancer Research

Lucky Dog Records will release a compilation CD to benefit The Breast Cancer Research Center at The University Of Alabama at Birmingham. 

The CD features songs by The Shelby Lynne, The Oak Ridge Boys, Paul Thorn, The Mighty Jeremiahs, Christine Ohlman, Jay Gonzalez, Spooner Oldham, Donnie Fritts, Mark Narmore, The Decoys, Bekka Bramlett, Will Kimbrough, Tommy Miles and Delaney Bramlett, Max Russell, Tommy York, and Scott Ward Band.

 "My mother found out she had breast cancer in March" says Ward, "She had to have a mastectomy and now her doctors say she is cancer free. I have always wanted to be a producer and while I was sitting around in the waiting room during my mother's surgery, at Regional Medical Center in Anniston, I came up with the idea. I wanted to do something to honor my mother while she was still around, to try and give something back for all the opportunities I have had in music. Also, I have lost 2 classmates to breast cancer- Becky Maddox Tucker, and Brenda Bostian. I have been fortunate to work with and become friends with a lot of legendary musicians in Muscle Shoals and Nashville, and started calling and e-mailing all my friends and acquaintances.

"My friend Jay Gonzalez of Drive By Truckers was the first to give me a song- he had just released a solo CD called "Mess Of Happiness," which is excellent. I then asked Spooner Oldham, Donnie Fritts, Will Kimbrough, and Christine Ohlman, formerly the vocalist with the Saturday Night Live Band. Christine is already helping me promote the project in New York City.

"All of the artists gave me their songs to use for free- many of them have close family members who have have been affected by Breast Cancer."

You can check it out and purchase it at:  

Ward hopes to have the offering on iTunes, and some CDs very soon.   

Friday, July 20, 2012


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia 

Dale Watson (born October 7, 1962 in Birmingham, Alabama) is an American alternative country/Texas Country singer, guitarist, songwriter, and self-published author based in Austin, Texas. He is championed "Ameripolitan" as a new genre of original music and positioned himself as a tattooed, stubbornly independent outsider who is interested in recording authentic country music. As a result, his record sales have been slow, but he has become a favorite of critics and alt-country fans.
Watson grew up in poverty outside of Pasadena, Texas as one of four boys. Watson's father (whom he is named after) and brother, Jim were both musically inclined and guided what have become his longstanding musical influences. Watson began writing his own songs at age 12, making his first recording two years later. Soon after, Watson became an emancipated minor. By day he went to school and by night he played local Houston clubs and Honky Tonks with Jim in an aggregation called the Classic Country Bandin.
He moved to Los Angeles in 1988 on the advice of Rosie Flores and soon joined the house band at North Hollywood's now-legendary alt-country venue the Palomino Club. He recorded two singles for Curb in 1990, "One Tear at a Time" and "You Pour It On," and appeared on the third volume of the compilation series, A Town South of Bakersfield, in 1992. Not long after, he moved to Nashville and spent some time writing songs for the Gary Morris publishing company where his first daughter was born.
Watson relocated to Austin, TX, where he formed a backing band called the Lone Stars. He scored a deal with Hightone and released his debut album, Cheatin' Heart Attack, in 1995. It was greeted with enormous acclaim for the vitality Watson brought to his vintage-style material and performances and also featured a dig at mainstream country in "Nashville Rash." Follow-up Blessed or Damned appeared in 1996 and continued in a similar vein, as did 1997's I Hate These Songs. His next release, The Truckin' Sessions, appeared on Koch in 1998 and was devoted entirely to that distinct country subgenre of truck-driving songs. Soon after, his second daughter was born.

Haley Bopp will be playing at Oasis this Thursday, 7/26.

Haley Bopp will be playing at Oasis this Thursday, 7/26. This is the band now: Gigi, Leif, Eric and Ben Trexel. So, we have 3 original members and will be playing original tunes, old and new.
Photo: Haley Bopp will be playing at Oasis this Thursday, 7/26.  This is the band now:  Gigi, Leif, Eric and Ben Trexel.  So, we have 3 original members and will be playing original tunes, old and new.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

On the Rocks w/ Joe Justice Ep. 2 - Future Primitives, Justify These Sca...

Avondale RiverFest

For Immediate Release   
July 11, 2012

Free Live Music Event at Avondale Brewing Company from Noon to Midnight 

Birmingham – On Saturday, July 21, noon to midnight, Avondale Brewing Company will host “Avondale RiverFest” to benefit Black Warrior Riverkeeper, a nonprofit organization protecting the Black Warrior River and its tributaries.  Free to the public, Avondale RiverFest will feature live music on the brewery’s new backyard stage.  The Avondale Brewery is located at 201 41st Street South and now includes a large outdoor area.

Festival organizer StompBox Medium has booked several excellent bands for July 21, including Adventure the Great, Bl├╝print, Fire Mountain, John and Jacob, The Poison Kitchen, Possum, Ryan O’Connor & the Renegades of Folk, Stuart McNair & Friends, and more. 

Guests age 21 and older can purchase a variety of Avondale beers at the brewery’s new outdoor bar.  Crestwood Coffee Company will be selling delicious food at the brewery’s recently expanded outdoor area, while artists and organizations promote their local efforts at outdoor booths.  10% of all beer and food proceeds will be donated to Black Warrior Riverkeeper.  StompBox Medium continues to accept applications for artists and vendors through an online form at:

The Black Warrior River watershed provides approximately half of Birmingham’s drinking water, including all of the water that Avondale Brewing Company uses to brew their beer.  The brewery’s owners have publicly implored the University of Alabama to refuse to lease or sell property for the proposed Shepherd Bend Mine, which would discharge pollutants 800 feet from the Birmingham Water Works Board’s Mulberry Fork intake facility.  Throughout the event, Black Warrior Riverkeeper will provide information and displays about the Shepherd Bend Mine and broader efforts to promote clean water, public health, wildlife habit, and recreation. 

“It is exciting to see a local business grow so quickly while supporting its community and water supply,” said Charles Scribner, Executive Director of Black Warrior Riverkeeper.  “We appreciate Avondale Brewing Company’s efforts to help us protect the river and Birmingham’s tap water from the Shepherd Bend Mine.” 

To view an aerial photo by Nelson Brooke, Black Warrior Riverkeeper, showing Birmingham Water Works Board’s Mulberry Fork intake facility (top), the Black Warrior River’s Mulberry Fork (middle) and the proposed Shepherd Bend Mine site (bottom), visit:

To view the Avondale RiverFest poster and sponsors, visit:

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Between the Silence and the Screams: Making Money with Music

By Lee Waites

Promotion is an ever changing game. These days the number, type and style of promotion "companies" is manifest. The advent of the Globonet and reasonably affordable image software has made it as easy as a few clicks on the computer to create promotions. The various fan sites and online music distribution outlets have made it even easier, allowing artists the ability to self promote and sell directly to their fan base.

We've all learned by now that this is a double edged sword. The days of a few music industry companies choosing your playlist are over. But the sheer magnitude of available music can be overwhelming. And the number of apps and websites available for purchasing music are growing daily.

Where does the local musician fall in all this? For a few savvy and well established musicians it means a nice backdrop for their live circuit. It means the occasional fan purchase of a few tracks or a t-shirt or two, and a permanent online portfolio for prospective venues, gigs or hopefully an interested label. But the number of "fans" actually engaged in a band's activities, if based on Internet "likes" can be misleading. And at what point does this translate into some form of income? The answer can be unsettling.

Just recently I was outside a well known local venue having a discussion with a well known local artist (The words "definitely off the record" were used. So no names). He had returned not long ago from a successful tour. His band has received numerous positive reviews from sources such as Paste Magazine and several others. Aside from our discussion of music coverage in Birmingham, of which he had much to say, we discussed the nature of pay in the music business today. He was not enthusiastic. I hear often how the pay rate for local musicians is very unstable, unfair and undeniably crap. And given the interest from abroad, the links that have been sent to us, the comments left and the emails received, I have to conclude that the above mentioned artist is correct in his conclusion that "It's the same shit everywhere." There are certain venues that pay well and a much larger number that, well...just don't. 

So how does a musician make money today? We asked some of the musicians who are part of the BFP Music community to share some thoughts. 

Brian Morgan "Maybe it's because I'm a drummer (and I have no musical integrity) but I think the worst mistake that any band or musician makes is only look at things from the perspective of art and ignore basic business principles. In a perfect world, the general public would love anyone who makes music from the heart; but the world is over-saturated with multi-media and it is very hard to be heard over the din. It is my belief that bands need to have a business sense about them in order to work smarter, as well as harder. Who is your target audience? How do you get in front of that audience? What do you have to offer that is better or different from what everyone else is offering? I've watched (and been in) great bands that played incredibly, but got no reaction out of the audience. As musicians we tend to play what WE love to hear without considering what the audience wants. Musicians' tastes in music is very different from the general public's taste in music (which is why Justin Beiber is a household name while Pat Metheny is almost unheard of). There's a decision to make here; if it's about music and art for you, then be prepared to suffer for what you love and remember that most artists aren't appreciated till after they're dead. If it's money you're interested in, be prepared to compromise. In short, I suppose the first question to ask would be, "What kind of crowd am I trying to attract, and where can I find them."

Jerome Walls:  "One way to make money is covers. Top 40. What people want to hear and lots of songs. That way when you build a relationship with the bars you can play the same venues on a static basis. Lesser immediate profit but residually advantageous. Having a multi-genre background is almost a must."
 "I go outta town to Mississippi and Tennessee when I can, because you're a big deal to them. It's hard playing a 30 mile radius. Hit the road if you can."

Daniel Steel (Bad Robotz):  "I don't think anyone is making money for real. a very few bars, some bartenders at a few spots are, no promoters, not sure of many bands, strip club djs, and a few club djs but not very many. Hardly anyone is consistently holding it down... maybe Within Reason and some others. but I know I dj more than most around here and it's poor at best. After 10 years in the scene I can say it's nearly dead here besides a select college crowd with their parent's or student loan money."
"People need to realize we are in a depression. But instead of soup lines we have credit cards from the govt. A 3 billion dollar sewer bill and all the tornadoes we've had here are not helping things either. If someone could organize all the bands, I could get all the djs and college dance parties to play a fundraiser. I did the 4 venue bar crawl for tornado victims in 5pts last summer. But there are about to be some more closings than basecamp and some more new places so maybe some things will change. But I wouldn't bet on the downtown ent. district being too big at first unless they bring in House of Blues, Coyote Ugly, and other big chain venues and give away a lot of alcohol."

Brent Gulsby (Black Veil):  "Nothing like a coffee can with "TIPS" written on it and a vibrant street corner....Works every time!!! lol..."
"Touring and selling CD's on the road is the only way we ever made "Good" money..But now with ITUNES and hosting your own website and all the other Internet plugs, it's up to the musician how much they want to work and how they use these "new" tools..."

SharBaby Newport:  "Well, I would say first of all get attention by having your own website where you can have your own store where fans can purchase your Cds and other memorabilia. Network as much as possible and build your fan base because they are the ones that will be buying your wares!!!!!"

Zach Doss (Zach Doss & Kentucky's Finest):"Learn a thousand songs and book a thousand gigs. And make sure they all pay."

Christopher Dann Hendrix (GNP, Throng of Shoggoths): "t-shirt sales, man! Beer coozies and hats and a hot girlfriend at the merch table. Learn how to screen print and do 'em yourself"

George Dudley (2Blu and the Lucky Stiffs): "Go after corporates (shows) and privates."

Russell Gulley: "Most musicians have always done better on the road. To folks at home, you are just the "Joe next door". The road is hard. Keep fresh merchandise. If you can't record a new one, take tracks from several of your previous ones to use for a compilation, a "best of" or remaster with a couple of bonus tracks. You have to think like a promoter and think like a business man... OH, and BTW..... I work with arts councils etc, so I present artists of all disciplines. If someone wants to book one of my events and don't have a press kit, whether EPK or hard copy ( sometimes I'm old school, I like hard copies), professional photo ( head shot at least, B/W, + color, and hopefully both horizontal and vertical layout, and a BIO with a good sample of work, what do you think the chances are that I'd hire them?"
 Bobby Shiflett (Alamantra): "Chris is right on with the merchandising. That is where bands can make the most money from a show, without a club giving them a guarantee.

Session work and synch licensing. Also using music to create other revenue streams such as embedding ads into videos/audio streams, using a band site for ads etc..
We've been talking to a club that wants us to send a hard copy press kit. Since we've gone to the expense and trouble of creating an EPK and they don't want to adapt, we are thinking about making hard copy press kits that clubs can order for $20.00 + postage. They can either use the means we've provided them or pay for compliance."
Chuck Rackley(Who Shot Lizzy?): "Merchandise, and it has to be cool. Spend the money to get great graphics and remember when you are designing a logo that the design you go with will be your merchandise centerpiece."

This is only a sampling of the conversations we have in our group. I'm sure there will be more to chime in. I might even do a follow up if someone comes up with the idea of the century and wants to share it.
 Ryan Flynt (Motel Ice Machine): "I am actually going to screen a bunch of Motel Ice Machine shirts for an out of town gig this weekend. Here's your quote though Lee... "The only way to make a living as a musician in Birmingham is to get a day job."

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Rock n Roll Sushi and Alabama Rivers Alliance: Throwing a Party

Rock & Roll Sushi in Trussville is hosting a benefit for Alabama Rivers Alliance on August 11th from 4PM to 11PM. 

The Alabama Rivers Alliance is a statewide advocate for clean water in Alabama. Alabama Rivers Alliance is a privately funded non-profit whose goals include educating and mobilizing Alabama citizens at a grassroots level, influencing policy and raising awareness about the health of Alabama's waterways.  

The event will feature live music from, BJ Parnell, Alright Goodnight and One Eyed Mary. All sales will be donated to the Alabama Rivers Alliance.

There is no charge for admission.


Also featuring a silent auction and raffle benefiting the Alabama Rivers Alliance.

Sponsorship options available. Have questions? Contact
Katie Shaddix.



Tuesday, July 10, 2012

7/28 - moe. at Railroad Park - CANCELLED

Due to an illness in the band, moe. are cancelling most of their dates this month, including their show at Railroad Park on Saturday, July 28.  All ticketholders will be refunded immediately and an official statement from the band is included below.  Any further questions can be directed to Todd Coder at

moe. has canceled most of their July dates while drummer Vinnie Amico recovers from an undisclosed illness (believed to be mono). The band will still play a few of their upcoming festival dates and hopes to return to the road on July 31.

A statement from the band reads:

As you all may know, moe. played the past 4 shows with percussionist Jim Loughlin on drums because Vinnie has been sick. Although Vinnie is starting to feel better, he still needs some time to recover. With regret, we are cancelling most of our remaining summer dates. Jim will play drums with moe. on Saturday at the Great South Bay Music Festival in Patchogue, NY. We hope and anticipate Vinnie will be able to return for the 7/31 Wilmington NC show, our opening set with the Allman Brothers in Atlanta on 8/1 and for moe.down.

We would like to thank all our fans and all the promoters for their understanding and support. And a heartfelt thank you for all the well wishes to Vin. A few of the shows will be made up on the fall tour. We will update those once they are re-scheduled. At this time, refunds will be made for the 11 canceled shows at the point of purchase.

Once again, thank you for your support,
moe. and the .org

moe. has cancelled their following shows:

JUL 15 House of Blues Cleveland, OH

JUL 17 Slowdown Omaha, NE

JUL 19 Vilar Performing Arts Center Beaver Creek, CO

JUL 20 Ogden Theatre Denver, CO
JUL 21 Ogden Theatre Denver, CO

JUL 22 SOL Santa Fe Santa Fe, NM

JUL 25 Crossroads Kansas City, MO

JUL 26 Cain’s Ballroom Tulsa, OK

JUL 27 George’s Majestic Lounge Fayetteville, AR

JUL 28 Railroad Park Birmingham, AL

JUL 29 Jannus Landing St. Petersburg, FL

Friday, July 6, 2012

BFP Everywhere Underground: Manila, Philippines via soundcloud

Here is a track we recieved from Manila.  "I'm 20 years old and i currently reside in Manila, Philippines. I play guitar and piano and do my own recordings and mixing. i started singing when i was 5 and started writing when i was sixteen. i haven't released any of my originals but i'm currently working on it. i used to be in a band called Noise Redemption. Some of my influences are City & Colour, Paramore, Ed Sheeran and Keane. I would be releasing my first original in the next few months."

BFP Underground Everywhere: X Black Superheroes

BFP Music has been putting out it's feelers for music from other places in the world. We've begun to receive some responses. Here is one group that has sent us something. Birmingham to the World and the World to us.

The X Black Superheroes: Rachell Burrell is the Wisconsin born, Jamaica W.I. raised, and for the last decade living voice of soul living known as The Story Teller; An astounding Singer and one of the noted songwriter of our time.

The Story Teller, known for her trip hop and rock music intertwined sound with a voice reminiscent of 1960's soul received her BS degree in Advertising and Marketing Communications, with honors from The Fashion Institute of Technology. Shortly after, the songstress set out to change the meaning of Soul. She has produced music and poetry events at various New York City Stages and venues managing the underground scene, which lead to the development of ‘Price Tags Art’.

Burrell - who lives by the motto, “Let Your Voice Be Heard”, is the founder of the New York based company, Price Tags Art, which focuses on promoting artists who write thought- provoking and conscious music. It is her belief that music is a ‘heavy’ influence in all of our lives and that of our youth – to that end Price Tags Art has been committed to going into schools to speak to young people about music and the psychological effect of its content. After the continuation of her success of the Price Tags Art Company, and producing various New York City showcase events.

Burrell now feels it is her time to step into the limelight. Already looking forward to success she says fans can expect a diversity of topics on upcoming projects as her goal is to write about issues that aren’t talked about enough. * 4MC Recording Artist, Sefu Kafele formerly known as Israel Tacuma, completed the dynamic duo X Black Superheores. Known for his delivery and artistic salvation hails from Queens, New York and has been serving the Underground Hip Hop community faithful for years. Upon his 2011 Release Hood Dharma, Kafele was noted to be one of the greats of his time: “Sefu Kafele covers a range of The Experience in remarkable multi-layered lyricism that would make Jimi Hendrix proud. Like a refined chef who knows his ingredients thoroughly, Kafele knows how to pepper each verse with bonus knowledge disguised in a few artfully chosen words. Hood Dharma is the affirmative answer to Hendrix’s inquiry, “Are You Experienced?” Kafele has worked with some of the most talented producers and Artist on the Underground scene such as Nina B, Don Frost, Joe Wize, to name a few. With the help of these heavy hitters, Kafele and Burrell released their May 2012 highly anticipated second release entitled ‘Ike and tina’ on iTunes, and all other major media outlets and platforms. It's been so long since you've heard a duo from New York City bring a sound that is truly music to our ears. New York stands up and stands talk! The wait is over; the X Black Super Heroes are here to save the day.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

On the Record w/ Joe Justice - Episode 1 - Vulkodlak, Scotch Allenguarde...

I haven't been contributing as much as i should lately and i'm sorry. I've been working on an internet show that focuses on underground bands in Birmingham or traveling through. check it out and if you want to be on the show email me at

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Birmingham Self Serve: A Reintroduction to BFP Music

I forget sometimes that I need to explain sometimes that sometimes I make new things.

Hello, My name is Lee Waites. As the Man in Charge at BFP Music, and the person to either blame or credit for what BFP Music is doing, I feel I need to explain our goals and our strategy.

Recently there was some heated argument in a local Facebook group that led to a misunderstanding, and some harsh words were said about BFP Music. It turned out that it was completely a mistake and the person who said these things was actually talking about another group. But until the confusion was cleared up I was thinking of a way to explain what we're doing to the person in question, so as to clarify how they could gain more exposure through our outlet.

  •  We work with those who work with us: It is sort of a sweat equity situation. I have put forth slightly more effort at times to promote bands that have put a lot into helping what we are doing. I will admit this. That being said, we put forth great effort to promote any credible local music that we are informed of or directed to. Some of my counterparts in local music promotion have expressed to me directly and tactfully that they feel we do not weed out the less talented, less potentially successful artists and that this reduces our credibility. I less tactfully, but respectfully respond, pttthhhhh... I totally disagree. I believe the days of "you will like this band because I tell you to like this band" are dying, if not already dead. People can listen for themselves and choose for themselves more than ever before. So we at BFP Music feel the incredible potential for storage, inter-connectivity and self promotion offered by today's Globonet must be streamlined to provide a connection through which local musicians can use the Globonet to reach a wider local audience, as well as reaching people in other parts of the world. We do not feel it is an opportunity for us to guide people to our interpretation of good. 
  • We do not need to reinvent the wheel: Yes, we use Blogger. We do not feel the need to try and flash everything up or build our own expensive website so we can waste our money, or advertiser money for a fancier button or a different layout. In fact Blogger offers most of the layouts of major websites now and we could easily change. We will not do this. We are not chasing tails. We're fine. We utilize Soundcloud, Reverbnation and other already established music and video outlets because they already have the music there. And they have their own systems for networking and spreading the artist's work. We are in the business of bringing that local. Where appropriate we will use our website. But content is the issue. 
  • We are a large part social media: We try to use social media groups and pages wherever possible. We don't want to take the artist out of this environment, but focus them in. This is where everyone is. If they go somewhere else, we will too. The main issue is to make it less likely that the artist will get lost. The great thing about current social media is how quickly and easily a message can get to people. This is also the reason another message will take its place in about ten seconds or less. We want to remain an outlet where interested parties can slip into our stream and focus in their connection with local music. Our groups provide an even more targeted approach.
Artists and readers should take a look at the different groups and pages we are offering. In order to get the most out of it you need to make some selections. Artists can join our Reverbnation roster and be automatically promoted through our social media. Readers can pick and choose who and what type of music to follow. We admit that our job is somewhat of a glorified traffic cop. We love to listen to local music and write. But we have also set up our blog so that local musicians can take advantage of our network to self promote.  They can also use our network to discuss local issues or express opinions. In order for this to work for them they must do it. We will assist. But they must start the ball rolling.

Take a look to the right of this post and you will see a list of pages. On each page there is an opportunity to connect with listeners, readers or musicians. Please take the time to see what all we're offering and how. 

We are interested in all local music. If you need to feel special, like the Queen or something, then we might not be for you. We don't intend to neglect anyone. But the same old groups of people writing and crowing about the same old groups of people isn't our bag. We will promote your shows, and your music can speak for itself. We recommend you utilize all we have to offer. Then you can get your foot rub from the other guys. I don't blame you. I like a good foot rub too.               

Monday, July 2, 2012


"I've learned to accept I have original songs. So my friends and I though hectic times, overworked, and probably rather old for such nonsense, we will try to throw out an E.P. sometime before I die.

"Covers pay for covers. Or this time of year, A/C. Never be scared to play an original if the mood's just right. The crowd will ignore you. It's OK. It's their right.

 "For those who do originals only, I salute you."  - Jerome Walls