Thursday, September 24, 2015

" #HappyBirthday to You" Copyright Struck Down! Song is Now Public Domain According to Federal Judge

After almost a century of subjugation to questionable copyright claims, the world may now freely sing "Happy Birthday to You" without paying royalties or the fear of legal action, according to Judge George H. King of Los Angeles Federal Court. 

Judge King ruled on Tuesday that copyright filed by the Summy Co. in 1935 granted only rights to specific piano arrangements of the music, not the actual song. 

In an article published by The Los Angeles Times, the ruling states that none of copyright claims to the song over the past 80 years have been valid. "'Happy Birthday' is finally free after 80 years," said Randall Newman, an attorney for the plaintiffs in the suit, which included a group of filmmakers who are producing a documentary about the song. "Finally, the charade is over. It's unbelievable."

Filmmaker Jennifer Nelson was asked to sign a licensing agreement and pay Warner/Chappell, the company claiming copyright to the song, in order to include it in her documentary Happy Birthday. But instead, Nelson decided to sue.

The song has been estimated to bring in around $2 million a year for Warner Music Group.Warner and the plaintiffs both agreed that the melody of "Good Morning To All," the original tune, had entered the public domain decades ago. Warner, however, claimed it still owned the rights to the "Happy Birthday" lyrics, leaning on the 1935 copyright claim.

Judge King ruled that there was no evidence that the Summy Co. - the original company to assert a copyright claim - ever legally obtained the rights to the "Happy Birthday To You" song from whomever wrote it, thus invalidating any future claims and striking down all previous ones and opening up the potential for a class action suit to recoup previous royalty payments.

George Washington University law professor, Robert Braune claims the ruling does not explicitly place "Happy Birthday To You" in the public domain. But that "Figuring out who owned [the rights] at this point would be quite an interesting job."

Warner Music Group has yet to indicate if they will seek an appeal of this ruling.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Just Around the Corner to @CukoRakko... What the Word Means and What to Expect: A Practical Guide


I'm kicking back at one of the Countdown to CukoRakko events at Cahaba Brewing, digging the band, watching Raymoon Vob spontaneously paint as people pass by him and check out what he's doing. I'm kicking back a really good beer with a content grin on my face when Jamie Glass, one of the founders and coordinators of CukoRakko comes and sits down beside me. He is a really friendly, positive guy. 

Painting by Raymoon Vob

We talk about how things are going, how everything is being organized. Jamie discusses some of his plans for CukoRakko, always thinking about how he can tweak things, but realizing what they have is already awesome. Little things, move a food truck here, place a vendor there, Jamie's mind is always hovering over things like any good host would do, promoting, planning and perfecting. But it's a relaxed perfection. There's a constant understanding that when you provide the basic structure, with an energy and a vision, certain things grow, the direction is organic. It needs only slight guidance.

For instance, this is the point where he leans in to me, looks me in the eye and says, with a slight, wry smile "y''s one word." 

Of course, I'm sort of mesmerized by everything going on around me, enjoying the band, listening to Jamie express his vision of CukoRakko, watching people dance, uh...drinking my awesome beer. So it takes a second for me to register that he is saying something to which I might need to actually respond. 

In my unique and articulate way I say "Huh?"
"It's one word...CukoRakko. It isn't Cuko...Rakko. It's one word...CukoRakko. No big deal but when you wrote about it, you wrote it as two words." He smiles and kind of half winks. He's funning with me. But...he is also very detail oriented. So of course he noticed. "I love what you wrote and it's totally not a big deal. But it's one word."

"Oh shit!" I say... "Damn, I wrote it as two words?"

"Yeah," he says..."But don't sweat it. I love what you wrote. I just thought I should mention, y'know, well it is our name." He smiles a really big harmless smile and pats me on the shoulder. You have to know Jamie. He and Greg have put their hearts and souls into CukoRakko. And their hearts and souls are good. Everything they're working on is about good stuff, good connections, good vibes.

"I'll fix that tonight." I say.

"Hey man. I'm just thankful for all the attention the festival is getting. I just..." Someone walks up beside him at this point and mentions something that needs some tweaking. In a perfectly non-offensive way Jamie Glass drifts away from me to attend to his baby, word.

So, let me just lay that one here for anyone who might have been confused. I am probably the only one. And it might be due to my age, or my frequent moments of enjoyment like the one I am currently experiencing, but for the meaning of the WORD CukoRakko, click this link:  (which has since been edited to reflect the Oneness of the word)

The band takes a break, and I wander outside for a minute where I find Greg Entrekin, another of the awesome founders of CukoRakko (one word). He and I brag on the band who has just played their first set, about a few things related to, I think parking, and pictures, and just goof talking between sets of the band. We go over some of the bands that will be at this Fall's CukoRakko, talk about which beer we're currently drinking...we both look around at the crowd, pleased by the scene. I laugh and mention I had written CukoRakko as two words in an earlier piece. Greg smiles at me. I don't get the impression, however, that he even gives what I just said another thought. He's focused on the band here tonight, on the bands that will play CukoRakko, on the crowd. His excitement about what is happening that night, what is coming at CukoRakko is infectious. My momentary self involvement is whisked away. We start back into talking about who will be playing at the festival and a few other things. We talk a lot actually, between songs and over beers. 

Watching Jamie and Greg organize their festival is fun and interesting. They don't relate to each other like a bromance or anything. They're obviously tight, close friends. But they are also like attentive, proud parents. You can always tell when two people work together well. They each hover about, constantly aware, but at a relaxed level of enjoyment. It's something sustainable. It's part of the family feeling CukoRakko has. Although Jamie and Greg spearhead this thing, you can tell by the way they both talk that their wives are supportive too, and play an integral part in the events. This is so crucial to the overall positive feeling of things. You just get a sense for a happy family.

By extension, if you are attending the festivals, or any of their events, you become part of the family. That's a good thing. So here are a few things you need to know when you become part of the family. Of course, first of all, you are loved. This is actually sincere. Don't forget it.

Now, I'll briefly go over some very important points. But do not allow my brevity to create the mistaken idea that any of these things are not important. 

CukoRakko is set in a privately owned nature park located in Steele Alabama. The grounds, Horse Pens 40, are magnificent, full of trails and rock formations and beautiful scenery. There are showers, an affordable restaurant, plentiful campsites with electricity if desired (for a small fee).  The campground is clean, the bathrooms are numerous. All of this needs to stay this way! If you are one of the lucky souls who gets to attend CukoRakko, please do your best to respect the property, don't go dragging limbs and logs out of the woods to build a fire. Ask where firewood can be obtained. Only build fires where there is a preexisting fire pit, or ring. And PLEASE do not bring glass containers. Cleaning up accidentally broken glass is a nightmare, glass is dangerous to feet.

Don't litter, of course. This doesn't seem to be a problem do to the nature of the crowd. But still needs mentioning. 

Don't bring your pets (service animals only).  

Relax. Music and people will be everywhere, people hula hooping, playing drums, playing guitar, etc. 

Drama: If you are the kind of person/people who instigate or bring drama with you, please do not even come to CukoRakko. If you need healing, it's the place to be. If you need helping, come in, free your mind from your troubles, let them go into the drum circle, into the yoga, let the vibrations of the music chew them up. But sorry to say, if you are into, or create drama, disruptions or conflict, you will be escorted from the premises. It's a music festival. People come to it to get away from that.  

There is a designated family area. Warning: things are just as fun in the family area! People are just a little more attentive to not stepping on little fingers, and the noise levels are toned down just a little bit very late at night. But due to the nature of a music festival, there is rarely absolute silence. If you bring your children, which the festival encourages, please supervise them.

You may bring food and drink, or buy food and drink from one of the awesome vendors. A combination is probably best. Whatever you bring, please remember it should be in cans or anything but glass. Same for coffee, etc. 

Make sure you understand the fee structure. If you are a volunteer, check with Jamie or Greg to see how the camping portion of your pass is covered. Parking is limited within the festival grounds. Check the website for the different parking options. (see link)

There are multiple activities, many artists, lots of cool things to do, drum circles, smelting, yoga, and bands. Yes, that's where I've been walking us to this whole time actually...the bands. 

The bands are a, if not the, centerpiece of the festival. Playing will occur randomly throughout space and time during the festival, but the main stage is located in the natural amphitheater, backed by glorious natural boulder formations providing a unique and excellent concert experience. The slightly sloped ground leading down to the stage provides for perfect seating, or dancing, or laying there, smiling and listening. Just however you choose to enjoy the main stage area...uh...within reason. There are families and this festival will tolerate no out of control folks. If you aren't messing up other people's experience, you are most likely doing just fine. 

Here is the band schedule:

If you need to know more about any of the bands simply click on the name and it will direct you to more information.

Friday 10/2:

Permagroove 6:00-7:00
Elijah Butler Band 7:30-8:30
Blue Moon Soup 9:00-10:00
Sidewalk Chalk 10:15-11:15
Downright 11:45-12:45
Downright Superjam 12:45-1:00

(See Youtube Playlist of Friday's bands) 

Saturday 10/3:

Tragic City 11:00-12:15
Mandi Rae 12:45-2:00
Earthbound 2:30-4:00
Pyrite Parachute 4:30-5:45
Festival Expressions 6:30-7:45
Little Raine Band 8:00-9:15
Winston Ramble 9:45-11:00
The Doctors and The Lawyers 11:30/12:45

(See Youtube Playlist of Saturday's Bands) 

Sunday 10/4:

Grateful Gospel Jamboree with Bluegrass Gospel music from Atlanta's Control Burn 11:00-12:15
Freekbass 12:30 – 2:00
Jess Goggans Band 2:30-3:30
Col. Bruce Hampton and the Madrid Express Featuring Carter Herring 4:00-5:30
The Yo Yo PAH! Harkestra. 5:30-6:30
Plus DJs and more TBA....

(See Youtube Playlist of Sunday's Bands)

If you have yet to obtain your tickets, go to this link, use the code "freepressmusic" to obtain your 15% discount. And enjoy.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Wes Day Discovers: @CoalYardHelena Open Mic w/ @Steve Norris (@JGeezer)

By: Wes Day | 9/20/15

A couple weeks ago, I found myself driving through beautiful downtown Helena with a brand new pack of guitar strings that needed to be put on before the gig that next night – so, I decided to stop off at a place I’ve been hearing a lot about called the Coal Yard to change my strings out over a beer.

When I walked in, Steve Norris – local singer-songwriter – was on stage in front of a crowd of smiling audience members intently listening to Steve as he picked a Guy Clark song I’ve always liked called “The Cape.”  After he finished, he asked if I’d like to pick a few tunes – I didn’t know it, but I had just walked into Steve’s OpenMic.  I played a few songs, and I was very happy with the stage, the crowd, the sound...  It all had a touch of Nashville to me – where people are happy to listen to original music and lesser known covers. 

The Coal Yard’s stage is designed beautifully, and aside from the aesthetics, the room is really designed with the acoustics in mind.  First of all, the room has a great head start with hardwood floors and a tall ceiling – wooden beams exposed. You also might notice the stage’s creative use of cylindrical concrete molds which make up the back wall, and if you have any understanding of acoustics, you recognize the value that brings to the table by deflecting the sound while simultaneously reducing likelihood of feedback loops.  On even closer inspection, I happened to notice that what I had originally took to be simply screen doors hanging on the walls had actually been filled in with foam and covered with fabric (sound treatment).  Alright, that’s as technical as I’m going to get on you, but suffice it to say, they were thoughtful in their stage design, and it’s to everyone’s benefit – musicians and patrons alike.

Unfortunately, I haven’t tried their food yet, but I can attest to the fact that their bartender won’t leave you there waiting for service, and the waitresses were all very nice and attentive from what I could tell.  In between listening to the talent on stage, I took note on several occasions as I watched faces chewing with smiles, so I’m looking forward to my next trip in so I can try out the menu.

Tips on parking: Parking is super easy.  There are usually spaces in the front, but your best bet is to head to the back of the building. 

Steve Norris’ Open Mic is on Wednesday Nights @ 6:30pm.  Hope to see you there!

Saturday, September 19, 2015

@BJCC to Launch 270 Seat Forum Theater #BhamOct18 w/ @ToddSnider and @Elizabeth_Cook

The Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex on Oct. 18 will open the doors of a new performance space - the intimate 270-seat Forum Theater - with a concert featuring singer-songwriters Todd Snider and Elizabeth Cook.

"Seeing Todd Snider live is a very unique experience and has brought Todd’s music to the front lines of the underground taping scene. As some may know, Todd has always encouraged the recording and sharing of his live shows, following in the footsteps of The Grateful Dead, Phish, The Black Crowes, and countless others." -

The Forum Theater is located in the 10-story Forum building at 950 22nd St. North. The Forum, which also houses meeting and conference space in addition to upper floors reserved exclusively for multi-tenant commercial office use, is in the midst of a major refurbishment to be completed later this year.

“When this building was constructed in 1992, it was known as the Medical Forum, and this space was outfitted as a lecture hall and auditorium designed for lectures, distance learning and medical oriented programming” said Tad Snider, Executive Director and CEO of the BJCC. “Over the years, the use of the building has evolved, and when it became time to update the meeting spaces, we also determined it was the right time to create a new entertainment venue at the BJCC that will have a natural synergy with Uptown.” The Uptown Entertainment District, a BJCC-owned restaurant plaza, is adjacent to the Westin Birmingham, less than a block from the Forum.

The renovated space features brand new audio and video systems, a sophisticated ETC dimming system, 7.1 surround sound and digital projection for a true movie theater experience and excellent acoustics in a contemporary, intimate performance space.

“The updated Forum Theater adds a truly unique performance space to our inventory that will be ideal for a variety of musical, spoken word and dramatic performances, as well as films, lectures and community events,” Snider said.

Tickets for the Oct. 18 opening performance at the Forum Theater will go on sale at 10 am Central Daylight Time, Monday, Sept. 21 at

For information about booking the Forum Theater, contact Susette Hunter, Director of Sales and Marketing, or 205.458.8441.
About the BJCC: The Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex is Alabama’s foremost convention, meeting and entertainment center. It is home to three exhibition halls, a vast array of meeting rooms and three entertainment venues including Legacy Arena, the state’s largest indoor event space. The BJCC campus also includes Alabama’s largest hotel in the 757-room Sheraton Birmingham as well as The Westin Birmingham Hotel and the Uptown Entertainment District.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

@ErathOld Music Video Premiere & Release Party @WorkplayBham Tue, #BhamSep29

Erath Old, a Birmingham based singer-songwriter, will host a release party at Workplay Theater Tuesday, September 29th in support of his new music video for the single "Hey Y'all". He will perform a full show and premiere the video in entirety on the big screen.  Supporting acts are Matt Bennett and Trey Lewis also out of Birmingham. Erath is giving a FREE CD with every ticket purchase. Redeemable at the door. Doors will open at 6:00pm. Tickets $5adv/$7dos Available online at