Underlying everything I've done over the past couple of weeks is a sadness about Hurricane Katrina and her victims. This Saturday, I get to contribute in some small way, by participating in the Martini Bar's Hurricane Relief fundraising concert. My set is at 10:30pm, and there will be other great bands playing, all proceeds and donations go to relief for hurricane victims. Happening so close to the 4-year anniversary of 9-11, the overwhelming devastation hits me doubly hard.
This past week has also been an eye-opening experience in other ways. I've felt so great about where my career is going, and things have been so wonderful, I guess I needed a reality check. This past Friday I received tickets to the Grammy Association's Missouri Demo Review contest in St. Louis. The literature said that even if we were not one of the ten finalists chosen for live review by judges that night, we'd have access to talk to the judges during the concert, to give them our demos and press kits. (These judges are all heavily involved in the industry, we're told.) First of all, two of the judges didn't even show! Even more disappointing was that of the ten finalists, only one was female, and 7 of the 10 finalists were in the same genre. (Hip-hop/rap). I have absolutely nothing against hip-hop, but it certainly wasn't a representative group of ten artists to have 70% of them be from one genre, and 90% of them were from one gender. Furthermore, we were sort of 'held hostage' by the people putting the program on, because contrary to what they'd said in the invitation, they would not allow us to speak to the judges while the show was happening, they wanted us to stay until after all 4 bands had played (this would be about 1am when they would finish) and then the judges would set up a booth and accept a FEW demos. Everyone there (other artists) who I talked to was livid and felt very misled. However, at one point, our favorite judge of the evening (a gentleman who was from Memphis and not only has ties to the record industry but books for Memphis House of Blues) came out on stage for a moment while the second band was setting up. My promoter Tim and myself were on it! We approached him, expressing our dismay about the nature of the evening, the misleading way the night had been described, and told him we'd appreciated his comments during the demo review. (He kept repeating that he wanted to hear something new, something original, something that broke boundaries - he was disappointed by the 10 finalists.) He immediatley took my press kit, along with several copies for the other judges, and mentioned that he would talk to us further about getting booked at the House of Blues/Memphis. So, all was not lost, and we ended up leaving at 10:30pm, instead of waiting until 1:00am and possibly being disappointed and still having to drive nearly two hours back to Columbia. The moral of the story was that just because something has ties to a professional and well-respected organization (The Grammy Association) doesn't mean the people in charge of it are professional. It was a poor reflection of what the Grammy Association tries to do to help artists.
The biggest disappointment was that, believing this night would be a help to my career, I cancelled our appearance at the Habitat for Humanity kick-off (the home being built entirely by women) which had been scheduled for the same night. I had hoped (and still hope) they could find another night sometime during the home-building process to have my band back to be part of things, since the Grammy Demo Review was a one-shot deal, and you had to be there or you'd forfeit your rights to any awards or anything else you might receive. The coordinators of the Habitat for Humanity event were extremely understanding and said they'd do the same thing in my shoes, but I am huge on honoring previous engagements and I felt terrible, especially since it is a cause I very much believe in. So, I cancelled something important to me, possibly letting down some local people I wanted to help out, for this event. I know there's no way I could have known, but perhaps it will prompt me to do a little "investigating" next time something like this comes down the pike. They made it sound SO great in the invitation, but it was much less than great, to say the least.
Anyhow, there are some positives on the horizon. Our fall/winter calendar is rapidly filling, and we're playing in some great venues, including ones in Kansas City and Chicago. My promoter Tim, and booking agent Jane have been really helping us out. I also recently got some more good news from both Nashville and some 'mystery news' I can't disclose at this time, but I hope to be able to shout it to the hills at some point this coming year.
Finally, to all my fans who've made the move from the Yahoo fan club to the new Belltown-hosted site, thank you! It's hard to get the word out, and we're still working out a few kinks, but the new site is beautiful, interesting, full of great options, and we definitely hope everyone checks it out.
Please keep the hurricane victims (and all people in need who you come across in your life) in your thoughts. Take action when you can. Boundaries are imaginary, and we are not truly separated from other people. We never know when that 'other person' could suddenly become our parents, our children, our siblings, our spouse, our friends, ourSELVES.