The Unsigned Mind.... Giving up.... Don't panic..... we aren't giving up on music. Yeah, it's pretty frustrating sometimes but at least one of us is really stubborn and not very good at taking NO for an answer..... so that's not what this is about. This is still about the life of a musician but we're going to touch on a subject that music fans don't think about very often. At least it's been my experience that no one has ever come up to me and mentioned this. I'm sure there is someone out there that's had this discussion with a fan but I'm not that person. So, I get to proudly proclaim I'm the first..... lol..... no, it's not about Jeana either.... But, music is a harsh mistress none the less..... Ever been to a concert on Christmas Eve? Ever been to a Christmas Party where there was a band or just a single musician playing? What about New Years Eve? I guarantee you've seen a band on at least one of those holidays. There's also Thanksgiving, Easter, July 4th and a ton of other ocassions where you'll regularly see and hear musicians or other entertainers. So, what do all these folks on stage have in common? Well, among other things they give up time with the people they would like to be with so they can be onstage entertaining. Sometimes they are a long way from home with no hope of getting back to their loved ones in a reasonable amount of time. They miss birthdays, weddings, graduations and funerals among other things. They give up incredible amounts of time just learning their craft so they can be on stage. But, that's another blog post...... It was a funeral I attended yesterday that caused me to spend some time thinking about this. My deceased friend was a sound man and had spent considerable time on the road. As a part of the service they were showing a video that highlighted his life. You know what was missing? A lot of stuff. Up until after he graduated highschool there were lots of pics. Then this big gap in his pictorial life. He didn't just drop off the face of the earth even though to his family it may have seemed that way. No, he was “on the road” and working. Musicians aren't the only ones that experience this.... Truck drivers immediately come to mind. I'm also sure people like airline pilots and attendants go through the same thing. Don't get me wrong here. No one is complaining. The people that choose to work in these occupations do so willingly and because they enjoy what they are doing. This is an accepted part of the job. I point it out here merely to give some music fans the opportunity to consider a side of music they never seem to consider or hear about. We intend to do something about this. We have a 6 year old daughter and I have absolutely no intention of missing out on anything having to do with her. Our solution is to simply take her with us. Instead of missing things in her life we'll enrich it with the opportunity to go places and see things that she otherwise wouldn't be able to. We're going to use the opportunity to teach her about people and the places where they live and work. There's a vast amount of history to be learned by traveling and we're going to take advantage of that also. AND, if the time ever comes that it's necessary, we'll home school her so we can take advantage of all these wonderful opportunities. Yeah, from time to time we miss certain things having to do with brothers, sisters and parents, neices, nephews and cousings, but we're not going to miss anything having to do with a certain little angle that we call ours. I also bring this up for another reason....... Next time you see someone on stage around the holidays please take the time to recognize that you know what they've given up in order to be there. I can most assuredly promise you it will be a gift they will receive graciously and thankfully.....
We had a great weekend Memorial Day. It was awesome even if we did cancel a show because an emergency came up. I want to comment that we survived the cancellation. I thought it would kill me. I hated it. It caused me fear, frustration, pain and woe to me syndrome. I've always been one of “The show must go on” crowd. I've played gigs so sick that I had to be propped up by a bar stool and a trash can next to me so I could get sick. I played and never gave up. Yeah, I was the super trooper when it came to making it to gigs. I also stressed out beyond belief about each and every one of those gigs. It had to be absolutely perfect. Every gig had to be spectacular, unforgettable and monumental. All that is changing and there's a benefit here that I never imagined. You see (insert crowd scenes from the local 12 step program) Hi, my name is Cliff and I have terrible stage fright! It's awful. I can infect those around me by simply allowing them to look at me. I forgot what songs we were playing. I forget to sing. Heck, it was all I could do to remember what song we were playing even after it started. It was awful. I would be shaking, my heart beating in my chest so hard I was afraid it was going to exit my body through my throat. I've kept my terrible secret for years. Hiding it under a case of “professionalism” where everything had to be perfect. I drove people crazy.But that's all going to change. Saturday we played an awesome show. The crowd of several hundred or more were all smiling and watching. Women were holding their young kids and dancing. I noticed two people at the festival in wheel chairs. They had incredible smiles on their faces and I think our music almost had them walking again. Inside I could feel those nerves beginning to rise, my stomach getting tight my hands starting to cramp. All those old terrible feelings starting to surface. Then something happened! A loud clap of thunder and rain. The promoter and sound man ran onto stage, we stopped playing, set our insturments down and watched people run for cover. Well, everyone except a couple that simply opened umbrellas and kept their seats. Obviously they were going to be there when the music started back. NOW that's encouragement that we all could use. Then the rain stopped and we finished our set. The world didn't end and fans were super nice to us. It was great. We got home after midnight and set the alarm for 6 am so we could head out again. The alarm went off and just as I woke up my cell phone did that vibrating thing indicating a message. No news at that time of morning is good and this wasn't either. After some scrambling to wake up and assess the situation we contacted the promoter/booker for the show and cancelled. I thought I was going to die. This was new territory for me. I've been a professional musician for YEARS and never have I had to do this. It felt terrible! BUT later that day we learned that it was a mud bath at the other festival. The rain throwing the whole schedule off. And you know what? I lived. There was no phone call from an angry promoter threatening me. The sun came up the next day. Everything was still OK and know what else? I don't think, after a rainy weekend plauged with bad news that things are going to be near as stressful the next time. Thanks to those fans for popping those umbrella's when the rain started. Not only did you stay for the rest of the show BUT you cured my stage fright for that day AND you did something tremendous in helping a musician to cope with a bad situation the next day. I don't know who you are but I owe you a world of gratitude. That's what the great folks at Medicine Park did for me. You guys are awesome, we can't wait until we return! Backwoods Bash, we're sorry we had to cancel BUT, because we received text from fans that had come to see us at your festival, we know you still had a great time AND the world didn't end for anyone. Maybe we all need to carry an umbrella sometimes!
Things they are a changing!..... and all for the best. This weekend, Memorial Day, will see us at two different festivals that we've really wanted to be a part of for the last couple of years. On Saturday we'll be playing in Medicine Park as part of The Mayor's Red Dirt Ball. Medicine Park, Oklahoma is one of the most laid back and awesome places in Oklahoma. The community really rally's around music and they show up from everywhere each time Medicine Park holds a music festival. It's interesting to us that we've been paired with a lot of Red Dirt Bands. However, when you realize that what they are really promoting is Oklahoma song writers it starts to make a LOT of sense. After all, what describes The Captain Ledge Band better than “Oklahoma Songwriters”? We're honored to be a part of the festivities and will be appearing on their Main Stage starting a 4pm on Saturday May 24th. Sunday will see us at a totally different kind of festival. The Backwoods Bash Music and Camping Festival is held each year just west of Tulsa, Oklahoma on the shores of Lake Keystone. Profits from this festival go to support programs for wounded warriors. A cause we feel very strongly about. It is an honor to be a part of the lineup which features some awesome regional talent AND a true “festie” athmospere complete with vendors and fans spending three days listening to music. Since we began developing a “plan” for our music it has always been to play festivals and concernt type events. Backwoods Bash is a huge step in the progress of that plan. We'll be on stage at the Backwoods Bash on May 25th beginning at 1pm! With all the excitement about the weekend it is also just a little sad for us. Our guitar player Tony Adams will be playing his last live shows with us. Tony has been a very important part of the band and our progress. Not to worry as there are VERY good things in the works. First off, Tony will continue to work with us in the role of studio musican as we slowly begin the process of recording our next album. His musical taste and influences will continue to help shape and mold the unique sound that is The Captain Ledge Band and we are really excited that he'll continue in this role with us. Lot's of personal reasons for this decision. We truly love Tony and he's really become a member of our family BUT we understand completely the challenges of a single dad raising three sons and we appreciate the amount of time it takes to properly accomplish that task. The GREAT news is the new guitar player that will be preforming with us. Greg Gash is an old friend AND an incredible guitar player. We didn't have to ask but once for Greg to agree to join us. Greg is an incredible preformer on stage and an extremely accomplished guitar player in his own right. Also, Greg is a good friend and someone we know you'll enjoy seeing in action. It will be a heartwarming moment the first time we take the stage with Greg alongside. One last little tidbit of news...... we're in preproduction for our next video. Kind of nervous about that. Threadbare set the bar pretty high. Hopefully we're up to the task. The video will once again be directed and produced by Mr. Paul Lawson. Whether you have the opportunity to enjoy a live performance this weekend or not we still wish you the very best in a safe and fun Memorial Day weekend. We all ask that you take a few moments of pause to recognize those that have given their lives that we may all enjoy the freedoms that each and every one of us have. Fair Winds and Full Sails!
This has been an amazing and educational journey so far. We NEVER dreamed that anything like what we're experiencing would happen when Jeana first picked up the mandolin. Quite honestly, I never dreamed, in 1996 when I broke my wrist and put down my bass, that I would ever pick up a bass guitar again, much less be on the precipice of having a video air on any kind of network. (whew, that last sentence was kind of long.) But, it's been a long journey and only a few days ago I for one was ready to give up. I guess music, or any type of medium onvolving artistic expression, is like that though. Amazing is about the only word that describes the journey we've been on. If the last 6 years is any indication then Amazing will probably describe the rest of the journey as well. We've learned how to register with a PRO (Preforming Rights Organization). We've learned about copyrights. We've learned some interesting things about producing video and an album. We have learned, learned so more, then learned so other stuff too... I guess if you aren't learning you're probably dead. As for us...... I think we're dead tired! And there are things we miss... It wasn't that long ago we spent EVERY weekend on our sailboat. Yeah, those days are just a memory. It wasn't that long ago our daughter, the little girl in the Threadbare video, was born. In looking back our journey thus far has been a lot like watching her grow up. Silly me. I was naieve enough to think I knew something about the music business. I didn't! What I did know about was how to produce a live show. I knew about running sound. I knew about setting up a PA system. I knew about staging. I knew the music business was extremely frustrating. Yeah, that last one was an incredible understaement. But you know what? The music business is also extremely satisfying! For people that really aren't bent artistically towards creating unique pieces of things, be it music or painting or scultpure, I can see where all this might be a bit confusing. I guarantee you somewhere down the line someone that knows of such things will read this and quietly laugh to themselves. Me, I'm not laughing. What I am is relieved! Relieved because while we've by not shape of the imagination “made it” we have managed to “create it”. A full album, a video and we've created a really close family. As a family we've done something unique and (for us) exciting. AND... I for me at least, the fact that we did this is a family will be the thing that stands out a long time from now when we look back on this experience. We sure do hope others enjoy what we've done because I can honestly say “We've had a heck of a wonderful time creating it!” Get ready, the Threadbare video airs on ZUUS Country television starting next Monday. That's incredibly satisfying for us as a family. Thank you for allowing us to share this with you.
After many delays. A few very exciting moments and a couple of false starts.... I got word this morning that our video for Threadbare will finally be uploaded to CMT today. (yeah, we thought that a few weeks ago, a month ago, a couple of months ago etc etc etc....) Yes, it's very exciting... a very tempered exciting. For you musicians that have not yet pulled this off "have I got some stories for you". I'm sure if we had a big record company someone else could have dealt with all the headaches but that's not The Captain Ledge Band (yet, but that's another blog post.) It's no wonder Indie artist have such a hard time. A year ago I would have never believed we would have a video producer, our own wholly owned record label, ASCAP and BMI registered songwriters, signed "safe harbor" agreements, an entertainment law attorney, an almost full time graphic artist, a publishing company, boxes of CD's to sell and a myriad list of other things that we're to overwhelmed to remember. Not to mention HUNDREDS of hours of rehearsing in preparation for what is sure to happen once the video comes out. and, if I hadn't been jaded by all that has happened I might actually be excited. I might be stupid enough to think "At last, all we're going to have to do is just write and play music!".... yeah right. For those living in dreamland with high hopes and big plans let me crush your fantasy world for just a minute. NO amount of reading blogs, "inside" information news letters, multiple web sites or all that time "thinking" about every possible detail you mind can conceive, will ever prepare you to be able to "get out there". Nada, none.... not even close. Those that have actually done it don't have the time to write about it and convince you they know what they are talking about. They are so busy wrapping up details that they can't possibly list all the steps involved. (that would be me at this point in time) and let's talk about something every artist HATES! The Snubs....... yup, you know what I'm talking about. ALL those people that wouldn't even give you the time of day much less actually hearing anything you recorded or even bother to listen to what you've got to say. They are the bookers and promoters, the people that are paid to hire and consider new talent. I'm often, now days, left wondering what these folks actually do. Here, we've got a song in the top 40 in the FREAKIN WORLD on some Indie Websites Country, Folk, Indie and even Reggae charts. Has even one person that is involved with getting new talent in front of fans noticed. Well, if they have they've sure done a great job of keeping it a secret. Sadly, we're super nice folks and when the day comes that we might actually get a phone call from one of them we'll very politely listen AND provided everything is agreeable of course we'll book a show with them. and we'll be the most polite and professional people that we can possibly be doing it. Grateful that, for us on that day, we get to share our music with others!
Today is "supposed" to be the day that our video finally gets uploaded to Viacom! Supposedly........ We laughed about how long this has taken. Even thought I've been in the music business for a long time this is the first album and video I've ever been involved with. Let me tell you, involved is the right word. It has been a LONG process, made even longer by the fact that we have kids and day jobs to take care of. (Not to mention a 44 foot sailboat that requires a lot of attention.) It leads one to understand how some artist seem to go totally crazy at some point. For example.... You have not lived until you try to get ASCAP or BMI to respond to a question. It takes weeks and this is the electronic age where everything is done by e-mail. It's like they only check their e-mail about once a month. Then there's the whole dealing with people that actually have talent. I'm NOT complaining on this one it's just an observation and is probably as much about my self as anyone else. Talented people, the perfectionist kind that are actually the ones you want to deal with, are incredibly slow at getting anything done. A talented person will scrutinize their work hundreds of times before letting it out of their hands. I was reminded by Jeana one day that I had been listening, remixing, rerecording, re-eq'ing and re-re-re'ing EVERYTHING for way to long. In her kind and wonderful way she finally said "At some point you just have to let it go and throw it out there"...... That's a stroke of genius on her part and it points out to me how incredibly brilliant and intelligent she is.... (NO, I'm not going to make a joke about how she must be smart because she married me.) In the end though, today is the culmination of the efforts of a lot of talented people. All brought together by the space time continuim to produce an original work. A work of music and visual beauty and one I hope others will enjoy. So, the celebration is not so much that our video of Threadbare is finally being placed in the hands of Viacom as it is the celebration of the gathering of multiple talented individuals to produce something that is artistic and represents the sum of those many talented individuals. That is a truly momentous occasion!
As a song writer you spend a lot of time looking for ideas and inspiration. We jokingly tell people, if we didn't have to work other jobs the new songs would flow out at the rate of one or two a day. But, as with all up and coming artist, you have to support your self and your family while you wait for the moment that you can devote full time to your dream job. There's also another small problem that many song writers don't talk about. It's interesting that it's not discussed more often because to music fans it may be the most important aspect of how they decide if they enjoy something. That little item is "genre"..... and you will get that same question A LOT. "What Kind of music do you play?".... Ask a song writer or any musician for that matter how many times they've heard that question. I'm betting the response is 100% "I don't know"..... The truth is we're always looking for inspiration for songs. Not inspiration for rock songs, or country songs or even reggae songs. Just songs and nothing else.... For us, the song, once the inspiration hits, will almost write its self and the genre?... Well, that's not up to the writer.... that's up to the song.
Are you a John Wayne fan? If so then you've seen the movie "True Grit"..... awesome flick. AND The Green Frog Café is mentioned in the movie. Did you know the Green Frog Café is a real place? It was located at 100 W. Main in Wilburton, Oklahoma and was a landmark of the area for years. All the locals knew the place for the home made pies and from what I hear they were delicious! I've heard many a story talking of the locals stopping by for a piece of pie and cup of coffee "back in the day" but that wasn't my experience with the Green From Café. Sometime around 1975 my parents, Gerald and Nancy Downing purchased and old falling down building that was the Green Frog. It was a mess and I couldn't believe my ears when Dad announced were going to remodel it. The floor was closer to a roller coaster than some place to walk. the walls were falling in and the back half was all falling down. Ultimately, after many long hours, it was re-sheet rocked and painted. The ceiling was textured, paint was applied and then trouble struck. Years and years of grease build up bled through the newly repainted ceiling. After a lengthy discussion it was determined that a certain type of paint would have to be applied with a roller to the freshly textured ceiling. Being the oldest son I was assigned the task. Unfortunately, the texture didn't stick to the grease in the ceiling any better than the paint had covered it up. As I rolled the ceiling the now freshly painted texture rained down on me. The end result being that it all seemed to land on me and I became more and more covered the longer I painted. The longer I painted the more determined I was to beat the evil falling texturized paint and the more I painted the more covered I became. It was with a great deal of pleasure that I finally finished that day but it took several days to wash all the paint off of me and out of my hair. So, it was with an even greater pleasure when I was informed some years later that the old Green Frog Café building would be demolished to make way for a new building. Today a new office building sits on that site. The building houses several business's including the insurance agency my grandfather opened in 1951. It is also the international world headquarters for The Captain Ledge Band! So, the next time you see a rerun of the movie True Grit we hope you'll be reminded that a group of landlocked sailors has their international world headquarters on the same site that John Wayne so merrily hoped he had a chance to visit and sit down to eat a good piece of home made pie!
It's just been unreal. That's about the only way a person could respond to any question about how was your experience getting your album "out there". Just when you think you have covered all the bases something new pops up. It probably doesn't help that we're dealing with all the different entities involved mostly on our own. We did have to hire an entertainment law attorney and his advice has been invaluable. BUT, we still had to do the leg work to "git er done'.... and work it has been. But there's a pay off.... We've finally got the album out there and it's supposedly available or about to be available almost every where. (would someone with some energy let me know, please). We begin the incessant googling ourselves once some energy returns but we've still got some hurdles to clear. The most obvious task now it to get the Threadbare video to the network that has indicated they will broadcast it. THEN there's the syndicated program that says they'll show it when they begin taping for next season later this summer. All this and take some time to practice too...... yeah, after I have a rum beverage. Which will lead us to our next blogging rant...... Why do musicians seem to drink so much..... or, how the heck did Lindsey Lohan end up needing to go to rehab? Fair Winds and Full Sails......
I'm wondering when things changed because I see talented people on TV but ..... The people that book talent seem to want freaks that shave their head so that it matches their butt or they want some half or barely dressed nasty skank that continuously spews filth. What happened to the music?