High Voltage in Georgetown

On Sunday, July 2nd, I had the good fortune of playing bass guitar with a group of amazing Seattle Musicians.  Chris Quinn, lead guitar (Truly, SGM, National Guard) invited me to play ther low notes with Mike Musburger (Love Battery, the Giraffes, the Posies) on drums and Kurt Bloch (Fastbacks, Young Fresh Fellows, Thee Sgt Major III, The Beltholes, The Yes Masters, Filthy Friends) on the other guitar. 

 

OK, here is the scoop on the BECU commercials, billboard, etc.

   

 In June of last year, I submitted a head-shot in response for a call for a BECU member photo shoot.  I went to a studio in the SODO district after work one day and had a series of Photos and Videos taken.  The photographer was John Keatley http://www.keatleyphoto.com/

     The young man who was my "handler" during the photo shoot told me that I shouldn't be offended if they didn't use my image for any of the ads that were to come out of the shoot.  He told me I could get copies of the mp3's for my website and said they would let me know if and when my images were used.  I took the small stipend they gave me and went on my merry way.  

The first indication I was part of the ad campaign came from a friend of mine who saw my image on a television commercial. Then people started telling me about a second ad that was floating around where I had a small speaking role.  Here is that ad: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WUHivesMTHs

     That ad was shown during the Olympics and what followed was a series of my head shot showing up on Billboards, on sides of Buses and on Banner Ads on the BECU website.  The TV commercials were shown when the Sea Hawks played and on Prime Time slots, so each week since the photo shoot I've had at least one person or more contact me and say, "did I see your mug on a BECU?..."

     I have a talented friend Colleen Campbell-Olwell who has a thriving business providing make up services to Hollywood stars.  She asked me how much I was getting paid for the use of my image and I admitted that I was not being compensated.  Here's the thing.  I didn't think in a million years that they would use my image.  I was hoping at best for a head shot for this site.  If I had asked for the opportunity to run it by my Agent or an Entertainment attorney, they probably would have passed.  

    There have been some interesting developments from the Ad campaign.  A friend sent my head shot to a local film maker and I received a small non-speaking role in an Indie film shot here in Seattle that will be coming out soon.  Another friend connected me with Tami Wakasugi with "All About You" Talent, so I now have an Agent.  

    So the bottom line is, yes, that is me in the BECU ads and no, I'm not making a killing out of the proceeds, but I'm having lots of fun and I have no plans to quit my day job!

The summer tour was a blast!

In the last post, I talked about the summer tour I had with Mark Huff. http://www.therealmarkhuff.com  We played three shows in Seattle, one in Eugene, Oregon and had a final show in my old stomping grounds, Reno, NV.  I've been a musician and a songwriter for decades, and like any other endeavor, it has had its high and low points.  This tour with Mark was one of the highlights of my long musical career.  Why?  First, it was fun.  Mark stayed at my house and I was able to spend a good amount of time with him there and on the road.  Mark is a character and we shared a lot of laughs as well as serious conversation.  In the middle of our little run, we went to see Steve Forbert play at Seattle's Tractor Tavern.  Steve plays each night like he is in front of a stadium full of people and it inspired both of us.  At the end of the tour, I felt like I had expanded my vocal range, improved my guitar playing and picked up a bunch of live performance tips from Mark and Steve. Another treat was that we had an award winning photographer and Travel Writer, Kristen Gill http://www.kristengill.com at 4 out of the five shows.  Kristen took some amazing photos that I am compiling into a video to document the tour.  I'll share that on this site soon. 

I'm joining Mark Huff on his West Coast Tour in August

Check out the events calendar on this site for a list of shows that I will be playing with Mark Huff in August.  So far, we have three Seattle shows, one in Cottage Grove Oregon and one in the Biggest Little City and my former stomping grounds, Reno, Nevada.  We hope to fill in the schedule with a Seattle House party and one or two more shows.   Woo hoo!

Have you ever thought of hosting a house concert?

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I’ve been playing music for over 30 years.  I’ve made money playing music, but my primary reason has been the joy I receive from interacting with people. 

In my music career, the best nights I have had are when performing at house concerts.  Much of the music I play is written and performed on an acoustic guitar, and even though modern PA systems make it loud enough to play in almost any venue acoustically, the attraction of a house concert is that you have a “captive” audience who is there to listen to you play in a quiet intimate setting.  As an Alt-Country/Americana folksinger, you can’t get any better than that.

Have you ever been curious about what goes into hosting a house concert?  That is the subject of the rest of this blog post.  I’m basing this post on my own experiences as a performer and also on some good references (most notably the excellent E-Book, “No Booker, No Bouncer, No Bartender, by Shannon Curtis” http://shannoncurtis.net/).  I also received some good feedback on the first version of this blog post from stellar social media coach Michelle Myers, who is also a DJ at KEXP radio in Seattle. 

Start with picking an artist who is a friend of yours or an artist you admire and you know how to get in contact with.  In the competitive music environment artists are in today, you won't have a hard time finding an amazing performer who would much rather play your house concert than another smoky loud bar.  You like his or her music and you also wouldn't mind helping push their career along a little. 

Invite your friends and coworkers.  The house concert relies on donations, so it doesn’t have to cost you, the host, anything.  Some people love to throw a party and might want to provide snacks and drinks for the guests, but a potluck approach works just as well. 

You can invite people using email, but write personal (rather than group) emails and texts whenever possible.  Group messages are easy to ignore.  Personal messages get more responses.  And remember to follow up personally with everyone you invite.  Think of the experience you are trying to create and invite those friends personally that you would like to share the experience with.   You can even text good friends to ask for online likes and responses if you use a Facebook event, Evite invitation, or some other online tool. 

You need a space to hold the event, obviously.  Traditional home spaces work great:  living rooms, backyards, even garages.  But if you don't have a house, alternative spaces can work really well too- like a community room in an apartment complex, a business after hours or even a church meeting room.  I’ve played shows in art studio’s and museums, gallery’s and even small community theater’s.  These are usually fees for these places, some were paid by the host, other times, the owner of the room waived the normal rental fee.  Wherever you choose to hold the event, just make sure that the performance space allows all guests to be seated as a group directly in front of where the artist is performing.  If guests are in a physically separate space, like a kitchen for instance, they can create a potential distraction for other guests and the performer.  The idea is to have the performer and the guests in an intimate setting, so planning for a tight and focused performance space is important.

You need to be able to bring 20 adult guests to the concert.  Experience has shown that this is the minimum number to create a buzz of excitement about the performance while also giving people enough anonymity  so that they are comfortable.  20 guests also gives the artist an opportunity to make a little money on the night.  So if you don't think you can get 20 people to the gig,  join up with another friend or two to co-host the concert with you. 

It's a good idea to invite at least twice as many people as your target number for the event.  There is about a 50% yes rate for invitations to these events on average, so inviting 60 when you want 30 usually works out. 

When you send out the invitation, you should let people know that it is a “donations based concert.”  You don’t have to (and really shouldn’t) specify a particular donation.  It makes it more inclusive, those who don’t have much can donate just a little, those with more can be more generous if they want. 

Usually performers have merchandise to sell, so setting up a space for this near the performance space is important. 

Ask guests to arrive one hour prior to the concert start time. This gives people time to mingle and allows for late comers to see the whole show. 

About five minutes before the show is supposed to start, someone should go around to all of the guests and give them a five minute warning, similar to what theater ushers do during intermission of live plays. 

By the time the performer takes the stage, you want people gathered, seated, and ready to listen.

That's it.  There are a few other details that are important, such as when and how to do the donation ask, but the performer at your gig can walk you through that.

What do you get out of this?  You get to create an amazing environment for your friends to see great music in a dynamic, yet relaxed setting!

 So get out there and have fun.  And if you are a fan of my music and you want to try these ideas out on your own house party, send me a message! The weather is getting right for it!  And I am not just limited to Seattle gigs, so out of towners, hit me up!

Other references, http://drewpearce.com/portfolio/houseconcerts.html; http://www.shareable.net/blog/how-to-host-a-house-concert

#Alt-Country, #Americana, #TomMelancon, #HouseConcerts

Tom Melancon Live at Soulfood Coffee!

I'm playing two sets live at Soulfood Coffee House in Redmond Washington tomorrow night, Wednesday, April 23rd from 7-9 pm.  Here is a link.  You can watch it on the interwebs if you can't make it in person!  #Alt-Country #Americana #Folk-Rock

http://soulfoodcoffeehouse.com


How I got here

I was thinking about what has influenced me to keep writing, recording and performing music after all these years.   It hit me as I was watching Rodney Crowell play for 25-30 people at the Silver Platters in Sodo last week.   Passion.  That's it.  Rodney played a half a dozen songs and they MOVED me.  I was inspired to keep writing and to practice and perfect my guitar technique. I also asked Mr. Crowel what he was using to get his amazing acoustic guitar sound. He told, me and I ordered an LR Baggs Para Acoustic DI the same night. 

36 years ago I went to see Neil Young play at the Cow Palace in San Francisco.  It was the concert that ended up being in the film "Rust Never Sleeps" and I woke my older brother out of a dead sleep that night trying my best to play "Hey Hey My My" for him over the phone.  My brother understood, because he is as passionate about music as I am.   If I ever lose my passion, I guess I'll hang up my guitar.  It doesn't look like its going to happen any time soon, though so stay tuned for more!

Music Added

I have five songs on the site now.  I guess MP3 is the best I can do for now.  I am curious about emerging technologies like Pono and how they might influence the way we listen to music.  I watched Neil Young's talk during South by Southwest.  It's true that band's I have been involved with seem to make compromises in the studio sometimes, knowing that the finished product is going to be compressed down to a tiny file that people may listen to on their Iphones. I would love to record music that people could access that conveyed the huge sound that happens in the studio.  First step, I ordered a Pono music player on the Kickstarter site.  Next, practice, practice, ....

We are live space fans!

I know that is a dorky title, but, hey, I'm a dork. I was able to transfer my domain name over to this square space site, so people will be able to find me.  I also was able to link this account to my Downward Facing Dude Face Book page.  I need to add content, especially music and when I do that, I'll promote the page more.  Progress!

Still figuring out this squarespace thing

I had some photos taken by a talented Seattle photographer and musician Mathew Boyer.  When I have the photos, I will add them to this site. Next step after that will be to transfer the DownwardFacingDude domain over here and then I will start building this sight in earnest. 

Alright then....

     Mark Huff, a Vegas-transplant friend of mine from Las Vegas, send me a Face Book message a couple of months ago about a gig he was doing in Redmond, WA.  He asked me if I would open up for him and I sent him a message back saying "hell yes!"  Right after I sent the message, I thought, shit, I haven't picked up my acoustic guitar in like, months. 

     When Mark callled me I had just completed a nearly 3 year stint as the bass player for Angelo DelSenno & the Emtpy Sky.  We recorded a bunch of songs, made a video that got a bunch of hits on YouTube, appeared on King5 TV's New Day Northwest, released an EP and played solid shows at venues like The Tractor Tavern, Nectar Lounge, Hard Rock, The Blue Moon and The Mix.

     I started practicing every day, wrote a new song, bought a new harmonica and got fired up as the gig date grew closer.  Mark stayed at my place after his gig with Paul Summer's Jr. at El Corazon.  I worked the next day, then we headed out for SoulFood Coffee House in Redmond at about 5:30 pm. 

     Not knowing what to expect from a booking in "Nerd town" we were both pleasantly surprised when SoulFood turned out to be a cool "new agy" sort of place with a dedicated stage and some serious sound gear.  We sound checked and I went on first, playing a 45 minute, well received set. 

     Mark went on next and it was amazing watching a performer work the crowd and interweave masterfully crafted songs with an effortless and very endearing stage banter. 

   We had dinner in Capital Hill in Seattle that night, hung around in Fremont looking at guitars the next day and made a pact to do more gigs when he comes back in June.

     So I'm revamping my website, writing new tunes, purchasing a new hand made guitar and gearing up for more solo shows in the future.