Party On With The Joe Reese Band

Just across the way from the Grand Ole Opry on a scorching afternoon, Nashville’s Scoreboard held its 20th Anniversary bash. The Hobbs brothers, who own or have owned various clubs throughout Music City, threw a huge party on their new outdoor deck to celebrate, Saturday, July 9.

Like boarding a cruise ship, a good deal of thought was put into creating  an engaging outdoor venue, a perfect party boat to sail away. Marine gauge ships rope secure the sides of an open air covered stage and dance floor. Flanked on the star board side with a galley there’s a bar long enough to serve about 50 people port side, and grass hut umbrella tables shade the outer deck. Hanging from the rafters is a full-size flat bottom rowboat surrounded by Japanese floats and ship lights. Sailing under the American flag this is authentic ambience for fair or stormy weather.


L-R Tom Whisenhunt, Frankie Thrower, Joe Reese, Tim Thrower, Cliff Myers (Photo by Donna Faye Harman)

The Joe Reese Band took the helm to open this maiden voyage with a long set of classic tunes — a proper christening with nary a drop of water in sight. The brothers Thrower, Frankie and Tim, typically take the lead on guitar and vocals save those times when noted blues guitarist, Tom Whisenhunt, lays down some retro soul from his native Memphis. Cliff Myers is one of the most entertaining bass players you’ll ever see; and from his drum riser it’s not difficult to see Joe Reese loves to have a good time.  All these guys have been playing for years growing up with some of history’s most beloved rock, country, and blues tunes.

Their set list is a rich collage of classic stock bridging the grooves of Stevie Ray Vaughan’s “Pride and Joy,” Van Morrison’s “Brown Eyed Girl,” Freddie Fender’s “Vaya Con Dios,” CCR’s, “Green River” all the way back to Dylan’s “Like A Rolling Stone,” The Beatles’ “Anna,” plus “Twist and Shout” which featured vocals by Susan Stanfill Thrower. A surprise addition was Jonathan Edwards’ “The Shanty Song” sometimes called “The Friday Song.”

The audience who gathers around this band becomes one big happy family whether they know each other or not.  It happens every time! Everyone is talking, smiling, singing, and dancing. Even if someone wanted to throw some shade it wouldn’t be for long as you simply can’t be in a bad mood in the presence of this group.

As a final note, and this is important to the music industry at large — there wasn’t a millennial in the crowd with the exception of service staff. The second largest sector of the US population — the baby boomers, people at least 52 years old and above– go to live shows, they listen to and collect music on a far larger scale than the industry can figure out how to market to millennials. It’s tested and proven in Nashville every day. This day was no exception.


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Posted in American Culture, Artist Feature, Blues, Live Music Review, Nashville, rock and roll | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Why Apple Music Matters So Much To Apple

Music Industry Blog

Apple today announced a much anticipated refresh to Apple Music at its WWDC event. Apple Music has found itself at the centre of long running criticism from many parts due to its perceived product weaknesses. This is the bar against which Apple is measured. It has spent years building a well earned reputation for high quality products so its users understandably measure its services by the same standards. Apple Music was a highly ambitious version 1.0 that has since been iterated to iron out user journey kinks. Now today’s feature announcements look set to move Apple Music onto its next stage.

Being An Early Follower Requires Super High Standards

As an early follower rather than a leader Apple always sets itself the challenge of being measured against incumbents that have had years to refine their product offerings. With hardware, Apple normally meets and exceeds those standards. With Apple Music it…

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Prepare To Be Blown Away

Somebody’s got to say it. In America we glamorize guns. Don’t think so? It took all of ten minutes to come up with a long list of very famous musicians who have recorded classic songs about guns. We all love these artists, and potentially some of us love the songs, even  the groups themselves that put guns on a pedestal.

And then there is this huge avalanche of  screaming hypocrisy following tragedy whipped into frenzies by mainstream media pushing all the emotional buttons for social justice. For those who scream bloody murder about gun control. Shush your mouth. I mean it. You are as much a party to keeping the terror of gun culture alive as anyone involved in it.

As mentioned it took ten minutes to come up with this list that mentions guns in group names, song or album titles, or images for promotion.

Guns n Roses, Pistol Annies, Sex Pistols…..[insert a favorite here]

Granger Smith Ready To Fire Off New Album, “Remington”

21 Gun Salute: 21 Hip Hop Songs Dedicated to Guns

Song titles:

Bang, Bang Ariana Grande

Don’t Take Your Guns To Town Johnny Cash

Love Gun KISS

Janie’s Got A Gun Aerosmith

Saturday Night Special Lynyrd Skynyrd

Elephant Gun David Lee Roth

Tommy Gun The Clash

Lawyers, Guns and Money Warren Zevon

I Shot The Sheriff Eric Clapton

Billy’s Got A Gun Def Leppard

Big Gun AD/DC

Happiness Is a Warm Gun The Beatles

Machine Gun Jimi Hendrix

Bullets In the Gun Toby Keith

God and Guns Lynyrd Skynyrd

Shotgun Willie Willie Nelson

21 Guns Green Day

The Guns of Brixton The Clash

Guns On The Roof The Clash

Diamonds and Guns Transplants

Machine Gun Commodores

Ten Cent Pistol The Black Keys

Barrel Of a Gun Guster

Cupids Got a Shotgun Carrie Underwood

Time To Get A Gun Miranda Lambert

Shotgun Randy Rogers Band

Everybody Likes Guns Steve Lee

Guns Justin More

Big Iron Marty Robbins

Cleaning This Gun Rodney Atkins

Gunpowder and Lead Miranda Lambert

Granddaddy’s Gun Aaron Lewis/Blake Shelton

Guns In My Head Justin More

Song Titles With Inference:

Call To Arms Sturgill Simpson

The Night The Lights Went Out In Georgia Vicki Lawrence

Burden In My Hand Soundgarden

Drop It Like It’s Hot Snoop Dog

Battle of New Orleans Johnny Horton


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We Thought We Were Free

Politically Short

The America we live in, our nation, our people, our society, is not the America most of us were born in at all. The uniquely American forms are all there, all untouched, all reassuring, the football games, the local bars, the movies, the concerts, and the holidays. But the spirit, which most of us never noticed because we made the lifelong mistake of identifying it with the forms, has been fundamentally transformed. The transformation has occurred through the slowly creeping separation of not only the government from the people, but the people themselves from their country. It has taken place so gradually and so insensibly that the majority of Americans, preoccupied with the latest crisis happening in their own lives, have failed to see the slow motion underneath of the whole process of our government and the spirit of our country growing more and more remote. Yet, replace the word America…

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Is YouTube Building A New Music Industry?

Music Industry Blog

Complexity and opacity continue to act as brakes on the digital music market. For all the progress of companies like PledgeMusic and Kobalt, this emerging ‘alternative’ music industry is still very much at a formative stage. Some years from now this generation of companies could underpin the emergence of a counter-industry, an interconnected mesh of disruptive rights and tech companies that give artists and songwriters different routes to market and greater transparency and accountability. Heck, it might even have Blockchain underpinning it. But before this counter-industry movement gets to scale, it could have the wind stolen out of its sails by none other than YouTube.

The YouTube Paradox

Although YouTube has never had the closest of relationships with the music industry, it has clearly found the last few months particularly challenging, portrayed as pretty much everything that is wrong with the digital music market. While there is no doubt that…

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Are You A Realist, A Theorist, A Delusionist

The music business for all intents and purposes is an abstract business model. That’s because it’s a moving target, changing all the time. There’s not much about the business that’s concrete except the music itself.

The music is real. It comes from a real place. It’s written or recorded in a manner that produces real sound on instruments created mostly from materials that came from the earth.

So why do we continually chase this illusive thing that is supposed to anchor in a safe harbor before you are able to sail into the sunset of a profitable career?


The answer is simple. We chase the illusion because lots of people profess it is true.

In theory, if you have a collection of music that’s been recorded, registered with a PRO, packaged, and ready for release you should be able to make all kinds of positive things happen through contacts you’ve made on social media and various internet platforms. There are tons of marketing experts who provide all kinds of advice on the topic daily. Still, I’ve yet to see these strategies work toward the satisfaction of the majority.

The reason for this is simple, too. No one has truly figured it out. This is not a One Size Fits All business. It’s art. And art is not objective. It’s not stagnate like measuring out and putting value on a gallon of milk. Therefore, all the theories in the world cannot leverage music marketing on the internet into a viable business model.

In the 20th century when music was a massively profitable business everything was done in real time and it worked for the majority who followed the business model. Many things have changed since then, but at the time the only option toward success meant  having real connections with real people working in a three dimensional world producing results without the delusion of making something else happen in the fourth dimension we call cyberspace.

Things took time. They didn’t move at the speed of sound. Time and the speed of sound  are guiding forces that make the world go round even though they, too, are illusions. They’re standardized to the point we rely on the basis of these tested theories as easily as we breathe. Digital marketing has not been tested and standardized, and likely never will be for something as subjective as music.

It is extremely frustrating for realists attempting to get something done in a theoretical world producing delusional results.

My advice is this. Do your work in a three-dimensional world in real time with real people and forget about the theories. It worked very well for hundreds of years and it will continue to work for those who pursue it.

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Nashville exits in a pink slip


Living in Nashville  is apparently a very big deal these days as something like 100+ people are moving here daily.  And there is…or was, a late night network drama about this city, which had an opportunity to engage this country in a wide range of influence. The opportunity wasn’t taken, and ABC’s “Nashville” got a pink slip and was cancelled rather abruptly on May 12.

At the outset, the idea of this hour-long situational drama held mass appeal. It held immense promise as a platform about this city’s inner workings as a vehicle to showcase some really great music. Legendary producer, T Bone Burnett was the music director for the first year as his wife, Callie Khouri  is the show’s creator and executive producer. In the beginning T Bone said something to the effect, “this is an opportunity for the music to be an actual character in the show, not the emotional backdrop.” I’m paraphrasing what I thought was a brilliant premise.

There’s a lot to be said  conceptually for an appeal to sophistication for a nationwide audience. If you’ve got a vehicle to reach millions of people weekly with an enormous ecosystem of media that supports a traditional genre of music and contemporary culture there’s impetus to grab hold of a huge brass ring and hold on tight.

Somebody missed that opportunity and ABC abruptly cancelled the show after four seasons.

Last night ABC’s Music Lounge posted several singles on social media from one of the last original episodes. Curious, I clicked on a few and gave feedback on one. It was a really lackluster tune that has no place on television, radio, or iTunes for that matter.

With less than 140 characters there wasn’t much room for a comment, so I said it was a bad tune. And maybe bad music was a reason for the show’s cancellation. ABC’s  cold reply was equal to my comment, I guess, and fair enough.

But here’s the deal:  If we continue to go around praising bad music and bad contributions to our culture just because they exist, what good is a critique in the first place? If it’s put out for a judgment call, live with kudos as well as criticism.  There is an ocean of music out there, and most of it is a shipwreck. But people continue to worship poor craftsmanship when we are capable of offering so much better.

After more than three decades working in music, I know good work when I hear it, and I know it almost instantly.  We live in a very sophisticated world and more people would buy music and engage in the entire process if we raise the bar instead of cater to the lowest common denominator which has created so many problems in this business.

Music is sophisticated on every level. Let’s keep it up there on par with great architecture, literature, philosophy, and entrepreneurial ventures. The gutters are crowded with meaningless manipulation of thought.

Music belongs in the clouds where there’s plenty of room at the top.





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