“Art Is A Holy Pursuit” T Bone Burnett and The Value of Music

Ah, T Bone Burnett! He’s considered the godfather of the Americana movement. He’s the guy who made traditional music from folks like Maybelle Carter and The Carter Family cool in the 21st century. He’s exposed the healthy roots of American music like no one’s done before.

I’m a fan for sure, not just of Burnett’s work but of the gospel he brings to a discipline that is divine. His outlook on music as an art form is one I share. His view on technology’s bastardization of contemporary music is also a view I share wholeheartedly.

Burnett’s  keynote at the 2016 AmericanaFest kicked the conference off with riveting commentary that is clearly moving people within the music community. He’s apparently very comfortable addressing disciples of an enormous movement  regarding music’s sacred nature, while eschewing the trappings of technology.

“Digital is not an archival medium. Most new technologies do not survive 10 years. Our art, if we do it right, will,” he said. In the past he’s mentioned the fact the digital revolution has turned musicians into salesmen. “I didn’t start playing music because I thought it would lead to a career in marketing.”

Yet, the digital revolution has forced everyone on both sides of music’s infrastructure into a corner that dilutes the creative process of artful music, and the creative process of marketing. In essence both fields are  now littered with posers and opportunists. [Technology] has no ethics”…”music and art are not binary”….”we are told to get good at marketing.

“The arts have always led the sciences. Einstein said Picasso was ahead of him by 20 years,” which  is a bold and honest assessment of our innate, creative nature, one that has been diminished by the educational system which puts a much higher value on science.


“Art is not a career, it’s a vocation, an inclination, a response to a summons.”

In tandem with his keynote address, Burnett wrote an op-ed piece in The Tennessean which opens yet another controversial topic regarding music, technology, and copyright law. It’s a noble stand he’s taking defending music’s integrity where tech and art meet at the intersection of  75 years of copyright, common law, and consent decrees that have worked fine until now.

That he has to take a stand is a sorry situation, as most artists should take a stand for themselves, or at least join together for the common good. But his voice carries weight, and the music he loves comes from a more pristine era than we occupy today.

At every plateau over the last 100+ years where technology put the cart before music, there have been controversies.

  • Sheet music,
  • The 78 record
  • Radio
  • The 33 LP
  • Television
  • The 45 single
  • Cassettes
  • 8-track cassettes
  • CDs
  • MP3s
  • Clouds
  • Streaming….the list of formats  music has survived is pretty amazing

The glory years of recorded music were highest in the last half of the 20th century when vinyl was king, and the record label system was still in place. We live in a digital reality, yet analog recording is assuming a trendy place in the market. If you decide to go analog, the effects of the digital marketplace can’t hurt you…at least, for now.

T Bone Burnett will always be credited with reviving the roots of American music, turning our attention backward to a simpler time. It’s possible he’ll be able to keep everyone from having to turn to a whole new chapter in protecting their art, the discipline that is music.

Scout logo





Posted in Leadership, Nashville | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Wine Not! Blues With The Reds and The Whites at City Winery September 4 in Nashville

August 27, 2016
Media Contact: Janet Hansen
City Winery Celebrates Labor Day Sunday Sept. 4

With Two Award-Winning Blues Guitarists in the Lineup

NASHVILLE, TN –  Nashville’s upscale City Winery is  hosting award-winning blues guitarists Tom Whisenhunt and Stacy Mitchhart Sunday, Sept. 4 among a lineup of five artists and bands. Both Whisenhunt and Mitchhart have won Nashville’s Blues Guitarist of the Year Award more than once,  as well other significant honors since 2003.

City Winery’s lineup and pricing structure are as follows:
Free on the Patio from 4 pm till 7 pm
Tom Whisenhunt 4 pm
Allen – Lamun Band 5 pm
Dean Alexander 6 pm
MainStage tickets $18 at 7 pm
Between The Lines 7 pm

Stacy Mitchhart Band 8 pm

A native of Memphis, Whisenhunt’s retro soul sound has been part of Nashville’s blues scene since 2002 playing with Debbie Ritter and The 440 Blues. Winning numerous awards in support of the 2003 CD “Bluesday Afternoon,” co-written with Ritter, Whisenhunt was awarded Blues Guitarist of the Year in 2003 and 2004 by Music City Blues Society.  Ritter and The 440 Blues represented Nashville in the International Blues Competition three times and made it to the finals in 2005.

In 2010 Whisenhunt headed up the four-piece outfit, Bad Moon Blues, as lead vocalist and guitarist with Vic Mastrianni on drums., Peter Burger on sax, and Richard Sanders on bass.  Whisenhunt is also a frequent player with Next of Kin, a band of brothers, cousins, and friends who’ve played together for 41 years.

Noted backup singer for Merle Haggard and David Frizzell, Donna Faye says, “Hearing Tom live is all about the tone. His licks are executed with understated passion — a very tasteful player.”

Whisenhunt’s set list includes among other titles,  Keb Mo’s “Low Down Dirty and Bad,” Tony Joe White’s “Roosevelt and Ira Lee,” Willie Dixon’s “Built For Comfort,” and his hybrid version of  “Georgia On My Mind” using influence from Jerry Reed and Ray Charles.


Attached photo: Tom Whisenhunt (photo credit: Renee Rome)


Posted in Blues, Music Reviews, Nashville, Press Release | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Dr. Hunter S. Thompson Didn’t Say…

“The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There’s also a negative side.” But I wish he would have.






Posted in American Culture, Leadership, Music Monday Feature | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

A Legend By Any Other Name: Hal Blaine

When I think back over the three plus decades I’ve worked in music, there are aha moments about the early years I wish I’d paid more attention to. Just finished watching the documentary, The Wrecking Crew which I knew had loose ends tied to some of the work I did early on, and after watching it, realizing there was an awful lot I could have learned if someone had knocked me off that high horse I was so fond of then.

In the mid to late 1980s I worked with Mason Williams who composed the most-broadcast instrumental tune in history, “Classical Gas.” Williams is the epitome of what every artist should be.  He never stops creating, entertaining himself in many ways, with mediums that are interesting to him. Over the number of years he’s been in the business he’s met just about everyone, and stayed in touch with the best of those players who accompany his sound.

Hal Blaine, the most recorded drummer in history, is one of those players; and he is also a member of The Wrecking Crew.



Back then, I was way more interested in what most self-indulgent Twenty  Somethings care about more than old guys playing music. I see it all the time in Nashville. Young self-absorbed creatives who don’t care what music veterans have to offer, because pfft. It’s ancient, man.


Watching The Wrecking Crew and compartmentalizing the sheer enormity of Hal Blaine’s career by the time I was working with him, I regret missing the opportunity to know him better. There are very few people making it in Nashville who are trained musicians with  as much style and finesse as Hal has contributed to an incredible number of enormous hit records.

I remember staying at his home in Arizona for a day or so, and seeing his wall of gold records,  knowing each and every title. I think the total number is 170. Plus he has six consecutive Grammy-winning Record of the Year titles between 1966 and 1971. Record of the Year is a huge and coveted Grammy win, and Hal has six — in a row!

On that visit he made the most incredible fresh squeezed grapefruit juice I’ve ever tasted from homegrown fruit. On another trip, for a gig in Denver if  I recall,  I was horrified the hotel put Hal in something like a broom closet since it was regrettable I’d made those arrangements. He was always the first guy in the lobby waiting to go to sound checks, the gig, or whatever was happening.

He’s got an incredible sense of humor, and can deliver a joke better than many comedians. Very generous, he always gave people something fun to remember a project or occasion  like a signature black t-shirt with Moose Goosers in white letters. His trademark stamp, “Hal Blaine Strikes Again” was an actual rubber stamp he had made to mark his score parts, and to leave his mark on the walls in the many studios and concert halls he’d played.

Great musicians are self-made. Certainly along the way there’s a bit of ego (sometimes a lot) in the mix, but it’s more about the ability to be a great team player. That takes perseverance, personality, not petulance. Here’s one of his quotes that hopefully creates an indelible impact.

“I’m not a flashy drummer. I never wanted to be a Gene Krupa or Buddy Rich. I wanted to be a great accompanist, and that was my role … A song is a story, and if you interrupt the story with your playing,  you’re not doing anybody any good at all.”

Retracing Hal’s career for you  would be an enormous undertaking, so I encourage you to do the research. His contribution to music is phenomenal.

The Wrecking Crew was the cream of the crop in session players called in for an incredible number of epic projects. Hal is credited with coining the name Wrecking Crew  which is as legendary as Phil Spector’s Wall of Sound, perhaps more so given the vast talent in the group.

For those of you who think you have the chops to make it, my advice is to see this documentary. The reality, or what we believed was reality, is something else altogether. And I encourage you to find out as much as you can about Hal Blaine whether you’re a drummer or a producer.  He is a true legend — not one of those guys who believes he’s a legend after doing five to ten in the business.

Here’s the lesson: Listen to people who’ve been in the business much longer than you have. They’ve survived more than you can dream of accomplishing. They always know what they’re talking about, and if you’ve got a better idea, so be it.

Watch The Wrecking Crew before you write off the integrity of those who invented the thing you’re thinking of creating.





Posted in American Culture, rock and roll | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

2 Greats, 1 Home. Hendrix And Handel: Neighbours In Time

This gallery contains 15 photos.

Originally posted on Travel Loafers:
Separated by a wall and 200 years are the homes of two musicians who chose London and changed music. ? I wish I could tell you I had dreamed up that line myself. But I…

Gallery | Leave a comment

Mass Exodus: Now Tell Me About That Copyright Law Again

It’s been a thoroughly interesting week learning about all the changes that are going to make a musician’s life all the more interesting due to copyright.  To date I’ve focused on information from Copyright Officer, Stephen Carlisle, J. D. and his latest article:

You Can’t Make This Stuff Up! The Department of Justice v ASCAP

Well, if that isn’t enough to make you sit up straight, you also need to bone up on what is included in the TPP aka Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement which you can read:


Curious, really that copyright law is suddenly so popular, don’t you agree? I mean it’s really rather dull and fraught with illogical precedent. Laymen certainly have the capacity to understand it, but lawyers go to school for years to be able to comprehend the stuff. Is someone thinking we’re gormless daft cows? Too dim to get what’s happening and will remain in the dark as our intellectual property becomes theirs.

This series of posts is dedicated to a few ideas that can help you see things a little differently than the overarching premise we’ve been spoon fed for quite some time. The idea that music and our content should fill cyberspace has always been suspect to my mind. Create content just for the sake of….oh, someone else’s benefit. Nah, I’m good.

We all know music has existed for centuries on the physical plane without the Internet and some of it is so renown it will remain popular for many years to come. Much of that music is in public domain. Copyright doesn’t pertain to music in public domain unless you register your arrangement of a particular piece with the Library of Congress and a PRO.

The other bugger in this case is whether or not your music is on the Internet. Well duh! Whose isn’t?  Consider if you will, going back to the dark ages, only performing and recording music in the public domain.

The benefits are the same, maybe even better. The music can be recorded without a royalty to the composer. The music can be played anywhere without having to pay a royalty. And that is obviously part and parcel of this issue. Copyright law is being restructured by the Department of Justice to give more latitude to companies like Spotify, Pandora, Google, YouTube…blah, blah. Don’t let them. You really don’t need them.

If your music is not on the Internet who can touch you?

Record to vinyl at an analog studio. Retro is hip, dude. How retro can you get? I’ll bet you can play a very cool arrangement of tons of songs you never thought possible. Make the old new.  Music is about posterity, right? It was never about the money, anyway.

Give nothing away. Nothing!

That was all snookered from the get go.

Forget about the club scene and have house parties instead. The early days of rock started this way. And this little band called Nirvana up there around Seattle. They were too young to play in clubs so they did the house party thing until 200 -300 people was just too much to handle. How often do you play in front of 200-300 people?

If you’re a creative, these details will no doubt lead you to some really cool ideas. Get busy. You’ve got some packing to do and get out of cyberspace. Pie in the sky is all there was. Now they’re trying to take the pie away!  Pip pip!

Scout logo

Posted in American Culture, Business Practices | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Beatles Tracks in London

Travel Loafers

Walking Tour Featuring Beatles Sites In London

Describe the 1960’s in a single word, and the word has to be Beatles. No other artist in history has affected the human population to the extent the Beatles have. Not Mozart, not Elvis, not Taylor Swift, not anyone. The Beatles changed the course of history in a way that had never been seen. They appeared at just the right time and didn’t overstay their welcome.  Like true professionals they left us wanting more. The Beatles’ influence went beyond music.  Fashion, mindsets, beliefs and politics were all affected by the Fab Four.  The evolution of the four lads from Liverpool in 7 short years are still felt 50 years on. From hard rockers to British Music Hall, many of the songs in their varied repertoire are now ingrained in our collective consciousness – as familiar as “Happy Birthday To You”. The legacy and phenomenon…

View original post 1,553 more words

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment