Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Willie's Place Programming Change

I received the following message; forwarded by Bobby Newton of the Academy of Western Artists.

"My understanding is the on Monday, Willie's Place (XM Channel 13) has changed their programming from an emphasis on the Texas Honky Tonk type of music to a more top forty type of hits programming.

They have just about completely quit playing any artists like Justin Trevino, Bobby Flores, Tony Booth, Jody Nix, Jake Hooker, Heather Myles, Joe Paul Nichols, Mike Siler, Johnny Bush, Darrell McCall, Amber Digby, Leona Williams, Little Joe Carson, Curtis Potter, Johnny Seay or others in that category.

They are focussing on the more "legends" in the business. Now, I appreciate the legends as much or more than anybody and I think that any person that knows me will attest to that. Who else signs artists to record in their 80's?

It is amazing to me that the music and artists that made Willie's Place (and Hank's Place) the most listened to music channel on XM are now all but banned on the channel.

If you are a subscriber, I would urge you to email williesplace@xmradio.com and let your voice be heard.

I don't know much, but I do know that a service that is being paid for by subscribers should listen to subscribers.

If you don't want to hear Justin, Amber, Darrell, Curtis or those other guys on Willie's Place, please do not do anything and we can hear another Elvis or Margaret Whiting song on the channel that is supposed to be a Texas Honky Tonk.

> > Tracy Pitcox
www.heartoftexascountry.com "

"The Yellowstone Song" by: Terri Taylor

I got the following message from Terri Taylor, of STAMPEDE! today. Go to the Western Folklife Center website and check it out. A really good song!

"I have a song entered in the Yellowstone/Teton Song writing contest sponsored by the Elko and Gibson Guitar and so far it's doing really good. There were over 130 songs submitted and they picked the Top 16 and put them on the website for everyone to go in and vote for their favorite.

Mine is called "The Yellowstone Song". It's basically a kids song and I've got a bunch of kids singing it with me. I would appreciate anyone's and everyone's vote! You can listen to the song as well on the site.

I listened to all the songs there today but I haven't voted yet. I'm leaning towards Terri's but I'm also intrigued by Mike Hurwitz and his "Ed Trafton" as well as "The Great Yellowstone Buffalo" by; Virgil Stortroen. I now have a little better appreciation of the difficulty the Folk Life Center must have faced in selecting these 16 songs from all that were submitted.

All of the songs are very good and I enjoyed listening to each...most of them more than once. Certainly the artists are top notch and even the recording quality (not a factor in the initial judging) is very good. However; I didn't feel that a lot of them had anything to do with Yellowstone! I have a few songs about Montana that I didn't enter as they aren't about Yellowstone/Grand Teton. Just general Montana. So, I focused on songs that were obviously about Yellowstone/Grand Teton and that appealed to me personally.

Mike Hurwitz' song is in the great Western tradition of a ballad about a real occurrence. Add to that the fact that it is well written and of course extremely well performed and it is a tough contender.

Virgil Stortroen has written a nice, simple story, likely also about a real occurrence. It certainly sounds like Yellowstone and especially some of the experiences I have had around there. Kind of a chuckle for me and I enjoyed it.

Terri's song is very upbeat, happy and fun and I think it is something that kids around our area just might be found singing in school and at home! That's not an exaggeration. It's a very fun song and one I wish I had thought of first!

So, anyway, go to the Western Folklife Center website and check out the whole list. Go ahead and listen to all the songs a couple of times. They are all very good and you'll have fun just doing that. Then, I guess, close your eyes and click the mouse in the voting area??!

Thanks to the Folklife Center for this idea. It has brought some great music out for us to listen to. Several that I hadn't heard before.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Music Ranch Montana

Howdy Folks!

First, a history lesson.

When I first met John Westbrook, he was running the sound and most everything else at a pretty neat little facility in Belgrade, Montana called Music Ranch. This was the brainchild of Frank and Karen Smith and what a great idea it was!

They had a small stage area and enough room to seat around 160-200 people, a small kitchen, bathrooms and showers, a good sound/recording room and video recording/sound recording equipment set up already. At the time, most of the sound/recording equipment belonged to John but he had semi-permanently installed it for it's most effective use.

We had several good shows there over the years and a regular monthly "Hootenany". John produced my first two CDs there as well as CDs for several other performers.

A couple of years ago, Frank needed the building for his regular business so Music Ranch went on hold while he built another one. Well, the new one is almost complete and we even did a "housewarming" show there on September 15th. It's located on te Smith property in Paradise Valley, about ten miles south of Livingston, Montana. Frank has built a really nice barn-like structure, with a great kitchen/serving area, performers lounge and dressing rooms, good stage, great sound system and seating inside for about 300-400 people. The south side wall consists of Garage doors which can be opened to a natural ampitheater which will seat another 400 people when he is all done.

The stage is nicely set up with direct access from the upstairs performers lounge to the wings so that you can wait in the lounge until almost time for your appearance and then go down the stairs and be waiting in the wings.
The kitchen is very nice and food can either be prepared right there or brought in and placed on the serving counter.
Lots of bathrooms for audience and performers with dressing rooms/showers on the upper floors.
All this will make a facility that is comfortable and useful for performers and audience and creates a very intriguing venue for anyone who wants to do a show in the Livingston/Bozeman area.

Frank and Karen would like to see performers out there whenever we are traveling through. They would like to set up frequent shows and say that if you are travelling through, you are welcome to stop in and say "howdy".
When we did the little event on September 15th, people were there from as far away as Spokane, Washington and we had a little crowd of about 100 people, including performers. I had a chance to see several local entertainers whom I hadn't met before as well as those who had always been a big part of Music Ranch in the past.
John Westbrook played guitar for most of those who got on stage including Kostas, a well known Nashville songwriter. Dave Brackett, Ed Marsh and myself also did a few songs as well as several other great performers (As usual, I'm not going to try and give a complete list as I always forget someone).
Karen and Frank don't have a website up yet but you can contact them at 406-581-2509 or musicranch@wispwest.net . Let them know you heard about Music Ranch here and you'd like to be included in any mailings or promotions. I'm sure Karen would be happy to let you know once they have everything built and the events start.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Was I a bit hasty in my Musicians Friend Judgement?

Ok. Let's be fair. Everything I've ordered has come fairly quickly, in good shape and securely packaged. Although the bank-account shuffle is kind of a pain, the prices are great and they certainly haven't overcharged.

Also, in todays package, was an LED flashlight and a Sennheiser microphone that I had not ordered...no charge.

Perhaps a little less whining is in order on my part?

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Musicians Friend or Buy Local?

Ok. I realize that the prices at Musicians Friend are considerably lower than your local music store. but, do I want to go through the hassles I've had with MF? Let's run down some of them. Be aware of the fact that, between my computer business and my music, I make a LOT of internet purchases. The only place I've ever had a problem is at MF. I also do a fair amount of shipping of my own products.

First, I ordered some Mic stands with a carrying case. Great products and prices. I had to reorder as MF had a problem with the fact that my billing address and shipping address are different.(?) I finally got that resolved and they shipped the mic stands...each one separately?! As I'm sure all you musicians know, the stands each came in its own box, about 4x4x36 inches. One of those was shipped with the shipping lable on the mic stand box (the way I'd have shipped them if shipped separately). The others were each shipped in boxes big enough to ship a guitar, with several pounds of wadded paper used to keep the original box/stand from rattling around in the huge boxes each came in. Any of these huge boxes would have held all six mic stands for shipping in one box. So, I wind up with an office full of boxes, wrapping paper and wadded shipping paper that I have to get rid of. It didn't cost me anything so I kind of laughed about it and passed it off. There's a guy here in town who could use the boxes so he came and got them instead of me having to make a trip to the dump so...no harm, no foul. It just shows me a marked inefficiency at MF but that is their problem.

Next, I ordered a mixer board, power amp and the mic clips for the stands (they don't come with one...something I didn't know before hand. My bad.) for a total of $424 and some change. I pay for this stuff with a Debit card, from my checking account. I access my checking account online once or twice a week and reconcile it as often as I can. Thus, I see account activitiy very quickly. I saw the charge in my account and reconciled it in my check register. Then, I saw a credit to my account from somewhere. This turned out to be from MF. Within a couple of days, I saw the debit from the account again. Confusing, but so far I was keeping up!

I ordered some cables and a speaker. Again, I saw the account activity within a couple of days and reconciled it. Then, a credit for the speaker. Then, a re-debit for the speaker. Now, I'm seeing debits for the original order again. By this time, I was starting to run behind.

Does all this sound confusing? Guess what...Me too! I called Musicians Friend. The first "Customer service" guy I talked with was pretty clueless so I asked for a supervisor. She explained that, when the order first comes in, they "reserve" that amount from the debit card account: but, it's not actually charged until the items ship. So, everything shows up at least twice in my checking account. The "reserve" (which I still don't understand) and then the individual charges as they (SLOWLY) get everything shipped out. Although the money only actually comes out of my account once, the resulting debits/credits that show up in the online activity have about blown a fuse in my computer.

I make a lot of purchases online, as I mentioned. This is the only place I've ever had these kinds of problems. As far as I can see, it hasn't costed me anything except aggravation and time but it IS very aggravating to have to keep changing reconciled entries in my check register to coincide with the MF shipping/debiting/crediting system. I certainly didn't have problems like this when I made purchases at Music Villa, Piccolos or Clark Music. Although the pricing is attractive at Musicians Friend, I'm leaning towards the concept of buying locally. Less stress for me and more local business just might make up for the difference in price.