Friday, February 29, 2008

Yahoo Groups discussion about Western vs Country

There has been an interesting discussion at the Western Music Association Yahoo Group this week about the differences between Western and Country music.

Not long ago, Dallas Mcchord was talkiing about this subject and he was pretty much on the mark. Most of us play and perform several styles of music, depending on our venue. But people generally come to Cowboy Entertainer style events to hear Western music; not country, classic rock or rap. Save that for the jam sessions or other venues.

I believe that the Marshall Tucker Band song; "Fire on the Mountain" fits the general definition of Western music. But, I don't perform it at a Cowboy Poetry Gathering!

However, Jamie Parker-Frank and John Westbrook are also correct in that we are here to entertain the fans. If someone requests "Fire on the Mountain" from me, I'll do it!

Like Jamie, I perform at guest ranches and rodeos all over my area. I would agree that my audiences rarely place a high priority on whether "Mr. Bojangles" or my own "Cash on the Light" are country, Western or folk music. They just like good music.

"Cash on the Light" isn't, in my opinion, a Western song. But, it's the title song to my new CD so I can guarantee that the audience here in Lewiston this weekend will be hearing it! Shoot me.

What this all boils down to is that this is an interesting discussion and I believe we are all learning and growing from it. In my mind, one of my goals out here is to "convert" some fans to our style of music. Like John Westbrook and others have said, most of our fans have no interest in the pigeion hole we pull our songs out of. They just want to be entertained. If I can get a couple of new people to begin coming to Western/Cowboy shows (and buying CDs!) by singing a "country" song, then I'll do it.

Let's have fun out here! See ya all on the road someplace.

Larry Gibson

Thursday, February 28, 2008

In Lewiston again

John Westbrook and I left Bozeman (Bozeangeles Montafornia) yesterday and made our way over Lolo pass to Lewiston, Idaho for the 4th Annual Lee Earl Memorial Scholarship gathering.

This is the first real "gathering" of the year and we're happy to be a part of it.

The roads were good except for the incredible numbers of deer we had to doge all the way down the Lochsa and the Clearwater rivers. We were in my old pickup as we had to pull John's sound trailer over here. As this picture shows, my pickup uses oil by the gallon instaed of the quart!

We got to Lewiston about 0230AM local time; got ourselves moving and sound is all set up and ready to go. Tonight is the big "get together" at the Clarkston Moose Lodge and then the show starts tomorrow.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Global Warming; It's our fault!

This is a picture from West Yellowstone, Montana this year. Maybe we gave Algore his Peace Prize just a tad early?

Anyway, Westbrook and I are getting things together for our trip to Lewiston, Idaho for the Lee Earl Memorial Gathering. Pretty much the first real Gathering of the year and we're really looking forward to it.

I'm booked into Parade Rest Ranch, near West Yellowstone, for at least two days a week all summer long, beginning in June. It can't come fast enough; especially considering my financial situation.

Here's another West Yellowstone picture. Sure wish Global Warming would hurry up. We'd welcome it!

Friday, February 15, 2008

Thermopolis, Wyoming

Howdy All:

As I rolled into Wyoming, I got on the phone with Billy Rose and he told me that he and Colt Angel were snowed in and unable to come to Wyoming and do some shows scheduled by Jamie Parker-Frank.

I called Jamie and she had already either cancelled shows or found someone to handle them but there was still some opportunity for me if I came I did.

I had a great time in Thermopolis, mostly because of the incredible hospitality I enjoyed from Jamie and her husband, Steve. They housed me, fed me and found me places to play music. I played two different days at the Prospector Italian diner in Thermopolis and Chris at the Prospector is just simply one of the best chefs I have had the opportunity to enjoy! If I lived in Thermopolis, I'd be even bigger than I am...but happy.

I also had a chance to play at the Cabin Fever Concert that Jamie and her friend Charles organize. There were some great performers there but the high point for me was that Hub Whitt was there. I haven't seen Hub in a long time and it was great to run into him again. He's a great songwriter and I have recorded two of his songs in the past.

Jamie then arranged for me to do my Cash on the Light song on the Comfort Food Radio show in Cody, Wyoming. That was a lot of fun and if you are in the Cody area on a sunday morning, the Comfort Food show is at the Irma Hotel and you should really take the time to go check it out.

I'm home now; back into my regular routine and things are settling down a little. But, I'm getting the old performance schedule filled out for my summer and it already looks like a good year. See ya out there!

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Off the Interstate for a day

Saturday, February 2nd. I was hustling west on Interstate 40. I’d stopped at a rest area somewhere west of Memphis for a couple of hours and was now just rolling on down the highway. But, all I’ve seen was interstate! At exit 193, just decided to take the exit and head generally northwest. Des Arc, AR and then on to Beebe, Arkansas for breakfast. Near Beebe, I saw a highway sign that made a lot of sense to me. I wish I’d taken a picture, but I didn’t think about it at the time. Anyway, Arkansas was nice enough to inform me that “Roadway unsafe when under water”. Short, to the point and likely very true! I had a great breakfast in Beebe Arkansas; Bacon, eggs, hashbrowns, toast and coffee for…$3.99.

Then, over to Conway and up US75 to Branson. I figured I’d check Branson out and decide if I was staying for any length of time. Sorry. It reminds me of Vegas a little but more…cardboard? Fake? I don’t know how to say it. If you go to Branson with the goal as staying several days and enjoying the shows, then it looks like a great place to go. During the summer season, when all the best country stars can be seen live; and with plenty of money in your wallet then Branson looks like a lot of fun. I turned my nose north and headed for Kansas City, MO and thus back onto the Interstate.

Nashville!! Just as I suspected

I got into Nashville about 8AM on Friday, Feb 1st. I drove down to Music Row and walked around for a little while. There were record producers next door to copyright attorneys next door to talent agents…on and on, with the BMI building looming over all.

Broadway was even better. There are several “honky tonks” side by side in about a two-block area. My friend Jason Deshaw has been a regular at Tootsies, arguably the most famous of the Nashville Honky-tonks. He got this opportunity because someone with an “in” saw Jason at a show in Montana. Jason doesn’t know and neither do I, how to normally get a slot in any of these places but I would assume you hand out brochures, Demo CDs and so on.

Anyway, the description of one place is pretty much the description of them all. They are about 30’ wide and 70-100’ long. Long and narrow, with very little room for the audience. In the evening, when they are busy, there is standing room only and it’s tough to move around through the room through the crowd. A couple were a little wider but not much.

The stage is in the front, by the door. Tootsies stage is so small that two performers have a hard time standing side by side. Drummer to the rear! The whole place seemed worn and rough. I actually haven’t played in a dive like that in a long time.

The bands start around 10AM. The ones playing in the morning, understandably, are not playing for much of a crowd. Since they are all playing for tips and CD sales, this is a bad thing. It looked to me like they changed bands about every hour or two. Jason and I went out Friday night and checked out bands at three different places, in addition to the bands I had seen during the day.

So, the effort to “make it” in Nashville is just what I have always heard. Play for tips in the local honky-tonks, hoping to make enough of an impression on the honky-tonk management to be moved into regular gigs with posters on the windows, maybe even mention on their website. Even then, no pay to play. Just tips and CD sales. Maybe you are so remarkable that someone from a talent agency or something drops in to see you.
There also were street musicians, just standing on the sidewalk, playing and singing to all those who were just walking by. Good luck, guys.

Don’t get me wrong. John Westbrook and I have made a pretty good summer living in Virginia City, playing for tips and CD sales. But, frankly, I think our chance of having the “right person” hear us in Virginia City is better than at one of these Nashville pits.
I don’t believe I would go to Nashville to try and “make it” in music unless I had something set up before I went, like Jason did. They'd better take a good look at Jason. He's head and shoulders above anyone I saw there as a singer, he does his originals as well as covers and even after seeing other bands working Nashville, I'm still impressed with Jason Deshaw.
I think he has a good chance to be noticed down there and I’m rooting for him.

As to the quality of performances, I was not impressed. Almost all of them are doing cover tunes…no originals. They are all playing basically the same stuff as the band next door and the same stuff as you hear on top country radio. I saw one band, at Roberts Western Way, that was very good. The guitar player would make Westbrook or Rose work to keep up and the whole band presentation was high energy and fun. Still, they were playing covers but the lead guitar player and the stand-up bass player were so good that they made up for it.

Nashville is missing out on real musicians and songwriters by not actively searching for the people I am privileged to perform with. If the Nashville “right people” would care to come to Lewiston, Idaho; St. Anthony, Idaho or Townsend, Montana this year they will see and hear much better musicians, singers and songwriters than anyone I saw in Nashville or anyone I see or hear on the radio. Not just my opinion. Fact.

The REAL adventure in Nashville is trying to find someplace to park! If you are overtime in one of the expensive public parking lots, I think they blow up your car or something.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Still "on the road"

Just a quick note. I've got comments on my trip through Nashville and Branson as well as some other things I've checked out on this trip. Right now, I'm in a Motel in Kadoka, SD. It's snowing, the interstate is slick and it's cold so I gave it up for the day. If I'd known what I know now, I'd have kept on peddling the last 100 miles or so to Rapid City.

No internet in the room (unless you want to shell out $60 for a motel room), no cafe open, no internet at the truck stop. One bar open with three people in it, no one playing pool. Let alone pool for money!

Anyway, when I get back near civilization (this from a guy from Montana!) I'll post the things I've got written on my own computer.