Archive for April, 2007

Gene Pitney

           Well it has been a year since we lost the Rockville Rocket.  Gene Pitney was IS the son of Rockville Conn and Gene made it to the big times as a recording artist.  Just type in the word “Gene Pitney”, with quotes, at www.Google.com & over 417,000 personalized results are returned. Or  check www.GenePitney.com or www.GenePitney.org . Not only popular in the USA but just as popular in the UK & Europe. But boy oh boy what a down to earth person.

One very popular song & motion picture “Town without Pity”. The motion picture Starred Kirk Douglas won a Golden Globe award & was Oscar nominated.


IF you haven’t heard, the “Gene Pitney” Commerative Commission is gathering steam & moving forward with great things coming.

Recent article: Rockville Reminder

Carl Slicer, Sr Editor, www.BandSpace.Fm  


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Do You YouTube ?

              You must have heard about the multi-billion dollar Google offshoot designed to make everyone a film star. Oh yes, YouTube,  www.YouTube.com,  is sweeping the nation, and I’m going to tell you how to capitalize on its popularity.

              I saw a video today on YouTube that had been viewed 3,642,927 times since November 26, 2006. And it wasn’t even stupid. It was a video of a guitarist – a very talented guitarist – who made a recording of himself playing some of his original songs in his own home. It was unprofessional and unplugged and low-key and fabulous. The guy was just playing his heart out in sweats and a t-shirt, and that, ladies and gentlemen, is what it’s all about. This guy is famous now because of the exposure he got from posting this simple video online. And you can be too.

             I’ll give you another success story. I mentioned before that my husband Erik is in an acoustic duo with his friend Tom. So Erik and Tom had someone tape them at a live show playing the song “Solsbury Hill.” They posted it on YouTube because it makes for a great add-on to potential upcoming gigs. The ability to say “Check out our video on YouTube” makes them a lot more accessible and inviting than a simple “Here’s our business card and demo cd… give us a call.” Their video was posted five days ago and already has forty views. Tom even received an email from one viewer praising his rendition of the song and asking for the tablature he used for it because it was apparently the best version of the song he had come across. That makes you even more accessible – anyone who watches your video can send an email to you with questions, comments, booking information… whatever!

              So after those testimonials, how can you sit back and not post a sample of your music on YouTube? It’s easy, it gives you a broad network of people to show your stuff to, and as long as your material is an example of what you can bring to the table for a client or a venue, you just may be finding yourself reaping some serious benefits.

Kara Nielsen, Editor, www.BandSpace.fm .    

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Climb Ev’ry Mountain

               They call it “ Music Mountain.”  Many have braved its peaks, but still it holds that old
New England charm and mystery.  Nestled in Falls Village, CT, Music Mountain is home to some of the best chamber music available. See www.MusicMountain.org . With guest ensembles littering their spring and summer schedule, it’s easy to find an event that interests you.  They predominantly showcase Chamber, Choral and Jazz ensembles, and they manage to stay afloat through the ticket sales and generous donations of concert-goers.  Booked for events straight through the season, it’s pretty easy to pick a date you’d like to visit and find that they’re hosting someone like the Shanghai String Quartet, Jane Roth & the Litchfield Hills Pipe & Drums, The Cantilena Chamber Choir, or The New Black Eagle Jazz Band.  Their Jazz at Twilight series starts June 23rd and runs every Saturday until August 25th .

                 Admission for regular Saturday/Sunday performances is free for children 5-11 and students younger than 24 are only $12, but single adult tickets are $22 in advance or $25 at the door.  If you purchase a block of 5 tickets before June 16th, you can get them at the discounted rate of $100, or $20 apiece.  With these steep adult rates, it can be difficult to make it a habit of visiting the mountain.  They do, however, have an event August 11th that sounds wholly worthwhile.  It’s their 2nd Annual Music Mountain Free Family Festival.  And the blurb on their website is quite enticing, I must say: “Come join us for another fun-filled day of the performing arts in Gordon Hall and on the surrounding grounds featuring The Bergonzi String Quartet’s unique, interactive version of the Saint-Saen’s Carnival of the Animals, plus dancers, jugglers, mimes, puppeteers, story tellers and a musical range from folk and country to rock.  No admission, free parking and lawns for picnicking.” Well I’ll certainly be there!  It doesn’t get much better than free admission, free parking, and all free music and juggling you can handle.

               On a different note, it’s good to know that  Music
Mountain isn’t just a facility for hosting performances.  They are also putting on a series of master classes this season, beginning June 3rd-8th with an Oboe master class by Bert Lucarelli, a Chamber Players’ Retreat for Adult Amateur Musicians June 26th-July 2nd, and a Chamber Music Festival for Young Musicians July 24th-29th.  

            Music Mountain, celebrating its 78th birthday this year, is operated on a volunteer basis.  If you’re interested in contributing a donation to keep it going, download a Contribution Form here, www.musicmountain.org/about/contrib.html , and send it with your tax deductible contribution to:      Music Mountain,  P.O. Box 738,  Lakeville, CT  06039.


  Kara Nielsen, Editor, www.BandSpace.Fm.   

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       By: Bizzy Bender



      I have been playing coffeehouses in and around New England since 1996 and I would like to share a bit about my experiences. Some have been awesome and some not so awesome. I will not name names or point fingers but if you are about to start this adventure you should be prepared for what you might experience. 

      I have played to packed houses and have driven hours to play for a very small number of people. This is not a numbers game. Unless of course you are seriously trying to do this for a living and if that’s the case then you will have a better strategy than the artist who is doing this part time. The more you can develop a following and keep track of your fans and more importantly where they live the better you will do at promoting concerts outside of your own county.

       I have played in venues that looked like someone just threw up a few tables and maybe stuck a candle on it and bought boxed cookies and made bad coffee and I have played venues that went all out and created an amazing environment from exquisite décor to Starbucks like coffee.

       Sound is always an issue to be aware of and while it is good to know what your preferences are sometimes it’s hard to be picky. Often the sound system is barely sufficient and sometimes non-existent in which case you had better have a fall back plan. Usually the venue will give you a heads up but it is better to come prepared than be sorry and play completely unplugged.  Also remember the coffeehouse is usually run by volunteers so be kind always!!

        The more you know before you go the better off you will be. How long will you be playing?  Will you be sharing the stage? What will the compensation be? Can you sell CD’s? Do they want you to share your testimony? Can you do worship songs and do your regulars enjoy singing along or would they rather just listen?

        Will they feed you before or after? Of course you should make sure you know who the main contact is and bring phone #’s along especially if you run into any problems getting there i.e. getting lost is a common problem!

        Be prepared. This may seem very pedantic but don’t forget your instrument! Bring pics, strings, capo’s and anything else you might need!

       Lastly, bring along your best attitude. As I said earlier, these venues are run by volunteers. Make certain you say thank  you to them publicly. It’s a very hard and mostly thank-less job so make a fuss over these people. Without them we wouldn’t have very many places to play. I make it a habit to give a copy of my CD to the person running the venue and oft-times to the sound person and maybe the person overseeing the food if it appears to be a one-person show! 

      So enjoy the adventure, remember to buckle up, it can be a wild ride!


Peace, Bizzy


Editors note: (You can catch Bizzy at her website our at one of her coffeehouse gigs. She also plays an International Gig called “SoulFest” at GunStock, NH.)  www.BizzyBender.com  or www.thesoulfest.com/2007 .)  

Check Bizzy out on “Our Stage”

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                So I have this Music History class every Tuesday and Thursday.  That’s not exactly very often, I’d say, even with a lot else on my plate.  So I really have no trouble making it to class every week.  And I’ve got to admit, I’m greatly puzzled when the seemingly smartest kid in class is constantly missing.  He’ll show up every other week or so, sometimes (rarely) two classes in a row, and of course he’ll always be there for the tests, but he always knows what we’re talking about, he always aces the exams, and the professor never seems the least bit miffed at this boy who just randomly disappears for days at a time.              It’s not like I was losing sleep over this or anything, but it did bother me that I was busting my butt trying to make it to every class and pay attention and take notes and I still wasn’t making the same grades that this slacker was.  I needed to know what his secret was.              Well, one day I just decided that enough was enough, and I approached him.   The following conversation transpired:

              “Seth.  Dude.  Where do you go all the time?”  I queried, sincerely bewildered by my classmate.   He laughed at my puzzled expression, which only made me more persistent. “Where?!” I demanded.  “And why do you seem to never miss a beat?”              With a smile, he nodded toward a tape recorder that sat on his desk.   “Well,” he said, “as far as the never missing a beat question, it’s a simple answer.  Whenever I have to miss a class, I pop in to the classroom earlier in the morning and leave this in the corner.  And then I read the chapters that we covered in class to reinforce the information.  I study a lot.  That’s why I never miss a beat.”              “Okay, I guess that’s not as weird as I thought,” I consented.  “But why are you never in class? And why doesn’t Dr. Callaghan care?”              “Well, I spoke with her at the beginning of the semester and we worked out a deal.  I let her know that I would have to miss classes frequently but that I could guarantee that I would come when I could and always do well on the tests.  She agreed that if I was comfortable with less class time than the rest of the students, she didn’t mind me missing classes with a good reason.”              I was getting really impatient at this point.  “And that reason is……??”   “I play at funerals.”  “What?” I asked, having expected him to have a much more lame excuse.              “I have to do gigs to pay for school, and since I’m an organist, the best way for me to do this is by getting into a circuit of local churches and offering my services for funerals.”              “And you play at that many funerals?” I asked, trying to remember how many classes he had missed.               “Yeah, people die a lot,” he said.  “Which is awful, of course.  It’s a pretty depressing job.  And I’d much rather be in class with the rest of you guys.  But it’s getting me through college.  Listen, I gotta run.  See ya Tuesday.” 

           He left me with that, and I thought about it for a little while before heading out myself.  The moral of the story?  If I had to specify one, I’d say it’s that if you set your mind to accomplish something (like a music degree), you can find a way to do it no matter what your limitations are (financial or otherwise).  I really admire that kid’s persistence.  He studies a lot more than most of the other people in that class (myself included) and he’s so passionate about his music that he’s schemed up a rigorous schedule for himself that has lasted all semester and is ending with him getting a phenomenal grade in the Music History class, managing to still get a top-notch education, and paying for the opportunity by playing at funerals when he could be joining the other students in extra time to learn.

Kara Nielsen, Editor,   www.BandSpace.Fm                   

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            I can’t speak from experience because I’ve never had a booking agent, so I’ve never had a chance to be better than one.  But my husband Erik, member of the acoustic duo E.T.A., has.  And this is his story.

             Erik & Tom Acoustic.  That’s the ETA part.  They’re just a two-piece guitar and djembe cover band with some free evenings and a love of music.  And they play just about everything, from Sheryl Crow to The Beatles and from John Mellencamp to The Proclaimers.  The old stuff and the new stuff.  But always the fun stuff.

               They’ve got a list about a mile long of the songs they can play at the drop of a hat.  But if you catch them with a request of something they don’t really know, they’ll play it anyway!  And they’ll let the crowd help them learn it right there in the bar (or club or restaurant, whatever the setting may be).

             So Erik and Tom were playing about twice a month, and their booking agent was finding them the gigs.  All they had to do was play!  But when they began to really get noticed, all of a sudden they were getting offers that were being handled directly, without the need of an agent at all.  With Tom’s veteran knowledge of the gigging scene and Erik’s no-nonsense attitude toward the business side of music, they realized that the middle man who was taking a cut of their then-meager earnings was wholly and totally unnecessary, not to mention a waste of money.

             It was hard breaking off from the guy who had gotten them started, really, by getting them in the right doors.  But they had to face the fact that they were beginning to be able to open doors for themselves, and they were getting a lot farther on their own volition than they were using him as a go-between.  Erik, always the financially-focused negotiator, was very persuasive, and with him handling the monetary expectations of the band, they soon found themselves asking for much more than they had dared to before, and even better, they found themselves getting it.

               Right now, Erik and Tom can be seen up to six times a month at a handful of very different venues.  Their undeniable musical versatility as a performing duo has brought them more opportunities than might be offered a genre-specific band.  Their success stems from a number of factors.  They’re very self-contained, owning all their own equipment and needing a meager amount of space to perform in, they can go from low-key background music to high-level party music, they’re very likable guys with a great stage presence and a way with charming crowds in every venue, and as I mentioned before, they can play just about anything you want to hear.

               As far as venues go, they include the swanky Brazilian restaurant Braza in Hartford, http://hartford.about.com/od/dining/fr/aafprbraza.htm ,  the high-energy Irish pub McKinnons in Hartford, http://www.mckinnonsirishpub.com/ , the low-key coffee house Tribeca in Glastonbury, www.tribecacafe.net ,  and the exciting Italian-style Tuscany Grille in Middletown, CT, http://www.tuscany-grill.com .  

               There’s no doubt in my mind that this pair of guys got very lucky, but there’s no reason why you can’t too.  If your booking agent is really not a necessity, why keep on coughing up a percentage of your earnings to him/her?  By all means, when they’re necessary, they’re very necessary, but hey – when they’re not, they’re just not, right?

Kara Nielsen, Editor, www.BandSpace.Fm

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     Moms!  Dads!  Legal Guardians!  This message is for you, so listen up!  I know you’ve been taking my advice so far and you’ve significantly broadened your musical horizons, eh?  So now I have to ask: while you’re off at work or attending those extra music classes I recommended a few blogs ago, what exactly are your kids up to?

       Well, the summer’s approaching, and when schools get out, chances are your little bundles of joy have some free time on their sticky hands.  Have you ever considered enrolling them in a music class just like you’re attending, but one suited just for their age range?  If you haven’t, it’s time to think about it!  Because there are dozens upon gaggles upon plenty of great programs out there just waiting for you to utilize them!     

       Ah, but what about the cost?  Kids are expensive to begin with, and who wants to add more bills to the pile anyway?  No worries, Mom and Dad!  In most cases (obviously not all cases), the fees you’ll be charged for the great musical foundation your offspring will be building are really nominal, especially when compared to the amount they’ll pay for this type of training and performance experience once they’re at and above the college level.  Can I get an “AMEN!” for that?  A college undergrad at the moment myself, I’m always shocked by the hideously skyrocketing prices asked for average, if not sub-standard, music education.  

          Imagine Productions, LLC, based in Vernon, CT, offers four different classes in the performing arts vein for the summer of 2007.  Whether you’re the proud parents of beginners, mid-level performers, or even seasoned veterans, you’ll find a place for your child in the Musical Theatre Performance class.  The only qualification is that he or she be willing, able, and excited to act, sing, and dance.  Beginning in May with an audition to determine your child’s role in the production, your child will then join several others in a thrilling and fun experience that will have them gearing up through the whole month of June to shine in the July performances.  And this year’s theme?  “A Tribute To Disney!”          

        Besides being on the stage itself, there are other summer classes designed for children interested in the other aspects of theatre production.  For all you techies out there (some of my best friends wore all black and scurried around in the wings, ya know), Imagine is offering “Theatre Technology and Design.”  Students in this class will learn about designing and operating essential elements of every production:  set, lighting, and sound.

           And who could imagine a Disney show without the music?  A class on “Instrumental Performance” will be offered to children Grades 6 and up with prior instrumental experience.  The students will learn the scores to some of their favorite songs and then join the whole group to perform in the pit orchestra for the final performance.        The fourth and final class offered for the summer session is a short two-session class called “Auditions 101.”  In this class, kids of all ages are invited to join special guest instructors, who will lead the actors through a series of lectures and exercises, each crafted to engage the students and help them build the skills they need to perform successful auditions.  A mock-audition will determine their progress at the very end. 

Interested in learning more about Imagine Productions, LLC?  You can visit www.ImagineSP.com , email ImagineSP@yahoo.com , or call (860)965-7505 for

more details or to enroll. 

    Kara Nielsen, Editor, www.BandSpace.FM ,   (4/12/07) 

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