Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Bizz with the Buzz: Setting The Stage

The Biz with the Buzz: Setting the Stage

By John “Stoney” Cannon

Last time we spoke kiddies you were knee deep in getting together that great demo to go along with your top notch promo picture, straight to the point bio, and eye-catching logo. Now in the old days this would make up what we oldsters call a promo/press pack. Toss all this cool stuff in a folder with pockets and you have what, even in this day and modern age, some places accept for information to write about your band. Sure many places now find it easier to just follow the link you email them to find all this info online but look at it this way – you’re now covered on both ends as you can use this same info for your actual print material or for your online version. But let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves…what’s the point of getting press if you don’t have anything to promote? Luckily you can use this same information (if needed) to try and get that debut gig. You know the one of which I speak - that first magical night where you introduce yourself to the public by blowing the audience completely out of the water. OK so chances are good that it won’t be that incredible but still, you and your band are well rehearsed, have some cool tunes, and are hungry for some stage time. To top it off, you have all the proper promotional tools to present your band to prospective bookers. So let’s go get that gig.

Now first off, there are some good things you should know. Simple rules that you may not all find in a book but are still good to follow. First off…make sure you and your bandmates are on the same page and get a good idea of everyone’s availability for a couple months ahead of time. You want to come across like playing out is what you do. Many a band have missed out on great gigs because a booker was eager to fill a slot and was told by someone in the band “sounds cool but I gotta check with the guys to make sure everyone can do it.” There’s always a band right behind you who is desperate enough for the gig to say yes immediately. And while I’m on the subject of talking to a venue booker, I need to stress how important it is to build a relationship with the booker at the venue you’re looking to play at especially if you’re looking to return again or maybe play at the venue on some sort of regular basis. The best way to do this is a simple one and can be done using this simple rule – “first contact-permanent contact” meaning the person representing your band who makes initial contact with the venue should be the one who handles continuing dialogue with the venue going forward. Of course this can be made easier by designating one person to handle all the booking arrangements period. Even if you happen to get the gig through a band inviting you to play, it is never a bad idea to visit the venue ahead of time and introduce yourself. This will not only show that you value the gig but also give the booker at least a small level of assurance that your band has been contacted and arrangements have been made for you to play. Besides, a visit to the venue ahead of time is also a good opportunity to find out a few things to make the big night easier for you (if you haven’t already) like what time to show up for load-in, where to load-in, and maybe even what time your band will play and for how long.

Many of the points mentioned above might seem like no-brainers for the well weathered musician and once you’ve built a reputation as a drawing artist some may even eventually not be needed but for now, you’re on a mission to get that first gig under your belt. The date is set…there’s nothing left to do but show up and melt some face. Or is there?

Next time: Prepare and Promote aka How to Look Good in AND Out of the Gig

Check out Stoney's long running website

Friday, January 21, 2011

"Dear Rockstar" with Steven Adler and Chip Z Nuff

This edition of "Dear Rockstar" is with original Guns and Roses and current Adler's Appetite drummer Steven Adler and Enuff Z Nuff, current Adler's Appetite ( and legendary Howard Stern Show Guest) bass player, Chip Z Nuff. I caught up with them at Rock Bottom Music after their meet and greet and before their Augusta gig.

John Berret: What inspired you to start playing?

Chip Z Nuff: My fathers old records. They were always on. The Don Kirshner show was also a big inspiration.

Steven Adler:The passion and love of music and wanting to be able to create it myself. To get there I had to practice, practice, practice!

JB: How long did you play before you played your first gig?

Chip: A couple of years.

Adler: I think about 2 years.

JB: What was your favorite gig?

Adler: It was Castle Donnington ion England in 1988. We played with Iron Maiden, Kiss, Megadeth and David Lee Roth. Playing with the Rolling Stones too.

JB: Who is your favorite player?

Chip:Too many to list but I would say Paul McCartney, Jim Beacon and Geddy Lee.

Adler:Roger Taylor of Queen.

JB: Whats your favorite piece of gear?

Chip:My 1963 Fender P bass and my 12 string waterstone bass.

JB:Whats your favorite currentband?

Adler: The Foo Fighters.

Chip:A band from San Diego California called Louis the 14th.

They were a very gracious band and greeted the fans very well. Until next time guys keep reading and see whos next on "Dear Rockstar."

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Meet Guns and Roses Drummer Steven Adler

This Friday at Rock Bottom music, the drummer from one of the greatest bands in history (Guns and Roses) will be doing a meet and greet and signing autographs for fans. Be there around 5-530. He was part of the team that wrote songs like Sweet Child O Mine, Welcome To The Jungle and many other classics. You will not have too many times in your life to meet a true rock legend....and its free and all ages!!!!! He will also have some members of his band, Adler's Appetite, there too. Chip Z Nuff from 80's glam band Enuff ZNuff will be there. Chip is a legendary radio guest on "The Howard Stern Show." If you heard him you know what I mean. Other band members, who are all very well known in their own right are Rick Stitch, Alex Grossi and Micheal Thomas. Get down to Rock Bottom Friday. The band is also performing at Sky City that night. Tickets are on sale at both Rock Bottom locations.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Getting Ready For A Gig

This little tid bit will be called "Getting Ready For A Gig." Once you get yourself to the point where you are ready to play a show, with a band or solo, there are some things you need to do to be prepared. There is nothing that reeks rookie more than not being prepared. You want your show to go smooth. You need to have your energy focused on the performance, not worrying about having guitar or amp issues.

If you are a guitar player make sure you have a fresh set of strings on. You will, at some point, break a string while playing. Sometimes even if you put new ones on, one will still break. New strings make that happen alot less. If you have pedals that needs batteries, have good ones in them and ALWAYS carry back ups. Make sure your guitar cables are in working order and you have back ups. Have your self a tool box with some screw drivers, pliers, wire cutters, soldering gun with solder, a knife,allen wrenches, string winder and any other tools you might need. You can also keep your batteries and strings in there. If your guitar amp has fuses in it make sure you have back up fuses. Also its very good to carry your own multi plug/ extension cord to power all your stuff. You would be surprised how many places dont have that for you, they are not really required to have them. As a sound man I get asked so frequently " Hey man, where's the power?" and " Dude, you got a power strip?" If you are playing any stringed instrument, have a tuner!!! Make sure everyone in the band that needs one has one. When you are on stage use the tuner to tune. Kill the stage volume when you do tune. NEVER have the audience hear you tune if you can help it. That reeks of garage player when you do. These things apply to bass players too.

Drummers need to make sure they have plenty of sticks. I actually had a drummer (who will remain un-named) that "forgot" about his sticks at a gig we were playing in Myrtle Beach SC. It was 1 o clock in the morning and we were about to get started and he broke a stick and did not have any back ups. Where are you going to get drum sticks at 1 in the morning???!!!?? No where. Have a drum key to tune your drums. Have back up heads. Have any tools you will need to work on your drums. Have a drum rug. Thats another thing I get asked a million times as a sound man. Any time I am doing any city sound job, there is no rug to put the drums on (the rug stops them from sliding every where). We are not required and the city is not either, to supply it. Make sure you have one.

Singers........well........just be on time!!!!

I have left out what are considered "miscellaneous" instruments, like congas/keyboards/etc., because other than repeating what I have mentioned for the other instruments, I cant think of what else you would need. When you have to be at a gig know what time load in and sound check are. Be prepared and try and think ahead. Your first bunch of gigs will take you to school. You are going to have bad ones. Get them out of the way and "pay your dues." These things will help you be able to concentrate on your performance and not on your gear. Get to that gig, rock it out and kick some arse!!!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

The Rules of a Jam

There will come a time in every up and coming musicians life when he/she gets to be a part of a "Jam." Jams can be a great expirience. They can also end up as a big train wreck that leaves everyone with a bad taste in their mouth. At some point you will have a bad jam. You want to expirience this. It will end up making you better and teach you tons. With that said there are some "rules" of the jam that might help you, particularly if you are at a jam that takes place in public.

1- You should known some common "standard" songs. Every musician knows there are certain songs that everyone plays, like Sweet Home Alabama, Crossroads, Teen Spirit, For Whom The bell Tolls, etc. Jams are the times to be doing these songs. Almost any blues song , aka 12 bar blues, fits here too.

2-Everyone plays. If you are part of a jam you do your thing and pass the torch. Jams are fun for evryone. Thats why everyone who is capable should play. There should be a certain competance level though. The competance level should be determined by the majority of people there.

3- Everyone gets a chance to solo. That should go unsaid.

4-Dont solo unless its your time. Nothing worse than two or more people trying to battle it out for the solo. It sounds like a crying animal when this happens. Also feel out how long you should solo. Too much is a no no.

5-Dont play louder than anyone else. The only time you should be louder than anyone else is when you are soloing.

6-Call a song. Again try and stick to the standards and make sure everyone knows the key. A jam is not the time to show your a hipster by picking some indie song or Dream Theatre song that you know noone will know.

7-When your not part of the jam, applaud and show support. You want that when its your turn.

8-If you are the one who picked the song, kind of lead it. Give head nods and looks to help show cues.

9-Watch the "leader" if you did not call the song. That way you pick up cues.

10-Let the drummer keep the beat. He is the one who is suppose to be doing it.

11- Drummers. Playing all kinds of off time off kilter stuff during a jam can be bad. Remember to keep the beat. Go solo when its your time.

12-Dont get all drunk or messed up and try and play at a jam. Thats a quick way to make a train wreck.

13-If you are a singer , bring abook with lyrics in it of some standards, heck, have one there anyway so that someone will be able to sing.

14-Use common sense.

These are just some of the rules I could think of. These will help you when it comes time for you to be in a "Jam." You will have fun doing them and they are a great time! If anyone has rules they would like to add, leave a comment with them and I will ammend the rules.

John Berret

Monday, January 10, 2011

The Importance Of..................Proper Picking Technique Part #2

Here we are at part #2 of "The Importance of Proper Picking Technique." Hopefully you have had time to digest part one and are ready for the next part. In this one we are going to go over "inside" and "outside" picking. These are two techniques that can really put you over the edge speed wise. For many, many years I ignored these two things and relied soley on alternate picking to achieve speedand precision. I had a practice routine for 7-8 years that had me doing two hours of exercises everyday. No matter how hard and long I practiced I could only get so fast using alternate picking only. It was like I had hit a ceiling or something. Don't get me wrong, I got really fast, I just hit a point were practice was useless. As a refresher, "outside picking" is using two or more string runs, the pick, when crossing from one string to another, the pick strokes hit the outside of each string. "Inside Picking" is using two or more string runs, the pick, when crossing from one string to another strikes the area between (or inside) the strings. I like using inside picking when going from lower notes to higher notes (like example 1). I like using inside picking when going from higher notes to lower notes (like example 2). Those are just my preferances. They are not the rule. I do have times use them completly opposite. Really it depends on the run. You want to use what works best for you. All of my examples are in A minor.

Example #1 is an "outside picking" run that just works the high E and B strings with three notes per string, going right up through different positions of the scale. Make sure you pay attention to how it's picked.

Example #2 is an "inside picking" run that again works the high E and B strings, with three notes per string and goes down through different positions. Again make sure to pay attention to the picking.

Example #3 is an "outside picking" run that takes you through the third position of the A minor scale. I have it seperated by bar lines, not for proper rythym division but for when you start the "inside picking" over again. Think of each seperation as it's own two string run.

Example #4 is an "inside picking" run that takes you through the second position of the A minor scale. Again Ihave it seperated to see the "two string" runs.

In all of the examples make sure you pay close attention to how it is picked so that you are really doing the inside and outside picking correctly. The key is to have them clean and clear. Start off slowly and build up speed over time. Adapt them to your own style. Try and figure out how to use them in the solos you have already beenplaying. Remember: If it ain't clean, it ain't nothin'. See you all for Part #3.
click on thetab to make it bigger

John Berret

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Product Review: Guild GAD-M20 Acoustic/Electric

This product review is going to be on a guitar company I never gave a second thought to, Guild. I never thought bad or good of them until the Guild rep was in Rock Bottom a couple months a go. He pulled out one of the newer revamped models. I played it and was floored. Last week I walked into the store and saw this beauty staring right at me....the GAD-M20. It was small and stunning. I picked it up and was in love. I had to have it. I have been playing on it and decided to write a review on it and the new company I "discovered" as of late.

First let's get the specs out.

The body style is concert.
The top is made of solid mahogany.
The bracing is scalloped spruce.
The back and sides are solid mahogany.
The scale is 24.75"
The neck is one piece mahogany.
The fretboard is rosewood.
The finger radius is 16"
It is a 20 fret guitar.
It has mother of pearl dot inlays.
The nut and saddle is bone.
The bridge is rosewood.
It has Grover Tuners.
It is designed for optimal sound with gauge .12-.53 strings.
It has Fishmen pick ups/electronics.

With the specs out of the way lets get to how it sounds, you can see how it looks from the picture.It has a full, rich sound. It is very "natural sounding. A lot of newer acoustics just don't sound real to me. This one does. By real I mean like a live sounding acoustic, not something with cheap wood or plastic. It puts out way more non amplified volume than it looks like it should,When you play the guitar softly and lightly it sounds just as crisp and even as it does when you are jamming hard and loud, the same as it does when you are playing just normal too. When you are playing open chords you can hear each individual note shimmer and sing.When playing lead up high on the neck the sound is also clean AND it can be heard. On a lot of acoustics when you play single note lead lines the volume drops and the notes get lost really easy. This one did not. When playing with other acoustic instruments it was heard easily. The overall sound of it reminded me of the great old 70's era folk/country rock music. Think of "Can't You See" by Marshall Tucker. For a guitar made in China it will blow your mind. It can keep up and surpasses alot of American guitars I have played as of late. I played it through a Fender acoustic amp and it sounded just as good as it did unplugged. Same with running it through a P.A. system. It sounds great no matter how you stack it. When you put a strap on it and put it on it sits as perfectly as you would want a guitar to sit. My hands and arms were in a very natural position to be playing. Sitting with it was just as comfortable. Even taking a slide and hitting some old delta blues sounded awesome. It still had volume and the notes still sang, even though in my opinion the thick glass slide sounded best. The glass slide sounded nice and warm on it. The guitar sustains really well too. No matter how hard you get into playing this guitar, you will hear no rattles or buzzes. You just hear the guitar. I know that sounds like something you should expect on a new guitar, that is not always the case. Even in a lot of new acoustic guitars you can hear the tuning keys buzz, some bracing buzz or a battery compartment rattle. This one is clean. In fact the battery is housed in a little "pouch" that Velcros inside the guitar, up at the neck, thus removing any possibility of it rattling. The volume and tone control are inside the sound hole at the top. Invisible to the eye but easy to get to. The input jack is on the bottom strap peg. The guitar is classy and timeless looking.Just the way I like it.

Guild has come a long way in it's 57 year history. This guitar and every model that has come into Rock Bottom Music is top quality at VERY REASONABLE prices. We have got a bunch of them in the past week. Get down and check them out. They will compete with any of your time tested legends like Martin or Taylor, hell it might surpass them. Guild did for me. I got a very top quality Taylor and the guild kills it. Get down to Rock Bottom and play one for yourself. Take my word, you will fall in love just like I did!

John Berret

Monday, January 3, 2011

Spotlight Licks: Bruce Pennington

This "Spotlight Lick" is brought to you by local guitar guru Bruce Pennington. He has been a top guitar player in Augusta for a good time. He has played in local bands like Catboy, Hunter and Captain Trips, to name a few. He is a master of technique and is a very well versed guitar player. He came to me with a F# minor pentatonic lick. The lick involves string skipping and wide stretches. The idea is to go up and comeback down backwards. You can pick every note or use hammer ons going up and pull offs coming back. Practice it slowly and cleanly at first, making sure you hear the notes and are not sloppy. Once you get moving on this thing you will love it!!! Thanks Bruce!!!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Student Spotlight: Chris Marks

This edition of "Student Spotlight" is on 12 year old, 7th grader, Chris Marks. Chris attends school at Davidson Fine Arts Academy. Chris plays drums, guitar, bass and piano. He is well seasoned for a musician of all of 12 years old. He has been playing cello for many years. He got into music at around the ripe old age of 7 years. He wanted to play guitar at that age but to prove his interest in playing guitar his mom made him start on piano first. He did the piano for a couple years and his mom and dad got him a guitar along the way. He started teaching himself from various websites and youtube. A couple of years later he started getting his first guitar lessons. While he was taking guitar lessons, and cello at school, he also started taking drum lessons. From what i hear he can play drums good too. He says he has a "somewhat" musical family. He has a brother who is a very promising drummer ( who takes lessons at Rock Bottom) and a Grandfather who also played the cello. While his parents are not musicians themselves, they provide all the support and encouragement a kid could want in a parent. They also have a great taste in music, LOL! Chris's dream guitar would be a Gibson Les Paul Custom. If he could play anywhere it would be the world famous Staples Center, located in Los Angeles California. If he was in a band and could be the opening act for any band in history it would be Guns & Roses. He cites Guns and Roses and Led Zeppelin as his favorite bands. His favorite guitar player is Led Zeps Jimmy Page because he likes his style. If he could be one guitarist for aday it would be Eddie Van Halen. Who wouldn't want to play those songs with Van Halen????? Where does Chris see himself musically in the next five years? He sees himself preparing to go to a good music school to study the cello. He site his improvement in technique as one of the biggest and best things he has taken from my lessons so far. The silliest thing on his Ipod? Techno music, he says his brother loaded it on there. Chris Marks has the ability the become a professional musician and play at the national level in the coming years. I am very pleased with his work ethic. If he chooses that path he very well could become huge. He can play things you don't expect from a 12 year old. If he practices and puts the dedication of a champion in, he will become one. He, as well as all my students who choose this path, will get everything I can do to help them achieve that. Keep your eyes and ears ready to hear Chris as he evolves as a musician. Here is to you Chris......Keep Rockin.....Keep Playing......and Keep Having Fun!!!!