A Message from the [Slacking] Author

My apologies to anyone who got way too used to my 3-a-week blog posts. A road trip over the weekend lead into this week, which brought about a new business project for me (details to come). This project has come with the typical excitement of starting a new project mixed with the craziness of adding it to my schedule. Consistency of The Thinking Bat may suffer, but I suspect that the subject matter will get interesting! (For the love of all things sacred, it’s about time something interesting showed up on here, right?) I’m even thinking of a makeover for the site. Comments welcome!

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under A New Approach to Business

Fantastic Lineup and Surprise Flash Mob Excite at Musicians Corner

Carter's Chord

A near-perfect day played host to hundreds in Centennial Park on Saturday. With the TACA Craft Fair right next door, a flood of people swarmed to see this week’s stellar performances.

Buffalo Clover started things off. These guys had a unique yet memorable sound, mixing influences from Americana, pop, folk and bluegrass. Lead singer Margo Price has a wonderful tone, backed by a talented band providing intermittent harmonies. They have just released a vinyl album entitled Low Down Time, which they sampled several songs from.

The first acoustic stage act of the day was the beautiful songstress Carly Pearce. Carly’s voice is sweet but powerful with her country background shining through. In just three solo acoustic songs, Carly had the crowd in wonderment.

The second main stage act was California duo Pawnshop Kings. The two brothers mix melodic tones to produce sounds that mix pop, rock and soul. They entertained the crowd with stories and music that truly spoke to everyone.

After Pawnshop Kings left the stage, there was a brief pause before current pop smash Party Rock Anthem by LMFAO started blaring over the speakers. A couple spontaneous dance moves from crowd members had several people curious. Dancers kept coming from every direction, eventually forming a very large dance party front-and-center in the lawn. Then, as the music picked up, they all broke into a choreographed dance… that’s right: a flash mob at Musicians Corner.

The flash mob was to promote Nashville Sideshow’s Fringe Festival, a progressive performing arts event, taking place from September 29 to October 2. Another exciting first for Musicians Corner.

Wondering how to adequately follow a flash mob, Jared Crump took the acoustic stage. Jared describes himself as if “Jason Mraz, Kenny Chesney, John Mayer, and a steel guitar had a baby.” Although that’s difficult to imagine, Jared’s smooth vocals, guitar riffs and country roots certainly combine to make something wonderful.

The Coolin’ System took the main stage next. Primarily instrumental, the band features a horn section and two percussionists, as well as several other instruments to provide a contemporary big band swing sound. After bringing up a soulful James Brown-like vocalist at the end, The Coolin’ System was a definite crowd-pleaser. Much of the audience was on its feet, and Rico even had a couple dance partners.

Elliot Collett was the final acoustic act of the day. Taking the stage with two other members of his band The Articles, Collett combined alternative country stylings with Americana sounds and a pop sensibility. The music was a great way to set the mood for fall, and get the crowd ready for the headliners.

After this was the always-popular Dog of the Day. This week’s winner was the beautiful pure bread standard poodle named Hershey. Not only did Hershey get to open up for Carter’s Chord, he also managed a stage dive, jumping off the Musicians Corner five-foot stage onto the lawn! (He was just fine.

The headliners of the day generated an outstanding response. Carter’s Chord is a sister trio, quickly gaining notoriety in the Nashville country scene. Signed to Toby Keith’s Show Dog Universal Records, these three gave a standout acoustic performance with beautiful harmonies and incredible instrumentation. They also happen to be World Vision artists, collaborating with one of Musicians Corner’s biggest sponsors. After their set, the girls stuck around to speak with the fans that stayed through the rain and even signed autographs. Musicians Corner was truly pleased to have these three grace their stage.

Musicians Corner is a non-profit program of The Conservancy for the Parthenon & Centennial Park. The fall season of Musicians Corner runs on Saturdays through November 5 and promises more great artists and special guests. For additional information and the fall schedule please visit www.musicianscornernashville.com.

Leave a comment

Filed under Music, Musicians Corner

10 Tips on Interviewing: Jobs and… Otherwise

Interviewing

We’ve all been there. You’re palms are sweaty and you have that anxious feeling in the pit of your stomach. You’ve rehearsed what you’re going to say over and over, but who knows what questions they may ask to throw you off. This is a great opportunity, and you think you are a qualified candidate… who knows what other candidates are in line though? You look nice. You keep repeating reassurances to yourself. Finally it’s your opportunity, and you introduce yourself. Everything that happens from here on out is vitally important…

I’m talking of course about picking up girls.

Actually, I’m talking about the interview process in general. Interviewing for a job is a well-known process; but meeting someone for the first time that you may have an interest in… that’s an interview too. No matter how much you may prepare, in the heat of the moment it can all go out the window, leaving you to rely on nothing but instinct. Interviewing for a job and trying to pick up someone you’ve just met are two things with more in common than Siegfried and Roy.

Think about it:

  • You are getting to know someone for the first time and trying to make a good impression.
  • There is a lot of small talk that doesn’t seem relevant… but it really is.
  • At least once you will consciously wonder what your breath smells like.
  • You are trying to convince the other party that you are indeed a worthy candidate.
  • Going in, you don’t know if you are worthy yet (at least according to their standards).
  • Your main goal from the first meeting is a follow up call.
  • Both can either result in a huge victory or huge defeat – rarely a middle ground
  • And inevitably you will have to pee right in the middle.

Having said all this, I am no expert in either field. But they say that the only way to learn is to fail, and I have enough experience failing in both these areas that I should consider myself an expert. I also have a couple successes; therefore, with all my journeys through the labyrinth that is the interview process – and I’m talking about both situations here – I have learned a lot.

I know there are hundreds of blogs giving tips about interviewing and probably hundreds more about picking up dates. Let’s combine them. First, from here on out, “interview” will be taken to mean both jobs and picking up girls. Second, I apologize for taking a biased, male-sided approach to this… I’ve only ever been a guy.

So after much thought – and many utterances from others of, “I’ve decided to go with someone else” – I have developed 10 tips that can help anyone score a call back.

1.    Confidence is Sexy

Everyone says it, and it’s true! Conveying confidence is the single sexiest thing to a potential suitor. Confidence conveys that you know what you are doing (whether you do or not).

This can be done by dressing sharply, shaking hands firmly, carrying yourself with good posture and speaking up. Next time you are in a social situation, observe someone you think is confident. Examine how he composes himself, and look at how much attention he gets. That’s exactly what you want.

An important thing to remember is that confidence is entirely in your mind. In the words of Mahatma Gandhi:

“A man but is the product of his thoughts. What he thinks, he becomes.”

So when you dwell on all the negative things that can go wrong… something will probably go wrong. At the very least, you will make yourself nervous. A good technique to dealing with this is the following tip::

2.    What’s the Worst that Can Happen?

This is a good question to ask yourself right before you start perspiring vehemently through your newly-dry-cleaned shirt. What is the worst that can happen? Answer: they say “no.” And it’s not the end of the world. This is an attitude I love adopting for a lot of things, because it relieves stress. Going in with a more cavalier attitude prevents you from psyching yourself out, getting too nervous or constantly worrying about whether or not you’re doing OK. Subsequently, your confidence will rise, your entire demeanor will be more positive and you will end up performing a lot better.

On the other hand, taking this too far and acting as though you are not taking things seriously is the biggest turnoff possible. So learn to utilize the “what’s the worst that could happen” strategy to help yourself, but careful not to accidentally portray that frankly my dear, you don’t give a damn.

 3.    Show Your Value

This is all about finding a way to brag about yourself without bragging about yourself. Now, I cannot by any means claim to be an expert in this one (though not for a lack of trying), but obviously the other party will want to hear what you bring to the table right off the bat.

In the book The Red Queen: Sex and the Evolution of Human Nature by Matt Ridley, the author states:

“Poise, self-assurance, optimism, efficiency, perseverance, courage, decisiveness, intelligence, ambition – these are the things that cause men to rise to the top of their professions. And not coincidentally, these are the things women find attractive.

Demonstrating your value could be as easy as portraying confidence, or could involve a little more. Likely you will have to specify how you and your skill set coincides with the interviewers’ needs. This means paying attention and doing as much research beforehand as possible.

 4.    Find a Wingman

Walking up to someone and generating a relationship out of thin air is tough. Of course, first there must be an open position, so make sure of that right away. You hate to get the old “Sorry, I’m just not interested at this time.” That’s why having someone else introduce you is always easier.

Initiating conversation is the most difficult part. It can be quite awkward, and frequently lead to nothing. So get an “in.” Call in a favor, develop a relationship with someone who knows someone who knows someone and rely on mutual friends. You are just one of many, and trying to gain credibility by yourself is damn near impossible. Having someone else who has a little more credibility (or less to lose) talk you up allows you to stand out. It also prevents you from being too forward, seeming overeager, or – depending on how bad you are at it – creepy.

5.    Eye Contact is Key

Eye contact displays confidence, conveys interest and shows that you are paying attention. But here’s the secret: actually pay attention! Look straight into the other party’s eyes and actively listen to what he or she says so that when it’s your turn to talk you don’t ramble on about something idiotic and off subject. For more on this, I recommend reading up on active listening.

6.    Find Something in Common

This may seem like a no-brainer, but it’s important in any interview process. Have you ever had a conversation with someone with whom you have nothing in common? After about five minutes you start looking for the nearest sharp object.

Compatibility is important. And sometimes you are compatible; but you just have separate lives together and apart (this is still a double entendre, stay with me). But studies show that people are way happier surrounded by others with whom they can be social and professional (for the sake of argument we’ll call a relationship “professional.”) So look for things in common, because if you don’t have anything and still end up getting that call back… you may be headed for a nasty break up.

Which brings me to my next point:

7.    Not Everyone Will be a Perfect Fit

A lot of this game starts with quantity vs. quality. You give your credentials to anyone who seems attractive and hope one or two reply. Or maybe you have tunnel vision and only have a couple potentials on the radar. Either way, you need to get to know the other party before you know what your relationship will be like. That’s why there are several rounds of interviews! (Pause while I high five myself for coming up with that one.)

But hey, everything’s worth a shot. And if the fit isn’t right, so be it. Maybe the next one that comes around will be. It’s better than taking home a “4.”

8.    Practice Makes Perfect

Unless you’re Beethoven and know how to write symphonies as soon as you pop out of the womb, this is true for just about everything. The more you interview, the better you get at it. You learn what to expect, you have a gauge on what to work on, and you end up being a lot more comfortable in interview situations.

So practice. Enter into an interview you don’t even want, or grab a friend and do a mock run. Trust me, friends are harder on you than strangers (mostly). Then when you get turned down (and you will) think about what you did right and wrong and then change it for the next time.

9.    Speak with Intention

If you ramble when you get nervous… stop. This is where the practice comes in. You have very little time to make an impression, and when you are put on the line, the smallest mistake or departure from your train of thought could potentially ruin the whole thing (no pressure).

You know how women remember the smallest things you say and interpret them however they want, even when you don’t remember saying them? Treat every interview – on both sides of the spectrum – like that! Everything you say could be important, so think before you talk. If you need to take a second and gather your thoughts, do it.

(Side note: this theory tends to go to hell if you are drunk at a bar. I’m not saying don’t get drunk at bars, just be mindful of the effects.)

10. Learn to Close

Unfortunately, I can’t double entendre this one so easily. In both scenarios this is equally as important, but done in very different ways. In the job search scene, this is easier than the dating scene; however, if your interview went well, it should be an easy transition.

When flirting, it’s getting the number. I have a pretty simple rule about this one: if you think it went well enough, just go for it. I can’t begin to develop a theory around this – that’s a whole other blog post – but after all, what’s the worst that could happen?

For job interviews, it usually ends with them asking, “Any other questions?” Your answer is and has to be “yes.” They have put the ball in your court and this is where you shine. I don’t have the time or space to write out a list of suggested questions, but I will tell you to plan several out beforehand. Many times they will answer a few of them just by telling you about the job. Make sure you have more.

The follow up is also important. Hand written notes are great ideas (I assume this would work for a pickup as well… trying it may be pretty corny but if you want to, more power to you). Some of these make or break getting a call back.

If anyone can think of any other tips, tricks or suggestions for this post, feel free to comment. Remember, what’s the worst that can happen? We’ve ALL been there. Just be confident, prepare, and remember to wear deodorant.

2 Comments

Filed under A New Approach to Business

Matt’s Midweek Music Post: My Rough Week

Let me tell you what a rough week I had last week:

Sunday: Grace Potter and the Nocturnals show at The Ryman Auditorium.
Tuesday: Journey and Foreigner show at Bridgestone Arena.
Saturday: Colbie Caillat and Andy Grammer show at Tin Roof. And that was after a full day at Musicians Corner in Centennial Park.

Tough, right?

Aside from this great run of concerts however, I did have a lot on my plate last week. So these shows were a nice break from sitting in front of a computer. This week was actually a reaffirmation as to why live music is so fantastic.

Grace Potter on Sunday was one of the best shows I‘ve ever been to. For more, check out the write up I did on that.

Journey/Foreigner

Journey and Foreigner was a show I had not intended on going to; in fact, I forgot they were even in town. This was one of those spur-of-the-moment nights that I love. When I talk about living in the moment, spontaneity is a huge aspect of that. My buddy called me up at 5:30 (the show was at 7:00) and said, “Hey, you wanna go see Journey tonight?”

“Umm… yep!”

An hour later we were standing in front of Bridgestone arena with fingers up in the air trying to scalp tickets. We didn’t want to spend more than $10 a ticket (the cheapest they were going for was at least $60). Yeah, you get several perturbed looks and swear words muttered in your direction when you low-ball the crap out of people like that, but patience pays off. We don’t mess with the scalpers; we go straight to the source: patrons with extra tickets who just want them taken off their hands.

Half an hour later, we had three tickets for $10… total. That’s after we sold a couple back to the real scalpers for profit. As I said, patience.

I realized this was my first true classic Rock N’ Roll concert. I wasn’t dressed in black or inebriated in any way, but it still lived up to the reputation.

Journey and Foreigner - The Eclipse Tour

Foreigner still has it. Newest front man Kelly Hansen was incredible, with amazing vocals and even more amazing stamina. The lights and video screens were going crazy while the guitars shredded and Hansen ran around the stage like a wild man. I forgot how many Foreigner songs I knew, and every one of them was a huge crowd pleaser. We jammed out to Hot Blooded, Cold as Ice, Feels Like the First Time, Urgent, Waiting For A Girl Like You, I Want To Know What Love Is, Head Games, and of course Jukebox Hero.

Then on came Journey kicking it off with Separate Ways. (Quick aside, if you have never watched the Separate Ways video, it is the single most hilarious thing ever made… but I digress.) They played several new songs, which drew minimal interest from the crowd, but classics like Any Way You Want It, Faithfully, Open Arms, Wheel in the Sky, and Lights made up for that. The encore of course included the Don’t Stop Believin’, the one song they would never get out of anywhere without playing. There’s something about the most overdone karaoke song of all time that sounds so good when Journey sings it in an arena with 20,000 people. After this, they ended the night with Lovin’, Touchin’, Squeezin’, a great way to end the show with the “na na na’s” and everyone’s arms and lighters (or cell phone apps that look like lighters) going back and forth. At the end, Joe Don Baker of Rascal Flatts joined the band on stage to shred it with them… I have no idea why, but why not?

Colbie Caillat and Andy Grammer

First, this show was on Saturday night, so I had to shoot over to Tin Roof right after a full day at Musicians Corner. My MC days consist of being on my feet constantly, so when I got to the Colbie show I was tired. I got up close to the front, but then I was essentially trapped by the general admission crowd. So I stood.

Keep Your Head Up singer Andy Grammer opened for her. I didn’t know most of his songs, but I looked him up afterwards because he certainly knows how to entertain, and I thoroughly enjoyed his stuff. I felt out of place actually, because most people there seemed to have his album and know every damn word. He played guitar and keys, both very well. He also beat boxes, which was a pretty cool addition to the three-piece band. He covered Maroon 5’s Sunday Morning, a perfect fit for his voice. He also covered Apologize by OneRepublic complete with a beat-boxed background. Apparently after his set he shot over to Bridgestone where his friend Taylor Swift was performing. She brought him up in front of a much bigger crowd to sing Keep Your Head Up again.

Then my girl came out to Realize. I am in love with Colbie Caillat. To quote Scrubs (although Zack Braff was referring to Dido), “If my heart could write songs, they would sound like these.”

(Please note that was meant to be funny.)

She played a bunch of songs from her new album All of You, which I have only had the opportunity to listen to a few times, but at least I recognized everything. It didn’t take very long before my sore legs and feet were out of my head, and I stood there staring at the beautiful Colbie as she serenaded the crowd with her soft, mellifluous voice.

Colbie CaillatShe introduced many of her songs, sighting real life experiences and relationships as inspiration. A lot of it was too sentimental and lovey-dovey for me, and you begin to wonder just how many relationships this girl has had! Another thing that surprised me was the number of people she had on the stage. Colbie has the kind of music that would work perfectly with just a guitar, but she had six people backing her up!

She hit the big songs, including the Grammy-winning number Lucky, featuring one of her guitarists as opposed to Jason Mraz. In the middle of the show, she declared a change in the setlist so she could cover Breakeven by The Script.

The end is what I loved, when she said, “I hate encores. So rather than me walking off then you guys asking me to come back, would you be OK if I just stayed and played three songs instead of two?” That was met by a rousing response from the crowd. As someone who also thinks the encore has lost all novelty, I was thrilled. For the love people, an encore used to mean something! Now every act you see (including Grace, and Foreigner and Journey) plans an encore. That defeats the whole purpose! And for that small rebellion Colbie, we thank you.

I love concerts because of how they force us to be present. I had that opportunity time and again last week. Whether it was smiling and gawking at Grace during Ragged Company, pumping my fists to Jukebox Hero, air guitaring to Don’t Stop Believin’, or closing my eyes and swaying to Bubblyin those moments, nothing else mattered…

Except for the looming question: who is going to be my celebrity crush of the month? Grace or Colbie? Thoughts?

Leave a comment

Filed under Music

Eclectic Mix of Music Attracts an Enthusiastic Crowd at Musicians Corner

Pat McLaughlin

As the crowd trickled in from the Vanderbilt game across street, Musicians Corner kicked another week of its fall season. An eclectic offering of music this week had the Centennial Park crowd enthralled and entertained, despite the lack of parking. With the game and Dog Days in the Park right next door, fans may have had to walk, but they were not deterred.

Leading off the day was SPELLS, performing their inaugural show at Musicians Corner. A riveting combination of electronic, punk and pop, SPELLS performed songs from their album Escapist, a thematic compilation about breaking out of the status quo. If this first show is any indication, we should be hearing from SPELLS long into the future.

Following SPELLS was Audrey Spillman on the acoustic stage. Her voice is powerful yet pleasant, with a style all her own. She played the ukulele accompanied by a Cajon drum and a guitar for a very soulful, acoustic, folksy sound. After her performance, several members of the crowd were asking about where they could hear more of Audrey.

The next act drew a lot of excitement and interest from Musicians Corner patrons. The DanBerrys combine elements of several genres, add in a banjo and mandolin for a bluegrass feel and end up with music that everyone was clapping along to. And when the banjo and mandolin broke down into solos and battles, one could not help but turn to the closest person and declare, “This is awesome!”

Hannah Miller was the second act on the acoustic stage. Accompanied by her husband, her voice was soft and sweet. They complimented each other very nicely, although at one point Hannah admitted, “We’ve been married nine years and I only now wrote a love song for him.” She has worked with many acclaimed producers, and had her song Keep It Simple licensed for the Show “Mercy,” proving that Hannah is certainly one of Nashville’s bright young stars.

Fresh of off another hot Lady Antebellum release, Nashville producer Paul Worley took the stage for the second week in a row to announce the Dog of the Day. With Dog Days having ended, this week’s crowd held a myriad of canines, including as many as five Great Danes. One of these was the lucky winner, and this one came up to Paul’s shoulders.

Stating that this was the first time a dog had ever opened for him, Christopher Williams took the stage next. A one-man multi-instrumentalist, Williams transformed the large sprawling crowd into an atmosphere of a small nightclub. He started by singing to his own drumbeat, then switched to guitar and alternated to a harmonica. With bluesy country songs such as Honest Man, his music truly resonated with the audience.

The final acoustic stage act has had songs featured on the shows “90210,” The United States of Tara,” and “Private Practice.” Jon Black’s style has been described as “Jackson Browne and Neil Young mixed with rich, thick atmospheres and musical landscapes.” His lyrical indie sound was incredibly entertaining, adding yet another twist on the assorted musical stylings of the day.

The headliner of the day was Nashville performing legend and esteemed veteran Pat McLaughlin. A songwriting dynamo, McLaughlin’s compositions have been recorded by artists such as Bonnie Raitt, Alan Jackson, Trisha Yearwood, Nanci Griffith and Josh Turner. McLaughlin began without a sound check, had a mic go out in the middle of a song, and still performed beautifully, getting the crowd on its feet. During his part of the show McLaughlin attracted the more people up close to the stage dancing with Rico (who was donning an new Musicians Corner t-shirt) than there have been all season.

Musicians Corner is a non-profit program of The Conservancy for the Parthenon & Centennial Park. The fall season of Musicians Corner runs on Saturdays through November 5 and promises more great artists and special guests. For additional information and the fall schedule please visit www.musicianscornernashville.com.

Leave a comment

Filed under Musicians Corner

The “I’m Starting My Own Business” Talk

There is one very difficult step every young entrepreneur will take in the process of starting a business. It could lead to outrageous amounts of stress; it could lead to a complete reorganization of your strategy; in fact, it could derail the entire thing. When pursuing your dreams, I advise anyone who has a strong vision to power through any roadblocks… well, this could very well be your first. What is it?

Having the “I’m starting a business” conversation with your parents.

I’ll pause while you shudder…

All parents are different, so I don’t want to be presumptuous, but I know many young entrepreneurs know exactly the conversation (or at least the implications of the conversation) that I’m talking about. After your folks helped put you through undergrad then business school, and helped you pay for crap, and gave you money for books which was inevitably spent on beer (“I swear Dad, the damn thing costs $300!”) you sit them down and tell them you’re gambling it all on a fanatical business venture.

Granted, I think every graduate has a business idea at least once. Especially in this job market, after playing the resume and interview game every young, disgruntled student goes, “Screw it, I’m starting my own business!” (Note: the chances of this rise 10-fold after watching a Hugh Hefner documentary. Seriously, who doesn’t want to be that guy?) But very few people go through with it.

This doesn’t just pertain to recent grads either. I know people several years older than I who have had this conversation with parents. Sure, the older, wiser and more financially stable you get the easier this goes, but the conversation still takes place. I recently had a conversation with a man who was in his mid-30s who had a great business idea and told me that he was pitching some potential investors the following week. When I asked him how he felt about it he replied, “It will be a breeze after pitching my parents on the idea last weekend!”

The parent talk, however, can be the most significant reality check you have. Now, in my experience, I did not have to ask my parents for money. As a consultant, I need less upfront capital than a lemonade stand. But if you will be asking for money, work on your pitch just as you would a high-level venture capitalist. They will take even more stock in your idea, because with parents it isn’t just a financial investment; it’s a personal and emotional investment.

If you aren’t asking for money (and in reality, I would only recommend doing so as a last resort), then you will likely hear from the greatest devil’s advocate you can get, especially if one or both of your parents is a business person. But if they are not business people, then be careful, because you may receive false encouragement to pursue your line of kitten Christmas sweaters. Or at the very least, you will receive a brain-numbing amount of questions.

Let me tell you my experience. It did not at all happen like I planned, though like I said, the risk/reward of a one-person consulting company does not merit tons of concern from the parentals.

Now, my parents are very encouraging, and I know they would support me in just about anything. However, my father is a financial advisor – which means fiscally minded, structured, planned, and well aware of the business world as a whole. So boy was I prepared for the devil’s advocacy.

I, not being structured and planned (ask anyone), took a “ready, fire, aim” approach to the business model. Well done, Matt. I had a business plan, a mission, etc. I also had just completed my website, and started up this blog. My problem was that I had too many ideas about the website and the creative aspect which I had to get out first. I wanted to get the “aim” part taken care of before I told my parents the idea, but apparently when you “fire” and it’s live online, people find it quickly. Once again Matt, probably should have seen that one coming…

So before I had all the details ironed out, I visited home. I didn’t even have the Michael Bublé song I was singing in the car out of my head before my mother was saying, “So tell me about your website and this business idea!”

That’s how I broke it to the parents.

That weekend my entire family was coming to visit. Oh great, not only is the “aim” portion of the business not ready, the entire family is going to be pitched this at once! The weekend consisted of everyone – and I mean everyone – in my family taking a look at the site, proofreading and critiquing. Between my parents, my brother who is close to my age, my grandmother who was a teacher, my granddad who was a judge, and a couple uncles who are business men, I’d say I had my bases covered.

Let me tell you, you don’t develop a 30-second pitch much quicker than when you have to do it on the fly in front of that crowd. 

I got lucky in that “marketing consultant” is an easy sell, and everyone was more curious and intrigued than concerned. I also got some great feedback for the site, and it should be grammatically impeccable now.

Finally, my immediate family went out to dinner, and the subject came up. My dad said, “I have some questions about your business venture.”

Ok, here it comes… deep breath… another sip of wine… hit me.

I wish I could give you a great dialogue here; some kind of quid pro quo between the businessman and myself. But the line of questioning was very simple. He asked me about all the things I hadn’t worked out yet. He asked me how I was going to be paid, what would I charge and why, and what the legal ramifications were. All encouraging and valid questions, only I wish I had more of an answer than “yeah, still working on that…”

Long story short, he told me that I needed a mentor. This is something I knew in the back of my head, I had just not reached out yet. But he was right. Every successful person has a mentor. Every young entrepreneur has someone showing him the ropes. No one ever ever ever does it completely on his own. At first, I wasn’t sure what kind of concerns my father would have, or what advice he would give me, although – and it pains me to say it – he is usually right. Therefore I was going to listen. What transpired was great advice and nothing but support from both my folks.

So kids, talk to your parents. The talk is inevitable, though I would advise you to be more prepared then I was. Pitch them as you would pitch a professional. You never know what could happen, but if you leap this hurtle you are well on your way.

At the very least, you have a few more subscribers to your blog.

1 Comment

Filed under A New Approach to Business

Matt’s Midweek Music Post: Fall for Grace

Grace Potter an the Nocturnals

I was thoroughly prepared to do a write up of Lady Antebellum’s new album Own the Night, which hit stores yesterday. Anyone who knows me knows that Lady A can do no wrong in my eyes, and I couldn’t wait to review their new CD. Well that will have to wait until next week, because on Sunday I experienced one of the best live music experiences of my lifeGrace Potter and the Nocturnals at The Ryman Auditorium.

I know, “best live music experiences of my life” is a steep order. I have seen hundreds of live performances and dozens of awesome mainstream concerts – all of which have been great – but there was something so wonderfully different about this one, I found myself literally laughing with enjoyment throughout a large part of the show.

Now, I only became a Grace fan this year, but I immediately fell in love with their music. Normally I am a lyric-driven song fan; but with this I found myself not caring what she is saying because she sings it – and the Nocturnals play it – so well. Apparently Nashville is catching on to the band as well, because Sunday night’s show sold out so quickly they added another on Monday.

Aside from being strikingly beautiful, Grace has a very unique, soulful, almost-raspy, yet flawless voice. The Nocturnals are comprised of highly energetic and talented musicians who create a sound enviable in today’s popular music. They feature Scott Tournet on lead guitar, drummer Matt Burr, and have recently been joined by bassist Catherine Popper and rhythm guitarist Benny Yurco.

I was a fan just listening to the album, but it rocketed to a stratospheric level after seeing them live. Grace is a multi-instrumentalist, and one helluva performer. She dances around in high heels (a feat I can’t say I’ve attempted, but can only imagine the difficulty) as though she is lost in the moment and the music, and thoroughly enjoying herself – a quality that only makes the audience respond by smiling and dancing with her.

Grace Potter

Many people know my favorite part of any show is when the lights go down right beforehand. This was no different, as the acoustics in The Ryman amplified the monstrous cheer that arose from the crowd. For the opening, Grace came out by herself first, in a misty silhouetted ambiance. With nothing more than her and a guitar, she sang the first part of Nothing But the Water. When the Nocturnals came out to pick up Part II, the excitement buildup broke, and the atmosphere was electric.

Grace quickly ditched the guitar and danced her way over to her keyboard to play. Before long she had picked up a tambourine, making it three instruments in the first several minutes.

Keeping the mood upbeat, they transitioned into Only Love, showing off Grace’s power and distinguishably talented vocals. They then moved to mid-tempo with the jazzy-pop-rock That Phone, which is the ultimate clap-along song. Staying mid-tempo and with the third straight song from the newest self-titled album, they segued into Goodbye KissSlowing things down, they moved to the bluesy number Treat Me Right, followed by the popular and breathtakingly beautiful Apologies.

There was one song that I knew would be a crowd pleaser with a jam session ending, and this was next on the set list: Tiny Light. The song starts out a typical mid-tempo Grace song, but ended with a good five minutes of Grace and the band absolutely rocking out, forcing whoever was left sitting to stand up to jam along.

This was a great segue into the acoustic part of the show, featuring just Grace, Benny and Scott, all with acoustic guitars. She started with Ragged Companywhich was so emotionally beautiful I couldn’t help but be moved as I stared in awe as Grace got lost in the song.

After a couple off-color jokes (making me fall deeper in love with her), Grace stayed on the acoustic playing Big White Gate in honor of her grandmother.

The band came out and picked it up again with Sweet Hands. By the time Grace, Benny and Scott walked in front of the amps to rock out, everyone was already jumping and partying with them. Keeping everyone excited, they transitioned into Ah MaryHot Summer Night, and Stop the Busall with intense showmanship and energy.

The encore kicked off with Grace throwing of her shoes, and covering the ZZ Top classic TushSeriously, seeing her with no shoes on, jamming out on her Flying V to ZZ Top was one of the sexiest things I’ve ever seen.

She then transitioned into requests taken via social media. This was a noble idea, but everyone knew these would be the songs she couldn’t leave without playing anyway. Still, she started with You and Tequila, the song that gave her clout in the country genre by teaming up with Kenny Chesney. She shared the lead with Scott, who did the song enough justice to make it incredibly enjoyable. I honestly could have called Chesney being there… but he wasn’t. A point Grace made before the song started.

And although she made the same point the following night (the night I didn’t go)… Chesney DID show up. So did Matraca Berg, who helped pen the song. Damnit!

Anyway, after asking if anyone hadn’t heard everything they wanted yet, she played the obvious new smash single: Paris (Ooh La La) Keeping with the theme of the entire night, the live version only extended the greatness of the song.

The show ended with Medicine, a song I enjoy, but wouldn’t have thought it would be a high-energy way to end a show… boy was I wrong! In the middle of the song, the entire band grabbed a drumstick or two and launched into a drum breakdown all on the same drum kit. This was so cool I started dancing like a moron, but had to stop when they really went nuts just to watch and giggle like a little schoolgirl because I was having so much fun. They ended with Grace dancing around, the lights going crazy, the guitars shredding, and the crowd in a continuous standing ovation. I just kept smiling and hugging the girl who gave me her extra ticket at the last minute.

All I can say is, this is the reason I write about music. I have never been so present and had so much fun at a live show before. Grace Potter and the Nocturnals are a force to be reckoned with, and their newest self-titled album is their best yet. Understandable, as it was produced by Mark Batson, who has produced Dr. Dre, Eminem, Jay-Z and Dave Matthews Band. A random collection of artists sure, but brilliance nonetheless, and four of my personal favorites.

Grace called the new album “a stylistic epiphany,” adding, “In my mind, an album shouldn’t be self-titled unless it feels that way.”

If the album is a representation of an enlightenment of the band, their live show is nothing short of a musical renaissance. Next time Grace and the Nocturnals make an appearance in Nashville it will garner more than a two-night stint at the Ryman. I just hope I can get tickets.

Leave a comment

Filed under Music

Amazing Instrumentation Impresses at Musicians Corner

Neulore at Musicians CornerPerfect weather ushered in week two of Musicians Corner in Centennial Park with seven more fantastic acts taking the stage. Enchanting vocals may have set the mood for a beautiful fall day, but the instrumental talent of this week’s performers proved to be the talking point of the show.

Belmont University alum Robert Kelly was the first act of the day. He kept the crowd entertained from the very beginning with his infectious sense of humor and ability to get everyone participating. Playing acoustically smooth songs including the title track of his current album We Are Poetry, Kelly was a great way to kick off the day.

The first acoustic stage act was singer/songwriter Natalie Royal. With her hauntingly beautiful tone and great utilization of various string accompaniments, she let her personality shine through to capture the hearts of the audience. She also announced free CDs, causing a swarming mad dash to the merchandise tent.

Jerami Matlock was up next on the main stage. Matlock has a groovy, soulful style encompassing variations of R&B, reggae and jazz. With a great stage presence, he had the crowd dancing, and with two Bob Marley covers he had them singing as well.

Following Matlock, Musicians Corner announced its double Dog of the Day, presented by Grammy award-winning producer Paul Worley (Lady Antebellum, Martina McBride). Worley was integral in bringing Musicians Corner to the Music City public, and expressed his sincere delight of the popularity of the event.

The second acoustic stage performance was Yumza!, singing fun songs geared more towards the younger Musicians Corner crowd. After Dog of the Day, Yumza! tweaked their set list to include their canine-inspired number Take Care of Your Dog, Dog. The music was comedy driven, and a departure of the status quo, yet listening to it, the crowd could not help but feel happy.

The next main stage act may have generated the most buzz of the day. Neulore has an alternative, folk sound, and front man Adam Agin showed off his effortless, gentle vocals. Singing cuts from their concept album Apples & Eve, as well as favorites such as Don’t Leave Quite Yet, Neulore bestowed, as one fan described it, “a spiritual experience” upon Musicians Corner.

The final acoustic stage performance was courtesy of The Gloaming, a string quartet playing popular cover songs. With three violins and a cello, The Gloaming utilized every aspect of their instruments, stringing, picking, scratching and even drumming, leaving everyone thoroughly impressed and entertained.

To finish the day, Nashville natives Colorfeels provided an instrumentally and vocally riveting performance. Each member of the band was a multi-instrumentalist, and one even included a clarinet – at one point playing it and his guitar simultaneously. Their slower numbers were pleasant and whimsically musical while their more upbeat songs had the crowd on its feet. As one band member exclaimed to the crowd: “Yes to dancing. No to sitting!” This inventive plethora of sound was an enjoyable way to wrap up to a great day of music.

Musicians Corner is a non-profit program of The Conservancy for the Parthenon & Centennial Park. The fall season of Musicians Corner runs on Saturdays through November 5 and promises more great artists and special guests. For additional information and the fall schedule please visit www.musicianscornernashville.com.

Leave a comment

Filed under Musicians Corner

Matt’s Midweek Music Post: Nashville’s Pocket Full of Gold

The Time Jumpers

I have witnessed a Nashville treasure. I got to see an accordion solo.

For real though, my buddy asked me if I wanted to go see a group called The Time Jumpers. I had no clue who that was, but he promised a good time. Why not? I was thinking along the lines of a concert hall with some good music. What I got was anything from what I expected… and I loved it.

First, there are a lot of legendary and iconic places in Nashville. A name I hear frequently is The Station Inn. Now, honkytonks are not known for their posh, but when I walked into this place I thought someone was going to start calling out bingo numbers. It had old everything: wood paneling; a makeshift stage and bar; and PBR for sale.

I like those places.

The Time Jumpers are a group of world-renowned country musicians. Name a country song from before 2005; I betcha one of these guys has played on it. We’re talking three Grammy winners, several Opry members, a couple Hall of Famers…

Oh yeah, and one of them is Vince Gill.

Yep, 19-time-Grammy-Award-winning, 26-million-albums-sold, 18-time-CMA-Award-winner, member-of-the-Grand-Ole-Opry, has-a-star-on-the-Hollywood-walk-of-fame, married-to-gorgeous-Amy-Grant Vince Gill himself.

Now, Vince was a little before my time, but as a country fan (and Belmont Alum) I know all about him. There he was in this Elks Club Lodge-looking place with eight other musicians just jamming out for barely 50 people… And by the way, he wasn’t the featured artist.

Nope, Vince got brought on as a sub a while ago and just likes playing with them. Every musician up there took turns on the lead, and Vince was just another one of them. In fact, he was the last one of them. He didn’t host; he didn’t even play his own songs (one of the other guys played Pocket Full of Gold). In this atmosphere he is not the aforementioned Vince Gill; he was just a guy who loved playing music. When I write a blog about why I love Nashville and country music so much, this will be used as an example.

The rest of the band was incredible as well. Three fiddles, three guitars, a slide guitar, a bass guitar, drums… and an accordion. With solos. Now that’s something you don’t see every day!

One of the guitar players was nicknamed “The Guitar Buddha.” I don’t think I heard him say a word. I barely even noticed him off to the side of the stage… until he started playing.

Jimmy Hendricks, Keith Richards, John Mayer, Eric Clapton… all of them would have stared at this guy in awe and said, “Damn, this guy’s good!”

“Good” is actually the understatement of this still-very-young century. I have never seen anyone play such fantastic material so flawlessly and effortlessly. Not once did he look down at the guitar. I don’t even think he opened his eyes. Not to mention, his solos were all improv. Every time he had a solo my eyes were fixed on his fingers flying – and I mean flying – effortlessly through the chords.

During a jam session in the middle of a song, each player would often have a solo. It was a blast to watch, not just because I like jam bands, but because you could tell these guys were just trying to impress each other. They just stood up there and showed off.

Of these show offs was the slide player who apparently was a replacement for their last, Joe, who had passed away. In fact, Joe’s widow was the one taking tickets at the door. She does every week, and has since the beginning. This just added to the cool, small town atmosphere. Vince played a song he wrote for Joe, and it was one of the most emotional songs I have ever seen live. And I didn’t even know the guy. I got choked up, many people in the audience were blinking rapidly, Joe’s widow was sobbing and even Vince had tears in his eyes as he sang.

On the lighter side of the evening are the Swedes that happened to be there this particular evening. During the second part of the show a large Swedish man came up and accompanied the band on fiddle. I don’t know how he found his way here, but I’m glad he did because he was fantastic.

And then there was the girl. Marina. I had taken notice to this very attractive blond in Daisy Dukes all night (any male – or probably female for that matter – with a pulse took notice). She was also from Sweden and an enormous fan of Vince Gill’s. Vince invited her up to sing by saying the following:

“A really really attractive lady came up to me and told me she loved me… and I just looked and said, ‘you have to be shitting me.’”

First, the fact that Vince Gill swore made me laugh. But then the girl jumped up and ran to the stage, barely containing her excitement. At this point the women in the audience were smiling at the situation and the men’s eyes were transfixed in one direction with piles of drool starting to formulate beneath them.

The lady was actually the lead singer in a Swedish band called Cheatin’ Hearts named after the Hank Williams song – which is the song she sang. Now, we wouldn’t have cared if she could sing or not; she could have stood up there and muddled guttural Jabba the Hutt sounds and we still would have watched and applauded. But I feel as though in a venue full of older-generation Nashvillians, you don’t mess with Hank unless you can pull it off.

Thankfully, she did. The accent was gone, the pitch was perfect, and the tank top was tighter than bark on a tree. In the middle of the song, Vince’s libido must have kicked in, and while Marina was singing, he leaned into the mic, closed his eyes and said, “Amy Grant Amy Grant Amy Grant…” which got roaring laughter from the crowd. Ironic song choice as well.

So this guy is rich, famous, married to Amy Grant, a seemingly-all around good guy, AND funny?!

And holy Swedish meatballs, as I write this I found the link to this video that someone took! You’re welcome. Gawk along with us:

Even more awkward then I remember, yet I would have walked around Nashville dressed as Lady GaGa for a day just to be Vince up there. But beyond me being overly-excited about pretty foreign blondes, the video does a great job at showing the atmosphere. It’s small, kind of dingy and has an all around small town feel.

Anyway, the rest of the night was more wonderful, old-time country, jam band-style music. You couldn’t help but sit there and enjoy it. It was some of the best musicians in the genre all sitting in front of 50 friends having fun with their instruments. Give me that over Tim McGraw in a stadium any day. In fact, show me Tim McGraw ever do that.

As I said, this is an example of why country music is so great. It’s friendly, honest and talent-driven music being played for any Average Joe who will listen. And all just for the love of playing. I wasn’t even alive at the time that The Time Jumpers were taking me back to, but I felt as though I was there. I want to be taken back.

…as long as Marina is there.

Matt’s Midweek Music Post

An imaginative approach to business includes finding an escape from the everyday rat race. For me, it’s music. Sure, I work a little in the industry and have a small Music Business educational background, so it is work and play. But music is something I am very passionate about. My passion for music stems from the way songs move us. Songs have the ability to take someone out of reality and into a completely different dimension. Live music especially puts people in the moment, which makes it one of the best things in the world. Upon moving to Music City, I realized that this was where I needed to be in order to experience this phenomenon as often as possible.

So each week I like to write about music. It could be to bring people (including myself) a break from the ordinary day-to-day, or it could somehow relate to business. Either way, its to enjoy a moment each week and not think about the stresses of business.

Leave a comment

Filed under Music

Musicians Corner Kicks Off Fall Season in Style

Musicians Corner

The triple-digit-degree weather didn’t discourage hundreds of Nashville music lovers from coming out to the Musicians Corner fall season kickoff. The weekly concert series came back in full force with great performances, food and fun. Rico had his usual dancing shoes on, and Mayor Karl Dean even stopped by for a visit as seven acts graced the stage with amazing music.

Rico dancing to Attwater at Musicians CornerLocal rockers The CO started things off. They generated tons of buzz, with numerous interested patrons asking about their CDs at the merchandise tent. With upbeat tunes such as Keep It Together and more personal numbers such as How to Say Goodbye, The CO was a great way to start the season.

The first side stage performance was from two members of the Metro Parks jamBand, performing covers of new songs such as Bruno Mars’ I Wanna Marry You as well as classics like Stevie Ray Vaughn’s Pride and Joy.

Multi-talented artist, producer, player and writer Andrew Osenga was up next serenading the crowd with his soothing, mellifluous sound. Performing songs like Kara, Osenga transformed the mood of the audience from a hot summer day to a cool concert in autumn.

The next side stage act was Foxes Have Foxholes featuring Kyle Sapp, a production intern from the spring season. Given the opportunity to perform on the other side of the stage, Foxes Have Foxholes gave a great acoustic performance.

Next, Mayor Karl Dean graced the stage praising Musicians Corner and the fans for making the event successful. The Mayor has been an intricate part of putting on Musicians Corner and growing it to what it has become.

The third featured act of the day was Damien Horne. His music combines elements of just about every genre, and his musical collaborations are just as diverse. He has shared the stage with acts from The Neville Brothers to 3 Doors Down to Hank Jr. A talented guitar player and even more talented singer and performer, Horne had the audience – and especially Rico – on their feet.

The final side stage performance was from the Belmont duo Striking Matches. This acoustic performance had everyone transfixed on the incredible guitar playing and songwriting ability of these two rising stars. Each is a talented singer and guitar picker individually, yet together they are nothing less than mesmerizing.

The headlining act of the day was new country duo Attwater. Currently gaining fast notoriety in Nashville, the California-based band kept everyone grooving into the evening. They covered a song by Patti Griffin – Erika Attwater’s favorite artist – and their current single Never Gonna Happen was the perfect way to end the day.

 

Musicians Corner is a non-profit program of The Conservancy for the Parthenon & Centennial Park. The fall season of Musicians Corner runs on Saturdays from September 3 to November 5 and promises more great artists and special guests. For additional information and the fall schedule please visit www.musicianscornernashville.com.

Leave a comment

Filed under Musicians Corner