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Monday, January 2, 2017

HAPPY GNU EAR EDITION! NEWS to Launch Your 2017!

Nine fresh features within, including a bowl-you-over look at all those talented folks we lost in 2016.



"If I can't dance, I don't want to be part of your revolution."
– Emma Goldman.



1) Is it Safe to Say "Happy New Year" Yet?

2) Remembering Those We Lost in 2016

3) "Gnu Ear" Greeting Brings Tale of Silk Purse, Sow's Ear

4) Music's Longest Word: Hemidemisemiquaver. (No, we didn't make that up.)

5) Music Stars on Inspiration at the Record Store: 1

6) Artists Corner: Your live show is the best music marketing tool – just follow the numbers

7) With the Cost of College So Far Out of Reach, Why Is this College Free?

8) NAMM Show 2017: Still Time to Register to Attend, Jan. 19-22, in Anaheim

9) Saving Nashville's Famed "Music Row" from Demolition

Let's get started!


# 1 news feature...


by Larry Wines

Don't blame us. Things get goofy when the first day of the year arrives on a Sunday. We'll get to why, and work our way to the specific January 1st histories that determine a lot of why this year's January 1st was so – vacant. Trust us, it'll surprise you. Along the way, there's plenty of unique and intriguing stuff, all dating from other, rather notable and for various reasons, surprising, January firsts. And it's astonishing how many of them weave in and out with one another. Even if you're reading this on Monday, it'll help you make sense of a little fragment of this inscrutable world that so badly needs unscrewing.

✔ Jan. 1, 1863: The EMANCIPATION PROCLAMATION takes effect. President Abraham Lincoln signed the final Emancipation Proclamation, which ended slavery in the "rebelling" seceded states of the Confederacy on January 1st. But it did not emancipate slaves in the border states that had not seceded. That would wait for the 13th Amendment. Lincoln was more an incredibly effective practitioner of "real politic" than the image we have of him as the consummate crusader for human freedom.

But there's more: In our time, folksinger-songwriter Michele Shocked ended the control of music record labels over the lives of artists, by winning a landmark constitutional law case: the courts accepted her argument that record labels were holding artists in "Involuntary servitude," which the 13th Amendment abolished.

Except, oops, it doesn't end there. The 13th Amendment ironically has an escape clause regarding inmates of prisons. Even if its authors didn't envision our burgeoning for-profit private prison industry. Or the fact that the US has, by far, the world's largest prison population. Many US states take advantage of the escape clause to allow "involuntary labor" by inmates. We're not talking "Cool Hand Luke" chain gangs (except in Louisiana), or the old cliche about stamping-out your car's license plates. Today, it takes the form of HIGHLY profitable manufacturing operations consigned to private corporations who exploit the slave labor of incarcerated Americans. History is a living thing. We make it, or allow it to be made, every day.

✔ Jan. 1, 1895: J. EDGAR HOOVER, the first Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, is born in Washington, D.C. Hoover and his "G men" would bring-down the gangster era that arose during Prohibition. And Hoover would go on to build the most dangerous database in America's history, with "dirt" on every politician in D.C. and every powerful person in American industry.

At least, Hoover's collection of dossiers was the most extensive ever, prior to the Patriot Act. And before all of us became involuntary subjects of cybersurveillance through our cell phones, as the basis for corporate profit that sells as a marketable "product" the details of our every move, our every web search, every online purchase, every posted comment and meme and photo, and every utterance, which is all there to be packaged and priced because it's all being tracked. It's as if there were no longer a 4th Amendment to the Constitution. (Buehler? Buehler?) It also surrounds us with an echo chamber of clickbait that enriches somebody every time we open our social media accounts, and more so when we fall for something ridiculous that's custom-tailored to be irresistible to "verifying" our unfounded beliefs.

Even J. Edgar Hoover could never have imagined this. Though George Orwell did, in his novel, "1984," published in 1949.

✔ Jan. 1, 1912: THE REPUBLIC OF CHINA is established with Sun Yat-Sen the "provisional president," as China sought to end colonial rule by every military power in Europe, plus the US and Japan. That closely following the failure of the Boxer Rebellion and the fall of the Dowager Empress. (If you've seen "The Sand Pebbles" or "55 Days at Peking," or read Pearl Buck's "The Good Earth," you know a bit about all that).

In name, the Republic of China (ROC) still exists as a nation, often called Taiwan, located on the island of Formosa. The nation's government fled there when the Chinese civil war was won by Mao Tse-Tung and his Chinese Communists in 1949. The president of the ROC, from when it encompassed all of China, was Chiang Kai-Shek. He and his wife, Madame Chiang, were driven out by the Imperial Japanese invasion and their genocidal occupation of China in the 1930s as the arguable start of WW II. Ostensibly US allies, the Chiang couple spent the war in the US, where government censorship kept her elaborate buying sprees out of the newspapers. The two attempted to return to power after the war, and were of course opposed by Mao and his army who had stayed and fought the Japanese.

Before Mao's victory, there was the United Nations, where the ROC was given one of five permanent seats, with veto power, on the UN Security Council. Other permanent members are the US, Russia (then the USSR), the UK, and France. Giant communist China, even before it chose an era of isolation and a "Cultural Revolution" that destroyed much of its history and architecture, was excluded from the UN, owing to the sequence of events and the US and Western Europe in the throes of the Cold War.

In 1972, Pres. Nixon opened relations with the giant People's Republic of China. Whereupon, the four other Security Council members, in an unprecedented move, disenfranchised their fellow member, the ROC. Taiwan was kicked-out of the UN altogether, and the seat and its power were given to the PRC.

Today, the US supplies millions of dollars in weapons to Taiwan, there is brisk trade in high tech electronics, and students from the island nation pursue educations at US universities. But, due to demands from mainland China, the US has never resumed diplomatic relations with Taiwan and no longer recognizes it as a free nation. That, even while the PRC threatens to invade and conquer the island under the guise that it is an annoying "rebel province," and promising the day is coming when the rogue island must be subdued.

And, in 2017, you thought Fukishima and North Korea and that giant Red Chinese military base on mid-ocean artificial islands were the only things to worry about in East Asia. As Roseanne Rosannadanna said, "It's always something."

✔ Jan. 1, 1915: The original Hollywood epic, "THE BIRTH OF A NATION," gets a special advance screening at the Loring Opera House in Riverside, California. It's still there today as the Golden State Theatre, the building considered a true "cinema treasure."

D.W. Griffith’s first full-length feature film, and one of Hollywood's first-ever lengthy features – early in the silent film era – had no resemblance to the current modern remake of the same name. The original was based on a novel called, "The Clansman: A Historical Romance of the Ku Klux Klan," published in 1905. It was the second work in the Ku Klux Klan trilogy by Thomas F. Dixon, Jr.

The modern film hijacked the title in a 101-year-old-retribution of the film and 115-year-old retribution of the novel. The current "Birth of a Nation" is a fictionalization of Nat Turner's Rebellion, an infamously bloody slave revolt that murdered men, women, and children to retaliate for atrocities committed against America's slave population. Moreover, the rebellion was a shock that horrified Southern whites in its time. Today we see it as an inevitable uprising by the oppressed because they were regarded, and treated as less than human, held in bondage, beaten when their performance did not meet expectations, and sold without regard for separating parents from children. A real connection to today's America is still with us: slaves were counted in the Constitution as "3/5 of a human being" for purposes of determining a slave state's representation in Congress AND the number of electors it held in the Electoral College. Too bad the new movie doesn't explore THAT.

✔ Jan. 1, 1942: THE UNITED NATIONS is created when President Franklin D. Roosevelt and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill issue a declaration, signed by representatives of 26 countries.

The UN replaces Woodrow Wilson's dream that had failed, the "League of Nations" that might have prevented WW II. Except it couldn't, because the isolationist US Congress had refused to allow America to join the international community in the wake of WW I.

The UN and all its subsidiaries, like UNICEF and the International Commission on Human Rights, is still rankling new generations of isolationists to keep their bloomers in a bunch. It's worth noting that the organization dedicated to world peace took its name from the wartime alliance of powers united to defeat the Nazis and Imperial Japan, and thus named the “United Nations.”

✔ Jan. 1, 1959: JOHNNY CASH performs his first prison concert at San Quentin State Prison. It launched an improbable series of events that resulted in a hit song and two top-selling albums, as well as an obscure young inmate named Merle Haggard deciding to turn his life around from petty criminal to music legend. Haggard is one of far too many artists we lost in 2016.

After Johnny Cash's 1955 song "Folsom Prison Blues," he had been interested in recording a full album in a live performance at a prison. His idea was put on hold until 1967 by his uninterested label. When he finally got their cooperation, there was little initial investment by Columbia. But the album, "At Folsom Prison," was a huge hit in the US, reaching number-one on the country charts and the top 15 on the national album chart. The lead single from the album, a live version of "Folsom Prison Blues," was a top 40 hit, Cash's first since 1964's "Understand Your Man."

It didn't stop with "At Folsom Prison," the live album he wanted to make for years, and his 27th overall album, released on Columbia Records in May 1968. The "whoda thunk it" acclaim following the popularity of that prison concert album, along with the immediate good reviews accompanying its release, all combined to revitalize Cash's career. That led to the release of the second prison album, "At San Quentin." It was Cash's 31st overall album, recorded live at that state prison in 1969. This one was nominated for a number of Grammy Awards, including "Album of the Year," and won "Best Male Country Vocal Performance" for the song, "A Boy Named Sue." The concert was filmed by Granada Television, produced and directed by Michael Darlow, and turns-up on cable movie channels.

"At San Quentin" was certified gold in August,1969, and platinum and double platinum in 1986. it was re-released with additional tracks in 1999 and as a three-disc set in 2008, reaching triple Platinum in 2003, for US sales exceeding three million. (All certifications by the Recording Industry Association of America.) The "At San Quentin" album cover photo by Jim Marshall is regarded as an enduring iconic image of Cash, with Marshall Grant's Epiphone Newport bass guitar famously silhouetted in the foreground.

✔ Jan. 1, 1959: Facing a popular revolution spearheaded by FIDEL CASTRO’s "26th of July Movement," Cuban dictator FULGENCIO BATISTA flees the island nation.

Of course, the US government had supported the American-friendly Batista regime since it came to power in 1952, and Cuba had become the base of operations for the mob with its big money-laundering hotels and casinos. American policy tried to find a “middle road” between Batista and Castro, making our confused involvement in Syria look deja vu all over again. The Eisenhower administration's Cuba policy ultimately failed. And, given the need to cut their losses, the fall of Batista is why the mob moved to the desert and built Las Vegas from a desolate railroad water stop into North America's money laundering gambling mecca. The US government had facilitated that with unlimited water from Hoover Dam, which had been built in the 1930s. Finally, in 2016, the Obama administration's reopening of the US Embassy in Havana and trade and tourism with Cuba – despite Congressional opposition and obstructionism – ended the long shunning that had been precipitated by a dumb and failed policy. Even if the same lesson continues to be lost where Syria is concerned.

Fidel Castro's freeing Cuba from the mob and imperialist corporatists is a lot of why his Nov. 25, 2016 death was so widely mourned in Cuba.

✔ Jan. 1, 1966: In SOUTH VIETNAM, advance elements of the 1st Regiment of the Marine 1st Division arrive on this date. From there, it was off to tearing America apart, questioning previously trusted institutions that proved to be bumbling, corrupt, and in the hands of corporatists enriching themselves on blood money. By the end of 1966, U.S. military personnel in South Vietnam numbered 385,300. In a series of authorizations completed by August of 1966, Congress had approved an increase in troop strength to 429,000.

President Lyndon Johnson would see his popularity and public approval collapse over the next two and half years, and the Democrats would lose the White House to Richard Nixon in 1968. With Nixon failing to have "a secret plan to end the war in Vietnam" as he had promised in his campaign, the ever-widening Vietnam/Southeast Asian wars' financial costs kept compounding. Eventually, runaway costs of endless war caused cancellation of America's manned planetary and lunar space programs. It likewise brought the end of huge infrastructure investments in America, including continued rapid expansion of the interstate highway system.

Vietnam, the umbrella title for expanded overt and covert military actions, increasing government lies and secrecy, and massive aerial bombings of surrounding countries, would become the worst military debacle and longest war in US history.

Until the same questions of "why should we do this?" were again ignored going into Afghanistan and Iraq, and those unending US military occupations became our longest-running wars.

✔ Jan. 1, 2017: Well, we've arrived at "now," the current NEW YEAR'S DAY. Unless we're supposed to celebrate it on Monday. Because, along the way, the Constitution's protection of "Freedom of Religion" somehow has been taken to give churches hegemony over New Year's parades. Just as happens with Presidential Inaugurations. When January 1st or January 20th falls on a Sunday, that is.

Meaning those parades – and most of the college football bowl games – aren't happening on New Year's Day since they aren't allowed to happen on a Sunday. Because that might hurt church attendance and the haul required for the churches' collection plates. (Yes, there is testimony by religious leaders, even to the Pasadena City Council, going back over a hundred years to that effect.)

So, America's radical religious hegemonists have forced all of society to take a de facto day-off on Monday, if they want to enjoy what was supposed to happen on January 1st. Or, similarly, to do the business of state that was supposed to happen on January 20th, when necessary. Simply because the correct date fell on a Sunday. Note that the Jews and the Seventh Day Adventists, lacking the political power, don't get the same consideration for their holy day on Saturday, so it certainly isn't about piety. Argument closed.

Anyway, you have time on your hands this January 1st. Time you would have been occupying with New Year's Day activities if it were a Saturday. Or any of the five weekdays. But no. You found yourself sitting there with nothing to do for New Year's Day. Because it's on a Sunday. Considering how long ago we had the festivities of the Salem Witch Trials, that seems an odd bit of history to be persisting today, on this January 1st, seventeen years into a new millenium. Hence, this feature, to come to the rescue and give you some relief from the void. "Why? Because we LIKE you," as an ancient Mousketeer used to proclaim.

Sorta seems like a "War on New Year" like that Fox News "War on Christmas," to our reckoning.

So, in defiance, we'll say, "Happy New Year." Even if we aren't supposed to say that unless we wait 'til Monday.
that? Since what was supposed to be New Year's Day, January 1st, is the wrong day.


# 2 news feature... (substantially updated 1/2/16 at 9 pm PST)


Rewind twelve months, and we expected some sadness. We knew, going in, that GARRISON KEILLOR was retiring from "A PRAIRIE HOME COMPANION," by far, radio's best-known Folk-Americana weekly radio show. And most of us figured that ROZ LARMAN was close to retirement from radio's longest-running folk music show, and the one that's always mixed a long form performance-interview hour plus thematic sets of recorded tracks. But we didn't expect her to leave us in death.

Fortunately, both those iconic shows continue. The first by advance plan, with Garrison happily retired and CHRIS THIELE capably at the helm in Minnesota – though without the denizens of Lake Woebegone and many of the trappings we all knew and loved. For "FolkScene," things were and are less certain, given the precarious path of the show's home station, KPFK, and the similarly uncertain fate of the station's owner, Pacifica. From the standpoint of the show and its dedicated production team, there has come invocation of the old maxim, "the show must go on!"

And so there are changes among the music bringers, and fortunately, mitigations that will keep the broadcast signals flowing.

But among the music makers? There are incomprehensibly huge absences.

CNN proclaimed, "Move over, 1959. Step aside, 1970. When it comes to the deaths of musical icons, 2016 may be the worst year ever.

"It might be the deadliest era for pop music legends since 1970-71, when we lost JIMI HENDRIX, JANIS JOPLIN, JIM MORRISON and LOUIS ARMSTRONG in a sorrowful span of 11 months."

They continued, "February 3, 1959, when young rockers BUDDY HOLLY, RITCHIE VALENS and J. P. 'THE BIG BOPPER' RICHARDSON were killed in a plane crash, has been called 'the Day the Music Died.' [in DON McLEAN's song, 'American Pie' - ed.] This may become known as the YEAR the Music Died."

Their next line was, "And it's not even over."

Sadly, it wasn't. After they ran their story in mid-December, CARRIE FISHER died, and a day later, we lost her mother, DEBBIE REYNOLDS, one of the biggest movie musical singing and dancing stars ever. On Christmas Day, a music icon died and an entire internationally renowned musical ensemble were killed in a plane crash. We'll get to all of that.

It wasn't just the music makers. In 2016, we lost astronaut hero JOHN GLENN, who also numbered among our rapidly diminishing veterans of World War II and the Korean War. In 2016 we said goodbye to three of our most inspirational sports heroes, boxing champion MUHAMMAD ALI, women's basketball coach PAT SUMMITT, and golf legend ARNOLD PALMER.

Major and influential literary figures of our time left us. We lost novelist HARPER LEE, whose classic "To Kill a Mockingbird" helped two generations of high school students understand America's dysfunctional race relations and give them the resolve to do something to make it better. We lost iconic writer-historian ELIE WIESEL, 87, the Romanian-born Holocaust survivor whose classic “Night” became a landmark testament to the Nazis’ crimes and launched his career as one of the world’s foremost witnesses and humanitarians. He died July 2 of an unspecified cause. We lost ALVIN TOFFLER, 87, the literary guru of the post-industrial age, whose “Future Shock” and other books anticipated the transformations brought about by digital technology. He died June 27 after an illness. UMBERTO ECO, 84, the Italian author who intrigued, puzzled and delighted readers worldwide with his best-selling historical novels “The Name of the Rose,” Foucault's Pendulum," and many other great reads, died Feb. 19 of pancreatic cancer.

EARL HAMNER JR., 92, the prolific writer who drew upon his Depression-era upbringing in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia to create one of television’s most beloved family shows, “The Waltons,” died March 24 of bladder cancer.

Even a quick homage to prominent actors that we lost requires multiple paragraphs.

We saw the curtain drop on delightful film actor GENE WILDER of "Blazing Saddles," "Young Frankenstein," "Silver Streak," and half-a-dozen other films. GARRY MARSHALL left the stage, though his 40+ year-old TV shows are still wildly popular in reruns. We lost actor ALAN RICKMAN, 69, the classically trained British stage star and sensual screen villain in the “Harry Potter” saga and other films. He died of pancreatic cancer Jan. 14. Comedian GARRY SHANDLING, 66, who pioneered comedic fake documentaries and fake latenight-style chat shows, is gone. He died March 24 of a blood clot, following a heart attack.

ABE VIGODA died at age 94, decades after one of the most notable false death reports ever to be widely believed. A band bearing his name even arose to capitalize on that notoriety. He was a character actor whose leathery, sad-eyed face made him ideal for playing over-the-hill detective Phil Fish in the 1970s TV series “Barney Miller” and the doomed Mafia soldier in “The Godfather.” He died Jan. 26 in his sleep.

2016 brought the tragic deaths of promising young stars ANTON YELCHIN and CHRISTINA GRIMMIE.

Film and stage singer FLORENCE HENDERSON left us as a beloved TV parent, as did Canadian-born actor ALAN THICKE, who also died in 2016. ALAN YOUNG, 96, the amiable straight man to “Mister Ed” the talking horse, died May 19 of natural causes. GEORGE KENNEDY, 91, the tough-guy actor who won an Academy Award for his portrayal of a chain-gang convict in the 1960s classic “Cool Hand Luke,” died Feb. 28 of cardiovascular disease. DAN HAGGERTY, 74, the rugged, bearded actor who starred as 19th century mountain man Grizzly Adams died Jan. 15 of a spinal tumor. PAT HARRINGTON JR., 86, actor and comedian, died from complications of Alzheimer's on Jan. 6.

THERESA SALDANA, 61, the “Raging Bull” actress who survived a stalker’s brutal attack and became a crime victims’ advocate, went on to reclaim her entertainment career with “The Commish” and other TV shows. She died of pneumonia, June 6.

In the final hours of 2016, we lost actor WILLIAM CHRISTOPHER, who will forever be the slightly nerdy priest, Father Francis Mulcahy. On all those episodes of M*A*S*H, Christopher gently and surreally portrayed a ray of hope amidst all the insanity of war. He died following a battle with lung cancer. It does not seem possible that he was 84, since he is forever young beneath the tent flaps, with menacing explosions rattling the ground in Hollywood's Korea.

Of course, time and human mortality are unstoppable. We will be saying goodbye to people in the arts, even in the best of times. But no one could have expected the Grim Reaper's 2016 toll could be so high among superbly talented musicians, actors, artists, and people who could connect when they told a story.

The latter included two of America's best journalists. GWEN IFILL, 61, of the PBS "News Hour" knew how to ask the right questions and bring a strong, positive presence to her hosting of the respected "Washington Week in Review." And, just days after an on-air retirement tribute, we lost MORLEY SAFER, 84, the veteran “60 Minutes” correspondent. As the Oakland Press noted, Safer "was equally at home reporting on social injustices, the Orient Express, and abstract art," and it was he "who exposed a military atrocity in Vietnam that played an early role in changing Americans’ view of the war." He died May 19 of pneumonia. Someone who both those journalists covered, JANET RENO, the first woman to serve as attorney general, died Nov. 7 at age 78 after a years-long struggle with Parkinson's disease.

Another figure in the political press, JOHN McLAUGHLIN, 89, described as the "conservative commentator and host of a long-running television show that pioneered hollering-heads discussions of Washington politics," died Aug. 16 of prostate cancer. There was real entertainment value in the way the host ran "The McLaughlin Group." It was frequently parodied by "Saturday Night Live," and derisively referred to by columnist George Will as "Professor McLaughlin's Gong Show." (To which point, you expect him to rise from the grave to explosively shout, "WRROONG!")

Even when most of the TV news and entertainment-gossip show "final tribute" packages were assembled in the waning days of 2016, we repeatedly saw broadcasting's equivalent of "stop the presses!" to add more names and images.

As we observed the obituaries outnumbering other news topics, we found that it occasioned shared experiences. It became clear that acknowledging the passing of essential individuals, outside our focus on those in music, was necessary for cultural context. Thus, we included what you have read to this point. We'll conclude this portion by noting the death of Thailand's longtime king BHUMIBOL ADULYADEJ, who died at age 88. Though he spent his last years in a Bangkok hospital, he was a symbol of unity and stability in a region where those qualities cannot be taken for granted. Plus, Thailand is a place where the average citizen will tell you they are happy, at a much greater rate than in the U.S.

From here forward, we focus our homage on the musicians whose art has been the soundtrack of our lives.

The story on the "Ranker" site opens with words that speak for all of us: "When a musician dies it’s always sad. No matter what they were like in their personal lives, their music probably helped at least one person get through a hard time. Because of this, we often feel very close to our favorite musicians and our heart breaks when we hear of recent deaths. Many of the names on this list of musicians who died in 2016 will be shocking. Even when we hear about the recent deaths of older musicians, it feels strange because you think of them as forever being the age that they were when you first heard their music." (The full "Ranker" story is at:

As we surveyed and compared many sources, we found that none were complete, or even close to it. We resolved to fix that.

Here is the Guide's list of those whose music or related creative endeavors inspired us when they were here, often had us anticipating their next performance, and will continue to be heard in recordings after they left their mortal coils in 2016.

RALPH STANLEY, 89, bluegrass legend, also known as Dr. Ralph Stanley, known for his distinctive singing and banjo playing. He began playing music in 1946, originally with his brother Carter as part of The Stanley Brothers, and most often as the leader of his band, The Clinch Mountain Boys. – died 6/23/16.

GLENN FREY, 67, guitarist, pianist, singer, co-founder of the Eagles – died of rheumatoid arthritis, acute ulcerative colitis, and pneumonia 1/18/16.

MERLE HAGGARD, 79, singer, songwriter, guitarist, fiddle player – died of complications from pneumonia 4/6/16.

LEONARD COHEN, 82, baritone-voiced Canadian singer-songwriter, and author, blended spirituality and sexuality in songs like “Hallelujah,” “Suzanne,” and “Bird on a Wire” – died during his sleep after falling during the night 11/7/16.

DAVID BOWIE, 69, singer, songwriter, producer, multi-instrumentalist, actor – died of cancer 1/10/16.

PRINCE, 57, singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, producer, actor – died of an accidental overdose of fentanyl 4/21/16.

PETE FOUNTAIN, 86, clarinetist whose Dixieland jazz virtuosity and wit endeared him to his native New Orleans, earned him national television fame and global renown – died of heart failure 8/6/16.

GUY CLARK, 74, the quintessential Texas singer-songwriter who essentially mentored a generation of songwriters while writing hits like “L.A. Freeway” and “Desperados Waiting for a Train,” charmers like "Homegrown Tomatoes," and gave great interviews to music journalists – died of cancer 5/17/16.

BUCKWHEAT ZYDECO, 68, aka Stanley Joseph Dural, Jr., was one of the very few Cajun-Zydeco musicians to achieve mainstream success. An ambassador of Louisiana roots music, champion of Creole culture, and accordion king, he played several Presidential Inaugurations – died of lung and throat cancer 9/24/16.

SIR GEORGE MARTIN, 90, English record producer, arranger, composer, conductor, audio engineer and musician – died of undisclosed causes 3/8/16.

GREG LAKE, 69, bassist, guitarist, vocalist, co-founder of King Crimson and Emerson, Lake & Palmer – died after a prolonged battle with cancer 12/7/16.

HOLLY DUNN, 59, country singer-songwriter – died of ovarian cancer 11/15/16.

KASEY JONES (aka Gail Zeiler), 66, comedic folksinger-songwriter, producer and humorist; co-wrote the Mickey Gilley hit "I'm the One Mama Warned You About"; Ethel & The Shameless Hussies; co-founded Kinkajou Records label with Kinky Friedman; she released eight CDs and produced music for both the theatrical comedy "Nipples to the Wind" and the movie (and TV series) "Sordid Lives" – died of cancer 9/1/16.

LEON RUSSELL, 74, pianist, guitarist, trumpet player, multi-instrumentalist, songwriter, producer, session player – died in his sleep 11/13/16.

PETE HUTTLINGER, 54, guitarist best known as lead guitar for John Denver, also toured with John Oates and LeAnn Rimes – died after a stroke 1/15/16.

MAURICE WHITE, 74, singer, drummer, songwriter, producer, founder of Earth, Wind & Fire – died after battling Parkinson’s 2/4/16.

SHARON JONES, 60, soul and funk singer – died of pancreatic cancer 11/18/16.

PATTY DUKE, 69, won an Oscar as a teen for playing Helen Keller in “The Miracle Worker” then worked a long show biz career, including singing on Broadway, all while battling personal demons. Her music hits include "Don't Just Stand There" – died from sepsis 4/29/16.

KEITH EMERSON, 71, keyboardist, composer, founder of Emerson, Lake & Palmer – died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound 3/10/16.

BERNIE WORRELL, 72, “Wizard of Woo,” his amazing array of keyboard sounds helped define the Parliament-Funkadelic musical empire and influenced many genres – died of lung cancer 6/24/16.

PAUL KANTNER, 74, guitarist, vocalist in Jefferson Airplane, Jefferson Starship, K.B.C. Band and solo – died of multiple organ failure after suffering a heart attack 1/28/16.

RICK PARFITT, 68, guitarist, singer, songwriter in Status Quo – died of a severe infection following shoulder surgery 12/24/16.

LONNIE MACK, 74, rock and blues guitarist and vocalist – died of natural causes 4/21/16.

"TOOTS" THIELEMANS, 94, preeminent jazz harmonica player – died in his sleep 8/22/16.

DAN HICKS, 74, singer-songwriter, acoustic centered folk/jazz/county blend, Dan Hicks & His Hot Licks – died of liver cancer 2/6/16.

WAYNE JACKSON, 74, trumpet player on rock ’n’ roll, soul, R&B and pop mainstays along with Memphis Horns partner and tenor saxophonist Andrew Love – died of congestive heart failure 6/21/16.

HYMAN PAUL BLEY, 83, Jazz pianist, composer, and bandleader – died of natural causes 1/3/16.

PIERRE BOULEZ, 90, composer and conductor – died of undisclosed causes 1/5/16.

DENISE KATRINA MATTHEWS (aka VANITY), 57, singer, songwriter, dancer, actress and model – died of renal failure 2/15/16.

FRANK SINATRA, JR., 72, singer, songwriter, arranger – died of cardiac arrest 3/16/16.

JOEY FEEK, 40, country singer, duo Joey + Rory, co-host w/ husband of CMT show "Can You Duet?" – died of cervical cancer 3/4/16.

SONNY JAMES, 87, country singer, recorded romantic ballads like “Young Love,” and turned pop songs into country hits – died of natural causes 2/22/16.

WAYNE SLATER-LUNSFORD, 65, folk acoustic singer-songwriter, guitarist, festival and concert promoter, sound specialist, and prose writer – died of cancer 11/4/16.

ROBERT STIGWOOD, 81, managed Cream and Eric Clapton, launched the career of the Bee Gees – died 1/4/16 (cause of death unknown).

GILBERT KAPLAN, 74, American conductor and Wall St. millionaire who turned himself into a noted scholar of mahler – died of cancer 1/1/16.

JIMMY BAIN, 67, bassist with Rainbow, Dio, and Last In Line – died of lung cancer 1/24/16.

DALE "BUFFIN" GRIFFIN, 67, drummer for Mott The Hoople – died after suffering from Alzheimer’s disease 1/17/16.

SCOTTY MOORE, 84, longtime Elvis Presley guitarist – died 6/28/16.

JUAN GABRIEL, 66, aka Alberto Aguilera Valadez, was a Mexican singer-songwriter and Latin music legend. Colloquially nicknamed "Juanga" and "El Divo de Juárez," Gabriel was known for a flamboyant style that broke barriers within the Latin music market – died 8/28/16.

BOBBY VEE, 73, '60s pop singer whose career began as a teenager, filling-in after the 1959 plane crash that killed Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and J.P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson. Hits included "Take Good Care of My Baby" and "Run to Him." – died from complications of Alzheimer's disease.

PHIL CHESS, 95, co-founded legendary Chess Records label – died 10/19/16.

OSCAR BRAND, 96, Canadian folk singer and radio host – died of pneumonia 9/30/16.

FRAN JEFFRIES, 79, silky voiced nightclub singer, actress who performed provocative samba dance in 1963's "The Pink Panther" – died 12/15/16.

ALPHONSE MOUZON, 68, legendary jazz drummer, including band Weather Report. – died of rare cancer neuroendocrine carcinoma 12/25/16.

JEAN-JACQUES PERREY, 87, French composer, pioneer of electronic music including co-write of “Baroque Hoedown,” used as "Main Street Electrical Parade" at Disney theme parks – died of lung cancer 11/4/16.

LÉO MARJANE, 104, French music hall star in n the 1930s and ’40s, whose heart-wrenching ballad “Alone Tonight” became a signature song of occupied France. A retrospective CD of her music, “Alone Tonight,” was released in France in 2004 – died of a heart attack 12/25/16.

JOE LIGON, 80, energetic lead singer of 3-time Grammy-winning gospel group Mighty Clouds of Joy – died 12/8/16.

MARK GRAY, 64, country music singer-songwriter co-wrote No. 1 hit songs for Alabama – died 12/2/16.

TONY MARTELL, 90, record label exec, signed ELO and Joan Jett; founded T.J. Martell Foundation for leukemia research – died 11/27/16.

JOE ESPOSITO, 78, Elvis Presley's close friend and road manager – died 11/23/16.

MENTOR WILLIAMS, 70, music producer and songwriter of "Drift Away" – died 11/16/16.

NEVILLE MARRINER, 92, renowned conductor who founded the Academy of St Martin in the Fields – died 10/2/16.

ROD TEMPERTON, 66, legendary songwriter behind Michael Jackson's "Thriller" – died 10/5/16.

MOSE ALLISON, 89, jazz and blues pianist, singer, and songwriter – died of natural causes 11/15/16.

JULES DERVAES, 69, urban farm concert pioneer, embracing Grammy winners and neophyte artists alike. "Urban Homestead" founder, subject of award-winning 2009 short film, "Homegrown Revolution" (it's at – died following a pulmonary embolism 12/23/16.

CLAUDE "CURLY" PUTMAN, 85, songwriter wrote classic country songs including "The Green, Green Grass of Home" and "He Stopped Loving Her Today" – died 10/30/16.

DON CICCONE, 70, singer-songwriter, member of the Four Seasons, the Shondells, and the Critters – died Saturday 10/8/16.

JOAN MARIE JOHNSON FAUST, 72, founding member of the New Orleans girl group the Dixie Cups – died 10/5/16.

AL CAIOLA, 96, versatile session guitarist – died 11/9/16 in a nursing home in Allendale, New Jersey.

KAY STARR, 94, pop and jazz singer popular in the '50s – died 11/3/16.

PAUL BLEY, 83, Canadian jazz pianist – died 1/3/16.

NICK CALDWELL, 71, R&B singer, member of The Whispers – died 1/5/16.

TROY SHONDELL, 76, singer, best known for 1961 hit "This Time (We're Really Breaking Up)." Tommy James renamed his band after Shondell – died of complications from Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease 1/7/16.

KITTY KALLEN, 94, best known for the 1954 hit "Little Things Mean a Lot" – died 1/7/16.

OTIS CLAY, 73, Hall of fame R&B singer known as much for his big heart and charitable work in Chicago as for singing internationally. Ironically, his songs brag about all sorts of heart-taxing habits from smoking five packs of cigarettes a day and drinking excessively to chasing women around – died of a heart attack 1/8/16.

RED SIMPSON, 81, country singer whose heart couldn't have been helped with his stressful admission, "I'm a Truck" – died of a heart attack 1/8/16.

ALLAN WILLIAMS, 86, the first manager of The Beatles– died 12/30/16.

ANDREW DORFF, 40, songwriter wrote No. 1 hits for country stars Blake Shelton, Kenny Chesney, others – died of undisclosed cause 12/19/16.

BOB COBURN, 68, longtime host of nationally-syndicated radio show "Rockline" and a genius of conducting the memorable performance-interview – died of cancer 12/17/16.

BOB ELLIOTT, 92, half of the enduring TV / radio comedy team Bob and Ray – died of head and neck cancer 2/2/16.

DEBBIE REYNOLDS, 84, actress, singer, businesswoman, film historian, humanitarian, and one of the biggest movie musical singing and dancing stars ever, lit up the screen in "Singin' in the Rain," "How the West was Won," "The Unsinkable Molly Brown," and a dozen other roles. Her performance of the song "Tammy" from her role in the 1957 "Tammy and the Bachelor" reached number one on the Billboard music charts – died of a broken heart 12/28/16, the day after the death of her daughter, CARRIE FISHER.

FLORENCE HENDERSON, 82, Broadway singing and dancing star who became one of America’s most beloved television moms in “The Brady Bunch” – died of congestive heart failure 11/24/16.

GLORIA DeHAVEN, 91, vivacious star of Hollywood musicals and comedies of the 1940s and ’50s. Daughter of vaudeville stars who earned her own career – died of stroke 7/30/16.

MARNI NIXON, 86, star singer as the Hollywood voice double whose singing was heard in place of the leading actresses in such movie musicals as “West Side Story,” “The King and I,” and “My Fair Lady” – died of breast cancer 7/24/16.

JOHAN BOTHA, 51, operatic tenor whose light but muscular voice dazzled audiences at the world’s top opera stages – died of cancer 9/8/16.

LADY CHABLIS, 59. Transgender performer who became an unlikely celebrity for her role in the 1994 best-seller “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil,” and played herself in the film version – died of pneumonia 9/8/16.

CHARMIAN CARR, 73, actress best known for sweetly portraying the eldest von Trapp daughter in “The Sound of Music” – died of complications from dementia 9/17/16.

JEAN SHEPARD, 82, “The grand lady of the Grand Ole Opry” who had a long recording career in country music – died of Parkinson’s disease 9/25/16.

BILLY PAUL, 80, jazz and soul singer best had the No. 1 hit ballad “Me and Mrs. Jones,” a “Philadelphia Soul” classic – died of pancreatic cancer 4/24/16.

SIGNE TOLY ANDERSON, 74, vocalist, original member of Jefferson Airplane for one record, then replaced by Grace Slick – died of COPD 1/28/16.

BOBBY HUTCHERSON, 75, bricklayer’s son who became one of the most inventive jazz vibraphonists to pick up a pair of mallets – died of emphysema 8/15/16.

And, on Christmas Day, we lost icons and an entire musical performing troupe:

GEORGE MICHAEL, 53, singer, songwriter, producer – died of heart failure 12/25/16.

ALEXANDROV ENSEMBLE, celebrating its 90th anniversary year, had 64 of its members killed in a plane crash on Christmas Day.


Since US corporate mainstream media reported almost nothing about this, we will. Among the foreign press news stories is one with the headline, "‘Tremendous loss’: NYPD mourns Alexandrov Ensemble deaths."

Russia's famed and globally acclaimed ALEXANDROV ENSEMBLE lost most of its chorus members and some of its top-flight instrumental musicians and dancers in the Christmas Day crash of a Tu-154 jetliner into the Black Sea. A total of 92 passengers and crew perished when the Russian military Tupolev-154 transport plane crashed into the Black Sea off Sochi (home to the recent Winter Olympics) on Sunday, Dec. 25th. Among them were 64 members of the Alexandrov Ensemble, including their director and conductor, VALERY KHALILOV. The crash is being investigated.

The New York Police Department is prominent among those mourning the death of members of the Alexandrov Ensemble. NYPD's "Ceremonial Unit" of musicians performed with the legendary Russian choir in a moving 2011 10th anniversary tribute to 9/11 victims. (Video:

“It was a wonderful group of musicians and great ambassadors from Russia,” Lieutenant Tony Giorgio, director of the NYPD Ceremonial Unit, told the US television audience on RT America last Wednesday. He described their deaths as a “tremendous loss for Russian culture” and a “great loss to the world.”

Giorgio recalled how the famed Red Army Choir teamed up with the NYPD's famed musicians to sing “God Bless America” at the "Quebec City Military Tattoo" in 2011, a decade after the 2001 terrorist attacks that struck on New York and Washington, DC. The joint performance was part of the International Festival of Military Music (FIMMQ), which was held annually between 1998 and 2013.

Giorgio recalls that, as the choir sang, he accepted a single white rose presented him by a little boy on behalf of the Ensemble and in memory of the lives lost on 9/11. The NYPD's Giorgio also recalled soloist GRIGORY OSIPOV, who led the Quebec performance. Ospirov was among those who perished in the Christmas Day plane crash.

The loss of these musicians In their home country is beyond anything we can employ for comparison, since we have no similar-sized performing organization of beloved music stars in the US. Think of a plane crashing into a backstage area and ending the lives of all the headliners of a music festival, and you'll have some idea of the extent of mourning in Russia. A major Russian bank decided to erase the debts of all the victims of the Tu-154 plane crash. The state-run Sberbank simply wrote-off all loans taken out by the victims of the crash, according to Transport Minister Maksim Sokolov.

In addition to New York, the impact goes beyond the Russian border. You can watch a video of thousands of Serbs – a whole basketball arena in Serbia – singing a folk song in memory of, and to mourn members of, the Alexandrov Ensemble (Video at:

Officially known as the "A. V. Alexandrov Academic Ensemble of Song and Dance of the Russian Army," the choir was established in 1926 and named after the legendary composer Alexander Vasilevich Alexandrov, its first director.

The choir was on its way to Syria, accompanied by several humanitarian workers and news crews. They were due to take part in New Year’s and Christmas celebrations.

It wasn't just America that lost a lot of music luminaries and fabulously talented performers in 2016. Even if the usual ethnocentrism and 48-state myopia of US corporate mainstream media didn't, and won't, bother to tell you about anything in the rest of the world, we hope you have a sense of that here.

Humanity has a shared love of music craftsmanship and artful live performance. Happy melodies can dance in our memories if not in our ears. Meaningful lyrics can inspire us to dream. And the inspiration of music can bring shared hope in the most challenging of times. Including the hope that the Grim Reaper stays away in 2017.


Other than this Guide feature – which is the most complete information anywhere on the musicians we lost in 2016 – the best roster/homage covering the deaths of a wider range of celebrities, including short informative blurbs on each, is the month-by-month chronology in the Oakland Press. It's at:


# 3 news feature...


Our editor sent a message to a few friends that read like this:

"Happy Gnu Ear!
...sure, it'll be challenging. But, musically speaking, let's hope it brings you listening pleasure!"

Bob Stane answered. He's the colorful impresario of the world famous Coffee Gallery Backstage (, L.A.'s top acoustic music venue (L.A.? Okay, it's in Altadena):

"Bob Stane says….oh, yeah, you offer an exotic Gnu’s Ear and all I have to offer is a sow’s ear and no silk purse."


Our editor couldn't resist this sending this back to Bob:

Your reply about silk purses and sows' ears reminds me of a nice story. NASA wanted a research aircraft with all the maneuvering capabilities of a modern jet fighter. Research on changes in aerodynamics as flight envelopes are suddenly and radically altered, g-force loads on critical components and the humans aboard, all that sort of thing. Congress told them, "no money." So, being NASA types who are accustomed to living on starvation diets, they went shopping.

Did I say "shopping"-? Having no real money, they went looking for cheap junk and orphans. They found the hulk of a pre-production model of the F-18, a single-seat fighter aircraft built by the McDonnell Aircraft Co. in St. Louis. Officially, it was owned by the Navy, and would need to be borrowed. That wasn't an issue, because what was there had been heavily "cannibalized" (used as a source of spare parts) by the Navy, which never expected the aircraft would fly again. It arrived at then-NASA Dryden (at Edwards Air Force Base in the California desert) in pieces, aboard a semitrailer in October 1984. It was missing 400 obvious parts. It had very little documentation on its existing wiring system. Dryden mechanics and technicians had to find substitute parts, cut out all the existing wiring, then assemble the junk into an aircraft and rewire it.

When they completed the job, they painted the words "Silk Purse" on the side of the fuselage to indicate what they had made from the "Sow's Ear" of cannibalized aircraft parts with which they had begun.

385 flights later, the Silk Purse had generated so much data that it helped design today's state-of-the-art high performance aircraft. It is now on permanent display in the Virginia Air & Space Center, Hampton, VA.

So don't underestimate the power of a sow's ear.


# 4 news feature...


We enjoy the oddities and linguistic esoterica in our daily subscription to "A.Word.A.Day with Anu Garg."

One day last week, the daily word was "hemidemisemiquaver."

Here's the complete contents that accompanied that most singular of multiply compounded words.




noun: A sixty-fourth note.


It’s a long word about the shortest note in music. For another example of prefixes gone wild, see preantepenultimate (fourth from the last).


From Greek hemi- (half) + French demi- (half) + Latin semi- (half) + quaver (an eighth note), from Middle English quaveren (to shake or tremble). Earliest documented use: 1853.


“‘Commissaire, you have a foreigner’s ear for our glorious language. Their names are completely different, CAYO and CAYOo,’ Martiniere said, lingering the merest hemidemisemiquaver on the final imagined phoneme of the second ‘YO’.”
– Alexander Campion; "Killer Critique;" Kensington; 2012.

See more usage examples of hemidemisemiquaver in’s dictionary.

"The love of one's country is a splendid thing. But why should love stop at the border."
- Pablo Casals, cellist, conductor, and composer (29 Dec 1876-1973).


# 5 news feature...


Sometimes it leaves us wide-eyed. Maybe we can feel our mouth droping open. Other times, it's just quietly satisfying to learn how someone else gets inspired. Sometimes it's useful to learn something you can try when your muse takes an extended vacation. Inevitably, there are times some artistic type proclaims a thought that surprises even the one saying it. In the Guide's new series, we'll bring you plenty of all that, and more. Welcome to our first installment.

"Moonlit strolls?? Fancy pants dinners?? No thanks, I would prefer to fall in love in the aisle of an independent record shop. See you there... "
- Bryan Garza (Scissors For Lefty)

"A place where you go to escape everyday stresses & hang out with your imaginary friends."
- Jason Wade (Lifehouse)

"It was in a tiny little Record Store back in the early Sixties in my Hometown of Hannover, West Germany , where I put the headphones on to listen to a rare song that was really hard to find in those days. 'My Bonnie' by Tony Sheridan & the Beat Brothers (later known as The Beatles ) rocked my heart and started a passion that never left me....."
- Klaus Meine (Scorpions).

“A record store is a place where I go to get lost and then found again. It’s like my therapy. Whenever I need to find inspiration for my music, I go to my favorite record store called Bleecker Street Records, which was around the corner from my first apartment in NYC. I just walk around aimlessly looking at album covers of my heroes. It’s the only place where I can still buy the old classics as well as discovering the new ones. ”
- Matt White.

"I grew up in indie record stores. Bill's Records and Tapes ('And Tapes'?!?) was THE destination for my friends when all we could do was ride our bikes to avoid our parents and homework, etc...

"I discovered my calling, my passion (though I dare say it wasn't the passion Bill wanted me to discover - if you know Bill, you know what I'm talking about, but I digress), in indie record stores. There was a little chain called Peaches that featured handprints in stone blocks of all my favorite rockers. I discovered that my 12 year old hands were the exact same size as Joan Jett's when she was in the Runaways. Something magical happens in these stores. Like if you stand there long enough, you realize that the fourth wall doesn't exist, that you can be on the stage or in the studio just like your heroes. Thank god for the indies."
- Rhett Miller (Old 97's).

And wait'll you read this one from BUTCH WALKER:
"As a little Five Points alumni of 11 years, back in the 1900s, I used to live behind Criminal Records on a street called Colquitt in an apartment with a rotating cast of roommates' girlfriends. I would be on the road about 300 days out of the year, and home on most Mondays and Tuesdays. Those were my days to go get cultured on new and exciting music, and buy my dimebag habit of U.K. Magazines. The thing is, I would have never gotten this kind of education or variety of pop culture fun from a supermarket that sells Shakira records.

"Don't get me wrong. My day job pays me well for making records for those kinds of folks, but I don't wanna listen to it. I mean, would you wanna eat donuts for dinner, if you made them all day in a factory? Nope. Same with music."
- Butch Walker.

This is a new ongoing series. Let us know if you like it. More, next time, and after that, if you want.


# 6 news feature...


by Wade Sutton

Live shows are underdeveloped as a music marketing tool by most artists. You need to track numbers to understand what’s working from a marketing perspective.

Your live show is your most powerful weapon when it comes to marketing your music, merchandise, and artist brand – as well as getting people to sign up for your email and text lists. As a music artist, it’s where most first impressions are made. It is a unique opportunity to make somebody feel so caught up in you and your show that they are compelled to buy something from your merchandise table and add their contact information to your marketing lists.

The problem is, live shows continue to go underdeveloped as a music marketing tool by most music artists. I’m not saying you don’t put a significant amount of energy and work into your live show, I’m talking about the fact that most artists aren’t tracking the numbers that will allow them to understand whether their shows are truly working from a marketing perspective.

Consider this

Let’s say you have a specific manner in which you ask your audience to sign up for your mailing list during your show. You have a script planned out ahead of time, you rehearse the delivery, and you always go for it at the same spot in the set list. And it’s all working pretty well for you.

Then you decide to mix things up. Maybe you change up the script and delivery, or you move the moment during your show in which you encourage the audience to sign up or head to the merch table. Instead of asking them to do something after a high-energy call-and-response moment, you make the pitch after an emotionally powerful song that leaves the room so quiet you can hear the proverbial pin dropping.

How will you know if the changes you made were effective?

When I ask that question, most artists give me an answer like, “I would compare the total number of sign-ups at that show to the number of sign-ups at previous shows.”

This answer is not only wrong, it also shows they are making one of the most basic mistakes when it comes to gauging the effectiveness of their live show from a marketing perspective.

I’ll tell you why – and I’ll tell you how to fix it.

What is measured can be maintained

I consult with a lot of bands on live performance and show production, and my first hour always includes a very important conversation. I explain right out of the gate that my focus will be on three things:

1.How to put on an incredible show that leaves audiences wanting more.
2.How to get as many people as possible to buy something from the merchandise table.
3.How to get as many people as possible to sign up for the marketing list.

Once that is out of the way and I know we are all on the same page, I ask the band an extremely important question: Can you show me data tracking merchandise sales and marketing list sign-ups at your recent shows?

The vast majority of the time, the bands cannot show me those numbers because they don’t track them, which is maddening for me and a perfect example of why so many bands are spinning their wheels.

The bands that do have data are usually focusing on the wrong numbers. More often than not, the numbers they have are the total amount of money brought in at the merchandise table and total number of marketing list sign-ups per show. Those numbers are important, but they aren’t the numbers you want to be looking at when determining the effectiveness of the show. Here’s why.

The numbers game

Let’s say you do two shows during which you use different methods of presenting your audience with a call-to-action to sign up for your email list.

The first show has a total attendance of 100 people. The second show has a total attendance of 50.

You tell the audience at the first show you want them to sign up for your marketing list. 41 of them sign up. At the second show, you move the call-to-action to a different spot in the set and you go about asking for it in a much different way. 30 people sign up.

Which show was more effective at getting people to sign up?

The second show. Even though it had fewer people signing up for the list, it actually had a significantly higher conversion rate when it came to sign-ups for your marketing list.

41 out of 100 people signed up for the list at the first show. That means what you did during that specific spot in the show resulted in 41% of the audience doing what you asked them to do. What you did at the show with 50 people resulted in 60% of the people signing up.

The first homework assignment I give EVERY band when I begin helping them with their live shows is tracking the following numbers: What percentage of people at the show signed up for the marketing list? How much money per person attending was spent at the merchandise table?

We need these numbers for every single show because this is what allows us to determine whether changes in the show help or hurt our chances of getting people signed up or spending money at the merchandise table.

Some artists try to gauge this sort of thing based upon their perception of the crowd at different points in the show, but a lot of artists end up with bad estimates that are swayed by the artist’s heightened emotions while performing. If you are actually tracking these numbers, they will tell you exactly what you need to know about changes you make to the show. The numbers won’t lie to you.

Finding the fly in the ointment

There are things that can skew your numbers over time and you have to learn how to identify them and come up with a way to make sure the data you are collecting is accurate.

A common issue with this system is when you see your conversion rates for list sign-ups fall after doing several shows in a particular market. The percentage of people signing up could be falling because of changes you made to the show or because you simply had an off night. But the percentage of people signing up could also be dropping because a significant portion of the people attending the show are already on your list.

There is an easy and important fix for this. Park somebody at the front door with a clipboard. Have them greet everyone coming through the door and thank them for making your show a part of their night. Have this greeter ask each person whether they have been to one of your shows before and whether they are already on your marketing list.

Have the greeter keep a tally of the responses as people enter, and you will have a pretty good idea of how many people attending your show were not on your list when the show started. This way, you will be able to get a more accurate representation of the sign-up conversion rate.

Here’s another example of something that can throw off your numbers – and it’s the type of thing that might change show to show based on what you’re tracking and trying to accomplish.

Last year, a producer in Nashville contacted me to do performance work with a young client from the Philadelphia area. She was going to be performing at a middle school in Kentucky where she had shot her debut music video just months before. It would be the first time she had ever performed an entire set and it was made up exclusively of original music.

We spent two months working on the show via Skype, and one of her goals was to get as many students as possible to sign up for her marketing list via text message. We knew going into the show that attendance at the assembly would be around 500 students, and we wanted to get an accurate tally of the sign-up rate in that group.

The first problem was knowing that most schools require students to leave their cell phones in their lockers during the school day. As this show was part of an assembly, we contacted the school district and asked if they would give the students permission to bring their phones to the assembly, because they can’t sign up via text message if they don’t have their phones in hand!

The second problem was knowing that not every student would have a cell phone. Some of them didn’t own one, others might have had to leave their phones at home. So we asked the contact person at the school to give us an estimate of how many students would likely be at the assembly with cell phones in hand. From that conversation, we estimated 50% of the students would have cell phones on hand at the show.

So now the max text message sign-up number we could reach wasn’t 500 – it was 250.

When the show was over, we ended up with 150 sign-ups – a jaw-dropping conversion rate of 60 percent! Had we not pinpointed those variables ahead of time, we would have walked out of there thinking the show had a conversion rate that was half of what it really was and our perception of the show would have been that it was half as effective as it really was.

Give yourself a chance!

I know tracking these numbers at every show and analyzing how changes to the show impacts the numbers will seem like a complete pain in the ass. I know you would rather be focusing on making music and performing.

But little systems like this one can give you a huge advantage when it comes to making your music more profitable and all your marketing efforts more successful. Successful businesses run efficiently because these systems are in place to give them honest feedback on whether what they are doing is working the way they want it to work. The numbers don’t lie!

With clients in major cities like Nashville, New York, London, Sydney, and Toronto, Rocket to the Stars’ Wade Sutton has dedicated his life to helping music artists in all aspects of their careers. Armed with 20 years of radio journalism experience, Wade now provides an array of services to artists, including writing biographies and press releases; creating press kits, websites, and sponsorship proposals; media interview preparation, and more.

In 2014, Wade co-authored a music business eBook titled "The $150,000 Music Degree with Rick Barker."

You can get a FREE copy of the book at:

This originally appeared in the Discmaters e-newsletter. A free subscription is available at:


# 7 news feature...


It's just plain wrong. Stanford, USC, Yale or Harvard will cost you so much in your twenties that you'll be in your fifties before you can qualify to buy a house. Your car, as a college graduate, will surely be a "beater," and your friends who became plumbers and electricians will own big, specialty work vans and have sporty cars for evenings and weekends.

Yet, there's one college out there that costs nothing to attend except transportation. You could even avoid housing costs if you arrange your attendance carefully. You won't spend hundreds of dollars in the bookstore, because they don't have one. And a campus dining hall meal ticket for food laced with pimentos (in everything) in the dining hall? Nope.

Surely, you've decided, "This is about attending one of the military academies." Nope again. They very much DO have bookstores on their campuses, even if all the textbooks are included free with your free tuition (military academies call it your "appointment to the academy," since you need your congressman to send you). Of course, it IS 'purt near exactly as hard to get into this odd college as it is to get an appointment to West Point or Annapolis or the Air Force Academy, because the number of seats available is the same as the number of congressmen and senators who can appoint a constituent to a service academy.

But any of those US military academies entails incredibly difficult mental and physical and lifestyle challenges for four years, in addition to accepting a replacement lifestyle that is nothing like "normal" in any other sense.

THIS strange and unique college? You only attend once, and you're done. One year? N'uh-uh. One term? Nooooo. You go one time, for a few minutes, on just one day.

It's the Electoral College. You don't get to wear a cap and gown, and you don't need any prerequisites – other than to be rubber-stamped as a partisan loyalist, in a vetting by other partisan loyalists. And you automatically play in the National Championship, because you get to pick the leader of the Free World. There is a pre-game show, and some of the players go on it.

Funny, though. I can't recall ever seeing anybody wearing a sweatshirt with big "EC" letters and a slogan proclaiming "I picked the Leader of the Free World!"

Seems like they'd want to wear exclusive swag like that. Or not. Hmmm. Definite elitist attention-grabber. Ultimate selfie to post on the timeline. Prob'ly not a way to get dates, though. Might get the car keyed. Possibility. By someone who exercised their franchise at the polls then figured-out it's some little group of oligarchs who really picks the president. Gads, the unwashed masses might even figure-out that it's always some lil' group of oligarchs that runs the country. Couldn't 'zactly keep it quiet if the ones who do that start wearing a sweatshirt, lording it over the rest of us like they play for the college who won the last Rose Bowl. Or Money Bowl. Or Bilderberg Bowl. Wherever that was. Whoever they are. Guess that's why they don't have pom-poms and a cheerleading squad. maybe a button they wear on the inside of the lapel that says, "I went to the Electoral College and I didn't even get a dumb t-shirt."

A college? Really? No application of scientific method as the basis for inquiry? No hall hockey in the dorms at 3 AM? No food fights? No required reading list? No making-out under the bleachers? No sneaking an untethered goat with the munchies in the chancellor's office for the weekend? No hacking Professor Emphatic's course site to replace his course syllabus with a bunch of equivocated, parsed and inscrutably iffy statements (uh oh, that sounds like, uh, politics)... No getting evicted from the library for making a whole table laugh without being able to stop? No challenges to go climbing or base jumping or wind surfing or kayaking every day for a week and still get back each day in time for your first class?

No, uhh, DEBATES about any philosophical differences and the relative merits of opposing ideologies, like you'll find in ANY other college, ANYWHERE? Doesn't sound like much of a college, does it? Sounds rather... irrelevant. Sounds rather... bohhhh-ring.

But try to replace that oligarch college that meets once to determine who runs the country? Try to replace that little cadre of partisan duopoly Fat Cats with one-person, one-vote, as the way to run our society? You'll get a firestorm that calls you "part of the Coastal Elite that doesn't 'get it' about ANYTHING!"


# 8 news feature...


Getting into the massive annual NAMM show isn't easy. Mostly because the NAMM show is not open to the public. You can't just show up and get in, even if you do play mean guitar licks or a blues horn that can melt a commercial freezer. But there are opportunities for folks in music to attend, and we'll look at them here.

The four-day event is enormous. It runs Thursday, January 19, through Sunday, January 22. It takes-over every part of the Anaheim Convention Center Complex, from all interiors of the cavernous halls to the great outdoors, where they close-off the street out front for stages and activities. Plus, it fully occupies all the meeting and convention space in all the surrounding hotels. And there are stage performances by artists endorsed by instrument makers, plus evening shows in the big hotel spaces, and concerts throughout the area featuring performances by artists in town because on NAMM. Even with four days, it isn't possible to see all the exhibits, and you'll have tough choices which concerts to seek tickets to attend (mostly, the tickets are quietly distributed free to NAMM attendees by the sponsors). But if you go to NAMM, when you leave, your brain is full and your inspiration is soaring.

Let's get back to what it takes to participate. First, if you're in the music biz, NAMM wants you to join, become a member, and pay the fees that keep the organization going. Do that, and you're qualified to get in, attend all the sessions, eat the huge complimentary breakfast buffet, peruse the exhibits, try all the hands-on and interactive new gear and instruments, network yourself silly, and be thoroughly, usefully, exhausted.

There ARE other options that don't cost so much – if you have the right kind of gig to qualify. There's the NAMM Foundation, which caters to music educators, with opportunities to make music and support music education for people of all ages. They produce year-round activities – web events, newsletters, social media, podcasts, and advocacy resources, working together with educators and musicians to “keep music education strong!”

Right now, the Foundation folks are in the final weeks heading to the annual grand gathering of music makers, teachers and music education advocates at the 2017 NAMM Show. It’s not too late to register and join them, and the basic information and links follow.

Register TODAY to Network with the Global Music Industry at The 2017 NAMM Show

NAMM Foundation events at The 2017 NAMM Show are available to NAMM Members, music teachers, school administrators and college music students and faculty. Must-attend events include:

• GenNext/College Music Society sessions
• Music Education Days sessions and showcases
• The Grand Rally for Music Education
• The Day of Service in Anaheim
• SupportMusic Coalition on Coalitions State Advocacy Bootcamp
• SupportMusic Coalition on Coalitions Forum

Register for The NAMM Show before JANUARY 5th when badge fees increase from $25 to $50.

✔ Music Teachers and School Administrators: Register to attend Music Education Days at The NAMM Show, at:

✔ College Music Students and Faculty: Register to attend GenNext at The NAMM Show, at:

Talking Up Music Education at The NAMM Show

All NAMM Show attendees are encouraged to stop by The NAMM Foundation's "Talking Up Music Education" podcast booth located on the Grand Plaza. They tell us, "We will be recording interviews daily, and episodes will be posted each night of The NAMM Show to"

To find out what that's all about, listen to previous episodes of the "Talking Up Music Education" podcast, at:

The 2017 NAMM Show Starts With a Day of Service

NAMM Members will kick off their NAMM Show experience by bringing music into the classroom at Patrick Henry Elementary School in the Anaheim City School District on Tuesday, Jan. 17th. The third annual NAMM Foundation Day of Service is one way that NAMM members and The NAMM Show community come together to support music education. They're looking for support for the Day of Service, and efforts to support music education in the Anaheim City School District, with a donation to The NAMM Foundation. The NAMM Foundation will match every dollar donated up to $10,000. You can check the box, “I would like to make this gift in honor or in memoriam” and include the note, “NAMM Foundation 2017 Day of Service.” NAMM members can register to participate in the Day of Service at:

Celebrate Your School Music Program with National Music Education Recognition Program

School districts and schools with strong support for music education are encouraged to apply for a national distinction as "Best Communities for Music Education." The NAMM Foundation tells us, "Marple Newtown School District in Pennsylvania is a perfect example of a music program thriving from community involvement and investment. Celebrate your music program with this national recognition! Deadline to apply is January 31."

Learn more and apply at:

NAMM Announces Winners of the “What Makes Music Education Great in Your School District” Award Recognition Program

The NAMM Foundation has sent congratulations to all who submitted videos to the “What Makes Music Education Great in Your School District” Award Recognition Program. Following its role at the annual show in Anaheim, the John Lennon Educational Tour Bus hits the road in February to celebrate community support for music education in three select winning school districts. The tour kicks off at Scotts Valley Unified, Scotts Valley, CA and continues to Country Club Hills District 160, Country Club Hills, IL, and concludes at Herricks UFSD, New Hyde Park, NY.

Again, the NAMM Show is not open to the public. You can't just show up and get in. But there are opportunities for folks in music to attend, and for music educators, we just covered some of the "how" and the "why." Now that you've read this, if you think you qualify, check out the details at the NAMM Foundation website, at:


# 9 news feature...


The National Trust for Historic Preservation is a nonprofit organization that has kept the wrecking ball from making a lot of our history vanish. Now, one of their projects is preserving the the iconic music infrastructure of the town that calls itself "Music City." Here's a brief overview of the story, from the National Trust.

Tracing Music Row’s Evolution of Sound

Since the 1950s, Music Row has been the focal point of Nashville's music industry. From within its modest homes and small commercial buildings, artists, songwriters, producers, and publishers have created a remarkable canon of popular music.

Since the 1950s, Music Row, a National Treasure of the National Trust, has been the focal point of Nashville's music industry. From within its modest homes and small commercial buildings, artists, songwriters, producers, and publishers have created a remarkable canon of popular music. Since 2015, the National Trust has been working with local partners to preserve Nashville's Music Row.

But despite its significance to the identity, economy, and culture of Nashville, Music Row remains vulnerable to the city’s booming development — most recently evidenced by the near demolition of RCA Studio A.

The National Trust, together with music industry and preservation partners, seeks to give voice to Music Row, raising awareness of its importance and the growing threats to its survival.

The treasure trove of stories, interviews, and videos at the link below were compiled by the National Trust's team and are presented through The History Project. You can lose yourself in these very personal stories that make music history come alive. ,These are resources that offer a small glimpse into the larger story of the people, places, and sounds of this iconic place.



Boilerplate? Where's the main pressure gauge? And the firebox?

What "boilerplate"? Who came up with that goofy term for the basic essential informational stuff...

Pssst – Hey, kid. Yeah, YOU: It won't be so "basic" when we add all the links for the global network of music news / music education sites that we're joining; THAT'LL be here very soon, as an ESSENTIAL COMPONENT of the Guide returning to being a MUSIC NEWS journal!

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Lawrence Wines & Tied to the Tracks.
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♪ The ACOUSTIC AMERICANA MUSIC GUIDE endeavors to bring you NEWS – and views of interest to artists everywhere – more specifically to musicians and the creative community and music makers and fans of acoustic and Folk-Americana music. That includes both traditional and innovative forms. From the deepest roots to today’s acoustic renaissance, that’s our beat. We provide a wealth of resources, including a HUGE catalog of acoustic-friendly venues (now undergoing a major update), and inside info on FESTIVALS and select performances in Southern California in venues from the monumentally large to the intimately small and cozy. We cover workshops, conferences, and other events for artists and folks in the music industry, and all kinds o’ things in the world of acoustic and Americana and accessible classical music. From washtub bass to musical spoons to oboe to viola to banjo to squeezebox, from Djangostyle to new-fangled-old-time string band music, from sweet Cajun fiddle to bluegrass and pre-bluegrass Appalachian mountain music to all the swamp water roots of the blues and the bright lights of where the music is headed now.
The Acoustic Americana Music Guide. Thanks for sittin' a spell. The porch'll be here anytime you come back from the road.


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