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Steve Ison
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Steve Ison

2/5/2017 6:06:19 PM ---- Updated 2/5/2017 6:12:22 PM

Art music V Artless music
Just seen another thread here and hearing the old claim "its not worth shit unless you can do it live "
But that's EXTROVERT music..Music to get a communal rush,to satisfy peoples appetites who are drinkin n wanna have a good time..

Basically a good covers band is always gonna win there..One with a charismatic lead singer who knows how to work the crowd..

One with a good beat n strong musicianship

That's the trouble with following the market tho n "giving the people what they want "..Original music has no value in this..Market forces will always demand going for the lowest common denominator..Follow the crowds appetite..Give em what they want..


Its the easy route..

Art is a tougher journey..It's following your own individual instincts about truth/beauty and making the audience COME TO YOU

You have to be relentless/brilliant/uncompromising..You're prob gonna take alot of shit n have difficult times on your journey , but if you're good enough the rewards are immense..Spiritually n financially far greater than the short-term gains the covers band can get in their appeasement to the lowest common denominator

Every one of the "greats " from the past we worship now has had to go thru some shit n ridicule on their path

Even if you're not "good enough" or just too difficult n out there in your expression to get a wider audience you can hold your head high n think you've been authentic n true to yourself

and thats gotta be worth something in these times..

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2/5/2017 7:02:58 PM

So what about a band like The Grateful Dead? Their original music is as 'artsy' as it gets but they rock it live like the world's greatest bar band. People still give up their lives to follow Dead & Company and Phil and Friends all over the world.

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Father Time

2/5/2017 8:48:02 PM

I've seen the Dead live and it would definitely be in the bottom half of concerts I attended. That night they were only all on the stage together for 4 or 5 songs, they were taking a lot of solos and members would walk off presumably to get wasted.

I'm with Steve all the way on this one, never had any desire to play covers in bars.

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2/5/2017 9:02:44 PM

I've had a lot of fun playing in bars.

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Father Time

2/5/2017 9:15:26 PM

I had a band that played the circuit when I lived in Florida. Between finding new drummers and demands from club owners I don't have great memories of those times.

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Bryon Tosoff

2/5/2017 9:48:38 PM

its about the art, indeed, I agree Steve,being original doing your thing , i never started doing originals till I came here really, this place offered me a platform , had ideas, and my wife and others kept on bugging me to do some of my own works and do a cd, never was interested,but 6-7 years ago wrote some classical and easy listening things, late bloomer not the most talented or gifted.

As for me I got classical training young, and later learned my craft from playing live. practicing a lot of jazz, which took me about a year of hard labor everyday hours a day about 25 years ago doing covers of standards, learning voicings, arranging others music, playing live in little bars and restaurants . worked in cover bands. blues rock stuff like that. Was not much of a writer or composer. like I said, when i got here , later in 2008 that is when i started playing around with trying to develop a writing style. of course brought other bands and artists here 2004 and onward. promoting.

anyways, I hope I didnt come across like playing live is the thing , or irked anyone that playing live is important, it is and was to me. it helped me immensely. solo duo and groups. i learned a lot, for me personally it opened doors of understanding, and learning parts and knowing how to play in a band specific elements of songs in a tasteful way. anyways. cheers and keep rocking out your coolness Steve, and all


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2/5/2017 10:58:41 PM

In the beginning days I played wherever I could play. I can remember playindown on the corner with the wine ohs. They loved to play Blues music and I would taje my guitar down there and play with them. It was a lot of fun. I played in so many bars along the way that I can't even remember all the cities we were in. I also played in over 50 correctional institutions. It didn; matter whwre. i just wanted to play and the musicians that hung out with me felt the same. But my live days may be over now. I can no longer remember lyrics and my playing skills have been diminished. Last years accident took a great toll on me. But thats okay, we just pick ourselves up and do whatever is left to do right? So, I am working on lots of new stuff in the studio/ I miss live gigs a lot. So much fun to interact with the people.

Much Respect,

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Shoe City Sound

2/6/2017 5:44:08 AM ---- Updated 2/6/2017 5:45:24 AM

I gotta say I don't miss playing live one bit. I love cover tunes, and we've included one on every cd we ever did, but I'm just not an entertainer at heart. I think whether you're playing your own music or being the bar band you have to have that true talent of being a good entertainer in addition to how well you play or even what you play. I understand Stoneman, what you are saying about missing the interaction with the audience - I'm sure you do a great show - wish I had ever been at one :) I'm just the opposite - relieved I don't have to face a crowd and perfectly happy that I don't even know who our listeners are. Our stats are not through the roof on any online sites, but there are a few thousand anyway that we would never have been exposed to by playing live gigs. Most seem to come from outside the US, in fact. So to the original point of the thread, it's great to have the music/art be the priority vs having to draw a crowd and consider the business side of things as well. Who knows .. if someone somewhere heard one of our tunes streaming by and wanted it for a project - film or something - we might even make some decent money too.

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2/6/2017 7:36:29 AM

Side note: Lots of famous bands started out as cover bands including Van Halen. They were a good cover band and drew people because of their talent.
If you've got the goods it will shine through... regardless of who wrote the song.

Back in the 80's there were plenty of clubs for original music Today I think it really depends on your city... some are more open to the "Art" of music while others just want to sell alcohol. Ashville or maybe Austin is a good example... lots of original music on the scene and places to play..

I (wrongly) use to rag on people doing covers vs originals but covers and clubs can be good for getting yourself in front of people developing some style as a band and in general cutting your teeth on a stage... chops and what nots.
There's not just one way to get noticed or become successful in the music business (if that's the goal) many different paths have worked.

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2/6/2017 7:58:03 AM ---- Updated 2/6/2017 8:23:04 AM

So true, Jeff! And let's not forget one of the best cover bands ever.

The Beatles!

If the Beatles just sat in their rooms writing songs instead of going to Hamburg to play covers in clubs they would never have made it.

But really, writing and performing are two different skill sets, anyway. And a well-rounded musical artist can do both.

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Bryon Tosoff

2/6/2017 9:07:52 AM

The Beatles were an indie band once

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2/6/2017 9:14:08 AM

No. They were a bar band.

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Bryon Tosoff

2/6/2017 9:33:29 AM

yes, they were a bar band Larree, I stand corrected , i was trying to make a point of them not having someone underwriting them, or someones project. they were not a major, as in having a label in their early days, and indie. what is indie anyways, i think this word should be banned. indie. indie. just a bad piece of terminology, they were entertainers. my daughter has books and books about them. posters. albums. beatles beatles beatles, her fav band. still is.

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2/6/2017 9:46:43 AM

Music was a lot different before modern computers. You were either a professional or an amateur. And amateurs had to knock on doors and go to a lot of auditions before they could call themselves professionals. There were no other labels.

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Bryon Tosoff

2/6/2017 9:52:40 AM

my brother does all his own bookings, and still does go to places for jobs for his band, and phones a lot, does not pay himself anything for doing it , band splits everything even. even though he does all the leg work and self bookings. wears many hats.

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2/6/2017 10:38:57 AM

Haha, that's a great point about the Beatles, Larree. ^_^

But I mostly agree with Steve's thoughts in the original post - covers (especially ones that try to stay true to the original) are only good for helping a band or an artist get attention. So, for me as a fan, they might help me discover a favorite indie artist (just because those are already known song titles to search for), but that's about it. They will never keep my attention for long, if they can't write, perform and produce great original music. That is, unless maybe they have a unique personal style, and make all their covers in that style, completely different from the respective originals (no matter how great those are considered to be). I value creativity by the artists, above all else.

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Bob Elliott

2/6/2017 11:50:32 AM

For me a musician gets extra points for neither doing covers or originals. You get points from effective expression. Some people express themselves very well through covers. Some people get better expression going through covers than their originals even.

Jeff Buckley is a good example. He had that artistic album out before he died, and most of it is his material. The song that made the most lasting artistic impression on me (and probably most people) was his version of 'Hallelujah.'

I'm not all that interested in hearing original songs by Sinatra. I just like real expression. I did not find any of the Buckley tracks that he wrote to be anything that sticks with me, but I like his cover a lot.

Music with personal expression can be beautiful if the artist has that. Makes zero difference who wrote it. We worry too much about who wrote it. Some bands and artists would make a much better contribution if they did less originals and more quality covers.

But I do like artistic expression for sure.

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2/6/2017 4:28:35 PM

Yeah Larree back in those days I think most bands were cover bands with an original or two thrown in.
Even the great Bluesmen covered each others tunes... was commonplace in the early days... But then again they still do it to this day.
Nothing wrong with it if you put your own sig./expression on it.

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2/19/2017 10:11:19 AM

Exactly, Jeff. Creating a unique arrangement of a cover song is just as artistic a talent as the composing.

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Steve Ison

3/5/2017 4:51:14 AM ---- Updated 3/5/2017 4:56:52 AM

I actually agree with you on that Bob..not really a fan of Hallelujah, but Jeff Buckleys version of Lilac Wine is a million percent more creative & atmospheric than Elkie Brooks original..

What you're talking about tho is taking covers and reinventing them with an artistic purpose to express something genuinely different/greater than the original - or to go deeper into the heart n soul of the song than the original did (like Lilac Wine)

The very opposite then of just making white bread Xeros of massive hits to get $$s n appeal to the lowest common denominator of a drunken live audience

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Bob Elliott

3/5/2017 10:56:36 AM

Wait a minute-we can get money doing that?

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