A New Way to Promote

Fans always want their favorite band to put out their new album, but are often disappointed. Being a musician for a living isn’t the best paying job. Often times a band has the material written for a new album and even gets as far as recording that material, but fails to come up with the funds to distribute their album. There is now a solution to the problem.

Pledge Music is a website devoted to helping bands get their music out there. To be a successful band these days you don’t have to please record labels, you have to please your fans. Pledge Music sets bands up with a page where fans can donate to their new album. Special perks are given out depending on how much money is donated. One can get anything from handwritten lyrics to a private house party.

The website even fulfills our love of progress bars as it shows how close the album is to being funded at the top.

I first saw this website used by Langhorne Slim, whose album was funded in a mere week. I don’t know if it is due to his success or the practicality of the website, but now Ben Sollee, David Wax Museum, and The Infamous Stringdusters are following.

I believe as Spotify and other free streaming services continue to take over the music world, this kind of promotion is the future. The band and fans work together for a common goal. Making an album has just become a community project.


Finding Nemo

One of the Nemo albums

You might have been able to tell from reading my posts, but I am an avid Avett Brothers fan. Ever since I first saw them play in the summer of 2009, I have been hooked. I picked up the banjo and play along with the albums, I watch videos, I read articles and interviews, and I live for the shows. The brothers introduced me to a new genre of music and a humble, honest way of life rarely seen in musicians.

When reading, I learned about a band that Scott and Seth Avett were apart of when they were younger, Nemo. Nemo is an enigma. Their music is near impossible to be found or heard. After extreme searching it seems all I know is that they were a hard rock outfit. For those Avett listeners out there, this makes a lot of sense. The brothers are known for screaming and beating the hell out of their instruments.

I started to grow very frustrated. I wanted to hear the band behind my favorite band!

One day a couple of weeks ago I got a random friend request from a band on Facebook called Lions to Lambs. After looking around I learned that this is Kenny Graham’s band. The name Kenny Graham meant nothing to me until I did a little research. Graham was a member of Nemo! An opportunity fell into my lap.

As luck would have it Graham agreed to an interview, I then came across another member, John Twomey who agreed as well.

I then learned that Twomey was not only a member of Nemo, but also the original 3rd Avett Brother. He played shows with them before Bob Crawford (bassist) came along and even recorded an EP with them. Twomey also agreed to an interview.

In the next couple of weeks I will be releasing my dream post. A historical look at Nemo and the early Avett Brothers. I can’t wait to share it with all of you

Mayfield Leads the Parade

About a week ago I wrote about my experience at a David Mayfield Parade concert in Dayton. At the show we talked and he agreed left his phone number so I could conduct an interview. After many attempts to contact him, I learned his phone was broken. I threw together this interview via email. David provides his witty charm even over the computer. I hope you enjoy what took a while to put together

1. At what point did you know music was your career?

I always knew I wanted to be a musician.  I grew up with musical parents, all my friends were musicians.  I never once thought of doing anything else.  I couldn’t if I wanted to, I have no other skills.

2. How did you join Cadillac Sky?

Bryan Simpson called me, he got my number from a great musician and friend Tyler Grant.  Tyler told Bryan I would be a good fit, when the previous guitar player left Cadillac Sky.  I remember I was in Oregon with my sister when I got the call.  I wasn’t really familiar with their music, but I looked it up and was very interested. I met up with them in Nashville for an audition and they asked me to join the band shortly after that.

3. When did you decide to go solo?

Well, I have always had a solo career on the side of my other projects.   I made my first solo album back in 2003.  I was working on the Parade album before It was clear that Cadillac Sky would break up, when that became clear I knew it would have to go from a side project to my main focus.

4. How did you put together the Parade Band?

Well I found them all in different ways.  Wes my guitarist was introduced to me by my dear friend and manager Josh Joplin.  I thought Wes was a real dick at first because he just seemed to nice.  I thought it was insincere, but once I got to know him its like wow, this guy is awesome.  He turned me on to Kristin and Joe, and Shelby we all found together at a jam night in Nashville.  She was playing bass and we were all huddled in the corner saying “yeah thats the one”

5. Has their been a rebuilding process of your fan base?

A period of starting over? Oh for sure.  I would say only a small percentage of my fans now were Cadillac Sky fans.  The Parade is just playing different music and we are doing something so different its just a whole new world.

6. Where does your energy and goofiness come from?

Well I have always had lots of energy on stage, I’m not sure where that comes from, maybe sitting in a van for hours at a time has something to do with it.  As far as being goofy, you know I’m just a big believer in entertainment.  I love performers who are comfortable in their own skin and don’t think they are too cool to have fun.  You know, the ones who stand there with sun glasses on, never smile, it just seems so silly.  There was a time when performers who sang, danced, and were funny were the cool guys!

7. Explain the Phish incident and the possible response from it?

Well, Trey and Mike from Phish saw us play in North Carolina and bought T-shirts.  They wore them the next day at their show and then put my face up on the big screens and said that I was their God Icolus.  It’s been pretty cool, there have been lots of Phish fans come see us since then!

8. What led you to play drums for Avett at Bonnaroo 2010?

I was there at the first show the Avetts ever used a full drum set at.  I think I was also the first person to play drums with them other than Scott or Seth, which is kinda funny because I’m not really a drummer! When there current drummer Jacob got pretty sick last minute, Scott called me and asked if I could fill in at Bonnaroo.  I said sure and then took my ipod to guitar center and practiced on one of the electric drum sets cause I didn’t even own a drum set!  It was an amazing experience!  I sat in Mumford & Sons the next year on the same stage at just about the same time on the same day!

9. What’s the best thing about touring?


10. What’s the worst part about touring?


11. How long have you been growing your beard?

I started growing it almost 4 years ago and trim it way down short every few months or so and then grow it out long again.  I’m kind of a beard harvester.

12. Where did you learn all of your crazy guitar tricks?

I just made them up.  It helps that I really don’t give a shit about technics or learning other guitar players riffs and stuff.  It made me a lot more open to just doing my own thing early on.

13. Cadillac Sky is technically on hiatus, what are the chances of a reunion?

Ha!  That word Hiatus, it seems like every other band is on “Hiatus” these days.  I’m done with Cadillac Sky forever.  It was fun sometimes, and I’m happy to have been a part of it.  I learned a lot from those guys and I’m proud of the record and EP that we made, but I’m so much happier now. I might consider a reunion show someday only if Bryan does it too, that would be fun.  I do miss singing with Bryan sometimes.

14. Who are your influences?

My parents, Randy Newman, Paul Simon, Johnny Cash, Doyle Lawson, & Jimmy Driftwood

15. What was the Communion Tour and what was it like?

It was a tour that Ben from Mumford & Sons set up.  Us and a band from England called Mathew and the Atlas, and a gal named Lauren Shera.  It was a lot of fun.  We all played with each other and the transitions from one act to another were seem-less so we just sort of blended all three into one show.

The Return of Bombadil Promises More Than Just Rain

Over the weekend I had the pleasure of talking to Stuart Robinson of the newly reformed folk/pop band Bombadil. From 2006 until 2009 the band gathered fans one show at a time and started to build a pretty strong following while touring the country. In 2009 they released their most widely received album Tarpits and Canyonlands. It seemed as though the band was ready to move up a little higher in the world as they geared up for their tour to promote their new release, but instead disaster struck. Guitarist, Daniel Michalak lost the ability to play his instrument due to a case of tendonitis. The tour was cancelled and Bombadil was no more.

To the amazement of many, including myself, Bombadil released an album this year called All That the Rain Promises. Bombadil had returned. Michalak gained control of his tendonitis and the ability to play again. Stuart was able to explain the hiatus and the new album to me.

Your first song, “I Will Wait” on All That the Rain Promises is very spiritual and a bold reentry to the music scene. What was the inspiration?

“It was a song that we had built up and had to put on the album. It was very subdued and low on the happiness scale so by putting it first, it left room for the album to build up. We didn’t try to make a bold statement, but it may have made one.”

The album seems to pick up right where the predecessor Tarpits and Canyonlands left off, how did you manage to do that with a three-year hiatus?

“I’m glad you thought it came together well. We didn’t change, we are the same people we were three years ago. A lot of the songs were written back at the same time as Tarpits. It’s not like we started something new, it was just a project that took a long to logistically to complete.

I understand you are all from North Carolina, but didn’t meet there. Explain.

“Actually I’m from Oklahoma and I’m pretty sure James is from Baltimore, Maryland, but we all went to Duke. Junior year Bryan and Daniel took a year abroad to Bolivia. They didn’t take a full course load and had a lot of time to write and record songs. They would meet in the music room of a local elementary school. When they came home they brought me in and we turned to James for a drummer.”

I hear many voices on the records, who does the singing?

“We all sing. Generally, whoever writes the song sings, but every once in a while it changes. We sometimes try different people singing different songs or different parts of songs and whatever we get used to hearing is what we decide to do.”

Who does the writing?

“Daniel and Brian do most of it. On the recent album James wrote a lot of ‘Good Morning Everyone’. I’ve written a couple such as ‘Reasons,’ ‘Many Ways to Die,’ ‘I Will Wait,’ ‘Question,’ and ‘Matthew’.”

Your songs are very poppy, but yet personal. Some seems as though they were written as a journal entry or a letter. How are you able to convey that?

“It’s key to be honest with your lyrics. You can’t over think things, you just write whats on your mind. In Bombadil we aren’t trying to be too clever, we just say what’s on our minds”

What was the official reason for the hiatus?

“Daniel lost the ability to play due to tendonitis. I started taking classes again. We eventually stopped touring due to the stress and frustration that built up in Daniel. During our time off we did nothing as a band. We needed some time to figure things out”

To what do you owe Daniel’s recovery?

“He finally met a physical therapist that taught him how to stretch the nerves. We found a stretch that seemed to finally work. He went to so many therapists for months who didn’t seem to help, but when he met the right one it made all the difference. He just kept getting better and better.”

What does the future hold for Bombadil?

“Actually we are recording today. Bryan came down from D.C. and we are hoping to get the next record out there soon. We also are all planning on working on separate side projects. It would be nice to play some things that you wouldn’t expect out of us. I am also considering cutting a few instrumentals”

What did you do during your off-time?

“I was studying for the MCAT. I took a couple of Computer Science classes at NC State. I worked for IBM for a little while, but then started thinking about Med. School. I started shadowing doctors at hospitals and taking classes. I also spent alot of time volunteering”

What does the upcoming tour schedule look like?

“We’re going to play it by ear. We have a couple of shows line up for 2012. We can’t do too much especially with Bryan going to business school. Our 2012 tour will mostly be a regional East Coast thing. We might do a show or two in Oregon. If we really want to start touring again, we will have to rearrange our songs for a trio.”

Scott Avett covered your song “Marriage.” What did this do for publicity?

“We never thought it would do too much to help us, and it really didn’t. We started hearing about a couple of bands covering the song or seeing people play it on YouTube. We think that most people think they are covering Scott or The Avett Brothers instead of us (laughs). A couple of people found out about us through that video, but it didn’t mark a spike in popularity”

David Mayfield Ditches His Band of Fat Men For A Band of Pretty Girls… and Fat Men

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The other night, I took the trek out to the dusty city of Dayton, Ohio to see one of my favorite musicians, David Mayfield. The odds were against him. First off, it was a Wednesday. Second of all, the show was announced a week before. Lastly…. the show was in Dayton. With all of these factors only about 50 or so people showed up to see an almost flawless performance.

You may remember me talking about David in my post about Cadillac Sky. When the band split, David went his own way forming The David Mayfield Parade so he didn’t have to give up the business. The band’s appearance is very similar to C-Sky’s, a bunch of chubby bearded men, except David brought on an addition of two lovely ladies (Kristen Webber-Fiddle and Shelby Means-Upright Bass), and they are quite lovely.

I got my first taste of the man before the show started. I saw him walking into the small bathroom of The Canal Street Tavern. I walked in after him and he offered for me to use the urinal first (what a sweet man). After telling him I was only in there to wish him luck, he offered to take a picture next to the urinal, so I now have a captured memory. He then proceeded to go into the stall… and come out about 20 minutes later.

The show began with the drummer Joe Giotta doing a jazzy drum routine. He was then joined by each member who added on to his phat beat. Finally David runs out wearing skinny jeans (he’s the biggest man I’ve ever seen wear them, and he somehow pulls them off better than the average man), sportsjacket, and a yellow button down; he looked right out of a band in the 1950s. Next he pulled a somersault on the stage and jumped right into the Cadillac Sky favorite, “Trapped Under the Ice”. When it came to the call and response “I am a monkey in a cage” David would watch the crowd and yell in someones face if they weren’t singing. “YOU’RE NOT SINGING!!!’

What really astounded me was how talented the whole band was. He always made sure they were given time to show off their talents by letting them break out into long solos while he would lie on the floor and pretend to sleep or dance. They did two accapella performances which showed off all of their singing talents, as well as lead guitarist’s, Wes Langlois, whistling abilities.

David is as much a comedian as he is a musician. In between each song he had a routine ready for us. Often times it was a planned thing that I’m sure he says show after show, but Mayfield showed his sponaneity by making fun of the louder members of the crowd. “Can we get this man a microphone? He’s really… adding a lot,” Mayfield said to a particulary loud moustached man who often let himself be heard.

Although the whole show left me in awe, the ending was nothing short of phenomenal. David noodled around on his guitar and showed us things that I and I’m sure most members in the crowd had never seen before, like playing using the tuning knobs instead of frets. The band then came out and joined him for an explosive redition of “Rye Whiskey”. As the crowd sang “I’d never come up again,” David ran on the highest ledge in the club, unbuttoned his shirt, and let his belly hang. He stayed out long enough to provide a photo-op and proceeded to his changing room.

After a short encore cheer the band walked out with a single guitar. Mayfield had the crowd circle around him and Wes and they played “Breath of Love” unplugged. The crowd who knew the words sang along. By the last chorus, the whole crowd was involved. When it was over, the band went around hugging and shaking hands with all who attended.

There are some who argue that live music is a spiritual experience. When the crowd and performer connect and share the same energy, a metaphysical bond is made. That encore performance was support for their argument.

All in the Family

My father trying his hand on the piano

I am often asked where my intense love for music comes from. I never have to look to far to answer this question. I owe it all to my father, Steve Gorman. At an early age, I would ride in the car with him while he would sing along to most every song that played on the radio. He would sing it all, but what really seems to come to mind is “Hey Jude.” I recall him thrashing his voice with the Paul McCartney scream “JUDE-JUDE-JUDE-JUDAH-JUDAH-JUDAH-AAAAAHHHHH”.

The man has a strong voice. He used to sing in a quartette (B4God) featuring members of our church. He thought their name was pretty witty, I guess I can give him some credit. He was and always is looking for a place to perform. They sang such hits as “Love Potion Number 9” by The Clovers, “Naturally” by Huey Lewis and the News, and “And I Love Her” by the Beatles. They recorded an album that infringes on many copywrite laws (shh). They once sang “The Star Spangled Banner” at a Cincinnati Red’s Game, which is their greatest claim to fame.

I performed with him once at a variety show when I was in 7th grade, I played guitar while he sang “Brown Eyed Girl”. It was slightly edited for it was performed in a church (there would be no more making love in the green grass.)

The two of us don’t always see eye to eye musically, but we have introduced each other to musical phenoms. He passed on to me musicians who let me dwell in the past like Bruce Springsteen and the master of soul himself, Sam Cooke. The bands that he really clung to were The Avett Brothers, Wilco, The Punch Brothers, and Ben Sollee.

My dad has often tried playing instruments. He currently takes piano lessons and has once tried his hand at guitar. His voice is his instrument and is always encouraging my playing. He is actually pretty awesome at the harmonica.

I owe my dad  a thank you for the joy that music has brought me

We Got Ourselves A Situation Over Here

The other day I discovered my dream festival. The L.A. Bluegrass Situation. This name probably means nothing to you right now, but I believe that it’ll become one of the hippest bluegrass gatherings in America in the next couple of years.

This is the brainchild of the one and only Ed Helms of The Office (Andy Bernard). The man has been a big fan of bluegrass for some time now. He can often be seen with a banjo in hand on The Office. He and bluegrass proprietor, Mark Flanagan, came together and decided they were going to bring bluegrass to Los Angeles.

The two of them then traveled to Telluride, Colorado, an area known for the bluegrass scene. They attended a couple of festivals and came home with the starting ideas for the Situation.

The lineup has included such bluegrass phenoms as The Punch Brothers, The Watkins Family, Steve Martin and the Steep Cayon Rangers, Gillian Welch and David Rawlings, and many more. They have been joined on stage by many of Helms’ comedian friends such as Paul Scheer, John C. Reilly (if you don’t believe his talent watch Walk Hard), Will Arnett, Sarah Silverman, and of course Ed Helms himself.

One of the nights includes The Whiskey Sour Radio Hour. Helms puts forth his comedic take on A Prarie Home Companion, Woodsongs, and other country radio programs. He does some comedy and invites musicians on stage to play a few tunes.

I hope to make the Hajj out to LA this Spring. The combination of bluegrass and comedy is too enticing!

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