Thursday, October 31, 2013

Don't Buy The Hype - Things ARE Getting Better

The author playing a Falbo Custom 6-12
Every day I am met with more and mounting evidence that things in the music business are getting better. Yesterday I met guitar builder/designer Frank Falbo. He won't say it, but what he is doing with his acoustic guitars will revolutionize that industry to a great degree - not only do his instruments sound better, but his new way of dealing with the concepts of string tension, tops, and bracing may add tremendously to the lifespan of the acoustic guitar.

I met Frank while doing a podcast with Dan Boul, a guy who is designing guitar amps (and maybe soon some other exciting musical apparatuses) that bring the sound of vintage classics to a listenable volume, while also creating products which will allow the end user to greatly reduce maintenance costs through tube replacement. Falbo and Boul are two examples of manufacturers who aren't cloning the past, nor are they depending on people not realizing that there is no man behind the curtain - I could name a lot of companies who are wheeling out tired ideas in shiny new packages that speak more to making a fast buck than true innovation, or present day problem solving, but my time is better spent telling you that great builders like guitar maker Terry McInturff are adding staff, and staying busy by the dint of their hard work and creative ideas.

McInturff Carolina Custom
If you read things like the Lefsetz Report, or other industry shill publications and blogs, you may think that the only way to keep the industry's head above water is to keep following the lead of the big labels and the streamers, but that's what's been called propaganda in decades past - that's when somebody gets paid to spew the rhetoric of those want you to believe that the cliff you just stepped off wasn't doing you any good, and they have the solution to the problem that they most likely created. I call it bullshit.

The best of the old and new - Dan Boul's 65amps Producer 6l and George Lynch's '68 Plexi
I'm currently about ten record reviews and seven great interviews behind schedule for the simple reason that there are a given number of hours in a day, and currently there is more great stuff available than hours. I made a twenty two hour trek to LA and back yesterday to keep the balls in the air and to keep things moving - Rock Ain't Near Dead™is on its way to becoming not just a theme, but an industry. The radio show will be starting in early December, we're looking at recording facilities in the Los Angeles area, and I'm starting to scout out a distributor for my small batch boutique record label, Rock Ain't Near Dead Records. Don't tell me things aren't getting better - I'm living the proof. Mind you, I didn't say easy, and those twenty hour days happen more than they should, but the cause is good.

Granted, we're still in a period of tremendous challenges and transitions, but I'm encouraged when a veteran like Steve Hackett is doing sold out shows around the world with his Genesis Revisited project, and that Genesis Revisited II has actually outsold the original recordings at this point. Progressive rock is currently doing very well, and bands like Porcupine Tree and their leader Steven Wilson, The Flower Kings, and others are doing relatively booming business, and more important, the work they are doing is brilliant.

Regardless of genre, I'm hearing better music with greater regularity than I have in years - it's not as easy to find, but then it's also not being spoon fed to me by corporations - the death of the labels has resulted in the birth of small batch artist owned imprints that allow for great pollination in the way of collaborative freedom, and a greater variety of products. Hackett may release a studio set, a live CD, and another DVD set later that encapsulates many of the same songs (in different formats), but it's all available to the completist collector, or in bits and pieces for the more casual listener - it's great to have the choice! What would we have given in the seventies to have such options?

Dan Boul and Frank Falbo - A New Day's Pioneers
What it all comes down to for me is this - yeah, economies are still rough, that's true, and it's a tough time to figure out how to make it all work out and to reformulate how we buy and sell, but for me that's evolution. You can't go back in time, and you can't put the toothpaste back in the tube - however, you can move forward, taking what worked, getting rid of what didn't work, and spending some real time applying yourself to new thoughts and possibilities.

I'm existing in a sea of good right now - granted, I nowhere near have it made, and the challenges are still both stressful and uncertain, but I believe that by seeing the good in things, staying positive and moving forward beats the hell out of grousing about the past, who's to blame, or how bad things are - Rock Ain't Near Dead, and neither am I!

Maybe I'll match the Lefsetz's of the world with a positive and forward looking newsletter. Lord knows, I hear a lot of good news!

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