Friday, November 16, 2012
One of the bands he booked was Hank Thompson. Hank asked the very young Jim Halsey to be his manager. Jim saw this as his chance to see the world, so he joined Hank and the band on the bus and booked them for 250 dates in 48 states the first year. Jim rode the bus and handled all the details of touring.
He noticed that many of the people buying tickets looked liked that could better use the money somewhere else, like for food or clothes, but when they left the show they were different. For a few hours Hank as his band had taken them someplace where they had not been before, or not been for a long time. Jim realized that taking people to a place of peace and happiness for a few hours was a viable product, well worth the money spent on the price of a ticket.
He soon figured out that if he had a number of people capable of taking people to this place, and applied sound marketing and business principles, a lot of money could be made. And that is exactly what he did.
Hank Thompson introduced him to Wanda Jackson, who introdced him to guitar player Roy Clark, and the Jim Halsey Company was off and running.
Jim told about discovering the Oak Ridge Boys and the Judds, and stories of booking the first country acts in Las Vegas and booking country performers into Carnegie Hall. Jim Halsey bands were the first to play in the Soviet Union which had a big role in ending the cold war.
He has a wall full of gold and platinum records representing over 250 million record sales from the people he has managed. His son, Sherman, now manages Tim McGraw.
Jim is now teaching music business and has a book out titled "Starmaker, How to Make Money in the Music Business." I can't wait to get started reading it. I sure wish I had had access to this kind of knowledge forty years ago when I was first trying to figure out my career. The surprising thing was that the room was not packed with young people anxious to learn how to make their mark. Starmaker360.com
Friday, August 10, 2012
Friday, July 6, 2012
Thursday, December 1, 2011
She was born in 1918 in Washington but grew up in Los Angeles. She took steel guitar lessons from steel guitar legend and pioneer Sol Ho’opi'i. By all accounts she was gorgeous and a phenomenal steel guitar player. She played in several all-girl Hawaiian bands in the 1930’s and ‘40’s.
After the war, country music, and particularly western swing, became huge in Southern California and she became a sensation playing in all the famous LA clubs such as The Palomino Club. She hung out with Merle Travis, Les Paul, Leo Fender, and Paul Bigsby around the Los Angeles music scene in the early 1950’s.
To those of us past 60 and playing as good as ever, and nowhere near gorgeous, this is an amazing story.
Thursday, January 13, 2011
It was 1976 and my wife and I were celebrating out fifth wedding anniversary. We had decided to fly to Reno for the weekend. It was the first time I had ever rented a car. We got a Chevrolet Monte Carlo and drove around Lake Tahoe. We checked the local paper and saw where B.B. King was playing at the lounge at the Holiday Inn. I remember Louise said, “Who is B.B. King?” and I said, “You’ll see.”
I had heard that you needed to tip the maître de in Reno or Vegas if you wanted a good seat. So I gave the hostess a five dollar bill. In 1976, that was enough to get a front row seat in a hotel lounge. She escorted us to a table for two by the stage where we were enthralled by B.B.’s music and showmanship for the next 2 or 3 hours. My wife has been a B.B. King fan ever since.
The next night we went to see Roger Miller at the Golden Nugget where Glen Campbell made a surprise visit and they did a few songs together.
It was an amazing weekend.
One of the cool things about getting older is all the memories of great places we’ve been and people we’ve met.
And we’ve only begun.
Sunday, September 19, 2010
It was nine years ago this week that I opened Homer’s Coffee House. Homer’s was a culmination of a 30 year old dream to open a smoke-free and alcohol-free music venue. The place was designed from the ground up to be a music venue for singer-songwriters and small bands. I wanted to book Christian and family friendly artists. Specialty coffee and food became part of the mix to pay the bills.
At the beginning I thought that if I had 4 or 5 bands that would each play a couple of times a month, we would be in good shape. But I was soon overwhelmed with the number of groups that wanted to play. I quickly had to develop some “filters” to determine who I should talk to and who to ignore.
An obvious one was whether or not they were familiar with Homer’s. If someone brought me a CD and a nice picture while they were there to listen to another band, I usually booked them because I knew they “got” what we were trying to do. If they had never been there, it was easy to turn them down.
I also found that it was easy to ignore emails. If somebody called on the phone, I asked them to send a CD and a photo. This eliminated a bunch. When CDs arrived, which as almost daily, if they had a no jewel case or had a handwritten label, or if they just generally weren’t attractive, I tossed them in the trash. If they looked good, I would listen to about 10 seconds of the first cut. If it sounded good, I skipped to a couple of other cuts. If they all had the same sound, the same tempo, or the same key, I would pop out the CD pop it in the trash. If I could listen to the whole CD without being bored I would call the group and find them a date. This happened maybe 5% of the time.
I would also ask bands for their web address. I would then check the site over several weeks, if it was not updated regularly, I figured they weren’t serious. MySpace and Facebook aren’t web sites for this purpose. If all you have is a MySpace page, I would probably not have booked you.
I soon learned to ask about the band’s mailing list. I doubt if I would have booked a band that didn’t have a couple hundred people they could invite.
It has now been two and a half years since I have been involved with Homer’s but people are still asking me to help them get on the schedule to play. I have decided that when I see another musician at Homer’s, either when I am playing or when I am there to hear another band, that I would introduce them to the manager and put in a good word for them. I have never had to do that.Apparently bands want to play at Homer's but not enough to come hear who is playing.
Sky Blue has played at Homer’s more than any other band, over 65 times. It would seem reasonable that if a band wanted to play at Homer’s, they would come hear Sky Blue to see what is expected. If they would, they would probably be surprised with the variety of music, the humor, and the way Sky Blue interacts with the audience.
So there you have it. I don’t know about the current criteria at Homer’s, but if you have tried to get booked and were unable to do so, you might now have a clue as to why you are having trouble.
I presume others music presenters think roughly the same way.
Tuesday, September 7, 2010
I have seen Murph several times and he does put on a great show. By that I mean that he connects with the audience, plays with a lot of energy, and never does the same thing twice. In fact he seems to delight in surprising his band with his antics. He is a real genius.
The story of the song is about a Cherokee fiddle player who is able to gather a crowd of miners in the train station and keep them enetertained enough to make a living by passing the hat. Apparently it is true story.
For a number of years I booked bands at a local venue. It was fairly easy to find great musicians who played wonderfully, but those who could connect with the audience and keep people coming back was much harder to find.
That was my point of the previous post. Any comments?