Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Where does the nurturing come from?

If you were at my quartet's concert Sunday, you heard me mention Jeff Albert, as I've done a couple other times on this blog. I won't go into his whole bio here. Suffice to say we're friends, and he's a successful musician, based in New Orleans, in the fields of adventurously improvised and electro-acoustic musics.
There's more about Jeff and his projects at jeffalbert.com and openearsmusic.org.

Jeff has a blog, Scratch My Brain, where he recently posted about the compensation of practitioners of creative music as opposed to service music intended to bring the party (in whatever form the party may be). "Where does the money come from?" is a thought-provoking post with no real answers, per se, but it gets the ball rolling. Couple thoughts I have.

Firstly, as to how this translates to our small-town, southern college scene. You can probably replace "creative music" with "not rock or country covers" and have the same conversation.

Secondly, in a closing barrage of unanswered questions, he invokes morality:
"Do we, as audience members, have a moral obligation to financially support the artists whose work we enjoy? Do we, as artists, have a moral obligation to freely share our art with the world?"
For the first question, I lean toward yes.

I've never heard of audience members knowing how much a band is getting paid. For them to make some determination on how they can support the music beyond a cover charge, they would need to be let behind the curtain, which is inelegant at best. I can imagine a band saying on the mic, "We'll probably make about $300 tonight, and there are five of us, so if you like the music and want to support us..." Something like that may reveal--or at best infer, since it can be complicated--more about a club owner than he or she is willing to put out there.

A business savvy artist gets into selling recordings and other merchandise. Some artists will be discovered, as it were, and get bankrolled. Depending on many things, an artist may qualify for grants. They might also be able to apply for nonprofit status (or join some nonprofit arts co-op) and solicit donations. These sources can bring more money in, for sure, but I daresay many artists are emotionally and financially overwhelmed with the prospect of stepping into any of that. Many do, of course, to varying degrees, and here's where I think some consideration needs to be made.

In this US consumerist and capitalistic culture, we are rewarded for pulling ourselves up by our bootstraps. Some great artists will have business and administrative skills or will know how to collaborate with people who have them. Others won't. My fear is that a great artist who is unable to develop and execute a successful business model, whether due to a reclusive temperament, self-destructive tendencies, cultural misunderstanding, an inability to play with others, or nothing more than pure lack of motivation, will be ignored either forever or only revealed posthumously.

When that happens, my belief is that the fault is on the community as a whole, and not the individual artist. Business acumen should not have to be a prerequisite to a successful art career.

I'll plant my own forest of questions. Is this simply the nature of the business? Can presenters and audience alike be trained to nurture good art by socially awkward and organizationally challenged artists? And if so, who's going to do the training? For the purpose of audience support, can financial compensation become an accepted and expected part of an artist's public persona without alienating presenters?

As far as an artist's moral obligation to share art freely, I lean toward no, but that will have to be for another post.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

I've Created a New E-mail Subscription List

Below (and hopefully somewhere else on this website) is a signup form to opt into my e-mail list. I will use it to promote my own projects and concerts, other concerts and productions I'm involved with (including A Little Lunch Music), my blog posts, and the community events I recommend. Frequency of e-mails: occasional. Rather than go through the form below, you can also e-mail me at patrick@luncharm.net and I can add you. Enjoy!

Subscribe below to Patrick's Everything List

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Friday, December 6, 2013

Patrick McCurry Quartet To Perform Jazz at Museum (12/2013)

Me. Photo by Lesley Foote.
On Sunday, December 15, at 2:00 PM I'll be bringing my quartet to the new Sunday programming effort at the Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art. Joining me will be Taylor Pierce on guitar, Sidney Simmons on bass and David Zuwiyya on drums. We'll be doing an hour-or-so concert in the museum's Martin-Perricone Auditorium. Admission is free. Here is a link to the Eventbrite page for the concert. The Sunday programs at the museum have actually been pretty well attended lately, so if you're going, click that Eventbrite link to reserve a seat.

Three days before, on December 12, Taylor and I will play without Sidney and David for the museum's Thursday after-hours activities (event page). For that, we'll be out in the lobby area playing for the café diners and other visitors. The food at the Museum Café is comforting, delicious and surprisingly affordable for the quality.

Jazz's definition is pretty hotly contested among people who care, which is not really a lot of people. But for me, it means improvisation, personal expression through composing and arranging, and groove, all with an ear to the gumbo of musical traditions that have developed since the early 20th century. Jazz is an art form and also a dance music. And since people figured out that it is, in fact, art, it has become something equally appropriate, and as such equally awkward, in the club as in the concert hall.

What I bring to the table promises to continue that awkwardness, and I hope appropriateness. I'm developing a book of works with music that crosses over and borrows from other genres. There is one piece I've marked "psychedelic gospel rock" and another "country jazz waltz," and we're figuring out how to bring it all together with the perspective of the jazz musicians in this community.

On April 23 of this year, we performed at The Gnu's Room when it was still in Auburn. Below is a recording from that date of the first performance of my piece, "Two Live Oaks." It is dedicated to the Toomer's Oaks that were cut down earlier that day. Personnel on the recording is the same as the upcoming December 15 concert except that Patrick Bruce played guitar.

When you come, expect jazz standards for sure, especially on Thursday. Also know that, especially on Sunday, we'll be bringing new music to the table, born and nurtured here on the plains and informed by our collective culture.

Auburn Knights Expands Its Swing-Dance Tradition with Christmas Swing Dance Tonight (12/6/13)

The AKO performs "Come Fly with Me" at its alumni reunion in 2010.
The video is from Jeremy Leff's YouTube channel.
Last year, the Auburn Knights Orchestra started what I honestly thought was a tradition that was pretty unlikely to "have the leg," as it were. That was its 2012 Homecoming Swing Dance, and I was extremely happy to be wrong. Unlike some football teams, it's first attempt was good, and the event drew over 400 people all the way out at the Auburn Marriott Opelika Hotel & Conference Center at Grand National.

Since then, the 83-year-strong big band has done a Valentine Dance and a second Homecoming Dance, both wildly successful. And tonight the group has planned a Christmas Swing Dance at the Clarion Inn and Suites Ballroom at 1577 S. College St. in Auburn from 7-11 PM. That's where the Auburn Knights Alumni Association used to have its reunions.

The group's website is not updated with tonight's concert information, but here's a link to the Facebook event, which has at the moment 265 confirmed guests. Free swing dancing lessons will be offered during the first hour. Tickets are $10 at the door.

The Performance
The Auburn Knights Orchestra performing at the 2012 Auburn Knight Alumni Association Reunion.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Martha's Trouble to Present "Christmas in Your Town" Shows on December 5, 7, 13 and More

Jen and Rob Slocumb are the pop-folk duo Martha's Trouble.
Awesome sweater, Rob!
Martha's Trouble is a pop-folk duo with a national fan base whose members, Jen and Rob Slocumb, live in our community. I recently posted about MT here. They love doing Christmas concerts, have a holiday CD and are offering their music through a novel effort called Christmas in Your Town. It involves small venues, home concerts and an internet performance.

Note local show dates 12/5 in Auburn and 12/7 and 12/13 in Opelika. Concerts are free, and we have the opportunity to support the effort through crowdfunding with premiums!
See more in the news release below.


Martha's Trouble Christmas In Your Town show in your area:

Fri. Dec 13
The Cultural Arts Center of East Alabama
1103 Glen St
Opelika, AL 36801
(334) 749-8105

Martha's Trouble & Friends Annual Christmas Concert featuring Martha's Trouble + Dave Potts + Muse

Tickets: FREE
Time: 7:30pm



Martha’s Trouble To Continue
Annual Christmas Shows Tradition
With The Help Of Fans Via PledgeMusic

Husband-and-wife duo Martha’s Trouble (Rob and Jen Slocumb) will be coming to your town for their 8th annual traditional Christmas show in December. With a new and exciting twist, the pair is reaching out to fans for funding help in keeping the “Christmas In Your Town” shows free to attendees via PledgeMusic. (Here is the link to the Pledge Music Campaign: http://www.christmasinyourtown.com.) In addition to shows in the Opelika/Auburn, Birmingham, and Hamilton, Ontario markets, Martha’s Trouble is also planning a StageIt show for fans to watch around the world.

Says Jen: “These shows really are special to us and to our community. We get to play some of our favorite Christmas songs, share a beautiful evening together, and it's a great way to get into the Christmas season.

“The ‘Christmas In Your Town’ concert is a concert for the community that is made possible by the community and we need your support. We would like to make all of the Christmas concerts we do free for the community, something we all do together to spread the Christmas cheer.

“How? We’ve teamed up with PledgeMusic to give fans some really cool stuff in return for pledging and help in funding. At the PledgeMusic campaign page, fans will find a whole range of exclusive items -- from signed copies of our Christmas albums to sponsoring a show! When they ‘pledge,’ not only can they get an exclusive and the digital download of the music, but they’ll also get special access to more cool stuff like videos from the rehearsals for the tour, behind the scenes pictures and updates while traveling, and maybe even an unreleased Christmas track or two, only for pledgers.

“We’re really excited about this new experience and are hoping the fans will continue to be a part of it. We want ‘Christmas In Your Town’ to continue year after year with the idea that the fans are part of it!”

2013 Christmas In Your Town - Full Schedule
Dec 5 - One Eighty Wellness Spa - Auburn, AL
Dec 6 - Hart & Soul Coffee Co - Homewood, AL
Dec 7 - A Lebanon Christmas - Opelika, AL
Dec 8 - StageIt Concert - on your computer!
Dec 11 - Baytowne Wharf Holiday Concert Series - Destin, FL
Dec 13 - Cultural Arts Center of East Alabama - Opelika, AL
Dec 14 - OPEN for Pledge Music exclusives
Dec 21 - Coach & Lantern Upper Coach Room - Ancaster, ON


For more information, please contact:
Krista Mettler, Skye Media / krista.mettler@skyemediaonline.com