Tuesday, December 24, 2013

How Santa Claus Changed My Life

Funny that in so many years as a journalist in addition to a meteorologist in TV news, one of the stories which affected me most was a silly little feature I did not long after I arrived in Paducah.  The idea was simple, put a wireless mic on me and have me play Santa Claus at Kentucky Oaks Mall for an afternoon.  I thought it might be cute!  The reality was, it touched me so much and filled me with a Christmas spirit I have til this day.

I thought it would be a goofy afternoon of having children sitting on my lap and listing what they wanted for Christmas, and for the most part it was, however, it was also an eye opening experience.  The look in the children's eyes startled me.  They really BELIEVED I WAS SANTA! Which for little kids, is one of the most important entities in the world.

Of course, a few kids were really bad seeds, asking for the world and telling me (Santa) not to bring their siblings anything!  But others truly were little angels.  They would ask for NOTHING for themselves, but rather ask for gifts for their brothers and sisters or for their moms and dads.  Sometimes they would ask for their moms, dads or siblings to get a new coat.  Some wanted food for themselves  and their families.  Sometimes they would ask me to get their mom or dad a new job because they had no money.  Sometimes all they would ask for is for their moms and dads to get back together so they could be a family again.  It was heartbreaking that that's ALL these children wanted for Christmas.  I wished so hard I could make these kids' Christmas wishes come true but all I could do is pray for them.

The truth is, we can all be Santa Claus.  We can pick those little angels off the Angel Trees of the Salvation Army.  We can donate to food pantries so families can have food at Christmastime and the rest of the year.  We can try to be better parents and love our children more and provide for them a warm, nurturing environment.  It's caring for our neighbors.  That's the true spirit of Christmas I learned from one day of trying to fill the biggest boots there are.  The ones which belong to Santa Claus.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Please Help Find My Puppy!

I need your help! My puppy, Psycho disappeared early yesterday evening and it's beginning to look like someone might have picked her up. She and my bulldog, Lilly were playing in my neighbors yard on State Line Road, 5 miles west of Fulton around 4:30PM Wednesday and by 6:30PM she was gone, while Lilly was still there, waiting for her. They are inseparable. If you know of someone who picked up a puppy yesterday afternoon in this area, PLEASE urge them to bring her back. Bridget and I miss our puppy and Lilly misses her best friend. No questions asked, just please bring her back to the same place. If you know anything about her whereabouts please call me at (270) 519-1788. Please share this, in hopes someone will see this who can help bring her home. Thanks!

Sunday, July 28, 2013

How To Cube A Watermelon In Less Than A Minute!

I love watermelon! Andy Carloss from Mid Town Market in Paducah, KY showed me how to cube an entire wat4ermelon in less than a minute!

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Running A Rockn' Company

For those who don't know, in addition to working as a multimedia consultant, I also "moonlight" as a Blues Guitartist and have fronted a Blues Band for almost 20 years!  I started in the early 90s because....it was fun and I enjoyed playing.  It still is and I still do, but it also grew into more than that.  It became a lesson in how to run a small business.  You might be surprised, but running a "conventional business" is just like running a band!

  • Be Prepared:  For the band, this means practice, practice, practice until you have your songs down pat. Before the Beatles ever played the Ed Sullivan Show, they had played their songs thousands of times throughout England and Europe, mostly in small clubs. For every other business? It means practice, practice, practice until you have all your employees have all your procedures own pat! 

  • Make Your Product or Service Stand Above The Competition:  When I get ready to record our first CD, I was going to record cover songs which we played during club gigs, but  a president of a nearby Blues Society convinced me to ditch that idea and instead write as many original songs as possible for the CD.  That way, we'd stand apart from the thousands of other bands.  He was right.  I also found I had a knack for songwriting which I never knew I had!  In regular business, you have to do something to make you stand apart.  Whether it's a better product, or service, or an aspect of how you do business which stands apart and gives customers a reason to choose YOU over your competition!

  • Make Pleasing Your Audience A Top Priority:  For the band, this means playing the material the audience wants, if you can, and if you can't, try to give them something close to what they request!  Treat them with respect and let them know you have a genuine interest in them!  One of the best pieces of advice I ever got was "There are 2 types of musicians: Those who play for the people, and those who play for other musicians!"  Nothing wrong with the latter, but since I'm not that great of a musician myself, I choose to play for the people.  I'll never forget playing at a Festival and seeing a B-list star treating his own fans with distain at times. That's the reason he never became an A-list star, and in fact is now a C-list star! The same goes for any business.  Without customers, you HAVE NO BUSINESS.

  • Be A Pro: I once had a club owner tell me he noticed my band never drank a lot and partied when we played there, like so many of the other bands. I told him, "We're not here to get drunk. We're not here to get women.  We're here to do the best show we can for your customers, and then get paid and go home!"  He laughed, nodded his head, and he got it.  We were just like him.  It's important for employees to have a good time at work, but it's also important to keep it professional!

  • If They Do The Work, PAY 'EM: Good, dependable musicians are so worth keeping. It's a load off a band leader's mind to know that he doesn't have to worry about his own guys, and can concentrate on other aspects of running the band.  It's the same with regular business. Once you find good workers you want to hang on to them! Good workers are an advantage you can have over your competition!
  •  Market Your Service: This means having the best publicity release and marketing plan to get your band noticed and get better shows, along with advertisements.  You'll want to know how best to place ads in conventional media and work your social media to deepen your relationship with your fans.  The same goes for regular business.  You have to treat your marketing just like another employee:  One whose job it is to spread the word about how great your product or service is!
  • Take Care Of Business:   Make sure you maximize your profit while charging a fair price, and then add new revenue streams.  In my case, that meant sometimes standing my ground over a fee to perform, and making sure we were registered with performance rights organizations to get as much revenue as possible.  After all, if we didn't claim the money, it would just sit there, or go back to the performance rights organizations.  There are so many bands which don't go after this money, which is just sitting there. Sadly, many times, the best artist, are not the best business persons.  I'm happy to say, I've been able to mentor several to show them how to get this money.  After all, it's money they've ALREADY EARNED!  The same goes for regular business.  You have to maximize your efficiency to maximize profits and constantly look for new ways to increase revenue.
The music business is a fun business, even when it's a small business, but above all, it's just like any other BUSINESS!   When you're doing things right and getting your fair return, it's even MORE FUN!

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Superstar, From Bonnie to Sweet Connie to Luther....

One of my favorite songs all time is "Superstar," It's been recorded many times, by several artists, and I always find something to love about every single version!

Originally, the song was called "Groupie" and it was about groupies!  Such as Sweet Connie and Pamela DesBarre.  I have an acquaintance in Paducah, KY who was actually a high school classmate of Connie Hamzy....aka "Sweet Connie."  I remember when a former co-worker of mine came to Paducah from Little Rock, I asked him, "Did you ever met Sweet Connie?" He didn't know who I was talking about, and I thought, "Oh man...that's a part of rock n roll history!"  Then again....that also may have been to his credit.  The song, "Superstar" or "The Groupie" was written by Delaney and Bonnie.   Here's the way it originally sounded...

The song was later recorded by The Carpenters and became a HUGE hit!

Even Sonic Youth has recorded a cover of "Superstar."   Probably my least favorite version, and that's pretty lame if you can't top The Carpenters....just sayin....

Without a doubt my favorite version is Luther Vandross.  I really like Luther's styling and what he did with the song. He may have been the last really great "song stylist" we've had.  The kind of singer who could take ANY song, and make it his own...  (notice how from about halfway on, Luther uses the Echoplex...a VERY powerful tool in live performances today)