Music Industry Weekend 2009 – what a show!

We had the most pre-registrations, but the fewest participants of any year to date (only 20 or so).  But I must say that we likely had the most talent ever assembled at one time in the history of this event (no offense meant to our past years’ turn-outs).  I guess we could say that we set a new standard for “talent-per-capita”! 

I marveled at the abilities of our new participants.  These are Musicians with significant skills.  What’s more impressive was their ability to collaborate so effortlessly.  It’s one thing to be able to perform as a solo artist where you alone control the whole sound product.  It’s another skill entirely to be able to effectively support and contribute to the sound of a group. That requires “a good ear”, as we say.

songcircle13As usual, our weekend began Thursday Evening with a song circle where we get to know one another and share our musical creations and talents.  It’s not only an opportunity to hear and be heard, it’s the first chance to learn the styles of the folks around you and begin to imagine how their talents can help you or how you might want to support them.  As Alan James says, the sign of a great performance is that it fosters a desire to play along.   As folks arrive, the circle widened. 

TylerAtPianoWithRobertOnBass3Of course, some of the early arrivals didn’t wait that long.  I think it took only a microsecond for Tyler Thompson (Las Cruces, New Mexico) to “leap” onto that Grand Piano and begin playing some of the best blues riffs I’ve heard in a long time (RayCharles-esque).  That’s when Robert Gillies, our solo pop artist and songwriter from Scotland-via-Boston thought “why not try to play bass?” and began to play like he knew what he was doing (even though he had not played bass before).  And soon they were joined by Jordan Rager on drums and the pre-weekend jamming had begun – even before registration had opened!JordanRager-TheDrummer3

We went around the song circle about three times before time zones and jet lag overtook many.  Pulling the plug about 11PM, we headed off to bed in those deep dark woods of Bosch.  Robert Gillies said “this is great, it’s quiet and really dark like my home back in Scotland”, to which Tyler, who is partially blind replied, “Yeah, well I can’t find my Cabin!”.  But hey, that’s what friends are for!  Tyler didn’t sleep long before new roommates Nima and Borna arrived to join him.  But by about 1:30AM, most everyone was asleep, except my poor bride who wondered if earplugs might block the snoring (sorry dear).

After some musical dawn prayers and a fantastic Bosch breakfast on Friday morning,  we started our sessions with a bit of “Show and Tell”.  Each person took a few minutes to tell what they had been doing over the past year.  Alan James, took it to a deeper level and revealed some mystical experiences of the heart and that opened the door to deeper revelation and reflection on everyone’s part.  That’s when it “got real”.

IntroductionsIt took just over an hour and a half to reprise everyone’s year, and the result was a trust among us born of understanding what makes each other tick.  That trust became the foundation for unity that would later manifest itself in some incredible music.Next we shared some of our favorite “tools for success”.  These are the goods and services available to make our success more acheivable.  I shared my experience with Kunaki, the on-line CD production machine and Russ Salton told of long-distance mixing and mastering services via internet.

Later in the day, after a great Bosch lunch, we listened to cuts off the new CDs produced by our various participants.  I took liberty to play a few cuts from Brian Taraz’s “Revelation Number Nine” (which I just love) as well as few cuts from my own “Plain and Simple” CD.  We heard amazing tracks from Walter Heath and Robert Gillies and Russ Salton.  Ian McAleece blew us away with a concept I, for one, had never even considered.  His band plays fully arranged “covers” of video game music.  He played a track that “changed levels” every 40 seconds – Wow!  Jon Rezin and Jarome Matthew, the professional record producers among us, introduced us to tracks from the artists they represent including Badi and Elika Mahoney.  Let me say, there is amazing talent in this Faith.BusinessBootcamp6

Friday at 4PM we started our work-shops.  We run several in parallel each day so participants can choose what they want to do.  The Business Bootcamp was the biggest group.  Jon and Jarome turned on the firehose of information that independent artists need to succeed in the new, web-based, music industry.  Walter Heath, a veteran performer with many impressive credits to his name, told me he learned new things about the demise of the corporate-centered Music Business and exciting things about the new Artist-focused Music Industry. 

RussSaltonHomeRecordingWorkshop2Alan James provided his performance workshop and I think participants must have learned something there too because they were still talking about it much later (some mumbling to themslves (“louder, step forward”). I attended Russ Salton’s workshop on home recording and was so impressed with the software he uses that I’ve decided to get a Mac for myself.  Of course those microphones he used (Neumann and Nakamichi) and that quiet pre-amp A/D converter were stellar components.  (Looks likeI’m about to spend some money!)

Friday night was “Open Mic Night” where we set up the stage, fire up the PA, and turn on the lighting to showcase the performers.  Starting with those later arrivals, who missed Thursday’s song circle, we each took a shot at showmanship.  But, Unlike past years, this year, collaborations began almost immediately.  And the resulting music was so wonderful we wondered if Saturday night’s performance could even come close.NimaAndBornaSongwriting2

Workshops continued on Saturday after we elected the acts we felt should appear in the public performance that night.  We enjoyed more Business Bootcamp and some actual recording sessions courtesy of Russ Salton.  Several folks went home with new recordings of their pieces. John Armour, a player of Native American flutes, (and a suspected flute-buying addict) recorded for the very first time.  I was happy to lay down a guitar track for him and Russ embellished it with some precussion.  It sounded like a big hit to me! (for a Peruvian audience.)  Keeping the real spirit of music weekend alive, Chuck Thrapp hosted song circles in the Lounge, a comfortable spot for sharing songs.  I was delighted to see some songwriting going on in there as well.  I believe Nima Jalali and Borna Khavari conspired on their first original piece (or was that all Nima’s?).  Next year, I expect to see a great show from them including some original compositions.

And of course the collaboration time was packed full of praticing for the show.  By the time we kicked it off at 7:30 that evening, the audience was in for a treat.  We divided the show into two equal parts and gave it all we had.  I was so impressed by each performance, particularly Angela Owens’ vocals and Russ Salton’s guitar work.  And of course, Walter Heath managed to completely mezmerise me.  There were some folks in the audience who were attending a writing-teacher’s conference at Bosch.  They really enjoyed the show and said they felt as though Bosch had given them a special bonus.  I took great delight in revealing to those teachers, Tyler Thompson’s age (17) after he hammered out some fantastic piano.SatNightShow63

Our senior statesman, Alan James again closed out the show (having also served as emmcee).  It was with great trepidation that I consented to again using “Drift Away” (the old Dobie Gray hit) as the finale.  Last year’s rendition was so painful, I swore we’d never do it again.  But somehow, Alan knew this year would be different.  And indeed it was.  I have to say, we likely redeemed ourselves to Dobie Gray

Each year we close with a group photo. And this year we were able to include everyone except Jordan Rager who was working, Ian McAleece who had to leave early for a gig, and Russ Salton who had an early flight home.  The noticable difference was that no one moved after the shot.  We all just stayed not wanting to part company.  We spent the next half hour sharing our heartfelt impressions of the weekend had meant for each of us.  It was the most “spirit-per-capita” of all time as well!

The 2009 Alumni include:

TheGroup2Darrell Rodgers – Coordinator, Guitar, vocals
Deb Rodgers – Photographer (and audience advocate)
Jordan Rager – Bosch Deputy Administrator, guitar, drums, piano, vocals
Tyler Thompson – Piano, vocals, guitar
Robert Gillies – Piano, vocals, guitar & bass!
Alan James – Guitars, vocals
Russ Salton – Guitar, vocals
Chuck Thrapp –  Guitar, vocals
Jon Rezin – Bass, Percussion, expertise
Auntieclaire Rezin – Vocals & motherhood
Jerome Matthew – Percussion and wisdom
Borna Khavari – Percussion and youth
Nima Jalali – Guitar, vocals
Faraz Ghoddosi – Sax, Piano, Guitar, Vocals
Sena Ghoddossi – Drums & percussion
Ian McAleece – Guitar, Drums, vocals, percussion
Karen McAleece –  Guitar, vocalsSundayAM-ThatsAWrap
John Armour – Native Flutes
Walter Heath –  Guitar, vocals
Angela Owens – Piano, vocals
Kyra Platte – Vocals
Jon Butah – Piano 

Darrell Elmer Rodgers
Singer, Songwriter, Performer, Humorist

HERE WE GO! 22-25 October

The STAGE is SET!  Things are lining up and final arrangements have been made (as far as we can tell)!

I’ve been hearing from a number of new participants this year and I’m really looking forward to meeting you all.  There is a wealth of experience to share just from among our participants this year.  Add to that the line-up of excellent workshop presenters and EVERYONE can be just about guaranteed to learn SOMETHING.

As we approach our final week before our 7th annual gathering, I want to thank all of you who have stepped forward to help put on another fantastic weekend for our family of musicians.  A special shout-out to Producer Jarome Matthew for his help in promoting the weekend far and wide.  In the posts below you’ll see his name and many others without whom this would be impossible.   I am really excited about being able to perform once more for and with such great folks whom I have come to regard as family.  Please everyone, travel safely and let’s have another FANTASTIC WEEKEND.

Be sure to tell your musical friends about this NOW as time is running out to be part of the fun.


Darrell Elmer Rodgers – Coordinator, Music Industry Weekend 
Singer, Songwriter, Performer, Humorist