Allow me to introduce myself first: I am Lori Graboyes also known as the blueswoman, I have been a fan of the blues my entire life growing up with the influences of Etta James, Bessie Smith, Ray Charles, and so many more. I own a promotional business for blues musicians called Broads 4 Blues, I am a Sales Associate for Gizmo Media Stations that includes Blues 102 and the spectacular Kool Breeze who has two shows on it and is now the Assistant Music Director for all Gizmo stations.
The reason I wanted to write this column is because I wanted to write from a fan's perspective, even though I'm technically in the business, I am a fan, first and foremost and I want to use this forum and the opportunites it affords me to talk about all kinds of subjects.
I think for my first time out I'd like to dedicate my first column to The Bridget Kelly Band, most of you that know me, know that they are dear friends of mine, that I do booking for them and that I am crazy about their music.
I want everyone to know about this couple, Bridget Kelly and her husband Tim Fik. They are the most gracious couple in blues. They have a band room at their house that they allow travelling musicians to stay at and they feed them and support them. They support all their fellow musicians in blues and in many different ways. They both hold down full time jobs. Bridget owns a Montessori school and Tim is a professor at a local college and then they make time to crank out some quality blues.
Their freshman effort was called Back In The Blues and all songs were writen by the two of them. It garnered a lot of attention locally, natinoally and internationally. And then came their sophomoric effort Forever In Blues again all original tunes and that really put them on the map. It took them to competitions on a local level to the International Blues Challenge in Memphis where they moved forward from the quarterfinals of 250 bands to the semi finals of only 48 bands, not too shabby for their first time competing.
In my opinion and that's what all my columns will be based on, my opinion only, they are a band worthy of moving forward from a local level to both a national and international forum. Bridget's voice has depth, Tim's guitar playing is absolutely hands down second to none, I'd match him up against any living blues guitarist around, solid bass playing by Mike Hamm and great drumming by Mike Barady completes the band.
Do yourselves a favor and get yourself both of these CD's now because a third one is due out in the first quarter of this year and again will be all original tunes and lots of them and promises to trump their previous two CD's.
I think its important in the tight knit world of blues men and women for people with the human qualities of Bridget and Timmy to be recognized not only for their kick ass musical talent but also their commitment to the entire blues community. I am honored to call them friends and to attempt to bring them to the next level and mark my words folks, this band is going to be around for a long time to come and are going to continue to please the ears of all that give them a listen, go out and see them and support their mission as they do everyone else's.
While they strive to compete in this highly competitive field of blues they never lose sight of what is truly important, to be honest and real and human and loving and kind and to me that is equally if not as important as the music they create which is always a labor of love for them and it shines through in their music.
I can tell you that I am not even slightly biased when I speak about them individually and collectively. I just happen to have the privilege of knowing them and having them seen them perform live is something you do not want to miss if the opportunity comes your way.
I am in the process of booking a Northeast tour for them this summer so if any of the festival people are reading about this I urge you to contact me for their EPk or a hard copy of their CD, Forever in Blues and include them in your festival. They are a sure fire crowd pleaser and would be an excellent addition to any festival or venue out there.
I do not intend this column to be self serving in anyway, this first column is strictly introductory to me as a person and to The Bridget Kelly Band.
Future columns will include many diverse subjects and my opinions about musicians, the music they are making, the blues community and my life as it relates to the blues.
Peace & Blues y'all
Hit A Dead End?
The lack of work for studio musicians is sending a shockwave through the industry and it's being felt across the nation. Already this year we've heard fromfrustrated music industry professionals in Nashvillewho's job security remains uncertain. With artists, musicians, and industry leaders fleeing the country to record at lower costs, what we're feeling on our own soil is the strain of a crippled industry.
According to a report released on Dec. 15 by the Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy, recording-session wages have dropped 68% over the last 15 years. A profession once generating $50 million in income for its workers hit an all time low of $15.5 million in 2013. Studio musicians in LA desperate for change are looking to their union leaders and expressing their frustrations - and they aren't the only ones frustrated.
The Nashville Songwriters Association International say that the number of full-time songwriters in Nashville has fallen by a staggering 80 percent since 2000. The unrelenting decline in album sales hit a new low this summer when they went below 4 million in August - a first for the industry since it started tracking data in 1991. Streaming services like Spotify, Pandora, etc. have been a breath of life into a bleeding industry, but even as popularity rises, their sustainability has proved fleeting and their payouts certainly don't sustain careers.
It is clear to all parties that a tipping point has been reached. John Acosta, incoming president of AFM Local 47, responsible for a large portion of TV and film recording, agrees it's time for change. “The biggest challenge for us is to reconcile the interests of those who are working and are invested in the system, and the other players who just want to work and in some ways see the union as an impediment to being able to do that work.”
The report mentioned the possibility of a buyout, where producers would pay musicians a premium in addition to their standard pay in lieu of residuals(approximately 1% of gross receipts in secondary markets like home video or pay per view TV). While this model has the potential to spur more work in the short term, especially for producers who would then commit to a premium vs. unknown residuals, musicians who have become accustomed to that portion of their income are wary.
Local 47 attempted to test the buyout theory in November when they scheduled a 75 piece orchasta to record the soundtrack for "The Age of Adaline" at a 25% increase in upfront wages, but the recording was canned by AFM president Ray Hair before it began once he learned Lionsgate, one of the unions prime offenders - would be responsible for distributing the film.
Acosta remains committed to finding more stable ground on which to rebuild the ecosystem for musicians in Los Angeles. "We've got to try anything and everything to stem the tide", he said. Acosta went on to say changes in policy needed to represent an equal give and take, “If we are making changes to our agreements, or giving concessions, what are we getting in return? If we could bring work to Los Angeles under the right conditions, I think musicians would be open to something like a buyout. But any discussion about that is very sensitive and has to be approached in a way that the numbers work out.”
Hair and representatives from Local 47 and RMA will meet again with AMPTPexecutives in hopes of constructing a mutually beneficial agreement with the AFM. Hair's only comment regarding the negotiations was “We are determined to improve employment opportunities and the economics of the agreement.”