Monday, August 15, 2005

State of the Band - SOTB

Loafing this weekend gave me some opportunuities to take stock in what Soul Amp has accomplished over the past year.

Last August we had just finished our official lineup after a emotional meltdown from our original drummer. M2 came on board and by the end of August and we were on our way.

Last summer we laid down some goals for this year and with the exception fo scoring a Summerfest gig for the most part we met them. We wrote enough songs to select some for a good album. We recorded them all, mixed, mastered and had the art work put together. Though we ended about three months behind on the original release date we none the less have met that goal as well.

We built the cat box studio, fried a dual 4, bought a bunch of keyboards, amplifiers, computer, software, microphones, stands etc...

We also played some gigs. We have played twice at Sprizzo, three times at the Main Stage and once in Milwaukee...not bad for a band splitting time between work, family and recording to fnd the time to rehearse a set and drag gear around.

We also said farewell to Steve. His bass playing anchor the low end for Soul Amp all through the early growing pains. Though we were afraid to see the bass go...we felt confident that it was not going to deter us from meeting our goals. We played live as a re-vamped, re-tooled Soul Amp in a "Modern Rock Trio" format. That gig at the Main Stage on July 23rd was momentous for us. Though the audience was sparse we thundered through our set with total abandon. the result for me was the revelation that "Soul Amp" was not a particular grouping of instruments. But a core philosophy that comes from three individuals who happen to be on the same creative page, at the same time and in the same place. That is something rare indeed.

So coming into Soul Amp's second year of existence we have more goals laid out for the coming year. We are gathering a list of publications, radio and venues to contact and send our new disk to...Follow up with calls to gain gigs , air time and reviews. We have some big goals to deal with to make this disk even a mild success.

I have also set forth on an ambitious goal of selling 10,000 disks in one year. Seems like a lot. Certainly it does from the experience of only selling via gigs. There is a lot riding on meeting that goal It depends on how well we reach the people that will want to purchase our music. that is the toughie. We have to literally go through a narrow layer of influencial people to reach the vast audience out there. One or two well placed reviews can mean an avalanche of disk sales. I hate the idea of leaving any to chance like weather or not a reviewer will even listen to the disk. I can't dwell on those possibilites. I feel a reviewer will listen and wirte if they have been given ample opportunity to say..".yes I will listen" or "no I will not listen..." and to followup with calls and e-mail but not in a pestering manner. I just want to know what's going on.

Distibution is huge stumbling block. Reaching the CD buyer means getting the disk into the shops where people love to browse and buy CDs. To do that requires a track record of sales it is going to be a lot of work to maintain the maximum stock in indie stores...three at a time...all in all the "second year" of SOul Amp is no doubt going to be as interesting as the first.

Luckily I know and I have faith that of all the bands I have had the oportunity to be part of...this is the one that stands the best chance to succeed.

The night before we played many of the songs on the disk "unplugged" M2 on congas, me on my martin and M1 on the Wurli. No P.A. just lung power and the sound from the small built in Wurli speakers. I thoguh we rocked and passed another milestone as a band. We weren't put off by the instrumentation variation. We played the songs comfortably and made them rock.

So as we wait for the disks to arrive, we plan.

Thankfully I have a not lost my "fondness" of this disk. I listened to it in one sitting the other day on a simple small sony boom box....It was morning this Sunday past and I had spent the night at M2''s partying, playing guitar by the fire. I slept outside by the fire on my camping cot. Drinking coffee with a slight hangover I listened to the disk in M2's living room sitting in a old recliner. M2's old friend and ex-band mate Ken was into it. Seeing the reaction from this time and this troubled soul still moved me. The night before Ken was rocking to a rather cheesy coverband at the lion's club Brat Fest in Lake Genevea firing up the gang to lighten up. His passion for all things music is undamaged by the years. Though his skills as a guitar player and singer are dimished from old he still has that love of music in him and his ears picked up on the sublties of the music that are lost on many. He'd open his eyes and say how he felt right from the heart. He would break into song, singing in a low shakey soulful voice words from old 70's rock. A voice that exposed the depth of his talent.

It was like a record "release" party in a way. I was able to let go the stress and emotions that had built up over the months with the simple act of hanging out, playing and listening to music by the fire.


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