Thursday, October 20, 2016

FARM 2016 Coming Up Soon!

In one week I'll be headed to Iowa City for the Folk Alliance Regional Midwest (FARM) 2016 conference. I attended Folk Alliance International in Kansas City last year, and I have to say it was a blast. Even though I had serious doubts as to whether or not the music I perform constitutes "folk music", and to be frank I still have those doubts, it seemed to me that I fit into that genre in some sense, if only for the fact that I almost always perform solo without a band. People see you alone with an acoustic guitar and jump to the "folk" conclusion. Last year I saw plenty of solo singer-songwriters in Kansas City whose music, to me anyway, was not in the traditional folk vein. So maybe I do fit in there somehow. Though I would suspect a folk purist would disagree.

Here's a solo acoustic version of a song of mine called "Son Or Daughter". You can download it for free if you'd like, or if you're more inclined to support independent music you can pay what you want

I hope you enjoy it. To me, it's a pop/rock song performed solo. What do you think? Is it folky enough? Leave a comment please!

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Gotta Write A Bio

So I have to write a 50 word bio for my Folk Alliance International Official Showcase Application. This might be the toughest thing any musician ever has to do. It's harder than writing good songs, it's harder than playing gigs, it's harder than driving to gigs.

I think this might be the most hated job any musician ever has to do. I know I hate it.

Just what does one write about one's self?

Of course a more established musician would hire someone else to write it. Or his manager would hire someone. Well, I am not yet at that level. Still. And being a chronic procrastinator does not help.

So here's what I've come up with so far, after staring at the screen for a couple hours, trying a few things, erasing a few things:

With songs ranging from the personal to the political and everywhere in between, singer/songwriter Jim Pellinger has performed for audiences throughout the upper Midwest. An energetic solo performer, singer, and talented guitarist, Jim’s shows lie somewhere between a rocker with an acoustic guitar and a folkie with a Stratocaster.

I think that's fairly accurate; I wanted to avoid hyperbole.

And it only took all evening.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Folk Alliance: The Report

A month ago I went to Folk Alliance International, and at the time I thought I would blog about it while I was there. What a silly idea that was! The fact of the matter is there simply isn't time as there is so much going on.  Stopping to blog just wasn't going to happen. 

But now that I'm settled back home I will take a shot at it, with the aim that maybe it will help someone who is pondering making the trip. I know I was combing the web looking for anything that would give me an idea of what FAI is all about. 

So here is a typical day at FAI. Music camp sessions start at 10 am, and features workshops on a variety of playing styles on various instruments, songwriting, performing techniques, etc.  From 1 pm to 5 pm there are panel discussions dedicated to various music business topics such as publishing, promotion, touring, etc. From 6:15 to about 10:30pm there are official showcases, a different act every half hour in 10 ballrooms of the Westin Hotel. And at 10:30 pm everyone moves up to floors  5, 6, and 7 for "private showcases", roughly a different act every half hour in every room on three floors. This goes until 3am. Do the math, that's a lot of music. 

And the next day it starts all over again. From Wednesday thru Saturday. 

Along the way there are lots of opportunities to mingle, meet other artists, industry people, radio DJs, and venue representatives. In fact the mingling is a major reason for the conference, so everyone is super approachable. I met a lot of really great people there, and I wasn't even trying. 

And the music--I can't tell you how great the music was. Just fantastic. 

To sum it up--if you're a musician or band that plays music that could be loosely described as "folk", you should seriously consider going. I perform solo, vocals and guitar, and while I don't consider my music "folk" I can see why people may lump me into that category.  People like labels, and that's the label they put on you when they see you alone with a guitar. But I don't think a folk purist would consider my music folk. So I was wondering if I would fit.  I soon came to the conclusion that this is exactly where I do fit.  

I left Kansas City invigorated, inspired, a bit tired, and already planning for next year.  

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Folk Alliance Here I Come

As the headline states, I'm off to Folk Alliance's annual shindig in Kansas City come Wednesday. I'm not sure what to expect, other than it sounds like one big sleep deprivation clinic--lots of informative panels everyday and live music all night. Fun. I'm not performing--I didn't get an official showcase and I didn't really decide to go till the last possible minute, so I didn't get any unofficial showcases either. But I'm bringing my guitar in case an opportunity arises. 

Hopefully I'll have time amidst all the activity to post here about it all. That is the plan anyway. Stay tuned...

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Today's Song

Writers write, and this one has been spending too much time doing other things. Lately it's been a newspaper reading habit. I get up in the morning, have some breakfast, and walk down to the corner to put quarters in a box and bring home the morning paper. Then it's an hour or two of reading the paper. Great for staying abreast of what's going on in the world, which I think is important. But it ain't songwriting. And it's no wonder the CD I've been working on still isn't finished.

So I've been trying to cut back on things that keep me away from writing, from recording, from booking shows. Today I woke up at 4:30 AM, and spent almost an hour and a half trying to get back to sleep. I'd like to say it was the songwriting muse keeping me awake, but in reality I don't know what it was. So up I was at 5:55 AM, not feeling the least bit tired even though I didn't crash till 12 AM last night.

So I had breakfast, and...went out to buy a paper. Yeah, I know. But my theory was I had time to read it since I was up so early. But as I was walking home, some lyrics occurred to me:

20,000 days, some people, that's all they get
20,000 days and I ain't done nothing yet

As soon as I got home I went to my studio, grabbed the guitar, and started writing. In 45 minutes or so, I had a new song. And it was just after 7 AM. I don't know if it's a good song or not, but that's not the point. The point is, writers write. And tomorrow I hope to do it again. But hopefully on more sleep. Cuz right now I could use a nap.

What did you write today?

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Getting The Band Back Together

First off, when signing in to this blog today I was struck with the stat I saw--over 3700 views? A tiny drop in the bucket by internet standards, admittedly. But still, who are these people who have viewed this blog? Have I looked at it that many times myself? That doesn't seem possible.

With that out of the way, I tackle the topic at hand. Yes, our band, The Poptones (must change that name), is getting back together for a gig in August, an outdoor show at Minnehaha Park in Minneapolis. The date will be August 27, for those of you who care not to read further. I'll be expecting to see you there.

Our last show was June 6, 2012 at that same park in Minneapolis. The most notable aspect of that show from my point of view is that it was the best onstage monitor mix I had ever heard. Rick, who runs the sound there, really knows what he is doing. I could hear myself perfectly--for the first three songs. Then the skies opened up and the rain came down and the show was over.

Soon after bass player Dave's wife was expecting a child and, being a parent myself, I knew the band was going to take a back seat to more important responsibilities. This is as it should be.

Drummer Mitch and I kicked around the idea of looking for another bass player, for about two seconds. Neither one of us really felt like tackling that task, and it wouldn't be The Poptones (must change that name) without Dave, would it? There was even the idea (mine) of going out as a drums/guitar duo, รก la The White Stripes or The Black Keys. That would make naming the band easier--obviously the format for naming a drums/guitar duo is the word "The" followed by a color and a noun. Simple. But the idea didn't have any traction and I know both of us would miss that bottom in the sound.

So back to solo gigs I went. It's what I've always done, after all. But around January of this year, when it was time to go fishing for Minneapolis Parks gigs, I put out a feeler to the other Poptones (MCTN)--anybody interested in a one-off gig at the parks this summer?

Somewhat to my surprise, Dave was in and so was Mitch. Great! So last week there we were in Mitch's basement, brushing off the cobwebs and blowing off the dust. It was a blast, and there was even talk of booking more shows. And we'll finally get to go back and finish that rained out show at Minnehaha Park, August 27. I can't wait to hear the monitor mix!

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Last Night's Show

Let me tell you, it's cold here in Minneapolis. We are in the season of the "Polar Vortex", and my last show was not too well attended because, well, it was just too damn cold out! The hi was like -5 degrees F. How could I blame anyone for wanting to stay in? Even I almost would've rather not had to go out anywhere.

So it was with that in mind and still in the icy grip of winter that I loaded up my gear and drove to last night's show at the Riverview Cafe & Wine Bar in Minneapolis. I call the Riverview "Home Base", because it is two blocks from my house. Call me lazy, but it's one of my favorite places to play for that reason. Plus, everybody knows me there--the owners, the staff, everyone. For that reason I avoid the usual BS that sometimes accompanies booking a show. I text Dave my open dates for the next few months, and he texts back which dates he wants me to play. It's just too damn easy, and I usually opt for the path of least resistance.

Anyway, as I was traveling the two blocks to the show and, recalling the last show there, I was really wondering how this one was going to turn out. Not just because of the weather, but also because over the past year Dave has run into some zoning issues with the city of Minneapolis, the result of which he wasn't able to have music at the Riv. Now over the years Dave has built up a reputation for the Riverview as a music destination. I've played there since the place first opened, and let me tell you it took a while to get that reputation. And you can feel it. There's a distinct "before and after" when it comes to the music destination rep. The difference is, with a reputation for having live music people who want to hear music show up and they are much easier to play for. Before, people would look up from what they were doing, see a musician, and go back to what they were doing. It was a tough crowd. And now with the zoning problem, those days seemed to be coming back. At least it seemed like that at my last show there. And it was cold.

So I got to the Riv and set my gear up. I was traveling light since the lock on my trunk on my '97 Bonneville is broken and I have to load everything in the back seat. So I only brought one guitar--left the 12 string at home. Too often I'll bring the 12 and maybe and electric as well. It looks cool, I'm surrounded by guitars onstage. But then I'll play most of the show with the acoustic 6 string and not touch the 12 till late in the show when I think "I better play it since I brought it." But as it happened I was traveling a bit too light. I was all set up with 20 minutes to go till show time when I realized I'd forgotten my capo. Here's where the beauty of playing 2 blocks from home really comes into play, because I was able to walk home and get the capo and be back in time for the show.

So I got back with the capo and it was show time. Paul and Laurie were there, they're on my mailing list, so I knew I was going to have to play Townes Van Zandt's "Pancho & Lefty". But not right away. I was going to make them ait a little bit. My buddy PK showed up. He's also on the list. Nice when that works out. As for the rest of the house, I was pleased to see that it was full--all the seats taken. And even better, they were there to listen.

I kicked it off with a song I wrote when my daughter was born, "New Face On The World". That went over well, and since I was in drop D tuning I stuck with it for the next tune, playing Steely Dan's "Do It Again". I play that one well, but it didn't get as big a reaction as New Face, so I took that as an indication that I should play more original material. Which I was more than happy to do as I launched into "Son Or Daughter", followed by "Your Favorite Song".

What I did after that I really don't remember. I have a set list that I only loosely follow. It's more of a suggestion list. Long story longer, it was a great show, the audience was great, my PA sounded great. The highlight might have been when a little 4 year old girl came up and asked me to play "Old MacDonald". I said sure, but only if she would play the egg shaker with me. So she did. And she was good! She started when I started, stopped when I stopped, and kept a pretty good beat. She was as good as some drummers I've worked with.

I asked her if she knew any Bob Dylan, and she nodded "yes". So we played "It's All Over Now Baby Blue". She stayed up there for another 10 songs or so--some of mine, some covers. She really nailed the "na na na na na na nas" on "Hey Jude", which she requested. Four years old! Gives you hope for the future. The crowd loved her. And that's what it's all about, right?

Now, what was it I was worried about?