Inkwell: Authors and Artists
Angie Coiro (angie-aaron) Sun 5 Nov 00 09:04
>>nothing about Cheney because ... to be honest, we couldn't think of anything funny to say about him. That in and of itself is funny!! For both Alans: what's your biggest, realistic vision for SD? Is it something that thrives best at the reach and level of effort it's already achieved? Or do you have larger ambitions that you're willing to put into words for us? The audience reactions on the "Struggling" CD are authentic, intimate - the kind of thing you might sacrifice in a larger venue. Thoughts on that?
Alan Friedman (brooklynite) Mon 6 Nov 00 05:43
Angie, excellent question about the vision for SD. First, and this may sound kind of trite, but beyond everything else I want us to be an act that we're proud of and that really entertains and amuses our audience regardless of how far this thing goes. As to how far I'd like us to go, my immediate objective is for SD to become self-sustaining so that I can do it full time (with two kids in college I have the proverbial day job and need a regular income--who doesn't?). Self-sustaining at this point, selfishly, I guess, means for me at the start. My hope is that by being able to devote full time to it that I will be able to grow the business, so to speak, and then have others in the group benefit from that growth. Of course I'd be lying if I said I would not like us to get some national recognition. I think our humor is broad enough for us to play for a national audience. But crossing the country in an SD bus doing shows for screamin fans is certainly something that's crossed my mind on occasion. As to venue size, we have done audiences as large as 750 effectively, but 100-400 is probably best for us. Hope that answers your question.
Angie Coiro (angie-aaron) Mon 6 Nov 00 05:57
Oh, speaking of national recognition - did I hear that you were getting some airplay and/or coverage on NPR this weekend? What show? Was it a music snippet between stories, or what?
Alan Friedman (brooklynite) Mon 6 Nov 00 10:20
There's an hour show that originates at WCLV-FM in Cleveland on NPR called "Weekend Radio" hosted by Robert Conrad, who's also the voice of the Cleveland Orchestra. This past weekend his show was an election special and he featured our CD, playing 3 cuts and saying generally favorable things about us. But get this, this particular weekend our Atlanta NPR affiliate, WABE (90.1) pre-empted his program for some other election special so the home folks did not get to hear us. I heard the program Saturday night by listening to live audio on the WCLV website. That, as they say, is show biz!
early and often (sd) Mon 6 Nov 00 10:23
We were featured on Robert Conrad's Weekend Radio. He played three songs and commented that the name of the CD was humorous. That was played nationally on NPR stations yesterday. We've been played on Broadway Revisited which is on 80 NPR affiliates in the last month, too. There were three different songs featured on that program. One other syndicated AM drive program has used some of the material and the "Everything's coming up Moses" tune (internet download only at www.southerndiscomfort.com) has been played during AM drive in Atlanta. A few other stations from around the country have heard about the CD and requested copies, Chicago, and Austin that I recall. As far a wanting to do different types of material goes, I'd occasionally like to use more obscure tunes by Warren Zevon, John Prine, The Shaggs or NRBQ but we have to play to a broad audience. I'm pretty happy with the subject matter. I don't know if we'd ever change anyone's mind on a subject that is widely considered but I'd like to discuss a few more edgy things. Medical marijuana use, ACTUAL Campaign Finance Reform not just shuffling papers on it things like that. We still play lots of corporate gigs though and that makes such things a little touchy. I'll just add that some of our audiences have been a little too, damn intimate. It's bad to outnumber the audience in my view, of course that is even worse when your a solo...
early and often (sd) Mon 6 Nov 00 10:24
alterna-alan slippage. oh, for non-Well regulars that means Alan Friedman's response was posted while I was composing mine.
Dave Waite (dwaite) Mon 6 Nov 00 10:27
Good to hear that Chicago has asked for your stuff. I'd love to hear itover here in the airwaves..
early and often (sd) Mon 6 Nov 00 10:54
I'll have do dig back through the e-maile and find out who it was. Actually i think it was somewhere to the west of you but reached into Chicago. I'll see if I can find out so you can pelt them with requests, heh.
Angie Coiro (angie-aaron) Mon 6 Nov 00 12:14
I'll grab a moment at some point to search npr.org and see if Weekend Radio is archived. If so, I'll post a pointer here. Okay, guys, howzabout some dirty (fun)laundry? Have you ever been contacted by, or come in contact with, one of the subjects of your songs? Okay, so some guy confirming the wonders of Viagra, I really don't need to hear about ;) , but - politicians, telemarketers, Dr. Laura fans? I spent a decade on radio as a San Francisco traffic reporter, and I would get pigeonholed at parties by people asking me to explain roadwork delays, the curvature of a particular offramp; or they'd complain about the delivery of some sports reporter I'd never met. Any similar tales of audience interaction? On a more serious note - Alan Thornton brings up an interesting dilemma. America belongs more and more to the corporations. How do you see your balancing act between socio-political satire and corporate clientele evolving? For that matter, how do similar groups do it? Have you ever been pressed by a client to leave a particular matter or parody out of your presentation?
Alan Turner (arturner) Mon 6 Nov 00 18:28
You can call me Alan, too, just to keep things simple.
early and often (sd) Mon 6 Nov 00 19:10
Hey Alan! Why do I always think of you as Art? We've looked for an oppertunity to do the Jimmy Carter song when he was around but no soap so far. The only flack we've gotten directly was from the Dr. Laura fan who thought we were being unreasonable for calling her a hypocrite since her nudie shots were in the past. We're waiting to see if the Gov. responds to our calling him the guy who put the W in DWI. Funny thing about that censorship, it has happened a little more often when we've been doing benefits than on paying gigs. Corporate sponsors must not be chided you know. We've played in churches where we changed the language somewhat but that is about all. We did a song about downsizing to Pet Clark's 'Downtown' last year for a group of folks who were in grave danger of that very thing. They responded very enthusiastically since the song chides business for downsizing and making the remaining workers perform multiple jobs just to get the bottom line ready for a sale or an IPO.
whatsamatterU (dwaite) Tue 7 Nov 00 06:02
I can hear it ringing in my ears. Down-size! great!
Angie Coiro (angie-aaron) Wed 8 Nov 00 08:09
Okay, you two Alans, this election result - or the delay thereof - must be a gold mine for you. Take us through the process of deciding which things are ripe for a good song, which wouldn't work, and why. And how to marry a tune to the concept. It'll be great to watch your brains work in real time!
oh, but i DO have to get snippy about it (sd) Wed 8 Nov 00 08:37
D'oh, on the spot! Help me Friedy!! How about September Song reworked as november song... "I haven't got the stomach for the waiting game..."
oh, but i DO have to get snippy about it (sd) Wed 8 Nov 00 08:44
Actually, this story's 'legs' will be decided after the decision... It would be fun to do a song about waiting for the call but it would only be good for a short while. Angie discussed, in another Well conference, the possibility of using "Pomp and Circumstance" (her tune) for a song about our finally 'graduating' from the Electoral College (my idea) so that is sort of how it works to get started. Then you think, does that song play well on stage? Is it too closely tied with emotions from actual graduations to allow folks to think about the lyrics? It is a thought. Anybody want to take this to the songwriting topic?
Alan Friedman (brooklynite) Wed 8 Nov 00 11:53
Angie, you're right, eventually all this should be a gold mine of material for us. When things like this are unfolding, I try to refrain (no pun intended) from writing a song immediately because I need to see where the whole thing winds up before a perspective emerges as to what kind of material will have shelf life for us. My sense is that there are several areas to exploit for potential songs. One is this idea of projecting winners in various states as soon as the polls close and then having to retract. I think that would resonate with audiences because that's how most of us viewed the election. As we speak, I'm trying to think of a good vehicle for this particular parody. Stay tuned.
when cheese is insulted, it catches its winces! (pellmell) Wed 8 Nov 00 11:57
I can't get no satisfaction first announcement, then re-trac-shun
oh, but i DO have to get snippy about it (sd) Wed 8 Nov 00 11:58
the ballot of the box of ballads in a lock box... o, that's what they meant in the debates!
Gail Williams (gail) Wed 8 Nov 00 12:35
A lock box song seems like a natural, but I dob't see how you can do it without having it be from one party point of view or the other.
oh, but i DO have to get snippy about it (sd) Wed 8 Nov 00 12:41
amazingly the lockbox contained supplies and nothing else! what did buchanan do with the 12 million $$?? it costs that much to get old folks to vote for you by mistake?
Angie Coiro (angie-aaron) Wed 8 Nov 00 16:56
What fun! In the interest of following the creative process, let's grab Gail's example. Does the lockbox topic seem like a natural to do? How might you do it without picking a side? Unrelated question as well: are all your CDs put out independently? I'd be curious what sort of responses you've had from any labels you might have approached. In the hierarchy of the music business, where does satire fall? The very word "novelty" makes me think that label suits would shrug you off - but hey, some do quite well. I'm sure Weird Al's label is very happy to have him. Any experience down that road?
Alan Friedman (brooklynite) Wed 8 Nov 00 21:01
Hi Angie, as to the lockbox, that might be too transient an issue for us to write a song about, unless the lockbox contained the deciding votes. If it were related to an event of lasting significance, it would probably be worth our time to write and rehearse a song about it if we could keep it in our show for at least a few months. As to our CD, I'm so busy between my day job and handling the group that I really haven't had an opportunity to pursue established record companies with our stuff. But we have been able to promote and sell this CD more actively than the first one, so that maybe by the time we do our third, I'll have the wherewithall to seek out record companies, or maybe we'll have our very own agent who can do that.
Konsigliari Kafka of the Cosa Nozzo (kafclown) Thu 9 Nov 00 04:59
Question for the Alans: Do you ever reject ideas because your competition already did something similar? As in "Damn those Capital Steps! We were going to do that shinbone song about the Balkans!" How aware are you of the competition, and who are they (other than the Capital steps?) Also, here in RI, there's a similar troupe headed by Charlie Hall, but they really focus on local events. How important are local events to you guys!
Rosamond Sanderson (jonl) Thu 9 Nov 00 05:27
Emailed by Rosamond Sanderson: I am feeling all the effects of the day after the most depressing campaign I have lived through in 76 years..Please, hurry, say something funny, (perhaps quote Adlai Stevenson's reply to the journalist who informed him that he had the "thinking man's vote". He said "Yes, but you need a majority.")? Rosamond Sanderson
Alan Thornton (sd) Thu 9 Nov 00 07:59
Hi Adam <kaflcown>. They are on NPR sometimes and I hear some of their stuff that way. A couple of them were kind enough to come to one of our DC gigs at the end of last year and we swapped CDs. We try to be sure not to do things that other folks have already done but don't mind too much if we happen to come up with the same idea because it branches differently. It seems like we both used Hello Dolly for the sheep cloning news but our takes were not the same at all. Dear Rosamond, I hope that you feel better about things today. I've been wondering if, with all of our desire for instant gratification, we might not get the final news later and say, 'that's nice...' Your quote reminds me of my favorite from H.L. Mencken: "No one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American People." In any case, it will be over soon enough and some day we'll look back on this and wince.
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