Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Brian Williams the Booking Agent

I have a very funny story about Brian Williams.

When Antigone Rising was a baby band, we started touring full time well before we were technically ready to be touring full time. In other words, we gave our parents heart attacks. That being said, we were all in, together, arms locked, going for it.

We realized fairly quickly that the best way to be a full time touring band was to get a booking agent. Most artists might have a booking agent before they quit their day jobs. Not us. But that's incidental.

We had someone 'helping' us, acting as 'manager' sort of. She was living it and breathing it with us every step of the way. She was practically our sixth member.

And she ended up being the biggest liar on the face of planet Earth. In hindsight, we have come to realize not a single thing that came out of her mouth was true.

We laugh out loud to this day remembering little tidbits that fell from her lips. There were big lies. There were little lies. There were just tons and tons of lies.


What is so funny about all of this is that one day she came to the band with 'GREAT NEWS!' She had secured us a BOOKING AGENT!



But there was a catch.

He would only deal with her.

He did not want to talk to anyone in the band.


He would not be coming to any shows because he "had already been to several shows of ours and already LOVED the band."

So, you get that there was never a booking agent, right? She was lying about the booking agent. It took us quite some time to figure it out, even with the lack of tour dates he was securing for us, but eventually we did figure it out.

The funniest part about the booking agent is, she told us his name was Brian Williams.

Isn't that just bananas?


PS-This is an actual photo of me at a show in 2001. After this show, our 'manager' told us that Brian Williams was dropping the band because he 'couldn't book us any dates'. The person in this photo believed that story. It all makes a little more sense to you now, I bet...

Monday, February 9, 2015

Grammys 2015 Hendo Recap!

I would like to keep my 2015 grammy recap as positive as possible, so let's call it what it was right out of the gate.


How is it even possible to produce such a boring, boring, boring show? So many missed possibilities for greatness. Honestly, I enjoyed the American Music Awards much more. You didn't even know the American Music Awards were still on, right? Well, they rocked the Grammy's in the face.

That being said, L.L. Cool J is so cute. He had to have been the cutest baby. I want to bite LL's grown up cheeks, so I can only imagine how delicious he was as a baby. Who's with me?

The show opened with AC/DC.

I am going to repeat that.

The show opened with AC/DC.

What? Why is Angus Young wearing a school boy outfit on my TV screen in 2015?

Oh right. I'm staying positive. I just think they shouldn't make school boy outfits that fit 60 year old men. I get it. That's his schtick. I just find his schtick a lil' creepy is all.

The Stones, Led Zeppelin, surviving Beatles and a smattering of Beatle offspring would all serve as acceptable opening acts for The Grammys. I am a product of the 80s, and I mean no huge disrespect. I just think AC/DC is best served on the Broadway Stage in that 80s musical starring Constantine Maroulis alongside songs like "The Final Countdown," a personal fave of mine from the era.

And I've just alienated every guy I graduated high school with...

Then, when The Grammys actually utilize a Beatle, it's with Rihanna and Kanye?

And Kanye gets to perform TWICE but Antigone Rising not even once? No sour grapes. I am just noting facts.

Annie Lennox made my night. Thank you Annie Lennox. Click to see, cause words won't do it just.

Sam Smith also made my night. He is no longer just fat and gay, Howard Stern (click here for more on that). He is also a several time Grammy winner and totally humble and adorable. I love his album and thought it deserved 'Album of The Year', which went to Beck. I am sure Beck made a great album too, I just haven't heard it and have no inclination to do so...until someone sneaks it on the radio during a long car trip without telling me it's what I am listening to...that will probably be the only way to get me to listen to it, is all I'm saying. Certainly doesn't mean it's not good. I can just happily go through life never knowing for certain, is all.


I did think it was a little strange that Sam Smith won 'Song of the Year' for a song he is admittedly paying Tom Petty royalties for. In case you're not up to date on the latest 'song that sounds exactly like another song' drama, Sam Smith's 'Stay With Me' sounds an awful lot like Tom Petty's 'Won't Back Down.' The two songs sound so similar, in fact, that Sam agreed to pay Tom a writer's royalty. I guess somewhere in the fine print he did not agree to give Petty a piece of THE GRAMMY he took home last night for rewriting the song. Not even a 'Thanks, Tom" in his speech. It was a big night for him, so I can understand forgetting. Yes, that is a Hilary/Chad reference. Anytime I can reference Chad Lowe in a blog I will do so.

Let's quickly touch upon Brandy Clarke's performance of "Hold My Hand." We have an out loud and proud female singer/songwriter coming out of Nashville who does duets on The Grammy's with Dwight Yoakam? It seems we do!

It's obvious which one of them is making it feel like Hee Haw
Granted, it looked and felt a lot like Hee Haw instead of a cutting edge, culturally relevant moment. And I think we know whose 20 gallon hat to blame for that. But the Nashville needle moves slowly. The city is about twenty five years behind every other major artistic city in the country with regard to the LGBT movement, if we're to be totally honest. So props to Brandy Clarke and bigger props to the straight ally willing to strum next to her, Dwight Yoakam. He will never get served at a Chik-Fil-A ever again, but if I still bought records, I would definitely start buying his.

We will end this blog entry on Sia, because I know most of you were in utter shock at her "performance" and are expecting me to say something really ripe and possibly not positive about it. So, here's what I've got for you:

I love Sia. 

She is a brilliant song writer. She writes amazing hooks and melodies. And she has an absolutely astounding voice. What little hair I have on my arms stands up on end every time I hear Chandelier.(TMI about my arm hair?)

I don't know exactly why she never actually shows up to perform the song. I haven't googled it, I just assume she has massive stage fright. Regardless, I think it's brilliant. She never has to worry about what she's wearing, getting her hair and make up done, she just sends in her friends to do trippy and debatably performance art-like things along to the song.

It probably helped that I had a few glasses of wine in me by the time the Sia moment rolled around. But I simply loved Kristen Wiig in the Sia Wig.

Overall, The Grammys 2015 were an undeniable bore-fest. But we can't end the party on a negative note. So let's end it with this:

It's really cool that they honored George Harrison, Buddy Guy & The Bee Gees with lifetime achievement awards.


Sunday, January 11, 2015

The Unexpected Expert

We were broke. It was Obvious. And people wanted to help.

Has anyone ever gotten a call from eBay?

I have. 

And that's how I know I can teach anyone a thing or two about how amazing the art of 'crowd funding' can be.

The phone call went something like this, "Hi, Kristen. This is so and so from eBay. We're just wondering how you plan to fulfill these orders for tanks of gas and what exactly you're auctioning them off for? We're not sure it meets eBays compliance standards."

Antigone Rising was about ten thousand dollars into what turned out to be a forty thousand dollar campaign to raise money for our 2006 U.S. Tour. We didn't need a platform like Kickstarter to know that our fans loved to come along on the journey with us, from the recording of our albums to the embarkment of U.S. tours. From the very start of our story, our band incorporated our fans as friends, as family, and quite frankly as business partners.  

I mean no disrespect when I say we trained our fans from very early on in an exchange process. The "training" was not planned or intended, but we were broke. It was obvious. And people wanted to help.

We were also passionate. It was obvious. And we inspired people to help.

We said no to nothing

We played shows in bowling alleys and parking lots and floors inside malls. We quit day jobs and cashed in 401Ks. We showed up, night after night. Every gig was life or death. 

Albany, New York on a Friday to Charlotte, North Carolina on a Saturday. We did it happily. For the most part. 

We got to know every single person in every single room who bothered to listen to our music. And then, I will share our secret. We kept in touch!

From day one we established a dynamic.

We will live our dream. Please help us do it.

       ...I will share our secret. We kept in touch!

My voice shook as I spoke to the clearly perplexed man on the phone from eBay, "I play in an indie rock band and we are going out on tour. Our fans are purchasing the tanks of gas to help fuel our way around the county. In exchange, we plan to send them photos of us pumping the gas, and depending on where we are on tour, we will send them indigenous gifts from the region. You know, if we're in Georgia we will probably include a peach magnet and from Idaho we will send a potato peeler. Get it?" I said, fearful our hard earned money would be 'null and voided' by the young eBay executive.

Your Rights, Your Music, Your Career Seminar hosted byAriel Hyatt and Michael Whalen
(pictured L to R Ariel Hyatt, Aly Tadros, Kristen, and Benji Rodgers of Pledge Music

Yesterday, I was a member of a panel discussion on the topic of crowd funding. There I was, Kristen the drummer turned rhythm guitarist turned bassist, Kristen the bandmate, Kristen the songwriter, Kristen the expert on crowd funding?

As it turns out, yes. Kristen, the expert on crowd funding.

Want to know how to make money in the music industry? Just ask for it.

You don't need platforms like Kickstarter or Pledge Music or Indie GoGo, though Antigone Rising has used these sites from time to time with great success. You just need people who love what you do. And you need their email address. And that's it.