Going for broke
By Kevin Elliot Reynolds

It’s the ultimate dream of every musician, getting signed by a major label. The dream then is to create lasting music career. With the Lexington music scene now firmly revitalized, more and more talented acts are springing out of obscurity to local acclaim. However, in the grand scheme of things, local acclaim is nothing more than glorified obscurity. So the question is, who will be the first of this latest plethora of melodic masters to make it on the national scene? There are plenty of worthy hopefuls, though in today’s music industry, it takes a lot more than mere talent. Unfortunately in these vainest of times, the music biz has gone “Hollywood“and scouts for acts with nothing more than sex appeal, creating talent with the best computer programs and studio technology has to offer.

What happened to the good old days when rockers were ugly as sin, but women still wanted to tear their clothes off with their teeth. Apparently music biz execs have forgotten that the music comes first, if fans love the music then the musicians (no matter how ugly), become attractive. Do they actually think Mick Jagger would have been a male model if he had not decided to sing rock and roll? Aside from good looks, musicians need great songs and talent. In the country and pop music biz there are professional songsmiths that fulfill that requirement, but this is not the case with rock and roll. Rockers not only have to be great musicians and singers, but they have to write all their own material, which is the way it should be. Lastly, musicians need luck. Luck is the one thing needed to make it in the music industry that has not changed throughout the years. Entertainers as a whole need either luck or nepotism to make it big, and very few have the latter. (Thank God. How many Nelsons and Wilson-Phillips can the world stand)?

So which Lexington acts have what it takes to make it to the big stage? There are actually quite a few that have the potential. Artists such as Stego, The Apparitions, Giants! of Industry, Stoll Vaughn, Club Dub, Circle Four, Jensen Moore, and John Russell to name only a few of the many. But how does a band from Lexington, Kentucky get noticed? Aspiring acts have a few avenues they can take. Extensive touring is a common way to get noticed, although to book gigs far and wide the band has to be willing to drive for hours to possibly play for a handful of people for a handful of money. But remember, it only takes one show with a talent scout for a band to get discovered. This also helps a band build a grassroots following, which proves to record execs that people dig their music. Other bands go into a cheap studio and put an album together not only to spread their music at gigs but also to send it to record labels and television shows such as MTV’s Real World. This is where band members have to learn to shamelessly promote themselves and be great PR people. When all else fails, a band simply needs to write and play incredible music all over their hometown. If the music is good enough, the people and local music press will create a big enough buzz that eventually the labels will have to take notice.

Many of these local talents took local stages last week and gave local audiences a reason to be proud. One of those acts was Partly Cloudy who performed to a packed Fishtank house. The audience reveled to the violent orchestrations and one lucky lady even received an onstage proposal from a friend of the band. She banged her head to the music in an emphatic “Yes” gesture. Saturday saw a highly anticipated performance from jazz masters The Sun Ra Arkestra at The Dame, which was followed by a Bob Marley birthday tribute show. The dreadlocked, elevated audience bobbed and weaved to Marley covers performed by reggae master Rob Dread and all-around masters Club Dub. A great night of music, to say the least.

This week Lexington’s music scene will be showcasing some of its soon-to-be-signed talent, including a show from Tommy Stinson of The Replacements at The Dame. The Replacement began as a Minneapolis punk act that grew into a multi-genre indie act with a huge underground following with minimal mainstream success. The group’s co-founder Tommy Stinson will bring his solo work to The Dame Wednesday night, if you fans are lucky, he may even play some of the old stuff. Thursday night check out the folk/pop of Scourge of the Sea (not Aquaman), at The Dame. Kick back, have a drink and relax to the soothing sounds of The Sea. Saturday night will see one of Lexington’s hottest acts in Sunday Valley performing, where else, at The Dame. These Bluegrass rockers are opening for an act that inspired their sound in Split Lip Rayfield. SLR, like Sunday Valley, are simultaneously Bluegrass, honky-tonk and pants splitting punk rock. Their stage show is rivaled only by the likes of the Shack Shakers and that’s saying something. Check them out Saturday night.

Well there it is, another week of quality local and national talent to some, background drunken ambience to others. Either way, be safe, be responsible and as always…Support Local Music!!!! n