Sunday, June 10, 2018

It's been about 1 1/2 years since I self published my first studio album, Boston Nashville. Since I have all the material ready for a second album, I can sum up the experience with the first one.
It started with one song, Cannabis. I approached a highly respected Nashville saxophone artist, Jay Patten. We shared the same Italian surname, and the same ancestral town in Italy, Avellino. Other than that, we had no common relatives that we could trace. I knew I loved his work for his album "Impressions of Christmas."
We started the album at his home studio. He cast the artists for the song "Cannabis." They are some of Nashville's greats. One phrase in the song, "stoners pride," puzzled the singers a bit. It's one of those phrases that makes people call my songs "weird." To me it was natural. Stoners obtained their supplies at risks not known to a legal generation. Their risks were also not known to a consumer generation. People used to government endorsement, regulation, and protection would not understand "stoners pride." Stoners paved the way.
But all my songs are weird in different ways.
Several session in Nashville, at Jay's home studio, helped me shape the album. Jay himself was a big influence. He is very busy with his own material so I was imposing on him. But it seemed to work out.
When I got home to New England I made a cold call to record the rest of the material. I subbed for Billy Novick on a gig once and met some Boston musicians. One of them said he had a studio. I contacted him and recorded the rest of the material at his studio.
I called the album Boston Nashville because the city names reflect the styles. The Boston material was arrangements I wrote out. The Nashville material was arrangements worked out on the spot.
When it was finished I hired a company to promote Boston Nashville to college radio. They had me send them 300 CDs. Most of them are now available on amazon.com. That's what happens to promotional CDs. They charged a lot of money for shipping these CDs out to college radio stations. The reaction from college DJs was insignificant. Except for one station. There was a college radio station in New Britain CT which played Boston Nashville very aggressively. I never learned why. They kept various tracks from the album on the air for an entire semester. The only college station in the USA to really adopt Boston Nashville upon its release. To this day it's a mystery to me. No one in that city remembers me, even though it's my home town. The college that played the album was an influence on me. I saw the Four Seasons, my favorite band, at Welte Hall there. I got high for the first time with a college DJ there. But this was a long time ago.
Other than that, I've sold and given away my album at gigs where I've played. I have heard a few polite comments in return. Perhaps a half dozen people have taken the effort to say how the album affected them.
I'm so grateful, because I know that the songs, the arrangements, everything about the album is as unique as I could make it, and I'm amazed with the musicians and engineers who put up with me to record it the way I wanted it.
After all this effort, I can be a confident that a couple dozen listeners have really enjoyed Boston Nashville. Thousands of people have heard me play covers, and thousands of dancers, listeners, club patrons, etc. have heard me support bands, piano players, accordion players, etc., over many years, with my horn playing. But this has not translated to any fans for my original music.
Now that I have another album's worth of material, already posted on soundcloud, reverbnation, etc., it becomes apparent that I'm an "outsider artist." I think that's code for someone who has no popularity.
I think the effort I put in must have been based on the "merit system," that good stuff will get attention. There was a mistake with this idea. It needed fans. It needed people who heard "Boston Nashville" to pass along their enthusiasm to friends, who would pass it along to others. And gradually, one song or another would go viral.
No sign of that happening.
I'm not disappointed. I'm my own biggest fan. From the minute I started writing stuff in 7th or 8th grade, I've been thrilled by what I do. It keeps getting better, just like I planned. The new songs are as good or better than anything on Boston Nashville. When I run out of ideas, I'll post to that effect.

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