Art is Going to Save Us: My First House Show Tour Recap

Art is Going to Save Us: My First House Show Tour Recap

Shared experiences; they are what life is really about.

I spent the past weekend with two of my band members performing house shows in Portland, Maine; Scranton, Pennsylvania; and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

The purpose of our short tour was to test the waters and see if this whole house show thing is something that people would enjoy, to find out whether performing a stripped-down, stories-behind-the-songs collection of my music would resonate the way my full productions do. (Spoiler alert: it did!)

But it was also to get back to a grassroots way of meeting people, making new friends, and connecting one-on-one with individuals.

The response was more than we could have asked for.

We learned quite a lot on our trip, and one of the things we learned is that people are yearning for a personal connection with their favorite artists.

In a time when the internet affords artists the opportunity to connect one-on-one with the fans of their work, we normally only hear from our favorite artists when they have something they want us to buy. And even then, that’s usually every two or three years when their new album comes out.

Albums. That’s another thing…

The album format has been exploded.

I recorded a podcast while in Portland at Gateway Mastering Studios with renowned mastering engineer Adam Ayan (Shakira, Luis Fonsi, Carrie Underwood, Queen, et al.), and he told me that he is mastering more singles and EPs than ever before, with albums sprinkled in here and there.

So, if you’re making an album, and you’re not being forced to do so because you’re signed to a record label, why are you doing it??

Unless you’re making an album of metal music—which studies show have the hands-down most loyal fanbase, a fanbase which still buys CDs and generally avoids streaming, clinging to the past—you’re swimming against the tide.

But I digress. Back to the matter at hand: connection.

In Portland, two of our Bullfighters (fan club members) are people who travel all over the country to see their favorite artists. They’ve been to countless shows and seen some of the most talented musicians perform in large and small venues. They told us they’d never experienced such an up-close-and-personal performance before, and they loved it.

The sentiment was shared by our new Portland friends, who took us out to dinner before the show. They enjoy treating bands (and their entire crew) to meals when they come through Portland, because they understand the struggle and the sacrifices being made to travel and get after a career in music. They, too, were blown away by the intimacy of the show, and said they had never been a part of something like that.

In Scranton, we visited with my good friend Phil, who is the program director at Alt 92.1 FM. He showed us around the station—which includes a 200-capacity theater with a 1932 Steinway grand piano. He said he is going to begin spinning my music on the radio, and will work with us to help put together an event when we return to the Scranton area.

And in Pittsburgh, as I was walking the streets, talking with locals and handing out flyers before our performance, I received many compliments and kudos on our “guerrilla marketing,” and that “your passion looks good on you; never stop doing what you’re doing.”

The people we connected with on this tour are incredibly supportive of our journey, and were kind enough to treat us to meals and allow us to stay the night in their homes.

We must have made a good impression, because they can’t wait for us to return so they can bring their family and friends and share the experience.

Which brings me to this article on the generosity of fans of music, and art in general:

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/08/170803091933.htm

That’s right, folks. Art is going to save us!

But it’s not going to come from Taylor Swift, or Drake, or Bieber, or Luke Bryan, or Future, or Adele, or Max Martin, or Migos, or Shellback, or Dr. Luke, or Mark Ronson, or any of the other major players in today’s music game.

No, it’s going to come from THE PEOPLE, those fans of talented artists and the work they produce!

Need proof? Here it is, straight from Spotify…

John Stein, an editor focused on indie, alternative, and electronic music for some of Spotify’s biggest mood playlists explained to The Verge that there’s a difference between a live hit and a Spotify hit.

From The Verge article: “[Stein] likes to find out what songs people are singing along to in the real world. ‘That’s something we don’t see in the data,’ he says. ‘They’re not always the catchy ones. They’re surprises. And over time, people come back to those more.’ He says he likes music that has substance, which you ‘can’t fake,’ not just perfectly crafted pop songs with the chorus at the front. ‘You can’t build real fans by following such a formula in that way.’”

Amen.

Follow me on Spotify here: https://open.spotify.com/artist/7Lx9QDuqrvKCyr1jr1Q324

There is no art in a factory; not even in an art factory. — Eric “Mixerman” Sarafin

P.S. The researchers concluded that one implication of their findings for policy-makers is the potential for “substantial social and economic gains” from investing in the arts. They argue that these may be achieved “effectively by policies or investments that make the arts more widely available and ensure that access is not restricted only to the wealthy.” … Arts Council England’s Director of Communication and Public Policy, Mags Patten, said: “This paper makes a significant contribution to growing evidence of a causal link between taking part in the arts, individual wellbeing, and the strength of communities. This valuable piece of research will be important reading for those already studying in this vital area, and it should encourage new studies of the social impact of the arts.”

P.P.S. Become a Bullfighter today, and my band and I will perform in your area within a calendar year of your enrollment, guaranteed, or your money back. 😀

———
Visit the archive: https://therealjohnkay.wordpress.com

Website: https://therealjohnkay.com
Music: Spotify Artist Page
Podcast: Get After It w/ John Kay on iTunes
Twitter: @TheRealJohnKay
Instagram: @therealjohnkay
Facebook: /TheRealJohnKay

Let he who would move the world first move himself. — Socrates

Copyright © 2017 John Kay, All rights reserved.

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Sturgill Simpson Busking at the CMAs

Sturgill Simpson Busking at the CMAs

I have a love/hate relationship with country music…

On the day I was born, my father was hired to work as a DJ at WWWW 106.7 FM in downtown Detroit.

He missed Howard Stern by a week, after Stern left when the station switched formats to country.

“W4 Country,” as the station was known, kept a roof over my family’s heads and put food on our plates for 14 years.

Willie Nelson held me in his arms as a toddler. In fact, so did the members of Alabama and the Oak Ridge Boys, along with Ronnie Milsap, Eddie Rabbit, Roger Miller, George Strait, and countless other country stars of the early-to-mid-1980s and prior.

Accompanying my dad to all of the big gigs he’d work for the station, getting to meet so many amazing musicians and watching them perform night after night, seeing the audience’s reaction to the music and the production, and feeling the energy and the love in the arena…

These are the things that made me want to become a musician. And country music winds its way into many of my songs to this day.

Today’s country music just isn’t the same.

I can’t say that it’s bad, because music is like wine — if you like it, it’s good; and a lot of people like mainstream country music.

But I hate it.

Because mainstream country music, and Nashville itself, has been co-opted by Big Music and the pop machine. Hell, even Willie stopped recording in Nashville. He’s been making his more recent stuff down in Austin, Texas.

Many of today’s most popular country songs are being manufactured in “hit factories” in the same fashion as pop songs are, trying to make earworms.

But Chris Stapleton is the one winning the awards, by being authentic and doing things his way. (He took home this year’s CMAs for Male Vocalist of the Year and Album of the Year.)

And then you’ve got Sturgill Simpson, whose busking outside the CMAs prompted me to write this missive.

My future brother-in-law tried to turn me on to Simpson two years ago. It didn’t take. To be honest, most of the time, when people suggest music to me, I am reluctant to listen or check it out.

It’s not because I’m not interested, it’s because I don’t have time!

Between work and family, I don’t have any time alone to sit by myself and soak in new music, the way I did when I was still in school. If and when I discover new music, it’s because I intentionally make time to listen to Spotify in the studio as I write or do something else.

That’s another thing! Music has become background noise, instead of the medium which drives the culture and informs the public consciousness.

Which is why Sturgill Simpson busking outside the CMAs resonated with me…

Much like Chris Stapleton, Simpson doesn’t really fit with the country mainstream, and the CMAs are all about the mainstream, which is why Simpson was on the outside looking in.

But that’s not an issue for him.

He won this year’s Grammy for Best Country Album, and his Grammy was sitting in his guitar case as he performed on the sidewalk, answering questions as they came in from fans on Facebook Live, and any donations he received went to the ACLU; that’s the American Civil Liberties Union, for those who don’t know.

And after playing songs and waxing on his appreciation of Kanye West and bluegrass music, he was asked to give a would-be speech if he won a CMA.

Here’s what he said…

“Nobody needs a machine gun, coming from a guy who owns quite a few guns. Gay people should have the right to be happy and live their life any way they want to and get married if they want to without fear of getting drug down the road behind a pickup truck. Black people are probably tired of getting shot in the streets and being enslaved by the industrial prison complex. And hegemony and fascism is alive and well in Nashville, Tennessee.

“Thank you very much.”

Artists are supposed to speak truth to power, and that’s what Sturgill Simpson did, albeit outside the CMAs.

Before they became personal brands with fragrance and cosmetics deals, or their own clothing line, artists used their work to awaken consciousness in others, helping to shape and inform public opinion in a positive direction. Hip-hop has been doing this for decades.

And hip-hop dominates today, but the most popular song on the most popular streaming service (Spotify) is Post Malone’s “rockstar” which begins with the line “I’ve been fuckin’ hoes and poppin’ pillies” and continues with “fuckin’ with me, call up on a Uzi” — it has almost 2 million daily plays in the U.S. and over 5.3 million daily plays worldwide.

Do you sometimes wonder why we have a nationwide opioid epidemic and a rampant gun problem?? Yes, Big Pharma and the NRA are the major drivers, but when the most popular music in the United States (and the world) is glorifying getting high on pills and shooting up rivals, it doesn’t help.

At any rate, my point is this…

Instead of taking the easy route and using the formula that mainstream artists use, and/or pandering to the lowest common denominator, artists such as Sturgill Simpson and Chris Stapleton create music that speaks to our better nature as humans.

And when they sing their songs, one can hear in their voices the pain, the heartache, the courage, the hope, the love about which they sing, because it comes from deep within themselves, from their experiences in life.

My music comes from that same place: of me and by me.

And I can’t wait to perform it for you. 🙂

11/16 Portland, ME — 8 Arundel Road, Kennebunkport 04046
11/17 Scranton, PA — currently finalizing booking
11/18 Pittsburgh, PA — 1111 Woodland Avenue, Pittsburgh 15212

Tickets for these intimate, stories-behind-the-songs house shows are only $10 and will be available at the door.

Doors will open at 8pm, and shows will start at 9pm, or once tickets are sold out. Once again, only 30 tickets will be available for each performance, so plan to arrive early!

P.S. Every Bullfighter — fan club member — gets two tickets per year to see me when I come to town, so they never have to worry about a show selling out!

P.P.S. Below is a comprehensive list of Bullfighter cities across the United States. Don’t see your city or state listed? Become a Bullfighter today and we’ll be performing there soon! 😀

  • Montgomery, AL
  • Tucson, AZ
  • Gilbert, AZ
  • Pasadena, CA
  • San Francisco, CA
  • Denver, CO
  • Fort Collins, CO
  • Bell, FL
  • Kissimmee, FL
  • Chicago, IL
  • Louisville, KY
  • Boston, MA
  • Portland, ME
  • Detroit, MI
  • Grand Rapids, MI
  • Pittsburgh, PA
  • Houston, TX
  • San Antonio, TX
  • Tacoma, WA
  • Beckley, WV
  • Huntington, WV

———
Visit the archive: https://therealjohnkay.wordpress.com

Website: https://therealjohnkay.com
Music: Spotify Artist Page
Podcast: Get After It w/ John Kay on iTunes
Twitter: @TheRealJohnKay
Instagram: @therealjohnkay
Facebook: /TheRealJohnKay

Let he who would move the world first move himself. — Socrates

Copyright © 2017 John Kay, All rights reserved.

I’m a Believer

I’m a Believer

“I think that the thing that major labels have always done that is important in the business is provide highly sophisticated, robust, well-developed processes for artists to reach their highest potential,” VP of New Digital Business at Universal Music Group, Tuhin Roy said.

“At the end of the day, that’s why artists come to us, because they believe we’re going to help them reach their highest potential.”

One more time…

‘…because they believe we’re going to help them reach their highest potential.’

BELIEF.

It’s what drives all working artists, the belief that someday, somehow, their dreams will come true, their creations will break into the mainstream consciousness, and their years and years of hard work and commitment will pay off in the end.

And the major record labels have preyed on that precious belief and exploited it to the benefit of their own bank accounts for decades.

Major labels know that artists are willing to do almost anything to reach their goals and live out their dreams, and so they are able to tilt contracts heavily in favor of the label, the artist becoming a sort of indentured servant.

Since many artists are desperate and/or uninformed, they willingly sign a lopsided contract, hoping that their success will solve everything in the end.

The chances of that are next to nil.

And once the contract is signed, the artist is legally obligated to produce music at the label’s discretion, for the duration of the contract. The artist must now make music of the label, by the label, and for the label.

In fact, artists on major record labels today tend to not write their own music. They have their songs crafted at writers’ camps, which author John Seabrook says in his book The Song Machine are “like a pop-up hit factory.”

Record labels and big-time artists put these camps together, and they can last up to two weeks, but usually less than a week. A few dozen beat- and track-makers and melody-makers (“topliners”) get mixed and matched in every way possible until all combinations have been exhausted.

And if the artist happens to be present, they are floating from combo to combo, checking out what each team has going on, working on ideas here and there, keeping and discarding what they like or don’t like. This is how the artist gets credit if and when the song is released — “change a word, get a third” is a well-known phrase in the business.

From The Song Machine: “The peer pressure is such that virtually every session produces a song, which means twelve or more songs a day, or sixty a week, depending on the size of the camp.”

This is all to say that the major record labels wield a great deal of power over their artists, and often end up controlling their entire careers, to the point where an artist no longer produces their own work from a place of authenticity, but instead defers to data, polls, and metrics while choosing a potential earworm from a smorgasbord of songs whipped up in haste by committee.

But things are shifting in a new direction…

People used to complain about streaming services. Now, they appear to be saving the music industry…

Artists are foregoing record labels and securing their own publishing, licensing, and distribution…

And they are growing their fan bases organically, through grassroots campaigns and tours, and connecting via social media and email…

Today it costs virtually nothing to distribute music on the internet, worldwide, or to connect with fans directly…

So why would an artist need a label???

Answer: Relationships and capital.

That’s what the majors offer — they are people who know people who know people who know people, and all of these people have deep pockets, in a world where many artists can’t even afford to buy new pants.

But are those the relationships that artists truly need? Or should artists be more concerned about their relationship with the fans of their music??

And should artists be focused on money first? Always worrying about the bottom line? Or should the artist be serving the Muse, allowing the Muse to flow through them, transmuting its whispers into their art, critics be damned??

The internet has granted artists and fans the opportunity to take the power back from the suits, and show the world that great music matters more than “hits.”

And now Tuhin Roy is hoping to find the next big thing in music…before it’s too late…

From Mashable (10/17): “Universal…announced the launch of its accelerator network in an effort to encourage the emergence of music startups— with the goal of getting Universal in on the ground floor of the next big thing.

“The deal puts Universal at the earliest stage possible with entrepreneurs looking for help in trying something new. The label is working with accelerators at that application process, then lending expertise and mentorship to founders with music-focused startups.

“Justin Hendrix, executive director of NYC Media Lab, said that corporate partners are important for entrepreneurs who might not otherwise have those relationships.

“The goal is to encourage more entrepreneurs and accelerators to focus their energy on music, which can be a daunting and byzantine industry to deal with.

“Universal isn’t taking equity for its efforts, which is the usual deal between startups and acceleartors. Roy said the label sees value in hearing about new ideas from entrepreneurs and having the chance to work with startups from early days.

“‘There’s a reverse learning process for us. We actually learn as we engage in these startups how they view the business which is maybe a view for where things are heading,’ Roy said.”

The labels are starting to see the writing on the wall. They are learning that in order to reach their highest potential, artists don’t necessarily need a major record label anymore.

Sony Music CEO Rob Stringer on 11/03: “I have huge admiration for everything Spotify has done to build their business. We have a complicated relationship with it now because we have to make sure that we’re represented properly and they don’t bypass us. There’s a temptation there, if they’re valued at what they’re supposed to be valued at, they could become larger than all the labels put together. It is my job to maintain the balance. We don’t control distribution and we are therefore not as much in control of our destinies as we were during the boom of CDs, of the explosion of vinyl in the ‘60s.”

Thanks to the internet, artists just need to make great art and connect with the people who love it.

For me, those people are the Bullfighters. The Bullfighters are the members of my fan club, and my band and I only perform in areas within 50 miles of each Bullfighter.

Because the Bullfighters believe in me.

On that note…

I’m excited to announce I’m getting back on the road, and will begin performing my music next week!

Me and two of my band members are hitting the highway to perform a stripped-down, stories-behind-the-songs collection of my music, and we can’t wait to connect with old friends and make new ones.

These will be intimate house shows, taking place in a spacious living room, on a backyard patio, or in a basement or garage; basically, somewhere that will comfortably accommodate 25-30 adults.

Tickets are only $10 and will be available exclusively at the door. There will only be 30 tickets available for each performance, so plan to arrive as early as possible! Doors will open at 8pm, and shows will start at 9pm, or once tickets are sold out.

  • 11/16: Portland, ME (8 Arundel Road, Kennebunkport, ME 04046)
  • 11/17: Scranton, PA (currently finalizing booking)
  • 11/18: Pittsburgh, PA (1111 Woodland Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15212)

I can’t wait to play my music for you, and connect with old and new friends. See you out there on the road! 😀

P.S. Every Bullfighter get two tickets per year to see me when I come to town, so they never have to worry about a show selling out!

P.P.S. Below is a comprehensive list of Bullfighter cities across the United States. Don’t see your city or state listed? Become a Bullfighter today and we’ll be performing there soon! 🙂

  • Montgomery, AL
  • Tucson, AZ
  • Gilbert, AZ
  • Pasadena, CA
  • San Francisco, CA
  • Denver, CO
  • Fort Collins, CO
  • Bell, FL
  • Kissimmee, FL
  • Chicago, IL
  • Louisville, KY
  • Boston, MA
  • Portland, ME
  • Detroit, MI
  • Grand Rapids, MI
  • Pittsburgh, PA
  • Houston, TX
  • San Antonio, TX
  • Tacoma, WA
  • Beckley, WV
  • Huntington, WV
———
Visit the archive: https://therealjohnkay.wordpress.comWebsite: https://therealjohnkay.com
Music: Spotify Artist Page
Podcast: Get After It w/ John Kay on iTunes
Twitter: @TheRealJohnKay
Instagram: @therealjohnkay
Facebook: /TheRealJohnKay

Let he who would move the world first move himself. — Socrates

Copyright © 2017 John Kay, All rights reserved.

A Gun is a Guarantee

A Gun is a Guarantee

I received this in an email from a fan in Finland regarding a Facebook post I made yesterday…

“You really nailed it in ‘Don’t mess w my routine‘. I have been following the shootings and others acts of terror recently. It all makes me very sad.

“Was thinking of commenting on your post about gun control, but didn’t. It seems to be a very polarized discussion and the other side is unreachable, like the character in your song. Seems the whole debate is off the rails. I have some experience of guns, hunting and the army. I only just realized (reading about the recent killings) what kind of guns you actually have easily available in your country. It is very disturbing. Like the one used in the latest shooting. Seriously, that kind of gun should absolutely not be used in any other case than military training or war. It’s quite similar to the ones we had when I was in the army. No way anyone could have one at home over here. I just don’t understand how it all got so messed up in the US. NRA and its supporters must have a lot of power.

“Well, it is good that a lot of people, like yourself, still have the courage to take the debate for gun control. Sure hope the course can be changed, and if the shootings continue at this rate it should have some effect too one would expect.”

My fine Finnish friend doesn’t realize how much Americans LOVE guarantees!

Most products sold in the United States come with a guarantee, and if one doesn’t, you can probably buy a guarantee for it in the form of an extended warranty.

TV goes out the night before the Big Game?? No worries! You got a four-year replacement warranty when you bought the TV and can exchange it at the store for a brand new one!

Car was involved in an accident?? No worries! Just pay your deductible, and your insurance company will cover the costs for repair or replacement, and they’ll even pay for a rental vehicle in the meantime!

Someone broke into your house?? No worries! You have a gun!

Americans worry a lot, and guarantees help us worry a little less, sleep a little better at night. Sleeping well is important.

For many people, having that gun — or several guns — at the ready helps them sleep better at night. They feel safe and secure knowing that they can protect themselves and their family from a dangerous threat. They are guaranteed to have a shot(!) at ending whatever situation walks through that door.

Other people are fascinated by guns, which they respect and honor as collectors’ items, whether rare pieces from history or simply many different types of firearms for variety’s sake.

But at the core of it all, guns are deadly weapons, and we are seeing time and time again in America that a considerable number of gun owners are irresponsible with their deadly weapons. Many owners of firearms even have histories of violence or require mental health treatment.

These people, who probably shouldn’t be allowed to own a gun in the first place, aren’t getting the attention they deserve until it’s too late, for them and the victims of their insanity.

I can’t say this enough…we live in an attention economy.

These men aren’t getting enough attention, and they know what to do which guarantees it, however fleeting and no matter the cost to anyone. It’s all about THEM. The excuses are just that, excuses.

It’s far easier to blame the Other than it is to shout “I don’t feel as though I’ll ever live up to my dad’s expectations!” or “The boys made fun of me in school too much!” or “I was supposed to play in the pros!” or “I should still be an army/air force/marine/navy man!” or “My brain hurts from all of the warring I did and the government isn’t helping me like they promised!” or “My wife/girlfriend cheated on me or left me!” or WHATEVER reasons these abnormal cusses have for delivering the despicable to America’s doorstep.

Plus, we can’t forget that even after millions of years of evolution, we still walk around with hunter-gatherer brains inside our skulls. There is programming at work in our subconscious from eons ago about which we are still learning.

That said, there are numerous resources available both online and offline to learn and study about the human mind, our natural tendencies, and what influences us.

Adam Smith said “The first thing you have to know is yourself. A man who knows himself can step outside himself and watch his own reactions like an observer.”

Until men own their inherent Man Baggage (no, not their genitals [or, just maybe, their genitals??]), cease to allow it to control their lives, stop being afraid of it, come to terms with it, accept it, learn from it, and grow out of it…we are going to see more and more violence.

Because in an attention economy, using a gun is a guarantee.

The world is watching us. What do we do now??
———
Visit the archive: https://therealjohnkay.wordpress.com

Website: https://therealjohnkay.com
Music: Spotify Artist Page
Podcast: Get After It w/ John Kay on iTunes
Twitter: @TheRealJohnKay
Instagram: @therealjohnkay
Facebook: /TheRealJohnKay

Let he who would move the world first move himself. — Socrates

Copyright © 2017 John Kay, All rights reserved.

Ahead of the Curve: Life After Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat

Ahead of the Curve: Life After Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat

Driving for Uber and Lyft, I pick up many people from different walks of life and who work in all kinds of industries. Many times, we have illuminating and educational conversations.

One of my recent riders was a 21-year-old University of Michigan grad student I picked up from the airport. He had just returned from living in San Francisco, where he worked for three months as an intern.

San Francisco is the United States’ tech hub, so when I inquired as to which company he interned for, I was not shocked to hear that it was Facebook and Instagram.

I asked him “So, what’s on the horizon? What’s next? What’s coming that we don’t know about?”

“Do you use Instagram?” he asked.

“Yessir.”

“Have you seen our stories feature?”

“Absolutely,” I replied. “It seems as though you are trying to compete directly with Snapchat.”

“Yes, that’s the case.” He continued, “We are trying to get more low-quality users back on the Instagram platform.”

He essentially said that professional photographers and brands with good photography have taken over Instagram. Users that would not normally take the time to filter and edit their photos, set up lighting, etc., either don’t have the time, don’t know how to do it properly, or don’t care to do it, and therefore don’t want to compete with the professional work that’s on Instagram now, which garner so many views and likes and comments.

In addition, Instagram has become such a powerful way for a brand to promote itself that it’s become an advertiser’s playground — just like Facebook (the 21-year-old admitted as much).

He revealed that the endgame is acquiring more users to the Instagram platform who feel comfortable sharing their “low-quality moments” throughout the day, but then maybe having one photo here or there that they make look more professional and highlight.

Instagram wants the “low-quality users” back that Snapchat took once Instagram became a photographer’s and brand’s paradise.

They want people who have fun and care more about the entertainment factor to get back on their platform and share their pics so that they can attract more advertisers, because advertising dollars drive Facebook and Instagram, and so many people have migrated to Snapchat because of it.

But in my view, the issue is much simpler: where older people go, younger people don’t want to be.

Facebook took off and gained traction in the mid-aughts because younger people were using it to connect with each other. Once they had Nana and Papa in their Facebook feeds, they migrated to Twitter. When Twitter became populated with a bunch of older people, they migrated over to the next thing, Instagram, and then once again, rinse and repeat, they went from Instagram to Snapchat.

And now older people are figuring out Snapchat, which means something new is on the rise.

And I don’t know what it is but I’m damn sure going to find out.

Because in today’s day and age, if you’re not at least one step ahead of the curve…

You’re already far behind.

———
Visit the archive: https://therealjohnkay.wordpress.com

Website: https://therealjohnkay.com
Music: Spotify Artist Page
Podcast: Get After It w/ John Kay on iTunes
Twitter: @TheRealJohnKay
Instagram: @therealjohnkay
Facebook: /TheRealJohnKay

Let he who would move the world first move himself. — Socrates

Copyright © 2017 John Kay, All rights reserved.

My Tombstone Trip

My Tombstone Trip

I didn’t think I was going to have such a good time!

I was expecting to experience a certain amount of boredom, because I’m not really interested in Tombstone lore, especially compared to my father. Boomers grew up in the golden age of westerns, with cowboy movies and TV shows galore.

Around a decade ago, my dad was sent to Tucson for a work project — he works in tech — and he decided to check out Tombstone on a day off, since he’d never been there, but had of course heard about and seen it on the screen.

He became enraptured.

After that first visit, my dad has returned to Tombstone almost every year, and not just for sightseeing; he discovered a group of historians, researchers, and authors who meet annually for what they call the Tombstone Territory Rendezvous, always around the anniversary of the infamous 1881 gunfight at the O.K. corral with Wyatt Earp and company.

The “TTR” group plans each yearly summit around a certain topic or subject matter — this year’s focus was centered on “Law and Order” (DUN DUN!) — and individuals give presentations and illuminate new findings about the real history of the town and its cast of characters, not what we see in movies.

My dad was welcomed into the group, becoming friends with the TTR leadership team and its most respected members, and has since contributed in many ways to their efforts, from designing a book cover for an author from Australia, to creating and managing the TTR website, and even designing this year’s official TTR Law and Order t-shirt.

All of this is to say, Tombstone is now a huge part of my father’s life, and he wants to share it with his family. Prior to this year’s trip, he had brought my mother and brother with him twice each. This year, he brought the whole family, including me, my sister-in-law, and his 3-month-old granddaughter.

Now, you have to understand, I love my father, and I especially love that he has found something which brings him immense joy and pleasure, a group of friends with a shared interest; his eyes light up when he talks about it.

But at home, when he talks ad nauseam about the town and the group and the information and the research and the minutiae and whatnot, it’s hard for me to remain attentive. I’m just. Not. Interested. At least, not in the way he is.

And because of my lack of interest, my going along on the trip felt almost like an act of fealty instead of a desire to experience what he loves so much. At a minimum, I looked forward to seeing my dad among friends and interacting socially, which doesn’t happen often at home — my folks hardly ever entertain guests, and are mostly homebodies.

So, I told myself that no matter what I knew or thought I knew, or how uncomfortable I may feel, I needed to immerse myself in the week’s events, assimilate myself in the group, embrace any boredom if and when it came, and, most importantly, simply enjoy spending an extended amount of time with my family.

What transpired was nothing short of magical to me.

The trip was a week long. My folks had arrived on Monday, and my brother, sister-in-law, niece, and I arrived on Wednesday. Upon our arrival, we were surprised with the announcement that my mom and dad had renewed their wedding vows after 37 years of marriage.

On Thursday, the presentations began, which started at 9am and ran until 7pm, with breaks for lunch and dinner. The topics covered ballot box stuffing, critical events leading up the O.K. corral gunfight, the gunfight itself, the reasons the McLaury brothers (two of the gunfight victims) were in Tombstone to begin with, gunfight dynamics and bullet ballistics, and more. The night concluded with a reenactment of a court hearing, in which my father portrayed the prosecuting attorney.

Were there lulls in the process? Of course. But they were few and far between, spaced out enough to keep me focused.

And I got involved, asking questions and offering insight of my own, based on my outsider’s perspective, which ended up impressing the group (their words, not mine).

Friday, we traveled to Bisbee — home of Doug Stanhope — to visit the sites of the Bisbee Massacre, which resulted in the legal hangings of five men, and the lynching of their ringleader. When we returned to town, we were treated to a ballet version of the O.K. corral gunfight, in which my dad acted as Morgan Earp and danced ballet! (Seeing my dad pirouette was worth the trip on its own.) The night ended with a court reenactment of the Bisbee Massacre trial, in which I was volun-told to be a member of the lynch mob.

On Saturday, my sister-in-law’s birthday, we traveled to Willcox, AZ where my parents had purchased some land to be developed for housing. They had bought the property sight-unseen, and this was the first time they were going to visit it. It was a very emotional moment, resulting in the decision to purchase even more plots surrounding their original buy — their dream is to have a family compound for all of us.

When we got back from Willcox, we attended the wrap-up banquet with the TTR group, at which the group was effusive in their praise and compliments toward our family and our participation in the activities. (The leadership team is also interested in perhaps having me work with them to help grow the group and attract a younger demographic.)

After breakfast on Sunday, we said our goodbyes and visited Boot Hill Cemetery on our way out of town. We traveled to Tucson and spent a few hours at the Sonoran Desert Museum. I thought it was going to be a big building with a bunch of artifacts and displays and whatnot. It turns out that it’s a living museum, with both indoor and outdoor attractions, and we could have spent three more hours there and not see everything it had to offer.

Leaving the museum, we checked into our hotel, freshened up, then went out for family dinner at El Charro, which, according to reviews, is touted as the best Mexican restaurant in the United States. It did not disappoint, and the prices were more than reasonable considering the quality and the generous portion sizes. I highly recommend eating there when in Tucson.

As I type this, we are cruising at 39,000 feet on our way home. In retrospect, I really needed this trip. I haven’t taken a vacation since 2011, and it was rejuvenating to unplug from the hustle for six days.

Plus, I’ve been so busy working that I haven’t been able to spend any time with my 3-month-old niece since she was born. I was concerned that she wouldn’t warm to me because I’m a new face.

Quite the contrary: Not only does she smile every time she sees me, I was able to give her mom the best birthday present ever, the highlight of my trip…

I made my niece laugh for the first time in her life.

It’s the little things that make life wonderful. I wish for you to feel the same joy in your world as I felt this past week.

Now…I’m back to work!

———
Visit the archive: https://therealjohnkay.wordpress.com

Website: https://therealjohnkay.com
Music: Spotify Artist Page
Podcast: Get After It w/ John Kay on iTunes
Twitter: @TheRealJohnKay
Instagram: @therealjohnkay
Facebook: /TheRealJohnKay

Let he who would move the world first move himself. — Socrates

Copyright © 2017 John Kay, All rights reserved.

Dear Spotify, Apple Music, et al.: I’m Not the Guy from Steppenwolf

Dear Spotify, Apple Music, et al.: I’m Not the Guy from Steppenwolf

I’ve had an ongoing battle for the last five years behind the scenes…

Out of nowhere, one of my fans will hit me up with something to the effect of “Hey, I just saw that you’re playing in Atlantic City in a couple of weeks at the casino! Me and the wife will be there, dude!”

My response? “Um, I’m not booked in Atlantic City. Where are you seeing this??”

“It was posted on your Facebook page.”

I check my Facebook page. Sure enough, there’s my picture along with an event link, advertising that I’m playing in Atlantic City in a couple of weeks.

I immediately delete it.

Why??? Because I’m not booked in Atlantic City. The other John Kay is! The other JK is best known as the singer, songwriter, guitarist, and frontman of Steppenwolf.

Does anyone under 35 even know who Steppenwolf is??

Either way, his social media team has been linking his events to my accounts for years. I’ve reached out to them to resolve the issue, and they can’t figure out why it continues to happen.

That is the reason I changed all my social media handles to @TheRealJohnKay. It’s not because I’m pretentious, there’s a serious confusion here!

In fact, just yesterday, I went to my local health foods store, and was checking out with my regular cashier when she and I got to talking about what’s going on with me music-wise. After a brief chat, I wrote down my website URL and gave it to her.

“TheRealJohnKay.com, huh? Like the guy from Steppenwolf??” she remarked.

Anger, rising…

I smile, “Haha! Yeah, that’s an ongoing thing…”

I’ve been getting this my whole life from Boomers. “Oh, your name’s John Kay? Hey, like the guy from Steppenwolf!”

No. Not like the guy from Steppenwolf.

I’m tired of playing along with the “Oh, like the guy from Steppenwolf?” comments.

From now on, I’m going to say…“…Who?”

The guy from Steppenwolf is 73 years old, released “Born to Be Wild” and “Magic Carpet Ride” in 1968, had his last hit in 1972 (Boomers, can you name it without Googling??), and hasn’t released a studio album since 2001.

And, according to his Spotify analytics — which I was granted access to! — his fans also listen to Savoy Brown, Grand Funk Railroad, Leslie West, Robin Trower, Mountain, James Gang, Humble Pie, Johnny Winter, and Alvin Lee.

In other words…NOTHING NEW!!

This isn’t meant to derogate him or his fans. Hell, he’s essentially been touring since he first formed Steppenwolf in the ’60s. Good on him, and if people are coming to see him, all the better.

But the confusion and the cross-pollination has to end. As much as I appreciate his fans’ cursory exposure to my music by way of its misplacement on his pages, and welcome any of them who wish to enjoy my songs and see me perform, I’d much rather separate our catalogs.

I’ve been in touch with Spotify, who have been assisting me with this ridiculousness, and they have since gone ahead and created my own dedicated artist page.

And yet, my music distributor has been continuing to submit my songs to each of the streaming platforms as if I were the other John Kay, which means my new song “Hate U Back” was released under Mr. Steppenwolf’s artist page on Spotify, Apple Music, Tidal, Google Play, and the lot this past Friday.

So, this is my public cry for help. Since the streaming platforms rely on the distributors to place their clients’ music correctly, and it’s not happening in my case despite repeated efforts…we need to take this fight to the streets.

To that point, I’m asking that you do these three simple things:

  1. Create a Spotify account if you don’t already have one; it’s free.
  2. Follow my actual artist page here: https://open.spotify.com/artist/7Lx9QDuqrvKCyr1jr1Q324
  3. Finally (and most important!) set up this playlist to play on continuous repeat: https://open.spotify.com/user/22qcpuhhd2wlo4lwvhh6yvnii/playlist/25xZUV2uGPOQ5ZA7eQSZij.

You can even mute and minimize Spotify in the background as you do your thing, just keep the playlist going.

The point is to rack up as many spins of MY music as possible in the next 24-48 hours to perhaps get the attention of Steppenwolf Guy’s team. (If you use another streaming platform, feel free to make your own playlist of my music, or humor me and sign up for Spotify just for this!) Maybe that will effect a change here.

Thanks in advance, everyone! 😀

———
Visit the archive: https://therealjohnkay.wordpress.com

Website: https://therealjohnkay.com
Music: Spotify Artist Page
Podcast: Get After It w/ John Kay on iTunes
Twitter: @TheRealJohnKay
Instagram: @therealjohnkay
Facebook: /TheRealJohnKay

Let he who would move the world first move himself. — Socrates

Copyright © 2017 John Kay, All rights reserved.