Music Morsels - September 2000
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Music Morsels - September 2000
  • Crossroads - Glenn Hughes
  • Industry Profile - Blake Dowling - Front Row Management
  • Indie Band Spotlight - Ashley Collins - The Charms
CROSSROADS.......... Glenn Hughes by Mark E. Waterbury
Pivotal moments in musicians careers propelling them from obscurity to infamy
(As appearing in the September 2000 issue of Music Morsels.)

Over a period of two and a half decades playing music, Glenn Hughes has quietly achieved legendary status. The north-England born musician and songwriter was just a wide-eyed lad of twenty-one when the world first heard his thundering bass lines in the Mark III lineup of the seminal metal band Deep Purple. They also got a glimpse of Glenn's powerful voice and songwriting abilities, attributes that have served him well over the years. Through the 80's and 90's, Glenn continued to appear on albums by several bands, including another metal icon Black Sabbath, as well as creating a number of very good solo albums. In the year 2000, Glenn is still very much kicking ass, having just released another solo effort, "Return Of The Crystal Karma" or as the initials suggest...ROCK. But it may surprise many to know that the man whom many have tabbed the "Voice Of Rock" has a soul deep rooted in R&B.

As a youngster, Glenn listened to the radio like most kids do; however, his tastes were a little bit different. "I loved to sing to the radio. It was always on at my mom's house," he remembers. "My biggest influences were American R&B singers - people like Wilson Pickett, Otis Redding, "Little" Stevie Wonder, Al Green and Marvin Gaye. While most British boys were listening to the Beatles and the Stones, I was listening to American artists." Even though he first dabbled in guitar and piano, Glenn was thrust into singing in a school group, replacing a boy who had gone on vacation. In a similar twist of fate, his instrument playing would turn to the bass guitar. "I joined the band Trapeze because Mel Galley was in the band, and he was my idol and I would do anything to play in the band he was in. He told me that the bass player was leaving and asked if I wanted to play bass. I didn't even own a bass! So I bought a bass and had about three days to learn how to play it, and it was horrible because the first gig we played, I was playing the bass like it was a guitar. I wanted to be a guitarist, but I wound up being a lead singer/bass player." Trapeze, whose line up also included future Judas Priest drummer Dave Holland, released the album "Hot Wire" and were playing at the infamous Whiskey A Go-Go in L.A. when Glenn noticed that several members of the audience were taking an interest in his playing. They were of course Ian Paice, Ritchie Blackmore and Jon Lord of Deep Purple. "They were there for all three nights that I played, and I thought they must really like my playing. Then two weeks later, we were back in London, and Ritchie and Jon were in the audience at the Marquee, and I thought, geez, they must really like the band!" Glenn went out and had a couple of drinks with Ritchie and Jon after that show, and it seemed to him that he was being sort of "interviewed" to be a member of Deep Purple, considering all the questions they were asking. Around a month later, Deep Purple and Trapeze were both in New York City. Purple was playing at Madison Square Garden, and when Glenn went see them, they asked him to join them. "It was right when "Smoke On The Water" was number one. And I said no at first, because they wanted me to play bass and they were going to get another lead singer. But we worked it out."

Glenn recorded three studio albums with Deep Purple, often harmonizing with lead singer David Coverdale. Glenn did some of the lead vocals as well on "Come Taste The Band", the last album before the band's break up that included the doomed Tommy Bolin on guitar. "I really enjoyed my time in Deep Purple. I had a ball - when you're twenty-one years old and you get set with all this money and extras you get on the road like girls and drugs and all that crap. We had our own 727, we had limos, the roadies had roadies. It's very very fast and furious. I was like a kid in the candy store." The time in Deep Purple helped solidify Glenn's reputation as a three pronged threat: vocalist, bassist, and songwriter. This would make him a much sought after talent in the rock world over the next decade. He would put all his talents to good use in his first venture after Purple, a solo album called "Play Me Out" that included appearances by former Trapeze mates Mel Galley and Dave Holland as well as Pat Travers. "After Purple, I was the first one out of the gate with a solo album, and it was so badly promoted because it was so R&B. In Purple, I couldn't really let those early influences out."

Over the next nine years or so, Glenn would continue to do a number of projects, including the 1995 Gary Moore album, "Run For Cover". In 1986, he hooked up with an old friend of his, Tony Iommi to do the next Black Sabbath record. "I was in London doing a project, and Tony was looking to do almost a solo project. He originally was going to have Rob Halford and Ronnie James Dio and Tony Martin and I each sing a couple of the songs. And I wrote the whole thing with him in about two weeks and I just ended up singing it. There originally wasn't going to be just one singer." He did a brief and admittedly "abysmal" stint on the tour to support the album "Seventh Star" , but then he received an injury in an accident that caused blood to drip into his throat, thereby making it impossible for him to sing for three months. "It was a bizarre thing that happened. I had to write little notes to everybody because I couldn't talk. I didn't think I was going to sing again." But Glenn did come back, first by writing a theme song for the movie "Dragnet" with Tom Hanks and Dan Akyroyd. He also did two albums with Phenomenon and one with George Lynch in the late 80's.

The 90's would see seven solo albums by Glenn Hughes, several showing the R&B side of his early influences while others showed the signature classic rock stylings from the Deep Purple days. The latter is descriptive of his latest release "Return Of The Crystal Karma", and a tour is in the works for early next year with the band that has worked on Glenn's previous solo projects. But Glenn is also really into the R&B side to his music . "I did want to make a rock record to see how many damn people out there are still interested in rock music in its classic form. I'm ready to go full tilt funk, because I am an R&B singer. They call me the "Voice Of Rock" and that's very cute, but I'm definitely an R&B singer." Whether the next effort by Glenn Hughes will be R&B or rock based, one thing is for certain -his passion for music is going to keep him writing and performing for many years to come. "With Glenn Hughes you never know what is coming next, and I'm very heavily influenced by funk and R&B. I do this because I'm an artist and I love to paint pictures musically. I'm proud of what I do and I love to write songs."

INDUSTRY PROFILE - Blake Dowling - Front Row Management
by Mark E. Waterbury
(As appearing in the September 2000 issue of Music Morsels.)

As a youngster growing up in Alabama and Florida, Houston-born Blake Dowling gained a real passion for the guitar that helped kindle his general love for music. He actually tried to play the instrument , but that did not work out too well. "In high school, I played guitar in a band...very badly," he whimsically recalls. "But I was loving the rock guitar and I just knew that one day I would work in the music field because of the gratification." Blake attended the University Of Florida in Gainesville, where he majored in special event planning and also served as the social chairman for his fraternity. It was there that he met Andy Levine, who was managing a popular local band called Sister Hazel. Blake also ran a special event company called Gator Stompin' that booked bands for a special event the last night of finals each semester. Among the bands that he had booked were Sister Hazel and the Floyds, who later became Marvelous 3. "That's where I was really bitten by the music bug. And there was a musical side to event planning." After graduation, Blake moved to Atlanta where he went to work for a company called Creative Event Marketing. He moved up the ladder from market research to onsite coordinator and account manager. But the music bug was set in him, and he soon left that company to take on the position of tour manager for the Charlie Mars Band. "I knew their manager Rich Walsh very well, and he gave me the opportunity even though I didn't have any actual tour manager experience. I did some research on (tour managing) and I knew that I wanted to work in the music industry, I just had to find an in. The event coordination skills helped point me in that direction." Originally Rich wanted Blake to be a college booking agent, but Blake opted for the tour manager position, and did around one hundred dates with the Charlie Mars Band from Washington D.C. to Dallas. "We had a ball! It was a crash course in the music industry. Charlie Mars was fortunate enough to have some markets in Mississippi and Texas where you could pack around a thousand people in a room." At the end of the tour, Blake contacted Rodney Stamell of Front Row Management, a company that also included Andy Levine. Being friends with Sister Hazel helped bring Blake on board with the company. "They trusted me. We already had trust established, and because we were a small company and our duties overlapped, it was easy for me to come on board." Initially, he worked with the band the Blue Dogs for around a month, and then began working as project manager with a band from Austin called Dexter Freebish that just won the John Lennon Songwriting Contest. "The first week we flew to Dallas to meet with the band, and the following week, we flew to L.A. to talk to Capitol Records who were the first label to show interest in the band. Within a month, we were on Capitol Records, and we went to work." Blake eventually became Senior Project Manager, working with all the artists signed to Front Row Management, including a local independent band called Marathon. The company handles everything from booking and tour routing to art direction and publicity. Down the road sometime, Blake would like to get into concert promotions, but right now, he is really enjoying his work with Front Row Management. "It's nice that Sister Hazel is on the road and packing the houses. We try to get out to the major market shows. We went to Washington D.C. with them recently, and had the chance to see them play at Al Gore's house. Just hearing them live and seeing the crowd reaction, hearing the songs on the radio, seeing everything come together, seeing the guys happy, that's what I get most of my gratification from."

INDIE ARTIST SPOTLIGHT - Ashley Collins - The Charms by Mark E. Waterbury
(As appearing in the September 2000 issue of Music Morsels.)

What do you expect when a rock and roll band hits the stage carrying an exotic assortment of instruments such as violins, mandolins and the didjeridoo? If that band is Atlanta's The Charms, you can expect a high energy enjoyable show of rock sprinkled with traditional Irish and Celtic stylings. Formed in 1995 by singer/guitarist Ashley Collins and violinist/keyboardist Eric Toomsen, The Charms are already carving a name for themselves. They have played at the Philadelphia and Atlantis music conferences, as well as playing a string of club dates in Austin, Texas during the prestigious South By Southwest conference, garnering more praise from several avenues than those bands actually playing the showcases. Adding bassist Brandt Fincher and drummer Don Correu after their second CD release "Not Bad For A Bad Day" in 1999, The Charms toured the Southeast and Northeast, and gained a sponsorship with Guinness beer. Chomping at the bit to tour farther out and spread their unique brand of rock and roll across the nation and beyond, Ashley Collins chats with Music Morsels about The Charms...charm.

MM: What was the first thing that inspirred you to pursue a music career?

AC: I started playing guitar when I was about eleven. I was a big Alice Cooper fan,. That was the type of music I got into.

MM: Were you in many bands before The Charms?

AC: I was in bands back in school that played songs by Black Sabbath and similar music. I was in a punk rock band for awhile and that was rather interesting. All the skin-heads used to come to the gigs. Then I went over to Spain for awhile and had a band there. After Spain, I went to Amsterdam and went around playing in bars and passing the hat. Then when I came over to the States, I formed The Charms.

MM: How did the Charms form?

AC: I was working with an ex-girlfriend of mine, and were were just going around to pubs (in Atlanta) and playing. We were doing pretty much the kind of music that we are doing right now. Then we met Eric (Toomsen), and he and I just started playing together.

MM: Was that something you had wanted to do, take rock and roll and mix it with traditional Irish and Celtic sounds?

AC: There was a band called the Levelers, and that was the kind of thing I had in mind most of all. I saw a video of them and I thought is was really interesting, using violin and mandolin instead of using the bloody electric guitar all of the time. It was more interesting, so that was the sort of thing I wanted to go for.

MM: Do you feel that this music has caught on so far, and what sort of feedback do you get from the people who hear your music?

AC: Generally most people like it. We've had really old people come up and say they like it. We've played some colleges around here and young people really like it. I think it's because it's a little bit different from what you normally hear.

MM: How big would you say your fan base is and how far spread beyond Atlanta area?

AC: I know we have quite a few people on the mailing list. We went down to Austin (Texas) one time and got quite a good fan base down there. We've been there a couple of times and started getting these people actually coming out to watch our show. Unfortunately we haven't been back there in a while. But I think we must have three or four hundred people at least on the mailing list.

MM: How do you compare the music in your most recent CD "Not Bad For A Bad Day" with the debut CD?

AC: I think there were quite a few mistakes on it actually. I think some of the songs were a bit overproduced. I listen to it now I wish that we had been a little more fickle. But at the time it was just me and Eric, we did not have Brandt and Don yet. We really might want to record the whole thing again and make it a lot more simple. But actually we would eventually want to do a whole new CD and maybe take some of the songs off of "Not Bad.." and redo them.

MM: How did you get the sponsorship with Guinness and what has that done for the band?

AC: We got in contact with them through Fado's Irish Pub here, because we regularly play there. We originally did a Guinness Bash for them and it went really well and everyone seemed to enjoy it. So we got in contact with them about a sponsorship which actually happened. We've had a couple of gigs that they have given us so far. We have a gig in a couple of weeks in Raleigh, North Carolina, opening up for Sister Hazel. Another thing is the Guinness Toast where they get a crowd of people together and get everyone to drink Guinness at the same time. And that was a lot of fun.

MM: What are some of the things the band has been doing to try to increase awareness and what else do you want to do in the future?

AC: A couple of years ago, we did the Atlantis conference, and then we did the South By Southwest shows. We just keep going around and playing and hope that people like our music. The best thing for us now is we are looking to get a booking agent who can get some good gigs for us beyond the area. We actually don't do very well in Atlanta because you get people in some of the bars here who think we are going to come in and do "Oh Danny Boy", even when we send them a CD. They don't seem to realize that it is rock music, it's just got a violin and other instruments. In Austin, we went over real well. We weren't actually in South By Southwest, but we went down there the same time it was on because there is a Fado's location there. We actually got about a three minute slot on the TV. They did a little story on us when they were doing stories about bands. We played there for about six days and after the second day we had this huge amount of people coming to see us. It went real well. There are different levels of success, and I wouldn't be surprised if we get quite a large following. But ours is not the type of music that is going to end up on MTV. It's all boy bands these days, and we're getting a bit old for that.
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