Music Morsels - December 2001
Music Morsels - December 2001
  • Crossroads - Neal Morse of Transatlantic
  • Industry Profile - Angel Davis of Sheheshe Music Services
  • Unsigned Band Spotlight - Pianist/Film Composer Jeffrey Michael

This month's CROSSROADS feature interview
Pianist/Film Composer JEFFREY MICHAEL

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Editor's Note:
Happy Holidays everyone!
In spite of the tragic incidents of 9/11, let's all please dig deep into our hearts to find our holiday spirit and share kindness and compassion with everyone. Lately, some of us in this very tough business have found that people are on edge and are not as kind as they used to be. If anything, we at Music Morsels feel the events of 9/11 should do exactly the opposite. Please help one another. Please search for your compassion deep within your heart and act on compassion.
Remember we are all in this together. Live in the holiday spirit!

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December, 2001
MUSIC MORSELS - The legal stuff
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Copyright 2004 by Music Morsels, a Serge Entertainment Publication.
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Hope begins in the dark, the stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come. You wait and watch and work; you don't give up. - Anne Lamott



2. INDUSTRY PROFILE - ANGEL DAVIS of Sheheshe Music Services by Mark E. Waterbury

3. SPOTLIGHT REVIEW/ALBUM CAPSULES - Creed, CD Baby Disaster Relief Compilation, Transatlantic, Jeffrey Michael, Fred Moolten, Beam, the Gregory James Band, Totally Blind Drunk Drivers, The Cogs, Tribute to Big Star - by Mark E. Waterbury


5. QUIPS & QUOTES - Stories & Sayings to keep you motivated in your music career

6. UNSIGNED BAND SPOTLIGHT - Pianist/Film Composer JEFFREY MICHAEL by Mark E. Waterbury

7. MUSIC BIZ NEWS AND OPPORTUNITIES - compiled by Sandy Serge

8. MUSIC INDUSTRY MARKETING SHOWCASE - the latest and greatest music industry products and services



1. CROSSROADS.......... NEAL MORSE of TRANSATLANTIC by Mark E. Waterbury
Pivotal moments in musicians careers propelling them from obscurity to infamy

The mid-80's was the era in which the phrase "supergroup" became a fairly commonplace term for bands whose members had previously been in other famous acts. Even though the 70's band Bad Company could easily be defined as a supergroup considering the lineage of the members, the 80's with the popularity of bands like Asia and GTR as well as later incarnations of Whitesnake and David Lee Roth's post-Van Halen band created that need for a term, hence the creation of the supergroup moniker. You don't hear that term as much nowadays, but it can definitely apply to the progressive rock foursome Transatlantic. Prog rock has turned out a number of...well, more like "super projects," such as Liquid Tension Experiment or Platypus. Transatlantic, although made from members of bands that are all currently active, seems to be headed more in the direction of going beyond just being a one-time side project. One sign of this is that they have released a second studio CD, "Bridge Across Forever" as a follow-up to their somewhat successful debut "SMPTe" and subsequent live release "Live In America." One essential element in being a super group is that the members have had to make that climb with their own bands before they can be united with their peers who have made that climb as well. Transatlantic is made up of Spock's Beard vocalist and instrumentalist Neal Morse, Flower Kings guitarist Roine Stolt, Marillion bassist Pete Trewavas, and Dream Theater drummer Mike Portnoy so it is obvious that the talented players in this band have already paid their dues.

Neal Morse had been singing since a young age, his father being a choir director. He also saw the Beatles on the Ed Sullivan Show, and his family used to play Beatles records at gatherings and watch him dance around to the music. When he grew older he saw Yes open for Black Sabbath which is when Neal became hooked on progressive rock. Along with his singing, he had also taken piano lessons at age five, and began playing guitar at age nine. "We had a music room that had all the rock instruments set up," Neal remembers. "Just for fun, we played music. I didn't play much sports as a teenager, we just jammed all the time. All my friends were musicians, too, and by the time I was twelve I was already playing in bands, doing Black Sabbath and Deep Purple covers, and that's when it really hit me this is what I wanted to do."

Neal played in a number of bands including a band called Windows that had some success in the new jazz market. He also played at frat parties with a friend named Skipper Wise who had a number of records out. Skipper had a studio and was producing the Spencer Davis group, and he brought in a number of friends to play on the album including Neal. The album actually only had a very limited release in Europe, and was not the springboard for Neal's career. "I did a course called the Landmark Forum, which is about creating new futures for yourself. One of the things that I wanted to get over was I was kind of depressed about music, because of my upset about having no success in music. I was performng in bars or in the corner of a restaurant playing "Brown-Eyed Girl" or "Sweet Home Alabama" to make a living. I had let that kind of fall into how I felt about music in general and I wasn't really writing anymore, so I did that course to get past this. And I saw that I had the two domains of business and music collapse in my mind. And once I separated it I realized that I had not gotten into music for the money, and then the creativity just exploded. I had been trying to get a deal as a singer/songwriter in L.A. for a number of years. So from the ashes of that I was like, screw it! If I'm going to fail, I might as well fail doing something that I love."

So in 1991, Neal brought his brother Al in to play guitar on some of the songs that he had written. At first, Neal was recording the music just for fun. He did not really have anything in mind. But Al was very excited about it and wanted to start a band. "Both of us had been through so many bands that had failed. And all the fighting and everything, so many miserable band situations. But he said that it would be different this time because we'd just do it for fun." Thus was the formation of the band Spock's Beard, and the subsequent release of their debut album "Light." They ensured that the music and the recording was as high a quality as possible, and as a result, it soon was noticed by the underground prog rock scene. Prog rock was more popular in Europe, so Spock's Beard decided to tour there. Word began to spread about them, and although they never became huge, they still enjoyed solid success, selling around one hundred thousand total units of their five releases in the 90's. "We thought we were the only ones doing this type of music, and we found out that there was already this small market place there so we just brought in our stuff, and then everyone really got into it."

One person who enjoyed Spock's Beard's music was drummer Mike Portnoy, from a more commercially successful prog rock band Dream Theater. "I never met Mike, although we e-mailed each other several times. I e-mailed him to thank him because in Dream Theater interviews, they included whole paragraphs talking about (Spock's Beard) as their influences and how much they liked us. We were so grateful for that because it turned a lot of people on to us. When Mike called me and asked me to do an album with him, I said, "Of course I will!" After the original choice for guitarist Jim Matheos from Fates Warning was unavailable, Neal brought in Flower Kings guitarist Roine Stolt who he met in 1997 at L.A.'s Progfest. Then Mike contacted Marillion bassist Pete Trewavas and the lineup was complete. Because of the schedules of the various members of the band that would be named Transatlantic, it took about a year to get the foursome into the studio to record the debut "SMPTe." In 2000, the band actually toured the East Coast and recorded some shows for what was originally supposed to be music available only on the internet. But the record companies wanted it, especially in Europe, so they released a full-fledged CD "Live in America." Even with the top notch credentials of the band, the notoriety for Transatlantic itself has been a bit slow, as prog rock is still a fairly underground genre. But there was enough interest, once again primarily in Europe, to entice the band to return to the studio to record their second studio effort "Bridge Across Forever". "My impression is that most of the Transatlantic fans are fans of our other bands," notes Neal. "But I think it has been good for everyone, it has brought more notice from Marillion or Dream Theater fans to Spock's Beard, and more notice from our fans to the other acts, more notice for everyone."

Transatlantic is currently touring for the first time in Europe where there is more of a prog rock scene, and they may consider some live dates in the U.S., but much of that will depend on the schedules of their main bands. Neal is working with Spock's Beard on that band's sixth album, slated for release next April and to be followed by a tour of Europe and the U.S.. Neal is hoping though, even while keeping Spock's Beard going, Transatlantic will also continue on and cultivate a wider-spread popularity. With being able to feed his passion into two projects, he is very happy with where his life is at right now. "We have to see what the future holds for us. I'm a spiritual guy. We have to see what God has in store for us and what he wants us to do. As long as it continues, I love doing it. It's such a thrill and an honor to play with some of the best players in the world. What a dream come true for me, both as a composer and a person. I'm making a living off of just doing this now, and if that isn't success, I don't know what is." :->



A person's passion can often turn into their career. Then there are people who already have a career, and find out what their true passion is, and that passion can then become their life's work at a later time. Angel Davis was born in Brooklyn, and lived on the East Coast until the age of fourteen when she moved to California. After she attended college in Hawaii, she became a police officer for the city of San Diego, a career she kept for twenty years until retiring. During the later years of her tenure at the department, she moonlighted as a security guard for a radio talk show host that she knew. In 1994, her ex-husband had a friend who had written some country songs. "I thought they were very good and wanted to know why he didn't do anything with them," Angel recalls. "He indicated that he did not really know what to do with them, so I just started pitching them for him. I met some publishers who told me how I could get into publishing."

Angel opened her own publishing firm Davis and Davis Music, and basically learned the business on her own, with help from various publishers who she knew such as Sonny Christopher and Richard McGinty. "They both gave me a lot of hows and wheres about what to and how to go about it. And I ended up managing to place two hundred and seven independent songs with independent artists during a two year period." It was during this time she met Cody Blake who owned a recording studio. They began working together and at one point were working with a Christian musician from Australia named Trevor Thomas. They produced a demo for him, and Trevor wanted to get some U.S. airplay. "So we said, "Let's give it a shot. So I fell into radio promoting and that started it. But it took off so well, and we just seemed to have the knack for being able to talk to a music director. I gave up the publishing business to go into radio promotion full time." They tried promoting Trevor to both commercial and independent radio, but soon found that commercial radio was still in a pay-for-play mode. Finding out that this is the nature of the beast throughout commercial radio these days, they concentrated their efforts on the independent radio market instead. "We've had so many indie stations tell us that first of all there is no way they are going to sell out to the big radio groups. And they were not going to be told what to play and were tired of the same old five or ten artists over and over. So they liked playing the independent artists as well." Angel and Cody call their company Sheheshe, with Angel handling the radio promotion and Cody doing primarily mastering and some recording. The company started in 1996 with just the two of them, and has since grown to ten personnel. Their client list has also grown, and some of them have garnered major label notice, such as the hip-hop group F. O. N. and the band II Big. "To get airplay even on the independent level, first an artist has to have a pressed product and a CD in a jewel case. And they need to stay in pitch...that's the number one! If they can't stay in pitch, we're not interested. And they need to have a sound that is fairly unique, something that is going to catch the ear. Not every song on every album is going to do that but if there is one song on the album that stands out and keeps going through our heads, we know there is something we can do with it."

Indie musicians who want to break into radio need to heed this advice because in this current tough radio market, companies like Sheheshe and promoters like Angel Davis are the most viable avenue for these musicians to get their music out to the masses. "We have one artist that did their own mailings and mailed to commercial stations, and they wanted us to track the airplay for them. Every single station has either told us that they had not received it - which is a good excuse for not playing it - or they play charts only or they only play major artists. In other words, that band wasted their CDs, wasted their posters, and we could have told them in advance that those were not the stations to go to. Independent artists trying to break into commercial stations are just wasting their money." Beyond getting airplay with the independent stations, Angel also tries to encourage their clients to get out and tour or at least gig, as well as having a web-presence and hiring a publicist if they are going to be serious. "We have some artists that we call "Ego Bands". They are playing in their back yard and their home town because they want mom to hear them on the radio. We'll promote them but we know they are not really going to go anywhere. They will always be a backyard band. When they're forty-five, they're going to be playing in the same beer bars. The bands that are out touring, have publicity, have a web presence and work on another album after completing their first one, we know they're serious."

Angel enjoys interacting with the music directors of the independent stations, and helps keep their relationships solid by not pushing too hard if an MD is not interested in a particular band that may not fit their format. She also is very happy in her second career, enjoying it much more than her earlier career in law enforcement. "Doing this is a lot of fun, it's not really like a job. And I've gotten to the point where I don't buy any music from major artists. I've found so much indie music that I really like that I'd much rather hear their material then the same old stuff over and over. I love what I do and I love this end of the business." :->



Creed - Weathered
Wind-Up - 60150-13075-2

The third CD by Florida's Creed is going to be huge, probably their biggest yet. It's pretty well cut and dried, especially with the burgeoning popularity of the hit "My Sacrifice" that was released several weeks prior to the album itself. And as usual, shouting against the millions of fans of this passionate heavy rock outfit is that very vocal minority that seems to absolutely despise Creed. Well, everyone is entitled to their own opinions, but we already now that over 887,000 people really like Creed after only the first week of Weathered's sales. More often than not, howver, it seems that the people who hate Creed are people who are into heavy music. Creed IS heavy music! See a discrepancy here? Do these people hate them because they have become such a huge commercial success? If that is the reason to dislike a band, then I cannot understand it, because Creed should be lauded for the hard work they have done during their grueling climb to the top. It did not happen instantly for them. They had to bust their asses with live performances to build that fan base as they polished those intense live shows before they could reap the rewards on the charts and on commercial radio. This alone should make them a paradigm for every musician who wants to make it big, as well as a band that gives serious credibility to today's heavy rock market, something most other bands in that genre fall quite short of. And if their radio songs are a tad commercial, so what? They are still laden with a lot more passionate intensity than most bands on the airwaves nowadays. And even if you eschew any music that comes from commercial radio, you need to delve deeper into the other songs on Creed's albums, particularly those on "Weathered". The CD kicks off with the utterly explosive and thought-provoking "Bullets" featuring several facets of Scott Stapp's stellar vocal work. This is followed by "Freedom Fighter" with a driving groove and more blistering guitar licks from Mark Tremonti, and fat beats from drummer Scott Phillips. "Who's Got My Back" has a slightly Middle Eastern feel, beginning as a seething ballad before exploding into an intense finish. Throughout the CD, there are more songs that can melt the walls with their intensity, combined with the slightly tamer but still mighty tunes that seem destined to follow "My Sacrifice" as further hits. I truly hope these naysayers of this band are not musicians themselves, because if they used Creed as a model to become successful with their own music, they may actually have a chance in today's cutthroat market. For those who just hate them for no good reason, you probably get off on being outspoken and unique, but if you truly get into music that is dripping with passion and intensity, and also (beyond all the grandiose plaudits) rocks you straight through to your soul, then you are fooling yourself if you ignore or revile Creed. To put it in its simplest terms, quoting Mick Jagger, "It's Only Rock and Roll but I like it," - and I'm sure there will be millions thinking the same thing when they play their copy of "Weathered".

The World Will Remember - Various Artists
It's no surprise that after the tragic events in America on September 11th many big music stars donated their efforts to help those affected by the attacks. But the little folks are getting involved, too, and "The World Will Remember", a collection of artists from the on-line retailer CD Baby is donating all proceeds from this CD to the American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund. Along with this being a good cause, you get a glimpse of some great indie music acts as well. All the music is well-crafted on this seventeen track effort, with subject matter that is timely with the events of that dark day. Some real stand outs include the breathlessly touching vocals of San Antonio's Lady Jane Grey on "Twilight" and the contemporary pop of Vermont's Derrik Jordan on "Something Beautiful", showcasing the smooth power of his voice. "Time" by the Charlotte, North Carolina band Neglected Sheep has an uplifting quality with its snappy groove and hooky guitars, while the haunting piano and lilting harmonies of "Demystified, Disenchanted" by Boston's TASM Lab tug at your emotions. This tribute CD is a nice introduction to some very talented people who may have less to give to the cause but are giving nonetheless. And the music also helps remind everyone that there still is plenty of goodness in this world as well. URL: E-mail:

Transatlantic - Bridge Across Forever
Radiant/Metal Blade - 3984-14382-2
What can you expect from a band that features a member each from Dream Theater, Spock's Beard, Flower Kings and Marillion? If you are expecting prodigious talents weaved into dramatically intense music that take the structures more of orchestrated compositions than garden variety rock songs, then you get plenty of that with Transatlantic's second studio CD "Bridge Across Forever". But you get aso much more, because this is not just cold, calculated music mapped out like a battle plan, but rather songs that are full of life with hooky, melodic passages interspersed with the fervent showmanship. If fact, those passages are more the soul of the music, infused by the powerful vocals of Neal Morse. Neal lends embellishments of various instruments to the brilliant guitar work of Roine Stolt, with the rhythmic fire set aflame by the deity-like rhythm tandem of bassist Pete Trewavas and drummer Mike Portnoy. There are only four songs, but except for the five minute title track, they all are epic length and are also very listenable from start to finish. The main reason is that while it would be easy for players with this much ability to show off, they keep the flashiness under control and concentrate instead on writing songs that really feel like they come from the heart and soul. URL:

Jeffrey Michael - Reflections
Fireheart Music - JM08
This most recent CD from Michigan-born pianist and composer Jeffrey Michael delves even further into the passions and talents of this possible rising star. The lead title track is a perfect example of his style, with a lovely mellow feel but still a touch of drama that lends a nice laid-back intensity to the music. Jeffrey's love for music scoring can be heard in the music, as many of the tunes on "Reflections" feel as though they could fit well in a variety of cinematic situations. "Hero" shows a little bit of a pop-ish side to Jeffrey, while also showing some strong classical roots. These roots are even more evident on "Pachelbel Canon Variations," where Jeffrey plays his own interpretations to the master's work with wonderful results. Little flourishes of new age and even a sly touch of ambient jazz add further flavor to the divine music on this CD, but the overall theme here is that while he has obvious strong roots and influences, Jeffrey is talented enough to develop a signature sound that is sure to be enjoyed by connoisseurs of fine instrumental music. URL:

Jeffrey Michael - Winter Spirits
Fireheart Music
This perspective on classic holiday music by pianist Jeffrey Michael continues to display his talents on not only performing but arranging and composing music. To give you a good taste, he leads off with a self-composed song "Winter Spirits - Part One: Snow" that aurally paints a picture of a beautiful morning following a fresh snowfall. Following this are Jeffrey's takes on the classics, beginning with a luscious interpretation of "Silent Night." His classical roots show again to great effect with his version of Bach's "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring," and "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" is lit with a reverent passion. You know the words to all of these songs, but the music is so wonderfully interpreted with amazing doses of passion you are more inclined to just sit and listen, enjoying the season and the talents of Jeffery Michael. URL:

Fred Moolten - The Way We Are
Great Gull Records - moolten888
This CD, musically and lyrically written and co-produced by Massachusetts resident Fred Moolten is a wonderful collection of good time tunes that can be enjoyed by a range of music lovers in any situation. The lead track "It Ain't Rock" isn't...instead it's a snappy Dixieland romp with a slyly patriotic undercurrent. "Night Love" follows with a sweet, bluesy ballad, and then you get another side of Fred's musical perspective with a uniquely pop-ish rock ditty "Night Song" that features some rather dark lyrics. Adding to the variety theme of the CD is "Anniversary Tune" which has a smoky ballroom blues feel, and the gutsy "I've Got Peace and Quiet," with its soulful R&B groove. Here you have a serious mosaic of musical styles on this album, but the songs are all quite entertaining with an interesting edge added by the coy intelligence of the lyrics. Add to this the talented assemblage of players on the album and you have a great vehicle for Fred Mootlen, who has some serious talents in songwriting and composing. URL:

Beam - Platinum
SCH Music
Charleston, South Carolina's hard-rocking fivesome Beam put some very unexpected slants into their music, making it unique while keeping various recognizable influences intact. "Live It Up" makes you think a bit of Social Distortion and Limp Bizkit - and I'm using those bands mainly as descriptive reference points, because the music has a sound of its own. Brasher elements of rock and roll are mixed with doses of groove and little morsels of hip-hop and even prog. This is the band's third CD so there is a definite sound of maturity, but also a solid feel of raw vigor that really gives the songs an extra jolt. You can tell that these are some very talented players, but they also throw their guts and balls into the music, making it powerful without being overblown. Stylistically, they don't stray too far from the same hard-driving pulse through the CD's six tracks, but that pulse itself has enough uniqueness to appeal to a broad base of rockers, who hopefully will appreciate a band that does not sound like everything else out there these days. URL:

The Gregory James Band - Reincarnation
Rogue Records - 1080-3
San Francisco guitarist Gregory James' eighth release "Reincarnation" is another hot collection of smooth jazz with heady instrumentations and a mellow but also lively vibe. Think the likes of Pat Metheny and Chuck Mangione jamming with folks like Bilal and Tim Weisburg. There are many flavors going into Gregory's take on modern jazz, from funk and Spanish influences to hip-hop and a bit of new age. It's an ambient feel that could be a great backdrop for a moonlit cruise with someone special or a fun time hanging out with friends. Except that this music would not be a mere backdrop, it would definitely make people listen and take notice, stemming primarily from the obvious abilities of Gregory and the musicians he surrounds himself with. Their talents put the real life into this CD and will keep you enthralled with the catchy grooves and prolific musicianship well into the night. URL:

Totally Blind Drunk Drivers - The Breast Off
LunaSea Records - 1001
Hailing from Estonia, Totally Blind Drunk Drivers appear to have been weaned on a steady diet of punk rock legends, both from Europe and the U.S.. The lead track "Happylife" brings to mind the power of early Iggy Pop and the happy brashness of The Ramones. As you dive further into the CD of mostly tight, short songs, you also hear influences from relatively recent acts like The Pixies and Green Day. In spite of the title, the music is not particularly offensive, but rather that scatological happiness that some punkers latched onto by listening to Cheap Trick or watching The Monkees on TV in their formative years. The tunes still have enough edginess to please the mohawk/slam-dance crowd, but they are also hooky enough to catch the ear and start moving the feet of anyone who likes any type of modern rock. In any case, if this is an example of the type of music possible in that corner of the world since the fall of the iron curtain, than the end of the cold war was not the only positive thing to come out of that epic event. URL:

The Cogs - Open Kimono
LunaSea Records-1101
Think of the bubble gum cuteness of the Go-Go's combined with the street smarts of The Runaways and you have a good idea of what New York's The Cogs are all about. They also show a few different sides, from the tough-girl innocence of P.J. Harvey to the raucous fire of Babes in Toyland. This sophomore CD rips into the hooky but powerful "Ravages of Age" which has all the makings of a modern radio hit. The potent music stays in your face throughout the twelve tracks, with standouts being the full-force assault of "Misconstrued," the moody ballad "All The Wrong Reasons", and the biting rocker "Parasite of Love." The music tends to be fiery without being ear-numbing, and the vocals are very solid, keeping the thoughtful lyrics understandable but emotive nonetheless. Another band that proves there are still women who can flat-out rock in this business. URL:

A Tribute to Big Star
This tribute to the 70's Memphis band Big Star gives another chance for the world to experience the great music of this somewhat overlooked brainchild band of songwriter Alex Chilton. The wonderfully moody "Oh Dana" by Fooled By April is one of the more representative tracks, as is the ambient psychedelia of The Vestrymen's take on "Kangaroo." Other stand outs include the power pop of "September Gurls" by The Red Telephone, the folky ballad "You and Your Sister" by Mike Daly and the funky piano-laced acoustic slant by J.C. on the song "Take Care." For those of you who didn't experience the music of Big Star, and for those who did as well, this is a great introduction or remembrance of a band that, after listening to this music, you may think that the only reason they didn't become superstars was because they were a bit ahead of their time during that era. And there are twenty-three bands on this CD that sound like they believe in that statement. URL: :->



Billy Ray Reynolds - Writer, Singer, Actor, Storyteller, Friend

It's often been said in this industry that it's "who you know" that counts, but that's only true to a point. "Who you know" will get you in the door but once you're in that door, you had better "blow it off" with unique material. Such is the case with Billy Ray Reynolds who, in his youth, worked construction by day and nightclubs by night in his Mississippi home around Jackson, Greenville and Gulfport/Biloxi. Billy's big break came when a friend booked him to open a concert for Waylon Jennings as his career was just taking off. Waylon liked what he heard and hired Billy Ray to be an integral part of his group "The Waylors". For many years, he added vocals and guitar on many of Waylon's great recordings and, in fact, Waylon recorded many of Billy Ray's songs including "It's High Time You Quit Your Lowdown Ways", "Sandy Sends Her Best" and "Atlanta's Burning Down".

Billy Ray moved to Nashville in late 1967 and signed a three year songwriting contract with Pete Drake's "Window Music" and soon after, he was signed by Epic Records as an artist. I had the pleasure and honor of meeting Billy Ray in the late '60's when Clyde Pitts (another great writer) brought him by my office. Billy played me one song "I Sure Learned Alot From You" and it struck both myself and Slim Whitman to the extent that the song was cut. Just recently, Billy told me that I produced his very first song in Nashville. As I mentioned, that was quite an honor for me because he went on to write songs for (besides Waylon) Johnny Cash, Jack Clement, Tanya Tucker, The Allman Brothers, Johnny Rodriguez, Debby Boone, John Conlee, Gary Stewart, Johnny Darrell and would you believe Telly Savalas - just to mention a few. His song "It'll Be Her" received many awards and has been recorded countless times.

Besides his musical talent, Billy Ray is also an accomplished actor, having roles in many feature films plus appearances in "Heat of the Night", "Unsolved Mysteries", "I'll Fly Away", "Roots", and "North and South".

What intrigues me most about Billy Ray though is his vast historical knowledge regarding the Civil War. In fact, he not only has a unique and well-presented CD titled "Privates to the Front", but he also does a Civil War presentation on a luxury excursion liner called the "River Explorer". Being a Canadian, I wasn't well-versed at all about the Civil War, but Billy Ray took care of that in a hurry! He also has a new CD that he co-produced that is as good as any piece of product on the market. You can get in touch with Billy Ray Reynolds regarding the CDs "Number One Thrill" and "Privates to the Front" at P.O. Box 158592, Nashville, TN 37215. You won't be disappointed with either project after hearing them.

Billy Ray still stays in daily contact with his old pal Waylon and, personally, I have pleasure of meeting Billy Ray almost every morning at our "Breakfast Club" where we exchange "war stories". I thought you might be interested in just how some talented individuals make it so to speak in Nashville and I guess that the moral of this story is: Don't ever pass up the opportunity to open for a budding or established superstar in this business. What a waste of talent it would be if Billy Ray was still working construction in Ole' Miss. :->



Stories & Sayings to keep you motivated in your career

No life ever grows great until it is focused, dedicated and disciplined. - Harry Emerson Fosdick :->


6. UNSIGNED ARTIST SPOTLIGHT - Pianist/Film Composer JEFFREY MICHAEL by Mark E. Waterbury

It not only takes a lot of work for an independent musician to gain success in the current music business climate, but it also takes an aptitude by the musician or musicians to treat their career just as it should be treated; like a small business. Jeffrey Michael understands this, and is already beginning to carve a name for himself in a fairly brief period. A self-taught pianist and composer originally from Detroit and recently transplanted to the Tampa Bay area, Jeffrey has found that his musical styles, mixing new age and classical with elements influenced by movie scores, is often quite popular with the people at arts and craft festivals. Of course, one difference with most arts and craft fests is that you actually have to rent the booth space to perform there, but this has paid off quite well in CD sales for Jeffrey, who to this date has sold around 35,000 copies of his various CDs. Jeffrey also plays at other venues and events, and has garnered a decent amount of independent radio airplay. But he has a deep passion for film scoring, and has already scored the music for a low-budget indie horror movie. The people who produced that movie are looking into producing a future movie with an a-list actor involved, prompting Jeffrey to contemplate a move to California to follow his dream of scoring for movies. This interview with Jeffrey shows how his passion for the creative elements combined with his perspective on the business side of music may help launch him to wide spread notoriety.

MM: What first inspired you to pursue a career in music?

JM: My great grandmother used to play piano all the time, and I used to sit at the piano with her and bang on the keys. I wasn't making any sense of it. But just hearing the piano I fell in love with it. Then a few years later, it began to make sense and I became able to play a few songs by ear.

MM: Are you completely self-taught?

JM: When I was very young, my mother had me take piano lessons for a couple of weeks. But I had attention deficit syndrome and I couldn't really concentrate on anything. My older brother took lessons for six months, and I used to listen to him and pick up passages by ear. And that's how my learning went for a long time. When I was about eleven, I started writing some really basic compositions. My uncle brought me some tapes by people like George Winston and much of the new age music on the Narada label. He accidentally left them at my house and I jumped right in and started listening to them. I thought they sounded like something I could play, so I started figuring out what goes with what and made my own compositions out of them.

MM: When did you decide you wanted to oursue a career in music?

JM: When I was about fifteen years old, I had written about eight songs. My girlfriend talked me into getting into a talent show at school. I was basically afraid to perform in front of people, but I went and did it anyway. I won the talent show and ever since then I just had to perform in front of people. A few months later, my dad suggested I get a job doing something like flipping burgers. Instead of doing that, I asked him for some money so I could record my songs and sell them to the kids at the school. So he agreed with that, and I sold around three thousand CDs at the high school. I literally had a brown bag and would go up to people asking them, "Do you want to buy a tape?". That ended up being my senior quote. (Laughs)

MM: Did the importance of actually getting in people's faces to sell your music translate to the present when you are playing at arts and craft fests?

JM: Yeah, people really like to talk to the actual composer. At my shows, I'll have other people selling my CDs for me while I'm performing. They do a good job, but it doesn't have the same effect as the customer talking to the actual composer. There's so much more of an extra respect involved.

MM: How did you get involved in the arts and craft fair circuit?

JM: My mom was always into arts and crafts fairs. She had an idea that I should set up at a craft show and play. I did it first at a small fair at my high school and I would make a couple of thousand dollars for a day selling CDs and I thought it was because all of these people knew me. But soon my mom gave me a contact at another small craft show where they wanted me to play. I did that one and sold a number of CDs there as well. I met someone at that fair who gave me a book of arts and craft fairs around the country. The book actually rates the attendance at the fairs, and I actually realized that doing smaller shows with a larger attendance was more lucrative. And I just started doing shows with a larger and larger attendance.

MM: Isn't it a business investment playing at these events since you have to rent the booth space?

JM: Well, there are usually two options with these events. Some of the art fairs are big enough now that they do actually pay musicians to come in and perform on a stage. And they may pay them a thousand dollars or so to perform, but they are not really getting their CDs out to the people, it's more like background music. Whereas with me renting a booth, I'm right there directly in contact with the consumer. I'm selling my CDs, performing and being real personable with them. It's just a good thing, you sell four hundred CDs and you make four or five thousand dollars instead of just a thousand for performing. And you build your mailing list by another couple hundred people as well. I just think it's a smarter way of going about it when you're in the earlier stages of your career, especially with my type of music.

MM: Since you have created your own company to market yourself and your music, have you learned about all of the other business aspects of music as well?

JM: Yeah, everyday you learn something new. It's self-rewarding to have your own company although there are some days where I don't want to do it anymore, or I don't know what to do next. It can get a little overwhelming. Right now we have a lot of things going on, and I have a manager over in Sweden who is coordinating my team of publicists and radio promoters and the like. And there are days when I just want to relax and not do anything, and he has me calling people or sending correspondence out. I'm a creative person, and would just like to do the creative elements, and sometimes the business side gets in the way.

MM: When and how did you get involved with scoring movies?

JM: The tricky thing is that there is no real way to break into that business. I always knew that I loved music and I loved movies, but I never realized that I loved music from movies until I saw "Legends of the Fall." The score from that was uplifting and inspirational, and I just knew that is what I wanted to do. I wanted to make people feel the way I did when I heard that. So I started researching, collecting soundtracks, and that's where my training for orchestrating came from, just studying those soundtracks. That's why I characterize my music as cinematic piano. When I was younger, a friend of mine who was playing piano at a local mall used to let me play during his breaks because I was only about fifteen at the time and they wouldn't hire me there because I was too young. This guy went to Berklee College of Music studying film scoring, and he was just passing time doing radio commercials in the Detroit area. He taught me a lot about film music and the business of it and brought me into a seminar where I met several famous composers of movies. So that's how I started learning about it. I actually auditioned to Berklee to do the film scoring school, and was on the verge of getting a scholarship when they realized I didn't read music. So I researched other opportunities and I was playing an art festival and some people came up to me and told me that they were doing a horror movie called "Biker Zombies". They asked if I was interested in submitting a demo for it. They also had an open casting call for actors, so I said, "OK". I went home and researched the movie from the trailer that they had for it on-line and figured out the type of music that would be great for the film. I wrote about forty-five minutes of music, burned the CD and brought it in to them, also going in for the casting call. They gave me a co-starring part as well as saying that my music was perfect for the film. Tt was a low-budget movie, no one got paid anything for it but it was a good experience for me and I met a lot of people that are doing other films now.

MM: Did those connections introduce you to the movie "Dumping Ground" with William Baldwin in it?

JM: The people doing "Dumping Ground" are actually the same people who did "Biker Zombies". They have different screenwriters and an executive producer now. The way we had looked at it when we had started out is that we were a family, building the Detroit area film company. Jeff Daniels has an independent production company in Detroit, too. His company Purple Rose and our company Cross Bow Five use a lot of the same people like cinematographers - it's a Detroit-based entity - everybody's in the network together.

MM: What do people seem to like the most about your music?

JM: I hear people say that it's so beautiful and relaxing...sometimes they don't know what to say, they just like it. Some say it's romantic or enchanting, and many times I hear I sound like someone else, but that's just natural opinions.

MM: Why did you move to Florida?

JM: I do better at outdoor art festivals, and this time of year, it's better to be in Florida from now until April. Last year I had come down from January through March and did a number of art shows, and I learned so much about what shows were good or bad, and now of course I'm only doing the good shows, it's a better way to sell a lot of CDs. This year when I came down here, I organized things differently and better. I wasn't real happy with the way I budgeted for my company last year.

MM: What is your basic plan to take your career to the next level?

JM: I'm organizing it in two ways. I think I would go crazy if I just did piano music all of the time, but I want to have that side where I'm doing my piano music that people really like. But for me the film side of it is really satisfying. I have Fireheart Music the record label to release my CDs and then Fireheart Music the film production company, and those are going to be my two divisions. I'm moving to Huntington Beach, California when this stay in Florida is over, and I'm going to network as much as I possibly can out there and start scoring films. I always thought that I could do whatever I wanted whenever I wanted and that is what has brought me so much success. It's an attitude of thinking that you've done this all before, imagining that you're scoring this major film. I did not know how to picture that when I met those people with "Biker Zombies", but right now I picture myself on the podium with my Oscar speech. Then to achieve that goal it's plenty of hard work and never giving up. So when I go out to California I'll just meet everyone I can, and it will help that I already have a good scoring credit, and if I do "Dumping Ground" that should help me get a film agent.
For more information about Jeffrey Michael, please visit his web site at :->


News and Opportunities Compiled for Musicians, Songwriters and Music Professionals by Sandy Serge

Music Morsels encourages all of you with opportunities for musicians to email your press releases to for possible inclusion in this column. This column will be featured monthly. Deadline for inclusion is the 25th of the month for the upcoming issue.

Attn: Musicians: Got Good PR??
With all the responsibilities musicians have between writing, recording, performing and promoting their music, it can be a tough job juggling them all. Let us help you put your career on the fast track to success! Serge Entertainment PR is seeking additional rock (all styles), new age/instrumental and country music clients (musicians and labels) to add to its roster. For more information, please visit our web site at

Film Music Media Group has announced the upcoming publication of its expanded 2002 Film and Television Music Rate Survey, which has been newly expanded to include rates for a wide variety of music licensing fees for film, television, multimedia and corporate uses. The survey will also include rates for different areas of the industry including composers, music supervisors, orchestrators, conductors, musicians, agents and managers, music editors, contractors and scoring mixers. The survey, which will be conducted during January-February, 2002 and published in March, 2002, will be managed and edited by industry veteran Steven Corn of Corn Music Services, Inc. Corn's background includes positions as Executive Vice President of, Vice President and General Manager of music library Megatrax, and executive in charge of music for many theatrical and home video releases at LIVE Entertainment (now Artisan Entertainment). "We are very excited to have Steven Corn working with us on the survey - he brings to the table a wealth of experience in the industry, especially in the area of music licensing, which will be of tremendous benefit to the newly expanded survey," said Mark Northam, President of Film Music Media Group. "Last year's Film & TV Music Salary and Rate Survey was ground-breaking and proved to be another essential service that the Film Music Media Group provided to the film music community. With the addition of music licensing fees, this year's survey will be even more useful," says Steven Corn. He continues, "I am proud to help with Film Music's continuing commitment to support both professional and aspiring film composers and songwriters."

Nemo Applications Wanted Now - To submit your music for showcase consideration, call the NEMO office at 781-306-0441 or email to request an application. For more information go to: <{>Please check out In Music We Trust webzine at :->



Looking for products or services to assist you on your path to success?? Then look here! Ad rates are only $15. Your ad runs for 3 months and has visibility all over the world. For complete ad rates, contact . All ads are also posted on our web site at
Labels, musicians, songwriters - send your press kits with CDs for a possible upcoming review/interview to Sandy Serge - Editor, Music Morsels, P.O. Box 2760, Acworth, GA 30102 USA .


Music Morsels' Own Scott Turner Chronicles His Life In Audio Cassette Series Scott Turner Audio Cassette Series Tape #1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8. 9 & 10 Are Now Available! Scott Turner, renowned publisher/producer/songwriter and columnist for Music Morsels has begun his audio cassette series chronicling his 47 years in the music industry. Each 90 minute tape will highlight the important events in his music career from his first recording session and how he landed a recording deal to his days with Buddy Holly, Tommy Sands, Guy Mitchell, Eddie Fisher, Herb Alpert, Audie Murphy, Harry Nilsson, Phil Spector as well as his career at recording labels such as Central Songs and the country division at Liberty which eventually became United Artists. Each tape sells for $12 and will periodically include songs that have never been heard along with rare photos. The first tape chronicles Scott Turner's "Early Years" beginning in the mid-50's spoken by Scott Turner himself. Several publishers have approached him to write a book, but guess what? Scott Turner has graced us with the honor of presenting the treasured moments in his musical career on tape to you!

To order Tapes #1 - 10, please complete this form (copy and paste is easiest) and mail with your check or money order for $12 plus $1 shipping and handling per tape ($13 total) to: Scott Turner Cassette Series, c/o Serge Entertainment Group, P.O. Box 2760, Acworth, GA 30102 USA . You will receive ordering information for additional tapes when you receive your first tape.

Name __________________________________________

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Please make checks payable to Serge Entertainment Group. Please allow 2-3 weeks for delivery. Thank you for your order!


Rock Candy Music Video Show is looking for videos from unsigned bands to air on their show. They are based in Vacaville, California and are currently cablecast in several Northern California cities. The show debuted on June 27, 1996 and has received great response from unsigned bands from all around the world. The response from unsigned bands has been so good that they have been able to do all unsigned bands "Rising Stars" episodes about every 10-12 months. Rock Candy is a non-profit show produced for the entertainment of its viewers. The show is one hour and airs one new episode per month. They feature top name bands that perform Rock, Hard Rock, Heavy Metal, and Glam. On each episode, they feature one unsigned band on their "Rising Stars" segment of the show. If you would like to get your video on Rock Candy, check out the Rock Candy Unsigned Bands Page at
You will find all of the information you need to submit a video there.
You can contact Rock Candy with questions at:
Rock Candy
142 S. Orchard Ave
Vacaville, CA 95688
E-Mail us at:
Producer: Troy Correia
Rock Candy is a non-profit show produced at TCI Cablevision in Vacaville, Ca. for Public Access Television.
Rock Candy Music Videos is a Trademark.

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Labels, songwriters and musicians!
Check out the Bandit A&R Newsletter at
For a free sample copy and info, send a blank email to
Here is just ONE example of numerous listings that appear in Bandit A&R Newsletter:
NEON MUSIC is a publishing company based in Glasgow. It was formed in 1994. NEON MUSIC is always on the lookout for good, new material in all genres for publishing.MD, Rab Noakes, says their recent signing, Karine Polwart is writing and preparing material for a solo album and this and other recording projects are in the process of selecting songs.NEON will be going to Midem in January to promote their catalogue and license their finished tracks.
Send just a couple of hot songs to:
Rab Noakes, NEON MUSIC, Studio One, 19 Marine Crescent, Kinning Park, GLASGOW, G51 1HD, UNITED KINGDOM Tel/Fax 0141 423 9811


GAJOOB Magazine's DiY Report is a listing of DiY recording information, distributed freely over the Internet 2-3 times monthly for musicians. To subscribe, send an e-mail to Also available in hypertext format on the world wide web at


Fall into a place beyond earth listening to music by new age/classical pianist Mark Birmingham. Visit his web site at for a taste of his "Garden Life" CD that offers some true soothing and relaxing music as well as several uplifting, emotive tunes for your listening pleasure. Media members: For more info or a presskit, contact


ATTN: MUSICIANS! HAVE WE GOT THE 411 FOR YOU! Get the only directory you will ever need - A&R Registry (Regional A&R contacts not listed in any other directory with all major & independent labels in LA, NY, Nashville & London). All this for only $325.00 1 year (6 issues) or get a trial issue for only $65.00. Call The Music Business Registry at 800-377-7411 for ordering information.



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