Today’s Guest Blogger is musician, producer and instructor Daniel Barrett. I met Dan seven years ago when my kids participated in a Summer “rock camp”. Dan was the instructor for my daughter’s group of eight-year-old wannabe rockers. Dan keyed in on my daughter’s interest in percussion and put her in charge of “driving the Mac truck”, as he called it. She ended up being a natural on the drums. We followed Dan to his next gig as co-founder of Red Leaf School of Music, where my daughter sharpened her percussion chops.
Dan has been playing, teaching, and recording professionally since 1994. He is a consummate renaissance musician; the rare type who can play live and in studio, produce excellent albums, and teach and mentor other musicians.
In 2010 he became the founder and CEO of Rubicon Artist Development, the manifestation of Barrett’s trifecta of passions; playing, producing, and teaching.
Here, Dan talks about, Clarity.
American Roots and Blues Music, and the Lesson of Simple Clarity
I bet if you asked Muddy Waters, what kind of music he played, he’d have a very simple answer. The Blues, of course. Ask many aspiring musicians what kind of music they play, and you get an eye-watering laundry list of what they are, aren’t, used to be, never will be, and once heard. “It’s like a cross between psycho-punkabilly-folkstep-dungeoness-monkeystyle-polkaton and Jack Johnson. We’re like, totally unique…man.”
My band, porterdavis, was guilty of a lesser degree of that litany of descriptive vagueness. Ask any of us what kind of music we played, and the answer was different each time and from each other. I think it was the esteemed Dr. Phil that said, “If you want different, then do different, you @!@!##!#!.” So we did very different, and put our band’s identity in the hands of madman and MAD House man, Larry McIntosh.
It was strange to get the whole band in a room for a few days on end, pre-noon, to just talk about what we are doing. Larry and his crew teased information out of us, and kept us plied with coffee and pastry. Amongst the many takeaways was the unity we created by agreeing on what style of music we play. Each of us knew that were more complex than “American Roots and Blues.” Mike, our drummer, played percussion from all over the world. Each of our music collections spanned styles and time periods. We even caught our harmonica player, Simon, rocking out to techno music once. To his defense, he’s English, and that music translates differently to the Eurobrain.
Fast forward to just a a year past this exercise, and we were fortunate to win an Austin Music Award. The category? Best Roots-Rock Band. Coincidence? Me thinks not.
In her blog post, The Top 10 NOT-To-Do’s of Successful Entrepreneurs, Christine Kane coins the term Unique Snowflake Syndrome. She Says, “The real truth about Unique Snowflakes is that they are scared. That’s all. Scared of taking action. Scared of being clear. Scared they won’t find what they want. So, they find the most convenient excuse available: “I’m more different than you.”
If we stay vague and place ourselves too far from what people can relate to, there’s almost no way for the average listener or customer to make the split second decision whether or not to partake. Once we move past that general selection process, we can unleash our utter oddity to everyone’s delight. I would venture to say that the generality gets folks in the door, and the wonderful singularities keep them there. Until someone has mentally sorted that they generally like the type of service we are offering, they will find too many details off-putting and pretentious.
Muddy Waters was undeniably a unique snowflake. When he invited you into his music, there was nothing vague about it. He didn’t need a fancy pitch to entice you. Muddy described his beginnings, “Saturday night is your big night. Everybody used to fry up fish and have one hell of a time. Find me playing till sunrise for 50 cents and a sandwich. And be glad of it. And they really liked the low-down blues.”
Sounds like a plan, Muddy. I’ll see you there
Daniel Barrett is CEO, Producer, and Chief French Presser at Rubicon Artist Development. He is co-author of the forthcoming book, The Remembering Process (Hay House Publishing).
Learn more about Dan and Rubicon at http://rubiconartistdevelopment.com/?page_id=52
The MAD House accepts no liability for the content of this article, or for the consequences of any actions taken on the basis of the information provided, unless that information is subsequently confirmed in writing. Any views or opinions presented in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of the The MAD House, its staff or its owners. Enjoy!