other night was the third time in the past couple of months that
I have spent an evening in the company of a two or three dozen songwriters
all brought together in one room by the indefatigable Brian Austin
Whitney. He seems like a Charismatic Preacher at times, and at other
times an effervescent kid coming from his first live concert and
seeing his favorite artist, but all in all, I have to say that he
sure seems like a good egg.
of us who have been songslingers for quite a long while come to
such events with a suitcase of skepticism and a satchel of cynicism.
But in less than five or ten minutes Mr Whitney had us spellbound.
Even those of us with copyrights old enough to drink want to jump
up like Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland and shout "Let's put on a
show"!! His energy and enthusiasm are that infectious.
so many things on the web these days, nothing much more comes to
you after you sign up than the realization that you have given your
email to SPAM R US whenever you sign up for some music related site
hoping to further your career as either artist or songwriter. The
many times have you taken 30 minutes or more to fill out some long
convoluted questionnaire in order to get your CD listed or your
chance at song submissions realized? "Yes, we will make MP3 clips
of your songs and feature your artwork on our site, which is linked
to every major producer in the business, all for the first time
entry price of MORE THAN IT'S EVER GOING TO BE WORTH".
know. We've all done it.
to find out that a group of songwriters who have, for lack of a
better term, a "web-based community", really exist as real live
people, one is thoroughly taken aback. Not only are there really
real live people involved in promoting songwriters and their songs,
the leader is so gosh darn for real that he should have called his
organization "Real Live People". But no. In keeping with his whole
aura and demeanor Mr Whitney called his group "Just Plain Folks".
turns out that the local chapter here in Los Angeles meets at a
private home about a mile from my own. With that kind of convenience
I had to go. Just the idea that someone in L A would open their
home to a group of strangers that met on the web is enough to make
me wonder how long these people have been in the big city. Brian
Austin Whitney himself is from Indiana and had traveled to Southern
California to host some songwriter showcases and to try to meet
every member of his community who would turn up. One of the L A
members just invited everyone who wanted to come to his house. This
is the kind of inspirational personality Mr Whitney has. Can you
imagine doing that? And everyone in attendance was not only well
mannered and well behaved, they were ALL talented. Each one was
coaxed to get up and do a song (some needed a little less coaxing
than others- -I'd name names, but I wouldn't want to incriminate
myself). That's a lot of people to each play a tune of three or
four minutes, plus chatter and the inevitable guitar tuning-G, G,
G-"Does that sound right?" "Close enough" would always come the
good-natured response in the room.
that was just one night in one gathering. Brian Austin Whitney does
this all the time all over the country. He organized several events
at local clubs here in October and November, as he has done thoughout
the country. He was back here again for the January NAMM show. (If
you don't know what that is, ask your lead guitarist or your bass
player or your drummer or your recording engineer. They all wish
they had been there. Hey!! Maybe they were.)
what is the deal exactly? Well, actually, there is no deal. Just
Plain Folks is a free organization of all kinds of people from every
corner of the music business. Just as The Muse's Muse is undoubtedly
the best resource site on the web for learning about the music business,
Just Plain Folks is about the most heartfelt, energetic group for
actually promoting live songwriter showcases and gatherings coast
to coast. JPF will soon have an internet radio channel to play members'
music 24/7, thanks to Mr Whitney's ability to convince a major internet
presence that they need to do this.
when you think the world belongs to the SONY-EMI-BMG-UMG-AOL-WARNER
BROTHERS COMPANY, and there's no place for you or your music, along
comes this Hoosier Cherub to make you realize that there are other
ways of getting your songs out there to such an extent, that he
makes you forget that these five monopolies even exist. He has so
much positive energy emanating into a room when he talks about promoting
independent music, that any songwriter present, even those of us
who are bona fide rock geezers, feels like shouting "Yeah!! I can
do this !!".
a Sun Records shirt and a red baseball cap, he is easily the most
affable guy in the room as he holds court. What has impressed me
is that he is the real deal. His sincerity is humbling. If you were
to click on his site you would be visiting one of the best friends
a songwriter could have.
course I've been in Hollywood too long and remember the old George
Burns line about how to succeed in show business- -"The most important
thing about show business is sincerity- -and when you can fake that,
you've got it made". But not this time, I'm pretty sure. Time will
tell, of course, but I think this boy's bound for glory.
I've got to go get ready for the rest of the day and the rest of
the music business. Let's see- - fake smile, "I really care about
you, man" attitude, and the snappy patter of commerce with the suits.
And the best recent line in that category goes to an L A attorney
who shall remain nameless, overheard on the street in front of a
club where he had just arrived too late to see the act's set: "Hey,
sorry I missed your set, man, but I heard you were GREAT, and I
really MEAN that."
Muse's Muse proprietess Jodi Krangle is one of the mentors of Just
Plain Folks. I'm sure she wouldn't mind if you paid them a visit:
-Gotta go- - My cell phone is ringing.
Love ya, babe. Let's do lunch. Don't ever change.