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Old Yolks At Home
By Danny McBride - 06/06/2007 - 09:25 AM EDT

The 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.

Those 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.

Like 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 phonies abound.

How 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".

I know. We've all done it.

So 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".

It 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.

And 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.)

So 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.

Just 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 !!".

Wearing 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.

Of 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.

Okay, 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."

The 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:

Okay- -Gotta go- - My cell phone is ringing.

Ciao. Love ya, babe. Let's do lunch. Don't ever change.

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