Queensryche ‘American Idol’

Queensryche, the legendary, and I mean legendary Seattle metal band, has been running a promotional contest to have one of their fans sing a cover song at each of their shows on their current tour. Sounds cool right? Wrong! So far no one has been able to measure up to the legendary “Geoff Tate”.

“With ‘American Idol’ being such a hit, we felt the fans deserve to hear amateurs butcher songs live,” said Tate. What? was he serious? First of all…ANY queensryche Tribute deserves justice.

Where the hell is the REAL queensryche these days anyway? Tate goes on to say…”Plus, and this is totally off the record, it makes me feel so much better about myself. Seriously, have you heard some of these people? This is clearly not a ‘Ripper’ Owens situation.”

I’m pissed now, who the hell IS this guy? Now I have heard of Rockstars acting obnoxious…but this is just INSANE! This guy needs to realize he is a zillion years old, and no one gives a damn about queensryche these days…well unless it is a tribute band…one in particular, Empire…who have decided that the days of trying to impress are over, but they are the HEROS damnit!

YouTube clips of the guest lead singers are among the most searched Queensryche clips on the video-sharing site. “Yeah, I wouldn’t put too much weight in that,” added Tate. “Millions of people are watching ‘2 Girls, 1 Cup’ too.” I’m sorry, but I HATE this guy, he is right up there with PHIL ANSELMO! Screw you…you OLD man!

How Emerging Artists in 2018 Are Getting Exposure

Today, young new emerging artists are choosing to get their music out to the world by either doing it themselves or pursuing an Independent Label rather than a more well known label.

There are advantages and disadvantages to making these choices.

Major labels, first and foremost are harder to come by and the big dream of getting signed sometimes misleads these young talented kids into believing they are going to be the next big thing, when in fact they are nothing but a new project for the label.

A large signing bonus may at first seem pretty cool and even a “no brainer” when considering a large major label, but trust me the fine print is what you need to look at.

Many major labels will also sign an artist that sounds very similar to another artist they are investing huge amounts of money into, just to basically put them on the shelf to not get in the way of their money making endeavors.

For the last several years I have worked extremely close to many young, new, alternative bands in Southern California, Orange County and the Inland Empire and have watched many hearts break, many kids have their dreams shattered and many get taken for a slam dunk ride. The music industry has changed drastically from what it used to be like.

Bands today usually have to “pay to play” sometimes way up in the hundreds. They must sell their own tickets for around $8-$10 bucks a shot, then only play a 45 minute set.Going through an Independent Label is a whole different issue, they are usually dirt broke, wondering which band is going to be their meal ticket none usually are, maybe one or two will make them a bit of money, but it ends up being sunk right back into the band or other label needs.

A good Independent Label can allow these artists to play at venues across the country without having to sell pre-sale tickets and give them the ability to build their fan base nationwide.

Then there are the bands that have really chosen the Indie route. They are paying for their own studio recording time, CD replication, scheduling their own gigs, buying their own merch (i.e. teeshirts, hats and buttons) and hoping that one day, that one “industry peep” will be sitting at a secluded table in the back of the club with a martini waiting to sign them.

How to Get Paid in the Music Business in 2018

I am going to attempt to write this article, however keep in mind that is coming from me, a seasoned, professional “Debt-knower”. So do I qualify or should I just list this under the humor section? For years I have wanted to know the secrets of making money and keeping it. If there was a prize awarded for anyone that could accumulate the most debt in a one week span, I would go home with the gold medal!

First I am going to say, I am no expert on this title, what was it again? Oh yes, “How to pay off your debts without coming up short”. Well here I go…I am a mother of four children, as stated in several other articles I have written. My oldest is attending college and the next one down is preparing to graduate High School this June and my two boys, 9 and 12 are professional eaters and injury makers, so this said I guess you know most of my bills are spent at the grocery store and the ER.

I am homeschooling my youngest son, so my husband is the bread winner, I am just the bread maker. We own four cars, one motorcycle, 3 cats, one dog, a play station, guitar hero and all the games that go with those silly things, although I must say that I have taken a liking to Ozzy Osbourne and have become a true Rock Star by now for as often as I hear guitar hero.

My husband holds down a full time job, allowing himself one day off a week, usually a Sunday. We have never really been good at staying tight on a budget, now that I think of it, we have never really had one on paper, we would just open our wallets or log on to the on-line banking to see if we had money that week or not. I don’t recommend doing that though. It wasn’t until things were getting crazy, how were we supposed to keep on living this way? Something was about to give and in a hurry!

We sat down and examined our finances, or lack of, we discussed the areas that could be worked on, all of them, and realized it was time to start cutting back wherever possible. How we did it may or may not work for everyone, and budgets are nice if you can stick to them, we could not. I have read many “How To” books or watched a zillion “Improve Your Life” paid programming shows and just once would I like to hear from real people, with real problems, like me. So now that you understand my article is not a “How To” rather a “This Worked For Us” article. It is being told to you from a real person, me.

* Start with an “Idea” You have an idea it is time to get finances in order and find more productive ways for your life.

* Create a “Plan” You plan on spending less money on these you do not need. I could have stated that differently such as, “Don’t buy what you don’t need” but that is not real life, we all buy what we don’t have from time to time, even people on strict budgets. But we can spend less on those things.

* Itemize all your expenses in writing, like a grocery list. The list should include not only your obvious expenses, but also those “unexpected” expenses, such as car repairs, ER bills or medical insurance co-pays, Birthday Presents, especially the forgotten birthdays like your son’s classmate and include just a little extra for those guy or girl’s night out, even as rare as they may be, they do come up at some point.

* Take a permanent marker ( I’ll explain the marker later) and start crossing out or making “adjustments” to your list. For example if your cable bill is $150.00, question why, is it because you are ordering movies every Friday night? Or have you ordered the deluxe package? Life will go on without HBO or The Sopranos, trust me, eventually you start to not even miss their violent and disturbing ways.

* Take the remainder of this month to “splurge” sort of a “Going Out” party. But as soon as the clock strikes midnight, fun is over! Put your idea, plan, itemized list and permanent marker to use. With a revised expense list and clean slate in front of you, you are now ready to make a stand, become a part of the Elite group of responsible people, feel proud, strong and best of all…DETERMINED!

Now I told you earlier that I would explain the permanent marker theory, so information you shall have. Using a permanent black marker to “permanently” cross through un needed luxuries of your partying life will “erase” or “remove” them for good, it symbolizes closure, finalization to something. To undo it, you would need to make a whole new list, just say no, be strong! With your new perspective and your new expense account, you can start feeling wiser, better about yourself and even more sure of yourself.

People often ask me, “Erin, don’t you miss those little extras though?” I have to honestly answer no. I was able to cut out expensive cell phone bills (and contracts) by switching to Virgin Mobile prepaid cell service, which actually has more to offer than the contract companies themselves. I cut my direct TV bill in half by accepting ONLY the basic package, and when I realized that I don’t even attempt to watch all the channels I have, no brainer! I included my Internet onto my phone bill (lan line service) to keep all those services into one area, one bill. I learned that my utilities could be paid on-line, which allowed me to “split” them up without interruption. Oh, and I saved the best for last…drum-roll please? My groceries. I now shop at 99 cents store for toiletries, paper goods, batteries, canned goods and even my produce, then I return to the major chain store for my milk, meats, frozen goods, toothpaste and medicine cabinet items. I discovered that 60 items at the 99 cents store was really $60.00,no lie folks! So I could go spend another $200.00 (family of 6) at Albertson’s or wherever and come away with a grand total of $260.00, which would have normally been $425.00 on any given week.

I am sure that I could come up with a few more tricks, but I am still learning myself and rather than being accused of not taking my own advice, I will stop where i know I have done good. I truly wish you all the best of luck and please, if you come up with anything to add, let me know. I am a gracious learner.

My Rockstar Moments That Changed My Life

In the immortal words of Dr. Gregory House…..Everybody lies!

Well I was flipping through the memories filed away in my head last night and came up with some pretty great one’s that unfortunately would probably get me into some sort of trouble somewhere, so I thought maybe I should make up names and be careful on posts….NAH! Everybody lies, I WANT TO BE DIFFERENT!

Rockstar Moment #1 Phil Anselmo

Somewhere around 2002 was my first real experience with a rockstar; this should be titled Rockstar Nightmare; but I am not going to lie, remember? Well Phil Anselmo was the boy I met. See I was writing back then, some pretty deep, dark and sometimes not understandable poems, lyrics and what-have-you’s. Now for those of you that do not know Phil Anselmo (lucky people) he was the front-man for Pantera.

I was contacted by Phil about some lyrics I had posted on Poetry.Com, he was interested and even went as far as to send me a cd to listen to, believe it or not I had NO idea who he was or who Pantera was, not my thing thankfully. Anyway, I thought this was awesome, a real band, a real rockstar wanting my stuff..RIGHT ON! So me and my daughter were sitting at the computer one night and I was attempting to plan my writing, what was I going to send him? how much? were we going to collaborate? That sort of thing.

I figured the best way to know what style to write I should first listen to what he was all about…we did! I was sitting in a computer chair, you know the ones that have the wheels and springy back rest. I turned up the volume on my computer speakers and sat patiently while the CD loaded…and then it happened…Literally BLOWN AWAY, no people…really…fell backwards in my chair, my daughter started crying, then I sat still and silent and started to weep real tears. It felt sort of like what I am guessing an exorcism would feel like. The room got dark and cold and I felt dizzy. This dudes voice was like something from the bowels of hell. It was FRIGHTENING!

Well days and weeks went on, for what felt like an eternity. I was shattered that someone like him wanted MY beautiful, poetic words, well it would be like a demon attempting to suck the life right out of an angel! Needless to say, nothing could be agreed upon as far as collaborating, how do you collaborate with a monster anyway? That was the day I stopped writing, for a very long time. Now that the world pretty much hates that miserable excuse for air, I am back writing about it. Dimebag Darrel (Rest his soul) was a good man and he got hooked up with Phil and you can see what happened to him! Evil feeds on good…and this kitchen is CLOSED!

Rockstar Moment #2 Son of Billy Eckstine

About a year after my horrifying experience with Pantera boy, I decided to give it one more shot at writing for anyone famous, who wasn’t possessed by the devil please! So you see,my husband didn’t nickname me Lucy for nothing…I set out to do exactly that, write for someone famous! I’m not really sure how I ran into this guy, but my next meeting was going to be Ron Eckstine, son of the legendary Billy Eckstien whom according to the wonderful Wikipedia history was born William Clarence Eckstein in the East Liberty neighborhood of Pittsburgh Pennsylvania and he was a ballad singer and bandleader of the swing era. Eckstine’s smooth baritone and distinctive vibrato broke down barriers throughout the 1940s, first as leader of the original bop big-band, then as the first romantic black male in popular music, and I get to break ground with his son Ronald Eckstine!

Ron lived out in Santa Monica area…NICE part of Santa Monica I might add. He lived in this “crazy mad ” high rise on a ridiculously busy street. When we spoke on the phone earlier that day, we made plans to meet so he asked me to come to his “office/studio” and I agreed. Telling the husband was a task I would need to plan all day for, but I figured it out even though those pesky red flags were everywhere! So I get directions to his “office” and set out dressed to impress!

I arrive at the address given and I thought this looks strange, not really much of a Studio, however I could see where he could use the word studio, it was the size of a mouse hole and was across the street from a REAL Record Studio. Against my better judgement, and I suppose because in this Industry I learned quickly that you just gotta do, what you just gotta do.

I parked my car in the underground parking after some wisecrack cookie decides she is going to scream obscenities at me for attempting a right turn into a tiny driveway on a major street…what? I’m from San Pedro, we don’t know how to drive in the larger Cities! So I park, get out, jump in the elevator and am greeted by two very large men at his front door. They looked like two of those gargoyles that you see perched in front of creepy castles. The "rang" for him and he advised them to let me in.

I had a lump in my throat the size of an apple, sweating as if I just ran a mile…in the dessert and was planning to walk into this incredible studio with all it’s magnificence. I walked in and there sat a man wearing what I believe may have been pajamas, with fuzzy slippers and a Hugh Hefner type of robe/jacket thing. I took a quick look around and to my surprise, the carpet was full of giant black spots and burns (which in my head I was imagining blood stains) and his studio recording gear consisted of a small keyboard sitting lonely on the floor and hooked up to what appeared to be your standard television set. To the right of that was a video camera plugged in and to the left was a double cassette player/recorder. Oh yeah this was a classy joint!

My first thought was to run, but there were two gargoyles outside that splintered door, could those scratch marks on the door be from some poor woman who’s untimely death was caused from trying to pry herself out? He said sit, just like that, SIT. So I did. I was not going to be the next stain on his carpet or the next head mounted on his wall (no he didn’t really have heads on the wall). He offered me a glass of wine, I refused, he offered water and again I refused. I had watched on TV where people could spike your drink with GHB…Oh no, not me sister!

He explained what he wanted as far as lyrics and I got out before he could explain what he wanted from me. I walked out and never looked back ever again. Now in all fairness, he was actually a nice enough man, but not very truthful on his description of his success, I believe it is called riding on the coat tails of Daddy? Lesson #2 learned.

Rockstar Moment #3 Bob the Builder

Yeah I know, I don’t learn. My husband says it best, Everyone is in a band, and everyone is going to be the next big thing Erin". Well so was this guy I will call “Bob” because I couldn’t obtain his permission to publicly destroy any chance of a music career for him. “Bob” lived in a slum neighborhood somewhere in the heart of LA. Nice enough guy with a real desire to be a rockstar.

I met him on Songwriters Anonymous..haha…OK no it was not called that, although it was starting to feel like I belonged to something along the lines of that. I really do not understand what my fascination with going to so-called musicians lairs. Because if you flip those letters it spells LIARS. I thought it may be different this time because “Bob” claimed to be Pantera Boy’s Producer…if you had seen him and his place, that’s a funny statement!Anyway, notebook in hand I head out to Los Angeles to meet whom I thought was some guy in the process of getting a record deal and was unlucky enough to be Phil’s Producer/Manager/sad soul. I get there, and yet here is another mouse trap of a house. This one consisted of 1 room. There was a front door and then a bed to the right of that, one of those fold out beds from the wall. There was a refrigerator to the left and a window straight ahead with a view of what would be my death had I lived there.

“Bob” had this sad little keyboard and a very tattered notebook with every one of his thoughts scribbled into it. I got such a sad vibe in that room, the only hope was that window, he must have felt like Cinderella trapped in that tiny room atop the castle and his only hope to the outside world was those tiny bluebirds chirping on the window ledge. The only difference was those little birds were not going to turn into fairy godmother’s and grant him his musical wish.

The irony of this was that I came up with some of my best material after experiencing him and that horrid room. I wrote a song about a run away girl, I wrote a song about the sad life of a aspiring actor and even came up with a suicide song that actually had THAT window in the song. Turns out this kid was a convicted felon, had no record deal waiting for him and well had no clue how to use that keyboard. What he did have was a refrigerator full of beer and I believe he said cheese, I am hoping that is what it was. It felt more like an interview of him than a collaboration meeting. I wonder what ever became of him today?

Rockstar Moment #4 Black Goat Entertainment

I was moving on up…still hadn’t learned about meeting people in their homes yet, but by this time I was starting to see how things worked, most recording artists work from their home. So this time I actually had a name, a big name…BLACK GOAT ENTERTAINMENT! He had these cats in his studio recording an album and was interested in a few of my lyrics. This guy lived in San Diego, so it was a drive for me and all I could do was pray that I made it there and back, alive. Remember my last encounters were sketchy!

I showed up to his home, this time it was a HOME. He had this great in-home studio with all the latest gadgets, he could make Pee Wee Herman sound like Frank Sinatra if he had to. Apparently he was getting plenty of practice on these guys he was attempting to record. Well I felt good, I felt like this time I had arrived to my calling. I COULD help him, HELP those poor guys.

The band sort of had a “Staind meets Creed” sound to them, not to mention they were absolutely adorable! Who cares if they could sing, they had the look, the look to turn my lyrics into gold or at least a few thousand dollars anyway. This time, no pesky red flags, no blood stains on the carpet and no window enticing one to jump, there was only my first real experience in the music industry.

OK so we all know that I am not rich these days, and no I don’t own a Porsche and I am not holding stock in BGE, but what I can tell you is that my very first chance at working with Musicians came from Geno and that band. I booked them gigs, took part in a few of their recordings and just loved every minute of it. I am not sure why or how but Eugene “Geno” Fields, CEO and founder of Black Goat Entertainment still has his hands all over the Music Industry. I only wish I had the strength he has. But I will never forget him and his lessons he taught me on this Industry.

I truly believe that every step we take on this path called life, just brings us that much closer to who we really are, given that we don’t stop off too much to taste the water. He taught me to hold onto my dreams, stay focused and always remeber to let that horse know who is holding the reins and wearing the spurs! Thanks Geno! Thanks boys.

Rockstar Moment #5 Frank Zappa’s Circle

Well I have so many more, but I need a break from all these memories, it is making me want to jump back in…say NO ,NO ,NO! I was working as a bartender at a place called Ellie’s Place in Torrance. When it would get slow I would sink all my tips into the jukebox to sing and dance along with whatever song captured my mood. For some strange reason “You’re Still The One” from Shania Twain became my obsession. I COULD sing that song like no others mama!

This guy who knew a guy came in one day and heard me singing, sort of under my breath. So he said, “I’ll double your tip if you sing out loud so I can hear you”. Happy to oblige, I said sure. I sang like a canary, or maybe it was really a parrot, but canary sounds sweeter so I will stick with that…for now. Anyway long story short, he invited me AND my husband this time to his buddy’s house. His buddy being a part of the ever changing circle of Frank Zappa, not positive of his name (memory fart) but I believe it was Art. Anyway the guy had worked at one time with Frank Zappa and assisted with “Valley Girl”, well he lived or set up camp in a small “house” recording studio and my friend from the bar convinced us to come and record a few background vocals, what? me? were they on drugs or something?

Well David and I went, I put on the big headphones, rehearsed my part about 150 zillion times, still couldn’t make it on the note he was trying to attempt, I soon became frustrated and Art and Tank (big guy singing with me) offered a few shots of Vodka (I think that’s what it was). After about half the bottle, singing just came natural to me. I recorded two songs with these guys, with my husband giving me the old “two lying thumbs up” looks, and we called it a day, a long day. I now knew what it felt like to be a “rockstar”! Yes Siree! Oh and I forgot to mention, I NEVER did that again, but now that I think of it, he never called us again either, It may have had something to do with me stumbling down his stairs and playing with the microphone inappropriately!

Why Music Store Clerks Hate You!

Ran into a snobbish music store clerk? Don’t fret! The world is full of people who think they are better than you, more talented that you and have bigger heads than you and all it means is they have more hair to lose.

For the most part music clerks consist of aspiring musicians or music lovers. They all have something in common with each other, bitterness. Most are working long hours due to the fact that the store cannot find adequate help for the minimum wage they are offering.

Another likely reason is the clerks are teenagers, wishing they were anywhere else but there. They need to save up enough money to put gas in their car, so this is it. They are not personally taking out their disgust on you, it just happens that way.

“Stuck up” people that get defensive easily, make excuses for their behavior or feel the need to elaborate or justify how great they are, usually are lacking self esteem. They must brag about how wonderful they are, because in all reality, they aren’t that well off.

If you walk into a music store and the clerk is rude or snobbish…smile at them, quietly ask them to do their job in finding your music or completing your transaction.

Explain to them that you do not have the time to put up with their nonsense or rudeness because you are late for a gig. Trust me people who pretend to be something they are not, hate it when others “have their number”.

You cannot change the stripes you are born with, but you can certainly wash off the painted ones. Do not confuse arrogance and snobbish behavior with just a simple bad day. Sometimes we have those days that our fangs just come out, without any explanation at all. Those people on those days, get a hall pass!

Remember that you respect yourself, you know what kind of person you are, there is no need to flaunt it, brag about it and most definitely be a pain about it. Smile, walk away quietly and you win, you are the better person for it.

The world is full of bitter, unappreciated, angry and lonely people, it is our job to make it a better place by spreading our sunshine and humor into the world. Music makes the world go around, clerks just add the records to the player.

Trying to Understand the Music Industry in 2018

So it happened…It finally happened! I have been spending the last month or so…OK let’s stay real, the last YEAR or SO – ALL of 2017, trying to understand the Industry. I was trying to justify why I subject myself to this sort of torture.

There really is no such thing as NORMAL when speaking about the Music Industry. The picture of Amy Wino..uh, I mean Amy Winehouse looks like a cross between Dennis Rodman and Boy George (which I truly believe may really be the same person). Almost looks like well, SICK! The Music Industry is just NOT right people!

This post would be longer than the track marks on Amy’s arm if I tried to cover her whole story about going to rehab, not going to rehab. C’mon people, she even sang a song about it for Lepperchaun’s sake! SHE’S NOT GOING!

She already stated that in the song, Daddy made her go to rehab and she said, no, no, NO! I think we should just leave her alone, she likes looking like something that Steven Speilberg created in his twisted mind or one of his horror movies.

I have finally also came up with an idea of what to do with Michael jackson’s Never never land, when he loses it to the $23 mil lawsuit, the amount in which he first owed on the loan. I think we should develop the land and make a nice cozy property for all these poor strung out rockstars that are “down and out in Beverly hills”!

An even better idea would be to “house” allĀ of them there, and allow the public to come for guided tours, a real life wax museum of sorts! I think I better “copyright” that idea, how much do you want to make a bet, we will soon have a place called, “Lost in Never-Neverland”.

Over the years of me writing, dabbling with music, being a mom, wife and friend, I have just seen the world travelling at a scary speed down the toilet bowl. I am now convinced that the Music industry is partly to blame, after examing the photos of Eddie Van Halen yeah I’m shocked too!), Brittany Spears, Michael Jackson, Lindsay Lohan and Amy Wino, how could you disagree?

The people or musicians that seem to stay sane, are those that just do it for fun, not fame. Eddie van halen is a legendary rockstar, but by that photo above, I swear I saw him last week at the bus stop and I gave him a dollar!

Nickleback wrote a song about it, “I wanna be a rockstar” and somewhere in his brilliant lyrics say, ” The girls come easy and the drugs come cheap, and we’ll stay skinny cus we just won’t eat”, not to mention the next verse, “That everyone has a drug dealer on speed dial”.

I don’t know about you, but the thought of aging a zillion years, weighing 67 pounds and not being able to remember what gender I am…just so I can be a rockstar, doesn’t sound too good to me.

Now I am sure I have sound of “sour grapes” in my words, and maybe I do a bit. I am thinking though, that it just was not the life for me, this is way more fun, to be able to sit back and READ the “latest dictionary of today’s who’s who”.