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  • Derek Buckley

I think it's funny (huh?, not haha) that people argue whether new country is actually real country. I'm laughing inside because when I wrote that, I instantly thought of the scene from The Blues Brothers..."Oh we got both kinds. We got country and western." I also just YouTubed that scene because it is hilarious. Internet is awesome. Anyway, if you don't know the scene (which would be incredibly sad for you), a blues band walks into a bar (not the start of a joke) and first bombs, then starts playing the stuff people want to hear and the crowd goes crazy and the band kicks ass.


Venues like Belcourt Taps in Nashville allow aspiring singer/songwriters to share their work thanks to people like Russ Lacasse.

I appreciate the dedication of the singer/songwriter who, in angst or exuberance, attempts to unload their emotional baggage through verse. I personally can't relate because I've never actually tried to write a song (yet). But, it seems to me that spilling your guts really isn't cathartic if no one is listening. So wouldn't it make sense to share your thoughts in ways people want to hear? Today's country artists like Taylor Swift and Luke Bryan are doing that. If you listen to what they are saying as much as how they're saying it, you'll hear connections to old school country. It's still about pretty girls, trucks, pretty girls in trucks, cheating and heartbreak, and drinking. Yep, same stuff as Hank and Patsy. Don't misunderstand. I'm NOT comparing them to Hank and Patsy. We have this need to compare generations of artists and athletes as if to say one is greater than the other. It's like comparing Tom Brady to Otto Graham. They're both pretty good but how can anyone say head to head, one is better? Virtually everything is different between them; the game, players, training, medicine, technology, crowds. There's such an incredible difference of what it took /takes to be great at the time and there's no way to say either would make it in the other's era.


Bucket list...Grand Ole Opry. And that's Chris Janson making it a special night!

I've been thinking about this conversation because my wife and I just finished our first trip to Nashville, the mecca for country music. I'm not revealing some hidden secret, but one of the best things about Nashville is there's something for everyone. On our first night to the city,

we walked down Broadway and hit a few of the more touristy bars (you can't hit 'em all, too many and you'll die if you drink at all of them - PSA). Clearly, people in Nashville don't know, or care, whether it's Saturday or Tuesday. It's about partying, drinking, eating and listening to live music...and there's a ton of live music. It must be part of the lease agreement - if you serve alcohol, you have live musicians. People moved/stumbled from Kid Rock's to the Honkey Tonk to Layla's and danced to songs from Queen to the Beatles to George Jones to Luke Bryant.


Getting back to my point...some of you read the last sentence and thought, "One of these things is not like the other, one of these things just doesn't belong." Ahhh Luke. I've heard him described as "country lite" or "pop country"...but seldom "real country". Poor guy even had to write a song defending himself as a country boy. For me, artists like Luke Bryan and Florida Georgia Line were the reason I started listening to country music. I was always a classic rock guy. AC/DC is still one of my favorite bands of all time. It wasn't until I won tickets from a local radio station to see Eric Church (amazing show) that I even heard a current country song. Songs like Huntin, Fishin, Lovin and Cruise, exposed me to other country artists and made me a fan. And those of you that follow know country music is now a big part of my show. For the most part, we don't get to decide what we like. I wish I liked drinking water as much as a glass of bourbon whiskey. Not gonna change just because I want it to. Music is the same. Some people like country, others prefer western...I happen to think both kinds are pretty good.

  • Derek Buckley

Maybe like some of you, for years I'd been thinking about getting back into (or just starting) music but it never seemed the right time. Work, family, house projects...feel free to fill in the blanks with your own "stuff"... Every so often, I'd have a few adult beverages at a karaoke bar, sing one or two drunken songs and get the bug to jump in. Then a little over three and half years ago, I decided I would make the investment and buy a guitar and some sound equipment and see what happens. Ok, to be completely honest, I bought an expensive guitar, lots of equipment and lots of lights. I should now admit to you that I have this weakness, flaw, strength, depending on how you look at it, of going all in once I make up my mind. Sometimes it's not always thought out as well as it should be.



My first thought was to start a band. So I began practicing and placed ads in all the usual places, craigslist, facebook, etc., "Singer/rhythm guitarist looking for band, blah, blah, blah..." I wasn't really even sure what kind of music I wanted to play but I was certain that joining a band was what I needed to do. I met a few other musicians but nothing really ever materialized and I was frustrated it wasn't moving faster.



Derek Buckley at Fawn Creek Winery - Wisconsin Dells

Then one day my very good friend and neighbor, Angie, told me that she started Vino-Van-Go, a for-hire private touring company for local wineries, and Fawn Creek was looking to start a Ladies Night on Thursdays. She asked if I would I be interested in booking a gig. Naturally, I said yes even though I didn't know half a dozen songs (see weakness, flaw, strength comment). The next couple of weeks, I practiced constantly trying to get enough songs to fill three hours. I calculated the timing of each song, how much talking I would have to do in between songs, break times. It was close but I settled on 32 songs and hit the mark.


Of course when I actually played the gig, my nerves got the better of me and I played every song super fast. A 3:45 song turned into 2:30. I knew I was in trouble when my first set list was done and my watch said I still had 36 minutes to go before break. I can laugh about it now, but at the time, it was sickening.


What happened next, however, turned what could have been a career ender into a surprisingly fun and inspiring night. And I learned a couple valuable lessons that stick with me still and hopefully will help you too, if you're just starting out: 1) If you're honest with your crowd, people generally have your back. When I explained what was going on, the polite golf claps between songs suddenly turned into enthusiastic applause. It was if they became very interested in what I was doing and I could feel their support to get me through. 2) You are you're own worst critic. The vast majority of people don't hear when you make a mistake. Don't grimace or make a face. That's a dead giveaway. You will make mistakes at every gig. No one gets it perfect every time. Use it to focus the next time you come to that part, but otherwise let it go and keep going. 3) Be friendly and gracious. We all learned this in kindergarten and its still true. After the show, I sat with a few tables and just talked. Not even about music but things like where people where from, what brought them to the winery and their interests. Think of it as a first date and you're just getting to know someone. After a while, it's just people sitting around a table drinking wine. That's pretty comfortable. And ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS thank the establishment for inviting you to their place. Remember you are a guest sharing your talent. There are lots of doors to places you may want to play at that aren't wide enough for a big head.


  • Derek Buckley

I want so badly to be able to use tech and social media to promote my music that I'm asking God to hurry up and bring me into musician adulthood...that and my wife is a technology coach and she laughed at me when I asked her what do people write about in a blog. So, here goes. I'm hoping to write a couple times a week about what's going on with my music, promote other local musicians I think are working their asses off and deserve notice and to highlight the very awesomest of businesses that are still booking live music for show, support and helping to grow Madison's music scene. I'm also hoping this makes me more disciplined to manage time better but that may be expecting a little too much. Anyway, this may be the start of a beautiful relationship, or you've only wasted 60 seconds that you can't get back. Still seems like a win-win or at least not as big a lose. Check back soon!




 

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