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FEEDBACK FILE ‌ For the Rookies

Form that band and get on with it

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With the school year kicking into action, there's no better time to get like-minded buds together and form a rock band or musical group of some sort. The artistic and financial opportunities for the budding musician are almost endless. City Paper suggests considering this nine-point planner before embarking on the big rock band trip:

1. Come up with a name (and stick with it):
If the club or local paper can't spell it ... or the radio announcer or emcee on the stage can't pronounce it, you might run into trouble. No matter what the literal meaning of a band name might be, once you establish yourself on the circuit, that name is associated with the sound, look, and vibe of the band.

2. Cover at least two "Charleston Faves"
For whatever reason, the audiences in town seem to automatically go totally apeshit when they hear anything by any of the following: Sublime, The Violent Femmes, Johnny Cash, Green Day, Van Halen, Dave Matthews Band, or Lynyrd Skynyrd. When those passionate original compositions fail to capture the hearts and minds of the crowd, throw in a clincher.

3. Acquaint yourself with someone in radio:
Both 98X and 96 Wave have weekly local music shows or segments. They occasionally include local band's release in regular daytime rotation. But most of the stations regularly make mention of the local band scene. The more they know you and the more they know about the band, the more likely they are to embellish what could have been a dry announcement.

4. Acquaint yourself with someone at the local music stores:
Do this not so much for cheap deals on gear, but for networking and support. From the big Guitar Center to the local mom 'n' pop shops, musicians staff these places. They know the scene and they know who's looking to jam, hire, fire, and otherwise.

5. Acquaint yourself with someone at the local record shops:
The modern stereotype of the High Fidelity "store clerk" is pretty damn on the mark. The nerdy kids, rude know-it-alls, and sagely grouches who staff the local record shops at Monster, Manifest, Cat's, 52.5, and other spots have their ears to the band scene as much as anyone.

6. Acquire a safe, dry, secure place to jam and rehearse:
There's a dire shortage of decent practice spaces in town. Unless you know someone with a spare room in a warehouse or basement (away from the cranky neighbors), your band rehearsals might have to consist of a an awkward huddle around the kitchen table, with the electric guitars unplugged and the drummer tapping on notebooks. If you can secure a spot, soundproof it and fortify it with a few extra bolt locks.

7. Put a solid, concise, useful press kit together:
For the print media, radio, clubs and venues, and otherwise, it's best to have a readable, descriptive, informative "one sheet" ready to hand over or e-mail as an electronic press kit ("EPK"). A list of who's who, their instrumentation, a brief history on the band, a brief description or mission statement, some basic contact info, and a demo disc of at least two songs is all you need to present the band.

8. Appreciate the staff:
The bartenders, engineers, door people, and managers will remember you for your behavior. If you show up at the venue on time, conduct a professional sound check, tip well on those free drinks, start on time, and load out without incident, you'll likely be asked back to play again – even if it was a slow night. Remember: word spreads among the live music scene.

9. Appreciate the band scene colleagues:
Charleston is too small for local rock stars with shitty attitudes, but it's big enough to support several hundred bands and solo acts who make the rounds and often share bills from week to week.

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