The Anton Laplume Band signs with 768 Productions, developing new music and touring through 2017

The Anton Laplume Band is a deep-groove, rock, soul and funk group formed and based in Jacksonville, FL. The four-piece band brings together various backgrounds from funk, electronic, blues and rock to capture, elevate, and move audiences. The band is producing new music, building towards a new EP release for late 2017. The Anton Laplume Band is a feature act touring for the rest of 2017 throughout the Southeast.

Originally from the cultural landscape of South Florida, singer/songwriter/guitarist, Anton Laplume relocated to Jacksonville, FL. Laplume emerged from the blues scene as the lead guitar player and band director for international blues band, The Rockin’ Jake Band. Laplume toured with the band throughout 2014 and 2015, across the U.S. and Canada. Known for his strong guitar skills, he enjoyed being a go-to for many local artists before creating, The Anton Laplume Band.

Sean Thomas (vocals/bass) is a key component in the new sound emerging from the band. Thomas was a key member in one of Jacksonville’s premier funk/jam bands Herd of Watts, routinely playing festivals around Florida, as well as up and down the east coast.

Max Zargon (keys/synth) adds a mature multi-dimensional sound to the band’s new material. His creative energy is fueling the development of new songs and expanding the band’s range. Zargon, involved in several projects across the Jacksonville music spectrum, is also the founder of Trail Diver, a multi-piece instrumental band.

Aaron Plotz (drums) anchors the band with his high-energy performance and talents grounded in a classical percussion training. Plots has collaborated with heavy weights such as Tony Steve, Richard Kirkland, Charlotte Mabrey and Danny Gottleib. Aaron has found much success in the Jacksonville arena as the go-to drummer, sharing the stage with numerous national acts and occupying festival slots with some of the best Jacksonville has to offer.

The band’s composition is an entertaining fusion of singer/songwriter arrangements with improvisational elements of jazz, transitional grooves of funk, melodic awareness of pop, and the raw emotion of blues rock. 

 

Review: Shaky Knees 2017

We love Shaky Knees – for many reasons: Great location, great setup, great spectrum of music. This was our third Shaky Knees out of its five years existence. This year the festival returned to Centennial Park, in the heart of downtown Atlanta, and the festival has hit its stride in overall experience.

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First, the location is perfect for a ‘city’ festival. As an out-of-town traveler to the Festival, there are plenty of hotel options all in walking distance. We love the fact that we can park our car at the hotel and not touch it all weekend. For those from ATL, there plenty of parking options for easy access to the festival grounds.

This year, Festival planners made a smart decision to downsize from five stages last year to three stages this year. This made a big-positive difference in the overall experience. This eliminated the bridge over Marietta St., which last year was a major clog in the flow of seeing different bands.

Intuitively, downsizing a festival seems like a bad thing – just the contrary – the compact setting makes for a much more enjoyable Festival. This led to smart decision number two by the Festival hosts: they didn’t oversell the Festival. Meaning, although there were a lot of music-goers, it wasn’t unreasonable moving around. We were able to go from stage to stage with ease and get comfortable spots to watch all our music interests.

The overall layout is also well organized with the three stages set apart; food trucks in the center; beverage stands and bathrooms all set around the perimeter. Although some of the food lines backed up, the other lines for beverages and “Johnny on the Spots” rarely backed up and wait times were no more than a minute in our experiences.

20170514_020643704_iOSThe three stage setup is also nicely crafted with a small, medium, and large variety. The only nitpicks would be adding monitors to the Piedmont (middle) stage for those who hang towards the back. Also some of the overlapping showtimes between the Peachtree main stage would overwhelm the sounds from the Piedmont stage.  

The Festival team aptly choose bands to fit the stage venues and this is the third major check-mark of this Festival: the quality line up.

The headliners this year were an eclectic grouping of LCD Soundsystem, The XX and Phoenix. Each put on a great visual and music acts that closed the three festival nights.

The rising headliners: Moon Taxi (our favorite), X Ambassadors, Sylvan Esso, Dr. Dog, Cage the Elephant, The Shins, to name a few, all put on excellent shows.

Notable standout performances were the energetic show from X Ambassadors –  Sam Harris was unstoppable on stage playing to all parts of stage and crowd.

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Dr. Dog also surprised us as we saw them back at Shaky Knees 1. They have definitely matured their sound and music. They have a raw honesty that we have liked in 2013 and the new tracks they played stood out as more dynamic, tighter in delivery and depth.

We also really enjoyed Ryan Adams show. Not only for his endearing humor (renaming his show at one point “the secret Shins’ show”) also his gritty “throw-back” sound that feels nostalgic and comfortable to us Gen Xers.  

The highlight of the rising headliners for us is our personal favorite, Moon Taxi. Just hitting 1 million streams of their new single “Two High”, Moon Taxi is headed for the upper atmosphere. We saw them at our first Shaky Knees and several times since. Each time their performance and music is refined and more engaging. The band had people in the crowd moving and singing along with their lyrics. We look for them to headline on the Peachtree stage in the coming year or two (fingers crossed!!)

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Lastly, our favorite part of Shaky Knees is the Ponce de Leon Stage for emerging bands and acts. Of all the sets on all three stages we saw this year, the most energy and effort was put forth on the smallest stage. We have follow up reviews of some of our favorites from the weekend:

  • Amythyst Kiah
  • Foreign Air
  • Run River North
  • Great Peacock
  • Arkells

Look for these reviews to follow over the next couple of weeks and look for us again at Shaky Knees 2018.

Review: Evening Muse hosts Sean Rowe: Leaving something behind

Sean Rowe is to music what an anti-superhero would be. Supernatural powers of a baritone voice that pulls from the foundations of the universe and the curse of fighting against the trappings of the music business that have left him worn, unwilling to give in and resolute ‘to the road less traveled,’ as he explains in his FaceBook bio.

To experience his live show is something like being attracted to a circus freak show act: does his voice really sound like that?

Yes. Yes it does and it’s much more than entertainment in the payoff. If Rowe doesn’t move you and I mean move you emotionally, then you aren’t really present in the moment, as his act demands.

Pouring himself into each song; telling a story accompanied by his second superpower, unexpected melodies from his guitar; he revels in simple, honest life. And this is Sean’s fight or burden. You ask yourself why isn’t this guy selling out arenas with his voice and music? And the more you are drawn in, the more you understand that he truly doesn’t desire crowds. He wants you, one-on-one. He wants his music to find you exactly where you are. And his curse is that his sentiment and honesty are lost on the greater music landscape.

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Equally matched to his superhero voice is his diverse guitar abilities, providing a show that evolves with each song. You are left wondering what’s next?

Rowe has just released his fourth album ‘New Lore’ and is traveling relentlessly to fulfill his mission to connect with small audiences. A review of his next two months has him moving through the Southeast into Northeast where for several weeks he jumps the pond and plays on a torrent through Europe. Then returns to the Mid-west to the Southwest without any deceleration of pace.

 https://www.highroadtouring.com/artists/sean-rowe/

Rowe told the nearly full-house at Evening Muse a story about his friend, who was the inspiration for his anchor song on New Lore: ‘To Leave Something Behind.’ This same song has brushed stardom being featured in Ben Affleck’s movie the Accountant.

If Rowe doesn’t move you and I mean move you emotionally, then you aren’t really present in the moment, as his act demands.

To Leave Something Behind is also the core of Rowe’s mission on tour and perhaps in life. Clearly, the importance of what he does for himself isn’t focused on going Platinum. And he is desperate and driven to leave something behind that is personal, genuine and pulls the deep of the universe just a little closer for those he sings to.

Check out acts coming to the Evening Muse http://www.eveningmuse.com/

Upcoming shows at Evening Muse: http://www.eveningmuse.com/calendar/

Sycamore Brewery Springfest 2017

Brews, beautiful people and bow-wows.

We experienced our first Sycamore Brewery Spring Fest and between the excellent beer selection, to the food trucks, to the band line up this is a must return Fest for 768.

You should expect plenty of beer, food, the hang out of the beautiful people of Charlotte and lots and lots of dogs.

Sycamore’s location and set up is perfect for this kind of event. We Ubered there so no comment on parking, which did look problematic and made us thankful. Once inside though, this is a ready-made ‘fest’ venue.

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There were three tap locations around the lot and food trucks along the back of the property. This was wise because even though the lines would back up for beer, they would not interfere with the food lines.

We had tacos, shrimp – mmmmhmmm – and ‘Dillas from TIN Kitchen. Both were fantastic. The shrimp tacos were especially tasty with a homemade topping.

Although it was VERY busy especially later in the day, the crowd management was effective and there were places to sit to eat, grab a water, etc.

 

We discovered the Sun Grown Lager and stayed with it – despite a healthy line up of Oats Sodas. This beer is delicious! We are not IPA-hoppy fans and this brew had zero hop. It was refreshing and tasty – almost too tasty. Perfect for the hot day in the sun. It left us searching local groceries for who carries it.

Let’s talk about the bands!

We stuck to the main stage, mainly because the garden beer area location of the second stage was always packed. So no slight to those bands.

Late Night Special

Let’s face it, anytime you are lead off on a main stage, you have to gear yourself for providing the background music for folks coming in and getting their first beer. No one is loosened up enough to start dancing and rushing the stage.

At the same time you also have the chance to be that sound that tells folks arriving – yep this is the right place.

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Late Night Special filled the bill with their 5-piece high-energy full folk sound and concert-ready vocals. Natives of Mount Pleasant, NC, Fred Heintz has the classic-rocker rasp in his voice backed by members: Bradly Cannon on drums; Ben Robinson on bass; Derek Furr on guitar and Gillian Zambor on keyboard. 

The juxtaposition of this group is Fred’s energy on vocals backed by clear musical power from each instrument against the relatively calm stage presence. It actually pulls you into the performance with Ben, bassist, sitting the entire time – there is always something cool about that – like “yeah I know something” and Gillian swaying behind the keys. All the while, Derek is shredding and Bradly is keeping the tempo tight smoking a cigarette from his lips.

After the set, we caught up with Fred to learn that they are hosting their own festival in Concord, NC, May 12 and 13 with a line up of close to 30 bands. Called the Shakedown Festival it features music, yoga, camping: www.shakedown.rocks (If we weren’t committed to Skaky Knees in ATL, we’d be there!)

Swim in the Wild

Shorted to “Swim Team” hail from Charlotte, NC took the stage second. Having the benefit of a growing crowd by mid-afternoon, Swim in the Wild continued to add to the energy level of the crowd. The Hall Brothers, Micheal and Steven with long-time friend “Gersh” (Cameron Godwin) form the nucleus of this 5-piece band with Jeff Small, guitar and Grant Gautreau, guitar flanking them on stage.

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Playing lots of originals, the draw is the full glory Magnum PI stash and stage energy of Gersh. His kentic movement on stage is hard to stop watching, while Micheal’s vocals and the band’s full sound gave reason for Gersh to move and jump and stand on amps.

The Sycamore team selected bands for the main stage that were all in a similar lane and the Swim Team built nicely on to the sounds of LNS. Somewhere in between blues, rock, indie and folk, Micheal and team have a distinctive sound that is perfect for the out door jam fest.

Catch them next also at the Shakedown Fest in May.

Porch 40

Continuing the build of energy on stage Porch 40 delivered. Based in Sylvia, NC, this heavy funk alternative rock band features a diverse sound starting from the distinct vocals of lead singer Andrew Duncan. Almost “Adam Levine” like he pours himself into the mic and the songs.

His energy on stage is matched by every other band member: Scott Burr, saxophone, Mitchell Metz, violin – yes violin which is visous, Brett Wilson, drums
Carter McDevitt, bass.

Between Carter disappearing behind his hair like “Cousin Itt”; Brett whaling the drums to keeping time, Mitchell on sax and Scott on violin exchanging leads through songs, these guys deliver on a live show.  They moved the crowd closer and provide no excuses to start moving to the beat.

The highlight of the set was Brandon Hucks of Of Good Nature joining on stage for a jazz, funk, reggae version of ‘Tequila!’

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These guys are on the move throughout the summer around the southeast. Catch them next in Boone with the fest’s headliners Of Good Nature at the Local.

Of Good Nature

If you haven’t heard of Of Good Nature, you will soon. They are building momentum and a fan base. The headliners and co-host with Sycamore, they are the crowd pleasers calling Charlotte home.

Throw a trombone into your sound and it’s easily to expect jazz – to call these guys ‘reggae’ as categorized by their website and albums sells them short musically. They are all of it and rock, funk, folk in one very tight sound.

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Formed in 2011, by lead vocals Cameron Brown and percussionist, Joey Vachon the band has 2 albums under their belt and plenty of line up for a live gig like this. And the crowd loves them – even without the day drinkers who had been there since noon! Brandon Hucks on Trombone and Jon Reed on bass pulled the estimated 1500 fans in close. David Hamilton on drums centers the band with intricate timing with Cameron and Jon.

These guys will be at Jazz Fest or Summer Fest in no time.

Sycamore has got to be feeling very good about their Spring Fest and hopefully this cements this event into the Charlotte music scene. If you missed it, set a reminder for next year and watch out for their anniversary Fest in the Fall.

It’s simple: make money. 

“Happiness don’t buy money.” Ari Gold.

I have presented many times to entrepreneur groups looking to glean some magic trick to successfully starting a business. Whereas I do believe and have experienced that success in business is a formula (for another post), there is one undeniable, inescapable, truth to a successful business: make money.

And a band IS a business. If you don’t agree with that statement then what you have is a hobby. Any a band that is serious about ‘making it’ IS a business. Period.

Let’s now pause to give you my version of the “common” man’s definition of “making money” and success. My last name isn’t Gates, Jobs, Bezos, Musk, or several other “once and a billion dollar people” who through a lot of work and extraordinary circumstances go from 0 to 1 billion, making money, changing the world, etc…these folks are not like you and me.

In the music world, it would be analogous to last names like McCartney, Jackson, Bono, Madonna, Swift, Gaga…these are titans. You aren’t going to be a titan…I am not going to be a titan…and what I can be is successful, profitable, and MOST importantly love what I do and enjoy my life. (I am really channeling Ari’s voice here – maybe not so much of his “spirit”…)

What you and I can hope to be are successful fish in our own pond – and guess what, success is defined differently by both you and me. What I think is success isn’t what you may think is success. And that’s OK. The point is success is happiness defined by you AAAANND in order to achieve that happiness you have to pay for it…

As an entrepreneur, I know I am successful – why? Because I am still doing it…I am NOT thinking about, hoping for it, dreaming of it…I am DOING IT.  My company, Insignia has generated well over $28 million in revenue over the last 15 years. We employ today 40 people and we are expanding our business and operation every year…I am damn proud of that. No, I am not a billionaire and I AM HAPPY – having the time of my life.

So at that moment in my presentations when I build up my audience for the delivery of my Moses-like-epiphany – “the most important thing is…is…you…HAVE TO MAKE MONEY! PERIOD” – there is always this visible let down.

“What? That’s it?”

Right there half my audience tunes out. Good. They came to hear me speak hoping for the get rich, shoot to the top, Fantasy Island junk. There is no short cut. There is no escaping making money.

So back to your band: unless you have that amazing “rich uncle” that is an endless supply of cash and if you want to make a living doing what you love – then you MUST MAKE MONEY at it. There is no guitar tree. There is no amplifier shrub. Pretty sure that van of yours doesn’t run on combustible air.

If you are ready to turn your hobby into a real business then you need to start to understand fundamentals like income statements, contracts, negotiations, marketing, etc.

Many artist glaze over, tune out and generally would rather bury themselves in a hole than think about the business basics that will enable you to build you craft. That’s where we can help.

Our mission at 768 Productions is to provide you – the artist – with the support to build a business out of your craft. Yes, that means you need to be invested in the business aspects and we can teach you, and support you through our experience in business. No, running a software company isn’t the same as a band AND there are basics fundamentals shared by both: contracts, marketing, product pricing, merchandising, strategy. The product is your music…everything else is how to sell and monetize that art. AND guess what…making money on your art isn’t evil or selling out or any of those other stupid concepts. Making money enables your art. It sustains your ability to continue to MAKE art.

In this context, money CAN make you happy because it can sustain and enable your passion. If you get this…then we’d love to work with you.

768 expands team, adds producer Fahey

768 Productions announces a new addition to its team: Jimmy Fahey, music producer and engineer.

Fahey, who has lived and worked in Los Angeles since 2007 is also a music production instructor at the Los Angeles Recording School since 2015.

He has worked on a number of records for artists such as The Deftones, Daughtry, Bon Jovi, Santana, Nicki Minaj, Earl Sweatshirt, Boyz II Men, as well as Grammy winning records for Halestorm and Kelly Clarkson.

According to manager, Michelle Stringer, Fahey adds to the teams balance with music production experience.

“This gives us an added dimension to our support of young, up and coming artists,” says Stringer. “It also gives us the added flexibility to produce music.”

Rabbits and Elephants

Early in my career as a graphic designer, I worked for an Alpha Graphics copy shop in downtown Charlotte. I can’t tell you the number of logos, business cards and letterheads, I designed for various companies – new and established. It was fun at first – variation was cool – being creative with each new business was a thrill. Eventually the novelty of another logo became routine…I got excited when someone wanted a brochure or a maybe a flyer – OOOHH yeah a full page flyer…and yes soon flyers and brochures were boring…what I started to want and desire was to do it all for one company…THEN people would see my real talent! And then my boss would bring me another logo to design…meh.

In my many years of observing the music business, BANDS are like DESIGNERS. First, when a band starts playing together it’s mostly covers. Maybe someone in the band is a budding song writer and one or two original songs are written to mix in with the covers. Small engagements are booked – a coffee shop, bar or wedding and the covers and the one original become like the logos and brochures of the designer. Each hoping for, wanting and waiting for that BREAK, that one cover that is going to grab someone’s attention. That one brochure that’s going to get someone to say “Wow! You are good!”

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I call this the principle of Rabbits and Elephants: “We live on rabbits to hunt elephants.”

It’s happened to me several times: Back at Alpha Graphics, I was churning through logos and letterheads as usual when a cool project crossed my desk to develop a multi-fold, odd cut brochure. It was for a company called Metasys. Their logo featured these sharp angular edges. The marketing director for the company wanted to match the angles of the logo with the brochure in someway.

So I worked with my production specialist and we developed a design, pitched it to the marketing director and by the time the brochure was printed, scored and delivered, the marketing director offered me a job. It felt like my BIG BREAK. Two weeks later I was lead designer in the marketing company for an 85 person software company. This was it! I had made it…

Yeah not so fast…I soon realized that I hadn’t “made it.” Yes, I had certainly stepped up from the copy shop and yes, I was doing some very cool things (like developing a cgi video in Macromedia Director on a WindowsNT environment…toootally cutting edge!) And I was still designing logos (product logos now) and brochures and flyers, now just for one company – wait…isn’t that what I wanted??? I began pining for that “next big break.”

Many bands do the same thing. Like designers, and even like entire companies, the desire for the next “big break” becomes this all too consuming churn. “If I could just land this huge deal, we will have made it.” Hunting the elephant becomes the focus.

After nearly 20 years as an entrepreneur (yes, I realized for me to get the next level, I wasn’t happy being a marketing designer, director…I wanted to run the whole company!), there IS NO BIG BREAK. There are only rabbits and elephants.

Think of your favorite band. What are they doing RIGHT this minute…touring? recording an album? maybe forming a new band? maybe producing? The point is they are doing something…at any given level of success there is always another level, another challenge, another “elephant” to hunt.

Over my own career and my study of “success” there is no “making it.” There is no magic Willey Wonka Golden Ticket. There is only the next level. And to achieve that next level you must “eat rabbits and hunt elephants.”

Rabbits are like the designer’s logos or brochures; the band’s covers and gigs; the small company’s first customers. These things – though mundane are what keep the lights on, pay the bills and sustain us while we are hunting the elephants. You can’t get the next level if you aren’t still hunting.

Elephants are the level ups. The project that gets you another higher level project. The brochure that leads to an advertising campaign; the song that gets you an opening act on a tour; the sales win for a company that opens a new business channel. And here’s an important point: once you land an elephant, you don’t hunt it again.

Success is not defined as landing that elephant. Success is defined by aiming for the next level and then the next and then the next ALL while sustaining for the next hunt – the next album, the next tour.

Bands that “make it” as defined by the industry are those that understand this – they keep producing…Actors, who “make it” understand this…company’s who make it understand this.

T.Boone Pickens says “When you are hunting Elephants, don’t get distracted by rabbits.”

That’s easy for a multi-millionaire to say who doesn’t want for a meal (metaphorically).

The rest of us need to eat and learning how to eat rabbits and hunt elephants with a cohesive strategy is how your band will level up and one day look back to say, “We made it.”