INSIDER’S TAKE: WHAT THEY GOT RIGHT VS. WELL…KINDA.
Before I dive in to Right/Kinda… I just wanted to share Layla Grant’s tribute to Jeff Fordham from this week’s episode. (The song, Too Far From You, was actually written by Sarah Siskind, and of course Sarah’s version is beautiful…moodier too.) But it seems like Aubrey Peeples is really a great singer. I like a lot of the choices she makes vocally, her tone is unique. Listen here:
What They Got Right:
1) Frankie Grey’s “writer’s night”/acoustic performance at “The Beverly”:
First of all, Frankie is played by Mark Collie! [Remember ‘Even the Man in the Moon is Cryin’!?!] Secondly, this may be the only time the show has used live vocals in a performance setting. What I mean is, usually it’s pretty obvious that the actor singing in the scene is actually lip syncing to a studio version they have pre-recorded. Does that make sense? In the case of this performance, I’m pretty darn sure it’s just video of Mark (or Frankie) performing the song.
Ok, back to the scene:
Deacon says: “That’s a great set.”
Frankie responds “I’m not sure they know that.” (Referring to the audience in the bar.)
PREACH! I’m kind of joking, but this is what soo many writer’s nights can be like. And I played a thousand of them early on. You perform, you think you’re really killing it, and people look up from their soggy sweet potato fries like, “You expect me to put my fries down and clap my hands together for that?!” I’m teasing, but it is not uncommon to get a less than enthusiastic response from listeners at a writer’s night, especially if they don’t really know what they’re listening to. And that’s one of the coolest impacts that the TV show has had. It informs people about the process ENOUGH that they take a little bit greater interest in local writer’s nights. In fact, I believe the show has brought a significant amount of tourism to town, and those tourists are specifically interested in the music business…and not just interested in the big stars, but in songwriters, the Opry, up-and-coming artists, and the history of country music itself. So I think the show has truly impacted the way writer’s nights are attended, and the behavior of the people in attendance. For example, there truly has been a visible impact on the Bluebird Cafe, which was always famous in it’s way, but is now a “must see” location for tourists. For example, I’m playing the Bluebird this Saturday night with some girlfriends, and the show sold out this morning in a matter of minutes….and that had less to do with our brand names and more to do with people wanting the “Bluebird experience.”
2)The Ex’s trying to pull a tour together with one week’s notice
While I really doubt that a tour EVER (ever!!!) gets planned in a week’s time, they do accurately show what it’s like trying to pull a good team together. Especially if it is last minute, or if someone bailed or got sick at the 11th hour. Great people usually have good jobs…so it’s hard to find someone outstanding that doesn’t have work.
When you’re hiring band members, crew, sound engineers…..you’re looking for THIS trifecta and it is pretty hard to find:
1) GREAT player, great sound guy…etc.
2) Hardworking/professional (Will they pitch in with more than their exact specified duties? Especially when you’re just starting out and don’t have a large crew, you need your team to be willing to help out in other areas. Maybe not all the time, but sometimes. An example: if I’m playing a show and have to leave stage immediately after my set for a meet and greet, I need someone from my band to pack up my guitar and make sure it gets put on the bus with all our gear. Sounds like no biggie, but people can be funny sometimes about “extra work.”)
3) Good hang. (this might actually be the MOST important quality.) You’re LIVING with these guys, so great attitudes, and a good personality is a really big deal.
1) Private plane usage.
Nashville depicts a LOT of private plane usage on the show. In this episode, Luke, his son and Layla all hop on Luke’s private plane. AND Juliette hops on her private plane to fly home to Nashville. In the wake of Jeff Fordham’s death, I guess this kinda makes sense, but remember Atlanta is only a four hour drive.
In GENERAL I feel there is an unrealistic amount of private plane flights going on. For the most part, artists on tour travel on a tour bus. [This is the company we get buses from if you wanna see inside some.]
Most artist who have had several hits (lets say 3 or 4+) and are touring a lot, eventually graduate to having their own “artist” bus, and if it’s a band (like Lady Antebellum for example), each member of the band may have their own bus…because on the road, your tour bus is your house.
At my level (if we can afford to use a bus, which sometimes we cannot) me, my band, sound engineers, tour manager would all be on one bus. AND IT GETS CROWDED. 🙂
Buses usually have 12 bunks (this is called a “band bus”) or 6 bunks (“condo bunks” which are roomier, but less efficient b/c you can only sleep 6). OR if it’s an “artist bus” there may be one bedroom at the back, a couple bunks for guests, and then a bathroom and a living room/kitchen area in the front of the bus.
Now, I do know of a couple artists who take private planes on both ends of their weekly tour dates. Here’s what I mean. Usually you “bus out” (this means “leave on the tour bus”) at midnight on Wednesday night so you can wake up in the city of your Thursday night show. This is necessary for the load/in and production side of things. Then you do the same thing Thursday night after the show, Friday night, and then Saturday night drive home to return on Sunday morning. Most weekly runs are structured like this with 3 show nights. (This can vary, some runs are shorter or longer.) But I know some artists who fly out on a private plane during the day on Thursday before that night’s show, and then fly home as soon as they get off stage on Saturday night, but most people don’t do that.
Private planes are more common if there’s a serious time crunch….like a morning TV appearance in NYC, and then a show across the country that night. Sometimes the buses would go to the show location and the band & artist would fly from the TV appearance and meet the rest of the team at the tour date. Or sometimes people fly private if it’s a REALLY LONG drive to or from the venue—I once rode the bus home from Maine to Nashville—it was like 23 hours…on the bus…with a bunch of smelly men.
But the main reason all this private plane usage is unrealistic is because of the cost. I’ve asked a couple people who routinely charter private planes, and they both told me similar things:
1) Most country acts—even if they ARE flying private—are not using planes of this size/cost. The rates my sources quoted me were around $5000 AN HOUR for a smaller plane.
2) The planes depicted on the show would be more in the realm of $13,000/hour.
So….I guess my point is, this price point makes these planes very unrealistic. IF you happen to be a country artist who routinely flies on planes like this, feel free to debunk me, or better yet….TAKE ME WITH YOU. <3
I can go further into depth about life on a tour bus later…let me know in the comments or on twitter @kelleighbannen if this is something you’d be interested in.
2) Real Estate Agent fangirlling while showing Avery a condo.
For the most part, people in Nashville are super chill about celebrities…especially in a work setting. Of course stars get recognized and noticed when they’re out and about. And of course locals will gossip about stars, or share their favorite spots for sightings…but for the most part, country acts are given a lot of privacy. This is one of the major reasons I think Nashville has become so appealing to celebrities—especially Hollywood actors and actresses who are used to paparazzi bugging them in LA. In general, people mind their own business.
I do know some crazy stories about fans showing at someone’s house, or catching them coming to and from their garage, etc… but that’s mostly tourists…not natives.
For pithy and more in-depth plot recaps, check out MJSBIGBLOG.
OK, until next week…..Xo