Saturday, September 06, 2008

oh, terrence...

why go through the hassle and expense of playing to a live audience, especially when you don't necessarily know how to perform?

because it's protocol.

of course, there are plenty of acts who never tour (steely dan) and there are plenty of acts who can't seem to stop touring (dave matthews band) and plenty of high concept acts that were never meant to tour or play live, ever (gorillaz). still and all, it is generally understood that the mark of any true artist is in their live performance. and if you're an unknown quantity, the world will be expecting a live performance from you, in short order -- whether you're famous or not. the process demands that you stand and deliver LIVE, irregardless of your true abilities.

besides -- its understood that if you can put together a live act on your nickel, the money you make when you go out on the road is yours to keep, so for the up-and-coming musician, having a great live show nowadays is more important than ever. most hip-hop/r&b acts don't tour nowadays, because the music is too production heavy -- and if they do, they don't do it consistently. old school r&b assembles package deals that put several groups on a bill and many of them have enough hits to keep them on the road internationally for as long as they want. i would think that if you don't own your publishing or write your songs, you'd bloody well better hit the road, jack. but that's me.

of course, the price of gas has made touring an expensive undertaking for many. the common sense rock n' roll way to handle it is to scale everything down to the minimum initially -- and for most, that means a vocalist and a guitarist, usually one and the same person. sure, you come off like a folk singer/slob but you build up a following eventually, and that's when your band can come along. otherwise, things get very expensive very quickly. and no artist wants that because they know that the label is only fronting the money. the artist is the one that's paying for everything -- sooner or later.

terrence howard has a two album deal with a major label and he's already famous, so no one has to wonder who he is when they hear this material and its assumed that even if a small percentage of his millions of fans buy the album, the label will make their money back and then some. still and all, it's very true that actors who make albums usually don't do very well. usually.

consider don johnson -- sonny crockett of miami vice fame, though i must admit, i loved him best in the brilliant movie a boy and his dog. everyone far and wide knew he couldn't really sing but that didn't stop epic records from giving him a deal. and why shouldn't they? miami vice was massively huge and everyone wanted to cash in on it, somehow. to his credit, mr. johnson knew he couldn't sing, either. but he was smart enough to get ron wood (from the stones, man), bonnie raitt and willie nelson to sing on the album, with tom petty and bob seger writing the songs -- and astonishingly -- the late, great stevie ray vaughn (!!!) on guitar. sure, it's straight-up 80s corporate rock -- but it's credible. the title cut, heartbeat, went to #5 in 1986. in the end, the label makes money, all the musicians involved get a boost in sales by association, and don comes off looking like the musician he's always wanted to be. smart man, that don johnson. so far, he is the bright shining example of an actor that ventures into music and does it right.

it is with these things in mind that i present to you, terrence howard -- actor and musician -- performing live at J & R Music Fest 2008.

hm. let's see if you can get through mr. howard's 3 minute introduction. i couldn't.

at this point, i'm wondering if he's rehearsing or performing. (maybe it's both.) did they mean for all of the instrumentation to drown out his voice? (maybe they did.)

...and then i realize, oh -- this is really what he's like when he's on.

i wonder if mr. howard is going to see any videos of his performances, get someone to set levels at soundcheck, find someone to manage levels in the monitors so he can hear what everything sounds like onstage as he's doing his thing -- or is he just going to assume that everything is gravy and keep it moving?

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