BBB Receives Exclusive Album Offer

I'm very excited to announce that I just received an offer for an exclusive publishing deal with a company based in London, England called Music Candy. Initially it's a one album agreement for an instrumental hard rock album featuring big drums, crunchy guitars and dirty synth's with catchy and memorable hooks.

The tentative release date is set for March 2010 with the album being available for film and tv licensing placements worldwide. I'll post more info about it as it becomes available.

Until next time...
- Big Blue

Back home from the TAXI Road Rally, Part 4

Day Six

After getting about 3 hours of sleep, I woke up in time to make it to the Film & TV Pitch panel. As was the case with the other panels I went to, I heard some really good stuff, maybe one that was great, and a few that were just ok. I, along with the rest of the members from the panel I was on, received a nice compliment during this panel. One of the panelists commented on how many of the mixes seemed to be a bit bass-heavy. When he listened to songs on Friday, at first, he thought it was the sound system. But on this day, he said that he didn't think that was the case because he had sit in on the TAXI members panel session that I was on the day before and said that every single mix he heard in that class was clean and clear. That made me smile :-)

After that panel finished up I decided to do some networking and hang out with some friends and "family." I enjoyed some nice conversation time with Dean K., Mazz and one of my newest friends, Jeanna (who's trying to get me to switch to a Mac and Logic Pro... we'll see...). Next thing you know, it's lunch time.

A group of us decided to have lunch at the hotel restaurant. One of those happened to be my buddy Devin. As we were having lunch, Devin said he had a story for me. The story concludes with him giving me a gift. An official replica of the Canadian national team hockey jersey. Again, another humbling moment for me. Being a sports fan, I know the passion that goes with following one's team (by the way, college basketball is now officially underway... C-A-T-S! CATS! CATS! CATS! Go Big Blue!) so I can appreciate the depth of this gift. I've already thanked him in person, but I'll say it again. Thank you Devin, love you man!

While I was at lunch, a gentleman that was sitting behind us said hello and told me that next year, he wanted to be me. I spent a few minutes talking with him to find out that he used to play in some bands in the 70's and 80's. Though the name of the band escapes me, it was one that I was very familiar with. Once again, another humbling experience.

After finishing up lunch, it was time to head upstairs for the TAXI 5 Year Plan class that was being taught by Matt Hirt, Dave Walton and John Mazzei. All three of them are TAXI members, at different stages of their career, but all successful, and all very generous and approachable. I got a lot out of the class and it really helped to answer some questions I had.

The last panel was the Producers looking for Crushing Gray, I mean... looking for Hits panel :-) As was the case with all the other panels, some pretty good stuff but nothing that I would have taken out a 2nd mortgage on my house for. Just being honest. There was one track that was REALLY good, but the chorus just wasn't there.

After that panel wrapped up, a large group of us had dinner at the hotel. Had some great food and great conversations, one of which included many references to Lord of the Rings and Samwise Gamgee. I also had a chance to meet some more new friends, Jeffrey and Theresa (hope I'm spelling their names right) that night. And then came the process of having to say goodbye.

Some of us where staying around till the morning but leaving on an early flight, while others were leaving on a red-eye flight that night. It was really hard to say goodbye to a few folks as many of these friends are as close as family. It really is difficult to put into words just how close so many of us have become.

As surprising as this may seem, I'm sure that I'm leaving out some great stories (I can already think of some that involve David Trotter, Sherrill Blackman, Fett and Michael Laskow). To all of the people that I may have left out, it was not intentional. As you can see, there was quite a bit going on. I'm already going through Rally Withdrawal and can't wait to see everyone again.

I guess I'm going to wrap this up for now. I'm planning on posting some more thoughts about some of the things I learned while I was at the Rally in a day or two.

So there you have it... TAXI Road Rally 2009 through a pair of blue-tinted glasses :-)

Love you all!

Back home from the TAXI Road Rally, Part 3

Day Five

This was the day that I was a panelist during the first session, which was on writing songs and composing instrumentals for film and TV. I was a bit nervous at first but as the rest of the panel members showed up, the nerves started to leave. There were only two members on the panel that I hadn't met before, so it was very much a "family" type of feeling being up there on stage with them.

One by one, we were called to sit in the chair at the front of the stage with Michael Laskow as he moderated the panel. Each member would give a description of the song that they were going to play and then after the clip was done, they would be asked a question by Michael.

When it came my turn, Michael introduced me as "Barry French, but better known as Big Blue Barry." I couldn't help but smile. But before he had me introduce my clip, he said he wanted to share a story. He proceeded to tell the crowd about how we had met about 18 months ago in Nashville during a seminar he put on there. Then at last year's Rally, we had done a video interview, during which I was giving him a bit of history on my musical career. At one point I had told him that my wife and I had went through a rough patch several years back and that I gave up music to focus on healing my marriage. I got pretty choked up and they didn't know whether to hug me or stop filming. I eventually got my composure back and told them that several years later, with my wife's blessing, I got back into music and was going to work my tail off to not let her down and show her that her support was going to be worthwhile.

As he was telling this story, I couldn't help but to think back to that night he was talking about and I started to get a bit choked up. I kept telling myself "Pull yourself together man!!!" While I may look like a grizzly bear on the outside, I'm more of a teddy bear on the inside. Well, what happened next was completely unexpected.

As he's wrapping up the story, he says something to the effect of "Barry, you've been an inspiration to all of us here over the past year and we'd like to present you with 2009 TAXI Road Rally Inspiration Award." I was completely overwhelmed and I couldn't stop the tears from flowing at that point. I was in a state of shock from it all. So after the camera man finished snapping pictures, tears and all, Michael then asked me to describe my clip. Needless to say, it took me a few moments to regain my composure.

Once I got the tears wiped away and took a deep breath, I tried to explain the next clip that the audience was about to hear. Basically, I was trying to convey a couple of things. One of them was pay attention to the "listing." Even though the clip wasn't written for a TAXI listing, the process was very similar. The other concept I hoped to get across was to not spend too much time "tweaking" things. While you want to make sure you get the track to sound great, there comes a point where you just have to stop tweaking things and move on so that you can get it done. This is really more towards the film and TV market than it is making an artist's album. The one phrase I meant to say was being able to determine the point of diminishing returns, but I was so completely caught off guard by the award, that I forgot to say it. Hopefully, I was still able to get the point across.

After I sat down, the next person up was John Mazzei, better known as Mazz. He and I are both in a music library that composes for some popular daytime talk shows. As are most of the people that were on this panel, Mazz is truly one of the nicest and most helpful and generous guys you could ever meet. He's always giving of his time on the forums and is willing to share information with people to help them improve, not to mention, he's also one of the most ridiculously talented composers you'll ever meet. I really look up to Mazz and feel blessed to consider him a friend. So I was EXTREMELY happy to see him get presented with an award for all his contributions on the forums. He TOTALLY deserved it!

After the panel was over, I was met with several hugs and congratulatory remarks from people on the panel, as well as members of the audience. I had planned to watch the next seminar in the main ballroom but I ended up talking to several people outside in the hallway area instead. I can't even begin to describe how it felt to have people come up to me telling them how I had inspired them over the past year. It was one of the most humbling experiences.

Last year after I got back from the Rally, I had told my wife that I wanted to be a panelist one day. Maybe in three or four years from now, I wanted to be able to be up there on stage so that I could give back to the people what they gave to me last year. I had no idea that it would happen so quickly. THANK YOU Michael for giving me the opportunity this year.

I met so many people afterwards that either gave me a hug, shook my hand or simply said congrats that I can't remember them all. So, to all of them, I simply say "thank you" and I hope to continue to provide inspiration to you for years to come.

Up next was the mentor lunch. I was able to get a seat next to Ronan Chris Murphy, an audio engineer who's worked with tons of talented individuals over the years. I had lots of questions for him and I got lots of great info that I can't wait to start applying later this week! (Sidebar: I have 15 full-length tracks to complete in the next 30 days!)

I also had a chance to meet a record producer, the bass player for The Knack, Dan Kimpel (one of my favorites from last year too!) and Ariel Hyatt, a cyber PR specialist! I enjoyed them all, but one of the highlights for me was when the record producer asked us what the highlight of the Rally had been for us so far, one of my forum buddies Erich aka Teleblaster said "seeing Barry get the inspiration award." A couple of the others said that was their highlight as well, and I'd never even met them before. Again, it was just another, very humbling experience.

After that lunch I headed off to another listening panel, Major Label A&R. There were some good songs, but nothing really grabbed my attention. Admittedly, I'm kinda picky :-) The next panel was one about composing music for video games. LOTS of great info in this one! I look forward to the day when I have more time to focus on my composing skills as I would really like to do some composing for video games. One day!

After this panel, I went to dinner with the Pepper's and their friend Mary. We drove up to Manhattan Beach and ate at Pancho's then took a quick walk down to the beach and saw the ocean. I had such a great time with them. I wish they lived closer!

Got back to the hotel and did some more hanging in the lobby. I met some new people that night (Danny, his girlfriend Daneel(sp?), and also Rebekah aka Shorty). Danny and I talked about guitar mics and techniques. Thanks for the tips Danny! After talking to Rebekah about Master Release forms and other work-for-hire situations, I was about to call it night. But as I left, I ran into Ted (Australia) and he talked me into coming up to the 2nd floor and hanging out with him and some others for awhile. Ted told us about getting hustled while he was at the Venice area. Felt horrible for the guy, but I was glad that he was OK. It could have been much worse than it ended up being. Soon after that story, it was time to get some sleep. One more day left...

To be continued...

Back home from the TAXI Road Rally, Part 2

Day Three

After a few hours of sleep, I made my way back down to the lobby to see that more and more people had started showing up. I had a chance to meet some more forum members for the first time. I made a quick trip to Denny's for some breakfast then back to the hotel to get in line for registration.

While in line I had a chance to catch up with a few old friends, Ragani, Dean K., Dave Penn, Trent Oliphant and Mark Smith. What a great feeling it was to see them all again and be able to catch up with everything that's been going on in their lives. That's one of the best things about the Rally, the "family reunion" aspect of it. The friendships you make there are of the life-long kind. Seeing each other online and chatting via email or phone is one thing, but it is no substitute for the real thing.

After a few hours of standing in line, the registration process started on time and with the addition of the 2 extra workstations, the line moved fairly quickly. After signing in, I went over and signed up for the mentor of my choice. After that I headed into the bookstore area to catch up with one of my personal mentors, Fett. He has a studio in the Nashville area and has been so gracious with his time and knowledge with me. I feel blessed to be able to call him a friend, just a great guy.

After spending a bit of time with him, it was back to the lobby to catch up with some more friends, both old and new, as well as await for the arrival of the other half of Crushing Gray, Logan Rayne Pepper. It wasn't too long before he and his wife Karen showed up. After developing the friendship with Logan over this past year, I was also looking forward to spending some time with his wife as well.

I ended up hanging out in the lobby for the rest of the night and forgot to get dinner!!! It was just so great getting to see everyone, my hunger actually took a back seat that night. But don't worry, I made it up for the next day :-)

Day Four

The Pepper's and I took a trip to Denny's for some breakfast before the first session of the Rally actually started. Mmmmm... Denny's... Man oh man, how I wish we had a Denny's closer to here!

We headed back to the hotel and found our way to the main ballroom for the first session, an interview with hit country songwriter Jeffrey Steele. After a nice introduction by Jason Blume, Michael Laskow came out and gave a "brief" bio of Jeffrey's accomplishments. Amazing. The interview was great and Jeffrey really came across as a genuinely nice guy who feels blessed to be doing what he's doing.

I had never seen him before but my goodness, that guy can sing! He did a 20-minute concert for us at the end of the interview. Talk about powerful. He did a couple of songs on piano and a few more on guitar. For anyone who doesn't think a simple guitar/vocal or piano/vocal demo can "sell a song" then all they need to do is check out his performance from that morning. It left many people with chills on their arms and tears in their eyes. I'm not going to say if a certain tall, long-haired individual falls into that category or not :-)

The next panel was Broadcast Quality Demystified. They played some examples of tracks that were broadcast quality and some that were not. They then went around and grabbed some CD's from the audience to play. I wasn't able to stay around for the whole session as I had my one to one mentor session to go to.

My mentor session was with a music publishing guy. It didn't go quite as I had expected in my mind, but looking back on it, it was definitely helpful. It really confirmed some things that I knew I needed to do already. I didn't necessarily want to do them, but I knew that in the long run, for me to reach the goals that I have set for myself, it was something that I knew I was going to have to do.

Up next was the mentor lunch. There was a nice blend as far as the mentors went. I think there was at least one mentor that was able to connect with each member personally, myself included. In fact, as she was about to leave the table, she tapped me on the shoulder and asked me to email her later that night with some links to my music.

Up next was a listening panel for Film and TV music. None of my music was selected for this one either (a trend that continued throughout the weekend). It's always interesting to hear the songs that get picked in those panels. Most of them are pretty good, a few of them are REALLY good, an occasional great one, and then every once in a while, you get a dud. This year was no exception.

I decided to hang around for the next session in the ballroom as well. It was an A&R panel for World, Electronica, New Age, Jazz and Christian music. Of all the panels I sat in, this one was a bit painful. I'll try and be diplomatic about this and just say that as a musician, that happens to be a Christian, the majority of the submissions I heard for the Christian genre, made me want to hide my face and leave the room. I'll just leave it at that. Moving on...

I checked out the Advanced Record Production class for a little bit but had to make a phone call in the middle of it. Then after that session, I went back to the lobby and ran into some more friends I met last year (Debbie from Idaho) and some new friends (Tyler from Canada). A group of us went to Denny's for some dinner and had a great time, even if it took forever to get our refills and desert :-)

We headed back to the hotel and hung out in the lobby for awhile. I decided to call it an early night so I could take some time to prepare for the morning panel that I was going to be on. But later on, I did end up going back downstairs and hanging out some more. There's just so many people to see that you just hate to sleep, 'cause you don't want to miss anything.

One of the funnier moments was finding out that Ted (from Australia) has a dream of eating at an American KFC with someone from Kentucky :-) Unfortunately, there were no KFC's nearby, but if he comes back next year, we're going to try and make that dream come true. The reason it has to be an American one is because there is an apparent ban in Australia on one of the ingredients used in the chicken here in the States. There was also a discussion about the differences in KFC between the US and Canada. Logan and Karen were shocked to find out that we have all-you-can eat buffet KFC's here. Good times :-)

To be continued...

Back home from the TAXI Road Rally, Part 1

Incredible. Amazing. Shocking. Humbling. Familial. Loving. Giving. Educational... The list of words I could use to describe my TAXI Road Rally experience this year could go on for a long time. Words simply cannot describe the event. It is something that one truly has to experience for his or her self to be able to appreciate the depth and range of the event. TAXI CEO Michael Laskow is one of the most generous and caring persons I've ever met and he truly does want to see people succeed in this grueling and demanding business.

I'll go ahead and warn you now that this is going to be a series of very lengthy posts. Maybe it'll make up some for the lack of posting the previous months. And so without further gilding the lily and with no more ado, I give to you my recap of the 2009 TAXI Road Rally.

Day One

I arrived at the hotel on Tuesday night. I wanted to get there early this year. Last year was my fist trip ever to California and I stayed in the hotel the entire event other than one trip to Taco Bell on Sunday afternoon. So this year I wanted to be able to see a little bit of the city.

After checking in at the front desk, I made my way across the lobby and immediately saw three fellow members, Dave Walton, Christi Green and Martin Haene (my roomie for the week). Had a great time chatting with them for awhile. Dave and I went to Subway for some late night dinner and more great conversation about life and music. Really enjoyed hearing his stories about the Billboard conference he went to the previous week, especially about Bear McCreary and Glee.

Day Two

I spent most of the morning putting together the rest of my CD's. I would have put them together before the trip but let's just say that I ran into some technical difficulties with the printers. Argh! As I was working on them, I got a text from my friend Devin letting me know that he was now at the hotel. I've been wanting to meet him since April of last year. His friend Mark was with him and the three of us made a trip to Subway for some lunch and gear talk. Good times!

As the day progressed, more people started to arrive. It was so great to see so many familiar faces, some of which I hadn't seen in a year, others in a few months. Even though it had been a year since I had been there, it really felt like only a few days had passed (and I'm already looking forward to next year!).

During the afternoon and early evening we had a chance to see parts of a Jewish wedding that was going on in the hotel. It was very unique to say the least. While that was going on, I shared a pizza with my friend Christi. We did that last year and since this past year went so well, we thought we'd try it again :-)

As I mentioned earlier, I arrived early so that I could see some of the sights. So what better thing to do in LA than take in a rock show. One of my fellow TAXI members, JVB, was playing a show that night with her band, Pinkstar. One of my forum friends that I finally got to meet for the first time, Jeff Greenleaf, gave me a ride to the show in his Corvette. It was quite fun cruising around Beverly Hills with him in a 'vette.

We arrived at the venue and actually found a great parking spot across from the venue. We ran into JVB outside and got a chance to meet her guitarist Jim. We caught a few songs from the opening band, can't remember their name, but I think their guitarist might still be playing his solo... lol... you had to be there...

Pinkstar hit the stage and delivered a very high-energy show. The bass player had some technical difficulties with his rig but that didn't keep them from rocking the place. They were a very tight band and JVB definitely puts every ounce of energy she has into the show. Fun show! Jeff dropped me off back at the hotel and I was planning on just heading up to the room but ran into some friends in the lobby so I stuck around, and I'm glad I did.

I had a chance to meet Josh and Ted from Brisbane, Australia, which for those of you that don't know, is close to Sidney... lol... again, you had to be there... These two young lads were one of the highlights of the Rally for me. It was their first Rally and Ted's first trip to America. LOVED their accent. Just really had a great time hanging out and getting to know them. Josh (fellow Pro Tools user) and I traded CD's. I was VERY impressed with his production, great stuff!

Finally headed off to sleep around 2am I think. Had to get a little rest as the next day was registration day which meant standing in line for a while.

To be continued...

Quick update: Crushing Gray, TAXI Road Rally

It's been quite a while since I posted so I figured I should probably at least put out a quick update on what's been going on. The last several months have been filled with lots of music, work and excitement to say the least.

For starters, I've been going through some changes with the day job which initially I thought would free up some more time for music but it actually had the opposite effect for awhile. Now, I think things are about to settle down there again, so that's good.

One of the more exciting things that happened during the last couple of months was actually getting to hear some of my music on TV for the first time! I had been accepted into a new music library as a composer and a few weeks later was presented an opportunity to write some tracks for a new daytime talk show.

It was very much a whirlwind experience to say the least. In the end, I signed four new tracks for the show. During the first two weeks of the show, I heard one of my cues get used three different times. It was quite a feeling to say the least!

This past week I've been finishing up the mixes for the new Crushing Gray album. We were hoping to have the full album done in time for the TAXI Road Rally later this week but it just didn't work out. BUT... we will have 6 songs finished. We're still working out the details in regards to distribution, etc... but the wait is almost over!

And speaking of the Road Rally... I'm actually going to be a panelist during a session on Saturday morning. I'm humbled and honored to be chosen and a bit nervous as well :-) The panel is on writing songs and composing instrumentals for Film & TV. We're supposed to choose two tracks that we'll play for the audience. Before playing the tracks, we're supposed to discuss what made/makes it a good track for Film/TV. I know one of the two tracks I'm going to use but I'm still undecided on the second one. Gotta choose quick!

Well, I still have some prep work for the Rally to get done. I am going to make a much stronger effort to keep this blog updated in the future.

Until next time...
-Big Blue