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...

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