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...


Unknown said...

He didn't get robbed at gunpoint by a mime, did he? (Ted from Oz) Sorry, bit of an inside joke, unless you watch Nip/Tuck.

Big Blue Barry said...

Nope, not quite... It's a long story but basically he had a guy give him a CD for "free" and then afterward, demand a "donation" of $20. When Ted said no, this guy's group of friends literally backed Ted up against the wall until he agreed to give them money.