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{Off The Cuff} Being Thankful

by: Pigeon O’Brien

There’s a lot that goes into this business and the visible result is a band gigging in front of a happy audience playing songs from a good CD. Or, alternatively, the result is holding in your hand a CD by a band you like and may have seen and appreciated. At any rate, there are countless people NOT on stage and NOT pictured on the album and I’d like to take a moment, and I hope someone else takes a moment, to think about them and to be grateful for them.
I am grateful for the bands who give us good music. I am grateful for the bands who drive hard to get to a gig. I am grateful for the member of the band who fixes the van to get them to that gig. To the advance person who booked the hotels and handled logistics for the tour or appearance. To the booker who diligently worked at having that band get that gig. To the venue owner who made it possible. To the venue staff who worked the show. To the advertisers who support the radio stations, maagzines, newspapers and blogs that talk about music. To the magazines who cover features and to the writers and editors who work at that. To the writer who said something about the show in the paper. To the paper for having an entertainment column at all.

To the publicist who got in touch with the paper. To the radio station for playing the CD, and for the on-air dude who gives the band a few minutes to talk or play, or who fills dead air when the band can’t talk or play. To the station owner for putting our music on the airwaves. To the program directors at the radio station for listening to SO MANY CDs with an open mind and for trying to make a good playlist. To the radio promoter for talking about the CD to get it listened to. To the people who come to the show, whether they’re there for the beer or there for the band, or there a little guiltily knowing they have to be up and at ‘em early. To the people who first thought, “maybe we can be our OWN label,” and to the labels as well.

To the manager who puts teams together and tries to keep growing. To the session musicians who don’t get to tour with the band and don’t hear any applause for the songs they helped make. To the producers who work to get into what a song or a sound is about. To the artists who design packaging and merch. To the merch peeps who still seem enthusiastic about the new Koozie design. To the MySpace-runners and the website-fixers, the fan-list-updaters and the band-page-makers. (Not to the comment spammers — seriously, guys, enough with the “thanks for the add” blingees.) To the photographers. To the guys in tractors who come rescue fans if a field floods. To the guy in the tractor in Crystal Beach who lost his house in the hurricane but still managed to smile and say nice things about Stingaree. To the security guards working a festival show, freezing or baking, drenched or thirsty.

To the makers of Shiner beer. To the songwriters who write good things. To the accordion players who have to listen to accordion jokes. To whomever invented the banjo. To the music supervisors who know what music can do to a mood. To the label owners who think this is a business that can work. To the guys who work at the label and walk around with backpacks full of beer. To the reviewers and publishers and bloggers who think that music is worth writing and thinking about and encouraging others to think about. To the sponsors who sometimes write a big enough check to really make a difference.

To the professional organizations that strive to keep professional alliances going, because we all understand that a house divided against itself cannot stand. To the conferences and conference organizers and conference volunteers and conference staffs for getting us all together. To the alliances and associations, organizations and anyone who thinks getting us together to share our ideas is a good thing. To the guilds and unions, to the charities and aid organizations. To the publishers and anyone who handles rights and clearances, and to those who are fair with work. To the lawyers and accountants. To those who hold house concerts and work to bring good artists to new ears. To festival organizers and talent bookers who do the same. To food vendors, particularly anyone who has ever participated in the making of any funnel cake anywhere on this planet. Ditto deep-fried Oreos.

To the benefit organizers who bring artists together to help out and by doing so, help the band out. To the engineers and mixers who work hard to get the sound right. To the sound guys at a show who do the same. To the fans. To the potential fans. To the motels and their staffs. To the guys making pedals and effects, new drums and new guitars. To American Idol, for making so unbearably awful to listen to — even the winners make my eardrums bleed — that great music has that much more importance. To the CMA, ditto. To the guys who sign up for open mics just to play, who say to the next guy on the list, “will you play with me?” and to the next guy on the list for saying, “absolutely.”

To the families who put up with all this.

To the people who call with good ideas and keep networking. To the tirelessness of the great minds I work with and the dedication that gets people up in the morning to get on the phone and on email to see what we can do today. To the enthusiasm that makes us stay up till four, even though we have to be up again by eight, to be one of four people catching an amazing show far too late, far too distant, far too smoky, far too exciting in its shared experience to be missed.

To a million roles I am sure I am forgetting (but it’s time I got to work!).

To any member of any band who says, “thank you, I appreciate you” to any of the above.

To the colleagues I have around the world (Hi Kenzo and Kenjiro!) who work too hard, get paid too little, get up too early and stay up too late and who don’t ever hear the sound of clapping or cheering, I am grateful for what you do. It means something to me. Thank you.

Pigeon O’ Brien is an Americana music publicist who works with a slew of artists (Daryl Lee Rush, Lost Immigrants among others) on everything from marketing and radio to website design and public relations.

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