Falling Through The Cracks

To be a musician today, for the vast majority of us anyway, is to make music for one very simple reason: for the love of it. Because even though everyone wants content, nobody wants to pay for it. The people who make the devices – the iPods, phones, computers and tablets – have zero interest in the compensation of the people creating the content without which they would be trying to sell empty black screens. Radio (terrestrial anyway) has no interest in showcasing new talent. And bars don’t feel the need to pay bands to play to their patrons. Instead, they expect bands to promote themselves to fans willing to pay an admission to see them. As often as not the venues keep their stage separate from the free area of the bar to insure that nobody accidentally hears new music they might like.
So what do you do if you’re a musician? You set up Facebook, Twitter, ReverbNation, Tumblr, Instagram and MySpace accounts to spread the word. You set up a CDBaby account to distribute the music in hopes people will hear it. And people do hear it. Some guy in Spain, or some woman in Japan or Australia, might stumble across it while doing a search that matches one of your song titles. And if they like that kind of music, and are intrigued, they might download some of your stuff. Maybe play it in their home or car, and their friends or strangers might also hear and enjoy it. That’s the dream anyway.

I’ve been lucky enough to meet a couple of such dreamers who have fallen through the cracks of the “music industry.” They both are searchers for beauty, whatever that term means to them, and what’s the point of having a blog if it’s not to shine a light on such things?

Andy Mullen & Anita Maj. Mullen & Maj. Sounds like an old comedy team. It’s not. It’s a pair of talented independent musicians making wonderful music that has fallen through the cracks of the industry. I only know about these people’s music because I’ve met them. One was a teacher at my son’s middle school and the other is the cousin of a close friend.

Andy’s music veers easily between an acoustic folk/country sound and something more electric/rock. He uses a lot of humor in his songwriting which can obscure the dedication to craft, in both his writing and playing. His humor isn’t the broad parody of a Weird Al Yankovic or Allan Sherman but the sly confidence of a Randy Newman, Roger Miller or Loudon Wainwright III. His voice sounds like an old friend’s in your ear.

Anita writes and plays with a joy that masks the hard work behind her music. Her sound isn’t that far from my old band Late Model Humans in that it’s chasing power pop perfection with an emphasis on electric guitars and vocals. Her melodies and arrangements disarm with their apparent simplicity but there is more there than meets the ear. I’ve listened to her music quite a lot and it always sounds fresh. That’s not an easy accomplishment.
Whenever a song from either of them comes up in my mix I’m glad of it. If you’re drawn to either or both of them you should download some of their music. I’m pretty sure you’ll be glad you did.

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