Wednesday, February 22, 2012
So, how does a musician build a career these days now that the getting signed by a record company is no longer the ideal?
Well, perhaps you can gain some notoriety by pulling off a stunt like Giorgio Fareira did. Late last month he pulled into a Sonic Drive-In with his friends. As a joke, he pulled out his guitar and sang his order. His performance was captured by a friend's I-Phone and posted on You Tube. OK, so you know where this ends: over two million views, and then an appearance for Fareira on the February 14 edition of "The Ellen DeGeneres Show".
That's the exception, of course. Conventional wisdom nowadays is that you steadily build a fan base and hold them close. Hope that your material gets picked up by a movie or TV producer. Then there's word of mouth.
I'm talking a lot lately about Jessie Baylin. How did I learn of her? Well, it wasn't Rhapsody or a piece on NPR. No, instead I discovered her when I was shopping for music in a store (yes, you can still do that - and in a music shop, to boot!). Waiting by the register, I indulged in an "impulse buy" - I chose her CD from the $1 rack because a) the price was right; b) Verve Forecast had seen something in her; and c) it seemed that she played her own instrument and wrote her own songs.
After listening to her and being gripped by the sound, I once again experienced that sweet tingle I get when I let serendipity rule the day and I stumble on something delightful. Jessie Baylin is a sweet mix of Dusty Springfield and Norah Jones. (In fact, Jesse Harris, who works closely with Jones, co-wrote a couple of songs with Baylin on 2008's Firesight).
Casting about for more information about her, I learn that she is well-versed in her pop music history, especially in the classic singer-songwriters. Performing Songwriter captured her essence, I think, when it said:
When you hear Jessie Baylin sing for the first time, it takes a matter of moments to realize that she’s intimately familiar with pop’s history – but not at all interested in repeating it. Her songs—and her plangent voice—carry a classic pop tone that evoke memories of the Brill Building and Laurel Canyon in the ‘70s while retaining a decidedly modern, empowered worldview.
I learn that for her latest project she worked with names I've long-recognized from my years of studying liner notes: Jimmie Haskell (who worked with Paul Simon on "Bridge Over Troubled Waters"), Jim Keltner (worked with Loudon Wainwright) and Waddy Wachtel (all those '70s West Coast rockers: Browne, Zevon, Ronstadt).
So, I go to Jessie Baylin's website and - whaddya know - she's just out with the follow-up to the CD that I bought. It's been four years, but she's still hanging in. I visit her Facebook and find that things are definitely looking up for her. There's her show at the Troubadour attended by Kirsten Dunst and Bette Midler. I also learn that she's married to the drummer for the popular band Kings of Leon.
So it's clear that Jessie Baylin won't be driving up to a Sonic with guitar in tow. I mean, her latest release earned a review in the latest issue of Rolling Stone. And, when I went to the music shop today, it was available!
I'm giving it a good listen now because I also learned that she's coming to Boston next week. She'll be at a little club called TT the Bears on Tuesday night. I can't wait! It's a terrific little club: the last time I was there, a friend and I had a memorable time watching Ron Sexsmith play. (My wife and I also heard Eleni Mandell there. Another terrific show.)
Anyway, Jessie is gaining traction with me and I'm spreading the word. Give her a listen!
Click here for some background on the making of her new release, Little Spark
Click here for a radio interview recently with Jessie.
Finally, check out the video that Scarlett Johannson shot for "Hurry, Hurry" from Little Sparks