News From The Woods - August, 1992


By Bob Ketchum

Originally Published August, 1992

"Living Down The Arkansas Stereotype"

As I write this issue's column it is the Labor Day weekend. Yes, I KNOW I'm not supposed to Labor, but it has been my only chance of late to sit down for more than an hour. (Actually, it's Tuesday and raining, so I've got a little down time.) It just occurred to me that this is the first holiday weekend of the year that it didn't rain in Baxter County. It held out just long enough to get through Labor Day. I'm sure the vacationers (and local merchants) appreciated Mother Nature's accommodations.

It's been a pretty cool summer this year, which has in turn made shooting video outside a real pleasure. It's so much nicer doing a shoot when you're not dripping with sweat and running short on temper. Electronics gear is not fond of high temperature, either. When the air conditioning system went down at the studio I had to call my clients and reschedule. Oftentimes during the dead cold of winter I would have to turn on the AC just to flush out the hot air in the control room. The audio equipment is bad enough, but when I turn on the video power, all those cooling fans and TV monitors (12 of 'em) crank up the heat index … not to mention the little wheel in the meter spins like a top…

We had more music recording business this summer than is customary, which I find unusual during this recessive period across the U.S. Normally our video business during the summer months is about 70%-to-30% by comparison with audio sessions. No one likes exteriors shot during the winter with all those leafless trees and all, which is to be expected. This year, however, Susan and I had to really hustle meeting the scheduling demands of our A/V clients. I don't really know why this occurred. Maybe bands are making more money (NOT!). Maybe bands are being more careful with their money. Whatever the reason, we've been getting more and more first-time customers. Our repeat business is still steady as well, however. This past year our return customers included Rain Equine, Bryant, The Mountain Magic Band, Judge Parker, Randy Keck, Bob MaCanarney, Glorybound Express, Jess McEntire and Joe Hamilton. New clients to Cedar Crest Studio have included Dirty Trix, "Boots" Walker, Allen Edwards, The Steppin' Catdaddies, James Wesley Vinson, Kraig Darnell, James Johnson, Ron Lee & The Most Wanted Band and G.T. Hood. Most of these sessions were project-sessions consisting of more than 2 songs. We did have a few bands book time for "cover" sessions (intended to get club gigs), but even those produced at least 1 original song demo. I don't have a problem doing cover sessions if that's what the client needs, but I always try to squeeze at least one original cut out of the group so they have something "worthwhile" to show for the money spent. Our policy here is to promote and encourage original compositions.

And speaking of promoting the music business throughout this part of the country, let me climb up on my soapbox for just a moment and touch on a subject that I usually stay away from. Politics. To put it bluntly, if Bill Clinton gets elected to the highest office in the country, it will do much for the state of Arkansas, including the music business.

I feel that with Mr. Clinton as president, Arkansas will constantly be thrust into the spotlight. It should give a shot in the arm to industry, tourism, and the entertainment services industry. I myself plan to make the trek to LA-LA Land this winter in the hopes of exposing some new music written, performed, and recorded in Arkansas. Maybe in a few months we can nurture another kind of Arkansas stereotype, and this time it won't be the toothless, barefoot boy in overalls, toting along the pregnant 14-year-old wife & cousin in a flower print dress.

(Don't laugh!!! That really IS the way a lot of people view their cuzin's down south … If you've never had a once-over like that you have been fortunate indeed…"

I realize now there must be a special place in hell for all Arkansas musicians, artists, and writers. Ask anyone who has lived here long enough to be an Arkansan and has tried to "break through" into the music business.

I'll bet Earl and Ernie Cate have a few good horror stories to tell…

A lot of us are proud to come from Arkansas. It's hard enough to earn a living here in the music industry, and I figure those who aren't proud to hail from here have already moved the hail away, leaving only true dyed-in-the-wool Arkansans… O, I know plenty of verified "Arkies" trying to make it out on the coast, but they've transplanted. Their original ideas are being watered down (if ever so slightly) and diluted by the west coast philosophy. (Okay … okay … Maybe it's gettin' a little too deep, but you get the idea…)

Seriously though, if Bill gets elected, I believe that things will dramatically improve. Look at it this way: It won't be bad politics … just good sax!

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