Are CDs Old Hat? Nick Hempton Explores a New Way of Releasing Music

A few days ago I told you about my new CD. It will be a traditional release, meaning there will be physical CDs as well as downloadable tunes on iTunes etc., but these days quite a few artists are choosing alternative ways to release their music. I’ve heard of albums being released only on vinyl and only as downloadable tracks, but one of the most interesting experiments I’ve come across is Nick Hempton’s Catch and Release

Nick has released three traditional albums (check them out on his website NickHemptonBand.com) but he wanted to try something different to further engage the public. The idea behind “Catch and Release” is that the audience will follow Nick’s process for writing the tune, rehearsing the tune, recording the tune, and then releasing the tune. This process will happen every 6 weeks for a year. (Note: Nick isn’t seeking crowdfunding. He just hopes if you like the music, you’ll download the song for $1)

Here he is describing the project:

In the face of a music industry that is rapidly changing, I think this is a bold idea. Many artists and people in the industry claim the CD is on the way out; that people would rather download a tune from the internet than purchase a disc. At the same time, more and more people are releasing music, meaning it is harder and harder to discover independent artists amidst all the noise. With that in mind, I think Nick’s project is a good way of making his music stand out: allowing the public to engage in the artistic process so they feel more connected to the finished product. 

Do you like Nick’s idea of sharing his artistic process? Do you prefer digital downloads or CDs? Let me know in the comments! 

PS – I have it on good authority that if you subscribe to Nick’s Blog, he will send you a tune for FREE. 

PPS – I’d like to be your Facebook Friend

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My New CD “Change Partners” Drops in October!

Summer is officially over. It’s FALL! Time to put away our white jeans, go back to school, and as it turns out, it’s also time to release a new CD! 

Change Partners final cover

“Change Partners” will be available online and in stores October 28, 2014.

We recorded this album live on tour in Canada this past May and here are a few reasons I am really excited about its release: 

1) It’s my first time to record an album live at club, and I was in a great mood, not only because my Oklahoma City Thunder were doing really well in the playoffs (we may or may not have been slightly late to the gig one night because I had to finish the game), but because the audience was really fantastic and gave off a great energy that I think you can hear on the album.

2) Being on tour can be an arduous experience. There are lots of early flights, driving, hotels, and strange food. But being on the road with Jodi, Julian, and Cory was an absolute delight. The entire tour, this recording included, was just a big party. We laughed, we had fun, we spent a lot of time at Pizza Village. 

3) This is my 5th album release as a leader. Want to see the other releases? Visit my website: Champian.net 

4) The cover photo was taken by my very good friend (and amazing photographer!) Antonio Narvaez on a recent trip to Barcelona. 

5) Long story short, I had a wonderful time on the road with these guys and I am thrilled that I am able not only to relive those moments again through this recording, but also to share them with you!

Now let’s get down to the nitty gritty: “Change Partners” will be officially released online and in stores on October 28, BUT I will be hosting an official CD Release Party on Tuesday October 7 at Dizzy’s Club Coca Cola in NYC. The quartet will play two sets (7:30 and 9:30 PM) and there will be CDs available to take home. You should definitely make reservations: 212-258-9595. You can also make reservations and buy tickets to the show online -> Dizzy’s Club Coca Cola Website 

In the coming weeks I will be sharing one of the tunes from the new album and links on where to buy if you can’t come see me in person. (But check out my upcoming calendar just in case). 

Thank you so much for your support :) 

Please share this post with your friends and comment & “like” if you’re happy! 

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July Recap: Litchfield, France, Rutgers, and More!

For the past few years I have wondered how the summers manage to disappear. It’s definitely my most busy time of year, and it’s rare that I can get a few days off to visit the beach or do anything summer-fun related, but this year seems to have really taken the cake. I haven’t been able to post a blog or do much of anything (laundry? grocery shopping? nah!) since July started. As I get back into blogging, let me share with you a few highlights from my travels.

This was my 5th year to teach at the Litchfield Jazz Camp. If you’re friends with me on facebook then you see me post pictures and links, but if you haven’t checked Litchfield out, you should. Litchfield is a 5 week Jazz camp for young people (ages vary from 10 – 18, and even adult students on occasion) which culminates in the 3 day Litchfield Jazz Festival in August. The students are great, the teachers are great, and the location is really great (this year the camp moved to Canterbury School in New Milford CT. It’s an amazing locale. Trust me.) I usually teach one week (piano mostly, not so many vocal students) and teach my ensemble the music of Clark Terry. It’s a special time for me to get to share some of Clark’s wisdom and his music with young people who, unfortunately, won’t get to meet him in person. The camp is still ongoing, and the festival is only a few weeks away. If you’re in the area, it’s definitely worth visiting.

The Official Group Portrait from LJC Week 1 (Thanks Dale!)

After finishing my week at Litchfield (which, by the way, totally exhausts me because I have to be teaching every morning at 9 AM, YIKES) it was time to travel to France for a short 3 concert trip. We played in Paris on Bastille Day at Sunside Jazz Club and then traveled north to the Valjoly Jazz Festival. I love being able to see different parts of France and this trip was no exception. We stayed on a working dairy farm and enjoyed fresh milk, cream, and yogurt among other fancy homemade jams and breads. The concert was a success and I was able to meet a young Jazz fan, Violette.

The concert at Jazz en Val de Cher was really picturesque as the stage was on a small island in the river. The backdrop of the town was just gorgeous, and since I have played in this region before it was wonderful to see so many familiar faces.

What an incredible view from the stage….

So then, back to NYC and to teach for the first time at Rutgers Summer Jazz Institute in New Brunswick NJ. It was their first time ever to teach Jazz vocals and it was really fun for me to help integrate the vocal students into the current schedule and curriculum. We had a great time singing together and they learned Eddie Jefferson’s “Now’s the Time” among several other songs that they performed on the Friday concert. Rutgers is hoping to start a full time Jazz vocal program in the next few years; I’ll keep you updated.

Me with 3 Vocalists from the Rutgers Camp, Having FUN!

During the same week of the Rutgers camp I also visited with the students at the William Paterson Summer Camp (hi guys!) and performed at Novita in Metuchen NJ as part of my usual Thursday appearances (come by sometime!).

Now, I am back in NYC and back to my regular schedule of gigs (please visit my website for current dates); and even looking forward to some days of relaxation and music on Shelter Island, where I’ll be playing music at the Pridwin Hotel August 3 &4, August 10 & 11, and August 24 & 25.

Come see me and as always, thanks for reading!

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Subtle Sexism: Don’t all Female Musicians know eachother?

Whenever I meet someone from Chicago, I immediately say, “Oh, do you know my friend so-and-so from Chicago?” Similarly when I meet a musician I ask him about other musicians; if I meet a tenor player, then I ask him about tenor players, or if I meet a really swinging bassist, I ask him about other really swinging bassists. Then, if we don’t know any of the same people, I ask about records, books, movies, locales, even food. It’s a natural human response to meeting a stranger. I want find out about them so they are no longer a stranger. I want to find if we have anything in common.

Usually when people meet me, whether they are music fans or musicians, I am always asked the same question. “Do you know so-and-so?” And so-and-so is always a girl. Not a girl who plays my same instrument, or a girl who is from my same town. Quite often we don’t even play the same style of music or even run in the same circles. We’re just both female musicians. And if I don’t know the first female so-and-so, they ask about a second and sometimes third. But ONLY about other female musicians, not any male musicians.

Strangely enough, it is the older musicians (age 65+) who can sometimes be the exception to this rule by asking me about other pianists or musicians to whom I am stylistically related, regardless of their sex.

I know I am a woman in a field that is dominated by men. When I hang out at a club, most people assume I am dating someone in the band, and when I tell them I am a musician they are shocked that I play an instrument and don’t just sing. After all that, I still get funny looks when people realize I am the bandleader, and not just a sideman. Even though there are more women in Jazz everyday, I know being a female Jazz musician still makes me an oddity, and that’s the problem. Often, when a female musician is seen, she is seen not as a musician who is a woman, but as a woman who is a musician.

Just sharing my thoughts, what are yours? 

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5 Tips for a Happier Work Day

A few weeks ago I was in a soundcheck with a few other bands. I wasn’t really in charge (being a featured guest), so I was just sitting and waiting my turn to check my microphone. Everyone was agitated. It was raining and getting to the gig hadn’t been easy for any of us. I could feel the bad energy spreading through the room. The other musicians were irritated with the soundmen, the soundmen were irritated with the musicians. People began sniping under their breath, little snide comments to vent their feelings, but of course we are on a stage with a thousand mics and their little comments were being broadcast for everyone to hear. This further upset the soundmen, which further upset the musicians. Even though we successfully finished the soundcheck, albeit somewhat behind schedule, we still had multiple sound issues during the show (mics going in and out, feedback, etc). Maybe the sound issues were real, or maybe it was just the soundmen getting even. Who knows? Either way, the lesson should be: don’t piss off the people in control of your sound.

That day wasn’t anybody’s fault, per se. Most of us were having a bad day, and bad attitudes spread like wildfire. I have seen it a million times, one mean word to one person, that person says a mean word to another, and boom. Pretty soon you’re in a situation where nothing is going to be accomplished and everyone is going to be unhappy.

As a musician, and as a person in general, we need other people to assist in our daily lives. Maybe that person is a soundman, a secretary, a fellow musician, or the butcher at the grocery store. When there is a task at hand it’s better if all people involved are focused on the same goal: to achieve the goal efficiently, successfully, and with the least amount of fuss. With that in mind, here are a few tips to achieving a pleasant working environment:

1) SMILE. Everyone can benefit from smiling (Men, I mean you! Smile more! Smiling is not for women only!). People like smiles. Smiles put people at ease. Try it.

2) Introduce Yourself. You will get better service if people know your name and you know their name. Don’t address anyone by “Hey, You!” It’s not polite and it makes people think you’re too big for your britches.

3) Small Talk. A simple “How are you today?” can work wonders, or a comment on the crappy weather. 5 seconds of bonding and you have a new friend who WANTS to help you.

4) Tell Them What You Want. Don’t make people read your mind. You know how you want to sound in the soundsystem. No reverb? More treble? Tell them. Most people are relieved to not have to guess how to please you. That being said, don’t be too demanding or act like a know-it-all. Just communicate what you want in a simple and straight forward way.

5) Save the aggressive behavior for when you really need it. Some people will be bad at their jobs or will be jerks, and you will NEED to be able to knuckle down and get their attention (by this I mean asking for a supervisor or just being more aggressive in your direction, etc). if you pull out this behavior too soon, you won’t be taken as seriously. Try to kill them with kindness first, and then proceed from there.

These are just 5 Tips, can you add something?

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