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Donna Beasley: News

Radio - September 5, 2010

I have spent the past month preparing my radio mail-out. I am hitting the Americana reporting stations, the Euro-Americana reporting stations, the Freeform Americana Radio (FAR) stations and the Euro-FAR stations. It's about 300 total, about 200 U.S. and 100 international stations.

A reporting station/d.j. is one who reports his spins to those who compile the above mentioned charts. Unfortunately, very few (if any) artists "chart" without hiring a radio promoter to "work" the record. The more well-known promoters charge about $4000 to work a record. You still pay postage (mine is running about $800) as well as all other mailing materials, you still do the actual mailing with labels they provide. They provide the labels and then make the calls to the d.j.s who hopefully play your music. I was told that the fact that I'm not touring is a strike against me. D.J.'s want to see the artists they play on the radio playing live shows in their cities. It was a $4000 gamble we were unwilling to make. 

So, I'm doing my own research, typing my own labels, mailing my own cds, and I have a part-time d.j./friend who is going to be making calls for me. I will be paying him considerable less than $4000! The d.j.s and stations have "call times" when they accept calls from promoters and artists seeking airplay. I found a partial call-time list online (which is awesome!) and we'll have to research the rest station by station. 

It's all veryyyy long and complicated and hairy. But this is what I've been doing the past month and will be doing in the coming weeks to help my call guy. Hopefully we can get a teeny little bit of mileage on our own. Get the music out there. Make some fans. Sell a few cds. Hopefully...

New review & itunes - July 15, 2010

Check it out in the reviews section -- Country California -- a very funny blog about country music with a serious turn every now and then. Very nice review from C. M. Wilcox. 

Oh...and Under The Rushes is on itunes!!!!!!!!!!

Availability - July 5, 2010

Under The Rushes is now available on CD Baby and on Digstation. Follow links under the Purchase tab. 

Press release - July 2010 - July 1, 2010

press release: donna beasley’s new album, under the rushes, set for August 2010

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

Donna Beasley’s sophomore effort reads like a who’s who of Nashville’s Americana/Alt-Country scene, including Chuck Mead, Elizabeth Cook, Tim Carroll, Phil Madeira, Kenny Vaughan and more.

NASHVILLE, July 10, 2010

Under The Rushes is set for release August 1, 2010. CDs will be available through CD Baby, Amazon, Smart Choice, and www.donnabeasley.com. Downloads will be available through itunes, CD Baby, and Digstation.Rushes is self-released under the Strange Magic Recordings label.

Under The Rushes is Donna Beasley’s second collection of Appalachian-infused Americana music, rooted in country but encompassing a wide range of styles and influences. Rushes contains 11 original songs, eight written by Donna and three Donna co-wrote with her producer/guitarist/husband, Tom Spaulding. Like her 2007 “Good Samaritan” release, Under The Rushes was produced by Spaulding, with Donna sharing co-production credit this time out.

The approach to Rushes was the same: productions that serve the individual songs without being limited by genre considerations. Rely upon the strength of the writing and Donna’s distinct vocal sound as unifying elements. While the writing and production follow a journey around the musical horn, the voice is firmly planted in East Tennessee soil. The pop-tinged “Really That Good” could be considered the furthermost point in that journey. With it’s Aimee Mann feel, it is an ode to grown-up love without blinders: “No soft focus fuzzy candlelight, no superficial uber-thrill, this could be the real deal.”

“Tom emailed me an mp3 of this happy, pop sounding music. It was so different from anything I had written before. I took it as a challenge. Even though it was a stylistic leap, I still drew upon my own relationship experiences to write the lyric. Tom ended up recording some really inspired, intricate guitar parts. There was never a question of whether or not it would fit some ‘Appalachian image’ or fall outside the Americana realm. Be honest. Try to write a good song. Record it in a way that best delivers the message. Do it 10 or 11 times and you’ve got a record. That’s all I know to do.”

At the other end of the spectrum lies “Makin’ Love.” With its twin fiddles, pedal steel, and harmony vocals provided by Chuck Mead, it is straight-forward traditional country fare: “We’re building dreams, we’re drawing plans, we’ll form a life with our own hands; I think we’ve got the right stuff, sure does look like we’re makin’ love.” When it was merely a germ of an idea, Beasley had a clear vision for it.

“I would call ‘Makin’ Love’ the most rewarding track I’ve ever recorded. I was still struggling with the chorus, had no verses - it probably took me a year to write – but I was driven by the sound of the fiddles and steel in my head! There was never a doubt I would finish it. Chuck Mead was Tom’s idea and he came up with a great part. The initial demo we made for it left a lot to the imagination. So, I had my doubts! I call it the little track that could. I’m so proud of what it became!”

“Just What I’m Looking For” is a mix of styles melded into one track, with Scott Neubert’s funky banjo, Kenny Vaughan of Marty Stuart’s Fabulous Superlatives laying down some slinky electric guitar, and Elizabeth Cook and Tim Carroll doing their best “Monster Mash” impersonations…”aah-ooh” in the background. The song is about the thrill of attraction to someone promising nothing but trouble, it’s all wrong, but it’s alright: “you’re a bad man, just what I’m looking for." 

The heavier lyrical themes of Under The Rushes can be found in the title track and the record’s closer, “Mountain On My Back.” “Under The Rushes” spins a tale of small-town romance, pregnancy and betrayal, under a judgmental eye some would call unique to the deep Bible Belt South. 

The song’s main character falls for “a boy she met at the social when the summer air’d turned cool.” After sneaking out of a spirited church service, they share one intimate evening. Time passes. The boy never returns. After months of hiding a condition for which she fears she would be ostracized, she returns to the scene of her night of passion, this time with a very different purpose: “she went to the banks alone and brought forth a baby son; she said ‘I’ll call him Moses and leave him here floating for when his deliverance comes.’” A different purpose, but the same end result – she lay down her love.

The final track on the record begins with a short, upbeat bluegrass-y instrumental called “Roaring Fork” which morphs into the foreboding drum, droning fiddle and banjo of “Mountain On My Back.” Beasley counts it among her favorite songs she’s written.

“I had spent the weekend in East Tennessee fixing up my mom’s old double-wide trailer. I was driving home to Nashville, thinking about how you can never really get above your raising. How there are some burdens you cannot leave behind. I was thinking about the commercialization of my hometown and how I sometimes wish I could gather up the beautiful parts and take them with me to a safe place where they could remain untouched. I was getting to that westerly spot where you get your last good look at the mountains before getting into Middle Tennessee. The sun was setting and I started writing ‘Mountain On My Back’ while looking in my rear view mirror for one last glimpse.”  

The brilliant fiddle of Matt Combs hangs in the air as the final note, punctuating the sentiment of the chorus: “I can’t get out unmolested, I raise my voice to protest it, but secrets deep and ancient settle in the crack; I’m leaving here with a mountain on my back.” She is moving forward - but escaping nothing.

Basic tracks for Under The Rushes were recorded at the Black River Music Group Studio, dubbed “Ronnie’s Place” after former owner, Ronnie Milsap. Besides the aforementioned talents, Under The Rushes boasts Steve Cox, Michael Webb, and Phil Madeira sharing keyboard credits and Tony Paoletta on pedal steel. “You Wouldn’t Know Love,” has Bob Britt and Marco Giovino on guitar and drums, respectively, and was recorded at Tom’s home studio, dubbed Strange Magic.

Otherwise, the rhythm section consisted of Paul Griffith on drums, Steve Mackey on bass (all tracks), and Scott Neubert providing most of the acoustic guitar tracks, while also fulfilling banjo, dobro, and mandolin duties.

Over the year and a half spent overdubbing and mixing, vocals and various instrumental parts were recorded at Ronnie’s Place, Strange Magic Studio, and Anthony Aquilato’s Choctaw Ridge Studio. Michael Webb’s parts were recorded at a couple of long-forgotten stops on the road while Michael was playing and Tom was tech’ing for Leann Rimes’ band. Under The Rushes was mixed by Tom at Strange Magic and Steve Ledet at Subtrax Studio.

“I was blessed to be surrounded by such talented, loving people committed to making the record I wanted to make. It was a long journey from beginning to end. I can honestly say I feel it was worth the wait.”

For more information on Donna Beasley and Under The Rushes, visit www.donnabeasley.com. See website for links to Donna’s MySpace and Facebook pages. 

First press! - July 1, 2010

Take a look at the "reviews" section. "Under The Rushes" got a nice little mention by Robert K. Oermann in Music Row Magazine. Mr. Oermann is a respected music critic, author, and historian. I am most appreciative of the kind words!

Flatrock Flood Benefit Concert 5/15 - May 9, 2010

Donna Beasley & Appalachian Therapy have been included in the following impressive line-up to play a benefit concert for Nashville flood victims. Click on the "calendar dates" tab for details.

Confirmed Line-Up: Mindy Smith, Tommy Womack, Irene Kelley, Robby Hecht, Randy Kohrs, Like Candy Red, Donna Beasley, And Okay, Steve Lee and Sara Jean Kelley

Thanks to No Depression! - May 1, 2010

"Just What I'm Looking For" is a featured track on the No Depression website! Check it out:

http://www.nodepression.com/?xg_source=msg_feat_track#music_player

Reviewshine - May 1, 2010

I have submitted to over 30 blogs for possible review of "Under the Rushes" via a service called Reviewshine. Hopefully, I will have something to post under the "Press" tab before too long.

I have uploaded a couple tracks under the "Music" tab and you may sample additional tracks on my MySpace site. Visit "Links" to hop over to MySpace.

Giving Up - April 23, 2010

There's a saying among music makers: "you never really finish a record, you just give up on it." And folks, that time has come. The order for cd duplication was placed Tuesday. We are looking at a possible July 1st release date. Check back for more preview tracks to be added.

CDs will be available through CD Baby, Amazon, and this website. Downloads will be available through iTunes and Digstation. Check back for links!

Preview song - new link - March 7, 2010

I've added a preview from my upcoming CD, "Under the Rushes" It is a song called "Mountain On My Back." I hope you like it.

Love Is Deaf II - February 13, 2010

A word from The Nashville Scene about tonight's show, which Tom & I are happy to be a part of:

An instant Nashville tradition on arrival last year, this irresistible night of atonal amour is a couples-only affair onstage, as more than two dozen Nashville musicians and their musician-or-not significant others team up to sing duets — which last year meant anything from Laurie George & Dan Baird doing “You Don’t Miss Your Water” to hosts Anna & Michael Webb proving the world hasn’t had enough of “Silly Love Songs.” This year’s songs are still hush-hush — although we understand Helen Stevens & Bill DeMain plan to leave us in XTC — but couples so far include Andrea Barrett & Jason White, Kristi Rose & Fats Kaplin, Jill & Billy Block, Charlotte & Peter Cooper, and Sabine Schlunk & JJ Jones. Best of all, there’s no cover — proof that somebody up there loves ya.
Sat., Feb. 13, 8 p.m., 2010

Even more love for "Love My Way" - January 31, 2010

Thanks to Steve McIntyre at http://coverfreak.com for posting my song and some complimentary tri-syllabic adjectives to boot! Here's what he had to say:

Donna Beasley “Love My Way” (Psychedelic Furs)
This song never really did much for me, what with the monotonous buzzing of those synthesizers and of the singer’s voice. “Languorous” isn’t a word I often use to describe the music of the Psychedelic Furs, but Donna Beasley infuses the song with an exquisite sense of languor.

More love for "Love My Way" - January 20, 2010

Brian Ibbott has added my version of "Love My Way" to his Coverville podcast and he had some very kind things to say about it. Thanks, Brian! Check out his cool show here:

http://coverville.com/archives/2010/01/coverville-644-all-i-want-is-you-and-this-indie-hodgepodge/

Love for "Love My Way" - January 14, 2010

A blog about cover songs called "Cover Me" added my version of "Love My Way" to their weekly post. Thanks, guys!

http://covermesongs.blogspot.com/

News vs Blog - January 7, 2010

My random, meaningless ponderings can now be found under the "blog" tab and we (the "royal we") will keep this tab for music bid'ness news only. Management appreciates your cooperation and patronage.

Thanksgiving - December 2, 2009

We shared Thanksgiving with our friends, Bob and Etta Britt. I've talked about Bob before. He has played on both my records. He currently plays for Wynonna and in the past has played for John Fogerty, Dixie Chicks, and on Bob Dylan's "Time Out of Mind" record (just to name a smattering). Etta is a blues singer who fronts her own band and sings with other soul powerhouses in Kentucky Thunder. Bekka Bramlett also shared the day, and a little of her spectacular voice. She has sung with Fleetwood Mac, Faith Hill, Vince Gill and others. She is daughter of the legendary duo, Delaney and Bonnie Bramlett. Google those guys...Delaney taught George Harrison how to play slide guitar, for starters. So, we had a great day of music...oh, and food too.

Then, Tom had a call from his friend, Phillip Russell (a really good singer and songwriter) to play a gig with him the Saturday after Thanksgiving. Phillip is married to Patsy Lynn, Loretta's daughter, and won a Grammy for a co-write on Loretta's "Van Lear Rose" record. That song was "Miss Being Mrs." By the way, that is a great record Loretta did with Jack White of the White Stripes. Get it, if you don't have it.

So, anyway, it was a fun gig of mostly covers. Tom played awesome! He and I did a couple songs. However, I did have to follow Patsy singing "You Ain't Woman Enough." That was the only downside. Tom played guitar for Patsy and Peggy's band back in the day. That's how they all hooked up. And now db has crashed the party.

I'm thankful for the great food and even better friends and music this Thanksgiving weekend 2009!

Lyrics - October 28, 2009

I've added lyrics to the songs from the new record, called "Under The Rushes." Check the "music" tab and scroll down.

New look! New photos! - October 11, 2009

I finally had my photo shoot for the new record with Nashville photographer and graphic designer, Pierrette Abegg. My friend Heather Dryden was on hand to direct the shoot. She directed the shoot for my "Good Samaritan" record and did the artwork design for that CD. I've changed the design for the site, as you might have noticed, and added a couple of the new pics. Pierrette and Heather did a WONDERFUL job at the shoot and Pierrette has done amazing post-shoot work on the pics. I'm very, very pleased with the results!

Tom is finally home for a couple months and his goal is to finish mixing the record during this time. He will be going to Australia for three weeks the first part of December. So, he's using that as his deadline. After mixing is complete, it will be mastered. Depending on how the tracks sound after mastering, a few mix-tweeks may be necessary. Once we're happy with what we hear, there will be final mastering then duplication of the actual CDs and artwork.

I had an artist acquaintance tell me that he is not duplicating any physical CDs -- he's only doing digital downloads. That may be the smart way to go in what is almost 2010. But I am old-fashioned. I want a physical copy of my music, of other people's music I like. I want photos. I want artwork. Lyrics, when I can get them.

I don't want one killer single. I want 11 songs that transport me into the artist's world. "It's a singles market," someone told me. My response was that labels are not signing very many real artists capable of producing a CD full of quality music. And just because that is the case, no one will convince me that the album is dead. No, buy ANY of the Neko Case records I have in my collection. You will see that the album is not dead.

In fact, I've already asked Santa to bring me a copy of Neko's "Fox Confessor Brings the Flood" on vinyl for Christmas. To quote my own lyrics, "I'm a quarter jukebox in a karaoke world."

Tearing down walls - September 17, 2009

This is only my second record. But I get the sense that every record has its one or two tracks that you just can't seem to get off the ground. You like the song. You like the performances. You recorded it in the same session as other tracks that seem to shine. So, what is it? Something is missing. Something you can't put your finger on. It just sounds...so-so. Alright. Okay.

We had been battling “that” track for months now and we finally whooped that track. It was kind of a rockin’ little number that wasn’t all it aspired to be. The first thing we decided was that the piano HAD to go. We were definitely taking that out. Yep, ix-nay on the iano-pay. Funny. Now, the piano is probably the most prominent instrument.

There was a lot of good stuff going on instrumentally. But it was like trying to listen to 7 different interesting conversations at the same TIME. So, to put it simply, we simplified. There's something to be said for not being afraid to tear down a wall to redecorate the room. If it doesn't work, rebuild it. But, ya know, it might be just the thing.

Now, we are breathing a sigh of relief. We took the one song on the record that was bringing us down and made it into something that we, or at least I, love. WOW…it’s a whole new track! Love, love it. Now, it’s a Donna Beasley song. And now, by gosh, we nearly got us a record.

Americana extravaganza in my living room - August 6, 2009

In the past couple weeks we have had so many great players putting down parts for the new record. One particular stand-out track called "Just What I'm Looking For" features Kenny Vaughan (Marty Stuart and the Fabulous Superlatives) on guitar, Phil Madeira (Buddy Miller band) on B3 organ and accordion, and Elizabeth Cook and Tim Carroll on backing vocals.

Some of the other great players we've had include Bob Britt on guitar (Bob Dylan, John Fogerty) and Chuck Mead (BR549) on harmony vocals. Of course, there are many other great players putting down great parts...I'm just talking the past TWO WEEKS.

I may not be cool enough for my own record.

Concerts - July 30, 2009

I saw two great concerts last week. Wednesday, I was headed out to see Chris Isaak give an in-store acoustic performance at Best Buy. However, I got my wires crossed and showed up on the wrong night - actually, the night he was playing the Ryman. Stupid me.

Since I was all dressed up with no place to go, I thought I'd see if I could get a good last minute ticket to catch his Ryman show, with the Wrights opening. Turns out, for $75 (ouch) I managed to get a front row seat an hour before showtime! A little pricey, but, hey, it's FRONT ROW.

The Wrights were fantastic, as always. They are flawless. I've never seen them hiccup. I dig their laid-back, groovy style. And they write great songs. Check them out, if you're not familiar with them. My favorite recent thing is their cover of the Roger Miller song "In the Summertime." Bea-U-ti-ful. Oh, and their drummer for the evening was my next door neighbor, so that was cool! I love East Nashville!

Chris and band were awesome, as usual. That's my third C.I. show. He never disappoints. Wish I could've seen that in-store, though. Holy cow.

Saturday night it was back to the Ryman for Neko Case -- a concert I've waited a longgg time to see. Ohmygod. Words cannot describe how much I love this woman and her music. I sat there completely mesmerized, knowing every song, and filled with such appreciation for all the people who showed up to hear this music. It seemed it had existed only in my head, until the moment I was hearing it live. Kinda like seeing a ghost in a roomful of people who are seeing the same ghost.

And that roomful of people was certainly varied - in age, sexual orientation, what have you. Quite a diverse group. Very encouraging.

No histrionics or rock and roll moves from the woman herself. She just stood there and delivered those songs in that voice. Great band too. I wish I would've had a better seat. I was about as far back as you could get. The show was not advertised long enough, in my opinion. I checked her website. No mention of any Southern U.S. dates. Then, boom, the tickets had already gone on sale by the time I saw an ad on Facebook. Seating was the only disappointment of an otherwise amazing evening.

I've been debating the importance of, me personally, playing live, given the current state of the economy, the music industry, and trends for youth and/or gimmick. Some of my independent artist friends have said for a couple years that people just aren't turning up for their club shows. Many of the rootsy bands who are enjoying success are young and attract a similarly young audience. And, of course, the mainstream high-level artists always seem to sell tickets despite whatever may be going on in the world.

So, as an unknown artist playing laid-back, heady kinda music in small venues, it's a high mountain to climb in order to try and build a following in that way. As a gigging artist my age put it yesterday, “people our age just don’t come out for shows.” My stubbornness on this issue is that I don't believe, as many music business professionals posit as though it is gospel, that playing live is the ONLY way to build a following. I believe it is ONE way. How much time do people spend surfing the internet, watching t.v., going to movies versus attending gigs? My 20-something niece tells me that if she hears a song she likes in a t.v. program or movie, she writes down the name of the artist and looks them up on the internet. A good song placement can be a tremendous profile raiser.

My point was that, despite my recent musings and misgivings, my experience seeing Neko Case convinced me that it IS important for people who dig your music to see you perform it live. That's all I was really trying to get at. Now, to find people who dig my music...

Calling all Nashville heavyweights and hipsters... - July 5, 2009

I'm R-E-A-L-L-Y excited about the caliber of folks we have had and will have coming to the house to play and/or sing on the record -- just in the past week and next. I will only reveal one name...Kenny Vaughan. He's one of Marty Stuart's "Fabulous Superlatives." He's played guitar on many a record made in this town. And I'm so happy to have him playing on a little track called "Just What I'm Looking For." He really classed it up. Thanks, Kenny!!!

Slowly by slowly - May 14, 2009

Here's a recap on record # 2. We began pre-production in October. We cut drum, bass, and acoustic guitar tracks in December with Paul Griffith, Steve Mackey, and Scott Neubert. We managed to get a couple of good vocals while we were tracking. And Scott also put down some banjo, mandolin, and dobro. He's handy that way.

We went back in the studio in February, mainly to cut more vocals. However, we were pretty ambitious that day. We ended up getting Steve Cox in there to play piano on a couple tracks, Matt Combs to play fiddle on a couple tracks, and Scott for more acoustic guitar and dobro parts. That didn't leave too much time for singing. But I still got a couple of songs knocked out. Tom was even more ambitious on the road. While he was out teching some dates for LeAnn Rimes, he magically recorded Michael Webb playing some organ and electric piano. Tony Paoletta recorded some steel guitar at the house. Tom's been working on guitars and I've sung more vocals and backing vocals (ooh and ahhs and the like) also at the house.

We've got more steel to record, more guitars to do and re-do, more songs for me to sing, and some guest vocalists . Oh, and acordion! I'm excited about that! (And to hear Tony play steel again!)

I am doing my own artwork design. But will have someone who knows what they're doing lay it all out. I'm in the process of choosing a duplicator. But we're still a few months away from needing those services!

It is SUCH a longgg process. But, to borrow a phrase from a friend from India, "slowly by slowly" it is all coming together.

Sunday Morning Hedonism - March 1, 2009

Work on the new record continues. We had a second day in the studio. We managed to get keeper vocals on 3 songs, fiddle on 2 tracks, dobro on one track, and piano on 2 tracks. It was a good day!! I like how unexpected things come up, like telling that piano playing fool, Steve Cox, "since you came all the way down here, let's find another track for you to play on." And you end up with piano on a song that you hadn't originally planned to have piano on! I think the trick is to plan what you can but leave enough open that you can let talented people do what they do. Have a roadmap, but be willing to say, "hey...let's veer over HERE."

I am looking forward to singing a big 'ole country music male/female duet on this record. That's something new for me. And I have some cool background vocalists lined up. I'm not going to drop any names 'til it all goes down.

I've been getting artwork ideas, looking at photos and drawings, spending hours sampling fonts, that sort of thing. I need to have a photo shoot but want to wait until it's a little warmer. I'll be going with an outdoor theme again, like my last record. The title calls for it. I don't want my mug on the cover this time, though. Maybe a back cover shot, an interior shot, we'll see. Those kinds of decisions are hard to make. But I just don't want to be on the cover. That simple.

It's cold outside and there's snow on the ground. We're hoping to stay in and get lots of work done today. We actually have a deadline for our perceived 5 best tracks. We've got 2 weeks to meet that deadline. Tom's teching on another big tour this year and they're keeping him pretty busy. They're also giving him steady paychecks, so can't complain too much.

I'm already feeling a little sad that this whole thing will be done before we know it. The excitement that comes from giving shape to new music will be replaced with phone calls, mass mailings, and meetings...and lots of nail biting. So, for now, I'm going to enjoy the process. I'm going to enjoy this period of time that bears little criticism and self-doubt and thoughts of what anyone ELSE will think about it. I will revel in my musical hedonism and cups of chai tea and having snow on the ground on a Sunday morning.

Big excitement today - December 12, 2008

Today's the day we track for the new record! It's going to be a long one. We have turkey chili, Panera bagels, chocolate pie homemade from Elizabeth Cook, brownies I'm getting ready to make, green tea with honey, some wine, some champagne, some beer for the guys, lots of water, pecans for me (which cost $10 in the store...whatsup with that?? I'm going in the pecan business), probably more stuff Tom will bring 'cause he thinks of everything.

So, gotta run. Gotta go sing some songs.
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