A couple of weeks ago, I delivered a speech on “Indie Music Success Stories” for the local Charlotte Chapter of the Nashville Songwriter’s Association International (NSAI).  NSAI is the largest songwriting organization in the world, and the Charlotte chapter is a very active community of generous songwriting spirits.  I was glad for the opportunity.  Anyway, one of the successful indie artists that I spoke about was John Taglieri.  John is an extremely hard-working songwriter and artist who describes his music as what it would sound like if John Bon Jovi and Edwin McCain had a baby.  During my speech, I told the story of his transition from sales executive to full-time musician…and of his securing hundreds of interviews (and 49 feature stories) on his debut CD…and of his playing Giants stadium…and of selling thousands of CDs on his own through hard work, internet marketing, DIY spirit, and his non-stop gigging.  I’m working on putting a video of my entire Success Stories speech on the web…so subscribe to this blog or join my mailing list if you want to know when and where to find it.

Anyway, when I heard that John was playing in the area, I knew it would be a fitting (and symbolic) end to the indie artist research I’d been doing to venture out to his show.  Besides, I thought…it’d be great to be a fly on the wall to see how he works a room.

So at 8:30, after having secured my little one tightly beneath his favorite animal blanket, with his red stuffed snake appropriately curled around his head…and having kissed my lovely T as she was making her Facebook rounds, I ducked out of the house to drive down for the show.  John was playing at The Money in Rock Hill.  It’s a small live music venue directly across from Winthrop University.  Despite a stop at the ATM and a bone-headed missing of the exit, I arrived at the club SUPER early.  So early, in fact, that there were only 3 cars in the parking lot.

As I pulled into a parking space, I noticed a young lady in a wheel chair on the sidewalk where people enter the club.  I asked her if the place was open yet…She responded that she doesn’t know because she couldn’t get up the steep slope to the metal door to get in.  As it turns out, her name was Iris, and she’d driven down from Raleigh for both Taglieri shows (plus a Jason Mraz show…and probably a few others that I can’t remember right now).  She’s a real live music demon, a real rock chick.

Besides Cindy the bartender/owner and the doorman, Iris and I were the only people in the club for 10-15 minutes until the performers starting showing up to set up.  I didn’t mind being so early because I was hoping it’d mean I’d get a chance to introduce myself to John.  Besides, Cindy the bartender kept us well stocked with samples of her original (and delicious) drink specials as John came over to speak to Iris.  They were talking about escapades on the Rock Boat, which I was familiar with because of my research.  (John bought a ticket to the Rock Boat cruise because he felt his music was similar to the bands that perform on it.  He used the opportunity to hand out CD samplers and play his guitar in the boat’s lobby, meeting tons of folks and making new fans.  He goes every year now…as it turns out a couple of the folks at the show had been on Rock Boat.)

John used the pre-show time to take pics and videos of those of us who were there early. I’m sure they were up on his website by the next morning.   He also set up his new Mac laptop to webcast the show.  He also set up his merch suitcase on the doorman’s desk….right next to his mailing list clipboard.  He definitely had the event covered.

He ran out for a brief bite to eat, bringing back a Big Mac, which he unwrapped on the bar beside me.  As he ate, he repeatedly made a point of saying he hasn’t eaten fast food in a year…but he didn’t have time for anything else tonite.  He said, “You might not know this about me, but I used to weigh a lot more than I do now…I had to quit eating fast food when I woke up one day and couldn’t see my feet.”  I replied, “Actually, I know a lot more about you than you think…”

John stopped mid-bite and looked at me quizzingly.

I continued, “I just did a speech at NSAI about indie artist success stories and…”

John interjected, “That was you??? I heard about that from Cate Cloer…thanks!!!”  He ran off to find a napkin to wipe the Special Sauce from his hands so he could shake mine.  (Can you believe how news travels in the Web 2.0 world???)  We chatted music marketing for a brief few minutes, and I found John to be just as genuine and insightful as he is in the variety of interviews and podcasts I’ve heard him in.  He’s authentic, passionate, and fun to be around.

When the show started, John traded songs with his opening act from bar stools. They sometimes played and sang together; sometimes they took turns trading songs.  The small (but devoted) fans knew songs from both performers, occasionally yelling out requests.  John even took requests from the people in Cyberspace watching via the webcast.  Pretty cool.  John had some really tasty guitar licks and did a nice “mashup” of Oasis and Aerosmith.  If you want to see the show, I’m betting you can find it on the www.johntaglieri.com website.  He has really jumped in to make the transition to Web 2.0, recording and distributing everything he does….I’m betting if he breathes, it gets tweeted somewhere.  The Money Show has got to be there somewhere.

Unfortunately, after an hour or so of music, the long day and the drink specials started to wear on me…as did the thought that 5:55 a.m. comes VERY early…so I wrote John a brief note to apologize, bought up his CD collection (4 CDs) and ducked out around midnight.  I regret not staying until the end…but my carriage was changing back into a pumpkin…it’s times like these that having a day job really puts a cramp in my style.

When I got home, everyone was sleeping except for the dogs…Scout, our 60 pound, Lab/Sheppard cross made sure to give me a cold nose rocket up the backside when I stepped out of the bathroom in my boxers.  I guess he wanted to make sure that I knew he couldn’t sleep until I was home from my night out.

If you get a chance, make sure to check out John’s music (www.johntaglieri.com)…also, if you’re a musician, check out my Indie Music Success Stories video.

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