So, a hip-hop artist, a recording studio engineer, a former VP of ASCAP, and a graduate student walk into a bar…
Okay, that’s not entirely how it goes, but this is pretty much what my Thursday night looked like. I met some pretty famous people, folks. Even had dinner with a few of them. And it’s pretty much all thanks to my brother (don’t gloat, Mike).
So, here’s the whole story:
We all know The Recording Academy, yes? In charge of the Grammy Awards, that thing that most musicians, recording artists, song-writers, music publishers, etc. are members of, yes? Well, there’s also this thing called Grammy U. It’s a college student organization affiliated with The Recording Academy, which is open to any full-time college student interested in the music industry (and you don’t have to be majoring in music or anything to qualify). Grammy U is about promoting education on issues dealing with the music industry, and about networking with various full members of The Recording Academy.
My brother is the Grammy U representative for the entire Greater-Houston area. Early this year he convinced me to join Grammy U as well (its more for undergrads rather then graduate students, but I still technically qualify because I’m a full-time student, and I’ve always been interested in the music industry). Mainly, my brother just wanted to someone he could trust to help him out with running events on the UH campus.
Now, my brother’s pretty much got this whole networking thing down pat. He’s a film student, and he’s interning at a local Houston production company called Zen Films (which happens to be a pretty big deal); he’s done some work over at SugarHill Studios (the oldest still-running recording studio in the United States, folks!) and knows the chief engineer/co-owner Dan Workman; etc, etc, etc.
So, on Thursday night, The Recording Academy was hosting one of its GPS Summer Lecture Series at the House of Blues in Houston. It consisted of a lecture from Tod Brabec, former Vice President of ASCAP (Association of Songwriters, Composers, Authors, and Publishers) on the topic of Performance Royalties, and then a short networking mixer afterwards. My brother had to go because he was helping to set up the event. I decided to go because a) it’s free for Grammy U members, b) it sounded interesting, and c) it’s a little-known fact that I have a secret desire to be a songwriter. I was nervous about the whole mixer thing because the only person I knew was my brother and I don’t do well with the whole “just start introducing yourself to random strangers who might be famous people” thing.
The lecture itself was really interesting. It was hard to follow because Tod Brabec threw a TON of information at the audience, quite a lot of it dealing with legal issues that I just can’t quite wrap my head around, but it was all very useful information. But the best part was, of course, the mixer. Here’s most of the people I met (I can’t quite remember everyone’s names, but these are the big ones):
Dan Workman (the co-owner and chief engineer of SugarHill Studios) who was one of the coolest guys I’ve met;
Tod Brabec, who is a very big deal but who talked to me for a minute and then asked me to take a picture of him and a friend of his;
Theresa Jenkins, the Executive Director of the Texas Chapter of The Recording Academy (who kindly treated my brother and I to dinner along with all the big-wigs);
Eric Jarvis, who is a BIG musician, a UH alumnus, and the President of the Texas Chapter of the Recording Academy (and also hilarious at dinner);
David Acosta, a CPA for musicians who’s starting his own music publishing company here in Houston, and who gave me his card when I mentioned my interested in writing lyrics;
and Karen Aptekar, an indie-film maker here in Houston who was very friendly, told my brother that he was interning with one of the best film-makers around at Zen Films, and offered to talk to both me and my brother sometime about doing some work with her.
All of this happened during the Mixer after the lecture, at which there were about 70-80 people, plenty of whom were little nobodies and interested parties like myself, mixed in with all the big-names. The mixer broke up around 9:30 or so, at which point the original plan was for my brother and I to head home while the big names went off to dinner in the House of Blues restaurant downstairs. But then we were invited to dinner – or rather, my brother was invited because he’s the Houston Rep, and I was allowed to tag along because my brother was my ride home. But that’s okay, because I got to sit down and have dinner with Dan Workman, Tod Brabec, Theresa Jenkins, Eric Jarvis, and Paul Wall – a rather well-known hip-hop artist, who I did not actually get to speak with as he was clear at the other end of the table – and a few others whose names elude me now. The five big names were all seated in a row across the table from me, and I was a little floored by it. I sat directly across from Dan Workman and Eric Jarvis, and they were hilarious. Though, so was Tod Brabec, who spent some time talking to my brother about having been the one who signed METALLICA (along with many MANY other very well known bands).
My brother has already promised to take me by SugarHill Studios next time he goes, which Dan Workman was very okay with. When he found out I was a literature student, he got all excited and said that books were his next favorite thing to music, and that we’d have to sit down and have a nice talk about books sometimes. Well, hell, that sounds good to me! And music is my next favorite thing to books, so it evens out nicely. (Also, he wore those cheap Target brand One Star Converse shoes, which I thought was absolutely HILARIOUS.)
The point of all this is that I had an absolute blast last Thursday night, and I hope I have a similar opportunity again in the future. It was so much fun!
Point of fact, most of the last few days have been pretty awesome: the mixer on Thursday, seeing Dark Knight Rises on Saturday, and then I went to the Chicago & Doobie Brothers concert on Sunday night. Which was ASTOUNDINGLY AWESOME. Those guys may be getting on in years, but they still know how to rock. The BEST PART was the encore/finale. The Doobie Bros had been the opener for Chicago, but at the end, Chicago brought all of the Doobie Bros on stage to play with them. All the members of both bands were on stage at the same time, including four drummers on FOUR SEPARATE DRUMSETS, more guitars than seems possible, practically the whole brass section out of a marching band, two keyboardists, and all the singers taking turns. There were EIGHTEEN PEOPLE on that stage at once. They sang a few Doobie Bros hit and a few Chicago hits, including “Listen to the Music” and “25 or 6 o 4.” It was the craziest thing I’ve ever seen at a concert. And it was seriously EPIC. Definitely the best part of the night.
Okay, this post is getting pretty damn long, so I’ll call it quits for now. See ya’ll later!