Tuesday, March 9, 2010

2009 what made it special-USA Krosswindz tour

Krosswindz 2009 USA tour
2009 has probably been the most exciting and memorable year in my musical career.The Guitar Gurus Festival in Bangalore being one of the high points and then the JPF(Grassroot Grammy nominations)and the subsequent offer to play at B B King’s pub in Nashville Tennessee.But the icing on the cake definitely was the 42 day USA Tour that Krosswindz went for in September and October of 2009.
The Grassroot Grammys organized by the Just Plain Folks is a community of 50,000 odd songwriters,musicians and publishers and a cross-section of members from the music industry.They nominated Jajabor Pokkhi an original written by Chandrani and produced by yours truly from the Krosswindz album Misiki Misiki in the Best Indian Song category and the Krosswindz album Misiki Misiki was nominated in the Best Indian Album category.A concert was set for August 28th at B B Kings Pub in Nashville TN and Krosswindz was invited to perform at the awards ceremony at the pub and at the main event at the Wild Horse Saloon Concert Hall in Nashville TN.Alas we could not get a sponser to get us airfare to fly to Nashville from Kolkata and we had to let it pass.
As we were moping about missing out on the 2 gigs in the US an email popped into my inbox enquiring if Krosswindz would be interested in performing a string of shows in the US for the Durga and Kali Pujas.One thing led to another and i was jumping for joy when i learnt that one of the gigs was scheduled to be in Dallas Texas as i had been waiting to visit Texas and Austin City-the Live Music Capital of the world for a long time and I knew Dallas was pretty close in distance to Austin City and commutable from Dallas.

As things progressed the final itinerary started looking really interesting with eleven gigs spread over nine cities-Sacramento,Dallas Fort Worth,Austin City,Boston,Wilmington Delaware,San Diego,Tampa Florida,San Fransisco and New York.
As the day for departure grew close i thought to myself about how i had evolved as a musician,composer and human being over time and i realized that there was one person who stood out from all the influences that shaped me over the years and that was guitar legend Eric Johnson and it just so happens that he lives in Austin City Texas.I did a quick web search of all the live venues in Austin to see if any of the venues featured World Music and had a theme that would go with the music that Krosswindz plays and i found there was this one pub called COPA.I sent them an email asking them if they would be interested in having Krosswindz perform and i got an email immediately from them saying that they were very interested.I sent them a list of probable show dates and we settled for 24th of September.Now i had the perfect excuse to meet Eric Johnson in person as i would be in his home town and maybe he would even come to hear me play.
Before leaving for the US I sent an email to Mr Park Street(best friend and associate of Eric)that i would be in Austin City on 24th September and would like to meet Eric.He replied that he would try his best to get him to the venue.We reached Sacramento our first city in the tour on 17th September and rested before playing 2 consecutive gigs for the Bengali Association there.We headed for Dallas Texas on 22nd September.On landing we were treated to the great southern hospitality that Texas is so famous for and now the Bengalis have also picked this tradition up.They opened up their big mansion like houses for us and let us live as we liked and generally play the fool all over their property.Once we settled into our rooms in Dallas Fort Worth i called up Park to confirm if he had got any response from Eric,he said that Eric was in town and if wasn’t very busy he might meet me and then he asked if we had all our musical instruments with us.I told him we were travelling light and therefore we had no guitar amplifiers and no drums.He said he would try to borrow some equipment for to use at the gig in Austin.
We took the famous Greyhound bus from Dallas to Austin City on 24th September morning, it was a great experience with a motley bunch of characters on the bus-Hispanic, African American and Caucasian obviously all chattering in their native tongue in the tapestry of the early morning thrush. The bus ride was a healthy five hours and on reaching Austin we took two GPS equipped cabs to COPA Bar and Grill on 6th Avenue where we were greeted by Manuel the manager who served us piping hot freshly cooked Mexican food. Afterwards we headed upstairs to the Live Venue. The COPA live performance area is one of the most beautiful and ornately decorated spaces I have ever seen in the music business. The mermaid wall installation art piece was a real heart stopper along with the other installation art pieces suggestive of primitive sea life and European Mysticism.
As we waited for the sound engineer to arrive i got a call on my phone from Park that he was waiting outside with some equipment for us to use. He walked in and my jaw dropped to the floor-he was standing with Eric Johnson’s very own vintage Fender Twin Reverb Guitar amplifier and Eric’s drummer Billy Maddox had sent us his top of the line Ludwig drum kit with Zildjian K seies cymbals.As i plugged my guitar into the amplifier i was greeted by tone heaven-sparkling sounds emanated from Eric’s guitar amp and Billy’s drum kit were thunderous with a crisp crack from the custom made snare drum not forgetting the beautiful textures of the Zildjian cymbals.We were in bliss and i couldn’t believe my luck.
We finished soundcheck and decided to take a stroll.The band were awed to find bands performing already at all the neighbouring pubs and is was only 6pm.By the time we got on stage to start the gig it was 10.30 pm early by Austin standards. An eager crowd had gathered and were waiting for us to get started. I looked around but i could not spot Eric Johnson anywhere, I asked Park and he said that Eric wasn’t feeling well and might not come to meet me,my heart sank and i decided to start the gig.We started with a guitar instrumental based on Raag Lalit titled Emotions and as i was about to end the tune i saw Eric Johnson walk into the pub.i had butterflies in my stomach and i had to tell myself to get a grip on myself.We played an eclectic set of Jazz,Rock,Fusion,World Music and even some electronic fused with guitar jams.The crowd really loved the Fusion pieces and were intrigued by the Eastern melodies and the different rhythmic variations.
We took a break after an hour of playing and i headed for Eric Johnson’s table where he was sitting with Park and my Facebook friend Darrin also the web master for EJ’s web site.He got up to shake my hand and as i shook his hand and lookind in his eye i had all these emotions come over me like a lifetime of unsaid thank you’s and the joy i felt knew no bounds.We sat and talked for a long time and he turned out to be exactly the same sweet humble and kind person that i always imagined him to be.We discussed music,touring,guitar gadgets,Zakir Hussain and Ustad Allarakha Khan,Gharanas,and even the possibility of doing a concert tour together here in India.I told him how i taught guitar to my group of loyal pupils and called it the Eric Johnson Gharana and he had a good laugh!He told me he had food poisoning but he still had to come to meet me as i am very special to him.He also said that he really liked my guitar playing and that he wanted to give me a little gift.I told him that i was going to be off on a tour of 9 cities after the gig and the only place where i would be for a substantial amount of time would be in San Fransisco.So he took the address of the San Fransisco show organizer from me and said that he would courier the gift to that address.
After a nice lengthy conversation that lasted a good 45 mins we went back on stage for our 2nd set.Eric left in the penultimate song and i waved him goodbye from stage.
From Austin we went to Dallas Fort Worth ,Boston,Delaware,San Diego,Tampa Florida,San Fransisco and finally New York.
In San Fransisco as we landed the chief organizer came to me saying an enormous carboard box had come by courier and he would bring it to me in my hotel room.When he handed the humugous box to me i did not know what to expect,on opening it my eyes popped out for sitting inside was Eric Johnson’s very own personal Tube Overdrive Pedal.This Gold plated electronic processor has been custom built by B K Butler Of Chandler Tube Works & Industries and has Boutique features like a Bias Knob ,high,low,gain and level all powered by a 12 AX7 Vacuum Tube.I was so stunned that i kept it on my lap for the entire day just mesmerized and awed at the kindness and humility of the man-Eric Johnson.
This tour will remain etched in my mind forever not because i saw three outstanding bands in one night in New York or because the Sunny beaches of San Diego were pristine or because i rode the Amtrack to the Capes of Delaware but because i got to fulfil my childhood dream of meeting my unseen mentor,friend,philosopher and guide-ERIC JOHNSON!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

krosswindz India Great news-JPF Awards Nashville nomination in 2 categories

krosswindz India Great news-JPF Awards Nashville nomination in 2 categories

Krosswindz has been nominated for the Just Plain Folks 2009 Music Awards(The Grass root Grammys in the US) held in Nashiville Tennesse USA .Krosswindz has been nominated in 2 categories best Indian album and Best Indian song.
The song Jajabor Pokkhi written and composed by Chandrani Banerjee and music arranged by Tuki and KROSSWINDZ from the album MISIKI MISIKI has been nominated in the Best Indian Song category.Other nominees include notable composers like AR Rahman,Ilaiyaraaja,Corina Bartra from New York etc.

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The album MISIKI MISIKI by KROSSWINDZ has been nominated in the Best Indian Album category.Other nominees include notable composers like AR Rahman,Ilaiyaraaja,Doug Cox & Salil Bhatt with Ramkumar Mishra from British Columbia etc.

The Just Plain Folks Music Awards

"We're excited to announce the 2009 Just Plain Folks Music Award nominees. (Click the button below to see who made it). Congratulations to all the nominees and a special thank you to our volunteers who worked to screen the 42 thousand albums and 560 thousand songs submitted in the largest music awards of any kind in world history! We hope to see you all in Nashville, TN at the awards show on August 29th! "

Just Plain Folks is a community of over 51,500 Songwriters, Recording Artists, Music Publishers, Record Labels, Performing Arts Societies, Educational Institutions, Recording Studios and Engineers, Producers, Legal Professionals, Publicists and Journalists, Publications, Music Manufacturers and Retailers and about every other type of member of the Music Industry. - and host to the world's largest independent music awards. Our organization was created to provide a network of cooporation and inclusion for musicians. We welcome you to join us. We warmly embrace and welcome ALL genres of music, and everyone who creates, facilitates and consumes music around the world - and membership is free!

Our members have won Grammys, Emmys, CMA Awards, Academy Awards, Clios and about every local and regional music related award there is. Our members belong to and are staff and board members of the finest National and International organizations such as NARAS, BMI, ASCAP, SESAC, SOCAN, PRS, NAMM, AES, NARM, NAPM, SGA, AFTRA/SAG, Indiegrrl, CMA, NSAI, TAXI and most of the regional and local songwriter and music industry organizations around the world.

Our goals here are simple and straight forward.

1. To provide a networking environment of inclusion and cooperation between our members for the benefit of the group and individuals involved.
2. To share wisdom, ideas and experiences with others who have been there, and to help educate those who have yet to make the journey.
3. To form long term relationships with a myriad of other industry professionals whose talents and efforts need a venue to be enjoyed and benefited from.
4. To set the example for the world of the power of the Internet and total freedom of communication, when it is not restricted by the boundaries of the corporate world, or damaged by the adversarial nature of the music industry in general.
5. To show others that deep down, we are all much more alike than different. The thoughts and hopes and dreams we all share are much the same whether we are Grammy Winners, Hit Songwriters, Industry leading Superstars in our fields, or we are an 11 year old kid with a new dream, or a 78 year old who still dares to dream!
6. And the most important goal: To have a lot of fun doing it!

So please join us! Participate. Learn. Teach. Share your dream, and help others achieve theirs! Remember...

"We are all in this together."

This is a general note to all the nominees in the 2009 Just Plain Folks Music Awards! This is the first time I am contacting all the nominees together, but if you missed the general announcement made Thursday (yeah, bad day to announce a music related story) congrats on getting a nomination in what is literally the world's largest music awards. The judges were given 1 criteria to judge: Does the music move you? If you're reading this (or representing an artist who is nominated) that means you moved a lot of people to make it all the way to the nominations from the largest body of music ever considered.

Below is a link to this year's nominees and some other important information you might want. Contacts for any questions or needs you have are also below. We'll be back in touch with more info as it becomes available! Now, on to the show!
Nominations and Awards Show:

The 2009 Just Plain Folks Music Awards Nominees

On that page you'll also find links to buy tickets to the awards show which takes place on Saturday, August 29th in Nashville, TN at the Wildhorse Saloon. We'll also be doing a Pre-Awards event at BB Kings the night before on August 28th. This is our first time to hold the awards in Nashville and we're excited about the new venue and the Southern hospitality we're sure to enjoy! This should give a lot of folks from the East Coast to the Rockies a chance to get to the show much more easily. And we hope our West Coast nominees will still join us as we take a year off from doing them in Southern California, our host since 1998.

If you are puzzled by this email or can't find your name, send me a note and I'll get you up to speed!
Awards Show Performance Slots:

We are currently working on lining up performers for the awards show as well as the pre-awards showcase. All nominees are eligible to be considered, but we book most of the slots from folks who have already purchased tickets, so we know for sure you're going to be there. Even if you haven't purchased tickets yet, please let us know right away if you are interested. We book an extremely diverse show that will feature a sampling of music from around the world as well as all the major styles and genres we can fit in. With Nominees in over 80 countries and 95 genres of music to choose from, we can't wait to see what amazing talent is available to present that night!

Please email me personally at jpfolkspro@aol.com and place "Awards Performance" in the subject of the email. Inside please include a short bio and links to any live performance videos (such as on YouTube or your own Website) that we can look at to see what you do in a live setting. No need to send more music, we already have it (remember?). = )
Press Information and Photos:

We'd also like to get some press info on all of you, so please email press kits (including high res press photos if you have them) to us. We'll try to feature some of the nominees (especially those with cool press photos) on the website and elsewhere when we start doing press. Email that to (and this is different than the last one) justplainfolks@aol.com and please place "Press Info: (insert name of nominee and category(s)).

Example: Press Info: Skamp: Live Album, European Album, ReMix Album

That way when we have an opportunity, we can quickly find it.
Nominee Listing Errors:

If you find an error on the nominations pages, please email Linda at justplainlin@aol.com In the subject place "Listing Error" and inside please provide all needed info to correct the problem including all of your contact information so we can follow up if needed. Problems might include incorrect location (often we list the location where a submission came from which is different than the location of the artist/songwriter), typo of a name, missing co-writer etc. Keeping up with over a half million song entries is no small task.

If anything else looks strange to you, don't hesitate to bring it up. We want it all to be correct before we actually start judging in the finals next week and this is our first chance to ask you directly to verify things. We also use this information for Trophy Inscriptions so it's important to have it exactly the way you want.
Press Release Help and Nominations Graphics:

We've had many requests for help promoting the nominations. We are putting together some sample templates you can use for press releases if you'd like. In addition we will be adding some graphic logos for both Song and Album Nominations for you to use after next week. We will notify you all when they are available. Also, if you have sent out press for your nominations already, or have gotten any write ups that you can send us, please do. Email justplainlin@aol.com and place "Press Clippings" in the subject.
Voting to determine the Winners

We will be doing online voting to determine winners starting next weekend. We've already begun collecting requests from interested judges. If you'd like to do some Peer Judging (which means you're a fellow artist or songwriter) you are welcome to. However we can't count votes in your own category. We understand there is great curiosity to hear the other nominees and that is fine. You can sign up but just don't vote in your own categories. Also, you can have your fans vote, but also not in your category. This is NOT about who has the most fans and we have no reason to ask you to recruit people to vote for you (yuck!). We won't count them even if they do! That isn't to say they can't vote in other categories, so if you want to refer ANYONE to vote on some great music, just have them use your email address as the person who referred them and they are welcome and encouraged to join us. Please don't make efforts to manipulate results. Frankly it's not worth it and would corrupt any win you might get from it. This is an honest awards and we'll take every action possible to exclude attempted fraud from the process. That sounds like a breath of fresh air eh?

If you'd like to sign up to judge yourself, we'd love to have all the nominees participate in the spirit of all the work non-nominated artists, writers, fans and industry folks did to nominate you. I think you, as a fellow nominee, will be proud to see for yourself the breadth and depth of talent nominated alongside you.

Register to vote here:
Network with us, ask questions and just say hi!

We have a great networking message board on our website. We have nearly 18K Musicians and Industry professionals on there and it is tightly moderated by me personally to keep it friendly and helpful. If you're a seasoned pro, we even have a Mentor program where you can share your knowledge with everyone else. (And with the immense talent levels of this year's nominees, I bet many of you could really help the up and comers and young artists and songwriters in the community by sharing your experiences).

To register on the message boards: (It's a separate registration from JPF membership):

If you're previously registered, or once you do, here's a post where you can stop in and introduce yourself to the other nominees and general members of the site:
In closing:

I've spent the last 14 months of my life working on this project. It's not perfect, nothing done by humans ever is. But we've worked hard to be fair and make the criteria for judging, "Does the Music Move You" meaningful. I do this work not for a big payoff (all this work is done on a volunteer basis) but because I understand deeply how important a little sincere, honest and positive support can be for doing more great work into the future. It doesn't matter if you're already successful and famous, or just getting started. Honest praise and support uncorrupted by all those things out there that corrupt most everything, is hard to find. I hope to all of you this is a healthy heaping portion of sincere support for the work you are doing.

I'd sincerely love to hear from all of you to know that news of the nominations has reached you. Just send me a note and say hello. I've met over 25,000 JPF members in person in their own hometowns over the past 12 years but there's many nominees I still haven't met. And even if I have, I'd still love to hear from you.

Send me a note!


Brian Austin Whitney
Just Plain Folks