July 19th, 2012
Messina keeps busy with mommy blog
If there’s one thing the digital age has shown Jo Dee Messina, it’s that you don’t need massive radio play or major-label hand-holding to have a career these days.
“I talk to my 20-year-old nanny all the time about where she gets her music from,” said Messina, who broke out in the 1990s with a string of country power ballads like “I’m Alright” and “That’s the Way.”
“She gets it from Pandora, Spotify, Facebook, and says, ‘I never listen to the radio. Everything is on my phone, my iPod. You plug it into the car and go.’ Radio used to be very personal, now it’s programmed. I dedicated a big portion of my life to getting to know people in radio, their families when I started. Now, it’s different. Anyone can sell 100,000 units online now without commercial radio. I think it’s just amazing. No one needs a major record deal to have a career now.”
And how to get her music out there isn’t the only thing that interests the singer these days, as fans will learn Saturday, July 21st at her show at Buck Owens’ Crystal Palace.
“I’m in the middle of a transition in my career,” said Messina during a phone interview from her home in Tennessee. “We do all the new songs live, but we haven’t recorded them yet. We get some bigger responses from the new material than the old songs, which is exciting. You normally get audiences that ask for only the old songs.”
Jo Dee Messina
Messina, 41, has a lot to sing about these days. Not only has she proved her talents can withstand the changes overtaking the music industry, but she’s become quite the online entrepreneur, running her own mommy blog — fumblingmom.com.
“It’s really neat and amazing that people can make a living blogging. I never thought something like this was possible for me. I enjoy posting daily and finding new opportunities on the web. I always think about the future, like that quote from the movie ‘Moneyball’: ‘Adapt or die.’”
But Messina isn’t prepared to abandon the old way of doing things just yet, despite the ongoing slump in physical CD sales.
“I still love radio, but it’s interesting. One of my friends in the business was telling me that we as artists aren’t getting paid for radio play as much because advertisers are heading to the web. It’s crazy how all that’s working. I study all of that and follow the trends. Country music is a very grass-rootsy type of genre. People are sticking to the radio all over, but they’re also on their computers all the time.”
Messina hasn’t set a firm date for recording her new material; until then, she said fans will have to catch sneak previews at live shows and the occasional YouTube video leak, which she doesn’t mind.
“I used to get upset thinking about it, because the sound quality is usually going to be bad, but it’s all free web promotion and good fans will always want the official tracks. It’s like I said before, ‘Adapt or die.’”
Saturday’s showtime is 7 p.m. Tickets are $32.50 to $41.50, Buck Owens Crystal Palace is located at 2805 Buck Owens Blvd. For more information call 661-328-7560, or visit Vallitix.com.
Thee Midniters at The Nile
As the world embraced the Beatles and other British invasion acts of the 1960s, the barrio bands of East L.A. were busy carving out their own niche with young people.
Brown-eyed and bushy-haired, they adopted similar styles to their Brit counterparts with the hottest fashions of the day and a slick image to match.
Thee Midniters in '60s, bassist Jimmy Espinoza is pictured second from right
Leading the way was Thee Midniters, a group of young musicians who became heartthrobs and tastemakers after forming in 1964. Their sound was hip, happening, full of shimmy shakin’, brass-powered arrangements, and balanced with silky smooth vocals. Original bassist Jimmy Espinoza remembers it as a bittersweet time when voices of unity filled the air together with psychedelic sounds. Kids were testing their freedoms on the street amid the civil rights movement.
Above: Jimmy Espinoza of Thee Midniters. Photo by Krista Kahl
The group appears at The Nile Saturday, July 21st.
“We were a magical mystery, sizzling ’60s, Liverpool sister city,” said Espinoza of East Los Angeles during a recent phone interview. “What was happening in England was happening with us simultaneously. It was fashion, music, art, entertainment. East Los Angeles was not all Mexican-American, it was also Anglo, Russian, very mixed. We had a young middle-class Latino population. It was a very exciting time.”
Above: Thee Midniters in the '60s and their 1966 album
With a reputation for packing dance halls two to three times a night every weekend, performing mainly covers of radio hits plus some originals, Espinoza says their ability to reinterpret was their key to success.
“The talent of Thee Midniters was the ability to play note for note what they heard. We were the best cover band and there was a lot of charisma, and we were destined to become who we were. We had a van and would travel all over the city, then the county, and eventually all across the state.”
Above: 1967's "Unlimited"
More than just a cover band, the group helped pioneer a new sound referred to as “Chicano rock” that blended American rock ’n’ roll, R&B, with a big dose of Latino spices. They released only a few recordings, among them many obscure soul ballads like “The Town I Live In,” and “Giving Up on Love,” but it’s their originals “Love Special Delivery” and "Whittier Blvd.” that have become standards of the subgenre. Today their legacy can be heard through bands such as Los Lobos, Tierra and Ozomatli. Many Bakersfield bands have been touched by Thee Midniters’ lasting impact. Plus there isn’t a traditional Latino wedding that doesn’t get at least one request for their version of the lovers’ classic “That’s All.”
“To know we’ve been influential is just one of those blessings that comes along with it after all these years. I’m proud and appreciate it.”
Above: Thee Midniters today with lead vocalist Greg Esparza
Opening acts are the Brothers of Latin Rock and The Press. Saturday’s showtime is 7 p.m. Tickets are $20 to $25 and can be purchased at the Nile or at Vallitix.com. VIP tables also available. The Nile is located at 1721 19th St. For more information, call 661-371-1434.
Matt’s Picks: July 20th - 21st
Members Only at On The Rocks, 1517 18th Street, 9 p.m., Friday, July 20th, $5, 661-327-7625. Performing all the corniest of the cornball hits of the '80s including hits by Madonna, Devo and everything in between, Members Only's shtick has been a popular draw with Generation drunkers...I mean, "Xers"! The tributes keep pouring in, much to the delight of fountain of youth enthusiasts! Totally tubular man!
“Funky Fight Night” w/ UFC149 – plus Mento Buru & DJ Mikey at BRyder's, 7401 White Ln., Saturday, July 21st, $10 (includes dinner & show,) beginning at 6pm / or $5 show only after 9:30pm, 661-397-7304. Check out UFC149 live before the show! Summer is officially here and if you're looking to sweat a little to get ready for bikini weather, a little Latin cumbia, reggae, ska, and old school just might be what the doctor ordered! One of the few live music venues in Bakersfield to host weekly shows - it's always a blast! Check out Mento Buru online at Facebook.com/mentoburu
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*Also printed in The Bakersfield Californian, 7-19-12