Inaugural Chicks With Picks Music Fest Celebrates Women In Music

Brody Vercher | March 2nd, 2009

  1. Rick
    March 2, 2009 at 5:32 pm

    The “Chicks With Picks” announcement says that 70 local female singer/songwriters will be featured! Yikes! Is this designed to be a concert or an endurance test? Hmm….

    As for Craig Shelburne’s Americana album picks, I whole heartedly concur with his choice of Allison Moorer’s “The Hardest Part”. I consider this album to be Allison’s artistic peak as a country artist and she and husband Butch Primm out did themselves.

    A lot of current new male country artists should take note of Jeff Carson. In a business as tough as Top 40 country music, a back-up plan or two is always a good idea. I wish Jeff the best in his new career.

    Miss Leslie’s description of artists anointed by critics makes me think of Justin Townes Earle for some reason….

    The CRS panel discussions could be interesting to see first hand how Top 40 country radio programmers really think these days. I’m expecting the content to reflect a mindset that true music lovers might perceive as a cross between a slasher flick and “the Outer Limits”.

  2. Ron
    March 2, 2009 at 8:45 pm

    I’ll second (or after Rick I guess it third) the inclusion of Allison Moorer’s album among some of the more obvious picks like Lucinda Williams and Ryan Adams.

  3. Kelly
    March 3, 2009 at 11:20 am

    My issue with Miss Leslie’s comments regarding critics being followers is that to “start a big bandwagon”, a critic must in fact, start one, which contradicts her notion of critics as followers only. Dont get me wrong, I think there is a bit of copy-catting going on, but there is too much out there (good and bad) to hope that I simply stumble upon it accidentally, and “critics” help to at least point people in the direction of the music, regardless of what they may say about it…

  4. Miss Leslie
    March 4, 2009 at 9:19 am

    Kelly,
    Ah but critics don’t start the bandwagons. The fans do. . . . critics certainly serve their purpose – but should an artist change their music because of a critic that tends to follow what other people think? I’d be interested to hear what you think of my whole blog that the quote came from –

    It is an interesting question to me – I read in Emmylou Harris’ “Songbird” box set that Emmylou changed some of the music she did because of criticism at the time. And I know I liked the stuff that was produced because of it.

    My biggest point is that the artist should listen to the music inside and be true to it – and not change that because of anything or anyone else.

    Or does Emmylou Harris’ case prove me wrong?

  5. Dan Milliken
    March 4, 2009 at 9:39 am

    Miss Leslie,

    If I can offer my two cents, I think it’s very good for an artist to consider criticism now and then, so long as its outcome clicks with that artist’s greater vision for him/herself (assuming he/she actually has one).

    A critic may offer an insight that an artist, producer etc. is too subjective to realize on his/her own, and sometimes such a criticism may help to raise the overall quality of what’s put out. But I do think an artist has to believe on some level in everything he/she does in order for it to really work in a lasting way. Otherwise, the artist will just get burned out and frustrated, and the art probably won’t achieve the same impact for anyone who hears it.

    Regarding which critics you actually heed advice from…I think you’ve got to take it on a case-by-case basis. I think you can always tell, if you read closely enough, who has really listened to the music and formed a personal opinion of it and who is just hopping on a bandwagon.

  6. Jim Malec
    March 4, 2009 at 10:03 am

    It depends on the critic, and it depends on the motive of the critic. There are almost always ways in which an artist could improve his or her music, and an artist is almost always (in my expierience) too connected to the project or to their music as a whole to see their own shortcomings.

    Artists–especially those who write their own music–have a tendency towards self-indulgence. They think the fact that it’s their music gives them a blank check to create whatever they want.

    Usually, however, it is this attitude that stops them from continuing to develop their craft.

    Critics can help point out things that may be holding an artist back, if the artist is able to take the criticism without letting it get personal.

  7. CMW
    March 4, 2009 at 10:06 am

    As the original quote-puller, I feel compelled to say that I do hope people will check out Miss Leslie’s entire blog post to get the quote in its proper context. I just try to use enough to get people interested and/or say something snarky about Rascal Flatts (not applicable in this case).

    But I do think critics start bandwagons, particularly since reviews oftentimes start coming out before albums are even available to fans. Early critical reception sets the course of the discussion and possibly makes way for wider reception. For a couple recent examples, I heard a lot more about last year’s albums by Kasey Chambers & Shane Nicholson and Kathy Mattea from critics than I did from fans (as Alison Bonaguro would be quick to point out).

  8. Chris N.
    March 4, 2009 at 10:19 am

    “If someone starts a BIG bandwagon with your name on it …”

    … it will probably be a critic. I’ve always been amused that many of the artists who get the best reviews hate critics more than anyone.

  9. Jim Malec
    March 4, 2009 at 10:30 am

    “I heard a lot more about last year’s albums by Kasey Chambers & Shane Nicholson and Kathy Mattea from critics than I did from fans (as Alison Bonaguro would be quick to point out).”

    Those albums work harder for those reviews because:
    1) The depend on them, whereas mainstream artists don’t.
    2) The audiences for those projects are more in-tune to the collective music community. If you’re buying a Keith Anderson record, does it really matter what a critic has to say? You’re not thinking about your music or consuming your music in that fashion.

  10. Jon
    March 4, 2009 at 11:22 am

    It’s neither critics nor fans who start bandwagons; it’s publicists. And I’m not completely joking.

    As for this:

    “Artists… think the fact that it’s their music gives them a blank check to create whatever they want.”

    The answer is, of course it does. It’s their music; they pay the price if people don’t like it, and are sometimes able to reap the benefit if people do. And if an artist is going to let someone else tell them what to create, why would it be a critic over anyone else? A smart artist pays attention to what critics say – and what publicists say, and record labels say, and what radio programmers say, and what audiences say, and what others say, too. I don’t see any way in which critics are uniquely qualified to offer advice on what artists should or shouldn’t be doing.

  11. Kelly
    March 4, 2009 at 11:24 am

    Miss Leslie – I read your entire post before commenting the first time and it is well thought out and of course, I want the artist to be true to his/her spirit and vison, but again, by you using “blanket suggestions” such as “fans start bandwagons”, you miss the real picture. As has been said above, critics start many a bandwagon as many of the critical faves are not big-time sellers and/or radio staples and therefore have lower profiles (Joe Pug comes to mind quickly). Also, is a critic “following” other critics tastes really so bad when the artist who’s bandwagon is getting more crowded is deserving of that attention ala Chambers/Nicholson or Jamey Johnson? Fans can and do start bandwagons, but to suggest that critics, writers or bloggers dont, at any point, get the ball rolling is sorely mistaken and lacks the nuance that this discussion requires in my opnion.

    I am a blogger and podcaster who seeks out artists that i can hopefully start a bandwagon for. If you look around, many blogs exist to do the same. To me, good blogs arent the ones that write a daily post on Rascal Flatts or any of the other well-known acts, they are the ones that introduce us to artists that we might not have known about if it werent for that blog.

  12. Jim Malec
    March 4, 2009 at 11:55 am

    “The answer is, of course it does.”

    And you can’t call an artist a sellout.
    And all art is subjective.
    And genre classifications are pointless.

    I can’t speak for anyone else here, but I’m just not interested in discussing things from the philosophical standpoint that nothing really matters.

  13. Miss Leslie
    March 4, 2009 at 12:02 pm

    Kelly,
    I didn’t mean to suggest that a critic, blogger, fan, publicist or anyone else does NOT start a bandwagon ever.

    To be honest with you, I would put bloggers in the category of fans rather than publicists, critics, etc. Bloggers are the true voices in music today – the ones who should be listened to because they are in this for nothing more than that they love something and want to share it. IMHO, fans are the ones who fuel the fire of the machine. Certainly a critic can start a fire. DJs used to start them all the time.

    But the fan is the fuel, and that is a nuance that is sorely missed in our industry today.

  14. Jim Malec
    March 4, 2009 at 12:09 pm

    Fans are about hype. That’s a different function than the function of the critic, though the critic can cause a similar manifestation.

  15. Jon
    March 4, 2009 at 1:19 pm

    “‘The answer is, of course it does.’

    And you can’t call an artist a sellout.
    And all art is subjective.
    And genre classifications are pointless.

    I can’t speak for anyone else here, but I’m just not interested in discussing things from the philosophical standpoint that nothing really matters.”

    Hoo boy. I’d be happy to show you just how badly you misunderstand what I’ve written about subjectivity and art, genre classifications, etc., some other time, Jim, but let’s stick to the subject at hand. And since you seemed to miss it the first time, here’s my question again:

    If an artist is going to let someone else tell them what to create, why would it be a critic over anyone else?

  16. Jim Malec
    March 4, 2009 at 1:32 pm

    I didn’t miss your question, I thought it was irrelevant so I ignored it (especially since I never implied any such thing).

    Further–it’s funny…the whole, “you’re misunderstanding me!” line doesn’t work for me as a writer–if people aren’t understanding me that’s sort of my problem, not theirs.

    It must be nice to be able to always fall back on that.

  17. Jon
    March 4, 2009 at 2:04 pm

    “I didn’t miss your question, I thought it was irrelevant so I ignored it (especially since I never implied any such thing).”

    Sure you did (and “as a writer,” shouldn’t you be able to understand what you’ve written yourself?). You said:

    “Artists–especially those who write their own music–have a tendency towards self-indulgence. They think the fact that it’s their music gives them a blank check to create whatever they want.”

    If the fact that it’s their music doesn’t give them a blank check to create whatever they want, then it follows logically that to avoid self-indulgence, what someone else wants – the check writer, to stick with your metaphor – ought to be part of the creative process. Hence the question – and its relevance is amplified by your comments about the role critics can play (if only those self-indulgent artists would let them!) in developing artists’ craft.

    Criticism is part of that after-the-creative-process engagement with audiences, not part of the creative process. And as such, I have yet to see a reason why critics should be given more weight than radio programmers, talent buyers or, God forbid, those awful “hype”-ridden fans. You got one or not?

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