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Jazz Cat Blog

promoting your band

Posted by on July 13, 2016 at 5:40 PM Comments comments ()

This is not going to be a complete how to on music promotion. The subject is vast and beyond my own measure of ability, since I have music to promote and I’m, well… not famous… yet.

I’m just going to brush over some of the very basics, just in case you are just starting to promote a band for the first time. Maybe someone else handled that in your last band, maybe no one did. Maybe this is your first band (or solo career) and then, maybe you have been in dozens of bands and it’s just now dawning on you why none of them ever went anywhere. Regardless, here are a few of the basics that you need.

A decent website - notice I said decent, not stunning, slick or cutting edge. You don’t need to spend big bucks. Get a free website builder, there are bunches of them, just google it. Then, spring a few bucks for a .com address, that does make a difference. But it should be just a few bucks. If it costs more than $20 for just that single feature, keep shopping.

Although, you may need to shell out more for more storage space, since music, .mp3 files take up space. Still, don’t spend more than $150-200 per year on a website unless you are getting something spectacular. If you have a friend who is hooking you up with a really great site for not much, then be cool to that friend. They should get into all shows for free, buy them dinner once in a while, etc.

Your website should have links to YouTube videos of your gigs or at least rehearsals, some downloadable .mp3 songs and any links to where they can buy your albums, t-shirts or other merch.

A business card - many will disagree with this. There are different philosophies. I think you need one. Again, stay low budget. But a card should be eye-catching. Business cards that don’t stand out end up in the trash. Make it unique and have your website address and phone number on it. That’s what cards are for; amazingly, some people forget this.

Make flyers for your shows and actually put them up - self-explanatory, except that, like business cards, you need to have the relevant info on them. List the date of the show, venue name, venue address, time of the show, opening act(s) and your website, as well as the venue’s website. Also, make it eye-catching and unusual. This works far better than simple and straightforward.

A mailing list that is out in plain view during gigs. Periodically announce that it’s there, so people sign it. Tell them to write carefully, half the time, they are drunk and the other half, they have terrible handwriting, even when sober.

Willingness to talk to everyone about your gigs - you have to be a bit of a whore. It’s been said that there is no room in the entertainment business for self-effacement. Totally correct. Also, be willing to go play anywhere for anyone until you really don’t need to do that anymore. Pay your dues.

Other social media sites - you’ll want to have pages at places like Reverb Nation, Sound Cloud, etc. Do a bit of research, Google is your friend.

My name is Magus (aka Kevin Trent Boswell) and you can find out more about my ventures at:  Magus & The Plastic Infinity    Kevin Trent Boswell

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North Carolina Occult Community   Magus

Tools for guitarists

Posted by on July 8, 2016 at 11:00 PM Comments comments ()

While this is certainly not a complete list, it's perhaps a useful start.

I decided to just dump out my tool bag (a Shure microphone, zipper bag) and see what was in there.

I have:

* individual strings, by gauge

* string cutters

* needle nose pliers - to bend the ends of the strings, near the capstan, so they don't prick your fingers

* a nut driver  - because the nut on the jack of electric guitars often comes loose

* a toothpick - I have strap locks on my Fender Stratocaster and sometimes the wood near the screws wears thin and the screws start backing out. So, you stick a toothpick down into the hole and break it off. That gives the screw new wood to grab onto. You can repeat this trick, over and over.

* a string winder

* extra picks  

* a cloth for wiping down the guitar (honestly, I don't use this very often)  

* hex drivers for truss rod adjustments or locking tremolo systems

* assorted screwdrivers - one even has a magnet on the end, for grabbing small screws that fall into odd places, as small screws often try to do. 

* a pen (paper not in the picture) - for catching all those genius song ideas and any notes you might make about gigs, contact info of musicians (and maybe groupies, too)  

There you go. Have fun, you wacky rock n roll boyscout, you. 

My name is Magus (Kevin Trent Boswell) and I am a guitarist, vocalist, songwriter in NC. You can hear more of my music over at

Basic music theory

Posted by on July 5, 2016 at 12:45 AM Comments comments ()

When I take on a new student, the first thing that I go over are the raw mechanics of music. Even if the student has several years of experience, I refuse to simply take for granted that they know this material.

If they know it, great... it will only take us about three minutes to brush through this and we can move on. However, if there is any of this that is not known, I hammer it out with them and make it clear that this is the one thing that I will be a total Nazi about and literally insist that they memorize it before we move forward.

The reason is that it's absolutely essential to having a clue about how the guitar (or any instrument) actually works and because it's so horribly overlooked by so many teachers.

The reason given for this sin of omission is that students these days are less and less interested in music theory, they just want to know how to play.

This is a crippling stance to take, because this is how you learn to play.

That is, unless you really insist on doing it the hard way.

In truth, I think it's sort of ridiculous that this stuff can even be considered music theory. That's akin to saying that the English alphabet is literature. It's not. It's a set of symbols, used to form words, which are strung into sentences and paragraphs, verses, stanzas and chapters, which are combined into works which we refer to as literature. 

It is really stupid simple to learn this stuff, actually. 15 minutes of practice on this each day and in a few weeks, you'll have it down cold and you'll pretty much know it for life. You'll understand what other musicians are talking about and this will make you feel empowered and that, will make you learn faster, because you'll be excited.

Nothing creates success like success

Here is all that you need to know to get started:

These are the only letters we use in music. The examples above are all what we call naturals. They are not sharp or flat. See below:

Here are the possibilities in sharps: 

Here are the possibilities in flats:

We have two alphabets, sharp and flat. There are sharp keys, like G Major and D Major for example and flat keys, like B flat Major and E flat Major.

Songs are written in keys and so a flat key will use the flat alphabet and a sharp key will use the flat alphabet. Don't try to understand this for now, just memorize the two and it will make sense later. Your brain will not bleed, I promise.  

So, you accept the fact that you need to know this, now how do you practice it? Easy, pick a string and start with the note name of that open string.

The sixth string is E, so begin on E and go by half-steps (one fret at a time), playing and saying OUT LOUD! the note names, as in:

E   F   F#   G   G#   etc.

Make sure to go up to the 12th fret and back down to the open string again. In case you don't know your string names, here is a diagram: 

That's all you need to get going. Every song you try to learn, every new chord, every scale or arpeggio, they will all be much, much simpler, with this information under your fingers. Enjoy.

My name is Magus (Kevin Trent Boswell) and I am a guitarist, vocalist, songwriter in NC. 

Sore hands and forearms

Posted by on June 25, 2016 at 2:00 PM Comments comments ()

Here is a quick tip for guitarist survival. Even if you stretch well and regularly - which is something you should do and I will cover another time - we all go through times where our hands, fingers and forearms hurt from playing for hours, moving amps, hauling guitars and speakers, standing or sitting in one, playing position for hours and of course, that dreaded song with the chord that hurts that is played like 30 measures in a row.

I was playing a gig at the Juggling Gypsy in Wilmington, NC and the guitarist in the other band that night shared a tip with me. When your forearms or hands are cramped up, go to a sink and turn the water on as cold as you can get it. Run your arms under the stream of water, from fingertip to elbow, several times. Let your arms get as numb as possible.

Then, switch the water to as hot as you can stand it (without getting burned, obviously) and do the same thing.

What happens is that the muscles constrict a bit from the cold and then they get shocked with the hot water and they are tricked into total relaxation. They go all delightfully soft and gooey; it feels great.

This is an emergency treatment, only. It's by no means a substitute for a solid stretching regimin or proper playing habits. It's simply a way to get through the rough spots.

If you have regular or severe pain, you should immediately consult a doctor, one who has treated carpal tunnel and/or tendinitis. 

My name is Magus (Kevin Trent Boswell) and I am a guitarist, vocalist, poet and guitar teacher.