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Chris Dunnett is a multi-faceted Guitarist, Composer, Song-writer, Producer, Performer and Guitar Teacher 

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Chris' Blincoln Blogs

Trickle Trickle 

I currently reside in Nashville which is affectionately known as Music City. However lately the music part has begun to shrink. There has been an influx of people moving into condos across from bars and complaining about the music which leaves me scratching my head. Would you move near an airport only to complain about the noise? Another issue here is some home studio owners like Lij Shaw (who has worked with acts such as Tori Amos, Zac Brown Band, and Ani Defranco among many others) has received a cease and desist from the city for operating a home studio which is to some degree the life blood of this city. He was also told to no longer operate his Podcast on YouTube as it falls under a “home business” definition even though it is strictly on the Internet which has me scratching my head even more as that has nothing to do with having clients in your house? All this makes me ponder the future of “Music City” 

This past week I received an offer from a music library for an exclusive deal on one of my tracks. An exclusive deal is not uncommon in that world and neither is wanting 100% of the publishing share. Typically the library will take the publishing share which leaves the writer (me) with the writer’s share, essentially a 50/50 split. However, this music library (and now I use that term loosely) ALSO wanted 50% of my writer’s share…wait a tick! Huh? That’s basically they get 75% of the pie. NOT a common practice and I hope no songwriter ever agrees to such a deal. My fear is many desperate and naïve musicians fall prey to such a thing which would only further devalue an already devalued product…music 

I used to play the cafe area in several Borders books and music stores all around the Cincinnati region on Friday and Saturday nights. I was only paid $50 but it was only a 2 hour gig and I always sold a bunch of CD's, got people signed up on my mailing list, and gained a following of regulars. People could come out on a weekend night not have to deal with a loud smoky bar and hear good music, enjoy a cappuccino, and peruse a book or two. It was a win - win situation for all. I made a little money, Borders made money, and people had a nice place to hang out. Then someone in their corporate office decided why should they pay musicians? I’m sure we can just get them to play for free. As a result the professional touring artist such as myself were not going to play for free so they basically got anybody who could strum a guitar. As a result the music was sub-par, people quit coming to hang out long story short within the next 2 years all Borders had closed. Yeah, what's that they say about Karma? I'm not saying that that was the definite reason that Borders closed but I can’t help but wonder if that had caused some sort of trickle-down effect?

Passing The Hat 

Last month my blog was about the many hats that musicians have to wear these days but sometimes it’s not best to try to do it all. DIY means Do It Yourself but that doesn’t necessarily mean Do It ALL Yourself. Sometimes it’s a good idea to “pass the hat”. This can be for a number of reasons. The first being the age old battle of Time vs. Money. For example, let’s say your time is worth $25 an hour and you absolutely despise cutting your grass. If you can get someone to do it for say $12.50 an hour you can spend your time making that back times two. Unless you just don’t have the money to spend (which often musicians may not) or just LOVE cutting your grass you may want to consider passing that hat to someone else. No, this is not about yard work I just used that as an example ;). 

Another reason you may want to pass the hat is there may be a better qualified person. You just can’t be great at everything and although there are some things you may not need to be “great” at to get it done some things such as maybe your graphic design, your website, or guitar repairs might better off being done by a pro. 

Lastly though, a reason people may not consider at first is simply so you can focus on more important things. It would be rather difficult for you to be your own photographer (other than the proverbial “selfie”) and concentrate on your look and lighting while to look “cool” in your photos. I have begun working on a new album which is all solo instrumental acoustic guitar - one guitar, no overdubs. While I have a pretty good home studio and know my gear fairly well I would be splitting my focus up between trying to get a great performance and being an engineer also. Because of this I have opted to record my album at a good friend’s (Dave Harris) studio and let him do what he does best which is engineer while I can focus solely on my playing. This way I’m not trying to wear two hats at the same time ;).

A Musician of Many Hats 

I have been known to wear many hats both literally and figuratively. As a musician, the latter, especially these days is imperative. Traditionally a professional musician pretty much had to just worry about making music and hope they can gain the interest of other parties (record labels, managers, etc.) to do the rest. While that is still a valid option and one that many hope and strive for, it may not happen for many musicians. However, all is not lost. Welcome to the age of DYI. But what if you don’t want to Do It Yourself and still hope on getting a team of others interested so you can just make music? Well, here’s the reality check…for the most part, to get those people interested you need to have already established yourself to a certain degree. How do you that? That’s right…DYI. 

Here are just a few of the many roles that musicians these days usually have to become: 

* Recording Engineer 
* Booking Agent 
* PR person 
* Manager 
* Social Media wiz 
* Web designer 
* Videographer 

And trust me there are many more. Now, I am ALL about hiring a person to do as many of these as possible especially the ones you may not be very skilled at and I firmly believe it is better to pay a Pro and get it done right than do it yourself and do a poor job. However, some of these you may find that you (or other band members) excel at and may actually enjoy doing. Here’s another plus side to being able to do some of these…one, you have more control over the results, two, you become acquainted enough with a task that you can better convey your ideas to a pro at it as well as possibly keep you from getting taking to the cleaners. We’ve all heard horror stories about bands that lost thousands of dollars by dishonest managers. 

How many of those have I had to do? Pretty much all of them and more. Some I excelled and enjoyed more than others. Recently I have become a bit of a videographer and video editor as I am filming a series of online guitar instructional videos and although it has been a bit of learning curve, I have really enjoyed it. It's fun to play Steven Spielberg. Have I hired people to do tasks for me? Absolutely! Having had done some of those myself however definitely gave me an advantage when hiring someone else to do it. 

The bad news is there has never been a time where musicians are expected to more. The good news there has never been a time that has been easier to learn to wear all these different hats and give musicians so much control over their creativity and career. So as you go out and independently dress for success I’ll leave you with this metaphor…make sure YOUR hat matches your wardrobe ;)

The Led Legacy 

The Led Legacy 

I saw Jason Bonham’s Led Zeppelin Experience (son of Led Zeppelin drummer the late John “Bonzo” Bonham) recently and while often children of celebrities try to go out of their way to separate them from their celebrity parents and make their own mark (which I totally understand) I was very pleasantly surprised to see him totally embrace his father’s legacy. Not only did he embrace it, it was apparent he genuinely wanted to carry it forward which I thought was very impressive. 

I have always been a big Zeppelin fan and they are one band that is seems like the more I listen to them, the more I respect them. Yes, there are a few guitar solos where Jimmy Page is a bit sloppy but when I see live footage of him and how he replicates the multiple guitar parts he over-dubbed in the studio live it more than makes up for those recordings. John Paul Jones is very much a hidden gem in the band as his bass and keyboard lines seem so subtle most don’t realize how brilliant they are til you listen close. Robert Plant to me is (arguably) the very first REAL frontman of Rock and Roll but they are also one of the 1st bands where the drums had a HUGE Impact on the sound. I really hadn’t realized this til a few years ago when I had purchased a sample pack of “Bonham Beats”. Basically just the drum beats to some Zeppelin songs, recorded by another drummer … although spot on! Just by the drum beat alone I could exactly what song each was. A rarity by most accounts. Many songs the drums for the most part are a basic beat but not Bonham’s. Every single beat stood out and the song was easily recognizable while not being over-kill as to take away from the song. The sign of not just a drummer, but a “Musician”. 

People have often posed the question to me…The Stones or The Beatles? To which I always reply, Led Zeppelin. Nothing against the other 2 bands as they are awesome and most definitely a part of Rock and Roll history and have very much influenced 10s of thousands as well as, by my assumption, probably outsold Zeppelin. But, while The Stones are more “raw” and in the more “garage band” type sound and The Beatles were a little more “Pop” and polished, Led Zeppelin, to me anyway, always seemed to bridge that gap and up the musicianship, versatility, and experimentation a bit more. Not that the other 2 were not experimental but Zep just seem to have a certain chemistry to them and while Plant and Page were always the main focus, they are one band that would have not sounded the same had they replaced any member. Perhaps that’s why when Bonzo died they decided not to carry on? While many drummers are able to play Led Zeppelin and many bands can cover it, there will only be ONE Led Zeppelin

Tonally Up To You 

I went to see a good buddy of mine the other night play, Damon LaScott, who is an excellent guitar player and while listening to his  playing I also really marveled at his guitar tone. Then it dawned on me... while I have heard some great guitar players that to me, did not have a great "sound" I don't think I have ever heard a great tone that wasn't being produced by a great guitarist. It is common said, although for the most part people don't REALLY understand this til they experience first hand, that most players guitar "tone" actually comes from how they play. Sure, every little piece of the chain plays into it...the guitar, the amp, pedals (obvious choices), the strings, picks, cables (yes, often debated but trust me....cables make a difference). But the REAL difference is the player. Again, hard to understand until you actually experience it but for example, I could plug Eddie Van Halen's guitar into Eddie Van Halen's amp and even play Eddie Van Halen licks and trust me, I am NOT going to sound like Eddie Van Halen...I am going to sound like Chris Dunnett trying to play Eddie Van Halen. Conversely, if Eddie Van Halen plugged my guitar into my amp he is STILL going to sound like Eddie Van Halen. Tone really come more from your fingers, how you hit the fretboard, and your picking technique. So the summation in my opinion is it doesn't mean that just because you hear a bad guitar tone that the player is not necessarily a good player but I'm pretty sure if you hear a great guitar tone you can rest assured you are listening to a great player 

The Boogeyman, Sharks, and Musicians 

The movies Halloween and Jaws have always been not only 2 of my favorite movies but 2 of the scariest I have seen. Unlike a lot of blood and gore movies where everything is right in your face what makes these so scary is that you rarely see the villain (Michael Myers – aka “The Boogey Man” or the shark). “FEAR” is caused by that of the “unknown”. Think about it. If you knew absolutely 100% without a doubt that you could walk into a burning building and walk out totally unharmed, would you be afraid? Probably not. It is the “unknown” outcome which scares us. As musicians and song-writers it becomes many unknowns… Will I play the song right? Will I get the gig at this audition? Will they pick my song at the publisher pitch? It is these exact unknown outcomes which create fear in us. Fear can be a good thing as it warns us of something we need to prepare for but it can also paralyze us and create more problems if we don’t know how to handle it. I always try to face fear head on and just keep hitting that boogeyman or shark because the only sure way for them to get you is if you don’t fight back.

Be Cool Be Flixible 

A valuable lesson for all cool and be flexible. I played a wedding cocktail party and was asked to set up outside so I did got my sound check and everything together played 2 songs then they asked if I could move everything inside because the majority of the guests were not coming outside. Granted, they asked me earlier if that needed to happen if it would be a problem and I said no. One of the advantages of being a solo artist ;). The wedding started 20 minutes late and ran another 20 minutes over so I started playing 40 minutes later then contracted and they wanted me to finish what we had arranged, stop for a bit while they made announcements, and play an additional 15 minutes. I gladly obliged. Not only did they end up paying me nearly double what we had agreed on but the event planner was very happy amd appreciative of my willingness to go the extra mile and I will probably get more gigs out of it in the future. So... be cool, be flexible :)

Why Musicians Need A Website 

Since this new version of my website is still fairly fresh I felt it would be fitting to write a blog about the importance of having your own website for musicians as well as any artist or business. 

In this day of Social Media everywhere many musicians have their presence on Facebook, YouTube, and many other sites as well they should. However, I (and about everyone else in "tha biz") feel musicians (and any business for that matter) should still have your own website. Why? 2 words...(or 1 depending on how you look at it lol) ... MySpace. Remember that? What happens if your only web presence is Social Media and that site suddenly disappears or just becomes unpopular? Bu-bye. Even if it is most likely to be around for awhile such as the 2 I mentioned above you are VERY limited as far as layout, customization, selling product, and very importantly...your BRAND. Most musicians or businesses (note...they really ARE 1 in the same) have a "theme" to their own site...colors, fonts, logos, etc. Most Social Media sites limit you greatly when it comes to this. But, an even bigger reason is so you can interact on a more customizable level with your I am by no means belittling the use of Social Media but those should be a way to invite your audience to your in home page ;)


Welcome to my newly re-vamped (actually completely re-done) website. Having been making music now for over 30 years and been a fan of it for a bit longer one thing that artists who are still making music do is periodically re-invent themselves. Look at acts like The Rolling Stones, KISS, Aerosmith, Madonna etc... the ones that are still successfully active have gone thru various musical and image related changes over the years. Not putting myself on the same pedestal as these artist but over the years I have been known as an "80's shred guy", Country song-writer, Flamenco World Beat guitarist and a few others, all of which are valid just different facets of genre's I like. With that I have "re-invented" my website to hopefully showcase the musical styles that have molded me over the years into the musician I accumulation of those and others. Rather than trying to be any one of those as a separate entity, I am re-inventing myself as an amalgamation of them all :)