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Food For Thought

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jwanzong
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Food For Thought

Post by jwanzong » 14 Apr 2008, 08:49

There has been a lot of discussion about several things that I think if they are looked at in a broader music business industry level view might make more sense. I have read the following recently:
1) Why would Chris play his old songs again when he did a Farewell Tour?
2) Why would he play his old music if he doesn't like to
3) Why might the autumn tour be cancelled?
4) Why was there not more promotion?
5) Why did it take 2 years for a new album when he said on his farewell tour that it would be less than that?

I think if Chris had several million dollars at his disposal he would launch his own tour and we would never hear the likes of the Road to Hell, Stainsby Girls, or any other older music again. I truly believe he intended to retire from that era when he did his last tour. He really appears to WANT desperately to move on I believe but it is a catch 22 situation just like it is for most artists. If Chris had all the money on his own he would not need financial backers, partners, investors, record execs, promotors. However, there is a HUGE cash outlay for the recording studio costs, engineers, marketing execs, printing, art design, concert halls, the promotion of the concerts and albums, coordination of PR, salaries for managers, promotors, booking agents, travel agents, licensing and copyright agents, registars, attorneys, the accomodations for the band/crew, gas, food, autos, airline tickets, permits, medical, insurance, equipment rental, stage and venue hands, ushers, concessions, security, tickets offices, travel expenses, and equipment coordinators and a HUGE strangling of other employees. With a cash outlay this size there really has to be a guarantee that the tour will net enough to cover all of this.
The magnitude in size of the album and concert he took on this year pretty much ties him to the money laden executives that can dictate much of what he GETS to do despite what he tells them he WANTS to do. Hence his referral frequently to the "man in the suit", his showing of this process on his Stoney Road DVD, his referral to them in "Legacy Blues (very appropo title and the lyrics say it all!!!) and his countless comments on this subject in interviews.

The music business seems to be just like any other real world business where the artist never get to do exactly what they want free and clear. The investors and promotores want rock solid guarantees they will make a fair or even HEFTY return on their investment. This often translates to the artists as "this is what we STRONGLY ADVISE/ENCOURAGE you to do to make this album/tour a success". Their influence is often even more along the lines of 'We will back you ONLY if..." And in Chris's case this might very well mean "We will back you only if the concert is based on the CHRIS REA name and history of success" enough so that it draws in your old and loyal fans. It is not uncommon for these investors to even ADVISE what the song set is so they can be assured the areans will sell out and additional album sales will meet quotas or for them to ADVISE the type of merchandise that will be offered so it is guaranteed to net a expected return on investment. It is all one big money machine and I truly believe Chris Rea JUST WANTS TO PLAY GUITAR, have fun, be the artist he wants. However, it all comes back to money - without it Chris is at the mercy to some degree of these financial dogs. I think we would be VERY surprised to see how many people get rich off Chris's music, name branding, promotions, etc. There is always an investor out there who would say "OK Chris, we'll give you the money you want to make an album with The Delmonts and HBN, >BUT< you must guarantee us a 35% return on our investment and we think you can only do this by relying on your history. Nostagia in the music busness is a good way to guarantee money.

So I think Chris has to be allowed room to move forward with the music he likes, yet still make an income and please the investors enough to keep doing what he is doing. Perhaps his Autumn tour was cancelled because once again he said I DON'T WANT TO WORK THIS WAY ANY MORE! I just want to play the music that I like.

Anyhow...enough ramblings. Just some good food for thought. I rarely think Chris is to blame for the curvy turns of his career and retirmenet/comebacks. Let's just support the Delmonts and HBN in any way we can as that is obviously what he wants to do with his future.

Chris
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Re: Food For Thought

Post by Chris » 14 Apr 2008, 09:36

Thank you for this in-depth analysis.
Peter S. placed this link to an interview with Chris.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio/aod/mainfram ... /r2_walker
I think Chris answers in it a lot of questions for us...
Take care,
Chris

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Re: Food For Thought

Post by chrismiller » 14 Apr 2008, 13:54

Erhm... how to begin after reading this all and disagreeing a lot?
First of all, it's very good to see, 'jwanzong', that you are extremely well-informed about the way things going on in the music business; I really bow to your knowledge.
I, however, think your answers to those questions indicated are a bit wrong. I've written several threads before about how CR's latest 'coming-out' changed my life and my point of view of music. Because of this I really dug deep into Chris' life, especially into things happened to him since 2002. So allow me to give some facts.
First, CR is a blues musician and he's always been. Originally he wrote all his songs like that but he'd depended on his label for many years; labels in the 80's and 90's didn't believe Chris' blues-based material could be sellable and that's why he had to rearrange them to a more popular way. That's a fact as Chris said that in several interviews. He, however, did his live shows as blues concerts, go and search Youtube for some old live material and you'll see that. And some times the label allowed him to do something very close to the original; albums Dancing with Strangers, God's Great Banana Skin and Espresso Logic are proofs for that. The music business and the critics admit it as well; some critics compared CR's newest materials to those albums. If you still don't believe me, get Espresso Logic and Blue Guitars and listen the title track from the first one then Too Far From Home from Album Nine of the second...
And we're slowly getting to answers; Chris still play songs like The Road to Hell, Julia, Stainsby Girls, Josephine or Heartbeat because now he can play them the way he always wanted to since he is on his very own.
So 'why would Chris play his old songs again' - that's why. And 'why would he play his old music if he doesn't like to' - he likes to.
Secondly, as written above, Chris is on his own now, that's a fact again. After his grave illness and during his long recovery he decided to finally do that he really wants to do and the way he wants to do - because he realized his time might be strictly limited. He wrote the album Stony Road and no label wanted to publish that; no one believed, once again, it could be sellable. That's why Chris founded his own label called Jazze Blue and published the album on his own. And he was right. Since then CR doesn't depend on any label and he succesfully published several more CR albums (The Blue Jukebox, Hofner Blue Notes, Blue Guitars, The Road to Hell & Back, The Return of the Fabulous Hofner Bluenotes) plus albums of Robert Ahwai, Sylvin Marc and Sarah Randle. In short, his label runs good enough and Chris never stated he would have financial problems either with financing albums or tours.
CR always had problems with the leaders of the music industry, as you wrote, and he still doesn't like them too much because of the way they do things. But he doesn't care too much anymore because he's no more their kinda puppet; he's doing his way and fortunately people don't seem to have a problem with it since his materials are still top selling ones.
On 'doing farewell' or 'not doing farewell' Chris finally came out with the truth; it was Chris Rea's Farewell. He stepped off stage as a solo artist. He said there would be no more Chris Rea as Chris Rea. By that time, because of his medical condition, he really believed he'd had to leave big stages for ever and do small club gigs within a blues band (remember the Memphis Fireflies project?). Fortunately the passion, love and enthusisasm of the audience gave him enough strength to go on and be able to return. And he kept his word, that's no Chris Rea as Chris Rea, that's two brand new bands with Chris Rea. Yes, maybe it was a well-planned marketing trick, maybe it wasn't... I don't know and I'm not even interested. On my mind, and I think on many others', knowing CR is on the road again is the most important. I'm pretty happy about it and I don't care too much of the background.
'Why was there not more promotion?' - once again, CR did his own way, if you're interested I'm sure you knew about what was happening with him. Plus, concerts were actually crowdy, if you know what I mean. It seemed to me people knew he was coming.
'Why did it take 2 years for a new album when he said on his farewell tour that it would be less than that?' - not because of the money or the loss of the money. Chris spends the exact time on doing an album that he likes. If he wants to do that in 5 years it will be so. Once again, by that time he wasn't sure about the future at all.

Summarizing this all, using your words Chris is allowed room to move forward with the music he likes. These things I've written are facts. You can make enquiries about them; you'll find them out easily.
I think if you had known about those things you wouldn't have written this thread. And you might be angry with me but I don't think you respect Chris enough. You suggest Chris is still a marionette puppet of the money and of those hypocrites in music business but he's not. He's been that for many years but after he almost died he'd done with it. He wants to spend the rest of his life with the music he likes. And that's what he's actually doing.
Look into things before writing on them.

Yours truly,
Chris
You can waste a whole lifetime trying to be what you think that's expected of you
But you'll never be free.

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Re: Food For Thought

Post by BBQ.Master » 14 Apr 2008, 14:07

In my opinion, it would be a mistake to leave all the "pre-blues" music behind. Chris Rea can't say that he doesn't like all songs he recorded for EastWest. As on "Blue Guitars", I remember that he took two older songs - the slide guitar line from "Nothing to fear" and "Espresso Logic" - to use them again (as "Celtic Blue" and "Too far from home").
If he just wants to play as the Delmonts, that would be wrong, too. I think that the Bluenotes-songs on his new album were much better than the Delmonts-songs.
It seems like "Road to Hell", "Stainsby Girls" and so on are important songs for Chris. They are very personal and honest, so he can't bring his old career to an end and start all over again (which he actually did by becoming a true blues musician with "Stony Road").
When it hurts so deep and stays so long
Though it's dark you know where you belong
Then you will know...

...where the blues come from.

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Re: Food For Thought

Post by jwanzong » 14 Apr 2008, 23:20

I appreciate your feedback Chris. Contrary to your unfounded assumptions I have followed Chris's career closely for years. I bear witness along with countless other fans to his transformation from pop star to a gentleman we respect as much for his principals as for his music.

I am in no way whatsever insulting Chris as I have the utmost respect for his work, his principals and his unwillingness to be pigeonholed by corporate music execs. I am simply saying that in reading the comments of his recent tour and album (not JUST on this website!) there is a clear set of questions/issues that seem to be the topic of repeat discussion by his fan base - namely those I listed in my first posting.

My point was simply that when you look at the BIGGER picture of the album, tour, etc IS IT is possible - and please note this term - POSSIBLE that Chris did not have 100% complete control over every aspect of this latest venture? Is that possibly the answer to some of the questions people have been raising? THAT WAS MY ONLY POINT! Maybe you are right and Chris has loads of cash, calls every single shot, plans every detail, makes no compromises ever and has to answer to noone. It sounds like you are in possession of special facts of his life noone else has that confirms this. If so WOW - Chris is more of an icon than previously given credit for. I would love to know how an artist makes this transformation since Prince, David Bowie, Carlos Santana, Robben Ford, and countless others have traveled this same road. The public records of his company tell of a more complicated life of decision making and financing. As does his Legacy Blues.

Take it as you will as I meant no harm other than a higher level view of what might be happening albeit it true, not true, right or wrong. It was afterall just FOOD FOR THOUGHT.

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Re: Food For Thought

Post by chrismiller » 19 Apr 2008, 14:52

Thank you for kind of updating your personal informations, it's all clear now, last time it sounded different.
I am in no possession of some special details and not talking with Chris weekly, either (unfortunately). I'm only reading interviews all around the web (and not only English-spoken sites), some of them have been very personal and gave a very close look to Chris, that's why I think the way I think.
Maybe I'm a bit naive but I'm still thinking he can handle that all and he's on his own. Anyway, I'm hoping. It seemed to me all fine. Listening to Chris' words he'll never turn back. And Blue Guitars and Road to Hell & Back (plus the tour) went really well... as far as I know the new album and tour are doing so.
E.g. CR on Blue Guitars:
Well it wasn't [fairly expensive], because it's my own time and the reason we could keep the book at a cheap price, because I didn't want fans not to be able to buy it, because it was so expensive. So in a way what I did I hired Chris Rea, but I did not pay him. I told Chris Rea, he'd have to wait for the money, you know. (Laughter)
And I agree, only food for thought, here's another one:
I don't think making that fuss over the so-called Autumn Tour and cancelling the Autumn Tour is that necessary. I mean, Chris mentioned 'don't worry if you missed The Delmonts, I've got a feeling they'll be back in the Autumn'.
Well, Chris said the following not so long ago:
I have only got permission for one more tour of this type. The Memphis Fireflies idea (...) will allow me to still have a future playing my beloved slide guitar and singing. So the new set up will still have Chris Rea singing and playing but because it will be that much smaller (...). Quite simply, the smaller the set-up, the less it costs. (...) Watch out for Paul Casey's band (...).
Then happened that happened. As I mentioned before it's still a mistery to me, the kind of 'farewelling' CR did.
Anyway, this whole Delmonts-thing sounded so familiar... I'm sure everyone will be surprised sooner or later. Food for thought :D

Yours truly,
Chris
You can waste a whole lifetime trying to be what you think that's expected of you
But you'll never be free.

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