Thursday, August 16, 2007

Thoughts on Staind and Lo-Pro Acoustic Show Wiltern LG, Los Angeles August 14 2007

On Tuesday night (8/14) I went to an acoustic show at the Wiltern LG: Aaron Lewis of Staind, with Lo-Pro opening. Powerful vocals happening all around, and I had a great time.

Lo-Pro opened the show. The lead singer has an amazing voice…especially on the first song of the set. Decent songwriting, too…The last song of the set was especially strong. Overall, I liked Lo-Pro a lot. (I’d give you song titles, but it was too dark in the venue to write down lyrics to look them up. If band or management will kindly zap me the L.A. set list, I’ll edit in the song titles. The Email address in the Contact Us section of will reach me.)

Aaron Lewis was great, too. As much as I like Staind, it was refreshing to hear him sing stripped-down versions of the songs. As a singer he really is underrated, and sometimes the production on the CDs hides the excellence of his voice.

A few highlights of Aaron Lewis's set:

There was an awesome version of “Please” with a great vocal that had Aaron hitting that perfect spot in his voice.

“Let It Out” was great, too.

Lyrically the songs are especially strong. His writing is very brave, with lyrics that tear your heart out, and he sings them that way, too. “Something Like Me” was a real standout in that respect, as was “Zoe Jane”.

“Reply” was very touching as well. (Actually in my notes I wrote “AWESOME!!!” in huge letters.)

There were some funny moments, too…A dead-on impression of Neil Diamond singing “Love On the Rocks,” and a verse and chorus of Kermit the Frog’s “Rainbow Connection”…in Frog voice.

And, Aaron noodled around on Van Morrison’s “Moondance,” too...which actually suited the mellow side of his voice really well and was a nice surprise (for the audience, too—they got really into it).

Overall, a very cool show, in one of the most beautiful art deco theatres in the U.S. .

Monday, August 13, 2007

Merv Griffin: One of the Last Old-Hollywood-Style Impresarios

Impresario noun. 1. producer or promoter of commercial entertainment ventures. 2. entertainer; showman.

Many people in Hollywood think of Merv Griffin as the guy who created Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune. I think of him as one of the last old-style impresarios, because of the new talent The Merv Griffin Show spotlighted. A young model/singer named Whitney Houston. A young actor/stand-up comedian named Jay Leno. A bodybuilder named Arnold Schwarzensomethingorother. Another was a young stand-up comedian named Jerry Seinfeld (who later did an episode of Seinfeld that had Kramer decorating his livingroom with the old Merv Griffin Show set--complete with Merv’s theme music). If Merv thought you had talent or you were an entertaining guest, he told people, and you got work.

The impresario in Merv didn’t go away with his talk show. As a game show producer, Merv discovered a fresh-faced 19-year old host with a potentially high Q-Rating. That 19-year-old would later go on to host a wildly popular, highly-rated primetime show. His name? Ryan Seacrest, of American Idol.

But the thing I liked most about The Merv Griffin Show was that he had an innate ability to combine the old with the new. In the early 1970’s, many of the stars and behind-the-scenes players from Hollywood’s Golden Era and the Golden Era of Broadway were still alive...and Merv brought them onto his show to reminisce, clear up long standing rumors, and tell great stories about their legendary studio bosses . (David Niven, Joan Crawford, Bette Davis, and Adela Rogers St. John are some of the guests who come to mind.)

I’m glad he invited them, because their appearances on The Merv Griffin Show gave me the passion for Hollywood history I still have to this day. At the time, no one knew this but my parents, because it just wasn’t cool to be watching a show that my grandma liked. But every day after elementary school, I couldn’t wait to get home to see who was on Merv’s show. I can admit it now: It was thanks to Merv Griffin that I knew about the Cocoanut Grove, the Ambassador Hotel, and the Strork Club, that Arthur Treacher wasn’t only a place that sold fish and chips, and that the Copacabana wasn’t just the name of a Barry Manilow song.

Thanks, Merv.

R.I.P. Merv Griffin 1925-2007

Thursday, August 09, 2007

President Bush's Lyme Diease: He Should Follow PR 101


I don't usually get political in this blog, because isn't a political website. But in the wake of the White House's statement about George Bush's Lyme Disease, there are PR lessons here that anyone in the public eye (or who wants to be) can learn. And, as someone who has a disease similar to Lyme Disease, and who deals with PR, I feel qualified to say something.

I have CFIDS*, an autoimmune disease similar to Lyme Disease. Some researchers even believe CFIDS is either caused by, or is a side effect of undetected Lyme Disease. From my own experience with symptoms similar to those of Lyme, and looking at public reaction to the White House statement, Bush should have disclosed his medical condition.

At my worst, I was confined to bed and had neurological symptoms that made it nearly impossible to read, dial a phone, comprehend a calendar, or do anything requiring a series of ordered, logical steps.

My personal opinion is, I think the American people should know if the guy who's supposed to be running the country has the possibility of similar symptoms. (Which, technically, despite the White House statement, could happen. New information is coming in about Lyme Disease every day...including disagreements among medical professionals about the length of its incubation period, and whether or not you're "cured" after treatment or if it will come back.)

This blog entry explains Lyme Disease, and what it can be like to have it, far more eloquently than I can.

My professional opinion is, from a PR standpoint, the White House blew it.

First, the White House statement about Bush's Lyme Disease conflicts with common diagnosis and treatment standards for Lyme Disease. In fact, medical information in the "learn more about Lyme Disease" link which appeared directly under the Bush news item on AOL flat out contradicted medical info in the White House statement. Oops. (No blood tests were necessary? Unless you test the tick--meaning the insect that gave it to Bush, not Bush himself--how can you definitively know it's Lyme without at least one blood test?)

And then there's the trust issue. (i.e., "He lied about the war, lied about his health, what else is new?" Or, "Since they waited so long to tell us, what more aren't they telling us about his health?")

Some conspiracy theorists are even on the lookout for budget cuts affecting autoimmune disease diagnosis and treatment. Or for new bills that would allow insurance companies to further deny coverage for diagnosis and treatment of autoimmune diseases (i.e.,"You don't need a blood test for Lyme Disease. Even the President's doctor didn't think so").

From a PR standpoint, when you don't let people know what's really going on, they tend to think the worst. A statement sooner, rather than later, is always better than waiting. (Even, in my opinion, in a time of war. Losing the Peoples' trust makes you look weaker.)

People respect you for it, and they'll trust you because you've shared something personal with them. People in the same shoes as you will even root for you.

Unless you lie. If you lie, they lose respect for you. Or if they already didn't trust you, they feel their mistrust is justified.

For those who are in the midst of symptoms, I wish you a speedy return to health. Meanwhile, hang in there.

RR :)

*CFIDS is sometimes called CFS. Many people who have it, including myself, prefer the name CFIDS (pronounced "SEE-fids") because the "I" and "D" refer to Immune Deficiency--which is the main problem and causes most of the symptoms. Without the "I" and the "D" people tend to get it confused with narcolepsy or just think you're tired. When people misunderstand and think it's about being tired, it's a lot more difficult to get research dollars!

Thursday, August 02, 2007

The Poor Man's Copyright Myth

I've written about this before, but we're getting a new batch of questions/arguments about it, so it bears writing again:

If I could set just one music industry myth straight in my lifetime, it's the myth of Poor Man's Copyright (mailing or emailing yourself a copy of your work). Unfortunately, it's something that many musicians, even famous ones, believe. (But famous musicians don't administer their own copyrights; they hire someone to do it for them. So they get a partial pass. :) )

As we have said many times on the website (see the Q&A's, and the opening page of, center column)...

Despite what you may have heard, been told by musician friends, or even read elsewhere on the Internet, a Poor Man's Copyright is not valid in a court of law. Not even if it's timestamped, wrapped in plastic, hermetically sealed, and buried in a safe for a decade.

The Court's position is, if your copyright was important to you, you'd go through the formal registration process to protect it. Thus, if you have not registered your copyright through the U.S. Library of Congress Copyright Office and someone steals your song, you cannot sue for infringement, because the Court will not hear the case. Not ever, no exceptions, nada, nyet.
Please trust me on this. I'm not an attorney, don't work for the Copyright office, and have nothing to gain by lying to you.

But I have had a lot of clients whose past copyright ownership messes cost a lot of $$$ in legal fees to be straightened out because they believed the myth of Poor Man's Copyright. So don't let it happen to you!

Feel free to pass this along, spread the word, shout it out, yell it from the rooftops if you like. (They'll probably argue with you. But it's the truth.)

Thanks for reading!
Randi Reed
Founder / Editor in Chief,