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A Whole New World…..

As some of you might know, I’m ready to release some new material.  I’m very excited about it and I think you’re going to love it.  “Let it Shine” was slow to pick up steam, but after four years of still-growing sales and downloads and seven major network TV placements, I’m comfortable calling the album a big success.  But the industry has changed a lot in the last few years and I feel like I need to take a new approach as to how I release new music.

The general trends suggest that fans aren’t interested in physical CDs anymore.  I’ve been a holdout on this mentality but even I’m starting to change.  Downloads (at least in America) are the preferred method of buying music.  I’ve got a mountain of boxes of copies of “Let it Shine” in the attic that suggest that’s probably true.  As a fan who loves reading about an artist, seeing who played on what songs, who produced, engineered, wrote the tunes, etc, this is a sad shift.  But as an artist, this isn’t all bad news.  Since I’m recording everything at my own facility, Porter Avenue Studios, that means the biggest cost of recording an album has been the cost of CD duplication, graphic design for artwork, cover photography, printing and packaging, etc.  So….if there’s a way I can get my music to people without having to deal with all those costs, I have to start taking advantage of it.

With that in mind, let me tell you about some new ideas I’ve had that I’m going to begin implementing immediately:

Beginning next week I hope to release a “single”, one song only, as a digital download every six weeks or so.   Each of these singles will be available on itunes, amazon, rhapsody, napster and any other music service you may use.  After releasing several singles I hope to compile them into smaller “mini-albums”, EPs, for those of you, like me, who still need the real deal.  These will be special edition releases that will contain bonus material you can’t get from the website or by just downloading the individual singles. 

But it gets way cooler than that and here’s where I think the digital age might bring a new aspect to buying music that makes the whole experience way more fun:

Long before the singles are available online for download, there will be an opportunity to get the tunes in advance for free, and we’ll put it to the test this Friday, September 10th

On September 10th I will put my newest tune, “Remember Me” on a flash drive.  That flash drive will be hidden SOMEWHERE ON EARTH.  Friday morning I will post instructions on the Matt Martino Facebook Fan Page on where to locate the flash drive.  A treasure hunt!  And if you can get to it first, you’ll have the only version of the tune in existence (other than my own copy). 

I want to do something like this with every new release, and focusing more on “singles” is going to allow me to crank out a lot more tunes at a much faster pace.  Each time I come out with a new song, you’ll have an opportunity like this to have it as much as a month before it’s available for download.  We will likely start locally, with the first few flash drives being hidden right here in Nashville.  But if the idea is well received, we’ll expand it…..we can hide drives in different places…..maybe hide multiple drives in different locations. 

Also, I would like to incorporate some other cool things with the flash drives.  For example, maybe the flash drive will contain my newest song, as well as some random picture or text file with a message on it.  We’ll post instructions on how to find the flash drive on facebook, and the first person to get the drive, look at the picture or read the text file and post a comment revealing what it is…wins an additional prize.  Maybe free admittance into our next show.  Maybe an itunes gift card.  Maybe a 40 of Olde English.  Maybe their pick of a bunch of stuff. 

Lastly, the flash drives themselves will have value.  We’re still working out the details on this, but we want the flash drives themselves to be like a “VIP Badge” that gets you free stuff or special access to shows or new material.  More details on that down the road, but if you manage to get your hands on a drive, hang on to it.

So……this is how it begins.  Check Facebook this Friday for instructions on how to find the flash drive containing “Remember Me”.  We won’t make it too hard to find at first.  I want this to be fun.  It’s definitely been fun recording some new tunes and I’m anxious for them to be heard. 

Thanks everybody!  If you haven’t ‘liked’ me on facebook, better do it now!  And be sure to visit the facebook site this Friday for directions to the flash drive!

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Don’t Know What Ya Got ‘Til It’s Gone – Diesel Dick Hagglestein

 

"What we do in life echos in eternity"

 

Listen everyone, I don’t come down from my drinkin’ couch on the roof very often and when I do it’s only for something that’s pretty damned important.  Recently I’ve been getting a lot of questions regarding the Matt Martino Street Team.  Some of you want to know what you can do to help, some are wondering how your efforts will pay off and some of you want to know why you should join.  Now, for those of you who’ve heard the call to arms, joined the team and are looking for guidance or advice, not to worry, I understand your concerns and I’m here to help.  To those of you who are still wondering, “Why should I join?”, I say, “That’s an interesting question.”.  Here’s another interesting question, “Stop being such a dumbass.” 

Why should you join the Street Team?  I don’t know.  You just should.  Why does beer get you drunk?  Nobody knows.  It just does.  I can’t solve all of the mysteries of life.  You’ve got to seize the moment ’cause man, it’s just like, you don’t know what you got ‘til it’s gone.  Hell, everybody knows that and now you do too.  Ok, good.  Now that we’ve settled that let’s move onto more pressing matters.

For me it’s all about loyalty. 

The Stank blood that flows through my veins now is just as thick and red as it was back in the Pinch days.   I can’t stop. And if you’re still reading this then neither can you.  You don’t just stop doing something that has become part of your SOUL. Just ‘cause your sister’s roommate says your hair looks stupid doesn’t mean you go and cut it off.  You just can’t live your life like that.  If someone said, “Hey, you should stop breathing air cause it’s not cool anymore,” you wouldn’t stop and don’t act like you would cause you KNOW deep down inside that you wouldn’t. 

Remember when Rick put his ’87 Camaro into Old Man Foster’s pond?  (Not his ’83 Camaro, that was a totally different body of water.)  Well I do.  I was THERE.  We got out through the T-Top, swam to shore and were feeling pretty lucky, all in all, until he remembered his box of cassettes that was in the car.  Man, I’ll never forget the sick look on his face when he realized that.  Same look Polish Joe had in P.E. class sophomore year when a softball took a bad bounce and caught him square in the seeds.  So, what did he do?  Dove right back into that pond, face first into the seaweed and cow shit and swam down to the old ‘maro and came up with his collection intact.  They never sounded quite right after that but, that didn’t matter.  It’s about principle.  That cow shit lake isn’t taking Rick’s “Ride The Lightning” tape away and neither should you.  

I can’t tell you why your help is so essential.  You have your own unique strengths and talents that you bring to the table and as long as you keep your fist in the air and your ear to the grindstone you’ll do just fine.  In closing, the best things in life are worth fighting for and that’s why you have to be a member of the Street Team.  If you’re too completely OUT of your MIND to realize that this is your calling in life then you need help from someone bigger and better than me, like, Buddha or George Washington.  I can’t make it any clearer than this.

Hope this helped.  I gotta go practice karate in the carport. 

Diesel Dick Hagglestein

Together We Can Do This – Matt Martino

Together We Can Do This

I, like most Americans, am a simple, honest, hardworking individual. I go to work three, sometimes four days a week. I mow my own yard. I watch football on Sundays. And I enjoy a cold, refreshing beer from time to time. Ain’t nothing wrong with that.

If you were to inspect my aluminum can recycling bin (I can thank my tree hugging friend Diesel Dick Hagglestein for showing me the benefits of recycling), you would find that my favorite flavor of oat soda is Pabst Blue Ribbon. Yes, oftentimes Dennis will bring over a 12 pack of Miller 64 or Michelob Ultra, claiming he has to watch his figure (as he guzzles down every last one). But I won’t touch that Pollyanna, sissy juice. I’m a REAL AMERICAN and that’s why I drink REAL beer. Not third place. Not second place. FIRST place. Blue ribbon, baby.


However, this was not always the case. Back in my younger days when I was wild and uncouth, I developed a hankering for a stronger nectar. While my friends ordered Miller Lites and Budweisers, I asked the bartenders of Carbondale, IL for bright, golden cans of cold, delicious Stag beer. They usually replied with, “Uh….we don’t have that.” But on the occasions we frequented establishments that did, a good time was had by all.


Well, not “ALL”. You see, my sissy friends back then were much like Dennis is now. Their dainty livers were underdeveloped and unprepared for the sheer strength and vitality that a can of Stag contained. On the occasions that they came over and Stag was all I had at the house, they grumbled and protested but drank, albeit reluctantly. My friend Ash, no doubt inspired by the picture of a giant, 100 point buck (no exaggeration) on the front of the can, once commented that a can of Stag always went down “horns first”. They could not change my mind though. I knew Golden Quality when I tasted it.


Part of Stag’s appeal was it’s “no nonsense” approach. At a time when other brewers were striving to win customers by littering television and billboards with talking frogs and women in bikinis and big Clydesdale horses walking around performing various human activities, I was drawn to Stag because it didn’t bother with those tactics. It didn’t have to. I’m sure they could have gone on and on about the finest hops and time honored brewing traditions and whatnot…but there was no need. Those fine hops were in there. I knew it from the first taste. And they always have been….since 1851. 1851, people. That’s a long-ass time. And dancing frogs and horses belong in the woods. Not on television. Except for some PBS nature special, maybe. Or National Geographic. But that’s none of my business.


When I left Southern Illinois Stag became tough to find. It is, I discovered, distributed only regionally. And to a very small region at that. They didn’t even ship it to Chicago. So I choked down Miller Lite for years with the rest of the soulless bastards that wouldn’t have known a quality beer if it came up and bit them in the ass. When I arrived in Nashville I discovered it wasn’t available here either, to my utter dismay. In fact, the closest distributor of Stag to Nashville is located in Carbondale, IL. However, it was by that necessity that I discovered PBR, a quality product brewed by the Pabst Brewing Company. It was a compromise I learned to live with. Years went by…..


But then….something very peculiar happened.


Sometimes I enjoy some physical activity. Crazy as it sounds it actually makes me feel good. “Wellness” I think the yuppies call it. Not too much, mind you, but enough to keep the old ticker ticking the way it should. So early last week I decided to ride my bicycle to work, as I do from time to time. It was then, while pedaling steadily towards my destination, I saw a sight on the ground that made my heart race even faster. There, nestled gently in a pile of leaves was an empty, slightly dented golden can. I hit the brakes and my back tire skidded around me, leaving a long, black streak of rubber and making an ear piercing shriek, just like action heroes who ride motorcycles do in the movies. I read the can out loud: “Stag”.


The can was new. Recently discarded, I surmised. It showed no signs of weathering whatsoever. It was as if someone had just cast it out that morning, perhaps after enjoying it with a hearty breakfast. I scratched my chin and stared into the sky….my mission lay before me. I looked back down to the can in the leaves and the giant deer looked back up at me. “Find me, Matt”, he said. “Find me…and drink me.” The deer’s voice was just like Sam Elliott.


With help from the internet, I learned that Stag really hasn’t gotten any more popular since I left Carbondale. No new distributors had cropped up in Nashville. So, that leaves only two possibilities, neither of which seem terribly likely…..


One: someone returned with Stag from Illinois or some other location where Stag is available, drank and discarded the Stag can here in East Nashville. Since I THOUGHT the closest place you could buy Stag was three hours away, that seems unlikely to me, but not impossible. Or….


Two: Stag IS available somewhere in Nashville. Perhaps their website is out of date.

Which brings me to you.


My local search for Stag has begun, but I am only one man. I need your help. I know there are at least a few Nashvillian readers of this blog who enjoy a drink from time to time. Help me. And help yourselves. Find Stag. You’ll understand why it’s important when you taste it for the first time. It’s Pure. It’s American. Don’t fight it. Together we can do this. We can make this right. This is real. Life is now.


Help me search. It will likely be near the end of the cooler, near the Keystone and Natural Light. Probably right next to the PBR, actually. If some local retailer is carrying Stag beer, I know that with teamwork, we can find it. This is the most important thing in the world times a thousand. What we do in life echoes in eternity. Help me find Stag.

Birmingham, AL: Transcending Space & Time – Matt Martino

As you may know, Dennis and I have been doing some traveling.  January began with a trip north to St. Louis, Rockford and Chicago, where we reconnected with a lot of old friends, made a lot of new ones and visited a few of our old haunts.  The trip was a blast and could not have gone any better.

 

Last week we went south for shows in Birmingham and Pontotoc, MS.  While we did meet some friendly people and see a few friends, it might have been the roughest stretch of gigs I’ve ever had.

 

First, the trip was supposed to include a third date, Panama City on Saturday.  But a few days before we left I learned that the venue had closed.  So….not a good omen.

 

Dennis and I left in plenty of time to make it to Birmingham.  About a three hour trip from Nashville, we left at 4 pm, thinking we would beat rush hour traffic and have enough time to check into our hotel before going to the club.

 

As Dennis was loading his gear into the truck, he realized he had forgotten an important piece of equipment so when we left we headed towards Dennis’s house to pick it up.  But about a block away from my house I realized that I had forgotten to print out set lists.  So, after going to Dennis’s and then back to my house we managed to hit the interstate at exactly 5 pm.

 

I never heard just what had happened but there must have been a horrible accident on I-65.  Three lanes were completely closed.  We exited and took back roads to get out of the city, which were equally congested.  By the time we were outside the city and traffic was clear, we were running late.  No more time to go to the hotel.

 

Near the Alabama border we were both starving so we decided to stop when we saw a sign for Dairy Queen.  Dennis felt a craving for some cool treats, while hot eats sounded good to me.  So we exited and followed the signs.  To our disappointment, the restaurant was nowhere near the interstate.  After a few minutes of driving we came upon an abandoned Dairy Queen, seemingly vacant for years.  Subway was next door, so with frustration in our hearts, we pulled in.

 

Subway seemed very clean and normal.  I ordered a footlong Spicy Italian sandwich on Italian Herbs and Cheese bread.  I also asked that it be topped with several toppings, one of which was lettuce – the most potent and dangerous lettuce I’ve ever encountered in my life.

 

We ate and continued.  It was roughly another hour to Birmingham and for the entire time I felt normal and sated.  But oh, how quickly that changed.  Almost instantaneously upon entering Birmingham city limits, I felt a roaring earthquake of fury in my colon.  I continued driving, thinking I had only a few miles more to get to the club and we were already late.  But soon it became clear that time had run out.  So I took the next exit I could and pulled in at the first gas station I saw; a dark, poorly lit service station in what was clearly a less-than-desirable area of town.  I parked and hurried gingerly to the entrance where I was met by a large, hand-written sign that declared “NO PUBLIC RESTROOMS”.

 

Across the street was a chicken and soul food restaurant and without regard for my well being or the potential consequences of loitering in the area we were in, I hurried across the street and entered the restaurant.  I was met with stares and silence.  I tiptoed through the restaurant to the bathrooms where I was met with another sign, this one professionally printed and permanently hung, “Restrooms for paying customers only”.

 

I stopped, read the sign and turned back to the cashier who was staring at me, along with two other dangerous looking gentlemen who were waiting at a nearby table.  The cashier, possibly sensing my anguish said, “You can order when you come out.”  I smiled and quickly thanked her, thinking the joke was on her, since I was certain that my intestines were going to explode and I would never again emerge from that bathroom.

 

What happened in the next couple of minutes was ethereal.  A magical and terrible change.  I remember the light was dim.  It was cool and oddly quiet.  The sink dripped.  My forehead was clammy and my pulse was slow, yet forceful; a throbbing drumbeat that cadenced what were certainly the last moments of my life.  I did not wait long.  My soul clinged to life as my peripheral vision began to blur and the Spicy Italian sandwich that had been all but forgotten only a few minutes prior returned, undigested and vengeful.  I hugged myself and rocked slowly as I sat quietly, assessing the situation.  I was alive.  But I would never be the same. 

 

I took my time exiting the bathroom, as the quiet moments alone had afforded me time to grasp more accurately my current situation.  I would have to make a purchase and obviously, I was not hungry.  I washed, left the room and approached the counter where the cashier was waiting.  The surly looking gentlemen who had watched me enter the restaurant were seated in the same place.  We made eye contact and it was the type of exchange that made me feel I had been a topic of discussion.  I asked if I could simply buy a soda and the lady, who was very kind, said that would be fine.  But as I pulled out my wallet I recalled spending the last cash I had on my since departed Subway sandwich.  I purchased a $.99 soda with my credit card.

 

I returned to the car where Dennis was nervously waiting.  As we got in he commented about the disagreeable neighborhood we were in.  We pulled away and continued towards the club, now roughly an hour late. 

 

But less than a mile up the road, the pangs of indigestion returned.  The cramps were searing and it was clear that I had only experienced round one of what would be at least a two round fight.  I u-turned and pulled into another gas station.

 

I hurried into the building and past the cashier to the restrooms.  As I approached the cashier called out, “bathrooms is closed!”  I froze, horrified and weighed my options.  I had none.  I turned, with my hands on my head.  My condition must have been clear because the cashier, very quietly and sympathetically said, “Go ahead, honey.”  I went. 

Round two was considerably worse than round one, as unfathomable as that may seem.  Round one lacked the violence and finality that round two did.  Time stopped.  I saw a great, white light.  The roof of the bathroom opened up and I saw the glorious, black sky, alight with more stars than I had ever seen.  The walls around me melted like butter and I was alone on the toilet in the middle of space.  A warm breeze kissed my face and calmed me.  I floated silently and blissfully, having completely forgotten about the events of the evening.  It was the moment when Gollum and The Ring fell into the lava.  It was when Mel Gibson cried “Freedom!” in the final moments of Braveheart.  It was everything and nothing.  My soul left my body and hovered overhead.  It looked like me earlier in the evening, before I had eaten.  It smiled at me and I felt a strange, quiet peace.  I smiled back. 

 

I’m not sure how much time elapsed but eventually I began to notice again the noises outside the room where customers were purchasing gas and other items.  I washed and quickly left the building, got into the car where Dennis was waiting and proceeded on to the club. 

 

We finally arrived in time to discover that we were opening up for a reggae/metal band that was also running late.  The crowd at the venue was clearly not expecting an acoustic pop duo to open the show and there’s no real way to sugar coat their reaction to us.  They didn’t hate us, I feel.  But they certainly didn’t like us.  They felt nothing towards us.  They nothinged us.  We hung out for a while after our set before we decided to get to the hotel and put an end to the day.

 

But when we arrived at the hotel, we found the reception area dark and empty.  As well as locked.  We knocked on the doors and rang the buzzer but nobody came.  We stood in the cold for nearly half an hour, waiting for someone to let us in so we could check into our room, but nobody ever came.  We ended up driving a few miles down the road where we got one of the last rooms available in a Best Western Suites; a very nice and comfortable room, which cost nearly three times as much as the room we had already paid for at the hotel down the street.  But in what was one of the only pleasant moments of the evening, Dennis surprised me by revealing he had picked up a six pack at the gas station while I was clinging to life.  We polished it off and hit the sack.

 

When we arrived in Pontotoc the next night we discovered that, in my haste to load up after our gig in Birmingham the night before, I left several items behind.  Some of those items I need and can’t replace easily, so I’ll be returning to Birmingham this weekend en route to Savannah, GA to pick up what I left, allowing me to relive the events of last week.  Sweet Home Alabama?  Not really.

 

 

Big changes for 2009

matt_artsy4

Hope everyone had a great Christmas and you are all ready for the new year!  We’ve been hard at work here getting ready for 2009 and I wanted to let everyone know what we’ve got planned for the year ahead.

First….some website changes.  Obviously we’ve added a blog section, video section and coming soon is a street team section, which we hope to finally implement.  The photo section and home page will get some much needed updates as well.

Second….if all goes well, we will begin recording our follow up CD to Let it Shine in March.  No release date set yet, but it shouldn’t take quite as long as Let it Shine did.  We have most of the material picked, but if there are any songs you would especially like to have added, feel free to let me know.

In addition to the studio album, we’ve been tentatively talking about an acoustic album.  We’ve had lots of requests through the years for recordings of our acoustic performances and that’s something we may explore further in the coming months.

Third….as you can see, we’ll be traveling a great deal in 2009.  We’ll be visiting a lot of places that we haven’t been to in years so keep an eye on the website.  We could be in your area.

Lastly, I think it’s worth mentioning that it was ten years ago this December that I founded The Stank, my awesome but unfortunately named first band.  I had the pleasure of playing with and learning from some amazing musicians through the years.  As a small tribute to them, I’ll be adding some photos of musicians I’ve played with in the last ten years on the myspace page so check it out if you can.  I’ll get those photos up, as well as a blog discussing the Stank years in the next day or two.

I really think 2009 will be a breakout year for us. Hope to see you all there.  Happy New Year!

Stank you,
Matt Martino