October 19, 2010

Sorry for ignoring you

Dear blog,

Sorry for ignoring you. It's been a long time since I've posted. But I started this mainly as a blog about my songwriting, and I haven't been doing much of that. I recorded a record, "Me", in the Spring and Summer of 2009 and released it in the Fall. Then I formed a band around December 2009, and focused on gigs with the band in the Spring of 2010. Then in the summer and fall of 2010, I've been recording another record, a full-length, professionally produced record. And working a full time day job all along also. More than full time; I'm forced to work a lot of overtime on this job, no way out of it. So not much time for songwriting.

But I came back to the blog today, and read the last post, about getting better. That was confirmed in the current recording project. The producer, John McVey, is using professional musicians, and he himself is a very good guitar player and singer. And he's been kicking my ass to make me a better singer and guitar player. It's been a little humbling, but good for me. If you want to read more about this recording project, go to my website, www.robroper.com.

But I've been itching to get back to songwriting. I've got a ton of musical and lyrical ideas. So once I get this record done, and do a little promotion for it, I hope to take 2-3 months off and write some new songs.


March 7, 2010

I Need to Get Better

This is a reply to myself in the previous blog, "What Happened to Built-in Crowds". (This is nothing new, I argue with myself all the time).

I need to get better. I need to sing better, I need to play guitar better, I need to compose better music, I need to write better lyrics.

Marketing and promotion can only help if you're good. At something. Maybe you're not a great singer, but people will come hear you if you're a good guitar player or songwriter. Maybe you're not a good guitar player, but people will come hear you if you're a good singer.

If you're just average, and not really good at anything, your friends will come see you-- for awhile. But to win fans you have to be good, at something.

If you're good, people will open doors for you. They'll tell their friends about you-- "You have to hear this!" Other musicians will invite you to open for them at a gig. The word will get around. That's more important that the best website, the best MySpace or Facebook sites, Twitter, emails, etc.

Of course if you are good, then the-above mentioned promotional tools can really help.

It's hard to evaluate oneself, but I think I'm a decent guitar player, a decent songwriter, and a below-average singer. So I'm taking singing lessons to improve my singing. But I also think I need to improve my musicianship and composing.

I'm going to spend less time on promotion and more time getting better. I want to hear rumors of people emailing their friends saying, "you've got to hear this guy Rob Roper". I want to hear other bands or singer-songwriters approach me and say, "Your music is important, I want to help turn people on to you. Will you open for me next month?" When I hear those sort of things, I'll know I'm good.


What Happened to Built-in Crowds?

When you approach a venue for a gig, they ask, "how many people can you bring?" Some follow that up with, "we don't have a built-in crowd here". Usually even a small venue wants you to bring 20 people, which is dang near impossible for someone just starting out, and just beginning to build a fan base. But how can you get fans if you can't get gigs? It's a chicken and egg dilemna.

I was talking to Dan, my drummer, about this recently. He reminded me that, in the past, clubs had a built-in crowd, and people went to the same one or two clubs/bars all the time, regardless of who was playing. I remember that era. I remember I had a few places I liked to go, where bands played original music, and always enjoyed the thrill of hearing a good band (or singer-songwriter) who I had never heard of before. I still do this.

So what happened? How did we get from the venues with built-in crowds to venues where you have to bring your own crowd? Another negative with this is that, how can you reach new people if you always play for the same people you bring? I guess you can reach the fans of the other band playing, but that's it.

Of course, the other side of this is, with a built-in crowd, the band (or singer-songwriter) has to get a reaction. As Dan said, you had to be *good* to be invited back. Without a built-in crowd, whether or not you're invited back has nothing to do with how good you are, it's how many people you bring.


February 23, 2010

Live Life Like a 3-Legged Dog

I had just finished jogging today at my neighborhood park, when I encountered a woman walking a 3-legged dog. The left front leg had been amputated. I petted the dog-- she was very friendly and lovable-- and asked her master about it. The woman didn't know how it happened; the dog was that way when she got her. They walked off, and it struck me how happy the dog was. It occured to me that dogs handle tragedies better than we do. They don't whine and bitch and moan about their misfortunes. Now this dog won't be the fastest dog chasing a tennis ball, but she was happy. She was just happy to be outside with her master, going for a walk, smelling all the interesting smells, and seeing all the other people and dogs. I've seen a few other 3-legged dogs, and they all have the same attitude. They don't sulk, they're happy.

So my new mantra is: Live Life Like a 3-legged Dog!


February 17, 2010


I moved from Tucson to Denver 10 years ago. I finally wrote a a song about Tucson.

by Rob Roper 1st draft Feb 16, 2010

Gabriela was pretty
though she always looked down
She was like the city
a grown-up little town
I should have left them
ten years ago
But she and the Catalinas
just won't let me go.

On 4th Avenue
College girls drink
Spending daddy's money
with fake I.D.'s
And the Sand Rubies play
while I sip my beer
Wondering what the hell
I'm doing here

Out in the desert
Snowbirds play golf
The winter's too nice here
It's making me soft
Oh give me four seasons
Winter snow and all
Where the trees
are pretty in the fall

Gabriela, my dear
Summer's almost here
The Palo Verde trees
have lost their yellow leaves
Oh you'll probably call me
sometime in June
Then you'll disappear
like a summer monsoon.

I should rent a truck
and pack up my stuff
Goodbye Santa Ritas
Goodbye Catalinas
But the sun is too hot
in Tucson today
so I'm
just looking for some shade.

Oh, the sun is too hot
in Tucson today
and I'm
just looking for
some shade.