TAXI Road Rally 2009 - urbangirl music reports from the sidelines

This year's TAXI was one H.E. Double Hockey sticks of a ride...

I have to say the TAXI Road Rally was really so off the chain this year. Anyone who was there can attest to the creative learning climate that just emanated and oozed from the walls of the LAX Westin Plaza.

I attended the rally this year with a friend that (I don't want to admit how long I've known), artist, founder and creator of, D'Layna -- and boy did we have a long list of classes and workshops we wanted to attend.  We were up with coffee in our cups at 6AM to make the drive toward LAX.

First off was a Jason Blume workshop on publishing. The guy really knows his stuff and it was great to get a brush-up on who the publisher of my songs are... Me.  Jason always offers several gems of music crafting in all of his classes. The multi-platinum songwriter never disappoints. D'Layna left with signed CD's of all his work.  I still carry around my 'lyric checklist' in a copy of 6 Steps To Songwriting Success from Jason's book/class at last year's Road Rally. Jason nicely inscribed, "Robin, wishing you hits & happiness."  Thanks Jason!


Then we hit Robin Fredericks class which is always popular. I know Robin and she is one class act. (I was lucky enough to attend one of her private classes conducted out in Santa Clarita with the SCV songwriters Circle, hey guys!) Not only is her book, Shortcuts To Hit Songwriting (Thanks for buying me a copy D'Layna!)  flying off the bookshelves, it's just amazing, amazing information on everything that has to do with song crafting.

I have to say the class with Ted Lowe, President of Choicetracks music really opened our eyes. His thing is placing music for film and TV. In addition to song publishing and writer/artist development, Choicetracks co-publishes over 2,000 production music cues which are then readily available for licensing to all film and television media outlets.  And he gets stuff placed folks.
Songwriters take note: You'd never guess how much money that little "La La diddy" called New Soul by artist (Yael Naim) from the Apple commercial or La Ti Da by (The Icicles) for the Target commercial netted those songwriters. It would blow your mind. Ted noted in his class, that when submitting a song to a music supervisor, music library or publisher, you always want to send an additional track of just the music. (Mute your vocals and press record). He also mentioned that a song with a hard ending is much better to submit than a song with a fade out. They're simply used more.

The most exciting session of the rally however, had to be on Sunday in the main ballrooom. Kara DioGuardi from American Idol was the celebrity guest. A few vocalists were chosen at random for her to listen to and critique their voices, performance and song.

The first two artists came up on the stage and sang their guts out for Kara. But she's no easy customer. She gave clear and honest feedback and offered the patience of listening and the gift of time to each one of the artists. She stated that the songs were good, but not great. They both needed to work on a few things and try again. Just having her do that could change a career.

But fate and destiny would find no easy way out of the TAXI ballroom that day, noooo. Michael Laskow (founder of TAXI) selected a random person out of the audience... Then he asked that person to select another random person to come up and sing for Kara. (You see, Michael wasn't taking any chances on playing favorites). 

The room was full of about 400 TAXI members and guests but suddenly, you could hear a pin drop. The random man accepted his mission from Michael, stood up and began his walk down the center aisle in search for one lucky artist out of hundreds.

He turned to his left and a guy with shaggy brown hair in a bright green T-shirt stood up and pointed at himself. Well, you know what happened next. The random guy, selected the random lucky musician in that green T-shirt and nothing would ever be the same...

Turns out Mr. Green T-shirt's name was Anthony Snape. He walked up on stage to sing, but didn't have a guitar.  He kindly asked in a warm Australian accent for someone to lend him one. A cute long-haired musician girl was happy to oblige. Oh, yeah, at a second request by Anthony, she also provided a capo studded with bling which added a certain flair to the entire ensemble!

While Anthony took a moment to tune it on up, people stirred, Kara and Michael Laskow shot the breeze and everyone in the room wondered when he would start, if he'd be any good, etc.  Ahh, a few strums and now were off. Anthony began to sing and through his first verse, the whole room became quieter and quieter.

When he reached the hook, a cheer came up and out of the audience, Kara was bobbing her head, Michael was smiling wider and wider and suddenly Anthony Snape had taken everyone by storm!  Kara stood up when the song was over and gave him a big hug, pointing to the goosebumps on her arm... Anthony then jumped off of the stage and hugged the randomly selected man like it was his own brother. It was a priceless moment...

They were going to select another artist at random to come up and sing, but at request, people in the audience shouted for an encore and Anthony wowed us with another original song called, Frequency. When all was said and done, Anthony was handing out handshakes and smiles while crowds of musicians gathered around him. His wife couldn't escape the crowds either. People just wanted to be close to them.

We were all just blown away and touched by his performance. Myself, D'Layna and my sister, Janet who attended TAXI are now all big fans of Anthony Snape too!

If this Aussie artist doesn't leave L.A. with a huge record deal, I can't imagine anyone more deserving who would. After all, isn't Kara an A&R Executive at Warner, a major record company? Wonder if she'll put in a good word... Word?

Oh, remember I was talking about fate meeting destiny? At the end of the evening each year, TAXI and VP Music Producer, Michael Lloyd gives out a brand spanking new guitar to the lucky holder of the magic raffle ticket (given out at the beginning of the rally.) Out of hundreds, maybe a thousand people, guess who won? Why, Anthony Snape's wife, of course... Well, he asked for a guitar didn't he?

Big ups to Rhonda Byrne, the law of attraction and and The Secret, I'm a believer! (Hey, she's an Aussie too!)

Later that evening, Colin O'Donohoe from the Pangean Orchestra, Fadi from World Music Domain, D'Layna, myself and a few others sat around for a little impromptu jam, which was really cool. Ron Harris (former A&R Exec for Epic and Sony) even stopped by to take a listen and discuss what it meant to be a true funkateer... Oh we went waaay back and talked about artists like, Rick James, Teena Marie, Parliament, The Barkays, Bootsie, Cameo, Confunkshun, P-Funk... uncut funk... and chocolate covered freak inhabit forms... uh, but that's a whole other blog let's save for another time.

This coming year, I hope to really focus on what I've learned about the craft, go down deep into my soul, pull it out, get a few more songs placed in film and TV and perhaps collaborate with other writers and artists. I'll see you at next year's rally and maybe around town, drop me a line if you have the time!


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