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Sharp Notes April 22 2004

Music city in training: Would you believe that Atlanta is the fastest growing music city in the United States? That's the real deal according to the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers, which held its first-ever Atlanta membership meeting Tues., April 13, in the Omni Hotel at the CNN Center.

ASCAP, which celebrates its 90th anniversary this year, represents the rights and interests of songwriters, composers and music publishers whose music is used in radio and television broadcasts, live concerts and other performance mediums.

While ASCAP has traditionally held annual membership meetings in New York, Los Angeles and Nashville each year, it recently decided it was important to reach out to its songwriter members by holding such meetings in other cities as well.

"Atlanta was one of the top on the list of this new program based upon what we see being played on radio, and the awards being earned by [Atlantans]," says ASCAP CEO John LoFrumento. "It's an enormously talented city."

The member turnout for the meeting exceeded expectations — rivaling (and rumored to have surpassed) this year's attendance in New York and Los Angeles.

One of Atlanta's up-and-coming talents was recognized when ASCAP President and Chairman Marilyn Bergman presented the ASCAP Foundation's Johnny Mercer Award to new resident singer/songwriter David Berkeley. Another highlight was a "Business Success" panel discussion in which super-producer Jermaine Dupri commented that, compared to other music cities, Atlanta offers a special feeling of open creativity that isn't limited to identification with just "one sound" and is attracting musicians who want to work here. He also mentioned how important it is for those in Atlanta's music industry to "click up" with each other, because today's climate is making collaboration essential to success.

"It's about networking," says Ian Burke of ASCAP's Atlanta chapter, recalling times when communication among the city's music creators was rare. "Now those lines are becoming more and more open," Burke says. "And what makes it really strong is when the executive staff of ASCAP come and support what we're trying to do here."-- Mark Gresham

Good-natured ribbing: Hundreds of press releases flood the CL office daily, bringing news of artists' new albums, tour dates, stints in the studio, etc. To get a particular press release noticed, the subject has to be of interest, the accompanying band shot has to be really funny (in a good way or a bad way) or the release can be on scented paper.

But, Atlanta band the Lost Trailers — who play EarthLink Live Fri., April 23 — found a new way to get noticed: the totally pointless, name-dropping release. Titled "The Lost Trailers and OutKast Share Roots in Atlanta," the memo spends three paragraphs describing an encounter between the folky Southern rock band and OutKast's other-worldy hip-hop visionary.

Apparently, while the Lost Trailers recorded its new disc, Welcome to the Woods, at Larrabee Studios in California, Andre 3000 was finishing up the multiplatinum The Love Below. According to the report, the two acts bonded based on their shared hometown and talked about the philosophy of making standout albums.

The band's brush with eccentric pop royalty apparently did not lead to a new way of approaching the Trailer's genre, however. From the sound of Woods, it's pretty straightforward twangy rock.

That's OK, guys. I was once on a plane with Little Richard breathing the same recycled air for two hours. Despite my hopes at some transference of powers, I did not go home, put on mascara and write a song that would revolutionize music forever. Sometimes you just have to play the hand you're dealt. Musical talent is found neither in skin cells nor exhaled carbon dioxide.

Local Show(s) of the Week: Like really aloof rock stars? The most mysterious indie-rock band in Athens — the Glands — crawls out of its self-dug hole to play live for the first time in four months, Fri., April 23 at the Echo Lounge. The band's last appearance was at its publicist Michelle Roche's birthday party at Tasty World late last year. I realize there is an article about the band right next to this column, but I cannot stress how amazing this wistful slacker rock/alt-country band is live.

Go see it. And rejoice that your home has great music hidden near it.