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Music Road Records

Bijgaand een artikel in Dallas Moring News naar aanleiding van Music Road Records.


Music: Mismatched partners hope to steer listeners to overlooked artists with Music Road record label
12:00 AM CDT on Sunday, July 19, 2009
By MICHAEL GRANBERRY / The Dallas Morning News
mgranberry@dallasnews.com
On paper, Kelcy Warren and Jimmy LaFave would appear to have little in common. At 53, Warren is the CEO of Dallas-based Energy Transfer Partners, a Fortune 500 company. LaFave, 54, is an Austin-based singer-songwriter with a goatee, who often wears a black beret and crisscrosses the country with three other band members in a Honda Pilot.
Jimmy LaFave and Sam Baker are two principal artists on the Music Road label. LaFave started the label with partner Kelcy Warren. ContributorJimmy LaFave and Sam Baker are two principal artists on the Music Road label. LaFave started the label with partner Kelcy Warren.
"People might wonder," LaFave says with a laugh, "what Kelcy's doing, hanging around with these scruffy musicians."
What they're doing, both men say, is hoping to make their newly launched Music Road Records the next Asylum, the outrageously successful label that began quietly in the 1970s under the steerage of executive David Geffen and then added such musical talents as Joni Mitchell, Jackson Browne, the Eagles, Linda Ronstadt and Tom Waits.
Kelcy Warren is a musical connoisseur who attends live performances all over Texas. Guitars are omnipresent at his energy company's office building. Warren and partners Jimmy LaFave and Fred Remmert want to use their record label, Music Road, to help artists be more than a well-kept secret. Kelcy Warren is a musical connoisseur who attends live performances all over Texas. Guitars are omnipresent at his energy company's office building. Warren and partners Jimmy LaFave and Fred Remmert want to use their record label, Music Road, to help artists be more than a well-kept secret.
A musical connoisseur who attends live performances all over Texas, the straight-shooting, firm-handshake-extending Warren once offered free guitar lessons to any employee who cared to master the instrument. Guitars are as omnipresent as Texas art at his company headquarters on Oak Lawn Avenue.
The energy executive says he first heard LaFave perform his own brand of acoustic folk rock at Poor David's Pub in the early 1990s and has been hooked on his music ever since. Over the years, their friendship grew and in 2007, they launched Music Road, an Austin-based label they describe as being long on partnership and family, and more in tune with an artist's wants and needs.
Music Road has released four records a Woody Guthrie tribute album and solo efforts by Slaid Cleaves, Sam Baker and John Inmon, a stunningly talented lead guitarist who plays in LaFave's band. Cleaves, LaFave and Baker are the first three artists signed to the label, but both LaFave and Warren hope to add 20 to 30 more.
The mix includes engineer and general manager Fred Remmert, who runs Cedar Creek Recording in Austin, where such artists as Shawn Colvin, Pat Green and the Dixie Chicks have made records for years. Music Road recently acquired Cedar Creek and also added to its portfolio Cherokee Creek Studio, on Warren's ranch near Llano.
Warren describes Music Road's three-way executive partnership by saying: "I put up the financial part I do the money. Jimmy does the art. Fred runs the business."
A native of White Oak in East Texas, Warren is no stranger to the music business. In 1995, he founded Siren Records, which "didn't do very well. We put out some good product. But," he says with a sigh, "it wasn't run correctly."
Part of what he views as correct is taking a more ethical approach with artists and giving them an equal say in how things are run. He calls the decision-making process an equal collaboration among himself, LaFave and Remmert. When it comes to signing any new artist, for example, if the three don't agree, it doesn't happen.
"There's a lot of skepticism in the music business these days," Warren says. "A lot of cynical thought processes, a lot of unkept promises, a lot of reckless spending. An artist over time gets pretty jaded. They end up asking themselves, 'Why do I need a record label? It's never done anything for me in the past.' "
Part of his mission, Warren says, is to provide more prominence to artists such as LaFave, who, along with John Gorka, Gretchen Peters and Eliza Gilkyson, often plays 100-seat venues despite garnering rave reviews all over the world. A critic once described the Oklahoma-bred LaFave as being a "red-dirt Van Morrison." Warren says such artists deserve to be more than well-kept secrets. Because conventional radio has become what he calls a wasteland spinning from commercial country to rap and back, Warren says he's amazed by the number of gifted artists who are "lost in obscurity unless they get lucky."
As an example of more widespread distribution, Music Road recently acquired LaFave's entire Bohemia Beat Records catalog his first six recordings and hopes to unveil them on Apple's iTunes service, where up to now, no one has heard them.
The label's most recent acquisition is Cleaves, 45, who hails from Maine, where his fans include author Stephen King. "Go to one of Slaid's shows, take a friend and pass on the news," King recently wrote. "Not all the good guys wear hats."
Of the three principal artists on the label, Sam Baker, 54, may have the most unusual life story.
In 1986, when he was 32, Baker was traveling in Peru when a terrorist bomb set off by the Shining Path Maoist group blew up the train he and his friends were on. The blast killed several passengers, including the German boy and his parents who were sitting next to him. Having almost bled to death, Baker survived but suffered numerous injuries and aftereffects, including shrapnel in a leg, renal failure, brain damage, gangrene, partial deafness in one ear and total deafness in the other.
Cotton, his first release under Music Road, is his third effort and the last in a trilogy. Music Road Records is, for an artist, he says, an oasis-like relief. His business, like others forever changed by the Internet, is in a maddening state of flux.
The music world has become, he says, "a bruising endeavor. Everyone's lives have changed dramatically; the whole model has shifted so. It's become what I would call a reasonably rough neighborhood. So, it's a good thing no, a great thing to be with people like these whom you like and trust and respect."