a roundup of songs to listen to – Aipate

Routine Finds is a new compilation series where we share some of the music submitted to us. Here, we skip the review bit and just head straight into serving up the tunes.

1. Mr Macee // “Make A Mill”

Artist’s IG: @mrmacee

Genres: rap

2. JKLN // “Never Alone”

Artist’s IG: @jklnofficial

Genres: EDM, electro pop

3. Ari Grey // “Nobody’s Perfect”

Artist’s IG: @arigreymusic

Genres: progressive house

4. SHIR // “Conversations With Myself”

Artist’s IG: @imshirmusic

Genres: indie

5. Hammock // “Release”

Artist’s IG: @hammockband

Genres: rock

6. The Jabalis // “November”

Artist’s FB: link

Genres: jazz

7. Trisha J // “Killer Times”

Artist’s IG: @trishajmusic

Genres: alt-pop

8. Braveboy // “Big Man Don’t Cry”

Artist’s IG: @braveboy

Genres: alternative

9. Corpulent Provocateur // “Bye”

Artist’s IG: @corpulent_provocateur

Genres: alt-rock

10. Muthaka ft. Chemutai Sage // “Go”

Artist’s IG: @_muthaka

Genres: R&B, alt-R&B, neo-soul

11. RØST // “In The Darkness”

Artist’s IG: @rustyrosty

Genres: alt-rock

12. EVNTYD // “Quotidian”

Artists’s IG: @evntyd

Genres: alt-rock

‘Days of Punk’ exhibit showcases images of The Clash, Dead Kennedys and more – San Gabriel Valley Tribune

When Michael Grecco walked into punk clubs in Boston and New York in the ’70s he felt right at home amidst the raw energy and intensity of the music. He loved it so much that he became a self described “club kid” and a regular in the local punk scene.

But he was also a photographer, so he pointed his lens at the scene he saw emerging. He captured candid images of future icons like Billy Idol, The Clash, Dead Kennedys, Talking Heads, Sex Pistols, Siouxsie and the Banshees, Wendy O. Williams of the Plasmatics and others.

Many of those pictures are now staples in Grecco’s traveling “Days of Punk” exhibition, which is making its West Coast debut at the MOAH:CEDAR Art Gallery at the Cedar Center for the Arts in Lancaster Feb. 4-March 19.

“I want to show people a time and a culture that had historic significance, and I want people to be inspired by the work,” said the 64-year-old-photographer during a phone interview from his Santa Monica home.

  • The Clash in Boston in 1981 shot by photographer Michael Grecco. The picture is part of the “Days of Punk” exhibition, which is making its West Coast debut at the MOAH:CEDAR Art Gallery at the Cedar Center for the Arts in Lancaster Feb. 4-March 19. (Courtesy Michael Grecco Productions)

  • Musician Billy Idol poses for a portrait back stage one month after his debut solo album release of ‘Billy Idol’ in Boston, Massachusetts on August 01, 1982. The image was shot by photographer Michael Grecco. The picture is part of the “Days of Punk” exhibition, which is making its West Coast debut at the MOAH:CEDAR Art Gallery at the Cedar Center for the Arts in Lancaster Feb. 4-March 19. (Courtesy Michael Grecco Productions)

About 100 photographs, dating back to the late ‘70s through the early ‘90s, are featured in the exhibition, which started in 2021 in London. The pictures were originally part of Grecco’s 2020 book “Punk, Post Punk, New Wave: Onstage Backstage, In Your Face, 1978-1991.”

In addition to the photographs, the exhibition also includes ambient music created exclusively for “Days of Punk” by Roger Miller and Peter Prescott of the band Mission of Burma, and a video component that includes archival footage shot by Grecco during that punk rock era.

“We’re trying to put the patron who comes to see the show into that environment and to get a feel for the craziness and the music,” Grecco said.

The New York native began his professional career shooting for the Associated Press. Just before that, he was attending college in Boston and studying photojournalism when he found himself one night at a club called The Rathskeller, an intimate venue known to locals as The Rat.

“It was the CBGB of Boston, and I wandered in and just decided that I really loved this music, loved the whole acceptance of the culture, the energy of the music,” he said.

“So I had this parallel life, during the day I was an Associated Press freelancer and at night I was a club kid working for Boston Rock magazine and WBCN radio and always carrying a camera for access if I could and I just sort of shot the scene.”

The pictures he took included portraits of artists like a young Adam Ant in a black coat, sporting skull rings on each of his fingers and raising his fists toward the camera.

Another portrait, which is one of Grecco’s favorites from that time, is of Billy Idol, wearing a leather vest with no shirt and fingerless gloves, kneeling in a corner of a room in 1982 and posing for a portrait backstage, just a month after his debut solo album release.

“He was so young, we all were,” Grecco said. “I love his engagement, I love the way he’s dressed.”

The exhibition also includes action shots Grecco took during shows like an image of a shirtless Jello Biafra of Dead Kennedys crowd surfing on his back holding the mic up to his mouth as he sang at a Boston club in 1981.

Grecco pointed out that he had lost the negative of the original picture and a few years ago, someone on social media contacted him saying they had bought the picture at a yard sale.

“I convinced the guy to send it to my lab so we could scan the print,” he said.

The book, and later the exhibition, came together after Grecco pulled hundreds of pictures out of storage. With the help of an editor, they went through his collection, scanning about 650 images.

“I’m thrilled to have my work shown in a museum and a museum setting. It’s incredibly satisfying,” he said.

Days of Punk

When: 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday and 11 a.m.- 8 p.m. Thursday-Sunday Feb. 4-March 19

Where: MOAH:CEDAR Art Gallery, 44857 Cedar Ave., Lancaster

Tickets: Free admission; For more information, call 661-723-6250 or go to moahcedar.org.

A world-renowned violinist gives Newtown children a lesson in music – and overcoming challenges

Standing in the gazebo at Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Park in Sarasota on Saturday, violinist Adrian Anantawan told the children gathered around a story about how furious he’d get when his younger brother would steal a cookie from him.

“And sometimes I got so mad that I wanted to express it in music. And when Beethoven — a composer who wrote music — got really mad, he wrote a piece of music that sounded like this,” Anantawan said, beginning to play Beethoven’s 5th Symphony in C Minor.

Anantawan and pianist Leigh McAllister performed for about an hour, showcasing classical music and the violin’s alternate identity — the fiddle — and engaging the children in spontaneous storytelling that involved a king, a cell phone and a tiger.

The event capped a week-long artist in residence stay with the Sarasota Performing Arts Center Foundation for Anantawan, 40, and gave children in the historically Black Sarasota neighborhood of Newtown a chance to make their own instruments — tambourines made from paper plates — and play along with a famous violinist.

Anantawan is a graduate of Yale and Harvard, and has performed at high-profile venues like the White House and the Olympics. But he said events like this have a special draw.

Kerry Sheridan


WUSF Public Media

Violinist Adrian Anantawan and pianist Leigh McAllister perform at Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Park in Sarasota on Jan 28, 2022

“It is always important as a classical musician for us to come out to the audiences,” Anantawan said.

“Sometimes just going and making art where people are at is not only something that is meaningful for our field and classical music, but it is just such a joy as a musician to work up front with people who I wouldn’t normally see in a concert hall.”

Anantawan said there’s another reason why he appreciates the chance to meet his young audiences.

“I grew up with a visible disability. I am missing my right hand and a lot of times children come up to me and ask me what happened, why are you different?” he said. “And a lot of the times I tell them some people are tall, some people are short, some people have darker skin, some people have lighter skin, but we are all the same on the inside.

“And I think playing music really amplifies that message, so I am very grateful to have this gift to be able to share.”

He was accompanied by McAllister, 26, who was born with three fingers on her left hand. She also relishes performing for young people.

Kerry Sheridan


WUSF Public Media

Leigh McAllister, 26, says she wanted to play piano from a young age

“I just love to see the look on their faces, knowing that when I was a kid, I loved music. I wanted to be a musician at a very young age, about three years old,” she said.

McAllister said her parents initially wouldn’t allow her to play piano because of her disability. But she persevered, and eventually she was allowed to take lessons.

“And I want the children to experience that too, to see musicians who have overcome that and to know they can do that too,” she said.

Arts education events like this take place at Newtown’s Martin Luther King Jr Park. once a month, according to Stevey Jones, a teaching artist and one of the organizers.

“We’ve been addressing this need going on almost two and a half years, coming out here once a month, just exposing, encouraging, exploring with our students that are based in Newtown and families that are based out here,” he said.

Chandler Balkcom


WUSF Public Media

Children made tambourines from paper plates to play as their own instruments

Each month they have a different theme. This time, it’s “music is for everyone.” The theme for the next one, Feb. 25, is Black history.

“Music just makes the difference and to let children learn about good music is really so important,” says Valerie Buchand, president of Newtown Nation, another of the event’s co-sponsors.

Maren Morris to headline Illinois State Fair Grandstand 2023

A Texas-born country music star will headline this year’s Illinois State Fair. 

Grammy Award-winning singer Maren Morris will bring her vocals to the stage of the Illinois Lottery Grandstand at 8 p.m. on Aug. 19. 

“We are so excited to start announcing our 2023 Illinois State Fair Grandstand lineup,”said Illinois State Fair Manager Rebecca Clark, in a statement. “To kick it all off with Maren Morris who brings hit after hit to our Illinois Lottery Grandstand Stage is a dream come true.”

More:Wells Fargo lays off 140 employees in its home lending division in Springfield

The fair, which runs from Aug. 10 through Aug. 20, will feature a series of acts and performances. On sale dates for tickets has yet to be determined. However, here are the ticket prices for the Morris concert:

  • Tier 3: $50
  • Tier 2: $58
  • Tier 1: $68
  • Standing room only track: $68
  • Blue Ribbon Zone: $123

A $30 stage-side party ticket also is offered as an additional upgrade for all paid concerts. Tickets can be purchased at the Illinois State Fair Box Office and online.

Opera by Haitian-Canadian composer to premiere during Black History Month: Collaboration between David Bontemps and the OCM | Arts

When 44-year-old Haitian-Canadian composer David Bontemps was told in the summer of 2020 that the Orchestre classique de Montréal (OCM), then led by the late Boris Brott, wanted to produce his first chamber opera, La Flambeau, he was more than thankful.  That the work will premiere next Tuesday, Feb. 7 at Salle Pierre Mercure during Black History Month is an added bonus.

“I feel very privileged and humbled to just have my opera produced, because there are so many composers that have written major works that never had the chance to be presented to the public,” said Bontemps. “The opportunity to have it first presented in the city where I live is a big honour.”

Born in Port-au-Prince, Bontemps moved to Montreal in 2002, where he was quickly recognized by his peers. He has since written and recorded several albums and has received working grants from the Conseil des Arts et des Lettres du Québec and the Canada Council for the Arts

His opera is based on the 2014 award-winning play of the same name by his friend, Faubert Bolivar. The two former Port-au-Prince schoolmates have known each other for years and continued to follow each other’s careers as they took different paths, Bolivar as a teacher, writer, poet and dramaturge and Bontemps as a pianist and composer. 

Cameroonian-born soprano Suzanne Taffot, Canadian mezzo soprano Catherine Daniel, and Jamaican Canadian tenor Paul Williamson.

“He sent me his book in 2014 and when I read it I knew I had to write an opera based on it, but I never had the time or the opportunity. It was only in 2020, during the first pandemic lockdown, that I found the time and I wrote it in five weeks,” Bontemps explained during our recent interview.

Steeped in Haitian lore and West African mythology, La Flambeau is a critique of misogyny, corruption and the abuse of power. It tells the story of a dysfunctional couple, Monsieur (a narcissistic, ambitious and idealistic intellectual), Madame (who talks to her dead parents), and their working-class housekeeper, Mademoiselle. Violating his own principles, Monsieur rapes Mademoiselle. After a surreal trial, the corrupt elitist, who cloaks himself in virtue to subjugate the disadvantaged, confesses, and is subjected to a form of mob justice and turned into a zombie in service to his community.

Bontemps says he loves the story because it touches many aspects of pluralism, including language (Haiti’s divide between French and Creole speakers), class, education, as well as justice and belief systems — Western Christianity vs. the demonized West African-inspired Voodoo that some still manage to maintain and preserve. “But mainly, it’s about respecting everyone and observing that a society that is without respect and love is just a crazy, crazy place — a real dystopia.”

Like the play, Bontemps says his musical compositions both blend and contrast European classical music with Afro-Caribbean as well as traditional African rhythms, melodies and harmonies.

American bass Brandon Coleman, Montreal actress and director Mariah Inger, and Maestro Alain Trudel.

His 80-minute opera — sung in French, with short passages in Haitian Creole — is scored for four singers, a string orchestra and maracas. Conducted by Maestro Alain Trudel, the cast features Cameroonian-born soprano Suzanne Taffot, Canadian mezzo soprano Catherine Daniel, Jamaican Canadian tenor Paul Williamson, and American bass Brandon Coleman, with stage direction by Montreal actress and director Mariah Inger.

Maestro Brott, who at age 78 was killed on April 5, 2022, in a hit-and-run in Hamilton, Ontario, left his mark on the final product. “We had the chance to have a workshop in September 2021 with him, so the score has a lot of his recommendations and his influence is there somewhere. Unfortunately, he won’t conduct it although he said he really liked the music,” said Bontemps, adding, “But I’m very lucky to have Alain Trudel, a long-time friend of Boris.”

Salle Pierre Mercure in L’Université du Québec à Montréal is located at 300 de Maisonneuve Blvd. E. For tickets and information, visit orchestra.ca.

PSY And BTS’ Suga’s “That That” Becomes 9th MV By A K-Pop Soloist To Hit 400 Million Views

Just nine months after its release, the music video for PSY and BTS’ Suga’s hit collab has reached an exciting new milestone!

On January 31 at around 1:40 p.m. KST, PSY’s music video for his 2022 title track “That That”—which was produced by Suga in addition to featuring him as an artist—surpassed 400 million views on YouTube.

The music video for “That That” was originally released on April 29, 2022 at 6 p.m. KST, meaning that it took the song just over 276 days and 19 hours to hit the 400 million mark.

“That That” is now PSY’s fifth music video to surpass 400 million views—after “Gangnam Style,” “Gentleman,” “Oppa is Just My Style,” and “Daddy“—and Suga’s second solo music video after “Daechwita.”

“That That” is also only the ninth music video by a K-pop soloist to reach the milestone. Aside from PSY and Suga, the only other K-pop soloists to hit the 400 million mark on YouTube are BLACKPINK‘s Jennie and Lisa, who achieved the feat with their respective solo tracks “SOLO” and “LALISA,” and EXO‘s Chanyeol and Punch, who hit the mark with their “Goblin” OST “Stay With Me.”

Congratulations to both PSY and Suga!

Watch the entertaining music video for “That That” again below:

How does this article make you feel?

Chelsea Silva delivered the ultimate exposition on tentative anxiety with her canderous alt-indie-pop single, frontline – Independent Music – New Music

After the Australian alt-pop singer-songwriter, Chelsea Silva ensnared us with her devilishly quirky 2022 single, Hades Has a Daughter, she’s shown us an equally disarming new side to her cogent talent with ‘frontline’.

With 70s folk pop tones behind her soft indie pop vocals in the intro which build into scintillating reminiscences to the likes of Lorde while sharing the same command of dark and gothic vocal ranges as Evanescent and Nightwish while never losing the stylish pop edges, frontline is definitively a triumph.

Silva set the lyrical bar high with her former releases. She transcended it with elevated grace in frontline. Exuding a tentative sense of disquiet uncertainty that grips us all while we attempt to work around anxiety and the landmines that our disparate society leaves us, only a sociopath would fail to get on the same page as Silva and resonate with every soul-shivering line.

Frontline will officially release on January 31st. Hear it on Spotify.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

Can the Grammy Awards make chant music go mainstream?

When Harry Styles and Beyoncé attend the Grammys on Sunday, they’ll be sharing the red carpet with artists often associated with hippies and cults. After a two-year push by over 400 musicians and record labels worldwide, the awards will for the first time recognise the ancient musical practice of chanting.

Hopefuls will be vying to make their mark in a renamed category: following a proposal to the Recording Academy, which is behind the awards, the Best New Age Album has become the Best New Age, Ambient or Chant Album.

As their names suggest, chant and ambient music stress tone and atmosphere over traditional musical structure. Most commonly associated with prayer, chanting is one of the oldest forms of music in history and is inspired by cultures from across the world, from music found in Hindu, Sikh, Sufi and Yoruba traditions to Buddhist mantras and Jewish cantorials.

But it has also made its mark in the pop world: in 1971, George Harrison produced The Radha Krishna Temple album through The Beatles’ Apple records, which featured tracks including Srila Prabhupada’s “Hare Krishna Mantra”.

Until now, chant has never really been seen as “real” music. “There’s often a misperception of chanting as a cult activity. But singing is an ecstatic experience available to all”, says the Los Angeles musician Dave Stringer, who is Grammy-nominated for his album Mantra Americana, produced with Melbourne-based artist Madi Das. Some tracks, like “Boro Sukher”, have a distinct country feel: in fact, the mantra music magazine The Bhakti Beat described it as “Ancient Eastern meets contemporary instrumentation with a hint of banjo-driven country twang” or “Country & Eastern”.

Chant is often associated with the Hare Krishna movement, continues Stringer – and is dismissed because of this. “The Hare Krishna movement simultaneously taught everybody a mantra – Hare Rama, Hare Krishna – and inadvertently caused many people to kind of fear it as well,” he says. “It’s unfortunate, because the mantra itself refers to the spiritual potential in all of us, and the experience of chanting it can be extremely joyful.”

But the Grammys category shows the variety of the genre. Stringer and Madi Das will compete with LA band White Sun, who won a Grammy in 2017, and three other acts. All together, the music ranges across guitar instrumentals, singing and tracks that have a tranquil emphasis featuring synthesisers and flutes.

Their presence at the awards reflects how chant music’s audience is growing. It may have more acolytes in America than Britain at present, but “mantra music is alive and well in the UK: there are mantra lounges and kirtan [a style of call-and-response song] festivals connected with the Hare Krishna movement as well as outside yoga studios”, says Madi Das. One star of the British scene is Jahnavi Harrison, a kirtan artist who has collaborated with American star Willow Smith and recently embarked on her first US tour.

In a world increasingly interested in mindfulness, it makes sense that chant is finally having its moment. Studies are increasingly showing the psychological benefits of chanting and mantram repetition (MR), which is the practice of repeating a word or phrase traditionally associated with Hinduism, Buddhism or other spiritual traditions.

The benefits exist even when the chanting is done virtually. Research published in August involving undergraduate students from a Californian university being taught MR online found that the practice can help to relieve stress, anxiety and depression.

The Journal of American College Health study was conducted by Jill E Bormann, a former clinical professor in nursing and health science at the University of San Diego. She is a pioneer of what’s called the mantram repetition programme (MRP), which is believed to stimulate concentration and has been linked to a significant slowdown of one’s thinking, drowning out negative thoughts. She has used it to treat post-traumatic stress disorder in veterans, burnout in healthcare workers and family caregivers, and insomnia in homeless women.

“Over the past 20 years, the scientific community has begun to study complementary therapies more rigorously,” says Bormann, adding that chanting and MRP are part of a “huge area of research that has just exploded”.

Other research, published in 2021 by Australian academics including Dr Gemma Perry from Bond University found that online chanting “may be a useful psychosocial intervention, whether practiced individually or in a group”. Perry completed a PhD in its psychological effects last year.

She originally turned to the practice to help her cope with depression and argues that it may be a more accessible technique than mindfulness, which requires the participant to observe their own thought processes. “With chanting you don’t need to have any skills to engage, you just vocalise. So this could be effective in places like schools.”

The Grammys have certainly inspired chanting musicians to raise the genre’s profile further. “I have heard from chant artists who are now planning on submitting their music and applying to become a part of the Recording Academy, inspired by this change,” says Seán Johnson, the lead singer of New Orleans-based Seán Johnson & The Wild Lotus Band, whose music combines sacred global chants, rock and gospel.

Johnson was among those rallying other musicians to push for chanting to be acknowledged by the awards. Previously, he says, chanting and ambient music were lumped into the New Age Grammys category, despite some chant artists saying they felt uncomfortable with this description, as the term ignored their music’s history and culture.

Stringer is hoping that this will be chant’s year. “For the first time chant is included in the category – it does seem good and right that a chant album would win”.

But there are more important things than claiming the trophy. The key is that chant music is now being recognised along mainstream pop – and becoming more accessible. As Stringer says: “If we do win I hope it encourages more artists and audiences to seek out this music.”

The Grammy Awards take place in Los Angeles on Sunday

Essential Pieces By The Great Composer

One of the most prolific and influential composers of our age, Philip Glass has become an icon and figurehead in the arts. At its core, Glass describes his music as having “repetitive structures.” He’s taken that foundation to fifteen operas, multiple chamber operas and musical theater works, fourteen symphonies, twelve concertos, chamber music, nine string quartets, and several film scores (three of which have been nominated for an Academy Award). Glass founded the Philip Glass Ensemble in 1968, and the group continues to perform worldwide and record to this day.

When getting to know his work, you’ll start to find connections to popular culture and history everywhere. To wit, this list of the best of Philip Glass includes encounters with David Bowie, Kafka, Hollywood, J.S. Bach, and more along the way.

Listen to the best of Philip Glass now.

Opening (1981)

When Philip Glass originally composed his six-movement piece Glassworks in 1981, his intention was to introduce his music to a broader audience following the success of large-scale concert and stage works. It was composed for the recording studio and Glass intentionally wrote the work in shorter and more accessible movements to extend a hand into the broader listening community. It worked. Classical music aficionados, and those new to classical music alike, will find it hard not to immediately find something to love about this mysterious and sentimental piece.

Violin Concerto No. 2, The American Four Seasons (2009-2010)

There’s one critical difference between Philip Glass’s “The American Four Seasons” and its companion piece, Vivaldi’s “The Four Seasons.” In Glass’s version, there is no indication which season is linked to which movement and the listener must decide for themselves. The music features sweeping strings and showcases Glass’s signature two-against-three rhythmic motive. This feeling of two against three creates a natural push and pull in the music, an underlying source of tension and intrigue.

Metamorphosis (1988)

If Philip Glass’s “Metamorphosis” sounds familiar, it could be for a few reasons: “Metamorphosis One” was included in an episode of Battlestar Galactica and “Metamorphosis Two” can be found in the acclaimed 2002 film, The Hours. “Metamorphosis Two” is also the piece that Pearl Jam plays before their shows! What inspired Glass to create this work? The name “Metamorphosis” is a reference to Franz Kafka’s 1915 novella of the same name. Perhaps the disquieting threat of drifting into a distant key throughout Glass’s work can be linked to Gregor Samsa’s unwelcome transformation in Kafka’s story.

Echorus (1995)

“Echorus,” which stems from the word “echo,” is a lush work for two solo violins and string orchestra. Philip Glass has shared that “the music is inspired by thoughts of compassion and is meant to evoke feelings of serenity and peace.” These intentions shine through brightly. Glass calls upon the chaconne in this work, a form that J.S. Bach is famous for using, and the soloists either play the chaconne or melodic parts.

The Poet Acts (2002)

While “Metamorphosis I” was inserted into The Hours, “The Poet Acts” is part of the original score that Philip Glass created for the film. This is the kind of moody music that’s perfect for a rainy day – of particular note is the bass line which alternates between taking place as the accompaniment and the melody.

Four Movements for Two Pianos (2008)

Perhaps the most dissonant of Philip Glass’s works to be found on this list, this piece showcases Glass’s profound piano writing. Glass, who is also a trained pianist, creates an engaging dialogue between the two instruments. One wonders, at moments, if the pianos are conversing or in argument.

Heroes Symphony (1996)

Who was Philip Glass’s favorite rock musician? The evidence points to David Bowie. Glass took inspiration from Bowie’s “Heroes” album when composing his “Heroes Symphony,” and Glass’s first symphony is based on Bowie’s album Low. The “Heroes Symphony” is exuberant and bright, with the brass and winds coming to the forefront.

Études – No. 6 (1994)

The pianist is in a full-out sprint throughout this incredibly virtuosic étude. Like many of Philip Glass’s best works, equal attention must be paid to both the left and right piano hands, as they both contain melodic material. It’s simultaneously the sound of pure joy and determination.

Discover more of our articles collecting the best works of composers through the ages.

Format: UK English

What country music taught me about investing

© Provided by The Motley Fool
A young kid with dark glasses rocks out with a guitar.

© Provided by The Motley Fool
A young kid with dark glasses rocks out with a guitar.

Well, I’m back from Tamworth.

(What? You didn’t know I was there? You really should read more of my articles!)

For those not in the know, I headed up for 4 days with my young bloke for the Tamworth Country Music Festival.

And if you get the chance, please go and see Troy Cassar-Daley, The Bushwackers, John Williamson, and Colin Buchanan in concert. They were all fantastic, and highly recommended.

You know, there’s something about these sorts of events. The vibe was warm and friendly. Everyone is there to have a good time. There were plenty of coppers about, but I didn’t see a single issue.

It was just a great time.

Now, I could bang on (justifiably) about the beauty of our country, and (again) recommend you check it out as soon as you can, if and when you can.

And I do want to say thanks to those people who came up to say g’day, including Greg from Toyota, and Graham (aka Mr. Elvis).

But this isn’t about me.

It’s about some investing thoughts I had while I was away. They’re loosely related, but each stands alone.

First, I was reminded of the power of community and of ‘fans’. Not just for music, and not just country music. But for artists and businesses in general. If a business can create not just ‘users’ or ‘consumers’, but ‘fans’, they’re off to a very good start. And not just a good start, but a very good chance of continued business.

Greg said he loved working at Toyota, because the product was just so good, and that people in the country loved their Toyotas. (I agreed – we have a Prado and a Hilux!)

Most of the fans at the concerts I went to weren’t at their first Troy/John/Bushwackers/Colin concert. They knew the music, they’d seen the artists before, and they were back again.

See, fans aren’t just fans. They’re usually repeat customers.

Tesla knows all about fandom. So does Apple. And RM Williams. And Toyota.

That’s the beauty of fans. Customers buy once. Maybe twice. But with fans, you’ve usually got repeat customers. Potentially for years.

Next, the value of what some people call ‘discretionary effort’.

While I was at the Wallabadah coffee shop (‘Best Coffee outside of Italy’ apparently!), a group was discussing some plans they had for their community. I didn’t want to eavesdrop, so I didn’t hang around, but I could hear them discussing a plan for some sort of event or promotion.

Sure, this group might have been businesspeople who’d benefit from more exposure, or more people in town, but they were also trying to help the rest of the town. That’s ‘discretionary effort’.

In a business, it’s the extra effort that employees put in over and above the bare minimum required.

No, I’m not talking about exploitation – I’m talking about the extra effort that people make, usually when they believe in the mission or purpose of a company.

When they want their business to be successful, because they see the benefit for all parties.

I’ve worked in businesses with and without it, and while it’s not a guarantee, it’s a good indicator of potential business success.

The last thing that struck me while I was away was when my young bloke and I were discussing hotel room prices.

We had to shift hotels because he wanted to stay an extra day, and the one we were in was booked out.

Now, he’s 10, so I saved some of the detailed pricing lessons for another time, but he was interested in how and why different hotels charged different prices.

He gets the general relationship between price and quality, so he gathered that the ‘nicer’ hotels – in his world, they’re the ones with swimming pools! – charged more than the others.

And I explained that sometimes, like during the Country Music Festival, all of the hotels were full, but they weren’t full all year round.

And that was enough, for him, for now at least.

But it reminded me of the importance of really understanding a business’ economic model, especially when investing.

What costs are truly fixed? Which are fixed in the short-term, but can be flexed? And which costs are variable?

Having an understanding of those relationships can be really helpful, particularly when you’re thinking about cyclical businesses or those with fickle customer bases.

Which businesses will suffer during recessions? Which will be resilient?

When does a sales downturn become uncomfortable, and when does it threaten a company’s very viability?

And, for investors, how do you think about the right price to pay for those companies?

Now, there’s much more to investing than these three observations.

But, if you can put them together, and answer those questions with a degree of evidence-based confidence, I reckon you’re probably a decent way down the road.

A company with fans. Whose employees believe in the mission. And for which you understand the economic drivers and the impact on the bottom line.

If I was looking for a way to create a shortlist of potential investments, I reckon that’s a pretty good filter.

And seriously, get out into the regions. You’ll be glad you did.

Fool on!

The post What country music taught me about investing appeared first on The Motley Fool Australia.

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Motley Fool contributor Scott Phillips has positions in Tesla. The Motley Fool Australia’s parent company Motley Fool Holdings Inc. has positions in and has recommended Apple and Tesla. The Motley Fool Australia’s parent company Motley Fool Holdings Inc. has recommended the following options: long March 2023 $120 calls on Apple and short March 2023 $130 calls on Apple. The Motley Fool Australia has recommended Apple. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Scott Phillips.