Sunday, September 19, 2010

Latin Rock Music

The Tribute Band or the Album -- Which Came First?

Since our band, Savor, released an album of original Latin rock music after 6 years of playing as a Santana Tribute Band, it would be natural to assume that we were inspired to do so after playing Carlos Santana's music for so long. Actually, the reverse is true.

8 years ago, I was playing in -- get this -- a 3-piece instrumental rock band. The band's goal was to create music that had hooks: actual melodic and harmonic motifs in a pop-song-like format. Talk about a challenge! It forced all of us to stretch, and as the band's main writer, I really honed my compositional skills.

Near the end of the band's two-year tenure, I was starting to try to write songs in a Latin style. (Rather than Santana, I was inspired by Salsa and other more traditional genres of South American music.) What quickly became apparent was that having only three instruments severely limited the possibilities. I didn't really know much about Latin percussion, but something was obviously missing. So, I began to try to form a new band, with the purpose of playing Latin-flavored instrumental music.

Things didn't go so well.

For the previous project (named, ironically, "Hook"), I was lucky enough to connect with a bass player and drummer who, like me, were playing for the love of it. When trying to assemble a larger unit, however, I had trouble getting musicians to commit. One keyboard player I spoke to, though, mentioned a Santana Tribute Band he had played with previously.

"A tribute band?" I thought. That's tacky. But the more I considered it, the more I realized it could be the method with which I had a ready-made unit available to play original songs. I decided to give it a go. The next couple of years brought two surprising (to me) results:

1) Building a working tribute band was a lot harder than I thought!

2) I re-learned the fact that people connect with vocal songs, and began writing those as well as instrumental compositions.

Now, I will say that while Santana was not my original inspiration for my own songs, I did learn some valuable leasons while mastering his music. But that's a subject for another article.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Santana Tribute Band:

What Should Be In A Promo Video?

Seven years ago, when we started our Santana Tribute Band (Savor), we created a promotional video to show agents and entertainment directors what the band looked and sounded like. At that point, we hadn't played any gigs! So we shot the band -- live -- in a rehearsal studio. Later we cut in footage that various cable stations had given us from subsequent shows.

Of course, since then, there have been changes in band members; on the whole, I believe the band sounds better. And, after more than 100 gigs, we have more stage presence, as well.

So, fast-forward to 2010. We just finished a new video, and this one is a bit different from the first one, in the following respects:

1) It's shorter. Two-and-a-half minutes, as opposed to seven;
2) There are more songs (nine; the old one had six); they are:
- Black Magic Woman
- Oye Como Va
- Smooth
- Jingo
- She's Not There
- Savor
- Samba Pa Ti
- Guajira
- Europa
3) There are some "text panels" throughout; and, finally,
4) The band members are introduced.

I'd love some feedback on this. What do you think? Did we include everything we needed to, or is something missing?

Do you hear enough of each song to get the idea, or would longer clips be better?

Some of the video is a little "shaky;" is that a problem?

Please feel free to comment below, and let us know your thoughts!