Well now I’ve got me a head full ‘o’ goals and plans, the train has left the station, it’s barreling down the track… This “week” I attempt to answer the existential question that has challenged all men and women from the dawn of time: Who am I?
Who am I, indeed? Who is this artist named Kelly Carpenter? What does me do? What is so distinctive and compelling about my act that someone would want to be my fan? Hence the need to figure out how to best present myself in the form of a “15-second pitch”.
Coming up with ideas for a 15-second pitch is just the sort of thing that brings out the incurable silly goofball pumpkin head boy in me. It reminds me of when I would sit around with my fellow muscians and try to come up with name for our band, suggesting at least five stupid and outrageous ideas for every serious one. Names like “The Oozing Sores”, “Butt Pimple”, “The Meatles” and “Molly Ringworm” never cease to be funny if you are a guy. I always wanted to name a band “Plankton on Parade”. I imagined a cartoon image of plankton easin’ on down the road much like the classic “Keep On Truckin'” poster of the early 70’s. I actually never knew what plankton looked like.
So in the same spirit of recklessness I get to describe what my music sounds like. I can have fun with this…
First I have to start with who my music sounds like. That’s a tough one. I have very little clue who to compare it to. My instrumental music most likely falls in the broad genre of “new age” piano. But I never listened to new age music, so I was never influenced by it. It’s only after I developed my style that I started noticing other artists who did similar things. One was an acquaintance of mine, Michael Gettel, a Narada recording artist who later covered one of my songs. And I checked out some of the early Windham Hill artists like David Lanz, George Winston, Philip Glass, but only a little of their work sounded like mine. And then David Lanz eventually went over to the dark side and started doing smooth jazz. (I know. Everyone needs to make a living.)
Because there is a jazzy country element to my music, an early draft of my pitch was “If men could get pregnant and David Lanz had Bruce Hornsby’s love child.”
What about Jim Brickman? Well, I’m no Jim Brickman (or Brickwoman either for that matter, this is no time to be sexist). Like so many of the other solo pianists out there, Brickman sounds too classical. (I am not classical.) Yanni? I dont’ think so (although I would kill for a full head of hair). After some sleuthing on iTunes and Amazon, I discovered that I sound vaguely similar to Kevin Kern, but how many people have heard of Kevin Kern? It’s not like he is a household name.
For lack of a better famous person, I am starting with Jim Brickman, but you’ll have to imagine a very laid back Jim Brickman. For the jazz side, I was influenced a lot by Dave Grusin. There is a touch of Americana and Country and Gospel that sounds a bit like Matt Rollings (as a session player) or the aforementioned Bruce Hornsby. So I will go with the latter as I’m not sure many people know who Matt Rollings is. I most resemble Hornsby’s piano work on Bonnie Raitt’s “I Can’t Make You Love Me”.
So how’s this? “Imagine Jim Brickman, Dave Grusin, and Bruce Hornsby in a Vulcan mind meld after taking a bunch of qualludes.”
And then there is the matter of what type of mood my music evokes. People say it’s soothing, relaxing, meditative and some say it puts them to sleep (in a good way). How’s this for a pitch: “Warning: Use caution while operating a motor vehicle or using heavy equipment.” My wife and I have often joked about putting this warning on my CDs.
So how to package all this into a (serious) 15-second pitch?
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I wrote all of the above bla bla bla last Friday. Now it is Tuesday. I have been up in Canada since Saturday participating in a music event. I finally found an internet connection and power. (The battery is dying on this Dell.) So I have a chance to chew on this for awhile. (Like chewing on cud, but different.)
I am still restling with this 15-second pitch. I will be splashing this all over my websites and any printed material. Very important. I want to get it right, of course. One key factor is that my music has evolved since the last instrumental I produced nine years ago. That recording was mostly piano with a bit of guitar and percussion. The next recording is going to be all that but more of a downtempo chill sort of thing but not like what you would usually hear in this genre. How to best represent something that I have been yet what I will be. How do I be true to both, how do I describe where I’m going when I don’t have the next project finished yet?
I have decided to best represent where I’m going with my instrumental music. And here is what I have most likely settled on. Let me know what you think:
“Piano chill with splashes of jazz and Americana, like if Jim Brickman got together with Dave Grusin and Bruce Hornsby at the beach to watch the sunset.”
Peanut gallery, what say ye?