Reaves - Charlotte, NC
By Hotbands Editor - Pat Ferris
One of the
primary ways I get to meet new artists and bands is via the internet. Through word
of mouth referrals or by seeing a review on a website or posting in a newsgroup, I will
find them or they will find us. From there, streaming audio and MP3's allow me to
hear what they are about and what their message and musicianship is...all from the comfort
of my home-office!
This form of media and communication has led me to several
bands world-wide that are motivated, believe in themselves to support their music by
touring on the road six or more months a year and by re-investing their humble profits
into producing new CD's...all for the sake of the audience.
I first heard about Melissa
Reaves when her manager Elizabeth West contacted me about an advertisement I had
posted searching for touring acts that I could feature on our site. The
qualifications were pretty tough to separate the wheat from the chaff: At least 2
CD's, radio play on at least 5 stations, a resume of major festivals, and a tour schedule
that took them out of their home area for at least 3 months a year.
Melissa had all of the requirements and then some...playing
with major artists such as Sarah McLachlan,
and touring throughout the East coast and as far West as Colorado. I spent the next
2 months playing email-tag with Elizabeth trying to nail down a time where I could do an
on-line live interview with Melissa. After our interview I spoke with her on
the phone and found out she was pretty much as I had suspected...a very polite,
intelligent and gracious woman that loved to perform and lived for her fans. Here is
what she had to say:
<HotBands> Hi Melissa
<Melissa> Hi Pat. Nice to "talk" to you
<HotBands> Thanks...likewise. I like to do the interviews over ICQ chat for the time being because the people that
visit the Hotbands.com website are READERS and it is the best way to capture the
"essence" of a live interview. I go in after I save the chat and edit the typos,
and grammatical errors though.
<Melissa> Sounds good -- we like the live
"feel" as well
<HotBands> So where are you now?
<Melissa> Nederland, CO north of Boulder -- just for
another day or two
<HotBands> Then on to??
<Melissa> Home -- Outside Boone, NC in the Blue Ridge Mountains until Labor day
weekend -- then up to Wilmington, DE, Philadelphia & NYC for gigs
<HotBands> Wow!...quite a schedule. How many weeks a year would you say you average
on the road?
<Melissa> I will guess around 30-35... a lot!!
<HotBands> The first "featured" band I had on Hotbands.com was Carolyn Wonderland from Houston Texas...she is on the
road about the same amount. Her main source of revenue comes from the sale of CD's after
performances. Would you say that is also your main source of income?
<Melissa> Yes, we sell CD's, t-shirts, hats, stickers, general "band"
merchandise. The CD sales are definitely a main source of revenue.
<HotBands> How many CD's do you presently have out, and what are the names of
<Melissa> Two full-length & one EP; Fall From Grace (1997), Lullaby for Belle
(1998 EP), Sentimental Anthem (1999)
<HotBands> How would you classify your music for the readers?
<Melissa> Rock-n-roll, some funk, some R&B occasional blues...something like
Janis meets Edgar Winter meets AC/DC!!
<HotBands> I've found that there are lots of bands out there, but so few that make
it. The artists that really seem to do something with their music and make a splash are
more or less full-time musicians....no day gigs. They rely on their talents to carry them
through (along with a prayer or two! )
<Melissa> For the most part that is true for me -- when I'm not on the road I'm
scrambling for paint jobs -- houses etc by contract. As a vocalist, it is
sometimes difficult to "pick up" a gig unlike players, but my gigs are
definitely full-time as much as possible
<HotBands> Do you have a regular band that travels with you, or do you rely on
studio musicians in the area you are playing?
<HotBands> Tell me about them...names, what they play, etc.
<Melissa> I have musicians that I use regionally -- my guitar player is with me at
most every gig but other players are based on either the NYC area or the southeast region.
Masa Takahashi, my guitar player, is based out of Boston... a Berklee Cat! He has
been playing/touring with me for almost 4 years
<HotBands> What about your rhythm section?
<Melissa> My rhythm section depends. They are regional. Tim Breon is a
bassist from Williamsport, PA along with Joel Vincent drums/percussion also from
Williamsport. These guys generally perform with me above the Mason-Dixon line!!!
Bill Scott (drummer /percussionist), Matthew Donovan (keys) and Rick Blackwell
(bass) are all from Charlotte... these guys perform with me in the southeast.
<HotBands> Are they the ones on your CD? And I take it Masa is with you full-time?
<Melissa> Masa is on CD & plays guitar & keys he is with me full-time!
Other players on CD are studio players & ME!
<HotBands> Great. How many instruments do you play?
<Melissa> Most string instruments except sitar...I
haven't tried that one yet! Percussion & occasional drums (very occasionally for
fun!)..oh yes & I can play the recorder!
<HotBands> Do you play recorder on any of the songs or
<Melissa> Not yet, but that sounds fun
now that you mention it.
<HotBands> By the way, I happen to have a sitar!
<Melissa> COOL I bet it's a warm sounding instrument --
I'd love to hear it and have the chance to play the sitar someday.
<HotBands> Do you have any CD's in the making?
<Melissa> We are working on putting a live album together -- my CD's have yet to
really capture the dynamics of my stage performances
<HotBands>Do you have any music videos out currently?
<Melissa> No, just home recording type videos -- I'd love to get into that medium
<HotBands> I'm working with a company out of Seattle
called Fog-City Productions.
The owner, Jason Webb, is director
for TCI cable here in the NW. He produces LOW COST music videos and runs a television show
called "Rising Stars" 9 months out of the year that is broadcast coast to coast.
He has won awards 7 of the last 8 years for best underground video.
<Melissa> I think I've seen that on a PBS channel or a
<HotBands> Right...PBS. Anyhow, I'd like to hook you up
with him sometime if you are up this way. As Hotbands grows, we've already discussed
sending his crew on the road to do 3-day tours in cities and filming a dozen bands over a
<Melissa> That would be great -- in fact one of the bands I saw on there was from
the Seattle area I believe
<Melissa> Sounds great -- just let me know & I'll put on my dancing shoes!
<HotBands> What would you say is the main reason you sing/perform?
<Melissa> I enjoy the affirmation from the audience & the energy exchange -- the
give & take that goes on I really enjoy the performing aspect
<HotBands> What is the largest crowd you've ever played for?
<Melissa> Recently, the Lilith Fair (where
she played with Sarah McLachlan) was probably
about 12,000 but in 1996 I played in DC at their Pride Festival on the Mall. I think
there were close to 80,000 at that gig...of course I was among many other performers.
<HotBands> It's always a rush to be in front of that
many people....I covered the Seattle Hemp-Fest last weekend, and was on the main-stage
taking pics of the audience...the sea of people went on as far as you could see.
<Melissa> A rush...Yes, I'll say! The DC gig was a bit nerve-racking but went
well! I saw your website with the photos -- it looked like a great show.
<HotBands> I'd like to talk with the director of the Hemp-Fest and the Seattle Peace Concerts about bringing in some outside
talent for next years performances. I think it could be a great cross-city cultural
exchange brought together through the internet. Eventually I want to have streaming video
on the Hotbands site so we can do live concerts...kind of like a Rolling Stone Magazine
mixed together with MTV!
<Melissa> That would be great -- I love getting into
new regions to perform -- CO is a new region for me right now. Just let me know
& I'll gas up my van!
<HotBands> One of the questions that I ask almost all of the successful bands is
mainly for the new artists that are out there in their "dark days" of the school
of hard knocks....what advice would you give to a new band that you saw potential in as
far as how to make it big and get the good gigs?
<Melissa> Be patient...especially with the folks that book the clubs! For most
of us it's never overnight. Take care of yourself emotionally & mentally... it's
a long hard roe to hoe! You'll need your well being sooner or later; whether on the side
of the road with a broken van or a club owner backing out of paying you for your art.
Also, good business sense is essential...either you or someone willing to help you.
<HotBands> When you are on the road, do you stay at
hotels, or do you usually book gigs at places where you have an "in" with a
friend or relative?
<Melissa> All of the above! My white Dodge
van "Vanna White" is also equipped with a futon but lately we've been getting
more rooms & staying places other than the van. Friends are great as well &
are pretty generous when we're in their towns. Sometimes it's difficult in towns where
we've made so many friends because I'm often exhausted at the end of a night & it gets
difficult to "entertain" after the gig!!
<HotBands> When do you think you'll next be on the West
coast or in Texas?
<Melissa> Texas could be later this fall or mid-winter, but I've yet to play the
West coast but am working on putting something together. I've met someone from W.
Hollywood that books out there & hope to do a spring tour... unless you have any ideas
<HotBands> The concert season here in Seattle is about over...or at least booked up
for the remainder of the nice weather. The winter months rely on Pioneer Square gigs...a
section of downtown that is really happening, but it's just clubs and not a huge audience
like you can get at the festivals.
<HotBands> In closing, do you have anything else that you want to add about your
band or yourself that you haven't already mentioned?
<Melissa> I'm grateful for the interview -- I love the festival gigs. My act seems
to be made for a larger crowd, but my roots are certainly a big part of club gigs.
<HotBands> Thanks Pat for your support & patience with hooking this interview
up!! I hope we get to meet soon.
<HotBands> No problem. I listened to your stuff a couple months back and knew that I
wanted you as a featured band on our homepage as soon as I heard you. It's artists like
yourself that inspire and drive the music industry of today. I wish you the best of
success (I hate saying good luck...luck is for those that play dice) in all that you do!
<Melissa> Great! Keep in touch & let me know where you are & I'll keep you
posted about gigs, new CD etc. This interview has been really pleasant & I'm glad we
have the live "feel" going. Thanks Pat... talk soon!
You can find out more about Melissa Reaves including tour schedule and downloadable sound
samples by visiting her website at http://www.melissareaves.com