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With a Little Help from me Friends

FriendsWe live in interesting times.  Anyone with a few free computer programming tools can create an internet company.  Anyone with a guitar and webcam can broadcast their music to the world and reach millions.  Oops, did I just peg the Bullsh!t Meter?  I did.  While those statements are technically true, they are extremely hard.  Extremely hard!

It’s so hard, we often think it is purely a one-in-a-million chance to make any headway in this world.  Reality TV shows like The Voice and SharkTank give us this sense that we have to “win” our way to the top with luck.  Having great luck does help, and most humble, successful people will tell you that luck did play a major part in their accomplishments.  But I also believe helping-others-to-the-top exposes us to the best opportunities …and is the most satisfying way to get through our busy lives.

It’s really simple, when you can help another person – just do it.  It doesn’t mean you have to fall over everyone you meet (people will think you’re creepy), nor does it mean you have to give-away every product or service you sell for free (people understand you have to make a living, run a business, obey your boss).  But it means a simple gesture of support, an email or phone call to a new contact, or even a purchase of a product or gift can make all the difference in the world to someone.  StreetJelly people are the BEST at this! <3

Yes, I’m starting to sound a bit preachy – but it’s something I try to do as often as possible in my tech world and, of course, on StreetJelly.  Let me tell you about the community I live in and the support StreetJelly gets.  I live in Knoxville, TN, a medium sized city in the foothills of the great Smokey Mountains.  Three main industries prevail in the area: the Oak Ridge National Laboratories (technology/engineering), the University of Tennessee (education/research), and Media/Entertainment.  After the big cities like New York, LA, etc., Knoxville is the 5th or 6th largest city in media and entertainment.  Most of your cable TV programming comes out of companies in Knoxville like HGTV, the Food Network, and so on.  It’s a great place to live and work.

We also have a thriving entrepreneur community supported greatly by these industries (see more about the Knoxville Entrepreneur Center).  As a young start-up business, StreetJelly receives support from a slew of these organizations.  It’s the “rising tide lifts all boats” thing.  This support system works not because of some mandated budget by any one organization, but because the folks involved enjoy (as much as I do) to help others succeed.

LineSharkAudio.com

LineShark Audio

I tell you all this because in the coming weeks, StreetJelly is going to do its part and help promote another music start-up from Knoxville.  The company is LineShark.  It’s a new business where a pair of engineering geeks (I say that affectionately) and part-time musicians have invented a cool universal connector device.  It allows musicians to plug their instrument into an iPad and perform LIVE music back out to an amp with a full studio console of affects.  Yes, Androids work too, but most of the cool music apps are on the iPad.

LineShark is in the middle of a Kickstarter campaign, set to end April 24th, 2014.  We are going to host a “Kickstarter Party” on StreetJelly, April 9th, to help promote their venture.  The actual event will be held at the entrepreneur center, downtown Knoxville.  We will stream a live demo of the product on StreetJelly, plus have guest musicians perform with the device.  It will be a hoot.  It’s the least we can do!!!

~frankie, a.k.a. The King of StreetJelly

ps – Be on the look out for more fun StreetJelly partnerships with local music businesses.

StreetJelly Musicians Play from their Heart

“Another delight happened in StreetJelly Land. SJ Musician DannyC donates his tips to the Wounded Warrior Project.  As a veteran, this kind gesture really hits home.  It is also a great testament to the musicians and viewers on StreetJelly that support one another, support live music, and nourish a community of wonderful people.”
~Frank Podlaha

The proceeds for my 1st month on StreetJelly resulted in 92.80 of tips of which we rounded the charity check up to $100.00 even and mailed it to The Wounded Warrior Project last week. Thanks to SJ and of course all of you who found it in your heart to tip at my sets. We sincerely appreciate you guys!

Danny Campo Donation to Wounded Warrior Project,
Facebook, February 15th, 2014

What is a Family Friendly Site?

“What is a family friendly site, Frank?”

A few people have asked me this question, and I suspect many more are thinking the same thing.  Here at StreetJelly, we often tell newcomers that we are a “Family Friendly Website.”  Inevitably, that has caused some confusion as the definition of family-friendly is as diverse as the community on StreetJelly.

First, let me say that family-friendly on StreetJelly is not a set of specific rules about what words or phases someone can or can not say on air or in the chat.  It is, however, all about common decency and respect for others.

Once upon a time, we were taught as children about a crazy thing called manners.  Some say manners are lost today, and especially lost in the online world of social media.  I say they aren’t.  It’s not hard to remember when online, or in regular public, that we think about our behavior and how we are perceived by others.  When online, it is very easy to offend others and make ourselves look like idiots.  This is made true by the lack of full context in our communications (body language, abbreviated text, misspellings, etc.).  Family-friendly means to think about what you say …or type …before you spew it out to the world.  One can be incredibly rude even if they don’t use any swear words.  (Yes, I’ve heard a few very offensive and despicable people use the excuse, “but I don’t swear.”  As if that makes horrible behavior ok. Oy!)

So the obvious answer is profanity, lewdness, pornography, and gratuitous disrespect are not allowed on StreetJelly.

We are not trying to “silence people,” impose censorship, or restrict someone’s right to express themselves.  Far from it.  Let me repeat, that is as far from the truth as possible.  I will defend anyone’s right to freedom of speech, regardless of what country they are from.  I think my pedigree as a soldier and veteran speaks to my resolve.  But I will also vigorously defend everyone’s right to enjoy music and art without the disruption of a few who can not conduct themselves properly in public.

Here are some simple guidelines to make this easier to understand.

  1. Remember George Carlin’s “7 Dirty Words you can’t say on TV.”  Stay away from them.
  2. Use the movie rating of PG-13 as a guide for topics discussed in shows and chat.

Movie Raiting PG-13

And for musicians, we give you much more latitude for your music.  If your art includes a few swear words, dark topics, etc., you are fine.  We are not judging anyone’s art.  Please take a sensible approach, however, to the diversity of the StreetJelly audience, would they likely be offended, and perhaps give them a warning of your content.

Thank you everyone for letting me rant for a few minutes.

Frank Podlaha,
Founder and CEO of StreetJelly
a.k.a King Frankie

ps – For all the narcissists out there that think I wrote this article specifically to you, that is incorrect.  No wait, if you think that – then YES – this article is totally about you.

The Tape from Hell – War Music

StreetJelly Big Check

Many of you have seen this past week, Frank Podlaha (a.k.a. Frankie) and StreetJelly won first prize in the 2014 Tennessee Veterans Business Association Business-Plan Competition.  Folks have been asking about Frank’s service in the U.S. Army and his time as a helicopter crew chief in Operation Desert Storm.  Here’s one of his stories…

“No shit, there I was…”  All good war stories should start like that.  So there I was, or more precisely, there we were:  Saudi Arabia, December 1990, 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment, somewhere in the desert north of Hafar Al Batin, south of the Iraqi border.  My buddies and I spent our days maintaining AH-1F Cobra Attack Helicopters.  We were crew chiefs, or more accurately, helicopter mechanics and aviation crewmen.  We were getting our aircraft ready for the impending ground invasion for Operation Desert Storm.  Although at the time, it was known as Operation Desert Shield.

Frankie and AH-1F Cobra

We worked out of the back of a 5-ton Army truck converted into a small tool shop.  It was jammed packed in every corner with wrenches, sockets, gauges, you name it.  It had everything we needed to work on the helicopters.  But the one most important thing it didn’t have: music!  That’s ok, though, as we brought along our own portable am/fm radio cassette player.  I can’t remember the brand – but think of a smaller one-speaker Emerson type model.  It was physically the size of a breakfast cereal box.

Frankie,  Gulf War, 1991

Frankie, Gulf War, 1991

We had plenty of C-size batteries to run the mini boom-box, plus we had AC power whenever we stopped rolling and cranked up the generator.  Six or seven guys hung out daily in the back of this truck.  We all had various musical tastes, but for the most part we all liked the rock classics.  At the time, the best pop music could give us was “Ice-Ice Baby.”  I know!

After a few weeks of being in-country, we ran through playing all our cassettes ad nauseam.  No, there were no radio stations way out in the desert, not even the propaganda station Baghdad Betty.  “Play this cassette.”  “No, we just heard that, play this.”  “No way.”  “Don’t even think about putting that junk on.”  That’s what our musical decisions were reduced to.

Then it happened, purely out of frustration or musical despair, Mike Carper …or was it Bryan Benz, laid down the musical law and said while holding up the Rolling Stones Hot Rocks tape, “we will only listen to this cassette in this truck until we get back home!”  Ooooh-kay.  Sounded like absolute silliness to play one tape for the rest of our tour, but what the hey!

Snake DoctorsAnd that’s what we did, play that double-sided greatest-hits album over and over again in that truck.  And I mean over and over and over and over again.  FIVE MONTHS STRAIGHT!  At first, it was kind of fun, then a bit annoying.  But after a while, it was truly an adventure in insanity to see if we could really pull it off.  Days turned into weeks, weeks into months.

We repaired the tape at least five times.  Yep, you remember those old cassette players – 1 out of 20 tapes got chewed up inside.  Not a problem for us, we were ass-kicking Cobra “snake doctors.”  Surely we can repair a cassette tape.  And we did with a pair of jewelers screw drivers and a little bit of scotch tape.  We spliced that recording back together each time.

We traveled 100s of miles through the desert, perhaps 1000s.  We crossed the boarder into Iraq, entered Kuwait from its north, crossed back into Iraq.  Many sleepless nights, many long days – but we always had Hot Rocks to listen to.  The tape sounded horrible after time.  But it didn’t matter, flip it over and let’s listen to it again!
Rolling Stones Hot Rocks
There you have it, we never played another tape in the that truck the entire war.  The cassette made it back with us to Germany in 1991.  We christened it “The Tape from Hell” and eventually mounted it on a plaque.  The team gave it to Mike, our Sergeant, as a gift when he left the Army.

…and yes, I know every word on that dang album.  And to this day, I have not listened to Hot Rocks since.  ~frankie

“Drum roll please… [brrprrprrprrprr]  And now, Ladies and Jellymen, allow me to introduce… The Tape from Hell

The Tape from Hell

An Online Venue is still a Venue

A special message from Martina, StreetJelly co-founder.

An Online Venue is still a Venue

Store FrontsThe Internet has become a big part of our lives and is often viewed as one big entity. In reality it is an enormous collection of services, businesses and venues. Frequently it is free to users, but it is not free to those who decide to make it their medium of choice to conduct business or offer a service. Instead of paying rent for a physical location, virtual venues pay for bandwidth and hosting. As soon as an individual logs on to a website this person enters a space very much like a physical location. When someone walks into a concert hall or store, it is widely accepted to conduct oneself in a respectful manner and comply with a few rules. Everyone understands a customer walking into a restaurant cannot simply go up to someone’s table and scream insults at a stranger. Online venues are not really that different from conventional locations especially if they offer live video and the opportunity to chat. Live communication among participants closely resembles an actual gathering place. StreetJelly falls into this category.

We are a small company created by music lovers and musicians who pour our hearts, time and financial resources into this undertaking with the intention of making StreetJelly a pleasant, welcoming and fun entertainment venue for musicians and viewers. It is our mission to be all about the music. The musical performance is our focus of attention and the chat was predominantly designed to offer a way of communication between the artist and audience.

We would like to thank our musicians, viewers and all the volunteers behind the scenes from the bottom of our heart and are grateful for all your support and feedback. Constructive criticism and suggestions are always considered and taken seriously. However, no matter how hard we try it is impossible to please everybody and meet the entertainment needs of every single person visiting the website. We are all individuals with varying likes and dislikes and no venue on this planet will be able to satisfy 100% of the population. Over the course of the last year our staff was repeatedly confronted with some extremely rude and disrespectful treatment behind the scenes simply because we did not accommodate the personal entertainment needs of a very small group of our users. We are doing our very best 24/7 and personally go out of our way to be polite and respectful to our musicians and viewers. StreetJelly offers musicians the opportunity to showcase their music and earn some money. We do not charge for broadcasting and pay the fees to songwriter associations to enable musicians to play covers. For those of you who believe StreetJelly is not the right place, be assured we understand. We appreciate the time you spent to give us a try and sincerely wish you the best of luck in finding a venue fit for you. It neither helps us nor does it help the few who spend a vast majority of every day on the website simply to inform us over and over how much you dislike our business model. MartinaHow many people would frequent a restaurant for breakfast, lunch and dinner which serves a type of food they don’t enjoy just to tell the cook every time how much they disliked their meal?

I can’t mention enough how much we appreciate the vast majority of wonderful musicians and viewers. Many of us have even made cherished friends. For those of you we can’t accommodate it is time to move on and search for your perfect place to spend your time.

Thanks again to everyone who shares our vision of creating an online space of mutual respect and extending this respect to our staff and team of monitors who have a very ungrateful job. Hope to see you on StreetJelly very soon. This is not just a business to us, but also a labor of love.

Put Butts In Da Seats

Special guest blog by DannyC, South Louisiana, USA

Larger audiences . . . am I doing my share to “Put Butts In Da Seats?”

Rock CrowdI ask this question as while StreetJelly is no doubt a wonderful site for musicians and songwriters to showcase their talent the fact remains for ultimate success, for performers anyway, we as a group must do all we can to boost the “civilian members” of our audiences. This is of prime importance if indeed you truly want to get compensated i.e. tips from your performances.

For you “true” buskers out there, I’d be willing to bet when you stake out a setup location you are looking for the highest traffic and target music demographic audience you can reach. Well on SJ while we have a built in audience, they are like family, and while I love my “real” family as much as the next guy they are the last group I would ever expect to support my living, especially as a musician. With this said, if we want to grow our tips and audience size we simply must get more music fans to visit SJ.

As a group we can instantly start bringing in more audience members. Look, we all have email accounts, 99% of us have FB pages or websites. I urge you to take a little time, say once a month or so to do some blitz emails campaigns, FB sharing promotions and website links and yes “blatantly plug” your future performances. It’s numbers game guys, the more we “all” tell the story to our contacts and get them to tell it to their contacts the larger the “civilian” audiences will be. And every new music lover we drive to our performance will eventually check out other performers. In fact I encourage you to point out the diversity of music they can hear on SJ in your campaigns. I learned long ago you only gain by plugging other acts as you highlight yours.

Frankie and Martina have a wonderful website built with the musician and music lover in mind, and I like many of you are very thankful for the platform they have given us to showcase our music. But, IMHO, the time has come for “us” to do something to grow SJ. We as musicians just can’t sit back, plug in and expect for our popularity and tips to grow. We owe it to ourselves to do something with this platform they have afforded us to insure it does, as the saying goes the ball is in our courts.

Bottom-line . . . How often do we hear lines like, man we can’t get squat for a 3 hour gig in my town, and the next thing you learn is that very often some cat is playing a gig for “nadda” just so he/she can get “the exposure”. Well we can’t do much about that but we do have the ability and means to help build our SJ “civilian” audiences. My bet is that not only will your tips increase but the more local audience members you bring in the more audience members you will have supporting you in your live events around your town . . . therefore your number of live paid gigs should also increase.

DannyCFellow SJ family members please take this for what it is and no more, a personal opinion offered with the hope that if some of you agree you will get on board with trying to build civilian audiences. Either way, I thank you for your time to read it.

Now let’s count off the next tune 1 ana 2 ana 3 . . .

Best Regards,

Danny C.

Jelly, the New Drug

Special guest blog by Pat Marr, North Carolina, USA

Jelly DealerBreaking News!

Interpol is on the lookout for the global distributor of a new but highly addictive substance called STREETJELLY. The mastermind appears to be a deceptively congenial programmer named Frank Podlaha ( AKA “Frankie” or “The King” by his minions on the STREET)

He has single-handedly constructed an elaborate system which enables performers to connect with audiences ANYWHERE ON THE PLANET! At first look, this seems innocent enough… but now, health care providers around the world are reporting an epidemic of symptoms that indicate a new addictive substance has been unleashed.

Symptoms include the following:

  1. the irresistible urge to play music on StreetJelly until 5 am even though you know you have to get up for work in the morning
  2. the inability to get through a ten-minute period without checking StreetJelly to see if somebody new started playing since the last time you checked.
  3. cashing in the 401k to buy tokens
  4. sweaty palms and shaky legs unless you’re sitting at the computer watching StreetJelly
  5. playing hooky from school, work or other important responsibilities in order to get your StreetJelly Fix
  6. the realization that the only time you experience true euphoria is when performing on or watching StreetJelly

 

If you have any of these symptoms, don’t bother reporting it because there is no cure. Your best bet is to surrender and enjoy the euphoria.

PS: it’s not illegal (YET)… but federal agents say it’s more fun than a lot of things that ARE illegal. Your call.

The Stories Behind the Songs, by Lana Mason

Special guest blog by Lana Mason

Lana MasonThe Stories Behind the Songs

Those of you who know me, know that I love music from the past. It’s my favorite to listen to and sing. I love the words and feeling put into this music. They aren’t always just songs, they are sometimes like stories. But there are also stories not just within the songs themselves but also behind them! How they came to be and why they are loved so much to this day. I am going to share with you some interesting facts and stories about some of my favorite songs I perform on StreetJelly. Let’s start off with one of my very favorite songs in the whole world! And it’s also one that my StreetJelly friends love to hear- “Moon River”.

“Moon River” was composed by Henry Mancini with lyrics written by Johnny Mercer. Its first performance was by Audrey Hepburn in the 1961 beloved movie Breakfast at Tiffany’s. It won an Academy Award for Best Original Song. But how did this classic song really come to be? Well, at first Mercer had some difficulty finding a song to fit Audrey’s voice. But later, Mercer found a concept of a song for her and it was “Moon River”. But did you know that he first started a song titled “Blue River”? He had grown up in Savannah, Georgia and had memories of its waterways, so he came up with “Blue River”. But he soon found out that the title was already in use. Mancini took a month to compose the perfect melody for Hepburn. In the movie, Audrey sang the song simple and sweet while strumming her guitar, and it turned out quite charming. Now listen to this! Mancini later reported that after the first preview screening of the film, the president of Paramount Pictures puffed his cigar and said that the song had to be removed! The normally gentle Hepburn told him that it would be over her dead body. Ha, ha, you go girl! Although the movie was a great success, Paramount was still unsure about Audrey’s singing. On the soundtrack album her simple sweet vocals and guitar was replaced by a Mancini orchestral version of the song instead. With or without Audrey, the song became beyond popular. I myself love Audrey Hepburn’s version of this song. I could listen to it every day and never get tired of it. I think it is one of the best songs to be written and hope it stays such a classic.

The next song I am going to talk about is “Over the Rainbow” (often referred to as “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”). This song is definitely a classic! It was written for the 1939 movie The Wizard of Oz and sung by the amazing Judy Garland who played Dorothy Gale. The lyrics were written by E.Y. Harburg and the music was by Harold Arlen. At first the song was cut from the movie because the MGM chief executive and the producer of the film thought that the song “slowed down the picture” and “sounded like something for Jeanette MacDonald, not for a little girl singing in a barn yard.” Thankfully, the associate producer and Garland’s vocal coach/mentor fought to keep the song in the picture and won! Can you imagine The Wizard of Oz without “Somewhere Over the Rainbow?” I sure can’t, ha, ha. Another interesting fact is that a reprise of the song actually was deleted from the film. An additional chorus was to be sung by Dorothy while she was locked in a room in the witch’s castle. Although it was not put into the movie, its soundtrack was put into the 2-CD Deluxe Edition of the film’s soundtrack. In that intense frightful version, Dorothy is unable to finish singing from weeping. It ends with an “I’m frightened, Auntie Em – I’m frightened!” I was able to find this reprise on Youtube, and personally think it would have been wonderful if they had kept it in the film. I would be crying along with Dorothy, ha, ha, but I think it would have added something special. With or without this chorus, the song and movie are both amazing and will never be forgotten.

Lana TwirlThe final song I am going to talk about isSingin’ in the Rain. It’s from the 1952 musical comedy Singin’ in the Rain. Its lyrics were by Arthur Freed and the music by Nacio Herb Brown. It was sung by Gene Kelly, while he danced around twirling his umbrella and splashing through puddles as the rain poured down. Although Kelly performed this number very well, he was actually sick with a 103° fever. Who would have known, right? Also, a funny little fact is that during filming, the rain in the scene made Kelly’s wool suit shrink! Ha, ha! Now although this next story isn’t about the song “Singin’ in the Rain”, it is about the production of the movie and it’s far too intriguing not to share with you! Debbie Reynolds (who plays Kathy Selden in the movie), was not a dancer when she starred in Singin’ in the Rain. Her co-star Gene Kelly actually insulted her lack of dancing experience, much so upsetting her. In a following encounter when Fred Astaire was in the studio, he found Debbie sobbing under a piano. She told him what had happened and Astaire volunteered to help Reynolds with her dancing. Isn’t that sweet? I knew I liked Fred Astaire, ha, ha. Kelly later did admit though that he had not been kind to Reynolds and was surprised that she was still willing to talk to him afterwards. Reynolds danced her heart out so much that after the shooting of the “Good Morning” routine, her feet were bleeding! Years later, she was quoted saying that “Singin’ in the Rain and childbirth were the two hardest things I ever had to do in my life.” It goes to show that these legendary performers were great examples of “the show must go on.”

Thank you so much for reading my blog! I had a lot of fun learning so much about these wonderful classic songs. Do you know any interesting stories or facts about any songs? If you do let everyone know in the comment section below! I hope you enjoyed reading this and I hope to see you on the jelly! Yours Truly –LanaEve