The Las Raices Recap brings you the details of the monthly SA Soundgarden forum, whether you missed the meeting or have a general curiosity. Join us every first Tuesday of the month, 7 p.m., at COLAB, 723 N Alamo, to participate and help build a sustainable community for San Antonio local music.

Las Raices is still strong heading into August with more than a few first-timers in attendance. The highlight of this month’s meeting were workshops with guest speakers Nick Long, guitarist and vocalist of Lonely Horse, and Michael Carrillo, frontman of Deer Vibes and owner of the newly-established Ventura bar. And, along with the free beer so generously gifted to each meeting by Alamo Brewing Co, there was the one other highlight: pizza.

Once attendees had milled about to their hearts’ content, greeting old friends and new, business kicked off with announcements from Adam Tutor, beginning with a partnership with Centro San Antonio to put together Amped Up, a local music business event at La Villita, September 6.

In a somewhat unexpected turn, a representative of John Wayne Heating and Air Conditioning Stepped took the floor, addressing the musicians that the company was looking for local talent to record a new jingle. The company is offering compensation of $1500 for a roughly two-and-a-half minute song, and all who are interested should contact them through their website.

Once announcements were concluded, attendees filed into the conference room for the first workshop of the evening.

Workshop 1: Nick Long

Though his delivery started on the timid side, it wasn’t long before soft-spoken Nick Long hit his stride. “What is your mission as a musician,” was his opening question. Music helps people, he said, and all the good feelings it can engender in his audience, that is his mission. Nick cited growing up with his mother, a woman of mixed African-American and First Nations ancestry, as a prime influence upon his attitude towards music: in his mind, “music is like church; it’s like worship.”

He advised the musicians of the audience to stay humble, and true to their word; don’t solely try to play the big shows, remember the little venues and the intimate crowds; above all else, their intentions as musicians are crucial and will define their work.

Photo courtesy of San Antonio Sound Garden.

“That’s what makes San Antonio different,” he said of supporting the local music scene, “You’ve got to be up front, you’ve got to support others, and you can’t be lazy.”

The second half of Nick’s workshop focused mainly on his experiences dealing with the big business side of music, which chiefly come from Lonely Horse’s debacle with its first label, Nouveau Riche Records. The band jumped on the first fish to bite, he recalled, and didn’t examine the contract closely.

He offered the following advice on business side of making music:

  • Know who’s running the shows, and get after them.
  • Don’t blow anybody off, even if they don’t seem like a big deal. While in New York, Nick was approached by a photographer who claimed ‘he knew people’. While Nick didn’t lend him much credence at first, the photographer was genuine, and before long Nick found himself having breakfast with a few celebrities.
  • When negotiating a contract, don’t let the situation overwhelm you. Be patient, find legal knowledge, make friends, be prepared, and don’t jump at the first bone dangled in front of you.
  • Keep after them. If someone doesn’t respond to your email, send another. Six unsolicited emails later, it may pay off big.

Workshop 2: Michael Carillo

By appearances, Mikey is all business these days. He dresses sharp, and his presence in any room is almost impossible to ignore. It may have something to do with becoming the employer where he was once the employee, the former 1011-turned-Ventura.

Michael told us that his newfound entrepreneurship was in his roots all along; his family had owned a successful venue before him, and he’d worked at that one as well, gaining valuable experience. His workshop stayed away from the artistic skein of discussion, and focused on what most of the young musicians present needed – and may not have wanted – to hear.

“Every part of you life needs to be run like a business,” he distilled of his message. He stressed daily discipline, in profession, in relationships, in routine. That isn’t to say he was always such. Michael heartily admitted that he was lazy at heart, but he credits the arduous struggle of pulling himself together and forcing himself to a schedule for enabling the opportunities now in front of him.

He also touched on branding, using his new bar as an example. Michael knew he wanted Ventura to have a different vibe from the 1011, but completely eschewing the former establishment’s spirit and legacy would turn away long-time supporters. Only in the careful balance between these two ideals would he find success, and he feels he’s found it.

Image will form the conception people will have before ever meeting you, Michael said, and it will continue to color their interactions with you. And you must be careful with it. It must be strong, but it also must be authentic. “It’s all about your identity. If you’re not representing yourself, it doesn’t matter what you’re doing.

Check back at the beginning of each month for the latest Las Raices updates and recaps.

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