rockstar in training: musicians of the roundtable

June 28, 2011

This past week I facilitated and participated in the first of several free Musician’s Roundtables at the University of Louisville. There were fewer than 13 knights… I mean, musicians, in attendance, but some of them were my friends & internet acquaintances. Among others, attendees included, Lady “Jessy B”, a rapper of a unique cloth, Sir Maxwell Mitchell of ye olden and Sir Justin Lewis, the first of his name and master of going to Bonaroo for free. Oh, and I, Lady Pam Newman, second of her name, Squire of Rockstardom, Modern American Princess and mistress of the interweb.

Words by Pam Newman

I’m no knight in shining armor by any means, but I am interested in uniting the Louisville music scene, and generally spreading knowledge. I suppose that’s pretty valiant. Louisville, although it is a city you probably never think about, is a town filled with talented musicians. It’s no Nashville or New York up in here, but on any given night you’re sure to find at least one live music show in Louisville.

It could be a rock show on the weekends, or maybe a hip-hop show if you’re lucky and in the right part of town. There are hip-hop shows going on quite frequently, but rarely have I noticed much hip hop going on in the same neighborhoods where rock or singer-songwriters are doing their thing. I think Louisville is quite the segregated city, but not many people voice this openly. Hopefully these roundtables will join the factions of the west and east to unite our musical army as one!

This city is mostly singer-songwriters of the lady-with-piano or dude-with-guitar type. Lots of those singer-songwriter folks are super talented, but that’s not really my bag. I’ve done the lady-with-guitar thing, but I’m far more bitchin’ when doing the lady-with-loud-motherfuckin’-rock-band thing.

Anyway, back to the roundtable. The event went down in the Student Activities Center or, SAC. Hahaha, I’m years post-college and I still think SAC is funny. We didn’t bring swords, dress in renaissance faire attire, or eat roasted pheasant with our bare hands (maybe we should next time? Thoughts?), but we did have a pretty sweet snack table! Musicians are hungry folks, so some pretzels and onion dip are always a win.

Mostly what we talked about was busking (the act of playing music in a public place with the hopes of strangers giving you cash for it) and having a solid online/social media presence. Louisville is a weird city in which to try to get paid well while busking. Doing it well depends on having a steady stream of foot traffic nearby. This is pretty easy in major cities with a solid public transit system such as Chicago, New York or Philadelphia. In Louisville, most folks think walking and public transit are for the birds, so someone playing music on the street would be playing to the cars rolling past with their windows up.

The day before the roundtable, I had just watched a pretty badass livestream organized by the Los Angeles chapter of the Recording Academy (the GRAMMYs people) about what to do once you have your music online. I don’t have any new, produced music online right now, but since I’ve gone through the motions with my last band, it was all easy to figure out. I spread some of that knowledge amongst the others, along with what I’ve absorbed from being an avid user of Twitter, Tumblr and Facebook.

Spreading knowledge in the music industry is really crucial. Particularly in the business environment we’re dealing with these days. Let me paraphrase Sir Justin Lewis by saying that every musician who starts off at, “entry level,” is basically a new business owner. There is a lot of information online about how to run your business, and that’s really helpful information. Since very few of us take a stab at this unreliable career with a band that’s already making great money or hit the ground running making a living wage creating our art, it’s crucial that we create a community which supports itself — especially so as an artist of color!!

That’s one of the biggest reasons why I adore Afro-punk. This community is extremely supportive. The Deacon from Mama’s Dirty Little Secret offered up some great not-so-secret tips which have been extremely useful for me. I’m wearing my London Souls tee shirt in all of these pictures and the video I took. I rep Afro-punk on the regular, y’all. That kind of support and networking is what will help us succeed as a group and not just as secluded individuals.

Keeping it awesome every day,
Your Rockstar In Training,
Pam Newman

You can find Pam Newman online on twitter at @pamsbutt, she has a Facebook page for her music and if you really like her, you can read her personal blog at