Income streams are dwindling. Record sales aren’t what they used to be. The devaluation of music and what it’s now deemed to be worth is laughable to me. My single costs 99 cents. That’s what one cost in 1960. On my phone, I can get an app for 99 cents that makes fart noises – the same price as the thing I create and speak to the world with. Some would say the fart app is more important. It’s an awkward time. Creative brains are being sorely mistreated.
Those words were spoken by Vince Gill in 2012 during an interview with The Boot, during which Gill offered opinions on a variety of concerns regarding the modern country music scene.Read more
The Shopkeeper - a film by Rain Perry
by Mike Regenstreif
I first discovered singer-songwriter Rain Perry in 2003 when Tom Russell sang her beautiful song “Yosemite” on a promo EP sent out in conjunction with his Modern Art album. I believe he recorded the song during the sessions for that album at Mark Hallman’s Congress House Studio in Austin, Texas. About a decade later, I wrote about Rain’s album Men, which was also recorded at Congress House with Mark as producer, principal accompanist and occasional songwriting collaborator.Read more
Twangville - August 17, 2017
Here at Twangville we spend pretty much all our time listening to and reviewing the latest Americana and roots music. We spend very little time talking about how it gets created in the first place, and how the music industry makes a living from genres that don’t attract the business machine that feeds, and feeds on, the likes of U2 or Taylor Swift. As everyone knows, though, the ubiquity of streaming has changed the economics of being a musician and it has the potential to really change what comes out of your earbuds and Bluetooth speakers. Musician Rain Perry has turned her creative talents to movie making and is releasing a film on August 21st about these changes titled The Shopkeeper.
Read the rest here.
Rich Barnard, Red Guitar Music August 8, 2017
Anyone who’s ever financed the recording of their own album will know that there are certain things that really ought to matter, and The Shopkeeper is a stark reminder of those things. People matter. Can you think of an app that can replicate the relationships between songwriter, musician, producer and engineer? Thought not. Places matter. Can you imagine The Beatles without Abbey Road? Nope, neither can I. Things matter. If you’re making an album, why wouldn’t you want to make it into a something you can hold in your hands? Musicians today find themselves in a world where people, places and things appear to all matter a little less than they once did and The Shopkeeper pushes us, ever so gently, to consider the consequences.
Singer songwriter Rain Perry's debut documentary is essentially the biography of veteran musician, engineer and producer Mark Hallman and the history of the Congress House studio, which he runs in Austin, Texas. Woven through it is the discussion at the film's core: how can independent musicians continue to make a living in a world where music has become something consumers no longer pay for?
Read the rest here.
July 25, 2017
The Shopkeeper (film). Austin, Texas-based singer/songwriter Rain Perry turns to filmmaking to document the challenges musicians face in the era of streaming, downloads, and file trading. Her jumping-off point is the story of Mark Hallman and his struggling Congress House, Austin’s oldest continually operating recording studio, whose clients have included David Byrne, Janis Ian, and Nanci Griffith, to name a few. The film features lots of artists who love the Congress House and Hallman’s approach to music-making, including Ani DiFranco, Charlie Faye, Eliza Gilkyson, Jon Dee Graham, Andrew Hardin, Iain Matthews, and the great Tom Russell. Portions of this feel rather like a home movie that might be of more interest to the participants than to the general public. Still, the film has a lot of heart and asks thought-provoking, important questions that should matter to anyone who cares about the future of music and musicians. (For info about the film, which will be released on DVD on August 21, visit The Shopkeeper.)
by Frank Gutch Jr.
July 22, 2017
[This was originally written for and posted on Bob Segarini's site, Don't Believe a Word I Say. The plan was to write a piece for DBAWIS and a later one for No Depression, but as I read the original I struggled to find a better way to say what had already been written. Still, I think this documentary (The Shopkeeper) needs to be written about and reviewed on any number of sites relating to music and/or documentaries. So here it is, pretty much as it appeared in my column a few weeks ago.]
Let us start:
You can file this one under “and I thought I knew something.” I just watched a documentary which starts “When I was a kid, music was everything,” a statement as acute to me as author Scott Turow‘s line “It suddenly hit me how much I missed music for which I once felt a yearning as keen as hunger.” It struck a note so deep in me that I watched all one-hour-and-thirty-one minutes feeling a kinship with the narrator (and, as it turns out, producer of the film), almost relieved that I was not alone.
For years, those of us who have been labeled eccentric if not practically insane for our love of music have suffered somewhat alone, though some of us found others to share our illness— years of alone time hiding behind headphones and stereo systems and speaking musicspeak consisting of lines from songs, facts, and opinions other people neither understood nor wanted to while isolating ourselves in a world every bit as fantastic as Dungeons and Dragons or Hobbitville. I lost three loves to that world, one lady complaining that I loved records more than I loved her, all stemming from my inability to walk past a record store without paying a visit. The first line of my biography should also be “when I was a kid, music was everything” for beyond the love I felt for my family and friends, it was.
But this wasn’t me. This was someone who felt like me, loved music like me, but took it one step further. This was Rain Perry, who felt the urge to put her music on record, music which had developed to the point that it burst from her, three albums worth, and who, realizing finally that music had become a black hole when it came to money, deferred to film. Backed up against the wall, she wanted to tell a story and, looking around for a defined topic, decided that that story was not hers but that of the musicians she had recorded with and met at Congress House Studio in Austin, Texas. Mainly one musician:Mark Hallman. Hallman, you see, a seasoned musician and veteran of a plethora of bands by the time he came to Congress House, had taken in a mob of like-minded misfits over the years to record or to help record or just mix music for our ears. Well, not misfits, but people who fit there better than anywhere else maybe. Rain Perry was one.
Read the rest here.
A great article about John Doe and a good reference to the Austin Premiere of The Shopkeeper!
For three and a half decades, songwriters have been telling their stories through Congress House Studio, Austin's oldest continually operating recording facility. In new documentary The Shopkeeper, singer Rain Perry utilizes the recording facility and its workmanlike audio mystic Mark Hallman to dialogue about studios struggling to survive in the streaming age.
"Grandma's house meets world-class recording studio," is how musician Donna Lynn Caskey characterizes the SoCo compound.Read more