Music DIY man

2011-08-19 10:09

Frank McComb from Cleveland, Ohio has for the past several years been running his own show, quite literally.

McComb, an underground favourite in the soul and jazz scene, is headed to these shores this week as part of the Standard Bank Joy of Jazz line-up and we hooked up on the phone while he was in Cologne, Germany, in the middle of a European tour.

For years Hugh Masekela has been trying to get McComb to perform in South Africa, and finally the time has come.

“I am planning to have lots of fun and good times. I come with no expectations and am looking forward to meeting all the beautiful and good people.”

Talking about the home music industry, McComb says he calls the shots and nothing can be more satisfying and empowering.

He went independent in 2002 after unhappy years at Columbia Records and has never looked back.

He formed his company, Boobeescoot Music, built a home recording studio and launched a website to promote his music.

In his workshop at home, McComb hand-packages every CD. “It comes straight from my hands to your ears.” he says.
He was forced to take this route when he stumbled across a few bootlegged copies of his music without any artwork.
“I realised that if a thief can steal from me, why can’t I steal from myself?

He is happy to be his own boss. “It’s great and works out easier not having a bunch of people telling me what to
do. You are a gamble to them – that’s something I’ve learnt. I don’t want to be looked upon as a product; I am a good music maker,” he says.

However, it’s never smooth sailing.

“The challenge is to convince those inthe seat of power and the promoters that you can discuss business with them and not be dismissed as an emotional artist.”

He warns that for a musician to survive the cut-throat world of business they need to be equipped.

“You have to know your business and speak some sense and relate to investors monetarily and take constructive criticism.”

He says the day his contract ended with the major record label was the beginning of his freedom.

“I rejoiced the next day. I was happy to be in a place where I was appreciated and not tolerated.”

And now he cherishes the advice Prince once shared with him: “Control every deal, get what you need.” And O’Jays’ Eddie Levert once said: “Do not let them people get you off the piano.”

He believes that record companies will not go out of business. He predicts that mergers between record companies will continue much in the same vein as airlines have been doing to stay in business.

“I am not against record companies; just their business.”

Now he wants to pass on the wisdom he has gained in his DIY experience to anyone who wants to hear it.

“Be inspired to know that you have what it takes and do your thing – there are no rules, just guidelines. If you have it in you, you will succeed.”

McComb has worked with Chaka Khan, Teddy Pendergrass and Teena Marie.

He has been doing the church circuit in Los Angeles, where churches use his music as the sermon or to accompany the preaching.

Although he says he can’t put a number to the CDs he has sold, he maintains that “it’s really good. I am very happy”.
“One has to have a good product and know the places where to sell directly to the people. It’s what’s in the groove that counts.”

And “the groove” is what McComb has in abundance.

He has been likened to the late great Donny Hathaway and to Stevie Wonder with his soulful vocals on songs like Left Alone, which is a hit especially when he performs it live.

For his impending visit he promises a live show filled with mellow tunes and an electrifying experience.
No gimmicks or cheap tricks, just an imposing grand piano and his ever-present baseball cap to create musical magic.

>>Frank McComb performs on the Mbira Stage of Standard Bank Joy of Jazz on Friday and Saturday

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