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Congratulations To Shallow Royale, Winners Of The Guitar Player “Take The Lead” Competition!

The results are finally in! For weeks, OurStage guitarists have been battling each other and melting faces with their gnarliest riffs and licks, all for a chance to win our Guitar Player “Take The Lead” Competition. However, there was only one band mighty enough to take the lead and conquer all. The winner of this ongoing shredfest is Shallow Royale for their song “Son Of Liberty.” Based out of American Canyon, Calif., this three-piece has stuck it out through many obstacles, recently with the addition of a new bassist, to keep their big sound alive. The winning guitar solo is played by Chase Crow, one of two brothers who are founding members of the band. Check out Chase’s incredible riffs in the playlist below.

As their prize, not only will they be featured in an upcoming issue of Guitar Player magazine, but they will also be taking home a year’s supply of Ernie Ball strings and accessories! So congratulations, Shallow Royale. Your axe-wielding skills have fared you well. May the rock be with you.


Jason Becker Super Hero

OurStage, Guitar Player magazine, and Ernie Ball are teaming up this summer to offer aspiring guitarists a chance to win the ultimate Grand Prize. With the Guitar Player “Take The Lead” Competition. The competition is now closed for entries, but fans can still judge and rank their favorite shred-masters for a chance to win a year’s subscription to Guitar Player magazine! If you’ve got an ear for fantastic fret-work, judge now! Throughout the competition, we’ll be bringing you exclusive editorial content fresh from—enjoy.

“What do you think he’d be doing if he were playing today?” This is a question guitarists love to ponder when discussing heroes like Jimi Hendrix, Randy Rhoads, Stevie Ray Vaughan, or any other player whose career was cut short by a premature, untimely death. But what if the guitar hero didn’t die? What if, through no fault of his own, a brilliant guitarist was simply no longer able to play guitar? That doesn’t come up in conversation nearly as often, unless the guitarist in question is one Jason Eli Becker.

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Published by Matt Blackett, Guitar Player magazine

Help Us Find A Master Shredder In The Guitar Player “Take The Lead” Competiton

Guitarists on OurStage have been battling each other for ultimate rock god glory, but only you can help us decide who is the master shredder in the Guitar Player “Take The Lead” Competition. One Grand Prize Winner will be featured in an upcoming issue of Guitar Player magazine and will also win a year’s supply of Ernie Ball strings and accessories. So click here and get ready to have your faces melted as you vote for the best guitar soloist on OurStage!

Tour De Force: Top Ten Tips for Touring

Alright everybody, this is it! The second to last Tour De Force post. In honor of the near-ending of an era, I thought I’d do a compilation of the best tour tips from artists and industry professionals. I’ve gone back through Tour De Force posts of the past six months and hand-selected the most useful tips to make your tour the best that it can be!

1. Don’t Get Discouraged

The Winter Sounds

When we spoke with touring fiends The Winter Sounds, their one major piece of advice was this, “definitely don’t get discouraged, you know? Booking shows is really, really, really hard. It always feels like you’re up against local bands that do really well, and bands that have all the support in the world, like booking agents and things like that. If you’re booking your own shows don’t get discouraged. . . .go towards the house show route. Sometimes you’ll end up making more money at house shows because people buy merchandise.”

2. Don’t Get In Over Your Head

Parachute Musical

Touring buddies with The Winter Sounds and OurStage band galore, Parachute Musical’s advice is, “Do 4-hour drives, don’t go out for 2 months at a time, you’re just going to wear yourself thin. If you’re just starting out you’re going to have a lot of bad shows. It’s good to go out for 10 days and build up a good 10-day market, and tour regionally. Try and build up that home base. It’s really attractive to other bands that might want to play with you and it’s really attractive to booking agents because they see dollar signs. So tour regionally and tour often, but don’t do it in big blocks.”

3. Set Goals

Amber Rubarth

Amber Rubarth is truly a touring veteran. Since her first release in 2005, she has toured Europe 5 times, played countless shows in the US, played 4 shows at SXSW in March and recently returned from Japan. In an interview with OurStage she mentioned that, “The biggest thing I’ve figured out so far is thinking about what you like to do, how you like to spend your time, what you want to say, and focus on that.  When I first started, it was about seeing the country and playing a lot of shows so I could learn the strings, practice guitar, have a lot of new experiences to write about.  Now my focus has shifted to less shows in general but making each one bigger, putting a band together, focusing on a few markets that I can do well in and then expanding to new places I want to see.”

4. Make Friends

Boston music-scene veteran, Shred of Team Shred Productions, has been bookings bands at venues across Boston for years. According to him the most important aspect of setting up a tour is making friends. “Making friends with other bands and playing shows with those bands is always a good place to start. It also helps if you have some fans/friends that enjoy what you do in relatively decent-sized numbers, but for the band with only a limited friends’ base, it’s just important to get your music out there and meet as many music loving folks as you can by going out, through friends or social-networking sites.”

5. Promote

Just because you’ve booked the show doesn’t mean the work is over. You need to make sure you get people to come out and see your show. Have Twitter contests to give away guest list tickets, make a funny YouTube video announcing the show, set up a street team and have friends and fans put up posters, put that  mailing list to work!

6. Document Your Tour

I recently did a post about the importance of documenting your tour and some of the best ways of going about it. But there’s nothing like reiteration! Documenting your tour helps you stay connected with your fans and helps spread the word —not to mention gives you some pretty awesome videos, pictures and stories for posterity. Another important aspect of documentation that was not addressed in that post is business-related. Many touring musicians are out on the road working hard because this is, or will hopefully someday be, their living. It it important to keep track of your receipts, expenses, merch sales and income in order to accurately predict what merch you need to order, what you need to pay your bandmates and, of course, do taxes!

7. Play Cover Songs

Jukebox The Ghost

In an interview with Jukebox the Ghost, the band mentioned one of their favorites songs to cover is “Temptation” by New Order. They said, “We’ve used it a lot of times as our “hail Mary pass” if we’re not sure people are having a good time — dance songs never fail.” Looking back through Tour De Force history, you’ll see many artists share a similar train of thought. For unknown bands who aren’t quite at the point where they have audience sing-a-longs, a cover can be a great way to make a connection with the audience. Even for bands that play to an audience full of fans, it can be a great way to re-engage the crowd—keep them on their toes and make sure they’re having fun.

8. Be Green

Andy Reitz - Greenvans

Traveling in a tour van powered by veggie oil is not only a huge environmental perk, but is also a super cheap option for anyone looking for an alternative to fossil fuel-guzzling vans. Andy Reitz, one of the founders of the company Greenvans, elaborated on some of the benefits: “For people who are green-minded, it’s a really good feeling to travel around on non-petroleum-based fuel. The idea of traveling around on a veggie van is  huge for a lot of bands. It really give people something to talk about and catches their attention. It’s a great way to market your band and sort of reach out to fans. When I was touring with our first rig, so many more people cared about the fact that we drove around in a van that smelled like french fries than our band because it was different and new. It’s really hard to be in a small touring band right now and anything that gives people a reason to be curious about your band is a great asset.”

9. Stay Healthy

Staying healthy by both eating well and exercising on the road is one of the most important tips to keep in mind. Eating fast food and sleeping all day may be easy, but putting on a show that night won’t be. It’s almost too easy to party all night, wake up at 2pm and eat a cheeseburger, but this will ultimately wear you down and result in illness. Check out this Tour De Force blog post with tons of easy ways to stay healthy on the road.

10. Have Fun!

This may sound cliché, but it’s true! You get to travel around the region/country/WORLD, play music and  have  good time. Go out, sight-see, bond with your band members, visit with your fans, meet other bands, have sing-a-longs in your van, call your mom once a week… But really though, have the time of your life! You get to do what you love and (hopefully) get paid, what’s better than that?!

Tour De Force: Book Your Own Life

With the fall of the record industry, touring has steadily become one of the most important, if not THE most important, source of income for many up-and-coming and established bands. Today there is an influx of artists trying to book their own tours and get the best slots in pubs, nightclubs and concert halls all over the country. In some of the past “Tour De Force” posts bands spoke about the hardships of cold calling and the last minute scramble to fill out their tour schedule. Some have even been clever enough to make their own venue, playing in parks and squares of various cities. It’s a tough market out there and often times the only way to get ahead depends on your connections, who you know and what strings you can pull.

MAGNA MATER bowed down at the Middle East Upstairs 4/25/10.

There are some sites on the web dedicated to helping bands book their own shows, like Book Your Own F*ckin’ Life. When we spoke with The Winter Sounds, a band from Georgia who has been consistently touring since around 2006 and booking most of their own shows, they said that this site is a great resource for bands who need to fill out their touring schedule. Book Your Own F*ckin’ Life has also expanded to a new site that is dedicated to helping bands connect with venues.

THE FINE & DANDY TRIO foot stompin' fun at TT the Bears 4/2/10.

Although there are a lot of sites focused on helping DIY bands, getting shows in a small local market can be tough. This is where booking agents come in. Shred of Team Shred Productions is responsible for a large part of the talent buying, booking and promoting in venues around Boston. As a veteran in the industry, he’s a good guy to know. This former WBCN radio DJ has placed bands in venues all over Boston including The Middle East, O’Brien’s, Great Scott and Oliver’s/Cask ‘n’ Flagon. There is rarely a band in Boston that flies under his radar, and he’s famous for championing a raucous night of 6 shows at 5 venues across Boston aptly called Team Shred: Knight Out.

Touring bands should listen up! Shred took the time to give some really great advice about how to book your own shows and some of the most effective ways to get your band booked. Check out the Q&A after the jump!

Read Tour De Force’s Q&A with Shred


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