1/1/2009-MESSAGE FROM WWJ-In Review…

Hi Everyone!

-It’s time for the yearly recap or what happened with CAROLINE BLUE in 2008. The band went through a lot of different changes this year-and not just in personnel this time 🙂

-The year started out with the band playing a show with several other bands at a place called Station 58. The lineup was me, Johnny Sniper on bass, and Monster Mike Merrifield being hired to play drums with us-as had happened a few times in 2007. Back then, we were basically doing all original songs with maybe a cover or 2 thrown in, but we were “sticking to our guns” so to speak. And there’s nothing wrong with that. In fact, I would personally like to play only original material all the time. CB originally started out playing in a 60 / 40 covers / originals format. However, around 2003 or so, we shifted to the format we were currently at. And it worked for awhile-especially when we had a stable lineup during late 2004-early 2006. But then the scene around here changed and became very cover oriented. It also didn’t help that the lineup of CB was changing every year-sometimes more than once. IMHO, people like to see a band show stability-in fact, if you’re trying to impress a label, one of the 1st things they look for is band stability-they don’t want to invest money into something that’s going to break up within a few months. And that was one of CB’s main problems at this time….

-Another problem we had was the lack of shows. Now, anyone who has followed the band since the beginning-or even 2004-knows that-once the lineup stabilizes-we pretty much have no problem getting shows. In that 2004-2006 period I mentioned early, we were playing 3-4 shows a month.. Just go to the main CB site and look at our pictures archive for those years and you’ll see. The problem was, a number of those shows were openers (read FREE) shows. Back then it was OK-I had the finances to take care of things.

-Come back to the beginning of 2008. The lineup, in some ways, was similar to the beginnings of CB-where it was just me and hired guns doing shows. I stopped doing that back then, in part, cause I couldn’t afford it anymore. And the same thing was happening here. This lineup was great in that we never had to rehearse-Johnny & Mike would come in prepared and we would just do the songs. I remember one show where we did some songs none of us played before-the 1st time was at sound check! And we pulled it off no problem. However, in doing that, you don’t have any band chemistry happening. So, in addition to having to afford Mikey’s fee, we also had Johnny coming all the way from Albany (usually a 3 hour drive just to CNY)-which really shows you how dedicated he was to the band. He told me (and again repeated this to me recently) that one of the main reasons he did this was because he saw that I was so dedicated & focused with CB. Having said that, because of the distance, it was hard to schedule shows-or I should say the shows that we were doing at the time. I mean, driving all that way just to play for free-that’s gonna be hard on anyone-if not initially, then over time. You also have to remember that this was a time period where gas prices were rising to eventually reach over $4 a gallon.

-So here we were playing all originals in a multi-level band show where we got to play 45 minutes (tops)-and doing it for free. Well, I didn’t play for free-I played for the negative cause I had to pay out expenses. It was also hard at the time for us to get shows for various reasons-I’ve already stated some here. The show at Station 58 went off good and we got a good reaction & made some new fans / friends-but the expenses were still way too high.

-Even though we weren’t playing a lot of shows, CB still kept busy. I did some phone interviews with TRYST Radio / AIR Radio in January & May respectively-those were a lot of fun. I also did a wild phone interview with The Odd Mind Magazine in August. I have to admit, I’d never been asked some of those questions before. All these interviews are an hour long and can be listened to by going to the main CB site and clicking on the LISTEN link. I’m looking forward to doing more phone interviews with them-and others-in the future-and with the rest of the guys in the band.

-I was also interviewed by some great sites / publications-including CUSP magazine, West Side Dave’s website & Limelight Magazine in March / April & July respectively. All these are also on the main CB site on the VIEWS page. And again, I’m looking forward to future interviews that involve me & the rest of the band.

-We managed a few CD reviews in 2008 in the UK & Germany (also available to be seen on the VIEWS page on the main CB site), but not anywhere near as many as there should have been. The latest CB CD “Not For The Innocent” has had problems with it’s release & distribution since day 1-and even before that! It’s very frustrating cause A LOT of people have said it’s better than our “Slave to the Hourglass” disc-yet it’s not getting out-and I take the responsibility for that. It’s one of the things I’m going to work hard at the 1st part of 2009.

-In June we got another show (look how long it was between shows!)-playing at The Lost Horizon. Another free show playing all originals. A lot of the bands in CNY do this, saying at least they have their integrity-and that’s great. I really respect the bands that do that cause it’s hard. However, expenses were starting to mount up. You still had Johnny coming in from Albany and gas prices were climbing higher & higher If all the band members live in the same city-that’s great. I don’t have that luxury however.. On top of that, in June, CB welcomed a new drummer-Joe Boyle-who lives in Utica…and he doesn’t own a car.

-Now, before I go any further, I have to mention a few things. One, by this time I was living in my own place and had to deal w/ all the expenses that come with that-so I wasn’t able to put as much into the band. It’s one of the reasons why the NFTI CD hasn’t had the proper promo push it deserves-as of yet. By Joe not having a vehicle, that meant either someone had to get him to & from gigs-or I had to. Either way that’s more of an expense. I can hear some of you now-“why bother with all this?” I learned a long time ago that if you wait for the “perfect” situation or opportunity to arrive, that’s all you’re going to be doing-waiting. Sometimes you have to take the hand that you’ve been dealt with and work with it the best you can.

-So we did the show at The Lost-and what was like a sauna onstage-over 90 degrees onstage alone! And yes, we wore the leather. You wanna new diet plan-just play the Lost Horizon every weekend in the months of June & July and you WILL lose the pounds (HA!). The situation with the band was hard now. We had a permanent drummer-but because of the car situation, rehearsals were very hard to even scheduled-let alone happen. There were some other issues as well, but I’ll save that for the book-tentatively titled “The Untold Story of CAROLINE BLUE”. It’ll be sitting right next to “WAYNE-The Book” and both will be available at places where better books are sold (HA!).

-Towards the end of July, CB went thru another lineup change-this time with Johnny leaving. This really sucked in many ways. One-me & Johnny have a very good working chemistry together. A number of people had said before he joined that we should team up. He was a very good singer, musician & writer-hell, he has several CDs out with his solo band, Untaymed, and he did them basically the same way the NFTI CD was done-he hired a drummer and did the rest of it himself (I had a few friends come in to do backing vocals). So we were on the same wave length in many ways. However, Johnny’s personal life at that time was going thru the wringer big time and he had to step back from everything until the storm cleared-and I understand that. Unfortunately, we had 2 shows lined up right when this happened-and they were coming fast. I won’t go into the details here (you’ll have to read the book-HA!), but I ended up having to do a solo acoustic show at the end of July to honor our commitment to play w/ Stix & Stonz at The Checkpoint Tavern in Cleveland, NY. It was a bittersweet moment. I was paid very well & I’d never played a solo acoustic show before, but it was so frustrating cause the band should’ve been there-we would’ve done good.

-Have any of you fallen asleep yet? 🙂 I also want to mention that as early as 2007 I was talking to Johnny about what the band is currently doing now-“The Plan” so to speak. It involved CB going back to doing the 50 /50 originals / covers format and not always wearing the leather and stuff. In addition, Johnny sings much higher than me, so we were talking about him doing more singing-maybe even getting to the point where me & him would sing 50/50 of the show..And not just obscure covers-but popular covers. Covers that people know. If you’re going to be playing all obscure covers, you might as well be playing originals. If you’re going to play the cover game-even partially, you have to play it right in order for it to work. Some stuff that’s deemed obscure is OK-you want to play some of your favorites-but the majority, if not, most of the covers should be songs the general public would know-and also songs that help represent you. It’s not like CB’s gonna start playing songs like “Friends in Low Places” by Garth Brooks! 🙂

-So back to the story, here we are-those 2 shows would’ve been the first two shows to start off the new plan-and I end up playing solo acoustic on one & the next one was just me & Joe-no bassist. This was even worse than before and-in terms of the live front-things were sinking fast. I will admit that the possibility of CB just becoming a recording unit only was starting to surface here. It was a very frustrating time.

-Things started to change in August though with the addition of Andy “Doc” Gore as our new bassist. Kinda funny-we played with a band he was in at the time-Silence Bleeds-at that show at Station 58 at the beginning of the year. I remember after the set Andy came up to me and said we did great. I always keep in mind different players who might be interested in filling in for shows-and Andy liked the songs-plus he wore leather too-so I’d already had him on file (so to speak) in case anything happened with Johnny-or if Johnny wanted to switch to guitar. With Andy in the band, I found a guy who was more hardcore about music being his life than I ever was. More importantly, he was available for basically any show I wanted to book. Joe was too-but he has the car problem-which Andy solved by saying he’d make sure Joe got to the gigs-unless he happens to be closer to the gig-then it’s my job to get him. But now I have 2 guys who are very dedicated (not that past members weren’t) and also very available to play-that hasn’t happened since that 2004-2006 period. On top of that, they both wanted to rehearse a lot so we’ve settled-so far-on rehearsing twice a week-and we’re getting tighter as a band. It definitely shows when we perform-and the band chemistry is showing too.

-On top of all this, we’ve also started to use some outside booking agents to help us with shows. Shelly U. helped CB get into places like Jake’s, DS Humphreys, Nino’s & The Checkpoint Tavern-and we have more shows pending on top of that. We are very thankful to have her helping us. We also have Buffalo Joe from DTD Promotions helping us get gigs in Buffalo and our very 1st out of state gig in Connecticut on 12/20/08. We’re very thankful for his help as well and I’m sure more gigs will be coming from them in the future-along with my own bookings and maybe even some more booking agents. We are starting to work on developing a team around us that can help augment the band in several ways.

-Currently we now mostly play the full night ourselves-from 10 PM-2 AM-with a mixture of cover tunes and our own originals. While expenses are not fully paid for every time, it’s a lot better than it was. Andy came up with the idea of making buttons for the fans and I’ve started to include FREE CD samplers to give out at every show. We’ve already noticed an increase in attendance at the shows so things are going good. It’s also definitely helped with our original music too. I don’t recall ever seeing anyone dancing to CB originals before. We even had one attractive woman get up on stage with us to dance while we were performing “Mine, Mine, Mine.” The Plan is working. We are giving people what they want-while slipping our own stuff in as well. It’s the old “bring them in w/ the covers and hook them with your originals” approach. Even though we’d rather play all originals, we do enjoy playing the covers too. Things are looking good as CB enters into 2009-much better than thru out 2008.

-Now, here’s a list of a few things to keep an eye out for with CAROLINE BLUE in 2009…

-We’ve been in talks with a video producer and it looks like there will be some new CAROLINE BLUE videos appearing in 2009.(about time-HA!)

-More reviews from the NFTI CD (several are already pending) as well as expanding the amount of radio stations that have access to CB songs.

-Finally getting an actual Street Team going.

-Making changes to the main CB site as well as the My Spaces pages to make them more streamlined & accessible.

-More shows-both in and out of NY State.

-More interviews with not just me, but with Andy & Joe too!

-More polls asking you, our fan base, what you feel about things. We want your input on a number of things . We’ve already started with the favorite song poll on the STTH My Space page

-And, if all goes right, before the end of the year, there will be a brand new CAROLINE BLUE CD with all new music!

-I want to thank everyone out there who has supported us and have been along for the ride-whether it’s been since the beginning or just getting on board recently. Your support is so deeply appreciated. I also want to give a huge thanks to both Andy & Joe-you guys have been great and I have to say, this lineup has been the hardest working lineup I’ve ever had and I’m proud of what we’ve done to make things better. It’s a lot of hard work-but that’s the way it has to be. To quote Quincey Jones, “The only place that success comes before work is in the dictionary.” We’re looking forward to reaching new heights in 2009. Wishing you all a very happy 2009 & keep rockin!



About carolineblueofficial

CAROLINE BLUE is a Melodic Hard Rock / Metal band based in Syracuse, NY. Our music is similar to KISS with touches (depending on song) of Type O Negative, Dokken & Megadeth. The band consists of Wayne W. Johnson (vocals / guitar) and assorted musicians.
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