Originally Published: February 21, 2013 7:09 p.m.
Artists and entertainers; is there a difference?
According to Tru-B-Dor Records owner Alan Niven, the difference has a lot to do with talent.
"In the music world at the moment, we are absolutely inundated and drowning in entertainers who are one-dimensional in their ability. They may have a voice and they may be able to present a song, but they don't seem to have the capacity to express themselves," Niven said.
Niven, along with his wife, Heather Vincent-Niven, are working to bring the idea of the artist back to the music industry, however.
The two head the Prescott-based record label Tru-B-Dor Records and both bring a wealth of experience into the business. The label released their first two CDs this year. "Postcards From Capricorn" from the blues-rock band Chris Buck and the Bighorns dropped in January. Prescott metal band Storm of Perception released their first album through the label, called "Into The Sun," on Feb. 19. Los Angeles-based music company Fontana/Universal is distributing both albums worldwide.
"We follow the troubadour tradition," Niven said of Tru-B-Dor. "Before we had radio, before we had television, before we had all the electronic communication we have, we had troubadours who went from village to hamlet, to town to city, and played traditional songs that bound society together. The beauty of rock and roll is there is no barb wire fence or wall that can stop a sound wave."
Niven originally relocated to Prescott, he said, in an attempt to move away from Los Angeles and "get out" of the music industry.
Throughout his adult life, he's written, recorded, worked for radio and for record labels. There isn't much he hasn't dabbled in when it comes to the music industry, including his time with Virgin Records, which led to the formation of Enigma Records and the signing of the bands Motley Crue and Berlin. He also managed Great White and Guns N Roses. In 2003, Great White frontman Jack Russell made headlines following a club fire that killed 100 people in Rhode Island. Niven said he had long since ceased to be manager for the band by the time of the fire.
Some of his experiences in the music industry, he added, led him to seek a more peaceful lifestyle.
"That would explain why I wanted to get away from musicians and the music business," he joked. "Fortunately Heather has a tremendous ear and great enthusiasm, which was sufficient to stir my old blood and get my enthusiasm going, but with a past like mine I'm very hard to engage."
Niven credited his wife as the driving force behind the label.
Vincent-Niven said talk of forming a record label first began in 2004.
"We both run the label," she said.
Production, manufacturing, funding, marketing, retail and world-wide postal efforts are only part of the work performed by the record label in the last several weeks since the launch of their first album in January.
"We're still believers in hard copy, depending on the format of the music," Niven said. "To have it on the computer and to be able to see it on the screen is great, but it isn't like actually holding it. See me, feel me, touch me; that's where mojo lives. I believe in that mojo and I believe in that first impression, too."
Per the label requirements, bands with Tru-B-Dor are expected to work hard on their music, even following the release of an album.
"[Storm of Perception] have been writing and they're already going into preproduction on their second album," Vincent-Niven said.
"We may be based in Prescott and it may be small potatoes in terms of the operation at the moment, but our visualization is that we're a label for the world and that we have certain standards, and we put out records that are to our standards and related to talent, as opposed to genre, and we're going to deal in artists as opposed to entertainers. The gamble that Heather and I are taking is that we don't have to be in L.A. to do this. In this day and age we can actually do it in Prescott," Niven said. "When you hear them you will agree these are world-class standard recordings. We can do it here."
Storm of Perception band member Dylan Doherty, 26, is one of the band's two guitar players, a vocalist and songwriter. Doherty was born and raised in Prescott.
The group will perform songs from their newly released CD Saturday, March 2, in downtown Prescott at Scottie's. The show is scheduled to begin at 8 p.m. Admission for the 21-and-over show is free.
"It's our first show since the release of our CD," Doherty said. "We're expecting a great turnout. It's a free show. It will be a great way for us to warm up for a bigger show that we're playing April 1 in Phoenix called Pagan Fest."
According to drummer Stevie Thunder, the festival marks the six-member band's first large-scale performance. Band members include Thunder, Doherty, Brian Herring on vocals, Mike Gim-Lee on bass guitar, R.J. Felo on guitar and vocals, and Billy Fugate on keyboards.
"We have a lot of different influences. Each member of the band listens to a lot of different music, which helps make the band eclectic and different, but there is a Storm flavor throughout all the songs," Thunder said.
Most songs, according to Niven, cover only six topics.
"I love you, I hate you, I feel good, I feel bad, the world is great and the world is anything but great," Niven said. "We keep coming back to those same themes. We're connecting to the idiosyncrasy of the performer. The best rock and roll is music that draws you to them by your own consent. We live in a coercive world. Pay your taxes, obey the speed signs, obey the laws, keep an eye on peer pressure, but when you pick up a guitar and play - and when I recognize the emotion and the spirit - we connect and form a bridge of humanity. That is the essence of an artist."