This time of the year is usually busy for musicians. Here in the USA, as well as in Europe, festivals seem to happen every week from April to August. It makes sense that people stayed in for the winter and are ready to get out in the sun! New Orleans Jazz Fest and Festival International de Louisiane are two big festivals that just finished here in the gulf coast region. And Hangout Fest just happened too. It’s my personal favorite, because it’s the only festival I’ve been to that’s on a beach!
After NAMM in January and a calm February, I worked with 6 bands in 2 months. A lot of time goes into balancing each band’s schedules and rehearsals. At Festival International in April, I played with 2 bands on the weekend, after staying awake the night before to do 2 early morning news (04:30 & 05:30) TV performances. I slept before that evening’s show and the festival weekend was a success.
I’m currently touring with the artist Brother Dege, pronounced like, “Brother Deedj”. In Europe, the band is known as Brother Dege & The Brotherhood, while in America, we are known as Brother Dege & The Brethren. It’s an interesting translation artifact.
Our latest album, Farmer’s Almanac, was released in 2018 along with several music videos. We toured across Europe & USA playing the new music, and 2019 saw the release of the deluxe edition vinyl. We are excited to return to Europe for two festivals in Switzerland this summer and a full tour later in October. I’m personally excited to return to Lucerne, one of the first places I ever visited in Europe, and where Keb’ Mo’ will be playing on the same festival date as us. That will be the third time I’ve played a festival date next to Keb’ Mo’! He’s one of my favorite blues artists, and I hope we’ll have time to watch their show. He and his band are just incredible.
Brother Dege "Country Come to Town" off the album Farmer's Almanac
KENT BEATTY is a successful and busy bassist for hire, as well as a member of Brother Dege & The Brethren, who are doing very well with their recordings and performances.
I’m on my way to Europe again for a fall tour. This time I’m playing with Brother Dege, who’s based in New Orleans, and whose music you may have heard in Quentin Tarantino’s film, "Django Unchained". I have known Brother Dege for four years, and played with him since the summer. For the European tour we’re a core line-up of four musicians.
It’s amazing how much work goes into a tour. Scheduling, flights, hotels, trains, tour managers, music equipment, and many more things have to be planned in advance. In a previous piece for Musicians’ Corner, I wrote that you can’t have pets if you’re a traveling musician, or it's at least difficult. But this year, I took in a homeless cat. He had nowhere to go, and he reminded me of my cat I had as a young boy. So that is another thing you must plan for a tour, somebody must care for your loved ones when you are not there.
Brother Dege "Too Old To Die Young"
You accept the traveler lifestyle on the road, and you’re a nomad for a few months. You don’t have a home but you create one where you go. In the end, I’m excited to go home. I love to travel, but I love the home life around friends and family, too. I am lucky to live in a great music city, Lafayette, Louisiana, where I can continue to work and be closer to home (as well as New Orleans, Houston, and other nearby cities).
Touring has been made easier with technology. Booking travel is easier, and that includes finding good restaurants in the cities where we are playing. Apps, such as Yelp (currently), become your friend. On the money side, many costs have gone up, such as insurance and cost of living. However, musicians are not getting paid more. We still get paid the same as 10 years ago (or less in some touristy cities), so you must appreciate that you are paid to do what you love, as many artists do. The trade off is the experiences, traveling to places that many people would only see on holiday.
I like England and Holland for example. Of course, everything is in English in England, so it's easy for Americans to get around there. The crowds are often more responsive in Europe than in the States, and artists are at times treated better there than back home. We really don’t have a lot of spare time on the road, but if there is some, I enjoy doing something local and touristy. Going to a place like Rome is just incredible. Seeing all of the old buildings all over Europe, when you’re from the US (where almost nothing is older than 200 years), is amazing. And I also love the fries and mayo-thing that they do in France, Belgium, and Holland! Being from Louisiana, I love food, and I enjoy the things that we can't find in the USA. It's honestly one of my favorite parts of traveling.
Kent Beatty solo live
I often play with a different band every week at home. The gigs aren't every night, but weekends are the busiest times for musicians. This means that I’m constantly learning other people’s music.
I’m still a technology fan, and Windows 10 is my software of choice. It unifies every device. While Apple has done wonders for making computers easy for everybody, I've always been a computer geek. I use all types of devices and OS. It’s a wonderful world in tech right now and it’s only getting better. I understand the older generations can shy away from computers, and many long for the golden days of live music and performing. You have to remember all the positives with technology. For example, how many artists who have been discovered through YouTube? Even if 99% of modern music is recorded with click-track, etc., people are still going to play instruments for the next 200+ years (I hope). As long as there is wood for guitars. A piano may be on a touch screen, but it’s still a piano.
I’m also excited about my new bass guitar! It’s a Muckelroy Bass. Brady Muckelroy is an incredible bassist turned bass luthier, and he makes handmade basses out of Austin/San Marcos, Texas. We have been friends for a long time and played shows together. I like all my basses, but you know, you might have a sound in your head that you’re aiming for, and this bass is the closest I’ve gotten to that. Brady does anything you want done with your bass, and no instrument leaves his shop until it sounds and feels the way he wants it. In addition to the bass, I am blessed to recently have my first string endorsement with my favorite brand, Elixir Strings
The south is really happening at the moment, and you can quote the great bassist Steve Bailey, who will tell you, ‘’All roads lead to Nashville’’. I even had a cameo in the new "Jurassic World" film, since many scenes were shot in New Orleans. I never truly appreciated this part of the world until I left. The south, and Louisiana in particular, really is a special place.
Upcoming Tour-dates with Brother Dege & The Brotherhood: