Think Fresno doesn’t have a stellar music scene that’ s making waves nationally and internationally? Let us introduce you to one such musician, born and raised in Orosi, now living, working, writing music right here in Fresno, and reaching Americana charts in Europe: Lance Canales!
Signing a Record Contract!
I met with Lance recently at Goldstein’s Mortuary and Delicatessen in the Tower District. I wanted to find out more about what it means to be a signed recording artist in this age of easy media access. And I asked the question to which everyone assumes the answer is yes: Have you quit your day job? And I got Lance’s one word answer: No.
Check out Lance’s music here:
That is the state of the music business these days, though. The romantic vision of signing that contract, calling up your boss and telling him to shove it, and stepping onto that tour bus into fame and fortune just isn’t the reality of the deal. It’s a job. Yeah, it’s a job many of us musicians would prefer to have over our day jobs, but it is still a lot of work. And success is still something you must work hard for.
So what exactly does it mean, then, to have signed a record deal with a label? This is what Lance told me: “The label [Music Road Records, Austin TX] put up the money to record the album at a state of the art recording studio in Austin. They do the distribution, send out all the press releases, magazine reviews, sent [it] to Europe, Ireland, Scotland—international distribution.”
When you hear it in so few terms, it seems like it doesn’t mean much. But it does. These kinds of services require a networked machine and backing funds that the label has access to and the rest of us really don’t. For $35, any one of us can get our self-recorded album on iTunes. It takes a lot more money and way better connections to get a physical CD into a music store in Amsterdam.
That backing money means the label is taking a risk. And generally speaking, it isn’t a wise business decision to take a risk on just anyone. Music Road Records believes in Lance and believes they can recoup the costs and everyone can make money eventually. So even though Lance isn’t stepping onto that big ol’ tour bus just yet, it’s still a big deal that this label wants to take chances with him and his music.
So, what happened when Lance Canales’s new album, The Blessing and The Curse, was released in Europe? The album was released on August 29, 2015. On September 5, it was listed in the European Americana charts at #5! And it stayed there through October. Lance will be heading to Europe this October to play a roots festival and a few other dates. Then he will be headed back in May 2017 for a bigger tour. Congrats Lance! That’s a big TCBFresno hell yeah!
What’s Next on the Road to Success?
Connect with Lance here:
Lance just returned from doing a TEDx in Bend, OR and playing at the Woody Guthrie Center’s 40th Anniversary in Tulsa, OK. This coming weekend (May 13-14) he will be heading out to Cherokee, Texas for the Cherokee Creek Music Fest. Let’s name drop a few from the lineup: John Fogerty, Dwight Yoakam, Chris Robinson, Lyle Lovett, Counting Crows, Bruce Hornsby. Just a few slightly big name acts on this bill. Lance is playing at noon on Saturday, and that’s just fine according to Lance: “Don’t care what time, I’m on the list. I get to wear the lanyard and hang out with those guys!”
In another couple weeks, Lance will be heading out on the road again to play the Freight & Salvage in Berkeley, May 26, then heading up through Oregon to play in Roseburg and ZigZag (dropping my own name here as I get to play drums with Lance for these three shows!). Lance will be jetting back out to Texas again June 4 for the Kerville Folk Festival.
So Many Baby Steps
Lance describes his current road as one full of baby steps. He’s been playing music for most of his life in one way or another. He sang as a kid in a Pentecostal “holy roller” choir with his brother. He played drums in rock band for a short while. He took over singing and eventually playing guitar and began to find his own voice as a musician and artist. Now in his forties, Lance is performing his own brand of swampy, delta blues with that California farmland grit which he would like to see more from this area get behind.
As many of us musicians in Fresno know, it isn’t easy to get a crowd out to anything. Even when you have big fans, it’s a fickle scene that may or may not show up for no real reason it seems. Americana music packs in the crowds the further east you go. But here it’s a different story. Lance tells it best:
“Fresno’s one of the toughest places. In the Americana scene you have to blaze your own trail. Play in the midwest and it’s weird, I’m co-headlining at the Woody Guthrie museum in Tulsa, but I have to be strategic here. Have to not play in Fresno or the central valley for a bit and then make the shows epic so it looks like I’m blowing up. Fresno is a little bit harder.
“But you know what, when you show up and there’s a big crowd in front of you and those poeple have been sitting there, are waiting for you to play and they bring people, those people are so proud that you come from here. I’d rather play in front of 15 Fresno fans than 100 from Timbuktu. Because the Fresno people who come out get it. They know, they understand. They see the vineyards. They see the orchards. They’re in the heat. They know exactly what you’re going through. They know exactly how you feel. When you’re doing something out in the rest of the country and then you choose to come home and play a little sweaty place like Goldstein’s and pack the house out, they appreciate that. The next time you play somewhere it might be a bigger stage, but they know, when he plays at home he plays at this little sweaty bar because it’s home. You can’t be pretentious in 110 heat! it’s just not gonna happen.
“It’s been tough, but at the same time it’s paid off. At my album release party there was about 500+ people there. KFCF was there, and they broadcast live. It was amazing and so cool. There were little kids there rocking out. There were old people there rocking out. Hipsters and hippies and Indians and Mexicans and blacks and Asians and Anglos. Everybody was there. Fresno showed up. I got emotional because that’s my home. There’s nothing better than that. Central valley people appreciate someone uplifting the valley.”
Further Baby Steps
Some exciting news that just came in this week is that Lance’s song “Stomp it Out” from The Blessing and The Curse will be featured in the TV show “Wynonna Earp” May 20 on the SyFy Channel. This comes on the heals of Lance signing a brand new contract with a publishing firm. Lance hopes to continue hearing his songs in other shows and movies in the near future.
“On the outside looking in, looks like I’m doing a whole lot of awesomeness, but inside it’s baby steps and gradual. I don’t want to crash and burn a year from now. I’m supposed to be doing something in Florida in September. August, something in the North East, but those aren’t squared away yet. My agent lives in Maine.”
Lance Canales is definitely making his dream a reality. It’s been a long hard row, but the work is paying off. Your baby steps are looking bright in the future, Lance, and TCBFresno wants to wish you the best of luck and success!