Clearing The Fog
If you look up “labor of love” in the Americana dictionary, one of the references you will find is to the folks at No Depression. Their continuing presence in the face of changes in the magazine/media business is a much bigger deal than most of us realize. We often take this forum for granted, and we shouldn’t.
Another reference under the “labor of love” listing has to be Music Fog. If you’re an Americana fan with a computer (and I’m guessing that at least half of that is the case if you’re reading this), odds are you’ve run into Music Fog somewhere along the way. They’re the folks with the really high quality videos of Americana performers generally filmed at the site of some festival. Right now we’re beginning to see the products of the extra hard work done by Music Fog at SXSW. They’ll dangle one video after another in front of us in the coming days. The performer is relaxed, the sound is great and you feel like you’re in the room with her as she plays and sings for you. Generally the video is accompanied by an essay which may or may not relate directly to the performer or the song. Sorta like old school, album-oriented FM radio where the DJ shares what’s on her mind as she plays something amazing for you.
The Music Fog product is in stark contrast with most other videos we music lovers see. Hands down over the BS flip-phone videos we often see on Youtube, but also much better than many of the well-produced (contrived) videos we are subjected to. Take James McMurtry’s song Levelland. Here’s the official video of that song, via Youtube. On the other hand, here’s the Music Fog video of that same song. For sure, McMurtry’s playing the song solo, without a band in the Music Fog version, but you can easily see that the overall quality of the Music Fog experience is better. The reason is because you are THERE with the artist. This feel comes from the high-quality video, lighting, sound, setting and from Music Fog’s real understanding of what the artist is all about.
Jessie Scott is the face of Music Fog, or at least the voice it, and for good reason. Read one of her essays and you’ll see how easily she turns a phrase and weaves disparate thoughts together around an artist and her work. Always respectful of the artist, Jessie knows that the audience has a voice, too, and that the song may spark thoughts that seem far from the original thesis of the song.
Jessie DJ’d in Pittsburgh, New York and Florida (she was the first female jock – which sounds like an unnecessary undergarment – at Pittsburgh’s rock station WDVE). She’s been “first female” in several different roles, but I became her fan when she was hired for XM Radio’s Cross Country (R.I.P., Cross Country). Channel 12 became the most popular Americana station on the planet and while she was associated with it she coordinated its role in everything from the Americana Music Awards to SXSW. Though this piece is focused on Jessie, I should point out here that Music Fog is a collection of very talented people, including “partners” Jim McBean, Aaron Lee and Chris Walsh and several others.
Jessie’s been a bit out of commission for the past week or so. She had surgery just after SXSW. We’re not personal friends, so I don’t know any details other than what she has shared through the Music Fog site, but it appears that the surgery was major and while she’s heading back toward getting in the saddle, she’s not there yet. (Here’s the latest scoop on Jessie’s condition in an essay accompanying a great Eilen Jewell video, shot at SXSW – see, I told you about her essays.) We exchanged emails a few weeks ago about doing a comprehensive piece on the origins of Music Fog, its business model, and even some scoop from her days at XM during the merger with Sirius, and we’ll get to that, but we had to wait so that she could get through SXSW and now so that she can get through her recovery. In the meantime, I thought a little blog post/getwell card was in order for one of the best people in the world of Americana music.
As Jessie says in her latest missive, “I have been through almost a week now of haze, of drifting in and out, of sleep overtaking me, and then of weird, implausible dreams. But so it is after surgery.” Here’s hoping that the fog Jessie’s coming out of clears very soon. She and the folks at Music Fog have certainly cleared the fog for us, giving us clean, crisp views of the artists we love, at just the right price.
GET WELL SOON, JESSIE!
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