Author Archives: Randy Wayne Belt

About Randy Wayne Belt

I'm the chief frontman for the band Barley Station and its founder. On stage I am usually playing my lefty bass and singing lead and harmony. Lately, more on my right-handed acoustic guitar. In the studio I play just about anything that is needed. My band's music is an eclectic blend of genres from americana to pop to folk, and shades of rock. I will be blogging about music in general, my own band and its adventures, all things related to music, perhaps some recording tips, etc., and will do some reviews of other recording artists. I have a broad taste in music and grew up listening to top 40 music of every sort and also music my parents would introduce me to. My first guitar influence was Jimmy Page - all the acoustic B side stuff, of course, that most people have never heard of. As a bassist, my early influences were Sting and Geddy Lee. I'm a songwriter as well, and have been in the music industry for many years learning it's many aspects from both a business and musician/artist point of view. My band, Barley Station, is currently working on it's third album while promoting new singles that will appear on it. We have extensive global airplay and have toured the U.S.

The “Waiting” Video is Here

Time is precious and life is precious. We hope our video for the song “Waiting” effectively conveys that.  We often worry about the future, or obsess about the past and forget that we live here and now.  “Now is the day that is here” sums up the song fairly well.

It is a summery song in many ways with catchy guitar hooks, honest lyrics, and melody and harmony that grabs your ears as you would expect from any Barley Station song.

“Waiting” appears as track 1 on the Barley Station album Back There Somewhere, released Sept. 14, 2017.

Subscribe to our YouTube channel here for future releases:  http://www.youtube.com/barleystation

 

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Breaking Out

Review of  Verity White’s album: Breaking Out

reviewed by Randy Wayne Belt
April 16, 2018

I remember how relieved a lot of people were when rock made a bit of a comeback in the 90s and I recall a lot of people saying how they felt they could listen to new music again instead of just regurgitated classics.

With rock’s decline in the late 90s and taking a backseat on major charts like Billboards, the dance and electro music chiefly took over pop radio and totally dominated by 2009. However, a pop/rock resurgence has occurred as led by the electro rock of groups like Imagine Dragons. It is almost like a cycle where pop/rock declines – then rock declines then pop/rock resurges – then rock resurges thereafter.

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Will rock make another comeback? Or will it stay almost as a cult following like when it first started? No one knows for sure. But there is one thing that is for sure – Rock is not dead  – and The UK’s own Verity White will be in the leading edge of a comeback!

Influenced by the 90s rock/grunge scene and adding her own twist of pure rock, some electronic, and a touch of progressive, Verity White’s debut full length album Breaking Out continues to do just that (break out). It is a strong debut album that should lodge her foot in the door and kick it in just enough for the next one to break it down.  And Verity isn’t waiting around for some pie in the sky big label to do the work for her.  She is dong it herself!

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Not only do the lyrics ring true from the heart of life’s experiences, Verity effectively delivers her vocal performance to match the moods on each song. Each song has its own character and each character is easily slipped into. And that shouldn’t be surprising considering her background in theater. Whether a song or component within a song requires the growl of a wild cat or the purr of a kitten, Verity delivers. Power and grit with fire and wit – Purr and claw, she’s got it all.

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As Indie Music Mag put it ” A powerful vocalist with a soulful streak that is truly compelling” (indie music mag, May 2017) I think they are onto something here.

If Verity is the wild cat of this album, then Alex, the guitarist, is the tom cat and shows no mercy to the helpless mice as they are shredded by claws of wound string fret to fret. The rest of the band fills right in with the necessary ingredients to cook up a perfect musical meal.

The extra rich crunchy electric guitars lift this album to a new level. The Hughes and Kettner head and Blackstar cab with a Les Paul Custom guitar run through provided the perfect warm and crunchy sound for this album. No wimpy guitars here!

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The textured layers of music on each track create a unique atmosphere for each song and relate to the lyrics in some way. Each song sounds like it was approached with a unique perspective of what that song needed production-wise. Each song was carefully crafted and attention to details are obvious to a scrutinizing listener.

The opening and title track, Breaking Out, with its meaty introduction to the listener of a real rock experience, kicks things off. It’s a musical “scotch on the rocks” and has a message that you can interpret for yourself in the video. (Watch recently released video for the song)

The second track, Zeroes and Ones, starts things off with a taste of keyboard driven verses showing the artists diversity in taste and style and ultimately lead into crunchy rock chorus pieces that flow easily together while following the emotion of the lyrics.

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Demonstrating an understanding of the importance of the bridge of a song as a great reset point, it is clear Verity and her production team have taken great pains to finely tune each track.

The keyboard driven sounds of track two continue into track three and then reset back to the harder edged guitar based riff rock with edgy and attitude oriented vocals. Carefully placed vocal effects further demonstrate that the production ideas of this album were no mere accidents but were carefully planned.

The rock attitude comes out fully in the song I Don’t Care which is a total pure rock song that Joan Jett would have been proud to have written and has the perfect bridge providing contrast to the rest of the song.  The fifth song, See Through It, demonstrates that Verity is capable of utilizing her obviously very trained voice and her sense of melody to give the album a break and slight detour into a bit of electronic pop/rock feel that gives the perfect reset point while it lyrically delves deeper into personal struggles that are ultimately given a sense of hope to overcome by the last track, (which is aptly titled Overcome).

That ability to handle any type of vocal is what led me to be ever more curious of her talent and how this album would turn out.

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So impressed was I with her handling of a number of vocal formats that I asked her to provide the leading harmony vocals on a remake by my own band, Barley Station, of the old dance/pop Madonna song “Borderline” (from 1983/1984) changing its format to a more rock-oriented tune but with a male/female lead vocal. And Verity indeed delivered! (view article on that)

One of my favorite tracks on this album is the song Exhale“. So I wasn’t surprised this was pushed as a single from the album. Like some of the other songs presented in this collection of original songs, “Exhale” combines the cleaner sounds of keyboards and weaves them through the song with the crunchy guitar sounds, creating textures

The album concludes with another of my favorites, the creative and hypnotic track “Overcome“. By now as the album is about to conclude, you understand and have a clearer picture of the concept behind the album of overcoming many of the things we struggle with in life. And especially so the struggles of an artist in a world that imagines perfection is achievable and projects unrealistic demands on its inhabitants. Overcoming the struggles of depression and using music as an outlet and healing mechanism seems to be an underlying theme that is effectively delivered in this album.

The set up is all there for a follow up album to demonstrate that Verity White will be an artist to watch and take notice of and as I said earlier, kick that door in the rest of the way. Verity is always interacting with her fans, has great stage presence, and works her tail off writing, recording, and touring. There’s no reason not to belief that she cannot achieve whatever she sets her mind to. Rumor has it a new single is in the works, so watch for that!

WEBSITE : www.veritywhite.com
SPOTIFY: https://open.spotify.com/album/7zF9Hwte3JZG8qLDZveCBM?si=V0ZITobGSDeBid2edOg75w
TWITTER : www.twitter.com/veebear
FACEBOOK: www.facebook.com/VerityWhiteSinger
INSTAGRAM: www.instagram.com/Original_Verity
PATREON: www.patreon.com/VerityWhite

PR Contact
Email: veebear@me.com

Announcing the release of Borderline by Barley Station

March 21, 2018

This is a Rock/Pop version of Madonna’s song that hit #10 on Billboards Top 100 in 1984. I was on the Billboards chart in various positions for a total of 30 weeks. This new version by Barley Station is more akin to the version of Madonna’s 2010 Stick and Sweet Tour and is a collaboration of vocals between Randy Wayne Belt (Barley Station) on lead vocal and Verity White (Verity White) on leading harmony (and both on backing vocals). It is an across the pond vocal collaboration between he U.S. and UK that will surprise many!

The old saying that a hit song is a hit song in any format bears true.  The new format for the song was achieved by removing the dance/pop elements from the song and stripping it all the way down to an acoustic guitar and vocal and rebuilding it with a rock/pop beat, crunchy guitars and somewhat gritty vocals.  It was with the help of Verity White on a leading harmony vocal that the song was able to be sung with a conviction and reflection of the new atmosphere that helped the song stay true to the integrity of the original underlying song written by Reggie Lucas and first performed by Madonna.

It was deemed by Randy, who produced the new version, that the piano/keyboard melody that opens the song was an important element that should be kept as closely as possible to the original and tastefully translated to the electric guitar. This was achieved by multi- layering various harmonics of the melodic phrases to achieve a thick and believable electric sound.  The rest of the song fell easily enough into place very naturally.

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So far, all those surveyed before the release, liked this version even better than the original.  That could be a matter of taste because the original was a brilliant mix of dance and pop. But at the least, this song works very well in a rockier format to be certain!

The photo for the cover is by Veronica Linge Phillips of Veronica Marie Photography.

You can find Borderline at most major digital retailers such as:

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/borderline/1352851105?i=1352851119

On Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/track/0vXxqupVurPDg7DMFtDK2Y?si=od48UVxjSMq4F-cGtbzkTA

And at CD Baby: https://store.cdbaby.com/cd/barleystation20

 

Katie Belle Akin: Review of “You Are My Holiday”

 

Katie’s enthusiasm for music and singing has been consistent since an early age.  Following her dreams, working hard, and learning from her mistakes with an always upbeat attitude has helped her multi-task successfully as a musical entertainer and in fashion as a model.

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Since her very first music release, and even since my last review of her music, she has come a long, long way, and like a fine wine, only improves with time.

She has that special “it” in all that she does that brings me to her Christmas song, which I pulled from her back catalog of other great songs.  

Blessed with natural vocal talent and an ear for a good melody, Katie brings home the Christmas cheer easily with her song “You Are My Holiday“. I dug this song up by accident and was surprised I didn’t find it before. It is from 2012 but sounds as fresh as yesterday!  It is pure goodness!

I can hear this song being covered by other artists in the future in a big way. And it is also a great candidate for a Christmas movie soundtrack.

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The rich warm acoustic guitar played by song co-writer Kip Williams starts the song out accompanied by Katie’s naturally pure and very tuned vocals and with the snare brushes and brush hits that give it a light and smooth feel.

Katie’s vocal gives a rich, warm, and enchanting beginning to the song that when the chorus kicks in knocks you out with a fantastic hook that will be stuck in your head for life.

As the song progresses from the perfect opening sparse arrangement, more instrumentation comes in and the bass picks things up a notch and never lets it back down.

With dramatic vocal pauses before the chorus, the song is well arranged and puts the “Merry” into Merry Christmas.

The song will fill you with feelings of jubilee and bright cheerfulness washing away any kind of sadness that sometimes come to many this time of year. The song is like an escape into merriment and blissful joy.

Katie Belle’s Homepage:  http://www.katiebellega.com

Watch the video on YouTube: https://youtu.be/gvqd1IKorwI

 

 

Olivia Penalva | “Dream You Home” Single Review

by Randy Wayne Belt
Dec 23, 2017

(First published in Starlight Music Chronicles on Nov. 30, 2017)

I’ll admit I love the Hallmark Christmas movies.  There’s something about that time of year  that makes even the mediocre movies seem good or magical.  But the best ones always have great music behind them.  Olivia Penalva’s new Christmas song “Dream You Home” would fit well as a background track for one of the well produced Hallmark Christmas movies, or any other, for that matter. This song is far beyond medicocrity.

Olivia, who hails from Vernon, BC in Canada, has put together quite a gem with this new song.  It has that magical sparkle to it in the underlying arrangements.  It is not as much an in-your-face Christmas song as it is capturing the spirit behind the season, making it perfect for placement in any Christmas or Holiday movie.  The chorus of the song is very memorable and powerful and even having  this as a background track would make any movie even better. (Great tracks can MAKE a great movie)

Not only does the song have a great mix of sounds based around a sort of shuffle march type drum beat on the verses but the lyrics are well written and paint a perfect picture of what she is trying to convey.

My favorite lyric in “Dream You Home” is “The light in your soul shines brighter than gold in my heart – that’s where you are.”

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The images invoked by the song could be any number of situations. It could be a lost loved one or a significant other who is separated by distance or time, or even a soldier gone in a far away land during the Christmas Season and the song  is almost like the soldiers spouse singing to bring him home even if it’s only at home in the heart.

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The song does indeed grab your heart and imagination, which is, to me, the ultimate goal of a song – to speak to anyone or everyone in any situation.  This is one more thing that makes it an easy shoo in for anyone considering it for a spot in a Christmas movie.

Often, it is this time of year when many find themselves missing a loved one in some capacity, and it isn’t always the best time for many, but even still and even if you are not into Christmas or the spirit of it, and even if you are the Grinch himself, this song still weighs in on its own merit as a song with a powerful  chorus that demands attention and speaks to the soul.

This isn’t Olivia’s first Christmas song.  I reviewed “Christmas For Two” which was published in Starlight Music Chronicles’ December issue back in 2015

 

And also on my own blog: https://barleystation.wordpress.com/2015/12/19/review-of-christmas-for-two/

Since that time Olivia has progressed even further as an artist and has honed even further her vocal and songwriting skills. Recently reaching a million plays on Spotify, her newer music bears out how far she’s grown since then.

Her voice still has that same special warmth to it but with a sultry yet still innocent sound that will capture your ears, heart, and will leave a memorable impression when you hear it.  I compared her voice before, in a sense to that of Nora Jones, or Colbie Caillet.  In fact, since the last review, Olivia was able to be mentored by Colbie Caillet after winning teen artist of the year in the Starlight Music Chronicles “Artist of the Year Contest” in 2016.

As a winner, Olivia got to attend ArtistMax an Artist Development program in L.A. in March 2017. Artist Max was dreamed up by legendary producer and engineer Ken Caillet (Fleetwood Mac Rumours) and was mentored there by Ken and Colbie Caillet, and David Foster in L.A..

Link to Dream You Home on Spotify:
https://open.spotify.com/album/69E17KNMwKzhFSPRHKNHQU

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/OliviaMusicLive/

Website: https://www.oliviamusiclive.com/

YouTube Lyrics Video: https://youtu.be/Fp6F0TAK1AI

Olivia Penalva SMC 2016 TEEN Artist of the Year

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/dream-you-home/1300720379?i=1300720661

Back There Somewhere

With the release of the new album Back There Somewhere on September 14, Barley Station has launched a weekly Facebook Live show called ‘T-Night Live with Barley Station’.  The format draws somewhat from the old Saturday Night Live concepts and formats and incorporates a type of humor, skits, and live music into the weekly broadcast. Already into Episode 3, which is the most fun and zaniest Episode yet, the band promises to take you on a ride that will leave you laughing, crying, singing along, or in stitches. 

(watch below – Facebook required to view -And below THAT is the Official Press Release of the Album)

Episode 3

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For all Episodes go to:  https://barleystation.net/tnight-live-archives

BARLEY STATION ‘BACK THERE SOMEWHERE’
ALBUM RELEASED SEPTEMBER 14, 2017

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BARLEY STATION ‘BACK THERE SOMEWHERE’
ALBUM RELEASED SEPTEMBER 14, 2017

 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

September 14th, 2017 – Barley Station has just announced the official release of their third studio album ‘Back There Somewhere’ via Barleyfields Records (ASCAP). The first new single off the album, ‘Waiting’, released on August 10th, 2017 and has already been well received by North American and European media and radio.

Barley Station consists of multi-instrumentalists Randy Wayne Belt and Brian (Hex Jin) Kious as its core vocal and songwriting team, and is often joined onstage by others. The album also guest features the exquisite backing vocals of Virginia Grey of Carolina Magnolia fame. (Tracks 3 and 4 on the album)

Founded in 2011, Barley Station has written, produced, and launched two albums ‘After All’ (2012), and ‘Damaged Goods’ (2013) followed by a multiplicity of singles. Songs from the ‘Damaged Goods’ album have already hit the top 10 on charts in Paris, France and with the release of the bands’ new album ‘Back There Somewhere’ (September 14th, 2017), the band will surely become a household name on the European charts. Barley Station has been picked up by prestigious curated Spotify Playlists and have received glowing press feedback from a myriad of credible publications, radio, and television media platforms. The bands’ signature sound is a genre crossover blend of Americana, Country, Pop, Folk, and even Rock Alternative which is authentic and original.

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Inside art and disc art

Singles from ‘Back There Somewhere’ have already garnered the interest of North American radio and media such as Steel Notes, Skope, AVA Live Radio, Indie Music Monday, Starlight Music Chronicles, American Pride Magazine, and Ally’s Attic to name a few. Their first single off the new album ‘Waiting’, was released on August 10th, 2017 and is a warm, uplifting, mellifluous song reflective of the heart of this masterpiece.

Songs like ‘Take Me To The Shade’, and ‘Warm Embraces’ lend a fun element to the album while others like ‘Long Ago Angel’, ‘Like Winter’, and ‘Keep Me High’ add emotional depth with well thought out lyrics & Instrumentation that is a true reflection of Americana.

A few previously released singles like ‘Double Star’, ‘Like Destiny’, ‘4th Of July’, and ‘Must Be Something’ have been added to the album to appease avid Barley Station fans and European radio who have demonstrated a strong, supportive response for them. The closing number on this album, ‘Come On Down Hey’, is the jewel in the crown. It is a smooth but driving song that is inviting in its lyrics and jubilant in its melody with mandolin weaved in careully. It’s the perfect way to leave loyal fans on a lingering note of what’s to come for this exceptional band.

Back There Somewhere | Track Listing

Release Date: September 14th, 2017

  1. Waiting 3:04
  2. Take Me To The Shade 3:13
  3. Warm Embraces 2:39
  4. Long Ago Angel 3:54
  5. Keep Me High 3:59
  6. Must Be Something 4:02
  7. Like Winter 3:41
  8. Double Star 3:29
  9. Like Destiny 3:21
  10. 4th Of July 2:21
  11. Come On Down Hey 4:03

The album is available for purchase on Amazon and iTunes, and has also been launched on Spotify.

 

Website: barleystation.net

 

PR Contact: Candice Marshall pr@barleystation.net

Releasing Your Own Music in a Nutshell

Releasing your own music in a nutshell.

Since I frequently get asked a lot of questions regarding distribution and releasing new music by new or newer independent artists I thought I’d write this hopefully short blog to answer a few of those questions. This is nutshell, not comprehensive!

You have a single or an album and you want to release it. First make sure you copyright your work. Go to copyright.gov to do that. Next, if you are in this for the long haul, you’ll need a PRO (Performing Rights Organization) such as BMI, ASCAP, and SESAC which are among the most recognized. Personally, I use ASCAP for both my publishing arm of my own label and personally as a songwriter, copyright holder. Go to their respective website and signup. It’s easy. Having your works registered in the database is also a bit of insurance if you run into a copyright issue and you need to prove that your work was created before a certain date.

You’ll also want to register with SoundExchange for collection of digital performing rights. Now you you need distribution. I can’t tell you who has the best prices and gives you the most of your cut, but considering the cut major labels take, this should be the least of your worries because the cut you take from ANY independent friendly distributor is WAY more than any major label will ever give you (and many indie labels as well.) So there is no sense in nickel and diming at this stage of your game.

Fact is, you are not going to sell a lot of physical or digital copies at first unless you have huge money backing you for marketing and advertising.
So the best bet is to go with an independent friendly distribution service like CD Baby. I have used CD Baby for my band Barley Station from day 1
of our first release back in 2012. And I used them prior to that for a previous band and have always have had great service and communication
with a myriad of extra benefits.

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Here’s an example of one of my own releases to the right —>

So, without sounding like an ad for CD Baby, I must say I have not felt the need to shop for other services as I have been very happy with all they have to offer. And what they have to offer answers a lot of the other questions I get.

CD Baby has a lot fo benefits for the independent artist. For one, they have been doing this for many, many years. They have made the connections you won’t need to spend the time making, if you even can.

If you need digital distribution, they cover it. They will get your music to your choice of paying platforms and/or a combo of non paying platforms as well. They get your music to iTunes, Spotify, Amazon MP3, Deezer, Tidal, Google Music Store, iHeartRadio, Pandora, Rhapsody, Groove, Rumblefish, and many more. And they are always adding what is new.

In addition to this, they offer YouTube content ID and make sure you get paid if someone uses your music for anything on YouTube, and in general, protect your copyrights there. This is an option they provide so you want to make sure that that option is for you.
And now that you have registered with SoundExchange, when you are entering your release data while signing up your single or album, they will send your release info to SoundExchange.

And if that is not enough, you need UPC bar codes? For a small amount more (usually only $5) they can assign you a bar code so that purchases of your album get registered with Soundscan and are tracked (if you want to eventually hit the charts after you sell a lot copies) OR you can always request your own UPC barcodes.

If you want radio play of various sorts you will want ISRC codes attached to your track.
(International Standard Recording Code) is the international identification system for sound recordings and music video recordings. These codes are unique and permanent identifiers for your song and are like your songs fingerprints and are used to track your spins and collection of royalties. You need these! CD Baby can assign these as well.

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Another benefit is that CD Baby often partners with other services that you may need, such as Easy Song Licensing if you want to release a cover song, and services like RadioAirplay.com if you want to test out your music on radio and have great stat analysis. And they have a number of other helpful partners, blogs, and newsletters to offer the DIY artist.

Not only that, but CD Baby has tracking and trending reports of services such as your Spotify Streams and iTunes sales before they hit your account as monies. All these services are with a basic album signup and not the Pro package. That has its own benefits but is not necesary unless you just want everything all in one place, such as ASCAP collections if your are with ASCAP.

And yet another benefit is you can opt for brick and mortar distribution so that when the demand comes for your album, CD Baby can supply that particular store for you. This is, of course, unless you’d rather do your own consignment, but I find it is much simpler to allow them to handle that unless you enjoy doing paper work and following up with all your consignments and tracking them yourself, which eventually can turn into a real pain.

The question also comes to me of having any legal issues hassles when you part ways is not a question I have had to worry about thus far because the service with CD Baby has never lacked for me and I have not as yet felt any need to part ways with them. But since they are professionals, that is not something I would worry about. The fact is, if you happen to get a major label deal, your new label would handle the legal aspects of all that for you.

Others may have other opinions, but I speak only from my own experience.
In short, CD Baby is a service I highly recommend to handle a lot of needs and keep your own work load down and get the biggest bang for your buck without having yearly fees and as many worries.