Wednesday, October 7, 2015

House Concerts

I love house concerts and have been doing them now for over ten years. Because of their popularity, many more hosts are popping up which is great for the artists...........well maybe. Unlike serious touring artists, some of the new hosts see this as a little hobby and fun. While it's certainly fun for me, this is no hobby. I have had three hosts in the last two months that have either cancelled or wanted to cancel less than a month before the scheduled gig. I clearly understand that sometimes things bigger than the show happen but none of these reasons were that. One host was a musician and even though my gig was booked several months earlier, he got gig of his own and wrote me two weeks before I flew from the west coast to the east coast and informed me that my show was cancelled. I was able to convince him to ask one of his friends to host the show which did happen thank goodness. Another host recently thought that getting an audience was going to be too tough and that she wanted to cancel although she had solicited the show several months before but now, a month out changed her mind. I explained to her how just losing one show on a tour dramatically affects everything. The expenses don't change but now a coveted weekend night is dead. She has changed her mind and is recommitting. One show that was coming up this month has been cancelled last minute and there is no legitimate excuse other than, Oh crap, I am sorry but I made other plans.
So how do we as artists protect ourselves. Many like myself book our own shows and I have never asked for a contract or a deposit because until recently, everyone honored their commitment. The only time I have ever cancelled is when I was so deathly ill and had no voice. It's always been an honor system and it's worked until now. I'd love your feedback.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

EVERYBODY’S RECOVERING FROM SOMETHING_Soundtrax 2 Recovery_The CD From John Batdorf and Michael McLean

It’s just the truth. When we were younger we thought recovery was something “those people” needed to do… certainly not us. In fact, more often than not, a part of us took a certain amount of pride in the fact that whatever we were going through we weren’t as bad as “them”. Then we grew up, lived a few decades and discovered we’re all in the same boat. We’re all facing some sort of affliction or addiction that has shaken our world, or the world of someone we love, and the only way “our is “through”. This album is for those of us on the road to recovery.
In the spirit of full disclosure, we’re songwriters who’ve been around a while and grew up believing in the power of music to change lives. It isn’t arrogance that wrote these songs, our egos aren’t that big. We’re not pretending this collection of tunes will be all anyone needs to recover from whatever has broken in their lives and needs repair. We’ve learned that often the songs that “trigger” substance abuse (or any other addictive behavior) are easy to identify, though not always that easy to set aside. Unfortunately, upon re-entering. the world outside the clinic there isn’t a readily available “soundtrack to recovery” to help trigger the hope, the courage, the endurance or the faith to make it through the next few moments, hours, days or years. Everything we’ve written and recorded here has been done with the hope that this album might be part of your soundtrack to recovery. 

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Soundtrax 2 Recovery
John Batdorf & Michael McLean

If the album SOUNDTRAX 2 RECOVERY does what we hope it can do and reaches beyond musical entertainment and dares to lay claim to beinginspirationalsomething may happen to you that has happened to us. As we've listened back to these recordings we've been working on for all these years, various names pop into our heads; the names of friends and family that might be ready to hear these songs. If that happens to you, we'd like to make it easier for you to get a few extra copies of the CD to pass along when you feel the moment is right. Let us know how many copies you think you'd like to share and we'll send them to you regardless of the size of donation you can afford to make. We'd like to become your partners in reaching out to those on the journey to recovery. This is our way of joining with you to "musically pay it forward" and maybe, just maybe, enriching someone's life for good.

John Batdorf & Michael McLean


                                      The Making Of All Wood And Stones II

In 2004, James Lee Stanley and myself got together and recorded our first CD together, All Wood And Stones. The CD was released in the fall of that year and much to our surprise, became an instant radio hit for us.

This was going to be a one time thing and James and I would go back to doing what we did before the project was begun. We never never going to be an act, let alone a touring act but one thing led to another and by popular demand, off on the road we went.

Flash forward 8 years and lo and behold after 8 years of touring this CD, we decided to give it another try. We just didn't know what music direction to take. We kicked around doing California Gold, Steely Dan, Stevie Wonder, even a tribute to the great Motown hits but nothing seemed seemed to be right.

I was sitting with James in his studio and I said, "Hey, what about doing the Stones again?" James said, "Wow, I just got chills, let's do it!"

We worked so hard to find 11 songs that worked acoustically on the first CD, that it would be impossible to find another half dozen more that would work but we were wrong. There was a difference this time.

When we did the first CD, we just got together and worked on arrangements and recorded them. After touring off and on for 8 years, something had changed. There was a different synergy when we worked out arrangements for the new songs.

We weren't afraid to be more aggressive and even used drums on this CD where the first CD only had percussion and light at that. We chose raunchier songs like Honky Tonk Women, Jumpin' Jack Flash and they worked great.

The funny thing is, we tried those songs for the first CD but I just don't think we were ready for the challenge, but after eight years of playing together, these songs came easy. The CD is a natural progression from the first more laid back All Wood and Stones.

Unlike the first CD, where we made the decision to use several celebrity artists including Timothy B. Schmidt and Peter Tork to name a few, we only used a drummer Tom Walsh and two bass players, Bill Batstone and Chad Watson.

We were very confident in being able to accomplish what we wanted with just the two of us and the rhythm section mentioned above. We also recorded the CD differently. The first CD was recorded mostly at James' studio.

This time, once we had the arrangements, we recorded our individual basic guitar parts and lead vocals at our own studios to save time. Once we had the guitars and lead vocals done, we decided to record and mix everything else at my studio. I bought a great new Pearlman Microphone for this project and once James and I worked out the harmonies we decided to try something new.

We opened the mic up and sang our individual parts at the same time which really forces you sing your part great. Unlike recording your parts which can be doctored to work, this technique brought a whole new energy to the background vocals which was really great.

Both James and I really stretched our talents to new heights. I believe we sang and played better than we have ever done before. So in a nutshell, in our opinion, this is the best album either one of us has ever done and we think you will too!

John Batdorf & James Lee Stanley

Friday, November 9, 2012

Livin' The Dream!

This travel/touring stuff is way too much fun! Yesterday I got picked up by Primetime Shuttle at 10:30 AM for a 2 PM flight out of LAX. There is already one passenger in the van and we have two more to pick up. We drive to the an address in Van Nuys and the Russian driver can't find the address.We stop in thew middle of intersections, make wild u-turns and drive in circles for about ten minutes then he calls her. Turns out she's Russian too although the communication is not exactly working out. He keeps calling, and driving around and finally just as we we about to leave, a young woman comes walking down the street with a suitcase so I yelled for the driver to stop and she got in. They proceeded to yell at each other in Russian for about twenty minutes as we were off to pick up our last rider in Westwood. We get off the 405 freeway at Sunset and head over towards UCLA, possibly the most congested area in LA! Again the GPS isn't helping much and now it's getting close to 12 PM. We drive around the campus, stopping in the middle of the street, making wild u turns, cutting drivers off and now the other passenger in the van starts screaming at the driver to pay attention. His flight is much closer than mine and now he's worried because we can't find the last pick-up. As they are all spatting and yelling, I have to do a phone interview with a radio station in Rockford so I ducked down behind a seat so I could have some isolation. The interview went on for about twenty minutes and while I was talking on the phone, the driver finally found the last pick up sitting on a bus bench. Everyone is upset and yelling as I wrap up my interview. We finally get to the airport and I get through security around 12:30 and I am hungry. LAX is not known for fine dining so I tried out a Deli. $15.00 later I was doing my best to chew the toughest bread I had ever experienced but SW does not serve food so I managed. I finally board my flight which is direct but has two stops before Columbus. I don't like changing planes because once my guitar is in the overhead, I don't want to risk checking it. First stop Phoenix. A half an hour later we head for Chicago Midway. More peanuts and drinks. I am so glad I ate. We land safely in Chicago and 45 minutes later we head to my final destination, Columbus, Ohio except I am not staying there. It is now midnight on the east coast and I was in the van for two hours, the plane for seven and now I need to rent a car and drive an hour and a half to Fairborn where my sister lives. Driving at 1 AM is not the safest time to drive. Just after getting on the freeway a guy, presumedly drunk just started drifting into my lane which was the fast lane. I slammed on my breaks and hit the horn but he continued. I veered to the left and he missed me and then he proceeded to change over to the slow lane. I am wide awake now. I finally reach my sister's house at 2 AM and have to unload the car. She has a new dog that is barking ferociously at me as I bring in my stuff. Now it's time to unwind with a giant glass of wine and hit the sack. This going on the road stuff is great and there are hundreds of dollars to be made!!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Thoughts and Suggestions From A Fellow Veteran Musician

I have been making a living at music my whole adult life and had to learn on the fly. I grew up way before blogs and I thought I'd offer some of the little things I learned along the way.

What are our strengths and weaknesses as musicians? We all have correctable  tendencies and over time with lots of practice we can learn tricks of the trade to help mask our weaknesses. It's vital to remember that nobody does everything great, so as in life, each of us needs to discover and then improve upon what is needed to make us the very best that we can be. As a lifetime musician, I know of which I speak. There is always room to learn but but must first decide who and what we are so we can set our course. You will be refining and re-inventing that course your whole life but you must stay on course. 

There are three major skill sets we need to master if we want to be successful as a professional musician. First we need to write good songs. That will take a lifetime for sure! Secondly, we prepare for and execute our songs at live shows. It's really good preparation for the eventual recording. The third and arguably the most difficult is how do we become skilled and professional studio musicians and producer/arrangers?

Although we play and sing the same songs live and in the studio, these skill levels are miles apart. Most of us spend the majority of our careers performing. Performing live takes years to conquer and always keeps evolving. We all try to learn the best of our songs and rehearse them over and over until we feel great about our skill level. There is also the crowd rapport and how we set up and end our songs. That is every bit as important as the songs. We all are constantly honing our writing skills and learn to write as efficiently as possible, "don't bore us, get to the chorus" kind of thing as well as many other techniques as inner rhyming and on and on. Remember, listen to the songs that inspired you to want to write and try to understand why those songs are so great. Once our song is finally ready, we want to record it!

Nowadays, many of us have our own studios and we can make and release our own records with having a record deal! Because we usually have 0 budget, we must learn skills that we once paid others to do when we had a budget. I have been recording in my studio now going on 15 years give or take a few. Because I now engineer and produce myself, I have learned about my and other singers/players' tendencies. Becoming aware of sloppy work is the first step in correcting it. We all sound great in the shower but there is no "playback button" to hear how it really sounded! Here are a few tendencies that I have discovered and have worked hard to correct.

 First off, it becomes quite apparent when we lay down a guitar track or piano or whatever you play, most of us tend to rush. It feels like we are playing with the click track until we look at the bar lines and see how ahead we are. Our immediate reaction is that the click track must be slowing down! It's extremely difficult to play an exciting part and keep it laid back. Musicians that spend the majority of their time in the studio have great rhythmic time. Performers spend so much of our time playing live that floating time, flat/sharp notes and other flaws are very expectable because of the visual aspect of performing. Take that away and we have to sing and play great in order to make a professional recording. Rehearsing to a metronome is great practice. 

One of my other recording tendencies was to come in flat for the first note and by the second note I was locked in. I just didn't prepare properly for the entrance. Start focussing on the opening pitch that you need to hit before you start to sing. It's all about preparation and execution. Others I know will throw away pick up notes which is OK unless you plan to harmonize down the road. What note does the guy singing harmony sing when you ghost your note? Singing in tune the majority of the time takes practice and more importantly, it takes an enormous amount of concentration. Any drift away thoughts will affect your singing or your playing. Stay focussed as much as you can. Also, learn to be consistent with cut offs again so when and if you sing a harmony there aren't multiple cut offs with rouge consonants that become a mixing nightmare. Fix it now, not in the mix. Be consistent with your proximity to the mic. You would be amazed at how different your voice sounds if you are a little off axis when singing. Another mix nightmare. Take notes on your mic pre and compressor so that if and when you you have to re-record something, you won't spend hours trying to match the sound of the original recording. Another technique I like to use is when I am punching in an existing instrumental or vocal track, I always start recording before the punch spot just to get into the feel of the track. Digitally, you have the ability to peel back to the original track and just keep the new punch but it doesn't sound like one.

 Another tendency in players and I am guilty of it is that we tend to rush more right before a b-section or chorus change. I suppose it's because mentally we know a change is coming and start preparing for it before it actually gets there. Just try to lay back as much as you can and even though you may think you're lagging behind, more often you will be much closer to the pocket. 

Here are a few more things to ask yourself, "Do I do this". When you play guitar be aware of what strings actually fit into the chord. I have heard musician after musician for example play an D chord and include the low E string in the strumming. Not a good thing! Mute the strings that don't fit. If you were playing a piano, you wouldn't play those notes so be aware of that when you play guitar. You probably aren't even aware that you are doing it. 

Another live performance thought is how to sing harmony. Usually in the studio, we sing harmony to an existing lead vocal so all we need to focus on is singing our part correctly and with purpose. The mix will make the blend happen but when you sing harmony live, most of us don't have engineers mixing the performance. It is up to the singer and or player to mix themselves as they perform. Remember no matter how much you love your part, if you're not the lead then you need to sing and play your part so that the featured part takes the lead. If your secondary support track sticks out, then you need to refine your blending technique. Remember, it's not a contest rather a team effort where everyone performing needs to now just where they fit in and stay there!

This is my final suggestion but one technique that seems to be overlooked. When we record a guitar track, on the last chord of a song, we want it to ring out as long as the instrument still is making sound. It's much like when you throw a rock into a calm lake and we watch the circle get bigger and bigger until it's gone. Let the instrument do it's thing when you finish a song live. So many musicians I watch on stage are so anxious to tune up or get to the next song that they don't let the last chord ring out like we do when recording. Let the beauty of the instrument's final chord ring until it's no longer there. It's a beautiful thing to hear!

There are so many more but my fingers are getting tired!

John Batdorf

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

What Reviewers Are Sayin' about OLD MAN DREAMIN' (an on-going blog)

from Jean-Jacques Corrio of Le Cri du Coyote, a french review about american music for the Oct/Nov 2010 issue (English Translation):
Fans of Crosby Stills Nash & Young, come closer and listen here. As you might remember, a few years ago John Batdorf was reviewed with his previous album 'Home Again'. Now he's back, with his course of action unchanged: reviving the spirit of the 70's, with vocal harmonies and folk-rock guitars. The long list of vocal efforts in the accompaniment contains a number of people he has worked together with in the past, like Michael McLean and James Lee Stanley. John has written all eleven songs himself and the album comes with a feeling of at least 40 years rejuvenation. Surely, that must be priceless!
- JJC / Le Cri Du Coyote -
From Country Fried Rock
Wednesday, February 17th, 2010

Country Fried Rock usually chats with singers and songwriters at the beginning of their professional careers, and John Batdorf is there, too--after forty years in the music business.

Commercial publications often liken an artist with longevity as "reinventing" himself, but for Batdorf, he has lucked into several opportunities, with a lot of work and the vision to recognize an opening when it presents itself. From a Mid-Western teen seeking sunshine in California, to a one-hit wonder duo, to a great band whose label folded just before the release of their album, to a session musician, to TV theme/jingle/movie composer, to a reunion tour, and now finding his own voice, John Batdorf brings his history, but not his baggage, to today's CD, Old Man Dreamin'.

With overtly biographical songs, Batdorf manages to reminisce without being bitter, but clearly embraces where he is now without longing for the past. Many acoustic guiter-weilding singers faded from the public eye with the rise of disco and punk and then music television (like The Buggles "Video Killed the Radio Star") but technology has permanently altered music delivery, so that the "industrial machine" is not the only method of getting one's music to an audience.

Batdorf utilizes social networking and digital distribution like the professional that he is. He runs on the dual fuels of the drive to create and the boost from performing. Country Fried Rock is excited to share our chat with a musician of such depth.

From Pär Winberg / Melodic Net
Direct Link to Review


Review of OLD MAN DREAMIN' from Indie Showcase in Australia
Posted 9/11/09
Direct Link


OLD MAN DREAMIN' review by Michelle Williams
Michelle's Music Magazine
Just another weblog
Published Monday 24 August 2009
Direct Link


From the Featured Musicians and Artists
Blog on Blogspot by

Published Friday, August 7, 2009
Direct Link

From Wildy's World, 7/30/09

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Review: John Batdorf - Old Man Dreamin'

John Batdorf - Old Man Dreamin'
2009, BatMat Music

John Batdorf has been pleasing audiences since his early days with Batdorf & Rodney in the 1970's. Over the years Batdorf has refused to stand still musically. He's been a top-flight session singer in L.A., a composer for TV shows such as Touched By An Angel and Promised Land, and continued to write and record songs both as a solo performer and with folks such as Mark Rodney and Michael McLean. Batdorf has always had a touch for acoustic pop/rock songwriting but in recent years seems to have developed a deeper love of melody and harmonies and a penchant for story-driven songwriting. These qualities are omnipresent on Batdorf's latest CD, Old Man Dreamin'.

John Batdorf sounds like a cross between The Eagles and Shaw/Blades on much of Old Man Dreamin'. His voice is golden, and the vocal harmonies border on angelic at times. The CD opens with What D'Ya Got, a musical treatise on what love really means to each of us, particularly in tough times. If Batdorf had written this song thirty years ago he'd own half of California by now. Love: All I really Know About It sticks with a similar theme. The harmonies are amazing and the song is intelligently written without getting mushy or cliché. That Don't Seem Right To Me is an anthem for the days we are living in. Batdorf starts with the fact that the current fiscal crisis finds the banks and bankers who caused it getting rescued by the folks it most affects (all of us), while we struggle to make ends meet with disappearing jobs, falling wages and high prices; he goes on to detail a number of things about modern life that just don't fit together. The song is wonderfully written in a strong and steady pop style that could gain it some real attention.

Will I Love You Forever is an honest song about love and what it should be. Old Man Dreamin' is bluesy classic rock gone acoustic. The arrangement on this one is amazing, and the sound highly reminiscent of Shaw/Blades. I Thought I'd Try A Love Song is a cute tune that takes a darkly ironic turn in the closing moments. Ain't No Way turns out to be my personal favorite, with a vibrant bass line to the instrumental magic created by the violin and acoustic guitar. The vocals and harmonies here are gorgeous. Don't Tell Me Goodbye has a classic country heartbreaker sense to it as a plea from a man on the verge of losing all he wants. Sixteen changes pace and gears significantly in a disturbing but well-told bit social commentary. I don't know the specific premise behind the song but a few would apply quite well. I Will Rise closes out Old Man Dreamin' in a musical version of Jack Nicholson's line from As Good As It Gets, "You make me wanna be a better man". This is pure mix-tape material for the more mature crowd; a wonderfully well-written tune.

John Batdorf has always had a distinctive talent for songwriting and a golden voice to deliver those songs, but over time he's really grown into his songwriting in a fashion that borders on transcendental. Old Man Dreamin' is an incredibly vibrant set of songs based in honest thought, word- and song craft and some of the prettiest melodies you're likely to find in Folk or Pop music. Make sure you take some time to spend with John Batdorf's Old Man Dreamin'; it's quite an album.

Rating: 4.5 Stars
(Out of 5). You can learn more about John Batdorf at or

Old Man Dreamin’ is available for purchase through
or download through


From RadioIndy, 7/9/09
"Old Man Dreamin'" Reviewed by!
POSTED BY: momof5pacsPOSTED ON: 09 Jul 2009 07:34 PM

No stranger to the music scene, John Batdorf has served up another outstanding CD, titled “Old Man Dreamin’,” with all the power and punch this artist has to offer. Batdorf uses his vocals, which are strong and possess a soothing quality, to create generous helpings of folk/rock music while he also laces this disc with his sweet acoustic guitar flair. This mixture of eleven songs is packed with energy and catchy lyrics, as you will hear on “What D’Ya Got” and “That Don’t Seem Right To Me.” The wonderful soft rock ballad, “Will I Love You Forever,” tugs at the heartstrings with its memorable lyrics and emotive vocals. The title track “Old Man Dreamin’” is an edgier rock song with country style and has a nice dynamic balance between vocals and instruments. Expressive lyrics, acoustic guitar, and a catchy bass line fuels the fire on “Ain’t No Way” with its country tonality and moving beat. Fans of the group Eagles will want to tune in to “Old Man Dreamin’” by John Batdorf, as it is fused with well-written gems of folk/country style.

-Diane and the Reviewer Team
Check out John Batdorf 's music on with link to purchase and links to popular sites


From Bob Lefsetz 7/8/09

Click to read the wonderful OLD MAN DREAMIN' Review by Bob Lefsetz


From MIDWEST RECORD, 6/25/09

JOHN BATDORF/Old Man Dreamin’: There’s a bunch of singer/songwriters, mostly focused in California, who never really grabbed the gold ring but never really went away either. In the last few years, maybe because of the net, these ‘old friends’ have been coming out of the woodwork with new stuff that simply connects. Without fear of failure or judgement, they’re playing from the heart and making music that makes sense to them. Batdorf is certainly one of the leaders of this pack. His latest set, which has the least to do with nostalgia than his recent run of indy releases, finds him back on the front lines like Nixon was still in office, but he’s looking at the problems of today. It’s not all a bitchfest, he just gets the problems of the common man off his chest with the fiery opening track. The rest deals with the changes we didn’t expect to be hitting at this point of life at this point in time. He’s on point throughout with a contemporary set on aging, whether he planned it that way or not. A great lion in winter singer/songwriter effort from someone that shows he did deserve the brass ring all along.

Volume 32/Number 237
June 25, 2009
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
©2009 Midwest Record