Jesse Lafser & Kevin Gordon at The Station Inn (Nashville, TN)

Photos of Jesse Lafser and Kevin Gordon taken January 22, 2014 at The Station Inn in Nashville, TN.

P4 at fooBAR (East Nashville, TN)

Photos of P4 taken January 18, 2014 at fooBAR in East Nashville, TN.

Stop Putting Social Media Buttons on Everything

Until inanimate objects become connected to some evolved inter-dimensional future-net, slathering social media buttons all over non web-based advertisements will remain a silly and useless strategy.

Until that day comes, the world will be divided into two groups of people: Those who believe that branding on magazine advertisements, peanut butter jars and barbecue sauce labels are all better off for the appearance of social connectivity, and those who tap Facebook ads on bus stop advertisements, only to be trapped in a stream of infinite buffering, unable to connect to the web. When it comes to marketing and social media, we all need to start asking “why” more.

Like, until people can press Pinterest buttons printed on cereal boxes, only to then be directed to the brand’s “Good Eats” board, then why do these sort of offline ad placements exist? So that brands of ill-informed strategy can show some shred of hip-with-it-ness, or to bank on the massive what-if of having a customer pay attention enough to actually notice an advertisement, only to then search that brand's name, track down a social media page, and maybe somehow then “engage” online in some sort of meaningful way? Seems like a bit of a stretch.

Let’s say adding a Facebook button to the bottom of a heart-friendly butter substitute container worked, and a health-conscious customer ended up "liking" that brand's page. How many steps are there between customers “connecting” with one of that company's many social media accounts, and that company actually making a sale? Or are sales even possible? "Why" is social media even necessary then?

Boosting Twitter followers and Facebook likes for the sake of having more Twitter followers and Facebook likes isn’t always useless, because they can actually embellish authority. Does having more followers make someone a better Presidential candidate? Maybe not, but it might be a significant indicator of popularity relative to a brand's competitors or contemporaries; which is something virtual passers-by might pay attention to (a well-populated party is always more attractive than an empty room). But if the perception of authority is all that's important, why clog up paid advertisements with useless third-party buttons when tossing a few handfuls of quarters at vendors on Fiverr will “enhance” your fanbase metrics just the same.

If a company's bottom line has anything to do with increasing income though, more social connections are largely meaningless unless those followers can be converted into customers. This brings us back to “why?” If the goal of using social media is to boost perception of relevance, then including Instagram buttons on your company car's vehicle-wrap might make sense. All that ultimately says, however, is that your company is aware Instagram exists, but has little to no idea how to actually use it.

So when creating that next above-the-urinal print ad spouting the advantages of a newly constructed downtown parking garage, maybe it’s worth asking “why” you’re adding instructions for pissers-by to "follow you" on Facebook. Then the next step might be asking “why” you’re investing time in maintaining a Facebook page for a parking garage, in the first place.

AL-D, ET, The Grips & More at The Basement (Nashville, TN)

Photos featuring AL-D, the Grips, DJ Rate, Wally Clark, ET, Pow Shadowz, James Fate, and Swap Meet Symphony taken January 11, 2014 at The Basement in Nashville, TN.

Andrew Muller

Already playing for the Deep Fried 5, as well as Nashville neo-soul outfits DeRobert & the Half-Truths and AJ & the Jiggawatts, Andrew Muller has long-since earned his place in the Nashville music scene as one of the city’s most prolific and dextrous funk-inspired guitarists. Recording and performing with his new group, the Grips, only goes to show that despite being stretched thin, he’s as passionate about music as ever.

For anyone familiar with DeRobert & the Half-Truths, the new band might look and sound a little familiar: Comprised of Nick DeVan (drums), David Guy (bass), Austin Little (trombone), Andrew Hagen (saxophone), and Muller on guitar, the group is the Half-Truths, minus the band’s lead singer. “We just don’t want to confuse people by calling ourselves ‘The Half-Truths’,” says Muller. “People might show up to shows and expect DeRobert to be there and be singing, and we don’t want to send the wrong signal.” Whether signals become mixed or not, the Grips continue the “smooth and creamy” sound set forth by their mainstay – a personal passion that evolved out of Muller’s pre-DF5 days, with the short-lived group Nuclear Toast.

By Muller’s own account the “jam-tastic-reggae-funk” band “really never went anywhere.” It did, however, lead to the formation of the Deep Fried Trio. “They played similar house parties as Nuclear Toast did, so I would show up and bring my guitar and amp and jam with them.” The vibe was right and the friends continued to bond. “After a few parties, they asked me to come start practicing with them. We started writing songs right of the bat and then a few shows later realized that we wanted to be a funk band, and that meant, we needed keys and/or horns.” The decision to expand led to the formation of the Deep Fried 5.

DF5 started playing “rich, soulful disco funk” shows together in 2008, and eventually released Saturday Night Funk / Sunday Morning Soul in 2010. It wasn’t long thereafter that Muller met, and began jamming with, another group of musicians that would become AJ & the Jiggawatts. “Shortly after, [Grips’ drummer Nick Devan] asked me to go on the road with DeRobert & the Half-Truths and Magic in Threes. The weekend went smooth and then I kept playing with them, our relationships grew, and we became tighter as musicians, together.” As a member of numerous groups on G.E.D. Soul Records, Muller had found his home.

This began Muller’s tight relationship with the label, where he would moonlight doing promotion and booking work. Through his various evolving groups, he would go on to open for Black Joe Lewis (w. DeRobert & the Half-Truths), Here Come the Mummies (w. DF5), and Cody ChesnuTT. “I’ve been on two separate tours with Myron & E (Stones Throw Records) with the G.E.D. Soul All-Stars,” he says. “The first time was of August 2012 […] The second time around was a 10 day tour in late-September/early-October, with us opening up for Cody ChesnuTT.” And if circumstances were different, Muller might have another full-time gig on his resume. “I love those dudes (Myron & E) and wish I could play with them more often, but [we] are separated by physical distance.”

Despite another new Deep Fried 5 album scheduled for release this year, Muller’s sights are currently on the Grips, who will be performing a free show Saturday, January 11 at The Basementalong with Al-D, Swap Meet Symphony, DJ Rate, and Gummy Soul’s Wally Clark. And as if his schedule weren’t full enough, he performs “freelance with other groups that want some funky guitar” and is open to playing with bands that “need him for a night or two.” The passion never ends.

[This article was first published by the Nashville Fringe Festival.]