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Five questions with Randall Bramblett
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Randall Bramlett plays Friday at The Crimson Moon in Dahlonega.

Randall Bramblett

When: 8 p.m. Friday
Where: The Crimson Moon, 24 N. Park St., Dahlonega
How much: $16 advance, $18 day of show
Contact: 706-864-3982

He's a legend in the Athens music scene, moving to the town in 1970 after college and embarking on a career as a singer/songwriter.

Nearly four decades later, Randall Bramblett is still doing what he loves - making music - and still touring the country sharing it with the masses.

His most recent endeavor, "Now It's Tomorrow," is a solo album, produced with the help of his longtime band. It's also got him out doing solo acoustic shows, such as the one Friday night at The Crimson Moon in Dahlonega, which is a great opportunity to see this master songwriter and musician in a pared-down format.

Question: How do you make a career in the music industry?

Answer: I just started early, and I'm older. I just started really doing it full time in 1970, when I graduated from college. ... I decided rather than to go to grad school or divinity school, I would move down to Athens and get something going with songwriting and music.

It's what I love doing ... sometimes I still wonder, are you really a musician or a songwriter? Sometimes it doesn't seem real. But I've been doing it for so long it doesn't seem real.

Q: How has the industry changed over the years?

A: It's changed a lot. For one thing, when I first, I guess with (the band) Sea Level, I started getting some air play and we were playing out nationally, and it was much easier, for one thing, to get heard. There weren't as (many) groups as there are now, doing their own thing and flooding the radio stations with new products each week. So, it was easier to break through and get heard than it is now. And the radio stations at that time were more open, so we could get played on many stations.

(What's changed is) the competition and the lack of ways to get exposed, except the Internet has opened up a lot of things, but I don't think it takes the place of radio yet. It's a totally different world, a lot of stuff happens by word of mouth.

There seems to be a huge gap between people who are trying to get heard and just barely making a living at it, and those who are superstars and doing very well. There doesn't seem to be that middle ground.

Q: What advice do you have for new musicians starting in the business?

A: For myself, I just try to play as much as possible. Playing live these days is just as important as it's ever been, and people have to get out and promote themselves. You're a songwriter and musician, and you work on playing live and working on your songs. Now you have to do everything else. You still have to put a lot of time in the way of marketing and promotion, whether it's doing in-stores or Internet stuff.

Q: Are your songs mainly generated just by you, or is the band involved?

A: I have some co-writers in the band, but this last record I wrote everything myself. The band helped produce it and helped interpret it. Sometimes I have help writing and sometimes I write by myself. And I've had to learn to be a solo or duo artist over the last couple years, but it turns out it's a good way to present songs. At least, (audiences) like to have both so they can hear the lyrics.

Q: What can we expect from a solo show this weekend?

A: I've been doing a lot of solo stuff lately. Really the newer songs are the ones I have to rethink, because they're built from a band - they're not built for an acoustic guitar, and some of them are not going to work. But there are a lot that do surprisingly well, and I get to do some songs that we've never done as a band. And I enjoy doing those that I never got to play before.

It's always a trade off; you trade off the power ... of a band for the intimacy and being able to hear the lyrics and doing different material and less distraction from the song itself. Both of them have their strong points, but I'm enjoying that. I'm enjoying the quiet and the simplicity, and I get to talk some about the songs. I'm really enjoying it.

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