Milwaukee Area Technical College – Instructor Ben Hans
Ben Hans is an instructor at the Milwaukee Area Technical College Music program. The curriculum focuses on the business of the music industry. Along with the business, recording and technology classes are taught as well. It is an excellent program.
Several times a year I have the privilege of speaking to students at various universities and colleges in Wisconsin. Topics may include entrepreneurialism, pitching your music or the general music industry. One of those classes that I speak with on a regular basis is the aforementioned music program at MATC Milwaukee where Ben is the instructor. He is a passionate educator with a deep concern about the well-being of his students. Ben is an accomplished musician himself and has been involved in many recording projects including his own releases. But more importantly, he is a great teacher and it is obvious that his students admire and respect him.
This past session, I spoke to several classes about many music industry topics. These classes always have engaged students with interesting questions and perspectives. Part of their educational process is to write a review of my presentation as required by their instructor. Below is their review of the class.
Margaret McClure is a gifted songwriter who can write in multiple genres. I have always been a fan and recently heard of her battle with cancer. Below is part 2 of the story. Here is part 1.
So for the next eight weeks, five days a week, I would come in to that place I loathed and at 10:15 am, I would lay on a narrow hospital bed right under this massive metal monstrosity that was straight out an alien movie. Small, thick, square glass windows would open with a screech and invisible radiation beams would penetrate my flesh. I have always had claustrophobia and this was a five day a week claustrophobic nightmare. Being unable to handle the reality of it all, I pretended that I was going to the spa instead of thinking about how this machine could easily crush me. When the creepy little windows opened to emit the radiation. I would close my eyes and pretended to be holding my two daughters hands or surfing perfect crystal blue waves.
Every day I got a little bit weaker and everyday my skin got a little bit more burned until I could practically see the heat waves rising from my chest. It felt like I weighed 300 pounds and I was walking on Jupiter. This was the kind of tired that doesn’t go away with a nap. Half the time I couldn’t even remember where I parked. Those oncology parking spaces started looking really tempting. I had to walk by them twice a day and I watched other patients park in them. One day I kind of lost it and I spit on one of those spots. But not once in those eight weeks did I ever park in one.
Sometimes I would be a few minutes late and Debbie would give me a huge lecture. “It really messes us up when your late” she would snap out. Since when do people expect a mother of two young children whose being treated for cancer to be on time every day for 8 weeks? I would think to myself. I wondered what she would say if I told her I was late because I couldn’t find a parking spot. Some days I would sit in the freezing lobby half naked, wearing my lovely gown, waiting for 45 minutes, doing jigsaw puzzles with the old folks because they were running behind. I started to get to know the other patients. Lucy had the 10:00 slot and Shelly the10:30 slot. Sometimes I would bring my seven year old daughter and Lucy would watch her while I got my radiation. Shelly was having esophageal radiation and couldn’t talk much but she talked with her eyes and she was really nice.I really liked Lucy. She was 70 years old, about one hundred pounds over weight, diabetic and was on her third bout with breast cancer. She was a brave lady and funny too. We would high five each other to celebrate the fact that we were able to fit a piece or two into the jigsaw puzzle once in a while. She was better at it than I was. She had had more practice. I don’t know if we ever finished one while I was there. I guess it didn’t matter, It was just an easy way for tired patients to pass the time when they had to wait. And we had to wait a lot. Not once did Debbie or anyone else ever apologize when they were running late. One day I called her on it and said “Hey, when I’m two minutes late ya’ll freak out, but we’ve been sitting here today for 45 minutes waiting. I think you owe us a pass next time one of us is late”. She actually agreed and never mentioned lateness again. I’m sure she had personal issues going on that I had no idea about and I sort of felt bad for her that day.
I’ll never forget the last day. My hair had started to grow back, it was at least an eighth of an inch of fuzz. I was very excited about that little sign of life returning. So I came in a little early without my usual beanie. I couldn’t wait to show Lucy. But for the first time that day she was not there.I asked about her and they said she had changed her appointment time. I thought maybe she didn’t want to say good bye and I respected that. But I was sad when I went back to get my robe. To make matters worse Debbie looked at my head and said “OMG! Your hair” I said “yeah It’s coming back!”. Then she said “Its orange!”. I was to tired and upset to respond. Plus I was struggling to untie the secret knot I had tied the day before in my gown. She yelled to the other nurse “Look at Margaret’s hair, Can you believe she is dying it already?”. I told them that that I did not dye it. She said that everyones hair always grows back grey. “Debbie! If I had enough energy to dye my hair it wouldn’t be this weird orange color” I said. She just laughed at me and rolled her eyes. “Wow…I’m so glad I never have to come back in here again” I said out loud for everyone to hear.
When I was done being cooked for the last time they all lined up in the hall and gave me a half hearted little graduation ceremony complete with a diploma. It was kind of nice but I was much more excited about finally being able to toss my gown in the laundry bin. I did not like the staff much, but I sincerely thanked them all because they had helped to save my life, just like I had done to every nurse, surgeon, doctor and technician who had helped before them. Without them I knew I would have been six feet under and I was thankful. With the hideous months of cancer treatment officially completed and without looking back, I walked straight out the VIP exit and felt the sunlight shining down on my orange fuzzy hair.
The last time I saw those Oncology Parking spots I had tears in my eyes. But not for the reason that you would think. These tears were happy tears. I was free and I was done with this horrible chapter of my life. I had defied the oncology parking spots and suffered because of it. But I was proud of my minor accomplishment. Although I could barely make it back to my car on the other side of that crowded parking lot that day ….I remember thinking about how I would be back surfing and singing soon, maybe taking my girls on a trip, and how I would find a place to get those ugly black tattoos removed. ….I decided this would be a good time to smile.
We all have tough times and face difficult challenges. Reading Margaret’s story brings life into perspective. So often, we worry about trivial things that are really meaningless in the bigger picture. Thanks to Mags for sharing this.
Over the years, I have had the honor to get to know so many great people through the web and specifically through our website, Broadjam. Most of whom, I have never met. One of those great people, and probably the most popular on our site, is Joe Hendrickson of Punta Gorda, Florida.
Every time I see a post from Nashville Joe, I smile. He always has something positive to say about everyone he meets in person or on the web. His profile photo is of him sitting on a tractor holding a can of something with his personality showing through his smile.
He has uploaded about 35 or so songs and one of my favorites is a song called Christmas Blues. He continues to be one of our top reviewers as well with over 2000 to his credit. He is one the most prolific reviewers in the 15 year history of Broadjam.
When one gets the idea for a website , they can only hope for members like Nashville Joe . With all of the negative issues that plague the internet, Joe brings a bright spot into so many lives on a daily basis. He is an unconditional friend to so many people he has never met in person. Thank you Joe for being who you are and bringing so much positive energy to so many.
I BELIEVE in her PAST achievement, in the men and women who created and conserved that I might produce and earn, enabling me to buy and pay, in the courage of her pioneers whose wisdom and foresight built between these lakes a well – planned organic city, every foot of whose ground is worth in gold its market value because the brain and brawn of man has added wealth to nature’s own endowment.
I believe in the reality of her PRESENT, a present that combines the push and friendliness of the newer West with the reflection and poise of the older East, a present which makes her the distributing center of one of the most productive agricultural sections of America, the heart of the richest dairy region in the world, the location of going industry and commerce, and the focus point of miles of railroad trackage, that converges into this hub like the spokes of a wheel from nine directions, a present that makes her the seat of the government for forward Wisconsin, the home of the state university that spells freedom and utility, and the birthplace of so powerful an influence for the well-being of humanity that thousands are attracted annually to this center of achievement in democracy.
I believe in her ability to become the FUTURE, a city of even greater influence and power, a city destined to become the abode of one hundred thousand people, where the poor shall be less unhappy, the rich less self-satisfied, for the one shall have a more intelligent understanding of the other; where jails shall be empty of prisoners, streets clear of beggars and neither shall the aged in want be cast upon the charity of strangers; a city where friends shall be true friends; neighbors real neighbors; a city where the strong shall really sympathize with the weak; where there shall be even more respect for those who have traveled the longer road; and even more hopeful confidence in the promise of glowing youth; a city where progress shall be the result of retaining the good of the old and accepting the tried of the new, where co-operative competition shall be the ideal in trade, live and let live the slogan of business, serve others well to successfully serve self the policy of industry and commerce; and finally, where each and every citizen shall be a community builder in fact, as now in name.
AND I PLEDGE TO MY CITY a more complete understanding of her problems, a more liberal conception of her limitations, a more hopeful attitude toward her possibilities, a more generous contribution to her needs, and a more active participation in the broader functions of her citizenship in order that my city may become a greater credit to herself, to Wisconsin, to America and to God because of my having lived in Madison, “The Four Lake City.”
If you would like to get involved in the Willywash project, please go to the Willywash website or leave your comments here.
Today was John Aguilera’s last day at Broadjam. Better known as Pistolero, John has been with us for almost five years as our graphic designer. To say he was just a graphic designer would be an understatement as he did so much more for the company. He handled lots of incoming member requests and was always lending a hand to other projects outside his are of expertise. After graduating from Madison Media Institute, he joined Broadjam as a cataloguer and quickly demonstrated his ability and desire to take on more responsibility. He has been talking about moving closer to home for some time now as his folks are several hours from the Broadjam offices. Although he won’t be working with us day-to-day, our guess is that he will still be assisting in some capacity once he gets settled. He is one of those people that everyone just likes to be around and it won’t be the same without him. Here a few thoughts from some of his co-workers:
We’ll miss John for several reasons. He’s always been a hard-working, fun member of the office, and up for a joke. I’m not sure who I’ll talk wrestling with now… I may have to finally inundate my wife. Here’s wishing John a bright future and plenty of opportunity – he deserves it! Anthony
John Aguilera. Helluva nice guy. Young and fun (always great to hear his stories of Madison Millennial nightlife!), reliably positive and easy to get along with, but the best part was that he was full of hidden talents that revealed themselves when you needed them the most.
One day we were talking about graphic design and out of the blue, he’s just like, “You know, I’m pretty good at graphics.” And I’m like, alright, “why don’t you make a banner ad?” And he did and it was awesome, so he quickly became the go-to guy for graphics. When I was working on a video for the Broadjam YouTube channel, he goes “You need any help? I have a degree in video production.” WHAT?! I’d already been here for months working on stuff, when I had a guy that was extraordinarily capable right here! From then on, he became a go to partner in creating the content behind Broadjam.
It was a pleasure working creatively with someone so talented as well a the kind of person that you want to crack open a PBR Tall Boy with at a show!
One of the greatest parts of working with John was watching his graphic arts skills blossom at an amazing speed. I’ll also miss John for the great spirit and fun that he brought to the office. Pistolero was good-natured about all of the joking around I did at his expense. I know this because he never did deliver that stinger that I deserved on so many occasions.
Watching John interact with everyone in the office as he is just awesome to work with. His conversations with Matt were hilarious at times. He can dish it out and takes it with grace, but most of time just ignores the pile drivers coming his way. The more I worked with him, the more I realized how talented he is. He is probably one of the nicest colleagues I’ve worked with and will be greatly missed by all of us.
For the past several years, I have had the honor of being the Grand Prize Judge of the Dallas Songwriters Association annual songwriting contest. In my opinion, the DSA is the premier songwriting organization in the country. Not only do they hold their grandaddy songwriting competition annually, they hold numerous other events monthly that are all focused on perfecting the craft of songwriting. In July alone, there are 7 events on their calendar including open mics, song swaps, a workshop, a showcase, a cultural exchange and they’ve just launched their annual contest. Congrats to Barbe McMillen and the entire group at the Dallas Songwriters Association as the organization is celebrating their 27th anniversary in 2014.
This year will be the 10th year I have been involved (I think it’s 10) in the Dallas Songwriters Association contest and some of the best independent songs I have ever heard came through this competition. As I was creating this blog, I was looking at the reviews from the previous years. My guess is that I have written about 100 or so reviews about the top songs. Kudos to the writers as I remember just about every song in the list. Lots of good memorable stuff.
Below I have posted some of my favorites that I found links to on Broadjam.
My favorite to date is still Here’s To Love, by the Michael George Band. It’s a song about peace and done so tastefully with a deep baritone voice. No matter what mood you’re in when you listen to this song, you will feel at peace by the end of it. That’s the brilliance of it. This is also in my personal all time favorite playlist.
Bruce Crockett, Founder and CEO of ENSONIQ Corporation
ENSONIQ (Maker of keyboards, synthesizers and effects processors)
I first met Bruce when I flew up from Memphis to interview at ENSONIQ headquarters in Malvern, PA. Bruce is a tall guy, thin, unassuming, relatively quiet, but when he walks into the room, you know who the boss is. His presence is large. When interviewing at ENSONIQ, I was introduced to Bruce in his office at the old building in Malvern, PA and needless to say, I was petrified. Here I am, sitting in the room with the man who founded ENSONIQ, the company I idolized…..Fast forward>>
I was offered a job to start the ENSONIQ School and train the dealers on how to use and sell our products. I arrived at ENSONIQ, excited and scared shitless at the same time. Like so many of the dealers and users, I worshipped the company and everyone in it. The company had just moved in the new building and my office, which was the training room, had no carpet, wall paper, desk or anything. It was empty. The first few training sessions were done on card tables, no carpeting, etc….but I loved it and couldn’t believe what I was doing for a living.
I was in the training room on a Saturday afternoon rearranging the set-up preparing for the first school. At the front of the room was one of those old Ultimate Support stands and I needed to shave it down a little to make it work. Bruce walks in and asked how I was doing. I explained my dilemma with the stand. He returns a few minutes later with a hack saw and cuts the stand to the height I needed. Like Bruce, I came from humble beginnings and thought CEOs weren’t supposed to do “manual labor.” Words can’t express how that simple act influenced me. A few days later, I went into the mens room and there is Bruce with his tie thrown over his shoulder trying to fix something under the sink. I remember thinking, I can work for this guy. His work ethic influenced us and like so many of my colleagues at ENSONIQ, I could tell Bruce stories for hours without repeating one.
Comdex & Willie Nelson
One of my favorite stories is when we arranged, sponsored and promoted a Willie Nelson Show at the Thomas Mack Arena in Las Vegas during the Comdex convention. My responsibility was to “make it happen.” Johnny Neel who was with the Allman Brothers at the time, opened the show and brought the house down. Then Bruce introduced Willie to the crowd of about 30,000 and the show was amazing. Hit after hit after hit. Although Bruce introduced Willie, he didn’t get a chance to meet him before the show. Unbeknownst to Bruce, I spoke to the tour manager and arranged a meeting afterwards in one of the hospitality rooms. The manager came to get us and said, “we’re going to go to the bus instead and you’ll meet him there.” My immediate thought was, “Oh shit, I am taking my boss to Willie’s tour bus.” I was well aware of the scenario that was probably unfolding on Willie’s bus as we walked out into the parking lot. The bus door opens and a tornado of smoke emerges similar to the storm at the beginning of the Wizard of Oz. We walk up the steps and take a quick left and needless to say, the smoke was so thick we couldn’t see anyone. (I’m sure I’m exaggerating a little here, but it does make the point.) We were introduced to Willie and he was as gracious as a person could be. I had a brief conversation with his sister, who has been his piano player forever and she was just as kind. Willie offered us a seat, but we declined. When we got off the bus, I don’t think either one of us knew what to say, but we did have a good laugh as we were walking back to the arena.
The LA Trip
We had an awesome product that wasn’t doing so well in the marketplace and Bruce wanted to do something special for the sales reps right away. I made a few calls and a plan was in place that would unfold in less than two weeks. The idea was to fly our reps, introduce them to the stars who were using our products and get them fired up. Hopefully they would feel better about the product which ultimately would generate more sales.
On the schedule to have breakfast, lunch and/or dinner with our reps was David Arkenstone, Davis Was, Edgar Winter, Sherman Hemsley, Will Smith, Roy Firestone, Pat O’Brien, Keith Emerson, Joe Walsh, Joe Vitale and a few others. We also went to the Tonight Show where we met Jay Leno, Kevin Eubanks, John Travolta and Danny Wilde of the Rembrandts. We stopped by the legendary O’Henry Studios and then to the set of Baywatch. One of my personal highlights was seeing Bruce having a beer with Sherman Hemsley at his house overlooking the valley in LA.
This was all put together in less than two weeks and while driving from one meeting to the next I was wondering whether or not the next guest was going to show up. Bruce, along with our VP of Sales Dan Garrett, were very supportive and appreciative of the stress it took to pull this off. To this day I am still amazed that it went off without a hitch. After we got back, Bruce came into my office, said some nice words and I felt like I earned my stripes. He never bullshitted anyone, so when he said something nice, you knew he meant it.
A few years into Broadjam, I hit a snag and called Bruce for advice. Thinking I was going to have a long phone conversation or two, he surprised me and asked what I was doing in the next few days. He got on a plane, flew out to Madison from Washington State and spent a couple days straightening me out. I was blown away and will never forget it. I don’t think he ever stopped caring about his employees, even long after they left his employ.
Over the years, I’ve learned more from him than any one person in business. Not because he was consciously teaching any of us, he was just being him. I have read numerous books about leadership and he is what they are talking about. There are times I find myself repeating his words to my employees. After he left ENSONIQ, the spirit of the company imploded and many of us left within a few months. He was ENSONIQ to all of us. It was sold within a year or so and now it’s just a memory. If he was still there, I would be too.
Update: I wrote the above last summer and had a chance to share it with him shortly after. I was driving home from a presentation when I found out. A tear rolled down my cheek and at the same time I smiled, as I am so thankful that I had the opportunity to work for him. His legacy will live on for a long time. R.I.P. Bruce.