By Kenny Kerner


Everyone in Alan's family plays piano; his parents and both brothers. Only thing is that Alan gave it up and decided to pick up an old guitar that was just sitting around the house. "I started taking piano lessons when I was about 6-years-old and probably played piano for about a month. I didn't really like piano at the time. I picked up an old Fender acoustic in the house and my father had an old Harmony acoustic. I'm the only one in my family who doesn't play piano."

But take it from me, it was definitely the right move. Alan's guitar playing started and stopped several times until he was in his mid-teens. Then he hooked up with someone who was able to teach him what he wanted to play most—ROCK! Alan was into Van Halen and his brother liked Rush. Though he played with high school bands, he didn't get into a serious group until he entered college.

"The band was called Vesper Sparrow and it was the first serious band I was in. I was at college getting a degree in public relations at the time. But I kinda realized that I wanted to play. Music is one of those things that you can't really shake. It's always what made me the happiest. As I kept getting more and more into it I realized that there was this whole path of songwriting that changed everything," Alan said.

Alan got his degree in PR but he is not working as a publicist. "I got my degree and then did different things. I didn't want a career-type job. I never even tried to get clients as a publicist. My brother and I started a music Web site—a company called tourdates.com. Kinda like a Pollstar-type Web site. The dream was to try and get this company to generate enough money to let us do our music on our own terms. This company kept me in music and allowed me to keep playing. We turned the company into something pretty cool and eventually sold it. I decided to use the money to be a full-time artist for a while. I then decided to get serious about singing and songwriting and took voice lessons. This was in the late '90s," Alan said.

For Alan, getting serious about his writing meant making the four-hour drive up to Nashville. Ed Roland of Collective Soul had heard one of the tunes Alan wrote at a studio and he called Alan for a meeting. Ed's advice was simple: "If you can really become a great songwriter, there's always gonna be a place for you." Alan took that advice to heart. He didn't want to move to Los Angeles or New York so he continued meeting writers and working in Nashville.



Alan was always open minded and willing to take criticism about his music—not just from his friend in the Music City, but from TAXI screeners as well: "The great thing about TAXI is the feedback you get from them. It's creative feedback. When someone like me sends a song to an A&R guy at a label, if he doesn't like it, you just get it back but you never know anything that helps you get any better. That's one of the best things about TAXI."

While in Nashville, Alan befriended some major songwriters who were responsible for writing lots of Top-10 hits. He learned from them and went back home to Atlanta with his tail between his legs. "I would go to Nashville and get knocked down to size. I'd get back home very humble not knowing whether to try harder or just quit. I finally got to the point where my writing got to a more competitive level," he said.



With no manager and no publisher to pitch his songs to the industry pros, Alan turned to TAXI. "I felt that my songs were now competitive for publishers or film and TV and that TAXI would give me the opportunity to be in the mix so someone would get to hear my songs. And that's been happening. My percentage of forwards is ridiculous, but the fact that a deal hasn't come yet doesn't bother me because it will in time. Being in TAXI really validated what I was doing. I just keep getting different levels of champions behind me. At this level, it's all about doing the best you can and seizing the opportunity which is out there in terms of resources. TAXI's been cool," Alan said.

When Alan's membership ran out, he quickly rejoined. He still wanted to be a part of the mix. He still wanted someone out there to be listening to his music. He wanted someone to champion his songs and give him creative, constructive feedback about what he writes. "I'm actually anxious to get more music to start submitting to see what kind of feedback I'll get from the screeners," he said.

Alan understands how to take full advantage of TAXI. And that big deal—it's just around the corner. Meantime, Alan's material gets stronger and more competitive as the days go by.











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