Friday, August 7, 2009

John Batdorf

Featured artists who are truly talented yet under-recognized are hard to come by. It seems that in today’s reality TV world, musicians are most likely found on popular shows such as American Idol or America’s Got Talent. Unfortunately, that leaves little room for the musical talent that comes with years of experience and industry know-how. John Batdorf is no exception and is this week’s featured artist.

John Batdorf began his career back in the 70’s becoming partners with Mark Rodney and forming the band Batdorf & Rodney. This was a time when famous artists’ like James Taylor and Jimmy Buffet told tales of family, love, relationships, vacations, and even what they had for dinner. While the 70’s produced legendary hits, it was also easier to get in the performing industry making for a multi-million dollar profit for the record labels. Unfortunately, the labels didn’t always look out for the performers. The industry was booming though it was poorly regulated. Many artists made little or no profits during the first years of being signed while the record labels took the credit and the money of many number one hits. The 70’s were a difficult time to catch frequent plays on mainstream radio. John Batdorf unfortunately fell to this circus-like arena.

While Batdorf & Rodney may have had musical tracks that could easily compete with those of Jefferson Starship and The Eagles, their music wasn’t promoted as good as it could have been, and the team soon broke up. John Batdorf didn’t walk away from his love for music. Instead, unlike other unrecognized talented musicians, John went on to compose Promised Land, Touched by an Angel, and provided back-up vocals for super successful musicians such as Rod Stewart and David Lee Roth. Even though John wasn’t producing number one tracks, his love for music never waffled and he continued to write and sing hoping that one-day his music would be heard once again. It wasn’t until thirty years later that John would reunite with Mark, producing a newer album complete with the knowledge and experience gained during their three-decade hiatus. John Batdorf’s new music provides the comfort and tales of the Woodstock era while addressing the social concerns of today. Additionally, John Batdorf’s albums provide those who love 70’s music with the same feel yet different songs. Once you have listened to the same songs for almost forty years, they become monotonous (though still great). John Batdorf’s music provides a glimpse into the past, a haven for those who lived there complete with new and improved melodies, which soothe the soul.

Today, John Batdorf is back and better than ever. The song “What D’Ya Got” touches on today’s social concerns and economic difficulties and is perhaps the reason that I elected to feature him as this week’s musical artist. As with many of John’s other songs, “What D’Ya Got” has a story that is heartfelt which can deeply connect with listeners across any age, gender or ethnicity and easily appeals to fans of most any musical genre. It takes a multitude of talent to combine a satirical tone, serious concerns, love and hardship with a splash of comedy and realism. John Batdorf has accomplished this within his four-minute song “What D’Ya Got”. This song is a bit of country, a splash of Indie, and a whole lot of feeling. It is unique, which is why John Batdorf has an age-old core following that has loved him since his first albums during the 70’s. While John Batdorf’s music is quite popular among the XM radio channels, once again it hasn’t hit mainstream FM stations. This is quite perplexing to anyone who hears his music. “What D’Ya Got” would have made it as a number one hit already if famous artist such as Toby Keith, Allan Jackson or Tim McGraw were performing it. This is not because either of them can sing it any better or perform it any differently, it is simply because John Batdorf hasn’t gained the notoriety of the aforementioned performers. With that said, I know that once you listen to John Batdorf’s music, his masterful lyrics will ring in your ears during the silence reminding you that true happiness and joy reaches far beyond materialistic pleasures.