By Paul Turner

That phrase, carpe diem, was relatively uncommon to most of us until the movie 'Dead Poet's Society" had its success. Now it is synonymous with John Keating, the character Robin Williams portrayed so vividly n the movie it seems it has transcended even its original context within the movie.

Translated from its Latin origin, it means 'Seize the day!" or make the most of the opportunity. "Capture the moment." Other paraphrases would include "Give it your best shot," "Go for it" or even "Just do it."

What does this have to do with Louisville music?, you might be asking. Perhaps you know the answer.

An increasing number of opportunities are arising for people in the music industry in Louisville. Jim Porter's and WAMZ recently hosted a battle of the bands, while WQMF and Caddy's are currently in the midst of a band battle for rockers.

The Louisville Area Songwriters' Cooperative will showcase its writers for representatives from Nashville's music industry in April at The Rudyard Kipling, as well as at a much larger event in November, 'Hit Makers '92," which will include a showcase of Louisville artists and songwriters, a seminar and a contest awards banquet.

(For more info on what's upcoming, feel free to call Louisville Music News.) Nashville is looking for songwriting talent, New York is checking us out and L.A. is calling up from time to time. Who knows where your big (or small) break may come from or when BUT COUNT ON THIS: If you're not ready when your chance comes, it may be a long time until you get another. Or worse, it will never happen. Because it doesn't "just happen."

There is, as we all know, a lot of competition for a few opportunities and only so many eyes watching. Make what they see when they look at you "Bigger Than Life," as they say in performing terms.

Other acts are doing at least some, if not everything, they can to get ahead and be noticed. Are you?

How. do I apply this in practical terms? Ask yourself these musical questions:

1. Does my show or set start on time? This is fairly self-explanatory, but many times the obvious is overlooked. Frustrations due to starting late set the mood for the show for the player and the audience (and it's not the best possible mood).

2. Do I (or we) communicate with the audience? In other terms, are we playing for them or at them? Audiences interaction can be fun and it sure makes for loyal fans. Something as simple as continued eye contact not only keeps their attention and commands respect but it also helps to establish the bonds of charisma.

3. Is there an appropriate variety of material? I'm not suggesting that Rush cover a Tiny Tim tune, but I will say that if you don't need a set list you are probably in need of help here. Consider your audience and what appeals to a large portion of then. Also, keep expanding your musical boundaries for many reasons, some of which, hopefully, are obvious.

4. Is our performance sound level and balance really where we want it? For those who don't have a REGULAR sound engineer, this is critical for all of us sound checks do wonders don't they?! Vocals are usually the victims of poor balance and think how many instrumentals make the Top 10 or even the Top 100!

5. Do I act pro offstage? A reasonable amount of positive self-image is required here. The normal tendency is to act too good for your axe and to have seen contracts slip through the hands of people who A&R reps didn't want to work with due to "impaired attitudes." Don't be on "that list."

6. How's my act visually? Are you interesting to watch? Do all the "pieces" in the group fit together? Even though it may be our music that people come to hear, it's you they are going to see. Nobody I know checks their eyes at the door when they come to listen. I'll address stage presence in a future issue of LMN, but, really, a little goes a long way. I can say that it many times separates the men from the boys or women from the girls.

7. Am I improving as a performer or group? Give each other the benefit of a critical eye. Take turns checking out each other's performances and offer constructive criticism. Don't forget, the key word is constructive make sure the person or people you choose is capable of this and make sure you take it in the positive manner in which it was intended.

8. Do I have a plan to "reach for the stars"? Make a plan and stick to it. "Plan the work and work the plan." If you are in fact "gold" potential, do what you can to "make it happen." Put a promo packet together and give the guys who are trying to find you a little help. If you need help, look through the pages of Louisville Music News or call us. We'd be happy to help.

Eight steps to help you reach the top. I was going to give you ten, but you can probably come up with a couple of your own to work on.

Remember, although they're not everywhere, people still get paid to find new players, new songs and new faces. We at Louisville Music News enjoy nothing better than to read about one of our own in Billboard or Rolling Stone!

Until then, "Carpe diem."

Don't say "What opportunity?" Say "What opportunity!"