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Scooter for showtime

March 18, 2002

Sunday, March 17, 2002, Scooter Scudieri is reinventing the rock star

SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.Va. - Huddled over a cup of coffee and an appointment book, outfitted in a loose-fitting orange hooded sweatshirt and a green knit cap covering long, wavy hair, Scooter Scudieri appears in every way the gangly college student.

You'd never know you were in the presence of the Internet's first Rock Star.

Yet here he is, mere inches away and holding court on his music, retaining control of it and a self-promotional frenzy based on a tenet as basic as "Greed is good," Gordon Gekko's late-80s ode to capitalism:

If he builds it, they will come.

To call Scudieri, 32, a man with a plan would do the Shepherdstown resident a gross injustice to the tune of calling Cal Ripken Jr. an OK ballplayer.

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"I'm here to make music, not to be a pop, dance, explosions, Vegas strip guy," Scudieri says. "I don't want to get too lofty. ... I just think I have things to share and want to share."

Looks like people are taking notice. Tuesday, Scudieri will perform at the 41st Songwriters Hall of Fame Showcase in New York City, one of eight performers culled from 163 submissions.

The gig follows an appearance earlier this month at the 2002 Global Entertainment and Media Summit, also in New York, where he spoke, performed and pressed the flesh to support his solo album "Ancient Rituals," a folk-rock mixture.

Bob Leone, the Hall of Fame project director, says Scudieri certainly is plucky, as evidenced by his tireless work at the Global Summit, a weekend of networking and sessions for artists, directors and media execs among others.

"I think something might happen for him," says Leone, who first encountered the Scooter Scudieri self-promotional buzzsaw a year ago. "And if it doesn't, it won't be for lack of talent or lack of effort."

What impresses Leone is that Scudieri has accomplished all that he has sans manager, agent, record company. And from a homebase as far from the cities where musical careers generally take flight: New York, Los Angeles, Nashville.

Then again, this too is all part of the plan, made possible by a Web-linked society the musician first took notice of in the mid-90s.

All of a sudden, Scudieri could market himself online while also playing shows and peddling traditional gear - CDs, postcards, T-shirts.

"It was like using the telephone, just so much greater," Scudieri says. "All you have to do is work locally and create the scene. Don't worry about the majors; when they want to find you they'll find you because they'll hear you. It spreads because of the Internet."

Building a career

Relocating to West Virginia from Spokane, Wash., in 1983 with his family, Scudieri picked up his first guitar at age 12, penning his first songs shortly thereafter.

On his own after a decade in a band, Scudieri built a fan base by opening a dialogue with listeners, including online. He transcended his initial fear of leaving the safety of a band, and was heartened by fan support.

"You can really relate to people on this really high level using e-mail," he says. "Because you can express yourself without worrying about getting shot down."

Raising money to record was also made easier. Playing a pub in Winchester, Va., one night, Scudieri found a listener who gave him $5,000 to record his music as he saw fit.

Armed with a meticulously devised business plan, Scudieri is building his career. The New York appearances are a means to that end. It helps that he doesn't have to rely on the music to survive; he operates a restoration business.

Performing historic restoration by day, making music by night, weekends and several points in between, Scudieri is poised to break through.

And, Leone says, he's got the musical chops to thrive.

"He's a good writer," Leone says. "There was just something different, a different kind of energy and way to write something."

For Scudieri, inspiration comes in waves where whole songs and melodies largely flow from within in as little as a half-hour.

A mini cassette recorder serves as a sounding board when his muse

surfaces while he's busy sanding or painting a wall.

Scudieri is a firm believer that positive action will yield a positive result. He also thinks a contact made today may come in useful down the line.

And, sure, calling himself the Internet's first Rock Star might seem a bit arrogant. But if it catches someone's attention, the moniker has served its purpose: To expose

another person to Scudieri and his music. "Will it blow up on me?

Maybe, but I'm getting people to check out the music," he says.

Still, with the once and future exposure in New York, the musician feels like he's on the cusp of something big, though he's also smart enough to know these are only the most recent steps on a journey far from complete.

"As long as I stay on the path I have created for myself, it's all going to come back and bounce," he says. "And my quest has never been about the money. If you know anything about the music business, it has nothing to do with the money. You're either starving or a millionaire; there is no in-between.

"But there is a middle ground and it starts locally."

So, is Scudieri really the Internet's first Rock Star or a big ole backwoods ball of hype?

Leone, a man who should know, says there's more to Scudieri than tireless self-promotion.

"He's one of those guys that actually has the talent to back it up," Leone says. "He's the type of writer who I hope succeeds because he has the guts to start his own business. He's not just sitting around waiting for someone to take care of it for him.

"He's taken charge and is going to make it happen, and I have a lot of respect for a guy like that."

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