Monday, August 30, 2004

MTV VMA's

Hey Soul Mates,
Roger Daltrey once said, "Gimme a bum note and a bead of sweat!" There may have been lots of sweat in Miami, and a few bum notes, but there was little that was authentic or interesting about this year's MTV VMA's.


The show got off to a mediocre start with the otherwise exciting Usher lipsynching in a rainstorm. It's bad enough that he's lipsynching, but anyone with a brain knows that you would be thoroughly electrocuted attempting to sing with a live mic in a shower. They let Usher perform 3 songs to start the show and I don't think we heard him perform a note of it live. There was so much non-singing that when people with live mics showed up the mix was so bad that even Chaka Khan sounded awful (the producers should publicly apologize to her). Poor Yellowcard and Hoobastank were affected by bad sound, too.

The crowd was only into it enough to boo John Kerry's daughters and Carson Daly for encouraging "young people" to vote. The whole night felt uninspired. Especially, with the pretend-manic paid audience up front. The best moment of the night came when presenter Dave Chappelle asked them point blank: Is there anything y'all don't like?

Even the normally innovative closers Outkast seemed bored and ready to get the heck out of dodge. It won't be like that when we perform at the VMA's folks. Oh sure, we'll go. We know you want to see us live on TV as much as possible.

These awards are supposed to recognize the videos, but they do little to honor the filmmakers themselves. And this year MTV skipped the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award, given to Duran Duran in '03. Makes you wonder what the point is.

Highlights?: Chappelle; the Beastie Boys showing up with Sasquatch; Bruce Willis and P. Diddy dancing in the aisles during Terror Squads' number; Al Sharpton and Jon Stewart lamenting the lack of black artists in the viewers' choice award category; and Jet, actually performing rock and roll.
Lowlights?: Lipsynching, lipsynching, lipsynching. "Gimme a bum note and a bead of sweat!"

I'm sure most of you who were interested watched the show. Those who didn't, you can catch it in perpetual rerun this week. Those who don't care, we'll remind you when it's our turn in '05.

Love, Power, Peace!

Saturday, August 28, 2004

Hand To Hand

Hey Soul Mates, just a short plug for a friend and esteemed colleague who has finished a major new work. Check out the website for the details of his new short film "Hand To Hand." The filmmaker is a visionary and a new voice to be reckoned with. I personally cannot wait to experience "Hand To Hand" on the big screen. I guarantee we'll be hearing more and bigger things from him.

Love, Power, Peace

And register to vote. I just re-upped after an address change. Now that's power.

Say What!? Sessions Update #2

Thanks for the positive energy everyone. With all of those good vibes heading this way the recording sessions have been a smash. Today we were back at Smartso digital working on our new sessions. Let me tell you,
it's also a joy working with a producer who is nuturing and creative. Richard Bosworth's energy is perpetually positive. He's challenging, though, and makes me work to achieve some really great results. Our primary focus today was "Excommunication." I know what you are thinking: shouldn't that song have been completed before they shot the music video? Well, sometimes up is down and out is in. When it comes to art, there's little logic. The song came together nicely and I've been listening to the rough mix non-stop. I think you are really going to enjoy dancing and singing along to this one.

The vocal tracking went very well. I managed to keep my voice intact for the whole day. Lots of tea & honey and a handmade wool scarf (Yes, even in 80 degree heat in LA, the throat can always use a little more protection). There was a lot of multi-tracking, doubling and harmonizing. The harmonies were fun and Richard really tested my ability to come up with new harmonies and background vocals. When you hear the song the energy is superb and there are some really cool things in the vocals that you may or may not notice. But they are there.

Then in another burst, Richard suggested that I add a keyboard part. It was very cool playing a real Hammond B3 organ. For those who don't know, the Hammond is the kind of churchy, Booker T, Stax sounding piano. After a couple of test runs, Richard let the tape roll and I attacked the keys. Lots of glissandos and a whomping Leslie sound. Unfortunately, the Hammond was just for texture; no piano solos, sorry.

I would estimate that we are 60% there for these sessions. We have to lay down vocals for "Majestic Rejection" and do a few edits and re-takes on "Fall Out" & "Saffron Dancer."
Have a great weekend everyone. Check out some new pix on the website from the film shoot.
Don't forget to add some music to your day.

Love, Power, Peace

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

First Nighter

Hey Soul Mates,
I don't normally have to be a first-nighter or buy something the day it arrives in stores. But, today was like Christmas in August. All 3 of Prince's theatrical films for Warner Bros. were released today. Graffiti Bridge was probably unnecessary, but the other two: Purple Rain and Under The Cherry Moon rank among my favorite films of all time. They influenced the way I viewed music/performance and the possibilities of having dreams and making them come true. Hard to believe it's the 20th anniversary of Purple Rain. I can remember going to see it with my older brother, Nate in East Lansing. Nice to sneak into an R rated movie. Of course, the musical numbers are what stay with you and what holds up to time (no pun intended).
Under The Cherry Moon is an indulgence, a guilty pleasure. I think my old DC posse and I could recite the entire thing from "Once upon a time in France" to "Nope, I'm throwing you out onto the Miami streets!"

In website news, I got Dennis' pix from the film shoot. So those will be posted on the site soon.
In recording news, we are at Smartso on Saturday. Wish us luck.
Love, Power, Peace.

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Sessions Update #1

Hey Soul Mates,
we have great news. Next week we will be back in studio with our producer, Richard Bosworth, working on our latest recording sessions. We will once again be in the Smartso Digital Studio where we laid down the basic tracks. The songs we are working on are:
1. "Excommunication"
2. "Fall Out"
3. "Majestic Rejection"

4. "Saffron Dancer"

As you probably know, "Excommunication" is the track that we used for filming the promotional video. It's an uptempo number about heartbreak. How's that!?
"Fall Out" is a real funk workout and we emphasize the work and the out. And it's an ode to love and joy.

"Majestic Rejection" is a recent song that is seriously about heartbreak. It's done as a waltz and the tracking was quite effective. Bryan did a guitar part that sounds just like an electric piano. Dennis and I played acoustic instruments. It was fun for me, 'cause it was the first time I ever played acoustic bass (special thanks to Rick "The Bass Player" Rosas for use of the instrument). It's a beautiful guitar (a Washburn AB40) and I gots to get me one for Christmas. Hint, Hint, Santy Claus. Or Hanukkah. Hint, Hint Harry.
Finally "Saffron Dancer" is a brassy number featuring the RHS horn section.

More returns as they come in.
Love, Power, Peace.


p.s. Don't forget to register to vote. Then, vote.

Earth, Wind & Fire and Water, Lex Luthor & A Fresh Tie.

Hey,
just back from the Earth, Wind & Fire/Chicago double headlining bill at the Greek. The show used an interesting concept. Even though they were filming the whole night for a DVD, both bands came on stage together and ran through a couple of songs. Then they actually flipped a coin to see who would "headline" and who would "open." EW&F lost the toss and took the stage first. Their set was pure joy. Lots of exuberance from their wild bass player, Verdine White and stratospheric vocals from Phillip Bailey. Sadly no appearance from founder Maurice White (Although, I did see Maurice last month at a screening of Fahrenheit 9/11). The songlist included "Fantasy," "Reasons," "Got To Get You Into My Life," & "Let's Groove."

Intermission was spent in the VIP lounge (better known as the "Cheese Room"); chatted briefly with "Smallville's" Michael Rosenbaum. He plays Lex Luthor on the show and is a rabid Chicago fan. I also got a smile from Macy Gray while waiting at the bar. But, Macy was not pleased that the cheese trays and food were taken away just as she made her way to the buffet table. Hey, peoples from Canton gotta eat, too.

I have no idea who people think I am. It's kinda neat though to walk into a room and have everyone glance your way and whisper to friends or smile knowingly. I'm not (so) narcissistic or (extraordinarily) vain, but this happens everywhere I go in town. No lie. I'd love to know who they think this is. Or maybe they already do. I just hope that they think I'm somebody without a criminal record. I did look sharp tonight. Black jacket, sea green shirt and blue and gold tie.
People... let's all start looking as important as we are. This ain't just for the stupidly rich. Dress for the job you want. Dress for the life you want. Wanna go shopping, call me.

Chicago actually impressed me (Mark!). They played some of the schmaltzy 80's hits, but stuck mostly with their early 70's jazz influenced hits like "Saturday In The Park" and "Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?" For the finale, both groups took the stage again. A total of 19 players. It was a wild finish which included "Shining Star" and a thunderous "25 or 6 to 4."

After the show it was back to the Cheese Room. I got to meet and speak briefly with Rock Hall member Ralph Johnson percussionist and singer for EW&F who's been with the group since '72. Can you imagine playing with a spectacular group for 30+ years? I didn't get to meet too many professional musicians as a kid. So I really cherish moments were I get a tiny bit of one-on-one time with people whose music has influenced me. Mr. Johnson was very nice and was thankful that I had enjoyed the show. I told him likewise.

I'm done.
Love, Power, Peace!

Sunday, August 15, 2004

T.A.M.I. Show Review

Hope you can stand my review of last night's feature.

Seeing the TAMI Show on a big screen at the Arclight was fun. The film was presented as a glorified kinescope (it basically looks like a videotape of what was playing on a TV screen). Steve Binder, the film's director was on hand to tell some stories about the 3 days it took to film. The print we watched, he told us, was donated to the festival by none other than Quentin Tarantino.
It's really a time capsule of a film. The line up included legends James Brown, The Rolling Stones, Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, Marvin Gaye, The Beach Boys (who appear briefly, but actually had their performance removed from the film because their manager thought it was beneath them), Chuck Berry, Jan & Dean and the Supremes; one-hit wonders Leslie Gore, Gerry & The Pacemakers; and no-hit wonders like the Barbarians.

It was fun seeing Smokey, Marvin, The Stones and the Supremes on the verge of superstardom. This was 1964, so no "Tears of a Clown," "Heard It Through The Grapevine," or even "Satisfaction." Instead they gave energetic performances of their early R&B hits. Now, the real entertainment for most of the show was nearly upstaged by a group of choreographed dancers, including Teri Garr and Toni Basil, who shimmy and wiggle madly behind the acts. Fortunately the dancers were done by the time the Flames took the stage. Ah, James and his Famous Flames.

The highlight of the film is undoubtedly James Brown. He was at his peak, in his mid-30s and the fastest dancer alive. He ripped through "Out Of Sight" with dance moves that made me jump out of my seat. I know the people behind me must have been annoyed. Then he cooled it down with "Try Me" and "Prisoner of Love." The showstopper was "Please, Please, Please," which featured James falling to his knees, mic stand in hand over and over. When his valet and one of the Famous Flames came over with the cape to drape over James' shoulders, the audience in the movie theater went as nuts as the crowd on hand. It was that electrifying. The final number was the mainly instrumental "Night Train" which showcased Brown's dancing talents, with numerous dancing encores. James lit the stage so hot that even the Stones couldn't handle following him.

Needless to say, if this film comes within a county of you: you better run, don't walk, to see it. The T.A.M.I. Show is pop history.


Love, Power, Peace

Saturday, August 14, 2004

Merch #2 and the TAMI show

I've spent most of the day doing more design work on the logos that will appear on the new merchandise. It's always tough to figure out what people might like to wear that represents themselves and the band. I think I've made the right choices. One in particular should go over well with all the RHS cheerleaders out there. As mentioned earlier, there will be 3 tee shirt designs.

Time to get out and get some air. Maybe pick up a new tie or two. Gotta be sharp.

Tonight, I'm going to the Arclight (formerly the Cinerama Dome on Sunset) for a screening of the "T.A.M.I. Show." I've only seen it once, back in high school, but it should be fun on a big screen. the "T.A.M.I. Show" is a 1964 concert film featuring James Brown, The Rolling Stones, The Beach Boys, Chuck Berry, Marvin Gaye and more. I specifically need to see the Godfather in his Prime. Owww! The first four of those acts, I'm fortunate to seen in person. Never got to see Marvin. One of my hobbies is going to concerts. Kind of like trainspotting for members of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. I try to see every one who is in the Hall already and some I figure who are on their way (ex. I got tix for the Beastie Boys this morning. Oh, and don't think the B Boys won't get in. 'Cause they will. I figure Run DMC will be the first rap group into the Hall, followed closely by the Beasties. I haven't seen them yet, but I expect to be wowed.) Later this week, I'll see Earth, Wind & Fire and Chicago, on the same bill. EW&F is in; Chicago is not. I wonder how my friend Mark W. in Jax feels about their absence? :)

Finally, this a.m. I watched Mia Hamm and the ladies defeat Brasil in soccer at the Olympics. I must admit, the opening ceremonies were well done. The floats with human sculptures and living art were particularly striking. I could've done without Bjork, though. Why didn't they have George Michael (a.k.a. Yorgos Kyriatou Panayioutou), the biggest Greek descended pop star ever, perform? He's still a major artist. And no Vangelis or Chariots of Fire, as far as I could tell. Oh well.

All for now.
You know how it goes: Love, Power, Peace!

Thursday, August 12, 2004

Octopi and Merchandi

What it is?
I've been busy setting up the e-mail accounts for the RHS website. Almost done. You should be able to reach everyone, 'cept for Bryan. He'll be next! It's fun, but hard work building a website from scratch.

Tonight's highlight was a trip to Canter's Deli on Fairfax (they make a mean Pastrami on rye with sweet cole slaw in the sammich, known as the Brooklyn). If you were there, yes that was me in the bright red shirt and maize tie. The tie has tiny octopi on it. Got it in Nantes at a Jules Verne exhibit. Get it, squid-like things/"20,000 Leagues Under the Sea?"

This weekend the order will be placed for the RHS merch. I'm pretty excited about that. Hope you are, too. We are doing several items including baby tees, regular tees, keychains and baseball caps. The Rush Hour Soul logos will be different for the girlie shirts and the regular shirts. Sorry, guys, but the girls made their request a while back! Either way, be prepared to get the "Stare" as people gaze in awe at your bad self in your RHS threads. Speaking of which, we are also thinking about doing an "RHS" shirt. Soon, I'll post the different logos so you can get a sneak peak.

Gotta sleep. Suh-leeeeeeeeeeep.

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

The Blog Goes On

Hey Soul Mates.
It took me a bit, but now we have this cool blog thing cooking. I hope that you'll comment on the site, via this blog. (For those of you unfamiliar with it "Blog" is short for "Weblog." I didn't come up with it, but it works) All the feedback is welcome. Some will be posted, so no guarantees.

Thanks to Rebel Pat Kutac for the hookup with blogger.

Right now I am getting ready to configure some e-mail addresses for the band so you can all hit them with fan mail and what ever else you like. There are lots of updates on the photo page with more to come.
I'll be back tomorrow.
Love, Power, Peace.

The Original Opening Blog Post

10 Aug. 04
How is everyone? It's been another long evening in the life. Up till 3 a.m. yesterday morning and here I am and it's 12:37 a.m. Tuesday! There have been plenty of new pics added to our photo pages. Hope you've been enjoying them. The original pics were not up to par for my friend and yours, Dr. Rahuna. So he doctored many of them. Now you can see the faces better. Thanks, Doc.

I'd also like to give a personal shout-out to everyone who worked on our video shoot. Wouldn't have been the same without you. Thank you. So much talent. We'll have to see how Asiel and the Commondeer (it's already plural) edit the footage to the track. Of course, we need to finish the vocals. That will help them a lot. To answer your question: we have no target date for a video premier. But you'll be the first to know.

Our RHS cheerleaders worked very hard with our choreographer to recreate the dance sensation that's been sweeping Southern California, the Excommunication. Soon, you'll be able to learn it in the comfort of your own home. Thanks Diana, Michelle, Vero and Veronica!

Shortly, I will post Andrew St. Marie's illustration of the band that was commissioned for the video.
Time for beauty rest...lots of it.