Sunday, February 26, 2006

Your Sister Said, "So Glad To Meet You" [Show Recap]

Hey Soul Mates,
thanks to everyone who came out to our slamming show last night. (Special props to Chervet, who gave up an evening with Sugar Ray Leonard for Rush Hour Soul; and for the electric blue tie that I wore). We had so much fun and it was apparent that you did, too. The whole set was filled with surprises. We included a cover of an old song by Bat Country called Supermodels With Gatling Guns that had the audience moving. Of course, all the ladies sang along with Everything My Heart Desires and Done Lost My Mind. The highlight was probably the roses I gave out (thanks to inspiration from Al Green) and the calypso/ska ending of Done Lost My Mind that resulted.

Being our first show of 2006 and the first in our run-up to Britain, we were very pleased with our performances and the turn-out. Brennan's was packed. That's a cool stage. Helps that they had a big mirror to Bryan's right, so I could make sure my hair stayed right. Ha Ha.

Last night's set list:
Fall Out
Everyone's Ingenue
U Had The $

Everything My Heart Desires
Saffron Dancer
Supermodels With Gatling Guns
Sucka

Done Lost My Mind
A Talent For Loving
Hold On, I'm Coming


We were followed by our friends, and the evening's hosts, the Adam Marsland Chaos Band. I had a great time singing along with them. I got to do the first verse of set opener, Rubberband Man and gave the group a big introduction. Later in the set, they brought me back on stage to do a ripping version of Curtis Mayfield's Pusherman that brought down the house. They really gave me room to strut my stuff. Thanks to the AMCB for thinking of me for singing that number.

Adam told me that there is fantastic audio of the entire evening. We hope to get mp3s out to you soon. It was very cool working with Adam along with the fabulous horn section of Ken Pace and Probyn Gregory. I had a chance to talk to them after the show about the prospect of working together and I'm jazzed about that!

There's much work to do this week and this evening, so I'm going to keep this one short. We have a slate of shows on deck that I can announce. Mark your calendars:
Friday March 10 @ Club Good Hurt
Thursday April 6 @ The Gig
Wednesday April 26 @ Club Good Hurt

Be there.
Pictures of last night's show are on their way.
Love, Power, Peace

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Superfly

Hey Soul Mates,
you never realize how talented your friends are until you rehearse with them. Yeah, you like what they do on stage, but when you see how sharp they are when they practice... Mm-Mm! Tonight, (Friday) I sat in on rehearsal with Adam Marsland's Chaos Band. They are the act that will follow us at tonight's (Saturday) show. Adam and co. invited me to sing along with them. 70% of their setlist is old 70's soul covers learned especially for this show. Appropriately enough, I'm singing a track from Curtis Mayfield's stellar Superfly soundtrack. I'm not telling you which song, though. You'll have to come to the show to find out. Suffice it to say, I learned the first verse of this one as a playground rhyme years ago. Hard to believe, thinking about the subject matter of the song. What fun, though to run through the number a few times. All the players in Adam's group are excellent, but extra kudos to guitarist
Evie Sands. She's just a joy to hear and see perform. I can't wait for you all to hear our collaboration!

Ok, something else that was a trip was the horn section. That's right, they have a horn section for their show tomorrow. Many of you have heard me lust over horns. Ken Pace & Probyn Gregory are fantastic. They should be, they are pros. Probyn worked on Beach Boy Brian Wilson's latest tour and Christmas album. Actually, they are frighteningly good. Very soon, you'll get to hear RHS with brass and woodwinds. I'm giving away a bit of Adam's set, but they are doing Hot Fun In The Summertime and that horn chart just smothers me in musical goodness.

I'm just in. Sipping a hot cup of Earl Grey (decaf) with some good old non-dairy creamer and life is good. We are looking forward to entertaining at Brennan's tonight. Remember it's a free show, so bring lots of people with you. And check the show calendar on MySpace for our latest additions.

Love, Power, Peace

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Believe!

Hey Soul Mates,
the band has been busy. Preparations for our transatlantic tour are underway. In the run-up to our departure,
we've been meeting a lot of really cool people on-line from the U.K. We can't wait to meet all of you when we travel in May. Also, we've even been in touch with our British cousins, Rush Hour Soul UK. I'm hoping that we'll get to share a bill with them in whatever incarnation Nigel puts together for a show. We are interested in trading shows with other UK based groups who want to play here in Los Angeles. If that's you, drop me a line.

Well, on behalf of the group, welcome to the realm of the Soul Mates, new friends. Several of our new mates have even suggested venues for us to book. Better, some of you have told us that you are looking forward to our arrival and seeing us perform live! Very exciting times for RHS. American audiences will have plenty of chances to see us in the coming months as we hone our show for the International Set. You all are going to be entertained and amazed.

Speaking of which. Don't forget, we've got a FREE show this Saturday Night at Brennan's. We are on a great bill with Adam Marsland's Chaos Band. Yours truly will be making a special appearance with the AMCB on a classic Curtis Mayfield cover. I'm really excited about singing with them. Rush Hour Soul is on at 9 PM; AMCB hits the stage at 10. Plan on sticking around for both sets, y'all! Rush Hour Soul will be adding a surprise to the set that RHS fans have never heard before! What will it be? You'll just have to see it to believe it. And in the immortal words of my man, Steph: "Believe!"

Love, Power, Peace and go Sasha, Emily & Kimmie!

Friday, February 17, 2006

Olympic Fever: Nascar On Ice

Hey Soul Mates,
more intense than the Boogie Fever I had as a kid, I've got Olympic Fever once again. 4 years ago, I discovered Apolo Anton Ohno and Short-track. What a rush, watching the speedskaters in such close quarters. But this year, there's a new kid on the block and it's badder than Ohno and the Short Track:
Snowboard Cross (SBX). A brand-new medalling event, SBX is part motorcross, part Nascar, all snow. It's full tilt, body-banging action at high speed on a downhill snowboard run. Wipe-outs, pile ups and intrigue highlighted each heat. Jumps, spills and contact combined with the downward velocity really amps this baby up. It's like a James Bond set-piece, minus the weaponry, but with all the excitement. Seth Wescott, the American who won the sport's debut gold, fended off stiff competition to win in a photo finish. That's Wescott airborne in white and silver medalist Radolsav Zidek (Slovakia) on his left.

Tonight, the ladies go at it with equal intensity. Snowboard Spoiler alert! Due to the time-delayed broadcasts, the website posts results well in advance of airing. I keep forgetting this and end up knowing who wins before an event is shown. There is an option on the NBC site to view the entire competition. Which I would recommend, if you have the time. I hope to be in Vancouver for the 2010 games and fo' sho, I want to see this sport in person. I suspect SBX races will become a hot ticket by then.

In Rush Hour Soul news, you'll be glad to hear that we will be performing once a month around Los Angeles in the run up to Britain. The new show dates will be posted shortly. I expect to see many of you at the concerts. We'll be debuting new songs in April and May. There will also be a few surprises along the way, as we are adding some special cover versions when we play Liverpool. We might just be persuaded to play them for the audiences here at home to test them out!

Tonight, I'll be heading out to Taix in Silverlake to catch the Waking Hours and Adam Marsland's Chaos Band. We are performing on the bill with the AMCB next weekend. Adam and I have been discussing a collaboration or two for the show. You'll have to be there to see/hear what we come up with.

Have a great Friday and a safe weekend.
Love, Power, Peace

Monday, February 13, 2006

Black Sweat

Hey Soul Mates,
he's done it again. Prince has released something revolutionary. It's the newest track from his upcoming LP "3121." The fellas were over this weekend and we were blown away by his use of space and silences. It's a funk masterpiece of robotic pulses and hollerin'. And it's called Black Sweat. It's Prince's best distillation of the James Brown canon in years. Dancefloors will be packed by this jam. I haven't been this excited about anyone's new single in a long time. Probably since Gett Off.

Check it on out now, courtesy of youtube.com. Just press play and dance!

Love, Power, Peace

Sunday, February 12, 2006

RHS On "Up The Tree"

Hey Soul Mates,
Here's some cool news. Our song A Talent For Loving got a play on another podcast: Up The Tree. Check it out. The podcast is pretty irreverent. Parental discretion is advised. We are in good musical company: Wilco's Jeff Tweedy and Neko Case are also featured. As usual, we're glad to be there. Our episode is TUTT: The Break Up, Pt. 1. Even though ours isn't a breakup song, we like the irony of the theme near Valentine's Day. You can even leave Funtime Ben and Josiah a message about the show, or yours truly, Rush Hour Soul.

My very lengthy blog about the Grammy Show will be posted very soon. Sorry for the delay. It's been a busy weekend, what with the VP shooting a man and all. One of the highlights of my week was hiking. Yes, hiking to the top of Mt. Lee above the Hollywood sign early Thursday a.m. The walk is kinda steep going up, but coming back down the hill was cake. From the top of the crest you can see the Pacific Ocean and the San Fernando Valley. I could almost see my house!

We're really pleased with the continued response to our cyber-single Everything My Heart Desires. It's been fun to learn that we have a truly international audience via the web.

Gotta practice. La La La La.
Love, Power, Peace.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Norm's Grammy Picks For 2006

Hey Soul Mates,
I'm super-excited because tonight is
Grammy night and the evening should be historic. I may breakdown if Sly Stone actually shows up to perform during a tribute to his musical genius. The man has not performed for a public audience that I know of in over 20 years. Sly is the greatest enigma pop music has known . I would consider him to be one of its 10 greatest writers. Everyday People, Stand, Everybody Is A Star, Thank You (Fallentime Be Mice Elf, Again), Hot Fun In The Summertime and Family Affair are all pop masterpieces. And I didn't even mention I Want To Take You Higher and Dance To The Music. His appearance should be the highlight of the night. But wait there's more.

I wrote about Gorillaz a blog or two back. McCartney and U2 are also performing. Finally, the Grammy's might live up to the hype. The only glaring performance omission for me is the White Stripes, who for my money made the year's most daring album. Of course, Mariah, ahhhhhhh, Mariah made the most listenable disc of '05 and she's is performing. This should be Kanye West's night. But there are plenty of other deserving artists (upstarts & veterans) who should take home hardware.

Well, here's my handicapping for the night's festivities. I've made picks (the highlighted ones) in select categories, including the BIG TICKET prizes. These are not always who I think will win, but also who I'd like to see win. Remember these suggestions are for entertainment purposes only, no wagering please. Tune in on your local CBS station at 8 pm.

Here we go:
Record Of The Year. Possibly, the strongest this category has ever been. Two of the best singles of the new millenium mano a mano: Carey v. Kanye.
We Belong Together - Mariah Carey
Feel Good Inc. - Gorillaz Featuring De La Soul

Boulevard Of Broken Dreams - Green Day
Hollaback Girl - Gwen Stefani
Gold Digger - Kanye West

Album Of The Year. Kanye will win, but Mariah's my girl. If you follow my blog, you know why I prefer "Emancipation". Perhaps it's sour grapes for the White Stripes' omission in this category.
The Emancipation Of Mimi - Mariah Carey

Chaos And Creation In The Backyard - Paul McCartney
Love. Angel. Music. Baby. - Gwen Stefani
How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb -U2
Late Registration - Kanye West


Song Of The Year. Simply one of most honest singles in years. U2 and Mariah are not bad choices, either.
Bless The Broken Road - Bobby Boyd, Jeff Hanna & Marcus Hummon, songwriters (Rascal Flatts)

Devils & Dust - Bruce Springsteen, songwriter (Bruce Springsteen)
Ordinary People - W. Adams & J. Stephens, songwriters (John Legend)
Sometimes You Can't Make It On Your Own - U2, songwriters (U2)
We Belong Together - J. Austin, M. Carey, J. Dupri & M. Seal, songwriters; (D. Bristol, K. Edmonds, S. Johnson, P. Moten, S. Sully & B. Womack, songwriters) (Mariah Carey)

Best New Artist. The only real no-brainer for the night.
Ciara
Fall Out Boy
Keane
John Legend
SugarLand

Best Female Pop Vocal Performance. It's a stronger vocal than Mariah's. Believe it.
It's Like That - Mariah Carey
Since U Been - Gone Kelly Clarkson
Good Is Good - Sheryl Crow
I Will Not Be Broken - Bonnie Raitt
Hollaback Girl - Gwen Stefani

Best Male Pop Vocal Performance
Sitting, Waiting, Wishing - Jack Johnson
Fine Line - Paul McCartney
Walk On By - Seal
Lonely No More - Rob Thomas
From The Bottom Of My Heart - Stevie Wonder

Best Pop Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocal. Have you seen the video for My Doorbell? The category alone is hysterical. The White Stripes. Pop? You bet.
Don't Lie - The Black Eyed Peas

Mr. Brightside - The Killers
More Than Love -Los Lonely Boys
This Love - Maroon 5
My Doorbell - The White Stripes

Best Pop Vocal Album. It's overdue and he won't win the big one.
Extraordinary Machine - Fiona Apple
Breakaway - Kelly Clarkson
Wildflower - Sheryl Crow
Chaos And Creation In The Backyard - Paul McCartney
Love. Angel. Music. Baby. - Gwen Stefani

Best Rock Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocal. Sorry. U2 do not "rock" on that song.
Speed Of Sound - Coldplay
Best Of You - Foo Fighters
Do You Want To - Franz Ferdinand
All These Things That I've Done - The Killers
Sometimes You Can't Make It On Your Own - U2


Best Rock Album. No, really. The Stones have earned this one.
X&Y - Coldplay
In Your Honor - Foo Fighters
A Bigger Bang - The Rolling Stones
How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb - U2
Prairie Wind - Neil Young

Best Alternative Music Album
Funeral - The Arcade Fire
Guero - Beck
Plans - Death Cab For Cutie
You Could Have It So Much Better - Franz Ferdinand
Get Behind Me Satan - The White Stripes

Best Female R&B Vocal Performance
1 Thing - Amerie
Wishing On A Star - Beyonce
We Belong Together - Mariah Carey
Free Yourself - Fantasia
Unbreakable - Alicia Keys

Best Male R&B Vocal Performance. A tie here. Both are super performances.
Creepin' - Jamie Foxx
Ordinary People - John Legend
Let Me Love You - Mario
Superstar- Usher
So What The Fuss - Stevie Wonder

Best Urban/Alternative Performance. This will be our category next year!
SupaStar - Floetry
Dirty Harry - Gorillaz
Dust - Van Hunt
Welcome To Jamrock - Damian Marley
Ghetto Rock - Mos Def

Best R&B Album. A battle royale between old school titans and new school wunderkinds.
Illumination - Earth, Wind And Fire
Free Yourself - Fantasia
Unplugged - Alicia Keys
Get Lifted - John Legend
A Time To Love - Stevie Wonder

Best Contemporary R&B Album. What will she be not wearing by the time she collects this?
Touch - Amerie

The Emancipation Of Mimi - Mariah Carey
Destiny Fulfilled - Destiny's Child
Turning Point - Mario
O - Omarion

Best Rap Solo Performance. This should have been in the collabo category with a co-nod for Jamie Foxx.
Testify - Common
Mockingbird - Eminem
Disco Inferno - 50 Cent
Number One - Spot Ludacris
U Don't Know Me - T.I.
Gold Digger - Kanye West

Best Rap Performance By A Duo Or Group. I'll take a dirty South flyer, tho' the populist BEP will win.
Don't Phunk With My Heart - The Black Eyed Peas
The Corner - Common Featuring The Last Poets
Encore - Eminem Featuring Dr. Dre & 50 Cent
Hate It Or Love It - The Game Featuring 50 Cent
Wait (The Whisper Song) - Ying Yang Twins

Best Rap Album. Strong category, but... duh.
Be - Common
The Cookbook - Missy Elliott
Encore - Eminem
The Massacre - 50 Cent
Late Registration - Kanye West

So we'll see how we all do with our picks. I hope at least to be entertained by the show. We'll see you on the air in '07. My prediction, 5 nominations for Rush Hour Soul.

Love, Power, Peace

Monday, February 06, 2006

I Say It's My Birthday/Tour Announcement

Hey Soul Mates,
Happy Birthday to us! My Mother says "Happy Birthday to me." And of course, I got a B-Day call from Dad in Atlanta. My brother Nate is working the Coretta Scott King funeral. And thanks to Doug for checking in (really early, ha ha). It's been a really pleasant day so far. Coffee on the house at Marie et Cie. (merci, Charles) this a.m. And normally, I do not advertise my birthday at all. But today is an exception, because (drum roll)...

Our big news? Here it is. We are taking our act overseas for a tour. Rush Hour Soul is going across the pond to the United Kingdom! First, we've been invited to perform at the
International Pop Overthrow Music Festival in Liverpool in May. There will be two performances in Liverpool. One of our dates will be at the world famous Cavern Club (of Beatles fame). Second, we will follow that up by booking independent shows in other cities. Times and dates to be confirmed. Special thanks to IPO 2006 and founder David Bash.

If any of you know bookers or clubs to recommend in the UK that would be interested in having us, please tell us. If you are in a British band and would like to trade shows with us here in Los Angeles, also, let us know. All assistance is greatly appreciated. We are very excited about touring overseas and hope that all of our fans in Great Britain will make it to the shows.

We will be raising funds here in the US and it should be fun. There will be lots of expenses involved. We want all of you to "participate" in the tour. Many details are to follow. Your support will be crucial. We have some peers who have gone to the UK recently with great success and we want to trample their footsteps. We hope that you are as ecstatic as we are!

And for all you haters out there: the Rolling Stones kicked butt last night at the Super Bowl half-time show. They ripped it up with their new song "Rough Justice" which was one of my 10 favorite songs on 2005.
Cheerio.

Love, Power, Peace

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Bus Spotting

Hey Soul Mates,
it's Super Bowl Sunday. XL. Detroit City. And I was at the last Super Bowl in Motown. And it was freezing. The game was great though. That was Joe Montana's super-debut. Today, I'm going to be rooting for the Bus and the Steelers. But I was told to give up any kind of monetary gambling by the fortune teller last week, so none of you can have my money on this one. "One For The Thumb" since '81 for Pittsburgh. Now, I've always like Seattle's uniforms and the Seahawk logo, but I've gotta go with the Steelers.

Grammy awards on Wednesday. I'm pretty excited. McCartney's performing. Gorillaz, too - though it's sad that they are performing with Madonna. Maybe she'll prove me wrong, but she's played out for me. I've got "Demon Days" playing right now and it's a tremendously adventurous LP. The title track is on. Demon Days is at the end of the record, but what a great album closer with a choral vocal unlike the rest of the hip-hop/dub influenced disc.

Oh, and tomorrow is my birthday, and my gift to you all will be our BIG NEWS about the upcoming Rush Hour Soul tour.


Love, Power, Peace and Pittsburgh by 10.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Reading Is Fundamental... Aargh.

Hey Soul Mates,
I don't always finish books I buy. And I have a nasty habit of buying lots of books and not completing them in one go. There's usually a stack of books on my stand that are in various stages of being read. But, lately I've gotten better about it. I completed Gideon Defoe's nifty "The Pirates! In An Adventure With Scientists." It's a completely anachronistic short novel about... well, pirates in an adventure with scientists. Not howlingly funny, but rather consistently, subtly amusing from page one.

Each chapter title has a thrilling piratical theme, but the episode will not include a single word about said treasure, sea monsters or Skull Island. The pirates in question have no names, rather descriptions: the scarf wearing pirate, the pirate with the accordion, the pirate in green and the hero of the story the Pirate Captain. And they all love ham. The Pirate Captain is famous for his feats on the high seas and his luxuriant beard. The stuff of legend.

Off the Galapagos, the Pirates mistakenly raid the booty-free Beagle. Its chief passenger, Charles Darwin, then enlists their help in a romp through sooty Victorian London, complete with the Elephant Man, a Pirate fan convention and miniature golf. Har. Plus, DeFoe (no relation to Daniel, I hope) provides the requisite amount of pirate excitement: plank-walking, cannonballs to the skull, swashbuckling derring-do, cross-dressing and ham. Did I mention Darwin's heroic Man-panzee called Mr. Bobo? Aarrugh.

I'd noticed the book last Christmas in a very small bookshop near Jax Beach, but didn't buy it. I finally saw it (and its sequel "The Pirates! In An Adventure With Ahab" Or " With Whaling" as it was titled in the UK) again last month and made the investment. 130 page books are right up my alley. Otherwise it has to be non-fiction or short stories. [David Sedaris' last two compilations made for great reading aloud on my road trip in Florida 2 weeks ago. The Pirates! would have too.] My simple prayer: no one make a movie of this book. Now I can move on to the next adventure, feeling accomplished about finishing a novel.

In closing, "The Pirates! In An Adventure With Scientists" was short.
Love, Power, Peace