Saturday, September 30, 2006

Getting Better All The Time

Hey Soul Mates,
long week. Thanks to everyone who sent along their best wishes for my recovery from food poisoning. I'm still creaky, but there has been a lot going on. The world keeps on spinning.

Well, I finally got our ntsc (North American video) master of "
A Talent For Loving" made. The original was in the pal format, so it had to be converted before it could be distributed here. As a result of several snafu's, I've upgraded my dvd drive. And thanks to KS1 Security's continuing sponsorship of the band, we have a new color photo printer! That means we can make super-pretty press kits to send out to the record labels and industry players. It's taken a long summer to get to this point.

We've had several people of decent magnitude utterly flake out on us. I ain't gonna name names, but you know who you are. As a result, the band is forging ahead on its own (manufacturing our own dvd's is just the tip of the iceberg). We aim to get our music heard. We simply want to entertain everyone, it's just an expensive endeavor when you gotta D.I.Y. on the level we are going to reach. I know this will come as a disappointment to many, especially our fans in the UK, but we will probably not return to Britain until Spring 2007. No bridges have been burned, so we are already making our plans to come back. But beyond the family illness, as mentioned, we've had a key player in our plans vanish. Don't fret. As I always say: what doesn't kill us makes us stronger.

We do have champions working behind the scenes who believe in Rush Hour Soul. We know you believe and we damn sure believe in ourselves. So, if it takes a few extra months, fine. Better than to ride with philistines who are only in it 'cause they think they taste the flavor of the week. But, as mentioned in my previous blog, my
hair continues to grow out into the universe, creating its own gravity.

To answer the most frequent question I've been getting: Yes, there will be one more show scheduled in the U.S. for 2006. Probably early November. We are working out options with a number of venues. Most likely we'll repeat our Christmas ornament give-away (a major success & fan favorite last year).

Tomorrow, do not attempt to call me between the hours of 1 pm and 4 pm, pst. The BROWNS are on TV again. Miracles never cease! Taking on the even worse Oakland Raiders. Whooootie hoo! I'll be wearing
Bernie Kosar today if you see me around town.

Love, Power, Peace

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Pizened!

Hey Soul Mates,
sorry for the slowdown in the flow of info from RHS Central. I've been poisoned. The guilty party is a quartet of evil little fellows. Their conspiracy to bring me down hasn't succeeded fully. But it's been enough to make life miserable. It's the second time in 3 years that this insidious party has tried to lay me low. The culprits? Undercooked shrimp. Nasty.

Now, the news. Our return to the UK has been postponed due to family illness (not mine, however). We know that our fans understand. We are taking all steps necessary to make sure there is a full and swift recovery. Thanks to everyone for their support. We hope to see you as soon as possible.

On the lighter side. I warned you that Bryan and I were shunning haircuts until someone in position to put Rush Hour Soul on top o' the world steps up. Well, here we are, in all our hirsute glory down in ThaiTown last night for the lovely Patty T's birthday.


Awright. My headache is blistering. Time to turn off the computer.
Love, Power, Peace and Mercy

Friday, September 22, 2006

Happy Birthday To The Original Raconteur

Hey Soul Mates,
Today, I'm celebrating the birthday of one of America's greatest story tellers. He's an actor, playwright, musician. And he happens to be my Dad. My father has always been the best teller-of-tales I've known. No one can bring a story to life like him. Funny thing is, his genre is non-fiction. Oh, all griots embellish. Why not? Who's to argue or counter a plot point or a bit of detail? Especially when it's said with spirit and gusto. But he really doesn't need to because the stories are so vivid already.

I hope that Dad will soon put his stories to tape. But like a jazz artist, recordings still wouldn't capture all the aspects of the performance. Each telling has it's own breath and cadence. It's own weight, but also it's own ease. It isn't surprising that he wrote a play called "Street Rhthym."

Maybe that's why, with no effort at all, Dad held court last night at the Georgia Tech game. Half-time. Chit chat. Small talk. Right. My brother Nathan introduced a young gentleman called Andre Benjamin to Dad mentioning that Dad was an actor and writer. That's all Mr. Benjamin had to know and they were off. For the rest of the intermission, Dad regaled Mr. Benjamin with tales from the set. In return, the latter asked questions about the craft of acting, about choices that actors make, good sources for inspiration and blueprints for bringing life to a character. Mr. Benjamin attentively noted Dad's film recommendations and anecdotes, stories of growing up in Depression era Harlem, etc. while politely greeting other well-wishers. It must have been quite a scene, but not unusual for my father. It will simply become another story to relate to the next listener.

Nate snapped a photo of the two thespians together. Oh, Mr. Benjamin? You might know him better as Andre 3000. Andre seems to have a good grasp of past and present (see Idlewild), so I'm sure that my Dad was a perfect fount of information.



Well, Happy Birthday, Dad! Some of you fans may remember my father who was in L.A. this time last year for our show at B.B. King's. Remember? If you've met him, you'd never forget.

Love, Power, Peace

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Good Times: Nile Rodgers Is Alive And Well

Hey Soul Mates,
for me it's a day to raise a glass to toast Chic founder member,
Nile Rodgers on his 54th birthday. You know what a big fan of his I am. After all, I just framed Chic's album C'est Chic for my new art project (see previous blog).

Nile's work with Chic is part of the foundation of the Rush Hour Soul-thing. Le Freak is still in my top 5 of the most exciting songs of all time. And without Good Times, there would be no hip-hop for better or worse, depending on who you ask). But it's important for me to celebrate Chic, and especially Nile. He is the last surviving member of the fraternity that made up the group's core. Sadly, both drummer Tony Thompson and bassist Bernard Edwards are gone.

Nile also produced a number of artists' biggest hits, including: Madonna, Duran Duran & David Bowie. That ain't shabby. Of course, he is on the shortlist of dream producers for us to work with. I had an opportunity to meet Nile at a seminar and he was full of great stories about his life in music, including his early influences and odd musical acts he's worked with (the B-52s).

To learn more about Chic/Nile read my blog ("The Chic Choice") from
Oct. 28, 2005. This was my pro-Chic stump speech for their election to the Rock Hall. Didn't work, but maybe I'll dust it off and revamp it for this year's vote.

Happy Birthday, Nile!
Love, Power, Peace, Freak Out!

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Video News "A Talent For Loving," What's Next for RHS and a Creative Project For You!

Hey Soul Mates,
just wrapping up a good weekend here in SoCal. The Browns lost today. Oh well. But RHS has more than 900 plays of "
A Talent For Loving" on YouTube since it debuted. Thanks again to all you viewers out there. We've gotten some really nice e-mails from fans and peers commending us. But we're not being complacent. What's next for Rush Hour Soul, you ask?

As you know we are aiming to go back to the UK very soon. Our return is still very much in the working stages, so nothing we can officially report yet.

What I can tell you is that I had a long conversation with animation director Andrew St. Marie and he is going to helm our next music video! He mentioned his desire to work with us and I said, "It's on!" Andrew and I chatted at the studio commissary Friday and gave the greenlight to the project. We are anticipating a November release date. We're going to be a cartoon! How supercool. Andrew is currently wrapping up work on his 2006 Slamdance entry "The Adventures of Fried Chicken and Wattamelon (A.s-M. forgive me if I've misrepresented the title)."

Here's a new segment I like to call
Norm's Kreative Korner Arts 'n Craff Project.

I like to spend days in record stores. Who doesn't? One of the best in my neighborhood is
Amoeba on Sunset @ Cahuenga. They've got tons of music. Literarily. Now, I like to look at album covers. Can do it for hours. Have. But why not look at album covers... at home! Here's where the creativity comes in. First, go through your old record albums, you still have some, right? No, well then trot over to the nearest used record shop. Go through the stacks of vintage vinyl. Most places have $1 bins. Or you can splurge and get an album for $6, like me. Pick out an old favorite or just an interesting cover (don't worry about the music or the condition of the LP inside. You're not actually going to play the record. You don't have a record player any more!). Me, I grabbed Chic's 1978 platinum smash C'est Chic. Well composed pic of an elegantly dressed band and the track listing is on the front.

Next, find a place that sells frames to fit 12x12 photos. Some stores actually have "record cover" frames. Put your new purchases together, preferably with the LP front cover facing out of the frame. And voila! Instant art. A conversation piece or provocation for someone to storm out of your place in disgust. Either way, your walls will thank you. No more outlet mall-purchased prints of Van Gogh's Starry Night or That Blurry Couple Kissing photo. And all for less than $20 and in the amount of time it takes to go through a few dusty crates of vinyl. You're welcome.

Have a great week everybody. We hope to start getting you some really cool inside info very soon.
Love, Power, Peace

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Rush Hour Soul Has The "Talent" To Surpass Aaron!

Hey Soul Mates,
wow! What a great response we've been getting to our new music video "A Talent For Loving" (dir. by
William Archer). YouTube has been swarmed by the Soul Mates and their friends. In its first day up, the video had over 300 plays. As of this writing, we are at 677: past the "Say Hey" Kid and closing in on Hammerin' Hank! By the end of Sunday, we hope to have had 2000 views. It's entirely possible. Please keep watching and referring your friends to Rush Hour Soul TV!

Here are some of the YouTube daily honors we've achieved so far:
On Thursday Sept. 14 (our first day "on air"), "A Talent For Loving" was
10th Most Watched music video
45th Most Discussed music video
88th Top Favorited music video
Rush Hour Soul TV was
24th Most Viewed music channel

On Friday, Sept. 15, "A Talent For Loving" was
33rd Most Discussed music video
79th Top Rated music video
RHS TV was
15th Most Viewed music channel
32rd Most Subscribed music channel (of the week)

Everyday there are new opportunities for us to top the various YouTube honors. That's why it is crucial that people are still visiting to watch our video. And feel free to watch repeatedly! Our aggregate video plays (for all 5 of our posted pieces) is 2070. That's a lot of Soul for folks, and we love it. I just checked and "Talent" has surpassed 700 plays; "From L.A. With Love" is at 500!

I'm keeping this short, so you can get back to enjoying our music and videos. Have a jazzy Saturday.
Love, Power, Peace

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Rush Hour Soul in "A Talent For Loving"

Hey Soul Mates,
turn on the
YouTube! Rush Hour Soul is on and they're playing "A Talent For Loving!" Yes, our music video is up and running. Be sure to go watch it. Please leave comments and ratings for the video on YouTube. We need a huge push to get over and you can help. Be sure to tell 10 friends to tell 10 friends to watch "A Talent For Loving." And enjoy. We know a lot of you have been waiting a long time to see the video. Especially our supporters in Great Britain. We miss you, we truly do. So go watch the video, then come back and finish reading my blog. I can wait...

We had a small gathering of friends and fans this evening and screened "A Talent For Loving" in surround sound (5.1 rocking the hizzy). Of course, on YouTube quality is sacrificed for convenience, but you'll get the gist of the video, no doubt. Everyone in attendance had a good time and they clamored to watch the short twice more. Hope the neighbors didn't mind. Cheers to everyone who made it over.

There are many people to thank for helping us through the process of creating and releasing this video. First, we have to thank director
William Archer for crafting such a wonderful video and for bringing on a first-rate crew. Foremost amongst the crew, we must thank our taller-than-us director of photography, Dennis Madden. Genius. Thanks, as well, to Nina Angeleri of Home Films for producing the video. The whole group of guys and gals working on the set at the Bedford were wonderful and patient with us. Kudos. A job well done.

Next, we need to give props to our co-star,
Sarah Monrose. She looks stunning in the video and Sarah added so much glamour to the whole endeavor. Also on set of course, were our photographer Patty Tokahuta and make-up artiste Molly Gordon. Ladies, you are the alpha and omega for Rush Hour Soul. Grazie!

A list of thank you's wouldn't be complete without mentioning our Golden Circle again. These friends and family members really assisted us with paying for the video (it sho' wasn't free) and donated a minimum of $200 to us. So, humbly, we thank:

The Kelseys (especially tour sponsors
KS1 Security)
The Vails
George Christo
The Tokahutas
The Kutacs
The Rolstons (of Free Heart Farm)

Many of you also made smaller donations to our tour fund. We hope you all received your postcards from the road. Thank you, as well. We are nothing without our Soul Mates.

I've made a few changes to
RushHourSoul.com that should be eye-pleasing. That's the idea anyway. Well, it's been a very long business day here in Rush Hour Soul-land. Time for me to retire for the night. But for those of you just waking up on the other side of the world, you're in for a pleasant surprise. You might even forgo the coffee; just get your jolt of Rush Hour Soul! Holler!!

Love, Power, Peace

Monday, September 11, 2006

Five Years On

Hey Soul Mates,
we're still here. The world didn't end. Sure felt like it might. The axis shifted a bit and we have these fading visions of September 10th. But, I'm very thankful for my family and friends. I love each and everyone of you.

Love, Power, Peace

Friday, September 08, 2006

End Of The Week. Lawd.

I'm so tired of standing, I can't stand no more.
Said, I'm so tired of this standing, just can't stand no more.
Seem like I'm doing the job of gravity, holding down the floor.

Hey Soul Mates,
It's been a long week. Victories, setbacks, holding patterns. We've had all three.

Victories: The band is feeling good about our presence on YouTube. The response to our tour footage and support of our fans has given us a needed boost. At the end of the day, yesterday, we ranked #28 on YouTube's most viewed music channels. That means a lot of you were watching, hopefully more than once. Be sure to join YouTube, so you can leave comments and rate our videos. That helps raise our profile there. Thanks to all of our fans on MySpace who have left some nice words of encouragement.

Setbacks: Hmm. X-ray says my left hip is going. No surgery now, but further down the road. Just like Prince and Eddie Van Halen. Too much monkey business on stage. Tho' the Doc says I've got great flexibility for such a damaged boy.

Holding Patterns: I'm reminded of a press quote about a now-successful group made of our peers that they "couldn't get arrested in L.A." No, that would be Rush Hour Soul. No pity party necessary. Just means there's nothing they can pin on us... yet! In the meantime, Bryan and I are boycotting haircuts until the right moment strikes. If you see us on the street, do not be alarmed.

It was a typical day in Hollywood for yours truly. Walking back to work after lunch, I got a head nod from Mel Gibson as he road his bicycle past me. Then I got a nice long look from Jessica Simpson while she was leaving the soundstage she was filming in. She saw me first. Ha ha. She's taller than I would have guessed. I could make this stuff up, but if I did, it would be Spike Lee and Meryl Streep. People tell me that I have that "you look like someone they should know" quality. That hoodoo must have worked on Mel and Jess.

I wish all of you a relaxing, safe weekend. I have to thank New Orleans for drafting USC star Reggie Bush. Because of his status here in L.A., my Cleveland Browns will be on television Sunday! And I don't have to leave the house to watch them. I love my Browns. It's their home opener, too. Their home opener hasn't been on tv here since they came back to the league and got the stuffing spanked out by the Steelers in '99. This is what I'm looking forward to most this weekend. That and the cooling trend. Actually put on my corduroy jacket to go out this evening.

Well, my baby dog is requiring my attention.
Love, Power, Peace

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

The People Just Want Good Music

Hey Soul Mates,
it's with no small amount of pride that I read tonight that
Bob Dylan has the number one album on the Billboard Hot 200 chart, besting Puff Daddy's fake "band" Danity Kane and a rapper ominously named "Young Dro." It's Dylan's first #1 in 30 years, since Desire which featured Hurricane about boxer Ruben Carter. You've probably read my preliminary thoughts on Modern Times. It's simply proof that people want good music. Regardless of the genre or the vintage of the singer. If it enlightens, moves or soothes folks'll seek it out.

[As I write, I've got Modern Times spinning. The Levee's Gonna Break.
"Some people on the road carryin' everything they own,
Some people got barely 'nuf skin to cover their bones."]

I'll admit, I've written my share of dance-floor fillers. But in learning more about Dylan, I wound up doing some extra digging: checking out Robert Johnson again and Woody Guthrie for the first time. Powerful writers. One very important thing they all require of the listener is patience. You can casually play them in the background, but to get to the heart of their art - where there are real rewards, I try to listen closely. Plus, those Theme Time shows are chock full of shit that no one's heard for years. I liked Dylan's response to an e-mail ("Why do I play so many old songs? There's more of 'em."). I've come to learn that I owe him alot, so I'm paying him attention.

By no coincidence, I finished another book! Dylan's autobiography Chronicles Vol. 1. I'm on a roll. Still working on Character by Chris Wallace and begun Rolling Stones' Bob Dylan, the Essential Interviews. For those of you new to my M.O., I usually immerse myself in a particular writer, artist, filmmaker for a month at a time. This month, Bob's my uncle. Sometimes songwriters really make me re-evaluate the quality of what I'm doing. In a good way. Makes me step up the game. It's easy to get lazy with songwriting. There's a fine line between simplicity and laziness. We've all crossed it. Come on Barbie, let's go party.

I nearly forgot! To escape the heat, we went to the movies today and saw the Illusionist. Well acted; Phillip Glass' score was incredible. And sitting a row in front of me, Motown's own
Lamont Dozier! I didn't say anything to him, he was being low key. But there's another writer that can craft a memorable hit. Oh you know, like: Heatwave, This Old Heart of Mine, Stop! In The Name of Love, It's The Same Old Song. Dang, L.A. can be such an interesting place to be.

Thanks to everyone who's been checking out our documentary clip on
YouTube. Over 100 views in the first 12 hours. Sweet. It does our hearts good the get all of the feedback, too. We are also toying with the idea of making the Concert at the Cavern Club (audio) available to our fans. Anyone interested?
Love, Power, Peace

"From L.A. With Love" Rush Hour Soul Tour Documentary

Hey Soul Mates,
our short subject tour documentary "From L.A. With Love" is finally available for viewing on-line. It's been posted to our
YouTube channel and it's currently on our myspace page. There are also links to it from our home page (rushhoursoul.com).

The "doco" as we call it is a whirlwind view of our whirlwind tour of the U.K. Directed by William Archer it follows us from Hollywood to Liverpool. You get to see some of our new fans in Britain and glimpses of live performances at the Cavern Club (which can be viewed on YouTube). Then it moves to Wales and Monnow Valley Studio where we rerecorded A Talent For Loving. Finally, you get a sneak peek at the music video itself, which was filmed in London and also helmed by Mr. Archer. In between segments, you'll hear the band members talk about its past, present and future. Pretty cool, we think.

There is one last bit of news for right now. We can officially announce that the music video for "A Talent For Loving" will debut on Thursday, Sept. 14, 2006. That's a week from tomorrow. It too will be on all of our internet outlets. In the meantime, check out "From L.A. With Love" and tell all your friends about it. Heck, you may be in the doco, so look closely!

Love, Power, Peace

Friday, September 01, 2006

MTV's VMAs Sinking... Sinking... Gone.

Hey Soul Mates,
the MTV VMA's were a mess last night. New lows in television history were established. Poor Jack Black never clicked with the audience. The performers, presenters and even some of the recipients (ahem, Pink) looked extraordinarily uncomfortable.

The highlights? Jack White and the Raconteurs, perhaps someone at MTV has something on them, were recruited to be the house band. They charged on heroically between set changes and commercials, kinda like the house band on the Titanic, but with more guest players (Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top, Lou Reed, and one of my favorite directors, Jim Jarmusch!). I kept waiting for Jack to strike up the riff for Nearer My God To Thee to signal the end of this 3+ hour plunge.

The best moment of the night was the show's only, officially sanctioned lipsync performance. And it accompanies a video MTV has probably never aired, but you've heard about through the internet. OK Go perfectly recreated (LIVE!) their highly choreographed treadmill dance to Here It Goes Again. The four members of the power pop group deservedly high-fived each other for executing their routine perfectly on live tv for millions of viewers. I imagine their profile has risen beyond the viral video level. Maybe next year, they will be allowed to bring their instruments.

Best presenter kudos go to Al Gore (bringing "sexy back"), who acquitted himself nicely, made his point about the environment and split. The only other thing that got me pumped was Bob Dylan's ads for iTunes with him playing Someday Baby from his new LP.

Yep, 3 and a half hours to sift through and them's the highpoints. It was nice to see a lot of new, young artists winning awards, but none of them had any charisma or gumption when they accepted a Moon Man statuette to make it interesting. Oh, but then there was the "cast" of Jackass... who unceremoniously punched each other in the crotch, as well as Viewers' Choice Award winners Fall Out Boy, one of whom was socked in the privates with his award by a dwarf. 'Nuff said.

The VMA's couldn't end quickly enough.
Thank God, it's Friday.
Love, Power, Peace