Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Tennessee Tuxedo

Hey Soul Mates,
today was a very busy day. My last day to prep for the Grammy Awards. I had my fitting for the big show. It is a black tie affair, after all. Went for basic black, three buttons. Watch out! Gonna sport the bow tie that one ties oneself. No clip on or pre-tied here, y'all. Also, dropped off the shoes for spiffing up. Finally stopped by the barber shop to get the hairs back in order. Not that I'd been going wild, but it's the Grammy's. Gotta be so fresh and so clean, clean.

This morning had a much less auspicious start. You know that's true when you do 8 loads of laundry to start the day. Yikes, it's a wonder I had anything to wear the last month.

We've been putting a lot of thought into our upcoming recording sessions. Our co-producer Adam Marsland sent us copious notes for pre-production. So, I've been listening to the songs we want to record over and over, while checking out a few "others" we may pay homage. We aim to make a Grammy-winning LP ourselves!

I'm still jet-lagged, so it's time for sleep. Either that or American Idol wore me out.
Love, Power, Peace

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

The Boy Is Back In Town

Hey Soul Mates,
I hope that your week was good. Miss me?

Florida was fine. On the coolish side, with a little rain one day I was in Vero. Got to hang out with family and friends. Spent quite a bit of time with my pal Mike, who is about to publish his first novel, Jacob Have I Loved. He also runs and edits the very popular
DVD Movie Central. I'm very proud of him for getting his book finished and I can't wait to read it. It's been a nice cycle of inspiration as I've been thinking about putting together a book of musings and lyrics.

I didn't get a lot of reading in (just the first chapter of Gandhi) or listening (did have Remain In Light and A Hard Day's Night playing); mainly cleaning out closets and the garage of decades of ephemera. Drop by the house, I might have a prize for you.

The trip started with a visit to FCCJ where
Tibetan monks were crafting a medicine Buddha mandala. We saw the closing ceremony in which they destroyed this beautiful and intricate work of art to symbolize the impermance of everything physical. Wild to see that. It was accompanied by lots of chanting, hornblowing and bell ringing. Then they passed out small packets of the colored sand from the mandala, I got one, to the onlookers. I also bought a wooden bead rosary which I had blessed by one of the monks.

We did get to one movie: Pan's Labyrinth, which was a mind-blowing fairy tale set during the Spanish Civil War. Not for the faint of heart, but certainly fanciful and original. I was glad to see it get a half-dozen Oscar nominations.

There was a lot of dining out involved on this trip. Gmom is always ready to go out for eats (esp. good eggs benedict). It was lots of fun spending time with her. I got to show off all of our pictures from the UK and some video from Huddersfield, which she was excited to see.

For the third year in a row, we made it down to
Boomtown last Thurdsay night. Boomtown is a subterranean restaurant/experimental space in Jax's Hemming Plaza. Highly recommended. A wonderful place to hang out with a plate of sweet, curried Boom Booms, a glass of wine and watch local artists do their thing. Thursdays are "Pulp Fiction Theatre" nights at Boomtown. So we were treated to some original theatre featuring some wonderfully energetic young talent. Plus, Stephen Dare's food can't be beaten.

We also went to the
Cummer museum's exhibit "Egypt: Temples and Tombs." Amazing to see history and artifacts from 4000 years ago. Dang, those ancient Egyptians were amazing. It has reinforced my desire to visit Egypt. I'd also like to see Morocco, while I'm at it.

While at the museum, I also got a neat picture book about artist
Romare Bearden. One of his works, "Jamming At The Savoy," hangs above the piano here. I actually got to meet the artist when I was a youth in Cleveland. Inspiring. I may put together our CD cover using his style of collage.

So that's the brief on my trip to Florida. Hope I hit all of the juicy stuff.

Back to LA...
I'm very excited because according to
Billboard, the Police are reuniting to open Grammy Awards. A three piece with a lead singer on bass, what's not to like? I Can't Stand Losing You and Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic are my favorites of theirs. I still have to get a tux for the show. Yikes.

I've discovered a fun hip-hop artist outta LA,
Pigeon John. Heard him on Nic Harcourt's show two weeks ago and bought a few tracks from Pigeon John and the Summertime Pool Party from the iTunes. Relatively clean, but with some really choice raps, references and samples. John's been a part of the LA scene for some time, but I missed out, til now. PJ will be in Jax on April 1, for any who care.

Time to bust a move and get the day going. Sorry to everyone who's been writing on MySpace, etc. I haven't had a chance to catch up yet, but I will. Promise.
Love, Power, Peace

Friday, January 19, 2007

Les Vacances

Hey Soul Mates,
I've got a few days to take away from Los Angeles. To recharge for our recording sessions and the oncoming tour of the UK. Not too much planned except a visit with Grand Mere and the old highschool bandmates. 'Spect Mom wants me to clean out my things from the garage.

Here's my reading list for the week.
Napoleon Hill, "Think And Grow Rich." This has been my model for the past year's successes. Highly recommended. I just completed it for the fourth time.
Stephen King, "On Writing." I want to finish this one before I manage to write anything else.
"The Essential Writings of Mohandas
Gandhi." One film I need to see again, Gandhi. In the meantime, I'll get it from the source.
I've told y'all before I'm really into non-fiction.

My listening list for the week.
David Byrne, Grown Backwards. Recommended to me by my running buddy, Steph, for years. Finally found an inexpensive copy. Listened to it once on an intoxicating drive to Anaheim for the Funk Bros. show. Byrne and the Talking Heads (a highschool favorite) were put back on my radar after a piece in the
Sunday NYT caught my attention. So I'll also be listening to the Heads (Remain In Light, Little Creatures, Speaking In Tongues) I've loaded into the iPod as well.

Rachel Ray is on in the background and she's actually at
Tommy's, a favorite haunt from my youth on Coventry in Heights. Weird to see her doing a nationally televised show from Tommy's. Apparently, the whole episode is devoted to doing Cleveland on $40 for a day. Ha ha. That can't be too hard. Props to the North Coast.

Gotta sleep for a few hours here. Have a great weekend and I'll check in as time and chapters permit. Then (drumroll) it will truly be back to the quest!
Love, Power, Peace

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Soul In Full Effect [Show Recap]

Hey Soul Mates,
thanks to all the dancers that invaded the floor last night. What a crowd. The
Good Hurt was packed to the veritable rafters, too. Despite the mind-numbingly glacial traffic on the 405 everyone in the band (and the fans) arrived in time for the show. Even L.A. gridlock can be overcome when there's good times on the line.

First of all, props to our photog, Patty who's pro camera was broken at the start of the show. It was shaken off of an amplifier. We're very sorry it happened, but as a result she wound up videotaping the whole set. We are pleased to tell you that once we've screened the footage tonight, we will start posting clips on youtube. But as a result there are only a handful of extant pictures and I'm having trouble posting them in my blog. Suppose it wasn't meant to be.

The set was heavy on the fun and the funk. We were hitting it on the ones. Whipping up the crowd into a frenzy with the double-groove whammy of Fall Out and Roosevelt's Revue. And ladies, if you like Roosevelt now, wait till you here how he sounds coming from the studio!

After a few more numbers, Rush Hour Soul broke new ground by having our first guest artist appear on stage with us. For the ballad Done Lost My Mind, soul singer Mondo Fowler duetted with me and she brought down the hizzy, as Doug says. I've known Mondo for years, but had lost touch with her. The minute I saw her at a Festivus party last month, I knew I had to get her to sing with us. She was entirely fierce, she looked great and sounded even better. It was cool to pull off such a short notice vocal collaboration, but that's us. Grace under pressure. We hope we'll all being hearing more from Ms. Fowler in the future.

We rocked out in the second half of the set with Supermodels and I Can't Cry For You, another hit in waiting. And closed with A Talent For Loving. Even strangers were singing along by the time we ended the set. Gratifying. I'm ever grateful that people are entertained by our music and performance. And when the dancefloor is too full to dance, that shows us that we are on our way up. As I mentioned in my last blog, I think Dr. King would be pleased by the diversity of our audience. And the fact that you all have rhythm helps. Ha ha. You were truly a beautiful crowd and loud, too.

Final thoughts on the night. I chipped my one real front tooth on the mic. That's a little bit of a bummer. But, the sound at the Good Hurt was clean! And I think everyone (girls included) had glowing comments about the "naughty nurse" tending bar. Hey, if you have to have an m.o. like that, the Good Hurt certainly picked a good gimmick. The band may do our CD release show there in April/May. So keep watching for the heads up. Thanks to the Good Hurt for having us last night. And thanks to all of our supporters. Now, it's off to the studio with Adam Marsland for us.

Set List:
Fall Out (For James Brown)
Roosevelt's Revue
Everyone's Ingenue
U Had The $
Done Lost My Mind
with special guest vocalist Mondo Fowler
Supermodels With Gatling Guns
I Can't Cry For You
Everything My Heart Desires
A Talent For Loving

Oh, yes, we'd like to welcome David Beckham to Los Angeles. Nice of him to transplant himself about the time we'll be going over there. This city's not big enough for Becks and RHS... yet! I'm also looking forward to reading the eulogies in new Rolling Stone with James Brown on the cover. There's lots of band "work" to do this weekend. We are sending promos over to our handler in the UK; Micah's birthday bash is tonight; gotta work on fixing the camera; watching the video from last night's show and playoff football!

Have a great three day weekend.
Love, Power, Peace

Friday, January 12, 2007

We Have A Dream

Hey Soul Mates,
you know what you all have in common with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr? You are the embodiment of his dream (and ours). Our audience is filled with people of all colors and races: Asian, White, Black, Latino (just like it says in the song!). You represent different faiths: Protestants, Catholics, Buddhists, Jews, Muslims; coming from all sorts of walks of life. And there you are at our shows, proving to the universe that people can come together. We don't think of ourselves as liberators or philosophers. We're just entertainers, but we are pleased to the max that humankind is well-represented by the Soul Mates.

As you know, Rush Hour Soul is diverse. And tonight, all of this will be on bright display at our show at the Good Hurt. So come on down and put Dr. King's dream to full effect, brothers and sisters! If we don't see you at the show, we hope you have a peaceful 3 day weekend and that you'll find time in your own way to celebrate all that Dr. King stood for.

Love, Power, Peace!

Sunday, January 07, 2007

2007: The Year of Rush Hour Soul

Hey Soul Mates,
Happy New Year! It's 2007 y'all: the year of the Rush Hour Soul.

As you know we are heading back into the studio to complete our debut album. The disc will feature "A Talent For Loving" and that will also serve as the record's title. So when you see A Talent For Loving, I'm talking about our groove-filled long player.

I can reveal to you that we will be working with
Adam Marsland on this disc and I'm very excited about that. Adam has been a great sounding board and supportive source for me for years. We've worked together on stage, you may remember my guest spot with his group at Brennan's on Curtis Mayfield's "Pusherman."

A Talent For Loving will be recorded at the same studio where Adam has recorded his albums down in Venice, CA. It just made more sense for us to do the album here before our trek to the UK. But, we promise the vibe of the album will make you dance and holler for joy. I'll fill you in on more details as we get them and as we head to the studio.

Recording will begin in the second week of February, so we are still in pre-production. We've chosen the songs to concentrate on. We are discussing arrangements (strings and horns may appear!). It's tremendously cool to be putting this foot forward. Bryan and Doug and I have been talking about the record and the upcoming tour and we cannot wait to share the music with you!

Apart from recording, here are some fun thoughts. Last night, Bryan brought over his playstation and we shredded through Guitar Hero II. It's a nifty game. Of course, Bryan is already blasting through the solos on all of the songs. I haven't played video games much, ever, but I held my own (on the easier levels) on "Message In A Bottle" & "Killing In The Name." Bryan even tackled the Allman Brothers' "Jessica" on the most difficult level like the rock star he is!

The other night, I finally made it to the movies and saw Dreamgirls. I have always loved Eddie Murphy, but now he's done work to make his fans proud. We know he's funny, but here he got to show off a range from sleazy to tragic with pinpoint accuracy. All those years of "Little Richard Simmons" and "James Brown's Celebrity Hot Tub," recording with Michael Jackson and Rick James have paid off as though the part were written for him. Eddie's performance as Jimmy "Early" Thunder is worth the price of admission alone. But wait, there's more. In the shape of Jennifer Hudson. As Effie White, she turns in a movie debut for the ages. This is her movie and her soundtrack. I liked her on American Idol (you know I'm an A.I. junkie), even when her eyes were buggin' out. But she can sang and act! The whole ensemble is fantastic, but Mr. Murphy and Ms. Hudson have turned in career performances.

Wednesday, I sent in my Grammy ballot. That was a fun exercise. As a result, I've grown very fond of a couple of recordings I hadn't paid attention to before. I expect to vote for myself next year. That will be really fun.

New Year's Eve was spent up at Wat Thai. Always gratifying to hang out with the monks and chat. Several of them are very encouraging about the band and want to know what we are up to. And when I've got Buddhist monks telling me that the world needs me to make records, I take them at their word.

I'm off for an hour of strolling at the Huntington Gardens and then I've got to replace the vacuum cleaner. I dismantled my old one down to the drive belts yesterday to no avail. It's still blasting out dust and dirt faster than I can vacuum it. Comedy!

Well, here's to the new year and to success, superior health, love and wisdom for us all. Let's attract peace, prosperity and well-being to ourselves soul mates. Attract us to your town and we'll play our hearts out for you!
Love, Power, Peace