Sunday, June 29, 2008

Happy Sunday & The Most Important American Movie of 2008

Hey All,
today was a wonderful (although very warm) day. Our charity variety show at the Noho First United Methodist Church was a grand success. Literally. We raised our goal in donations for the Red Bird Mission in Kentucky.

The program itself was a success and showcased all kinds of talent. I personally, performed I'm In The Mood For Love. It was the first time I'd played a song by myself on piano for an audience since a 4th grade talent show at Berwick El. in Columbus, OH. It went over well; everyone who remembered the song as a contemporary hit made sure to tell me so. Ain't they sweet? Playing the song was a lot of fun. There are plenty of standards from that era that I'm going to learn. Nothing like having a new party piece.

I also did a bit with the MC Hart Bakely (played by comic/writer Phil Mottaz). I certainly enjoyed the entire fake radio show. Thanks to everybody who attended and donated.

After all the Sunday activities at church, several of us went to the movies. We saw WALL-E and it is flat out brilliant. I won't give much away. But, I think it's the most important American movie of 2008. And the Pixar team have done an amazing job at depicting a version of Earth in the year 2815. Try to see it before anyone tells you about the plot or the themes. It references great sci-fi watersheds like 2001, Star Wars and Alien and even Disney's previous fantasy attempts the Black Hole & Tron. And frankly, WALL-E is rated G, which is wonderful, because this cautionary tale should be seen by every soul living on this planet right now. It's easily Disney's boldest cinematic statement in my memory... if they've ever had an agenda in the past. Don't leave early, the end credits are a history of human visual artistic styles and features Peter Gabriel's inspiring Down To The Earth. So, see the movie, then we'll discuss it.

You heard it hear first: Do NOT be surprised when WALL-E is nominated for the Oscar for Best Picture next year. In fact, the opening act is as powerful and wordless as the opening of my favorite film of 2007, There Will Be Blood. It will win best animated feature. The score by Thomas Newman was evocative. The one human actor that shows up is pitch perfect, too. And that's all I'm going to write.

Hope your week is filled with blessing, sunshine and the usual: Peace & Disco Beats!

Monday, June 23, 2008

Church Charity Event This Weekend

Hey All,
long time since I blogged. Been learning new job parts at the Studio and it's been a hot week. Apologies for not checking in.

Here's the latest. This Sunday I am performing in a charity event at North Hollywood First United Methodist Church, 4832 Tujunga Ave. The show will be at Noon, June 29 in the social hall. It will be a mock 1940's radio show (not to be confused with the "1940's Radio Hour" that my Dad performed in in Atlanta) with skits and musical acts. I will be doing one number and one of the skits. It's a free show, although this is a fund-raiser for the Red Bird Mission, so free-will donations are welcome. Free food will also be served. So bring your yearning for yesteryear and join me on Sunday.

Also, my performance for Defy Music Group's premiere party is now scheduled to take place at the
Avalon on Vine St. in Hollywood on Weds. July 30.

Time to beat the heat and turn up the A/C. It's sweltering here in L.A.

Peace

Monday, June 09, 2008

Some Girls Are 30 Years Old

File under Music Appreciation.

An underrated (although big selling) masterpiece celebrates its 30 Birthday today. I'm talking about the Rolling Stones' Some Girls. One of the most exciting records put on wax.

I vaguely knew who the Stones were as a tot, but really couldn't tell you about their music. They weren't popular with my generation. Until Miss You. Oh, that groove, that falsetto, that sweet harmonica and a saxophone solo. Whoo! And disco!? I didn't know better. It surely represents a lot of what I'm after musically now.

I was a Saturday Afternoon roller skating fool at United Skates of America when I first really discovered the Stones. That was the Summer of '78. My favorites to skate to included Chic, Heatwave and the Stones!

I also remember muggy nights in Michigan rolling in my Dad's big old car and Miss You (or something from Steely Dan's Aja) would pop on and I'd be in music nirvana. And I certainly didn't know what they were singing about. In fact, later in the year, when Beast of Burden was released as a single in heavy rotation, I thought Mick was singing about courtroom drama. My Mom had recently finished law school, so the lyric I heard was "They never seemed to reach the verdict." I still think that would make a killer hook for a song. So I hear by claim it for copyright. Zap!

So right now, I'm digging Some Girls. If you've seen Shine A Light, the recent Scorsese doc/concert film starring the Stones, you know that tracks from Some Girls featured prominently. Shattered still reminds me of the weekend I spent in Brooklyn at my uncle Danny's. Dunno why, but it captured everything about NYC. And I probably heard it on the radio. I know for sure that I heard Emotional Rescue on that trip. But Shattered is brilliant in it's rock and roll decadence. "They got rats on the westside, bedbugs uptown!" Although, not at Danny's.

It also had the most distinctive album cover of my youth. Garish, bold and colorful, it was a fake advertisement for women's wigs and underwear with cut out faces, the band members peering from an assortment of faux-hairdos. I remember vividly seeing it at Meijer's Thrifty Acres, a precursor to Wal-Mart, in East Lansing. About the same time I first "noticed" tabloids. And who was on the cover? Mick and Bianca.

I didn't own a copy of Some Girls until the '90s, but I certainly had the Stones' greatest hits package Rewind, which had Miss You & Beast Of Burden. Of course, most of you know that I've covered Miss You for a long time. I'll have to dust it off for my Summer shows in honor.

So here's to the Stones and 30 years of a high-water mark in LPs. The disc is chock full of hits (I rate Miss You and Beast of Burden as two of the best singles ever), genre exercises and raucous playing. Exactly all a young man could want from Mick, Ron, Keith, Bill and Charlie.

Peace & Disco Beats

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Prince and the Big 5-0

Happy Birthday to Prince Rogers Nelson who turns 50 today!
(And Happy Birthday to the twins: Peter and Juliana. I love you, much)

Can it be? How did Prince go from the 18 year old prodigy in a trench-coat and speedos to a Rock And Roll Hall of Famer (with 25 years of recording experience required) in a blink of an eye!? I've spent many blogs rhapsodizing about the Artist formerly known as the Artist formerly known as Prince, so I'll keep this one brief.

I can still remember the first time I heard When Doves Cry. It was music from another world and the first Prince single I purchased at Coconuts on the Arlington Expressway. And the flip side? 17 Days had a similar effect on my brain and music appreciation skills. Then came Purple Rain, the movie and LP. A paradigm shift with repercussions I couldn't escape if I wanted to. As I get older, there are songs of Prince's that make less sense to me, but they are still slamming recordings.

Of course, my guiltiest pleasure is the black & white carnival that is Under The Cherry Moon. Don't know if I'll have time to watch it today. But a day doesn't go by that I refer to it... And most people would never know. Unless, they're part of the old GU Posse du Cinammon. And you know who you are. The movie is silly and sublime and Prince at his celluloid best.

[It's pretty amazing that the big 3 of 80s Pop, Prince, Madonna and Michael Jackson all hit half a century this year. I will admit I'm not a Madonna fan (I like some of her music), but I'll cop to her cultural impact. But, Mike and Prince, hands down the best writers & performers of the past 30 years.]

Thanks for all the wonderful and strange rides, Mr. Nelson. Happy Birthday!!

A few favorite Prince highlights that I will cue up:
1999 (LP)
Purple Rain (LP)
Pop Life (single)
Parade (LP)
All My Dreams (unreleased track)
Sign 'O' The Times (LP)
Gold (album track)
3121 (LP) now playing!

Elephants and Flowers, Peace & Disco Beats

Friday, June 06, 2008

Remembering D-Day

After visiting the coast of Normandy and touring the beaches last month, I have a renewed appreciation for the undertaking of June 6, 1944. There was lots to learn about Operation Overlord while we were there. And I feel I only scratched the surface. Many monuments along the road from WWI & WWII.

It was very moving to see the last of the Mulberry Harbor. And incredibly heavy visiting the American Cemetery in low clouds and rain. God bless the men who sacrificed themselves for the victory in second World War. Here are a few snaps from our drive around Omaha and Gold beaches. I will post details tonight.

Peace



Mulberry Harbor, Gold Beach. British landing site. Brainchild of Winston Churchill.

Road signs along the Normandy Coast.

Omaha Beach from the American Cemetery.

The ceiling of the chapel at the American Cemetery.

A sculpted table-top displaying Operation Overlord's landing sites.

Me at Omaha Beach.

Patty and the statue for the American Spirit.

Long view of the cemetery.

Vintage heavy armored vehicle in front of the American Museum.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Goodbye, Mr. Kong

Sad day at work yesterday. I wasn't there, but I sure watched the news. One of my favorite pastimes at the studio was to walk around the New York Street sets and Courthouse Square. Especially on Saturdays. Like strolling through a Twilight Zone-esque deserted town. Solitude, mysteriously empty buildings and singing birds. Walking up New England St.; Georgetown St. and arriving at Courthouse Square. Always being careful to dodge any production that might be filming. There was one wedge of Brownstones that I particularly enjoyed.

Alas, most of it is gone now. But I'm happy to report that the courthouse (made famous in "To Kill A Mockingbird" & "Back To The Future") still stands. Bravo and 3 cheers for the fire fighters and Sheriff's deputies who responded to the blaze on the backlot. Just last Thursday I was tramming on the backlot and got to spend some quality time with King Kong. It's a shame that future generations will not see his likes again. But, I'm sure the studio's creative types will come up with sets and fun things to see on Kong's spot in no time.

I'm off to work in a new supervisory position today. Well, on-the-job training anyway.

I finally got all of the pictures from the tour loaded up into the computer. There will be a special page on my main website to view many of them. In the meantime, access my myspace page and you'll get a really good taste of my experience in France and Britain this past month.

I'm also happy to report that we are green for Go on the upcoming Summertime shows here in Southern California. Astro and Sterke, thanks for being there.

Have a safe and blessed day, y'all!

Peace & Disco Beats