Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Goodbye To Another Ramone

Wow, hard to believe the world is almost completely empty of Ramones. There are more Beatles left. This afternoon guitarist Johnny Ramone passed away at his home. Very sad. Just this past Saturday, there was a fundraising tribute concert for him and Ramones related charities at the Avalon in Hollywood.

I never got to see the Ramones perform but I did get to hold the door for Johnny and his wife once. He was behind me, leaving the old Dave's Laser Disc Store on Ventura, back in '01. He mumbled "Thanks." But that was cool enough. That was right before Joey passed away. If you aren't familiar with the Ramones, they were the original punk poppers from NYC. Their signature number was I Wanna Be Sedated. Although, I have a soft spot for the Blitzkrieg Bop. Hey Ho! Let's Go!

Appreciate artists while you can. Our culture seems to be doing its best to devalue artists & musicians. And there are very few originals left. Fortunately, Johnny lived to be inducted into the Rock Hall a few years back. Johnny was only 55 and he died of natural causes. Gabba Gabba Hey, John. Tell Joey we said, What up!?
Love, Power, Peace.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Rock Hall Inductee Ballot

Hey Soul Mates,
now I'm not a voting member of the Rock Hall, just a charter member of the museum, but boy if I were... The potential class of '05 was revealed when the ballot for the Rock Hall came out yesterday. I'm not going to recant my previous statement about Run DMC, but I was wrong. This year we have our first Hip Hop act up for election: Grandmaster Flash and the Furious 5. They should be a lock. Although they weren't the first rap act, nor the first to chart (Sugarhill Gang and Kurtis Blow came before) but no one had as lasting an impact. The Message? White Lines? This is elemental hip hop. Grandmaster Flash was the first DJ to be a household name. His turntable skills are unparalleled. And his group, the Furious 5? Nasty! In fact, one of the first 12" records I purchased, back in the day was It's Nasty by GMF&TF5.

The other no brainer on the ballot is U2. Easily the most important group of the last 20 years, although I'd listen to arguments supporting Public Enemy. I didn't become a U2 fan until they fell off with their original core audience. Yep, I thought The Fly was something else. Since then I've seen them in concert several times. I used to mock friends who liked them. Bono seemed too self-important for me: "3 chords and the truth." Two Hearts Beat As One has a great hook; I felt Pride was a decent single, as was Desire. But it was Achtung, Baby! that made me see the light. Rock on, U2.

I'm not so certain about the other nominated acts. J. Geils Band, Randy Newman, The Pretenders, Conway Twitty, Buddy Guy, Sex Pistols (on the ballot, again), Percy Sledge and Wanda Jackson. This could be the smallest inductee class yet. J. Geils had a nice run in the late 70's/early 80's, but I'm not feeling it. The Pretenders have made solid pop/rock for years and Chrissie Hynde is one of the most important female rockers, so they may make it. I'm a Buddy Guy fan, and he represents the last of the great blues guitarists who aren't in the Hall. I'd like to see his induction.

The others are too fringe for my taste: Randy is a great writer; Conway had a long country run; Wanda's reward is nomination; Percy (When A Man Loves A Woman) Sledge is a class act, but a one-hit wonder to many. I hope nobody blames him for Michael Bolton. The Sex Pistols bring up a good argument. They made one real album, but influenced a generation. Do they deserve in? I'll leave that up to the voters. I won't cry either way. When the voters had trouble with Steely Dan and Bob Marley, that was just silly. But the Pistols? Debatable.

Gotta get dinner. Then to see a great local group, Orson.
Love, Power, Peace.

What's the time?

Hey Soul Mates, just checking in.
Last night I was at the Universal Amp to see the Beastie Boys. Their new tour is being billed as a "pageant." No beauties, just Beasties. The night began with Talib Kweli (joined on stage by Mos Def). It was very refreshing to hear a sound mix good enough to hear what a rapper is rapping. In the past, I've had trouble making out what the heck the MC is trying to say. No such problem last night. Kweli and Mos (who go by Blackstarr when together) got the crowd on its feet and primed for the B Boys. They finished the set with a track I recognized, "Get By." It's very socially conscious hip hop. Kweli's new CD is called the Beautiful Struggle. Na' mean?

In the intermission we went to the green room/backstage patio. Talked for a while with Palo Alto's lead singer James Grundler who was hanging out with Jon Cryer ("Pretty In Pink," TV's "Two and a Half Men). I saw Palo Alto about 4 times last year on accident opening for Supergrass. James turned out to be a very nice guy. He's excited about his new CD and the band's prospects. Jon is excited 'cause his show is still on the air. My non-TV watching self has actually seen the show and he is very talented. Although he is moving forward he has accepted that he'll be known to most as Duckie from Pretty In Pink. I also ran into MC Broogz, who performed with my old group as a guest m.c. once in a while. He was definitely feeling the open bar. :)

What's the time? Time to get ill!

After nearly 20 years, I finally get to see the Beastie Boys and they lived up to the hype. Mix Master Mike kicked off the show by arriving in a studio tour tram backstage. The concert was being filmed so we could see all of the action as it happened. MMM made his way to the stage and began cutting and it was dope. After a 5 minute intro Triple Trouble hit the stage. The Beastie Boys are looking their ages. They are all in their late 30's, MCA clearly the least mobile of the three. But these aren't old men. Adrock and Mike D bounced around and off each other the whole set. They did the occasional freeze holding a B Boy pose for the multiple cameras.

The stage setting was fairly simple. Several large video screens to show the band and hilarious snippets between songs. The best featured Will Ferrell as W flubbing lines while doing a campaign ad. Others showed random images from old Atari games or D movies. Sadly, Sasquatch, who stars in the latest Beastie Boy video didn't make an appearance. But the Beasties certainly weren't lacking.
Mix Master Mike who was up on a 8 foot high DJ pulpit provided more interludes to keep the fans involved and energized.

As for the show it was hot. They opened with Root Down then went on to perform Super Disco Breakin'; Time To Get Ill; High Plains Drifter; Sure Shot; So Watcha Want; Eggman; Shake Your Rump; Body Movin'; Brass Monkey (which put the crowd into a frenzy); and several cuts from the new CD including the outstanding Letter to NYC, Triple Trouble and Ch-Ch-Ch-Check It Out. In the middle of the show the B Boys donned powder blue tuxes and played a short set of instrumentals from Check Your Head and Ill Communication.

The set ended with the Beasties up in the balcony rocking "Intergalactic." These guys are clearly having fun doing their show. They can get away with a 15 minute instrumental interlude, forgetting the opening of Paul Revere and letting the audience handle the rap. They are hip hop giants and cultural icons borne out by their finale. Several minutes after the lights came up they emerged on stage with their instruments, and dedicating the song to George Bush, ravaged their punk hit Sabotage. I have never seen such manic behavior in a mosh pit. It was incendiary, like a riot fitting to break out. This was one time I was glad not to be near the stage. "Can't stand it/I know you planned it/I'm a set it straight/This Watergate." For a song that was recorded in '94, it's even more relevant now. Some say the Beasties have fallen off, that the new album isn't cutting edge. Well in their time, they have pushed more hip hop boundaries than most and have lived to tell. I'm glad I got to see them in person!

As I mention before, they should be the 2nd rap act inducted into the Rock Hall, after Run DMC. It would be wrong to put them in first, esp. since they owe a lot to Run DMC. But I guarantee you they'll be in.
They got the doo doo rhymes and be dropping science like Gallileo dropped a orange.

Love, Power, Peace

Sunday, September 12, 2004

Feelin' like a Star Child

Ah, the Mothership Connection.
Just listening to a little inspiring music to get on the good foot. The boys are coming over tonight (well, all except Dennis who's got a Softball Championship game to play) for a collabo session. I've been working on lots of new material. Got a couple of ballads ("Done Lost My Mind," "Next July") and some uptempo lyrics written. It'll help to have Doug here to give texture to the beats. Makes it easier to create on the fly. We are also working up a piece of Bryan's called "Step Inside The Soul." We want to have all kinds of new and funky things for you to dance to at the first Rush Hour Soul show.

The last of the pictures from filming went up this afternoon. Check them out. Also posted cast credits for the video. Editing continues next week. Our director Asiel Norton had to visit his Father who is ill. Sending healthy vibes to the Norton's. Much love, Asiel.

Finally, spent part of this morning at a local watering hole watching my Browns beat the Ravens. That was nice and made for an enjoyable day. I still have on my Browns shirt and cap.
Congrats to Jeff Garcia on his first win for the Browns. Cleveland must be feeling pretty good. I'm not sure the Browns have solved their running game, but the defense shut down Jamaal Lewis, who made us look like chumps last season. And Kenard Lang... 3 sacks... what more can I say? It's said that Spring is the time for renewal. But I also like the way football season kicks off the second half of the year. The air feels a little crisper (even though it hit 95 today here in L.A.); the holidays can't be too far away (just go to Target and see the Christmas decorations); and there's a golden cast to the sky (or is it poor air quality). I'll take the plusses. And as of right now, the Browns are in first! And I don't start school tomorrow!

Time to set up my amp and dust off the piano.
Love, Power, Peace

Thursday, September 09, 2004

Web Site update

Hey Soul Mates,
we have a new front page on the RHS website. Hopefully it's easier for you to navigate. And they's a little musical surprise for you. A taste of what we've been cooking up for you at Smartso.
Have a great day and walk between the raindrops.

Love, Power, Peace

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Video Update

Hey Soul Mates,
just checking in to get you the latest on the Greatest. Editing has begun on our first feature length music video for "Excommunication." The men from Commondeer are putting their noses to the editing bays. We are hoping to have a premier party the first week of October and we are in the midst of scheduling our first RHS shows. The premier may be at one of the venues on the Citywalk @ Universal. We want an all ages place with ample video display capabilities.

Did you have a nice Labor Day weekend? Hope so. My brother, Nate was in town. We went to see Nascar out in Fontucky. It was scorching here in L.A. Of course, we have family back east dealing with the hurricanes, so I won't actually complain. The race was great. Anyone watch it on TV? My favorite driver, Matt Kenseth didn't do too hot, but it's fun to see a race in person. I wouldn't mind a chance to go 180 mph in a circle. I'm sure some would say I already do.

Finally, I'm updating the main page for the website to make it more useful, easier to download and navigate. All for now.

Love, Power, Peace!