Sunday, January 30, 2005

Avion & Oscar

Hey Soul Mates,
just checking in on a beautiful Sunday in LA.

Friday night, I went to the Gig to do some business for our show there in March. Also happened to be a night when some old friends in a new band were playing. Steve Bertrand and Jamie Wallham formerly of the Tories have a new group called Avion. They rock... still. I always enjoyed the Tories, had followed them from '95 to '01. I even appeared with them on national TV in a segment of Farmclub. They recently signed with Columbia: meaning they are my first acquaintances since Remy Zero to be signed to a major label. I'm very proud of them. They have worked hard and have earned it. Hopefully, the general public will embrace their music, too.

Ok, here's my rant. I'm not a huge Oscar Awards wonk, but they snubbed Mick Jagger and Dave Stewart. Those two should have gotten a best song nomination for "Old Habits Die Hard" from Alfie. Instead, some real schmaltz from Polar Express and Phantom of the Opera got nods. Boo. "Old Habits" is a genuinely good song. The Academy honored U2, Neil Young and winners Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen. You'd think they wouldn't overlook Mick. Oh, well.

I'm off to rehearsal shortly.
Love, Power, Peace.

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Microphone Fiend

Hey Soul Mates,
I broke down and bought a brand new Shure Beta87a to go with the vintage mics I'm getting. It was a big expense, but worth it. I took it to rehearsal this afternoon and my vocals really projected warmly. Happy purchase. The rehearsal itself was productive. We are working on 2 brand new songs for our show on Feb 11. One is a midtempo feel-good song. The other is a funk stomper. Ooooh wheee. I think you're gonna like them. We are having fun and the group sounds tight.

A propos of nothing, I ran into Ashlee Simpson this morning at my favorite diner. She's a bitty little thing. I resisted the temptation to do the hucklebuck or shout "You make me wanna Uhn! Uhn! Ugggnh!" Are you proud of me? I held the door (on accident) for her and her boyfriend. Not a word of thanks. Shuffle off to Buffalo...

Love, Power, Peace!

p.s. Portner, what it is!? "Micraphooone."

Saturday, January 22, 2005

Microphone (The DC Posse Knows What That Means)

Hey Soul Mates,
I finally scored a (fairly) vintage mic on-line. It took some doing. Vintage Shure mics are pretty valuable and desirable. It's not the 55s that I really wanted but a PE55. It'll do. The guy says it's a mid-70's model, rather than one from the 50s or 60s. As long as it performs the way I want it to, I'll be happy. It's my early birthday present to myself. Why not?

I may have to break down and go to Guitar Center today and get a new Shure 87. They have them for a decent price and I'm a fool not to sing with my own mic when we play & rehearse. Usually it's old funky mics. I think I've ingested 5 or 6 cans of Lysol the past 3 years.

I'm in a better mood than the last few times I have written, but AI4 and Mike Powell burn me.
I'm playing the Jacksons Live on the winamp. That's raising my spirits too. There's a big blog in my brain that I want to write about the late Michael Jackson.

Have a great weekend.
Love, Power, Peace

p.s. for my DC Posse: Jud Fasold isn't the only one "inta-nashnly knoooown! Micraafoooone!"

A Patch Of Blue Sky In The Restricted Speech Maelstrom

Hey Soul Mates,
lovers of Free Speech rejoice. Haters of nepotism shout "Amen!"

Colin Powell's kid is leaving the FCC. And not a moment too soon. Michael Powell has been as bigger embarrassment to America than Janet Jackson's titty (and without the charm). As humorless as his old man, Powell is the most public FCC chairman in American history and he won't be remembered kindly by me. He has been the typical reactionary during the current administration, tryin-a take us back to the 1950's or worse.

When Powell was appointed he said he would support Free Speech and fight the old indecency codes, but he sold out. Ever since, he has wielded his authority like a spoiled child; insistent on imposing his own free will (and the Conservative agenda) on the Public's airwaves. His fascist enforcement of indecency laws has made America a stranger place. Are people doing and saying things on the air that are inappropriate? Probably. But is it killing people and leaving bodies strewn about the streets? No. Arbitrarily calling something indecent and lobbing gigantic fines like grenades is a curb on free speech... dammit. It's rule by fear.

And this fool wanted to allow anyone to own as many TV stations or networks as they could. Huh? Putting all the power in a few hands is not good for art, commerce or the People. It's called monopoly and it's illegal. Thank the Lord, the Senate and the judicial system overturned his ruling. Tell me he wasn't being paid off to make that decision.

Michael Powell's work has been a diversion to help blind us to the real events of the real world. He wanted you to focus on that titty so you wouldn't care that the networks were under singular ownership. These are dark times for lovers of Free Speech. There's a reason why Free Speech is in the first amendment. It's in the very first code of our law. The Founders wanted us to have freedom of expression. But some people want to pervert it for ideological ends that are more violating than those who curse on TV after their team loses a close call or wins an award. Let's hope Powell's successor is better grounded in reality and in the knowledge of the Constitution.

Regardless, this rabble can't be quieted. This is still America. And you can't put a 5 second delay on life.

Love, Power, Peace

Friday, January 21, 2005

On The Veterans Of The Biz & Seeing Blondie Chaplin

Hey Soul Mates,
I'm currently working on promoting our upcoming show at the Joint. Dizzang, it's gonna be big. We have 3 other acts on the bill along with ourselves that are "buzz bands" here in LA I recommend clearing the calendar for the evening.

Last night, I went to the Mint to see Blondie Chaplin and Friends. It was a really loose set, with Blondie and his crew running through originals and songs by Blind Faith and Sam Cooke. I've said it before but Blondie can really sing and, I learned, play a mean blues solo. But then, he hangs out with some pretty tough guitarists, so I shouldn't have been surprised. Such a decent cat. He's quickly become one of my favorite vocalists. And watching him is like a clinic on how to sing properly and with feeling. I learn so much at the feet of these performers.

It's my privilege to live in LA and get to see musicians like Blondie and the Big Monday gang. I wouldn't have imagined as a kid that you could go out on a random night and see so many talented folks for a small cover charge. These veterans of the music scene deserve recognition, so that's why I'm telling you to seek these people out and be entertained. It was also my first time at the Mint. I think they'd been closed for a while. A different vibe, lots of seating and friendly peeps working the place.

Back to work.
Love, Power, Peace

p.s. other than the cover at the Mint, I didn't spend a dime yesterday.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Thoughts on the Evening: American I Dull 4

Hey Soul Mates,
whew. It's been a rough few hours. First, I was thoroughly dulled by American Idol 4 and then I didn't win a couple of auctions on eBay for vintage microphone gear. Shrug. The gear, well, I'll just keep on pushing and try to get it sooner or later. The TV show. Ugh. I don't know anymore. I was a fan the first two seasons. Even went to the finales. But now the show is beyond mean.

I'm beginning to believe that the good people at FOX have an agenda. This season more than in previous years they are giving lots of air time to black contestants who suck. Yep, they stink... and are very flamboyant. This program has never been kind to gay contestants (with one major exception, but he's white and middle America loves him). They are providing minstrely entertainment quite unwittingly. I learned a thing or two about the audition process last season from an acquaintance familiar with the production. They said that all the contestants are screened and have to introduce themselves and sing to non-celebrity judges (read: producers). That means the show's producers purposefully allow wretched "talent" through to be lambasted by the regular judges. These tragic figures are for our amusement and ratings, ratings, ratings. Romans were kind enough to simply kill those who weren't strong enough to outlast the competition. We know these people aren't up to the challenge, yet AI shows us their heartbreak.

You may recall last year's voting fiasco over the ousting of several more talented black singers for non-blacks. The final 3 should have been 3 black women with wonderful voices and personalities. This year there appears to be some sort of backlash. I'm concerned that too many of the black contestants are being made to look like fools. Granted these people have chosen to audition and their lack of talent is their fault. But FOX can choose how much of an audition to air and tonight they aired in their entirety 5 black male auditions; one was baseball hall-of-famer Ozzie Smith's kid who was superlative. The other 4 were cut. 3 of them were downright embarrassing as "singers." I know I'm beating a dead horse and of course, I'll watch again next week. But damn... it's a trainwreck. Last night's show featured another number of pathetic gay, black contestants, particularly the poor dude who tried to sing "Tomorrow" from Annie. Come on. The screeners shouldn't let in people who are going to do show tunes first of all. They know that these kids aren't going to make the cut. It's that simple.

Which leads me to the show's main problem: delusional people. There are people in the world who cannot cope with reality. Too many of them are showing up on AI. They are certain that they are talented; or lovable; or are meant to be the next American Idol. Huh?! Tone deafness and obesity are not becoming, but the schizoid nature of some contestants is frightening. Our society mocks those with mental illness too easily. Saying "they're crazy" or "loopy" or "insane" simplifies an actual dis-ease. Putting them in humiliating situations doesn't help. Frankly, I'm surprised there haven't been any AI related suicides or homicides. These kids don't need to be on TV, they need counseling.

Finally, AI is a reminder that people think that succeeding in music can be done with a wish and no hard work at all. I, for one, don't mind hearing the judges tell the majority of these people to shift the focus in their lives. But on that note: if you have a dream, strive for it. Just be realistic about your talent. Hopefully, my next blog will be more entertaining.

Love, Power, Peace

Sunday, January 16, 2005

New Show Announced

Hey Soul Mates,
we have officially announced our next show. It will be on Friday Feb. 11 at our home field, The JOINT. The lineup includes ourselves, Telecast & Drag. Bands start at 9 Pm, we go on at 10. If you haven't seen us (or the Joint) lately, you haven't seen us at all. This one will be a burner. It's being promoted as the L.A. Showdown. Perfect to kick off Grammy Weekend here in L.A. Always an exciting time around town. All of the bands on the bill have big followings and buzz, so be sure to check out the whole night. We are looking forward to the show. In fact, we begin our full-on electrified rehearsals today (Sunday).

Don't miss this show. It's right before Valentine's Day, so bring a date or find one there. And it's the week of my birthday, I hope you'll bring your presence.
Love, Power, Peace

Saturday, January 15, 2005

A Better Than "Good" Show

Hey Soul Mates,
we had a very successful show tonight at the Good Microbrewery and Grill. The set was semi-acoustic. Bryan played acoustic guitar; Doug used brushes on his snare and cymbal and I played my electric bass plugged into a mini-amp. The opening of the set actually had a jazzy feel to it. We made our way through the songs, although my voice was worn down and Bryan was having some numbness in his left arm. Play through the pain.

The crowd was nice and and varied. Lots of our people and fans of the Waking Hours who preceded us. Thanks to everyone who came out for the show. And thanks to Adam Sloat for booking us and the Waking Hours for sharing the bill. They really are an entertaining group.

Our set was peppered with covers, which we got lots of compliments on. Esp. the Beatles' Blackbird. Being in those close quarters and trying to come across without volume is a challenge. I wound up singing a lot more falsetto than originally planned. Doug really came forward with backing vocals on Love Someone and Hold On, I'm A Comin'. Which was very cool.

Well, we'll be back to fully electrified for our next show: Feb 11 at the Joint.
Love, Power, Peace

Set List:
The Isolation
Majestic Rejection
Miss You
Everyone's Ingenue
Hold On, I'm A Comin'
Rediscover Love
Done Lost My Mind
Love Someone (dedicated to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.)

Thursday, January 13, 2005

C'mon Cavs

Hey Soul Mates,
well, my Cavaliers put up a good fight at Staples tonight. The Lakers came out on top after an unforced turnover by Zydrunis Ilgauskas led to a 5 point L.A. lead. But, yes! That was me on TV in the last minute of the game. After all the face time TNT gave to Ashton & Demi, Jack, The Donald and Denzel, it was only fair. In fact, I was about 6 rows behind the Donald. Thanks to Dave in LV for calling me to let me know. Cleveland needs a celebrity fan, I'm already it. I am usually the only person with seats that close to the court wearing nothing but Cavs gear. At least the Laker fans were a bit nicer to me this year.

Here's the weird part: I'm driving back home up 8th to Alvarado and I here the guy in the pick-up next to me shouting "Dude! Dude!" Normally, I try not to get involved in mid-traffic conversations, but I looked over. And the other driver says, "Dude, I saw you on TV. Not 10 minutes ago! Sorry your team didn't win." I thanked him and he drove ahead.
Ahh, life in La La.

Love, Power, Peace.

p.s. don't forget we have a free show tomorrow night at Good (see for details).

Saturday, January 08, 2005

Bobby "Blue" Bland

Hey Soul Mates,
how's your Saturday. I've spent mine running errands. Picked up two new ties. Hope to show 'em off to you soon. Solids are gonna be in this Spring. Gotta be ahead of the curve.

While I've been home, I've had music playing on the computer. And let me tell you, it's really fun to "discover" new music... even when it's from an established act. Today, I found Bobby "Blue" Bland.
Dang, he can sang. I, of course have known about Bobby for a decade but never took the time to listen. Check out anything of his from the 50's and 60's and prepare to be moved. His voice has a velvety grit to it; truth. He's still around and if he plays within 50 miles of here, I gotta see him.

His most famous track is "I Pity The Fool." Yep, long before Mr. T, Bobby made the phrase famous. Bobby Bland is perfect for a perfectly grey day in Los Angeles. His version of "Farther Up The Road" is rugged. "Two Steps From The Blues" is as perfect a pop-blues vocal as you're ever likely to hear. And he rips up standards like "Georgia On My Mind" and "Since I Fell For You." I dig the shuffle of "Road Of Brokenhearted Men" and his growl on "Bobby's Blues." What a discovery. Music appreciation is a never-ending education. Very soon, I'm going to post my "record collection" on our website, so you can trace the roots of my musical influences.

Our work on MySpace is paying off. Many of you have signed up. Thanks for participating with us. We've also managed to get some really random people on board with us including pop stars JoJo and Ciara. Which is kinda fun.
Love, Power, Peace

Friday, January 07, 2005

A Millionaire. A True Genius. Parental Discretion Is Advised

Hey Soul Mates,
I don't throw the word around lightly, but there is a genius in our midst. And he's an American. And he draws comic strips. I have had the pleasure of meeting him once and he's TONY MILLIONAIRE.

Mr. Millionaire draws a strip called Maakies which features two drunks: Drinky Crow and the sock monkey-turned-into-a-real-monkey Uncle Gabby. It's the story (sort of) of their adventure aboard the HMS Maakies, sometime around the turn of the last century. That's the premise, but it's just the framework for Millionaire to do untoward things to the characters. Did I mention he's a genius. Not only are the strips scandalously funny, they are the best drawn comix ever. They are reminiscent of the old Katzenjammer Kids and Krazy Kat panels. His attention to detail, eye for architecture and his ability to write a joke are without peer. Although I dig some of his peers (Kaz of "Underworld"; Aaron MacGruder of "Boondocks" whom I've also met), a week without Maakies is a week without sunshine or booze as Uncle Gabby might say.

Maakies is not for the faint of heart. There's a lot of scatalogical, biological and alcoholic humor involved and occasionally some profanity. That said, I'm going to put up one of his safer works. In LA, you can find Maakies in the back of the LA Weekly, near the ads for Strip Joints. On-line you can view all of his oeuvre and see video clips from his cartoons for SNL. It may not be p.c., but he makes me laugh consistently.
Love, Power, Peace.

p.s. ever want to get me a stoopidly extravagant gift, get me original artwork by Tony Millionaire. I will clutch it to my chest and like Charles Foster Kane will utter "Maakieeeeessss."

maakies copyright 2004, Tony Millionaire, all rights reserved.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Working Hard

Hey Soul Mates,
how are you doing on the 6th of the year? Things here are buzzing.
Bryan came over last night to show me a few things he's been working on. They are really solid songs. The group is getting ready for our first shows of the year and working up new material is always on our mind. It helps that both Doug and Bryan are very creative people. Me: I have to get in gear and get some lyrics done.

We are also contemplating our first tour. In a big way. We will keep you posted. But, suffice it to say, we aren't going to be on this continent for it.

Have a great day. Oh, you know how you can make it a better day? Throw on a CD that makes you sing and dance. Then sing along with it. Like you are putting on a concert. And dance like you don't give a monkey's... You'll find yourself smiling and outta breath. It's a good work out. And once you get the hang of it, you'll thank me.

Love, Power, Peace.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

My Space

Hey Soul Mates,
in our neverending quest to use new technologies to reach people we've signed up for MySpace.
It took a little while to set up our page, but it's there and you can hear some of our songs and congregate around the scene. Gotta put a little more time into our page and get some laundry done at the same time. If you are a member of myspace already, hit us up. If not, sign up and join the bandwagon.

Oh, did you see the quite bad half time show at the Orange Bowl tonight? I haven't heard that kind of booing (for Ashlee Simpson) on national TV in a long time.

Love, Power, Peace

Saturday, January 01, 2005

Happy 2005

Hey Soul Mates,
we here at RHS want to wish you a safe, happy and prosperous New Year. May the world of 2005 be filled with a little more love, a little more peace and a lot more of our music!
Thanks for sticking with us, this year we're gonna make you proud.
Love, Power, Peace