Friday, March 30, 2007

Friday Before The Final 4

Hey Soul Mates,
what a couple of days it's been.
First off, I'm pleased to say that I'll be visiting my friend Susan (from the previous blog) in about 10 days time. That's right: I'll be swinging into town like Jake Speed!

I've never been to Seattle and there's no time like the present. And that's the word for it, because I feel it's a gift to have the chance to see Susan. Thanks to all of our high school classmates who have sent me notes and words to take to her when I go. Keep the e-mails coming.

Second, you've heard me talk about my friend, Soontaree Simms, who is still looking for a bone marrow match (
donor match info). In her efforts to remain healthy and upbeat, Soontaree has landed on the roster of cheerleaders for the Carolina Panthers! She will be one of the TopCats for the 2007 football season. How amazing is that?! I'm proud of her and excited that she is in a place to have accomplished this. Bravo, Soontaree! Thankfully, the Panthers don't play the Browns this year (unless they both make the Superbowl), so I can root for them. I'm sure that Soontaree will be an awesome cheerleader, community role model and team spokesperson at charity events. So, "Bravo" to the Panthers for having her.

Finally, it's Final 4 weekend in Atlanta. I got the hard sell from some of my old roommates who are heading to the Georgia Dome tomorrow for the Hoyas' match up with Ohio State. It was hard to stay home, but sometimes you have to. I know you'll go hoarse for me in spirit! Hoya! Saxa! Hoya! Saxa! I'll be wearing all of my GU gear this weekend for the dear old Blue & Gray! It's March, it's madness. And that's not including the basketball.

Have a great weekend, all.
Love, Power, Peace

Monday, March 26, 2007

L'Chaim: For Susan

This one is for my dear friend, Susan Carpenter.

I had a frustrating weekend in the studio. Quite a bit of trouble finding my voice for the recording sessions. We made the decision to postpone Sunday's work. Didn't get a lot of sleep and my vocal chords hadn't gotten back up to go. So, I spent most of Sunday sleeping, watching my Hoyas advance to the Sweet 16. All of that doesn't amount to much. A hill of beans. Because that's some stupid shit to get worked up about.

I'd like to take a moment to give a shout out to my soul sista, Susan, one of my best friends from Terry Parker High School. Susan, you were my right hand woman on the Student Council, a voice of reason with Catskills timing. There are pictures to prove it. (That's her highlighted in red, one of our school colors, no less!). Yes, embarrassing for all of us, but I'll cop to it.

It was perfect, because you and Robert Lewis (to my left) were both a foot shorter than me. That's the hallmark of student government: balance. (Oh, little Robert and his Church Lady imitation. And it was nice that Mr. Bennett aka "The Big G" left the TPSC to its own devices. No one else had there own office/lunch space, even without A/C, to plan out Homecoming and "Catching the Wave!") You were always good with ideas and your home was open to the whole gang. Didn't hurt that you lived two blocks from school.

Sus, you are to date one of the funniest people I know and you will be so ten years from now. Whether any of us are here or not. You were always an essential part of the crew, never minding when Lance Trudel or Robert or I made a dumb choice for movie night. Lots of Fletch, I recall. But hey, wasn't Ferris Bueller a good call!? "Bueller? Bueller?"

I know I posted this on your myspace a while back but it bears repeating:
"A. You can never go too far. B. If I'm gonna get busted, it is not gonna be by a guy like that."

I gotta thank the Lord that you made me laugh so much in school. And you made for a good audience for my lunacy, too. That weird Summer that we were obsessed with McDonaldland and it's itinerant residents. Huh? I remember we celebrated when our football team lost our Senior homecoming game 2-0 to Lake City (Damn). Plus, you were always quick to jokingly remind me that we were truly minorities at a very WASPY high school. "L' Chaim, To Life!" To you, Susan.

Susan, I haven't seen you in decades it seems, but you are firmly fixed in my mind. In high school, we are vulnerable dorks with not an ounce of knowledge about the real world. But we are also invincible in our optimism, in our vision. You are eternally part of the latter in my memory and heart. OK?

I know you have your own hill and your own beans, Sus. Certainly make my beans look like crap. I've enjoyed getting back in touch with you and learning about all you've dealt with. You've done it with grace and wit. Your e-mails make me laugh as much as I cry. Keep them coming as long as you can. And I'm serious, I'll find you a Don Johnson poster for your room. Just say the word!

Alright, I'm outta here. I'll catch up with you at the Pep Rally after 6th period. K.I.T.! You are in my prayers, Susan. I love you.

To all of my friends and family, you may be out of my sight, but you are always in my heart. You have been writing your own stories in which I'm an incidental player or supporting actor at best; it's my honor to appear in your production.
Love, Power, Peace

p.s. If any of you laugh at my bow tie, I will hunt you down and make you wear it!

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Nothing To Say: Album Sessions Day 8

Hey Soul Mates,
perhaps we'll go back tomorrow and try it again.

Go Hoyas.
Love, Power, Peace

Friday, March 23, 2007

Jeff Green Is Good

Hoya Hoya Saxa for the dear old Blue and Gray!

Hey Soul Mates,
I had to keep from shouting too much as I watched Jeff Green hit that 2 pointer with 2.5 seconds remaining to seal Georgetown's Sweet 16 win over Vanderbilt. My Hoyas are going wild! I managed to avoid hearing any scores or anything about the game, since I recorded it. Thanks to Christo and Rick for taking my psychic energy to New Jersey. Great talking to you both after the game. At least I jumped up and down as Green's shot went in. It's hard scheduling vocal sessions during the NCAA hoops tournament. March is Madness. Now silence is golden.

That being said. It's time for some warm tea and honey and then sleep. Lots of it.

Have a great weekend. I'll check in after tomorrow's sessions. We'll be going from noon on. I will not be answering or using my phone as that really strains my voice, but leave messages if you like.

Love, Power, Peace

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

All Over But The Shouting: Album Sessions Day 7

Hey Soul Mates,
we are down to the vocals on our album. Well and a few keyboard parts. Bryan did a herculean job of putting down the guitars on Monday night. His work on Sucka and U Had The $, particularly. Lots of funky textures and brilliant solos across the board. I know Bry was relieved to get his parts finished. We were at the studio until 1:30 a.m. Long night.

Now onto the voices in my head and getting them out. Ha ha. Tonight, I will be collecting the instrumentals to work with for the next few days. Adam (Marsland, our producer) and I have been discussing arrangements and are very excited about this phase of the project. We've both been listening to and talking about the Bee Gees... a lot. Believe it or not. Not that we are going for that sound, but for that kind of approach. Pursuing some harmonies that you might not hear us perform on stage because we are a limited company. Plus, you know me, it's all about those falsetto parts. Curtis Mayfield, Barry Gibb. It's all good.

We've also talked about some female guest stars heppin' out with the backgrounds and harmonies. Another exciting prospect. I'll let you know what happens there. In the meantime, Adam has been tracking some clavinet parts for I Can't Cry For You and Sucka which will amaze you. They certainly captured my attention. Sounds like we've got Stevie Wonder circa 1973 on there.

All right. Have a great day. Keep on keeping on.
Love, Power, Peace

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Rolling Like John & Yoko

This one goes out to the one I love,

You're all that I could want in this world.
You're everything my heart desires.
You're all that I could ask in a girl,
You're everything my heart desires.

Hope all of you out there have yours, too. Or that you'll get it soon.
Love, Power, Peace

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Back To The Beach: Album Sessions Day 6

Hey Soul Mates,
Bryan just dropped me off from our recording session at the Lincoln Lounge. It went very well. We started by polishing off the bass parts. Mainly, I had to do a complete take of Everything My Heart Desires, which is a bassline I really enjoy playing. Then we cleaned up a few mistakes on other tracks and my work for the night was done.

Then it was Bryan's turn to put down lots and lots of guitar parts. He was sizzling by the time we wrapped up. The solo section on Fall Out is superb. Frankly, the whole project is coming together nicely. There are a multitude of hits on it, waiting to move you.

We have sessions lined up for tomorrow night, as well as next weekend. Tomorrow we'll complete the guitars. The weekend is reserved for the vocals. Perhaps after we get our next batch of instrumental mixes, we'll post snippets on myspace.

I am thrilled that My Hoyas are going back to the Sweet 16. But the game against former Big East rivals, Boston College was more exciting than it needed to be. I had to follow it via computer and the Hoyas were not winning when I had to step away from the score. Phwew!

Thanks for the comments on the previous blog. I didn't get to watch too much of the action today, but I just checked the scores and there were some upsets. My brackets are pretty jacked up, but I've still got my final four in there. Needless to say, watch out for that Hoya Paranoia!

Time for a late night cup of Rooibos and honey before going to sleep.
Love, Power, Peace

Monday, March 12, 2007

A Georgia Peach Rolls In Orange County

Hey Soul Mates,
Saturday night, I managed to have a full audience with the Monarch of Rock and Roll. The Architect. The Originator. That's right, we went to see Little Richard at the House of Blues in Anaheim. It was the perfect venue for him. Large stage. SRO crowd. Richard doesn't do a lot of shows and with the recent passings of Ray Charles, Johnny Cash and James Brown, the audience was ready to show their appreciation for this true survivor.

At show time, the curtains parted to reveal a 9 piece band (4 horns, guitarist, bassist, keyboards, and 2 drummers), who did a particularly mean opening blast of classic R&B and funk riffing. Little Richard emerged from the wings in a gold suit dripping with sequins. Even his golden Cuban heeled boots were dazzling. The venue roared its welcome and applauded for several minutes solid before anything else could happen, Little Richard balanced on the lip of the stage flashing his 36 million record selling smile. He came out on crutches however (apparently suffering from sciatic nerve issues. I know what that pain is.); but once he was seated at his piano he was ready to rock. The only problem was, no one teched the house's electric grand piano and minutes went by as the crew struggled to fix the thing. Oddly enough, Richard urged the roadies to simply bring out the Korg keyboard from the back, which was then place on top of the grand. Ah, technology. As a result, Little Richard led the band through a smoldering version of Directly From My Heart. A valiant effort.

The show never got on track though. The lead sax player was beset by mic'ing problems early on and the momentum was lost. Little Richard worked valiantly to bring the audience back up to its initial fervor with Good Golly Miss Molly, Lucille, All Around The World and a brilliant vocal impersonation of Ray Charles on I Got A Woman. Unfortunately, the show had the feel of a family reunion and Richard would take four or five minutes in between songs to show off family members or reminisce about friends past and present. Here's where Bob Dylan has it right. Play your songs. Talk if you must, tell an anecdote, but play your songs. Lots of them. In whole.

Some numbers were mere snippets. The apocalyptic Tutti Frutti was reduced to a half-tempo sing-a-long of the chorus only, sung mainly by Richard's band leader. When Richard did step up to the plate to sing his signature line, the place erupted with joy. You see, his voice is still an glorious instrument. Little Richard can still out-"Wooooooooo!" any sucker in the known universe. All of that great coloring, inflection and attack present on his historic '50's sides are intact. His piano playing skills haven't diminished. But the show was a shambles and there was no hiding it.

The audience remained loyal through the show. Cheering loudly for every "Shut Up!" and applauding each of the relations Little Richard introduced in the balcony. Everyone hoping that the next song would be more than a vamp. Sometimes that wish came true. Like on a thrilling take of Jenny, Jenny. His best performance was on his 1964 comeback single Bama Lama, Bama Loo, a full-throated and full-throttle rock and roll assault that brought everyone closer to greatness. But for each of those performances there were lengthy cover versions of Old Time Rock and Roll and I Know It's Only Rock and Roll that never strayed from the hook (that's when a verse can be a relief) and featured atrocious dancing on stage by audience members.

But don't get me wrong. I wouldn't have missed that show for much in this world. Little Richard is still the Undisputed King of Rock and Roll. He still looks great and sounds fantastic. Perhaps to see him somewhere where he has fewer family members in the audience would have helped. But Little Richard will be 75 this year and as he himself said, "don't know how many times I'll get back here." Exactly. Rock on Richard. I've got nothing but love for you. Wooooooooooooooooo!!

[On a completely random note, Black Sabbath's guitar legend, Tony Iommi, was standing right behind me at the show. But I know all of those early metal/hard rockers adored the likes of Little Richard and Elvis]


In other news, my Georgetown Hoyas had a great weekend. Winning the Big East men's basketball tournament. This is the best they've done since I was there. My homeboy Christo must be dancing on the ceiling. Watch out! Allow me to put it in verse.

There's a Thompson on the bench
and a Ewing on the floor
Shades of "Hoya Saxa"

Have a great week. I'm going to succumb to March Madness. Let it wash over me like a warm embryonic bath. Ha ha.
Love, Power, Peace

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

A Roll Of The 20-Sided Die

Hey Soul Mates,
just wrapped up reading Michael Jacobson's debut novel Jacob Have I Loved. I'm very proud of Mikey for writing a page-turner about two fictitious, semi-famous siblings. He studies the ill-will and gauzy reminiscences generated by the death of the more popular of two brothers; the surviving one charged with eulogizing by writing the "celebrity biography." In this age of minutia filled tell-alls, hyper-instant Hollywood news and the mind-blowing societal focus on casualties like Anna Nicole Smith, Jacob Have I Loved couldn't be more timely. Ultimately, the story is less about the "Star" than those left to sort through the pieces, question their own motivations and figure out what on earth fanatics see in their idols.

Finally got to see a bit of Locksley on the Jimmy Kimmel show. I'll have to go get their new album tomorrow. They have a couple of fun videos posted on their myspace page. I'm digging the stop motion on Why Can't I Be You? A great Beatles' pastiche. Well, all of their music is. They were perfect for IPO last year. The lead singer Jesse even looks like George Harrison and Noel Gallagher's child. Kind of cool to see people we've played with hitting the big time. The only thing I'd fault them on is choosing a logo identical to Orson's (check out the bass drum head). Ha ha.

Right now, I'm listening through our sessions. Steve has continued to work on mixing, even while we are away from the studio. And he's doing a stellar job of making us presentable. I'm not kidding when I say: NO ONE sounds like Rush Hour Soul. Because no one else is foolish enough to pursue our musical course. But I'm beginning to not give a damn. We'll see who/what prevails. My guess is the music. Whoo-hah. Got you all in check.

We'll, it's late. The computer is making weird noises. Like someone is in there yearning to be free.
Thanks for reading.
Love, Power, Peace

Friday, March 02, 2007

Ghosts Of My Former Self

Hey Soul Mates,
it's Friday. Been a long, cold week in the Valley.

Last night, I heard a new instrumental mix of U Had The $ and it rocks the house. Lots of fun hearing our new tracks come together. I also set the WayBack Machine to 2000 A.D. and listened to some of my older material. One of my eight year old compositions was requested for submission for placement in a TV show. So I figured I had better check it out again before sending it. It was interesting hearing parts and performances that I hadn't thought about for nearly a decade. I honestly don't listen to any self-penned material that the band doesn't currently perform or isn't working on. I find it's only healthy in the smallest of doses to revisit my musical history.

In a blast from our recent past,
Locksley a band out of NYC (via Madison, WI) that played with us in Sheffield & Liverpool last year is going to be on the Jimmy Kimmel Show tonight. That's very cool. I'm pleased for them. Nice guys. We'll see if they come out swinging in their matching jumpsuits with first names emblazoned on their chests.

Have a great Friday everyone.
Love, Power, Peace