Archive for April, 2010

I Like the Street!

April 30, 2010 - 1:08 pm Comments Off

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CONTEST … Send in a caption for this photo … win a signed CD, a stick of gum, a red paper clip, and any other swag I can get (I even have a Pixies poster). Deadline 5/29/10. Humor, paradox, and weird are welcome. [photo by Duane Schippel, backstage at Tecumseh Center for the Performing Arts, Tecumseh MI 1/30/10]

Family, actor Clive Owen, “bicycle diaries,” and a song about Williamsport are elements of I Like the Street, the title of my next full-length recording. Since last November, I’ve been in studios with Eric Biondo/Beyondo, a couple of guys from The Badlees, Scott Francis, and other music wizards, getting this down.

The songs will be more sentimental in subject than what I’ve put out in the past. It’s going to rock, but with more ‘up close and personal’ dynamics. For example, I’m including a song about my daughter, called “Precious Gem.”

“Nothing Like Williamsport” is a song about the city I live in. It’s been available as a download single and it’s finally coming out on CD. The track was remastered by Scott Francis and it sounds better than ever.

I Like the Street extends from my ‘bicycle diaries’: life observations from riding bike on city streets as a bike messenger [backstory]. It’s autobiographical.

Musically, I’m reaching into my Roxy Music and Velvet Underground bag of influences, and covering VU’s “What Goes On.” Then there are acoustic interludes, doses of Latin and tango music, and a nod to Erik Satie.

An online preview has been issued of “If I Could Dress Like Clive Owen”—a tribute to the British actor and “a song about how you wear your armor and the politics of fashion.” The song quotes “spy movie music” and The Yardbirds.

Tim Breon is the lead guitarist on the Bryan Ferry-influenced “Even in the Night,” a collaboration with Amy Mintzer (Word2Soul Project). The song is accompanied by a “film noirish” video that used the Community Arts Center as the setting, previewed on my YouTube channel.

I Like the Street will be released by Wampus International. To finance this project, I am selling wares on my eBay page and pre-selling CDs now. Pre-sold CDs will be signed and numbered (and I might throw in a red paper clip).

Most of these songs have been “road-tested” and audience-approved. Thanks to all of you who have been cheering me on.

The videography pays homage to classic film noir. (Full production details are at the YouTube page.) Please tune in! I can feel you watching me!

And on that note…
I’m now a contributing music journalist for Northcentralpa.com and Wampus Multimedia. So far I’ve written about Humphrey Bogart, Keith Richards, and the secret bridge between classical and rock. Tune in when you can.

Play skillfully with a loud noise (Psalms 33:3)!

Seven Lessons from Bogie

April 7, 2010 - 12:32 pm Comments Off

bogart

“The only reason to make more money is so you can tell big shots where to go.” —Humphrey Bogart

Recently I happened upon a 1997 biography (Bogart, by Sperber and Lax) about the great actor Humphrey Bogart. As a huge fan of film noir, I’m drawn to Bogart. One of my favorite singers, Bryan Ferry, wrote a song about Bogart (“2 H.B.”). As I read the bio, I learned that Bogart had an incredible work ethic as an actor. He was (to quote Rod Steiger) “an artistic soldier,” a master craftsman from whom all artists and musicians could learn. I took some notes and called it “Seven Examples I Learned from Bogie.”

Humphrey Bogart was far from perfect. They said he was a great friend and a worse enemy. Some say that, offscreen, he was mostly the disaffected hero Rick Blaine (from Casablanca) with a dash of the vitriolic Dixon Steele (from In a Lonely Place). Sometimes he needled people too much, but sometimes he did it because he thought they weren’t working at their full potential. There were two stories about everything he did. Whatever people say about him, he was a focused, hard-working, regular guy. As I read this biography about his career and how he “arrived,” I was impressed and inspired.

Seven Examples I Learned From Bogie
1. Always be punctual. Show up prepared and ready to work. Respond to all phone calls and mail in a timely manner.
2. Do not behave with airs, except to have an air of humility and accessibility. Bogart hated phonies.
3. Be well-read. Be as informed as possible. Read as much as you can. You will always have something meaningful to say and, when you don’t, you’ll know it’s time to shut up and listen.
4. Be focused. Even though Bogart made it sound like he “happened into acting,” he wanted it when he was 14. He kept his focus on it despite studio slavery and third-rate treatment (getting roles only after Paul Muni and George Raft turned them down). He did not have his breakthrough hit (Casablanca) until he was 45 years old.
5. Take responsibility for your own shortcomings. Do not blame others—especially your parents. Bogart was the product of an upper class family that fell from grace. He was physically abused by house servants (the real source of his mouth scar), emotionally detached from drug-abusing parents, and he supported a sick mother and manic-depressive sisters. Yet no one ever heard him complain, and he thought it was unbecoming to rat on his parents.
6. Watch the backs of your colleagues and co-workers. Bogart was kind and instructive to people with whom he worked, even getting them work when no one would hire them, or defending them at the risk of his own career.
7. Work hard. When you’re bursting with talent but don’t know the way, taking on every assignment possible will refine you and show you the way.

On the Air/In the Studio
New music video on my YouTube channel: “Even in the Night,” a song about “what you see in the deepest darkest night … a song of bittersweet spirituality and unrelenting love.” Initially written and produced for the Word2Soul Project, the song has been recorded by other singers. In 2009, I decided to do my own take on it. The arrangement and vocal style were influenced by the Bryan Ferry/Roxy Music “Song for Europe.” The sound track features the splendid guitar work of Tim Breon; I played all the other instruments and vocals, including the “boys choir” during the closing verses.

The videography pays homage to classic film noir. Footage was shot 11/09 and 2/10 at the Community Arts Center in Williamsport, PA. Camera crew: Scott Francis, Anna Pysher, and Hunter Wentzler. Extras (lobby scene) include The Brain Brothers, the Francis family, Fred Holland, Don Johnson, Key of V, Marianna Maurer, Brian O’Malley, and Chris and Michelle Pick.

The video was produced by Mind’s Eye Music Studios and was directed by Scott Francis; I did the story board. A high-definition version can be viewed here. Please tune in! I can feel you watching me!

Play skillfully with a loud noise (Psalms 33:3)!