Volume 1-2015





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ABOUT RAR: For those of you new to this site, "RAR" is Rick Alan Rice, the publisher of the RARWRITER Publishing Group websites. Use this link to visit the RAR music page, which features original music compositions and other.

Use this link to visit Rick Alan Rice's publications page, which features excerpts from novels and other.


(Click here)

Currently on RARadio:

"On to the Next One" by Jacqueline Van Bierk

"I See You Tiger" by Via Tania

"Lost the Plot" by Amoureux"

Bright Eyes, Black Soul" by The Lovers Key

"Cool Thing" by Sassparilla

"These Halls I Dwell" by Michael Butler

"St. Francis"by Tom Russell & Gretchen Peters, performance by Gretchen Peters and Barry Walsh; 

"Who Do You Love?"by Elizabeth Kay; 

"Rebirth"by Caterpillars; 

"Monica's Frock" by Signel-Z; 

"Natural Disasters" by Corey Landis; 

"1,000 Leather Tassels" by The Blank Tapes; 

"We Are All Stone" and "Those Machines" by Outer Minds; 

"Another Dream" by MMOSS; "Susannah" by Woolen Kits; 

Jim Morrison, Elvis Presley, Michael Jackson and other dead celebrities / news by A SECRET PARTY;

"I Miss the Day" by My Secret Island,  

"Carriers of Light" by Brendan James;

"The Last Time" by Model Stranger;

"Last Call" by Jay;

"Darkness" by Leonard Cohen; 

"Sweetbread" by Simian Mobile Disco and "Keep You" fromActress off the Chronicle movie soundtrack; 

"Goodbye to Love" from October Dawn; 

Trouble in Mind 2011 label sampler; 

Black Box Revelation Live on Minnesota Public Radio;

Apteka "Striking Violet"; 

Mikal Cronin's "Apathy" and "Get Along";

Dana deChaby's progressive rock




"Music Hot Spots"



























Rick Alan Rice (RAR) Literature Page


CCJ Publisher Rick Alan Rice dissects the building of America in a trilogy of novels collectively calledATWOOD. Book One explores the development of the American West through the lens of public policy, land planning, municipal development, and governance as it played out in one of the new counties of Kansas in the latter half of the 19th Century. The novel focuses on the religious and cultural traditions that imbued the American Midwest with a special character that continues to have a profound effect on American politics to this day. Book One creates an understanding about America's cultural foundations that is further explored in books two and three that further trace the historical-cultural-spiritual development of one isolated county on the Great Plains that stands as an icon in the development of a certain brand of American character. That's the serious stuff viewed from high altitude. The story itself gets down and dirty with the supernatural, which in ATWOOD - A Toiler's Weird Odyssey of Deliveranceis the outfall of misfires in human interactions, from the monumental to the sublime. The book features the epic poem "The Toiler" as well as artwork by New Mexico artist Richard Padilla.



If you have not explored the books available from Amazon.com's Kindle Publishing division you would do yourself a favor to do so. You will find classic literature there, as well as tons of privately published books of every kind. A lot of it is awful, like a lot of traditionally published books are awful, but some are truly classics. You can get the entire collection of Shakespeare's works for two bucks.

You do not need to buy a Kindle to take advantage of this low-cost library. Use this link to go to an Amazon.com page from which you can download for free a Kindle App for your computer, tablet, or phone.

Amazon is the largest, but far from the only digital publisher. You can find similar treasure troves atNOOK Press (the Barnes & Noble site), Lulu, and others.




Bob Dylan's AARP Interview

Whose Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf - at 73?


There has always been a serious case of Dylan fear in the media, which that photo to the right might seem to indicate is utterly justified. His public face is a very difficult puzzle to crack, and even more so when it isn't shielded by the sunglasses he often favors. Dylan has beautiful blue eyes and over time, as the features surrounding them have become more weathered, they have become more powerful in their impact, until at his present age they have become almost jarring. They are the headlights of a creature about whom a widely shared set of cultures have developed a deep mythology.

As a kid, Bob Dylan wrote some songs that had qualities that were both timeless, and extraordinarily timely, including "Blowin' In the Wind" and "The Times They Are A Changing". There developed this sense about him that he had somehow made a connection with a spiritual-musical truth that had always existed but was too dear to be within the reach of any other than a chosen one. (See the quote in the story below from Bruce Adophe that shined a similar light on Mozart.) It identified Dylan as special, and he had immediate gravitas with seemingly every sector of society. The folk-progressives had their hero in him, and would be deeply wounded when he turned his back on them. Young people had someone, in Dylan, who was smarter than their parents, and parents had in him a figure who seemed to assure them that maybe the young generation wasn't going to be a disaster after all. The Beatles had a mentor; someone who would show them the way to open up the possibilities of lyrical-musical expression, and to explore the influence of marijuana. Business men embraced him as an antidote to their plebeian lives. Academics felt justified by Dylan, and old people recognized in his poetry those values that they had learned over time to be lasting. Dylan voiced timeless struggles with a humanity that captured what they had come to know, which is that there are answers all around us but that it is the nature of humankind to be short in our reach, and to endure, hopefully with patience and dignity, the limitations of our lives.

He was, as a young man, a singular sight, an iconic image, with his outwardly reaching hair that he wore like a halo, and his outlaw style, which from the first had a continental flare. He seemed to have come from the same box that had given the world Albert Einstein; in fact had, if you consider traits shared stemming from the very Jewishness of the two men. Dylan had that cultural sharpness about him, the outward appearance of formidable intellect along with a defensive nature, like a guy with a chip on his shoulder who probably yielded a lacerating wit. He was intimidating for reasons that were largely projected onto him, but the perception was reinforced by the "interviews" done with a young Dylan in which he was flippant and/or condescending. He never liked the questions. The video snippets of his responses, as he prepared backstage before shows, are the images that stuck. Dylan was a smartass, maybe a little mean spirited, and he was wicked smart. He was an expressionistic bomb thrower who had read the romantic poets and he had a handle on things as few others did. He was bigger than music, a musician whose limitations seemed somehow to reinforce his essential quality as a seer, a poet in touch with the greatest of truths, which shined through his Woody Guthrie vocal style and his primitive emoting on guitar and harmonica. The mere fact that Dylan couldn't sing, in the conventional sense, emphasized the "what" of his words over the "how" of his performance. In total, there was a sort of honesty that poured forth from Dylan the performer, and one that diminished every other poet-musician on the planet whose presentation seemed false compared to his.

Now, at 73 years of age, Dylan has prepared an album of standards: 10 entries from the great American songbook. It is a project he has been envisioning since he heard Willie Nelson's Stardust album over 30 years ago, and another instance of an urge that his gripped all kinds of pop singers as, over the years, they have aged out of the demographic from which they made their careers. Harry Nilsson did it first and best, to my mind, particularly with A Little Touch of Schmilsson in the Night. He was a tremendous vocal talent, not that well known to the general public, though he had radio hits with "Without You", "Coconut", and "Everybody's Talkin'". He showed a deft touch by selecting tunes that were so old and so out of the public mind as to be virtually forgotten, and he reintroduced them as the masterpiece compositions that they are, with the tremendous assistance of arranger Gordon Jenkins, who had performed similar magic with Frank Sinatra.

While other singers, like Rod Stewart, have more or less bombed (artistically) with big orchestra renditions of American standards, in which they have more or less mimicked Sinatra, and come across as fakes, Bob Dylan has chosen the alternative path. He isn't using piano and drums, paring the whole affair down to an acoustic combo sound. It seems unlikely that much magic can come from Dylan's pet project, but we can hope to be surprised. Dylan, for all of his counter-cultural mythos, has really been shown to be a pretty regular guy over the years, which has been a feature of his Theme Time Radio Hour on Sirius XM, in which he has explored such mundane interest as his love of baseball. He respects the integrity in things, and for this reason it is unlikely that he would do anything to modify selections of the American standards songbook, so what we will probably get is Dylan croaking his way through songs we all know. It is hard to imagine that being magic because Dylan's mystique has always been an ephemeral thing and the rerecording of standards is very grounded stuff. It seems an unlikely way to tap into what has been essential about Bob Dylan, the legend.

And what of Dylan's decision to grant his first interview in three years to the AARP magazine? AARP initially stood for the "American Association of Retired Persons", though since it became simply an acronym (an initialization that can be pronounced like a word) it has become an insurance company and a force for promoting the interests of people 50 years old and older, retired or otherwise. Readership for that publication is a staggering 35 million, far surpassing the readership of any other publication, and AARP's members are those who aged right along with Dylan and are most likely to have been won over by the American standards songbook over the years. Dylan has crafted a record for a targeted market, and it will be interesting to discover whether that is merely a practical business decision or a labor of love. Whatever the case, it is remarkably un-Dylan-like if your view of Dylan continues to be of the acerbic, reclusive artist of his youth. He hasn't really been that guy for a long, long time, but myth trumps reality most every time.

Use this link to read the long form interview that Dylan did with AARP.


Composer Bruce Adophe

Einstein's Light: Illuminating Minds

I love this guy Bruce Adophe, who does a weekly show on National Public Radio called Piano Puzzler in which he dissects classical and popular music to demonstrate its shared elements. (The video below, presented by the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, is a long-form program, an expanded example of his weekly podcast.) This would be pretty precious stuff were it not for Adophe, who is a really talented teacher. He seems to be discovering the sheer joy of music even as he nudges his audience in that same direction, which is a gift. He is a natural spokesman for enlightenment, a born tour guide. So it is that he is a natural for Einstein's LIght: Illuminating Minds, a performance event at Denver’s Metropolitan State University February 13, then again the next night at the University of Colorado’s Fiske Planetarium. Adophe composed music for what began as a stage show presenting Albert Einstein’s dissection of universal forces as an output of his way of thinking in musical terms. From the program – “The most brilliant scientific thinker since Newton, Einstein said that Mozart’s music ‘was so pure that it seemed to have been ever-present in the universe, waiting to be discovered by the master.’ The program has been expanded into a film, which premiered January 19 at the United Nations’ Paris kick-off celebration of the 2015 Year of Light Celebration honoring the 100th Anniversary of Einstein’s theory of relativity. Violinist Joshua Bell performs the music in the film. For these Colorado performances, University of Colorado Astrophysicist Dr. Michael Shull will present discussion, and the live performance will feature violinist Clara Lyon with the composer Adolphe at the piano. The video below is well worth your time, as is the regular Piano Puzzler podcast. I’m sure the Einstein stuff is great. - RAR


Wasted Wine

What Is that Beautiful Music?

My son wandered by the CCJ production room, overhead violin strains, and posed the above question. Wasted Wine is one odd and interesting experience: great songwriters in search of a voice. Originally established in South Carolina in 2006 as an acoustic chamber folk duo, the band has expanded over the years, picking up new members and performers. As such, Wasted Wine’s sound has also continuously evolved and remains hard to classify. Much of their work shows the influence of frontman Robert Gowan’s classical background and co-founder Adam Murphy’s lifelong fascination with 1970's prog rock obscurities. Elements of doom metal, mid-century country music, psychedelia, hip-hop, and film music have made regular appearances. Songs often feature Eastern European and Middle Eastern style melodies and harmonies, unpredictable arrangements, and cryptic lyrics delivered in theatrical style. Listeners have used terms like “gypsy” and “cabaret” to describe the sound, while some writers have invoked artists such as The Decemberists, Tom Waits, Leonard Cohen, or even Gogol Bordello. Check out the video below from their upcoming release "Wasted Wine versus the Hypnosis Center". Directed by: Cameron Cook http://vimeo.com/cameroncook, Starring: Stephen Boatright and Kim ReVille.


Unexplained Files

Dave Grohl?




If you are like me, you have always wondered why on earth you see the musician Dave Grohl every time you turn on the tv. More to the point, you wonder how on earth Dave Grohl got to be the third wealthiest drummer in the world (estimated fortune: $225 million) behind Ringo Starr and Phil Collins. You can see how Ringo made his millions, and you can see how Phil Collins might have stacked the deck, but for whom is Dave Grohl carrying water? He must have the goods on some industry hot-shots, because what else could explain such rewards for a character of such limited talent and charm. He is an okay rock drummer, a mediocre singer and guitarist, an unextraordinary songwriter, so what's left? I suppose you could ask Lenny Kravitz, who is kinda the same guy only more fashionable, and he played the Super Bowl halftime show this year (under headliner Katy Perry). How do these posers get these rich deals?

The pop culture world yields some aberrant returns and unexplained phenomena. On the other hand, it has much in common with much of what confuses us about how life works in general, i.e., how some people with apparently little in the way of talent, charm and intelligence do so well, while others who seem so much more legitimate come to nothing.

This publication has always had a chip on its shoulder, if you’ll pardon the cliché. We have tended to ignore commercially successful artists in favor of those acts that are just hoping to become commercially successful. Part of the reason has been that the commercially successful don’t need us, or others like us: they are already famous. READ MORE

Featured Artist:

Jacqueline Van Bierk

German-born singer/songwriter Jacqueline Van Bierk fronted the edgy Los Angeles metal band Otto's Daughter for years, winning plenty of acclaim for her exciting stage shows and her experimental approach to hard rock. But things change. "Quitting Otto's Daughter was a painful decision for me. Part of me had died, I put my everything into this band for so many years, it's been my baby and I still love our music." Jacqueline is still doing eclectric, eccentric music, and these days she is better than ever. This edition she talks change with the Creative Culture Journal. READ MORE...

Featured Artist:

John McEuen

John McEuen ˗̶  most closely associated with The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band and most highly honored for his key role in the making of the classic American music LP Will the Circle Be Unbroken ˗̶  took up the challenge of responding to one of my overly indulgent interrogations. I asked him about a hundred questions about how he became music legend John McEuen. Something of a professional narrator, he used the opportunity to tell me his life story, which begins with his upbringing in Southern California where, as an employee at the Main Street Magic Shop at Disneyland, he became a close friend of fellow future legend Steve Martin. READ MORE


15 Minutes

Mini-Movie Approach to Screenwriting


Even as a guy who has a few decades of experience doing a variety of technical writing jobs (IT, AEC, training and other sectors), I find that writing a screenplay is about as technical as any type of document development project ever gets. They are deliberately engineered, which is probably why many people feel that movies generally suck, because you can often feel the deliberateness of their engineering. The art of screenwriting is all about overcoming that particular aspect of screenwriting development, which is the confining thing it is generally accepted to be because making movies is a high-risk pursuit and all parameters must be carefully managed to a budget.

In a screenplay, this type of management has most definitely included audience response, which has typically been expressed through adherence to a 3-act structure. It worked for Shakespeare and is universally accepted as the most effective form. The plight of the protagonist is introduced, the drama is intensified, and the story is resolved, constructed in building blocks or steps all along the way. The run time of a script, played out on screen, is one minute per page, so a script for a two hour movie is around 120 pages long. That’s in 12 pt. Courier with inset margins pinching the dialogue like a foundation garment. That space is allotted for the writer to introduce characters, give the audience some reason to care about them, ratchet up the drama set against them (for movies are always about overcoming something), create the sense of possibility that all is lost, and then resolve the drama in some satisfying way.

There are tons of people out there – and particularly out there in the L.A. area – who will be happy to enroll you in their course to help you, the aspiring screenwriter, to understand how to make this work. They instruct you on the art of the sale, but the technical details around formatting your work, which absolutely must be done to the established standard, is something you need to learn through emersion in the industry’s tools, most notably through Final Draft software. Final Draft provides the accepted template for the screenplay format, plus it has a variety of project management tools that are extraordinarily useful to directors and their A.D.’s. Final Draft is to the movie industry what XMetaL, Oxygen, Swagger and FrameMaker are to the information technology sector, i.e., the accepted tool.
This weekend I sat through an analysis of the screenplay for “Birdman”, which may well win a Best Actor Academy Award for Michael Keaton, who has attached himself to a very smart and savvy script. It explores the nature of real love through the distortions of a Broadway play, in which real people pretend in public ways that they hope will endear them to the strangers who are their audience. It explores the extent to which we can love a false portrayal.

This is not precisely action-adventure material, though the screenplay for “Birdman” does employ some plot elements that could also exist in that genre, and it could be lost in pretentious abstractions without some deft handling of the dramatic tension required to make the thing work otherwise. The tension in “Birdman” is amped up by virtue of the telekinetic powers possessed by the Michael Keaton character, not to ruin the movie for you. It’s like Carrie White takes to the stage to fill that empty place in her heart.

Chris Soth, whose most notable screenwriting credit was the 1998 action-adventure movie Firestorm, in which former footballer Howie Long jumps into fight a forest fire and finds himself battling convicts, dissected “Birdman” using what he calls his “mini-movie” approach. In a nutshell, it consists of breaking the 3-act screenplay structure down to equal 15-minute parts and writing the story in such a way that some tension is created and further developed within every 15 minute period within the movie. It is a hardcore approach to cutting all filler out of a script by grabbing the audience by the throat early and not letting them go until they climax. This is really no different than the intent of the 3-act structure, it just defines a particular type of product; one presumably designed to meet the needs of the modern film market. There was quite a different dynamic in the early days of theater, and even film, when productions had a more relaxed relationship with their audiences and created great spaces for personal address of those seated in the viewing rooms. One could take a while in telling a joke. In the modern era, audiences are extraordinarily distracted by the rabble all around them and absolutely demand a constant diversion; an explosion, a collision, an accident, a fight, or just anything to keep their attention on the screen, as opposed to the threats seated all around them. This is why Michael Bay works, by which I mean remains employed.

Much was made of Soth’s payday of $750,000 for his Firestorm screenplay, because it is one of those success stories that wannabe screenwriters dream about. That payday was a long time ago, Firestorm was just about universally panned, and Soth has not become a go-to guy in the movie industry. He would be far from the first to finally determine, after years of Firestorm type experiences, that maybe he could just teach, and so he does with his mini-movie course. Certainly it would be helpful to Soth if his one screenplay selling success hadn’t yielded such a colossal bomb, but then there are tons of ways a movie can go bad beyond just a crummy screenplay. Casting football players in lead roles could probably be a problem, for instance.

Still, there is nothing inherently faulty in Soth’s mini-movie logic, and he shows some marketing savvy with his webcast conference calls. It might be interesting to imagine a world in which his approach became the industry standard. Would it be any different from what we have today? Screenwriters, after all, have always been in the business of trying to avoid boring their audiences. Whether or not they can achieve that no doubt has something to do with approach, but has far more to do with vision and creativity. It is hard to quantify those things, however, and the bean counters at the movie studios require the quantifiable truth of structure above all else. A part of the modern pitch for a film may be the promise that no more than 15 minutes will ever pass without the audience being given a reason to sit up straight in rapt attention. You could stipulate it in the contract.

Les McCann - Invitation to Openness

Through the chart-topping 1969 song “Compared to What,” Les McCann became known to thousands of people as an inspirational “soul-jazz” pianist and vocalist. Since its first release in 1972, Les McCann’s Invitation to Openness album (Atlantic Records) has remained a landmark statement in free-form improvisation mixed with soulful grooves, featuring a 26-minute continuous track with expressive instrumentation from the likes of Yusef Lateef, Ralph McDonald, Cornell Dupree, Bernard Purdie, and Alphonse Mouzon. After years as an out-of-print collectible, Invitation to Openness will be issued on CD by Omnivore Recordings on March 3, 2015. Invitation to Openness is also now the title of a jazz and soul photography book (via Fantagraphics Books) containing portraits of Stevie Wonder, Aretha Franklin, Quincy Jones, Tina Turner, Louis Armstrong, Nina Simone, Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Cannonball Adderley, Count Basie, Mahalia Jackson, Eddie Harris, Roberta Flack, Duke Ellington and dozens more — all taken between 1960 and 1980 by Les McCann, and all unpublished. Few were aware until now that Les was an ace B&W photographer. The book includes candid comments from Les on his photo subjects, many of whom he knew personally. Review copies and PDFs of the book are available from the curator:Pat Thomas • normalsf@earthlink.net 

S - Cool Choices

S is the long-running solo project of Jenn Ghetto (Carissa's Wierd). After many months of trying to get their schedules aligned, the band ended up in the studio with Chris Walla, at the Hall of Justice in Seattle. As he was setting up Ghetto's guitar amp combo and pulling gadgets off the shelves and microphones out of boxes he said to her, "This is how you make a Van Halen record." And then they made Cool Choices. "Tell Me" can be found on Cool Choices, out now on Hardly Art Records. Produced, engineered and recorded by Chris Walla of Death Cab for Cutie. www.hardlyart.com


Touchy Issue

Man, that Dong-A award looked pretty good on the resume, until now.

The Julliard School of Music has a knotty issue on its hands, that having to do with pianist Choong-Mo Kang's suspension from the faculty for alledged sexual misconduct. New York police are investigating charges brought against him by a student who alleges that Kang broke the school's strict rules regarding physical contact with students.

According the Kang, the allegations are the result of his touching the fingers of one of his students, who had apparently been under his tutelage for two years prior to the incident. In the past few days, Kang issued this statement to the Korean press: "‘Julliard is a school that teaches dance and music, so there are stringent rules on physical contact. The rule says that ahead of any physical contact, I need to ask the student’s permission, and I didn’t know this."

Kang's teaching style apparently involved physically manipulating his student's hands on the keys, presumably to show them the best positioning for the piece of music they played. And in truth, who among us hasn't, in the course of trying to teach someone to play an instrument, hasn't just grabbed some fingers and wrenched them into proper shape? 

"The student, who I have taught for two years, stated humiliation as the reason for the report," Kang told the Korean Media. "I’ve taught for 20 years this way, and never has this kind of contact surfaced as an issue."

He added: "I have not resigned from Julliard. I have been suspended as per the rules, and the investigation is ongoing."

Choong-Mo Kang is a celebrated classical pianists, having come to international attention in part by winning the Dong-A piano recital competition in Seoul, South Korea. The annual music competition is, at present, open to pianists of any nationality born on or after March 19, 1983 and on or before March 18, 1997. See Choong-Mo Kang in the video performance below.

Mean Isaac Stern

Isaac Stern, the classical violinist who died in 2001 at 81 years of age, seems to be coming under a lot of heat these days. It all has to do with a recently published autobiography by the violinist Aaron Rosand, who alleges that Stern attempted to get him deported following a series of contretemps that Rosand felt were due to Stern's hard feelings after Rosand rejected him as a mentor. Stern is credited with discovering talent, including Yo-Yo Mah and Jian Wang, and with restoring Carnegie Hall, though even that restoration has long been a thing argued within classical music circles. Some musicians claim that Stern ruined the acoustics of the place.

Stern had a great deal of power, personally and as a fund raiser. He is generally considered one of the greatest violinists of the 20th century, and yet there are those, like violinist Aaron Rosand, who describe Stern's playing as "bullish". "Isaac was a powerful player, and a superb musician with a beautiful tone. He did not have a virtuoso technique but whatever he did was convincing in bull like fashion. He was extremely smart, ruthless, very articulate, political, a genius at fundraising (Carnegie Hall is an example) and generous when he benefitted from it. I am not convinced that he used his own money on behalf of talents he believed in. He was power hungry and always wanted to remain in control. I offended him early on when I refused his offers to coach me."

According to Rosand, having Isaac Stern on your back could even prevent you from getting bank credit. "In 1956, needing a violin that I could call my voice, I ventured to buy the ex-Kochanski Guarnerius. It was considered one of the best violins in existence. I was too proud and unsuccessful as a fundraiser and set my mind to do it by myself. In order to get bank credit, I needed a steady salary, and I accepted a position for the CBS Broadcasting Network that guaranteed a weekly paycheck and gave me free time to continue my concert career... My first bank call was to the Chase Manhattan bank where I personally knew the vice president Frederic R. Mann from my students days at the Curtis Institute... His immediate response to my call was “Sure Aaron I will call you back in an hour.” He called me back in a rage using unprintable language saying that “Isaac wants that violin and I am not going to help you.” And so, I began to understand the real Godfather in support of Israeli Artists."

Mordecai Shehori, a pianist who taught Stern's two children, read Rosand's account and then came forward with one of his own. He described how Isaac Stern had crushed his career in retaliation for the relationship Shehori had developed with Stern's own children. "Maybe I upset him because I had a more intellectual and artistic approach to music? Stern’s taste in music was very narrow."


You can see where a Mordecai Shehori might be willing to take the opportunity to strike back at a guy who had allegedly said these types of things to him: "Mordecai look, some people have it and some do not and YOU just don’t have it. You do not have the looks and personality to be a musician. No one EVER will be interested to listen to your piano playing. NO conductor or orchestra will EVER be interested to work with you.” Shehori reported all of this to SlippedDisc.com, which closely follows the intrigues of the classical music world. (Great site!)

"The fact is that once Isaac rejected you NO Manager will come with a mile distance. It is all over. Especially if you are Israeli. What I heard 1,000 times is “Since you are Israeli and Isaac did not help you, you are no good and we can not work with you”. I barely survived as a pianist and somehow kept my sanity as a man by playing 27 New York Recitals in 27 years with all different programs and creating 31 beautiful CDs..."

On the other hand, what if Stern, the old asshole, was right about Shehori? Listen to the following and make your own determination. Warning: It may not help that Shehori is playing Liszt.





EP Showcases Refined Chops

Roberta Donnay and the Prohibition Mob Band

The CCJ has been a fan of Roberta Donnay’s for years now, which is one of those rare devotions that becomes more rewarding over time. Donnay is a great singer, partly because she has great tonal qualities and is pitch perfect, but mostly because she really relaxes into a groove. She is easy to consume, no static at all, to borrow a phrase. She has been a key member of Dan Hicks and The Hot Licks since 2007, which has no doubt helped to sharpen her presentation to the refined state it is in today. With her Prohibition Mob Band, Roberta has an EP out that really displays her artistic maturity and showcases one really great band: John R. Burr on piano, Sam Bevan on bass, Rich Armstrong on coronet and trumpet, Mike Rinta on trombone, Sheldon Brown on clarinet and saxophone, and Deszon Claiborne on drums. That sweet machine performs “rare gems from the 1920s and ‘30s plus 4 party-rousing shout-chorus originals that evoke and revive the open spirit where jazz was born” – quoted from their press kit. This video quite nicely captures the essence of how it all comes together.



Forever Autumn

Jeff Wayne's War of the Worlds

Of all of the significant pop composers of the 20th Century, surely there is none who has lived public life with anything like the anonymity that has Jeff Wayne.

Something of a child prodigy on the piano, Wayne is the son of actor, singer and theater director Jerry Wayne, and he was brought along very quickly into the theatrical-musical life. Though Jeff was born in Queens, New York, he spent much of his youth growing up in the U.K., where his father was a stage actor, for years playing the part of Sky Masterson in the original West End production of Guys and Dolls.

He eventually was moved back to the states, graduating from high school in Los Angeles, and then earning a Journalism degree from Los Angeles Valley College, but his destiny was in England. In 1966, he wrote the music for his father's adaptation of Charles Dickens' "A Tale of Two Cities" and that established him on the British music scene. He had huge success writing commercial jingles - over 3,000 of them - and he became a hit record producer, scoring with David Essex's album Rock On.

In the mid-'70s, the Waynes -- father and son -- sought and received the rights to do a musical adaptation of H.G. Wells' War of the Worlds. The work was first published in 1897 as a serialized novel. The Wayne's ambitious vision had the enthusiastic support of the Wells family, who had not been particularly pleased with the 1953 movie adaptation of their patriarch's story of Martian invasion. The story had first come to wide public attention by way of the "scandalous" Mercury Theatre of the Air radio production in 1938, with young Orson Wells resetting the story in New Jersey and scaring the bejeezus out of radio listeners who fell hook, line and sinker for his fake news broadcast.

Jeff Wayne wrote the score for a stage production that featured an orchestra coupled with a rock band, who performed the show before large screens providing visual references, as well as a gigantic tripod Martian war machine, that lowered down over the stage.

The story stayed quite true to the original text, placing the events back in their rightful place of not-so-jolly England, and it produced a couple hit singles, including "Forever Autumn", sung by Justin Heyward of the Moody Blues (see video below). Actor Richard Burton served as narrator, and David Essex had a part in the stage show, as did Heyward.

Sitting as panelist on the Ivor Novello Awards in 1978 were Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, and Alfred Hitchcock, who recognized Wayne's work the Best Recording in Science Fiction and Fantasy in that year.

The production has run for years in England and been popular also in Germany, but somehow it has never translated across the pond. Jeff Wayne redid the whole thing in 2012, producing a new album with Liam Neeson handling the narration, modernizing some of the soundtrack, and updating the visuals, but most people prefer the integrity of the original. Wayne, who is now 71 years old, has been discovered by the video generation. There was a video game made of War of the Worlds using 45 minutes of his soundtrack.

When Wayne isn't composing, he is playing competitive tennis. He is a past winner of the British National Indoor Veterans singles and doubles titles. A likely unauthorized video of the first part of Wayne's 2012 revision of the show is presented below.

Is This Anything?

Humming House

Nashville quintet Humming House is set to release a new album, Revelries, on March 24, 2015, via Nashville label Rock Ridge Music (with distribution via ADA). With interwoven threads of folk, soul, bluegrass and more, Humming House’s acoustic instrumentation – presenting mandolin, fiddle, acoustic guitar, and bass in fresh roles – flips between rousing energy and nuanced presentation, topped off by stunning vocal harmonies. American Songwriter called their music “infectious and grin-inducing.” Roughstock dubbed Humming House “darned close to perfect.” Huffington Post just named the band one of the “peak musical performers of 2014.”


Crazy In the Piano

Am I crazy or is there something just a little insane about a piano duet? In the video below, pianists Choong-Mo Kang, recently in the news for his suspension from the faculty at Julliard after sexual assault charges were brought against him, explores the issue with Haejeon Lee. Let's see, 176 keys all in the same register, is there any chance for collision there? This performance sounds to me like the soundtrack for a movie about some poor soul whose anguish is immutably tied to the horror of overtones, and the crushing heartbreak of manic crescendo, doubled. - RAR


Remember Bianca?

We introduced you to Bianca Di Cesare several months back, the L.A.-based Italian-American singer/songwriter who gave us a peppy video for her debut single, "Open Sesame". 

Bianca announces that "Our next single/video launches on February 14th. Here's a teaser photo, we are doing a slow song and the video is inspired by Michelangelo Antonioni's Zabriskie Point. Soon after we'll launch a third video + song. the director is www.lorislai.com ." Use this link to go back in time to an earlier edition of the CCJ to find Bianca's highly appealing first video release. 

Real Deal Country

Dale Watson Doing that '55 Sound in 2015

Dale Watson is an American Country/Texas Country singer, guitarist, songwriter, and self-published author based in Austin, Texas. He champions "Ameripolitan" as a new genre of original music and has positioned himself as a tattooed, stubbornly independent outsider who is interested in recording authentic country music. As a result, his record sales have been slow, but he has become a favorite of critics and alt-country fans. (from Wikipedia)


What’s the difference between Americana Music and Ameripolitan Music? Americana is original music with prominent rock influence, Ameripolitan is original music with prominent ROOTS influence: Honky Tonk, Rockabilly, Western Swing, and Outlaw music.

The second edition of the Ameripolitan Music Awards will be held in Austin, Texas this month. Use this link to learn more.








Grammy-winning band celebrates one-world theme with international Mono Mundo Tour in 2015

For up-to-date information, visit themavericksband.com.

The Mavericks

With a Cuban-American lead singer, garage-band ferocity, an intense live show and a deep love of both romance and pure country to go with the polyrhythmic beats they were raised on, The Mavericks were unlikely superstars... “[We’ve] always defied the odds and expectations … a country band from Miami with a Cuban singer? But it works, because people feel the passion,” explains The Mavericks' guitarist Eddie Perez.



Piling On
Kanye West

Beyoncé's fan-boy stalker strikes at the Grammys once again.

Seriously, Kanye West has won 23 Grammys. For what, I wonder. I had to look for YouTube selections like the one above, that purports to list Kanye's best 10 songs, to try to piece together what it is he has done, musically speaking. (I get that culturally-speaking he has married Kim Kardashian. Think about that: he married Kim Kardashian. Who would do that?)

Some of the songs in the video were familiar to me from having heard the hip-hop my daughter has played in the family car over the years. They strike me as terrible and in most cases I probably didn't even know I was listening to Kanye West. He can't sing at all, doesn't even use autotune right according to T-Pain, the acknolwledged master credited with making the effect a legitimate sound profiling tool. In fact, West has a naturally weak voice, or the voice of a child who learned over time that certain hurt affectations got him things he wanted. If he has used that to parlay his way into wealth and fame, then maybe that is genius of some kind.

There are apparently all sorts of younger people out there for whom his musical/lyrical qualities  resonate, but apparently New England Patriot defensive back Brandon Browner isn't among them. He takes umbrage at West's claims that he has produced classics. "Classics are songs(WE)all know. Montell Jordan 'this is how we do'The majority know word for word. Name a sponge bob song we know word4word."

Two things hit me about that Tweet. One, do people call Kanye West "sponge bob"? (I can't tell you how much I hope so.)Perhaps I read something into Mr. Browner's message, or misunderstand. On the other hand, he demonstrates greater knowledge than does Kanye West regarding the definition of a musical classic.

Those songs featured in the Kanye West hagiography above are not in any way memorable; in fact, they are the stuff I might wish that I could un-hear. Besides, I still share a car radio with young people. One of them finds Kanye to have been a genius, which Kanye would agree with, though only in his early recordings. The other thinks Kanye has pretty much always been an idiot. Browner apparently wouldn't hesitate to punch West in the face, if he was disrespected the way West has done with Beck and previously with Taylor Swift in another Grammy incident: "Peep who he tried Beck and Taylor Swift. Real tough guy. If only I could've been Beck for one night. Kanye would be rapping thru the wire."

Browner may not be Shakespeare, but he may not feel that he has to be smooth with the words to deal with Kanye West, who offended him with another Grammy walk-on to explain why an announced winner should have been Beyoncé Knowles.

What is it with Kanye West and this Beyoncé stalker-boy obsession? Like West, Beyoncé is a panderer in her own brilliant and calculated way, and she clearly speaks to Kanye on some emotional level.

He would say that it's an "artist" thing, but what evidence do we have that Kanye West knows anything about art? Have you heard those songs in the above video? They are treacle and would only seem musically sophisticated to a generation susceptible to his boasts. As one who has not found more than repetition and tedium in hip-hop, along with dashes of cornball R&B motifs, the period in which Kanye West has become a star has been a lot depressing. The flack West has gotten for this most recent Grammy interruptiongives me hope that perhaps there is a glimmer of discretion left in some corner of the world. I might not have expected it from the locker room of the New England Patriots, but... - RAR

Spencer Bohren's New Suits

New Orleans-based blues and pop musician, Spencer Bohren, has been largely a music educator over the past many years, delivering programs on the development of Blues music. And he has performed routinely in clubs and music halls, even including appearances on Garrison Keillor's Prairie Home Companion. Born to the manor, so to speak, as a guy born into a family of show people, Spencer found himself early as an entertainer, and that's part of why we were interested to learn recently that he has departed from his usual featured ways to become a member in a number of bands in New Orleans, all with quite different personalities. Here is how he described it all to the CCJ -

"Greetings from Carnival-crazed New Orleans and thanks for your continued interest in my activities. And you are right, there is a LOT of different music happening these days! After being a dedicated soloist for more than three decades, it seems like I’m bustin’ out all over. Not that I haven’t used backup bands and played gigs with other musicians over the years, but I’ve been building a career for a very long time. I haven’t spent a lot of time thinking about it, but I suppose it boils down to just having fun with my musical friends. And it’s not like I have anything to prove anymore. I mean, Spencer Bohren isn’t going anywhere. He still tours incessantly, has a brand-new album called Seven Birds being released in Germany in a couple weeks, and continues art & music residencies and theater performances around the globe. But a guy wants to have a little fun sometimes.

"The invitation to join the Write Brothers was a chance to get to know three of New Orleans’ most heroic songwriters, and we became friends as the project took shape and we went into the studio with the songs we wrote together. Now we’re starting to do concerts, and it’s quite wonderful what happens when the four of us take the stage. I’m honored to be included as the elder in the group, and look forward to as many live adventures as we can squeeze into my schedule and at least one more album. They sky’s the limit with guys as creative as these guys.

"Rory Danger & the Danger Dangers is the wildest musical extravaganza I think I’ve ever been involved with. It’s a no-holds-barred, super creative, intensely musical, devil-may-care, highly proficient, nothin’-but-a-party, over-the-top theatrical rockabilly band. A couple of my favorite younger musicians are in the band, including the amazing Aurora Nealand (Rory Danger) and my son, Andre Bohren, drummer for Johnny Sketch & the Dirty Notes. We all use aliases so our mothers don’t have to know about the band! Each show loosely follows a mysterious tableau such as performing on a sinking ship, a space odyssey, history of theater, the Shackleton Antarctic Expedition, or some other nonsensical story line, and the sold-out, tattooed audiences would never be caught dead at a Spencer Bohren show, for the most part. My being twice the age of the rest of the band is a certain honor, and it allows me to sort of play a joke on my own fans who sometimes have a staid idea of who I am. It’s just, very simply, a whole lot of fun.

"Spencer Bohren & the Whippersnappers is a vehicle to perform many “lost” Spencer Bohren songs with a young band which again includes my son, Andre, on drums, keyboard & vocals, and his Johnny Sketch compadre, Dave Pomerleau, on bass and also singing. The usual guitarist is Casey McAllister, who is currently touring with Hooray for the Riff Raff, so we’ll have Alex McMurray with us at Jazz Fest this year.

"The Mystic Honkys, with Rod Hodges and two of his Iguana bandmates, plays nothing but classic honky-tonk songs by the likes of George Jones, Merle Haggard and Faron Young. It gives me a chance to sing high harmonies on a repertoire that I didn’t realize was so deeply engraved in my bones from my childhood in Wyoming. It’s a very occasional undertaking, but a most pleasurable one.

"That’s it for side projects, at least for now. My biggest challenge these days is to fit the Spencer Bohren business in between all the extracurricular stuff."


Chris Daniels & The Kings February CD Release

The new album FUNKY TO THE BONE with the amazing Freddi Gowdy (from Colorado's Freddi Henchi Band) will come out February 14th. Writes Daniels - "We are doing a Kickstarter Campaign to help us raise the money to do the vinyl for the album. Vinyl is coming back for music fans in such a strong way the US pressing plants are backed up 12 to 15 weeks!" The Kings are touring Europe this coming summer in support of the CD.

Going Back, and Back...

Use this link to go to the previous edition, where you will find additional links to other archived editions.


Marketing News

Doobie Brothers Launch their Concert Club Plan

Along the lines of new and different ideas for marketing their shows, The Doobie Brothers have launched membership club for their fans.

Members of the new "Takin’ It To the Streets Concert Club" will have advance access to ticket pre-sales (including reserved seating options), as well as exclusive merch and meet & greet opportunities. Fans can join the “Takin’ It To the Streets Concert Club” here.

“Music has changed a lot during our career, but one thing hasn’t: fans want the best concert-going experience possible,” Tom Johnston said. “We want to make sure our super fans have access to the best seats, our newest merch and also get rewarded for their loyalty.”

Pre-sales for the member-only VIP packages begin January 29 at 10 a.m. local time for the June 16 (Les Schwab Amphitheatre in Bend, OR) and June 20 (Edgefield in Troutdale, OR) shows. Public ticket sales for both begin January 30, 2015. VIP package pricing will vary, depending on local market ticket prices.

Roots Music Report

The numbers from 2014 are in regarding air play of Single, Album, & State-by-State Regional Charts for terrestrial, satellite, cable and internet radio stations reporting around the globe. The totals are compiled from Regional State Charts, Singles Charts, Album Charts, International Charts. Playlist Tracking, user profile data, archived charts, reporting station contact info, reviews, music industry news, sale your music online with links to the aritst's ITunes, Amazon and CD Baby accounts.

Here are the top album performers in several key categories:

Bluegrass: Let it Go, The Infamous Stringdusters

Blues: Refuse to Lose, Jarekus Singleton

Rock: Turn Blue, The Black Keys

Alt-Rock: Turn Blue, The Black Keys

Electronic: Jungle, Jungle

Folk: A Dotted Line, Nickel Creek

Jazz: Bring It Back, Catherine Russell

Pop: Harlequin Dream, Boy & Bear

R&B: Give the People What they Want, Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings

Rap/Hip-Hop: Davis Ex Machina, Davis Rogan

Americana Country: Remedy, Old Crow Medicine Show

Visit http://www.rootsmusicreport.com/ to see all the charts.


















Copyright © February, 2015 Rick Alan Rice (RARWRITER)