Volume 3-2014





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Currently on RARadio: "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"




























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.




ARTIST NEWS                                  

What is a Creative Culture?

With this edition, RARWRITER.com, which has now been published for more than a dozen years, is re-christened as the "Creative Culture Journal". This brings this Website into alignment with another of the RARWRITER Publishing Group's primary products, the "Revolution Culture Journal". Both publications endeavor to document and record those forces and energies that move us forward as a world society evolving in positive, constructive ways. "Revolution Culture" focuses on exploring, and even challenging, those aspects of our social interactions that limit humankind in our goals of achieving higher purposes beyond those ideological debates that have come to dominate our political and policy-making landscapes. The "Creative Culture Journal" will continue that which has always been the focus of RARWRITER.com, which is to spotlight the positive contributions of people with creative ideas that forward the cause of an enlightened society. That means documenting in great detail those artists who, through literature, music, film and the fine arts, make us better as a global society than we might otherwise be; who make us wiser to the connectedness of all things, which are expressed through our creative mediums and which have profound impacts on the quality of our ideas and, subsequently, our experience of living together in a sharing, creative community, which is what we strive to achieve.

Rock Scene: Hanging with LZ

CCJ correspondent Diana Olson has been hanging out with some interesting people in her new adopted state of Arizona. In this edition she chats with Terry Furlong of the legendary pop-rock band The Grass Roots. In the photo above, the young lady seated in the center of this Led Zeppelin soiree, with Robert Plant pictured to the left, and John Bonham right, is Morgana Welch. Now an Arizona resident, Morgana grew up in Beverly Hills surrounded by high profile celebrities and from this background and experience she has written a couple books, which Diana Olson discusses with her on the Arizona page at the CCJ.


Use this link to visit the Nashville Links to hear Mandy Barnett sing Don Gibson's "Blue, Blue Day".

The Grass Roots

Terry Furlong

"You had to be there, and I was" by Terry Furlong. Diana Olson spends some time with the former lead guitarist of the classic rock band The Grass Roots, who has a couple books out on his life and times in the eye of the pop music revolution.

Terry has this infectious smile and love for life that pulls you into his storytelling. We met at his home in Prescott, AZ where he continues to write and produce music. His guitar was calling out and he shared some of his music from a new little book he wrote "Gifts" that consists of lyrics and a CD of spiritual music. His voice was smooth and soft and he had a sparkle in his eyes that carried through each melody.

Terry has had many years of success as a guitarist, singer, published songwriter, producer and now has written a book of his stories "You had to be there! And I was" as well as "Gifts". He was the lead guitarist for the legendary band "The Grass Roots" and received a gold record for his work on their biggest hit, "Temptation Eyes". His songwriting contributions have benefited a number of famous artists such as Three Dog Night, Tom Jones and others. He has also worked and performed with many artists including Michael McDonald, Delaney & Bonnie, Smokey Robinson and list just goes on. He also has his own album "Blue Rose" that is considered a classic!

You can find Terry performing around the Prescott area. This is one very busy man who gives guitar lessons, writes, sings in church and is now planning a "Grass Roots Band Mate Reunion 2013". As a Guitarist, Singer, Songwriter, Producer and Teacher, I don't see Terry slowing down anytime soon.

When did you realize that you wanted to play guitar and sing?

I first realized I wanted to play guitar when I was thirteen or so. My mother took me to Wallick's Music City and bought me a cheap acoustic guitar and I started learning some chords. I quickly lost interest in it, as kids will do, and it wound up in the closet until I sold it. The next time I really got interested in it I was about 18 and I heard BB King on the radio and from then on I was hooked. I have never put it down!!

Who were your early musical influences?

I can't remember a time when I wasn't singing along either with my Mom or the radio. I loved 50's Rock and Roll and I loved the Blues which included Little Richard, Fats Domino, Chuck Berry, Elvis and The Everly Brothers, just to name a few and they of course led to The Beatles, The Stones and the whole 60's thing including Motown and the blues players; The Kings, Albert, Freddie and BB.

Tell me a little about your music history, performing, producing and writing music.

I recorded my first record with my group, The Furlongs, which included my brother Kevin (drums), my cousin Patrick (lead guitar) and our friend Jeff Hittelman (bass). We recorded our first single in 1964, our own songs. I went on to write songs for Three Dog Night, Tom Jones, John Hammond Jr. and Larry Carlton to name a few. I was in "The Grass Roots" and "Redbone" and my own group "Blue Rose", which I produced for Columbia Records. I still write and produce my own music.

What projects do you have in the works?

I am in the process of forming a Grass Roots Tribute Band. We hope to have it prepared in time for shows in the New Year and I have a new book in the works entitled "It just so Happened" which has more stories like my other book, "You Had to be There".

What inspired you to write "You Had to be There"?

The book came about from telling stories from the bandstand and getting requests for more of them. As I began writing them down I saw the potential for a fun book and it turned out to be just that.

Tell me about your latest book "Gifts".

"Gifts" is a spiritual book of lyrics and music with a CD from the recording sessions that came from the songs. It was designed to be read while listening to the recordings. I also perform a number of these songs at churches around Arizona.

Peter Pumpkinhead

Belief In Our Higher Power

If there was a higher power in the universe, surely he (or she) would bless Andy Partridge (XTC), who over his career has had the balls to tell the truth about the potential glories of people looking out for and taking care of one another. We don't really need churches and priests and all the rest. We just need to believe in "The Ballad of Peter Pumpkinhead".

Hammond B3 Organ

Gary Swan and that Magic Machine

Okay, so I love this story. Gary Swan, the bon vivant pictured above with keyboard greats (from left) Dr. Lonnie Smith, Chester Tompson, and Peter Keys (the latter of the Lynyrd Skynyrd band), stops by the Hammond organ booth at last year's NAMM convention, and he sits down at a B3 and plays some stuff that gets him an immediate endorsement from the legendary organ manufacturer. Gary tells it this way: "Last year I went by the Hammond booth and played and was invited to the concert and when I got there I was asked to perform. So my good friend Alvino Bennett, a drummer who has played with a ton of stars and is now on the road with Dave Mason, was watching the show so I ask him to play with me and the new piano player with Lynyrd Skynyrd who played Hammond's new piano. So after the show the artist rep asked me to be a Hammond artist and gave me an endorsement. So I was invited to the Summer NAMM and did a clinic. So this year Hammond organ is celebrating the birthday of the B3 and has inducted the first 25 all time B3 players into their hall of fame and of course Billy Preston was one of the inductees. So I thought I would dedicate my performance (January 2014 convention) to him and play a couple of songs using players that played with him." Gary and Billy were buds.

In fact, Gary Swan is a guy who has played with all sorts of stalwart pros over the years, from Larry Graham to Gary U.S. Bonds, and who has written many great songs, but he has labored in relative obscurity outside of the realm of working musical pros who know all about how great he is. That he could just drop into a NAMM booth and immediately win a Hammond endorsement hardly comes as a surprise to anyone familiar with his talents. He would tend to deny this, but he is one of the great Hammond B3 players of all time. Had he ever sold any records he would most certainly be in the Hammond B3 Hall of Fame class referenced above.

I first heard him play back in the late 1800s - I could be wrong about that timeframe, but it was a long time ago - when he did a session for Colorado music legend Chris Daniels. Chris was doing an album that was being produced by Jim Mason, who produced Firefall and Poco and many other bands, and who in those years was haunting the cavernous Mountain Ears Recording facility in Boulder, Colorado as the resident pro (kind of like you get at your local golf course, but with ears rather than clubs). Gary Swan, rather like in the NAMM story above, had somehow fallen out of the sky and into this session and he was new in town and nobody knew who he was. My recollection is that he was an explosion of wild bushy hair that was wearing a Philadelphia Phillies warm-up jacket that matched these bright red Capezios that were his standard footware at the time. (He was very fond of Elvis Costello's "The Angels Want to Wear My Red Shoes", which I'm sure they did.)

Swan was hauling a Hammond B3 and a Leslie speaker cabinet around in this old wood-paneled station wagon and he was set up in the studio, and I happened to be on hand when he started up the engine on that magical beast - there is a great article on the glories of the Hammond B3 at http://theatreorgans.com/grounds/docs/history.html that is well worth the read - and he began to play. I will never forget the reaction of those present, because this funky dude from Virginia - no explanation for why he was in Phillies regalia - suddenly filled the room with life that was really several levels advanced from most of what anyone there in sleepy old Boulder was used to hearing. He was, for those of you conversant in the wit and wisdom of novelist John Gardiner, "the real toad in the imaginary garden"; a transcendent rush of musical energy that seemed to make the walls in that giant warehouse move back a few feet to provide ample room for his expression, which was that sound most of us had only heard on hit records and was certainly not anything like run-of-the-mill musical excellence, though that was in great supply in Boulder even then. Gary was a performer in the greatest sense of the word; not just a knowledgeable and talented player, but an explosion of B3 power. Thinking back on that night, so long ago, it is like a boost to the spirits that the funky one can still just drop in out of the sky, unannounced, and wow people who are utterly knowledgeable of musical profundity. RARWRITER.com, now the CCJ, sends out our most sincere thanks to Monsieur Swan for continuing to be the real deal in a world that does not always see, hear, or know what real really is. - RAR


Acadian French Culture

Sam Broussard Performs "Vinie Jilie"

RARWRITER.com has been a fan of Louisiana Cajun culture band Steve Riley and the Mamou Playboys for years. Riley and company perform songs in their original French language and have long been a staple of the Louisiana creative community. In the video posted here, Mamou Playboys guitarist Sam Broussard offers a casual performance of the song "Vinie Jilie".

Doobies Cover their Own Hits

Here is a new twist on an old concept: get a bunch of current stars to team with an old band of hitmakers to produce an album's worth of covers of the songs they made famous.

"Doobious" Brothers (from left): Pat Simmons, John McFee, David Huff, Tom Johnston, Michael McDonald

Sony Music Nashville announced this month that they will release an album teaming artists like Brad Paisley, Sara Evans, Toby Keith, Zac Brown and Blake Shelton with the legendary Doobie Brothers to record a new album covering the Grammy winning band's classic hits.

The project was the brainchild of producer David Lyndon Huff, who is a decades long fan of the Doobie Brothers music. He is eager to introduce the band to a new generation of fans, excite the throngs of loyal followers as well as ignite the electric country fan base with all the superstars they love. “The Doobie Brothers are such an important band in the history of music. The hits transcend time, so with this new collection we are just adding modern production and collaborations with the country stars.”

In addition to the Doobie's founding members, Tom Johnston and Pat Simmons, who continue to front the band, the album will feature John McFee, whose history with the Doobies dates back to 1978, and legendary singer Michael McDonald, who exited in 1982 but is returning for this project. “It is so exciting to have Michael on this project,” Huff said. “He heard what we were doing and immediately wanted to be a part.”

To learn more about this project contact Nicole Cochran at Richlyn Marketing.

Loving A Millionaire

The Mekons have been around a good long while - since 1977, in fact - and they have never been what anyone would call a hit-making outfit. Being commercial was just never in their genetic makeup; nor was being tied down to any one particular train of musical thought. They emerged from the University of Leeds to become one of the first British Punk units, but true to their art school backgrounds they morphed through the years through a range of styles and influences, all well outside the confines of commercial music. A little like Arcade Fire and Belle Orchestra, they were comprised of creative types who played in various combinations and under various names, including the Gang of Four and Delta 5. This confused their label Virgin Records sufficiently enough that the Gang of Four lineup was pictured on their first album, "Quality of Mercy". The band had the audacity to satire The Clash with their single "Never Been in a Riot", taking the piss out of the more commercial Clash's tune "White Riot". From there they went on to explore all manner of alternative approaches to pop music, from English Folk to American Country, all tinged with a hefty dose of left-wing politics. In the video posted here they perform "Millionaire", which is about as mainstream as they ever got:

Dreaming of a creature
Who is too pale & large to stand
& only feels the terror
Of his vain flight from earth

Jon Langford, Kevin Lycett, Mark White, Andy Corrigan, Tom Greenhalgh, Sally Timms, Susie Honeyman, Lu Edmonds, Rico Bell (a.k.a. Eric Bellis), and Steve Goulding left England ages ago and now headquarter out of Chicago, Illinois, where they are still going strong after all these years.

Marshall Crenshaw

Living and Learning in Real Time

Marshall Crenshaw was one of those guys who clicked on early MTV. He was young and had an energy that was right for the times, so of course he was banished in memory to that category of musician who was just that and nothing more. Some of us suspected that there was always much more to him than may have at first met the eye, or most especially the ear. He was gifted with a voice that helped to define an era, and a sense of songwriterly craftsmanship that helped create the vocabulary of '80s Pop. While that was all well and good, it is absolutely uplifting to hear him in his present-day version: a creative force who knows where he has been and understands and appreciates the energies that came together to create for him his own special place in the Pop pantheon. Check out the matured artist in this video. 

Richard Thompson

White Room

Richard Thompson, the West London-native who came to fame as an 18-year old member of the folky Fairport Convention, and then later developed from a standout guitar player to becoming a songwriter who peddled his wares to The Neville Brothers, Bonnie Raitt, Emmylou Harris, David Gilmour, The Blind Boys of Alabama, The Corrs and Alison Krauss and Union Station, among others, has reigned as one of the true stalwart music contributors of his time. He wrote the film score for Warner Herzog's Grizzly Man and he has done session work for more big-name artists than you can think of. His guitar technique - he holds a pick with thumb and forefinger while plucking treble notes with his free three - has inspired and awed many a player. He seems to be able to cop any style, and he seems to appreciate many an odd purveyor of music, even including Britney Spears, whose hit "Oops! I Did it Again" he has covered. His signature tune, "1952 Vincent Black Lightning", about a petty criminal who from his deathbed gifts his illicitly-gained motorbike to his girl ("Red hair and black leather, my favorite color scheme..."), is beloved by guitarists and bikers alike. In the video below he and his mates offer a credible job on the Cream classic "White Room", giving us the Bruce vocal, the Clapton guitar snap, and a take on Ginger Baker sans that great drummer's innate hostility.

Professor Longhair

Funk Life and the Rhumba-Boogie

Henry Roeland "Roy" Byrd (1918-1980), affectionately known as Professor Longhair, influenced the piano stylings that came out of New Orleans throughout the evolution of the rhythm and blues era and then later through the revival period of traditional jazz, which was championed by the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, established in 1970 and still going strong. One may count Fats Domino, Huey "Piano" Smith, Allen Toussaint, and "Mac" Rebennack (Dr. John) as his musical offspring. "Fess", as he was often called, created what we think of today as the "Funk" sound by blending Cuban rhythms - he played an Afro-Cuban two-celled, clave-based pattern with his left hand while spitting triplets from his right - to create what came to be known as his "rhumba-boogie" sound. It was left to popular players like James Brown to take this to the masses, but it was Professor Longhair who wrote the book. While he was calling the dance, he was never the messenger who could take the meaning to the masses, which kept him in that rarified zone of special talents cherished by those few who really knew what he had given the world. In the video here we get a rare opportunity to see the man under the lights on center stage doing "Everyday I Have the Blues". >

Joe Bachman, ‘Lookatchu’ Video

Country newcomer Joe Bachman has been a true road warrior since moving to Nashville five years ago. His new single ‘Lookatchu’ showcases his fun personality, but the music video takes it to a whole new level. Watch it here via this Taste of Country exclusive premiere.

Bachman calls Garth Brooks, Kenny Chesney and the Eagles influences. The Philadelphia native is an emerging songwriter, working with well-known tunesmiths like Arlis Albritton and Brian Davis when he’s not on the road. These days, that’s rare. He plays 200 to 250 shows a year!

‘Lookatchu’ was written by Josh Kear, Ed Hill and David Frasier. The video finds Bachman searching for his dream girl in a police lineup. A half-dozen or so attractive, but “quirky” ladies walk through and are scooped up by the singer’s eccentric group of friends. Finally, at the very end … well, you’ll have to watch to see if this newcomer finds Mrs. Right.

Mindy Smith

Remembering Those Days of Auld Lang Syne

There are just a handful of traditional tunes that, at least to this listener's ear, have a beauty to last the ages and that will continue to resonate with the heart strings of all who hear them for ages still to come. I would count "Barbara Allen" and "Greensleeves" in that category, along with that New Year's Eve standard "Days of Auld Lang Syne". Scottish poet Robert Burns penned the lyrics to the song in 1788, cadging considerably from an earlier lyric written in 1711, which were later put to a traditional tune titled "Roud #6294". The word "Roud" actually refers to a collector of traditional tunes, Steve Roud, a librarian with the London Borough of Croydon who simply numbered ancient traditional tunes that had no other identifying title. Mindy Smith, who surfaced years ago doing a duet with Dolly Parton of Parton's classic tune "Jolene", has done a nice presentation in this video, for which she collected photographs from fans to display over her own very touching rendition of "Auld Lang Syne". The idea was sure to be a winner, but would not be so powerful had Mindy not have done such a beautiful job with the tune. We will always "take a cup o’ kindness yet, for auld lang syne".

Learning to Play this Summer

We are getting into the warm months when you get a lot of guitar camps, with well-known players joining together to offer workshops for paying protégés.  Robben Ford and Sonny Landreth are doing a Dojo Guitar Camp in August at the rustic Full Moon Resort in the Catskill Forest Preserve (about 30 miles west of Woodstock, N.Y.).

Ford’s new album, A Day in Nashville, an original collection of blues and soul songs recorded with a live audience in the Music City studio Sound Kitchen in one session, has just been released and Ford is performing U.S. tour dates throughout 2014.

The same week of August 4-8, Leo Kottke is hosting Kottke's Dunk Tank, which will feature Los Lobos’ David Hildago, Cesar Rojas, and Steve Berlin as well as instructor and musicologist John Stropes. This little soiree will be held at Pines Lodge in Cambria, California.

The Robben Ford/Sonny Landreth program is one of the Music Masters Camps, which puts top level musicians in intimate workshop settings to share their playing techniques and technical approaches to their instruments. They also give attendees a ringside seat at some high level jam sessions, which no doubt leave lasting impressions.

If you enjoy a good Tweet and enjoy the banter of recognizable players, you might check out the Music Masters Twitter site.


Woodsong's Folk Singer Michael Johnathon

reflects on legend Pete Seeger, who fueled radio host’s fire for folk. Pete Seeger ((May 3, 1919 – January 27, 2014).

Richard Thompson Documentary

Solitary Life is a documentary film whose subject is the great guitarist-songwriter Richard Thompson, and it is woefully overlooked based on the number of its YouTube views. The musical wunderkind Thompson emerged as lead guitarist and songwriter of the Fairport Convention back in the '60s, a British band playing a California folk-pop style. They never really smashed through in America, but in Richard Thompson they contributed a living portrait of a musical artist. Thompson isn't the embodiment of a rock star by any stretch of the imagination. That would seem silly, next to what he really is. The CCJ has dedicated a page to this documentary in hopes that more people will view it. Use this link to get there.

Equipment Survey

Jazz Amps

Jazz Guitar Online recently published the results of a survey of its readers, which asked them to identify the brand of guitar amplifiers that they use. They received around 5,000 responses, which is an impressive number for such a survey and the results showed the predictable dominance of the Fender company. In 1938, Leo Fender turned his Fullerton, California radio repair shop into an equipment manufacturer, developing amplifiers for the first wave of electric-acoustics that came to prominence in the Big Band Era. His tube amplifiers essentially branded the tonal qualities of the steel-stringed electric guitar, and 75 years later we still compare all other guitar amplifiers to the sounds one can get from various of the Fender models.

As for what amp makers out there comprise the "other brands" making up one-fourth of the market, as implied by the survey findings, consider fine boutique operations like Lazy J. That is the company of guitar technician and musician Jesse Hoff, who builds custom-designed amplifiers for pros including Joe Bonamossa. Lazy J belongs to the boutique amp market that was pioneered by L.A. amp builder Alexander "Howard" Dumble. Robben Ford and Larry Carlton play through "Dumbles", and one would need to shell out $28,000 to $35,000 to get the Dumble Overdrive Special, the most valuable guitar amplifier on the market. Dr. Z of Cleveland, Ohio makes the Carmen Ghia. John Mayer plays through a Two-Rock Jet 22. Matchless is another California amp builder that offers a custom line at a price. Their King Cobra 35-watt beauty will set you back $3,300 or so. Orange of the U.K. is another boutique option, and like all of these others they offer some variation on the Leo Fender standard, right down to the tweed or Tolex covers. Soldano Custom Manufacturers, founded by Michael Soldano in L.A. in 1986, has provided amplifiers for Eric Clapton and Lou Reed. One would expect to pay $4,900 for their 100-watt Super Lead Overdrive. Blackstar showed up in the Jazz amp survey, which is a tribute to the sudden success of the British company that is largely comprised of ex-Marshall employees. That's the amplifier-building Marshalls, not the department store, which may be worth noting as Blackstar opened a U.S. manufacturing operation in 2009. Marshall's department store is a big U.S. chain, but it has no music affiliation.

A recent survey by musicradar.com resulted in readers identifying the Hughes & Kettner Coreblade as The Best Guitar Amplifier in the World Today.

Here are the results of the Jazz Guitar Online survey:

Fender: 30%

Roland: 13%

Vox: 5%

Peavy: 4.5%

Polytone: 3%

Mesa Boogie, Marshall and Henricksen: 2.5%

AER and Line 6: 2%

Acoustic Image and Laney: 1.5%

Yamaha, Crate, Hughes & Kettner and Fishman: 1.0%

Ibanez, Ampeg, Bugera, Blackstar, Carvin, Evans, Gibson, ZT and JazzKat: 0.5%

Other Brands: 25%

Undiscovered Meccas: Dogwood Arts Rhythm 'n' Blooms Fest

Bluegill's Pond


Knoxville, Tennessee - With all that Knoxville has to offer in the way of music of all kinds, my crackerjack investigative team and I sometimes scratch our heads in wonderment as to how our fair city remains for the most part an undiscovered treasure as a music mecca. We here on the staff of Bluegill's Pond certainly put our backs into it and try our best to spread the word to the whole wide world. Well, it's time to, as Fats Waller would say, Get our old tuxedo pressed and sew that button on our vest, 'cause this weekend we've got to look our best, because the Big Ears Festival is back in town, and the eyes of the nation and the world will be checking us out. The New York Times, Rolling Stone, and who knows who will be here to see what's going on and tell everybody about it. Now you know I'm old school, and I love my Blues and Jazz and R & B and swing and roots and stuff, and I reckon you do, too, or else you wouldn't be reading the Pond. And you've probably heard that the music of Big Ears is for, well, big ears and not necessarily for shakin' your booty and swingin' yer partner. You know, it's "avant garde, interesting, challenging, artistic, experimental, visionary, exploratory, and perhaps even freaky-deaky and disturbing," but don't let that intimidate you, dear Pond readers. You just might want to listen up, so to speak. Use this link to visit the Bluegill site.


(3/26/14) The Monkees are doing a 14-date tour beginning in May, this on the heels of last year's most successful tour ever for the band since its heyday in the '60s. That no doubt was the benefit of losing key member Davey Jones, whose death in February 2013, at age 66, created a nostalgia for the former TV-band... Denver electronica band YAMN has a new album out and they have been working their Breckenridge, Colorado homeground promoting same... Philadelphia-based Creepoid has a 12-inch vinyla titled Wet in the works via Graveface Records. There is an April 19 release date, coinciding with "Record Store Day", which since 2008 has been "an internationally celebrated day observed the third Saturday of April each year. Its purpose is to celebrate the culture of the independently owned record store". Creepoid's release is a one-sided, featuring four new songs, and it has a "B side etching". Perhaps it is suitable for framing, but then how do you spin your disk?... Seattle-based Secretary has a single titled “The Only Ones” out on IMPOSE... Metallica has a medley of Ronnie Dio tunes streaming from RollingStone.com... The Canopy Climbers, of Little Rock, Arkansas, has a tune titled "Secret" that a person could listen to...“tell me now, tell me now, was it worth it?”... Acclaimed singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Kris Delmhorst is soon to release his first album of original material since 2008’s Shotgun Singer. In the interim he released an album in which he covered the Cars catalog... Italian duo BOOSTEDKIDS has an electronic dance music release on Ultra Records (“Escocia”) that blends traditional Scottish bagpipes with an "unforgettable melody and hypnotically pounding bass"... Sweet Apple will release Golden Age of Glitter on April 8 via Tee Pee Records. The "10-song power-pop masterpiece features guest appearances from Mark Lanegan (Screaming Trees, Queens Of The Stone Age), Robert Pollard (Guided By Voices) and others... Noisey has shared a music video from UK’s Fear of Men for “Luna”, the lead single from the band’s debut album, Loom... Legendary bassist Francis Rocco Prestia, 63-year old legendary bass guitarist for the renowned soul and funk band Tower of Power, urgently needs a lifesaving kidney transplant. Friends have been mounting fund raisers to address his medical bills and related expenses. Presita is generally acknowledged as the originator of the “Finger style Funk” method of bass playing and is among the greatest bassists in the history of music. He has influenced an entire generation of aspiring bass players, per SKOPE Magazine. Brit-punks 28 Boulevard have a five-track EP, Sunclouds, out in April... Lucky Brand is expanding its ongoing partnership with original American icon, Johnny Cash—the “Man in Black”— in honor of the March 25 release of a lost Johnny Cash album, Out Among The Stars (Columbia/Legacy)... The Pixies are soon to release their first full studio album since 1991′s Trompe le Monde, on the band’s own independent label, Pixiesmusic (marketed and distributed worldwide by [PIAS] Recordings)... Bay Area rapper Blanco, known for creating hardcore gangster tracks about weed and money, has released "Complex" a single from a collaborative EP titled One Hunnid featuring YG, The Jacka, and Messy Marv, produced by Tha Bizness as part of the ongoing devolution of conventional spelling protocols... CBE/ Atlantic singer-songwriter Sevyn Streeter has a new single. “nEXt” featuring Los Angeles rapper, producer, and performer, Kid Ink, available at the iTunes Store and other digital retailers... Do you have Nausea in your future? So wonders Craft Spells' Justin Vellesteros, who has an album by that name coming out in June... New York- based producers and DJ trio Cash Cash (comprised of JP Makhlouf, Alex Makhlouf and Sam Frisch) drop a new four-track EP on Big Beat Records named after their destined festival anthem, “Lightning” which features iconic vocals from Goo Goo Dolls’ front-man, John Rzeznik and has been described as “an infectious radio smash destined for inspiring festival-sized sing-a-longs throughout the summer” by Dancing Astronaut... Critically acclaimed Baltimore rapper King Los has released his anxiously awaited mixtape, Zero Gravity II presented by After Platinum Entertainment, the sequel to his renowned 2010 offering Zero Gravity, and follow up to last year’s Becoming King, which was listed as #2 mixtape on Hotnewhiphop.com with over 600,000 downloads... The Orwells are soon to release their debut album Disgraceland, through Canvasback/Atlantic Records, and they have live footage... . The Everymen are excited to announce their sophomore album Givin’ Up On Free Jazz, Ernest Jenning Record Co., which ought to be supported for its title alone... The Menzingers have a single out on Pitchfork titled “I Don’t Wanna Be An Asshole Anymore”, though of course some of us are just born that way...  Sheffield, England’s Slow Club return this summer with their third album Complete Surrender, to be released in the US on July 15, 2014 via Wichita Recordings. Once can stream “Tears of Joy”... Okay, so this Pennsylvania rapping dude going by "Chad D" moves to Brooklyn, where he has a dream about bees, which prompts him to change his name to HoneyChrome and become an electro pop artist... Emerging hip-hop artist Big Reeno has "released the audio for his single, “The Rain”, or so goes his press release, which is expected to help potential fans hear the song... Hey, you wanna hear and see "Wet Fete", which you should because the title is so cool. It is a reggae-soca jam from Gyptian... Marc Benjamin’s “Rocket Science” is the progressive house track club-goers have been waiting for... Los Angeles-based Trigger Point’s highly anticipated sophomore album Giving up the Ghost is out via THC Music/InGrooves...  The legendary Charlie Daniels Band kick off their “Off the Grid Tour” in March in support of their first new studio album since 2007, Off the Grid – Doin’ It Dylan. The CDB will perform nearly 100 concerts this year including performances on the Grand Ole Opry... Rising West Coast rap star Kid Ink continues to take over 2014. With over one million sales, his smash single “Show Me” featuring Chris Brown has officially been certified Platinum by RIAA as it enters its second week at #1 on Urban Mainstream radio... Alice Boman is from Malmö, Sweden, the singer/songwriter first appeared when she released 2013′s Skisser via Adrian Recordings in Europe. Swedish for “sketches,” Skisser was just that – delicate home recordings from her bedroom Boman gracefully unleashed to the world, that were never meant to fall on any other ears but her own... Grammy-nominated songstress Bonnie McKee will join Karmin on the second leg of the duo’s #PULSESTOUR kicking off April 6 at the House of Blues in Dallas, TX. Karmin are on the road supporting the release of their debut album Pulses which is being released on March 25th. McKee remains one of the industry’s go-to hit-making songwriters and was named pop’s “Best Secret Weapon” by Rolling Stone. She’s penned number one hits for the likes of Katy Perry, Britney Spears and Taio Cruz, just to name a few. She also snagged her very first Grammy Award nomination this year in the category of “Song of The Year” for co-writing Katy Perry’s smash “Roar”... Cody Simpson's “Surfboard” jumped into the iTunes top 10 in its recent release. Teen Vogue calls the new track “way edgier,” than his past music, adding that it’s “clever and catchy... One of the UK’s most exciting bands, and Glastonbury Emerging Talent Winners, Bridie Jackson and The Arbour, are set to release new single ‘We Talked Again’ in April... Bombay Bicycle Club just premiered their video for the track “Feel” off their most recent release, So Long, See You Tomorrow. The song is based around a sample from a famous snake-charming scene in the film, Nagin, which is still widely celebrated as one of the biggest Bollywood movies (1954)... Cocoa Jackson Lane is a new collaboration between vocalist Jess Harlen and bassist Camilla Charlesworth, of Austrailia and New Zealand and sometimes Boston... Stiff Stack Sunne is back with his new short film. The plot begins with a young man who believes he’s going to be getting the deal of a lifetime, but ends up getting a lot more than he bargained for. This creepy video will keep you wondering what’s next for the rapper/director... 1Way TKT is back with a new release titled “Little Man” (Directed By Dan Meyers)...
Lebanese artist Nancy Ajram's Nokia MixRadio track, ‘Ma Tegi Hena, from the forthcoming album Nancy8, is among the 30 million tracks available on Nokia MixRadio, which is more than is available from any other radio-based streaming services... Atlantic recording group Oh Honey has announced an array of spring activity, heralding the official arrival of their delightful debut single. “Be Okay” arrives at multi-format pop radio outlets nationwide on April 15th. The track was quickly discovered by SiriusXM in January 2014, who immediately added “Be Okay” to both Hits 1 and 20 On 20. SiriusXM’s early support helped garner the attention of many record labels, including Atlantic Records, which the band signed to in February 2014.

Phillip Rauls on Roger Fisher

Roger Fisher, pictured above with former Atlantic Records A&R man Phillip Rauls, was a founding member of the rock band Heart, with whom he has entered the Rock'n Roll Hall of Fame. Fisher and his brother have been producing a film on the history of rock music, and Mr. Rauls is showing a preview of it on his Photolog site, which you should check out.

Will Streaming Music Ever Become Profitable?


This is the question that vexes everyone in the business of selling music, all of whom have been looking for an answer ever since the traditional music industry died of free file sharing and Web-based content delivery. In the beginning, the big record labels sought to kill the demon they saw developing by bringing lawsuits against the grand-daddy of the peer-to-peer file sharing phenomenon, Napster, and certain of its biggest users. Napster's vulnerability was that it relied on its own server system to centralize file sharing, which was challenged in a 2001 lawsuit (A&M Records, Inc. v. Napster, Inc.) when the courts ruled that an online service provider could not use "transitory network transmission" as legal cover, and so the service was shut down. That didn't keep the file sharing fanatics from seeking workarounds, which showed up in the forms of Gnutella, eDonkey2000, and Freenet, which decentralized the file sharing network (no central Napster or MP3.com-type server system, but instead a distributed system of "supernodes"). Freenet came up with an anonymity-based system, essentially putting the file-sharers below the radar of music industry monitors. The Mac-based Kazaa and Poisoned sharing systems took the scheme one step further by encrypting "their" files.

Music industry lawyers, faced with technology challenges for which they were utterly unprepared, have continued to fight the free distribution of copyrighted works, but found that concepts such as freeware eroded even copyright protections.

While all of that was going on, an entire generation of music enthusiasts became trained to the notion that there is no ethical problem with getting their favorite music for free. In fact, by 2004 there were an estimated 70 million people participating in online file sharing, according to a CBS News study, and 70 percent of music fans in the 18-to-29 year old range had no qualms about getting music for free "if a person owns the music CD and shares it with a limited number of friends and acquaintances". Those limited numbers of friends and acquaintances created a landslide of unethical, even illegal, behavior that put a significant percentage of the music industry workforce on the street looking for other lines of work. It destroyed royalties income for recording artists and left the poleaxed music industry looking for ways to imagine a new paradigm in which file sharing was actually a plus for the industry. That has been like pretending that a punch to the solar plexus is actually a key component to developing core muscle strength.

The only answer the industry has been able to come up with is the development of subscription music streaming services, which has given us new businesses such as the digital music companies Spotify, Pandora, and Apple’s iTunes Radio.

According to a New York Times article on December 12, 2013, written by Ben Sisario, Spotify listeners "have streamed 4.5 billion hours of music this year, and it has paid more than $1 billion in music royalties since its founding." As Sisario pointed out - "Spotify, a private company, omitted the results that music executives, competitors and investors care about most: how many people use the service and how many pay for it."

The publicly-traded Pandora platform claims to deliver 1.5 billion hours of music each month to 70 million users, only three million of which actually pay for the service. The other 67 million get the music for free, having only to endure the advertising that Pandora sandwiches around the streamed tunes. Advertising revenues in the digital world have not yet proven to be much of a revenue stream and Pandora has yet to return a profit.

As digital music consultant Ted Cohen, of TAG Strategic, pointed out in the New York Times piece, "We’re 13 years into the Napster phenomenon of ‘music is free,’ and it’s hard to get people back into the idea that music is at least worth the value of a cup of Starbucks coffee a week.”  That doesn't mean that digital companies are not still trying to find some way to make music streaming into a paying proposition. Beats Music (of Beats by Dr. Dre headphones), YouTube and the French company Deezer are all entering the subscription service market that also includes Rdio, Rhapsody, Google’s All Access, Xbox Music from Microsoft and Sony’s Music Unlimited.

According the New York Times piece, "In 2012, streaming services and satellite radio in the United States contributed just over $1 billion in revenue to the recording industry, a 59 percent increase from the year before. Still, those numbers are small compared with the $5.6 billion from downloads and physical sales, according to figures from the Recording Industry Association of America. Streaming’s growth is expected to continue at an even faster pace in 2014, while CD sales and downloads will most likely decline."

Alternative delivery systems for the distribution of "free" music has attempted to find ways to use streaming technology to generate revenues through means that exploit their customers in ways similar to the way their customers have exploited them. Through distribution of malware and other data mining initiatives, these music distributors have developed an after-market of sales in customer information, providing detailed profiles of consumers' lifestyle and spending habits that can be repackaged as products similar to old school mailing lists and sales leads. Everyone who uses digital technology is now profiled and targeted for commercial exploitation, not so much by music industry people as by product developers and consumer product marketers, because people have not yet figured out ways to take for free those items that exist in the physical rather than the digital realm. Dr. Dre, for instance, may not be able to sell you music but he can sell you headphones. Similarly, Jay-Z may not be able to sell you an album's worth of songs, but he can sell your personal data to marketers in other industries. This is the reality of the music industry today: they are not making music money, but rather they are realizing profits from scam and subterfuge.

Appearances and Tour News

The CCJ is always looking for Websites and media outlets that provide information on the popular music scene, and among the best is the NYC-based site Oh My Rockness. They present constantly updated, and fairly exhaustive, show listings that are a blast to peruse. Check out these links, which will take you to the OMR sites for the three markets they cover:

New York City

Los Angeles


Open to Music


Armando's, the cozy Martinez, California jewel that serves up live music as if it were a service tradition, continues to be one of the great venue stories in the San Francisco Bay Area, and at a time when venue news generally isn't that great. The lineup this week provides a rich example of what this little club does an continuous basis:

  • Mal Sharpe's Big Money in Jazz Band is fronted by Master trombonist Mal Sharpe, who is that and so much more. He first surfaced as a sketch comedian in the 1960s with Coyle & Sharp, who did "man on the street comedy". For years he had a Sunday night radio show,  “Back On Basin Street” on KCSM/Jazz 91, and he has been a standard bearer musician in the San Francisco jazz scene for more than 40 years. His band does Dixieland.
  • Jinx Jones and the King Tones were on this week's calendar, which will be of interest to the Colorado musicians who follow this site, and who came up there with Jinx back in the day, before he hooked up with En Vogue and then went on to build a nice Rockabilly legacy for himself. Jinx is dynamite.
  • The Bobby Radcliff Trio, led by New York City Bluesman Bobby Radcliff, who was a big dawg on Black Top Records in the '80s and '90s, but who has been doing it since the '60s, played Armando's this week. Bobby has been a sideman with Mark Copley’s Roomful Of Blues Reunion Band, Jimmy Fast Fingers Dawkins, The All Star Blues Band with Mark Hummel & Rusty Zinn, and with Bob Margolin’s All Star Band, to name a few.
  • Armando's Saturday night show was all East Bay Grease, featuring Tower of Power, Cold Stone, and Sly & the Family Stone veterans playing together as Fonky With An O. These include Jeff Tamalier - guitar, Bobby Vega - bass, T Moran - drums, Tony Stead - keyboards, and Special Guest Vocalist Fred Ross.

This is a great lineup of players and absolutely typical of what this great little Martinez club serves up every week.

Legendary Bassist

Carol Kay at 79

The world has never been exactly flush with female bass players, but back in the 1960s there was the powerhouse pictured above, Carol Kay, who was a member of the legendary Wrecking Crew. This was the studio unit employed so deftly by Phil Spector and others. Ms. Kay's bass playing is featured on over 10,000 recordings, including The Mothers of Invention, Brian Wilson, The Beach Boys, Simon & Garfunkel, Paul Revere & The Raiders, The Monkees, Joe Cocker and Neil Young.











Copyright © March, 2014 Rick Alan Rice (RARWRITER)