Written by: Matt Wardlaw
Donnie Iris fans (c'mon, you know the song) will be delighted to read this week's Scene Magazine cover story, a profile of Mark Avsec, longtime songwriter/producer/member of Donnie Iris and the Cruisers. ATV pal D.X. Ferris takes music fans under the hood for an interesting overview of Avsec's career - from the very beginning to current events - Avsec has a song on the expanded reissue of Santana's blockbuster Supernatural CD. The interview features conversations with Avsec, Iris and all of the related players, making it a must read for fans, and anyone who's ever been curious to know a little bit more about that "Ah Leah!" guy.
Click here and check it out!
Written by: Matt Wardlaw
Former Buzzard artist Brian Chalmers had one of the most brilliantly creative minds I've ever known. In any person, that trait combined with a love for music means that we're going to be friends for life.
In 2002, I graduated and moved on from WMMS to a new job and plenty of new projects. This gave me the ability to think of the various talented folks I had worked with over the years, and I finally had new reasons and opportunities to work with my friends again, even though we were no longer in the same building.
I've enjoyed this part a lot, because in my mind, it gives me a way to give back a bit to those that helped me out so much when I was first starting out.
Brian was one of the first people I reached out to - we had a project that I knew he could really take to the next level with his great artistic skills. While we didn't connect on that particular project, eventually I had another opportunity (although it was more of a side project) and this time, Brian and I were able to connect.
My friend Rebecca reached out to me - as a member of the board of directors for the annual Minneapolis radio conference The Conclave. The Conclave was in need of a logo for the 2008 conference theme - "At The Crossroads."
Rebecca asked me "Do you know anyone?"
I told her that I knew just the guy, if he was available.
I got in touch with Brian, and gave him some limited guidance based on the few details that had been given to me. The design would incorporate the theme of "At The Crossroads," with an old-fashioned road sign featuring arrows pointing different directions, each arrow featuring a different broadcasting term. As an added touch, it was suggested that the graphic should incorporate a pair of headphones that look like "the classic headphones that every DJ in the business has a pair of."
Before I show you the initial results, I should back up a bit for a further bit of backstory:
When I suggested Brian as the person that could take care of their logo needs, I told Rebecca to tell this group (made up of largely rock radio veterans) that Brian was the guy that had spent many years drawing The Buzzard for WMMS here in Cleveland.
Easy sell, right?
Rebecca came back to me, and sheepishly reported that the board wanted to see some samples of his previous work.
"He drew the frikkin' Buzzard!" I joked with her. "There's your frikkin' example!"
I asked Brian, and he sent over some samples, and we quickly moved on.
Once we began work on the project, Brian sent over this sample featuring the elements of what we had asked for in the design, and added an element of his own, a little character he referred to as the "Broadcast Bean." (Note: the text/fonts were just examples and roughly placed)
Rebecca and I loved the Bean. LOVED it.
It was going to be a total slam dunk.
But the rest of the board wasn't as enthusiastic about the Bean. The design was more than what they were looking for - they wanted something a bit more simple than what had been presented.
Brian listened to their suggestions and feedback, and submitted this final design.
Brian's final graphic looked fantastic on everything that it was used on - from web banner ads, to the program guide that was given out to every Conclave attendee.
There's another story for all of you, and another peek into the talented and extraordinary individual that was Brian Chalmers.
Scene Magazine has a great piece online now featuring some really nice reflections from former Scene editor Mark Holan - check that out here.
Also, After The Gig has a really nice page of links and information.
A memorial for Brian Chalmers will be held on Saturday morning - click here for the information on services.zero
Written by: Matt Wardlaw
As we get going, let's start of by congratulating Steve in Nashville, who is the winner of the contest for the super-awesome Jane's Addiction vinyl reissues of Nothing's Shocking and Ritual de lo Habitual!
You know what that means - it's time to give something else away! But you'll have to wait a little bit for the next one, because we've got some weekly business to attend to in the following post.
P.S. - The MP3 version is only $18.99 at Amazon MP3 - that's crazy talk!
Remember how I was talking about those blog posts that come to you like a gift? This week's showcase showdown is very much in that vein. I was on my way out, heading to Detroit with a brief stop at the post office to pick up mail before leaving town.
In the mail, I got the new Jane's Addiction box set, A Cabinet of Curiosities (SWEEET!), and a package of musical love from Scene Magazine staff writer D.X. Ferris.
Inside the package was Par-Tay Mixxx G:9 #6 (2009) (download)
with the note Designed for linear or random play.
That's right, another mix disc from Ferris, in the tradition of DXMas, Danzig Slow Jams, and all of the many mixes that have come prior to those instant classics.
Unlike previous mixes, there was no track listing for this one. I popped it into the CD player, and without knowing it, I suddenly had this week's Cage Match locked, loaded, and ready to go. Oh, don't worry - I already had one on deck previously, but it got bumped.
The 1st contender: "Jane" by Jefferson Starship:
The track comes off of the 1979 album Freedom at Point Zero, featuring drummer Aynsley Dunbar, who had departed from Journey the previous year (uh, nice career move,) and is also the first album featuring new lead singer Mickey Thomas.
You know, the guy that also sang "Fooled Around and Fell In Love" with the Elvin Bishop Group, and would go on to sing on many Jefferson Starship/Starship hits.
Today, he continues to tour rib cookoffs, parties in the park, and 80s radio festivals across the United States, singing those hits. He's also available for your next bar mitzvah, as long as he can borrow your car to pick up the rest of the band, and oh yeah - dinner is included with that gig too, right?
Now, despite my previous snarky comments above, I actually really like Mickey Thomas as a singer.
This is a viewpoint that is not necessarily a slam dunk across the board with everyone else, however. There are people that think that Mickey Thomas is the devil, and these same people view the Knee Deep In The Hoopla album as a musical scud missile turd of an album from a band that wrecked two to three years of their formative period as a young adult.
This band was the band that delivered not only Hoopla, but also No Protection, an album that contained the dreaded Starship hit "Nothing's Gonna Stop Us Now."
Now again, I actually like "Nothing's Gonna Stop Us Now." Quite a bit, actually. My pal Jason Hare at Popdose recently put "Nothing's Gonna Stop Us Now" underneath the microscope for this revealing probe, identifying the track as one of the suckiest songs in the world.
I think that means that he liked it.
So how did "Jane" wind up as track one on Ferris's par-tay mix?
"Jane" is inspired from the opening of Wet Hot American Summer, which is 3 of my favorite minutes ever committed to film. Totally captures a moment there. the subtitle of the par-tay mix is "Wet Hot American Par-Tay." I make those every year to listen to in the garage, for outdoor chores, etc.
I STILL haven't seen Wet Hot American Summer - it's one of those films that I keep hearing about, and Bela Dubby even did a screening here in Lakewood at some point last year. Gotta check that one out, pronto. Ferris tells me that it is airing this month on cable via Starz or similar.
Now let's welcome in the 2nd contender: Joe Walsh - "Turn To Stone."
When Ferris and I were at the Rock Hall earlier this month watching a Q&A with drummer Joe Vitale, Vitale told some stories about the recording of "Turn To Stone," and then we heard a portion of the track played over the theater sound system, with that big fat drugged out 70s production featuring drums that were recorded so that they kick you in the face when you first hear them.
The drums are surrounded by blankets of reverb that make you wonder if there might have been acid in that Dr. Pepper that you drank on the way to the Rock Hall. You start looking around the room to see if it is really floating, and determine that it's just the song, not you. This time.
You know that was a good day in the recording studio, when they recorded that song. Between the stories for that one, and the stories about recording "Life's Been Good," Ferris and I left the Rock Hall realizing that it was really cool to be Joe Vitale back in the day.
So there you have it - Jefferson Starship or Joe Walsh. What's it gonna be?
P.S. - Download your own copy of Ferris's Par-Tay Mix.
To keep with the spirit of the mix as I originally heard it, the tracks are only tagged with artist (D.X. Ferris) and album name ("Par-Tay etc.) I suggest that you should put it on, and rock out. Let the mix surprise you, as it did me.
I'll let you know, that when the mix crossed over into Canadian territory, I punched the dashboard with happiness and commenced air keyboards to the extreme. People that were driving next to me at that moment, gave me that weird look that says "Dude, go back to Cleveland - PLEASE."
NOTE: There's some extremely NSFW language in track 15. If bad words offend you, you're going to want to skip that one!more
Written by: Matt Wardlaw
Oh internet friends of mine, it's been a looooong time since we've done one of these Quick Hits type of posts. I'm getting ready to point my car towards Michigan for night #2 of the J. Geils Band reunion shows in Detroit, happening Saturday night. The band are reuniting for a pair of shows in their adopted home away from home, to celebrate the birthday of longtime classic rocker WCSX.
Also in the itinerary, a stop at Encore Recordings in Ann Arbor to drool over their majestically massive spread of compact discs and vinyl.
But yeah, so what have I been digging lately? Check out these links of note:
At the top of the list, it was my turn to share a choice boot on "Bootleg City @ Popdose. I dug out a killer Cleveland broadcast featuring Material Issue, recorded in 1991 at the Empire Concert Club. Click here and check it out. I believe it will only be available for one week, so act fast! Thanks very much, to Jeff and Robert at Popdose for the opportunity!
Blogness on the Edge of Town guest blogger Deb Filcman gave us full coverage of the recent Springsteen shows in Boston which had some great moments, including no Patti (I kid, kind of,) and covers of "I'm Bad, I'm Nationwide" by ZZ Top, and "I Wanna Be Sedated" by The Ramones. So jealous. Must...see...Bruce...shows...SOON!
Michael Gallucci at Scene Magazine caused a bit of a stink (possible pun intended) with his post titled "Not Grateful For The Dead." I'm sure you can guess the subject, and the potential reaction to the post. But if all of it is over your head, you can read Gallucci's post while wearing a suggested flameproof Devo suit.
The recent Jeff Beck shows in the Los Angeles area were something to remember, with a surprise appearance from onetime band mate Rod Stewart, performing on stage with Beck for the first time since 1983.
The Regeneration Tour returns for another year of 80s flashbacks featuring ABC, Heaven 17, Wang Chung, Cutting Crew, and Berlin. Stuck in the 80s has the deets for ya here.
My comrade Brian has the Lollapalooza lineup for those of you that haven't seen it yet - and yes, we're thinking about going. I know a ton of Clevelanders that are already planning to make the trip - anyone else? Let me know in the comments!
Ol' Swap at The Frontloader shares some thoughts about "Spirit of 76" by The Alarm. Another group that I need to see live.
Kevin Estrada has some cool photographic memories of some of his early shots of Ozzy Osbourne, and the story behind them.
Darren at He's A Whore has a convenient fix for the Jane's Addiction squabbles.
While we're on the subject of musical helping hands, Popdose have some advice for Michael Stipe.
We'll leave it there for now...
I don't want to tease you all, or anything - but stay tuned for a site announcement from Addicted to Vinyl, coming early next week!
And maybe, I'll finally stop slacking, and pick a winner for the Jane's Addiction vinyl. Maybe.
P.S. - I've posted a working link for the second volume of Radio Friendly Unit Shifter. Check it.
P.S.S. - Check out some great live J. Geils Band stuff here, if you missed it when I posted it originally this past September.more
Written by: Matt Wardlaw
It's been a fun week!
Wednesday night, I went to the Rock Hall with my pals D.X. Ferris from Scene Magazine, Sirius XM personality Dusty Street, and Pale Hollow drummer Nick Perry, for an evening of Q&A with drummer Joe Vitale about his book Backstage Pass.
If the goal is to leave 'em wanting more, Vitale did exactly that on Wednesday night at the Rock Hall, and certainly sold several stacks of books to everyone that was in attendance that no doubt wanted to fill in the gaps of what they had heard.
The hour 1/2 chat with Vitale flew by, and he had some great stories, including a classic story regarding the recording sessions for Joe Walsh's classic solo hit "Life's Been Good" with producer Bill Szymczyk. I've heard the track a million times over the years, and once I knew the story behind it, everything made a lot more sense.....for a Joe Walsh song, anyway.
My takeaway from the evening? I need to track down a copy of the Crosby Stills and Nash Allies album, which allegedly is being reissued on CD (for the first time domestically) later this year. I've got my fingers crossed that that is true! I also need to get my hands on a copy of Vitale's 70s solo disc Roller Coaster Weekend, and I'd love to track down the followup Plantation Harbor as well. The true work of a music geek is never done!
Speaking of that, how PSYCHED are you that Record Store Day is tomorrow?
Here are a few links to get you primed for the experience:
Prefix Magazine have a guide with everything you need to know to have the BEST Record Store Day ever.
My buddy Brian is missing Record Store Day because of work, but he's got thoughts to share....
What are you going to do when Record Store Day is over? I'm guessing that you'll probably have a lot of awesome tunage to listen to (and watch.) And hopefully you will continue to visit your indie mom and pop record stores...because every day should be Record Store Day! If you're looking for some good reading material, I would suggest that The Vinyl Countdown might be just what the music-lovin' doctor ordered! Thanks to Jeff at Popdose for the tip!
It seems inevitable that CB and I will cross paths and maybe (*gasp*) even hang out. I'm not making any promises....but it has potential!
I'll be hitting up Music Saves and possibly Time Traveler Music in Cuyahoga Falls as well, depending on my schedule. Later that evening, I'll meet up with Bear and a few others for Jonah Koslen and Stage Pass Now at The Winchester.
Speaking of Music Saves, here is the latest and greatest informational rundown from TEAM MUSIC SAVES. Music Saves gets the 2009 award from me for the indie store that put the most effort into making RSD '09 really, really cool for Cleveland. Hopefully, all of you that are not in Cleveland have something cool going on in your city at your favorite local store that is comparable to Music Saves!
For all of the Music Saves Record Store Day deets - click here
You can also click here for a printable PDF version of the above information.
Other details from their latest email:
The other Record Store Day street events we know of so far (we’ll have flyers with a final event list strewn around Waterloo on Saturday):
Blue Arrow Records is offering 10% off everything in the store (except furniture - from noon-10pm) and hosting a FLOOR CONTEST to win a vintage Derek Hess poster!
This Way Out is offering 10% off everything in the store (from noon-8pm)!
If you spend $10 or more at MUSIC SAVES, This Way Out, or Blue Arrow Records, each of those 3 receipts is good for $1 off a beer in the Beachland Tavern! The Tavern will open at 11am with a special lunch menu PLUS the brunch cocktail menu!
At Shoparooni, bring in a mixtape (or mixCD) formed after one of these 3 themes: Porkchops & Awesome Sauce (Marlee), Glitter & Sequins (Steve), or Caught on the Spot (Heather) and get 30% off your purchase PLUS they’ll have a photo booth set up!
Expect the Arts Collinwood Gallery, Low Life Gallery, and the Waterloo 7 Gallery to all be open AND look for the debut of the new WATERLOO CAFÉ!
Announcing RSD Bonus WILCO Concert Download:
The news just keeps getting better. As an exclusive bonus to customers who purchase the DVD, Ashes of American Flags, at RSD participating stores, you will be able to download one complete concert drawn from the shows featured in the film. This exclusive concert download will only be available via an embedded link on the DVD from 4/18-4/27, before the DVD goes to wide release. This bonus concert download will disappear from the site at 11:59 p.m. on 4/27/2009. This is in addition to the 20 full songs featured in the DVD which are available to all customers via download!
SONIC YOUTH BuyEarlyGetNow preorder NOW at MUSIC SAVES!
WHAT YOU GET:
- pre-release stream of album on April 28
- bonus limited exclusive vinyl live LP on street date WHILE SUPPLIES LAST!
- bonus limited-edition poster on street date
- bonus exclusive MP3 outtakes and live tracks
The Eternal 2LP $49.98 list, YOUR COST $37.99 and CD $28.98, list YOUR COST $26.99
Only regular, dependable customers will have the option to pay later! The rest of you gotta pay when you preorder, sorry!
3/24 - preorder begins through indie stores ONLY!
4/28 - BEGN goes live with album stream
5/12 - First bonus MP3 on BEGN site
6/2 - Second bonus MP3 on BEGN site
JUNE 9, STREET DATE - pick up the album, your bonus live LP, AND bonus poster
That's enough for today, ain't it? We'll pick the winner of the Jane's Addiction vinyl early next week. And guess what, we'll have another contest after that. I'm going to try to keep the contest machine rolling on a regular basis.
Have a great weekend, all....and ENJOY RECORD STORE DAY!more
Written by: Matt Wardlaw
I've been ill over the past 24 hours after reading D.X. Ferris's rundown of the downward spiral of Phil Lara and the Jigsaw Entertainment Group. In the past couple of years, Lara has purchased or taken a controlling interest in 4 prominent Cleveland-area landmarks - The Jigsaw Saloon and Stage, Peabody's Down Under, The Hi-Fi Concert Club, and the world famous Cleveland Agora.
What sounds like a recipe for trouble has become a lot worse, and Ferris chronicles the downfall, with several big reveals, including this:
Since Lara's team took over, the Agora has bounced checks for big shows, including a December concert by Dragonforce and a sold-out, two-night stand by Akron's Black Keys, with tickets at $28.50 a pop. "I don't think we will ever play there again," says Keys drummer Patrick Carney.
Lara declines to guess how many checks his clubs have bounced. Laeng, the former Jigsaw GM, estimates the number around 500. He says he's never knowingly written a bad one. One of his last loyal soldiers says that's possible.
I'm not going to comment on this much, except to say that it makes me sick to have a lot of friends that have lost employment as a result of this mess, during the current economic times where finding employment is already challenging. Some of my worst fears regarding the business practices of the Jigsaw Entertainment Group have come true, with the potential loss of The Jigsaw Saloon and Stage, a Parma staple and landmark for over 30 years, and the amount of damage that has been done financially, and credibility-wise, to the Cleveland Agora.
I'm disappointed but not surprised to read the quote from Patrick Carney. I would have expected to read a quote like that from a national band, but not from a "hometown" group like The Black Keys. I can understand why they would be pissed about getting screwed on payment for two completely sold out shows, but in the context of this article, which is about an individual, Carney's statement is a heavy quote that has little to do with Phil Lara, and one that will go far beyond the Scene article and ultimately hurt the Agora's ability to get shows.
Read the complete article here.
And in other news.....
On a much lighter note......let's continue onward with some musical stuff!
In less than a year, my good pal Brian from Broken Headphones has turned out some pretty cool interviews with folks that you don't hear a lot about these days, including Stompbox (one of my personal faves,) Face to Face frontman Trevor Keith, and his most recent interview with Todd Kowalski of Propaghandi.
Propaghandi is one of those bands that make me think of high school, and my friends Casey and Steve, who were both fans of the band. Thanks to them, I knew plenty about them, and they also introduced me to bands like Jesus and Mary Chain, Sonic Youth, All, Season to Risk, and so many more.
That's probably one good reason why Brian and I are such good friends - he writes about a lot of music that I'm not personally familiar with, but thanks to Brian, I've learned a little bit more after I read his stuff. Broken Headphones also has a review of the new NOFX DVD Backstage Passport. Check that out right here.
Sound The Alarm!
Good ol' Swap over at TheFrontloader.Com takes a look at one of my favorite bands, The Alarm, and their Strength release. Life for me got a little bit better the first time that I heard The Alarm and "Sold Me Down The River" from the Change album. As compilations go, The Alarm Standards package is one that pops up fairly often in my musical listening travels. "Devolution Workin' Man Blues," "The Stand," "The Road," and of course, "Sixty-Eight Guns" - love 'em all! I'd love to see a show from Mike Peters and crew in my neck of the woods someday soon!
The Alarm - Sold Me Down The River
Swap also has some tunage for you from John Mayer, someone that I've become a big fan of in the past few years. Standing in Illinois at Clapton's Crossroads Guitar Festival in 2007, I finally paid attention to John Mayer, and quickly became a convert.
Bruce and Bono = Paradise
Pete at Blogness had a bit of fun churning up the rumor mill with this post, and what I really enjoyed about it all was the tasty video rendition of "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For" that was at the end of the post. Taken from U2's 2005 Rock Hall induction, how did I miss this one? I must have been sleeping during all of the coverage pre/post, and during the ceremonies!
The Ultimate Drinking Mixtape!
I almost left this one out! Popdose made sure that St. Paddy's Day 2009 went down in style with a mixtape featuring "116 minutes of pure malt goodness" featuring tunes from Social D, The Hold Steady (Hey Jason, Hey Narm!) The Replacements, my man Willie Nelson, and many, many more. Even if you're drinking nothing stronger than Dr. Pepper (the officially endorsed drink of Addicted to Vinyl,) you'll enjoy the heck out of this one.
Drink up and be merry! Welcome to the China Club!more