Wednesday, April 30, 2008
The band arrives in Providence with an incorrect address for the venue. We shimmy 'Ol Bluetooth into a tight alley where we believe the optimal load door to be. Ferrante performs what the band refers to as his aggressive walk through in order to make assertive contact at the bar. Myself and Wiley are ten paces in tow. I witness Ferrante mime words to a barman in the distance. Upon looking to my left I immediately notice a 10X12 framed collage of oiled up full-frontal musclemen bearing scholngskis. Wiley and I exit in accordance. This bar is not the venue AS220. Ferrante figures it out and exits shortly thereafter. We later find out it's a gay bar called Shakers not unlike the name of female go-go bar and IRINA Agency host, Shakers, in Carlstadt, NJ.
The band obtains new information from a toothless man wearing army fatigues. The live space for AS220 is two blocks away. We arrive at the actual venue and decide it imperative that the band attempt to hock its beaded cab-driver seat cover as a result of it being more hinderance than comfort. (Three days earlier the band decides to jettison a jumbo citrus air freshener that emits what is refered to as an "old person's bathroom" scent which heavily relies on unused fragrant soaps from the early 70's. In the aireEntering AS220 there hovers an apparent odor of onions, vinegar, and human musk, not unlike the fragance one might encounter attending a Buzz Oven show in July at ABC NO RIO circa 1992. The odor is of unidentified origin.
We meet space manager Mike at the door. The bar and restaurant seem to be a separate establishment. I inquire with bartender Susana about food and drink for the band. She informs me that drinks are half price and the kitchen is closed. Luckily we were given a gift from someone we met in Seekonk, MA, the previous day, a 5L mini-keg of Heineken. The first pirority after unloading the gear is obtaining ice, as the band travels with a portable cooler bag. The van doubles as a bar and the band doesn't anticipate a problem with setting up their own bar on stage as opposed to buying half price drinks.
The two opening bands play deafening experimental noise scapes of warfare to the smell that still hovered in the room, divisive.
As 11:30 rolls around the The Black Hollies set up and commence performance to a thin but extremely appreciative crowd of about nine, including MIke the friendly space manager and Frank the helpful sound mixer. A few people dance to the songs while both audience and band are more than appreciative. It is equally important that a band perform as gracious for few as a band would many. In the end, the night proves fruitful in performance aspect yet deteriorative in financial aspect as The Black Hollies receive nada dinero. No stranger to gate sales proving a bit short come evening's end, the Black hollies attribute the low turnout as resulting from the people of Providence, RI, getting word that the band's cover of Your Better Run by The Racals is in breach of AS220's "No Covers" policy.
The bathrooms are clean and the stage is spacious. AS220 vibe is not uptight or lacking humor just a bit dry. Zagat-esque sleeps on it.
The band's day off is spent discussing eschatology. The day also marks Justin Angelo Morey's first stint as headlining act for Palestinian Bluetooth's, "What 'Choo Gonna Do? Drive! Fest." Ferrante, the festival's usual headliner had to cancel due to a Wine Spectator's all expenses paid trip to Austria where he is slated to receive the magazine's "Critical Appreciation Award" for his poignant descriptions of Austrian Reisling's bouquet. Wiley serves as main support in the shotgun seat which also marks his first appearance as a driver/co-pilot.
Tuesday, April 29, 2008
The drive to Boston is its usual snail paced trot. Gun Hill Road is always a false point of alleviation. Rubberneckers love it when garbage trucks catch fire. Why keep driving? Gotta see how close you can get to the disaster without your own car catching fire, right? Connecticut nevers lets us down and continually earns its title as "The Parking Lot State." The band begins logging Wiley's food consumption in a serious attempt to get closer to his secret. The link can be found in The Others under HJWV Diary of a Foodman.
After a solid six hours the band finally arrives at The Middle East. At this point, The Black Hollies deem it fitting to conduct a Zagat-esque survey/rating of every fine bar, arthaus, nightclub, restaraunt, roadhouse, and crabshack in which the band is slated to perform with the sole intention of doing a service to bands across the land because in the end, "Even though we spent $75 on alcohol and only got paid in Twizzlers, at least WE PLAAAYED."
This is how it works. The venue receives an overall star rating out of five possible stars. The factors the band will consider are the following.
1.)Sanitary Conditions of Bathroom:
Whether a particular bathroom is "shittable." Does it lock? Is it without proper stall coverage? Do you need your bandmate to stand guard outside the door? Does it only offer cattle trough style urinals? Are there feces on the toilet seat? Did that special wild man, aka Yarnix, really have to piss in the sink right before your very eyes? The condition of the bathroom will be properly documented with before and after photographs.
How friendly is the bar/wait staff, doorperson, sound mixer, promoter, etc? If offered, how good is the food? Are the beer taps dirty? Dude, we can't pay you tonight but we'll gladly buy you a round of PBR. Is an actual dog or cat tapping the kegs behind the bar? If your rider is crossed out with an X and faxed back to your booking agent just settle for getting high on life that night. Smiles and a good all around vibe go a long way especially when you have the shakes.
Are you performing on top of five milk crates that are still standing from when Die Kruezen rolled through in '83? Are you singing into a microphone that wacky Robbie, the loose-cannon front man from the opening band, just had to rub on his ball sack? Is your greenroom the bathroom?
The Middle East in Cambridge, MA, is a top notch venue all around. As a result, the venue is rewarded a 5 out of 5 Zagat-esque rating. The entire staff did their very best and were hospitable. The cook actually came inside to watch The Black Hollies perform a couple of songs. The bartender, Roger, recommended the lamb cous cous as the restaurant's primo fare. The dish was outta sight, perfect amount of spice and the lamb fell right off of the bone while not being too gummy. Dick from The Prime Movers, our main man upstairs, was incredibly welcoming. He greeted the band with a positive vibe and offered sage-like advice with regard to touring in general, recommending that the band get over to France and Spain ASAP. DJ, the sound mixer, was a true professional throughout the entire night. Mark, the door person, was friendly and prompt in settling up with the band at the end of the night. The other bands on the bill, Nudity and Scout Niblett, were an absolute delight. And the bathroom held strong for the entire night. The Black Hollies would like to extend our sincerest gratitude to The Middle East. The band can't wait to come back in June opening for The Lyres.
After we pick up Wiley from Bayonne en-route to Cambridge, MA, The Black Hollies are blessed with a sign from above. We meet Myrzah walking along the corner of 5th and Hobart. The band acknowledges meeting Myrzah as an indication that the tour will prove fruitful.
Saturday, April 26, 2008
I noticed this sign while driving along Route 17N in Carlstadt, NJ. For a split second I thought someone might have laced my taylor ham, egg, and cheese sandwich with LSD. I even pinched myself to make sure that I wasn't in West Texas anymore. Then I laughed, not because I think extreme nationalism is funny, but rather because the words, "Osama You're Up," conjure a very specific image in my mind.
Picture a stage manager wearing a head set at the Laugh Factory, LA's "premier" comedy club. The stage manager comes to a green room door adorned with a Hollywood star, under the star reads, "Binny." The stage manager opens the door ever so slightly, peaks his head in, and utters, "Osama, you're up."
Osama Bin Laden takes a final bite of a carrot topped with hummus from a catering tray, finishes looking at himself in the mirror, gets up, and walks through the back stage hallway just as a prize fighter approaches ringside before a title bout. He is patted on the back by members of his entourage and handed a microphone as he steps out on stage to an erupting crowd.
What follows is an abridged transcription of Osama Bin Laden's LA comedic debut at the Laugh Factory, exclusive to Palestinian Bluetooth ( translates best if read in a mock Canadian accent):
Yo LA! What up? OBL in the house. How's everybody doing tonight? At first, I was reluctant when my agent at William Morris told me that she booked me at the Laugh Factory because of the Michael Richards incident. But I figured when am I ever going to get the chance to open for Jon Lovitz? So I jumped on it. It's great to see Bob Saget in the audience tonight. Hey Bob! A little known fact about me, I was a huge Full House fan in the 80's. I guess you'd call it a guilty pleasure. Really though, Full House was the only thing that brought solace to my soul while fighting in the Cold War. I had the biggest crush on Laurie Laughlin. It really choked me up when Uncle Joey and Uncle Jesse's jingle composing partnership fell to shit. But hey, who could really blame Uncle Jesse? I'd want to play congas with the Beach Boys on Kokomo too.
Speaking of congas, I know exactly why the same thing is happening in Eldorado, Texas on the Yearning For Zion Ranch with the FLDS cult that happened on David Koresh's Seventh Day Adventist compound in Waco. Another little known fact about me, I used to kick it with David Koresh back in the day. We actually used to jam together. We had a kind of instrumental jazz-fusion thing going on. I played congas. Koresh played a five-string koa wooden bass, hence the nickname I gave him, Koaresh. We could never agree on lyrics though. He would always want to sing about Christ and I would always want to sing about Allah. We decided to focus on the rhythm like Gloria Estefan and not fight over a message. We called ourselves Blind Faith Too.
Man... Koresh was one of the best slap-bass players this side of Corpus Christi. We were gigging along the local circuit for a while. And then one day Koresh hears about this new festival starting up in Austin, TX, called South by Southwest. Koresh submits a press kit with a couple of demos we put together. He tries to get us on a showcase at Stubbs opening for The Soup Dragons, Ned's Atomic Dustbin, and who else but The Jesus and Mary Chain. Blind Faith Too was rejected from the inaugural SXSW, something about copyright infringement regarding the name of our band. Koresh was devastated to say the least. I went to bat for us saying it wasn't infringement because we put the Too at the end of Blind Faith rendering it an entirely different band than the one with Clapton, Baker, Winwood, and Grech.
In the end, SXSW didn't go for it and shunned us. I got over it, moved on, and started doing hip-hop stuff, Dj-ing and MC-ing with a group of rappers called Taliband, kind of like a Middle Eastern Audio Two. The last I heard from Koresh was that he was trading his an entire back-line for semi-automatic machine guns and a jumbo bread maker. We went our seperate ways. Then one day, I was watching CNN in the early 90's and I see Koresh's entire compound being bitch-slapped with tanks and tear gas by The United States' Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms. There is no doubt that Koresh going bonkers was a direct result of Blind Faith Too not being accepted at Austin's first South by Southwest.
So, I'm going out on a limb here and begging the committee in charge over there at that god forsaken festival. When FLDS cult leader Warren Jeffs submits his band this year for the Arcade Fire opening slot at Stubbs just let him play the damn show. You'll be saving the American taxpayers a helluva lot of money. And you guys thought I hated your country. he he he.
Speaking of cults and extremists, I was recently in Lincoln, Nebraska, doing a one off at The Lincoln Laugh Box, and I came across an article in USA Today over a sausage and egg sandwich at The Hampton Inn near the airport. I read that the extremist hate group Hamas wants to bolster its perception to the public because its enrollment numbers are dwindling as a result of the group being too extreme. This cracked me up, not because these motherfuckers have been biting my style for quite some time now and claiming credit for shit that me and my boys were trying to keep hush hush, but because the irony of an extreme hate group trying to appear nice in order to attract more members is beyond rich. It's fucking loaded. I'd love to be a fly on the wall at that conference. What are they going to do? Offer the members of Hamas a 401K benefits package? he he he. Here's them, "No, we don't want you to stop blowing yourselves up. We just want you to enjoy yourselves a little more when you're doing it. Maybe do like a funny dance right before you detonate or something like that. We're a pretty laid back hate group you know. Maybe we should only blow ourselves up in places where people aren't partying like we did in Bali that time. Nobody likes a fun burglar. Let's just blowup ourselves in places where people aren't doing fun things this way people know that we, Hamas, like fun things too. Or maybe just let the women show a little leg every once and a while. I really don't know. I'm at a loss." Here's my solution Hamas. You want to tailor your perception and entice more Hamas hopefuls? You need to hire the same publicist that orchestrated Pope Benedict XVI's trip to Washington, DC and Yankee Stadium. I saw Benedict XVI on Page Six canoodling court-side at the Nets game in between Beyonce and Jay Z. You can't pimp like that without a good publicist. I think either Surefire or Nasty Little Man handles Pope Benedict. I can look into it for you Hamas.
Laugh Factory, that's my time. My name is Bin Laden. You've been a fantastic audience.
The transcription ends here, as does not being on the road for The Black Hollies. Tomorrow marks the inaugural show for the band's second full length tour at where else but The Middle East in Cambridge, MA.
Thursday, April 24, 2008
A few months back I went to a Home Depot in Los Angeles to buy Quick-Crete. While traversing the aisles I noticed that most of the employees were women. I'd even go as far as to say that in every different Home Depot I've been in since then I've noticed a considerable tip in the scales with regard to the ratio of female to male staff members. It empowers me to know that, in light of America's current unemployment rate and looming recession, women, who have been shunned from the currently male dominated flight attendant industry, but not this industry alone, are fighting back and hijacking the formerly male dominated tool selling industry.
To celebrate, Palestinian Bluetooth is in the process of teaming up with Home Depot to market an exclusive line of calendars for 2009 entitled, "The Women of Home Depot." The executives in Home Depot's corporate branch are yet to return my phone calls regarding this matter but I am entirely confident that once they've read this blog we will be conducting business together. As a consolation, I went to the Home Depot in Secaucus, NJ, today, not to buy anything, but to talk to some of these lovely ladies and find out if my assumption is true. Here's who I met...
Jackie Valasquez, our honorary woman of Home Depot for April 2008, is a sales representative in the tool rental department at the Secaucus, NJ, branch where she has worked for ten years. Her home town is Union City, NJ. Jackie's main hobby is bike riding. Her main interests and concerns are health issues. Jackie participates in walks to help raise awareness and money for children who are diagnosed with illnesses such as cancer. When I shared with Jackie my assumption regarding the ratio of female to male Home Depot employees she was surprised and didn't agree as she has been working at Home Depot for a decade. However, she did mention that there has certainly been an increase in the hirings of female store managers and female sales representatives in the tool rental department. Jackie is beautiful, polite, intelligent, and extremely pleasant to speak with. If you're in need of renting some tools, I'd highly recommend paying Jackie a visit. Don't go on Tuesday or Friday though, as those are her days off.
(side note: The flight attendant industry, once dominated by women, is only one industry among many wherein women have been "heisman trophied" by men. If only audiences at Black Hollies' shows could be less "flight attendant industry" and more "tool selling industry" we'd die a happy band. Without getting too far ahead of ourselves the band does indeed realize that the ratio of actual dogs and cats to humans in attendance at Black Hollies' shows needs to be adjusted, in favor of humans, before the band can even begin to imagine adjustments regarding the guy/girl ratio).
Monday, April 21, 2008
Most reviews of records today are a product of lazy, inaccurate, and unoriginal writing. I'm not saying that it's easy to describe music via the written word. On the contrary, it's a difficult task because it negates the very essence of music which transcends language itself. I recently read a review of The Black Hollies' Casting Shadows LP describing the band as "gutter psychsters." At first I chuckled to myself but then felt an immediate sadness when I asked myself, "What does that mean?" The answer, of course, is plain. "Gutter psych" means absolutely nothing and gets the reader of the review no closer to imagining what the group actually sounds like. It's akin to describing the new Gnarls Barkley record as "funnel-cake trip-hop." I'd eat it. I probably wouldn't listen to it. In short, it irritates me that just about anything is passed off as "good press" in our current blog-worshipping milieu.
With this in mind, I'd like to offer a review of the Nouvellas new Satisfied 45. I'll spare the description of what it sounds like aside from saying that when I hear Satisfied I feel great, amazing actually. You won't believe that this song will be the best single released this year, but it will be. Remember Hey Ya?
Now that I've reviewed the record according to today's standards let me point something out that most may not have noticed. There is absolutely no distinction between Nouvellas and Van Halen. I will prove that Nouvellas and Van Halen are one and the same band, or that Nouvellas at least modeled their working frame work after that of Van Halen.
First and foremost, both Nouvellas and Van Halen are held up by the back-bone of a dynamic sibling combination on drums and guitar. Van Halen boasts the brothers Alex and Eddie on drums and guitar respectively while two-fifths of Nouvellas are the brothers Pierce, Andy and The Reverend Dennis, on drums and guitar respectively. When recently asked why he prefers faster tempos A. Pierce stated, "Do you think Alex Van Halen got on the cover of Modern Drummer by slowing down?"
Van Halen's original bass player has two first names, Michael Anthony. Nouvellas original bass player also has two first names, Justin Angelo. With Justin Angelo's recent departure from the group the band will employ The Reverend Dennis Pierce's son, Debussy Brahms Pierce, as its new bass player to mirror Van Halen's current line-up which features Eddie's son, Wolfgang Van Halen, on bass.
Lastly, both Van Halen and Nouvellas were/are fronted by two wild singers with golden sets of pipes who love to party. Jamie Kozyra has recently been endorsed by Stolichnaya and has launched her own line of customized vodka to compete with Sammy Hagar's brand of Kabo Wabo Mas Tequila. Leah Fischman finds her counterpart in David Lee Roth. Fischman cites Roth's solo work on Yankee Rose as a major influence on her singing, performance, and clothing styles. As can be perceived from the aforementioned evidence it's plain as day that Nouvellas and Van Halen are the exact same band.
Sunday, April 20, 2008
I came to a dark realization last night during a Black Hollie's rehearsal. The band listens to 45's during our breaks from musical sports, exercises in rearranging the already rearranged during which the band members learn that, "as long as you play fast enough no-one will ever question it." Any song writer should seriously consider this tenet when the time calls for Hollywood Gold. Last night's DJ set included "Right On Track" by Breakfast Club, "Broken Wings" by Mister Mister, and "Immanence Front" by The Who to name a few. But it was while listening to "Monkey" by George Michael that I had this dark realization.
Most would probably scoff at the notion of intentionally listening to a George Michael song in the year 2008, especially one that refrains, "Who's that? Don't look back. There's a monkey on your back. Why can't you do it? Why can't you set the monkey free? Do you love the monkey or do you love me?" Why scoff? Is it because "Monkey" is a "bad" song. Is it because George Michael is a fucking asshole? Do I have disgraceful taste? Thoughts such as this went through my head as I realized that Michael's "Monkey" was hitting my musical g-spot in a major way, especially after a couple pulls off of Wiley's mind-bender. I was enjoying the song so much that I went as far as to demonstrate to my bandmates how to properly execute a dance move called the "Roger Rabbit" transitioning into a crossed legged knee-drop spin as a finishing move.
Then, I felt extremely frightened because I didn't know if I truly liked the song that I was apparently enjoying. I felt a severe solipsistic disconnectedness in realizing that whether music is good or bad has absolutely no bearing on how certain songs make one feel because certain songs from one's childhood are so ingrained on one's sub-conscious psychic make-up that it is impossible for one to unlearn that song's melody, lyrics, beat, chorus, or what-have-you. Even though I haven't heard "Monkey" by George Michael or "Broken Wings" by Mister Mister in over ten years I somehow know every nuance that unfolds in these songs. Liking these songs, or whether these songs are good or bad, becomes entirely irrelevant. These fucking songs are IN me and I didn't choose for them to be there.
This very notion is comparable to being born into a religion that you didn't choose to be born into. You learn all the rituals and symbols at such a young and formative age. You eat the cookie, you drink the blood, you don't eat the pork, you don't handle the money or drive in cars once the sun goes down, you face the east every time you pray, you behave in this life so you don't live again in lesser form during the next life, and so on, ad infinitum. But once you are cognizant enough to question whether these rituals, symbols, and roadmaps for negotiating reality are really the right ones for you it's too late to unlearn them even if you conclude that they're wrong for you. Unlearning them thus must become irrelevant. One can choose new symbols and rituals to navigate with but those new symbols only pile up on top of and add to one's psychic make-up as opposed to erasing, reprogramming, and providing one with a clean slate.
The same notion holds true for avid listeners of music. If you loved Noel's "Silent Morning" when it took the Freestyle community by storm in 1987 but now your musical diet consists of a strict regiment of Jimmy Roselli's Saloon Songs one doesn't supplant the other but rather both inter-lock to comprise your musical make-up even if you're trying to front and say you don't think "Silent Morning" is a good song anymore. If in 1988 you wanted to play drums to emulate your hero, Steven "Popcorn" Adler, but in 2008 you model your drumming after a more modern hero like Taylor Hawkins, so much so that you use the same fan settings live on stage to get your hair to blow at the same angle as his, that's OK. Those sentiments can co-exist. There's no need to dismiss "Popcorn" as being a shitty drummer because your tastes and sensibilities have changed and grown. Poor Adler shouldn't be perceived as a skeleton in your closet but rather a key that unlocked certain doors during certain times and places along your musical reality's formation.
We were a confused generation growing up in the 1980's during times when Z100FM, aka the Z-morning Zoo, would broadcast parody songs like "Kill Gaddafi" to make sure that it's listeners were American enough. And then, as children, when we would sing those songs in class our teachers would yell at us telling us we were wrong for singing them. "But Mrs. Allen, a-Scott-y Shannon-y and a-Mr. Leonard-y a-told a-me that a-these-y songsies were OK." So, you tell me who's fault is it that I think "Monkey" by George Michael is an OK song? And, before you ask, YES, that is my grandmother's wig that I'm wearing in the photo.