Interviews and tunes – a whole lot of both coming up on
Rick Keene Music Scene …
Please listen below to a preview of next week and hear some old and new tunes from old and young alike.
Thanks for listening ! Talk soon …
Montreal – the city that doesn’t sleep …
Please listen to some great tunes, some event listings and hear some ( truthful?) gags about musicians …
Talk soon …
* Parental discretion advised. Rick Keene Music Scene nor k103.7fm condone the use of foul language.
Joe Louis Walker just recently returned from a tour which brought him to Australia. He hooked up with some fellows who were schooled in the Blues. Mick, Keith, Charlie – along with Joe’s pal Ronnie Wood, love talkin’ about the Blues.
Joe loves talking about the Blues also so a match made in heaven; a gross understatement …
Please listen as Joe discusses many topics including the present and the future of the Blues along with some very interesting insights.
Michael Phillip Jagger has been fronting The Rolling Stones for fifty years. Fifty … and counting …
Maurice Raymond has been fronting a Rolling Stones’ cover band for thirty-four years. Thirty-four … and counting …
Please listen as Maurice speaks of his legacy as one ( if not the best ) of the Mick Jaggers of the world.
It did not start out that way …
Tommy Castro was born in San Jose, California. Perfect for a music fan because he was a hop, skip and jump away from the San Francisco Bay area.
A melting pot for not just the Blues, every other genre possible.
Please listen as Tommy explains his past, his love for music and his new album with The Painkillers. A Bluesy outfit complete with a couple of very special guests …
Come together – Robin Williams & Bobby McFerrin: http://youtu.be/P_7xoC6k7PA
Jeff Gunn has opened for Peter Gabriel, written the score for a movie starring Reese Witherspoon and has composed many books for guitar players.
Saturday June 21st at Steve’ s Music downtown – he will be teaching what he knows. A workshop for all levels and players of different genres.
A for sure -stopover for the Hendrix-wannabe. Make sure you bring your guitar!
The Violent Femmes are one of the most popular ‘alternative’ bands of all time.
‘Blister in the Sun’ is a staple in pubs and bars across the universe. Gordon Gano – the composer of the song, cannot grasp the hugeness and impact his riff has.
Please listen to part one of my interview with Gordon. A lot of interesting tidbits including …
Inevitably – age catches up to everyone. Rock n’ Rollers are no exception.
Lou Reed is the latest victim of a combination of age / sickness. Who is next? McCartney? Ringo? Jagger? Richards? ( never mind the latter – the Stones’ guitarist’s shelf life has long since passed and his existence is questionable …)
The common denominator within the names above is simple…
What is that? Reed legendary on the same level as The Beatles and The Stones? Did Reed ( who passed away at the age of seventy-one) pen tunes along the lines of Hey Jude or Brown Sugar? Over and over? Are his songs implanted into the gums of music history – never to be removed or destroyed in fire?
Around the world, in the past few days, young rockers ( or just plain youthful musicians) have prodded their parents with pesky questions pertaining to Mr. Reed. Truthfully and sadly –one response to the rockin’ requests was undoubtedly delivered. Answered with a glint in the eye and a jump to the past …
‘Take a walk on the wild side …” The PARENTS may have said, thinking back to a simpler time. ” … Plucked her eyebrows on the way, shaved her legs and then he was a she.’ ….’And the colored girls say dododo dodo dododo do dodo dodo dododo do dodo dodo dododo do dodo dodo dododo …’
‘Yeah …’ Came the responses from unresponsive teens. ” I know that tune! Great song …!” With that – the young ones would continue listening to Muse or The Sheepdogs in their interior worlds known as iPods. The horror!
Lou Reed – who passed away on the weekend, was known more for than just one song. His work with The Velvet Underground and specifically Nico – produced one of the greatest albums of all time. ‘Femme Fatale’. ‘Venus in Furs’,’There She Goes Again‘, ‘I’ll be Your Mirror’ and ‘I’m Waiting for the Man‘ – songs to be sung forever …
What made that album legendary – is something most artists cannot claim. The melodies, the harmonies, the musicianship, the songwriting and the chemistry between Cale,Reed, Nico, Morrison and Tucker – impeccable. Many artists can claim that on discs such as ‘Pet Sounds’, ‘Revolver’ and ‘Exile on Main Street‘ yet the songs Reed wrote or co -wrote did not make Reed a legend. What made Reed a legend was his courage or ‘defiance’ to talk or sing about all things taboo. The music was the vehicle.
Heroin, Transsexuals, open sexuality ( the pre-cursor to f*ck friend) and general decadence. Things that existed. Things that lived and breathed in the pores of society long before Lou entered the dangerous picture. Reed made these subjects fashionable. The Rolling Stones may have opened the door – Reed and his ‘underground’ took it to another level. The Stones had their ‘Mother’s Little Helper‘ – Reed and his cronies raped her and stole her pills. Publicly!
Lyrically, Reed opened up to everything he saw. No candy-coating on what was happening in New York from 1966- 1973. No sugar in his coffee as he stared down the core of the rotting Big Apple. The world contains a lot of blackness and Reed drank it and spat it out. Darker than ever. Prettier than ever. Right up to his recent passing.
Some musicians are poets. Some poets are musicians. Some – talented in one way more than another. Reed was equal in his talents. Raw, undressed and ready to go. A guitar riff as raunchy as his scowling words. You could not dress him up or take him out. Not on terms that disagreed with him. Not on terms deemed ‘politically correct’ …
Mr. Reed invented political incorrectness. A child of his environment – Reed saw the United States for what it was. Hypocritical, seedy, uncouth, unworthy of his worthiness. The peace and love generation wanted to ‘fix’ things – Reed basked in the horrors. Somehow aware things would never change and if they did – they would stay the same.
Rock stars, Jazz stars, Pop stars, Country stars and Disco stars can all be labelled. Even if their personas flop between identities. Bowie was a spaceman, weird but understandable. Michael Jackson? A weirdo from space? Unidentifiable yet classifiable. Johnny Cash – a man tormented by demons yet agonizingly shelved with so many artists. On and on except for Lou Reed …
A rebel …? Sorta. A junkie in the form of Keith Richards …um …no. An alcoholic a la Moon? Nope. Not even close. A genius in the form of Dylan? Bite our collective tongues …
Reed was a man unlike any other. Lost in translation yet translated as lost. A man in the mirror. An introspective soul unafraid to discover himself. A guitar player whose chords were tuned to his world while staying out of tune with the world’s. Above Dylan yet darker? Tortured like Cash yet tamed through words. ‘Out there’ like a Bowie / Jackson tandem yet with feet planted firmly on Earth.
I don’t know just where I’m going
But I’m gonna try for the kingdom, if I can
‘Cause it makes me feel like I’m a man
When I put a spike into my vein
After all these years in the business …
Joe Louis Walker is still having fun.
“I am having fun because a lot of guys who taught me – so many guys who invested in me as a musician with a kind word; like Muddy Waters allowing me to open for him in Toronto … I feel as I solidified so many people’s faith in me. It solidifies my Mom and Dad‘s faith in me. My kids and my Grand-kids … To be able to say i am still alive and be allowed to do what I do. By the grace of God, I am not laying on a slab like so many musicians.”
Walker’s crowning achievement – so far, is the same as one of his mentors; Buddy Guy. Guy’s most fulfilling moment? Playing at the White House for President Obama following a youthful experience of pickin’ cotton …
” Same thing man … same thing!” Says Walker.” I was gathering produce as a sixteen year old and was watching my parents pick produce as a kid! I played for George Bush at the White House and seeing how the Blues got me from there to there – I know exactly what Buddy is talking about.”
Walker’s oldest daughter is a singer. She sings with him frequently and plays the keyboards. She has not recorded anything on her own but Joe believes that is coming soon. Walker also has a Grandson. His birthday is the 28th of December, three days following Joe’s and ( according to Grandpa ) a great Christmas present (albeit a little late). Joe admits his Grandson is quite the harmonica player and would enjoy playing drums in the future. According to Joe; ‘He beats on everything’!
Walker’s kid and Grandchild are the only things, music-wise – that Joe listens to under the age of thirty. The only music he listens to – on a regular basis …
” I don’t like Pop music because it just repeats itself and I don’t have time to listen to the radio. Once in a while I will listen to a Blues station on Sirius or something but that’s about it …”
“I was with Ronnie ( Wood ) a couple of weeks ago, and he introduces me to these kids. To show you how unattached I am – I leave the room and people are saying wow you met those guys? They are the biggest group in the world! I say what …? One Direction … ? I thought Ronnie said New Direction! I was wondering ’cause New Direction is a Black group!”
Joe Louis believes that every musician must start at the bottom. He uses everyone in music history as a refrence to that. Anyone who is worth his weight in talent. Elvis, Muddy … they all got their experience through the school of hard knocks.
“When these guys started out – everyone who was groundbreaking; The Stones, Elvis, The Beatles, Jimi, B.B. … they all were vilified. Elvis got run through the wringer for playing ‘that kind of music’ played by ‘those kind of people’. People wouldn’t speak to him and wouldn’t let him in hotels. I love what Mick ( Jagger ) says – he says; ‘ We used to be the band that everyone hated, now – we are the band that everybody loves to love’. You have to have a sense of humor about it – that’s the key. These guys had guts. Imagine playing that ‘ kind ‘ of music back in the fifties and sixties? In America? In the South?”
Walker believes the world is better off now although he still encounters racism once in a while. He believes the world is more dangerous in many ways, yet the new generation is able to see various people in positions of power. Various people in positions to make decisions. The young adults are seeing that a lot of things they were told as kids are not true. According to Joe – the youth are realizing everybody has a brain, everybody’s blood beats red and the President of the United States is an African American but he also just happened to be – the smartest guy in the room.
” I think kids today are shedding a lot of baggage that was given by my generation and they do not buy into it.” Explains Walker.” They do have a large task in front of them but they are prepared for it. They know they have to work on the environment, they know they have to work on woman’s and kid’s rights. They are less for war and realize that communication is a better option.”
He continues .
“They see that other people are not holding them back and they see wars are holding them back. They see that everyone deserves an education, not just rich people, not just Democrats and not just Republicans. Young people see that because they are experiencing it. They know they have to save the environment – they are aware that so goes the honeybees, so goes us. So goes the ice caps – so goes us. Young people have figured out that Wall Street or whatever are the cause for many of the problems and that Wall Street is not a real purpose. A real purpose is to help people, a real purpose is not to have an agenda as a political party …”
Walker teaches master classes in places such as Spain and Turkey. He is surrounded by kids from all over the world and maintains a front row seat in his role as an observer of how kids’ brains work …
“They all say ‘we have to save the planet’ and ‘take care of ‘humanistic things’ – not ‘materialistic things’.” Says Joe. “They believe if they have a billion dollars, maybe they should educate people to reverse Global Warming. Older people don’t care, they see a bear on an iceberg floating around by himself and they say; that’s a bear!” He laughs.” No! That’s not just a bear … that’s an icecap melting! That’s why there is a Tsunami every week! That’s why there is flooding in New Jersey and Colorado…”
Walker believes these problems will be rectified by the new generation just like his generation from the sixties had to deal with issues such as Vietnam and racism. It was not easy.
” We did not buy into many things. We had to get rid of baggage but we had to march against it and fight. It wasn’t easy – people died for racism, people died for Vietnam and people are going to die now. People are going to die in Iraq, people are going to die in Afghanistan. If they get into Syria – they will die in Syria. You cannot go and colonize somewhere and live there. If you look through history -usually the colonizer always has to leave.”
One guy who ‘left’ too soon (according to Walker) – was Stevie Ray Vaughan. A friend, a fellow blues-man and the only guy ( in Joe’s mind ) who came close to playing guitar like Jimi Hendrix. A man who Joe believes was just getting ‘soul’ in his voice before he passed away. Soul to match the feeling emanating from Vaughan’s guitar.
Walker’s all time favorite Blues guitarist and the man responsible for modern day Blues – is B.B. King. His second choice …? Buddy Guy. Two players who respectively altered the way the Blues were played.
Joe Louis Walker’s recent album is titled ‘Hellfire’. A disc which is filled with fire and is reminiscent of the early seventies Stones’ sound. A dirty, gritty Blues album that combines classic riffs, feelings from the heart and a groove that won’t let feet rest …
In other words; a combination of B.B. King, Buddy Guy and Bo Diddley. In other words; a combination of every Blues player.
In other words; Joe Louis Walker …
Joe Louis Walker is the biggest fan of The Rolling Stones and his opinion is not just biased. It is educated and he wants everyone to also educate themselves before they walk around judging the greatest Rock n Roll band in the world …
“You are seeing a part of history!” Says Walker. ” Just go by the T.A.M.I show when the Stones had to close the show after James Brown and they brought the house down. Just watch ‘Charlie My Darlin’ – go see ‘Shine a Light‘ … where do you think Guns and Roses, Aerosmith and everyone else came from …? The Beatles educated everyone but put it like this; if a fourteen year old kid is sitting in a room with a guitar … what’s he gonna play? Michelle by The Beatles or any Stones song? Then you can go to Bo Diddley and move on from there ….”
Walker has backed Bo Diddley ‘live’ and in the studio. Joe has also backed up and played with everyone who matters in the Blues and R and B scene.
Bonnie Raitt, Buddy Guy, Taj Mahal, Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown, Otis Rush, Scotty Moore, Robert Lockwood, Jr., Matt “Guitar” Murphy, Steve Cropper,Tower Of Power, and Ike Turner. Legends. Men and women who inspired and taught him to be the player he is today …
“I love Bo …” Explains Walker. ” Yo had to love Bo, He was totally unique. That was the beauty of it – most music that is popular is ether unique or simple. Bo had both those elements and he remained unique to the day he died. He was simple and I know I mentioned it before but it is about simplicity. The Beatles and Stones and guys like Bo – man if they could not play a song on an acoustic guitar – they didn’t record it …”
Joe Louis Walker starting playing guitar at the age of eight …
He was born in San Francisco and came from a musical family. His earliest musical influences were T-Bone Walker, B.B. King, Meade Lux Lewis, Amos Milburn, and Pete Johnson. By the time he hit his mid-teens – Walker was well known in the San Francisco Bay Area music scene. His musical influences grew …
“One of the first shows I saw was Little Richard.” Says Walker. ” It was at The Filmore auditorium. I went to Junior High School about a half a block from there. That was when it was an all black neighborhood. It was like Harlem before the hippies got there. Little Richard was doing his Gospel show in 1964 and I brought my Grandma there for Easter Sunday. Little Richard had Jimi Hendrix playing guitar for him.”
He goes on …
” Then I saw the ‘ real’ Temptations there and guys like James Brown … Everyone came there – it was like our Apollo Theater. I was also there for all the hippie shows too. We used to have our battle of the bands there and that’s when I got to know Bill Graham and Mike Bloomfield. I lived right around the corner from Jerry Garcia and as a matter of fact – one of my first bass players was Jerry’s guitar tech. I loved Pigpen because all these guys were right into the Blues. Janis and her group – John Cipollina from the Quick Messenger service … then I got to know the Funk guys. Sly ( Stone), Tower of Power … it was a great musical education. I was the young guy at the time …”
Wilson Pickett, James Brown, Bobby Womack and Otis Redding all became part of his catalog – his arsenal of R and B and Blues. Walker then began his ‘playing education’. Taking the stage with John Lee Hooker, J.J. Malone, Buddy Miles, Thelonious Monk, The Soul Stirrers, Willie Dixon,Charlie Musselwhite, Steve Miller, Nick Lowe, John Mayall, Earl Hooker, Muddy Waters, and Jimi Hendrix. It was a time when the airwaves were changing and by getting to know so many different performers – Walker learned an important lesson …
“I think – for me, not blowing my own horn – it kept it interesting for me to get to know so many different players and genres.” Says Walker.” I remember John Fogerty coming to the Fantasy studios – we were trying to write songs. That was before Credence Clearwater, when they were The Golliwogs. We were trying to get in the music business, We had stars in our eyes and that was before Fm radio. That was when songs were three minutes long until Bob Dylan came up with ‘Like a Rolling Stone’ at six minutes. That changed the industry. Now – it has come full circle and you can’t get airplay unless it is under three minutes …”
Joe Louis Walker could have easily ended up like several of his friends …
Passed on to that musical graveyard in the sky. A place which houses so many of not only his contemporaries – some of his closest pals. Jimi Hendrix and Mike Bloomfield to name but two. Musicians who – according to Joe, were tempted by the excesses of the music business and youth.
“No doubt about it …” States the sixty-four year old student of the Blues. ” If I had gained stardom and success when I was a younger man, I would not be speaking to you right now. People forget the fact that when I talk about guys like Mike, Jimi and Stevie – I lost my friends man. I lost people who were close to me. It is a painful thing to lose someone we love.”
For those keeping track at home – Mike is the legendary Mike Bloomfield. A man who Joe lived with for several years. A man whose demons would not allow him to grow up – or old. Bloomfield succumbed to a heroin overdose in 1981. An unfortunate ( or fortunate for Joe) event which momentarily displaced Walker’s career as one of the Blues’ most talented guitar players.
Walker departed the Blues scene as quick as he had entered.
Enrolling in San Francisco State University, a place where Walker achieved degrees in Music and English. Truth be told – Walker enrolled in a classroom to further his education and to further his longevity …
“It was not so much Mike’s death ( that was part of it), it was to get away from the whole music business and what comes with it.” Says Joe. ” There’s a lot of dangerous stuff in there and it has destroyed many people. It is the type of business which can show a person’s real character. I always say – it’s not how you handle success, the times when you are on top. It is how you handle falling and starting again. That’s what shows true character.”
” Look at Jimi ( Hendrix) … He was a gentle soul with so much character. If he had surrounded himself with the right people, people who cared about him – he would still be here. Jimi had such a gentle soul and that is one thing which people don’t realize about him. A general misconception is that his best songs are full of fire. The truth is Jimi’s strength was in writing ballads. That’s where his talent was and it is a shame that many people don’t get that. Of course – that’s the fault of the business side which pumped songs like ‘Foxy Lady‘ and ‘ Purple Haze‘”
Another guy whose reputation remains flawed is Keith Richards of The Rolling Stones. A man ( along with Ronnie Wood, Mick Jagger and Charlie Watts ) who Joe has forged a friendship with over the years. A guitar player who Walker believes is the only man in music who has stayed true to himself. A guitar play who throws no punches …
“Keith is one smart guy!” Explains Joe.” He is one of the most well read people in the business. One of the most well read people period. Have you seen the Stones’ shows when Keith does his part …?” Asks Walker. “The f*cking place goes nuts! Every time! You know why that is? Because people recognize who Keith is and what he has done. I mean that guy cannot lie. He lives and breathes music. He won’t lie about anything! You want the truth about Mick Jagger? Ask Keith. You want the truth about the Blues? Ask Keith. If you ask any musician from any type of music, a musician who really knows his stuff – they will tell you, their ain’t no Motherf*cker more true to music than Keith.”
He goes on …
” He (Keith) and the rest of the Stones could easily play a lot harder stuff. Keith has always been capable of playing leads – good leads. That’s the beauty of the Stones – they never put the instruments ahead of the songwriting. The songs were the most important element and still are. There is a reason why they have lasted fifty years. The Beatles – same thing. Their music is just as popular today as when they were ‘four brothers.’ The songs came first man ….”
Walker admits it is painful to watch The Beatles’ film; ‘Let it Be’. Joe thinks the lads from Liverpool were just becoming a great band when they went their separate ways. Directions which contained many factors including Lennon’s hatred of record companies and the music business.
” When you see them playing on the roof – their final concert …” Explains Walker. “You can see the smiles – the general happiness. Don’t forget, for years they did not play live and I think they lost the joy that comes from that. On the roof, they gained that back. John and the rest of the boys were supposedly talking about doing another gig after that. Unfortunately it did not happen. Imagine where they would have gone.”
Joe concludes it was all about the simplicity. Especially for John Lennon …
“Look at his last album …( Double Fantasy)” Says Walker. “Three and four chords. Take away the production and that’s what it is. That’s what is always was with The Beatles. Simple. A lot of reason for their success was their success in the studio. Nobody mastered the studio like the Beatles and a lot of that goes to the Producer (George Martin). The Stones and The Beatles kept it simple …”
Walker also laughs when he hears young guys today ( musicians) complain of little details. Details that himself and guys like B.B. King and Buddy Guy – did not even have to deal with …
” Young bands today will get on stage and complain they cannot hear their monitors. Are you f*ckin’ joking …?” He laughs. ” The Beatles played at Shea Stadium without any monitors. They couldn’t hear a damn thing! Anything! The Stones – same thing at the Cow Palace in my hometown ( San Francisco). You can’t hear the monitors …? Baby – that’s the least of your problems …..”
Joe Louis Walker is performing at L’Astral in Montreal on Friday night
Mitch Ryder will be collaborating with a young Seattle band in the coming months. Depending on the band’s ability, his songs may or may not work. Ryder prefers to work with his own band so he can just give them what he has written and they can play it.
“Once I meet the guys and learn their sensibilities, their musical abilities and so on …” Explains Mitch. “Then I can see what we will do. If – according to their individual talents, they cannot do what I have written, then we will start from scratch. Collaborations are difficult …”
A recent collaboration which took place, was Mitch working with the legendary Don Was as his producer on his recent album – ‘The promise’. Was has worked with everyone from Bob Dylan to The Rolling Stones and while the pair of icons were working together, Was said something to Ryder which kinda floored the legendary singer …
” All the stuff I did with Don Was was my own material. All except one song which I covered by one of my heroes, it was a live version of a Jimmy Ruffin song.. Don told me that there are two people he would never question in his studio. One was myself and the other was Bob Dylan. That was something I did not understand at all. There is no way I would put my name in the same paragraph as Dylan.”
Speaking of Dylan …
Mitch ran into Rodriguez – the South African wonder who gained a ‘Dylan-esque‘ mystique in the early seventies and disappeared from the music scene following a brief outburst of songwriting brilliance. Ryder ran into him when he was running for city council in Detroit.
“This was decades ago …” says Mitch. ” He had already given up the music part and he almost made it but he didn’t. He got the job he wanted as was related in his unauthorized biography. I think it is marvelous he got to cash in on his early years but these things have shelf lives. After a while it will go out of the public consciences. ”
The ‘throwaway society in which we dwell cause concern for Mitch as far as how quick people get hits these days and how fast they disappear. ‘Timeless songs such as ‘Satisfaction’, ‘Hey Jude‘ and ‘Devil with a Blue Dress On‘ – not quite the same as the hits of today.
“It’s possible to have a bonafide hit in one day.” Says Mitch.” I can’t see my Grandchildren singing along to lyrics when they are my age – songs about the evil things you do in bed to someone or using filthy language to describe your Mother. I do not see these as lasting songs. They are hateful, harmful stuff that may have been the truth about someone’s life and it’s cool they got it out of their system – I just don’t see it as a building stone for society.”
The music business can be a building stone for society but at the same time – quite destructive. Ryder has seen everything in his five decades. Drug use and the very bad side of the music business.
“It is a fun industry to be part of as far as the performance aspect of it but on the business side it is cutthroat and nasty. People have committed suicide over rejection. It is a weird business. People will give up their self-pride, their self-worth over it. Especially in America. They will bend over backwards for their fifteen minutes …”
“We were having a great time and I got carried away.” Laughs Mitch.” I went in front of Max’s ( Weinberg ) drum kit and I gave the signal for him to bring it down. Slow the beat. Max looked at me like I was crazy! I could tell he was thinking … this is Bruce’s show …What are you doing ?”
Mitch Ryder could have easily said ..
‘ Teaching Max. Just teaching …’
Rolling Stone Magazine has cited Mitch Ryder as one of the five most influential rock and roll singers to ever come from
Detroit. How about one of the most influential to come out of the Unites States?
Just ask Bruce Springsteen …
“Bruce has said on numerous occasions that I was one of his major influences.” Says Mitch from his home in Detroit. ” I think he was ‘born to run’ regardless of my influence, but it is nice to have such a great performer to acknowledge me like that.”
Mitch Ryder, author of the groundbreaking and in essence, career defining song; ‘Devil with the Blue Dress On‘ – is far from being a forgotten golden oldie touring act. Ryder released his thirty-third record in 2012. An album titled “Its Killing Me”. Unfortunately – like most of his post – 1970’s material, that album is huge in Europe and practically ‘out of sound’ in North America.
‘Apparently in America, they only want the things they are familiar with.” Says Mitch.” It’s not so bad in Canada, it is existent yet not as bad. By not securing a recording deal in America, it deprives people from hearing new stuff. It is not the general population’s fault. The audience is totally blameless but my progression continued. There are something like twenty-two CD‘s that America has never heard of. It is a catch 22 …”
Mitch Ryder only has three gold records on his wall. A fact which serves injustice to his songwriting ability. An ability which was egged on by Ryder’s favorite songwriter – Bob Dylan. A lyricist, poet and musician who Ryder to this day – remains in awe of . Ryder is writing a screenplay for his own musical and is implementing ‘a trick’ which Dylan used in his songwriting.
“Most people that go see plays are more intelligent compared to the majority of the population. There are so many nuances in putting on a play. You see something in a play and then you realize that is not what you have seen at all. That’s what Dylan did in his songwriting. Bob Dylan had so much ambiguity in his lyrics, it appealed to all the masses. It meant something to one part of the population and something quite different to a different segment of the population. It held meaning to all of those groups. That was his genius.”
Ryder’s musical is a current ‘obsession’ which is based on a book he just finished. ” Hide Your Love Away‘ is a title borrowed from The Beatles’ lyrics. It was perfect in Ryder’s eyes for the characters he is creating within his original idea and Ryder believes the time is right. He does not see the point of the current trend which takes someone or a group who have had a lot of hit records and create a flimsy story line around it.
” If I wanted to see that kind of stuff, I could go to see a cover band, read an artist’s biography and obtain the same experience I would get by throwing away my money at a theater. I am looking for something more compelling. Something to keep the audiences in the theater so they walk away humming the melodies if they cannot remember the lyrics.. I’m not sure if I can do this but it is the kind of thing that I will not find out until I find out.”
Ryder has also recently penned his autobiography entitled, “Devils And Blue Dresses”. A book which is continuing to climb upwards having already won a Gold Medal from the IPPY Awards as well as taking 1st place in their Performing Arts category. It also took 1st place from The Indie Excellence Awards in their Autobiography category, and was a finalist in the Performing Arts category of ForeWord Reviews annual BOTYA.
” The book contains my life. ” Explains Mitch. “Musically and personally. ‘They’ tell me it’s a great book. It’s about my wives and children – people I have met along the way and not just people in the music industry. It is about things that happen in your life, rights of passage, strange events, epiphanies, revelations, abuse, self-destruction, redemption – the whole deal. ”
Ryder’s voyage contains meeting and playing with many legends in the music business. Otis Redding and Wilson Pickett to name a couple. The latter – quite the handful on the road according to Mitch. A real character.
It is impossible for Mitch to cite any major influences, the thought alone to come up with such a vast list – too taxing and unworthy to those he may leave off his list of influential artists. When he started with The Detroit Wheels, they just wanted to play music and were astounded to be suddenly meeting musicians who they once held as ‘out of reach’ in their minds.
Mitch Ryder is now ‘one of those guys’ …
As with every tour or show since 1989, they arrive in each city under a cloud of various predictions or guesses. Unlike their ‘solo’ contemporaries ( for reasons best left to the overweight, non – active, jaded and ‘I am stuck in a shitty life’ DVD armchair viewers), Andrew Loog Oldham‘s group – take the blame for getting old.
Non – gracefully.
Why can’t people ( veteran music writers raise your hands), accept the simple fact The Rolling Stones are continuing to do what they do best while struggling with Mother Nature and her cruel – aging ways. With the opening chords of ‘Get Off of My Cloud’ and the sheer presence of men historic beyond historic – everyone in attendance should immediately have tossed their critical pens into a vat of prime 1962 ink. After all, if a retired plumber takes two hours longer to fix a pipe – really, who gives a ‘wrench’ as long as the pipe is fixed.
‘It’s Only Rock n Roll’, ‘Paint it Black’ and ‘Gimme Shelter’ were performed by the three – then four, of the men who created the blue print. The template for everyone else to follow. How many people would pay six hundred dollars to witness Van Gogh or Picasso paint? Quite a few. Billions globally in fact …
The Rolling Stones have paid their dues. Enough to be able charge whatever they want if people deem the prices enough to witness history. Without their defiance – there is no Led Zeppelin. Without their willpower – there is no Jack White. Without the Rolling Stones, a society where popular music consists solely on Beatle and Beach Boy – driven ‘Coldplay’ and ‘Oasis’ tunes may exist. Imagine a world filled with nothing but Roses. Void of thorns. Void of spirit. An orb floating through space known as ‘ a weak peace – loving bunch of pussys’ by the remainder of the Rock n Roll solar system. Planet earth is blue and there would be nothing we could do about it …
The Rolling Stones have done something about it for fifty years and last night, they delivered a concert at seventy – five percent of their one time ability. Through no fault of their own.
Twenty – five percent missing. With the exception of Micheal Phillip Jagger.
The brother of Chris, the target of so much governmental hatred. The brilliant specimen of a man in so many ways, continues to sing as if he was frozen in time. His voice, dipping wonderfully into the Blues, the Soul and the R and B classroom from which he graduated. If the Stones were not playing every three or four nights on their current tour, Jagger – without so much as batting an eye, could dance around his famed tongue with ease. Therein lies the genius withing the man. Better to tone down each show than risk burning out and fading away. Time on one’s side – one thing. Physics – something else entirely.
A glance around the Bell Center last night and with a Chuck Berry ear to the ground – it is easy to discover Jagger’s own words ringing true.
‘Wild Horses’, ‘Honky Tonk Woman‘, ‘Happy’, ‘Miss You’, ‘Start Me Up’, ‘Tumblin’ Dice’, ‘Brown Sugar’, ‘Sympathy for the Devil’, ‘Can’t Always Get What You Want’, ‘Jumpin Jack Flash‘ and ‘Satisfaction’. Eleven classic songs played more often by the Stones in concert than the number of occasions Barack Obama has lied to the America People. Songs sung so often – a wonder that Jagger himself does not turn on the Karaoke machine and get Stephen Tyler todance for him.
Every Stones tour, due to the very hard work the band put in for three decades, gathers moss. Grandparents tell their children and so on and so on. Thousands if not millions every year – wanting, yearning to attend a Stone concert to hear the songs for the very first time live. Eardrums losing their virginity to an inflatable penis long forgotten.
Diehard Stones’ fans do not like it yet – so diehard, it just does not matter.
Within each planned concert set-list, lies the gems and the moments. The Keef – isms, the Bobby Keys’ Sax solos, the once – in- show moment when Jagger and Richards recoil to the two young boys meeting at the train station with Blues records in tow. The ‘Dead Flowers’, the ‘Emotional Rescues’ – the ( current old- now -new again) Mick Taylor riffs. Since the band first appeared in America in 1964, there is a fascination to see ‘the skinny guy with the big lips’ and his ‘scruffy’, unwashed mates perform.
Every tour also contains the new songs. The tunes which – upon release, receive the ho – hum reception without the ‘glass of wine in hand’. The very same tunes which – once upon a time, contained names like ‘Angie’, ‘When the Whip Comes Down’, ‘She’s So Cold’, ‘One Hit to the Body‘, ‘Terrifying’, ‘Love is Strong’ and ‘Saint of Me’. Ho-hums turned into ‘just more bullets’ in the Stones gigantic assault rifle. In 2013 – ‘Doom and Gloom’ and ‘One More Shot’ can now be added to the continuous war on the Justin Biebers of the world. A pair of songs which will somehow outlast the biggest hit a band like The Sheepdogs could ever shake from their soon – to- be dusty fur.
The Bell Center last night, rocked. The crowd rolled. The contingent containing the make – up of a family of Rock n Roll post – Pink Floyd picnickers – departed awestruck, pleased and ready to go back for more.
A feeling The Rolling Stones have left their fans with for fifty years. Fifty and Counting ….
The Rolling Stones are arriving in Montreal for their ’50 and Counting Tour’ amid all sorts of controversy …
The World’s Oldest and Greatest Rock n Roll band have made a career out of making people uneasy, ‘out of their heads’ or just plain upset.
Whether it is urinating on a gas station wall in the sixties, erecting a giant billboard depicting a woman tied, bound and ‘Black and Blue’ in the seventies or former and original bassist Bill Wyman dating a thirteen year old in the eighties – the band are a bunch of pirates.
Raping, pillaging and looting their way into a chapter of Rock n Roll history which shall forever belong to them. An exclusive club where ‘please to meet you’ gains no entrance. ‘Walking Central Park after dark’ means nothing to the doorman.
For fifty years – Mick Jagger, Keith Richards and Charlie Watts, remain the architects of something unreal but not imagined. Something born from the Blues. Born from Country. Born from Jazz. Born from R and B and Soul. Their offspring – wild children with names like Reggae, Funk and Disco, carrying on the legacy of Brian Jones with a toe forever embedded deeply in ‘Muddy Waters‘.
Scandals involving drugs, Prime Minister’s wives and more drugs – implanting memories turned – lore -turned – a blurred reality – turned – a never ending career. Millions of bands erected and millions of wannabes crumbled. ‘Meanwhile; The Stones carry on ‘running fifty red lights in their honor’. ‘Thank you Jesus – thank you Lord.’
Jones’ death in Pooh’s pool. A fitting end to an era and a ‘boy child’. A ‘Mannish Boy‘ lost in a world of decadence and a desire to be loved. A ‘Prodigal Son‘ never returning home. Too many ‘little yellow pills’ for a scholar of Elmore James and Robert Johnson. A man whose ‘nasty habits’ contained more than ‘drinking tea at three.’ A nasty man towards women whose mastery of every instrument somewhat forgives the nature of his unforgivable ways. ‘Don’t you want to live with me …?’
The band, exiled to the South of France.
A self – imposed exodus to make some money away from the Queen’s greedy paws. A get- away into a Nazi hotel. A summer of excess with the capitals SS providing dirty, gritty (demonic) digs in which to blend genres into a jam session doubled. A sordid affair which left many in ‘the cold grey dawn’. Mick Taylor understanding Richards ‘ ‘never keeping a dollar past sunset’ habits. Taylor becoming a Rolling Stone while plunging into a world beyond his control. The son of a Bluesbreaker depositing some of the most enduring guitar licks onto vinyl. An unsung hero whose legacy will not be uncovered until music historians flip through the Stones’ songbook near the end of their ’75 and Counting Tour in the year 2038.’
‘Let it Beed’, ‘Beggars Banquet’ and ‘Sticky Fingers’. ‘You Can’t Always Get What You Want’ but if you try sometime … a discovery of ‘Moonlight Mile’, ‘Country Honk‘, ‘Salt of the Earth’ and ‘ Let it Loose’ will give you what you need.
A span of ten years providing a musical legacy which most musicians never reach – even after fifty years of trying. A decade of diving into the roots of every important genre. Backed by a drummer whose love of Jazz placed the rhythm a second behind creating organized chaos. A sound never duplicated. A sloppy carpet upon which Jagger to dance upon. A rug never pinned to the floor. A dual feminine masculine tapestry built upon the remains of Tina Turner and James Brown. ‘Dance Little Sister Dance …’
Micheal Phillip Jagger, the son of a physical education instructor. A ‘boy-child’. In the top ten of his class at the London School of Economics. An actor. ‘A wonderful bunch of guys’ according to his mate – Keith Richards. A chameleon able to keep his nose on the street. Allowing Brian Jones’ band the ingredients to stay relevant. Allowing Richards to rock while he rolled into the world of Pop, Disco and whatever else deemed the flavor of the moment. An insatiable appetite for women, the arts and global education. A definer and follower of the jet-setting ways of the most ardent explorers. The navigator of the Stones’ ship …
‘Angie’ shocked the followers. ‘Respectable’ shocked the punks. ‘Start me Up’ shocked the naysayers. The jealous men and women who had to grow up while the Stones defied the rules once again. Time was on their side. ‘Time waits for noone’ except for the bad boys of Rock n Roll. Robert Johnson may have had company at the crossroads after all …
Ronnie Wood, the new Stone. A sparring partner cast in the truer vain of a Jones – Richards collaboration. A Rod Stewart Faces castaway. A lover of the blues and a sparring partner for Keef. A drinking buddy whose happy-go-lucky nature by all accounts saved the Stones more than once. A man whose talents may have wasted amid the the sound of the band yet one of the only men able to withstand the backstage life. The ‘ancient art of weaving‘ was created. Two guitars exchanging licks, leads and rhythm. The Stones – part three …
‘It’s Only Rock n Roll but we like it …’
Wyman. The self – professed ladies man. A conqueror of 20,000 members of the opposite sex in the ‘boudoir. The unheralded bass player seldom mentioned in the top fifty among his peers. A quiet, unassuming performer whose presence shadowed by his mates’ legendary presence. A student of the blues and the man whose anchor ( along with Watts) kept the pirate ship from sinking. A man who spent time at Disco clubs to obtain a feel of what would become his recognizable legacy. ‘Miss You’, the band’s most commercially successful song – not the same without William Perks’ nonporous infectious foot -tapping signature.
The drug busts.
Society out to get the Stones from the beginning. Specifically – Keith Richards. A man who turned to drugs to cope. A ‘shy’ guy who could not handle the fame and all that came along with it. A fan of Roy Rogers, Chuck Berry, Muddy Waters and Gram Parsons. A true student of musical integrity. The last student standing. The man who fought the law and won. A pirate’s pirate. The world’s most elegantly wasted human being and the only man responsible for some of the most poignant riffs in the history of Rock. ‘Jumpin Jack Flash, Satisfaction, Brown Sugar, Hony Tonk Woman, Start Me Up, Happy, Tumbin’ Dice – the list goes on …
The writer of many ballads, a wearer of his heart on his sleeve while able to stick you with a knife if he is crossed. The human riff. Aside from Watts, the only Stone to be a married and devoted Father for over thirty years. If Jagger and Richards run the corner store known as The Rolling Stones – Richards is the butcher. The meat and potatoes guy. The provider of the Blues’ legacy. The survivor. The only man able to withstand a nuclear war …
The shows, the legendary tours.
Altering words on Ed Sullivan to ‘Let’s Spend the Night Together’, a death at Altamont to end the sixties and the Woodstock – ian dream of peace and love. The circus – like atmosphere of the 1972 and 75 tours. The blueprint for all Rock n Roll tours to follow; the plans intricately penned for sex, drugs and rock n roll. Laid out, in – your- face biblical commandments for everyone for Led Zeppelin to Bon Jovi to follow.
1981 and the first group to tour under a corporate banner. Record companies got rich for years – why not the Stones? The first to lay claim as the masters of the grandiose stadium tours. The masters of merchandising. The masters of their own domain. The opening acts clambering to hop on board. Aerosmith, Z.Z Top, Prince, Journey, George Thorogood – the who is who of music in each passing decade.
1989 and the first to broadcast in Pay per View. The colossal success of the Steel Wheels tour and a comeback of sorts following semi – successful solo jaunts by Jagger and Richards. A generation of new fans jumping on the Stones’ bandwagon. The music growing and cultivating yet suffering from a back catalog placed too high on a shelf for any group to obtain.
Enter Darryl Jones on bass. The man whose career to that point included stints with Miles Davis, Eric Clapton and Sting. A man who wanted to play with Richards’ other band – the X-Pensive Winos. Settling instead for the Stones. The newest of new at twenty years as part of the Stones part four.
Waiting on a Friend, Start me Up, Undercover of the Night, Mixed Emotions, Almost Hear You Sigh, Emotional Rescue, Love is Strong and Between and a Rock and a Hard Place – quality to make the Black Keys pale in comparison. Saint of Me, Rough Justice and the most recent Doom and Gloom. Songs huge by any other standards – dormant among the endless classics penned by the second biggest songwriting team in history. Two eight year old boys – turned men – turned – icons – turned rock royalty. Legendary requires a makeover when discussing Jagger – Richards.
Voodoo Lounging in 1994, Bridging a gap to Babylon in ’97. Live Licks in 2002 and a return to former stompin’ grounds at places like L’Olympia in Paris. A Bigger Bang in 2006 – including the largest rock show in history. One and a half million people joining the Peter Pan of music and his band of messy, mongrel pirates on the beach in Brazil. Looting and pillaging everyone from the age of ten to ninety. Inducing timeless hits ‘down the throats’ of young and old alike. Incorporating the same energy displayed in 1962. An energy Rod Argent from the Zombies has never seen any band come close to in fifty years.
If a club owner – any club owner from any part of the world needs to hire a rock band, they can call the Stones to deliver a three hour set. If someone requires a Reggae band – the Stones can be summoned to deliver the goods. If a country band is needed to quench the thirst of the most ‘red necked’ fanatics of the legacy of Cash, Williams or Nelson – once more, Jagger et al can do the job better than most. Pop? Disco and dance …? No problem for the the world’s greatest versatile band.
The Rolling Stones are arriving in Montreal for their ’50 and Counting Tour’ amid controversy over ticket prices.
Somehow – they will survive and place ‘Dead Flowers’ on our graves ….
The Rolling stones are at the Bell Center Sunday night …
Please stay tuned for my interview with Pat Travers!
“Buddy Guy was to me what Elvis was for others.” Clapton said in a 1985 Musician magazine article. “Buddy Guy is by far and without a doubt the best guitar player alive … if you see him in person, the way he plays is beyond anyone. Total freedom of spirit, I guess. He really changed the course of rock and roll blues.”
High praise from someone who created what many consider – the first ‘rock super-group’. Clapton formed Cream shortly after seeing Buddy Guy’s trio perform in England in 1965. Funny thing is – Buddy Guy is the last to know it …
“I just played with Jimmy Page at the Kennedy Center Honors and Jimmy come up to me and says – man, when I heard you I went crazy. I learned everything from your playing. He wasn’t even taking about my record, he was talking about an album I did a few licks on with Muddy Waters, the first live record I sat in on with Muddy – ‘Live at the Copacabana’. I said to Jimmy – man I did not know what I was doing, I was just trying to please Muddy Waters! Everyone took from someone else and evidently, as I was taking – I was also learning something about myself. I think – I went to pick up a nickel and I got a quarter instead …”
That is what stands out with Buddy Guy. His humbleness. He is a man who is admired by players such as Keith Richards of The Rolling Stones. A guitar player who – according to Buddy ‘must be’ doing something right …
” If I had done it the way he did it – I would be a rich man now. He is playing something that somebody hears and it is above what most guys do. I disagree that Richards is less talented than other guitar players , it is more the opposite.”
The Stones, having just announced that Chicago, Buddy’s home, is one stop on their 2013 ’50 and Counting Tour’, is one concert Guy will be attending since he has ‘time off’.
“I will be the first one there! Sure – If they ask me, I will open up for them but what I like to do is get in there so they don’t know I am there and listen to them and find out what they are doing because everything they do is so great.”
That is the irony in the music business.
The Buddy Guys and the Howlin’ Wolfs of the world never got their due when they needed it the most. Too often brushed aside by an industry while guys like The Rolling Stones and practically everyone involved in the British Invasion became world-famous and rich beyond their wildest imaginations. A music industry that has not tainted Buddy Guy’s love of playing guitar at the age of 77.
” I pick up the guitar, not as often that I used to but I do listen to music all the time. I have a bad habit – on Friday night I listen to the radio. That is what I always did. I learned, not by books – by listening. Right now I am listening to a lot of Gospel music and I try to pick something up from that. In case you don’t know, a lot of the Blues came from Gospel music.”
B.B King – according to Guy, one of the players who were schooled in ‘church music’ …
‘You had Mahalia Jackson and the Five Blind Boys and I could go on …” Says Buddy. ” People who were into that before Leo Fender and Les Paul amplified the guitar. The guitar took off when T-Bone Walker and B. B King starting playing the orchestra chords with the guitar. I kinda base myself on that …”
Guy admits he listens to Gospel to return to his roots. Unfortunately, in Chicago, there are not that many Gospel stations. So Buddy jumps in his car and drives to spots where he can pick up the signal. Lately – he has discovered a satellite station that plays his ‘favorite music’. Fortunately for him – he can stay home more often now and search out stations that play another type of music whuch Buddy does not think gets enough air play …
“They don’t have too many stations that play the Blues anymore and I can’t figure out why. The Blues is the father …” Explains Guy.” I was just listening to Muddy Waters last night and he once made a record called ‘The Blues Had a Baby and They Named it Rock n Roll’. They should be playing the Blues on radio stations … it’s what started Rock n Roll … ”
Buddy’s All Star band, which he pieced together elegantly and ‘heavenly’ in his biography; ‘When I left Home’ – consists of Muddy Waters, Otis Spann, Fred Below, Stevie Ray Vaughn and his dear old departed friend – Junior Wells. It is a band made of ‘ghosts’. All players, with the exception of Buddy – sadly in another realm. Blues heaven …
Yet – what about today? Who would Buddy Guy place in his band that are amongst the living? The walking, breathing Blues players …?
“Oh man – that’s a tough one.” Admits Guy. ” There are so many great players out there. One guy who I would have for sure in my band is Quinn Sullivan. If you do not know him, check him on YouTube. This kid was seven years old when he first played with me and I had to check to see if it was his amplifiers he was hooked up to. I could not believe it was this kid that was playing. I would take that kid and so many others in my band … I would have so many, it would be an orchestra not a band …”
According to Buddy, the Blues are alive with the kids. Buddy is one of their biggest supporters even if it means getting ‘flack’ for it. Sometimes, people say to him that a kid ‘don’t know the blues’ because they are kids.
“Man – I got Quinn playing some gigs with me on tour. He is thirteen years old now. We are putting a record out in June. You have a few young guys that are so talented and guys say … Buddy? What are you doing? These guys are too young to go onstage. I say give the kid a chance – these guys are doing it. This is tomorrow’s music and these kids deserve a chance. I mean if a guy starts playing at sixty – I say man … that’s too late! The ages of six and seven are when you get them going …”
Buddy Guy is an advocate of the Blues and it’s history. It is one of the reasons he waited so long before publishing his memoirs. He wanted the truth to be known …
“I was approached some years ago to do a book and I held back because some authors wanted me to lie. I didn’t want to do that. I wanted whoever got the book to read the truth about the blues musicians. They finally agreed to let me tell as much truth as I could remember about great players such as Johnny Lee Hooker. I did not want to jump up and write a book and say this is my experience. My experience was being a student of Muddy Waters, T-Bone Walker and Howlin’ Wolf. I just wanted a book that should have come out years ago by anybody who wrote it to tell the truth. I did not learn anything in school, I learned everything by listening to these giants of music. I wanted to set the record straight …”
Thanks to Buddy Guy, the story of the Blues is on the right path. You can read ‘the truth’ in his autobiography; ‘ When I Left Home’ and see the man in person delivering the Blues truthfully – the way only Buddy Guy can. He will be in Montreal on April 19th as part of the Jazz All Year Round Series. He is playing at the Metropolis – showtime is 8pm.
Don’t expect a set-list …
According to Guy, if he starts doing that – he will be playing to make Buddy Guy happy. Instead he goes with the moment on stage and picks up on the feel of the audience and acts according to their vibe – musically.
I’m believing that the blues makes life better wherever it goes – and I’ll tell you why: even when the blues is sad, it turns your sadness to joy. And ain’t that a beautiful thing?
-excerpt from ‘When I left Home’
Breathe Out, Breathe In is The Zombies new album. Something which Rod Argent is proud of. He and Blunstone, according to Rod – have captured the sound of the Original group in the 1960’s. The spontaneity the band had which produced great songs …
” I have produced a lot of records in my time and have been through the techniques of layering and one thing or another. We ( Blunstone and I ), had just finished playing live and I had just finished mixing the live tracks.”
Argent goes on …
” When we were starting the tracks for the new record, I said to Colin – why don’t we re -visit the way we used to record. I don’t mean in an old-fashioned dated way, I meant more by laying the rhythm tracks first and going from there. That is the way we did it back then. Typically, we would record the rhythm for each track in three hours, then I would give Colin the piano and voice demos so he could learn it. After that, we would take a relaxing day putting the vocals on and then a third day we would work on the harmonies. That is typically how we would do it. Each track took about three days …”
One thing Argent did realize when he turned back Father Time, aside from the modern day equipment making thing easier, Rod also realized he had his own way of doing things …
” On the songs I wrote with The Zombies, in the early days, I realized that I would write the bass parts as part of the song. I did that on Breathe Out as well – giving the bass parts to Jim to play and he would play it the way I had written. In the old days it was an unusual way of doing things but it seemed to have worked ..”
Argent, Blunstone, Jim and Steve Rodford and Tim Tooney – the current Zombies, also focused on the harmonies. Something which was crucial in the original group. Something which immediately jumps out when ‘Breathe Out, Breathe In’ is listened to.
“It was part of the criteria for this album.” Says Rod. ‘ We thought how great it was to do harmonies and let’s explore that again …! I have always loved doing harmonies and this band is so good live – we wanted to capture the freshness of the old days. If someone recognizes the ‘Zombie’ sound, it is because Colin and I are there and a lot of the same elements are there. I am glad if someone can tell it is The Zombies right away. That makes me feel good …!”
Rod Argent, by his own admission, does not listen to much of today’s music. Something he blames on ‘old age‘. Two bands which Argent has heard and thinks are great are The Kings of Leon and The Killers. Argent thinks what they do are interesting …
” I tend to listen to a variety of music as I always used to. I listen to a lot of Keith Jarrett and Bill Evans from the Jazz side of things. Time to time – I listen to Ray Charles, I tend to like things that are Blues oriented. Whether it be musically or vocally. A lot of the bands from the sixties would have those same habits and incorporated that into their music. Not long ago I was speaking to John Steel from The Animals and he said when he was playing ‘House of the Rising Sun‘ on record, in his head he was playing ‘ Walk on Wild’ side by Jimmy Smith.”
“Those rhythm and blues factors were often a starting point for the English bands but not as much anymore. I tend to like it when those feelings are still there. The Blues also has to be natural – they can’t be contrived …”
Argent once more thanks The Beatles for introducing him to the likes of Big Mama Thornton, Robert Johnson and Elmore James. Elvis, the ‘Fab Four’ and later – The Rolling Stones helped introduce a generation to the Blues …
The Zombies will be in Montreal on the 28th of February at Metropolis. According to Argent, the audience will hear all The Zombies’ hits from the past, five or six songs from Argent including ‘Hold Your Head Up’ and about five new songs from the record ‘Breathe Out, Breathe In.”
A show drenched in nostalgia with a hint of the future. In complete harmony of course …
“I think it’s great they lasted this long – after all they never stopped did they?”
“I remember seeing the Stones when they first came out with the song ‘Come On‘ when nobody knew about them. I went to a club with about seventy-five people and of course they were sitting on stools because they were pure Blues players at that time. I remember being totally knocked out about them and more than I really have been after that.”
” When The Beatles would come out with a record like ‘I Feel Fine‘ with a particular way of playing guitar, a particular way of ‘riffing’ the guitar – the Stones would come out with something like ‘The Last Time‘. A song that would have the same ingredients …” He laughs. ” I’m not putting the Stones down for this. By the time it channeled through their creativity, it came out as their own sound and they always sounded great. All of their records were always great and continue to be so …”
Even though his band was part of a bigger picture that will forever be linked to music history, Argent and his mates – Colin Blundstone, Paul Atkinson, Hugh Grundy and Paul Arnold did not associate with other British groups. Nor did other British groups associate with them. Bands such as The Animals, The Kinks Who along with The Stones and Beatles – never once picking up the phone and talking with their countrymen.
“We never had time – really …” Says Argent from his home in England. ” We were so busy back then! It was like a whirlwind really – one day we were kids with dreams in our heads and the next we are flying off to America! It’s funny. It’s only in the last ten years or so that I have spoken to some of those guys from other groups. Just last week I was speaking to Alan Price from The Animals and we were reminiscing a bit about those days.”
‘Those days’ were 1964.
Chris White had replaced Paul Arnold on bass and the group came out with one of their biggest hits. ‘She’s Not There’ catapulted the band to stardom and eventually – American soil. Their following single, White’s ‘Leave Me Be’, went over well ‘live’ in England yet did not make a mark on the British charts. ‘Tell Her No’, the band’s third attempt, became a Top 10 record in the U. S. but once more failed to hit big in Britain.
“It was funny.” Says Argent. “Here in England, people did not get us like they did overseas. Germany and the States loved us but in our own country – we were nothing except for the song ‘She’s Not There’. I always wonder if that song would have been big without George Harrison‘s help …? He was a guest panelist on a television show we were on called Jukebox Jury. He loved the song and of course – George’s influence was enormous!”
The band came to America touring with other performers such as The Shirelles, Ben E. King, The Shangri-Las and The Nashville Teens.
“I still remember like it was yesterday!” Adds Rod. “Here ( England), we played before 1,500 people who I believe was the biggest audience we had to that point. We get off the plane in America – there are 10,000 screaming girls waiting for us! We thought we were The Beatles or something like that!”
Argent’s own influences when it came to songwriting consisted of The Beatles – a group who Rod adamantly repeats ‘influenced everyone’. The Zombies and Argent relied heavily on harmonies in their songs. They probably rank right up there with The Beach Boys when it comes to a perfect blend of vocals.
“The Beach Boys influenced us a bit later on.” Admits Argent. ” Around 1966 -67. They were great but by that point, we had already established our style and we worked well together. If I had to pick one artist and one song which influenced my particular songwriting style – I would have to say Elvis Presley and the song Blue Moon. When I first heard that, it was breathtaking really… Even now when I listen to it – it inspires me and I get that same feeling I had back when I was seventeen or eighteen years old.”
The Zombies continued to be successful in the U. S but at home in Britain it was the same old story. The songs ‘I want You Back‘, ‘She’s Coming Home‘ and ‘Whenever You’re Ready’ were not as popular in the States as their older songs and in Britain – a disaster for Decca. The band’s record company.
” People think we broke up because of poor record sales.” Explains Argent. “The band was not doing as well as before but we were getting decent royalties. We broke up more because Chris and Paul wanted to make more money. They wanted to start families and needed more income. That is why we broke up really. It had nothing to do with our quality of songs or animosity within the group.”
A few months later, the album ‘Odessey and Oracle’ was released. Critics and fans thought nothing of it at the time. One radio station in the U. S. started to play the song ‘Time of the Season’. So often that it hit number five on the U. S. charts and suddenly The Zombies were more popular than they had ever been. That album has become known as one of the all time best albums. The Zombies version of ‘ Pet Sounds’ or ‘Exile on Main Street’. It ranks number sixty in the top 100 albums.
A staggering statistic considering the band was no longer together even though record companies were willing to give ‘big bucks’ for the group to re – unite. Something that makes Argent sometimes wonder ‘what if ‘ …
Not often though.
“I am a very positive person and I always think to the future. ” Says Argent. ” That is why I formed Argent in lieu of a Zombie reunion.”
Bass player Rishi Dhir listened to The Who a lot as a kid. Rishi Dhir listened to pre- Quadrophenia a lot as a kid – to be exact. This fact shines like a light bulb through a canvas tent in the wilderness of music.
“The Who are respected in many ways and at the same time – not respected enough.” Says Dhir – a married Father of two young children. ” They rank up there with the greats such as The Stones and The Beatles as far as all time bands go yet when their creative genius is discussed, it falls far below the other bands. I think it is because of the smashing guitars and the stigma attached to having a ‘crazy’ drummer …! Who’s Next is one of the best albums ever made …”
Dhir – a Montrealer, is quick to point out the most underrated band of all time ( in his view).
“No doubt about it!” States Rishi. “The Kinks seldom get their due! I would rank all their stuff in the early years in the top five for sure …”
The sounds from the above mentioned ‘Super-groups’ are easy to detect in Dhir’s songwriting. After a few minutes of listening to songs from the self -titled sophomore album from Elephant Stone, early Ray Davies and Pete Townsend’s styles are thrust into a listener ears like a terrified mouse scurrying back to a hole in the ground. The drumbeats, the phased guitar riffs and the genuine ‘raw’ feel of a garage band smash home Rishi’s lyrics into a ‘definite maybe’.
Dhir composes all the songs in his head and records them into his Iphone or computer. He then introduces the ideas to drummer Miles Dupree, Gabriel Lambert (guitar) and Stephen “The Venk” Venkatarangam on keyboards, bass and sitar. For those keeping track at home – that’s two band members of Elephant Stone who play the sitar. Aside from George Harrison ( Beatles) and Brian Jones ( The Rolling Stones), how many people come to mind in popular North American music that play such an exotic instrument …?
” I was taught by a German guy.” Laughs Dhir. ” Not the most exciting anecdote but an anecdote nonetheless.”
Dhir, just four short months ago, convinced the singer Beck to allow Rishi to join the composer of ‘Loser’ on stage to play the sitar during the singer’s rendition of the hit song. Join he did! Beck was so impressed he asked Dhir to play a few more songs with him at various shows. An example of Dhir’s fortitude. An example of a man who has not rested very much in the past couple of years.
” I am in two bands – really.” Admits the world traveler. ” I play bass with The Black Angels and we are going on tour in March as their supporting act. I ( as far as I know) will be pulling double duty as we play through Europe. They are one of the top Psychedelic bands out there and it is a great opportunity for Elephant Stone to gain notoriety.
The High Dials, a Montreal band – were Dhir’s first band in which he was able to parlay his skills into. With Elephant Stone, the guitarist / songwriter / singer / sitar player and bassist is able to utilize his brilliance on a different level. Alloting the sitar to become as much part of the songs as the lyrics themselves. Dhir sometimes opens a song with a sitar solo at a show and closes the tune the same way. Like a writer coming full circle in an attempt to make a reader feel safe. A comfortable zone which has a beginning and an end. A story through music …
Elephant Stone is the band’s second album following a five song EP released in 2010 tilted Glass Box Ep and 2009’s inaugural disc – The Seven Seas. Recordings which are astounding given their novice nature.
Elephant Stone plays in their Hometown of Montreal,Qc on February 15th at Le Divan Orange with First You Get the Sugar and The Backhomes
Tickets are a bargain at $10.00. A gift for anyone asking Dhir …
“Who the F*ck Are You …?”
Her Father, John Charles, married Cynthia Lennon ( Julian’s Mom) when Chloe was fifteen years of age. Julian – who was good friends with Chloe’s Dad, introduced his Mom to the elder Charles. Chloe was pleasantly surprised when the couple announced their marriage plans. A ceremony which took place in Toronto.
Chloe Charles, because of the Lennon connection, is asked all the time about being the stepsister to Julian – son of ex-Beatle John.
“It really doesn’t bother me.” says Chloe from a restaurant on Queen street in downtown Toronto. ” I don’t tell people myself because I do not want people to feel I am not my own person. I am doing what I do on my own and my way.”
In Chloe’s case, her own way is very similar to her Mother. Chloe’s Mom is also a poet and a guitar player. Chloe grew up listening to her Mom and her Aunt singing and playing great tunes in the family living room.
” I was very shy as a child.” Admits Chloe. ” But you think I was shy? My Mom was ten times worse!” She laughs. ” My Mother is a fantastic singer and poet. She has never been able to get over her shyness to be able to stand and play in front of people except family and close friends. She has written a few books also that – one day, I will make sure are published.”
Chloe herself always knew what she wanted to do. Music was in her mind from an early age. Before any ties were joined with the Lennon legacy.
“I always have written poetry and playing guitar was my sanctuary. It was kind of like Yoga …” She laughs. ” It was always a place to go mentally and spiritually to get away from things. It’s something I have always loved doing.”
Chloe’s parents divorced when she was just over a year old. Chloe and her Mom at one point lived with Chloe’s maternal Grandfather. A man by the name of John Richmond. Through this man ( who sadly passed away recently), it is obvious from what side of the family Chloe’s artistic genes are strongest. Richmond, among other things, is the man responsible for the huge murals on both Maple Leaf Gardens and The Air Canada Center in Toronto.
” My Grandfather was such an independent spirit. He published books and magazines and traveled all over the world following his intuition. He (previous to his death) was in Mexico learning and practicing the art of that country. He was a huge inspiration and I miss him dearly. Life is short. We must appreciate every moment …”
Following a short stint in school studying Psychology, Chloe returned to music and realized it is what she’s supposed to be doing. Chloe’s Father was very supportive and gave her the opportunity to reflect on things following her exodus from school.
” I was introduced to and pushed ( in a nice way) into the black genre of music. I was singing R and B, Soul – that type of thing. It bothered me to sing other people’s music so I decided while in Germany to set a goal for myself. I was not returning to Canada without twelve songs written!”
That was in 2005-06. Chloe did write those twelve songs yet none are on her debut album. A disc which will be released on the 13th of February in North America. An album titled; Break the Balance.
“It has been released in Europe and I am returning to Germany to continue touring shortly after the CD launch party in Toronto.” Says Chloe. ” Right now, there are no dates set in Canada yet I believe I will be playing in Quebec and Ontario somewhere around June.”
‘Break the Balance’ is an album which carries the messages of Chloe’s psyche. Songs on the album which deal with things that – according to Chloe; most people cannot deal with …
” People are afraid to deal with certain truths. They cannot handle looking inside for fear of what they may find. This album deals with things from the past few years of my life. There are very dark and depressing songs on this album and a year from now – I will understand them better. I will be able to look back and see clearly what was going on in my conscience at the time …”
‘Break the Balance’ was put together in under a year although the whole process of producing and the business end – put the launch date further back. It has been released in Europe and Chloe is so happy with her ‘guys’ overseas.
” I have toured Germany for almost two years non – stop. I love it there and it shows the difference between North American and European mindsets. Over there, if the crowd likes a song or an artist – they just like it! Here, people will listen and turn to their friends and ask ” Do you like it? I like it – do you like?” Society here is so much about acceptance. In Europe they are more free.”
Chloe loves Canada and North America. She also loves all her friends – most of whom either play on the album or contributed with arrangements. Chloe’s favorite song on the disc is ‘My Child’. It is a song written with her Mother in mind. The type of song which instills the feeling of her Mom singing a Lullaby to a young Chloe.
” I was touring in Milan, Italy …” Explains Charles. ” I was having a rough time and called my Mom. I spoke to her for what was probably way too long yet she comforted me. “My Child’ came from that conversation.”
Another tune which ( if she had to choose another favorite song from the cd) is fond to her is ‘ Refrain from Fire’. A song about ‘wanting something you should not’. A lyrical and musical odyssey of ‘trying to keep away from dangerous places’.
“If I had to say what message I am sending out with this album through my words and music – it is simple. To be different …! Not try to be someone who you are not! ”
Even if your Step-mom is Cynthia Lennon. A very kind, wise and loving big sister …
Even if every once in a while you get together with Julian Lennon and NOT talk about anything to do with music …
Kicking off the new year with a bang seems like the only appropriate thing to do after closing 2012 with such wild success.
Having just returned from her European tour with a dizzying number of interviews and features (incl. Rolling Stone, Die Zeit), Chloe Charles is perfectly poised for her home turf celebration of “Break The Balance” at Toronto hub, The Revival, Feb 13th.
A mere two years ago, this young singer-songwriter and self-taught guitarist released her debut EP, Little Green Bud – a fitting title, too, as it set the tone for a fully blossoming career that’s about to go off the scales with Break The Balance. Since Little Green Bud, music critics and fans alike have been scurrying to put into words what it is that Chloe does. She’s that spellbindingly different.
Best of luck with that.
The press have likened Chloe to everyone from Björk to Billie Holiday, Amy Winehouse to Adele, and Alicia Keys to Joni Mitchell. While this reflects her unfathomable range, it goes a long way towards describing why this singing sorceress’ musical magic defies any and all straitjackets of classification.
Fans, presenters and media around the world have responded warmly to this one-of-a-kind voice, offering Chloe 300 shows across 8 countries in only 2 years, features in (German versions of) Rolling Stone and Elle, the cover of International Musician magazine, the Harbourfront’s Soundclash Award, CBC feature on Here & Now (Song of the Week), an invitation to join the Guild Guitar family, and showcases at SXSW, NXNE, CMW and Folk Alliance.
Weaned on an early childhood in the lush, dense woods of Ontario, the beauty and its uninterrupted silence forged her relationship with sound and the art of listening.
In her teens, Chloe’s father married into a musical dynasty when he became the husband of Cynthia and stepfather of Julian Lennon. Becoming Lennon’s stepsister provided Chloe with an uncommon picture of the world and the place of celebrity within it, while cementing her desire to create and follow her own muse.
Her discovery of classical guitar just a few short years ago fuelled a love for all things stringed and resonant, plotting a roadmap for a territory inhabited by cello, violin and bass – each song a mini-symphonic stopping point. Here, her penchant for orchestral soul pop and jazz – and a blend of many influences in-between – could happily co-exist within a timeless and ethereal soundscape.
So, who would dare produce the debut CD of this transcendent force field? No less than Duane Lundy (Ben Sollee, Vandaveer) shared the reins with Charles on the development of Break The Balance while Peter Moore (Cowboy Junkies, Willie P. Bennett) handled some of the mastering.
The lead and hallmark track, “Business”, dedicated to everyone going through an identity crisis, sets an edgy pace for this inaugural, full-length release. Voice becomes instrument against an upbeat collision of strings, percussion and powerful chorus – the uniqueness of which serves the narrative perfectly – love is ours, just as we are.
On “My Child”– a soft, delicate number relying on the harp effect from her classical guitar, Chloe takes the lovely melody and wraps words around it like a motherly blanket.
From the title track’s poignant testament to love, to “Soldier”, which turns the meaning of bravery on its head, Chloe asks us to look at life from a fresh perspective.
And this is only a taste of Break The Balance’s 12-song menu. Indeed, if the response to her appetizer of an EP is any indication, Break The Balance is bound to tip things even further in her favor.
Visit her site!
Chloe Charles CD Release
Singing sorceress weaves musical magic with new CD, “Break The Balance”
WHEN: Wed Feb 13, 8:00-9:30pm
WHERE: The Revival, 783 College St, Toronto
In April of 1962, 18-year-old Keith Richards wrote the following enthusiastic letter to his aunt, “Patty,” and described, amongst other things, an encounter some months previous that would ultimately change his life — the moment he met Mick Jagger for the first time since being childhood friends.
6 Spielman Rd
So sorry not to have written before (I plead insane) in bluebottle voice. Exit right amid deafening applause.
I do hope you’re very well.
We have survived yet another glorious English Winter. I wonder which day Summer falls on this year?
Oh but my dear I have been soooo busy since Christmas beside working at school. You know I was keen on Chuck Berry and I thought I was the only fan for miles but one mornin’ on Dartford Stn. (that’s so I don’t have to write a long word like station) I was holding one of Chuck’s records when a guy I knew at primary school 7-11 yrs y’know came up to me. He’s got every record Chuck Berry ever made and all his mates have too, they are all rhythm and blues fans, real R&B I mean (not this Dinah Shore, Brook Benton crap) Jimmy Reed, Muddy Waters, Chuck, Howlin’ Wolf, John Lee Hooker all the Chicago bluesmen real lowdown stuff, marvelous. Bo Diddley he’s another great.
Anyways the guy on the station, he is called Mick Jagger and all the chicks and the boys meet every Saturday morning in the ‘Carousel’ some juke-joint well one morning in Jan I was walking past and decided to look him up. Everybody’s all over me I get invited to about 10 parties. Beside that Mick is the greatest R&B singer this side of the Atlantic and I don’t mean maybe. I play guitar (electric) Chuck style we got us a bass player and drummer and rhythm-guitar and we practice 2 or 3 nights a week. SWINGIN’.
Of course they’re all rolling in money and in massive detached houses, crazy, one’s even got a butler. I went round there with Mick (in the car of course Mick’s not mine of course) OH BOY ENGLISH IS IMPOSSIBLE.
“Can I get you anything, sir?”
“Vodka and lime, please”
Everything here is just fine.
I just can’t lay off Chuck Berry though, I recently got an LP of his straight from Chess Records Chicago cost me less than an English record.
Of course we’ve still got the old Lags here y’know Cliff Richard, Adam Faith and 2 new shockers Shane Fenton and Jora Leyton SUCH CRAP YOU HAVE NEVER HEARD. Except for that greaseball Sinatra ha ha ha ha ha ha ha.
Still I don’t get bored anymore. This Saturday I am going to an all night party.
12 galls of Beer Barrel of Cyder, 3 bottle Whiskey Wine. Her ma and pa gone away for the weekend I’ll twist myself till I drop (I’m glad to say).
They got a guy on electric harmonica Cyril Davies fabulous always half drunk unshaven plays like a mad man, marvelous.
Well then I can’t think of anything else to bore you with, so I’ll sign off goodnight viewers
Who else would write such bloody crap
Tonight’s set list:
I Wanna Be Your Man
Get Off Of My Cloud
It’s All Over Now
Paint It Black
Gimme Shelter (with Mary J. Blige)
All Down The Line
Going Down (with Jeff Beck)
Out Of Control
One More Shot
Doom And Gloom
It’s Only Rock ‘N’ Roll (with Bill Wyman)
Honky Tonk Women (with Bill Wyman)
You Can’t Always Get What You Want (with choir)
Jumpin’ Jack Flash
Kansas City – Wilbert Harrison
Honey What’s Wrong – Billy Fury
Confessin’ The Blues – Chuck Berry
Down The Road Apiece – Chuck Berry
I Want To Love You – Charles Smith
Ride ‘Em On Down – Robert Johnson
Back In The USA – Chuck Berry
I Feel A Kind Of Lonesome – Jimmy Reed
Blues Before Sunrise – Elmore James
Big Boss Man – Jimmy Reed
Don’t Stay Out All Night – Billy Boy Arnold
Tell Me That You Love Me – Fats Domino
Happy Home – Elmore James
The news goes along with the release of a 50th Anniversary book, documentary, film based on the making of Exile on Main Street and a photo exhibition which opened last Friday.
Photos courtesy of a source who requests anonymity …
Mick Jagger has a way with words.
An often overlooked phenomenon of the StoNES and their frontman. A poet? No. A song lyricist! Not really … Jagger from the early age of nineteen- a ‘philosopher’ stone. A wizard of the one sentence words.
‘ He can’t be a man ‘ cause he doesn’t smoke the same cigarettes as me’, ‘ War, children, is just a shot away’, ‘ Does your mother know you scratch like that?’
PHRASES which summed up the man on the street and Michael Phillip Jagger, regardless of his ‘wealth and taste’ – forever walking in the shoes of everyman.
‘Riding across the desert’ to come to your ’emotional rescue.’
No matter the times or era – the son of a physical education teacher, the top – ten graduate from the London School of Economics; an ear to the fads and styles of the new generation.
Each new Stones’ album included songs which kept them cool. Each new Stones album included true Stones’ songs. Each generation discovering tunes to suit their needs while discovering the Stones’ needs; the blues.
The band staying true to their roots while keeping it fresh. Miss You with a disco beat run parallel to blues riffs and bluesy harmonica. A lost leader in the band’s ‘ ‘pharmaceutical supply’ of gold albums hovering on every album.
‘ Walkin’ Central Park – Singin’ after dark ..people think I’m crazy …’
Meredith Hunter – the kid who was stabbed to death at the Stones’ Altamont concert, the pied pipes from Morocco, the numerous drug busts, the backlash from woman’s groups, Elmore James, Howlin ‘ Wolf, Chuck Berry, James Brown, Tina Turner, Maggie Trudeau and even Roy Rogers – all took the stage with the Stones in one form or another …
It was the very first stadium tour. It was the very first corporate – sponsored tour. The Stones about to rake in the money after being raked over the coals by then managerAllan Klein in the late sixties to early seventies. The band not about to end up on the short end of the paintbrush at Decca studios.
Aerosmith, Z.Z Top, Van Halen, Journey, Foreigner, Thorogood, Prince and many of the biggest names in rock – opening for the last of the British Invasion bands operating in full. Balloons, multi – nation capes and Jagger on center stage in football attire . The ultimate frontman – preaching to his disciples by the thousands.
The tours now legendary.
1972 and 1975. Sex and sex and sex and sex- left the majority of the U.S in tatters. Go ahead, find the Big Apple – don’ t mind the Stones …
Stevie Wonder, the entree to a Stones’ dinner complete with side orders of Billy Preston and Ollie Brown on the 72 tour. Funky rock n roll providing Mick with a dancefloor painted with the roots of Africa. If the Stones couldn’t rock you – nobody could. If the Stones couldn’t rock you – you did not deserve to rock.
If a band toured it was a tour. If the Stones toured – it was an event. A three- ringed circus complete with elephants, rooftop television tosses and planes equipped with giant tongues. A Rolling Stones‘ Rock n Roll circus with Jagger as the demonic ringmaster. ‘Raise a glass to the salt of the earth …’
In the words of Richards’; ” I don’t have a problem with drugs – I have a problem with police …”
In front of a backdrop of pastel drawn cars, guitars and magnificent colors – 81′ re – introduced Richards and company to a new generation.
Old Standby’s ‘Under my Thumb, Lets Spend the Night Together and ‘Ruby Tuesday’ providing insight to ‘ Black Limousine‘, ‘Little T and A’ and ‘Neighbors’. Time was on the Stones’ side – time waited for the Stones. A ‘fortune teller’ not required to foresee a future for these men performing ‘2000 light years’ from their roots.
‘It’ s just that demon life that’s got you in its SWAY …’