Monday, October 26, 2009

Mojo Nixon Gives Away 1 Million + Tracks

Mojo Nixon gave away his catalogue on Amazon for free. The results are astounding. According to this article in the Wall St Journal, there have been over one million downloads of his songs. He was hoping to get 10,000 download. Great story.

Sunday, October 25, 2009


Sleepers haunted me for days when I saw it in its initial release. It's haunting me again since I saw it Thursday at the closing night of Fordham Law's Film Festival. Director Barry Levinson, the book's author Lorenzo Carcaterra and DA Charles Hynes discussed the movie with Fordham's Thane Rosenbaum.

The film is based on Lorenzo's book. It's his life story. He grew up in 1960's Hell's Kitchen which was Irish, Italian (he pointed out that he spoke Italian and didn't learn English until he started school) and Puerto Rican. He and many of his friends came from violent households. DA Hynes said that once you grow up with violence you never forget it. He experienced it in his house at age 5.

The boys were getting into trouble. There was the local priest, Fr. Bobby (played by Robert DeNiro) who had the same upbringing, but was trying to steer these kids in a better direction. Lorenzo and his 3 friends (he changed their names to protect their privacy-but still sees those still living for dinners) play a prank on the hot dog vendor and it turns ugly. They are sent to an upstate NY reform school where they encounter the out of control quartet of wardens led by Sean Nokes (Kevin Bacon as his creepiest). Sleepers is a story of revenge and the families that form from neighborhood ties.

Cartcaterra's story has been challenged as a work of non-fiction. The NY courts have said they have no record of the trial that occurs in his story. The priests that served at Sacred Heart say they never perjured themselves (as Fr Bobby does) and are unaware of the story. The school states Lorenzo only had 14 absent days from school, making it impossible for him to be away at a reform school for over 6 months. Lorenzo still stands by his story.

As crazy and as turbulent a childhood he had, he said he and his friends were well read, far more than kids today. The Count of Monte Cristo was one of his favorite books and plays a part in the movie. He credits Catholic school with rounding out his love for literature. The neighborhood was a family. Kids playing on the streets, all looking out for one another. The West 50's was never a wealthy area, but according to Lorenzo it fell apart with the proliferation of cocaine. I've heard other people mention the destruction cocaine has caused. Nancy Wilson of the band Heart felt the music business took a turn for the worst when everyone started using cocaine. Musicians used to be a collaborative community. Cocaine made it everyone for themselves.

Levinson talked about the greatness of Dustin Hoffman. He wrote an additional scene just so he could see Victorio Gassman (King Benny) and Hoffman interact. Hoffman steals the scene with an ad lib about a drug problem.

Diner, Levinson's directorial debut is one of my favorite movies. I know it inside and out. I can quote it ("I'll hit you so hard I'll kill your whole family", "Do you ever get the feeling that there's something going on that we don't know about?" "You know what word I'm not comfortable with? Nuance."). The ending of Sleepers is so close to the ending of Diner. A bunch of friends gather around a table and reminisce, laugh and enjoy each other's company. The slow motion of the gestures ("Gesture is a real word") is a defining part of both endings. The films turn out different, but they are both about a family of friends. Kevin Bacon and Ralph Tabakin ("Bonanza doesn't look right?") appear in both films.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Soupy Sales RIP

I remember watching the Soupy Sales Show. His cast of characters included White Fang and Pookie. He was famous for his polka dot bow tie and getting a pie in the face at least once an episode. He died last night at age 83. He was a nut, who probably like many other hosts of children's shows (Pee Wee Herman, Uncle Floyd to name two) were not really playing to kids, but actually creating entertainment for themselves. They laughed as their own jokes as much as we did. The nuances went over my head. Could it be long before someone covers Do The Mouse?

The dance starts about 3 minutes into the video.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Musebox Presents Litle Fish

CMJ is happening in NY and The Musebox (bands beware: they are marketing/PR/artist development central) showcased their latest project: Little Fish. They hail from England and are fronted by Juju. She's intense. She's been listening to Patti Smith. The single Darling Dear is a sparse, catchy song augmented by hand claps and a chorus of La La La's.

Emphasizing the intense, JuJu is indestructible in the video.

Nothing can keep her from singing and that certainly transpired in their performance yesterday. When she sings "Am I crazy" and gives you the eyes, hide the knives, she means business. Fire like this is sorely missed in music. Juju sweats, threatens and sings with ferocity. Her partner in Little Fish is the drummer, Nez. On the opening song of their set, his beat was reminiscent of Ballroom Blitz. I thought we might be in for an evening of Sweet (pun intended) sounds. Vocals kicked in and all bets were off. Making it a trio was a hired keyboard player for the evening. Once you see her, Juju won't let you forget her. I would say pay attention, but it's almost impossible not to.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Rock Band Beatles Sales

Rock Band sold about 583,000 units during its first month, including 254k for the Xbox 360 and 208k for the Nintendo Wii according to NPD Group.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Los Lobos Rock The White House

In Performance At The White House airs tonight on PBS (8pm on WNET in NY). It's a celebration of the Hispanic musical heritage. The performance took place earlier this week. Los Lobos took part and as Louie Perez from the band says on Twitter "The show at the White House was one for the books." Also appearing are Marc Anthony, Gloria Estefan, José Feliciano, George Lopez, Thalia, Tito "El Bambino", Aventura and musical director Sheila E. Louie went on to say that "Prez Obama was way cool. We felt immediately comfortable . Big hugs from him and his wife." When I managed Los Lobos they performed twice during Clinton's presidency: at one of the first inaugural balls and at a fund raiser in Colorado.

Nick Lowe: A Most Charming, Witty Rocker

There are few musicians who craft lyrics the way Nick Lowe and John Hiatt do. They were band mates in Little Village and have played on each others records. Nick does a great cover of Hiatt's She Don't Love Nobody , a Hiatt. Although their style is different, their similarities were apparent in Nick's performance Wednesday night in New York. They're master storytellers, who tells it like it is.

Has She Got A Friend, elicited a few chuckles with its opening lines:

I'm so glad to hear about
the true happiness you've found and how your retched life has been turned around I can try to achieve joy for your empty nights now at an end but what I really want to know is Has She Got A Friend?

Who else could make the word retched work so well in a song? Well maybe Hiatt who rhymed the word somnambulist in Ride Along (Sometimes that girl she'll slip you a kiss/ But she's just another somnambulist).

Lowe has an understated delivery which could be mistaken as mushy pop if you're not paying attention. He writes unforgettable melodies, but listen for the lyrics because there's always a point. He was amazed that people applauded his performance of I Trained Her To Love Me (I trained her to love me so I can go ahead and break her heart). It's a crazy rant from a serial heartbreaker, who knows he'll end up alone and miserable, but can't help himself.

Classic songs take on a new life with his stripped down arrangements including Heart, which goes from an upbeat Rock Around The Clock to a sentimental ode to love. Without Love, When I Write the Book, Cruel To Be Kind and What's So Funny 'Bout Peace Love and Understanding (which becomes increasingly relevant with each decade) are timeless gems.

At the urging of an audience member, he pulled off an impromptu version of Heart Of the City. Another yelled out Marie Provost, but alas he did not take him up on it. She was a winner who became the doggie's dinner, but not part of the music Wednesday night. Nick Lowe is a man for all musical seasons.

Nick played at the relatively new City Winery. You would think a place that names itself that would pride themselves on wine. Ten minutes after being seated and given menus and a wine list, no one came by to take our order. Turns out we were in "bar seats" although the bar was half a venue away. The bartender told me he was swamped and couldn't help me. When I asked if the other bartender could take our order, he shot back "what do you want?" He poured a 3 oz glass of riesling for $12 and emptied prosecco from two different bottles into one glass. Nuff said? Our seats were "obstructed view". They should rename these seats "no view". There are massive pillars just past the stage, making it impossible to see Nick. We had to move ourselves and stand through the set. If you plan on seeing a show there, make sure you have one of the six tables directly in front of the stage or you'll be craning all night. Great performance, subpar venue.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Saturday, October 10, 2009

ABBIJANE: The Last Show

Last night family, friends, clients and admirers paid tribute to Abbijane at the National Arts Club. Her lasting legacy of timeless designs, beautiful fabrics and attention to quality were foremost in the showing of her last collection, which was completed before her untimely death earlier this year. The clothes were either black or dark gray which meant there was no having to state, as Abbi always did, that her designs "all come in black." Being the downtown girl that she was, it seemed necessary to have black as a basic option.

Abbijane left a mark on people she encountered whether she knew them for a short time or over decades. Penn Badgley (Dan Humphrey on Gossip Girl) had known Abbi for two years. He said that she became his surrogate Jewish mother. Lenny Kaye knew Abbi for decades and honored her by performing an acoustic, group participation of her beloved New York Dolls song Trash.

Friday, October 09, 2009

Keith Urban-Madison Square Garden

Keith Urban plays to the crowd, while in the crowd. Heard hints of Prince, Cheap Trick and The Who in the show last night. All phenomenal performers. Keith holds his own in their company.

He shakes up his arrangements, plays an incredible guitar, is very appreciative of his audience and his crew and looks like he's having the time of his life.

He closed the show by leaving his uber tight band to play while the camera followed his exit through the bowels of The Garden to 33rd St. He proceed to hail a cab, wave good night, shut the door and head west. The crew credits rolled. A surprise ending to a perfect night of music.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

MoJo Nixon Goes Free

Never one to shy away from any topic, Mojo Nixon (real name Neill Kirby McMillan, Jr acording to Wikipedia) is taking the be free attitude to Amazon. For a limited time (approximately 3 weeks) his entire catalog is free. You can download the classics Debbie Gibson is Pregnant With My Two Headed Lovechild, She's Vibrator Dependent and Don Henley Must Die, with one of my favorite lyrics "Don Henley must die, Don't let him get back together with Glenn Frey." Somehow I remember the lyric being "No reunion with Glenn Frey." Same sentiment. This was obviously written before one of the many Eagles reunions. Nixon later praised Henley after he appeared on stage with Mojo to sing the song, "He has balls the size of church bells!"

As Mojo's website states, he is still alive, he has a weekly show on Sirius/XM's Outlaw channel daily from 4-8pm EST as well as his political show on channel 104, called Lyin' Cocksuckers, Thursday at 8pm. So, who the hell is Mojo Nixon anyway?
In case you've managed to stumble into this site without knowning who Mojo Nixon is, here are some Mojo Nixon basics:

Mojo is that ugly looking guy in the picture to the left
Mojo Nixon is no relation to dead former President of the United States Richard Nixon
Mojo writes and performs outrageously funny rock and roll songs. Try to imagine Bruce Springsteen without that broomstick up his butt. Think of Jonathan Richman raised in a Tennessee trailer park.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Monty Python Unedited on IFC

IFC announced it will air all episodes from the original Monty Python's Flying Circus starting this month as part of the network's "Python-a-thon" week through the end of 2010. IFC acquired all 45 episodes. IFC's "Python-a-thon" begins October 18-23 consisting of the original six-part documentary Monty Python: Almost the Truth (The Lawyer's Cut) each night at 9pm followed by a Python feature film at 10pm and capped off by an episode of Monty Python's Flying Circus at 11:30pm. Additionally, IFC will air all thirteen episodes from season one unedited and uncut through the end of 2009 on Mondays at 730p and Fridays at 11p. Seasons two, three and four will begin airing on IFC next year. IFC's website has clips from the documentary such as the time John Cleese and Terry Gilliam got in a fight on the set of Holy Grail.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Authors Looking Like Indie Musicians

There's a Washington Post article about how authors who don't have the steam of a John Irving or a Toni Morrison are promoting their books. It's a DIY approach, much like musicians have been doing for years. Authors are making their own trailers, sending themselves on a a book tour, selling books from their car and sometimes self-publishing. Musicians and authors have become one person marketing/creative centers. The old adage If you want something done right, do it yourself, holds truer than ever.