Monday, June 28, 2010

Uncle Lloyd and The Fore

THE NEW HIT SINGLE from The Fore has just been released (I toldja it'd be here!! See what patience can do?? lol) and, whilst the single, I Think You're Pretty, is absolutely fab with a capital "F" (same letter starts "FORE". Coincidence?), its video is awesome. It has colour, humour, superb shots, a very lovely bird whom Nathan just ... can't ... seem ... to interest (at first!) and, of course, the song itself as the soundtrack.
With a look reminiscent of the Sixties', Beatle-style romps, the video was produced by Megalith TV (which does excellent work!) and directed by Steve Crawford. And, listen ... when ya see the vid below, select 720p at the bottom of the viewer -- and you can watch in glorious HD!

LLOYD THAXTON and I discussed the lads in early 2008. I'd just come on-board as their U.S. Press Agent, and wanted, not only to introduce the band, but to get his impression of them -- after all, who else could give the sage advice that Uncle Lloyd imparted?

Yes, he thought The Fore was a tremendous foursome. But he advised that they keep it uncomplicated (meaning, the music), consistent and with a good beat, and remember the "3-minute" rule (the time it normally takes for listeners to "tune in, catch on, dig and emotionally respond to a song).

Great advice for any band ... and the lads are certainly following it! Along with their determination, drive, attitude and the best song structure and stage presence of any truly-R&R band that's appeared in years, they also are pretty darn photogenic!
With that in mind, here's the brand-new video from Megalith TV: The Fore doing I THINK YOU'RE PRETTY:



Stay tuned ...

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Last Night's Miracle Performance

Sometimes, you've just gotta cry ...
and, for this bird, last night (Wednesday, 23 June) was my time to do it.

Now, normally, I don't watch a lot of TV, other than a few PBS programmes and Craig Ferguson (a man who could easily be the telly's first human, and sometimes bawdy, ""Sesame Street" character).
But I did turn it on last night, intending to watch a special doc on the Rolling Stones. When the channel finally appeared, it turned out to be an intro into the last act of America's Got Talent.

What followed next was nothing less than a miracle, as two young sisters (Christina, age 13, and Ali, age 20) with cystic fibrosis took the stage. Their reason for being in the competition? To show others with disabilities that they can achieve their dreams; that they control their lives, and not the disease.

Then they broke out into the Miley Cyrus song, The Climb -- which is, ironically, about overcoming challenges. As the little Christina (who had perfect mic control ... which you'll see in a moment in the vid link I'll share) hit the high notes, the audience went wild with thunderous applause, then jumped out of their seats for a tremendous standing ovation!
In fact, even judge Howie Mandel stood and applauded throughout nearly the entire song.

After the song was over and the applause finally subsided, Ali went on to tell how their doctors said they'd never be able to sing; to which a very-moved Sharon Osbourne replied, "Well, you showed THEM wrong, didn't you?"
Yet, that was only part of the story (which climaxed with a unanimous thumbs-up decision on Piers', Sharon's and Howie's part).

The other part, I learned today: These sisters weren't even sure they were going to live to make this audition!

Watch this in its entirety, and tell me if you're not inspired or moved. If not, we've gotta have a little talk:



Now, after hearing the story and watching this miracle performance of these two CF victims ... what was that you said about having a headache??
Makes us all a bit sorry for complaining so much about little things, doesn't it??

Stay tuned ...

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The Battle for the Merseybeat Stage

MERSEYBEAT. For many statesiders, it evokes thoughts of The Beatles and Liverpool. But, in the UK, it's a musical style that's held in high honour and respect by the thousands of Liverpudlians who built the sound, as well as the millions of Merseybeat fans worldwide.

These men (and women) manned rough drumkits, cheap guitars with strings so far away from the fingerboard that guitarists' fingers would actually bleed after extended playing, microphones that didn't have the power to get their voices out to louder-than-they-were audiences (so they learned to become true masters of stage presence and vocal timbre ...), all to create the fantastic sounds that changed rock-n-roll (wait ... make that totally musical) history.

They sweat buckets as they played throughout their lovely city (most well known, of course, was The Cavern) and across the Channel in places like the Kaiserkeller and Star Club in Hamburg, Germany.
They would travel miles in rickety buses or cars to make minimal pay; suffered so many disappointments as various labels, managers or A&R men would turn them down, yet were revitalised when, finally, one would decide to sign them ...

These lads (and lasses) were true heroes of rock ... and, thankfully, quite a few of them are still with us today, still packing venues and exciting hordes of fans with their fab sounds ...

BUT ...

As of this writing, there is a consistent attempt by the Liverpool City Council to shut down one venue that these legends look forward to playing each year: The Merseybeat Stage at the Mathew St. Festival.
As you can see by the top pic on the left, the Stage itself draws thousands of tourists, rock fans and more each year. Here, you can see greats like The Undertakers (with their super saxophonist and a leader in the Merseybeat Stage movement, Brian Jones [pic to right]), Del Renas (which, as I have said in earlier posts, has harmonies that are the closest to "Everly Brothers" that I've ever heard!) and so many more.

Now, I can go on about this for days, but, instead, let me leave you with two points:
First of all:
IF YOU'RE A FAN OF THE LIVERPOOL BEAT and LIVE IN AMERICA, MAKE SOME NOIZE!! LET THE LIVERPOOL CITY COUNCIL KNOW THAT YOU WANT THE MERSEYBEAT STAGE TO STAY IN PLACE! HERE'S HOW:

Write or email the lady in charge of the decision!
To write, address your letter to:
Susan Lees
Senior Events Manager
Culture Liverpool - Liverpool City Council
PO Box 2008
Municipal Buildings
Dale Street
Liverpool L2 2DH
Tel: 0151-233-6831 0151-233-6831
Fax: 0151-22502151

WHEW!! Okay ... let's make it easier for you:
Email Susan Lees at:
susan.lees@liverpool.gov.uk

Secondly, go to Liverpool Beat and read more about this effort! You'll also hear the new track that promotes the saving of the Liverpool Stage.

Now, stay tuned, 'cause I've got more on the way in less than 24! Until then, I'll see ya on the flip side!!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Saxual 'Tention

I enjoy sax, though I've gotta admit it's been a lonnnng time since I've had the pleasure of handling ...

WAIIIIIIIIIITTT a minnit here ... didja see the third word up there? It's "s - A - x"!! Like in ... saxophone!!

And today marks the 164th birthday of the remarkable instrument that's made superstars of people as diverse as Boots Randolph, Denis Payton and Magic Dick -- or didja already forget the (1) greatest country saxplayer ever ("Yakety Sax"), (2) the quiet brassman of The Dave Clark Five or (3) the alto saxman of J. Geils Band fame?

Y'see, it all started in Paris France, where a 32-year-old Adolphe Sax (see where the name came from?), a musician and instrument designer from Belgium, patented the saxophone in 1846. He kept makin' the instruments throughout his life, but, before long, other (jealous) instrument makers said his patents weren't legal and filed suit again him and his company, causing him to go bankrupt in both 1856 and 1873.

So now ya know ...

SAVIN' THE MERSEYBEAT

Coming up in August will be the famous Mathew St. Festival in Liverpool, England. Now, for you who don't know (and how is it under that rock? lol), the street is home to some of the greatest bands in rock music; it's home to The Cavern, where The Beatles established their musical residency before they set the world on fire (now, it's The Fore who has residency ... and guess what's comin' up next?).

For years, many of the bands who made rock history back in the Sixties have played a venue called The Merseybeat Stage during the Festival -- and it's brought fans in from as far away as China and both Americas.
Alas, the City Council powers-that-be have deemed (thus far) that, this year, there won't be a Stage for them to play (yes, there are quite a few of the bands still together!).
It's drawn the ire of rock fans across the universe ... and, somehow, we've got to keep Ms. Susan Lees (activity director) and the Council from not only closing the Stage, but also from shooting the Festival's success in the foot.

So come back tomorrow, and I'll give ya the 411 as to how you can get involved. And, listen: some of Liverpool's musical legends have gotten together and created a fantastic album that spotlights the need for the Stage to stay where it is. Here ... until I get back here tomorrow, read the movement (and click on the music bar!). PS talk about saxes! Wait'll ya hear Brian Jones of The Undertakers wail ... believe me, it'll stick with ya!

STAY TUNED!

Monday, June 21, 2010

A Few News Briefs ...

No, not new briefs ... ummmm, unless somebody out there saw me shopping at Wally World late Saturday night. Anyway ...

SIMON AND GARFUNKEL CANCEL TOUR ... FOR NOW As much as we'd love to hear them break the "Sounds of Silence" once again, the legendary duo of Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel's summer tour, which was pushed from April to July to give Art's vocal troubles a chance to heal, has now been postponed indefinitely.

They announced the "Old Friends" tour cancellation on their website, giving Garfunkel's continued vocal paresis as the reason. Still, docs are expecting him to make a full recovery soon.
But because he hasn't healed fully yet, the duo felt it best to postpone the tour, the statement explained.

Art says, "I do feel bad about disrupting so many people's plans, but as I continue to mend, I can't yet bring my 'A game' to a tour, and I would not perform for you with anything less."

Ticketholders will be able to obtain refunds from the point of purchase, according to the statement.

SOMETHING TO CROAK ABOUT? It's apparently still "Award Time" here in the states, and the latest inductees to get stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame have just been announced.

Along with Buddy Holly, Louis Prima, the Go-Gos, Oprah Winfrey, Simon Cowell, Danny DiVito, Tina Fey, Melissa Etheridge, Sissy Spacek, Donald Sutherland and Gwyneth Paltrow will be ... The Muppets!!
These were announced this past Thursday, with the induction to be held next year.

Meanwhile, in Buddy's town of Lubbock, Texas, Bill Griggs -- popular authority on Lubbock's most famous citizen -- will be inducted into the West Texas Walk of Fame there on July 30.

More coming up in about 24, so stay tuned ... meanwhile, I'll see ya on the FLIP side ...

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Happy Father's Day

Until we resume the posts tomorrow (at which time we'll step up production as well), to every dad out there (and in memory of those who've gone before us),
Stay tuned ...

Friday, June 18, 2010

Making Music REAL Again

EDITOR'S NOTE: Beginning today, certain posts will be SIMULCAST on both ROCK, RHYTHM and RIMSHOTS and THE MOUSE HOUSE. They will be posts that affect all of us who live in the world of rock. We will have individually-tailored posts otherwise ...

A perfect example of what I'm talkin' about is what occurred in Pennsylvania this past week.
Thanks to the push of legendary Sha-Na-Na frontman Jon "Bowzer" Bauman and many others who are tired of rock rip-offs, the state has passed a law that puts the kibosh on any "act" that pretends to be the original recording artistes and puts on shows under that pretense.

To make it nationwide, the Vocal Group Hall of Fame (HQ'ed in Sharon, Pa. Bowzer's the head of their Truth In Music committee) is also working with other states to pass "Truth in Music" legislation. The law would allow states to stop performances of bogus groups and throw some hefty fines against them and their promoters.

Now, the "groups" most often mentioned have been those pretending to be The Drifters, The Coasters, The Shangri-Las and others, but, in my travels, I've also seen fake Association, Starliters, Rascals ... even Steam (which was a laugh, as the artistes who did Na Na Na (Kiss Him Goodbye was never a real band to begin with!).

Still, these perps are not only stealing performance rights, royalties and other monies that rightfully belong to the originals, but they're hurting their names, losing venues, and deceiving their fans ... and all in the name of GREED!

A QUICK REMINDER: Whilst it's wrong, on so many levels, for an act to pose as the original artistes, it is legit for a band to perform under an original's name as long as one of the members either performed with of the originals or owns the copyright to the originals' name.
For example: In Ashland, Kentucky, this summer, The Crystals are due to play the town's famed Summer Motion series. Now, the only original member of the group, Dee-Dee Kenniebrew, will be onstage with two who've been part of the lineup only since the beginning of the decade. But she's got the name rights, so it's good (though some of their hits were actually sung by a girl group called The Blossoms, the Crystals had their name on the label as the performers [btw, The Blossoms also included a young backing singer we know, today, as Cher!]).

But to read more about the drive to make rock (especially, in this case, the "doo-wop" performers) real again, read this MSNBC report and Bowzer's first write-up on it from 2006 , from the LA Times (both courtesy of TruthInMusic.org).

Okay ... that's it for now, but stay tuned ... there's more comin' your way in about 24. For you on the West Coast, we'll be immediately following your local news.

See ya on the FLIP SIDE!

Monday, June 14, 2010

The Day I Met Jimmy Dean

Say whatever you will about Jimmy Dean, he was pure country ...

Sadly, Jimmy, aged 81, left us yesterday (Sunday), and rather unexpectedly (though he had some health problems, which are normal due to his age). According to his wife, Donna, he was eating in front of their television. She left the room for a short time and, when she came back, she found him unresponsive. He was pronounced dead at 7:54 PM EST.

Whilst many young people only knew of Jimmy by his name emblazened across sausage packages, his millions of fans remember him as a regular, humble country boy who made narrative hits like P.T. 109 (in honor of President John F. Kennedy. Incidentally, for you young folks, it's a true story!) and, of course, the monster hit Big, Bad John.

In fact, that story -- about a coal miner who gave his own life whilst saving those of his co-workers -- hit this area (Kentucky/West Virginia) like a sledgehammer! And, of course, it seems bizarre yet appropriate to remember that song today, in light of the area's Upper Big Branch and other recent coal mining disasters.

Some years ago, I had the privilege of meeting the man who was born Seth Ward in Plainview, Texas. My question was a bit odd but, for a guy just barely out of his teens (more specifically, it was on my way back from Ft. Gordon, Georgia, where I was stationed), seemed logical: Do people ever get you confused with James Dean, the actor?
Some of the people around me looked at each other and shook their heads. They thought Jimmy was gonna just brush me off with that ridiculous question! After all, James Dean died years before in an accident!
Instead, he smiled, looked around and said, "Well, son, I get asked that a lot! And it always makes me think about him ..." He said it loud enough to make everybody shut up. He asked me where I was from, where I was headed and, seeing my uniform, thanked me for the job I was doing (he had great respect for our servicemen!).

A tall, lean, lanky guy who, even until his death, still had that child-like wonder about everything in his eyes. That was Jimmy Dean.

Now, I'm not going into the "sausage-making" part of his life (which, incidentally, actually did start with a recipe that his mama used when cooking up the pigs that he and his brother slaughtered on their farm). And I barely touched on him as country and gospel singer (though, as I mentioned, his hits had a tremendous impact, especially in this neck-of-the-woods).

It's far better that remember the man -- a true gentleman who, though he could get tough when he had to (he even fired bandmember Roy Clark, who later was to become a superstar in his own right, for habitually being late for gigs), was truly an humble family man who loved his country, his God and his family -- a man who had time for everyone.

From fans at both RRR and the Mouse House, our condolences and prayers are with Jimmy's family at this time. Country gentlemen of his calibre are few and far between ...

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Now, THAT'S Television!

Last night, PBS re-ran the first Gershwin Award show -- the one that honoured Paul Simon. Now, being a fan of Paul's since his days as Tico, I pushed everything aside to take it in.
Different artists performed note-for-note renditions of his biggest hits, including Shawn Colvin and Philip Glass' rendition of Gone At Last (you can't help feelin' good when you hear that song, whether by them or Paul and Phoebe Snow) and Marc Anthony's dynamite version of Late In The Evening.
Natch, he had Art Garfunkel with him to do Bridge Over Troubled Water (recently bestowed the Towering Song Award by the Songwriters' HoF for "uniquely influencing our culture"). Great to hear their still-smooth harmonies on that last verse ...

But the best part of the show, in my opinion, came when Stevie Wonder (who got the nod for the next Gershwin) was joined by the Dixie Hummingbirds and Paul to do Loves Me Like A Rock.
It ran smoothly until it came time for Stevie to tear into the third verse. Simon moved the mic a bit closer to Wonder (who was behind that souful keyboard of his), touched him on the shoulder, and Stevie started ...
then stopped ...
apologized to the audience, kidding that he "couldn't read the cue cards" and, upon the fans' laughter, pulled up his glasses as if to "read" the "cards" clearly.
Then they "took it from the top" again ... and the song and singers did the song to perfection!

Now, whatever you thought of the show, THAT was television at its finest!

It's also one of the reasons Uncle Lloyd's show was so overwhelmingly popular. While the music was outtasite, the kids were lively, happy, gyrating wonders and the guests were the coolest, it was the impromptu, ad-lib style of the (as Debbie in Gastonia, NC, wrote me) "host with the most" that made the show truly rock!
There were no "second takes", no "spots" or "lines" or whatever; as Lloyd told me once, if you accidentally stumbled, at least you fell for the laugh; if you forgot what you were going to say, you ad-libbed -- all for the entertainment value and to keep the show flowing.

Of course, we loved it because, as with Stevie Wonder's gaffe (and, by the way, aren'tcha glad that PBS was smart enough not to cut that part out?), it was proof that our heroes are human beings and not robots!

So you can have the Hollywood TV "stahhhhz" who must have every line just right and demand a re-take if they don't get "just the right mood" or whatever. Give me the Lloyd Thaxtons, Milton Berles and George Burnses -- performers and personalities who could take a flubbed line, a stumble or any unscripted moment and recover while the cameras are still running ... and leave the footage intact ...

Because, to me, that's television!

Stay tuned ...

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

A Very Special Birthday

CUE REPORTER: And on this day in history, in the year 1927, a child was born in Toledo, Ohio, who would change the face of teen television and influence millions of others, forever.
LLOYD EUGENE THAXTON was an humble man who also liked to draw funny faces on his fingers, wear outlandish Mexican hats while talking about some unseen person by the name of "Jose", dress as an opera singer while singing to a young, apparently off-screen, lady named "Cara", and, in a move that is scientifically impossible, actually transform himself into a teenager simply by absorbing the attitude of those whom he hosted on his famed weekday program, "The Lloyd Thaxton Show".


Okay, maybe that's a little far-fetched ... or is it??

Whilst we're celebrating the life of our mentor, friend and favorite "Uncle", let me share an email that came from a UK friend (no, not that "Kentucky" university; I mean the other UK) who remembered Uncle Lloyd's birthday and simply asked, "Can you imagine a teenaged world there if Lloyd Thaxton hadn't been born?"

A shiver went down my spine as the unimaginable played through what's left of my mind: scripted, formulaic programs, filled with bored kids with Vitalis®-slicked hair and stiff movements (as if they're afraid to rouse the anger of the producers); bands that would only go as high as #25 on the Billboard charts because they wouldn't have the exposure that'd put them on (or over) the top.
Later, there'd be thousands of people who'd be angered because they bought second-hand products, believing all the hype but not having anyone to "test" them (I'm speaking about "Fight Back! with David Horowitz" here, which LL produced).

There are many other scary thoughts in this bizarre "It's A Wonderful Life" style vignette -- so I'll stop with that part of it.

We all must remember that, whilst Lloyd made all of us happy -- made us feel as though we belonged ... we counted ...
he made some VSPs (very special people) the happiest of all:
his family ...
and, above all else, the woman whom he truly adored more than life itself:
the lovely Barbara.

In other words, thanks to LL, for years we could echo the paraphrased words of that other guy you see in the top photo: "(We) Got You (We Feel Good)"!

So, on this, what would've been his 83rd birthday (wait! What's this about would've been? Though Uncle Lloyd isn't with us in person now, he's left part of himself in each of our hearts -- an indelible loveprint that says, "Hey, everything's gonna get even better if ya just keep believin'! So stay tuned ... and rock if ya got 'em!"), all Mousers around the world are reminiscing and smiling while we say:

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, UNCLE LLOYD!! WE'LL ALWAYS LOVE YOU ... AND MISS YOU!!

Stay tuned ...

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Are The Baby-Boomers Reloading??

Okay ... while you're trying to figure out who's-who on the pic, the rest of us are going ahead with this post. Catch up when you're ready ... lol ...
(BTW, I IM'ed a friend with that LOL in a joke. She IM'ed back ASAP with 411 on it. Thought it meant "lots of love" as we used back in the day of handwritten letters [yes, we're that old, I guess ...]. I 411'ed PDQ that LOL meant "lots of laughs". She didn't find it funny. She 86'ed me ...)

Baby-boomers. By the end of World War II and from the Levittowns and prefabs (houses) that cropped up everywhere came the birth of the liveliest, most inventive and creative -- and most musically-minded -- generation in history. Not content to watch life from the sidelines, we jumped into it like divers in a swimming competition and made it a gigantic happening.
Then we watched the news about war and death -- and were mortified (PS since Jimmy Durante died, does anybody use that word anymore??). So we decided to take this "life" thing a step further and promote it and its faithful companion, "peace".

A lot of changes took place thanks to the boomers -- but, by the disco years, they were slowly fading from social memory. Sadly, it took John Lennon's brutal murder in 1980 to bring it back to our thoughts (John and Yoko actually did believe in every part of the peace movement, btw. It wasn't for show, as some have erroneously thought ...).
And we were on a roll with it, until the later Reagan years. Now, I believed in President Reagan as much as anyone, and applauded his work. But, as he did this country so much good, baby-boomers began relaxing their revived "peace and brotherhood" stance. It was if the world was a continuing episode of Family Ties, and we were Michael J. Fox's character.

Then, just a smidgen more than two decades later came the WTC attack. The Iraqi war. And, in some parts of the country, a renewed (shall I say it?) racism. Rampant drug use (including alcohol and the Wild Weed) amongst young people.
Amidst all that, there came a wicked wind called Katrina, who was followed by her little sister Rita on the Gulf Coast.
At that point the baby-boomers, who'd seem to run out of ammunition during the Reagan years, reloaded with a look in their eyes that hadn't been seen since their Age of Aquarius decades earlier.

Today, they're on the forefront of just about every faction: Business, Media, Entertainment, Churches, Schools -- even on the Capitol steps.
And though they're of different races, faiths, creeds, colors, sexes and shapes -- they're all saying the same basic thing: Once again, in many ways, we've gotta
GIVE PEACE A CHANCE!!
And they're setting out to make that happen. And ya know something? I believe the generation, as a whole, will do just that because, where in yesteryear they wanted a voice, today ...
THEY ARE THE VOICE!

Stay tuned ...