WWSP's Shadow of th Marigold

Monday, February 29, 2016

A Powerful Audience

Our show Saturday night. The first row was filled with the blind. Blind folks. They were there for the first band, Blind Concept (see previous post), but they stayed for our set. Blind folks listen. Intently. And that kind of set the tone for the show. A small bar, tightly packed in front of the music stage, people listening to, and  absorbing the music.

Pretty remarkable.

Also, coincidentally, our lead singer, started our set by ringing a bell for "peace and love." It kind of gave our whole set a sort of "spiritual" feel. After the set, people came us and told us that our songs really "touched" them. Our band was in fine form, definitely one of our better outings, but the response from the audience was truly unique.

I do think the blind members of the audience totally changed the vibe of the room. We were more focused on our sound, and it permeated the room. All in all a powerful performance. And a  powerful audience. A real communion. Remarkable!

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Blind Concept!


Once in awhile you meet extraordinary people. Don't know how, don't know why. Last night we played at a small bar in Chicago, and happened to meet an extraordinary band called Blind Concept. Led by the charismatic and soulful Calvin Smith. They play "music from the Rat Pack to the present." Their band motto: "we may be blind but we are quite entertaining."  They are, (at least a few of the members), and they are. You should check them out!

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Song-Writing!


Wrote a new song with my song-writing partner, finished it last night. Some times songs come easy, and you wonder, was it "too easy?" That's crazy. No such thing as too easy.

Songs come. Sort of like the rain. That's how it feels. They fall down on you. Not a lot of thinking involved. The best is when your partner brings the lyrics and you start strumming, and then it comes together, a melody emerges.

I always have riffs and chord progressions kind of stocked up. Just for spontaneous sessions like the one we had last night. We recorded a demo on our little digital recorder. This morning, listening, it does sound good, really good.

And then you think, "where'd that come from?" And then, "wonder if it will ever happen again?" That's song-writing! I give all the credit to my old guitar. Lots of songs in that beat-up old friend.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Things!

How to make it in this life? You have to have "things." You know, things to do, things to believe. That's the formula. Simple. Take it from there Pilgrim!

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Hard, Shining, Diamonds


A bit more to say about whitewolfsonicprincess' new record, "The Shadow of the Marigold," (see previous post). When we made the IndieoGoGo campaign video, which was probably the hardest thing to do - being on camera, trying to explain what you are trying to create, asking for folks to donate to your cause - we came up with one simple line that kind of summed it all up. We wanted to create "a beautiful, well-made thing."

That was the goal. To create a very cohesive set of music, that created a consistent vibe, that flowed from one song to the next, that held together with some kind of overarching theme/vision. As Terry Flamm put it in his review about our album: an album filled with "sacred and destructive imagery."

I was thinking about other records/other artists who kind of set us on this mission. Yesterday I was thinking of the records that I'd say stand out for me as cohesive artistic statements - not just a collection of songs, no radio friendly cuts, albums not searching for "international pop hits," just superb records, hard shining diamonds, almost out of time and place, just existing on some kind of artistic mountain top.

I'm not saying our record belongs with these great albums, just that we had these records in our heads, they were examples of the kind of work we were shooting for. Records you have to play from beginning to end, and then play again. They never grow old or tired. Always alive.

Anyway, you do the work, and hope your work connects with someone out there. These are 5 discs that do it for me every time.

1. Astral Weeks - 1968 - Van Morrison - what can you say, "If I ventured in the slipstream..." - never get tired of hearing this record, it's like a fever dream, a vision - powerful, spiritual, everything we expect from art. Transforming. Always.

2. Five Leaves Left - 1968 - Nick Drake - moody, dark, dreamy. Lush strings, beautiful acoustic guitar, that haunting evocative voice. A fully realized masterpiece.

3. On the Beach - 1974 - Neil Young - paranoia, revolution, the Manson murders hang over this one. Loose, quirky, funny, a bit sloppy. Unforgettable. 

4. High Violet - 2010 - The National - lush, odd, challenging, beautiful, disjointed, disturbing. Sonically rich.

5. I Want to See the Bright Lights Tonight - 1974 - Richard and Linda Thompson - hard, bright, brilliant, musical, bleak, black, elemental. Gorgeous vocals, inspiring guitars. Overwhelming.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Broken Hearted Toy reviews Our Album "The Shadow of the Marigold!"


2016 has already been a pretty significant year for our band, whitewolfsonicprincess. We ran a successful IndieGoGo campaign for our new album "The Shadow of the Marigold, " we are in talks with a Music Publisher about licensing opportunities for our latest batch of songs, and we've already gotten some radio play in the States and Europe for one of our tracks.

Only a small group of people have even heard the album yet. Unless you know one of the band members, the record is almost impossible to get. We are doing a "slow roll-out," - official release date is April 7 - that day our album with be available on iTunes, Apple Music and Google Play.

"Word of mouth" for the record has been really positive. Terry Flamm at Broken Hearted Toy is the first to review the record. Terry has a pretty unique perspective on the work, he knows us well from years of seeing our work with our little theater group Black Forest.

It is so gratifying to know that people are listening, and it does seem like the work is connecting with people. It's funny, we are not trying to make "international pop hits," or "radio-friendly" tracks,  and not trying to follow any trends, not trying sound like anyone else but us. But at the same time, it's exciting when people do sit down and really listen.

We are happy with the work, we think it's the most finished, layered, and cohesive set of music we've ever done. We play with some pretty amazing, talented musicians. A great group vibe! And so happy with the production - recorded & mixed by Victor Sanders, and mastered by the legendary Ray Kennedy @ Zen Masters in Nashville TN.  Ray has worked with some of the all-time great musical artists: Richard Thompson, Lucinda Williams, John Prine, Ray Davies, Stevie Nicks, Steve Earle. It was Ray's work on Thompson's "Electric," and Lucinda's "Car Wheels on a Gravel Road" that led us to Ray. And Ray really gives the record a warm, analog feel!

If you want one, a CD with a cool 12 page booklet and a WWSP post card, message me, you can order one, and we will mail it to you... the old fashioned way!

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Yes, Lots of Kinks...

Speaking of Stooges... (see previous post)...

Some bands are dysfunctional. Or maybe they are only really functional on stage, in the middle of a song. Here's the Kinks in 1977 on SNL. Pretty cool medley of their hits...

Offstage, these guys were insomniacs, heavy drinkers - lots of pratfalls, conks on the head, dysfunction, dissatisfaction, sibling rivalry, disappearances, misunderstandings, lost chances.

Or as Ray Davies himself sums it up, Kinks-style: bad management, bad luck, bad behavior.  It's only r&r! Dave and Ray are all smiles on stage, but supposedly even before this little set, it was all flared tempers, and bad blood... maybe that was the source of their chemistry?!



Monday, February 22, 2016

Ray Davies - Unreliable Narrator!


I'm reading Ray Davies book "Americana" now.  Just a few chapters in, and I'm really enjoying it. But then I come to this, and I think: "Really Ray?!

"The Beatles were a cross between the Three Stooges and the boy next door."

This morning I do a quick Google search and find that Ray Davies reviewed the Beatles "Revolver" in August 1966. (He didn't like it so much!).

I now realize I am reading a book written by one of the great British r&r songwriters, with a great catalog of memorable, essential songs, but our dear Mr. Davies is what we would call in the writing biz an "unreliable narrator!"

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Empty Room!

I got this idea from Ray Davies...

We all need an empty room.
No bric a brac.
No photos.
No records, or books.
No possessions at all.

No momentos.
No memories.

Open.
Clean.
Empty.

Go there.
Often.
Fill it with the new.
Fill it with the now.
Create.

Empty room.
Free space.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

God. Right?!

God.
You thought that one was settled.
Exists. 
Or not.
Believe. 
Or not.

A higher power?
Maybe not so high.

A smile.
A good word.
A shiny stone.
A great cup of coffee.
A kind thought.
A light.

That's it.
Something...
small...
simple...
humble...
homely...

We get to build 
our lives 
on this cloud.
Or not.

Friday, February 19, 2016

America's Original Sin!

Sometimes a "truth" is so obvious, so all-pervasive, and so all-entrancing, that it's easy to miss. Look at all the trouble in America, the great divide between people, political parties, and our many social ills. Nearly everything can be traced back to Slavery, and the Civil War. America's Original Sin. Truth.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Bring the 9 Muses Back!

The 9 Muses. We should bring them back. Maybe we could deflate all those massive egos that are inflating all around us?

How many geniuses can dance on the head of a pin? 

It gets to be a bit much when we have artists of all types and politicians, and business folks, and well, people from every walk of life puffing themselves up and telling us how brilliant they are, and how everything truly revolves around them.

Maybe we go back to the concept of "the Muses," you know, let's admit that it's not all about us. Inspiration and knowledge and invention, these things descend upon us like the rain. The best amongst us absorb their influences like sponges and then reflect them back to the world.

So yes, we are all made of "star stuff," but we are more like moons. We reflect the light. Our light comes from other sources. Our "genius" is being open and receptive to others.

And maybe not every Muse has their shit together. Maybe there are dumb muses? Muses that will lead you astray, down blind alleys. These defective Muses would explain so much.

We would take less credit, take less blame. Maybe that would help us in this land of the apotheosis of the ego!

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Narcissism is a Genre!

Narcissism. It's a genre. A life-style. A career. An all-consuming obsession. "Excessive self-love, fascination with oneself, vanity."

Our culture has enshrined narcissism as a religion. We are fascinated with those fascinated with themselves. We can't get enough of those folks over-flowing with vanity and self-love for all things them! We have elevated these people, we listen to their songs about themselves, we watch their self-reverential videos, we marvel at their constant stream of "selfies."

We can't live without knowing how the great Narcissists amongst us see and feel and think about all that passes thru them. Some of these Narcissists pose as the great artists of our time. They don't reflect the world, they project themselves into the world, and declare that they themselves are the world.

All revolves around the Narcissist. All roads lead to them and thru them. All eyes are on them. And those who watch, those who adore the Narcissist are elevated and gratified just by being in their glowing aura. And by adoring those who adore, well, in a small way, the common ones are adored too.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Seconds for Nile!

Yes, I do think Lady Gaga's tribute to Bowie at the Grammys was pretty much a train-wreck, jam-packed and jittery, and didn't really capture the Bowie vibe at all. When I think Bowie, I think grace, sophistication, cool. Not a frenetic, anorexic Elvis impersonator. So it wasn't so much a tribute, as much as an unfortunate deconstruction of the Bowie catalog. Still,  a few seconds of stage time for Nile Rodgers? Sublime.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Trump in his Smarmy Trumpiness!

I haven't actually taken the time to sit hru a complete GOP debate yet. I'd rather drive a nail into my forehead, but I have watched a few highlight clips. And I have to say that Trump is quite the entertaining GOP killer. Is he some kind of "Manchurian Candidate?"

He's loud and obnoxious, and he has been successful at bringing the debate down to the mud wrestling level. Everyone on stage with him is sort of lowered into a shouting match with a bully. And all the other candidates look like bad copies of the original Trump. Trump is the worst candidate imaginable, but Bush, Rubio, Cruz are actually even worse than that, poor imitations of the loudmouth bully.

At least Trump is genuinely Trump in all his smarmy Trumpiness. And he actually stumbles into the truth once in awhile, which is sort of exhilarating. When he attacked Jeb and the Bush/Cheney regime for lying us into a war in Iraq, over WMD that they knew did not exist, well, it was sort of supremely sublime.

Jeb sputtered. Trump lorded over him. The audience was in an uproar.  Pretty funny! So Trump. God help us! I hope Trump destroys the GOP and then the Democrats sweep into a new era of politics.

Update: More here on Trump the "Bush-killer!" Exquisite, viciously true, and a highly-effective attack on Bush's tragic, Iraq folly. What a great takedown of Jeb and his devastatingly idiotic brother!

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Think! Change the Universe!

You can change the quality of your life by the way you think. It's true. Seems so simple. Sort of absurd. You think. And you change it.

Example. Sometimes I get in that mode of "I need to make something happen." I have spent lots of time in my life in this mode. It's pretty unfulfilling. How do you "make things happen?" Who knows?!

I don't think that's how the universe works. I can't make things happen. Not really. I mean, I am active. I do things. But what happens is bigger than me.

So then you step back and think: I can't make anything happen. I can only be attentive. Be present. Be engaged. And what happens? I feel better. More relaxed. Sleep better. See clearer.

Just by changing the way I think... and how I see the universe. Simple. Really.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

The Power of Music!

Super cold around here. Yesterday I was out in it for much of the day. Got home and was totally exhausted. What did I do? I soaked myself in sound. Washed my brain, my body, with music.

I "rediscovered" Mercury Rev's "Deserter's Songs."  Listening to it is a revelation. And you know it's a great record, because every time you listen, it's like listening for the first time. It came out in 1998, but I didn't discover until 2012. I know, a little late to the party.

It seems like a message from a lost place and time.

It is an extraordinary record. It has some relation to the Flaming Lips "The Soft Bulletin," same Producer - Dave Fridmann, Jonathan Donahue's voice is somewhat reminiscent of Wayne Coyne's voice, but "Deserter Songs," is a much moodier record, more cinematic, oddly ephemeral.

It was mastered on 35 mm film stock! So odd. So weird. So old world. I have never heard of another record using that technology. And it gives the record an amazing sound - soft, rich, slippery, beautiful.

Anyway, I was totally revitalized by the experience. That's the power of music...

** Try this! Put 3 CD's on the carousel - Mercury Rev's Deserter Songs, the Flaming Lips The Soft Bulletin, and Tame Impala's Lonerism. Three amazing, beautiful albums. All produced by Dave Fridmann. Major work. Multi-faceted. Like a big shiny diamond. Lots of similarities, lots of differences. These albums go together. Very, very nicely. Dare I say it, Fridmann is the USA version of Eno... another secret agent in music!

Friday, February 12, 2016

Willy Loman School of Doubt!

Why am I doubting the guy that's telling me exactly what I want to hear? Why am I doubting the guy I agree with? Why?

Good question. 

When I hear someone telling me exactly what I want to hear, I'm suspicious. He may not be pandering to me, maybe he's just telling me exactly what he thinks and believes with his heart and soul, but maybe it sounds too much like the narrative inside my head.

So really, my doubts about the guy, are actually doubts about myself. I think that someone who thinks like me can't really succeed. Not in the country that I know so well. Man, this is like being a member of the "Willy Loman School of Doubt." Failure is our middle name.

So yes, failure hangs over this guy, even as he stands on stage bathing in applause, even as they tote up his recent successes. I don't believe. I don't. I like what he's saying, but I just don't see it...

Thursday, February 11, 2016

The Brain - On Music!

The brain. I've always been fascinated by the brain. And how brains study brains. And how the brain is pretty much a mystery to those who have brains. We know what a brain does, we use it all the time, but we don't really get how it works, or why, and we are convinced that there are vast stretches of our brains that are unknown, untouched, and maybe under-utilized. We know that our own brains can get us into all kinds of trouble. And then sometimes, the brain will surprise us by coughing up some little grains of wisdom.

Scientists over the years have dissected, electrified, lopped off, tranquilized, doped, and incapacitated brains. Sometimes we've actually considered these actions medically beneficial. But then, later, in hindsight, it all sort of looks like a grand hall of torture, and horror.

Lately the medical/scientific community loves to take pictures of the brain. MRIs. They stimulate a brain and watch it light up, and then make assumptions about what it all means. Lots of pretty pictures. Lots of lit up brain imagery. Science! Medicine!

Here's an article that tells us that when we listen to music our brain lights up in many different areas. Music has a different "room," or "channel" - a different pathway, than language. Some think our ancestors communicated via music, before we developed language. And we derive a special pleasure and good feeling listening to music. Any kind of music!

Well, sure. I think so. Pretty much! Music is sort like a brain massage. A vibratory mud bath! Good for the head, good for the body, with a direct connection to the soul. Good. I didn't need no stinking brain pictures to tell me that...

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

"A Racist, a Sexist, and a Demagogue..." - E. Klein

This guy... I shudder...

For some reason, I don't think Bernie can win the Presidency. I don't think he can even win the Democratic nomination, although I am happy to be proven wrong.

But for some reason, (god forbid), I do think Trump can win. In some ways, Trump is the perfect reflection of the "Worst of America." I do not think this is a "good thing!" But there is a certain "sense" to the whole thing.

And just what is the worst of America? Trump:"he's a racist, a sexist and a demagogue, but he's also a narcissist, a bully and a dilettante." 

I mean, hell, what's not to like?

Tuesday, February 09, 2016

Must be the Opioids!

I did watch the Super Bowl. I did watch the halftime show. I turned the sound off and played my scratchy vinyl copy of "The Worst of the Jefferson Airplane" as the spectacle flashed across the screen.

What to say? 

As I watched Coldplay, Bruno Mars and Beyonce jumping around on stage, I thought to myself... "Yes, I do think this is clear proof that America is deeply addicted to opioids (thanks Big Pharma!). That's the only plausible explanation..."

Monday, February 08, 2016

Bernie vs. Hillary, Hillary vs. Bernie

Bernie vs. Hillary. Hillary vs. Bernie. I'm for both. Can it be? Yes. I guess it's sort like being both a Stones and a Beatles fan. I like both! It's not impossible. I choose not to choose.

My thing is, a Democrat must be elected President. Which Democrat? Either one is fine with me. But it must be a Democrat. I cannot imagine a GOP dominated government. So all this blood-letting on the Left is a bit disconcerting. Some folks want to be for their candidate, and against the other one. Lots of negativity tossed around.

Maybe it's healthy. Maybe it's not. 

Bernie and Hillary are actually pretty close on the issues. Bernie is a little bit farther on the Left side of the Left. I actually track pretty closely with Bernie. I want healthcare for all, free college for all, a socialist paradise for all. But I also think that just because Bernie tells me what I want to hear, doesn't mean I should vote for him. 

I'm not sure that someone who thinks just like me could actually be elected President. I don't really think we are the kind of country that would let someone like me run the place. So my idealism tracks with Bernie, and my pragmatism tracks with Hillary.

I like the Beatles harmony and melody, and the Stones ramshackle rock & roll.

Then there's this: Bill Clinton tells us that "Bernie Sanders Lives in a Hermetically Sealed Box!" I think, "That's a  pretty good line!" And the Big Dog is right. Bernie does sound like a guy who has lived in a hermetically sealed box for his whole career. He is principled, and consistent, and adheres to a very strict democratic socialist vision.  It is appealing. But it's a clean little box. And who wouldn't want to live in such a box?! (It's kind of like the Beatles living in the hermetically sealed box of Abbey Road, singing "All you need is love," and the Stones tax exiles on Main Street, singing "Love, Sister, is just a kiss away.")

But, you know, it's a big, deeply divided country. And the general election is gonna be dirty, ugly, and bloody, and in order to win, I don't think you can do it from inside a box. I don't think you can do it, do battle with the GOP without playing the money game. So, I'm grooving to Bernie's harmony/melody, but in my heart of hearts, I don't think he's even gonna win the Democratic primary, so I am expecting to rock & roll with Hillary in the general election. But I do like both. Yes, I do.

Sunday, February 07, 2016

My Species!

Sapiens.  Kevin Drums points me to a book I must read!

Homo Sapiens - underdogs of the Savannah, full of fear and anxieties, doubly cruel and dangerous...

Yes, indeed. That sounds just like my species!

Saturday, February 06, 2016

Hippy Dippy!

When the locally famous Radio DJ takes a listen to your band's new record (The Shadow of the Marigold - not officially released yet), and tells you, "It's a bit hippy dippy, but not without it's charms," that's a compliment, right? I'm not sure. Must I embrace my inner "hippy dippiness?"

Friday, February 05, 2016

Painkiller!

Take it from William Burroughs. Tough guy. Wise guy. Hard bitten. Mentor to Patti Smith, and so many more.

"Love. What is it? Most natural painkiller that there is. LOVE." - Wm. Burroughs

Thursday, February 04, 2016

The Expectation Game!

You hope this might not be true, but you worry that it might be...

You are young, full of dreams, plans, visions. You hope for something really wonderful to happen. You imagine it. You plan for it. You spend lots of time fantasizing about all that goodness filling your life.

Your worst days are the ones where nothing really happens...

Then a switch is flipped.

You are old, full of fears, premonitions, raw experience, scars. You dread that something really, really horrible will happen. You imagine it. You plan for it. You spend lots of time worrying about all that horribleness filling your life.

Your best days are the ones where nothing really happens...

Wednesday, February 03, 2016

Choose Wisely!

Let's start with the premise that "things are bad," and getting worse. You can find evidence for this belief everywhere.

You can also start with the premise that "things are good," and getting better. You can find evidence for this belief everywhere.

Choose wisely. It will help define how you spend your precious time.

Tuesday, February 02, 2016

Meltdown Monday!

One step from catastrophe. One catastrophe from catastrophe. 

It's how we live. Might sound a bit dramatic. And often the drama is filled with the "day to day." But the "day to day" is illusory. Death is everywhere. 

Tears. Fears. Failure. Trauma. Breakdown. Loss. The vast sea of loneliness, and the big gaping black hole of unknowing.

These were the thoughts streaming thru my head on "Meltdown Monday!" Thank the Universe, we've made it to Tuesday. Wonder what the day will bring?!

Monday, February 01, 2016

Now.

Let it come down.
Let it roll.

Close-mouthed.
Open-headed.

Hands free.

Eyes peeled.

Pay attention.

Everything is happening.

Now.

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