Viva Las Vegas, His Little Good Luck Charm: The Return of Taylor Hicks

November 30, 2009

Fairs and festivals have provided our little ol’ band from Texas a few venues to play and entertain some of the local folks – well to be honest, more like provide a bit of ambience and background music… But hey, for us that’s a fun thing to do and likely the most we’ll ever aspire to with our limited skills…

Taylor Hicks seems to think it might be a great way to go as well. Perhaps he’s missing the scent of animals in the pens at the petting zoos and the aroma of frying corn dogs and funnel cakes. I certainly know he must make a great deal more than our band does considering none of us ever won American Idol nor would have the brass to try out – ever.

This morning, on Twitter, Mr. Hicks sent out a tweet (Twitter slang for message) that he’s flying to Las Vegas, you know that town where he began his run at the Idol crown waaay back in 2005. Now, before you jump my er, ship, I know he won the show in 2006 but he began auditions in 2005. Anyway, Taylor Hicks excitedly wrote: “Going to Vegas!! To play for promoters of fairs and festivals across the country!”

Then, like always when he shoots out a tweet or puts up a twitpic, readers flock to comment, as witnessed on this page: Twitter Taylor Hicks live feed. Naturally the fans are excited for him, why, he did win A.I. by auditioning in Las Vegas, why not audition for more gigs in that same town? Obviously it’s his Good Luck Charm.

It’s a tough life out there in the music industry and a man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do. Or rather, perhaps I should say a musician’s gotta do what a musician’s gotta do.

Viva Las Vegas

But for many folks this might not sound all that promising. I mean, certainly a lot of entertainers do places like Bonneroo, and the various music fests like (South by Southwest) SXSW but if we’re talking running the gamut of the various County Fairs, well that’s another matter. Could this mean… The End?

I do love the smell of corn dogs in the morning….


The Damien Cripps Band

November 29, 2009

I “met” Damien Cripps on Twitter, and you can view his page here: Damien Cripps Band Twitter. I find him a down to earth guy who wants his voice heard in similar form to many other muscians and artists in today’s music market. What caught my attention is how he charmingly goes about sharing his talent without driving it down everyone’s throat with one tweet after the other incorporating that ‘look at me’ attitude so many other folks do in self-promotion on the social networking site.

The band has been years in the making with The Damien Cripps Band being formed only after its founder, Damien Cripps, had played with and around other local musicians since about 1990. His first foray into professional singing and performing came that year with a band called Magnum Rush. Magnum Rush then proved the starting ground for the formation of Cool Bananas, a band that found a degree of success, played together five years. This band was, like many local acts found in pubs and fairs, a cover band.

Damien Cripps followed that venture up with joining and forming a series of bands including Great Australian Gift Box, Steel Rex and interestingly named, Filthy Bill. As time went on as a natural matter of course, Cripps realized ultimately he would find real success only through establishing a sound of his own with original music. That lead to the establishment of The Damien Cripps Band and the album, “Pictures” released in January 2005. The single of the same name proved a commerial friendly tune with Robert James (GANGgajang) and Erik Weideman (1927) featured with Damien. In this video filmed at the Regal Theater in Perth, Western Australia, the guys deliver an acoustic version:

“Pictures” went on to receive that golden ticket artists covet, actual radio support, 96FM Perth, Red FM, WA FM and Coast FM (Mandurah). The band went on a fairly extensive tour in support of this single covering nearly the whole state of W.A. Kununurra to Albany in just four weeks. The shows were well received, future looked bright.

The second single off that CD was released in Oct 2005; “Angels in Darkness”. This tune received some radio support but the band’s finances were tied up in other matters; too, the guitar base of the song being heavier, described as incorporating a ‘swampy, tribal sound’, the song wasn’t percieved as radio friendly as “Pictures”. Mr. Cripps has had to go the way of many musicians in today’s music scene, self-promote without the aide of a major record label.

The Damien Cripps Band is embarking on a US Tour, scheduled for 2010 with hopes that this tour paves the way for a heavily requested European Tour. The DCB use their music as a basis for expressing their commitment and concern for environmental issues, are affiliated with a number of Charitable Organizations, and perform at Fundraising and Awareness Concerts as well.

As it states in their on-line bio and has been proven by Damien’s actions on Twitter and in concerts, it is evident The DCB believe interaction with fans and listeners is crucial and make the most of embracing each and every fan with the same warmth, love and compassion that is rarely seen by artists in the industry.

The band’s guitarist, Michael Basham, is quite gifted, he makes this AC/DC compliation look easy. Basham also has his own band called ‘Kavalier Knights’.
Michael Basham

This song, “Meltdown” one of my favorites:

You can find out more information on The DCB as well as listen to more of their music on their website, Damien Cripps band, their myspace: Damien Cripps Band Myspace as well as on Reverb Nation a music listening, news site. If you’re fortunate to be in the area, apparently The DCB performs a regular gig at The Mustang Bar Saturday nights.

You Can Get Anything You Want

November 26, 2009

“Alice’s Restaurant” is a song written by Arlo Guthrie that was made into a hippie flick that came out in 1969. Listening to this tune has been a family tradition going back as far as I can remember. That and the Thanksgiving Day parade and Dallas Cowboys football. Oh, and pie – always pumpkin. We be simple people.

This is an eight minute clip from the movie, one of my favorite scenes.

A little history on the song for those uninitiated to Arlo Guthrie, the song, or not having been raised in any form of “hippie” environment. This is Arlo Guthrie’s (son of Woodie Guthrie) most prominent work; it’s actually a musical story about a true event in the life of Arlo that occurred on Thanksgiving Day in 1965. The song lead to a movie which I’ve seen multiple times, usually on Thanksgiving Day, that was filmed in 1969.

In an interview for All Things Considered, Guthrie explained the song was, as should be obvious, written as satire to showcase the ironic guidelines established by the U.S. government in selecting men and women for military draft. The song created as a protest at the government’s involvement in the Vietnam War. The fact that a person could be deemed unworthy to serve in this war simply by perhaps being arrested for such a minor infraction as littering, the epitamy exemplifying the idiocy and obtusity so often evident in the world of bureaucracy.

Growing up a long-haired hippie child it was instilled within me, especially considering my Pops had served a few tours of duty ‘in-country’, the evils and unwarranted cruelties that humanity is capable of afflictiing upon one other. He related to me stories of how, when riding even through the Air Force bases in jeeps or trucks someone had to ride in the back. Reason for that, anyone, even some of the locals who worked on the base, could lob a grenade into the vehicle. Once, a local woman who did laundry for some of the guys, riding by on her bicycle with a basket on the front pitched a grenade into the truck he was on; he happened to be riding the truckbed that day, had to kick it out the back – they always rode tailgate down for that reason.

Now Pops wasn’t in the front line or even on the lines at that time, he was a radio operator in the towers for flight traffic control. He told me situations like that when even kids would or could be carrying grenades or hidden weapons came to shape the insane brutality and gory progress that the Vietnam War spiralled into.

The reason I bring up this story on a day like today, when Pop was finally provided stateside orders and was able to return it was around Thanksgiving. Apparently the whole Arlo Guthrie story and song appealed to him considering what he’d seen during his time there, so the birth of a holiday tradition was born.

Considering the world today, listening to or watching the movie on a day we set aside to give thanks helps me see the irony behind some of the government rules, regulations, the madness that humanity can inflict upon itself and each other. In today’s world we don’t have a war on-going with defined enemies. The battle instead being waged by smoke curl ghosts wafting up from deep dark depths defined by religious fervor and misunderstanding. Perhaps we’re even witnessing a version of what some consider as Hell; or a statement or study of how a civilization sequestered might tend to breed a people whose radicalism born of insanity creates a monstrous thought process and a bastardization of a religion known for celebrating peace.

I’m thankful my Pops did not get destroyed by a random grenade in Vietnam. I’m thankful that there has not been another 9-11 in our country. I’m thankful for the love of my family and kin. I’m thankful to be here to celebrate my relatively safe and comfortable lifestyle. I’m thankful for the ability to carry on with those day-in day-out mundane activities such as going to the grocer’s or ferrying my kiddo back and forth to school in an environment where no threat of guns or bombs need be considered on an average day.

I’m thankful Arlo Guthrie wrote “Alice’s Restaurant” and that I had someone to make me listen to the song even times I did not especially want to – traditions are psychologically powerful no matter in what form they may take. What this tune represents to our familial group, it’s a look at a serious situation with a very large grain of humor. I’m thankful for having a guy like Pops who raised me always with a smile and sometimes a silly joke and an appreciation for a nice dry, wry sense of humor.

The full version of the song for your listening enjoyment, come on give it a listen, even if you don’t want to:

An added bonus, footage shot at Tipitinas – “Shit Makes the Flowers Grow”. Inspires me to seriously want to take up the Ukelele:

Now Happy Thanksgiving, I have pumpkin pies and a nice nutty pumpkin bread to prepare.


A Little Bit Country

November 13, 2009

Flipping through some videos put up on the Youtube this morning, what did my bleary eyes spy? Why Chris Daughtry – you know that rocker guy everyone yammers on about who ‘should have won’ the 2006 season of American Idol instead of that gray haired guy – in a video from the Country Music Awards. The Country Music Award Show, you read that right ! I had completely forgotten the CMA’s were on this week since I don’t watch award shows, but there were apparently a few video worthy moments from the show put up on the Youtube.

I have to ask, is it not enough that Daughtry has received loads of attention for being one of the top selling artists on the Billboard charts, that he outsold Taylor Hicks (the guy who really won Idol that year) by like a gazillion copies on his first record out of the Idol chopping block? That I hear Daughtry every single day at some point on the radio on various channels and that he’s definitely one of the most tweet-friendliest celebrity artists hanging out almost daily on Twitter? No apparently not, as it seems from his performance last night on the CMA’s he quite likely looks perched to make a run at Country music as well. My question is, Daughtry, really is this your next direction? It is a nicely done song exhibiting versatility as an artist but is this a ‘new’ Daughtry or just a one night stand – with Vince Gill?

“Tennessee Line”

The other Youtube worthy moment came when Carrie Underwood and Brad Paisley gave a poke at Kanye West, I’m sure you’ve seen it, if not, here it is:

“Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to be Kanye” I liked this video as it gives that down home sort of vibe. Like when I was a kiddo and the folks would subject me to the horrors of syndicated episodes of “Hee Haw”.

That’s about it for me regarding the Country music genre this morning. Wait almost forgot, I was speaking about that gray haired ol guy from Idol earlier, and well it seems he’s thinking along the C&W lines as well. Sadly it looks like Daughtry may beat him to the punch – again. You know Taylor Hicks is a bit tied up at the moment with riding up and down in that plastic ice cream cone in the travelling road show version of “Grease”.

“Nineteen” Taylor Hicks

(Now really wouldn’t that have fit into the CMAs?)

X-Factor; JedWard Entertaining Television

November 10, 2009

Twin contestants, John and Edward Grimes, known as “JedWard”, off the UK show, “X-Factor” are apparently fascinating much of the United Kingdom’s viewers on the country’s version of American Idol. Fascinating being the key word. Certainly these boys do not possess the singing abilities of what is defined in the Pop star world, but they are making quite good television.

What more could you, the viewer, want for a break in the humdrum land of Karaoke reality television? JedWard presented, this past week, the “Ghostbusters” theme-song complete with a cardboard prop of the vehicle from the movie, stage prancing monsters, a flying lady ghost and the ‘possessed’ lady dressed in red screamer; I really can’t think of a thing. Top that, the choreography was actually quite good.

Obviously these kids, a pair of good looking boys with an obvious sense of humor are not really destined for massive radio hits on the Pop charts; I could see them with their own, say thirty minute, variety show – possibly. Simon Cowell’s really sort of spot on with his observation of the performance being fascinating to kids of about one and a half year old, really the boys do have sort of that feel of fitting into children’s television. Either as a sort of “Wiggles” act or perhaps like those mind-numbing twinset stars, Zack and Cody whom my daughter watches on the Disney Channel.

VFTW, with their always spot-on instinct for finding the comedy gold in these sort of reality shows has been pushing the support for JedWard. Smarterthanpickler writes, “While this destroys the show’s, Simon’s (and probably the entire UK’s) credibility, Euro-Worsters will have to vote even harder next week in order to keep the twins on and make Simon rue the day he saved them. VFTW Victory!”.

British on-line celebrity site, Anglophenia mirrors this sentiment and gives the VFTW crowd kudos in likely helping keep these two intrepid singers (read) comedians in the running. They also acknowledge keeping the boys on the show has been merely an intelligent business decision, a ratings ploy rather than a search for a really good singer:

“Sometimes it’s the awful contestants on TV talent shows that make viewers come back each week. So maybe Simon Cowell was making a smart business decision when he put the vocally-challenged John and Edward, a.k.a. Jedward, through to the next round on his UK “singing competition,” X Factor.”

I have no idea when people are going to wake up and take note, these shows, American Idol and X-Factor are not designed in mind to really find that next super-star of the sound waves; it’s television. Scripted, manipulated televison, that draws in enormous interest and ratings and therefore hefty volumes of cash, not much more. Sure, some of the contestants have emerged from the shows winding up making a nice career for themselves, but considering the volume of the people and the Big Picture, this is merely a money making enterprise. Realizing that I have no issue with seeing two lads such as JedWard getting up on stage and presenting “Ghostbusters”.

JedWard do “Ghostbusters”

Steven Tyler: No Sympathy for The Devil

November 9, 2009

Okay maybe that’s not the best lead in for this story since, well “Sympathy for the Devil” a Rolling Stones tune. Apparently that was the case, though, regarding Mr. Tyler and his long-time bandmates that has seemingly lead to his quitting Aerosmith. Ever since his painful mishap at the Sturgis, SD concert it seems the band and he have not been getting on that well. This has lead to Steven Tyler opting out of the band.

Considering the man is 61 years old, he had to have suffered a great deal from his bad tumble off the stage during the Sturgis concert and at his age, falling and breaking bones is difficult to overcome. Topping off that bit of painful embarrassment, his bandmates were not in the mood to send him any Hallmark “get well soon” cards. No, instead, they were quite put off with him. Granted his fall off the stage seems to be largely due in part to his wild and wooly partying, but, really people, Steven Tyler is a Rock Star and what kind of Rock Star would he be if he neglected to properly get his Party-On prior to the show? Exactly.

In an interview with Classic Rock Magazine Mr. Tyler informed, “I don’t know what I’m doing yet, but it’s definitely going to be something Steven Tyler: working on the brand of myself – Brand Tyler.”

It never fails to amuse me hearing folks refer to themselves in third person format. Sort of gives one insight into how they really feel about themselves and how they think the public considers them. In the future I must start referring to anything I do as Brand Sunny, or Team Sun or some such moniker… I’ll work it out.

I do have sympathy for Mr. Tyler and his bit of disgrace at Sturgis. Since our little homegrown band sprung up like those weeds you find lurking between your pansies in the garden, I’ve experienced first-hand how a person can get tangled up in all those cords that get strewn across the stage and catapault off-stage. I experienced an unfortunate incident myself a short time back at the local Main Street Pub during a little party we played. Thankfully I did not break anything; no my Jack Daniels powered acrobatic skills allowed me to leap right back up; grabbing the microphone stand helped slow my fall. Seriously, what was Steven Tyler thinking not utilizing a mic stand? Not only can you lean on it as a third limb of sorts, you can utilize it like a cane to help slow your fall and help you to get up. You know what they say about old dogs, though.

Thankfully this weekend we had a protected stage area with a nifty surround that prevented anyone shootiing off as if headed for a 1990’s Mosh Pit. Here’s a snap of the band warming up. Big John, Mark, Sharon, Rob, TheDMan and Lamendolla. Drummer Don in the far back.

Well good luck to Steven Tyler and Brand Tyler, or Brand Steven or whatever he settles for and lest he or anyone else forgets, Falling In Love (Is Hard On The Knees). Or, in his case, hard on the shoulder.

Aw, Puppies and Kittens

November 7, 2009

Remember to visit your local animal shelter.