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Category Archives: Interviews

Jay Gorney: Being punished for having dreams in the “free world”

From the late ’40s to the late ‘50s thousands of American citizens were accused of being Communists or prone to Communism and were the subject of investigations, interrogations, prosecutions, and put in jail. How many thousands of lives were destroyed by these investigations led by Republican Senator Joseph McCarthy? A man of German-Irish descent who became famous during the Cold War era for making accusations of subversion or treason without proper regard for evidence, methods that received the international designation “McCarthyism“.

In the summer of 2019 I first discovered the song “Brother Can You Spare A Dime“, one of the major hits of the Great Depression. Since 1932 when the song was released it went through various versions by countless musicians, famous or not. Due to this occasion and thanks to luck, I got to know the story of its composer, Jay Gorney, who wrote with his friend, the lyricist, Edgar Yipsel “Yip” Harburg.

(by Mike Pougounas and John Kastanaras – for the Greek version, follow this link to Merlin’s Music Box)

Thrilled by my discovery, I called John Kastanaras, owner of a well known Greek fanzine, Merlin’s Music Box, which was a printed edition back in the ‘90s but now is a web zine. I wanted to share with him my news and once again, it turned out that the world we live in is a much smaller place than we think.

John informed me that Jay’s son, Daniel, is his cousin, since he was married to John’s cousin, photographer Efi Vlachou-Gorney. They had settled in Greece in 1975, and when she passed away Dan left Athens. He is now living at their estate “Villa Efi”, somewhere outside of Corinth.

John made sure we got in touch with him and on a Saturday morning we took the car and went to meet Dan.

After an hour and a half drive, we found ourselves at the house of Daniel Gorney, in the company of spinach pies, his dog Nino, and under the open sky looking over the Loutra Oreas Elenis and the Saronic Gulf.

Dan greeted us with joy and after making a coffee, he leaned over the table holding a dossier full of papers, musical scores and posters. Lots of songs, thousands of notes, lyrics, names known and unknown, from a very difficult era, from another world, that existed only in my mind and through movies that I watched.

THE STORY BEGINS

Of course, before going for the meeting, I did a little research. As I was taking a look through Dan’s dossier, I asked him “Who wrote the scores? Did your father know how to write notes?

He wrote them,” Dan replied with his broken Greek. “This is what he was doing for eight hours every day. He was always going around with a pencil and a sheet.

Jay Gorney was born Abraham Jacob Gornetzsky on December 12, 1896 to a Jewish family in Bialystok of the then tsarist Russian Empire. His parents were Frieda (Perlstein) and Jacob Gornetzsky

Your father had left Russia, right? Today, of course, that region from which he left belongs to Poland.

Here’s a nice story my dad’s mom used to tell.” Dan changes his tone, mimicking his grandmother: “Sometimes this area was Russia, sometimes it was Poland. People didn’t know what country we lived in, so a committee was formed to ask people if they wanted to live on the Russian side of the border or on the Polish. They discussed it for weeks, until they came up with the decision that they preferred to be in Poland, because we all knew how heavy the Russian winters are”. The way Dan imitated his grandmother, as well as the hint about the Russian winter, made us laugh.

During the Russian Revolution of 1905, Bialystok was the HQ of the radical labor movement in the area, with strong organizations such as the Bund (the Jewish Labor Movement) and the Polish Socialist Party, and also the Black Banner (a Russian anarchist communist organization that emerged in 1903 as a federation of cadres known as Chernoe Znamia or Chornoe Znamia or  Chernoznamentsy meaning The Black Banner). The Bialystok pogrom was one of a series of violent incidents against the Jews between 1903 and 1908. There was a population of 62,000 people living in this area by the end of the 19th century, 47,000 of which were Jews.  The Bialystok progrom took place from June 14 to June 16, 1906, and 88 people were killed by the imperial Russian army.

As the bloody events were escalating, the family decided to leave their home and remain hidden for the next two weeks until they found a way to flee to the US.

They arrived on September 14, 1906.

My daughter, Tatiana, has found all the names of family members on the passengers list that disembarked on Ellis island” Dan said. “My grandfather had some relatives in Detroit so this is where they went.”

Where did your father learn to play the piano?

They rented a piano by the week ‘cause his mom wanted his older brother to learn how to play,” Dan explained. “The brother wasn’t in the mood to learn, but my father attended the lessons and learned on his own. He later played for Nickelodeon. ”

PLAYING THE PIANO AT THE NICKELODEON

From 1905 to 1915 Nickelodeon was a hype in the States.

There were a number of remodeled warehouses, formed into small rooms, where people watched short silent movies at the price of 5 cents (a nickel).

Combined with the Greek word Odion, they came up with the name Nickelodeon, considered by some today as the ancestor of movie theatres.

Jay Gorney started playing music at the Nickelodeon at the age of 14.

He was playing the piano during the projection of silent movies and the bug of music stayed with him ever since. He also went also to the university and graduated in law. He joined the band of the University of Michigan, making money that he sent to his family until he finished his studies in 1917. He saved enough money from playing music back then.

Jay went to work as a lawyer for $ 20 a week, but compared to the money he made as a musician, that was nothing so he decided to focus on music.

My father met his first wife, Edelaine Roden, when the Jewish Club of the University sent him to persuade a girl to sit properly when riding a horse. The girl was Jewish and she was riding as a man instead of sitting sideways on the saddle. The two of them fell in love and she told him “Since you are a musician why do you bother with law?” So they moved to New York where he could find work in music. She was his first wife. Edelaine was crazy but she was a good person. After convincing him, he started working at Ziegfeld Follies.

The Ziegfeld Follies were a series of plays on Broadway in New York that started in 1907 and went on until 1931. They returned in 1934 and 1936 and turned into a radio show in 1932 and 1936 as “The Ziegfeld Follies of the Air.”

John Kastanaras tried to clear the picture by asking what did Jay do with Yip in the 20’s before writing “Brother Can You Spare a Dime”.

“He wrote musical reviews for the rich people to go to see live music. Ziegfeld Follies was a big name back then. It was sketches with big bands and girls with feathers.

So in what financial state did the financial crash of the 1930s find Jay Gorney?

My father got rich. Because of ‘Brother Can You Spare A Dime’ he became a wealthy man. During the depression he was at his high. The Americans could go see a movie with a nickel. It became something like television. It was THE entertainment and he wrote music for movies.”

(1933) Jay Gorney on the piano, lyricist Yip Harburg, choreographer Bobby Connelly and dancers on the scene of “Moonlight and Pretzels”

BROTHER CAN YOU SPARE A DIME

A new person appeared in Dan’s story telling:

My father met Yip Harburg in New York and together they wrote ‘Brother Can You Spare A Dime’ which was a big hit.”

Yip Harburg was a lyricist, known for his social commentary in his lyrics and his liberal ideas. He advocated racial equality, gender equality, and trade unionism. He was also a fervent critic of religion. Apart from “Brother Can You Spare a Dime” that he co-wrote with Gorney, he is known to almost everyone for the song “Over the Rainbow“, since he wrote all the lyrics of Victor Fleming’s classic “Wizard of Oz”.

The first to record “Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?”, Or “Buddy, Can You Spare a Dime?” was Leo Resman with his orchestra in 1932 and was followed almost immediately by Charlie Palloy in the same year. But the version that became a hit was Bing Crosby’s, who included it in his Portrait Of Bing Crosby album (1932).

Bing did it so well, that everybody imitated him… It’s a very moving song.

The lyrics are about an unemployed man who, after being squeezed by the system, working on railways and construction and sent to fight in WW1 for the USA with the promise of a dream. He is now a beggar, begging for a dime from passers-by.

The song was originally written for the third production of the musical “Americana” (1932) but Republicans saw it as anti-capitalist propaganda and took advantage of every means available to withdraw the song from the show, and also tried to ban it from radio broadcasting.“The lyrics of the song are too dangerous to be written by an American,” they said.

Dan shook his head and concluded, “I’ve kept an article that says that it was considered as one of the most anti-capitalist songs in history. That and Pete Seeger‘s ‘The Banks Are Made Of Marble’.” He then he came up with Seeger’s lyrics and sang cheerfully but with a twist: “But the banks are made of marble. With a guard at every door. And the vaults are stuffed with silver. That the farmer sweated for”.

“That, and ‘Brother Can You Spare a Dime’ were considered the most anti-capitalist songs. But the story of how Yip came up with the lyrics is also great. Jay Gorney had the melody and they loved it. But it was too strong for a song about a man who lost his woman, too strong about a woman who lost her man. It was what they were writing. Torch songs. And they walked through Central Park to come up with an idea for this tune they had. A guy with a pulled-up collar came up and said “Hey brother can you spare a dime?” Daddy always said ‘I don’t remember if he ever got his dime.’

It has been said that this song changed the way the average man looked at a guy in the street saying ‘Hey man, can you spare some change?’ Before the song he was a bum, a beggar. After the song… you know at this state this was a working man and a soldier.”

Dan grasped an old acoustic guitar in his hands.

“This one was given to me by Yip. From the cradle I’ve had this song. It’s the background song to my life.” he said and started singing:

They used to tell me I was building a dream
And so I followed the mob
When there was earth to plow or guns to bear
I was always there right on the job

They used to tell me I was building a dream
With peace and glory ahead
Why should I be standing in line
Just waiting for bread?

Once I built a railroad, I made it run
Made it race against time
Once I built a railroad, now it’s done
Brother, can you spare a dime?

Once I built a tower up to the sun
Brick and rivet and lime
Once I built a tower, now it’s done

Brother, can you spare a dime?

Once in khaki suits, gee we looked swell
Full of that yankee doodly dum
Half a million boots went sloggin’ through hell
And I was the kid with the drum

Say, don’t you remember, they called me Al
It was Al all the time
Why don’t you remember, I’m your pal
Say buddy, can you spare a dime?

Once in khaki suits, ah gee we looked swell
Full of that yankee doodly dum
Half a million boots went sloggin’ through hell
And I was the kid with the drum

Oh, say, don’t you remember, they called me Al
It was Al all the time
Say, don’t you remember, I’m your pal

Buddy, can you spare a dime?

A song that, as someone said contains the whole story of the Great Depression and its consequences in one sentence.

“Since ‘Brother Can You Spare a Dime’ was pessimistic, they decided to write something more upbeat in response,” Dan continues “So Jay and Yip composed ‘Dusty Shoes.’ Basically they tried to boost the morale of the average American. Here’s the lyrics sheet and the music score,” he said, and handed them over to us while he played “Dusty Shoes” on the guitar.

“The success of ‘Brother Can You Spare a Dime’ was the reason my dad was called to Hollywood in order to write music for movies because in the meantime they managed to add sound to the films. So he went to Hollywood with Edelaine, his first wife, my half-brother, and they also invited Yip to stay with them. Eventually, however, Yip took my father’s wife and ran away. I sent him a message on his 80th birthday saying “I’m thankful to you eternally. If it wasn’t for you, where would I be?”

After a few laughs, we talk a little about Yip, the song “Over the Rainbow” and the rumor about the pairing of the 1973 Pink Floyd album ‘The Dark Side of the Moon’ with the visual portion of the 1939 film ‘The Wizard of Oz’. Rumor has it that if you start playing Pink Floyd’s album right after MGM’s lion roars for the third time there are moments where the Wizard of Oz and the album appear to correspond with each other.

WITCH HUNT…

Jay Gorney

Jay Gorney remarried, this time to Dan’s mother, Sondra Karyl.

“My mother was a Communist. I am not 100% sure…,” Dan said “but she probably told him that she would accept getting married to him only if he joined the party. You see, my father was 25 years older than she was… ”

We asked him if this is when Jay joined the party.

“I don’t know, he said ‘It’s my right not to answer that question. Nobody has the right to ask me that question’ he took the fifth amendment.”

After the release of “Brother Can You Spare A Dime”, Roosevelt was elected president. Did Jay Gorney have any  war experience?

“My father had already served in World War I. He said “I fought the 1st World War with a stick.”  He conducted a military band. He tried to put on a couple of shows. During the McCarthy era they had a show, a big show called ‘Meet the People.’ A few shows opened in Hollywood. He used local talent and out of work actors and actresses. It spent three years in New York, played London. It was a big show. So, in ’56 I think, after the Black List, he tried to do it again.”

Dan stood up and went to another room. He returned with a photo.

Yes, here’s Lionel Stander. Major actor and commie. He appeared before my father on the House Un-American Activities Committee.” In 1953 they called Stander before the committee. But he wasn’t cooperative, and the whole incident described in Eric Bentley‘s skit ‘Are You Now or Have You Ever Been.’ Dan laughed and explained: “A revue, they had different skits. In one skit, there was the character of a lawyer interrogating a witness and he sang ‘Are you now or have you ever been, in love? Are you now a follower or a member of that gang that love and live where they want to…’ he tried to make fun of the committee. The Committee was asking ‘are you now or have you ever been a Communist? They closed that show really quickly. I mean the manager ran off with the cash, the electric blew out and other dirty tricks. They sabotaged that show.”

But what happened when they invited his father to the committee?

He seemed to be cooperative at the beginning. But then he started telling about how his father got US citizenship. He said that he helped his father to learn English by writing a song ‘which I’d like to perform for you now’ and he tried to sing in the House Un-American Activities Committee a song called ‘The Bill of Rights’:

‘Old Thomas Jefferson he said one day, the people have got to be respected.

I won’t be here for very long so come what may their rights always have to be protected.

The Sage of Monticello was such a prophetic fellow and according to his likes, he wrote the Bill of Rights.

All of our problems have a solution in what Mr. Jefferson wrote. The first ten amendments to our constitution to which please note: quote…” and Dan sung the first amendment from the Bill of Rights to his father’s tune.

Suddenly Dan stopped singing.

He tried to sing that and they brought the gavel” Dan hits softly the table three times and continues “Mr. Gorney there’ll be no singing in this hearing. And daddy, my poor little daddy who was so shy and afraid of authority he said ‘but you had so many pigeons signing here. Trained pigeons I’d call them.’ He wouldn’t say stool pigeons ‘cause that was a dirty word and he was very polite. And they shut him up.”

So they ruined his career.

The FBI was on the phone. Was outside the door. Any time they heard of a job offer or a project they called up and said ‘do you know he is a commie? Do you know that the American Allegiance is gonna come out and picket you if you put this music on?” And they surrounded him and made it impossible for him to work. That’s the Black List. It’s not just a list. FBI agents would follow me to school and spoke to the principal of my high school. They interviewed my first grade teacher ‘did little Daniel say anything… communist?’ My first grade teacher… I mean they really surrounded the whole family. They made it impossible for him to work so my mother was forced to go work.

Did this stop at some point?

It was the height of his carreer. He must have been 55-60 when this happened. He continued to write but he couldn’t get anything produced. He worked with other black listed writers and it was quite literally a conspiracy to keep these people off the market. It’s one of the reasons I live in Greece. I left the country that prosecuted my daddy. Most of this industry is about money, and there were progressive people who built the American musical theater. Most of them, like Gershwin and others, happened to be German-Jews and Russian-Jews. Yip was friends with the Gershwin brothers in high school. Yip was poor. Gershwin was a German Jew. They had a gramophone and Yip visted them to listen to records of Gilbert and Sullivan.

We asked him if there were any Jews on the side of the accusers at the time of McCarthy that were chasing other Jews on the grounds that they were Communists.

The lawyer for McCarthy,” Dan replies, Roy M. Cohn. McCarthy’s lawyer. Senator McCarthy was an alcoholic from the Midwest. A W.A.S.P. (White Anglo-Saxon Protestant). Roy M. Cohn said to McCarthy, this is right after World War II and the Holocaust. “You can’t go after this Jewish commies. You can’t do it because you’re a Mick and you’ll look just like Hitler. But me, I’m a Jewish boy. I’ll go after them. He was actually a mentor to Nixon and Trump. So he hired a nice Jewish boy.”

We spoke a little about the “duck and hide drill”.

It was the Cold War, commies were painted, they had horns and a tail. They were the evil.

Jay Gorney

SHIRLEY TEMPLE

One night in 1933, Jay Gorney was coming out of the movie theatre where he watched the short movie ‘Merrily Yours’ (also known as ‘Frolics of Youth’) starring Shirley Temple. He found her dancing outside the theatre and recognized her. He arranged an audition for her for December 7, 1933 for the movie ‘Stand Up and Cheer!’ Temple took the part and signed a contract with Fox Film Corporation for $ 150 a week. This role was decisive for her career. “The producer of the movie ‘Baby, Take a Bow’ (1934) wanted a 14-year-old girl to play in the film, but my father insisted and told him to try Shirley Temple first.

The Fox executives liked her so much that they started promoting her immediately. On the movie she sang and danced with James Dunn.

There’s a great movie where Shirley dances with the black actor, Bill “Bojangles” Robinson,” Dan says.

Shirley Temple enjoyed collaborating with Bill “Bojangles” Robinson. Off camera she was calling him Uncle Billy.

ROYALTIES

We wondered if ASCAP is working properly .

ASCAP is a fantastic organization,” Dan says. “It’s a big, strong, aggressive, paying organization. I get royalties for my father. The copyright stands for 75 years after the composer’s death.” This is when Dan comes with information that we didn’t know. “My old man was one of the founding members of the American Guild of Authors and Composers (AGAC).” To sum up, this organization, which protected writers and composers, had started as a Songwriters Protective Association in 1931 and changed its name to the American Guild of Authors and Composers in 1958. “There was nothing before that. In 1915 the song ‘Tea for Two’ was sold for 10 dollars. And he sold all the rights in Tin Pan Alley.”

OTHER JAY GORNEY SONGS

The discussion with Dan evolves around other songs that his father wrote and Dan points out that he probably wrote about 500 songs, but none of them repeated the success of “Brother …”

John remembered Billie Holiday singing “You’re My Thrill” which Gorney wrote in 1933 for the film “Jimmy and Sally”. I found dozens of cover versions of this song, most notably by Peggy Lee (1956), Ella Fitzgerald (1961), Nat “King” Cole (1966), Chet Baker (1988), Robert Palmer (1990), Joni Mitchell (2000) and others. Billie Holiday’s version came out in 1950.

What a beautiful song. Torch song” Dan added. “Billie nailed it and nobody dared to do it.”

THE SECRET OF LIFE

When I was 18-20 years old,” says Dan, “my father told me the secret of life. He asked me, ‘do you want to know the secret?’ I said ‘what’s the secret?’ he said ‘don’t write music at the piano. You write music on your walk down Broadway and you try to bring it back and remember it. At the piano you only play what you learned yesterday.’ I’m not a musician particularly but for him that was the most important secret of life. I think, to me, that’s one of the most endearing things that shows who my daddy was. Fantasy is the ultimate instrument but it’s not always easy to play what you hear in your head.”

Jay Gorney died on June 14, 1990 at the age of 93. Apart from Dan, he also had a daughter with Sondra Karyl. She’s Dan’s big sister, Karen Lynn Gorney, and because, as I said before, the world is too small, Dan’s sister was John Travolta‘s dancing partner in “Saturday Night Fever“. Their older half-brother, Dr. Rod Gorney, is a well-known psychiatrist in California.

Dan Gorney, after his beatnik years in Greenwich Village, went through a hippie phase, and moved to Greece in 1975 where, as he says, he found what he was looking for.

We ask him if he ever got into music professionally.

The definition of professional is you get paid,” he says. “The phrase says ‘he who pays the piper, calls the song.’ If you get paid, the guy who’s paying says ‘sing this’. If you don’t get paid you can sing whatever the fuck you want. I just play. I love playing.”

“Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?”, Or “Buddy, Can You Spare a Dime?” is one of the best-known American songs of the era of economic depression of the 1930s. It has been covered by over 100 artists, including legends such as Al Johlson, Abbey Lincoln, Mel Torme, Tom Jones, Dean Martin, Connie Francis, The Weavers, Peter, Paul & Mary, Jesse Colin Young, Dr. John with Odetta, Judy Collins, Eartha Kitt, St Valentine’s Day Massacre (Jon Lord‘s band after Artwood and Deep Purple), Sun Ra Arkestra (with Phil Alvin on vocals), Dave Brubeck , Eugene Chadbourne, Thea Gilmore, George Michael and Tom Waits. Want more?

Thank you very much Dan Gorney for the hospitality, the time you spent with us and for your memories. And, of course, for the lunch at the beach of Loutra Oreas Elenis. And to Tatiana Gorney-Vlachou of course for the photos from her personal archive…

Take care and be safe, Dan …

 
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Posted by on October 15, 2019 in Interviews, Jazz, Music, Politics, Reflections

 

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Richard Hamilton, ο πιό επιδραστικός Βρετανός καλλιτέχνης του 20ου αιώνα

Η pop art ήταν ενα καλλιτεχνικό κίνημα που γεννήθηκε στο Λονδίνο στα μέσα της δεκαετίας του ’50 και αργότερα πέρασε και στην Αμερική.

Πήρε το όνομά της απο τον κριτικό τέχνης Lawrence Alloway το 1958 και είχε μεγάλη απήχηση στην δεκαετία του ’60.

Πηγή έμπνευσής της ήταν η λαϊκή κουλτούρα, τα καταναλωτικά αγαθά, οι διαφημίσεις, καθημερινά σκεύη και οτιδήποτε ερχόταν, εκείνη την εποχή, σε αντίθεση με τις καλές τέχνες.

Ηταν αρκετά εκνευριστική για όσους δεν την καταλάβαιναν γιατί φαινόταν να έχει ενα πάθος με κουτά θέματα οπως η διαφήμιση ή τα χυδαία cartoon και κατα κάποιο τρόπο το είδαν σαν εναν τρόπο με τον οποίο οι νέοι απειλούσαν να αναστατώσουν τις υπάρχουσες συνθήκες.

Σύντομα έδειξαν ενδιαφέρον για την pop art οι rock καλλιτέχνες γιατί ήταν κάτι καινούργιο, νεανικό και συναρπαστικό.

Ενας απο τους πρωτοπόρους αυτου του είδους τέχνης στην Αγγλία, ήταν ο Richard Hamilton, ο πιό επιδραστικός Βρετανός καλλιτέχνης του 20ου αιώνα, ο οποίος είδε το μέλλον να έρχεται και το αποτύπωσε σε αθάνατες εικόνες ενος μοντέρνου κόσμου.

Επηρεασμένος απο τον γλύπτη, ζωγράφο και σκακιστή Γαλλο-Αμερικάνο Marcel Duchamp, και απο τα κολάζ του Σκωτσέζου καλλιτέχνη Eduardo Paolozzi ο οποίος θεωρείται ως ο πρωτοπόρος της pop art, o Hamilton δημιούργησε ενα εντελώς προσωπικό ύφος και παρουσίασε τα πράγματα γύρω του με εναν τρόπο που πριν δεν ήταν ορατός με χαρακτηριστικότερο παράδειγμα το έργο του “Swingeing London”, μια σειρά έργων ζωγραφικής βασισμένων σε μια φωτογραφία της σύλληψης του Mick Jagger και του Robert Fraser με την κατηγορία της κατοχής ναρκωτικών.

Γενικότερα, του άρεσε να συμμετέχει στον μοντέρνο τρόπο ζωής (ήταν γεννημένος το 1922) και τον γοήτευε η τεχνολογία της εποχής του.

Το 1959 ο Hamilton έδωσε μια διάλεξη με τίτλο “Glorious Technicolor, Breathetaking Cinemascope and Stereophonic Sound“, μια φράση παρμένη απο τους στίχους του Cole Porter για την μουσική κωμωδία του 1957 “Silk Stockings” με τον Fred Astaire. Σε αυτή τη διάλεξη, κατα την διάρκεια της οποίας ακουγόταν ποπ μουσική και συμπεριλάμβανε και την επίδειξη μιας πρώιμης φωτογραφικής μηχανής Polaroid, ο Hamilton αποδόμησε την τεχνολογία του κινηματογράφου για να εξηγήσει την γοητείας του Χόλιγουντ. Ανέπτυξε αυτο το θέμα περεταίρω στις αρχές της δεκαετίας του 1960 με μια σειρά από πίνακες εμπνευσμένους από ταινίες και διαφημιστικά πλάνα.

Στα τέλη της δεκαετίας του ’50 ήταν επίσης πολύ δραστήριος στην εκστρατεία για τον πυρηνικό αφοπλισμό και δημιούργησε ένα έργο στο οποίο παρωδούσε τον τότε ηγέτη του Εργατικού Κόμματος, Hugh Gaitskell, για την απόρριψη του πυρηνικού αφοπλισμού.

HAMILTON, FRASER, SWINGING LONDON

Από τα μέσα της δεκαετίας του 1960, τον Hamilton εκπροσωπούσε ο έμπορος έργων τέχνης Robert Fraser, γνωστότερος ως “Groovy Bob“, μια κεντρική φιγούρα της νυχτερινής ζωής του Λονδίνου, ο οποίος ήταν κολλητός των Beatles και των Rolling Stones.

Ο Fraser ήταν γόνος συλλεκτών έργων τέχνης και γοητευμένος απο την αποδοχή που είδε οτι είχε η μοντέρνα τέχνη στην Αμερική, αποφάσισε να την φέρει και στην συντηρητική και κολλημένη στις παραδόσεις Αγγλία, ανοίγοντας μια γκαλερί στο Λονδίνο.

O Paul McCartney έχει πει για τον Fraser πως ήταν «ενας απο τους πιο επιδραστικούς ανθρώπους του Λονδίνου της δεκαετίας του ‘60» και ήταν εκείνος που το 1967 έστησε ολο το σκηνικό του εξωφύλλου του άλμπουμ “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” προτρέποντας τους Beatles να συνεργαστούν με τον Peter Blake (ο οποίος τελικά και το έκανε) και να απορρίψουν ενα ψυχεδελικό εξώφυλλο που τους είχε προτείνει η Ολλανδική κολεκτίβα γραφιστών The Fool (σχεδίασαν κυρίως τα κουστούμια των The Hollies, Incredible String band, Procol Harum, Move κλπ).

Τόσο το διαμέρισμα του Fraser στον τρίτο όροφο της 23 Mount Street του Λονδίνου, όσο και η γκαλερί του, ήταν τα μέρη στα οποία σύχναζαν αστέρια της ποπ, καλλιτέχνες, συγγραφείς και άλλες διασημότητες, συμπεριλαμβανομένων φυσικά των μελών των Beatles και των Rolling Stones, του φωτογράφου Michael Cooper, του σχεδιαστή Christopher Gibbs, της Marianne Faithfull, του Dennis Hopper, του William Burroughs και άλλων, ενώ ο Fraser ενέπνευσε τον χαρακτήρα του “Dr. Robert” στο ομώνυμο τραγούδι του άλμπουμ “Revolver” των Beatles.

Ακόμα, χρηματοδότησε το 1966 την έκθεση της Yoko Ono στην οποία την πρωτοσυνάντησε ο John Lennon ενω ακόμα έδωσε στον McCartney μια μικρή ζωγραφιά ενός μήλου από τον René Magritte, που πιστεύεται ότι ήταν η έμπνευση για το όνομα και το λογότυπο της δισκογραφικής εταιρείας Apple Records των Beatles.

Το 1967 η αστυνομία έκανε έφοδο στο σπίτι του Keith Richards στο Redlands οπου συνέλαβε τον Richards, τον Mick Jagger και τον Fraser με την κατηγορία της κατοχής και χρήσης ναρκωτικών.

Ηταν η εποχή που ξεκινούσε η τρέλλα για τους celebrities οπως την ξέρουμε σήμερα.

Για την ιστορία, ενω οι δύο των Stones απαλλάχθηκαν μετά από έφεση, ο Fraser ομολόγησε πως είναι ένοχος, εξέτισε μια ποινή εξι μηνών σε καταναγκαστικά έργα πράγμα που έκανε τον Richard Hamilton εξω φρενών γιατί θα φυλάκιζαν έναν άνθρωπο μόνο και μόνο επειδή έκανε χρήση ναρκωτικών.

Έχοντας προσχωρήσει ο Hamilton σε αυτό τον κύκλο γνωριμιών, και τρέφοντας μεγάλη εκτίμηση για τον Fraser, πήρε μια φωτογραφία που εβγαλε ο John Twine και δημοσίευσε η Daily Sketch για να μνημονεύσει ολο το περιστατικό στο έργο τέχνης του “Swingeing London 67” το οποίο αποτελείται απο κολάζ  δημοσιευμάτων του τύπου και το πορτραίτο των Jagger και Fraser δεμένων με χειροπέδες σε ενα αστυνομικό αυτοκίνητο καθώς μεταφέρονται απο την φυλακή στο δικαστήριο σε εξι διαφορετικούς καμβάδες.

Ο ίδιος, είπε σχετικά πως «υπήρξαν μερικές περιπτώσεις που συγκινήθηκα απο κάποιο γεγονός. Οταν είσαι υποχρεωμένος να δράσεις με οποιο τρόπο μπορείς, δρας ως καλλιτέχνης. Θα πρέπει να το εκφράσεις με το μέσο το οποίο γνωρίζεις, και πιστεύω πως η εικόνα του Robert Fraser και του Mick Jagger με χειροπέδες, δίνουν μια ιδιαίτερη εικόνα στον κόσμο. Συμβολίζουν μια συγκεκριμένη εποχή

Η ειρωνεία είναι πως αυτή η εικόνα που ταρακούνησε το κατεστημένο της εποχής, κατέληξε να είναι ενας απο τους σημαντικότερους καλλιτεχνικούς θεσμούς του ίδιου του κατεστημένου.

Εδω ενα κατατοπιστικό βίντεο που συνοδεύει μια συνέντευξη της Harriet Vyner και που θα σας δώσει την εικόνα ολων αυτών που περιγράφω. Η Vyner είναι η συγγραφέας των βιβλίων “Groovy Bob, the life and times of Robert Fraser“ (1999), “Among Ruins” (2006), και έγραψε με τον πρώην πληκτρά των Squeeze και σημερινό τηλεπαρουσιαστή Jools Holland την αυτοβιογραφία του “Barefaced Lies and Boogie-Woogie Boasts” (2007).

Ο Fraser μετά την αποφυλάκισή του βυθίστηκε πιο βαθειά στην πρέζα, χάνοντας το ενδιαφέρον του για την τέχνη και κλείνοντας την γκαλερύ του το 1969 (τον Γενάρη του 1986 έγινε ο πρώτος Βρετανός ασθενής του AIDS που πέθανε στο σπίτι του.)

ROCK’N’ROLL ΚΑΙ ΜΟΝΤΕΡΝΑ ΑΙΣΘΗΤΙΚΉ

O Hamilton, ο οποίος είχε γίνει φίλος με τον Paul McCartney ανέλαβε να κάνει τα εξώφυλλα και το κολάζ των αφισών του “White Album” των Beatles.

Ο McCartney έλεγε μάλιστα πως στις προθέσεις του Hamilton ήταν να αριθμηθεί ξεχωριστά το κάθε εξώφυλλο (απο το 1968 που κυκλοφόρησε το “White Album” έχει πουλήσει 24 εκατομμύρια κόπιες.) Παρεμπιπτόντως, την πρώτη κόπια την πήρε ο John Lennon.

Την ίδια χρονιά, ο Hamilton εμφανίζεται στην ταινια του  Brian De PalmaGreeting” το θέμα της οποίας έχει να κάνει με κάποιους νεαρούς που προσπαθούν να αποφύγουν να καταταγούν στον στρατό για να μην πάνε στο Βιετναμ και στην οποία εμφανίζεται για πρώτη φορά σε πρωταγωνιστικό ρόλο ο Robert De Niro.

Απο το 1959 ως το 1966 ο Hamilton δίδασκε στο King’s College του Newcastle έχοντας για μαθητή του τον νεαρό Bryan Ferry τον μελλοντικό τραγουδιστή των Roxy Music, τον οποίο επηρέασε τόσο πολύ ωστε να γράψει το 1977 το τραγούδι “This is Tomorrow” εμπνευσμένο απο μια έκθεση έργων του δασκάλου του με τίτλο “This is Tomorrow” στην Whitechapel Art Gallery του Λονδίνου το 1956.

Εκεί ο Hamilton είχε παρουσιάσει, το “Just what is it that makes today’s homes so different, so appealing?” το πρώτο διάσημο έργο τέχνης της pop art.

Σύμφωνα με το άρθρο του ιστορικού τέχνης John-Paul Stonard, το κολάζ αποτελείται από εικόνες που προέρχονται κυρίως από αμερικανικά περιοδικά. Ολα συνθέτονται πάνω στην  εικόνα ενός σύγχρονου καθιστικού, παρμένο απο μια διαφήμιση του “Ladies Home Journal” για τα δάπεδα της εταιρίας Armstrong. Ο τίτλος του έργου προέρχεται επίσης από  αντίγραφο της διαφήμισης, η οποία δηλώνει  “Just what is it that makes today’s homes so different, so appealing? Open planning of course—and a bold use of color” (Τι ακριβώς κάνει τα σημερινά σπίτια τόσο διαφορετικά, τόσο ελκυστικά; Ανοιχτός σχεδιασμός φυσικά – και τολμηρή χρήση του χρώματος.) Ο bodybuiderάς είναι ο Irvin “Zabo” Koszewski, νικητής του Mister L.A. το 1954. Η φωτογραφία προέρχεται από το περιοδικό Tomorrow’s Man, του Σεπτεμβρίου του 1954. Η καλλιτέχνιδα Jo Baer η οποία φωτογραφιζόταν για νεανικά περιοδικά ερωτικού περιεχομένου, ισχυρίστηκε ότι αυτή είναι η γυναίκα στον καναπέ.

Το τραγούδι του Ferry πάντως μπήκε για εννέα βδομάδες στα Αγγλικά τσαρτ και έφτασε ως το νουμερο 9.

Μιλώντας για τον δάσκαλό του είπε πως «…ηταν μια μεγάλη έμπνευση τόσο ως καλλιτέχνης αλλά και ως προσωπικότητα και αποκάλυψε πόσο ποιητικός αλλά και μυστηριώδης θα μπορούσε να είναι ο μοντέρνος κόσμος».

Αλλά και ο Hamilton περιέγραψε τον Ferry ως το «καλύτερο δημιούργημά του

O Hamilton λάτρευε την νέα τεχνολογία και στις δουλειές του δεν υπάρχουν φραγμοί ανάμεσα στο έργο τέχνης και στον σχεδιασμό του προϊόντος συμπεριλαμβανομένης μιας ζωγραφικής που ενσωμάτωσε ένα state-of-the-art ραδιοφωνικό δέκτη και το κουτί ενός υπολογιστή Dataindustrier AB.

Εχοντας μπεί στον χώρο του βιομηχανικού σχεδίου, σχεδίασε το 1984 το εξωτερικό του  πρωτότυπου υπολογιστή OHIO (για μια σουηδική εταιρεία που ονομάζεται Isotron, το 1984) και του DIAB DS-101 (για την επίσης Σουηδική Dataindustrier AB, το 1986).

Το 1987, μια τηλεοπτική σειρά του BBC με τίτλο “Painting with Light” έκανε τον Hamilton να πρωτοδουλέψει με το Quantel Paintbox, της εταιρίας Quantel, ενα νέο πρόγραμμα του κομπιούτερ για την παραγωγή γραφικών και τηλεοπτικών βίντεο και από τότε χρησιμοποίησε αυτό ή παρόμοιά προγράμματα για να παράγει και να τροποποιήσει το έργο του.

(Στα τέλη της δεκαετίας του 1980, η Quantel κινήθηκε νομικά κάνοντας αγωγές εναντίον του Adobe “Photoshop” και του συστήματος “Matisse” Spaceward Graphics σε μια προσπάθεια να προστατεύσει τα κατοχυρωμένα με δίπλωμα ευρεσιτεχνίας πτυχές του συστήματος Paintbox. Κέρδισε την πρώτη υπόθεση κατά της Spaceward το 1990, αλλά τελικά έχασε αυτήν κατά της Adobe το 1997.

Τόσο άλμπουμ των Queen “The Miracle” όσο και το βίντεο του “Money For Nothing” των Dire Straits, δημιουργήθηκαν με Quantel Paintbox.)

Το 1992, το BBC ανέθεσε στον Richard Hamilton να αναδημιουργήσει το διάσημο έργο του, “Just What Is It That Makes Today’s Homes So Different, So Appealing?” με σκοπό να δείξει το τι ένιωθε πως ηταν το μέσο νοικοκυριό της δεκαετίας του ΄90.

Αυτή την φορά όμως αντι του bodybuilderά, χρησιμοποίησε έναν λογιστή που εργαζόταν σε ένα γραφείο κι αντί της ημίγυμνης γυναίκας, χρησιμοποίησε μια γυναίκα body builder παγκόσμιας κλάσης.

Το 1981, αφού παρακολούθησε ενα τηλεοπτικό ντοκυμαντέρ για τις διαδηλώσεις «της Κουβέρτας» που οργάνωσαν οι κρατούμενοι του IRA στις φυλακές Long Kesh (γνωστές με το όνομα The Maze) ο Hamilton άρχισε να δουλεύει σε μια τριλογία ζωγραφικών έργων βασισμένη στις σύγκρουση της Βόρειας Ιρλανδίας.

The citizen 1981-3 Richard Hamilton 1922-2011 Purchased 1985 http://www.tate.org.uk/art/work/T03980

Το έργο του “The Citizen” (1981-83) αναπαριστά τον κρατούμενο Hugh Rooney του IRA να απεικονίζεται ως Ιησούς, με μακριά μαλλιά και γενειάδα.

Οι Ρεπουμπλικανοί κρατούμενοι αρνούνταν να φορέσουν τις στολές της φυλακής, υποστηρίζοντας πως ήταν πολιτικοί κρατούμενοι.

Οσο γινόταν αυτό, οι δεσμοφύλακες αρνούνταν να αφήσουν “τους διαδηλωτές με τις κουβέρτες” να χρησιμοποιούν τις τουαλέτες αν δεν φορούσαν στολές φυλακισμένων.

Οι Ρεπουμπλικανοί αντέδρασαν απλώνοντας τα περιττώματα τους στους τοίχους των κελιών τους.

Ο Χάμιλτον εξήγησε (στα σχόλια του καταλόγου της εκθεσης των έργων του στην Tate Gallery το 1992) ότι είδε την εικόνα του «ανθρώπου με την κουβέρτα» ως μια δημοσιοσχετίστικη εικόνα με τεράστια αποτελεσματικότητα. Είχε την ηθική υπόσταση μιας θρησκευτικής εικόνας και την πειστικότητα της πιο ονειρεμένης διαφήμισης σαπουνιού για τους ανθρώπους – αλλά παρόλα αυτά, ήταν η παρούσα πραγματικότητα.

Το “The subject” (1988-89) δείχνει εναν Orangeman, ενα μέλος του τάγματος που είχε σκοπό να διατηρηθεί η Ενωση στη Βόρεια Ιρλανδία και το “The State” (1993) δείχνει έναν Βρετανό στρατιώτη να περιπολεί περπατώντας στον δρόμο.

Ο Hamilton πέθανε το 2011 σε ηλικία 89 ετών.

 

 
 

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Οι Bad Religion στην εκπομπή του Steve Jones και η στιγμή της εξομολόγησης

Εχω αναφέρει στο παρελθόν πως εκτιμώ πολύ τον Steve Jones ως μουσικό και νομίζω πως μάλλον θα έχει μεγάλη πλάκα να τον κάνεις παρέα, πέρα απο το να παίξεις και μουσική μαζί του.

Είναι ενας άνθρωπος με χιούμορ που συχνά αυτοσαρκάζεται και ανεβάζει κάποια πολύ αστεία βίντεο στον λογαριασμό του αλλά υπάρχουν πολλές φορές στιγμές που στα λόγια του κρύβεται μια γέυση πικρίας για κάποια πράγματα που έκανε στο παρελθόν.

Παρακολουθώ τις ραδιοφωνικές εκπομπές του και περίμενα ανυπόμονα την εμφάνιση που έκανε πέρσι τον Οκτώβριο στο Roxy του Hollywood με τους Generation Sex, δηλαδή με τον φίλο και κολλητό του στους Sex Pistols και στους Professionals, Paul Cook, τον Billy Idol και τον Tony James απο τους Generation X (μπορείτε να δείτε το βίντεο της εμφάνισης ΕΔΩ).

Με την ευκαιρία λοιπόν της κυκλοφορίας του νέου άλμπουμ των Bad Religion, το οποίο παρουσίασα κι εγω στην εκπομπή μου, ο Jones τους είχε καλεσμένους πριν δύο ημέρες στην δική του ραδιοφωνική εκπομπή, Jonesy’s Jukebox, την οποία μπορείτε να παρακολουθείτε και σε βίντεο στο YouTube.

Εκτιμώ πως τα πρώτα 10 λεπτά της συγκεκριμένης εκπομπής είχαν πολύ μεγάλο ενδιαφέρον, οπότε θα προσπαθήσω να μεταφέρω εδω ενα μέρος οσων ειπώθηκαν…

Για την ιστορία, και για όσους δεν γνωρίζουν οτι ο Jones έχει ραδιοφωνική εκπομπή, πρίν να γράψω τι είπαν, να βάλω εδω αυτά που αναφέρει η Wikipedia σχετικά με το Jonesy’s Jukebox…

“Τον Φεβρουάριο του 2004, ο Jones άρχισε να φιλοξενεί ένα καθημερινό ραδιοφωνικό πρόγραμμα στο Λος Άντζελες, το Jonesy’s Jukebox, στον Αμερικάνικο ραδιοφωνικό σταθμό Indie 103.1 FM, όπου θα μπορούσε να κάνει ό, τι ήθελε (σύμφωνα με τους κανόνες του FCC-του ΕΣΠ ας πούμε…), χωρίς παρεμβάσεις από τη διοίκηση του σταθμού. Ο Jones έπαιζε ενα επιλεκτικό playlist κάνοντας ταυτόχρονα ζωντανές και συχνά χιουμοριστικές συνεντεύξεις με τους επισκέπτες που καλούσε και που κάλυπταν όλο το φάσμα της μουσικής και κιν/κής βιομηχανίας.  Συνήθιζε να έχει μια ακουστική κιθάρα στο στούντιο και συχνά έπαιζε εναν αριθμό γνωστών τραγουδιών σχετικά με το τρέχον θέμα της συζήτησης. Μερικοί απο του φιλοξενούμενούς του ήταν ο Eddie Vedder, η Chrissie Hynde, ο Johnny Ramone, ο Billy Corgan, η Susanna Hoffs, ο Leif Garrett, ο Brian Wilson, ο Pete Townshend, ο Iggy Pop, ο Josh Homme, ο Robert Plant, ο Gary Oldman και ο τραγουδιστής των Sex Pistols, Johnny Rotten.

Η τελευταία εκπομπή του Jonesy’s Jukebox στον Indie 103.1, ήταν στις 14 Ιανουαρίου 2009. Ο Indie 103.1 έπαψε να υπάρχει ως ραδιοφωνικός σταθμός στις 15 Ιανουαρίου 2009.  Τον Νοέμβριο του 2009, ο Jones βρέθηκε στο BBC Radio’s 6Music να κάνει πέντε Κυριακάτικες εκπομπές, με τίτλο “A Month of Sundays with Steve Jones”, έχοντας επιλέξει να παίξει μιά λίστα τραγουδιών από την παιδική του ηλικία έως την τρέχουσα μέρα. Τον Δεκέμβριο του 2009, ξανάκανε την εκπομπή μέσω του διαδικτυακού σταθμού IAmRogue.com του παραγωγού Ryan Kavanaugh. Οι εκπομπές αυτές τέλειωσαν στα τέλη του Μαρτίου 2010. Τον Οκτώβριο της ίδιας χρονιάς ο ραδιοφωνικός σταθμός KROQ απο το Λος Αντζελες, προσέλαβε τον Jones για να συνεχίσει το Jonesy’s Jukebox. Μια συνεργασία που κράτησε μέχρι τον Μάρτιο του 2013.

H εκπομπή επέστρεψε στο ραδιόφωνο στα τέλη του 2015 μέσω του 95,5 KLOS κι αυτός απο το Λος Άντζελες. Από την 1η Ιανουαρίου του 2016 η εκπομπή επεκτάθηκε σε πέντε ημέρες την εβδομάδα, από Δευτέρα έως Παρασκευή. Για κάποιον ειρωνικό λόγο, ο KLOS είναι ένας mainstream σταθμός που παίζει κλασικό ροκ με μπάντες όπως Van Halen, Aerosmith και Pink Floyd. Οι επισκέπτες της εκπομπής αντανακλούν συχνά το πνεύμα στο οποίο κινείται ο KLOS και συμπεριλαμβάνει τους Paul Stanley, Ozzy Osbourne, Lenny Kravitz, Juliette Lewis, Bill Burr, Mike Tramp, The Zombies, Brian May, Jack Black και Ace Frehley καθώς και ορισμένους εναλλακτικούς καλλιτέχνες όπως ο Dave Grohl, Jerry Cantrell, Mike McCready και Anthony Kiedis.”

Προχθές λοιπόν όπως ανέφερα, είχε καλεσμένους τους Bad Religion.

Ηταν εκει ο ιδρυτής της μπάντας Jay Bentley, ο κιθαρίστας των Bad Religion, Brian Baker ο οποίος είχε δημιουργήσει στο παρελθον τους χαρντκοράδες Minor Threat, ο κιθαρίστας Mike Dimkich, ο οποίος έχει παίξει στο παρελθόν τόσο με τον Steve Jones οσο και με τους Cult, Channel 3 και τους Suckerpunch, και ο Brett Gurewitz ο οποίος εκτός απο κιθαρίστας των Bad Religion είναι και ο ιδιοκτήτης της Epitaph Records. O Gurewitz ηχογραφεί στα άλμπουμ αλλά δεν παίζει στις συναυλίες μαζί τους.

Σε κάποια στιγμή λοιπόν άρχισαν να μιλούν για κιθάρες.

Για την ακρίβεια, ο Jones έλεγε στο συγκρότημα πως έχει φέρει μαζί του δύο κιθάρες σε περίπτωση που θέλουν να παίξουν κάτι.

“Βασικά η Gibson μου έδωσε ενα αντίγραφο της κιθάρας με την οποία έπαιζα παλιά. Ειχα κάμποσες αλλά είχα την άσπρη κι αυτήν εδω… πως λέγεται αυτή? Κάπως λέγεται αυτό το μοντέλο…” ρωτάει τον Dimkich.

“Είναι χειροποίητη κιθάρα… το μοντέλο λέγεται “Fretless Wonder...” απαντά ο Dimkich»

“…Fretless Wonder! Μπράβο!” συνεχίζει ο Jones “έχουν περίεργους μαγνήτες αυτές οι κιθάρες… τέλος πάντων, είχα αγοράσει κάποτε μια για 800 λίρες και για τότε ήταν πολλά αυτά τα λεφτά. Δεν είχα ιδέα τι έπαιρνα…” κάποιος απο το ακροατήριο του λέει κάτι κι εκείνος απαντά “δεν ήταν κλεμμένη. Φαντάζομαι όμως πως θα είχα κλέψει τα λεφτά για να την αγοράσω… (γέλια)… αλλά δεν ήξερα τι αγόραζα… δεν ανήκε σε κανέναν και δεν είχα ιδέα πως αυτή η κιθάρα σήμερα θα έκανε 60 χιλιάρικα…”

“…Ισως φτάνει και τα 80… εξαρτάται…” συμπληρώνει ο Dimkich.

“Λες?” ρωτάει ο Jones “Γνωρίζω κάποιον στην Αγγλία που την αγόρασε τώρα, οχι, δεν την έκλεψε (γέλια)… εγω θα την πούλησα τότε για κανα σακουλάκι πρέζα φαντάζομαι… αυτό έκανα με οτι είχα ετσι κι αλλιώς, οπότε τι να κάνουμε? Μια κακία την κρατάω ακόμα στον Phil (εννοεί τον Lynott) ξέρω πως έχει πεθάνει, αλλά το άγαλμά του σε εκείνο το μουσείο στην Ιρλανδία κρατάει μια White Falcon (σ.μ. μοντέλο κιθάρας) που είχε πάρει απο εμένα για ενα σακουλάκι πρέζα…”

“Πάμε να την πάρουμε…” του λέει ο Gurewitz

“Πολύ θα το ήθελα” λέει ο Jones “αλλά… c’est la vie, ετσι είναι η ζωή… έγινε οτι έγινε, οπως ξέρετε, δεν υπάρχει εμπιστοσύνη ανάμεσα στα πρεζάκια… αλλά αυτό που είναι ακόμα καλύτερο σε αυτή την ιστορία, είναι πως αυτή η White Falcon ήταν αρχικά του Sylvain Sylvain (των New York Dolls) μετά πήγε στο Joe Strummer (των Clash) μετά ηρθε στα χέρια μου και κατέληξε στον Phil Lynott. Αλλά και η άσπρη Les Paul μου ήταν των New York Dolls, την οποία δεν είχα κλέψει… Ο Μalcolm Μclaren την είχε κλέψει… και μου την έδωσε… Αν και θα πρέπει να αποζημιώσω μερικούς κιθαρίστες. Βασικά προσπάθησα να αποζημιώσω τον Ariel Bender απο τους Mott the Hoople γιατι έκλεψα μια απο τις κιθάρες του κάποτε. Δεν ήταν τότε στους Mott the Hoople, ήταν σε κάποια άλλη μπάντα εκεινη την εποχή (o Bender επαιξε με τους Spooky Tooth απο το 1967 ως το 1970, τους Stealers Wheel το 1973 τους Mott the Hoople το 1973-1974 και μετά ξεκίνησε σόλο καριέρα μεχρι που σχημάτισε τους Widowmaker). Το θυμάμαι πολύ καθαρά, ήταν σε ενα κατάστημα επίπλων και υπήρχε ενα προβάδικο στο υπόγειο με ολα αυτά τα χαλιά, και ολος ο εξοπλισμός τους ηταν εκεί γιατι μάλλον προβάρανε και περνώντας απο εκεί σούφρωσα οτι μπορούσα… Αλλά βρήκα αργότερα τον αριθμό τηλεφώνου του και του άφησα ενα μήνυμα στον αυτόματο τηλεφωνητή για να τον ρωτήσω «τι θα μπορούσα να κάνω για να επανορθώσω?» αλλά δεν με πήρε ποτέ πίσω, οπότε… οχι, σοβαρά τώρα, θα ήθελα να επανορθώσω…”

Ακολουθεί το βίντεο απο το οποίο είναι παρμένος και ο πιο πάνω μονόλογος…

 
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Posted by on July 21, 2019 in Interviews, punk rock, Radio

 

SUNDAY RADIO INTERVIEW – Michael Ciravolo

Michael Ciravolo has been recording and touring with Human Drama for about 30 years.
He has also played live and recorded with Michael Ashton’s Gene Loves Jezebel since 1998.
This year, Ciravolo, who is perhaps best known as President of Schecter Guitar Research, decided to put together his personal project, Beauty In Chaos, and released in September the album “Finding Beauty in Chaos“.
The abundance of guest stars on this album is phenomenal. Members from The Mission, Cheap Trick, The Cure, Gene Loves Jezebel, The Offspring, Kings X, Human Drama, The Awakening are adding their personal touch.
So we came together to discuss about this beautiful album…
To listen to the show CLICK HERE
 
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Posted by on December 9, 2018 in Interviews, Radio, Rock

 

The Sunday Blackout Interview: Lusterlit

Lusterlit is Bushwick Book Club founder, Susan Hwang and producer, Charlie Nieland from Brooklyn, New York, playing their songs about books. They believe it’s a little nerds gone wild.
Lets hear what they have to say cause they have a new single out…
To listen, click HERE
 
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Posted by on November 25, 2018 in Interviews, Radio

 

The Blackout Radio Show with Mike Pougounas with special guest: Mick Magic

I decided I should post every Sunday, some radio interviews I do for The Blackout Radio Show.

On this week’s Blackout I have a special guest: Mick Magic will enlighten us regarding the Cassette scene of the 80’s and 90’s, his band Magic Moments At Twilight Time and his cassette label Music & Elsewhere which became the main English distributor of the Cassette scene.

All songs will be taken from the compilation “United World Underground Collection” which he put out recently, introducing us to 30 albums that the label released back then…

Click HERE to listen to the show.

The show goes on air as follows:
Mad Wasp Radio [UK] – Saturday 8AM – Sunday 11PM – Tuesday 4PM
Wicked Spins Radio [UK]-Thursdays 7PM – 9PM
KOWS 92,5FM [CA-USA]- Tuesday 10PM-12 Midnight
Fasching Web Radio [CANADA]- Wednesdays from 5 – 7PM

If you’d like more details or if you’d like to order the collection “United World Underground” click HERE

Mick Magic’s band “Magic Moments At Twilight Time” saw these day the re-issue of their album “CREAVOLUTION REBORN – The Brain Dead Studio Analogue Remaster” (order enquiries should be sent to marcbell386@btinternet.com).

You can check about this album HERE

 

 
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Posted by on November 11, 2018 in Interviews, Radio

 

Katie Anne Mitchell … from the community to the world (by Lord Litter, October 2018)

When I first heard Katie Anne Mitchell‘s double CD I immediately knew I found something different. I don’t mean something that is wild and outrageous, or extremely difficult in structure, or produced in a incredible modern way… or or or. I mean different for what it is.

Basically it is Folk songs and a spoken dark, gothic story interwoven. You’ll get a song, then a chapter from the story, then another song … next chapter and so on.

Deeper and deeper you sink into the world of “The Many Lives of Mockingbird“.

And that is the way I think this double CD should be listened to .. sit down listen to the whole release and drift away into the world of Mockingbird.

Another aspect that raised my interst in Katie Anne Mitchell’s work was this statement I found on the cover:”…I’ll say that making an album is a community process and to that end, I’d like to acknowledge the family, friends, romantic foibles, and successes, and chance encounters that inspired the words and stories of this album and gave me the encouragement and foundation to see the vision come to life.”

So it’s not the *impressive 4th release of this upcomming songbird that will mesmerise us with strong commercial songwriting and a line up of musicians that played with this or that known superstar etc etc* .. no, it’s community driven music/story culture.

All this was so different from the usual info/release I get for my radioshows that I decided to make an interview, which I don’t do often these days. After a airline strike made our in studio conversation impossible, I thought lets make a written interview – here it is. (And many thanks to Tribe4mian for having us here!)

Lord Litter (LL): On your album you have a paragraph about the aspect *Community*. In my opinion a community is the hard core of a certain kind of *different* art. People come together and artists get inspired by people (not by products) and thus find a truely unique way of expressing themselves. What is your sentiment about the aspect *Community*?

Katie Anne Mitchell (Katie): Well said! I think community has been essential to my birth and growth as an artist. I came to music and the folk community through a company I’ve worked for over the past five years, a subscription-based streaming service called The Standing ‘O’ Project which  is affiliated with a nationally syndicated radio program Art of the Song. Through listening and conducting interviews, dealing directly with fans and artists on a daily basis, and attending festivals and conferences I became intimately familiar with the folk community and fell in love with the individuals in the community—their challenges, what they stood for, how deeply they cared for each other and how open they were in sharing their lives without the sugar coating. It was something I had never seen before or knew existed. I was awestruck, and it felt impossible that I wouldn’t do everything I could to be a part of this group of people now that I knew it existed. Really, I fell in love with the music because I fell in love with the people. I think, not always, but often that art is created by individuals who are a part of a larger community that they strongly identify with and they internalize those feelings and observations and experiences of that community and are therefore able to discover, reveal, and ultimately create something that is greater than just themselves.

(LL): Your album is one of the rare releases that I simply can’t present with one song or / and one chapter of the story – it’s more like a world one has to visit for a while to understand  .. any thoughts on that?

Katie: I love stories. I love epic stories. I love series of novels that go on for 10 books, TV series that last 13 seasons, radio shows that continue each week for 20 years. I love sitting down with someone who has lived a full, long life and wants to tell me all the details they want to in that moment. I recently visited Europe and one of my favorite museums I visited was the Van Gogh museum. Although I like and appreciate his art, my main takeaway was that I was so thankful for the opportunity to walk around and get to know this one person intimately for a couple hours, instead of being overwhelmed by a myriad of different artists that I couldn’t possibly get familiar with in such a short amount of time.

My point with sharing this information is that I believe our ADD culture leaves little room for intimacy and I wanted to do my small part to address that malady by creating a world that people could sink into and a character people could become really familiar with. It is so important to slow down and take the time to do that. Also, for me, I also wanted to become intimate with Mockingbird, to see who she was and what made her come to life. Although the album has personal touches, Mockingbird is not my story and it was as much of a discovery in writing as it was a telling.

(LL): I could define your release as *Folk* but the pictures such a description arises all seem wrong – what was your inspiration to create such a work?

Katie: Folk really is where it started, but folk encompasses a broad range. I think it started with the fact that the artists who I was really drawn into were the artists who gave me a slice-of-life picture before or after the song they sang. The accompanying story was just as much a part of the song as the song itself to me and I wanted to emphasize that in my work as well as remind people that the essence of folk music is storytelling.

(LL): Your songs sound very *open* – not really following the verse/bridge/chorus etc structure. Sometimes it almost can be described as *free form*. How did that come about? Influences?

Katie: As much as I’d like to say that this was a conscious artistic choice, I think this was really bred as much out of a lack of formal songwriting training and my impatience with highly structured things as it was out of my love for free form poetry and strangeness. Honestly, it was a fortunate happenstance. If I have to call it anything, I refer to my style as “sung poetry”. As far as influences, I’m a lover of the bardic tradition, the poetry of Charles Bukowski (bastard that he was), the writing of Neil Gaiman, and the musical stylings of folkies like Sam Baker, Grant Peeples, Terry Hendrix, and Beth Hart to name a very few.

(LL): The story of the Mockingbird is a very dark/gothic one – are you interested in these forms of expression? In my case I’m a true maniac for *Old school* gothic – Edgar Allen Poe, Frankenstein, Bela Lugosi …

Katie: Oh yes! I love that you love that—well put too. For me, I have a morbid fascination with morbidity. I had a very vivid and dark dream life, especially as a child, and it led to some measure of obsession with the occult….but the occult with poetry and significance to the human condition. I’m not a fan of horror just for the sake of violence, or evil just for evil’s sake. I like some humanity in my monsters, which is why I’m drawn to old school gothic which is, in many ways, quite layered in their commentary on men and monsters alike.

(LL): What made you call your main character Mockingbird – any meaning behind?

Katie: I started working on the Mockingbird song first. Originally, it was a political song personifying truth in this character of a mockingbird bound to other people’s voices and perceptions but longing to have her own voice. It also reflected my own struggles with sharing my thoughts and emotions and not giving away my voice in relationships in my life.

However, the character Mockingbird itself came to life in a strange way. A couple days into working on the song, I created a mock Ouija board with a friend of mine (I’m sure after a couple glasses of wine) and I asked something about what was going to be important in my music and it spelled out ‘Mockingbird’. My friend didn’t know about that song at the time. Whether real magic or perceived, that is the moment though I knew that Mockingbird was a person and not just a song. She was born in that moment. Indeed, like the song, her journey is in larger part about uncovering her own identity, truth, and voice even when she is part of a larger community. Community and individualism are not mutually exclusive, and I believe both must be developed to reveal the depth to our humanity.

(LL): “The Many Lives of Mockingbird” is comprised of songs and stories woven together like a web, spun from a fine silk thread – describes one reviewer – how did that come about? Much more conventional would be to have one CD with songs and one CD with the story – which would probably lead to more airplay/promotion, did you care/think about this aspect?

Katie: Oh boy, yes, I did not make the smartest move for commercial airplay. I gave this a little bit of consideration before creating it, but not much. Once I got it stuck in my mind that this was how it was supposed to be created, it was set. It didn’t feel like a choice any longer. I’m of the belief that sometimes stories choose us and tell us how they want to be brought to life and sometimes it isn’t our place to contradict that. So, I decided to serve the story instead of my career. I stand by that decision.

(LL): You are also an actress – how does that fit into the picture? How does this influence your world as musician – what kind of characters do you play as an actress?

Katie: I started as an actress so I think that my pieces are by nature theatrical and my writing trends toward the cinematic. However, the beauty of performing live is that I can be the imperfect, over-the-top persona that I can’t be on camera, which I love. I haven’t been focusing so much on the acting side of things but when I do it, I suppose my preferred role is tragic, deranged, heartfelt and, if I’m lucky, all three. However, I will say LA being what it is, there’s not a lot of range of small roles for folks only pursuing it some of the time. Mostly, I go for what my agent sends me. I think that was the beautiful thing of doing the storytelling/song combo is I was able to play a character that I wanted to play.

(LL): The cover of your release breathes Art Nouveau and 60s Counter Culture. Was that intended and who is the artist?

Katie: The artist is a gal named Eliza Lutz who, by design of engineer/producer Dave Badstubner, I chose as the album artist. He brought one of her pictures into the studio as ‘inspiration’ while we were recording and I immediately gravitated to it. When I brought her onto the project, I told her I loved what she did and to just have free range to see what she came up with. I sent her the lyrics and she woke up one day with this image in her head a few weeks later and it pretty much came out first draft in completion. I would love to take credit for it but I can’t at all, this pretty much just landed directly in her head and onto the paper. She also designed all the inserts and had the idea for the format. It was all her. She’s a genius….and a brilliant musician as well. I’m so grateful to her. If you want to check her out, she’s HERE

(LL): You are closely cooperating with Rebekah LeAnn Wiggins, somehow I have the impression she is all around in your work – like a shadow she’s everywhere – she creates the depth – a second level .. you also have a live duo. Who is she?

Katie: Rebekah (or Bekah to her friends and family) is a close friend who I met through the film community in Albuquerque when we both lived there. We actually weren’t close until coming to LA and bonded over some depression we were going through after the move. We both used to take frequent drives between LA and New Mexico and carpooled on one of them and just started singing together and something clicked. I had started performing out a few months prior and been doing the storytelling/song format from the get-go, but when she came on it brought a wonderful, fuller dimension to the performance. We had actually considered doing the album as a duo album, but she had more of a focus in the film world and the story, concept and most of the songs were written by me so it ended up being my solo album with her heavily featured and, of course, debuting her beautiful song Self-Made on the album. Our duo’s on a bit of a hiatus at the moment—she’s a brilliant actor/writer/director and has been swamped with those pursuits this fall. If you’re interested, you can keep updated HERE

(LL): All in all your release is impossible to *quick check* … it just really works when you sit down, have a glass of wine, dim the lights and if possible listen to the whole work. It’s the absolute *counter culture* to the quick check, click click click, next next next *culture* we suffer from today. Did you get any specific reaction concerning all this.

Katie: I definitely had people who encouraged me to do an EP or just do songs, but it didn’t feel right to me. I think I have an anarchist living in me….wrapped in the package of the girl-next-door look. I don’t like the single-song consumption culture. I think it’s cheapening our potential of intimacy between artist and fan. I think artists should make the art that moves us in a direction they want to see, not cater to what is. Artists should drive change. I see little point in contributing to the tapestry of what already is. There are people who can do that and do it much better than me, I want to add something that says something different than what’s being said at the moment. Although not everyone got what I was doing or why I was doing it, the people who got it *really* got it and I’m grateful for that.

(LL): From your website: “As one fan describes on watching her perform at Folk Alliance International that watching her is like watching the musical “Theatre of the Absurd”. I like this very much! Somehow it proves that everybody seems to have a quite unique description of what you do – what do you think what you do?

Katie: I love that quote! It’s one of my all-time favorite things someone has said about my music. I think I am, quite simply, a storyteller. I love writing and performing, I love being strange and off-kilter, and being all the colors I can be, and some that I can only be on stage or in my writing. At my best moments in it, I really feel more than myself. I believe that art is a collective build-upon thing and when you put it out in the world it becomes larger than you once others put their insights, and hopes, and fears on it, it becomes all of our work instead of just my work. So what do I do? I do what all storytellers do. I give people a place to start.

(LL): 13 questions seem perfect to present an unusual/unique artist .. so question number 13 is: What’s next?

Katie: I’m in the beginning stages of working on an EP called “The Songs of the Nearly Forgotten” compiling songs and spoken word pieces about individuals who are overlooked in society. If the last album was the novel, this is akin to a collection of short stories. Some of these pieces are stories from family history, some are dealing with overarching everyday struggles, but all are about finding place and purpose in a life that may be seen as unextraordinary to some.

There are many stories about remarkable people and I, as much as the next person, am inspired by these stories. However, I believe our humanity is, at times, best represented in the folks who lead lives that aren’t widely recorded or remembered. Those small, intimate moments and struggles that are forgotten by the rest of the world build who we are…and I suppose that if those are the moments that build individuals then it might also be those moments that build a community, a society, a species. Some of my very favorite moments in this life are those that will not be remembered by anyone other than me and the people I shared them with. And, hell, if that isn’t something remarkable.

Katie Anne Mitchell
Singer-songwriter/Storyteller/SAG-AFTRA

Keep up with Katie Anne Mitchell

Website | Facebook | Instagram I IMDB

 

 
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Posted by on October 7, 2018 in Alternative, Interviews