Thursday, October 28, 2010

Pheaturing Carrie Wade

Hello, welcome to another entry of the Phile. How are you? Everyone is on strike in France, even the garbage men. There are huge piles of garbage rotting in the streets. It smells like Randy Quaid has moved in. In Paris, they called in riot police. They’re no joke. They crack skulls with baguettes and they unleash fire hoses filled with soft cheese. The reason for the strike is that the government wants to raise the retirement age to 62. Right now, it’s 27.
The judges are raving about Bristol Palin on “Dancing With the Stars.” Her mother must have threatened to shoot someone. Former President George W. Bush has a memoir coming out soon. Between this and Justin Bieber’s book, this could be the biggest year ever for literature. Afghanistan’s President Hamid Karzai, backed by the U.S., has been receiving bags of cash from Iran. That’s a conflict of interest, I think. There have been tornado warnings across the country, with at least 24 possible tornados. Possible tornados are the second worst kind of tornado. If this weather keeps up over the weekend, kids that are dressed up as witches and Superman may actually be able to fly. In New York, they’re still cleaning up from a tornado named “Charlie Sheen.” This weekend it's Halloween and I can't believe they have inspirational posters for it. Check this one out.

With all the Charlie Sheen talk in the news I am surprised CBS released a new poster for "Two And A Half Men". Check it out.

It starts with getting dumped. In fact, it starts with what may be the funniest, fast-talkingest, character-establishingest breakup scene ever. But the point is that it starts with getting dumped. Mark Zuckerberg is an ego-bruised Harvard man who takes to his LiveJournal to drunk-post about the lady he lost. Then he cruelly creates a "Hot or Not" site based on her and all the other women of Harvard. And then he creates Facebook, zooms past the competition, sells out his best friend, makes a billion dollars, gets sued and winds up dating his other best friend: his laptop. So the moral is that it's the socially awkward rage-penis that climbs the ladder to era-defining success. Okay, that didn't make a lot of sense but you know what I mean.
So, it's either a biopic or a loose interpretation of real events amped up to look like a biopic, but that's not really the point. It's really a somewhat familiar story about the ascent to power, just a different sort of power than the one that a place like Harvard could even see coming. Weirder, it was a situation that wrote new rules and felt democratic even if it was the work of guy who knew only how to get his own way, a social network invented by a lone wolf. It's part Citizen Kane, part Goodfellas, part Revenge of the Nerds and the most entertaining film you never knew you would want to see. If I had a buck for every person I've read or heard say, "Why would I want to watch a movie about Facebook?" I'd be a billionaire myself. If you hate life lessons, this is not your movie. Nothing makes me more annoyed in a film than when the lead character is an unsympathetic jerk and the filmmaker tries to make you love him by showing you his inner pain. Another thing I hate is comeuppances for the unsympathetic jerks. So thanks, David Fincher, for not rolling out any of that. This guy stays prickly, brilliant and unpleasant, while the movie demands that you admire his nerve, ambition and throat-slitting snappy answers to stupid questions. And the only person who gets an anti-reward in the whole film is the guy who had one too many feelings and didn't want to take risks. It's a David Fincher film so that means there's all sorts of green-screen seamlessness going on, from the too perfectly composed scenes of men rowing crew to the movie's coolest trick, a set of identical twins played by one actor, Armie Hammer. Yes, the great-grandson of that Armand Hammer. At one point Eisenberg is even seen wearing a T-shirt with the baking soda logo on it. Watch for it. From 1 to 10, it gets a 10 and is one of my favorite movies of the year so yes, I will be buying it. Now maybe they can make a movie about a guy who updates his blog once a week and does some really cool interviews.

This is the 10th book to be pheatured on the Phile and next week the author Patricia Cox will be the guest.

Today's guest is a very talented singer/songwriter who has a new album out that I purchased on iTunes called "The Old Ways". She'll be playing next in concert tomorrow night at Kulak's Woodshed in North Hollywood, California. Please welcome to the Phile, the amazing and talented... Carrie Wade.

Me: Hello, Carrie, welcome to the Phile. So, how are you?

Carrie: Hi, Jason, and thank you! I'm doing just fine these days… life is good.

Me: Okay, I have to ask, are you from New Zealand or America?

Carrie: I understand the need for the question. Even though a good deal of my debut album "The Old Ways" was recorded in New Zealand, I am indeed American. For better or worse.

Me: So, how many people call you Care Bear? It seems everyone that is named Carrie is called Care Bear.

Carrie: Well (smile), the good news is, it's not constant. Not because I hate it, but because I tend to like things like that to be personal and not global. I knew a woman for a while who called me that and because it came from her, and no one else called me it at the time, I enjoyed it. I think I've heard it once or twice since. It’s clearly affectionate, so it’s sweet.

Me: You are based in LA, right? How did you get to meet and work with Peter Kearns?

Carrie: I am based here in Los Angeles, yes. Peter had solicited on-line as a Producer through a songwriting organization and when I read his post, I had a feeling about him. I heard some of his sample work as a producer and liked the sound and his production values. We agreed to speak right away via telephone, I played him some of my songs through the phone and he liked them. With “The Old Ways” being my first real project and with Peter being based in New Zealand, it was a real learning experience for me on so many levels. I sent him possible songs for the album via a very basic four-track cassette recording. We agreed on the 12 or so (there ended up being 10). He managed to transfer my tracks of acoustic guitar and vocal to his music software, and built the songs up around the guitar/vocal. Some were real instrument tracks, some midi. He’d send MP3s of his arrangements, I'd give feedback and we'd continue like that song by song. From the beginning, Peter seemed to know the direction I wanted to go in without me saying a lot – extremely musically intuitive. Here in Los Angeles, a fine engineer/ producer named Meghan Gohil engineered a number of tracks and was and continues to be invaluable to me in his talents and knowledge. And Marty Rifkin slayed me in his ability to not only be a great talent in multiple things but a wonderful person. I’ve not stopped complimenting myself in the Finding of Marty. He was perfect in helping me to complete the album. We worked together to replace some of the midi tracks Peter had intended as guides but we kept quite a bit of midi, too. I was ultimately pleased with having had both. I layed the bulk of my acoustic guitar and vocals with Marty. And as a musician, he layed some of, what I feel are, great bass, pedal steel, dobro and slide guitar tracks. The bottom line is that I could not have been happier with Peter and Marty as my co-producers/engineers on the project. Brilliant, both I think that was a much longer answer to your question than you had intended.

Me: It's funny, I was introduced to Peter through Jeff Cameron and Peter introduced me to you, so you have to introduce me to somebody else to interview. Have you heard of Jeff Cameron?

Carrie: Can’t say I have.

Me: Okay, let's talk about your album "The Old Ways" which I purchased off from iTunes and really like it by the way. It's your debut album, right?

Carrie: Thanks so much for purchasing the album, Jason - very much appreciate that! And I am, of course, very happy that you like it. It is my debut, yes. Many years in the making. I wanted to do it the right way and I believe the album reflects that, but it took me a while.

Me: How long have you been writing music and playing guitar?

Carrie: I believe I started writing songs when I was about 20 or 21. I was playing guitar longer than that. Even though I’d been playing guitar for quite a while, I never really focused on it - no lessons, etc., so I've never really thought of myself as a guitarist until fairly recently; I consciously make the decision to believe others' comments about being "a good guitar-player". For many years, and for various reasons, I sang background vocals with original music bands in the Boston area rather than concentrating on songwriting and working on a career of my own. I guess I am as they say, a late bloomer

Me: You have a really good band, Carrie. Who played on your album?

Carrie: I was so pleased with the players. There are those on the album I do play with live and then others I brought in specifically for the recording: Instrumentation and Musicians for The Old Ways: Acoustic Guitar and vocals: Me of course. Drums: Peter Kearns, Christopher Allis and Marty Rifkin. Bass: Peter Kearns and Marty Rifkin. Electric Guitar: Adam Daniel and Stefano Capobianco. Pedal Steel, Slide Guitar and Dobro: Marty Rifkin. Piano: Peter Kearns and Adam Daniel. Strings: Peter Kearns, Benedikt Brydern (violin), Briana Bandy (viola) and Kevan Torfeh (cello). Harmonium: Peter Kearn. Accordion: Bob Malone. Trumpet: David Zasloff.

Me: "The Old Ways" is also a song on the album... what made you decide that was gonna be the name of the album?

Carrie: Many songs on "The Old Ways" reflect a rather lengthy period of time of struggle. I believe at the beginning of that period I was very much a certain kind of person. Prior to the writing of the title track I thought I had come a long way in my, call it “personal growth”, only to experience something that blindsided me insofar as my reaction to it being uncomfortably close to how I had [over-]reacted in the past. So, the song refers to a pattern of behavior that I had thought of as my old ways OR "the old ways". In addition, I was raised to acknowledge and hold compassion in my heart for the Native Americans and the genocide that occurred as the result of our attempt to and success in conquering what was their Nation. The Indians refer to their traditional ways as “the old ways”. So, there was that, too.

Me: I love the cover, but when I first saw it I thought that was a real tiger sitting by your shoulders. Did you come up with the concept for that cover?

Carrie: (Laughs) Yeah, turns out many think the tiger looks real, which I love. It was not my idea and in fact, I was resistant to the idea at first. We had the shoot at the house of a friend of mine, amazing actor and artist Daniel Mailley - wonderful house. The vintage Gund stuffed tiger is his and at one point he just grabbed it and put it around my shoulders. I tend to be way too serious for my own good, and I think allowing some lightness into the picture was ultimately a good thing. Also good because there’s a significant amount of stuff to chew on on the album itself.

Me: I am greedy for your music, Carrie, when is your next album coming out?

Carrie: How cool. Thanks, Jason. I don't have an ETA yet on the next album. Right now, I'm focusing on getting “The Old Ways” out there and writing for the next. I like working with titles for songs, and I’ve got some good ones, so I’m excited. What’s funny is I’m thinking of titles that would be good hooks in country songs. So, we’ll see…

Me: Not only did you work with Peter Kearns but you worked with Marty Rifken who worked with Springsteen. Are you a fan of Bruce? Did Marty tell you any good Springsteen stories?

Carrie: Marty Rifkin has worked with many well-known (and lesser-known) artists in addition to Bruce. He’s played on highly-acclaimed albums such as Tom Petty’s “Wildflowers” and on Jewel’s "Spirit" album, amongst others. I met Marty backstage at a Springsteen concert at The Greek here in L.A. It was Bruce's tour for his album "The Seeger Sessions: We Shall Overcome" which I loved being able to witness live. It was more than a concert – real presentation. I guess I was cool enough that night to have a VIP area pass so after the show, I walked up to Marty and told him I thought his pedal steel playing was phenomenal. We got to talking and he told me he was based here in the Los Angeles area and that he also produced (and enjoyed producing) a number of artists in his studio, many, Indie. And, yes, I am a fan of Bruce's. I remember his original albums with the E-Street Band which were so powerful and then I loved how he later forayed into more traditional folk-sounding music with his “The Ghost of Tom Joad” and “Nebraska”. Brilliant. As far as "Bruce Stories" go, and I hope I remember this right, Marty told me they were playing a show at a huge venue in Santander, Spain to promote "The Seeger Sessions" and it was his (Marty’s) 50th birthday. Before he knew it, Bruce had the entire audience (thousands) singing Happy Birthday to Marty in Spanish, which of course, goes down in Marty's world as a pretty big deal and a great memory. I think the biggest thing that was worth hearing about Bruce, is that he supposedly is a really nice guy and a very generous artist to those lucky enough to have been able to support him.

Me: I read something that you are mentioned on Neil Young's website... or was that Neil Diamond? Am I getting confused?

Carrie: Neil Young, yes. Neil has a "Living With War Today" page on his website where he posts favored songs that have to do with the war experience. As you may know, he is very anti-war. My song "Broken Soldier" (not on the album) was lodged at #39 on the chart there for a while, which was a real honor.

Me: You play a lot of shows I see, Carrie. What is your favorite gig you have done?

Carrie: Hmmm... well, my favorite show ever could've been the release show for “The Old Ways” at Molly Malone's in Los Angeles. That was incredibly satisfying in many ways: the actual completion and release of the album after having worked on it for over 6 years, the great crowd of friends and fans who attended, the company that kept me company onstage and the response. Over-the-top. An extremely joyful evening.

Me: And if you could open up for anybody, who would it be?

Carrie: Perhaps Emmylou Harris - that would nice.

Me: Carrie, thanks for being on the Phile. When your next project comes out, come back, okay? Go ahead and plug your website if you want.

Carrie: Honored to have been invited, Jason, and thank you for that - I'd love to come back! My debut album "The Old Ways" is available on CD at and as downloads on iTunes. And I’d love to hear from your readers at:,,

Me: Take care, and I wish you all the best. Can't wait for your next album.

Carrie: Jason, thanks so much for giving me the opportunity to talk about my music and “The Old Ways”! The support is so meaningful to me and it's great that you're a fan. And, of course, a new friend. Best always, Carrie.

Well, that about does it. It's getting late and I am tired. Thanks to Carrie for a really good interview and to Peter Kearns for introducing me to her. Before I go, I want to say something important. Last Sunday the daughter of a good friend of mine lost her battle with Cystic Fibrosis. She was only 18 years old and was still studying in school and planning on going to college. I am honored to know Julie and remember when she was born and was there when she went to her first Foghat show when she was just a few months old. I am asking Phile Phans to please donate to the to help find a cure for this horrible disease. Please click here to donate to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, Florida Chapter, Central Florida Office, 1850 Lee Road, Suite 111, Winter Park 32789. Thank you so much. Okay, now that's done, thanks for reading this week. Spread the word, not the turd. Don't let snakes and alligators bite you. Bye, love you, bye.

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