Sunday, July 31, 2011

Pheaturing Max Carmichael

Hello, everybody, welcome to another entry of the Phile for a Sunday, and the last for July. Man, we are only a few days away from this whole debt ceiling business, A lot of people don’t understand what the debt ceiling is. So everyone can understand, it’s the ceiling for our debt.
In “Hamlet,” Shakespeare wrote, “Neither borrower nor a lender be.” Now where better to find financial advice than a play about a bipolar, suicidal man in tights? We are $14.3 trillion in debt, but the good news is we’ve got 14.3 trillion airline miles. The debt ceiling debate is such a mess right now, al-Qaida is desperately trying to find a way to take credit for it. If the debt ceiling isn’t raised by Aug. 2, the whole country can go into default and we won’t be able to pay our bills. Then we’ll have to ask our parents for money, which will be very embarrassing. President Obama urged the American people to call Congress and demand that both parties work together on a compromise. The calls are 99 cents for the first minute, and a trillion dollars for each additional minute. “Debt ceiling,” to me, sounds like a boring John Grisham novel, but apparently it’s very important. The company that makes the BlackBerry is laying off 11 percent of its workforce. You can tell it's bad, because the CEO's announcement ended with the line “Sent from my iPhone.” A man from Chicago won the national Air Guitar Championship this weekend. It marked the first contest ever where someone was declared both the winner and a loser. Sarah Palin’s documentary, “The Undefeated,” will be available on Pay-Per-View and On Demand by Sept. 1. The movie will be shown in English, with English subtitles. So, do you kids like soccer? More American kids play soccer than any other sport combined. That is not true, but wouldn’t it be interesting? In England, they call soccer fans that are crazy, drunk, and unemployed “soccer hooligans.” In America, they give them a reality show on MTV. Manchester United is the most valuable sports franchise in the world. A few years ago, it was the target of a takeover by Captain Evil himself: Rupert Murdoch. Murdoch was going to buy Manchester United for less than he usually pays for a prime minister. One of the most anticipated movies of the year came out this past Friday, and Logan and I are gonna go see that today. No, not Cowboys and Aliens... Cowboys and Aliens... I wonder what that movie is about.
The movie has cowboys shooting at aliens. We already have that in Arizona. Anyway, I am talking of course about The Smurfs. And here on the Phile, I have an exclusive screen shot.

Drunk Smurfs. This movie is gonna be good. Hey, kids, it's the Philosoraptor.

And now the very last...

Okay, I mentioned the debt ceiling, and it is confusing to a lot of people, so I thought I would invite a phriend of the Phile back so hopefully we can get some info on it. Please welcome back to the Phile RNC Chairman Priebus in a pheature I like to call...

Me: Hello, Chairman, welcome back to the Phile. What did you think of the President's speech last Monday, sir?

Reince: He distorted and demagogue the Republicans' serious solution to the debt crisis that cuts spending and ensures Washington lives within its means.

Me: Didn't the President ask for a clean bill not long ago? That is something, right?

Reince: A clean bill without any spending cuts in which he could increase the debt limit with no strings attached, that is right.

Me: Do you think he has a plan, Chairman, or do you think he wants to just blame you guys, the Republicans?

Reince: He had a plan, a number of them, but he didn't want to bore the American people with the details of every plan, because he doesn't have one of his own. He does want to blame Republicans who want to cut and cap spending and pass a balanced budget amendment.

Me: Chairman, I believe in the Senate Democrats' plan to continue President Obama's spending.

Reince: The spending binge that is destroying jobs and endangering America's future? Do you also believe in the Republican plan of forcing the Democrats to cut spending and taking away Obama's blank check.

Me: Yep. So, I guess the battle lines have been drawn. Please explain to the readers of the Phile what the Republicans want.

Reince: Friend, House Republicans' commonsense, conservative proposal to cut government spending and pass a balanced budget amendment is what America needs to get our fiscal house in order.

Me: Thank you, Chairman, I guess.

Today's guest is a the third artist to be pheatured in the Peverett Phile Art Gallery, and is an indie folk rocker, whose first commercial release was praised by the Village Voice, resulting in a headline gig at New York’s Knitting Factory. His new album's "Promised Land" and "Take Me Up" are now available on iTunes. Please welcome to the Phile singer, author, artist and dancer... Max Carmichael.

Me: Hello, Max, welcome to the Phile, sir. How are you?

Max: Great. I woke up to the birds singing outside my window!

Me: On the Phile I like to interview musicians, authors and artists and you are all three. For you, which came first?

Max: I absorbed all three at once from earliest childhood, because I grew up in an extended family that sang and played traditional mountain music, and at home my parents had lots of art and listened to jazz and world music, and I spent most of my time outdoors exploring nature. So as far back as I can remember I was making up illustrated stories about nature and banging on my mom's piano or my toy drum kit.

Me: You're also a dancer, right?

Max: I learned in about 7th grade that I love to dance. I studied modern dance briefly in grad school, but when I first encountered West African dance music in the SF Bay Area that was when it all came together. I realized that was my natural style of dancing. I was living in a big loft with a bunch of artists, and we just spontaneously started dancing together all the time, even when we were doing chores like washing dishes or mopping the floor. I was also into the club scene on and off, and I still enjoy some forms of club dance music.

Me: I don't know where to start, Max. Let's talk about your music, and then your artwork, which I featured in the Peverett Phile Art Gallery. I downloaded both your albums "Take Me Up" and "Promised Land" from iTunes and like them both, Max. Were they recorded about the same time?

Max: I worked on them both together more or less continuously. Initially I just began selecting new and unfinished tunes from my repertoire without a clear idea of the finished product. My goal was to end up with a cross-section representing the full variety of my repertoire - an impossible task because I strive for everything to be unique and different. First I had to prove to myself that I could achieve satisfactory solo recordings of a few songs in my home studio. I was learning digital recording technology on the fly. Then, before too long, I made the decision to split that collection of songs down the middle into two albums, "Promised Land" being the lighter, more rural side, and "Take Me Up" being the darker, more urban side.

Me: Which one came out first?

Max: They came out together, on purpose, because to me it was really two sides of my first solo recording project.

Me: They both have similar looking album covers. Did you do the artwork and make them look similar on purpose?

Max: Yeah, creating the album art was a huge challenge, as painful as any of the music production, and when I finally settled on the common motif, it was a huge relief. I could use that motif to frame imagery that would resonate somehow with the tone of each album, yet the common motif would show that they were both part of the same project.

Me: I have to ask you about the song "Come On Over Whitey", Max. Who is Whitey?

Max: That comes from when I was in college, living in the middle of the huge South Side slums of Chicago, during a period of racial hostility when attacks by blacks on whites were common, and I was mugged and repeatedly harassed in my neighborhood. I would be walking down the street and young black guys on the other side would yell out "Come on over whitey!" and start laughing. I grew up in an integrated rural community and was innocent and naive when I hit the big city streets. The song "Come On Over Whitey" plays off the insecurities of whites who are both attracted to and intimidated by black culture and society.

Me: It's a very Lou Reed sounding song... are you a fan of Lou Reed?

Max: I've connected strongly with that seminal Velvet Underground album at various points in my life as a bohemian, but I haven't connected with Lou Reed in his solo career - although others have pointed out the similarity. To me, the energy of that song comes more from the post-punk milieu I was part of in San Francisco, with bands like the Dead Kennedys and Flipper.

Me: It's hard to pinpoint your musical styles, Max, which I really like. How would you describe your music?

Max: I'm glad you like that, that's intentional! Describing it has been a huge challenge! My latest attempt is "electro-tribal-folk-rock". My lyrics are inspired by the mysteries of nature and the human heart, I play a wide variety of instruments, I use samples and digital technology, and I create unusual rhythms inspired by tribal dance music.

Me: Max, what instruments do you play? I am guessing guitar, but do you play any others? Sax I think.

Max: Yeah, sax was my first instrument, followed by guitar and mandolin. Guitar is really my main instrument, but I've created my own styles on both banjo and talking drum, I'm getter better on bass, and I've tinkered with keyboards since early childhood. Mastering the fiddle is a challenge I'm looking forward to next.

Me: Where are you from?

Max: Early childhood was outside Marietta, Ohio. Later childhood was in Rushville, Indiana. I went to college in Chicago and grad school in the SF Bay Area.

Me: You live in New Mexico now, right? That's a bit different then Ohio.

Max: I fell in love with the deserts of the southwest on a road trip from Los Angeles to Las Vegas when I was in art school. The desert literally seduced me and became an obsession. I couldn't get enough of camping and backpacking and exploring, and ultimately I wanted to live in the desert. My spiritual home is a particular wilderness area in southern California, but when I started looking seriously, I couldn't find a healthy community in that desert, so I kept looking, striking out farther east in Nevada, Arizona, and Utah, until I finally found what I was looking for in southwest New Mexico.

Me: You are a very talented man. When you were growing up, did you know you could do all the things you could do, or did it come with time? Your parents must've been very proud, sir.

Max: Gosh, thanks! Growing up as I did, in a family and a culture that took these things for granted, I really had no sense of being special, and my parents didn't make a big thing of it either, because they were both aspiring artists and musicians. Back then, there wasn't the culture of celebrity, American Idol or whatever, nor was there the kind of pressure to excel that you find in a lot of educated families now. There's a great quote from Kurt Vonnegut that every family used to have its own entertainers, but now that we're so celebrity-conscious, we're ashamed to entertain ourselves.

Me: With your music you have worked with musicians from all over the world. Where do you meet these musicians and do you do a lot of traveling?

Max: I met most of these people in the San Francisco Bay Area. It just fell together when I moved into a loft and started recruiting artists and musicians to do shows. Within less than a year I had met all the top African musicians in the expatriate community there, and over the next two decades I kept working in that scene. Frankly the only places I've visited outside the U.S. are Mexico and Guatemala. There are lots of wild and remote places I'd like to visit around the world, but my budget is tight and a lot of the places I'd like to visit are politically dangerous now. Also, my local community in New Mexico has some really inspiring traditional artists.

Me: And is it true you have worked with Beck and Moby, as well as Talking Heads or did I miss read the info? I have been known to do that a few times over the years interviewing people.

Max: No, no! These are artists that struck a chord with me, who have worked in similar styles, but I never even saw these artists live. Talking Heads were icons in my post-punk milieu, but they were such big stars they were unreachable. And by the time I'd heard of Beck and Moby, they were only playing huge venues, and I'm not much of a crowd person. Moby's background has some similarities with mine, and his career, doing his own production, has been a big inspiration for me.

Me: Okay, let's talk about your artwork, Max. I love your black and white Japanese sumi ink works. But you use different mediums, right? Ink, charcoal and pastels... what do you prefer?

Max: Thanks! This ink thing is very new, so I'm just starting to explore it. I had a long hiatus from drawing since the mid-90s, then I thought I would get back into pastels, but the ink was what captured me. It's all very spontaneous, I have no plan, but in the back of my mind I'm wondering if using a brush will lead me back into oil painting at some point.

Me: What medium do you use the most?

Max: Throughout my youth it was oil or acrylic on canvas, but when I began to mature as an artist, I craved the spontaneity of drawings on paper. When I moved to New Mexico I was deep into my "visual philosophy" project which was mostly digital and cerebral, but now I'm into these spontaneous drawings. I really have no idea what the future will bring.

Me: What was your first thing you started to draw, and what do you like to paint or draw the most?

Max: The first things I drew were animals and other features of my natural environment - we lived outside of town in a narrow valley beside a creek, between forested hills. I made up stories about animals and illustrated them. Throughout life, curiosity drove me to learn more about nature, through my own explorations, through reading, and through following scientists on field trips. Also, in college I studied anatomy and took a year of figure drawing, so I became proficient in drawing the human figure. When I make art, I "draw on" that familiarity with anatomy as well as with all the myriad forms of nature, to create stylized organic compositions that sometimes lean toward abstraction. Plus, I've had a lot of intense, memorable experiences both in nature and society, including "mystical" visions, that inspire my art in various ways.

Me: Do you try and tell different stories with your art like you do with your music?

Max: In the newer art, I don't actually TRY to tell stories, but I end up recognizing stories in the finished product. In the high art scene, from modernism to post-modernism, there was a strong reaction against the narrative art of the classical period, but for me, making marks on surfaces inevitably leads to some form of narrative, and I really like the idea of an unconscious narrative that appears after the work is completed. Like, "Hey, that means something that I didn't start out intending it to mean!" But I also like the "lowbrow" narrative art of people like Kenny Scharf, and I've done a lot of work like that in the past.

Me: I mentioned the sumi ink works you have done, is that your newest thing?

Max: Yep, like I said earlier, when I started drawing recently, I was all set to do pastels again, but the darn brush almost jumped into my hand instead. My old bottle of ink was all dried out, and after trying some new inks I found the Sumi stuff which had just the body I was looking for.

Me: Have you ever had your work shown at a gallery? I mean a real gallery, not my little blog art gallery. LOL.

Max: Short answer: No. But throughout childhood my work won awards and was exhibited in fairs and public buildings. In my year at CalArts, and for a few years after that, I was doing large-scale guerilla art shows in public gallery spaces, which would often be left up for days or weeks by the authorities out of respect for the artist. Then I was asked to do a show by an up-and-coming gallerist in LA, and prepared for about six months only to have it cancelled at the last minute - ostensibly due to over-booking. Preparing for that show burnt me out - I hated having to come up with a theme and create a body of work for that theme - it seemed too much like commercial art. So from then on, I made work spontaneously and exhibited it at public events in my loft.

Me: I have to ask you about your book your had published called "Precious Delirium", which I will add to the Peverett Phile Book Club. The book is full of your poetry, right?

Max: Yep, poetry I wrote during a two-year period while living in my SF loft, when my life was full of tumult and colorful characters, and the world outside was pretty crazy as well.

Me: Did you write poetry before you became a songwriter?

Max: Yes and no... I started making up tunes on the guitar as I was learning to play, then I started writing poetry, then I started writing lyrics - all within a few years, culminating in my first project with all-original music, in my senior year of high school.

Me: Do you still write poems?

Max: I do, but I haven't written anything like "Precious Delirium" recently! I write constantly, much of it stream-of-consciousness, when I'm experiencing life intensely, and the plan is to edit it all at some point. PD became the first book because the poetry was all finished, it just had to be organized.

Me: Would you ever publish another book, Max?

Max: I have a series of books planned, mostly prose, drawing on stories from my life experience. A lot of it is already in manuscript form. I could finish it off more quickly if I wasn't also working on music and art, but I want to keep a balance between the three.

Me: I have to ask you about this... you used to work for the movie industry? What did you do? You don't work in that field anymore?

Max: Most of my friends from CalArts ended up working in the industry in some way. Half of my old friends are in that LA movie-industry group. They pulled me into it in small ways over the years - inking mattes for rotoscope animation, acting as a courier on features, pitching concepts to studios. A friend had a production company in the 90s, and I once picked up the female lead on a feature film at LAX and drove her to the shooting location in the desert, where we met the male lead, Burt Reynolds. I've been on a lot of sets and I find it amazing that good films ever get made, it's a process with huge potential for failure.

Me: And I think this is cool, you started a harvest festival? Where is it, and how did you go about doing that?

Max: I came to New Mexico hoping to get involved in local agriculture in some way, and when I first came to this part of New Mexico, I was invited to stay at an intentional community around a hot springs in the Mimbres River Valley, which used to be called "the breadbasket of southwest New Mexico". It still seemed pretty lush to me, and there were obviously a lot of families there that had been farming and ranching for generations. But the community had no center and no real sense that it was a community, and of course everyone was getting their food at supermarkets now. I found out that one of my new friends was part of a small group that was trying to do things for the whole valley, health programs and food for the poor, and I suggested to her that we should start a harvest festival to promote local growers. We used the existing group as a base, put out the word and recruited more volunteers, and within three months had our first festival. It stormed pretty heavy that day, so we were all scrambling for cover, but we still had a good turnout, and every year after that got better, so that now it's recognized throughout the region.

Me: I like it that you started your own festival, doing your own thing. You really must like doing your own thing, Max. How long has the festival been going?

Max: I like doing my own thing, and I also like collaborating. Although I came up with the idea for the festival, I'm just one of about a dozen key volunteers. This year will be our sixth annual festival.

Me: So, what do you have planned for next?

Max: This summer I plan to finish some videos for "Promised Land" and "Take Me Up", and continue recording new material for the next release. Plus, hopefully, a camping trip or two.

Me: Thanks so much for being here on the Phile, Max, you are truly one of a kind. Why don't you plug your website and tell readers where they can purchase your book?

Max: It's been an honor! Anyone who's interested can look, listen, and read a lot more at, where I've got song lyrics and lots of photos. The website also has direct links to download or order music and to order the book at Amazon. Or you can just go to iTunes or Amazon and type Max Carmichael.

Me: And do you sell your art?

Max: I'd be happy to sell a picture to anyone that wants one, but I haven't set up a store yet, so at this point it would be a special request. The art is still in transition, but I do plan to set up an online store sometime soon.

Me: Thanks again, and please come back onto the Phile. I feel like I only scratched the surface with you, Max. Take care, sir.

Max: Thanks for the opportunity, and keep up the good work!

There you go, another entry of the Phile. Thanks to Max for a great interview and to Chairman Reince Priebus for a not-so-great interview. In tomorrow's entry I will have Patrick Gaspard, Executive Director of the Democratic National Committee to get a different view. Also it starts Alumni Month and the guest will be Marc Savoie from Infinite-Lane Highway, and the announcement of the fourth artist to be pheatured in the Peverett Phile Art Gallery. Also, I hope to have a review of The Smurfs. And then the Phile will be back next Sunday with Alumni David Melbye from Heavy Water Experiment. So, spread the word, not the turd and don't get snakes and alligators bite you. Bye, love you, bye.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Pheaturing Luke Temple

Hey, kids, welcome to the Phile for a Monday. Man, this is wearing me out doing two entries a week. A woman in Colorado was arrested for groping a TSA agent last week. On the bright side, today she was offered a job with the TSA. A group of rare snow leopards has been discovered in a remote corner of Afghanistan. So I guess traveling through Afghanistan isn't as safe as you thought. Hey, I just heard about a woman who is publishing 12 years of her own text messages in a new book. I don’t want to ruin the ending, but the last line is, “Hey, just thought of the dumbest idea for a book!” Rupert Murdoch said that he was embarrassed and that testifying before Parliament was the most humbling day in his life. That’s mostly because he spends every other day swimming in a bathtub full of money like Scrooge McDuck. Borders bookstores announced that it will liquidate its stock and close all of its stores nationwide. I don’t think this is what the Republicans meant by “closing our borders.” I actually went to a Borders this morning, this is a true story, and spent a hundred and fifty dollars. That should save them, right? Don't ask me what I got. Okay, ask me. The three "Kingdom Keepers" books, Ashley Judd's autobiography for my wife, a Star Wars graphic novel, an "Ultimates" graphic novel, the latest Narnia movie on Blu-ray and the three X-Men movies on Blu-ray. Pretty good, right? Philadelphia has a new plan to ticket pedestrians who text without looking up while they walk. As opposed to the previous punishment: lamp posts. A new study found that the show “Jersey Shore” hasn’t changed people’s views of New Jersey at all, which doesn’t say much about their views of New Jersey before the show aired. Weather experts say that 1 million square miles of the U.S. are under a “heat dome.” But don’t worry — we have plenty of shade under our $14 trillion debt ceiling. Why do they give heat warnings? I think I’m pretty good at figuring out that it’s hot on my own. I think we should switch to Celsius. In Europe, it rarely goes over 40 degrees. A new study found that only 20 percent of high school seniors are proficient in geography. Students weren't really bothered by that number because only 3 percent of them are proficient in math. Yesterday Logan and I went to see Captain America: The First Avenger, it's set in the 1940s, when people thought smoking was healthy and for breakfast, they would eat bacon smothered in beef fat with a side of asbestos. Back then, America had a ruined economy and was fighting wars with two different countries. It was a totally different time. Captain America is patriotic. Of course, Superman wore the American colors, but he wasn’t born here... much like our president. Just kidding, people! Captain America isn’t just patriotic, he’s also a real captain in the armed forces, not a made-up captain, like Captain Crunch. In a new interview, President Obama said he wants a “debt ceiling deal” for his 50th birthday. Then he was like, “But if I can’t have that... iPad.” Bank of America announced that it lost $9 billion in the second quarter. It’s not good. In fact, when I put my card in the ATM, it said, “Do you mind if I borrow this for a while?” The U.S. Postal Service will start offering online previews of the stamps in its 2012 collection. That’s right, stamp previews. Finally answering the question: “What’s more boring than stamps?” A new study found that your personality can trigger weight gain. Yeah, especially if you have the personality of a big fat guy. Hey, have you seen the ad for a new Fox TV show that is coming out in the fall? Check it out if you haven't.

So, I mentioned the new Captain America movie, but there's one movie I am wanting to see this summer more than any other movie, and I am talking about The Smurfs. I was excited when I discovered a new inspirational Smurfs themed poster.

So, when I went to Borders this morning, I thought I would have a little fun. Take a look.

And while I was there I discovered a...

Steve Rogers is a scrawny World War II recruit who’ll do whatever it takes to make the grade and fight those Nazi bullies, even if it means submitting to the U.S. Governments secret Super Soldier program. It’s there he becomes big, bold, brawny Captain America and learns to throw his mighty shield. And because this is a boilerplate origin story, he square-jaws his way into a conflict with a super-baddie and the fate of the world hangs in the balance. Guess how it ends! And yeah, stay till the end of the credits like you already know how. So, taking stock of the Avengers this far... Iron Man is sarcastic, Hulk broods, Thor is a glamorous pro wrestler who talks funny, Black Widow slinks around in a catsuit and kicks ass in gleaming hallways. And now comes Captain America. He's an L7 square, a slab of muscle and clean-living who knows himself best when he’s battling evil. And that’s great. All I need from a movie superhero is that level of productive self-awareness and the ability to create excitement and tension while he fights the enemy. Meanwhile, all I need from the people who make superhero movies is that sense of thoughtful momentum, the confidence that they're not flailing around, asking focus groups for tons of advice and making it all up as they go along. So this one is pretty good news. It ain't trailblazing, but it's solidly enjoyable. First of all, Cap's over 70 years old. This character really is, and the necessary World War II-era setting gives it a look and gee-whiz feel that are hard to resist. It helps that pretty much everything in the United States was at its handsomest from the 1940s until right around the time the hippies took over: clothes, furniture, cars, everything--and the movie knows it and shows it, hand in hand with its vintage, vanilla milkshake attitude. The Red Skull is one of my favorite villains in these Marvel movies so far. Conceptually, he's the easiest to understand, a Nazi monster with clear, evil intentions. And, frankly, design-wise, he's just better than the rest. HE HAS A BIG RED SKULL. It's a look. Until DC can get itself together and pull off a decent Justice League movie franchise, this is what we've got. And so far the Marvel output has been more decent than not. But it'll be good to get these same-y origin stories out of the way and, fingers crossed, move on to an Avengers series that allows these characters their differences, doesn't shift in tone every two minutes, and delivers on its already huge list of promises. Stay through the credits, people. I am a big comic book nerd and had literally tears of joy in my eyes. The movie gets a 10, and yes, I will buy it when it comes out, but obviously not at a Borders.

The third artist to be pheatured in the P.P.A.G. is Max Carmichael, and this is one of his paintings.

Max will be a guest on the Phile next Sunday.

Okay, today's guest is is an American pop-folk singer-songwriter who gained attention from various media outlets when he and his new band, Here We Go Magic released a self-titled album. He has a new album out called "Don't Act Like You Don't Care". Please welcome to the Phile... Luke Temple.

Me: Hello, Luke, welcome top the Phile. How are you?

Luke: Good thanks!

Me: I have to say, I am a fan of your band Here We Go Magic. Where did that band name come from?

Luke: I was on a train and I was thinking of a little green area with a pond and the name came with it... somehow. Who knows how these things happen.

Me: I was hoping you would say you're an Orlando Magic fan, Luke. Where are you from? Do you still live there?

Luke: I don't live in Orlando but I have been there. There is a nice little pond in the middle of the city with strange birds walking around. I am from a little town in Massachusettes called Manchester By The Sea.

Me: Before you were a musician you were a painter, am I right? What kind of paintings did you do? Or did you paint houses?

Luke: I painted portraits for the most part, I dabbled in some other areas but the portraits always had the most power.

Me: Do you still paint when you are not doing the music thing?

Luke: Very occasionally.

Me: When did you first start to song write and become a musician?

Luke: I started playing music when I was 13 and started writing songs when I was 24.

Me: Your first album "Hold a Match for a Gasoline World" which came out a few years ago, is a great album, Luke. I like the song "To All My Good Friends, Goodbye". Man, what were you thinking when you wrote that song?

Luke: I was working as a house painter and that specific day I was on a top floor of a sky scraper in a very small, very hot apt, sanding the ceiling. If you have ever sanded plaster on a ceiling you would understand how difficult it can be. I was looking down at the street below feeling sorry for myself and the song began.

Me: You had a few albums out after under your own name before you formed a band. What made you start a band instead of releasing the Magic's music under your name?

Luke: I wanted to erase myself in a way, I wanted it to feel like a fresh start.

Me: Who is in Here We Go Magic with you? Give them a mention, Luke.

Luke: Mike Bloch, Jen Turner, Teeny Lieberson, Peter Hale.

Me: I downloaded the Magic's new EP "The January EP", and enjoyed it. Your latest release is "Don't Act Like You Don't Care" which is really good. It is very country sounding, Luke. Are you a country music fan? Luke Temple does sound like a country singer's name.

Luke: I like some country, yes. I like Roger Miller and George Jones, Willie, etc...

Me: The album was recorded a few years ago, Luke. What took so long for it to be released?

Luke: Here We Go Magic became too busy.

Me: I like the way the new album sounds, like it was recorded decades ago. Was that the intent?

Luke: Yes, we used an old producer named Rudy Vangelder as our model. He recorded alot of old Blue Note stuff

Me: Who plays on the album with you, Luke?

Luke: Tyler Wood, Adam Chelinski, Eliot Krimsky, Mike Bloch, Parker Kindred.

Me: I have to ask you about the song "Ballad of Dick George". Who is Dick George?

Luke: He was a man that lived in a town in Mexico that my mother lives. he was an old blue blood from Pittsburg, PA. He was an alcoholic when he was young and scwandered all his inheritance and burned many bridges. He ended up alone in Mexico as an old sick man, he finally died with my mother the only one to visit him. I found his story very sad. I liked him and he seemed gentle, perhaps he had reconsiled with his demons, let's hope.

Me: Well, like I said, I really love this album, and I am hoping you will record another like it. Will you?

Luke: Yes, I will record another Luke Temple record but whether it will be like this one I can't say.

Me: Luke, thanks so much for being on the Phile, sir. Please come back again when the next project comes out. Can you do that?

Luke: Yes, thank you.

There you go, kids, another entry of the Phile done. Thanks to Luke for a good interview, and of course you for reading. The Phile will be back next Sunday with artist and musician Max Carmichael, then next Monday starts Alumni Month with Marc Savoie from Infinity-Lane Highway. So, spread the word, not the turd. Don't let snakes and alligators bite you. Bye, love you, bye.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Pheaturing Rick Stone

Hello, kids, welcome to another entry of the Phile, where I wish I was at Comic-Con in San Diego instead of sitting in my office doing this blog. One day I will make it there. It's been so hot here in Florida and all over America, except for California. It’s so hot that I saw Rupert Murdoch trying to hack his way into a Cold Stone Creamery. It was so hot that I saw Lindsay Lohan steal a snow cone. It was so hot in New York that vandals were breaking into David Letterman’s studio just for the air conditioning. It was so hot in Washington that Congress had to install a fan on the debt ceiling. The United States’ soccer team lost to Japan, which means we’re now losing to Japan in math, science, and penalty kicks. A lot of guys say women’s soccer is boring, but actually, all soccer is boring. Charlie Sheen will be on a new sitcom called “Anger Management.” Maybe they’re just telling him he’s starring in a show and actually sending him to anger management. What do you think of this whole Rupert Murdoch business? Murdoch couldn’t have had anything to do with the cellphone hacking. Old people don’t even know how to use cell phones. The Murdochs testified before Parliament and did something that not many powerful people would have the courage to do: They blamed others. Is it any surprise that the British police couldn’t stop the high-tech phone hackers? They couldn’t even stop a guy walking into Parliament with a pie. I'm allowed to say that by the way, I'm British. I think it’s cowardly to attack an 80-year-old man with a pie. If the attacker had any courage, he’d go after Murdoch like I do: on a blog from 5,000 miles away. Well, the space shuttle program is now over. The crew of Atlantis brought an iPhone into space to track their experiments. I think that by “track their experiments,” they mean “play Angry Birds.” Still no deal on the debt ceiling. Washington is keeping us on the edge of our seat... a seat that will soon be repossessed. British Airways gave the royal couple a $300 voucher because they weren’t able to watch movies on their flight home. Thank goodness that wrong has been righted. Three hundred bucks is a lot of money. It’s more than Anthony Weiner’s texting bill. Captain America: The First Avenger opened on Friday and Logan and I are gonna go see it later today. I'm not sure I agree who they chose to play Cap though. Take a look.

LMAO. Captain America swings his mighty shield to fight... People are all excited about the last Potter movie and the Captain america movie, but there's one movie I cannot wait to see tomorrow. That is, of course, The Smurfs. I like the way they make them look realistic looking.

Speaking of the Smurfs, I was excited when I found out there was an inspirational poster dedicated to them, but it's not exactly what I was hoping for.

How sad. So, Amy Winehouse is dead. I'll mention her in a minute again in the Someone Phamous Has Died pheature, but I was shocked that Charlie Sheen put out a poster already about her death. I have it here on the Phile.

So, the government is working on a debt problem, and I guess they have to have it done by August 2nd. I don't really understand it all, so I thought I would invite to the Phile who could explain it. So, please welcome to the Phile once again, Reince Priebus from the Republican National Committee in a pheature I like to call...

Me: Hello, Chairman, welcome back to the Phile. So, what's going on?

Reince: They are at it again! The liberal media and the Obama spin machine are furiously laying the groundwork to blame Republicans if the government were to default on August 2nd.

Me: Do you have proof, Mister Chairman? Is this the truth?

Reince: The truth is Obama caved to Nancy Pelosi and his Party's ultra-left wing on Friday and they sabotaged the negotiations with GOP leaders by demanding EVEN HIGHER TAXES at the last minute of negotiations.

Me: Then what is the Republican's stance?

Reince: The Republican Party's stance is clear: We need spending cuts not new taxes.

Me: Chairman, Obama did promise America a better economy when he was elected in 2008. What do you think he's gonna do?

Reince: Yes, but there is no doubt that his and the Congressional Democrats insatiable hunger for ever higher taxes, greater government growth, reckless spending and massive trillion dollar deficits have only made things worse. More job killing taxes are the last thing our economy needs. It's no surprise that the liberal Democrats would now rather play politics than tackle the government's addiction to spending - and the liberal media will be there to support them every step of the way. Even worse, Obama and his leftist allies will be running scare and attack ads against our most vulnerable members and we need to support them now!

Me: So, the Republicans have a solution? Or solutions?

Reince: Republicans are offering serious solutions.

Me: And the Democrats are not?

Reince: The Democrats default on our government obligations.

Me: Chairman, please tell me what exactly the Republicans are doing that the Democrats are not.

Reince: Friend, Republicans are fighting tooth-and-nail to pass commonsense, conservative solutions to cut government spending, slash our debt and get our fiscal house in order, while the Obama Democrats demagogue and distort our agenda.

Me: So, you mentioned a solution... how can you truly enact your reform agenda?

Reince: The only way we can truly enact our reform agenda is to elect a Republican president AND Congress and make Barack Obama a one-term president.

Me: We'll see. Thank you, Chairman. Now I hope to hear from someone on the Democrat side.

And now for some sad news...

Amy Winehouse
September 14, 1983 - July 23, 2011
Tried to make her go to rehab, but she said no, no no.

The third artist to be pheatured in the P.P.A.G. is Max Carmichael and this is one of his pieces of work.
Max will be a guest on the Phile next Sunday.

Today's guest is one of the finest straight-ahead guitarists on the current NYC jazz scene who has a new album out called "Fractals". Please welcome to the Phile... Rick Stone.

Me: Hello, Rick, welcome to the Phile. Man, you have a great name. Rick Stone. Sounds like a detective on a 70's TV show. If you were a rock singer you could of called yourself Rock Stone. How are you?

Rick: Very good thanks! Not a detective on a 70's TV show, though I did watch plenty of them. You know there actually IS a rock musician named Rick Stone, but that's not me!

Me: Where are you from, Rick?

Rick: Parma, Ohio, a West-side suburb of Cleveland.

Me: Have you lived in Ohio all your life? What is the music scene like there?

Rick: I grew up in Ohio, but left when I was in my 20's. There was a big local rock scene there and a smaller jazz scene. I started out playing rock and blues. I was into a lot of different things initially and even played with Peter Laughner for a minute. He was really instrumental in Cleveland's punk scene at the time, but died very young, and I played in a kind of psychedelic folk-rock band with a guy named Rich Parsons for awhile at places like the Yippie Smoke In and WMMS Coffee Break Concert.

Me: You grew up listening to the Blues, like my dad, Rick. You could of easily been a blues musician, what turned you on onto jazz?

Rick: Around 1974 I heard saxophonist Sonny Stitt perform at the Smiling Dog Saloon which used to be on West 25th Street. Like I said, I'd been into all kinds of things, but the quality and feeling of bebop was just so much stronger than any of the other stuff, that it just kind of called me.

Me: When you first heard and paid attention to jazz, was it then you decided to be a jazz musician?

Rick: Definitely, and at first it was difficult. I grew up on the West side, which was this huge haven for Eastern European immigrants. Parma was kind of like the Polish capital of the Midwest and Polka music was really big when I was growing up. NOBODY that I knew was really into jazz until I got to college. Then I started meeting guys in the music program at Cuyahoga Community College and my professor there Dr. Joseph Howard was a jazz pianist. We stayed in touch and I visited and sat in with whenever I was back home, up until his death last year. I studied classical guitar with George Bachmann and was improving my technique and reading but I wanted to play in the stage band and really didn't know anything about chord symbols or improvisation, so I started taking some lessons with Jose Pochedley. Jose was another student of George's and he was a couple years ahead of me and had played in the stage band, so I would take copies of the charts to him and ask how he'd play certain passages. He also helped me a lot with learning how chord symbols and alterations worked.

Me: How old were you when you first picked up the guitar and started playing?

Rick: I started playing guitar at about age 8. My friend across the street played guitar and most of the kids in the neighborhood playd some instrument.

Me: What brand of guitar do you play, Rick?

Rick: Mostly my Comins which is handmade by luthier Bill Comins ( I have two of those; a 17" and an 18". I've also got a little 15" D'Angelico Excell-SS which Bill redesigned for them last year. It's the one pictured on the new CD cover and I used it on about half the tunes on the new CD. I actually got several of the Korean made D'Angelico's last year when I was doing endorsement for them, but I'm not sure what's going on with the company now. Too bad, since they were really well made and affordable guitars.

Me: Let's talk about your new album "Fractals". If it was my album, it would be called "Phractals". LOL. What does the name represent?

Rick: Yeah, we thought about "Phractals" as a title, but we didn't want to make it difficult for people to find us if they were to search the internet. We also thought about using my tune "The Phrygerator" as the title track, but again figured people wouldn't know how to spell it and only musicians would get the joke. "Phyrgerator" alludes to the Phrygian mode vamp that the tune begins with and the title was suggested to me by one of my former students Eddie Haber. So the title song "Fractals" is based on this very cool displaced arpeggio pattern that my good friend and practice partner Peter Mazza, an AMAZING guitarist, showed to me one day. I'm kind of obsessive, so I started practicing this thing all over the guitar, in all keys, using different scales, etc., and then started playing it through the changes of some jazz standards. "All the Things You Are" is a tune that ALL jazz musicians love to play. I'd been playing "ATTYA" in 5/4 with my trio, so I worked the pattern out over that and in the process realized that it made a pretty hip tune. It's kind of repetitive but complex and reminds me of those intricate kinds of fractal patterns I've seen. I used ideas based on this arpeggio on several other tunes on the album as well, so it just made sense that it should be the title and hopefully everybody knows how to spell "Fractals" if the go looking for it.

Me: I listened to the album and have to ask you about some songs. As your album is an instrumental, how did you come about naming one of your songs "Key Lime Pie"? I know there must be a story behind it. Do you like key lime pie?

Rick: Who doesn't like pie? LOL. But seriously, I wrote that tune as a dedication to Emily Remler who as most of your readers hopefully know, was a wonderful guitarist who died way too young. The melody is based on the rhythm of one of her tunes, and as I thought about a title, I spelled her name backwards on a piece of paper "ylime." At that point, the title became obvious to me.

Me: The album was recorded with your trio, Rick, who is in the band with you? Do you also have a quartet and a duo, and septet like other jazz artists?

Rick: This represents what's been my working band for the last couple years. Marco Panascia is a wonderful bassist who's played with just about everybody in New York. He's got a really great tone. Tom Pollard is a really talented and rhythmically complex drummer, who's played with George Colligan, Eric Person and many others. He's been a regular with my group since I reformed it in 2007. Together these guys have an impeccable sense of swing and a totally solid groove, which makes my job a lot easier! I certainly work in other configurations when the opportunity and/or need arises. In the 90's I did concerts with a quintet that consisted of guitar, saxophone (Junior Cook or Ralph Lalama), piano (Kenny Barron, Barry Harris or Richard Wyands), bass (Dennis Irwin) and drums (Leroy Williams, Kenny Washington or Tootsie Bean). But those were concerts that had support, and when the NEA stopped funding jazz musicians, I had to scale things back. I tried to maintain a quartet for a long time, but nowadays most gigs only allow for a trio or duo.

Me: I interviewed artists from all different genres that went to Berklee. When did you go there, and what did you study? Was it a good experience?

Rick: I went to Berklee from 1978-80. I had a lot of transfer credits, so I was able to earn my Bachelors Degree in only two years. Berklee was a great school and I learned a lot there. I had an excellent jazz harmony teacher there Ken Pullig, and Orville Wright for ear training. Ed Tomasi taught a great jazz improv class and that really got me transcribing which is really the best way to learn. Because I was doing an accelerated program and taking private instruction from two different teachers each semester I was interested in getting a lot of approaches and perspectives so I moved around quite a bit and took lessons with Bret Wilmott, Al Defino, Jon Demian, Bob Harrigan and Larry Baione. Each one of them showed me some really valuable approaches to studying the guitar which I spent the next 10 years or so to really digest.

Me: You teach as well, right? A lot of jazz musicians do that. Do you like to teach, and where do you teach?

Rick: I've been teaching since before I went to Berklee. When I finished at the community college, I wanted to go to Berklee, but my father didn't support that idea initially. So Dr. Howard helped me get a guitar teaching job at the Parma Community Arts Program and I did that for a year and saved the money to go to Berklee. After Berklee, I lived in Cleveland for two years and was playing gigs very steady, but still had a few students. Later, when I came to NYC I found getting steady gigs here much more difficult and started teaching a lot again, first at American Institute of Guitar and Pace University, and later at Jazzmobile, Boys Harbor, Brooklyn Conservatory of Music and Hofstra University. I still teach at Jazzmobile, BCM and Hofstra, and occasionally get some students from Hunter and City College.

Me: Rick, thanks so much for being on the Phile, sir. Please come back again. I wish you continued success. Go ahead and plug your website if you'd like.

Rick: Sure, please visit and you can get a free track from my CD!

Well, that's about it. Thanks to Rick for a great interview and to Chairman Priebus for once again not clearing things up. But for some reason phans of the Phile, being Democrat or Republican love when he's here which is kinda good. Anyway, the Phile will be back tomorrow with musician Luke Temple, the lead singer in the band Here We Go Magic, who has a really good solo album out. Then next Sunday it's artist Max Carmichael and next Monday it starts Alumni Month with Marc Savoie from the Infinite-Lane Highway. So, spread the word, not the turd. Don't let snakes and alligators bite you. Bye, love you, bye.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Pheaturing Ben Bullington and Jason Rueger From Country Mice

Hello, welcome to another entry of the Phile. Thanks for stopping by. So, yesterday Logan and I spent a day at Disney's Hollywood Studios. There's this one place by the animation tour where you answer a few questions about yourself on a computer and it tells you which Disney character you are. Logan did it and it said he was like Buzz Lightyear, being brace and adventerous and all that kinda stuff. Me? It said I liked animals! Anybody that knows me well enough could tell you I don't like animals. Do you know which character it picked for me, saying I was more like? Tarzan. Really? Really? Tarzan, who hangs out with animals and lives in a jungle? Tarzan who is in great shape, opposed to me who isn't. Stupid computer. Anyway, enough about me. What else is going on in the world? The U.S. is now in serious danger of defaulting on our foreign loans. Which explains why today, China showed up and broke the Statue of Liberty’s kneecaps. A man was busted at JFK airport for smuggling six pounds of cocaine in his sneakers. That’s right, his plan was hiding cocaine in his shoes... you know, those things that you never, ever have to take off at the airport. Schools in Illinois are dropping writing portions from standardized tests. When asked why, a spokesman said, “We simple does not needs them.” On Friday, a woman in Texas gave birth to a baby boy weighing in at 16 pounds, 1 ounce. When they did the sonogram, the doctor was like, “I’m not sure if it’s a boy or a girl, but it’s definitely an American.” A lawmaker in California is pushing for 13 counties to break away and form a new state called South California. Meanwhile, residents are pushing for a more fitting name: “North Mexico.” While criticizing President Obama over debt talks, John Boehner said quote, “It takes two to tango.” Then Biden was like, “Sure, but it only takes one to break dance.” A new study found that 50 percent of all college students get blackout drunk at least once a year. Yeah, the other 50 percent couldn’t answer, mainly because they were blackout drunk. There’s talk that Lindsay Lohan’s mother, Dina, will be on the next season of “Dancing With the Stars.” Which explains the show’s new title, “Dancing With the Non-star Parents of Former Stars.” Saks Fifth Avenue is planning to open a new store next year in Kazakhstan. Or as it will be called there, “Saks Dirt Road.” I just read that George W. Bush is getting his own limited edition baseball card. You can tell it’s Bush’s card because eight years after you buy it, its value decreases $14 trillion. Okay, I spent three years avoiding talking about Casey Anthony, kids, as I don't think child murders are funny. People have asked me though why I didn't mention anything about it, being that the whole thing took place in Orlando. Anyway, now she is out of jail, she's free to do what she wants. I was surprised to see what she's up to. Check this out.

Has she no shame? This Friday one of my most anticipated movies of my life is finally coming out. I am talking of course about The Smurfs. I was so excited when I found out there was gonna be a Smurfs inspirational poster it is now at all what I expected. Here it is.

And here on the Phile, I have an exclusive pic on what was one of the original concepts of the Smurfs.

That is so stupid, I know. Anyway, from the home office in Port Jefferson, New York, here is this week's...
Top Ten Dumb Guy Ways To Reduce the Federal Budget Deficit
10. Just don't answer the phone when debt collectors call.
9. Give away free houses and then... oh wait, we tried that.
8. Pay them through Coinstar... America keeps 9%.
7. Post date the checks.
6. Only buy from Halliburton on double coupon days.
5. Switch to margarine... oh wait, that's the federal butter deficit.
4. Uhhh... compound interest?
3. For starters, Minnesota does NOT need 10,000 lakes.
2. Two words: cash for gold.
And the number one dumb guy way to reduce the federal budget deficit?
1. Sell New Jersey for scrap.

The third artist to be pheatured in the P.P.A.G. is a singer, author and artist named Max Carmichael. And this is one of his works...

Max will be a guest on the Phile in a few weeks.

Today's guests are two members from the new band Country Mice, whose new album "Twister" is available now on iTunes. They'll be next appearing tonight at Sunergos in Louisville, Kentucky. Please welcome to the Phile... Ben Bullington and Jason Rueger from Country Mice.

Me: Hello, guys, welcome to the Phile. What's up? I have to say, I really wanted to see you guys in concert as I love your album "Twister", but you kids are not playing in Florida on this
tour. Have you ever played Florida? Or Orlando to be exact? If so, shit, I missed you guys.

Ben: Yeah, we’ve made a couple of trips through Florida. We have a few great stories from there. Earlier this spring, in March, we played Tampa, Orlando, Jacksonville, Melbourne, and Gainesville.

Me: Who is in the band with you guys?

Ben: The band is Mike Feldman (bass), Kurt Kuehn (drums), Ben Bullington (guitar/vocals) and Jason Rueger (guitar/vocals).

Me: Are you from the country? I know you're from this country as in America, but are you based in the country?

Ben: Jason’s the only one who's really from the country - a small farming town named Beattie, Kansas. I'm from Lawrence, Kansas. Kurt is from Appleton, Wisconsin. Mike is from upstate New York. We all live in New York now though.

Me: New York? What part of New York? Long Island?

Ben: Brooklyn.

Me: Is that where you guys all met?

Ben: Met, live, rehearse, and play most of our shows.

Me: Jason, is it true you lived on a farm that goes back generations in your family and was part of the Pony Express?

Jason: Yeah, I grew up on a farm that's been passed through three generations of my family. A beautiful flat piece of farm land 10 miles north of Beattie, KS. The Pony Express went through just a couple of miles from there, which was Guittard Station. My grandparents live on that land to this day. Every year as kids we'd wait for the Pony Express re-rides to come through and they would end up riding in somewhere around 3am. We'd be waiting with coffee and donuts for them.

Me: You guys have been compared to Neil Young and Wilco, which I am a fan of. Are those performers you listen to?

Ben: Yeah, we're definitely fans of Neil and Wilco, but overall, we have pretty eclectic music collections. We're always sharing new stuff, making new CD's for the van, trying to find the next great album.

Me: I mentioned your new album "Twister", which I downloaded from iTunes and which I love. Did you guys write all the songs on it?

Ben: Thanks, glad you like it. Yes, we wrote all the songs.

Me: Where was the album recorded and how long did it take to make?’

Ben: We set up a makeshift recording studio using borrowed equipment and took over Mike’s mom’s basement for a couple of months.

Me: By the way, whose idea was to stand on a raft on the album cover? Glad I am not in the band as I would not want to do that. I would've chickened out. Wait... I am a fucking idiot. I just realized it wasn't the band in the photo. Where was that photo taken and who is in it?

Ben: It’s an old photo of Jason’s dad’s.

Jason: It’s of my dad and some of his friends somewhere in California. We thought it told a good story.

Me: Where did the title of the album come from?

Ben: The idea for the title came from another of Jason’s dad’s photos where some people were playing the game. It seemed to work well. It’s a word that allows for different meanings and uses and we though fit what the album was about - something about overcoming obstacles,
weirdness, mischief, chaos, and explosions of uncontrollable wildness countered by calm.

Me: And where did the band name come from?

Ben: The band name came from a conversation Kurt had about being from out of town and about Brooklyn being the country vs. the City. It kind of fit all of us and seemed to stick.

Me: Thanks, guys, for being on the Phile. Please come back when your next album comes out. Do you have a website you'd like to plug?

Ben: Just our, pages. We’re on a tour and have a bunch of new dates on there. Thanks for having us.

Me: Thanks again, and take care, and come back again. Next time you're in Orlando I will be there.

There you go, another entry done of the Phile. Thanks to Ben and Jason or a great interview. Country Mice will be on tour all the way to August 9th. The Phile will be back next Sunday with jazz musician Rick Stone and then again on Monday with musician Temple. Then again on Sunday after that with artist Max Carmichael, and then in August it's Alumni Month again. I am now going to a computer store to take my old Mac in that broke a year ago. For a year I have been doing the Phile on Logan's computer. Spread the word, not the turd. Don't let snakes and alligators bite you. Bye, love you, bye.