Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Pheaturing Brian Sumner From The Sumner Brothers

Rabbit. Holy crap, everybody, it's the first of February already. One week of 2012 is already done. Hello, and welcome to a Wednesday entry of the Phile.  The good news is, we just got some election results from Florida. The bad news is, since it's Florida, they’re from the 2008 election. Ron Paul was not in Florida, he was campaigning up in Maine. They think he was afraid that if he went to Florida, they'd grab him and put him in an old folks home.  Newt Gingrich has been attacking Mitt Romney for being wealthy and having money in bank accounts in the Cayman Islands. See, that's when you know you're part of the top 1 percent, when your bank's address has the word “island” in it. But, Romney says he is not a creature of Washington. He has lived in the real streets of America. I believe it's Easy Street, if I'm not mistaken.  North Korea has made it illegal to use cell phones. The good news is, it's now the greatest place in the world to see a movie.  This weekend, there was a six-hour tennis match. I mean, it was longer than a Kardashian wedding.  President Obama has been working on a new plan to boost tourism in America by making it easier for foreigners to get into the United States. We have that already. It's called Mexico.  A new study shows that American students are becoming less proficient in science, and if the trend continues, we will become a nation that’s science and chemistry illiterate. And you thought a lot of meth labs are blowing up now?  A student at the University of Wisconsin in Madison spent 90 days technology free. He went without a cell phone, Facebook, Twitter, or any social media of any kind. And you know what really improved? His driving!  Well, it's February and Black History Month. A lot of stores are running specials this month in honor of it. Check this out.

Speaking of black history... Logan and I went to see the movie Red Tails this past weekend and I was so happy to see there's a Red Tails inspirational poster. 

And now for some sad news...

Don Cornelius
Sep 27, 1936 - Feb 1, 2012
The train has left the station.

Progression in scientific understanding is important because we need a good laugh at what yokels we used to be. When we finally figured out we were on a planet, we thought it was flat. We didn't realize that washing our hands before surgery was important. Women 90 years ago didn't have the benefit of Spanx. And around World War II, people were debating whether or not African-Americans were fit for combat due to "studies" that claimed them to be inherently inferior to whites (along with Jews and Italians). It sounds like science fiction now, but that's the world the Tuskegee airmen lived in. We owe them an enormous amount of gratitude for putting those ill-conceived ideas to rest while protecting our country… and we certainly owe them a better movie than Red Tails.  In between George Lucas' long, sleepless nights figuring out what new things to make Darth Vader say, he was trying to get this film made for 23 years (somehow being usurped by HBO's 1995 version of the same story with Lawrence Fishburne). He had to self-finance it, because according to him, studios didn't want to take a chance on an action movie with an all African-American cast. It seems more likely that they saw what he was considering for a script and passed on the heavy serving of Velveeta cheese.  The passionate performances all come from the fighter pilots, doing the best they can with material that's as three-dimensional as a "Girls Gone Wild" video. Ne-Yo plays "Smoky" Salem, and acts as a kind of life preserver, buoying up the film with an interesting character choice and an appropriate amount of levity. Of course he has nothing interesting to do besides be the comic relief, but at least around him, guys with snappy nicknames are getting into fights over someone being too much of a daredevil, and someone else having a drinking problem. Don't worry, though, after fighting they always pause, look at each other, and then become friends again. Someone falls in love with an Italian girl, too, so you can check the token love interest off the list. And just to really drive home the point that the military was unfairly segregated, all the white servicemen in the first 110 minutes are complete racist idiots. Nobody has ever gone to Lucas for an award-winning script, so let's talk effects. Seeing it projected digitally didn't help make the movie look richer... visually, the film didn't feel "old fashioned," as Lucas claimed he wanted the script to be. It felt shiny and moved with the fast action that computers have made possible, so although that made the battle scenes relatively exciting, it felt a little off, like something on the SyFy channel. The team obviously took great pains in the sound effects department too, but the dogfighting scenes are too few and far between to make up for having to sit through lines like "My god, these pilots are African," said by a sneering, scowly faced German bad guy. No matter how many German planes the airmen shot down, I still couldn't manage to feel inspired by this tripe. It gets a 6 and I won't be buying it. Logan on the other hand loved it. 

The 11th artist to be pheatured in the P.P.A.G. is a guy who calls himself Bleach Methane. And this is one of his pieces.

That is cool! Anyway, Bleach will be a guest on the Phile this Monday. 

This just in, our good friend Patrick Gaspard, the Executive Director of the Democratic National Committee wants to talk about the Republican primaries that were in Florida. So, please welcome to the Phile... Patrick Gaspard.
Me: Hello, Patrick, what's up? 

Patrick: Jason, we think every Democrat and Obama supporter should see what Mitt Romney said last night.

Me: What did he say? I heard he sang a song... and I have proof, sir. It's crazy he had those words floating around him. LOL. No, seriously, what did Mitt say?

Patrick: He said after he won the Florida Republican primary last night, "While we celebrate this victory, we must not forget what this election is really about..." What do you think he said? 
Me: Ummm... something about not getting the economy moving. Not keeping America safe. Not improving people's lives.

Patrick: "While we celebrate this victory, we must not forget what this election is really about: defeating Barack Obama." Then he launched a "One-Term Fund" drive to get his backers to contribute $1 million to make Barack Obama a one-term president.

Me: A One-Term Fund? That's not how it's going to be, right?

Patrick: A team created a "Two-Term Fund" page on that's going to track our progress to a $2 million goal. Most importantly, we're going to show the number of people giving to make it happen.

Me: We should donate $3 or more to our Two-Term Fund now. Sir, it may not take the Romnety camp very long to get a million. 

Patrick: They announced today that just 9 percent of their money comes from donors giving less than $200.

Me: Where else is money coming from?

Patrick: It's also clear that there's lots of money to be raised from far-right Tea Party types appealing to a very personal dislike of Barack Obama. When Romney tells a reporter that we need a president "who believes in American principles" or that President Obama will be just a "footnote in history," that's who he's talking to.

Me: So, Romney summed it up in one line last night?

Patrick: For them, it's all about beating one man and sending his family packing from the White House. Everything else the Republicans say or do is just means to that end.

Me: How is the Democratic campaign different?

Patrick: It's about bringing people together to protect the progress we've made and make a lot more in a second term. And 98 percent of the donations people like you make to this campaign are $250 or less.

Me: Thank you, sir. Please keep us posted.

Patrick: Thank you, Jason.

Okay, toay's guest is one half of the duo The Sumner Brothers whose self-titled album is now available on iTunes. They'll next be appearing at Conor Byrne in Seattle, Washington on February 3rd. Please welcome to the Phile... Brian Sumner.

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

Brian: Not too poorly. At the tail end of a 2 day hangover. The older I get the longer they last. Eventually they might just go all week.

Me: I downloaded all three Sumner Brothers albums off from iTunes and am in love with them all. You must be proud of your work, am I right?

Brian: Thanks, Jason. Sure we’re proud of them. We made 'em for next to nothing all on our own with the help of our engineer/friend Derek Difillipo so I guess we’ve taken some pride in that as well.

Me: So, you are in a band with your brother, Brian... I commend you. I love my sister's but I cannot imagine working with them everyday. How did you two end up forming a band together?

Brian: Bob had been writing songs for 5-6 years before we started playing together. I didn’t pay much attention to what he was doing until he got a gig a local coffee shop. I went down and recorded it on our Yamaha 8 track (same one we made ITG 1 and 2 with) burned the disc and listened to it for about a month straight. I had no idea he could write as well as he did. Next time he played down there I played with him and that was it.

Me: Do you guys ever argue?

Brian: Not as much as we used to... it used to be pretty regular... he damn near clubbed me over the head with the but end of his guitar a couple years back. It was one of our original bass players first rehearsals with us... poor guy. We have more respect for each others opinions now then we ever had, it goes a long way, it’s only if we both feel strongly about something that we’ll get into it but sometimes that’s the only way to hash things out… and cause we’re brothers we don’t ever have to worry about our relationship.

Me: You both play the same instruments and sing in the band. Do you also write together?

Brian: We arrange each others songs and make suggestions, that’s about it.

Me: Who else is in the band with you?

Brian: Right now Michael Agranovich (the Russian) plays bass for us. We’re drummerless for the time being. Michael is actually one of the best guitar players in Vancouver but he plays bass for us for some reason.

Me: Do you guys have any other siblings?

Brian: We’ve got one sister.

Me: Is she musical as well?

Brian: She’s a music fan but doesn’t play.

Me: I love your Americana style, Brian. Did you grow up listening to Johnny Cash and Springsteen?

Brian: We grew up listening to everything under the sun… Cash and Springsteen were definitely in there but it wasn’t until Cash started making the records with Rick Rubin that we really started digging through his stuff… seems that was the case for a lot of Americana artists that we’ve run into and the movie of course wouldn’t have hurt the influence he’s had on younger musicians as well.

Me: I have interviewed a lot of people from Canada and I always ask them the same question, so, Brian, I have to ask you. One of my favorite bands in The Barenaked Ladies... do you like their music?

Brian: Ummmmm… yeah... they’re pretty good… never owned any of there records or anything but they had some good songs for sure… they did "Lovers in a Dangerous Time" which is a Bruce Cockburn tune I believe… I liked that one.

Me: Yeah, it is a Cockburn song. So, recently you guys did a song for a Townes Van Zandt tribute album (which I purchased as well). How were you approached to take part on that album?

Brian: We weaseled our way onto that one. The record company wanted some friends of ours, The Deep Dark Woods to contribute to it but they couldn’t get a hold of em for some reason so they asked us for some contact information. At that point we just asked if they were looking for any more artists to contribute and we got in. We got one of our favorite songs as well which was a nice touch.

Me: I am guessing you are Van Zandt's fans as well, right?

Brian: Huge.

Me: So, you chose the song "Colorado Girl" or did someone choose it for you?

Brian: We got to choose it, there wasn’t much left as far as the well known stuff goes because this was the second album they’d done of his stuff. But I think we got lucky being able to do that one.

Me: Your latest album which was a self-titled album came out a few years ago. Are you guys planning on releasing anything new?

Brian: We released "In The Garage 2" a couple months back, the follow up to "ITG 1" which is a collection of home recordings.. some live stuff etc. We made a point not to promote it too much or send it out to radio or anything, it’s really just for our core fans, we wanted to conserve our efforts finances etc. for our next ‘studio’ album which wasn’t recorded in a studio either but to which we payed a lot more attention to detail. That album should be coming out within the next six months.

Me: And do you tour all over the States? I live waaaayyyy down in Florida, and would love to see you guys in concert if you ever came down this far.

Brian: We’re pretty much sticking to the West Coast for now unless we were to get some real good offers.

Me: Your album cover's are very unique. Who chose those pictures and who is it?

Brian: My brother and I choose the images… That’s our grandfather on the first two and our other grandfather on "In The Garage 2"... both very talented musicians in their day.

Me: Brian, thanks so much for being on the Phile, I really appreciate and I love your music. Go ahead and plug all your websites and anything else you wanna.

Brian: This should get ya everything...

Me: Take care, and when your next album comes out, please come back, okay?

Brian: We’ll let ya know for sure, Jason. Thank you.

Well, that about does it for another entry. It's getting late and I haven't had dinner yet. Thanks to Patrick Gaspard as always and to Brian Sumner. Well, the Phile will be back on Sunday with a special Super Bowl entry and the guest will be entertainer, singer and actor Smilin' Tom Fridley. Then on Monday it's artist Bleach Methane. A week from today it's Dan Whitesides from the band The Used. So, spread the word, not the turd. Don't let snakes and alligators bite you. Bye, love you, bye. 

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