Friday, November 16, 2012

Pheaturing Alumni Jon Tiven From YO MA MA

I have the shakes, feel hot and cold at the same time, my whole arm and hand is killing me. Come on, meds, get to work, you are not Hostess.  Hello, kids, and welcome to another entry of the Phile. How are you? You can imagine how I feel right about now, right?  Last weekend, it was announced that Justin Bieber and his girlfriend, Selena Gomez, have broken up. Bieber said, “Just tell me one thing... is it General Petraeus?”  The James Bond movie Skyfall came is number one in the box office. It's about a spy who fights terrorists and sleeps with a lot of women. Critics are calling it "well-made," while David Petraeus is calling it "relatable."  Get this. After all the confusion at the polls in Florida last week, Governor Rick Scott said he will review ways to improve his state’s voting procedures. It'll be the biggest thing Scott's done since he won that raffle to become governor.  A new study found that the universe is no longer making as many stars as it used to. Or as "American Idol" put it, “Tell me about it.”  The new “Call of Duty: Black Ops” video game was released last week, and it actually features General David Petraeus. So I guess it’s safe to assume the game has plenty of cheat codes.  The Oxford English Dictionary revealed that its word of the year is GIF... the format for animated files. People who use dictionaries were like, “What’s a GIF?” and then people who use GIFs were like, “What’s a dictionary?”  A rare 76-carat diamond went up for auction in Switzerland. The jeweler called it "a priceless stone" while David Petraeus' wife called it "a start." How many jokes can I tell about this guy, eh?  People magazine announced that Channing Tatum is 2012’s "Sexiest Man Alive"... while Florida will announce their results sometime next week.  It turns out that Democrats are actually considering Mitt Romney’s tax plan as a way to avoid the fiscal cliff. Three weeks ago, Obama was like, “Mitt Romney has terrible ideas!” And now he’s like, “Hey, you gonna finish those ideas?”  A new study found that eating healthier food can improve your memory. Unfortunately, the first thing you remember is how much better unhealthy food tastes.  There will be a three-percent increase in the price of turkey for Thanksgiving this year. Or as fat chickens put it, “Uh-oh.”  President Obama gave his first press conference since being re-elected. And a lot of people are saying it looked like he was trying to cover up some of his gray hair. So I guess Obama's major goals include jobs for women and Just For Men.  During his final speech on the House floor, Congressman Ron Paul said the Constitution has failed. Which must be a bummer because he's actually one of the guys who signed it.  Facebook and the Department of Labor have teamed up for a new app that displays job openings. It'll be weird when people find a job because of Facebook, then get fired from that job for using Facebook, then use Facebook to find another job. It's the circle of life.  This week, Pope Benedict made a surprise visit to a retirement home near the Vatican. You know, if there's one thing people in a retirement home like, it's surprises.  Well, I am sure you heard by now, but the big news today is Hostess, the maker of Twinkies, Ding Dongs and Wonder Bread, is going out of business. Now what are we going to eat after the zombie apocalypse!? Twinkies may survive the atom bomb, but they can't survive union greed and stupidity. Mitt Romney never would've let America go without Hostess Twinkies. Just sayin'.
So, we're about to lose Twinkies, Papa Johns, Applebees and Denny's. Someone stop me when I actually mention a corporation that serves food.  Hostess has released their last ad, if that's what you wanna call it.

So, I mentioned the new video game that came out this week... "Call of Duty: Black Ops." Well, another similar game was also released.

As you know by now, one of the things I have been doing in my spare time is to get on Twitter and look up different words, and one of the words I look up is Foghat. This is the latest I found, and I disagree with it big time.

This just in, Hostess just revealed an inspirational poster.

Alright, and now it's time for...

I'll give you a clue. If you look past the girls... If you find it email me at  Alright, well, a few months ago I had a Phile reader and friend on the Phile named Art Lew who made this guitar in honor of the Colorado shootings. Well, Art used to work for The People's Choice Award, for real, and he wanted to come on the Phile and talk about something important. So, please welcome back to the Phile... Art.

Soooo, my old show has nominated "Doctor Who" for favorite Sci-Fi show on TV. I'd like them to win. Because, and this is totally irresponsible on my part, I'm going to tell you were you can get their award. Well, I'm going to suggest if you'd like to pick it up if you happen to be in the Hollywood area around Christmas time. You see, I know where the awards are stored before they are sent to taping of the show.... Near the corner of Santa Monica Blvd and Las Palmas, there is storage facility the production company uses. If they still do, there are only two VERY basic door locks that a crow bar can defeat. Speed is necessary as there is an alarm system that is rigged in this place, but there is no human security. I forgot the room number but it's on the first floor in back. I'll Google map it later for exact coordinates. If you can't do that, then go to this website and vote for "Doctor Who". Thanks.

Thanks, Art. I hope that show wins as well. Well, in just over a month the world is gonna end. I know this as those Mayans are pretty smart. Anyway, over the year a Mayan has been coming on the Phile and has been giving us some really good advice. And he is here again today. Please welcome back to the Phile...

Me: Hello, Marvin, welcome back to the Phile. What advice do you have for us today?

Marvin: Nya b’a’n tu’n ticy’x lipin jun txin tib’aj jun k’a, ku’n b’e’x c-elel sna’cjo k’a anetzi’n.

Me: Marvin, once again we don't understand Mayanese. Can you tell us in English?

Marvin: It is not good for a girl to pass over a boy, because this will be useless.

Me: For a girl to pass over a boy... okay, great, thanks. Am I soooo glad my wife didn't pass me over. Thanks, Marvin, see you soon.

Alright, today's pheatured guest was last on the Phile back on December 16th, 2010. is a composer, guitarist and record producer. He has produced albums by Wilson Pickett, Frank Black and Don Covay as well as a series of tribute albums paying tribute to the songwriting of Don Covay, Arthur Alexander, Otis Blackwell, Curtis Mayfield, and Van Morrison. He is now the lead singer in the band YO MA MA with lyricist Stephen Kalinich whose new CD Shortcuts To Infinity/Symptomology is now available on iTunes. Please welcome back to the Phile... Jon Tiven.

Me: Jon! Hello, sir, welcome back to the Phile. How have you been?

Jon: Very well thanks for asking.

Me: Jon, you live in Nashville now, right? Where are you originally from?

Jon: I was born in New Haven, Connecticut. My parents moved to Hamden when I was 4 and then Orange when I was 11, and I've lived in New York (27 yrs) and Memphis (about a year).

Me: You were a good friend of my dad's, Jon, and he talked highly of you. Last time you were here you said you first met him during the recording of Foghat's album "Rock and Roll Outlaws", am I right?

Jon: We met during the making of the second album, it had a rock and a roll on the cover. I was assigned to cover the making of the record by Zoo World magazine, so they flew me to London.

Me: Where was this, Jon, and did he approach you or vice versa?

Jon: We first met at Trident Studios as they were cutting "Home In My Hand."

Me: You produced so many people over the years and wrote so many songs. Did you and my dad ever talk about working together?

Jon: I wrote a song that he dug a lot called "Inside Information," he demoed it but it never made an album. It was fairly late in his career. We were friends for some time before I wrote anything that I thought was worthy of him hearing.

Me: I remember that song. It was really good. "Inside information, we can work it out..." Something along those lines. Jon, how long have you been writing songs and playing music? What came first?

Jon: I've been playing instruments since I was very young, I played piano when I was four, then flirted with the drums for a bit before landing on alto sax in 1965. Then flute. Then I was playing baseball one day, I was catcher without a helmet, the bat came back and destroyed my lower lip, 21 stitches later I was on the road to playing guitar. That was 1970. I wrote my first songs around 1972.

Me: You are a really good songwriter, Jon, and I am guessing you wrote thousands of songs. What was the name of the first song you ever wrote?

Jon: The first song I wrote was called "Gonna Have A Party," and I sent it to Kim Fowley. He was nurturing an all girl band that he would later produce and call the Runaways. And when they cut my song it was eventually renamed "Blackmail" and somehow they left my name off the writer credits.

Me: Oh, man, that sucks. Great song though. Before you were a musician, you wrote articles for Rolling Stone and Melody Maker. That's cool. What are some of the stuff you wrote about?

Jon: I was a young man so they wanted me to write about groups that young people liked that they didn't, like Humble Pie and Deep Purple. It was my pleasure. Steve Marriott as (and still is) a hero to me, and Ritchie Blackmore remains one of the more underrated guitarists in rock.

Me: And what's this? You once played session guitar for the Stones? Was this because Keith or Ronnie couldn't make it? How was that experience? What song was it?

Jon: Not guitar, congas, Andrew Loog Oldham invited me to the studio and next thing I know he's got me banging on a set of congas on "Jivin Sister Fanny" and "I'm Going Down," which appeared on the "Metamorphosis" album.

Me: Jon, when did you decide you wanted to become a recording artist, and not just a songwriter and producer?

Jon: That was never my intention, I always get dragged into it. The Yankees was something that was put to me by the guy who ran the label that since I was making records they loved they wanted to hear me, and my latest project with Stevie Kalinich, YO MA MA... he had a record deal and he and the label wanted a whole album of our collaborations. Enjoying being a singer is only a recent development.

Me: By the way, I interviewed Reid Paley about the album "Paley & Francis" you produced. That is a really good album. You've known Frank Black for awhile, right?

Jon: I consider him to be a very good friend as one of my favorite artists to work with, He's just great. And Reid is terrific too, when he's not getting bogged down in life's ugliness.

Me: Okay, let's talk about your new release YO YO MA. Is that a band name or just the name of the album?

Jon: Here's the scoop... when we first started making the CD, I was a little concerned that vocally I would embarrass myself, so we started the CD assuming our names would not appear on it, just our fictitious alter egos, Rev Stevie Nobody and Jack Hashtag, When the label listened to the first five mixes, they flipped out and demanded a second CD for a 2 CD set. So we decided that one CD would belong to the alter egos, and the other we'd use our real named for.

Me: Wait, the album is named "Shortcuts to Infinity/Symptomology", so YO YO MA must be the band name?

Jon: I'm comfortable with either, I think calling it YO MAMA makes it easier for people.

Me: What does that long title mean and did I spell it correctly?

Jon: It's two titles, "Shortcuts to Infinity" is like saying jumbo shrimp. There are no shortcuts to infinity. And "Symptomology"... that's a word that Stevie came up with and I'm not sure if it's original but I couldn't begin to define it.

Me: Who recorded this album with Stephen Kalinich. How long have you known Stephen?

Jon: We met in the early aughts thru P.F. Sloan.

Me: Whose idea was it to do this project, you or Stephen's? And who did most of the songwriting?

Jon: It was his idea, it's all his fault. And the songwriting is 50/50, he writes lyrics and I write music. We had help from Brian May on one song and from Steve Cropper on another.

Me: I love the song "Don't Fuck With Me". I was surprised iTunes didn't mark it as explicit though. Or was it you guys that wrote fuck like it is on iTunes with the & and % sign?

Jon: I was not aware iTunes had fucked with me. Of course. That makes perfect senselessness.

Me: It's cool Steve Cropper guests on the album. I have been trying to get him on the Phile for years. When you asked him to be on it did he say yes right away?

Jon: Steve Cropper is not only a good friend of mine, he has tremendous respect and affection for my partner Mr. Kalinich as well, so he didn't mind at all.

Me: Who else plays on the album? Are you or Stephen singing on the album?

Jon: Stevie sings background, I handle all the leads and a lot of the harmonies. My wife Sally plays the bass, Cody Dickinson on drums, there are a few other drummers... Chester Thompson, Steve Ferrone, Billy Block. Brian May and Stevie Cropper play guitars on the tracks each of them co-wrote, and aside from that, I'm playing everything. Guitars, sax, keys, harmonica, etc. So it's Jon Tiven's Ego Trip for real almost.

Me: Jon, so what's the next project you are working on? Last time you were here you mentioned you were working on an opera. Is that project finished?

Jon: The opera is done but nobody was ready for it so it's on the shelf for now. My next project is a new Ellis Hooks record that Stevie worked on with us. And Cropper's on it too.

Me: I have to ask you about the new albums cover. Who came up with it and drew it? I had a similar idea for a project I am working on. Thanks a lot.

Jon: The animated characters were created and made by a talented young man named David Masnato. The other cover is by a very well respected artist named (check album credits cause I don't want to misspell it).

Me: Before I let you go, you and your wife Sally are both musicians. Is your daughter Lucy a musician as well? She is a very good writer. I read her own blog once in awhile. You must be proud of her, Jon. Why don't you give her blog a plug?

Jon: Lucy a very talented person and she is blossoming beautifully and you all should check out her blog!

Me: Thanks much for being on the Phile. Please come back when your next project comes out. Go ahead and plug your website and the next time I am in Nashville, we should get together.

Jon: all good!

Me: And if you know anybody who I can interview... like Stephen Kalinich I can interview, please let me know. Take care, Jon.

Well, that about does it for this entry, kids. Thanks to my guests Art Lew and of course Jon Tiven. The Phile is off over the weekend but I will be back on Monday with young singer Anya Parker-Lentz. Then on Wednesday it's Amy Wynn from Amy Wynn & The Gunshow. Then next Friday it's my birthday so they will be a special birthday entry pheaturing British musician Sean Tyla from Ducks Delluxe. Spread the word, not the turd. Don't let snakes and alligators bite you. Bye, love you, bye.

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