Sunday, November 25, 2012

Pheaturing Chris Daniels

Hello, kids, and welcome to yet another entry of the most updated blog on the planet... the Phile. How are you? You know how I'm feeling, so I won't talk about it. I will tell you this though. Yesterday after I took a shower I was in a lot of pain and I said to wife I can't take it anymore. Do you know she said? Tough, you don't have a choice. She has a good point. You know, I have the most patient and understanding wife ever. Jen had to hear me whine and bitch for over a month now.  There are now reports that President Obama will name Massachusetts Senator John Kerry to be the next secretary of defense. Apparently this is part of America's new defense strategy to bore our enemies to death.  The economy is so bad, MSNBC had to lay off 300 Obama spokesmen. The economy is so bad, President Obama sent Susan Rice out to defend it.  Have you heard about this new movie? A decorated war hero has an affair with his own sexy biographer, who thinks the spy master is stepping out on her with a second girlfriend. So she sends an email from a secret account saying "step off or I will cut a bi-atch." And the second hottie freaks out and contacts her friends, FBI agents, who launch an investigation, but gets pulled off the case because he sexed her a shirtless photo. The spy master protege, also a general, has sent thousands of e-mails to the second woman. This isn't just a love triangle, folks. It's A Love Pentagon. I'll get to work working on a script. So, I was told laughter is the best medicine. Except for treating diarrhea. Luckily I don't have that. I'm sure that's coming with all the meds I've been taking.  Well, as you probably know, Hostess is going out of business. But did you see this poster? I think it might be a Little Debbie ad.

A few days ago was Thanksgiving, and everybody thinks the Pilgrims discovered Plymouth Rock. I saw a picture that is over a hundred years old that tells a different story...

So, Christmas is one month away, so if you'e wondering what you should get the kids, here's a suggestion...

The guy and the horse don't come apart. You know, I don't remember seeing this scene in Sleeping Beauty.   Okay, seriously, Christmas is coming right up in a month so for the next few weeks I am gonna show you some really cool gift ideas, that you might want to get for a friend, family member, or myself. So, here's a new pheature called...

Who hasn't wanted a robot butler at one time or another? While it would require a little hacking to actually get him to carry you a beer, this voice-controlled R2-D2 is already programmed to respond to 50 commands. He even has his own personality, which although generally joyful, can occasionally be bratty. With a simple “R2, behave yourself” though, he'll snap back into his usual cheerful demeanor.  I want it, kids. You can but it for me at

Hector "Macho" Camacho
May 24, 1962 - Nov 24, 2012
You think that Village People song is about this little weirdo? Yeah, so do I.

Larry Hagman
Sep 21, 1931 - Nov 23, 2012
"I Dream of Breathing".

Okay, now for one of the most popular pheatures on the Phile. Please welcome back singer, surfer, patriot, renaissance man, and phriend of the Phile... Laird Jim in a pheature we call...

I was one of those annoying kids who had to be good at everything I did... if I couldn't master it quickly, I moved on. I gave up on guitar because I sucked at it and focused on singing because I was told I was good... so I busted my ass trying to be great. Same with the other arts... I became fairly good as a photographer because I sucked as a painter... only one problem... I always wanted to be a guitar playing painter. C'est La Vie. We go with what we're given as that gift and show grace for it... protect it... and share it with the world. Capeesh ?

Capeesh, Laird. Now the other day I mentioned a group Laird was a part of called Tara's Silent Angels. A few of you e-mailed me asking me what exactly is that. Well, out of tragedy, rose the Silent Angels, uniting and bring compassion and caring to every effort pursued. Tara ‘Smiles’ Crawley and crew have proactively mustered, organizing New York’s Finest ‘Silent Angels’ who have banded together from all walks of life to bring much needed relief to those most in-need post Hurricane Sandy. They are doing amazing work. Anyway, I thought I would invite Tara onto the Phile and give us some news and an update on what they have been doing. So, please welcome to the Phile for the phirst time, Tara Crawley.

So, the other day was one where in a moment of pause we realize that the work we do is bigger than us. That moment when strangers come together and become family. Where family and friends reunite for a higher calling. I was honored to be amongst some of the best Angels on earth. Angels in Network united together through the years for a better tomorrow. We have an urgent situation. We have a family with 5 children in Sayville that has lost everything and there home is destroyed. They were promised help by TWO separate volunteer crews and on both occasions, NOT ONE person showed up or even had the decency to call. Needless, to say it crushed them further and they have truly lost all hope. We are the Silent Angels, their hope and their voice. The family will be at the home in Sayville this Friday, Saturday and Sunday in hopes help will come to their rescue. Here's the situation: Sayville hurricane Family with 5 children including 10 month old twin baby girls. They live down near the water and need help with a clean out/rip out. Their home suffered 3 feet of water throughout, all the children's rooms were ruined and they are not able to live in the home currently due to damages. Help rip out carpets, removed soaked drywall, remove ruined furniture, move any salvaged furniture, non demo help invited to help box up and move salvageable items. They have power to the property so power tools can be used. Bring your own tools and gear, a dust mask, warm clothing and work gloves are recommended. I would bring a utility knife, hammer, pry bar/wonderbar, crowbar. Friends, please hit Like for our page and encourage friends on Facebook to also do the same. Let us together build our ranks and network in order to assist those most in need of our assistance post Hurricane Sandy today, as no one knows what tomorrow brings. Thank you. Also follow us on Twitter @SilentAngelsNY. We would love to see you there as well.

Thanks, Tara, I will have her back over time to see how they are doing. And not only are they mentioned in today's Phile, but also in Newsday in New York apparently. Alright, now for something different. You all know I love comics, well, Phile reader and my friend loves comics more than I do. After all, he works at Coliseum of Comics in Orlando. Please welcome back to the Phile, Jim Mello, to give us some reviews in a pheature called...

Here's a preview of what came out this week. Not a lot since most stuff has been out for awhile. "Uncanny x-Force", "Hawkeye", "Revival", "Ultimate Spider-Man" are still killing it, and most of the rest of my 18 book were solid. Here's the stuff you may want to know about.
Captain America #1 W. Rick Remender A. John Romita Jr. I don't think I've run into a person for the last few years that hasn't thought JRJR's art wasn't a tad bit antiquated. His eye for action is very good, but his anatomy and the fact that a super-soldier has the same body type as a 14 year boy has always thrown me off. Well, ever since I saw the preview pages to this new incarnation of Cap, I have to say, I was very impressed with how JRJR came through this issue. Granted, I think most of it has to do with Klaus Janson on inks and Dean White on colors. They are extremely rich, especially int he first seen, and worth a nice once over. That being said: Cap starts up in medias res as Steve fights a new eco-terrorist who has co-opted the Skull mantle, and turned it green. Cap gets proposed to by Sharon Carter (long time in coming, and he's surprisingly resilient given his Greatest Generation values), before getting transported to Dimension Z... the new lair of evil scientist Dr. Arnim Zola! Great book, and definitely worth the read. Push this with reckless abandon.
Clone #1 W. David Schulner A. Juan Jose Ryp.  The latest from Kirkman's Skybound imprint involves a protagonist who happens to be a soon-to-be father and clone. Yeah, that's in the title and all. A gunshot genetic surrogate seeks him out, informing him of his odd predicament, while another clone seeks to abduct his wife in the hopes of entrapping him. Clones are all over the place, basically. I wouldn't say this blew me away, and I probably won't be picking up the next issue, but you could push it with the name "Kirkman" and certain folks will probably say "Sure."
Comeback #1 W. Ed Brisson A. Michael Walsh.  There is a company that, for a price of course, will travel back through time to fix all your problems. Save a family member from dying? Sure. Kill the folks that made a decision turning your life into a living hell? You got the money... BLAM BLAM or STAB STAB or whatever you want. Comeback is solid tale and decent entry into the time-travel/crime genre. If you know someone whose enjoyed all the recent Sci-Fi ("Manhattan Projects") or crime ("Near Death") Image output, this is a big recommend to them.
Indestructible Hulk #1 W. Mark Waid A. Lenil Yu.  Bruce Banner cannot cure the Hulk and has decided to live with it like one lives with a chronic disease and put the best parts of the Hulk/Banner dichotomy to use for shield. This issue is a solid setup, setting up the idea perfectly with a conversation between Banner and Maria Hill then a fight with the Mad Thinker. Great beginning to a new Hulk series, and another tally in the "Good" column for Marvel Now.
Judge Dredd #1 W. Dwayne Swierczynski A Nelson Daniel & Paul Gulacy. Dredd makes his way back to American shores in this latest IDW incarnation that offers a few vignettes to give those unfamiliar a taste of what Dredd is about. The vague allegory to fascism is in full force here with all the violence and over the top gallows humor that Dredd is famous for. This would be a fun series to start someone up on the character who hasn't read a Dredd book before. The best part is the bullet points from the editor in the back, detailing in concise detail what Dredd is all about and how his character has evolved to what you're reading today. Worth your time just to sample it and see if it's up your dingy, smoke-filled alley.

Thanks, Jim. Man, with all these people contributing to the Phile, I don't have to do much. I like it.

Alright, the 27th artist to be pheatured in the Phile's Art Gallery is Matthew Daley, and this is one of his pieces...

Matthew will be a guest on the Phile next Sunday, kids.

Today's pheatured guest is a very talented singer and songwriter whose new solo album "Better Days" is available on iTunes. "Better Days", I can relate to that. He will be next appearing at 1st Annual Better Days Are Coming Holiday Party at Swallow Hill Music, Denver, Colorado on December 22nd. Please welcome to the Phile, the very talented and snappy dresser... Chris Daniels.

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

Chris: Well I'm hanging in there... and I'm teaching and performing and recording so life is grand.

Me: You know, for a minute, I almost called you Charles. At least I didn't say Jack. Anyway, do you know Charles Daniels? Is he related to you?

Chris: No relation to either. Ralph Emery used to ask me that when I would go on "Nashville Now" some years back.

Me: Chris, you have a band called The Kings, right? But your new album "Better Days" is not with them. Is this a solo album?

Chris: Yes, that's right. My roots are pretty Americana and include blues and bluegrass. The Kings is that great horn-band sounding thing like Booker T & The MGs backing up Sam & Dave ... big horn sound and very blues feel... but for years I played acoustic music with various bands and I toured with Russell Smith from the Amazing Rhythm Aces as the mandolin, banjo, peddle steel, guitar player. The most fun I had doing this music from "Better Days" was doing shows with New Grass Revival with Sam and Bela and John and Pat and that is why I included some live tracks from those show on the CD.

Me: How long have you and The Kings been playing together?

Chris: Lawdy lawdy... 28 years, 12 albums, 18 European tours and we are still performing and loving it... it's like flying a jet. They are the most amazing group of musicians and it is such a treat getting on stage with them... it's like Tom Petty with the Heartbreakers... we just click together.

Me: So, what did they say when you told them you wanted to make a solo album?

Chris: It wasn't a decision like "guys I'm going to do a solo record'. I just started working on it when I got home from the hospital at my friend Jim's studio a few blocks from my house... just me and an acoustic guitar... and then friends started saying hey I'd love to add some mandolin or banjo or whatever and bam, the next thing I knew there was Richie Furay and John Magnie and Mollie O'Brien and holy crap... what an amazing sounding record!

Me: You do have an impressive line-up on this album, Chris. Tell the readers who plays on the album.

Chris: Wow, lets see, okay Richie Fura, (Buffalo Springfield/Poco), Sam Bush (New Grass Revival , AMA & IBMA Stalwart ), Kenny Passarelli (Elton John, Joe Walsh), Mollie O’Brien, (A Prairie Home Companion), Greg Garrison (Punch Brothers and Leftover Salmon), John Magnie (The Subdudes), Lloyd Maines (legendary producer & pedal steel player, Dixie Chicks), Mary Huckins (Dakota Blonde), Hazel Miller, (Big Head Todd) Brad Kopp and Ernie Martinez (Journeyman Austin and Denver pickers) and a host of others.

Me: Your last album was recorded in The Netherlands, right? What made you go all the way there to record an album?

Chris: I've been touring in Europe since 1990 and in the past 10 years I've taken my horn section over and worked with this great Dutch band called the BMaster (it was a very famous radio in Holland that everybody listened to who could afford one in the war years)... so we were doing a tour and decided to record some of the nights... and it turned out to be totally magic.

Me: Where was "Better Days" recorded?

Chris: In Jim Ratts studio here in Denver and also at Bradley Kopp's studio in Austin... we mixed at Coupe studios in Boulder.

Me: When you wrote "Better Days" did you know that was going to be the album title?

Chris: No, when I wrote "Better Days" I knew I'd hit on something that was close to me... personal,  and it turned out to be universal. Everybody has the moment when they are involved in something that is not what they really want... getting sick... and sometimes even good things... falling in love and it's just not the right time or place... and you hope for better days.

Me: I always ask musicians how they named their album, and I think I know how you named yours, and the meaning of that song. We'll talk about that in a minute, Chris. Is the song "Medical Marajuana" pretty much dealing with the same thing?

Chris: No, that was a lark. I was sitting on the bed in the hospital and watching all the news stories about Medical MJ shops in Colorado and laughing (there were not of laughing days there) that now I could finally qualify for smoking pot legally... yes I did inhale when I was a kid but I quit smoking pot about 30 years ago... I have not taken it back up but I realized that I COULD... and it made the nurses laugh when I played it for them.

Me: You have also a song on the album called "South Carolina", right? It's not about me falling and breaking my shoulder though. You're not from there, are you?

Chris: Well sort of. I was born in Minnesota but my mother's side of the family was all from Oklahoma and South Carolina so I spent a lot of my childhood at my grandparents home in Camden SC and that is what the song was about.

Me: Where are you originally from, Chris?

Chris: Minnesota BUT I have lived in Colorado since 1970.

Me: I guess that's why you were inducted in the Colorado Music Hall of Fame along with Judy Collins and the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band. You must know those guys, right?

Chris: I know the Dirt Band folks but not Judy. Her mother lives close to me but I do not know Judy. 

Me: It's beautiful there, isn't it? I interviewed quite a few musicians from there and always wanted to go. What's the music scene like there?

Chris: Yes, but it is also a big ol city too. But the music scene here is amazing. I teach at the University of Colorado in the College of Arts & Media which is our version of Berklee College of music and we have had amazing artists coming out of the program that include The Fray, DeVotchKa, Air Dubai etc etc.

Me: Over the years, Chris, you have performed with Sonny Landreth (who I have been trying to get here on the Phile for years), Al Kooper, Bela Fleck and Bo Diddley. Bo Diddley? What was that like? 

Chris: Each was different. Backing Al Kooper is one of those industry legends but he's also just an amazing player and songwriter and getting to play "More Than You'll Ever Know" and "Season of the Witch" with him... the guy who's records I was buying and listening to as a kid... pretty amazing. Same thing with Bo... he'd walk over to you and just look at you and you had to give him everything you had... and Sam Bush is amazing, it's like riding a bike with Lance Armstrong... he comes up and looks at you while you are taking a solo like "yeah kid, that's pretty good..." and wizzzzz takes off and it's breath taking.

Me: I don't have a whole lot of regrets in my life, Chris, but one I do have is I have lived in Central Florida for 25 years or so, and so did Bo. He used to play around here all the time and I never went to see him, and then he passed. You also played with David Johansen, right? Is this before New York Dolls?

Chris: Yes, it was only about 2 months in New York but I do remember it.

Me: When he came out with the whole Buster Poindexter shtick, what did you think?

Chris: I loved it... the song "Hot Hot Hot" was written by the Mighty Mighty Arrow... it is SOCA music and David gave that music a stage... just amazing party music. You should hear the Mighty Mighty Arrow version... just wonderful.

Me: Okay, let's talk about something serious, and why I think your new album is called "Better Days". Both of my parents  passed away from cancer in 2000. You, Chris, are a Leukemia survivor. Congratulations! When were you diagnosed and how long did you have to stop playing music, or did you? How are you feeling now?

Chris: Hey, any day above ground is grand... I feel okay but know that at any moment it all gets taken away so I have today and that is no joke or Hallmark card... that is what we have... make the most of it... or as the song says "We have got some work to do... right down here."

Me: So, am I right, is "Better Days" named after you are having better days since all that for real? 

Chris: Partly... mostly it's about things that happen to all of us... stuff that is not what we planned and making what you can out of that.

Me: Do you have a wife and family, Chris? I betcha they helped you with your recovery.

Chris: I have an amazing family. My sister Jane was my bone marrow donor... my blood is now made by her bone marrow in my body. My son Cedar was amazing... I'm pretty lucky.

Me: Okay, here in Florida there is no medical marajuana... I would of got some for my dad otherwise. Did you get any?

Chris: No, but a lot of my friends with cancer use it, especially when they are going through chemo... it works pretty damn well for helping them out.

Me: Let's talk about Telluride After Hours Jam... that is a music festival you founded?

Chris: Well sort of... it was the 'after hours' show for the bluegrass musicians (who are mostly closet rock n rollers) to come out and jam with a full fledged horn-section band. It was the first time Bela used his electric banjo in public, Edgar Meyer and the Wooten brothers, Vince Gill. One of the most fun was Lyle Lovett coming and sitting in and 6 months later he goes out with the Large Band... I mean it is truly infections fun playing with the Kings.

Me: Is Telluride a place?

Chris: Yes, an amazing town in Colorado.

Me: I interviewed hundred and hundreds of musicians, Chris, but I think you are the first that played before the Queen of England! When and where was this?

Chris: Well, it was the Queen of Holland and it was part of Queen's Night which is an annual bash they have in The Hague.

Me: Oh, Holland. I'm an idiot. Anyway, how was she?

Chris: She was fantastic and truly an amazing person... very into alt energy solutions like wind, etc.

Me: Was that when you were with the Kings?

Chris: Yes, we did that a few times, also for the big VE Day Celebration... the 50th I think.

Me: Did you get to meet her? Any pictures?

Chris: Yeah, for about 2 seconds... no photo... but she was really kind and loved the band.

Me: Apart from being a musician you are also a professor? I interviewed another musician/professor named Lee Negin a few times, but he teaches in Seoul. Where do you teach and what do you teach?

Chris: I am an Assistant Professor of Music Business at the University of Colorado in the College of Arts & Media, but I teach music history and all sorts of music business classes.

Me: How long have you been doing that, Chris?

Chris: Six years with CU and 4 years with Arapahoe Community College. I've won awards for my teaching at both schools.

Me: What do you like best? Playing music or teaching?

Chris: They are totally different and totally the same, it is a performance art, but with teaching you have to know what you are talking about (that Google thing will catch you up if you BS with your class... got to have the facts!!!)

Me: And you sing on jingles? Anything I would of heard?

Chris: Probably, Pizza Hut, Coors, McDonald's... it's an art form in and of itself. How do you make a vocal sound like you are smiling??? It's a good trick but you have to learn to do it. And you have to get over that thing about hearing your own voice... get over it, learn to use it... it is a tool.

Me: Before I let you go, and plug your website I have to ask you about your sticker covered guitar. Where are those stickers from, and what kinda guitar is it? Man, if I had a Phile sticker I would send you one. I have a picture of the guitar here.

Chris: I would love that, go right on the front... It's got all kinds of stuff on it. There is a house number from Italy, lots of stickers from US troops and their units, radio shows, festivals. I don't remember how it started but it is fun.

Me: Someone make me Phile stickers... stat. Chris, thanks so much for being on the Phile. Please come back when your next album comes out. Go ahead and plug your website and anything else you wish, sir.

Chris: YOU BET thanks for asking... this was a blast. Thanks so much!!!! The website is easy

Me: Take care of yourself, and next time you talk to Al Kooper, see if he'd wanna be interviewed.

Chris: Take care. You too, and yes I will put in a good word.

There, that about does it for another entry. Check out "Better Days" from Chris Daniels, it is a great album. Thanks to my guests Laird Jim, Tara Crawley and of course Chris Daniels. The Phile will be back tomorrow with the duo Hannah & Maggie. So, spread the word, not the turd. Don't let snakes and alligators bite you. Bye, love you, bye.

No comments: