Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Pheaturing Eric Erdman

Angus T. Jones just advised against reading this blog.  Hello, and welcome to another entry of the Phile, how are you? I'm surviving, I'm down to taking my meds every 12 hours, so there's a lot of pain in between.  President Obama has wrapped up his four-day, three-country trip to Asia. And insiders say the last 96 hours were very productive. The president said he may have found a country in Asia that can make Twinkies for us.  So, we're headed for a fiscal cliff and President Obama is in a tough spot. Because the Democrats did so well on Election Day, he's running out of Republicans he can blame this on.  Mitt Romney was photographed at a gas station in San Diego filling up his car, then he was spotted later in the day at Disneyland. See, that's when you know you're rich... when you can afford to fill up your car with gas and go to Disneyland on the same day.  France says the U.S. hacked its government computers. Cyberwar is new to them. France has never surrendered online before.  Israel’s Iron Dome defense is intercepting 90% of Hamas' missiles. Usually to see that many interceptions you have to watch Tony Romo play.   So, at the start of this entry I made a reference to Angus T. Young. He's the kid from "Two and a Half Men" and he called his show "filth" and said not to watch it. I'm calling it now... in next season's "Two and a Half Men premiere", the Angus T. Young character will be pushed in front of a train. Angus T. Jones also apologizes to AC/DC's Angus Young for besmirching the name Angus. I have this to say, dear young adults, shoot for ANYWHERE between Angus T. Jones & Lindsay Lohan. Between biblical literalism & dirty hypodermic.  Well, yesterday would of been Jimi Hendrix's 70th irthday, and I am so happy there's a Jimi inspirational poster out there... or something like that.

Well, it's the time of year when people are making gingerbread houses, but do you know what I think is cooler?

A friend sent me this next photo. Guess what was spotted in Winter Park here in Central Florida?

Well, here on the Phile I try to help out, and as it's Christmas in like twenty days you might be having problems trying to find something to buy for a loved one, family member, friend, or... me. So, once again, here is a pheature I call...

Gaming on the phone or iPad can be nice, but it's just never as satisfying as it could be, in part thanks to the limited mobile controls. Fortunately, now you can rock the mobile like an old-school gamer thanks to the Joystick-IT. Just stick the suction cup on to the control panel of your favorite mobile game and joystick your way onto the high score list. You can buy it right here:

The moon makes everything happen. That's the first thing you need to know. Everything supernatural in this world is chosen and set into motion by the Man in the Moon... except for God and Jesus and Allah and all the other religious figures, which are never mentioned here and, for the sake of this narrative, simply don't exist. In their places are Santa Claus (the voice of Alec Baldwin), The Easter Bunny (Hugh Jackman), The Tooth Fairy (Isla Fisher), Sandman (a silent little gnome who creates golden dust storms of drowsiness and subsequent sweet dreams) and fledgling "guardian" Jack Frost (Chris Pine), who has yet to understand his own powers or believe in himself and is, therefore, invisible and not really a guardian yet. You'd think he'd never seen a kid's movie before; if there's one thing you're not allowed to be in a film aimed at the elementary school demographic it's someone who doesn't believe in himself. It's law.  The guardians, all four and a half of them, have the same job, to make their respective holidays and special events happen and, more importantly for their own job security, to make sure kids maintain their belief in the guardians. They also have complicated personas. The Easter Bunny is a huge, aggressive, Australian thing, mistaken for a kangaroo at least once, a Crocodile Dundee-meets-Donnie Darko lepus creature and somewhat stressed-out CEO of egg-dyeing. The Tooth Fairy is semi-retired, choosing instead to send thousands of tiny little employees out each night in her stead, dispensing money for teeth and banking children's dreams. See, your dreams are stored in your teeth which are, in turn, collected, arranged, cataloged and archived in personalized decorative tooth safes. She's more of a delegator in a feathered outfit you might have seen 1979 wearing to the roller-disco. Santa Claus is a giant Russian taskmaster with a Sons of Anarchy beard, hilarious elves and yetis as his personal slaves and "NAUGHTY" and "NICE" tattooed on his forearms, not unlike a lot of men you would find in any urban leather bar. And Jack Frost, as I mentioned, has no defined purpose. Yet.  Meanwhile, the film's purpose, it seems, is to prep children for their own inevitable disappointment with life as they grow older and realize that myths are just that, nice stories your parents told you to make everything in the world seem magical. But in the meantime the film's other job is to confuse its audience and dazzle them with swooping, soaring, adventure-spectacle so that too many questions don't get in the way of the "believe in yourself" thing and the other belief-based message of happiness through obedient, unquestioning assurance in stuff outside of yourself that isn't real at all. Oh, wait, except for the Boogeyman (Jude Law). He's real. Except you can also make him not real by not believing in him. Except he's still real and all you did was keep him at bay. Something like that. It's a contradictory exercise in discerning just what children are supposed to buy as solid and what they're supposed to wish away. Good thing it's fun to watch.  And while we're weighing what's real and what's not, did the movie just tell us [note: you might consider the next bit of information a spoiler if you think that a brand new origin story for longtime childhood fantasy figures can be wrecked with advance plot information at all] that Jack Frost, whose main superpower seems to be creating icy patterns on windows, drowned as a child? He's dead? And that's what made the moon pick him to make it snow? Sure, whatever. There isn't enough death depicted in kid's movies and not enough moon-based theology. And it pads this otherwise sort of pointless... yes still entertaining swirl of strange... with extra weirdness details. Points for that. From 1 to 10, it gets an 8 and I might buy it when it comes out next year.

Alright, it's Wednesday, and you know what that means, kids. Yes, it's time to bring my friend Jeff on the Phile and talk some football.

Me: Hey, Jeff, welcome back. What does an Eagle fan do after his team wins the Super Bowl? He turns off "Madden" and goes to bed. So, you were in the lead by 6 points last week. Groan. We'll talk about that in a sec.

Jeff: It's always great to be back on the Phile. Hope you are on the road to recovery.

Me: It's a very bumpy road. So, what's the big news in the NFL world?

Jeff: There really want any news other then Pittsburgh signing a former player named Plexico Burress who a few years ago literally shot himself in the leg and went to jail for it. A lot of good games on Thanksgiving plus the Jets continue to suck.

Me: Speaking of the Jets, did you see the Jets poster the NFL put out? I have a it here in case you didn't.

Jeff: That's funny.

Me: Okay, you were in the lead, how did we do last week? My Giants won, what about your Steelers?

Jeff: I went 2-1 with a Steeler lose to pitiful Cleveland. You went 1-2 with a Giants win, but I gain a point and lead by 7 now!

Me: You're winning still?! This is not good, Jeff, not for me. Okay, this weeks picks... I say Minnesota will win by three, Indianapolis by three and Oakland by 6.

Jeff: I'm going with Texans by 10, San Fran by 7 and Carolina by 3. See you next week!

Me: Thanks, Jeff, good job as always, see ya next week.

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

Matthew will be a guest on the Phile this Sunday.

Today's pheatured guest is the lead singer for the band The Ugli Stick who has his own solo album out which is available on iTunes called "My Brother's Keepers". He will be next appearing tomorrow at Veet’s Bar & Grill in Mobile, Alabama. Please welcome to the Phile, the very talented... Eric Erdman.

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

Eric: I'm great. Currently finishing a cross country tour. Since I'm always gone I don't get a lot of family time. So my folks decided to make this tour a family vacation. So I'm enjoying seeing the country with my mom and step dad.

Me: You are in a band called The Ugli Stick and now you have a solo album out called "My Brother's Keepers"? What made you decide to record a solo CD?

Eric: I was initially drawn to music by artists like James Taylor and Jim Croce. There was something in their thought provoking lyrics and simple acoustic presentation that felt "right". Once I began creating my own music, the singer/song writer, folky style of music was what I naturally produced. Early on in my career I was fortunate enough to gain the attention of some incredible musicians that wanted to back me up. But with their accompaniment our music took a drastic turn from what I had been creating. This music seemed fresh and wonderful to me, so I saw how deep the rabbit hole went. We have recorded 4 albums and continue to perform, write and record. I am very proud of the music The Ugli Stick has created. The music we created took me to places I never dreamed of and opened many doors for me. A couple of those doors were procuring a publishing deal (where I wrote songs for other artists) and becoming a producer (where I produced albums for other artists). It was during one of those productions that I realized I had put out tons of funk/rock music with my band, I had written and produced tons of singer song writer style music for others but I had never released a singer songwriter style album for myself. The more I thought about it, the more I realized this was a travesty. I had invested my entire life to music, yet I still didn't have an album of my own that was elementally, ME. Now I Do.

Me: Your solo music is very different then The Ugli Stick's music, right? Correct me if I am wrong, but The Ugli Stick is more like a rock band.

Eric: Yes. The Ugli Stick can bring the pain. The Ugli Stick is a funky rock band that dabbles in hip hop, jazz, and country. It is high energy music.I love going on stage with those guys. Quintin Berry, Dale Drinkard Jr., and Tim Stanton (the other members of Ugli Stick) are all world class musicians. It is so much fun to play along side them. The songs on "My Brothers Keepers" are more lyric driven, subtle songs. There is no doubt the Ugli Stick could perform the songs from my album, but I felt like they were best served by stripping them down to their softer, more basic form. I am very happy with the result.

Me: Is rock your favorite type of music, Eric? Your music can also be considered country.

Eric: I still love to play rock from time to time. There is a unique connection you feel with the music and the audience when you are moving and sweating . But as I said above, for me the most natural musical feelings I have is when I have an acoustic guitar and I can interact with a quiet attentive crowd. I love telling the stories and playing the songs inspired by them. There is a special connection I feel in those quiet "listening room" environments that is impossible to capture at "The Rock Show".

Me: What bands are you into and who are your influences?

Eric: Oh man. I listen a lot to the classic song writer stuff (James Taylor, Jim Croce, Jackson Browne) but I always have David Wilcox (my favorite), Ross Newell, Josh Ewing, Kristy Lee, the Hussy Hicks, Lisa Mills, Gregg Fells, Ryan Balthrop, Mac MacAnally, Wes Loper, Les Hall, Amanda Williams, Tom Waits, Elvis Costello, Gamble Brothers, Bottletree... on rotation. (I had to stop myself. I am a music lover of extreme levels. I could list bands I love and that influence me for days).

Me: Where did the name The Ugli Stick come from?

Eric: Well, we were in search of a band name. None of the names we came up with made us happy. One day I woke up and went to the store to buy something. I was having a particularly unshaven, haggard, disheveled looking morning. Of course that was the moment I ran into a friend. They said, "Damn, You look like you got beatdown by the ugly stick!" The words ugly stick set off a bell in my brain. Perfect band name. The friend was confused when my response to the insult was thank you. I often wondered if they smiled when they saw our first album title. "Beatdown"... by The Ugli Stick.

Me: I downloaded The Ugli Sticks latest album "Live From Mobile, Alabama" off from iTunes and liked it a lot. Will you be recording a new studio album with that band?

Eric: Aw man. Thank you. I really appreciate that. That was a record put out by Fishbowl Records. It's raw and gritty but it gets the essence of the "Rock Show" I spoke of above. And yes, The Ugli Stick currently has 12-14 new songs. We have not set a date to record them yet, but that is definitely in the plans.

Me: You're from Mobile, Alabama, am I right? I don't know a lot from Alabama, Eric. What is the music scene like there?

Eric: I am indeed from Mobile, Alabama. I'll find out if my house is still intact when I return from this tour (my house is in the mandatory evac zone always. Although I think this hurricane has taken enough of a westerly turn to keep my stuff undestroyed). But when we aren't under mandated evacuation, we have a bustling music scene. There are more incredible performers/writers along the Alabama Gulf Coast than pretty much anywhere I have traveled. There is virtually zero opportunity for upward mobility in the music world from Mobile but there are tons of steady gigs. Therefore there has been generation after generation of insanely talented musicians that were born in Mobile or come to Mobile but never leave. The fact that there are tons of gigs means that there are tons of people wanting to fill those gigs (Lots of competition. Althought it should be noted the competition is friendly not vicious). This leads to a whole community of versatile, seasoned musicians. I am always proud to bring my musician friend from elsewhere to Mobile. They inevitably get their mind blown by the amount of talent (and the fact that it is all concentrated in a small area.) The community has a strong family feel to it. There isn't as much negativity and negative competition as I've seen in other scenes. It feels like all the artists are united. In case you can't tell I'm proud of Mobile music.

Me: Okay, let's talk about "My Brother's Keepers"? Where did that album title come from? Do you have a brother? Who are his keepers?

Eric: I do have a brother. His name is Wendell. I always followed in Wendell's footsteps (well up to the point he went to med school and became a professional musician). Wendell had started writing songs at a very early age and therefore so did I. We both always wrote. But we rarely wrote together. Well, when I finally decided I wanted to make my singer songwriter album I knew Wendell would "get it". I thought it would be fun to write the whole album together with him since I was getting back to my musical roots and he was integral in inspiring me to write in the first place. I said, "Let me look thru your stack of half songs, pick out 'the keepers' and complete them. You look through MY half songs and pick out 'the keepers' and finish them, and we will call the album "My Brother's Keepers.""

Me: I love the album which I also downloaded, Eric. Did you write all the songs on it?

Eric: Wendell and I wrote everyone. And thank you. I'm proud of it.

Me: Congrats on having your song "Bird On A Powerline" being a Great American Song Contest runner up. Did I get that right?

Eric: Yes, indeed. I am not one to be to into contests. I don't really write songs for prizes. I write because I love to write and I love to see people connect to the final product. That being said, having "Bird On A Powerline" be picked for such a prestigious contest... well, it was very exciting and I am extremely proud to have had it picked.

Me: Who did you lose out to, Eric? They couldn't of been better than you.

Eric: Avi Katz and Renee Eilee. I hadn't heard of them before that. I checked those songs and dug em though.

Me: I noticed that song is on The Ugli Sticks live album. Was it originally written for that band?

Eric: It was actually written for "My Brother's Keepers". I played it for The Ugli Stick guys and they loved it so we worked up a version. We still play a version now. I hated to have that version be released before the solo version at first but I don't think it ended up being a big deal. Although the version on "My Brother's Keepers" was more of the way I heard it in my head initially, I like the Ugli version as well.

Me: Speaking of birds, your nickname is The Birdman. Where did that come from?

Eric: It's a baseball thing. During a game against our rivals a ball was hit in the gap. I ran from center field, jumped as high and hard as I ever have, laid out horizontal and made the crucial catch to end the inning and get us out of a jam. I jumped up and jogged to the dugout. When I arrived I was getting pats on the back and generally thanked by my teammates. The coach loudly yelled, "Boy, if you keep flying like that we are gonna stop calling you ERDman and start calling you BIRDman". It stuck. There are still some people who think that's my last name.

Me: Who plays on the new album with you, Eric? Any of The Ugli Stick guys?

Eric: I brought in some seasoned session guys from around the Mobile area. Rick Hirsch produced it. violin:Tom Morley, drums: Pete Wehner, guitar: Julz Parker, Darryl Huffman, Rick Hirsch, Corky Hughes, vocals: Kristy Lee, Leeza Gentz, Julz Parker, Donna Hall and on bass: Quintin Berry (from the Ugli Stick).

Me: I have to mention this, you went overseas and played three times on the USO tour. What was that like and where did you go?

Eric: I tell every musician that if they get the opportunity to go on a USO tour they should. Playing for the troops is always moving but to do so in those settings is something to remember for a lifetime. It feels good to give back to those heroes but it also reminds you that music is powerful and music makes a difference. Our first tour was in the Middle East (Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, Bagram and Jalalabad, Afghanistan, Dubai, Camp As Sayliyah, Al Fujarah, Bahrain) The next two trips were in the Pacific (Guam, Hawaii, Kwajalein, Roi Namur).

Me: How did you get to be involved with the USO?

Eric: Since playing for the military is something we felt strongly about we were persistent. We signed up on for four years before we were selected. Once we went over and played we had some requests from the bases to return.

Me: Was that solo or with the band?

Eric: All the USO tours have been with The Ugli Stick.

Me: Are you planning to go back?

Eric: Absolutely. I will always try to go back. It really isn't in my power to make it happen, but I will submit and resubmit and I will also stay in contact with the bases to let them know my/our services are available when and if they need us. So… hopefully I will be allowed to go back.

Me: Have you ever played down here in the Orlando area yet?

Eric: I actually have not. I need to fix that. Soon.

Me: You have your own Blogspot, Eric. How long have you had it up, and how often do you post? 

Eric: Yeah. I'm not sure what made me decide to start writing the blog. I've just had so many crazy adventures during my 17 years of playing gig that I felt I should recount some of them (as well as just ramble about interesting things I come across during my adventures). I started writing it in the middle of July I think. I write a blog every day ( I was without internet access for a few days while on the last USO tour and subsequently on my Belgian tour, but other than that it has been an everyday thing).

Me: Maybe I could be a guest on your blog sometime. What is the name of your blog? Man. I would love it.

Eric: My address is

Me: Eric, how long have you been playing guitar and song writing?

Eric: I've been playing guitar for 23 years. I've been song writing, serious anyway for about 18-19 years.

Me: I asked you if you were gonna record a new studio album with The Ugli Stick, are you gonna also record another solo album?

Eric: Absolutely. I actually have the material for the next album and most of the following album. I have a tour planned for December-January in Australia. During my time down there I am going to record an album. Once I release that one I will immediately start planning the recording of the next one.

Me: Thanks so much for being here, and when your next release comes out, please come back on the Phile. Go ahead and plug your websites and everything.

Eric: Thank you so much. I greatly appreciate you having me here. It helps a ton. I will definitely contact you about the next release. And keep in touch with me about guest blogging.,,,

Me: All the best, and take care, Eric.

Well, there you go, another entry of the Phile done. Thanks to my guests Jeff Trelewicz and of course Eric Erdman. The Phile will be back on Sunday with artist Matthew Daley. Spread the word, not the turd. Don't let snakes and alligators bite you. Bye, love you, bye.

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