Monday, February 18, 2013

Pheaturing Rick Vito

Hello, everybody, welcome to the Phile, and Happy President's Day. Today on the Phile they'll be half off and a sale on mattresses. In England, I don't think they have a Prime Minister's Day. They didn't when I lived there. But did you know in North Korea they have their own President's Day, only they call it Supreme Leader Day and it's actually every day and they're actually required to celebrate it by law? It's true. Here in America, President's Day is actually Washington's Day. Somehow all of the President's got thrown into it. Enjoy a day where we celebrate our greatest leaders by marking down the retail price of our greatest appliances.  I mentioned this yesterday on the Phile, but there was an asteroid that was a giant asteroid hurtling toward Earth and it was 150 miles wide. The nation of Iran has solved the problem. They have launched a monkey into space where it will deflect the asteroid with a coconut.  The song "Gangnam Style" has been named best song for kids to listen to while brushing their teeth. However, it is the worst song to listen to during everything else. Personally, I think most parents would rather have all their kids' teeth fall out than hear that song one more time.  Taylor Swift's ex-boyfriend Connor Kennedy was arrested for handcuffing himself to the White House gate to bring attention to climate change. He's bummed about the arrest, but he's glad to attach himself to something that won't write a song about him.  Scientists have discovered a species of fish that surrounds itself with uglier fish in order to look more attractive. However, scientists could not identify which sorority it belongs to.  A man in Georgia was arrested for stealing a Krispy Kreme doughnut truck and leading police on a high-speed chase. The police charged him with one count of grand theft irony.  The Vatican is still looking for a new Pope. The smart money is on Tim Tebow.  Alright, it's George Washington's Birthday, I think. Anyway, did you ever see that famous picture of George riding the T-Rex? No? Well, it's old.

When Ronald Reagan was President he did a similar thing...

He chose the Raptor apparently. My favorite President's photo is off all the living President's in the Oval Office.

Jimmy Cater apparently has cooties. LOL.  The other day Rihanna and Chris Brown went to the beach, but it didn't end well for her. She didn't even see it coming.

I have to share this, a Phile reader sent me this picture of my dad in Savoy Brown. It's really cool, as I haven't seen many photo's of him, on stage back then.


That's my dad on the far left, with Roger Earl, Phile Alum Kim Simmonds and Tony Stevens.  Well, February is almost over, and so is my campaign to get Kelly Clarkson on the Phile. Here is the campaign poster. We have one week left to reach out to her.

Okay, let's see booked a one-way ticket to Dirt City...

Mindy McCready 
Nov 30, 1975 - Feb 17, 2013
Girls gotta do what a girls gotta do.

I saw this outlandishly, hiliarously stupid and terrible movie with a Dolby ATMOS sound system. It was a booming, crispy, body-vibrating experience, full of explodo-noises that, if I had to spell them, would come out like "thonk," "smush," "flump" and "shrap." They were ugly, tympanic membrane-flogging sounds made by the patron saint of all Ugly Americans, John McClane (Bruce Willis), and they were highly satisfying.  I need to say this again, just to make it clear: this is a stupid and terrible movie. It is a bad example of cinema. It is a bad example of what can happen to a popular franchise, to a leading man, to an up-and-coming leading man, to logic, to intelligence, to plotting, to everything. It is a bad example of everything.  McClane, an indestructible man who has caused many bad guys to die hard over the course of his cantankerous, lone-movie-cop-goes-rogue career, enters Russia with no authority at all and starts destroying stuff. Why? Because to him it's still the Soviet Union, a snowy third world nation that needs him to right wrongs he has no business righting. All those communists or whatever they are now deserve it when he drives his stolen, tank-like, SUV-thing over their cars because he's in pursuit of terrorists who are mixed up in an underdeveloped plot that his CIA spy son (Jai Courtney, who has little to do but give pouty lip and show off the results of his gym membership) is trying to crack. When McClane is finished crushing those Russian cars, he's going to blow up some helicopters and get in the way of his son's operation and complain that the young man doesn't respect him. All those Russians should shut up and quit bugging him while he accomplishes these things, unless they have the courtesy to speak to him in English. Except when they do speak English it annoys him. Shut up, all Russians!  If you've come to see some Die Hard with a lot of Die Hard-level expectations, you're in trouble. It's the worst of the series, one I've loved since 1988 (even Die Hard 2: Die Harder and Die Hard With A Vengeance, against all rational thought). Instead of refining and 2013-ing its approaching, it chooses, instead, to inhabit that weird old space of know-it-all machismo, a paradigm that's been comedically shredded so many times that I wonder if we'll ever get it back. And this installment, in particular, is less a Die Hard film than a generic, extreme-action movie with Willis inserted into the middle. As a next chapter it forgets what book it's in, displaying doofus amnesia regarding McClane's previous displays of wit, the series' stylish monsters and a proper nod to the gravity and possible consequences of our everycop hero's failure to shut them down. It'll need the Skyfall treatment if a sixth film ever materializes.  I still loved all those noises, though. And the explosions. The destruction of property. The gunfire. The way Willis and Courtney jump out of windows with no thought for how or where they'll land (speaking of shredded machismo, watch The Rock and Samuel Jackson cameos in The Other Guys for the definitive film response to this sort of extreme stunt work). These are idiot spectacles I respond to almost all the time. My lizard brain needs that stuff. So when the film delivers those sorts of discrete body blows and boom-boom-boom, it's a blast. If only the people in charge had simply not involved Willis in it, not decided to call it a Die Hard movie, not set up my hopes for something more than gut-level, oomph-ish satisfaction, I wouldn't have felt so empty and disappointed when it was over. But I did. I still do. From 1 to 10, I give it a 4.

Alright, this is cool, kids. Today's guest is the 28th artist to be pheatured in the Peverett Phile Art Gallery, but even better he is is a guitarist and singer. He was part of the band Fleetwood Mac between 1987 and 1991, and he was a Silver Bullet. His latest release is "Blue Again: The Mick Fleetwood Blues Band featuring Rick Vito" and "Lucky In Love: The Best of Rick Vito". Please welcome to the Phile... Rick Vito!

Me: Hello, Rick, welcome to the Phile. It's such an honor to have you here. How are you?

Rick: Great, thanks Jason. It's my pleasure.

Me: Not only are you a great guitar player but a great artist as well, so I put your work into the Peverett Phile Art Gallery. We'll talk about your art in a bit, Rick. You must like painting though, right?

Rick: Yes, I've always like to draw and paint. My fooling around drawing guitars has resulted in various designs which led to prototypes, which led to my own signature guitars out through Reverend Guitars. The paintings are abstracts with the guitar as the central theme. Gives you an idea of the same continual boring images that run through my head most of the time ;)

Me: Alright, so, I have to ask, where do you get the most fan interest from, being in Bob Seger's band, Fleetwood Mac or your own solo stuff?

Rick: Most people have heard of me through my association with Fleetwood Mac I think.

Me: You were almost in Foghat, Rick, replacing Rod Price. Unfortunately you didn't get the gig. Anyway, where did you first find out about the auditions?

Rick: I should make it clear that I did get the gig.

Me: What?

Rick: Their manager Tony Outeda offered it to me after flying me back out to play with them on three different occasions, but the money was very low compared to what I was already earning in L.A., and they wanted me to also relocate to New York, which meant that all the session work connections I had cultivated over the years would dry up. I had to turn the offer down and I believe he was incredulous over that.

Me: Did you go to Boogie Motel Studios in Port Jefferson to audition?

Rick: Probably the first time. I also went to Minneapolis and another city where Foghat was playing. 

Me: Where was the first time you met my dad and the band?

Rick: At that first audition at the studio. They seemed weary of trying out guys.

Me: I have a tape of your audition, Rick. I think you guys did "I Just Wanna Make Love To You", "Fool For The City" and of course "Slow Ride". Maybe "Stone Blue". How many songs did you have to learn for the audition?

Rick: Probably six or seven. There was jamming too as I recall.

Me: Do you remember what the experience was like?

Rick: I had just gotten this '56 Les Paul Jr. and that was the guitar I brought with me. This was also the guitar I used years later to play the solo on Seger's "Like A Rock." But I wasn't used to it and felt that I didn't play quite as well on it as I could have with one of my other guitars. I also was not that familiar with Foghat's material and never played it before. I just heard some of it on the radio. At the end of the day I think it went very well though.

Me: I know you are a big fan of the blues, Rick, and my dad was a blues aficionado, did you guys get to talk about the blues?

Rick: Maybe a little, but it wasn't until the last time I went out to play with them that we were all comfortable enough with each other hang out and to talk informally. They must have been trying out quite a few guys for the position, like I said.

Me: You did get the gig, Rick, but you turned it down. I never knew that. Were you disappointed?

Rick: I was disappointed in the offer.

Me: And you weren't that familiar with Foghat's music?

Rick: I was already quite involved in a full-time career in L.A. and I didn't really pay attention to what too many other bands were doing because I was so busy myself and my own projects and work. But I saw that they were a really good band and a nice bunch of guys. Of course we all loved blues music, that was apparent right away.

Me: Alright, if you auditioned for Foghat in the early 80's, were you between bands?

Rick: I actually had a gig with Bonnie Raitt but she was on a hiatus for six months or so. I continued working with her again later. I was working with a lot of great artists at the time.

Me: What music did you listen to growing up, Rick? Before you were into the blues I am guessing you were into other types of music.

Rick: Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Elvis, and a lot of stuff I heard on "Bandstand" every day. Then as a teen on, the Rolling Stones and all the real blues guys like Elmore James, Magic Sam, B.B., Albert and Freddy King, etc. 

Rick: What new bands do you listen to now? What do you think of Jack White?

Me: My taste has gone more eclectic and there are not many bands per se that I listen to. I tend to go backwards and more sophisticated like Django Reinhardt, Dean Martin, Les Paul Trio, Ella Fitzgerald. I also like East Indian and Mid-Eastern World Beat music. Jack White is very creative and we both like to play Supro guitars, ha-ha.

Me: How old were you when you started to play the guitar?

Rick: I think about 8 years old I got a Stella student guitar for Christmas.

Me: You ended up in Bob Seger's band. So, how was that audition?

Rick: No audition. I was called to do an overdub session that turned out to be "Like A Rock," and I nailed it on the first take. That led to doing the rest of the album, plus the tour and a few more records after that.

Me: You played on some of Bob's biggest hits, Rick, that experience must of been pretty cool. Was that the biggest band you were in?

Rick: Jackson Browne was close, but yes, probably. I didn't know how big he was until I went on the tour!

Me: I saw Bob Seger in concert a few years ago at Orlando Calling, Rick. You weren't in his band then, do you think you'll ever play with him again?

Rick: They call me at the start of every tour, then seem to always get someone else. No, I don't think I will because that has happened about four times. Like the title of one of his albums, it's a 'mystery to me.'

Me: LOL. Alright, for years you played with Mick Fleetwood, first with Fleetwood Mac and now in his blues band. When did you first meet him?

Rick: In 1972 when I was on tour with Bobby Whitlock of Derek and the Dominoes in New York City.

Me: Did you ever see the original Fleetwood Mac in concert with Peter Green?

Rick: Yes, two nights in a row at the Electric Factory in Philadelphia. He was the MAN!

Me: When Lindsey Buckingham left Fleetwood Mac you replaced him. Did you have to audition or did Mick just ask you?

Rick: Again, I had done a couple of sessions and jams with Mick and he knew he liked my playing. When Lindsey left he called me and asked me to learn 10 songs and come down to play with the band. At the end of the day I was in Fleetwood Mac!

Me: I have a photo of you in the band here, Rick.

Me: At the time Fleetwood Mac weren't doing to much blues stuff. Was there ever talk of you doing blues material with Mick back then?

Rick: That was my solo part of the show. I played and sang the Peter Green songs and the audience went nuts when we went to that part of the concert.

Me: Rick, you have played on so many albums, I have to ask, which one is your favorite?

Rick: Too hard to answer that one, Jason, but the most satisfaction is doing your own recordings. My solo CDs, "Band Box Boogie," and "Rattlesnake Shake" came out well.

Me: I also have to ask, what was it like working with Stevie Nicks?

Rick: Close to Fleetwood Mac, but I didn't feel as comfortable playing strictly Stevie songs as I did the variation that took place in the Mac.

Me: Okay, let's talk about The Mick Fleetwood Blues Band, and the latest CD and DVD "Blue Again!" Well done on getting your name on the album sleeve. Was that your idea or Mick's?

Rick: I started the band from scratch with Mick and suggested that we form the band in the first place. 

Me: When Mick invited you to be in his new band, playing blues material, and mostly Peter Green stuff I bet you jumped at the chance. Who picked out the songs?

Rick: We do an equal number of my songs with Peter Green songs. That is why it works, because the styles are similar and it all fits together. I pick the songs usually.

Me: Who else is in the band with you guys?

Rick: Two gents from Maui, Lenny Castellanos on bass, and Mark Johnstone on keyboards. Mick lives there and that is where we get together. I've been there countless times since 2006.

Me: The CD "Blue Again!" is a live album, Rick. Are you guys gonna be recording a studio album? 

Rick: We're talking about that right now.

Me: You have lots of good material, how did you choose which ones to do?

Rick: Thank you. It just happens. Mick and I are pretty simpatico, which is why we like working together.

Me: I have to congratulate you on winning a W.C. Handy Blues award. When did you win and did you get a call statue?

Rick: It was in 2005 for a song I wrote called "It's 2 A.M." that was done by Shemekia Copeland. Yes, I got an award statue of sorts onstage in Memphis and made an acceptance speech too.

Me: So, what's your next project you are coming out with?

Rick: I am working on a variety of songs in my studio. Some of it is blues-rock and some of it is more in the exotic, world-beat style.

Me: I have to ask you about the jacket you're wearing on the "Lucky Devils" CD cover.

Me: Man, I love that jacket. Where did you get it and do you still have it?

Rick: Thanks. That comes again from my interest in art and painting. I hand-painted it for fun. Yes, I still have it along with a lot of stage jackets I've designed.

Me: Alright, so, on the Phile this I'm asking random questions, so here's yours... Who do you think is the most important person alive today?

Rick: My wife.

Me: Good answer, Rick. I know you have to go, but I have to say thanks thanks so much for being on the Phile, I hope you'll come back when your next release comes out. Go ahead and plug your website and everything. All the best, and I wish you recorded in Foghat.

Rick: Thanks very much, Jason. My best to you and all the Foghat fans.

There, that about does it for this entry, kids. Thanks to Rick for a great interview. I never did get to ask him about his artwork. Oh, well... next time. Tomorrow I go back to see my surgeon and find out if my arm is screwed up forever, or if I have to have more surgery or a procedure, or what. So wish me luck. The Phile will be back next Saturday with musician George Kilby Jr. Then on Sunday it's singer songwriter Natania and on Monday Phile Alum Kim Edwards. Spread the word, not the turd. Don't let snakes and alligators bite you. Bye, love you, bye. Strawberry Blondes Forever! I'll leave you with a drawing by Logan.

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