Monday, May 6, 2013

Pheaturing Carrie Johnson

Dun dun dun da da dun da da dun. Hey, kids, welcome to Star Wars Month: Episode 2 on the Phile. How are you? It's Return of the Sixth apparently. I don't know. The Phile has a new sponsor by the way.

Before we get into the Star Wars stuff, let's see what is in the news.  President Obama went to Mexico. He was on hand to celebrate Mexico's economic successes over the last few years. See, that’s how it works now. If President Obama wants to celebrate an economic success, he actually has to leave the country. While in Mexico, President Obama plans to promote his immigration policy. Is that really necessary? Seems the last place you have to promote immigration is Mexico. I think they've got it down. That's like going to San Francisco to promote gay marriage. President Obama also met with Treasury Secretary Jack Lew in the White House. The Treasury secretary meets once a month with the president... and he meets twice a month with the Chinese president.  Experts at the Department of Defense and the Pentagon said that they now know that Osama bin Laden was in that compound for a number of years. He would leave the compound about twice a year.  Last Monday, Martha Stewart announced that she is dating and desperately looking for a man. So she signed up on In her biography, Martha says she likes surprises, but not from the Securities and Exchange Commission. You would think it'd be easy for someone like Martha Stewart, but it is not. It's tough for her. A lot of guys don't want to get involved with an ex-con.  In baseball news, the Chicago Cubs said they will move if improvements are not made to Wrigley Field. And today Wrigley Field said it will move if improvements are not made to the Chicago Cubs.  The U.S. government apparently spent millions of dollars in cash to fund various dubious government projects in Afghanistan... including solar panels and wind farms that never work. No, I'm sorry. That's what we did here. I had it backwards.  Researchers now believe the first settlers who settled in America, in Jamestown, resorted to cannibalism. The first settlers ate each other. Good thing that didn’t catch on. That would have changed Thanksgiving, don’t you think?   Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is in trouble. He was arrested this week for threatening to expose some sensitive government secrets. And you can tell it’s serious. His bail was set at 200 goats. That’s right. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was arrested. He claimed that he had evidence that their elections were rigged. When authorities asked him to prove it, he was like, "Uh, I'm president, aren't I?"  Jeff Foxworthy and Larry the Cable Guy are teaming up to build a new theme park in Alabama. You can tell because the sign on the roller coaster says, “You must be this shirtless to go on this ride.”  A new survey found that 49 percent of Americans think movie trailers give too much away about the plot. Especially that one trailer that starts with, "In a world where Bruce Willis is dead the whole time..." Vice President Joe Biden’s plane was apparently stuck in Arizona because of problems with its engine. Officials say they're trying to fix it as fast as they can. But Obama was like, “No rush.”  The FDA has just ruled that girls as young as 15 can now obtain the contraceptive Plan B without a prescription. Before that, most teenagers’ Plan B was getting a show on MTV.   So, a lot of people think George Lucas is really creative coming up with Star Wars and everything, but he ripped off the idea. the premise has been around a long time. Check out this proof...

Is that Latin? I think it is. So, you know Disney owns Star Wars now, right? Well, they are really using those characters. Check out this exclusive screenshot from the new Winnie The Pooh movie.

I don't think it'll be that good. Return of the Jedi is having it's 30th anniversary this year. I watched it recently and was surprised to see something in the background.

I never noticed it before. Wait, I think that scene is from Revenge of the Sith. Who cares? One of the things I like to do in my spare time is go on Twitter and look up different things to see what people are talking about. I looked up Star Tours, the ride at Disney's Hollywood Studios where I work and this is what I found...

I wonder who that guy was. It wasn't me. So, this year is Return of the Jedi's 30th anniversary. That movie gave us Jabba, the Ewoks, Mon Mothma and of course, one of George's best creations... Slave Leia. So, this month on the Phile we are celebrating Slave Leia. Here you go, fellas.

And now from the home office on Coruscant, here is this week's...

Top Phive Similarities Between "Here Comes Honey Boo Boo" & Star Wars
5. Characters saddled with idiotic names.
4. Things to bizarre language patterns, subtitles are an unfortunate necessity.
3. Focuses on an obnoxious princess.
2. Villain is a colossal gurgling, chortling, formless mass.
And the number one similarity between "Here Comes Honey Boo Boo" and Star Wars...
1. Has no business being shown on something called The Learning Channel.

If you spot it email me at  Okay, before we continue I have to mention something. I mentioned this yesterday, a Phile reader named David Vandenberg sent me an email saying that late Friday night on April 26th a little 5 year old girl named Lydia Haney lost her dad when he was shot and killed while attempting to stop a fight in Denver. In the goodness of Dave's heart, he is gonna have an auction on Facebook which will begin on May 17th at 12 pm MST. & end on May 19th at 11:59 pm MST. He will be auctioning of concert photographs of different bands and it is a highest bidder format with bids for each photograph placed on the given artist photo. This will be a one of one photo in 8x10 format unframed. This is one of the pictures being auctioned...

Go to for more information and to bid on those photo's. Okay, so, are you ready for some intergalactic comedy? Please welcome to the Phile, straight from the Outer Rim, the one and only...

Tractor: Thank you, thank you. So, where did Sebulba get interviewed?

Me: Um, I don't know.

Tractor: On a podcast. What did the poodoo say to the Bantha?

Me: I don't know, I don't know what a poodoo is.

Tractor: I am your fodder. Haha. Here's one more. Did you hear about the litigious Kaminoan?

Me: Um...

Tractor: Yeah... Lama Sue.

Me: I don't get it. Tractor Beam, everybody.

Tractor: Don't eat the Bantha. See ya, nerf herders.

By the way, Bantha fodder was a type of food eaten by Banthas. The phrase "Bantha fodder" was also used as an offensive term, as the substance smelled extremely foul. Alternatively, "poodoo"..."fodder" in Huttese, was used for the same purpose. I get the joke now, but it's not funny. Alright, the 30th artist to be pheatured in the Phil's Art Gallery is Chris Hamer, and this is one of his pieces...

Chris will be a guest on the Phile next Sunday.

Okay, today's pheatured guest is a singer songwriter whose CD;s "Strength to Move" and "Move the Sun" are available on iTunes. She will next be appearing at P.D. Walsh's Country Store in Falls Village, Connecticut on June 8th. Please welcome to the Phile... Carrie Johnson.

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

Carrie: Hey, Jason!! I'm great thanks for asking!

Me: Before we start I have to ask you what's that tattoo on your wrist? Does it say anything? I love tattoo's and finding out their meanings.

Carrie: Two of the tattoo's on the top of my wrist are Celtic scrolls... part of my family history is Welsh and Irish. One of the tattoos is actually a "doodle" that I had been drawing for years... so one night in Key West, FL I had it inked permanently! The name on top is my daughter, Julia, I had that done after she finished her last round of chemotherapy. She's a 15 year old cancer survivor! On the underside of my wrist, it says "Gratitude" because that's how I live my life... filled with gratitude!

Me: Wow, that's a lot of tattoo's. Carrie, I have to say, I first discovered you through the Graham Parker tribute album "Piss & Vinegar" that just had it's rerelease. On that album your band 22 Brides did a great version of "You Can't Be Too Strong", Graham's song about abortions. Did you pick out that song to do?

Carrie: Wow! That's so cool that you found me through Graham Parker... you just never know when or how a contact will be made! Yes, my sister Libby and I were (are) big fans of Graham's and we were asked to contribute to the "Piss & Vinegar" album... that song resonated with us the most.

Me: How did 22 Brides get to be a part of that album, Carrie?

Carrie: I believe that came through our record company at the time... we were asked to pick our favorite song(s) and record them for the tribute album. Naturally we jumped at the chance!!

Me: Have you met Graham, or did you receive any feedback from him on what he thought?

Carrie: No, I never did the chance to meet Graham... but I would love to! I recall he was very happy with the version of his song that we did, that's why it made it onto "Piss & Vinegar"!

Me: 22 Brides broke up, right? Was that your first real band you were in?

Carrie: No, I had been in bands since college, I went to Berklee College of Music in Boston, MA. I was in a punk band called Little Green Men, then I moved to New York City and Libby and I formed Mood Elevators with some great players, after that we put together 22 Brides and then got signed by Zero Hour Records at a show at the infamous CBGB's actually!

Me: You were in the band with your sister. You kept on playing music, did she?

Carrie: Zero Hour merged with Universal, then everything in the industry started to unravel. After our record company filed bankruptcy in 2001 Libby got pregnant again, and I was living in Tempe, AZ at the time. I put together The Carrie Johnson Band and have been writing, recording and performing under that name since then! The players have changed but right now I've got the finest musicians in my band: Len Bobinski on bass, Dennis Cotton on drums, Dave Martin on lead guitar and Dave Zucker on keys. I write all the songs, sing and play acoustic/electric rhythm guitar. I've released three original CD's since 22 Brides... "Geographical Fix", "Move The Sun" and "Strength To Move" plus a few singles. I'm recording songs right now for my next CD release untitled as of this writing! Libby also released two original CD's, "Annabella" and "Perfect View". She and I keep talking about recording together but she's in NYC and I'm in Hartford, CT and we are both very busy, but I know we'll get to it soon. But yes, she performs in the NYC area and I perform in the New England area... and once in awhile we grace the stage together!!

Me: By the way, did you know there is a new comic book called "22 Brides"? I have a picture of it here.

Carrie: Of course!! I own the original art work to the covers! Haha! Actually the comic was written and published in 2000. Comic book icons, Jimmy Palmiotti and Joe Quesada were the inspiration behind "22 Brides" comics. We also were tied into "Ash" and "Painkiller Jane" comics as well. I love the fact that I have been immortalized with big boots, big boobs and big guns... avenging the death of our mother! That's the gist of the comic storyline...

Me: Oh, wow. That is cool, Carrie. So, will that band ever reunite?

Carrie: Never say never, Jason!!

Me: With both you and your sister being musicians, is there anybody else in your family that are musicians as well?

Carrie: In my family on both my mother and father's side, there are many musicians... vocalists, bagpipers, guitarists, piano players, fiddlers... just some of the family heritage! Music is definitely in the bloodline.

Me: My dad was a musician. Both my sister's are somewhat musical, but not me. I play the kazoo, that's about it. How old were you when you started to play and write musically?

Carrie: Foghat was the FIRST concert I ever went to!! That's too funny... Hey, don't underestimate the kazoo!! I started playing guitar when I was eight years old. I was on stage performing by the time I was ten... so pretty much all my life I've been a player. Songwriting came later... and it's a craft that I continue to hone to this day.

Me: Who did you grow up listening to?

Carrie: No... the question is who DIDN'T I listen to!? Traditional bluegrass, classic country, blues (Bessie Smith, Robert Johnson, Bonnie Raitt) folk (Bob Dylan, Judy Collins, Joni Mitchell) pop (Beatles, Elton John, Billy Joel, Carol King) rock (Traffic, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, The Doors, Led Zepplin) Broadway (everything... my mother was a broadway singer) Classical, Scottish Pipe music... you name it we listened to it!

Me: Carrie, I downloaded your two albums, "Strength to Move" and "Move the Sun" from iTunes, and enjoyed them both. Which one is the latest one you released?

Carrie: "Strength To Move" is the latest... it's more of a "country" vibe. I spent a lot of time in Nashville over the past several years, so the songs on that album tend to reflect that.

Me: You also have a few singles up there on iTunes. Are you currently working on a new album and will those singles be on it?

Carrie: As a matter of fact was in the studio on to record two new songs, just finished up another one... so as I said earlier, what I'm doing is recording new tunes. I don't know yet if I'll just release them as singles, or if I'll go ahead and create a new CD... in this digital world we live in it's almost easier (and more affordable) to release singles! But, it's always nice to have merchandise to sell at gigs... and most people, myself included, enjoy holding a tangible CD complete with liner notes and photos. I will let you know what I decide soon!

Me: Let's talk about "Move the Sun". How did that song get to be the title track?

Carrie: Ahh, "Move The Sun". That album is very close to my heart... for many different reasons. It's my "empowering" album. I was going through SO much at that time. My daughter was recovering from cancer, I was going through a divorce, financially life was "tight", and I was in recovery and getting sober... over 7 years now. I almost felt like I was walking through life blind. The only thing that kept me sane was songwriting. The first line of "Move The Sun" is: "Move the sun, get it out of my eyes..." - I couldn't see the future... I WANTED to, but I just kept moving one small step at a time... and have come out of a very difficult time victorious!

Me: We have to talk about this, as both my parents passed away from cancer, so cancer has been a big part of my life. Your daughter was seven years old when she had bi-lateral ovarian cancer. She was the youngest in the country, am I right?

Carrie: She was ONE of the youngest. The most unusual aspect to her cancer was that it was an "adult" cancer. Dysgerminoma... which usually affects adult women. It's a fast acting, fast spreading cancer and we caught it JUST in time. Her cancer had metastisized, but fortunately had not reached the lymph nodes. My father also passed away 4 years ago from liver cancer so it's a part of my life too, Jason. I'm sorry to hear about the passing of both your parents from this terrible disease.

Me: Carrie, how is she now? She's good, right?

Carrie: Julia is 15 now, and a happy, thriving freshman in high school! Doing well too... blessedly, her health is stable these days!

Me: Do you think Julia would love to be a singer or a musician?

Carrie: Julia is an amazing singer and songwriter and guitar player! She has already recorded several original songs. I was really pushing for her to continue doing that until horses came back into our lives! She is an avid and talented horseback rider. Hunter/Jumper for all you horse enthusiasts. She also has her sights set on becoming a civil rights lawyer!! I've always inspired my daughter to follow her heart and dream BIG!! I do have plans for her to finish at least one CD of original music. I want her to at least explore her musical gifts a little bit more. Whatever she does... it is with great passion and I love that about her. She will be singing on my new releases... she and I have a very unique blend when we sing...

Me: You wrote this beautiful song "Little Bird" for her. When you first played that song for her did you play it live or the recording?

Carrie: I think I played it live for her. In our living room. I don't think she really got the meaning of it and why I wrote it. Basically I just wanted to capture the night we were waiting in the hospital for 8 hours while she was in surgery. At the time, we didn't know she had cancer... we thought it was a benign tumor. So the moment we were told otherwise was just surreal... blurry and heartbreaking.

Me: I bet there wasn't a dry eye in the room.

Carrie: The first time I performed "Little Bird" I couldn't sing it through... I started to cry. Which, as a lifelong professional performer was difficult for me! It got easier as time went by, but I can still get choked up when I think about Julia if I'm singing... if I detach I can sing it through without losing it. Yea, usually I see a few tears in the audience when I perform that song. I don't mind though, I am also moved emotionally if I can write a song and it makes people cry, obviously I've touched a nerve...

Me: Carrie, from there you started The Little Bird House Concert Series. Can you tell the readers about that?

Carrie: When Julia got sick our medical bill were astronomical and insurance didn't cover her chemotherapy, which is incredibly expensive. The people in the town where we live rallied around us and gave us so much support... emotional, and financial through fundraisers. It was an overwhelming experience. I thought the best way to give "thanks" and pay it forward would be to do house concerts... giving all money from those concerts to The Connecticut Children's Medical Center where Julia was treated, so I began The Little Bird House Concert series. Fundraiser's are tricky though... it's better to do one BIG one than many small ones. I'll be planning another concert for the fall of 2013 and will invite my favorite songwriter's to help the cause.

Me: I am guessing with everything you've been through "Strength to Move" is a great album title and song name. Was that the reason you wrote that song?

Carrie: Actually, my husband was having a bad day. We all have them from time to time. I wrote that song for him but then realized it was a universal message... it can be for anyone struggling to get through a difficult time. I'm proud of that song, it's one of my favorites that I've written. As for the songs on that album, I co-wrote some of them... but I wanted an overall happier feeling on that release. I recorded most of the tunes in Nashville which gives it more of a country feel. I think "Strength To Move" captures a brighter future kind of feel... and after "Move The Sun" I needed to write some more upbeat songs.

Me: As well as writing a song about Julia you also wrote a song for your husband, and performed it at your wedding, am I right? What is the name of that song?

Carrie: Haha!! Yes! I wrote "Perfect" for my husband when we realized our relationship was getting "serious" and I was thinking about love, and loving someone again, giving it all I have... and wouldn't it be perfect to have it all go right this time? So far, so good!!

Me: That's so sweet, Carrie, if my wife wrote a song about me it'll be called "A Pain In the Ass". Do you always write from your heart? It sounds like you do?

Carrie: Haha! I've never written a song called "Pain In The Ass" but I've certainly eluded to it!! Do I always write from the heart? I always TRY to! I have so many beginnings of songs... some I finish, but if I'm not connecting with it then, to me, it's not worth finishing, it won't be my best, or not from my heart. Songwriting is a craft that I strive to improve upon each time I write a new song. Hopefully that comes through. The songs I'm writing now are true stories about my life. I've been going back in time to capture where I've been and where I am now. I think they're filled with a lot of heart and I am very excited to finish and release them!

Me: Where are you from, Carrie? Where do you live now?

Carrie: I'm from all over the place, Jason. I spend the first part of my childhood in New Jersey and Connecticut, then when I was 8 years old my family moved to Kenya, East Africa! I came back to the States when I was beginning high school, then Boston, then NYC, then Arizona, then Virginia and now I've come full circle and I live in Connecticut in a small town outside of Hartford.

Me: You have been working with some talented kids, Carrie. You must work well with children. I love kids myself, more then adults. Who are some of the kids you are working with?

Carrie: I work with some very talented kids... well, teens. In addition to performing, I also am a vocal and guitar instructor. I've met several young artists who initially came to me for vocal or guitar lessons, but who are talented enough to create a presence in this business. A few of them wanted to start songwriting but didn't know much about it, how to take an idea, put a melody to it and most importantly "trim the fat" and finish it. So, I expanded my musical endeavors to include Artist Development. So far, I have 3 co-writer's with EP's released via Tunecore... available on most any download music stores. Riley Lynch, Lauren Brave and Olivia Plaut. I'm very proud of these talented artists!

Me:  They are all under 15 or so, am I right?

Carrie: Riley is 15, Lauren is 16 and Olivia is 10...

Me: Do you think because of YouTube, and show's like "X Factor" and "American Idol", we are starting to discover younger talented kids all the time?

Carrie: Absolutely! The internet and shows like that are perfect platforms for any artist, and especially younger ones. But it's more than just releasing music or getting on a show. You still have to go out into the world and perform, get a buzz going, do a cool video that perhaps could go "viral" and most of all WRITE A GREAT SONG!! I tell these kids that just because the internet and TV shows make you more accessible, it doesn't mean you don't have to work your ass off. I hear all the time how kids just want to be "famous". Songwriting and performing is SO much more than that. It takes A LOT of time and energy and love of your craft to be successful in the music industry today. Because there is so much access, it's actually more competitive. So I teach and prepare my students to be ready to go out into the world and be self sufficient by recording and releasing their own records, owning their copyrights and publishing, and preparing them to perform. Fame is fleeting. Someone is always next in line. But I write music and perform because I LOVE to do it. Not for money or fame, but for the absolute love of music and being a performing and recording artist... and I've been doing this for a fairly long time now. That's what I try and inspire in anyone I work with.

Me: Speaking of those shows, are any of them going to audition for those shows?

Carrie: Riley Lynch will be auditioning for "The X Factor" this spring... I'm very excited for him. It would be WONDERFUL to see him make it through finals and get on the show! He's such a talented vocalist and now songwriter, and a really nice guy as well.

Me: How is it writing and working with kids, Carrie?

Carrie: It's a wonderful experience working with teenagers. They have a different perspective on life, love and the world in general. I am a melody maker... and usually I supply the melody and help form the lyrics that the artists I'm working with bring to me. There is always a moment when I know the song idea is special and different. I love being in the position of mentor and co-writer. I want to align myself with talented, young artists... they have A LOT to say. I think my years of being in the music industry is helpful to them... plus I've written over 200 songs so I can guide them, and help them to form a well-written song that's ready to record and release. Which is what I'm doing with about 5 artists now...

Me: What do you teach and where?

Carrie: I teach vocal, guitar and songwriting privately from my home, and I also teach at a music center... Music & Arts in Avon, CT.

Me: So, if any of those kids wanna be interviewed for the Phile, what do you think?

Carrie: I think it would be great! Let me know who you want to interview and I will have them contact you.

Me: You also, and correct me if I'm wrong, worked with Debbie Gibson? When was that? When she was a kid or more recent?

Carrie: My sister and I were Debbie's background vocalists on all her albums. She was, still is,  incredibly talented. I met her when she was 16 years old. "Out Of The Blue" and "Electric Youth" were hit albums for Debbie... it was an honor to work with her. 

Me: Who else have you worked with?

Carrie: As a background vocalist I worked on Paula Abdul's album, Belinda Carlisle, Samantha Fox and so many artists in the early 90's! Too many to even remember... haha! I was also a jingle singer and did commercials for Burger King, Hellman's Mayonnaise and Diet Coke!

Me: Carrie, on the Phile I ask random questions thanks to Tabletopics. Here is your random question... What's your dream job?

Carrie: Well I would say I'm living it, Jason! My entire vocation is music... writing, recording, performing, teaching, Artist Development... so I feel very blessed that I can support myself entirely through music. BUT I would love to see one of my songs in a movie or television show... either one I've recorded, or co-written! Licensing is another area where I have my finger in the pie, so to speak. So my latest "dream"? To have a song I have written... either on my own or with a co-writer, get placed in a show or become a "hit"!!

Me: Thanks so much for being on the Phile, Carrie. Bring your family down to Orlando. Do you play down here often?

Carrie: I haven't been to Orlando in quite some time... but might be coming down to Florida this May actually! I will let you know!

Me: Go ahead and plug your websites, and when your next CD comes out this year can you come back on the Phile? 

Carrie: Thank you so much, Jason, and thank you for inviting me to be on the Phile. Yes, I would love to come back... give you some time to listen to the new music and we can chat about it! My website is: You can also find me on Radio Airplay, Facebook, Twitter... I'm all over the place!!!

Me: Thanks so much, and take care. I cannot wait for the new release. Will it have Move in the title?

Carrie: No, I think I'll stand still for awhile. Thanks again. Peace and love to you and your family.

Well, that about does it for this entry. Thanks to Carrie for a great interview. The Phile will be back next Sunday with artist Chris Hamer and then on Monday with singer songwriter Stephanie Sayers. So, spread the word, not the turd. Don't let snakes and alligators bite you. May the Force be with you, and remember... Strawberry Blondes Forever! Bye, love you, bye.


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