Monday, July 22, 2013

Pheaturing Phile Alum Pete Donnelly

Hello, and welcome to the Phile. This is an exciting moment... Kate Middleton is in labor as we speak, making this a rare occasion in which a member of the royal family is doing something laborious. I'm British so I care. Does anybody else care? Kate has said if it's a boy, he'll have a popular British boys name. I'll look forward to the arrival of baby Mohammed. Australian radio DJs are readying a new tummy bug prank call to her while in hospital.  Also in England, Britain's parliament has passed a bill that would allow gay marriage. How about that? For the first time they are allowing gay marriage. If you thought royal weddings were big, just wait until the first gay royal wedding. Oh, my God. How fabulous will that be? The Queen said, "You know, it doesn't always have to be tea and crumpets. Sometimes it can just be two crumpets." Gay marriage is legal in the U.K. which is why Camilla asked Prince Charles, "So I can take off this dress now?"  The headquarters of the EPA was renamed in honor of Bill Clinton because of his dedication to protecting the environment. Or as Al Gore put it, "Are you kidding me? The environment? That's my thing."  There's no real news about NSA leaker Edward Snowden, he is still living at the Moscow airport. He's been there for about a month. He's scorned with no home to call his own. No safe harbor. It's like being an old George Clooney girlfriend. And here's how he stays in shape... he goes jogging every day on the baggage carousel.  Pope Francis is on summer vacation right now and apparently he's been spotted driving around in a Ford Focus. So I guess he takes that vow of celibacy very seriously.  Down in Texas Rick Perry announced he will not run for reelection. He said looked around and he said, "I executed one last woman, that fertilizer plant exploded, I returned abortions to back alleys where it belongs, my work here is done." I think that's what he said, he was chewing a crayon.  Well, as I said, gay marriage is legal in the U.K., and the Queen is excited about it.

Hey, did you see the new Viagra billboards? They're pretty clever.

Does anybody know where Belmullet is? I wanna go there RIGHT NOW. Take a look at this.

Someone look up where Belmullet is... please.  So, did you hear this? Boston Marathon Bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is on the cover of the latest issue of Rolling Stone and the magazine is being criticized for glamorizing a terrorist. But that's not the only magazine he is on the cover of.

My body looks like that. LOL. So, it's summer and all through summer I have been showing you some phascinating pools. Well, I ran out of pools to show you, so I asked you readers to send in some to me at And here we go...

There wasn't a description about this one, just it's Pamukkale pools located in Turkey. Weird. So, has the Royal Baby arrived yet? Nope, not yet. You know, as everybody is celebrating the poor Duchess is in the worse pain of her life. Ouch. Actually, I think having kidney stones is worse.

If you spot the Mind Phuck email me at

Alright, August is just around the corner and something important is gonna happen that month... Kick-Ass 2 is coming out. No, I mean something political and a phriend wanted to come on and talk about it. So, please welcome back to the Phile... Jon Carson, Executive Director for Organizing for Action.

Me: Hello, Jon, welcome back to the Phile. So, what's happening in August?

Jon: Every August, members of Congress head home to their districts for a few weeks of quality time with their constituents.

Me: And this year it'll be different?

Jon: Yes, this year, OFA is going to be there to greet them.

Me: How so?

Jon: Well, this won't be your standard welcome wagon... instead, we'll be there making sure they know where we stand on issues like immigration reform, gun violence prevention, climate change, Obamacare, and more.

Me: Okay, that sounds cool. Anything else?

Jon: Phile readers, make a pledge right now to be a part of Action August.

Me: I don't know about that... What do you want my readers to do?

Jon: Make calls both to our lawmakers and to other OFA supporters, to inspire them to take action, too.
Jason, are you an outdoorsy type person?

Me: Not really. Why?

Jon: If you're more of the outdoorsy type, we'll keep you in the loop on upcoming chances to send your message to Congress in person.

Me: What about if people don't have time to get there?

Jon: We'll have tons of ways to get involved from home. When you make a pledge, it's just saying you'll be a part of it. That's all I'm asking today.

Me: Is there anything else you want to say?

Jon: Commit right now to spend some time with OFA next month and let's have a little bit of fun while we're at it.

Me: Thank you, Jon. I am sure a Phile reader or two will pitch in.

Jon: Thanks, Jason.

Me: Alright, kids, pitch in to help the OFA.

Is that Royal Baby born yet? Not yet. I'm waiting for the announcement photo of Will, Kate and baby with John Terry lurking in the background.

Alright, today's pheatured guest is a Phile Alum and bass player, singer, songwriter and founding member of The Figgs. His second solo album, "Face The Bird" comes out in a few weeks and he'll be appearing next at Ortlieb’s in Philadelphia on July 25th. Please welcome back to the Phile one of my favorite musicians... Pete Donnelly.

Me: Hello, Pete, welcome back to the Phile, how are you?

Pete: Very good. Thanks!

Me: Alright, before we talk about The Figgs, I have to ask you about NRBQ. Last time you were here you were a member in that band, played on their album, and I was so excited. You're not in that band anymore, right?

Pete: That's right. I left the band just at the end of 2012. I was fortunate to make one LP, 2 live LPs and 2 45s with the band.

Me: What happened? Did you decide to leave?

Pete: It's hard to say, it was not easy. But playing in NRBQ is really a life's work. As incredible as it was to play and as tight friends as we all became, it became clear that I didn't have the necessary commitment to it. My life's gotten busier and busier... and I've really wanted to front my own band playing guitar and singing my own tunes, I realized I may not truly be able to give what a band like this needs. I am so honored to have been a part of it for as long as I was. Five years!

Me: Wow, I didn't know you were in the band that long. I am still waiting for Al Anderson to rejoin the band myself. Anyway, did you have a good time playing with Terry Adams while it lasted?

Pete: Are you kidding!? Of course. Terry's my hero. Scott, Conrad, these guys will always be a part of me. In the five years I spent playing with them, we all learned so much. I will be feeling the results of that stretch forever.

Me: Terry was supposed to be on the Phile, but I don't know what happened. Anyway, would you ever play with them again? 

Pete: I certainly would, and did recently sit in with them for about 2 hours. Playing bass, guitar, singing tunes... it was great!

Me: What about any other band, Pete? Is there one band you would love to be a member of?

Pete: I am ;) 

Me: Your main instrument is bass, right? But you also play guitar. What do you prefer?

Pete: Each has it's thing. Playing guitar is generally easier to lead a band with. You're giving lot's of content, where bass generally is supplying foundation. I'm certainly inspired by guitar right now. And playing guitar makes me a better bass player. it's all music...

Me: And you're from New York originally, but live in Pennsylvania now. How long have you lived in Pennsylvania and what made you decide to move there?

Pete: I live in Southern New Jersey. Very close to Philly. I've been here about 8 years and in the Philly area for 14 or so. It's a great place! Philly is a major us city with lots to offer but it's very easy to manage. there's tons of bands/clubs/studios here, and endless great neighborhoods.

Me: Alright, The Figgs! I recently interviewed Mike Gent on the Phile for the second time and we talked about the Figgs' anthology album "1000 People Grinning: The Figgs Anthology". He said he wasn't to keen on releasing a greatest hits album, or an anthology album. Actually, I will quote him 100%... he said, "I have always wanted to move forward instead of looking back, as far as record making is concerned. Pete thought it would be good to have a sampler for people who don't know the band." Did it take a lot of convincing to convince Mike that this album would be a good idea or did you just go ahead and do it?

Pete: It didn't take any serious convincing. Of course every project is more work than you think! We'd been toying with this idea for some time now. I just thought it would be nice to have something for folks who want to buy one record. I've never been against best of's etc... I was forever changed by "We Sold Our Soul for Rock and Roll".

Me: What did Pete Hayes, The Figgs' drummer think of it? I bet he was happy, as he wrote the title track.

Pete: Pete Hayes is the joy of existence. And that song is beautiful.

Me: So, are The Figgs gonna be recording a new studio album anytime?

Pete: I'm sure we will.

Me: I have to talk about Graham Parker as readers of the Phile know I am a huge GP fan, and I love that he put The Rumour back together for an album and tour. By the way, I interviewed both Martin Belmont and Brinsley and they both said good things about The Figgs. The Figgs got to open for GP and the Rumour on their comeback tour last year. How was that, after The Figgs played with GP for so many years.

Pete: It was great seeing GP with those guys. I was happy to be able to share some of that history. It felt like a big happy family doing those shows.

Me: Mike said he'd love to play with GP again, Pete. Would you as well?

Pete: Sure would. Graham's got songs forever. He always amazes me with his output. And his newer records are phenomenally good!

Me: You are currently working with your own band the Wise Easy. Where did that band name come from, and who is in the band?

Pete: It's one of those names that means something, or nothing really... the guys I'm generally playing with are lifer's. Because they have so much knowledge/wisdom about music, they make everything easy.

Me: Who are the Wise Easy?

Pete: Fred Berman (Amos Lee) or James Balga (the Excerpts, Botswanas), Tony Reyes (TLC, Cee-Lo Green).

Me: You're about to release your second solo album called "Face the Bird", am I right? How is that album going?

Pete: Man, the last 10% is always the hardest. I was trying for a late April release but it's officially going to be August 20th. But as of now I'm shipping them out the door.

Me: And you were cool enough to send me a copy. Who is playing on the album with you? Mike played on your last solo album "When You Come Home", is he gonna be playing on this new album as well?

Pete: He's not, it's mostly Fred, James, Tony and myself. Some other folks are on it as well. Jim Boggia, Shelby Lynne...

Me: I mentioned NRBQ and GP, who you worked with, but there's someone you worked with that I was surprised... John Legend. His music seems so different then anything you've done. When and what did you do with John?

Pete: Well, that's one of those session guy things. I know a producer, Dave Tozer, who works with John a lot and he had hired me a couple times to work on John's records. I've played on, and produced, all kinds of records at this point.

Me: I mentioned to Mike that I like how The Figgs released some of their albums on vinyl. Do you think vinyl is making a comeback?

Pete: Well, it's certainly cool to me, and people have been buying it. It is still very niche but at least it's gaining some interest. I don't like how it's so expensive. they used to be 7 or 8.99. Now they're like 20-30 bucks.

Me: Do you prefer vinyl over downloads or CDs?

Pete: I have never had an iPod... not true, I've never used an iPod, honestly I've just never made the leap. I do love the accessibility of music online for many reasons but nothing beats putting on records and engaging with the physical world. I prefer not to see any TV/computer/device screens when music is on. But really I don't care too much what the medium is. I do have an issue with how often we hear very low quality versions of music. On Sirius, or any of those stations, the music is often swishing and sounds like crap. I can't believe people aren't asking for refunds. All the time, on so many sites, you hear music swishing and swirling now. It's worse than cassettes!!

Me: Good point. Alright, Pete, so this year on the Phile I am asking random questions thanks to Tabletopics. But I thought with you I would ask you the same question I asked Mike. If you were offered a seat on the space shuttle would you take it?

Pete: I have always wanted to float in space, to feel no gravity, not sure I could take the G-forces though... I'd probably toss!

Me: Thanks for being back on the Phile, Pete. Come back when your next release comes out. Take care.

Pete: Thank you, Jason. Cheers!

Me: "Feel the Bird" is a great album. Get it when it comes out in August, kids.

That about does it for this entry, kids. Thanks to Jon Carson and of course Pete Donnelly. The Phile will be back next Saturday with Phile Alum Holly Elle, then on Sunday it's Will Hinkle from the band L.M.I. and Monday the return of Jeff Cameron on the Phile. Spread the word, not the turd. Don't let snakes and alligators bite you. Bye, love you, bye. Strawberry Blondes Forever!

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