Monday, December 9, 2013

Pheaturing Alice BrightSky

As I walk through this wicked world, searchin' for light in the darkness of insanity. I ask myself is all hope lost? Is there only pain and hatred, and misery? Sorry, I have the song "What's So Funny About Peace Love and Understanding" stuck in my head. That's one of my favorite songs ever.  Hello, and welcome to another entry of the Phile on a Monday. How are you?  This is a weird story... A former employee of Victoria's Secret came clean about the store's supposed policy of targeting men who appear to feel uncomfortable around so much mesmerizing ladies' underwear and pressuring them into buying expensive items. "The general feeling about men is that they would buy anything in order to get out of the store a quickly as possible," the former employee explained. A Victoria's Secret shopping bag either means you just bought something sexy or you're a middle-aged mom bringing in leftovers to work. I've never been in a Victoria's Secret store... ever.  A woman in a Kansas City-location Kohl's department store was in the middle of trying on bras when she noticed a man filming her with his cell phone from beneath the dressing room curtain. She then proceded to run out of the changing area topless and chase the voyeur through the store, presumably for the length of time it takes for Boots Randolph's "Yakety Sax" to play in its entirety, after which point the man was abducted by police and the closing credits ended.  The Federal Register of the United States has been found to still use floppy disks for every day tasks, such as transferring the text of executive orders and presidential proclamations. When approaching members of this federal agency, people should be careful not to brandish cell phones or iPads, lest the government workers take the interloper for a demon and pummel him or her to death with staplers. You know, somewhere in my house there's a floppy disk lying around filled with pictures of boobs that I downloaded in the mid-90s.  Over the weekend, Lindsay Lohan had Paris Hilton's brother Barron beaten up at a Miami party for awful people, for the alleged offense of talking shit about her. No need to check the calendar on your phone; we are in fact living in the year 2013.  The war on Christmas is over. On Friday evening at KIIS FM's Jingle Ball concert at the Staples Center, Miley Cyrus used her skills as a holiday assassin and trained her sights directly on Christmas's general, one Santa Claus, and took him out with an upraised buttocks right to the mid-section. Fox News is presently in mourning for their favorite holiday. Here is a picture because if Miley Cyrus does something and there aren't pictures, do blogs make a sound?

To be fair, haven't we all kind of twerked Santa at one time or another? Sure, he's usually seated (drunk) and we have to climb up on his lap and do all the work, but a twerk is a twerk.  An old piece of notebook paper that Bruce Springsteen used to jot down the lyrics to his 1973 song "Born to Run" sold to an unnamed Sotheby's auction bidder for $197,000. If anybody has any information on this bidder, please let us know. I have all kinds of garbage lying around the office.  In the wake of Nelson Mandela's death at the age of 95, the country of South Africa is trying to figure out how it will handle the unprecedented influx of mourners who are expected to arrive for the civil rights leader's funeral. Which, if you think about it, is a much better problem to have than the one they had just a few decades ago.  The National Republican Congressional Committee is currently in the process of training GOP candiates how to not say the word "rape" every third sentence or ask female opponents how they got their husbands' permission to leave the house long enough to attend debates. Obama says House Republicans should be embarrassed by their record. It's a 1959 Pat Boone Christmas album. Haha.  Okay, you know Disney, the greatest company to work for in the Universe, promotes and sells the shit out of their products, right? Well, there's a new The Avengers product that just came out to also tie in with the latest Thor movie. Wanna see it? Kid's, don't look.

It's hammer time.  Hey, are you kids Star Trek fans? Well, here is a rare picture of the original cast with the uniforms that they almost wore on the show.

I think they all look pretty spiffy.  So, a Phile reader sent me this picture and said, "I don't know why everyone is going to see these at the movies. Walmart has all three VHS's in a box set for $28 dollars."

They don't even make VHS tapes anymore.  Okay, so, all through December I thought it would be fun to show you some creative Christmas ads. Why not, right? Here's another one.

Even Santa needs a break... so why not the day after Christmas. Have a break. Have a KitKat. All you need is a comfortable red armchair, a light stand and somewhere to put your beard away. I think that's pretty cool looking. Also this month I am showing you some geeky Christmas trees.

It's a stupid Facebook tree. That is so lame. Lame I say! Okay, now from the home office in Port Jefferson, New York, here is...

Top Phive Things Overheard During Joe Biden's China Visit
5. So, where is this "General Tso" fellow? I'd really like to meet him!
4. Hey, I bought a buttload of fireworks this morning... mind helping me load 'em into Air Force Two?
3. President Jinping: TEAR DOWN THIS WALL!
2. Man, I haven't seen pollution this bad since that time I followed Harry Reid into the Senate's men's room! God, that guy can blow it up!
And the number one thing overheard during Biden's China visit...
1. Question: Are ninjas you guys or Japan?

If you spot the Mindphuck email me at Okay, before I move on I have to correct something. Yesterday during the Phootball Talk With Jeff pheature I showed this picture...

I said it was Eli but afterwards Jeff informed me that it is actually Peyton Manning from a commercial. I am an idiot! This is the picture I should of showed instead...

There. I think that covers it. And I call myself a Giants fan... Haha. Thank you, Jeff, for correcting me. Okay, moving on... Black Friday was a mess this year, with some incredible stories. So, that's why I thought I would create a pheature telling you some of the most interesting ones, in case you didn't hear. So, here is a pheature I call...

Here is someone who won't be given a Father Of The Year award.

Haider Darwash, 34, was arrested on Thanksgiving after police say he left his infant son in his car while shopping at Best Buy in Waterford Lakes, Florida. Off-duty Florida Highway Patrolman Edy Rivera spotted the 2-month-old child asleep in a car seat at around 5:30 p.m., then went into Best Buy to find the car's owner. No one came forward. After about 10 minutes, Rivera smashed the window of the locked vehicle to get the child out. Shortly thereafter, Darwash identified himself as the boy's father, but said he thought his son was with his wife. Thankfully, the child suffered no injuries. Darwash was taken to jail and charged with felony child neglect. By the way, that's like an hour from here. I've been to that Best Buy. That has nothing to do with the story, but I thought I'd mention it.

The 28th book to be pheatured in the Phile's Book Club is...

Phile Alum and author of the book Stephanie Nakasian will be a guest on the Phile next Saturday.

What the hell? That's the ugliest graphic for a Peverett Phile interview I have used yet. I thought it'll be clever... it's a picture of a bright sky. Never mind. Anyway, today's guest is a talented singer whose new CD "Box of Me" is available on iTunes. She will next be appearing at Pianos in New York City on December 28th. Please welcome to the Phile... Alice BrightSky.

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

Alice: I'm very well, thanks.

Me: So, is that right, the 'S' in Brightsky should be a capitol letter? Is that something you did artistically or they way your name is really?

Alice: That is correct, the 'S' is capitalized. My husband and I created a new name when we got married in 2010. It's a combination of his former last name, Breitwisch, which is pronounced (bright wish), and my last name, Stopkoski. We took the Breit from his and the Ski from mine and tweaked it to be BrightSky. I always planned to keep my name, from the time I was a kid. Adopting someone else's family name just never made sense to me. As I contemplated marriage with my then boyfriend, now husband, I started wondering what name our children would take. When I looked around at my girlfriends who kept their names and had kids, it seemed they always gave the husband's name to them. So I proposed the idea of creating a new name to my husband and against all societal odds, he accepted! If I hadn't already known he was the one for me (which, of course I did), that would have eliminated any microscopic seedling of doubt on the spot. Ah, Amore.

Me: That's interesting. Your name sounds like it should be in a sci-fi movie or a fantasy book, Alice. Are you a science fiction fan?

Alice: No, but my husband is! Haha... he will love that. Actually I come from a family of: Carl Sagan, Kurt Vonegut, "Lord of the Rings" and those paperback 400 page novels found in the supermarket with crrrazy looking well-endowed "Under the Thunderdome" looking heroines on the cover, fans. But, I never caught the bug.

Me: Congratulations on your newborn. Did you have a son or daughter, Alice?

Alice: Thanks very much! I had a son. Calen BrightSky. He's the meaning of life. Totally crazy I've been traversing this world so long without him.

Me: I bet having a new baby has changed how you write songs, am I right?

Alice: It has, indeed. I used to write all about getting all tangled up in relationships... trying to detangle from the mess of infiltrating the wrong people's lives and letting them infiltrate yours. I don't have any of those experiences to draw from anymore and what's replaced them is the other side of the coin. I'm now inspired by all the byproducts of being in the right relationship, namely, my son. I'm new to this kind of songwriting though so it will take me some time to find my voice.

Me: You're based in New York, is that where you're originally from?

Alice: I'm from Sussex, New Jersey... a rural town in the foothills of the Poconos settled by Dutch farmers. I grew up with a lot of tall blonds.

Me: You've been a songwriter for awhile, Alice. When did you realize you wanted to make songwriting and performing a profession?

Alice: Well, I wouldn't really call it a profession in the sense of providing me a livelihood. I have a career in finance for that. That was a deliberate choice. I started songwriting in my teens and performing while in college. Though I would have loved to have been swept up by a record label early on, I had no desire to risk it all for music especially given the fact that I had other interests in the business world, which could provide a nice earning to support my music pursuits. So it's been a different path for me. As a result of having a career outside of music, it's taken me twice as long as it should to do most things related to my music but ultimately I'm getting where I want to go on both paths so I'm happy.

Me: Were you always a solo artist or did you start off in bands?

Alice: I've always been a solo artist but at times I was a solo artist playing in bands... if that makes sense. When I lived in NYC (roughly 98-2007) I never slept. I worked all day and shot off to rehearsals and gigs at night. I performed solo at open mics and small cafes, jammed with whoever was around and took every opportunity that came my way. I always had a dream of created a kick ass all female rock band so I took a few stabs at that but sadly it always fell apart. Not after garnishing a lot of excitement and recognition though which was the most dissappointing thing. It was so obvious how far a great band of talented young women who could really play would go but... alas it wasn't in the cards.

Me: Do you prefer writing or performing?

Alice: I love performing under the right circumstances. Performing for an appreciative crowd alongside good friends on the bill makes for my favorite thing to do in the world. Writing can be painful for me. It's something I have to do... its a compulsion. These ideas and emotions build up in me until they've got nowhere left to go but out. But it's not always a pleasant process. Performing is the fun part.

Me: Is your new album "Box of Me" your first release?

Alice: Surprisingly, yes. I've been writing, recording and performing for almost 2 decades and this is the first recording I've let go to the world.

Me: You started recording the album in 2006, am I right? Why did it take 7 years to come out?

Alice: A few reasons. First off, I wasn't recording full time but rather, in blocks of vacation days I had stored up from my job so that made the process drag out a bit. But the album was almost fully recorded and mixed by 2009 with the exception of one song, "Up Up and Away". The song had a lot of programmed parts in it but I decided that I needed real bass and a guitar solo so I took the tune to my friend Mike Savino who gave me a bit of a critique. He said the production was muddy and that he'd like to take a stab at re-recording it for me. I had been hiding from the fact that I wasn't happy with the song but once he called me out on it, I realized we had to fix it. So we re-recorded the tune and everything sounded great except for the guitar solo. Mike tried a bunch of ideas, I tried a bunch of ideas... nothing was working and we needed something. While searching for solutions I met my husband and little by little my attention to the song and the album started fading. Over the next three years I got married, bought a house in Westchester, changed jobs two times and suffered a neck injury that threw me for a loop. So... getting back to the album seemed almost impossible and I came close to letting it go entirely. In 2012, one random night, I played an open mic in Stamford CT and had the most amazing time. It reminded me that music is such an important part of my life and as if that's not enough, people really do like it. I realized what a shame it would be to give up on an album that was so close to being finished. So I brought the tune to yet another friend, Brandon Wilde, and he found an easy and elegant solution. We cut out the solo section, added some vocals a little ambient guitar and vuoala, it worked. With the song done I could proceed but still had mastering and artwork yet to do. Oh, and I was pregnant. So there was that. I started losing steam again until I thought about the example I'd set for my son if I didn't finish it. And that was enough to get me working around the clock to get it done, and I did. Finally.

Me: Wow. I've been doing this stupid little blog the whole time you have been working on the album. Haha. Now it's out, are you proud of it?

Alice: Well, I like your stupid little blog, haha. And, yes, I am extemely proud of it. Even though it was such a painful process towards the end and dragged out over many years.. I know that I didn't compromise and put something out that wasn't really right and as good as I could make it.

Me: So, what does the title refer to, Alice?

Alice: "Box of Me" is a reference to that box of memories we all keep tucked away somewhere on a shelf. The one that you only look through when you move from place to place or because you stumbled on it when clearing out the spider webs in the closet. It's full of pictures and half read books and love letters from 7th grade. For me these things were tokens of who I was before I spent years spinning in and out of and around all the wrong relationships.

Me: You took a hiatus from the music business in 2009. What did you do in the meantime?

Alice: I fell in love, got married, traveled, switched jobs and bought a house.

Me: Do you regret walking away from music?

Alice: Nope. It was the right thing for me to do at the time.

Me: I have to commend you, you came in third place in the Williamsburg Live Songwriting competition? Did you literally have to write a song on the spot? Hence the live part?

Alice: No. I didn't write the song on the spot. The contest called for song submissions a few months before the comp. They then notified winners of their selection and gave them a date to perform the song live in front of industry judges and fans. There were 3 rounds and I moved on through each, taking third place ultimately.

Me: What song did you perform and write for the competition, Alice?

Alice: Again, I didn't write it for the competition. I submitted it and then had to compete live performing that song. The song I performed was "Pry Me Away".

Me: Oh, I see. Lana Del Rey, who is having a successful career was also in that competition the same time as you. Did she win?

Alice: Ironically, she did not.

Me: Here's some trivia, my dad was Lonesome Dave Peverett from Foghat and when he was a kid he actually beat Elton John, who was Reginald Dwight back then in a local London talent competition. Anyway, did you get to know Lana? What do you think of her music?

Alice: Wow, that's interesting. I'll have to check out yer dad. Regarding Lana, I did get to know her. She was the only other woman who made it to the finals and I loved her music so we became friends. I lost touch with her a few years after the contest but wasn't surprised when I learned of her rise to fame. She's an astounding talent.

Me: What music did you listen to growing up and who were your influences, Alice? I hear some Tori Amos in your music... but with guitar not piano.

Alice: Joni Mitchell and Joan Baez were the women who made me want to be a singer-songwriter when I was in my early teens and I continue to love them today. Sinead O'Connor and Bjork really challenged my notion of what a songwriter had to sound like and Kristin Hersh made me realize that an acoustic guitar can rock as much as an electric one. Nick Drake opened my eyes to alternate tunings and Jose Gonzales really set me on the path to some hybrid finger picking styles. I liked Tori Amos too but never owned an album. I'd be lying if I said that Ani DiFranco wasn't influential. You simply couldn't be a girl with a guitar growing up in the 90s and not be influenced by her.

Me: Speaking of different music and bands, you opened for Ween? Where was this and how was that? They have a very different music style than yours.

Alice: It was kind of a fluke. Some years back, I played a festival in Pennsylvania outside of New Hope which is where they are from. They were the main act. Yes, very different music but very cool. 

Me: If you could record or open up for any band or musician who would it be?

Alice: Kristin Hersh, Damien Rice or Ray LaMontagne. Ideally, all three. What a great bill that would be.

Me: So, with all these years working on "Box of Me", are you going to start working on another album soon, or is this one gonna be your only album?

Alice: I'll definitely put out more albums. My husband and I are in the process of designing a recording studio on our property so I better make use of it!

Me: Okay, I have to mention something. I was looking at photo's of you and there's this really hot one of you sitting on a bed eating a donut. I have to show it here...

Me: I don't know why I think that's hot. I have to ask, was that donut planned, or did it just happen to be there?

Alice: Well, thanks, I think.. I took that shot of myself. I have this evil addiction to Dunkin' Donuts, the pink frosted ones in particular. I've been on the wagon for years but occasionally fall off again. This was one of those "off the wagon" days and I had to capture it. I wanted it to be a little silly, a little sexy, a little like "huh? is she eating a donut?".

Me: That should be on a Krispy Kreme or Dunkin' Donuts commercial, Alice. By the way, how come you didn't put a picture of yourself on the album cover?

Alice: I am so sick of seeing artist mug shots on the cover of their albums. I realize that it's important to have shots of yourself out there and for your fans to connect with your image but with the internet there are a million sites you can go to, to see my face. You don't need it on the cover of my album too. I just think that we've lost a bit of the mystery in music. With social media, all of our lives are so incredibly public that nothing is left to the imagination anymore. I wanted album art that was a little bit more intriguing, represented the songs more than the songwriter and kept a bit of the mystery.

Me: Okay, so, on the Phile I ask random questions thanks to Tabletopics. Are you ready? Oh, this is good. If you could have front row seats to any concert who would you like to see?

Alice: Silversun Pickups. They rock.

Me: Alice, thanks so much for being on the Phile. Please come back again soon, I hope this was fun. Go ahead and plug your websites and take care.

Alice: Thanks for having me! Website:, Twitter: @alicebrightsky, Facebook: alicebrightskymusic.

Me: Thanks, Alice. Come back again soon. Alice BrightSky, everybody!

There, that about does it for this entry. Thanks to Alice BrightSky for a great interview. The Phile will be back next Saturday with Phile Alum, author and jazz singer Stephanie Nakasian. Then on Sunday it's Derek Murray from the band Gifted Kings and Monday musician Chris Leigh. So, spread the word, not the turd. Don't let snakes and alligators bite you. Bye, love you, bye. Strawberry Blondes Forever!

No comments: