Sunday, November 23, 2014

My Phorty-Sixth Birthday Special Entry Pheaturing Phile Alum Chris Nelson

Hey there, and welcome to My Porty-Sixth Special Entry. Yes, today is my birthday. I'm old enough to remember what it was like to poop without a smartphone. You know, if I was Jesus, today would be Christmas. I'm 46 but I still feel like I am 26, until I hang out with 20 year olds, then I'm like, nope never mind, I'm in my forties. Birthday's are weird... I'm celebrating the day my face rubbed my mother's vagina. I'm just saying. You might be wondering why the logo has a sepia tone today... well, it's old as well. Haha. That's so stupid. What else is going on in the news apart from me?Congressional Republicans are extremely angry with President Obama for using his executive powers to unilaterally overhaul immigration in the United States and allow four million undocumented workers to begin the process of becoming legal residents without fear of deportation. "With this action, the president has chosen to deliberately sabotage any chance of enacting bipartisan reforms that he claims to seek," said House Speaker John Boehner who has shown on multiple occasions that he has no intention of enacting bipartisan reforms with the President. John Boehner's immigration comments, summarized: "JUST BECAUSE WE WOULDN'T DO ANYTHING DOESN'T MEAN HE GETS TO DO SOMETHING!!"  Straight people would be a lot cooler with gay people being gay if only their gayness could be a little less gay, according to a new study from the American Sociological Review. The numbers show that 95 percent of Americans are fine with seeing a happy couple exchange a kiss on the cheek in public, so long as there is one, and only one, penis between the two of them. Seventy-two percent of respondents were okay with seeing public displays of affection between lesbians, but only 55 percent were down with seeing PDAs between gay men. I just thought of a funny joke... what did the gay cowboy say to the ball of yarn? I wish I knew how to quilt you! Haha. That joke cracks me up every time.  House Republicans passed a bill earlier this week that would make it illegal for scientific experts to participate in "advisory activities" with agents of the Environmental Protection Agency, lest they cast a dark science spell of conservationism upon the helpless government workers. Republicans are going to go after the EPA. Because what's ruining America is Big Hey Pick That Up. The National Wildlife Federation published a blog post recently in which they advised citizens to leave fallen leaves on the ground where they fall. "If you rake up and throw away all of your leaves this fall, you'll be getting rid of these beneficial and often beautiful insects too. Remember, butterfly and moth caterpillars are a critically important food source for birds in the spring when they are feeding their babies," the post explains. The post offers many more benefits to watching "Trailer Park Boys" on Netflix instead of raking leaves, as if you even need to read them. I don't rake leaves. I let their strewn corpses litter the yard as an ominous warning to other invading plant life.  Do you kids share music? Well, back in my day we did that a little bit different.

I wish I knew what record that was.  Well, as you know I'm a big Star Wars fan and they revealed an exclusive picture of a new character. Wanna see it?

Tupacca! Haha. You know, if I made Star Wars, I would have a scene like this in it...

And yes, that is Carrie Fisher.  So, as it's my birthday I thought I would show you a picture of what I pretty much looked like forty or so years ago.

Wasn't I a cute kid? Haha.  We are used to receiving presents on our birthday, but on his 81st birthday, business owner Bob Moore was the one who gave out a present, and not just any present; he gave his whole company to his employees! In 2010, the owner of Bob's Red Mill Natural Foods unveiled the "Employee Stock Ownership Plan" to his 209 employees on the day he turned 81. They now own the place and its 400 offerings of stone-ground flours, cereals, and bread mixes. The precise worth of the company is unknown, but in 2004 that year's revenue was estimated at more than $24 million, while a company news release from 2010 stated that the company had chalked up an annual growth rate of between 20 to 30 percent every year since. Nice. If only Disney did that.  Okay, so, you know I live in Florida, I have done for the last twenty-seven years... well, a lot of interesting stuff happens in Florida and nowhere else. That's why I have a pheature called...

Drunken, blue haired Gabriel Harris just wanted to get some snacks for himself and his lady at a New Smyrna Beach, Florida Taco Bell, and ended up getting himself arrested. He went through the drive -thru on his bike, which I guess is a no-no, but he didn't have any option because the restaurant had already closed for the night at 3am. Harris got there at 3:10am. According to the Daytona Beach News Journal, Harris and his woman friend Sarah Haliburton prevailed upon the staff to serve him anyway, but were refused due to a lack of automated vehicles. Maybe it was a safety issue, but certainly if they can serve a hot sauce that can clean the tarnish off a penny, they can serve a drunk dude and his drunk girlfriend some food to help them sober up enough to realize they're desperate for Taco Bell. Harris refused to leave the drive-thru, so the police were called, but they didn't charge either bicyclist with anything until one officer noticed a swiss army knife hanging off Harris's belt loop. The cop reached for the knife, Harris grabbed the officer's wrist, and the next thing Harris knew he was on the ground, cuffed, with a gash on his forehead. Harris was arrested on a charge of resisting an officer with violence, and posed for what I think every mugshot should look like.

Maybe live a little less mas.

Okay, so you spot the Mindphuck? If you do, let me know. Alright, he's a singer, patriot and renaissance man, you know what time it is.

Good morning humans... 16 years ago today, the greatest man I've ever known left this place. My hero... my best friend... my father. This world deserved more than 56 years of this man's life. I miss and honor him every day of my life. Sitting in a pub, minding my own and this wannabe tough starts giving me the stink eye. Him: Whatchu doin' here dressed like that? Me: Waiting for your sister to show up, I could use a blow job. Him: You talk pretty tough for a guy by himself. Me:... sigh... are you carrying a gun? Him: No, why? Me: Because, if you're not out of my sight in fifteen fucking seconds... you'll wish you had been. Him: Ooooooooo... I'm SO scared. I pulled back jacket to reveal shoulder holster and .45 Me: You should be. Suddenly he didn't wish to chat with me anymore.

Marion Barry 
March 6th, 1936 — November 22nd, 2014
Anyone else wanna take a crack at writing a funny obituary?

The 30th artist to be pheatured in the Phile's Art Gallery is Winged Warrior Chrissy Albertson and this is one of her pieces...

I love it! Chrissy will be a guest on the Phile tomorrow.

Okay, today's guest is a Phile Alum whose new album "Once in a Blue Mood..." is available on CDBaby. Please welcome back to the Phile... Chris Nelson.

Me: Hello, Chris, welcome back to the Phile. It's been almost two years since you were here. How have you been?

Chris: I'm good. has it really been two years? Time flies, doesn't it!

Me: Yeah. So, do you still do the Sound Off For Vets shows? That was a really cool thing you put together, Chris.

Chris: I want to, but I've hit on a few stumbling blocks, so I'm not sure how I'm going to approach this. Also, I don't have as much time as I used to in order to plan and coordinate these things. I'm not sure what I'm going to do. We lost our venue a few years ago due to government cutbacks, I tried to use another venue in the Harrisburg area, but there were unforeseen complications which derailed the whole thing. I'm open to suggestions, if anyone has any.

Me: You were living near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania am I right? Are you still living there?

Chris: Sure am! It's been over ten years since we moved here now. This was supposed to be a temporary place until we found a house, now I consider it to be temporarily permanent.

Me: I first met you through Tish Meeks from 3 Kisses. Have you heard from her lately? I believe she is working on some new music. Speaking of, any new bands you're into or anybody you think I should have on the Phile?

Chris: Occasionally, I see her posts on Facebook, but I have not communicated directly with her. I know she was putting another band together, but haven't heard anything else recently. I only get online once a week these days. I just sent her a message to find out.

Me: Okay, let's talk about your new album "Once in a Blue Mood..." I love puns, Chris. Did you come up with the title of the album?

Chris: Yes, and I love a good pun, too! This album is exploring different varieties of blues, so I thought that would be appropriate. Blues has influenced all types of music, especially rock which can be considered an offshoot of blues.

Me: I expected a downright blues album but only one song is really the blues, the others are cool rock songs. You were influenced by the blues though, right?

Chris: Absolutely! Steve Miller is primarily a blues guitarist, Led Zeppelin fused heavy rock with the blues, and even the Beatles experimented with blues. It permeates American rock music like an underground river. Most of the songs follow the basic blues principles of four bars (even though a lot of rock songs do that, too) only the instrumentation changes. The two songs that I would consider to be "traditional" blues songs are "Rainy Morning Blues" and "Treadmill." In fact, "Treadmill" was my first attempt at writing a traditional blues song. "Chains Of Gold" is blues in the style of Robert Cray; heavy guitar influence, but still using the four bar concept. There's also a lot of call-and-response between the guitar and vocals.

Me: Did you listen to a lot of blues growing up?

Chris: I was listening to rock musicians influenced by blues. Ironically, I couldn't stand the blues when I was a kid. I used to skip over the Zeppelin blues tracks. Except for "Dazed and Confused." Later on, I found myself more drawn to the blues. I have listened to XPN radio's blues program a few time and enjoyed it. I have even the found the really old blues tracks from the 30s enjoyable now. It must be an age thing. I just one day found myself wanting to play the blues more than I used to.

Me: I saw that you got some press for it in Finland, Chris. That's really pretty crazy. That must make you feel good when that sorta thing happens, right?

Chris: Oh yeah! I have no idea what they were saying, since I don't understand Finnish, but it's really cool to see the album title in a Finnish newpaper clipping. Stani Steinbock, who played the kantele on that track sent word out through his distribution list and word got around.

Me: This album has sixteen songs on it. It took you about two years to out together. You must be so glad it's done, right?

Chris: Very much so. I wanted to make a really good quality record and I think I did that. I've listened to some of the commercial recordings after listening to this album and I think the production quality can hold its own. Part of the struggle, however, was time. It takes a lot of time to put all this down and there were other things in my life that were tugging at me while I was putting all this together. I had to steal moments in order to get this thing finished. These were songs on the original lineup that didn't make it. In fact, there were about three different versions of the lineup before what actually is on the album was developed. There were some casualty songs, as well, which I'll be going back working on some time in the future.

Me: Did it take you awhile to write the songs, Chris?

Chris: A few took a while to write, others just sort of appeared. A few of them were already completed and I had been playing them live when I was playing my live acoustic shows. "Dodecahedron" was actually recorded before I began recording the "Invisible Man" album in 2011, but I re-recorded the drums and added a few things to it. I would have liked to have had a kantele solo, but I understand that is not really feasible, the way the instrument is set up. The one that took the longest to write was "Winter Song." I started that one back in the 90s and got called away for something and the words wound up in a folder somewhere. I had a full verse and a chorus competed, but lost my train of thought. I finally completed it years later and used to play that in my live show during the winter. Other songs just magically appeared in my head like "Chains Of Gold" and "Move On." In fact, I made room just so "Move On" could be on the album. I also bumped a song off the lineup so "Chains Of Gold" had room, but then I added it back later on.

Me: Do you play pretty much all the instruments yourself?

Chris: Yes. Sometimes I get in over my head with that, especially with the piano. There are some things I just can't do with it. I'm learning, though! It was nice when I had a band, but this arrangement is what is best for me right now.

Me: I think on a previous album of yours you had your daughters sing background. They sing on this one as well, am I right?

Chris: My daughter Julie sang backing vocals on the end of "Through That Door" on my first album. This was the first time I could get both of them to sing on a record. Both Julie and Rachel are on "Dirty Little Secret" and I think their voices really make the track shine.

Me: I have to ask you about a few songs on the album... you have a song called "Dodecahedron" which you mentioned... what does that mean? It's an instrumental song which doesn't help explain it. Haha.

Chris: That's an instrumental that I believe is the first-ever appearance of a cantle... a Finnish folk instrument and their national symbol, in a rock song. My friend Stani Steinbock, who lives in Aaland island, Finland, played the kantele on this track. It started as a discussion about the instrument after listening to some of Stani's music. The instrument has a very unique tone to it, only the dulcimer sounds close to it. The problem is it has a very limited range, the notes being G, A, B, C, D, or G, A, Bb, C, D. I tried to work within those guidelines and wrote a tune that stayed roughly within that range and sent it to Stani, who then re-tuned the kantele to stay in key. He had to get extra-lightweight strings, but everything worked well in the end. He sent me the tracks of him playing, and I placed them into the recording and added the other instruments, working from the original demo. It was a lot of fun and a great experience. Stani had a good time with it, too. He's already told me how glad he is to have been a part of the project.

Me: And another song is called "Chuck Norris." Are you a big fan of his, Chris? I only saw one Chuck Norris movie and that was The Expendables 2, which wasn't really a Chuck Norris movie.

Chris: He's made a total of 26 movies, I think. Some of my favorites are Lone Wolf McQuade, Code Of Silence, An Eye for an Eye, Hero and the Terror, Firewalker, Hellbound, and Invasion: USA.  I also have the entire "Walker: Texas Ranger" series on DVD. So, yes, to answer your question, I'm a HUGE fan. I wanted to honor him with a song about his movies and the line "I'd like to be Chuck Norris, but I can only be myself" started the whole idea in motion. The third verse is made up of mostly Chuck Norris movie titles. I kinda borrowed the idea from Adam Ant, who's song "El Ranchero" is made up almost entirely of Clint Eastwood movie titles. When "Chuck Norris" was competed, I actually emailed a link to the song to Chuck Norris. I never heard anything back, but at least I tried. I hope he got the chance to hear it.

Me: I love the song "Chains of Gold". Tell the readers what that song is about, Chris.

Chris: We all have to work to earn some kind of income and you find yourself making sacrifices in order to keep earning that paycheck while you kid yourself that you'll one day have enough money to live worry free. Unfortunately, that is an unattainable goal for most people. I hope to make a music video for this song when I have the time. I have an idea, now I just have to do it. I can't believe the popularity of this song. I wasn't even sure it would be a single until people started playing that one a lot. I thought it would be considered too bluesy for most of my listeners. they never cease to surprise me.

Me: I have to ask you what those buttons say on the guitar strap on the CD cover.

Chris: Well, I just brought my guitar up from the basement so I could see for myself! Those buttons have been on there for... well, they've been there for over twenty years. In order, from top to bottom: 1. Pink Floyd (from "The Wall"). 2. A button with the saying "I'm nearly famous." 3. A square button with the saying "Rock and Roll Forever" looking down the neck of a bass guitar. 4. A Sex Pistols button. 5. A flying V guitar. 6. A button with the saying "You're ugly and your mother dresses you funny." 7. A button with the label from side 2 of the European release of Led Zeppelin's "Presence" album. 8. A picture of a baby in boots and the saying "Komm mit zum wandern" which is German for come walk with me. It's a volksmarch button. 9. A button which changes depending on how you look at it that says "Is that a mask or is that your real face?" 10. A one-of-a-kind button made for me by a friend with the same logo as the "worms" had on their jumpsuits in Pink Floyd's movie "The Wall" As I said, I've had a lot of these buttons almost as long as I've had this guitar.

Me: Wow. And what kinda guitar is that you are holding on the cover? Is that your favorite?

Chris: It is an Aria Pro II copy of the Gibson 335. It has a very mellow sound and it was the only electric guitar I had until about 10 years ago when I got my Ibanez. I think this guitar is suited for the blues. I used this one for the break in "Chains Of Gold" among others.

Me: Do you prefer electric or acoustic, Chris?

Chris: They all have their own sounds and some sounds are more appropriate than others for certain songs. If I had to choose, I'd have to say electric. I like the power that it can convey, however, an acoustic can also convey power if it is in the right suroundings. Think of the opening to the Who's "Pinball Wizard" or anything from Days of the New or Tantric.

Me: So, have you been writing any new songs lately?

Chris: I have written a few songs, here and there, but not very much recently. Most are just undeveloped ideas. I haven't had a lot of time to spend on developing them. There is another project that I have been working on and off for the past year, a novel that is written in music. I'm not sure I want to call it a concept album or musical theater, but essentially that's what it is. It's about a family of five who have been very close over the years who's children are all growing up and moving out on their own. Everyone has to make adjustments and some will need to learn to accept the new order of things. Music is a good way to tell this very emotional story. I still have more to do with it before it's ready for prime time, but it is something I've never done before. I have never even tried to approach a story like this in my writing, either! There are two songs which are outtakes from this project on "Once in a Blue Mood." I'm also interested in working on other people's songs. I need to find more inspiration and working with other people is a good way to find new approaches to the music. Id like to work with both other songwriters and other musicians. I plan to spend the next year on collaborative projects to try to help me regain my musical perspective. Right now, I'm working on a song by Jack Trudel, a songwriter in California. I've been covering some of his songs off-and-on for several years now. This current track is an experiment with dance music, so it is a departure for me. It also marks my first successful attempt at programming a drum machine!

Me: I have a music project called Strawberry Blondes Forever which I wrote the lyrics for. You should cover one of our songs. I think you would do a good job on them. What do you think?

Chris: Sounds good to me! I love "Bicycle of Oppression" that has a lot of attitude. I'd have to listen to the whole album again in order to figure out which one to do.

Me: I want to put together a Foghat tribute album... if you were do do a Foghat song, what would it be?

Chris: "Slow Ride" I could really jam to that one. Of course, "Fool For the City" was one of the first songs I learned to play on the guitar, but I'll go with "Slow Ride," for sure. If you do this, I'd like to be included on the project. Foghat was a big part of the soundtrack of my youth!

Me: I'd probably get you to do "Fool..." So, you should send me some music and I will see if I can put lyrics to it. What do you think?

Chris: I'm working on it! Once I have this recording I'm working on done, I'll work on a demo for you. I'm slow, but steady. It'll be in a few weeks.

Me: Alright, I don't know if I did this last time you were here but I am asking trivia questions thanks to Tabletopics. Ready? What do you think is the ideal age? That's a pretty stupid question.

Chris: Well, I think everything was better when I was 36. I seemed to be in tune with everything going on around me and I felt like I was connected to something. I don't really feel like that anymore. It sucks being old.

Me: Tell me about it. Chris, thanks so much for being back on the Phile. Is there a website you'd like to mention?

Chris: you can find a link for a free download of my album on Bandcamp... and join my email list, too! Hear some of Stani Steinbock's music on ReverbNation. He's recorded a bunch of tunes with the kantele: This is a new album by the Dirty Thieving Gypsies and it's one of the best new records I've heard in a long time! You must hear this!

Me: Great job, Chris. Take care, and please come back soon.

That about does it for this entry of the Phile. Thanks to Laird Jim and Chris Nelson, and all who sent me birthday well wishes. The Phile will be back tomorrow with artist Winged Warrior Chrissy Albertson and then on Wednesday with Phile Alum Kirk Waldrop. And a week from today it's singer Barbara Lusch. So, spread the word, not the turd. Don't let snakes and alligators bite you. Bye, love you, bye.

Not if it pleases me. No, you can't stop me, not if it pleases me. - Graham Parker

No comments: