Saturday, February 25, 2017

Pheaturing Bob Hall

Good afternoon, and welcome to the Phile for Saturday. Congratulations to NASA on finding new planets we can ruin. I have some hot planet takes for you, people. Only the very best for my fellow earthlings, before we all decide to leave this planet behind forever.
ICYMI, NASA casually discovered seven new earth-size planets this week. They're out there orbiting a dwarf star named Trappist-1 that's 40 light-years away, just hanging out. The "New York Times" reports that "the orientation of the orbits of the seven planets allows them to be studied in great detail," which led them to identifying that "one or more of the exoplanets in this new system could be at the right temperature to be awash in oceans of water." WHICH MEANS PROBABLY THERE ARE ALIENS. "Are we alone out there? We’re making a step forward with this... a leap forward, in fact... towards answering that question," said astrophysicist Thomas Zurbuchen at the NASA conference on Wednesday.
Hey, ladies, now you can buy underwear with fake camel toe built right in. Yes, I'm confused, too. So apparently camel toe is a fashion trend of sorts in Asia, according to a website called NextShark. For anyone who doesn't know (is there anyone who doesn't know?), camel toe is what it's called when the shape of a woman's external genitals are visible through her pants. In general, visible camel toe a thing that women want to avoid, not draw attention to. But maybe that's all changing? This underwear has fake camel toe built right into it. Camel toe on top of camel toe. Hey, folks, CHECK OUT MY CAMEL TOE! NextShark reports that some retailers market the underwear to men who are trying to appear effeminate.

Wow, check out the camel toe on that lady! Maybe she's born with it... maybe it's FAKE CAMEL TOE. Now even if your actual genitals aren't up to the task of standing out awkwardly, you can get fake genitals in your underwear for enhancement. Like butt pads, but for your front!
Syrian Cinematographer Khaled Khateeb, whose film was nominated for Best Documentary Short, has been barred from attending the Academy Awards. U.S. Immigration and the Department of Homeland Security decided last minute to block Khateeb from flying into Los Angeles due to U.S. officials reportedly finding "derogatory information," according to the "Hollywood Reporter." The information on Khateeb came from an internal correspondence within the Trump Administration which was obtained by the Associated Press. Syria is one of the seven countries that was initially a part of Trump's travel ban (which was, in effect, a Muslim ban). The new draft of the revised immigration ban reportedly includes the same seven countries, so it appears that U.S. Immigration authorities are still on high alert for those entering the country from Syria. And while the new version of the travel ban doesn't strictly reject refugees entering the U.S. from Syria (as the last one did), the cap for the number of immigrations allowed into the U.S. over the entire year is so low that refugees will be turned away across the board very soon. According to "Fortune," Trump's refugee cap is 50,000, which is less than half of Obama's. And already this year we've taken in more that 35,000 refugees. That leaves only 15,000 spots over the next 10 months. Khateeb's movie, The White Helmets, is about the Syrian Civil War and the men who risk their lives to search for survivors in Aleppo. Given all of the above information about Trump's travel ban, it seems like no mistake that 21-year-old Khateeb has been targeted. While he had previously been issued a visa to attend the awards ceremony, "Turkish authorities detained him this week," THR reports, "and he suddenly needed a passport waiver from the United States to enter the country." The internal communications also made clear that Khateeb would not be receiving the required waiver. This news comes within 24-hours of news that several high profile individuals were detained, including Muhammad Ali Jr. and children's book author Mem Fox.
Meryl Streep is one of, if not the, most celebrated actress of our time, but her new wax figure at the Hollywood Madame Tussauds is definitely not getting any acclaim. Streep's wax figure was updated to match her 2012 Oscars look where she took home her third statue for playing Margaret Thatcher in the film Iron Lady, and something is undeniably off. This is what Meryl Streep looked like the night she won the award.

And this is Streep's scary new wax figure.

AH! That looks more like something out of House of Wax than a wax museum. There is something unsettling about wax figure, but it is hard to put your finger on exactly what. Is it the nose? The strangely furrowed brow? The scary, wide-eyed stare? Or D, all of the above. Meryl Streep and her wax figure should co-star in a horror movie. They would both probably get Oscar nominations from it. Speaking of Meryl Streep by the way... Considering that Meryl Streep not so long ago triggered a Trump Twitter meltdown with a speech at the Golden Globes, you'd think old men would think twice about tangling with her. Well, somebody tell that to Karl Lagerfeld. It seems Streep canceled a couture Chanel dress from Lagerfeld for the Oscars because she wouldn't be paid to wear it. Lagerfeld then went on the record as very sniffy about it, saying, "A genius actress, but cheapness also, no?" Streep's representative, however, then denied Lagerfeld's claim, stating that it's against the actress' personal ethics to accept payment for wearing someone's clothes. Then, Chanel itself undercut Lagerfeld's side of the story, telling the "Hollywood Reporter" that they engaged Streep in conversations "with the full understanding that she was considering options from other design houses" and were not told the reason that she decided to opt for a different dress. Sounds like Karl's on his own this time, then, though perhaps Meryl will be too taken with his "embroidered gray silk number" to pass up wearing it on the biggest night in Hollywood. Then again, she could go dressed in garbage bags and look great.
The 2017 Oscars are on tomorrow and what better way to spice up your viewing party than getting wasted? So line up those shot glasses, coat your stomach with chips and dip and be prepared to be too hung over to show up to work on Monday, because if this drinking game doesn't get you drunk, you are some kind of superhuman. 1) Whenever an actor uses their speech to make a political statement, take a shot. 2) Take a shot for every ugly dress you see. 3) Take a shot for each kid from "Stranger Things" that pops up randomly. 4) When Jennifer Lawrence says something... so quirky... on the red carpet, take a shot. 5) Whenever the Jimmy Kimmel makes a joke that doesn't land, chug through the cringey-ness. 6) Every time a movie you didn't get around to seeing wins, drink. 7) Whenever the camera pans to an actor who is not paying attention, take two shots. 8) Take a shot for every celebrity left out of the "In Memoriam" slideshow. 9) Any time an actor tells their kids to go to bed in their speech, take a shot while rolling your eyes. 10) Whenever Meryl Streep looks humble and slightly annoyed from an accolade, take a shot for every Oscar she's won. 11) If someone says Hidden Fences, just drown yourself in alcohol. Enjoy the Oscars, kids.
In an era of "fake news" and outright hatred for the media, storied newspaper "The Washington Post" has added a mission statement to the top of its website. Check it out...

Which is a little better than the original one they were gonna use...

Haha. I kinda like it. So, over the years people have called me "Pervert" instead of "Peverett" and I kinda got used to it. It's a lot better than some people's names.

Loser Phile actually doesn't sound too bad. So, you know the started to film the the Han Solo movie, right? Well, there's a new Chewbacca movie coming out and I have the poster for it here.

Looks good. It seems Disney, the greatest company to work for ever, is also cashing in on the success of La La Land, which I am sure will win something tomorrow.

I don't wanna see that film. It looks stupid. Speaking of stupid...

Hahahaha. That's so dumb. Hey, Trump signed a new executive order today. I wonder what it was.

Hey, I agree. Good job, Trump. Did you guys see the last X-Men movie? I did but there was something I think I missed in it.

Hmmm. Stupid. I mentioned the new "Washington P
ost" slogan and wondered if any other newspapers had unique slogans. And yep, they do.

Started in 1978, the "Aspen Daily News" proudly embraces its position as a muckraking, investigative newspaper with the motto: "If you don't want it printed, don't let it happen." (In other words, watch your back!) So, there's a lot of Trump products out there and not all are flattering. Like this one for instance, aTrump cat scratching post.

Okay, as you know I live in Florida and there's lot of stuff that happens in Florida that could happen no where else in the Universe. So, here once again is the pheature...

Muhammad Ali Jr., son of the late boxing legend Muhammad Ali, was detained for two hours at a Florida airport on Feb. 7th and asked about his religious beliefs. Gee, I wonder why? Ali is indeed Muslim, like his father was. He's also a passport-carrying American citizen without a criminal record... in no way does he violate the letter of President Trump's travel ban. Nevertheless, immigration officials at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport questioned him at length after he got off a flight from Jamaica with his mother, Khalilah Camacho-Ali, who was only allowed to enter the country because she had a photo of herself with Ali Sr. According to Ali Jr., he was asked questions including, “Where did you get your name from?” and “Are you Muslim?” The Trump administration has at times argued that their travel restrictions are not designed to weed out anyone according to religion."What right does the United States have to inquire about somebody's religion when they enter the country?" Ali family friend and former federal prosecutor Chris Mancini asked the "Miami New Times." "There was no other basis for a secondary inspection. This is an instance where the ban has been enforced even though it has been thrown out. The government is still trying to find grounds to keep Muslims out." That certainly seems to be the case. Luckily, at least so far, they don't seem to be very good at it. Okay, that didn't have a lot to do with Florida... but still.

Hahahahaha. That's an easy one. If you spot the Mindphuck let me know. Okay, so, the Oscars are tomorrow and for the last few weeks I have been giving you some Oscar facts for you to share at your Oscar party. So, here's one more...

Hattie McDaniel won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role in Gone With the Wind, making her the first African American to win an Oscar. She was also the first African American ever to be nominated and the first black person (who wasn't a servant) even to be admitted to the ceremony. On that night, Hattie McDaniel took a long walk from a segregated table in the back of the Coconut Grove in Los Angeles to accept the award.

Red carpet
The red carpet is just another thing celebrities walk all over in their undying quest for one more fleeting scrap of attention.

The 57th book to be pheatured in the Phile's Book Club is...

Author Shelly Ambrose will be a guest on the Phile next Sunday.

Today's guest is an English boogie-woogie pianist who has worked with Savoy Brown, John Lee Hooker, Chuck Berry and currently Lil' Jimmy Reed. Please welcome to the Phile... Bob Hall.

Me: Hello, sir, welcome to the Phile. I have been wanting to interview you here for such a long time. How are you?

Bob: Very good thank you.

Me: So, on the Phile in the past I have interviewed Kim Simmonds, Chris Youlden and Roger Earl who were all in Savoy Brown with you. When was the last time you saw any of those guys?

Bob: I saw Kim last year at the Edmonton Blues Festival where we were both on the same bill. He was looking fine and played exceptionally well. Haven't seen Chris or Roger for very many years although there have been vague discussions about Roger playing on the next Lil' Jimmy Reed album which so far haven't come to anything.

Me: Of course you were in Savoy Brown with my dad... when was the last time you saw him?

Bob: Hard to remember. Probably when we played together on the BBC. I don't think we met in Florida.

Me: Do you remember where and how you first met my dad. He was very quiet, right?

Bob: We first met in The Swing Shop in Streatham where your dad was accompanied by Harry Simmonds. They were both collectors and looking for new blues records.

Me: How did you find out he passed away?

Bob: I think on Facebook. Very sad, and my sympathies to you and your family.

Me: Thank you. I remember he did that radio show in London with you and Paul Jones doing a bunch of blues songs... Countdown to something the show was called. Do you remember that?

Bob: Yes, I do remember but the specifics are hazy. My son David played rhythm guitar but I don't remember the other musicians. I have a tape of the BBC recordings somewhere.

Me: I do to. What was that like? You guys didn't really rehearse, did you?

Bob: The session was in London, either Maida Vale or Broadcasting House and yes, there were no rehearsals!

Me: Are you still performing with Paul?

Bob: If you mean Paul Jones, not really. The Blues Band have asked me to sit in a few times in the last year but always something gets in the way and I haven't been available. I hope to do so again in future.

Me: Okay, I know you're from England, sir, but what part?

Bob: I'm a Londoner and spent all my formative years there up till age 45.

Me: Are you still living there now? 

Bob: No, my wife and I live in Yorkshire on the outskirts of Sheffield.

Me: How old were you when you first started playing piano?

Bob: Six.

Me: When did you first come to America and what was the first state you visited?

Bob: I worked for many years for a Bay Area company and at first all my visits were to San Francisco.

Me: What was your first impression of the states?

Bob: It seemed a bit like Disneyland, and just like the movies.

Me: So, you have been playing for a long time... does it ever get old?

Bob: No, it's what I do and what I am.

Me: What made you choose that instrument over any other?

Bob: My dad played piano and we had one in the house. I never really tried anything else until I took up the mandolin when I was in my twenties.

Me: You have influenced a lot of artists but who were you influenced by, Bob?

Bob: Mainly Clarence Lofton and Jimmy Yancey. Both primitive pianists but with a highly lyrical imagination.

Me: Do you prefer playing in the studio or on stage?

Bob: These are different things. On stage you get the energy of the audience willing you on and that is highly addictive. Recording is more like painting. You add layers of sound and aim for perfection (never achieved of course).

Me: You have done millions of shows with so many bands, and performers, Bob, do you have a favorite?

Bob: So many it's difficult to choose. The ones I remember most clearly are John Lee Hooker, Howling Wolf and Chuck Berry but that is because they were my heroes before we met. I've had equally good times with Savoy Brown, The Blues Band and my own Boogie Woogie Big Band (with Charlie Watts, Jack Bruce and Alexis Korner). Jo Ann Kelly was also amazing to work with.

Me: On the flip side of that do you have one you didn't like?

Bob: Not that I can think of. There are tough gigs but most musicians are good guys.

Me: Let's talk about some of the people you have played with, and bands... your first band was The Groundhogs, am I right?

Bob: I played in semi-pro bands but The Groundhogs were the first serious band I played with.

Me: How did that band get together and where did the name come from?

Bob: The band was originally called the Dollar Bills and featured a tenor player. The lead singer wanted to play harmonica so the tenor player was superfluous and they looked around for a piano player. The name change came about when backing John Lee Hooker and came from his Groundhog Blues. I never liked the name!

Me: Here in America we have Groundhog Day... I always thought that was a stupid day seeing if the Groundhog sees his shadow to see if we have six more weeks of winter. What do you think of that? Stupid, right?

Bob: I guess we didn't know about Groundhog Day.

Me: You left that band before they released any albums. Why did you leave?

Bob: I recorded with the band on it's first single for producer Mickie Most but that master has been lost. When the band got long tours with people like John Lee Hooker and Jimmy Reed I couldn't take enough time off from work so had to leave. It was an amicable parting and I sat in a few times over the next year or two.

Me: Then you went and joined Savoy Brown... who hired you for that band?

Bob: Kim and Leo invited me to join.

Me: Did you know Kim or his brother Harry before?

Bob: No, Kim and Leo just came round to my house and asked me to join the band.

Me: Were those guys easy to work for?

Bob: Yes, one of the very best bands I ever worked with. We were scuffling, as you do when you start up, but the camaraderie was great.

Me: What is your favorite album you played on with Savoy Brown?

Bob: "Blue Matter."

Me: You left the band before my dad, Roger and Tony Stevens did to form Foghat... were you surprised three members left at once? Why did you leave?

Bob: Had to leave because the band was moving to the states. I didn't find out for some time that your dad, Roger and Tony had moved on. I think they must have left in the states and news travelled back rather slowly in those days. I was sad to see them go as it was a great line-up.

Me: You have played with John Lee Hooker, Howlin' Wolf and Chuck Berry as well as so many blues greats. I have to ask, though, what was it like playing with Chuck? I have a pic I have to show of you and Chuck.

Me: Did you guys rehearse and was he cool?

Bob: There were no rehearsals, just a quick pep talk in the dressing room before the first gig. Chuck does not tell you what he is going to play or the key so you have to be quick-witted and really know his material. After the first talk he never spoke to us but on stage he gave us lots of space and appeared to enjoy himself. That tour was one of the highlights of my career.

Me: Is there anyone you played with that you were like I can't believe I'm playing with this guy?

Bob: Howlin' Wolf. He was the first real bluesman I heard and his music still mesmerizes me.

Me: Is there anyone who haven't played with but you wish you could? Like the Stones?

Bob: Bonnie Raitt. Her manager offered me the chance but I couldn't make it. I would have loved to play with the Stones but at least I got to play with Charlie and Ian Stewart.

Me: You were in Rocket 88 with Charlie Watts. When was this and how did this band come together?

Bob: The band was formed for a one-off date in Swindon to celebrate my leaving the company I worked for. In the end I didn't leave the company and the band continued on for some years. It was originally called the Bob Hall Boogie Woogie Big Band but the name was changed to Rocket 88 when Jack Bruce joined as he didn't think I was famous enough!

Me: Did you guys just tour or did you record with them?

Bob: We played a number of festivals, including the North Sea Jazz Festival, Amsterdam and the Olympiahalle, Munich. Our first gig in Swindon was recorded and an album came out on Black Lion as the Bob Hall Boogie Woogie Band which is still available on CD. We also recorded a live album for Atlantic under the Rocket 88 name.

Me: Does Rocket 88 still play?

Bob: No.

Me: By the way, here in Orlando in the 90s there was a rockabilly/swing band with the same name... but that's a common name, right?

Bob: Yes, I think Mitch Woods band on the west coast is called The Rocket 88s.

Me: So, who do you play with now, Bob?

Bob: A few duo shows with my wife Hilary Blythe, but mostly with Lil' Jimmy. Thinking of starting a new band with Ric Lee of Ten Years After and Pete Barton of The Animals.

Me: Do you play on Lil' Jimmy's "Blues in Paradise" album? That's a great album by the way.

Bob: Yes, I do and thanks. It was recorded on Big Pine Key where we have a home.

Me: What was the last recording you have done, Bob?

Bob: Just made an album on mandolin with Hilary called "Paradise Mountain," but the last blues album was that one with Lil' Jimmy.

Me: Okay, so, I love your style of boogie-woogie piano and was thinking of other piano players and while you are here I wanted to ask you what you thought of them... ready? Jools Holland.

Bob: I know him slightly and like him a lot. He has done a lot to popularize boogie woogie in the U.K.

Me: Okay, this is someone I am a big fan of and had him here a few times on the Phile... Chas Hodges from Chas & Dave.

Bob: Don't know him but he's a nice player.

Me: Okay, how about Jerry Lee Lewis?

Bob: Met him once and he was very kind. Superb performer.

Me: Elton John and Billy Joel?

Bob: Not my kind of thing!

Me: Bob Andrews from Graham Parker's band?

Bob: Not someone I know.

Me: Bob, it was truly an honor to have you here on the Phile... I have so many more questions to ask you. Ever thought about writing a book?

Bob: Two things stop me. I have a terrible memory and have never owned a camera so I have hardly any historical pictures.

Me: That's crazy. So, is there anything you'd like to plug?

Bob: It's a quiet time. Jimmy's album is selling well on Amazon and if anyone out there needs an old blues piano player just let me know! We'll be back in Florida in March.

Me: Bob, I can't thank you enough for being here. Please come back in the future again. All the best, take care.

Bob: You're welcome. All the best.

That's about it for this entry of the Phile. Thanks to Bob for a great interview. The Phile will be back Monday with the kids from the Canadian band Knifey. 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

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