Sunday, May 14, 2017

Pheaturing Phile Alum Doris Brendel

Hello, welcome to the Phile for a Sunday. Happy Mother's Day! I hope your Mother's Day is more pleasant than your labor was. Let's start with a story that's about something bloody gross.
A bloody, gooey monster washed up on an Indonesian island on Wednesday, shocking locals and entertaining the Internet. Look at this thing!

Ew! The creature is believed to have been dead for three days upon discovery. Indonesia's Marine and Coastal Resources Management said that it is likely to be the carcass of a humpback whale, and residents of Seram Island have called on the government to help clear the goo. The whale carcass attracted the attention of marine biologists across the world. Nikolay Kim, Deputy Head of the Forecasting department of the Sakhalin Research Institute of Fisheries and Oceanography, believes it is a dolphin. He told "The Independent," "Judging by the appearance of the head, this is clearly some big dolphin. According to a characteristic of the skin, it is a rare species. I doubt that it lived in our waters. Most likely, the animal was brought by the warm current." I'm not a marine biologist, but my money's on "grown up blowfish."
As if going to the bank isn't bad enough already, a young woman named Jamela Mohamed was publicly humiliated and subject to a racist, xenophobic tirade at a Sound Credit Union in Kent, Washington last week. Mohamed, who is Muslim, was observing Jummah (also known as Friday prayer) so she entered the bank wearing a hood to cover her head, which she was told to remove, she explains on Facebook. She says she complied and went to her car to put on her traditional hijab. When she came back (the woman wanted to make a damn car payment!), she was ignored. So she asked a bank teller for help and he said, "it should be no issue" and summoned his supervisor. Boy was he wrong about it being "no issue." Next, an angry white lady (the supervisor) comes out and starts yelling and berating Mohamed without provocation and threatening to call the cops if she wouldn't remove her "hood." Mohamed recorded the incident and shared the video on Facebook, including footage showing three white customers at the bank near her, all wearing hats and being served with zero problems (even though the bank claims to ban both hoods and hats). In the emotional end of the video, Mohamed breaks down and cries in her car, saying, "I feel so embarrassed right now." The post has been shared nearly 8,000 times since she posted it on Friday and received thousands of comments supporting her. Many are calling out the bank, as well as the passive bystanders, for allowing this to happen. In more hopeful news, the bank's Facebook page has been flooded with complaints about the incident. This bank teller should've been fired last week. If you don't think America has a huge racism problem, maybe other reports of incidents of bigotry and racism will wake you up. Seriously, America. Get your shit together.
Two fifteen year old black students at a mostly white charter school in Malden, Massachusetts could be suspended from school because they dared to wear their hair in braids, the "Boston Globe" reports. Uhhh excuse me, WHAT? The twins' mom, Colleen Cook, said her daughters Maya and Deanna, who go to the Mystic Valley Regional Charter School, were both given multiple detentions for showing up to school with their hair in braids and refusing to take them out. They now could face suspension, the "Globe" reports. The girls' braids are against the school's dress code because they have extensions, which are reportedly not allowed. Also not allowed at this school: unnatural hair color, makeup and nail polish. Cook told the "Globe" that the policy regarding hair extensions is unfair because it disproportionately affects black students. "They teach them at a very high academic level and I appreciate that, and that's why they go to the school," she said. "But, unfortunately, they don't have any sensitivity to diversity at all." The K-12 school has about 1,500 students, the majority of them (53.4%) are white, 17% are black, 17.2% Asian, 7.8% Latino and 4.4% who identify as multiracial. Despite the media backlash, the school is defended its policy by arguing that hair extensions are banned because they "tend to be very expensive." The school's statement reads, "Our policies, including those governing student appearance and attire, foster a culture that emphasizes education rather than style, fashion, or materialism. Our policy on hair extensions, which tend to be very expensive, is consistent with, and a part of, the educational environment that we believe is so important to our students' success." Cook, the girls' white adoptive mom, criticizes the school for singling out the black children. "All the little black children were marched down for a hair inspection, whether they had braids or not, and asked 'are those extensions?'" she said. This school's policy may have been well-intentioned, but it also plays into a long history of white people messing with, controlling, appropriating, misunderstanding and, yes, even touching black women's hair.
On the same day a Kentucky doctor was notoriously dragged off a United Airlines flight a month ago, another passenger was having a nightmare experience with the same airline. As if you needed another reason to take the train. A Kansas City ER nurse named Nicole Harper was on a United flight home to Houston with her family when she became a member of the fast-growing Mile High Misery Club. The mom-of-two, who has an "overactive bladder," wrote in a Facebook post that she was forced to pee in a cup and then publicly shamed by airline crew, who had refused to let her use the bathroom on the flight. Oy. "After explaining that I have an overactive bladder and would either need to use the restroom or pee in a cup, I was handed a cup by flight attendants," she wrote. "Bad enough? No, crew then escorted me to the restroom (now it’s safe to get out of my seat), shaming me down the aisle while other passengers overlooked." She also claims that the airline crew was "allowing other passengers to get up and use the restroom on a seemingly uneventful flight" and that a man in first class "walked right by a smiling flight attendant and entered the bathroom" after she had been told she wasn't allowed to and had already peed in the cup. "What!?!?! Was I on candid camera?" she wrote. Harper added that while peeing in a cup wasn't a ton of fun, "the way I was treated by the flight attendants afterwards was [even] worse." She says the staff was "absolutely horrible" to her and her family the rest of the flight, and that when she tried to file a complaint after, there was "absolutely no customer service." "I asked to speak with customer service several times and was told repetitively this was not an option," she wrote. "They said they had not received my complaint" United says that the incident occurred "on descent" when passengers are required to "remain seated with the seat belt fastened per FAA regulations." They also insist that Harper was never told by flight attendants to "use cups instead of the lavatory," KCTV reports. This is the statement from the airline, "Customer safety is always our first priority. Initial reports from the Mesa Airlines flight attendants indicate that Ms. Harper attempted to visit the lavatory on descent and was instructed to remain seated with the seat belt fastened per FAA regulations. At no point during the flight did flight attendants suggest that Ms. Harper use cups instead of the lavatory. We have reached out to Ms. Harper to better understand what occurred." Given United's track record, I am inclined to believe this woman. Taking the Amtrak train has never seemed more appealing. They let you use the bathroom whenever the hell you want. I hope so anyway.
Alright, so, as you know it is Mother's Day and I was wondering... Are you planning to thank your mother for giving you life this Mother's Day? Stop being such a boring disappointment, and thank her for one of these original things instead. Your mom has given you so much more than life... so why do you always spend Mother's Day just thanking mom for giving birth to you? Here is an original original thing your mom gave to you that you can thank her for this year.... Your sense of constant, crushing anxiety. Your mom did a great job worrying about things that would never, ever be a problem... and she did such a great job at passing that lesson on to you. Thank her for that time she stopped you from talking to the mailman because she thought he could be a child molester, or all the times she turned the car around on vacation just to make sure the house was locked, or that special time when you were three and she taught you how to use a fire extinguisher because "Someday mommy might pass out and need you to save us both."
To the mother's out there, I hope you get something better than this...

A sentiment as sweet as ice cream. I don't know where the State Street Diner is but if it's by you you might be interested in going there today.

Hmmm. Did you see that President Trump has a toad tattooed on his face? No? Well...

Haha. Speaking of Trump, he just wrote down something in the Oval Office. Might be a new executive order.

Ha! That might be the smartest and most correct thing he ever said. So, as you probably know I pretty much just wear shorts and a t-shirt. But if this was the 70s I might of worn this...

They're throwing rocks at a guy who just yelled "Those sweaters suck!" So, Disney is remaking Mary Poppins and I have the first poster for it. Check it out...

It looks great! You know what I love? Geeks that protest. Haha.

Daleks are hell bent on the destruction of any species but their own, and seem to have a particular affinity for destroying the human race. Does that really sound much different than Trump? So, being Mother's Day I thought I would show you a pic of myself and my mum when I was one-year-old.

Look how happy I look. I also have to say that not only is this Mother's Day, but it would of been my parents anniversary. I miss them both so freaking much.

I saw I posted this on Facebook a few years ago...

Hahahahahahahahahahaha!!! Ahem. Moving on... from the home office in Port Jefferson, here is...

Top Phive Signs The U.S. Is Plotting To Kill Kim Jong-Un
5. Trump has said, "I'm telling you, there's no way we'd ever have him killed, believe me."
4. "Killing Kim Jong-Un' has been added to the laundry list of Jared Kushner's responsibilities.
3. The CIA just sent him a case of Aunt Jemima Waffles.
2. The State Department just named its first new Ambassador to North Korea in 67 years: Robert Durst.
And the number one sign the U.S. is plotting to kill Kim Jong-Un is...
1. A "Biff Harvey Oswald" has been added to the CIA payroll.

Hahahaha. If you spot the Mindphuck let me know. I'm sure you will. Okay, a friend of the Phile wanted to say something nice to all you mother's out there. He's a singer, patriot and renaissance man. You know what time it is...

Happy Mother's Day... to single moms, widowed moms, step moms, dads who are moms, moms who have lost their children, moms of pets... and moms who do their best to be great women who raise us well. I salute you all. And Happy Mother's Day to the rest of you mother fuckers, as well. Oh, come on... you didn't actually think I was gonna make it through all that sentimental tripe without showing a smirk... did you?

Michael Parks 
April 24th, 1940 — May 9th, 2017
Parked now, for sure.

With the whole world living in fear of what Donald Trump might tweet next... and wondering how it will lead to World War III... the president's account is closely watched for even the slightest clue as to his current mental state. So when he accidentally tweets something, it doesn't matter how fast he deletes it: We've already seen what he said.

Yes, on the afternoon of May 13th, 2017, Trump decided to tweet the word "We," then deleted it. Was that the whole message, or was it the beginning of a tremendous tweetstorm? Because it made people feel like they'd just watched the cliffhanger ending of a prestige TV show's season finale. Sadly, Trump's follow-up did little to dispel the mystery. It didn't even start with the word "We"! WHAT ARE YOU HIDING, SIR?

Anyway, we can all rest easy knowing that whatever Trump deletes from his Twitter feed still goes into the National Archives. Once he's in prison, we can go back to read them and have a good laugh about the scary few months when he was in charge. Memories!

The 59th book to be pheatured in the Phile's Book Club is...

Jack will be the guest on the Phile tomorrow.

Mother's Day
Mother's Day is an annual worldwide holiday honoring those who still use Yahoo! mail.

Today's pheatured guest is a Phile Alum whose new album "Eclectica" is now available on iTunes. Please welcome to the Phile... Doris Brendel.

Me: Hey, Doris, welcome back to the Phile. It's been a long time you were here. How have you been?

Doris: Good! And busy as ever. Best way to be.

Me: It's Mothers Day here in the states... In England Mother's Day is earlier in the year I think... are you a mum, Doris?

Doris: No... I'm not a mum. Having children never appealed to me. But I do have a few godchildren! Two of them are Lee's and they have grown up with our music...

Me: So, recently you toured with Wishbone Ash... did you open for them or were you part of the band?

Doris: We were the support band. Up until "Upside Down World," we did some gigs and festivals, but it was always on an ad hoc basis. As in: "What date? Okay, let’s see who’s available."  Consequently each gig had different musicians and arrangements. We did everything from just me and Lee acoustically as a duo, to string sections, double bass, drums, piano... and everything in between. But in 2015 Lee & I decided that we wanted a really tight live show to reflect our work more closely. We’re both pro musicians & get all sorts of commissions, so already had a bunch of musos we worked with, who luckily came on board. We were in that tricky situation of being a known band, but not quite known enough. We’re not a pub band... we like putting on a decent show and need the right venues to play in. So supporting bigger bands than us was the way to go, and getting the first Wishbone Ash tour in 2015 was a real coup. And even better was being asked back for a longer set of dates in 2016. Andy Powell is a great guy, as are the rest of his band, and we all got on really well, and it looks like we’ll be accompanying them on their European tour next year. Andy Powell even played a guitar solo on "Eclectica"!

Me: That's cool. I would love to get him on the Phile. I don't know if we talked about this years ago when you were here last but you have played with some of the coolest people... and some my dad knew personally. Steve Marriott, Alvin Lee and Gary Moore. I can't believe two of those people have passed... Do you have good memories working with these people?

Doris: I was still quite young in those days, and I don’t think we always appreciate these things as much as we should until later in life. I’m not someone who gets particularly star struck, so most people were just people. Steve Marriott I didn’t really get to know, though I supported him on a couple of shows acoustically. One of my later drummers had worked in his band and I heard a lot of outrageous stories! Alvin and Gary were both friends of the Browns (Joe, Sam and Pete)... Pete and I lived together at the time and had a studio in our house and various musicians would come round and play bits on our tracks. I even met George Harrison and had a jam with him during a party at Joe Brown’s house. In retrospect it’s all much more impressive than it seemed at the time.

Me: Did you play in their bands or were you the back up singer?

Doris: I’ve always primarily been my own artist, though I’ve done some sessions along the way. I never wanted to be a professional backing singer! But I have done some collaborations and duets as they’ve landed in my lap. I did some background vocals and flageolet on one of Sam Brown’s albums (and she sang on a couple of mine). I also have a good ear for harmonies and arrangements, so have worked with some singing ensembles.

Me: How long did you work with them, Doris?

Doris: I mostly worked with them either on tours as support act, or in the studio on one or more tracks. My album "If" is a collection of those days... it was all produced by Pete Brown, but features a whole array of musicians, including Herbie Flowers, Alvin Lee, Sam Brown and others. Sam and I did have an acoustic project with a few other singers which I wrote for and we did several gigs (mostly in London) in the 90s.

Me: I was a big fan of Sam when her "Tea" song came out.  I remember when Gary and Steve passed... but I couldn't tell you where I was or what I was doing at the time. I bet you can, am I right?

Doris: Actually... I have a terrible memory. I must confess to smoking the wrong kind of tobacco in my 20s, and much of it disappeared into a haze. I remember Gary causing a scandal by running off with the au pair much more than his passing. And from the stories I heard, Steve was a time bomb waiting to go off… It was sad, but not surprising.

Me: So, who were your influences growing up, Doris?

Doris: I was raised on classical music, with snippets of pop heard on a transistor radio, and odd vinyls my mother used to bring back from the auction house of Joan Baez or Bulgarian folk music. Then later I discovered the Beatles, Led Zep, Pink Floyd... who I think were probably my biggest influences. But I like bits of all genres and have always admired artists who break the mould and don’t conform to preconceived sounds.

Me: Another band you have worked with and who I gotta interview was Marillion. They are not really known over here in America which is surprising. Do you find that surprising?

Doris: Perhaps not so surprising. There’s something quintessentially British about Marillion, especially in the Fish days. I used to accompany my dad to the U.S. every summer and found the music scene very flashy and showy (in those days anyway). Though Marillion have the polished and glossy 80s sound, there’s nothing flashy about them, rather dramatic and in some ways theatrical, and I suspect that speaks more to British audiences.

Me: Is there anybody you have never worked with but would love to?

Doris: I would love to tour with Radiohead or Muse! Not likely to happen though…

Me: You had a chance to tour with Pink Floyd once but you turned it down. What happened?

Doris: One of the big missed opportunities of my life. It was through my work with Sam Brown that I was asked to join her on tour with them in1990. I was signed to Sony at the time and they had already signed the contracts for us to tour with Marillion for several months with the "Violet Hour." And they said "NO." Damn.

Me: Is there anybody else you had to turn down or did as you didn't wanna work with them?

Doris: I turn people down all the time. But they’re not usually well known people! I do have a general rule of only working with people I like. Saves a lot of stress.

Me: Doris, you're from England like me... what part?

Doris: Actually... I’m originally from Vienna! I’m one of those pesky immigrants now having nightmares over Brexit. Though I have been settled here for most of my life. I went to University in Leeds (North of England), but mostly lived in London until I decided to buy a house in the country (just) about 30 miles west of London in Buckinghamshire.

Me: Do you get to the states often?

Doris: I haven’t been for many years! I used to go every summer in the holidays when I was a kid. My dad always toured the U.S. then and played a circuit of concerts in New York, San Fran, L.A. and finishing at the Santa Fe Festival.

Me: You play a lot of different instruments, right? 

Doris: Yes... but most of them badly. Fiddle, saxophone, piano, Irish low whistle and guitar.

Me: What do you prefer to play the most and what was the first one you learnt to play?

Doris: First thing was violin. I was even accepted to the Vienna School of Music. But I stopped playing it for about 15 years, and then picked it up again. I do enjoy playing it as it’s always a challenge! I’m probably best at the Irish whistle. That big aluminum thing in this photo...

Doris: And I’m a fair acoustic guitar strummer. Sax I’m okay as long as it’s in a favourable key! And piano is just a song-writing tool really.

Me: I love the stage look you have. you must have fun putting costumes together am I right?

Doris: I’m a strong believer in putting together a whole package. That means music, message, look, photos, artwork. The whole thing put together should have a meaning of sorts. I like working with themes. "Upside Down World" had the "chocolate box" theme... as in: "every track is different, so it’s like exploring different flavours in a chocolate box." The new album ‘Eclectica’ has a chest of drawers theme. The message is similar... different drawers for different sounds and moods. I put together some presentation boxes with little drawers... one for the album and one for badges and photos. Something on message and totally unique. I’ve almost sold out of them... and the album hasn’t even been released yet!

Me: Do you have a name for the style of clothes you wear? It's kinda steam punkish... I think.

Doris: It is steam punk. Though we put our own slant on it. Some years ago I went with a PR company who dressed me in "fashionable" clothes that would get me in the magazines. Didn’t really work and I see those pictures and think that just isn’t me! So when Lee and I started making albums together with "Not Utopia" I wanted a unique and dramatic look that would work for us. Steam punk fashions really caught my eye... a great amalgamation of new and old. And we’ve carried it through to the whole band.

Me: I read that you wear laser gloves on stage. What the fuck? How does that work? I wanna see a pic of that!

Doris: Funnily enough... I had to order them from the U.S.! When we knew we’d be touring with Wishbone the first time, I was racking my brains as to what props I could get to make a real impression on stage, especially during some of the longer instrumental sections. It had to be something simple and portable... support bands don’t get time to set up screens or anything complicated... something that wouldn’t take up too much space... So I scoured the Internet for ideas. I remember coming across something similar and started looking for light emitting gloves, which is when I found the laser gloves. Alas a lot of musicians have started copying me… Such a trend setter. Here's a photo!

Me: That's fucking awesome! Any other cool tricks you have?

Doris: Gene Simmons would be so jealous. Hahahaha.  I have pixel whip as well. But the laser gloves are hard to beat. We do a drum based song and the guitarist and bass players both have drums... which light up in different colours when hit! Plenty of ideas though! We’d really like to screen videos and slide shows whilst on stage... something we’ll be trying out during our launch party show. But we don’t get much chance for such a large set up very often.

Me: Alright, let's talk about your new album "Eclectica" you have coming out with Lee Dunham. First of, who is Lee and how did you meet him?

Doris: It’s one of those pivotal moments in life. We all have them I think... as in what if you hadn’t gone to that party where you met your partner... what if you hadn’t gone to that interview that gave you all those opportunities. Similarly I haven’t a clue where my life would be if I hadn’t put an ad in the "Musicians Union Magazine" early in 1999. And it nearly didn’t happen as the ads were out of my budget. But I got chatting to the person on the phone, and she turned out to be a fan of my dad’s. And then she said that the publication cut off date was that evening and they did have a few spaces left, and okay... she’d give me a super cheap deal. At the time a had a covers project which earned reasonable money, but I didn’t gel with the guitarist/singer and had already worked my way through most of the usual available London session musos. I needed someone new. And luckily, one of the people to audition for the role was Lee! Again it was a right time, right place scenario. Lee had been touring and recording with his original metal band, and things had gone awry. He spent a few weeks working in "regular" jobs, which is all it took for him to look for something else. And that’s how we met. Seventeen years later we’re still working together!

Me: Was it his idea to work with you or vice versa?

Doris: We started working together in a live covers band. Funnily enough, not long after he started I left that band and founded another. But the guitarist turned out be a complete ass, so I called Lee and got him to join the other band. And we turned into one of the most successful show bands in the U.K. with thousands of gigs under our belt. Initially we didn’t have time to do anything else... we just kept getting more bookings and were playing 5 nights a week for years.. Then we took a year out and I took the opportunity to write and record "The Last Adventure." Lee was traveling the world at the time with his wife and hence wasn’t part of that project. But it made me realise how much I had missed writing and being truly creative, so when Lee returned I asked him if he would like to give it a go. We knew (after so many years of touring) that we got on well, but recording an album together is something different, and many people clash. Luckily, it worked brilliantly. There’s a lot of creative trust between us, and we give each other plenty of rope and space to do our thing.

Me: So, who does most of the song writing on the album, Doris?

Doris: I have written most of the songs, though Lee has written a couple on "Eclectica," and we do encourage all musicians involved to be as creative as possible to feel that everyone has contributed. 

Me: And Lee play instruments?

Doris: Oh, yes! He’s primarily a guitarist and plays all the guitars on the albums. But he can also play drums, bass, mandolin.

Me: So, where does the title of the album come from? Is that a word you made up?

Doris: Yes... it’s made up. Though apparently it is a Greek word! "Upside Down World" did, on the whole, get very good reviews. But our eclecticism has always caused some confusion with reviewers. People are often uncomfortable when things don’t fit neatly into a box. So we thought we’d slap people around the face with it this time. Perhaps if we make it really obvious in the title, they’ll know what to expect!

Me: What does it mean?

Doris: It’s just a play on the word "eclectic"... as in varied, different, unusual.

Me: Who plays on the album with you, Doris?

Doris: Different people on different tracks. Some of the musicians from "Upside Down World"... like drummer Steve Clark, bass players Huggy Harewood and Sparkie Dalton. Four of the tracks were recorded later and feature our touring band members: Sam White on drums, Lincoln Spalding on bass and Ed Jones on keyboards. We also have some guest musicians: Terry Dunham on harmonica, Millie and Emma Robinson and Emma Dunham on strings. Andy Powell with a guitar solo in "Love App." Lee does all the guitars and of course production.

Me: I like the way each track starts except for "Crying Shame." Hahahaha. Whose baby is that crying?

Doris: I suspect that was Lee’s youngest…

Me: Do you play any instruments on the album?

Doris: Yes... I did a lot of the piano bits, and the low whistle (the flute bits).

Me: How did you and Lee figure out who is gonna play what?

Doris: I generally leave that to Lee to decide. We have musicians we like to work with and some tracks suit different musos better. Going forward we plan to use the touring band members a lot more.

Me: How long did it take for the album to be recorded?

Doris: It took a couple of years. But we did have a lot of tours in between…

Me: I really enjoyed the album a lot... I love the song "Death and Taxes." What was the inspiration behind that song?

Doris: The uncertainty of life. The luxury of hindsight. The feeling of "if only I’d known then what I know now." And the impossibility of knowing that if we had the chance to change things, they would turn out any different or better than they are now.

Me: I don't wanna get political, I do that enough on the blog, but do you hear a lot of anti-Trump stuff over in England? What do you think of him?

Doris: Personally I think he’s hideous. I cannot imagine why anyone would vote for him. But I do appreciate the choice was between a rock and a hard place. Could they really not have found better candidates? But what do I know…

Me: So, are you and Lee gonna tour behind this album?

Doris: Yes! Apart from a couple of festivals and our launch party this week, we’ll be supporting Fish for a few dates in December, and then touring Europe with Wishbone Ash early next year.

Me: I have to ask you about the album cover... who came up with the concept?

Doris: I’m a big fan of the artist Igor Morski, who has done the last two covers. He has quite a body of surrealist work, and I look through paintings he has done for inspiration and then get him to adapt one to our specifications.

Me: Is it a pun? I can see your drawers. Hahahaha.

Doris: Purely accidental.

Me: Doris, what is next for you this year?

Doris: Well! Apart from the album launch and the Fish tour, we’re currently working on a live DVD which will take some time to put together... we have a huge amount of footage which will need to be sifted through, from the last tour. We’ve also filmed a lengthy interview with the legendary music journalist Malcolm Dome which will be released as part of the DVD. I’ve also already laid down guides for another ten songs or so, so Lee will start working on that after he’s sorted through the live tracks. Never a dull moment!

Me: Thanks so much for being back on the Phile. I hope it's not years before you come back. Mention your website and anything else you want. Take care, and please come back again soon. 

Doris: Thank you so much for being interested! If any of your readers want to sample our music, they can get some free downloads here: Kisses.

Me: Fantastic! Chat soon, Doris.

That about does it for this entry of the Phile. Thanks to Doris for a great interview. The Phile will be back tomorrow with author Jack Crosby. Spread the word, not the turd. Don't let alligators and snakes bite you. Bye, love you, bye. Have a good Mother's Day!

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

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