Sunday, May 26, 2013

Anniversary of First Day of Filming

On May 31, 1966, filming began for "Don't Look a Gift Horse In The Mouth".  It was the 8th Episode to be Broadcast, 2nd to be filmed after the pilot.

Mike had mentioned this first day, the arrival on the Columbia Ranch on a Facebook Post.

The first few episodes can be seen as sticking close to the scripts, improv limited to the MOS scenes ("Mit-Out-Sound", i.e. Crew lingo for a German Director ordering silent scenes)

In 2016, is this the official kickoff date of 50 years?

As of this writing, I am working on something to commemorate Martin Luther King Jr's "I Have A Dream", August of 1963.  JFK comes up a few months later, just before Thanksgiving.  11/22/63.  Then the Beatles on Ed Sullivan.  Then the Monkees conception 1965, shooting/premiere:1966.  Summer of Love, 1967.  By 1968, there were riots across America.

50 years later, another Great Depression, bombs to assassinate private citizens.  Music is still strongly needed.

No matter how much I study history and people, I will never fully comprehend violence.

Ray Manzarek of the Doors

Founding member of the Doors.  His obit in Rolling Stone .

One of the best ways to appreciate his work is to just LISTEN to his incredibly long & luscious keyboard solo on the 7 minute version of "Light My Fire".  Just start there, and then I dare you to listen to any other Doors' song and not get lost in the keyboards.  He formed the band on Venice Beach when he ran into Morrison; they became the house band for London Fog and then Whisky a Go Go.  Their first week, they shared a bill with the outgoing band, Them, which was fronted by Van Morrison.  Them was founded (sic) in 1964 in Belfast, Van quit in 1966.  They even played together.  IMAGINE them jamming together on "Gloria"!

Henry Diltz's gallery is named after a Doors' album: Morrison Hotel.  The band asked if they could photograph the actual hotel, and when the owners said no, they did it anyway.  The first side of the album is named after the Hard Rock Cafe (ages before the legendary commercial chain appeared).

John Sebastian plays harmonica on the album, note that it is credited to G. Puglese (due to contract issues). Peter includes a mention of him in his one man show, they were all friends.  The crossbreeding and evolution continues.

Micky lived down the road from Jim Morrison in Laurel Canyon.  The Laurel Canyon Country Store has a fascinating history unto itself.WFUV had John Platt doing his "Sunday Morning Breakfast" Program, where he had Lauren Fox performing.  A young woman who does a "Canyon Folkies" tribute, which alternates with her Joni Mitchell/Leonard Cohen tribute show.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Eric& Animals Set List Highline Ballroom NYC

1.When I was Younger
2 Water water water (Inside Looking Out)
3 Water into wine/spill the wine
4 Wait
5 Black Dog (tribute to the African American Bass Player)
6 Bo Diddly special
7 It's my life, I'll do what I want
8 Don't let me be misunderstood
9 Before you accuse me, take a look at Yourself
10 We gotta get out of this place
11 Intro the Rivers are Rising/ Carry me away to Another World
12 Baby, Please don't go
13 House of Risin Sun


14 Nobody Loves You when You're Down & Out
15 Hear that knock upon my Door (I'm Cryin)

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Eric Burdon & The Animals

Stage Setup for their NYC show at the Highline Ballroom on 5/15/13.  (My iPhone ain't great.)

A great set of pictures & setlist are here, on Brooklyn Vegan.

There's no mention of the cool opening act, which is too bad because the guy & his backup drummer were terrific.  And didn't actually say his name enough for us to actually catch it.

Eric did a funny interpretive dance to some of the lyrics, which was slightly awkward, but he quickly switched gear into his "uber-cool" mode.  He looked very comfortable as soon as he established himself as the lead shaman in the room full of willing rockers.  Even the obscure songs were strong, but the audience came alive at every hit.  Hearing them performed was the ultimate time-warp, suddenly you were transported back to high school, to your first car speeding down the highway, to a holiday barbeque with your friends.

"Oldies" shows sometimes involve a weird level of nostalgia.  Singing along to songs that are performed exactly like the record.  What do you call the nights where you can lay new fabulous memories over old ones?

Sunday, May 5, 2013


Part 2: What an ACTUAL Show is Like

6) "Joshua fit the battle round Jericho"-the first song he learned to play.  And he demonstrates the first two chords he needed to play the song. Look out, Pete Seeger.
Here's Mahalia Jackson doing it on the Nat King Cole Show

He discusses more "songs I cut my teeth with".  Mentions other influences, like Burl Ives, who played Big Daddy in "Cat on A Hot Tin Roof", scared the hell out of him,

7) "The Fox" (Burl Ives recording)

8) "To pass the time away"  (Traditional song, title?)
He says, "I used to put my kids to sleep with this," which was perhaps a shoutout to Hallie, who was in attendance.

He introduces the Banjo, with a confusing story about how Seeger lengthened the neck. (??)

9) "Cripple creek" (Yes, that song from the Touring Episode)

Then a transition from describing his home music environment of Classical,  and the expectation of "harmonic flow" vs Elvis and some quick reference to a radio dj, (name?)  He won't even attempt Little Richard, but his Elvis is fabulous. And funny.

10) "I want You, I need you, I love you" His Elvis impression.  Here's his performance in Buffalo.
He ends it with the same schtick from at least 1998, "Hey, I'm back. Was anyone here while I was gone?" in a performance with James Lee Stanley.  It didn't get a laugh back then either.  I don't take issue with pulling set pieces from different parts of one's repertoire.  I don't understand why he keeps the UNfunny jokes?

Andrew Sandoval is introduced because Peter asks for a chair. Isn't he the Co-Producer? And the guy who just wrote "Monkees Day by Day"?  Shouldn't he get a proper round of applause?  He kinda does, and Peter acknowledges him properly, if awkwardly.  (Ugh, with all the Monkee nerds in the room, you'd think we could get a proper introduction & opportunity to pay reverence to the Ultimate Nerd!)

Peter then gets lost in a ramble about Plastic integrity, which gets one good laugh for irony, but which he then milks for 5 minutes. He flunked out of college twice. Pic with Grandma on the small screen.

He mentions a place called "Socrates Cube" (??) on Sullivan or Thompson. Passing the hat and he'd rattle it, meaning that you were a cheapskate if you gave change.  He wanted the "Swish" of paper.

(Apologies for the terrible photo quality)

Part 3: What an Actual Show Is Like: In This Generation

More discussions about the Bleeker St. scene.  Name drops John Sebastian (Lovin Spoonful) and Jug band music, which had its origins in the 1920's.

11) "If I could Shimmy like my sister Kate"  Got me dancing in my seat!!

12) "Come On In" Which he does softly and beautiful!! The best and sweetest song he has in his repertoire. (even if he forgets a line or two)  He shows the cover of an early 1960's album of Miss Alix Dobkin (Songs of Macedonia, etc).  Apparently he heard this song from her, and not from its writer, whose name even I can't remember. (Jo Mapes, listen to her original )

And then he tells the story of WHY he left for L.A.  "One day, when I was walking in the Lower East Side,  I was suddenly "struck & formed" and given information from on high to get out of town!!"  He added,  "I used to not tell this story, now I don't care what you think!"

He then rushes through the L.A./Huntington Beach, Golden Bear Scene.  Mentions Big Brother & Holding Company (people want to clap!!). Lenny Bruce!! Lynn Hughes, Stone Ground. Buffalo Fish.  (This is the history I've always wondered about.  I wish he would do a whole night on his NYC influences and one on the pre-Monkees scene)

Audition!! His "Personality test" appears on the screen.  Rare footage (on Youtube) and the great opportunity to watch him watching himself (he doesn't react at all or comment on it, so it wasn't as great a moment as it could have been).

He mentions that it was the worst rated pilot, but that it was later re-edited, to include Davy/Mike tests (he said at the end-like it was in the later reruns.  Actually, the show was saved by having it done at the beginning, to introduce the Boys.  A confusing story, made more so, by Peter's off the cuff remarks.)

He had met Mike as "an Open Mic MC"  (Hootenanny is not a familiar word to today's audiences?? Also,  was "Open Mic" ever used in the 1960's?)

They try to play the Kellogg commercial (them driving across the desert and posing with the cereal boxes)  to introduce the "Davy Jones salad story".  The audience anticipates it, he told it at the DJ Memorial at BBKing's last year.  Yet, he reprimands the audience before they react, "Don't spoil it!"   And then, when the laugh isn't as big as expected, he says, " I laughed much harder than you did, I must say."

Let me interrupt the running commentary to again note that he doesn't seem to be in control of the audience, like most (theater) performers.  He doesn't sculpt the moments to let the audience release tension.  They WANT to clap or get to a big LAUGH, it's all about the timing.  It's almost a big part of his act, and where he got the "dummy" character from.  Yet, it seems to be something that he finds befuddling and quite often gets annoyed or distracted by.  It always astounds me that for a man of so many years of experience onstage and of such solid technique, doesn't LISTEN to the responses of the audience. He doesn't seem to predict their laughter, or understand when they want to applaud. (This show also seemed to throw him off more, a full house, the first show in a new venue, technical errors.  The evening show showed a more relaxed performer, yet this is a repeated observation, having witnessed him over several years)

13) "Clarksville"
He begins it straight, mentions Shoe Suede Blues, points to Pam who is waving the newest CD. He plays it bluesy (and ballsy).

He goes into a major digression into negativity (which matters NOT A BIT to most people today!) "The charge was made..." that the Monkees didn't play their own instruments.  Tells how he brought his guitar to the first day of recording, Boyce & Hart (!!!!!) were the ones to ask him why he brought it.  Judged by the standards of the Beatles.  Fake integrity, fake that and you've got it made; I've heard it attributed to Quincy Jones.

Don Kirschner's photo appears, someone hisses, he encourages "boos". Someone says, "Booze, I'll drink to that!!". He has no retort....  (really, Peter?)  The complex story in detail about how Kirschner got fired. (He released a single in Canada, etc.)  He mentions "She" when talking about Donny. Reveals its in the title of his next song. I don't see him checking a set list. (Not an issue with his aging mind, btw, normal performer confusion. Especially since this is not scripted)
This digression ends with him admitting that Donny was a human. With a good ear.

14) "She hangs out" At first, the traditional way, and then the way he does it with his band now.
He says out loud, "I'm changing the plan", which is odd for a non-scripted show.

15) "Shades of Grey" at the piano. Recognition applause when he begins, and perhaps he plays louder than required.  Hearing it done live, with a single voice (his), on a grand piano, is amazing.  Even when he screws up a line or two, you are willing to forgive anything.

He introduces Andrew, again and talks over the spontaneous applause that would be natural. When he allows the audience to clap, it's no longer spontaneous. And he had to ask to clap more. Because he hasn't finished tuning his guitar. And then he turns it into a game, of cueing the audience.  It's a matter of knowing that there is applause, and he CAN control it with a wave of his hand.  (Not in the more subtle "timing" method, I mentioned earlier)

16) "For Pete's Sake"

17) "Where I'm going /leaving in the morning Blues"
His first song, he played it for his brother Nick, the genius in the family. Who suggested words.  In Venezuela, btw.  Early 1960's!!  Another story I want to hear much more about!!  Instead, we get, " It goes something like this . . . No.  It goes exactly like this."

It pleased our lord & master Bob Rafelson, I think he had a girlfriend. While filming, they faked a breakdown at the Arc de Triumph. When he lifted up the hood, it came off in his hands! Excellent material!! He wrote 2 songs in Paris, one which he says wasn't very good. The other has a complex & unrecognizable opening ("Holy Cow!" he says). It turns into:

18) "Lady's Baby", which was also a legendary beast in the recording studio. (And it's no "Come on in")

19) "Tear the top right off my head" There is a nice clip of him playing & Micky singing it from the "At sea" episode, which he immediately picks up and makes a perfect transition.  (Wish more of the songs could have gone this seamlessly.

20) "Alvin". He does this acapella at his solo shows already, a fun, quick little number.  But he sings "Sewer Pipe" instead of "Water Pipe", and ends with "And now I'm getting lonesome since he's mine", instead of "gone" like on the recording. "Mine" doesn't make sense, Peter!

21) Peter Percival.  The audience wants to sing along, but again, he won't let them.

Micky said you can't go back. So Peter quit. Peter had a band called "PT and/or Release". He heard that Raybert was getting together a movie and he brought them a theme song he had written.

22) "Easy Rider" (??!! )We watch it along with the opening of the movie. I can see why it wasn't chosen. Too bouncy, no real "sense" of what an "Easy Rider" is, just the repetition of the words.  Not a good choice.

He talks about how The Blues don't require a membership card, it's just a matter of practicing scales. 23) "Crashcourse in the Blues" off his new album.

24) "Gettin in" with the album cover from "Stranger things", which came before the reunion album, Pool It.

5:03 ends the show. No encore, but an announcement about the purchasing getting you to be first in line.

By 5:10, the ferocious herd descends and I am trapped. I try to offer help to Pam, but there is an awkward bottleneck because the signing area is the opposite side of the exit and it means that audience members have to leave by the rear entrance. I abandon all plans to say hi and escape before I am smothered.  And glad I have a ticket to the evening show.

What an ACTUAL Show is like: IN This Generation, Iridium, 3pm

WARNING:  The following critique is offered as affectionately and truthfully as possible. The show is a MUST SEE and features rare material, amazing stories and wonderful music (as always). After years of working in theater, my bias is to comment on the unpolished nature of his shows, which some might not bother with, or even romanticize. If anything, my one grudge is that I want "Peter Tork" to be slightly more polished than he is. I find it distracting and at times, awkward.  This is intended to be a detailed description of my own experience, feel free to skip/skim when you get bored or distracted.

Everything begins at arrival.  I arrive at the venue an hour before the show is scheduled to start. 2pm for a 3pm show. (At 3:20, there is still no sign of it starting).

Turns out he's just arrived at 2pm as well, and needs to do a sound check. (That NYC traffic!!) And isn't there some kind of projection element, as well??

So the fans are left to mingle and get to know each other.  (When kept waiting, make nice.) Out of maybe 50 people, I personally think I recognize about 5 that I've seen at other Monkee related events. Maybe another 5 are under 12 (A Matinee show, but some are really young 5? or so). About 20 in line are men, some with their families or significant other, but a good proportion seem to be attending with their male pal. (The crowds are almost exclusively heterosexual, at least in terms of the men)

This show is sold out, but the next two aren't. Not yet. And someone said the show tomorrow night will include the Les Paul Trio (that's what it says on the Iridium Program). Which would be amazing!! But I cannot imagine that it's true, no publicity. But there might be an impromptu jam session, which is more probable. And way more fun!

3:24pm Lights go down.  They begin showing "The Love Potion"-a short movie, which can be found on Youtube, or the Monkees Wiki. The film itself is an odd choice.  10 minutes (yes, they show the whole thing-or try to).  PT plays a character in love with a girl who doesn't love him, goes to a gypsy, gets a potion, brings it to a picnic where it gets dropped into a pitcher of lemonade and ends with ALL the women chasing him.  Silent, paired with 4 Monkee recordings:

1) "When loves comes knocking at your door"
2) "I don't think I'll ever get her off of my mind"
3) "I don't think you know me at all" (Rare recording with PT on lead)
4) "The Kind of girl I could love" 

Unfortunately, and perhaps having something to do with arriving late at the theater, there is a technical mishap.  There are 2 screens, the larger one fails early on and goes in and out for the entire show.  So we are left to stare at a tv screen in the corner.  The film itself is "difficult to see" bad 16mm quality.  (10 minutes is a VERY long time when you are waiting for a performer, the screen is annoyingly small and the film itself would work edited down to 3 minutes.)

There was a funny coincidence, when Davy sings the line, "Her little hand in mine", PT is left with 2 ice creams,  and a very sad face; a direct juxtaposition with the happy line in the song.  (Otherwise, there is very little rapport between the music and the visuals) The bunson burner fire rages out of control, but otherwise the film is only notable for a very young, crew-cut Tork.

The actual performer tries to sneak out on stage in the darkness, before the end of the film, no dice.  The audience applauds.  He stand before the mic, on a darkened stage and says  "Can I have some lights??" Gets a huge laugh.

5) "Do I have to do this all over again?"-the first live performance. Interesting choice, does he really want to be doing this (performing thing, reliving his Monkee life?)  And, yes, we are making him do it all over again.  (The first strains are also met with a pitiful clap, should the audience acknowledge this obscure song with a cheer or not?)  Behind him (and us) is a photo montage of Monkee to modern pictures, cut to the tempo of the song.  This comes off as VERY distracting-do you watch him, or these rare photos?  An intimate show is NOT a Monkee show, a live Peter Tork at 10 feet away is MUCH more interesting than pictures.  Or maybe it would work later on in the show, for variety.  Placed here, we wonder if this is setting precedence for the entire show.

What Peter's Show is Going to Be Like (A P/Review)

Here's a review from someone who saw his first show on the "In This Generation" Tour.  Just for comparison.

I predict his show will be lovely and delightful, even if you are not a Monkees fan.  Sometimes he takes a while to warm up, but things will be different with a script and a video show.  He hits his stride when everyone forgets to try to match this bearded face up with that familiar sunny smile from childhood.  I've heard audiences open up and change the way they listen.  Judgmental and overly eager at first, and then everyone settles into the music.

I hope that this show goes into his folk music history, as well as the years after the Monkees.  I wonder if the songs will match up with personal stories, or if they will be presented chronologically.  Sometimes a song hits you early, you hear in it something that it may take years to actually recognize.  I would love for this show to surprise.

I predict there will be some jokes which will be funny and some which won't.  And look for those moments that seem to fail, because he has a charm about his performances (originating in the "lovable dummy" character from the Folk Scene days of the early 1960's).  It masquerades as indignation, or awkwardness, but you very quickly get a sense of him instinctively flipping things around.  (See the above review mentioning "You don't know what clapping is, do you?")  THAT is what to watch for.

Oh, and the songs.  If this is the first time you've seen him perform, you get to hear "Clarksville" and "Higher and Higher" done in a renewed way.  He takes them out of the familiar realm and shows you why they are good beyond the frozen memory of the recording.  Listen to them carefully. His voice traveles down a series of roads, some with beautiful views, rocky highways clinging to the side of a mountain, some dirt roads.  His voice has matured like his face, there is the innocent young man, layered over with years of experience.

Once upon a time, before recordings, people used to gather with friends and family and sing. If you were very lucky, there was a talented leader in the group who would move from instrument to instrument effortlessly.  Listening to the show, I'd recommend that you close your eyes and imagine a simpler time.  A time that is not frozen on a screen or a record, music that flows like a river in the present moment.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Critiquing the Average Peter Tork Interview

Here's an example of what I mean when I complain about the TERRIBLE interviews that get printed lately.

It's an article based on an interview with PT, yet seems to gravitate towards everything else other than the top 3 items of newsworthiess:
A)Monkees on tour again
B)Peter's history with the Monkees
C)Peter's Blues career & new album

Reading the article, the main points (according to space given) seem to be about
A)Monkees new tour & links to performances
B)Peter's History (with other famous people)
E)Social Media

Read it for yourself:

WASHINGTON - When the three surviving members of The Monkees play Warner Theatre in their summer tour, it will be the latest homecoming for Peter Tork. Tickets went on sale Friday for the July 21 show at the Warner Theatre. The 24-date tour kicks off July 15.

Tork will perform locally before the Monkees reunion show. Tork's solo show "In This Generation: My Life In The Monkees And More" comes to Alexandria's Birchmere May 21, and Annapolis's Ram's Head On Stage May 26. "It'll be solo acoustic versions of songs I've done through the years -- Monkees songs, folk songs, stories of the people I knew, how I got to where I was going from where I was," Tork says.Tork, whose real name is Peter Halsten Thorkelson, was born in Washington, D.C. in 1942.
Tork auditioned for "The Monkees" television show in 1965 at the suggestion of his friend, musician Stephen Stills. He says his TV role, as what he calls "the lovable dummy," was cultivated as a defense mechanism during his earlier days as a solo folk artist in Greenwich Village.
"Us Village cats and kitties, back in the early days you'd heard Jim McGuinn (of The Byrds, who later called himself Roger McGuinn) singing 'Michael Row The Boat Ashore,'" Tork says.

The Monkees tour will include original members Micky Dolenz and Michael Nesmith. Davy Jones died in February 2012.
During last year's tour in the months after Jones died, the Monkees shows largely paid tribute to him.
"With a year gone by, things do settle down a little bit, but Davy is very much part of our history and very much still on our minds," says Tork. "We'll be making reference or mention to Davy all through the show."

Last year's tour was the first American tour including guitarist/songwriter Michael Nesmith since Nesmith left the group in 1970.
When asked if he's surprised that Nesmith is again interested in touring with the band he worked so hard to distance himself from, Tork says no.
"Michael has always been his own man," says Tork. "He's come and gone. And if he says 'I'll do it this time and let's see about next year when next year comes,' and he says, 'Let's do it again,' I say 'Great.'"

Tork's latest solo recording with his band, Peter Tork and Shoe Suede Blues, is entitled "Step by Step."  "There's something enveloping and welcoming about the blues," says Tork. "It's actually therapeutic."

Tork credits the television show with providing the band enough time to eventually learn how to play together.  In today's digital music world, which enables musicians to produce and distribute music without the support of a record company, "If you took the four of us and say 'Now do it on social media,' I don't think anything would have come of it."

"3 Surviving Members"?  What, like life is a war and Davy has succumbed?

I do love that he gets to discuss the Village Scene of the early 1960's (now THERE's a book I'd love to read!  Or write.)

Alright, Peter, enough with the folk scene.  Will you be acknowledging the huge hole that is left by Davy's absence?  And what is Mike Nesmith REALLY like?

What do you spend the rest of your time on? Blues . . . oh, um, that's nice.  We'll give you 2 lines about the new album and how Blues has changed your life . . . What, you are aware of Social Media?!?!?!!!! WOW!  Let's include that!!!

PS I personally disagree with his last statement.  I believe he's taking the viewpoint of assembling the 4  personalities (when they were in their early 20's yet in today's world), granted, they would not have enough cohesion to manage a campaign.  But they were supported by a huge marketing/production machine-as are many groups now.  One Direction comes to mind.  I also doubt that they would have succeeded if they had all randomly met and sworn a blood oath to become an "organic band" in the 1960's.  

One thing I am certain of, if they decided to do an innovative Social Media campaign, that they could break new ground.  Currently, they are following the industry standards and are just barely keeping up.  Tork is still making the OLD argument that they CAN PLAY together as a band.  Fans don't care anymore.  Fans want to be engaged, not just in terms of the tours, but also the Meet & Greets.  Social Media can extend this one piece-"Time" is no longer a limited, finite resource.

More ideas on this later.     

Friday, May 3, 2013

Mike Nesmith on Timerider and Crowdsourcing

His post today (again posting because he tends to delete):

Looks like Christian and Circe (My son and his S.O.) did well on their Kickstarter campaign.

I am really happy for them. They are gong to make an Album, do a Video and maybe go on tour. 

I like the whole idea of crowdsourcing. 

At the end of June I will be in NYC for a fundraiser for The New Inquiry magazine. Rachel Rosenfelt (Publisher) has some ideas about funding for the magazine that goes around the accepted routes. She wants the magazine to raise enough money to operate without having to compromise any of its editorial freedom -- which boils down to "no advertising"

I think its a great idea and we are backing her and hers. I'm not sure how they will do. RR is smart and so is her team so I think she will come up with the right plan. I'm going to go to the fundraiser and see what I can learn and how I can help.

I use to race off-road during the eighties. It was an expensive and a very steep learning curve. I got beat a lot. I got depressed about it.

Off-roading became a lesson in workarounds for me.

I began to wonder if I might do better and go quicker even if I had to take a harder and more difficult unexplored track. There were plenty of options -- race rules required only that we get from point A to point B as fast as possible -- staying on the ground.

My team found all sorts of available tracks but usually they were harder and seemed slower. The problems they raised looked too hard to solve and they weren't much fun while you were racing on them.

Race days were all dust plumes from the trails of the cars and trucks racing along the desert. Usually the higher the plume the faster the car.

From time to time we would see a distant plume of dust starting to rise somewhere along a track so far away in territory so rough that no one had bothered to take it even though it was perfectly legal. After a while the plume would vanish -- a car broken or lost in the desert.

We started to focus on those tracks -- taking those same distant and awful trails -- content to go slow and work hard finding our own way -- spending hours preparing for races by building pit stops in the middle of nowhere and plotting our course by dead reckoning instead of following the wandering or pre-graded trails other cars were taking.

That's when we started to win. We won a lot. Other cars started following us.

The name of the race team was Timerider. Same as a movie I made.

Crowd sourcing is one of those rules based workarounds. It enables artists especially. We spend a lot of time begging at the door of wealthy Americans -- Corporate and otherwise -- and we end up having to sell out most of the time in order to produce at least some part of an creative idea.

Its a drag and its one of the awful things about innovation and living in the margins -- outside the commercial think of big business.

Crowd sourcing is a real alternative to that. I think Alex Cox (writer director Repo Man)may be raising some cash for his next movie -- and I see some other film makers going down the same road. Wealthy film makers -- not just poor ones.

The web has all these great new unexplored alternatives for economy and politics and the arts -- legal side roads around the traffic choked avenues of traditional commerce.

Expect to see me out there from time to time. Come join me if you see me. Have a cup of coffee by a campfire in the middle of nowhere. Like Marfa.

And keep your eyes on Christian and Circe. They make good records and good videos and they have just started creating a nice plume of dust way off the usual roads.

And just to put in my two cents, Circe's link is
The Kickstarter bit is

As of today, they have met & exceeded their $3500 goal (you need to meet it, otherwise you don't get any of the money).
They have 137 Backers (you can donate as little as $1).
$8,398 is pledged, only 3 days in, the link will be active for the next 27 days.

Her site is well established and updated regularly, she's active on Social Media and cuts a striking figure in person.  And her stuff seems kinda good too . . . (maybe that helps)

Why the Upcoming Monkee Tour Needs an On-Staff Ethnographer

So here's the pitch/list of reasons:

1. The current narrative is flawed.

Or rather, it is being led by people of the First Generation.  The reporters who lead with the "Pre-Fab" or the "But they never actually played their own instruments . . ."  Everytime Peter and Micky go out on a tour, these are the questions that come up on interviews (Mike has yet to establish a longer track record with the press).

2. "It cannot be a part of me/for now it's part of you"

A large part of the phenomenon, and one of the greatest and the fastest growing is the Fan Community.  And by fans, I mean First, Second and Third Generations, both men and women AND inclusive of their friends.  The live performances have become "Events", and there is a rapidly growing segment (as seen on Facebook and over the Yahoo Email list specifically) who makes plans to reunite with other fans.  There is little to no attempt to engage, track or measure this phenomenon, outside of well-established marketing tricks or monetary gain.  The Fans have always had a fierce loyalty, and now there is history and social ties made stronger through the ease of electronic communication.  Due to the barriers of fame and the paywall of access to materials, there has previously been a clear separation between the Band and the Fans.  Sharing has become easier with social media and the heavy lifting of growing and sustaining new audiences will lie with the Fanbase.  Not with additional or traditional marketing.

3. The TV Show, Music and Movie hold up after all these years.

But they still have to fight the credibility gap.    At worst, it's a kiddie show, bubblegum pop and a drug-fueled mess.  But each were better than they had to be and transcended the genre.  Yet compared to the Beatles or Rolling Stones, there have been very few books or publications to address or describe  the body of work.  In order to encourage engagement, a multitude of voices should be encouraged among the Fan community.  Eloquent and devoted fans should be held up as positive examples of how to engage with the brand on an official and productive level. has been doing a version of this for years, and has established its own niche as a labor of love.  In order to keep the narrative alive on an official scale, a proper study of the oeuvre should be commissioned.  (This blog is the beginning of that, but is also growing to encompass other relevant issues as well)

4. The 50th Anniversary is coming up in 2016.

As much as Davy Jones' death and Mike Nesmith touring with the group has been a way to re-spark an interest for live concerts, the 50th Anniversary Tour/Year will be a way to establish a source of strength for the brand, as well as for the fans. The previous 50 years includes not only the public timeline of the band, but also connects the fans' personal history to something larger than themselves. Not only is this landmark an opportunity to unite and solidify the fan communities, but also a way to ensure that the brand will continue on into the next 50 years.

5. The NEXT 50 years?

Yes.  The essential oeuvre was self-contained in tv/music and the film, "Head".  As long as there are people willing to watch and engage, there will be a renewable audience for the Brand.  Or to come at it from a more genuine place, this is an experience that gets handed down from generation to generation.  Unlike tales of Woodstock, with a "You had to be there" vibe, the new audiences can access exactly the same experience as the First Generation.  Long after the "rights to the brand" have passed out of copyright, there will still be people sharing the narrative.

6. The 2013 Tour should be documented.  Not only from the POV of what is happening onstage, but also what is happening backstage and in the audience.

The past few tours have been well-documented and exist in bits and pieces online.  Backstage gossip and misunderstandings have mellowed.  Audiences would still be fascinated to be a fly on the wall of conversations happening during rehearsals and on the road.  But an attempt should also be made to record the audience.  To get into the minds and stories of people who travel city-to-city or who fly great distances to see live performances.  

7. Fans do not need YET ANOTHER concert DVD/recording/etc.

The ultimate product of this study could be an entirely new way to offer additional content.  A way to present a Fly on the Wall perspective, much like the photographic work of Henry Diltz, but expanded into the dimension of observations and commentary.  It should be accompanied in real time by full social media engagement (Facebook, Twitter and Blog) and can be collected as a book and/or to add value to the release of the eventual DVD.

That's the basic idea, anyway.  Contact me directly for more ideas or to argue: tamava rose at gmail.

Enjoy the tour!!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Mike on Speedos and Public Nudity

HIs FB Post today, 5/1/13.  I saw this reposted by Naked Persimmon.  Perhaps egged on by them....

I suppose most of you have the info that we – El Monkoos -- are going back on tour this Summer to hit the cities we missed last Fall.

It’ll be fun – I enjoy channeling Mike, the music is fun to play and I’m getting a new bus.

I have mixed feelings about the weather, though. No, wait – I have bad feelings about the weather. There is a reason everyone leaves Austin in August – or New York in July. Darting from air conditioning to air conditioning is not my idea of a good time. It one of the reasons I live where I do.

The folks up the coast here have it weird as well but along the other line. The joke is “the coldest winter I ever spent was summer in San Francisco.” The coastal fog rolls in around June and hangs till end of August and it is cold and windy.

Still, nothing like the blistering heat in Phoenix and Houston and points South.

Most of the venues will have air conditioning except for the outdoor ones. Now with Global warming I am expecting temperatures in the thousands. Actually my natural body temperature is in the millions so the air might be OK.

The main problem with the weather for me is what to wear. I have some shorts and sandals. I have a Speedo -- the little bitty one. But once a body rolls past seventy trips around-the-sun summer clothes become a problem.

Cute little revealing things become weapons of mass destruction. I can clear a Wal-Mart parking lot just by walking around in my Speedo. Totally naked will of course get me life in prison.

We are, as a nation, only a few seasons away from public nudity. The Europeans in their wisdom have already tossed half their summer garments – tops are long gone – and it is only a matter of You Tube time before the bottoms go away as well.

Texting is already stark naked if you are under twenty.

Alas it is not to be for me. Not just because of age but I have no exhibitionism that I know of. I had the same “naked in a class room” nightmares that most everyone has – but I wonder if I may not have gotten the last episode of that dream – if now “naked in a class room” is a desirable fantasy?

In any case I don’t think I can do public nudity yet. I will just try to keep from staring at the ones who can.

Pretty bodies are nice enough but at the end of the day they all end up in a pile on a floor somewhere. So it’s not really the best thing to look at. It’s too sexy for one thing; can’t take your mind off the sexy parts. And public nudity is going to look odd – at least in the US – for a while.

The thing that gets my attention is the unself-conscious ease of “here we all are”. – so when I see that type of thinking it is more outstanding to me than oily naked body parts.

In a world where I am surrounded by the pursuit of pretty and young it is comforting and impressive to see wise and eternal.

The daily effort of avoiding ridiculousness and garnering praise is hot and sweaty – and futile. Years ago I found that being ridiculous and avoiding praise was a much better way to go – but it didn’t help hot and sweaty all that much.

I guess I will just have to wait and see what Mike comes up with.

As a Business Proposition

In the world of business, each company has their narrative, which is sometimes presented as a "Business Case".  Not that anyone can reduce it to a formula, but if one were to look at the phenomena from a purely business strategy standpoint, there are a lot of pioneering moves and ever-evolving results.  Let's attempt an analysis here.

A Solid Brand
In the early days of radio, there was a huge question, Why would people buy sheet music/records if they could just turn on the radio and have music?  The market/audience has room for a wide variety of ways to consume music. The Payola scandal of the 1950's had exploited that very idea, that exposure increases sales.

"The Monkees" was designed to bring a huge synergy of dominant market forces together.  The brand was established as a TV show with music, the advertising and exposure of the television show increasing record sales, and vice versa.  It hit the segment of the teen/pre-teen public who were not old enough for the Beatles, but had witnessed their older sisters and brothers raving.
Additionally, it had the advantage of being produced/directed by Raybert (Bob Rafelson & Bert Schneider), who occupied the ideal age, having just enough experience yet being part of the "Young Generation".  Both born in 1933, they had just over 3 decades of life experience in 1965, when the series went from conception to casting.  They would be the ones to help shape the generation that would soon not trust anyone over 30.
The fact that they came from a well-endowed entertainment lineage didn't hurt their aspirations either.  Schneider's father was the President of Columbia Pictures and Rafelson's uncle wrote the original story for what would become the first sound film, "The Jazz Singer".
To add to this mix, they made sure to hire the "Man with the Golden Ear", Don Kirschner.  He brought on a stable of young songwriters from NY's Brill Building, Boyce & Hart, Carole King & Gerry Goffin, Neil Diamond.  ("I'm a Believer")

The TV series spawned 57 episodes and won 2 Emmys in 1967. That year, in terms of record sales, they outsold both the Beatles and Rolling Stones.  Sponsors ranging from Kelloggs to JC Penny to Yardley Soap and Fragrance made the network happy, which in turn allowed more money to flow into the production. Sold out tours, untold (literally) amounts of money, countless interviews and teen magazines rode the wave of success.  Fully exploited merchandizing in terms of records, toys, magazines, etc. returned only a small percentage to the actual performers who belong to the visages appearing on the lunchboxes.  Once they hit, they hit big, saturating the market and turning everything they touched to gold.  For 2 years.

The Quality of the TV Show and Music
Oh, and by the way, all of the elements listed above attracting the best talents in the business actually led to improved output.
Compare the TV series to others on at the time.  "I Dream of Jeannie", "Bewitched", "Gilligan's Island". Plots recycled from the beginning of sitcoms, a group of friends getting in trouble and out within 22 minutes.

But the show has something different. The characters talk to the camera, breaking the 4th wall. There is NO authority figure on the show; these "kids" report to no one.
A better comparison is to another series, which is more self-aware, "The Simpsons".  Not just in terms of sheer jokes-per-minute, but in self awareness.  By the second season, Micky, one of the actor/performers wrote "Randy Scouse Git", which can lyrically and musically stand next to any other song of the 60's, especially striking in its use of metonymy.

The Premature Death
After the series failed to get signed on for another season, and the failure of the movie, and the shooting (failure) of the first of 3 scheduled TV specials (the others were never even shot), Peter left.  They continued to record and perform as a threesome, but eventually Mike left the sinking ship.  As Davy said, "Suddenly, it was like 'Hey, Hey, I'm a Monkee'."

Either it can be seen as a slow death by poison, each element building to destroy the whole.  Or, relatively, when compared to someone like Elvis, who continued on way past prime, the ending came relatively swiftly. Raybert is the ultimate murderer, pulling production focus from the lucrative show into what they had seen as the "real" goal, "Easy Rider".  Jack Nicholson and Raybert would go on to remake Hollywood in the image of the auteur.  Causing a revolution in the Studio system, much as students causing revolts in NYC and Paris.

As yet another martyr of the 1960's (see also Marilyn Monroe, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison, etc.), the Monkees seemed all that more iconic and beloved for NOT growing old with the population.  It was a brand, essentially preserved in amber (or in the metaphor of their 1986 video, "Heart and Soul", on ice), their entire oeuvre remaining intact.  The actors had essentially disappeared from the scene, except for a guest spot on "The Bracy Bunch", where Marsha gets Davy Jones to sing at her prom.  By the time of that airing, most of the original pre-teen audience had moved on to other heroes.  The shelf life of any teen-idol is 3 years maximum.

Success of Reunion Tours
The recordings and TV series was originally delivered over the airwaves, and continued in that same medium sporadically, reaching new audiences.  Personally, I am a Second Generation Fan, which means I was initiated through reruns; for others most significantly was the MTV Marathon (2/23/86).  It accompanied a tour that year, which was ranked among one of the most successful tours that year.  Touring continued sporadically and their most recent full tour was ranked #20 by Pollstar in terms of revenue of all 2012 American Tours.  A 2013 tour (including 24 dates as of this writing) has been announced and other world markets may be on hand in the foreseeable future.  The 50th Anniversary is still 3 years away, and if the recent tours are any indication, it is something to look forward to.

Overall, the brand's initial product (TV & Music) does not age and is preserved for future generations of fans to discover.  The comedy is not topical or political, unlike "Laugh In" (which does not survive in rerun format).  However, the show and music contains repeated references to American Pop Culture, mostly of the 1960's, but also of previous eras.  It helps to flesh out the "60's Scene" and provides a friendly bootstrap into the history of the era.  By turning to the camera, the characters break through the television screen and into the world of future generations.  Long after the original members and fans have passed, the brand will continue to embed itself into the hearts of generations to come.

Other bands or tv shows may be considered more "respected" or "genuine", but The Monkees did the one thing the others did not.  Bring their fans into their world, or at least they created the illusion of doing so.  And if the tv show and music was not their literal world, warts and all, like in the movie, "Head"; the illusion was of universal fantasy, a detailed record of more innocent times, great music and  having a strong group of friends around to bail you out of any emergency.

No business model can successfully capture lightning in a bottle repeatedly, nor has any other band managed to capture this emotion on so many sensory levels.


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