Monday, September 30, 2013

"Here We Come" Review: Play Monkees, Play!

If fans are going to celebrate the Monkee Legacy into the future, "Here We Come" is the template for the ultimate Monkee party.  And it should be done on a regular basis: gatherings of Monkee-minded souls, watching talented actors reenact our favorite episodes & all of us singing along.  This is what we have been waiting for.

Walking down the stairs into the theater, you have the sense that you are walking into The Cavern, just as it looked to the first audiences of the Beatles in 1963.  The first thing I noticed on the set was the distinctive drum kit on a platform. In an early scene, they turn it around and . . . Behold!!  It is a cutout of the Monkeemobile!!

As with the TV show itself, the plot isn't the point.  In fact, the play incorporates several plotlines extremely well.  The Boys need to make rent, so they decide to drive to NYC for a Band Contest, but run out of gas and are trapped when their car breaks down (first in the Wild West, then in Hillbilly land), and when they make it to their destination, the contest is for "mixed groups only".  A few of the best lines are included, as well as some of the worst, with plenty new ones to make you feel like you are watching a LIVING episode.

Did I mention that an actress pulled me up on stage to dance during "Let's Dance On".  (Can I confess that a deep fantasy was to get pulled into a dance number on that show??) And for everyone else who hates "Audience Participation", the music was loud enough so you could sing along without drawing attention, and in the finale, EVERYONE got to dance onstage.  Lots more took pictures of themselves in the Monkeemobile, as the author did, with another infamous Monkee-friend, Mary Ciuffitelli (aka "Mary Mary").

A lot of the credit should go to Britton Payne, who is a loyal & dedicated fan through and through.  He is billed the "conceiver" of the project, the show that he wanted to do as a kid with all his 9 year old friends.  As a grownup, he impresses both the child & adult in me as an audience member.  He also has an amazing costumer and video geek working for him who pulled off the impressive feat of making the details perfect.

MUSIC!  Did I mention the music?  As any true tribute, the show included 17 songs including TV music cues.  It's all the big ones, with shenanigans added in.  eg "Davy" sings "I Wanna Be Free" when he's tied up by the Banditos.  There was talk of trying to get the Blue Meanies involved, but karaoke made it all that more accessible for everyone.  The front row was asked to hold cue cards for one of the songs . . . you guessed it, "Goin Down".  (I wonder if Micky ever used cue cards?)

Honestly, I believe that shows like this are the wave of the future for Monkee Fan gatherings.  Karaoke, putting on bits of costumes, playing out scenes (or watching professionals do it) are all crucial elements.  As with most Monkee shows, the audience had a nice blend of generations, with this skewing towards a younger demographic.  One actor I talked to said that he had watched "One or two episodes" as a kid, another person said, "I really had no idea these were all Monkee songs!"

"Here We Come" is over, for now.  But Monkee magic lives on.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Monkee Theater: "Here We Come . . ." to an Off Off Broadway theater near you!

HERE THEY COME, to the C.O.W. theater on the Lower East Side of NYC.  (Monkees are coming to a COW?)  Yes, it's true.  A group of actor/fans will be portraying/parodying The Boys in what seems to be a sitcom plot show-within-a-show theme.  And yes, I believe there will be some gender-bending portrayals as well, look carefully!  Deets below:

Friday and Saturday night performances.  Actually seems like a fabulous topic for a Fringe-type show.  And a great opportunity for audience participation.

No actual Monkees are scheduled to make an appearance.

But nobody said they are NOT coming.

Full reportage after we attend the Saturday Night performance.

PS Graham Nash has been hanging around NYC this week, promoting his autobiography.  Booksigning at our favorite Soho art gallery, owned by Henry Diltz, Morrison Hotel.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Charles Manson as a Songwriter

Okay, granted, this post is going to be creepy.  But I hope to bring in Manson as an example of the dark side of the 1960's.  The instigating event that made everyone put up high fences on their houses in the Canyon.  Also, as a warning to be wary of ANYONE who demands an overly loyal following, has a mental illness which demands murders of innocents (seen nowadays in mass shootings, although we as a society want to be vigilant about preventing the same).

The initial link to the Monkees is the FALSE rumor that Manson had auditioned for the tv show.

There are also influences from the Beatles in Manson's belief system, according to his concept of "Helter Skelter" and interpretations of the White Album.

Here is the link to him singing.

And another version of the song called, "Never Learn Not To Love", sung by the Beach Boys (!!) on Andy Williams.

Theories state that the murders were revenge on Terry Melcher (Doris Day's son!), a prolific producer who didn't sign Manson after a failed audition. Melcher produced the Byrds'"Ballad of the Easy Rider" (the theme for the movie which was NOT written by Peter Tork, although he has played his version on his most recent solo tour).  Candice Bergen was living with Melcher in the house 10050 Cielo Drive, the site where they met Manson and where the murders later occurred.

From Wiki:"Melcher also worked with Paul Revere & the RaidersWayne NewtonFrankie LaineJimmy BoydPat Boone,Glen CampbellMark Lindsay and The Mamas & the Papas."

This topic came up because of the publication & publicity around a book written by Jeff Guinn.

You can't make this stuff up.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Nez and the upcoming Meet & Greets on the Fall 2013 Tour

Last time, tickets were released in the middle of the night (12am on the West Coast) by email and many fans got upset.  Except the restless sleepers.  25 opportunities for up to 2 people (2 Nez objects and one Monkee for autographing) Tickets will be released September 21, at 9am (probably West Coast Time), check Videoranch here for more info.

 Naked Persimmon on FB posted this policy when it was announced and then did a follow up post about all the Haters who resented being charged.

"We here at NP would just like to take a moment to say that the “fans” commenting on Nez’s FB post about the Conversation Receptios seem to be some of the most ungrateful, entitled, awful excuses for “fans” that we’ve ever seen. *It does not matter* if the other Monkees don’t charge for meet n’ greets. *It does not matter* what other musicians do or do not charge for their meet n’ greets. It’s *Nez’s show,* he doesn’t owe anybody a damn thing, and the money is going to paying the venue, staff, and equipment that is needed for the meet n’ greet, though people clearly do not seem to realize this and instead have decided that Nez is nothing more than a greedy, money-grubbing, Monkees-hating bastard.

Frankly, if we were in Nez’s position, we would consider these people a terrible representation of Nez fans and would go ahead and cancel the Conversation Receptions altogether just to avoid dealing with them. Of course it’s unfair to the good, awesome, lovely fans (like you guys on here), but looking at those comments, it truly does not seem worth the hassle. Ugh…"

This time he's making them available on the Videoranch Website on Saturday.  (Like a normal performer)

Here's his post:

'm glad the Conversations came together. I enjoyed them last time. We cut the number of guests per show down this tour so I can have a little more time with each of you. I enjoy hearing what you are doing and learning about your interests.

These gatherings are better than standing around behind a venue or in a parking lot next to a bus. The environment is nicer -- warmer:) -- and its much more comfortable for all of us.

I am happy to sign any nez solo stuff that you may have, and happy to take pictures with you and yours if you would like that. There will be plenty of staff to help with that kind of thing.

These shows themselves are shaping up very well -- they are different from the Spring tour -- but I am keeping the best of the Spring tour and just adding a little more from some later work.

I am also trying to put together a live recording of this tour. That is an even bigger logistic problem than the Conversations -- but at this point it all looks very promising. The plan right now is to just make a few signed and numbered copies of this live show -- taking the best from each of the 19 dates -- then making a custom CD in a nice presentation case -- like the First Edition Rays -- with special art and an edition of a small and limited number.

It is very odd these days putting together a self-sustaining music effort -- as most of you know. The whole distribution chain has changed dramatically in the last few years and I expect it to change even more. I read with some sorrow and empathy Jonathan Taplin's tribute to Levon Helm after Levon died -- and must say I agree with his analysis of the state of the music "business" -- even thought I don't share his anger.

I think it is actually a good thing that the live performances have become such an important part of a music career -- sitting on a couch collecting royalties was never my idea of a good time. Live performance is such a wonderful experience and I am happy to be back and out among the stars. It is the most fulfilling aspect of a music career to me -- even though it is far and away the most difficult. Touring is almost like running a full marathon four times a week.

Thanks for the support. A few shows have already sold out and I am very happily anticipating seeing you.

It seems he genuinely likes meeting the fans and doing the live performances.  But no mention of attending next August's Monkees Convention.  There are already over 250 people who like "Bring Mike Nesmith to the Monkees Convention" on FB.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Nez and the Space Between The Group Tour & His Solo One (FB)

Nez is fun to read, eloquent, profound and bizarre all at once.  "The songs sing themselves", like he wrote about Linda Ronstadt's recordings.  He feels them as living things, which is fascinating, and a great way to interpret the "gifts" you were given as a young person.

He's not doing an "Oldies" tour; he's always honoring The Songs.

I think about the Monkees tour that has passed and my solo tour that is to come and I am parsing the differences to see which is which.

The Monkees concert was pop songs played well. It was great fun and I loved it.

My solo tour is yet unknown to me.

Nevertheless, as the show is forming, these are the things I am beginning to understand about it --

We teach what we are.

We are not what we teach.

The songs sing themselves.

We hope they sing us well.

When I stand on a concert stage and look out at the faces I am filled with the same surprise and calm as when I see a beautiful sight of nature or an exquisite design of the heart.

There is a resonance of light from the eyes to the stage and back. In that resonance I hear the phantom chords and hidden tones and know the subtle meanings of words.

In that resonance are the thought values.

A friend asked to borrow a couple of ideas and phrases that had bobbed up during our conversations over the last few days – asking me as if they were mine because I had said them.

I said “Of course – they are yours to keep” and I thought “they have been yours all along”.

These things we share are so subtle and quiet yet we think the noise is what originates the ideas that connect us. We laugh and talk and play our instruments and wave our hands -- all to the good -- but it is the quiet voice that is shared among us that gives me the only voice I have.

I am going on this Fall solo tour -- me and a band – knowing -- with my friends and lovers, my brothers and sisters, my fathers and mothers -- that inside -- in the stillness of a song -- we are all singing the same tune, living the same life, patiently waiting, as we all must, for each revealed step to lead us to the next.

I will play from the end of October, starting on the 27th in Phoenix and ending November 24th, in Milwaukee. Those are the bookends – the schedule is still getting filled in but most of it is now up at

Michael Nesmith Status Update, FB, 9/1/2013


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