Walter Mencken 5:01 p.m., Nov. 25
We Asked 25 Local Musicos "Lennon or McCartney?", plus RIP Ike Turner, FYI Rockin’ Rob’n
Bad blood and new blood -- Goodbye Ike and Hello Rob’n
WE ASKED LOCAL MUSICIANS “LENNON OR McCARTNEY?
JAMIE RENO signed a national record deal in 2004 with 33rd Street Records and 10,000 copies of his last record, Survivors’ Songs, were donated to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, to be given away to cancer patients and survivors. Guest players on the album include Charlie Daniels, Robert Lamm (of Chicago) and Peter Frampton. ”Paul's the best pop-rock melody writer of all time, and for all his money, fame and awards, he's still underrated by some clueless critics who think you can't be a genius and also write silly love songs. Most music critics are embittered wannabees and outcasts and their reviews are thinly veiled, cowardly attempts to exact revenge against a mainstream culture in which they never were fully accepted. Most music critics I've known say they love music, but in fact are quirky, pretentious, dark-hearted, elitist, former high school nerds with bad breath and bad taste who dismiss pure joy and sentiment in any form unless it is couched in something angry, artsy, oblique, subversive or 'socially significant.' “
GAYLE SKIDMORE considers San Diego her hometown. Originally a singer/guitarist, in 2006 she began composing piano pieces, performing her first show on piano that October. Ever since, she's been gaining momentum in the San Diego music scene as she experiments with new instruments (most recently banjo) and styles. In 2007, she held a masquerade party in celebration of her Paper Box EP release. “Paul McCartney. Sorry, John! Why? Two words: ‘Jenny Wren.’”
BLIZZARD performed almost 200 concerts in 2006 and has appeared on the TV show Veronica Mars, filmed and produced in San Diego. Singer/guitarist Chris Leyva has also appeared on the MTV dating show MTV Score. “Lennon. If he could come back from the grave and leave one message [for McCartney, regarding his divorce] he'd tell him, 'That's what I meant by "Instant Karma," bitch.'”
SIMEON FLICK Simeon Flick writes folky, jazzy, alternative, R&B, alt-country, and pop-rock music. He's building following with his musicality, soulful four-octave voice, engaging live performances, and memorable songs. He moved to San Diego in 2001. “I consider McCartney the ultimate Beatle. While John was loafing at his mock-Tudor palace, Paul was mastering all the instruments, constantly immersed in the betterment of his art, thinking of all the grand ideas like Sgt. Pepper, showing up early and leaving late, and pushing the envelope across the board. John was the fire under Paul's ass.”
GREG LASWELL arrived in San Diego in 1993 to attend Point Loma Nazarene University. After graduation, he played with the band Shillglen, who released one album before Laswell decided to go solo. Vanguard Records signed him in 2006; his sophomore release with the label will be out July 8. “Paul McCartney. I find that most of my favorite Beatles songs are ones he wrote: ‘Blackbird,’ ‘Yesterday,’ ‘Here, There, and Everywhere’ — the list goes on. I also think he was the better singer. No one else could have pulled off ‘Hey Jude.’ ”
ALFONSO DE LA ESPRIELLA is a Colombian-born singer/songwriter who has a degree in music therapy from the Berklee College of Music. Espriella has used music therapy as an aide in treating disabled children, teens in crisis, addicts going through recovery, terminally ill patients, and people with mental illnesses. “I don’t care much about either Lennon or McCartney, ‘cause I don't know them too well. Maybe Lennon. He’s a more fun and dramatic icon.”
BILL FARKAS is a singer, songwriter and activist who launched his political blog The Daily Rant in September 2004. His Activists' Forum is open to anyone involved in social and political causes hoping to cross-pollinate their calls to action, with efforts such as petition signing and fundraising. “John Lennon was the single greatest influence on both my songwriting and my view of the world through peaceful eyes. Lennon and McCartney were arguably the best songwriting tandem in music history. They changed the face of rock as the first stadium rock band, set fashion trends, ushered in the psychedelic era with Sgt. Pepper, and in one way or another influenced every musician that followed.”
GREG DOUGLASS co-wrote and played on the Steve Miller Band hit “Jungle Love” (1977), performed on Greg Kihn’s single “Jeopardy” (1983), and he’s toured and recorded with Van Morrison, Duane Eddy, Link Wray, Hot Tuna, Dave Mason, and Eddie Money. “Lennon. The guy really put his soul out there for the world to see. Also, McCartney was an active participant in both ‘Ebony and Ivory’ and ‘The Girl Is Mine.’ He deserved to be married to that one-legged bitch for making us listen to those musical felonies.”
Lots of news today about Ike Turner's death, but I was stunned by the headline in the New York Post..."Ike Beats Tina To Death."
According to TMZ's Harvey Levin, it's the Post's "best" headline since "Headless Body Found In Topless Bar."
Several locals were in Ike’s band up in North County, including drummer Bill Ray (Tubby, etc.), who played on Ike’s Grammy-winning album last year, Risin’ With The Blues. I highly recommend an article he wrote for blogsandiegio, “On Touring And Playing With Ike Turner.” It’s very insightful, especially for those who may have misconceptions about the man and who he really was.
Now, as long as I’m recommending web pages, here’s one for a young singer/songwriter featured in today’s Blurt column, Rob’n (real name Roberta Hofer):
I really like her intensely personal and intimate songs. Most of the tunes on her page were recorded simply with just her and an acoustic guitar, tho there’s an underlying hard rock foundation in the urgency and strength of her vocals and the powerful lyrical imagery. The song I’ve played most is “Prisoner” – lyric sample:
Be a prisoner inside this world /Inside an open jail /
Symbolize the maggot shamefulness/Don’t pull away the veil /
Be a prisoner wear down your fate / And drown it
Rob’n just recently uploaded an electric version of the song, which I played for the first time today and enjoyed, Tho, frankly, it was just as rock ‘n’ roll in its bare bones “Bathroom Demo” version. I also recommend the song “Try,” but don’t take my word for it --- checkitout (have I ever steered you wrong??). Think Kate Bush/Bjork gone solo-acoustic, or perhaps Tori Amos as produced by Trent Reznor…
“I suppose what I do is classic singer-songwriter stuff,” Rob’n says. “My voice and my guitar. I don’t play any other instruments well enough. I think a good song is not about how many instruments you use, but about which mood you manage to create... my main emotion goes into voice melody and lyrics. You can express everything with voice. It is the greatest instrument of all.”
She was 9 when she took her first guitar lessons. “I hated it. My teacher only played folk music, the same simple chords over and over. Ultimately, I quit and didn’t touch a guitar again for several years.”
Now 21, she began writing songs at 11. “I still remember the words...I wrote the biggest amount of songs between 14 and 17. Some of them are still my favorites, and some turn to be out like old clothes - they just don’t fit you anymore.”
She says she currently has enough songs to fill up a couple of albums, the first of which she hopes to complete soon in her home-built studio. Alone. “I’m recording it mainly for myself, to finally put things down. Especially older songs. Recording can be a catharsis. You get rid of the old stuff that has been around for a while, you wrap it up, you put it down. It is final. Then, you have more air to breathe for new ideas. Just for my first album, I’m trying to do it without too much interference of other people. It will be very a personal album."
Here’s the Placebo video featuring Hofer, as detailed in today’s Blurt (see below draft, with a bit more “director’s cut” material)
Hundreds of Placebo fans submitted video of themselves lip-synching the band’s cover of Kate Bush’s “Running Up That Hill,” for a planned video consisting entirely of fan-made clips. 21 year-old singer/songwriter Roberta Hofer – AKA Rob’n - was among around a dozen videographers who made the final cut.
“It seemed pretty unlikely to actually make it into their video,” she says. “They have fans all over the world, and pretty dedicated fans, right? More fanatic than me. But, eventually, I figured, why not try?”
“I submitted quite a few versions. Five or so. I wasn’t quite sure what the video directors were actually looking for. You know, do they want outside or inside, happy or sad mood? I tried out different locations, filmed cellar-versions, river-versions, and one inside-version, too.”
On the day the finished video was to debut online, Hofer didn’t know whether any of her clips had been chosen. “I think it took until after midnight until the video was finally put on their MySpace page. It was quite a long night.”
Her reaction? “Disbelief. I was calling friends, telling my family, watching it again and again. It’s still weird to think about it now…it’s very unreal to see yourself in an internationally broadcast music video. Jokingly, I always say ‘I thought my first appearance in a music video was going to be one of my own’…but it does make me proud.”
The video of “Running Up That Hill” uploaded to YouTube – featuring a still of Hofer on the screencap - has been played over 494,000 times. “Right after the video was online,” she says, “a friend of mine, who lives in South America, texted me. She’s a Placebo fan and had waited for the video, too. She was, like, ‘Gosh, I just saw their new vid, and it sounds weird but I could swear it’s you in there.’ It was funny to get that reaction minutes after it was online, from thousands of kilometers away.”
Like this blog? Here are some related links:
OVERHEARD IN SAN DIEGO - Several years' worth of this comic strip, which debuted in the Reader in 1996: http://www.sandiegoreader.com/photos/galleries/overheard-san-diego/
FAMOUS FORMER NEIGHBORS - Over 100 comic strips online, with mini-bios of famous San Diegans: http://www.sandiegoreader.com/photos/galleries/famous-former-neighbors/
SAN DIEGO READER MUSIC MySpace page: http://www.myspace.com/sandiegoreadermusic
JAY ALLEN SANFORD MySpace page: http://www.myspace.com/jayallensanford
More like this:
- RIP Reader cover artist and underground comix legend Spain Rodriguez — Nov. 28, 2012
- 50 Musicians Answer “Lennon Or McCartney?” “What’s Your Fave Twilight Zone?” & “What’s Your Band Name Mean?” – plus, the Inside Story of a Local Twilight Zone Spin-Off Comic Book — June 19, 2008
- Painting Rock Stars, plus Behind the Scenes: Overheard in San Diego & Famous Former Neighbors — May 8, 2008
- 25 Local Musicians Reveal “My Favorite Twilight Zone,” plus Local-Produced Zone Comic Books — April 3, 2008
- Frank Zappa Comics And Stories, plus Top 5 Lists, Fallen Pinoy Idol — Nov. 10, 2007