Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Slow Train A' Comin......

As the months pass, and the Democrats plan their moves with regard to the festering sore that is the Bush Administration, this new turn of events will be a interesting showdown in legal and American history, involving the White House and the Congress

...If there is nothing to hide, then why not comply???


WHITE HOUSE, Cheney's Office subpoenaed
By LAURIE KELLMAN, Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON - The Senate Judiciary Committee subpoenaed the White House and Vice President Dick Cheney's office Wednesday for documents relating to President Bush's controversial eavesdropping program that operated warrant-free for five years.

Also named in subpoenas signed by committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., were the Justice Department and the National Security Council. The four parties have until July 18 to comply, according to a statement by Leahy's office.

The committee wants documents that might shed light on internal disputes within the administration over the legality of the program, which Bush put under court review earlier this year.

"Our attempts to obtain information through testimony of administration witnesses have been met with a consistent pattern of evasion and misdirection," Leahy said in his cover letters for the subpoenas. "There is no legitimate argument for withholding the requested materials from this committee."

Echoing its response to previous congressional subpoenas to former administration officials Harriet Miers and Sara Taylor, the White House gave no indication that it would comply.

"We're aware of the committee's action and will respond appropriately," White House spokesman Tony Fratto said. "It's unfortunate that congressional Democrats continue to choose the route of confrontation."

In fact, the Judiciary Committee's three most senior Republicans — Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, former chairman Orrin Hatch of Utah and Chuck Grassley of Iowa — sided with Democrats on the 13-3 vote last week to give Leahy the power to issue the subpoenas.

The showdown between the White House and Congress could land in federal court.

Leahy's committee and its counterpart in the House have issued the subpoenas as part of a sweeping look at how much influence the White House exerts over the Justice Department and its chief, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales.

The probe, in its sixth month, began with an investigation into whether administration officials ordered the firings of eight federal prosecutors, for political reasons. The House and Senate Judiciary committees previously had subpoenaed Miers, one-time legal counsel, and Taylor, a former political director, in that probe.

But with senators of both parties already concerned about the constitutionality of the administration's efforts to root out terrorism suspects in the United States, the committee shifted to the broader question of Gonzales' stewardship of Justice and his willingness to go along with the wiretapping program.

The Bush administration secretly launched the spy program, run by the National Security Agency, in 2001 to monitor international phone calls and e-mails to or from the United States involving people the government suspected of having terrorist links. The program, which did not require investigators to seek warrants before conducting surveillance, was revealed in December 2005.

After the program was challenged in court, Bush put it under the supervision of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, established in 1978. The president still claims the power to order warantless spying.

Debate continues over whether the program violates people's civil liberties, and the administration has gone to great lengths to keep it running with extensive presidential discretion.

Piquing the committee's interest was vivid testimony last month by former Deputy Attorney General James Comey about the extent of the White House's effort to override the Justice Department's objections to the program in 2004.

Comey told the Judiciary Committee that Gonzales, then-White House counsel, tried to get Attorney General John Ashcroft to reverse course and recertify the program. At the time, Ashcroft lay in intensive care, recovering form gall bladder surgery.

Ashcroft refused, as did Comey, to whom Ashcroft had temporarily shifted the power of his office during his illness.

The White House recertified the program unilaterally. Ashcroft, Comey, FBI Director Robert Mueller and their staffs prepared to resign. Bush ultimately relented and made changes to the classified program that the Justice officials had demanded, and the agency eventually recertified it.

The fight was one of the most bitter disputes of the Bush presidency and questions remain over whether the program tramples people's civil liberties. The administration says the program is crucial to preventing more terrorist attacks.

Fratto defended the surveillance program as "lawful" and "limited."

"It's specifically designed to be effective without infringing Americans' civil liberties," Fratto said. "The program is classified for a reason — its purpose is to track down and stop terrorist planning. We remain steadfast in our commitment to keeping Americans safe from an enemy determined to use any means possible — including the latest in technology — to attack us."

Justice Department spokesman Dean Boyd said the subpoena to Gonzales is under review and that the department recognizes Congress' oversight role.

"We must also give appropriate weight to the confidentiality of internal executive branch deliberations," he said.

Majority Democrats and some Republicans are skeptical and have sought to find out more details about the program and how it has been administered.

Leahy's panel is required to serve the subpoenas to specific people within the offices named. One is addressed to Gonzales, while the others are addressed to: David S. Addington, Cheney's chief of staff; White House Chief of Staff Joshua Bolten, V. Phillip Lago, executive secretary of the National Security Council - or "other custodian of records" in their offices.

The subpoenas themselves seek a wide array of documents on the program from the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks to the present. Among them are any documents that include analysis or opinions from Justice, the National Security Agency — which administers the program — the Defense Department, the White House, or "any entity within the Executive Branch" on the legality of the electronic surveillance program

Monday, June 18, 2007

Learning From The Drum Solo

rohit bhargava's blog on marketing and strategies had a post about drumming that had an interesting perspective on how people perceive "the drum solo"
thought that I would share it and learn from it myself.....

Monday, June 18, 2007

Learning From The Drum Solo

Last night I saw a drum solo as part of the A.R. Rahman concert here in DC. 

For those who don't know, A.R. Rahman is as close as any modern day man can get to being a god in India.  He is the music composer (and sometimes voice) behind many of the most popular Bollywood films.  The concert presented an evening of his music from many films and was hugely popular here in DC - with people lining up outside and dancing in the aisles throughout the show.  The drum solo was much like any drum solo you have likely seen at a music concert.  It lasted for more than ten minutes and the drummer flew effortlessly between large drums, small drums, indian drums and a wall of cymbals.  Being a drummer myself, this was one of my favourite parts of the show - because I had a frame of reference to understand and follow the drummer's beat.  Unfortunately, as I looked around at the audience, most people had no such background to draw on and seemed lost.

A drum solo is a tricky thing.  There are no other instruments, and typically no melody ... only rhythm.  You have to bring the audience into the rhythm and engage them in the beat.  The problem with most drum solos is that they are overly complicated and indulgent - with the drummer focusing more on demonstrating the speed and skill with which he (or she) can play rather than offering a beat that audiences can connect with.  There are moments in most drum solos where the drummer gets a beat, people start clapping along, and it's a nice moment.  We all know what happens next.  The drummer switches the beat, you stop clapping because you lose the connection, and now you are just watching a performance again.  Marketing is exactly the same as the drum solo.  If you focus too much on your own story - you will end up only appealing to the drummers in your audience who understand you and listen between the lines.  Your audience is mostly non-drummers.  A successful drum solo offers a simple beat that an audience can connect with - just like successful marketing has a simple uncluttered message that resonates with a target audience.  The need to demonstrate everything you can do for a customer at once is tempting.  It's like the drummer wanting you to marvel at the speed with which he can play.  Everyone loves a good drum solo ... the important thing is to make it one that people can relate to.
Posted at 09:02 AM in Random Thoughts | Permalink

(photo by courtney erskine)

Music review / Nancy King Marks A Milestone....

- A fete at Portland's Bijou Cafe honors a world-class jazz singer whose talent is finally getting its due
Monday, June 18, 2007

"Of the wonderful things -- that you get out of life -- there are four," Nancy King sang.

She phrased the complex lyrics so they snapped to the quirky beat of the classic bebop tune, "Four," each syllable quick-stepping to the melody.

"And baby -- so to truth, honor and happiness -- add one thing more. Meaning only wonderful, wonderful love -- that'll make it four."

It's become one of her signature tunes, and her masterful performance made it stand out in an evening of musical highlights at King's 67th birthday party and concert at the Bijou Cafe on Friday. In fact, it sounded as if the Portland-based jazz singer had every one of those wonderful things she was singing about within her grasp.

The love was clearly evident, at any rate, in the warmth and affection that the standing room only crowd and fellow musicians showed the singer, who received a Grammy nomination for Best Jazz Vocal last year

And she did look happy, digging the work of the seven instrumentalists from her seat on a stool in their midst. Hair pulled back in characteristic ponytail, King rocked forward, shouting encouragement, nodded her head in affirmation, smiled and, between tunes, told funny stories.

And when she sang, well, you'd need to paraphrase the voice-over to "Superman" to do it justice, because she appeared to leap tall buildings in a single breath, scat faster than a speeding bullet, and build momentum like a freight train. All with perfect intonation.

She is one of the best jazz singers in the world, after all.

Though she has performed on major stages, recorded with the renowned Metropole Orchestra of the Netherlands and released a number of highly-regarded albums, King has not received recognition and financial rewards commensurate with her abilities. Perhaps her dedication to truth and honor, both personally and professionally, has at times slowed the process. But she has always had the satisfaction of making music in her own uncompromising way. And given her increased opportunities in the past few years, it looks like that was the right path.

"I still believe in justice," she said a decade ago, before all the recent recognition. "I'm confident that the universe is taking care of me because I'm doing what I'm supposed to be doing."

Singing jazz.

On "Groovin' High," written by Dizzy Gillespie, one of King's heroes, she dug deep into her alto range, then suddenly jumped an octave, attenuating that note to a thin stream before plummeting again to fat, round tones in the lower register.

On nearly every tune she sang, the instrumentalists seemed to elevate their performance in response to her example. Warren Rand's alto saxophone slithered around the melody, his big tone swelling with emotion, while Cheryl Alex's cool alto flute offered a well-paced foil. Saxophonist Toby Stone recalled the warmth of bebop-era tenor players, her tone like an homage; Robert Moore sang several duets with King as well as a heartfelt version of "I Can't Get Started"; and young pianist Dan Gaynor's solos flashed in concert with the rhythm section of drummer Carlton Jackson and bassist Scott Steed.

King urged them on, and every solo was greeted by shouts and applause as the crowd felt the collaborative spirit among the musicians.

And that's what makes King such a sterling jazz vocalist: She situates herself as an equal partner among the instrumentalists. Unlike the pop tradition, where the singer stands alone and the others are mere accompanists, King uses her voice as simply another instrument in the ensemble.

But on her 67th birthday, she was clearly first among equals.

Lynn Darroch writes about jazz frequently for The Oregonian. Reach him at:

Ladies and Gentlemen, Mr Warmth...Don Rickles / This hockey puck is a real LEGEND!!!

This image is the one that resides as my current business card, and I sometimes get the comment that "hey, your card is great, but who is that old guy in the front of it ??"

It always gives me a silent cringe when I think of who that person is walking in front of the band, conducting us through the last rousing, swinging tune of the evening to cap off his rousing, 75 minute set....

Well in the interest of clearing things up, that old guy is great comedian and current flavor of the year, Don Rickles, and that shot is from a two day run in Lincoln City some months ago, where I played in the show's 14 piece orchestra.

Here is a picture of some of the 14...
These guys are the best at playing music for a living!!!

I just need to say that if there were a more genial legend to meet and hang with for two days, please show him or her to me... well now that I have said that, let us not forget the one and only Leroy "The Walker" Vinnegar who I knew for most of his 15 years here in Portland, and was fortunate enough to share a stage or two, in his gracious employ...

but I digress...

Right now, Mr Rickles is enjoying a round of well-deserved attention with his new biography out and selling like gangbusters (check out his interview on "Fresh Air", podcast-wise), but let it be said that, contrary to all that you would believe from his act and how he does it, there was not a kinder, gentle, inviting soul to his orchestra, and to the audience around him...
that is, of course, after getting lit into frequently, by his brand of humor.

He was generous with the orchestra, and included us in the show with a few of the routines. We did not "live behind a scrim curtain", as is the case with some of the bigger shows. We were right up front with him on the stage, and interacted accordingly.

As I said, he referred to us many times during the evening, introduced us each by name near the conclusion of the evening, and of course, insulted us accordingly....

For my portion of the public flogging, it went something like this....

"This is Carlton Jackson, our drummer for the evening...
Hey Drummer!!!!...Sonny Payne wants his act back!!!!"

Then without missing a beat, he went on to tell a wonderful story to me, while we were there on-stage(and conversely so, lightly educating the audience) about his meeting and hanging with the great drummer from Count Basie's big band many years ago (I think it was the late 40's/early 50's he was talking about).
He also tried each night to "hook me up" with some unsuspecting African-American lady that happened to be in the audience. Just the way that he portrayed the piece of meat that was me to these ladies was indeed funny and side-splitting each least my lady friend thought so (thank goodness...).

If that weren't enough, as we were packing up on the second night, Mr. Rickles sent his valet to tell the orchestra that if we could wait a few minutes, he wanted to meet us all and to tell some stories, allow us to take some pictures for memories, and to just generally be a wonderful man to us all.

He let us know that he appreciated the way we played his charts, and that our attention to detail that weekend was to his liking.

For my end of things, I got to hang with another legend that weekend.
For that, I am humbled to no end.

Long live "Mr. Warmth" (Johnny Carson's words, not mine) : )

(photos, again by auntie p.)

9/08 postscript....

One of Dark Horse Comics main drivers is Mike Richardson, who co-produced with John Landis a wonderful special look at Don Rickles called "Mr. Warmth"
The DVD has won an Emmy or two and is a funny and touching look at this legend.

Here is a story about Don hanging with his friend, Anthony Quinn that is up on YouTube.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

some beautiful shots from around the horn.....

(photo by Rodrigo Gomez)

I frequently come across images on the Net just like the next person, and sometimes would like to share them with no interruptions for all, so without further ado..
(by the way....if there are any images that are contained here that someone wants removed, with respect to copyright, just let me know and I will make you happy)

This colorful concert scene looks like the lighting director is pulling out all the stops, or perhaps this is the end of the show, and the band is getting their money's worth out of the involved lighting array above them.
It would be just a beautiful sight to behold from the audience, and if I were in the middle of all that light.....

.......I would feel warm, for sure!!

From the sublime, to the dangerously ridiculous....

This particular picture came from another touring musician I know , and the photo shows the remains of a lighting rig above a stage that collapsed (thankfully no one was hurt!!) onto itself. Obviously the beautiful, really expensive DW drumset belonging to the Average White Band (remember them??? I do, fondly...) gets whacked from above (like most of the Soprano's enemies....) in the ensuing melee.

(dig that cute custom AWB logo head on the bass drum)


A calmer and more gentle atmosphere in this next one....

Evening shadows fall over the crowd in this beautiful onset of night shot from the Safeway Waterfront Blues Festival / Portland, Oregon.
In addition to all of the great music that ensues during the multi-day festival, let us remember that your participation benefits many people, including the continuing function of the Oregon Food get down there with your cans of food and your money donation.
It really helps out, let me assure you.

Below is is a shot of the mighty duo of (recent Grammy nominee / birthday girl June, 07) Nancy King and long-time right hand man on piano and melodica, Steve Christofferson, doing their beautful thing during a recent Abou Karim gig in downtown PDX.
I get to play with them every so often, and when that happens, I smile big time.

These two are the so much the wellspring/real deal of what is good and true about Jazz / Improvisation of such affairs...

These two masters should be part of your listening diet sometime.

That thought not withstanding, go out and support LIVE MUSIC,
anywhere and anyway you can......

here is a photo of some of Portland's best Blues music artists (with a couple of interlopers thrown in there....)
all in one picture frame...see how many you can name off the top of your head!!
this was taken at the Bill Rhoades Benefit Show at the Cascade Tavern in Vancouver, WA.

(courtesy of Ross William Hamilton of the Portland Oregonian staff. Good job as always, Ross !!)

This is a shot of me along with good friend and fellow broadcaster Homer Clark (who supplied this picture) and great tenor saxophonist Houston Person, who I had just played a set with. We are backstage at the Cathedral Park Jazz Festival, a few years ago.

Heyyyyyy Bo Diddley !!!
Heard you weren't feeling so good....
Here's hoping you are getting better and ready to rock and roll again!!
Shake those Maracas!!!!

I got to play with this legend three times in my life (so far), and just to hear that sound
(and dig that box of a guitar....very singular man, if you know what I mean....),
and also to sit and listen to him tell jokes until my sides ached!!
That is the top shelf of things, let me tell you.
One of my favorite visages of Bo was in that horrible movie "Blues Brothers II" where he peers over the rims of his glasses with one of those "Oh no you didn't ..." sort of looks, while standing next to the great Junior Wells in the same scene!!!

Long live Ellis McDaniel!!!!

A shot of a force of nature behind the drums....Mr. Eric Gravatt (Weather Report, McCoy Tyner and others...)

the mighty 18 of the Carlton Jackson/Dave Mills Big Band on a gig at LaRumba in NE Portland putting it out there for the big band music loving audience

(photo by auntie p.)
This is a photo of myself, great PDX bass player Randy Monroe, and the equally wonderful Brian Stoltz from the Neville Brothers Band and other New Orleans concerns.
We are playing at the Educational Stage at the Safeway Waterfront Blues Festival in 2005.
Brian was a joy to work with, and really tore it up with his own band (with George Porter, Jr. and Russell Batiste) at the festival.

(photo courtesy of Margy Alexander)
this shot is from the musical series "Museum After Hours" at the Portland Art Museum ballroom.
Alfredo Muro, Brian Healey and myself are toiling away while the big 1984, sinister-looking video screen emits rays from behind. A great trio to listen to, and some great music from Alfredo that day.
Check out Alfredo's recordings please, and once again.....
Support LIVE music....always!!!

The late,great director/photojournalist Gordon Parks, Jr.

and the equally great actor Richard Roundtree...

These two men teamed up to make one of the best Blacksplotation movies of all time... "SHAFT"
(let's not forget the wonderful original story and subsequent great screenplay of Ernest Tidyman)

There are a few sites on the web devoted to the history of this movie and some great candid shots of the principals and support actors in the movie.
It's still one of my favorites of all time!!!


Here is a little shameless promotion of an album I am on....get it through CD Baby or


now for something completely different....

if this is what LSD looks like when you take it...
then feel free to give my dose to someone else, OKAY????

Okay, Okay...

Just when you thought that they had invented all that could be invented...
For those of us who are not yet "off the pig", as it were....
Something for the bacon lovers in the audience...

The proverbial "mother of invention" must be turning over in her grave by now :)

(mouth starts to water, like Homer Simpson at this point)

What's next... PORK SODA ???? :)

There is a great Jump Blues Era song called "House Of Blue Lights" that my friend Robert Hicks sings the mess out of....
I saw this picture, and it really conjures up a vision in my mind of how those lights would look....

Take a peep at these...

I came across this one in a newspaper, and it comes from the Jay Leno world of headlines and funny ads... check this out.

and one more funny one....

thanks for visiting this section of the blog and have a good day...

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James Brown Tribute at the Goodfoot Lounge, Thursday May 3, 2007

this review was lovingly posted by AP KRYZA on the Willamette Week Local Cuts web page after our performance at the Goodfoot Lounge.

We, the band, had a lot of fun and sweat going that night, for sure. Hope you were there for it.

Thanks again to ideas man Neil Leeborg and the wonderful staff at the Goodfoot Lounge for backing the good impulses and ideas within the community, and their undying, unflinching support.

Photo courtesy of the internet.

May 8th, 2007 [2:55PM]

It was a scorching 100-degree day in a vast, treeless Tennessee field when I finally got a chance to witness a live performance by the Hardest Working Man In Show Business. The Apollo this wasn’t—the Bonnaroo music festival, an annual celebration of love and overflowing outhouses, is a mish-mash of hippies, hipsters and hash (over 70,000 people attended that year), and the dreaddy and dirty crowd was salivating for a glimpse of the Godfather himself.

The sun beat down like a plasma ball on the sweating crowd as JB’s band hit the stage. But James wasn’t there. His man-slave (every soul god has a man-bitch) barked into the mic about how the man himself was among us, and would be on the stage soon.
James Brown is and always has been larger than life, and any persona of that caliber deserves to be built up. The band blared, horns pumping the familiar riffs of “Sex Machine” and “Cold Sweat” as the anticipation built during a free form funk jam.

After 40 minutes of build-up, Brown hit the stage looking much like he did in his golden coffin—caked with makeup and looking like a rubber-coated, botoxed raisin.
But god damn this old man belted it out. For a solid 30 minutes, the Godfather blew through his catalogue with a vigor and tenacity that is absent in most senior citizens. He leapt, he screamed and he donned and discarded no less that ten capes—periwinkle, scarlet, blue and eventually platinum and gold.

And while he was just going through the numbers in the scorching Tennessee heat, JB captivated every member of the drug-addled young crowd.

Brown, who passed earlier this year, can’t really die. He is so ingrained in our culture that his spirit hangs forever. Rap, funk, soul. None of it would exist without JB, and every time a musician hits the high-hat on an off beat, JB is behind it. He changed music in a way no other person has. Fuck Elvis: James Brown’s political, sexual and machismo charm—and his all-too-human flaws— are ingrained in American culture as much as apple pie and passing the buck.

Thursday’s James Brown Tribute, which played out in the packed basement of the Goodfoot (a bar that takes its name from a JB classic) was appropriately scheduled on the late musician’s birthday, but it was also something of a posthumous wake. Pints clanged and beer poured as the Goodfoot All Stars (comprised of the bar’s regular musicians, including members of the Scott Law Band and the Piano Throwers) blasted through choice cuts of the JB catalogue. Nine musicians graced the stage, including a full four-piece horn section.

Wisely, the band kept the set instrumental on some of the tougher, vocally driven songs. “Cold Sweat,” which opened the set, and “Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag” were all instrumental, with the exception of Brown’s trademark grunts. The instrumental funk gave ample opportunity for gleeful keyboard, guitar and horn solos.

When it came time to belt out Brown’s nonsensical lyrical mayhem on songs like “I Got Ants in My Pants,” “The Payback” and “Soul Power,” local session drummer Carlton Jackson ably took to the mic, growling and grunting through each song and propositioning audience members on the immortal “Hot Pants.”

It was a celebration, and the band took exuberant joy in riffing on the classics. The set was comprised mainly of Brown’s funk catalogue, wisely straying from the slower and less danceable soul standards that started the singer’s career.

With sweating, gyrating audience members packed from wall to wall, every seat in the venue was empty, the dance floor crammed with crazy-legged dancers grinning through an extended, erogenous “Sex Machine.” Say what you will of Portlanders’ reluctance to dance. When James Brown’s music is playing, even the stiffest, most puritanical music fan can’t help but shake his hips.

The All Stars knew their shit, too: The tribute was a huge, masterful celebration of the career of the most influential funk- and soul-man of all time. Nary a beat was missed, and it’s quite a shame that, given Brown’s massive song list, this couldn’t happen more often. Brown may be gone. But, as was proven at the Goodfoot, his soul lives on in the dancing shoes of everybody.

1 Response to “James Brown Tribute at the Goodfoot, Thursday, May 3, 2007”

Clambeard says:
He’s called a hype-man, not a man-bitch and certainly not a man-slave. James Brown worked too hard for too long in a racist and segregated society to ever be associated with slavery in any form.

Second of all, soul would have existed without James Brown. It was already happening when his career took off.

But you are right when you say there would be no funk or rap without JB. Wherever someone is getting off on their good foot, James Brown lives.

Posted @ May 8th, 2007 at 5:43 pm