Category: Music

Blame it On the Youths

A celebrity with a record label announced recently that she had signed a talented teenager to a recording contract; album due out soon! The adolescent lad joins another teenager on the Celebrity’s label. She specializes in discovering post-pubescent stars-to-be-made; indeed, this Celebrity, Ellen DeGeneres, discovered the Filipina belter Charice Pempengco, now known as Charice, which...

A Secret I’ve Been Keeping

Most of the people I’ve not met who recognize my name “know” me as a book writer, or as that guy who used to be on television blabbering about poker. A smaller subset might know me as the producer and proprietor of jazz records, or even as a former jazz vocalist.  Those are all cool...

Ode to “Opening Night: The Improvised Musical”

Los Angeles is lousy with talent. Just as the plethora of beautiful men and women on the streets (and in the stores, and everywhere else) start to blend into the palm-lined boulevards, it’s easy to become immune to the charms of so many funny, clever, quick-witted people. When you see theater or hear music or...

The End is Near!…for Selling Recorded Music

Before 1909, when technology changed everything, performing artists earned a living by performing. The only way to sell talent was to traipse it around the countryside and throughout the theatrical circuit. Packaging a voice on phonograph recordings, distributing the disc through retail channels, and marketing the product as a valuable commodity was a radical and...

Remix Manifesto

1. Culture always builds on the past. Whether it was composer and piano virtuoso Franz Liszt using Gypsy melodies in his compositions, Metallica borrowing song structures from Diamond Head or The Rolling Stones recording Robert Johnson’s “Love in Vain” as a “traditional, arranged by Keith Richards,” composers have always used previous works as inspiration for...

Super Thoughts, One for Each Quarter of the Big Game

1. The angry folks at Focus on the Family bought a Super Bowl advertisement meant to illustrate what a big mistake abortion is. They enlisted college football superstar and possibly closeted gay religious zealot Tim Tebow to communicate how terrible it would have been for his mom, doing missionary work in the Philippines and carrying...

An Opinion You Can Trust

The most irksome problem with the Blogosphere is that everybody is a critic, which is cool for everybody but troubling for everybody else. Without institutional authority — a newspaper, a university, a trade group — to certify who should be listened to and respected and who should be dismissed and neglected, discerning the wheat from...

Out of Step With the World

In the golden days of hardcore punk rock — yes, there was such a period; it ran roughly (very roughly) from 1979-1985 — a “movement” emerged called Straight Edge, which was an edgy way of saying Straight.  Straight as in, “I don’t do drugs or drink. I’m a thrash-metal-loving cutural outsider who doesn’t defile his...

Jazz is Dead

If, like me, you listen frequently to jazz radio, often you hear DJs and other concerned constituents urging folks to “keep jazz alive,” as though it were an invalid on life support. Falling sales, vanishing broadcast formats, venue closures — they all suggest that America’s greatest contribution to the planetary arts is indeed on the...

Baddest of the Badd

This space has previously catalogued a pantheon of Badasses, the bad-to-the-bone boys and girls whose badness makes them (and what they do) impossible to ignore and glorious to witness.  The past two weeks, we’ve had the pleasure of experiencing two of the world’s very baddest musicians at Hollywood’s Catalina Bar & Grilll Jazz Club, one...