Monthly Archives: September 2011

Imported Goods: Candy Lee follows her bliss to Jacksonville

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Candy Lee Long and her husband David moved here from Fayetteville, Arkansas at the beginning of the summer, to study and be closer to their friends; she has quickly gotten established herself in a scene already swollen with skilled singer-songwriters. She notes Tobacco Pat, Robin Rutenberg, Gospel Music and Sunbears! among those she’s enjoyed so far, when not herself working spots like Burro Bar,European Street, Dog Star Tavern, Speckled Hen Tavern, New Orleans Café and the Riverside Arts Market. She hosts the open mic nights at the Wine Bar and has featured at Creekside Songwriters Showcase. A strong start, but any standard.

She’s new to this scene, but not to Florida, or the business. Born in Ft. Myers 27 years ago, Candy Lee lived briefly inVermont but spent the last three years studying and performing in her adopted hometown of Fayetteville, which is where her artistry really caught stride as leader of a group (which included Dan Dean, Warren Dietzel, Jennifer Graham and Emily Jenkins) aptly dubbed “Candy Lee and the Sweets”. It was there where she found the confidence to really begin to define herself as a creative individual, performing as a solo act and putting the emphasis on her own songs. And feedback was positive: she was named Best Female Singer/Songwriter and Best Female in a Band by the Northwest Arkansas Music Awards.

Lee has been singing since childhood, and performing in school bands and various other groups for almost as long, but only started on guitar four years ago. “I used to play clarinet, but haven’t since high school. Now the only instrument I play proficiently is my voice. My knowledge of music theory is minimal. I can read music, but when it comes to what I do as a singer/songwriter, I mostly play by ear.” With diligent practice she’s evolved on the instrument to effectively support her songwriting. These skills are ably displayed on her debut solo recording, The Gate, which comes in a package entirely designed by her. (It’s worth noting here that Candy Lee is also a skilled artist and graphic designer.) Not many musicians are as intimately involved in every aspect of their recording.

According to her website, “The Gate is a project of music, art, and philosophy. It explores the evolution of human thought, as experienced by Candy Lee. It is the story of the hero’s journey to Self-realization and enlightenment.” Recorded inFayetteville last year, the album features her own artwork and her own compositions, which display a melodic sense of unusual potency. It captures a musician of ferocious self-assurance, one unafraid to go full speed ahead and miles away in pursuit of her artistic objectives.           

Candy Lee’s voice changes tone and pitch from song to song; the voice services the song, rather than the other way around. Hers is the only voice heard on the album, frequently overdubbed for harmonic purposes; this comes out in places like the choruses on “Worst Enemy”, one of the album’s best tracks. In practice, her voice sounds very much like the Casady sisters, aka Coco Rosie; this comes through on the opening track, “Blues Skies”. At others, like on “Experiences”, it’s more reminiscent of Cranberries singer Delores O’Riordan. It doesn’t sound derivative, but more like a set of certain sonic tools employed in service of the songs.         

Following the album itself, a few minutes of silence yield to a bonus track that shows off yet another aspect to Candy Lee’s artistry: electronic music, rendered by her group “Metasapien”, whose debut disc, Art Or Die, was released a couple years ago. Candy Lee sings the hooks while husband David Long raps over beats they crafted together. The two met shortly after she graduated high school, playing together briefly in an acoustic duo called 50 Cent Trade. Long also records as “I Am”; his third album, Spiral Dynamics, was released in February, and all can be had via his Bandcamp site.

From a newcomer’s perspective, what are her initial impressions of our scene? “I like the indie folk scene and the fans who attentively listen at shows,” she says. “I didn’t really know what to expect when I got here, as far as the music scene goes. I had heard that there were plenty of places to play, but nothing in detail about the other bands in the scene. My initial impressions of the music scene in Jacksonville were positive. I am happy the music scene here is so diverse.

“What I dislike about Jacksonville is that it seems very commercial, like most of Florida. I miss the small town, environmentally conscious vibe of Fayetteville, with its independent businesses, bike trails, community gardens, and kid friendly events. The environment there gave rise to a certain level of introspection” in the resulting cultural products. Of course, many people here are working to change both that perception and the underlying realities; the fact that the city still attracts her type, even in this ridiculous recession, is certainly cause for optimism.

Long earned her BA in Environmental Studies at Florida Gulf Coast University, and picked UNF to pursue a Master’s in Environmental Engineering. Having made the successful transition into a new phase of her life and career, her immediate goals are simple: keep moving forward. She’s building contacts and booking gigs in new (to her) venues, while planning to tour in November. The home studio she used to record The Gate will be used to record her follow-up, with release slated for sometime in 2012.

@the Green Door, 2008. Photo by "Noir33"

www.candyleemusic.com

http://www.facebook.com/CandyLeeMusic

http://twitter.com/CandyLeeMusic

http://iamdavidlong.bandcamp.com/

sheltonhull@gmail.com; September 19, 2011

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Notes on Alan Justiss and Music

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Of the thousands of hours I spent in conversation with Alan Justiss, much of that time was spent talking about music. Like most writers, he was a huge music fan, and used it to fuel his own creativity. I’m a Jazz Fan, first and foremost, and that foundation informs my knowledge of that’s come before and since. My favorite music for listening to while writing remains, with some revision and much extension, essentially the same stuff I fed on while starting out in the business: Monk, Max Roach, Eddie Condon, Sun Ra, the sublime perfection of Lennie Tristano’s “Turkish Mambo” and the otherworldly telepathic kick of “Interstellar Space”. (John’s Coltrane’s final album was augmented years later with a CD of extras from those Feb. 1967 sessions, called “Stellar Regions”. It’s very much worth getting both at the soonest possible opportunity.

Alan’s tastes ran more toward folk, protest music, singer-songwriters. He made me aware of the fact that Bob Dylan had more to offer young ears than just the seminal “Subterranean Homesick Blues”. He told me that Jeff Buckley had a father who was pretty good, too. From him I was regaled with what you might call “actionable intelligence” on names then-unknown to me like Van Morrison, Mickey Newbury, Harry Nilsson. And, of course, the entire Wainwright/McGarrigle clan, whose banner he aggressively carried, without fail.            

I am grateful to have helped enhance his perception, as well. He really liked Regina Spektor, and he loved CocoRosie. As a poet steeped both in Beat mythos and the classical canon, he could readily appreciate what the best rappers are capable of; it helped that he had intimate knowledge of the sociopolitical conditions that produced hip-hop.

We shared a special love for the music of Glenn Gould (1932-1982), who was a) the single foremost interpreter of the world-changing piano literature of Johann Sebastian Bach; b) greatly responsible, by extension of that fame, for stimulating popular interest in the avant-garde, “atonal” musics of Arnold Schoenberg, et al; c) a little-known but major influence on the world of broadcasting, a subject that has never gotten full coverage; and d) a very good writer and critic of music, media and social trends who belongs in a class with Buckminster Fuller and his fellow Canadian, Marshall McLuhan.

Alan Justiss was also a huge fan of the Black Kids, one of a number of truly excellent indie bands based inNortheast Florida. He was good friends with Owen Holmes, and I think he knew several other members of the group. He cherished his autographed CD and poster, and studiously inquired about their progress.

Press Release: Odd Future/Adult Swim

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ADULT SWIM PICKS UP LIVE-ACTION SERIES WITH ODD FUTURE WOLF GANG KILL THEM ALL

            LOITER SQUAD TO PREMIERE ON ADULT SWIM IN 2012

Adult Swim announced today it has picked up the live-action series Loiter Squad, a 15 minute live-action show that features sketches, man on the street segments, pranks and music from Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All. The cast, featuring the Los Angeles collective of rappers, artists, and skateboarders, channel their multi-faceted creative talents in this Jackass-style showcase. 

This announcement comes on the heels of Tyler, The Creator’s “Best New Artist” win at the 2011 Video Music Awards.  Creating their own show comes as a natural next step for Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All, whose accomplishments have garnered wide media attention in 2011 and continue to compound on themselves.  Singing member Frank Ocean contributed to the new Beyonce album and the collaboration between Kanye West and Jay Z. Tyler, The Creator’s Goblin LP has sold more than 100,000 copies and his Yonkers video has been viewed more than 22 million times. Odd Future is on the verge of their first national tour and the release of their Golf Wang book in November will document their travels and hometown exploits. 

Loiter Squad is being produced by Dickhouse Entertainment–the Hollywood production partnership of Johnny Knoxville, Jeff Tremaine and Spike Jonze who have been the creative power behind hits including Jackass, Nitro Circus, Rob & Big, Rob Dyrdek’s Fantasy Factory, Wild Wonderful Whites of West Virginia, The Birth of Big Air and Wildboyz.  The Dickhouse sensibility provides a perfect match for the unique viewpoints, masterful pranking and artistic inclinations of the Odd Future crew.  Jeff Tremaine and Adult Swim’s Nick Weidenfeld will serve as executive producers.

Adult Swim (AdultSwim.com), launched in 2001, is Turner Broadcasting System, Inc.’s network offering original and acquired animated and live-action series for young adults.  Airing nightly from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. (ET, PT), Adult Swim shares channel space with Cartoon Network, home to the best in original, acquired and classic entertainment for youth and families, and is seen in 99.4 million U.S. homes.

Turner Broadcasting System, Inc., a Time Warner company, creates and programs branded news, entertainment, animation and young adult media environments on television and other platforms for consumers around the world.

ADULT SWIM CONTACTS:

Atlanta    

Tim DeClaire                              (404) 575-9283                                                  tim.declaire@turner.com

Elliott Niespodziani                     (404) 885-4834               elliott.niespodziani@turner.com

Wendy Rutherford                       (404) 827-5097               wendy.rutherford@turner.com

ODD FUTURE PR CONTACT:

Heathcliff Berru @ Life or Death PR  (773) 344-8216               info@wegetpress.com       

 

Fantasy Booking: Great Matches that Never Happened, pt. 1

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[This will expand as new ideas come to mind, which they seem to often.]

*Eddie Guerrero vs. Owen Hart: Under the right circumstances, this could have happened. Guerrero jumped from WCW to WWE in 2000 (along with Chris Benoit, Dean Malenko and Perry Saturn), only a few months after Hart’s preventable death at a WWE PPV in 1999–one of the most wrenching tragedies in an industry replete with it. Had he lived, Owen Hart would probably still be in ring shape, and a multi-time world champion; the matches that could have occured over the last decade stagger the mind, starting with “Latino Heat”. Hart and Guerrero would have surely encountered each other in the mid-card shuffle of that era. They’d have made good tag-team partners, but a feud would have been epic.

*Steve Austin vs. Dusty Rhodes: The promos alone would have been amazing, but the matches could have been better. To pit the two legendary Texans against each other at their peaks–say, Dusty of 1985 vs Austin of the late-’90s–would have been a clinic in the unique characteristics of pro-wrestling in that area. To this day, a fan can immediately tell if a guy’s from Texas, just by the way they run the ropes; the term “hoss” comes to mind. It’s inexplicable, but true. Barry Windham is the exemplar. A heel Austin would be an ideal foil for Dusty.

*Kurt Angle vs. the Iron Sheik: Before he became a pro-wrestling star, and long before he became an Internet sensation, the Iron Sheik was Khosrow Daivari, an Olympic-class amateur wrestler and assistant coach for the Iranian national team. One assumes the Iranian wrestlers, like the Israelis, don’t fuck around much, and Sheiky Baby was a legitimate tough guy in a business full of them: Anyone who gets the rub from Verne Gagne, Billy Robinson and Brad Rheingans is no joke. 20 years after Sheik’s peak as an amateur, an Iranian wrestler was beaten for gold by Kurt Angle at the 1996 Olympics. The bombing that year was awful (with a shady an uncertain resolution), but in retrospect the biggest news from that Olympics was Angle’s debut. Angle vs. Sheik would be a technical masterpiece, with natural storyline value thanks to the politics of their gimmicks. On the mic, well, obviously hilarious.

*Chris Benoit vs. the Undertaker: Media reports generally suggest that Benoit’s mental collapse in 2007 was motivated, in part, by anxiety over his position in the business. He allegedly viewed being booked to win the rebooted ECW title in Jacksonville as a demotion, a sign that he was on his way out. If he truly felt that way, it’s unfortunate, because it’s likely the opposite was true: Benoit was being put in a trusted position to help develop the rising stars of the future. Note that Benoit’s would-be opponent in Duval that night was CM Punk, who ended up dropping the belt to John Morrison while the crowd chanted “We Want Benoit”, unaware of the tragedy that had unfolded. (It’s unclear if Benoit lived long enough to watch the PPV.)

Had he lived, one presumes Benoit would be ideally-positioned to be a main-event player in today’s WWE. Physical issues aside, Benoit would have been an interesting opponent for the Undertaker at one of the recent WrestleManias. Taker has evolved a ground-based, submission-heavy style of wrestling, a new thing for a big man, and who did that better than Benoit. The Crippler also ranks right up there with Taz, Rey Mysterio, Ric Flair and Shawn Michaels in his ability to work credibly against much larger opponents. Honorable mention to Royce Gracie, whose epochal work in the first five UFCs lit the fire for such stuff in the United States. Taker’s use of the Triangle Choke is a direct homage to Gracie, as is Samoa Joe’s rear-naked choke. In 1997, Ken Shamrock reversed a Taker chokeslam into a cross arm-breaker, an important moment in pro-wrestling history.

*British Bulldogs vs. the Legion of Doom: Davey Boy Smith was one of only a handful of wrestlers who could go rep for rep with Animal on the Bench Press. But the decisive match-up in this match would be a battle of charisma between Road Warrior Hawk and the Dynamite Kid. The Warriors’ size and toughness usually meant they could do what they wanted in the ring, but Dynamite wouldn’t stand for the kind of ring-work they brought to the AWA and NWA.

*Hulk Hogan vs. Ric Flair: Yeah, they wrestled a bunch of times, but what should have been the biggest series of matches in wrestling history were, in fact, botched. Flair vs. Hogan should have happened at WrestleMania in 1992, after Flair had won the Royal Rumble, but it somehow never happened. Flair jobbed in almost every match he ever had with Hogan; his few wins were invariably tainted. As such, millions of dollars were thrown away that could have been earned through an evenly-matched, credibly booked series of matches between the two greatest champions of the last 30 years.

*Brock Lesnar vs. Vader:

*Midnight Express vs. Motor City Machine Guns:

*Beth Phoenix vs. Awesome Kong/Kharma:

David Garrard: Adding Insult to Injury

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Adding Insult to Injury

David Garrard: A good man, treated really badly.

 The end of David Garrard’s nine-year run with the Jacksonville Jaguars was executed in a manner wholly consistent with the team, and the city it represents. A man who gave all he had on behalf of his team and his city was sent packing more in the manner of a deposed Muslim dictator than the local hero he was. If there was any way to have handled it any worse, it may considered miraculous that such conditions were not also met; one can only guess that its slapdash nature left insufficient time.

Recapitulation: David Garrard was drafted by the Jaguars in 2002. He became the starting quarterback when Byron Leftwich was let go in 2007. The clamor to draft Tim Tebow last year signaled the end was near. His teammates denied him a position as team captain on Monday—Labor Day—after his last full practice in a Jaguar jersey, but he was still introduced to a luncheon of community leaders as their starting QB on Tuesday. He was gone within two hours, surprising pretty much everyone.

The stated reasons? “He just couldn’t get it together,” said Coach Jack Del Rio, who made sure to bury his star on his way out. He came into camp sluggish, clearly off a step after years playing behind an offensive line that saw little real investment until it was too late to save Garrard. The team waited to see whether he could regain his old form, but when that failed to happen, they made an apparently last-minute decision to save some $9 million in salary cap room—money that will likely be thrown away on another Cleo Lemon-type free agent bust. By the time most fans were aware that their franchise had been decapitated, Garrard was probably already home, shoes off.

The issue here is not whether Garrard should have been the starting QB. That is a decision for the coaches. This is about business, and about a football team that exists in significant part because of the tax dollars and consumer spending of a city that, like most others, is fighting hard to resist the recessionary rip current swirling through our country. Frankly, it’s a slap in the face to every fan who bought into the “rebuilding” hype that has defined the Del Rio era. The accountability demanded of individual players, or the ticket-buying public, isn’t even humbly requested by team management of itself.

But to eliminate him now is to excise a major component of the team’s drawing power and marketing appeal the last few years. He wasn’t the captain, but if you ask the city’s children who the team’s leader is, they’ll usually say Garrard. How much money was just wasted on fresh #9 jerseys in the past month, while the coaches were planning his ouster? How many fans paid full price for outmoded swag? How many stores have to eat a bunch of worthless stock they were planning to bank on? How many pieces of Jaguar merchandise became curiosity pieces before the season’s first snap?

At the moment Garrard’s exit was announced, the team still needed to sell 7,200 tickets to avoid a blackout. Nevermind that the NFL blackout rule is garbage and should be eliminated; dumping a guy like him this close to the opener implies chaos behind-the-scenes and raises, once again, the biggest question about the team itself: the full extent of its commitment to winning. On this point the political implications dovetail with practical football concerns. It may have been time to switch starters, but removing Garrard entirely means they have no options if the new guys falter or get hurt. (The irony is that Garrard was once the best backup QB in football.) If they start the season slowly, it will have a chilling effect on ticket sales, which itself will generate more heat.

The logistics of Garrard’s final day as a Jaguar contrasts sharply with that of his former teammate Fred Taylor. Freddy T signed a one-day contract before announcing his retirement at an emotional press conference that begins what will hopefully be a short but successful wait for Hall of Fame credentials, the first given to a Jacksonville player. But the man who was the face of the team for four years left the building without fanfare, and the front-office ran him down in a press conference called after he was gone. It was cold, classless and potentially poisonous to team morale.

Garrard was publicly humiliated, but he’s no victim; he’s already rich and still young enough to get even richer, and he surely understood the nature of the business he was in. The fans are now forced to endure another “rebuilding” year of uncertainly dotted with freak success and abysmal failure, but for them it is all just a game—one for which they have a lot of passion, but still just a game. The real victims here are new starter Luke McCown and presumed future starter Blaine Gabbert. They rose on a cloud of negativity not of their making, and expectations are now much higher because removing Garrard represents an “all-in” gesture toward the new guys. It’s now much harder for both of them to succeed, because they’re already being played against each other.

It should say enough about the effectiveness of Jaguar decision-making that the last two starters driven from Duval—Leftwich and Mark Brunell—both went on to productive and lucrative careers working as backups for franchises in bigger markets, or that Garrard’s agent had already received offers from at least three other teams within two hours of the announcement, or that one of them may be the Indianapolis Colts. Even if Garrard’s utility to the Jaguars had truly ended (which it hadn’t), it was maybe not the best idea to leave his talent open to exploitation by conference rivals.      

Were these questions worth considering? Of course! Jack Del Rio said out-front that it was solely a football decision. Perhaps that was really their intent, but it did not work out that way. After spending so much time talking up their love of “character”, to see the literal embodiment of that ethos given the Old Yeller treatment at age 33 sends a clear signal to other players that there is no upside to the time spent “giving back”. Those emotional bonds formed with kids in hospitals, charity groups and such can be snapped on a whim, consistent with a right-to-work state forcing sadistic austerity onto its people.

Garrard’s unceremonious sacking, lacked with acrimony, is an experience that resonates with many city and state employees who have been going through the same thing themselves this summer. Like them, he acted in good faith and gave all to people who treated him more like a broken-down mid-range racehorse than a human being with many positive contributions still to be made. This Garrard thing was the kind of move Rick Scott would make if he ran a football team; it’s something the Florida Marlins would do. That’s not good, not at all.

sheltonhull@gmail.com; September 7, 2011