Friday, October 11, 2013

Those of you who have read the book or strolled through the back pages hear know of Peter LaBonne, a singularly unique artist who Alex really dug (he once told me that if he recorded an album of Peter's songs he would have his first million seller).  Peter lives deep in the Adirondack mountains and rarely performs although his recorded output is immense.  He recently performed in Troy NY.  Here's an on-the-scene report by Chandler Travis - he being a cult artist with a rather significant following in the New England region (Incredible Casuals, Chandler Travis Orchestra).  Chandler put out the only CD by Pete that captures his element to a significant degree (Meditation Garden on Sonic Trout - pretty easy to find a used copy online).  Here's a link to  Chandler's includes some live footage...
Pete LaBonne live

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

July 2, 2013

So where did the year go?  Two words: sandwich generation.  And no, it has nothing to do with swiss cheese and ham.

As most of you know, Nothing Can Hurt Me: The Big Star Story goes into general release this week. I saw the movie in Rochester NY last month and was just knocked out.  The filmmakers have done a fantastic job telling the Big Star story and that wasn't an easy task.  However many hats I own, I take them all off to Drew, Olivia, and Danielle.

For starters, you could readily divide people who will see the movie into two groups: rabid Big Star fans who know the story and a lot of the detail and viewers who at best might have a thumbnail sketch of the story, if that.  It's like when I tell music fans I wrote a book about Big Star...some will light up and be super-enthusiastic and some will just give me a quizzical look and I know I have to go into my brief (and well-rehearsed by now) explanation. But you could watch NCHM from either perspective and be really enthralled by the film.  For a Big Star fan, it's heaven on celluloid.  For an intelligent person who likes an interesting tale of art, commerce, and interesting people, it's very compelling, even if you've never heard a note of Big Star.

Then there's the matter of there being no live footage of the band from the 70s.  And then add in the fact that neither Chris nor Alex were interviewed on camera (Chris for obvious reasons.  The directors had extended conversations with  Alex before he passed away before anything was resolved. I donated tapes of my interviews with Alex for my book to the directors and you'll hear a few snippets in the film.)

So whether the film is playing in a theater near you or you watch it on iTunes (available July 5th), your holiday week isn't complete without seeing the film.


Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Okay...I'm back.  And glad to be back.  I'll be catching you up on some things in the days ahead, but first something of importance on this day of June 26...the 33rd anniversary of the day I met Alex and we played the epic show at McVan's described in the book.

If you haven't checked out the Kickstarter  page for the forthcoming Big Star documentary, please do so immediately.   There are only 41 hours left for you to help with the completion of the movie and get some really cool BS swag in the process.  I've spent some time with the filmmakers and am completely confident that this is going to be a rock doc that goes far beyond the typical story of a band.  So click on the link below and get started.

Nothing Can Hurt Me

More soon...

Monday, August 1, 2011

Trying to stay cool...

If you haven't checked it out, go to the Ardent site and get a copy of the new EP from the Big Star tribute in Memphis last year with John Davis from Superdrag. John's performances came early in the show but they set the bar high and were never topped despite the strong talent that followed. My good friend and esteemed critic Parke Puterbaugh was with me at the show and agreed with that opinion. Shortly after the weekend I emailed John Fry and suggested that John Davis , Jody, Ken, and Jon do some recording with the legendary Fry behind the board. Probably will never happen but this will give you a taste of what could be...

I recently "discovered" Dom Mariani (DM3), an power pop titan from Australia. These are some of the things you miss when you're raising a kid, working, and looking after aging parents. His song "Just Like Nancy" is absolutely killer and the original version would be worthy of Radio City if only he'd taken the time to write a great bridge for the song. Regardless, it's been at the very top of my playlist this summer.

Next week I'm going to see Bob Dylan and Leon Russell. In the latter half of 1971, that would probably have been my dream concert (along with a double bill of The Who and Jethro Tull). I was (and have remained) a huge Dylan fan but had no hope at the time of ever seeing him live (have since seen him many many times). On the other hand, I'd just seen Leon Russell in a converted bowling alley in Buffalo NY with Freddie King opening. It was about a week after the Concert for Bangladesh and Leon just killed the place. I remember walking out of this low-ceilinged sweat box with my Levi's soaked through. So 40 years later I get my wish. From what I've been able to tell, the return of Charlie Sexton has given Bob a much needed jolt (the band after Charlie and Larry Campbell left was mundane to say the least) and there's some new dimensions to his performance (more singing at the mike with no instrument). Regardless, I regard seeing Dylan as I did seeing Miles Davis. You should feel fortunate just to be in the same space with him for a few hours.

A reader inquired about my reference to Austrian economics giant Ludwig Von Mises in a recent post. Yes, in October of 1970 (I was a freshman in college) I attended a conference where I got to hear Von Mises speak in a small conference room to about 30 people. It made a huge impression. He talked about the need to have a national currency maintain a consistent value i.e no inflation of deflation. As I recall, he held up a ruler and essentially said that if a foot didn't maintain a consistent value of distance, every building would eventually collapse. And if a dollar (pound / mark / whatever) didn't maintain a consistent value, it too would eventually collapse. Not exactly rock and roll, but heavy none the less...

Thursday, June 9, 2011

I'm sure that most of you are FB friends with Ardent Studios (a must for Big Star fans). But in case you missed it...Ardent is now offering official Big Star t-shirts at their site. If you're like me, you've looked at those bootleg shirts on eBay and held off thinking that the only thing worse than having no Big Star shirt is to have a cheezy knockoff. But now you can get the real deal. Mine hasn't arrived in the mail yet, but I can tell you that any t-shirt I've gotten from Ardent, going back to A Man Called Destruction, has been super quality. Father's Day is right around the corner and what would be better for the Fourth than a shirt with a big star. Order today!

Who doesn't love a good Brian Wilson story ? Here's one I heard last week from a friend of mine...
In the late 80s a friend of my friend – a veteran writer of network television comedy – was over at Brian Wilson's house when the phone rang. Brian answered and talked for a bit in the next room. When he came back he explained, "That was folk music's Bob Dylan."

How great is that? That he thought that he needed additional info to identify Dylan, as if the name wasn't enough, and then chose folk the late 1980s! I can almost see Brian saying it with that sort of talk out the side of his mouth thing he does. Well, "That's surf music's Brian Wilson."

I think that Alex C. would have gotten a kick out of that story....

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Bob Dylan's 70th Birthday....

I usually ignore these sort of supposed "milestones" but all the Bob talk got me thinking a bit.

For starters, I've been a huge fan of Dylan since 1965. The first time I saw him (1974) was almost a quasi-religious experience (I never thought he would tour again). Since then I've seen him at least a few dozen times if not more. I've been backstage at a number of Dylan shows since 2001 (have never even sighted him except the time he drove by on a motorycycle) but have a few good stories out of it all. I firmly believe he's one of the great artists of our time. Right at the top.

While pondering how lucky I've been to be in the same room with Bob Dylan and witness him creating in the moment (a few years ago it was from ten feet away in a small club in Toronto), I started to think about who else I've been in the same room with that could truly be deemed to be a giant...someone who changed the course of history in their field and will be remembered for generations.

So here's my list...Bob Dylan, Miles Davis, Jimi Hendrix, Muddy Waters, Bob Marley, Paul McCartney, and Ludwig Von Mises. I've left out a lot from that category, including the Stones, Who, Springsteen and many many more. All sorts of jazz musicians (Sonny Rollins for starters) and rock (sorry Clash). And yes, Alex Chilton.

And what about Ludwig Von Mises? Look him up...

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Here's a brief snippet of Pete LaBonne playing solo piano recently. Although he started out playing keyboards in soul bands around Buffalo in the late 60s / early 70s, he switched over to guitar and in about six months had pretty much mastered the instrument and created his own unique style. But he can still play the keys for sure...

I hope to be posting some rare mp3s related to Alex Chilton over the next week. But only if I can find some inexpensive and easy way to host them on a third-party site and then link them to Blogger so that when visitors click on them, they play immediately without going to the third-party site. If you have any suggestions, please let me know. If I can work this out, you'll hear some cool stuff...