Music Friday Blog

  • RIP Harry Dean Stanton: my interview with him in 2013.

    Harry Dean Stanton died last week at the age of 91. This is an interview I had with him in 2013 and a review of a documentary on his life.

    The following interview took place 8/23/13 at Dan Tana’s bar and restaurant in West Hollywood, California, Harry Dean Stanton’s hangout for over 40 years and a location for the film.  The interview was done with three other reporters;  this is an edited version of the recorded conversation we had with Harry and Sophie over drinks.

     

    Patrick: You said at one point in the film you wish you had gone into music.

    (Harry) Did I say that?  That’s stupid. I wouldn’t do that.

    Patrick: How did you put together the commentary and bring in the people you did?

    (Sophie) Well, first of all, it was quite hard to bring Harry in…it took about 8 years.  It started with the music.  I started recording his music years before.  And that was the basis of the opening – that was how I could finally persuade Harry to film, to focus on the songs that we recorded.  I hoped that would open Harry up a little more to be interviewed for a film.  I didn’t want Harry just to be a talking head, so I asked other people for interviews.  The other people, like Kris Kristofferson and David Lynch were important musical and film influences on Harry.

    Patrick. You talk a lot in the film about Jack Nicolson, whom you lived with for a while.  Was he opposed to being in the film?

    (Sophie) Actually, Harry asked him directly and he said “no”.

     (Harry) He just didn’t feel emotionally up to it.  We were very close.  We used to live together, so there are a lot of memories

     

    Patrick. Harry, what did you enjoy most about being a part of this process and working with a documentary filmmaker?

    (Harry) I love Sophie and I did it mainly for her.

    Patrick.  Harry, do you like to travel?  You have traveled a lot, but never talk about it.

    (Harry).  No. I hate flying.  I hate taking your clothes off and going through security.  I never really liked flying. I am not afraid of flying, I am afraid of falling.  I am always just happy I made it.  No favorite places …they are all pretty much the same.

    Patrick. You have been recording your singing for some time now.  Do either of you have a collection of  your songs?

    (Harry) Yes, but I don’t listen to them.

    Patrick. Is there way people can hear them?

    (Sophie) Yes, there will be a soundtrack album.  I don’t know when yet. We hope to release a collection of all those recordings at some point.  They are all covers so it means licensing (fees).

    Patrick. You are still acting.  What do you love about acting?

    (Harry) It is all the same on and off camera. Life and acting are all the same.

     

    Patrick. Is there an iconic role , one that is your favorite?

    (Harry) My favorite was Paris, Texas and Repo Man. I loved the writing…they are my favorites mostly because of the writing.

     

    Patrick. How is working with Wim Wenders?

    (Harry) He is a good director.  He is an introvert.

     

    (Earlier in the conversation, Harry had said that his relationships with women were always short-lived, that he was a loner and that he had “ one or two kids, somewhere” , one for sure, but he has not had contacted them for a long time.)

     

    Patrick. Sophie, there is only one woman in the film, Deborah Harry.  Was that by design, or did it just work out that way?

    (Sophie) Deborah was the only one who would comment.

     

    Patrick. Deborah said you essentially played yourself.  Is that true?

    (Harry) Yes I played myself. 

     

    Patrick. This documentary has pretty much been everywhere in film festivals and it has taken several years to release.  Sophie, how are you feeling about it?

    (Sophie) It is great.  I always hoped it would be released theatrically and for a while, that did not seem possible because of the rights we had to obtain.  But I think it is right because Harry should be on the big screen.

     

    Patrick. Which of his films is your favorite?

    (Sophie) First, Paris, Texas.  I saw it growing up in Switzerland. It was the whole vision of America,– that whole Americana, extremely interesting for  Europeans.  And it was in the desert, which we don’t have.  It was a great story and it had a great impact.   I like all of his films, but Paris, Texas is the one that is dominant with me.

     

    Patrick. Can you tell me how the photographer Seamus McGarvey got involved?  His photography of Harry is so beautiful. Especially the black and white

    (Sophie) I met him through a friend while I was recording songs with Harry and I thought I should film him (Harry) too.  And I wanted someone who was really good and whom I knew Harry would get along with.  He said yes.  He agreed to shoot it and I wanted him to shoot it so that it would look cinematic – instead of just video, I shot myself.

    Patrick.  Harry, you just did a small part in a show called Getting On.  You had oral sex in a hospital in one scene.  How was that – to get a blow job at 87?

    (Harry) It is surprising to get a blowjob at 87.  That was with the Big Love People Mark Olson and Will Sheffer. They are good writers, very good writers. That was a dark comedy. 

    Patrick. Sophie, the film is not linear – it moves back and forth and it really works.  Do you plan that or did it evolve?

    (Sophie) Harry is not a linear person. ( Harry asks: What do you mean by that?  Sophie replies: Your life is not a straight line.  Harry: Yes, that is true.). He also does not express that much verbally, If you want to be true to your subject, to tell the story the way he is, that was the way.  Also, he doesn’t express things verbally, so  I wanted to create that quiet, nonverbal atmosphere that I feel when I am around him.  So I looked for things would create that atmosphere, which is that he is relaxed and he is present in the moment.  It would not make sense to produce a normal linear biography about him, so I tried to achieve that being in the present that way.

     

    Parick. A theme that I saw throughout the film is leaving home.  The final song in the film, his lead role in Paris, Texas is about someone who leaves his family.  Was that part of your creative process in making this film?

    (Sophie) Yes.  It was.  It was also about looking for home. For Harry, in way,  it the music  that which keeps him close to home

    (Harry) . Yes, looking for home, looking for enlightenment somewhere.

     

    Patrick. In Hollywood!

    (Harry)  It is all the same.

    Patrick. There is a scene in the film where you are talking to the bartender here, maybe this is home.

    (Harry). Could be. 

     

    Patrick. What do you want people to remember the most about you and your career?

    (Harry). It is not important. Nothing is important.  Red Buttons told me that.  He was a very enlightened man.  I asked him once if he was afraid of dying and he said ‘Harry, I am a comedian, I have died thousands of times’.  Nothing is important.

      

    Review:  Beautiful, absorbing, important.  Harry Dean Stanton: Partly Fiction is a film for everyone.

    I have to disagree with Harry.  This film is important.  Harry Dean Stanton is one of Hollywood’s most prolific and legendary actors and a fine  musician.  He has appeared in over 250 films and 50 television shows and is still acting at the age of 87, performing with Daniel Stern and Laurie Metcalf in the HBO series Getting On, to be released in 2014.  He was the lead in Paris, Texas and had important roles in Alien, The Godfather: Part II, Repo Man, The Avengers, Pretty in Pink, and The Green Mile among many, many others.

    Harry Dean Stanton: Partly Fiction is director Sophie Huber’s first film.  Her previous experience of live performances, music composition, writing and co-directing with the film collective, hangover ltd., stood her well in assembling this film. .A stroke of genius was the selection of the very talented and professional Seamus McGarvey as the Director of Photography who produced stunning black and white scenes with Harry, taking full advantage of the actors unique, character-filled.

    Another stroke of genius was Huber’s decision to make the film non-linear and to use Harry’s singing and harmonica to roll out his story, instead of the usual documentary practice of starting at the beginning and going to the culmination or the end. By moving back and forth between interviews with Kris Kristofferson, David Lunch (at one point Lynch is interviewing Harry) Wim Wenders, Sam Sheppard and Deborah Harry, Sophie weaves together a coherent story of a somewhat incoherent life.  There is no through-line, but there is a through theme – the search for home, which Harry tells us about in his enigmatic philosophy, his music, and his characters.

    Harry Dean Stanton: Partly Fiction (the title comes from a line by Kris Kristofferson) is full of unguarded moments, subtle and not so subtle wry humor, and tales of Harry’s friends Marlon Brando, Jack Nicholson, Kris Kristofferson and others.  Never quite in the center of Hollywood, Harry unintentionally illuminates the secondary rings of the industry, the brilliant people who pursue their art and their stories instead of fortunes based on CGI and toy licenses.

    Sometimes dark, often impressionistic, occasionally a bit slow for an American audience, but always absorbing, Harry Dean Stanton: Partly Fiction goes far beyond a documentary on an iconic actor, it is a revealing look into the corners of the entertainment industry.  Harry Dean Stanton: Partly Fiction is a must-see for movie buffs, for HD Stanton fans and for anyone who loves Hollywood and the movies.  I guess that makes it a film for all of us.

    Patrick O’Heffernan

    Host, Music Friday

  • Resin and Jackie Vension: blues and dreams this Friday

    RESIN_300SQ.jpgThe best of blues and electronica.  Two very different women but both great talents. Resin with her new album FIDGET, and Jackie Venson with her new album Live from Strange Brew.

  • New single out to help Harvey victims.

    Donna Balancia, music journalist, and Vince Conrad, music producer and founder of bands The Smart Pills and American Bad Taste, have released a single called "One Step at a Time," to help support the victims of Hurricane Harvey. Downloads of "One Step at a Time" are available on Bandcamp and CDBaby for $1.99 and a portion of all sales go to charities related to the Texas tragedy.

    "At a time when most of the country is going back to school' time, we can't forget that because of Hurricane Harvey many people in Texas have nothing to go back to," Balancia said. "The people of Texas need support. Vince and I want to give back in some small way to help make things better for Americans in need."

     "Vince is known for his work in the punk rock world and he's a multi-talented musician," Balancia said. "He's a prolific songwriter, guitarist and arranger. I'm the wordsmith and melody composer. Together we're releasing an EP in the fall but this song, 'One Step at a Time' is being released early so that we can help the victims of Hurricane Harvey."

     Conrad, who made his mark in the 1980s with punk bands The Smart Pills, The Aliens and American Bad Taste recently released some hidden gems he unearthed while going through his storage unit.   He remastered and re-released several of the original punk recordings from the 1970s. Check out his website here: https://www.vinceconrad.com.  Donna Balancia is the editor of CaliforniaRocker.com and the president of The Entertainment Magazines LLC, the parent company to several websites that cover tourism, technology, film and music. As a hobby, she has been singing and playing music since she was a child.

    Conrad and Balancia crossed paths many times in the 1980s in New York City, but never actually met until their love of alternative music brought them together at a Los Angeles punk club to see a Walter Lure show.

    Download the single "One Step at a Time" at https://donnabalancia.bandcamp.com/releases

    listen ( and donate) here

  • Preview of PAA Kow's new album this Friday

    Kow_300.jpgWe are in Mexico until Sept 9, checking out the music scene in the Guadalajara area. We won't be interviewing guests, but instead will play full albums - previews of upcoming releases.  This week it is the Cookpot album by the fabulous drummer PAA KOW. Tune in and rock.

  • Frutas: Sin Color’s debut album set to rocket to the top.

    crisia_big_smile576.jpgYou can always tell when an artist or band is going to rocket to the to the top.  They collect an award or two before their first release, draw big crowds when they play locally, and have an overflow audience for the album release party.  Sin Color – the duo of Crisia Regalado and David Aquino – has done all of that and something else – their debut album, Frutas,  is more than debut – it is ready now for prime time.  Not bad for two kids who just turned 20.

    Frutas is a tour de force of musical craftsmanship and sheer talent.  Each of its ten songs is a gem – there is no filler here. Crisia’s opera-trained voice soars and swoops and soothes, supported by David’s superb guitar chops and the backing of Latin Grammy-nominated accordion mistress Gloria Estrada, the great border blues duo The Dank Band, and the percussion genius of Buyepongo, all guided by top producer Eugene Toale.  For artists so young to assemble such a highly regarded group of artists and snap up one of LA’s most in-demand producers to create what is essentially a perfect album first time out is remarkable.

     But Sin Color has always been remarkable. From marrying opera (which Crisia still performs) with Latino folk, and rock and pop to winning the LA Music Critics Best Music Video of 2016 for “Pergunto”, shot on an iPhone while Crisia and David were on roller skates. Frutas is a continuation of their remarkable creativity.

    Frutas is in Spanish except for one song – “Unknown Kiss” –  but the language doesn’t matter for listening.  From the smooth jazz rock of “Un Pensamiento” to the electropop of “Limonada” to the mystery march of the title track, “Frutas”,  Crisia weaves gut-grabbing arias among the beats and the riffs in a fusion of classical and popular that is hypnotic.  It is cool and hot, impressive and comforting, edgy and charming – and far beyond what anyone has a right to expect from a first time out offering from a pair of 20-year olds.

    Many opera trained singers have migrated to pop (Crisia still sings opera) but I have never heard anyone blend the two so explicitly, keeping the true essence of each but creating a whole far greater than the parts. Frutas was two years in the making and during that time  Crisia’s voice matured and gained very precise control, allowing her to move to the very highest aria notes in “Un Pasemiento” and integrate them into the jazzy beat as if they were born there. She downshifts to a full-bodied pop range in “Arriba La Libertad”,  skating over the synth beats and then reaches for – and touches – the sky in the steady Latin rhythms of La Ciguanaba”.  “Me Pergunto”, which has been a Sin Color staple,  uses her voice in a unique pop signature intro. In “Como El Viento” she touches the sky and then goes into high orbit, all the time riding the ranchera polka energy.

    Shifting to  English and a 4/4 beat in “Unknown Kiss”, Crisia evokes 90’s rock sensibilities deepened by David’s guitar and keyboard riffs which keep you dancing. The band takes us back toward old Mexico ( Crisia’s parents are actually from El Salvador)  in “Antes De Amarte” – and again with synth rifts and pop beats interjected among the bolero influences.  The album winds down with “No Quise”, which stays in the traditional Mexica folk world but with the edge that Crisia’s haunting voice can add – taking the pueblo la plaza into the stars.

    Frutas is cool and hot, impressive and comforting, edgy and charming – and far beyond what anyone has a right to expect from a first time out offering from a pair of 20-year olds.  I hope we don’t have to wait two years for the next album, but in the meantime, there are at least four hit singles on this one and I will be hearing them a lot as they rocket to the top.

    Sin Colorhttps://www.facebook.com/SinColorTheBand

     Frutas available on iTunes, Amazon.com and Spotify

  • The boys of Americana this week

    grant_malloy_smith_high_contrast300sq.jpgLast week we interviewed the ladies in punk and rock; this week it is the gentlemen of Americana at our microphones, Chuck McDermott and Grant Maloy Smith.  Sit back, relax, put on your Stetson, and just enjoy the roots music of America.

     

  • Paradise Kings this Friday. Just great blues.

    paradise-kings-stage300sq.jpgJust great blues. And rock. And swing.  it is what your local blues band delivers year in and year out.  While the next-great-bands come and go, this band and the many like them around the country keep us dancing and entertained.  I love 'em and you will too. We talk with them and remind ourselves that you don't have to go to Hollywood or New York to get up and dance.

  • No Small Children rock us Friday

    NSC_Promo_Lockers300sq.jpgI saw these three once and they blew me away.  I had to have them on the show.  Tand that was before I know their story. Sweet mannered elementary teachers by day and tear-your-face-off punk rockers by night. No wonder their Ghostbusters song was used in the new movie.  I envy the kids in their school;  not only do they have rock stars for teachers, b ut they can wear band t-shirts with their teachers' names on them.  I wonder if they can attend the concerts...maybe not.

  • Much Baile at Grand Performances with Buyepongo and Sidestepper

    sidestepper_600.jpgIt was dance, dance, dance with  LA-based polyrhythmic cumbia-rock-funk-merengue band Buyepongo and electroacústica Columbian music group Sidestepper. 

    Both dance pavilions at the California Plaza were elbow to elbow with writhing crowds that spilled over into the VIP seats and the picnic areas, rocking out to music that just wouldn’t let you stay seated.  The hugely popular and resolutely community oriented Buyepongo was  exactly in their element at the free Grand Performances concert series,  which has been called “a grand gift to the public.” by the Los Angeles Times. Those were their people dancing – Latinos, Asians, blacks, gringos -- the spicy rainbow mashup that exults in the dynamic culture jumble of Los Angeles.   

    Buyepongo has played major venues and motivated crowds on both coasts and around the world, sharing stages with bands like Quantic in the UK, Ondatropica in Colombia, Ozomatli, Booker T and Cut Chemist and Sharon Jones in the US, Celso Piña in Mexico,  and many others.  But all the world tours were forgotten Friday night; Buyepongo was home.  And they were at full strength – 8 guys, 4 drums, an accordion, guitars, and horns. Band leader Edgar Modesto was front and center with  his signature drumsticks on a single conga, bantering and singing in Spanish and English.   And they let loose like I have never seen them before, mixing up beats, stretching songs until dancers were ready to drop, and laughing along with the audience.

    The band started off while the late summer evening sun was still up and really ramped up the energy as the sun drifted down and the stars came out.  By halfway through the set, the sky was black, the building surrounding the Plaza were alight with projections, the stage blazed across the water with lights. Grand Performances had become a huge outdoor dance floor presided over by Modesto and his magical assistants.BUYO_ON_STAGE_600.jpg

    Buyepongo is part of the leading edge of fusion music barreling out of LA, fed by indigenous rock that goes back to Richie Valens (aka Richie Valenzuela) and the Doors in the 60’s to the constant stream of artists flowing daily through LA from Latin America, Asia, Europe, and music centers in the US like New York and Nashville. The band’s latest album title says it all- Todo  Mundo “Everyone”.  Not only is their music fun for everyone, they play for everyone, from free public events like Grand Performances and concerts at the Levitt Pavilion in DTLA, to salsa clubs and neighborhood dance clubs like La Cita and the Del Monte Speakeasy to highbrow centers like the LA Museum of Natural History and the Philadelphia Museum of Art.  Bilingual fusion music –ALM (American Latino Music) --  appeals to everyone regardless of language, race, country or location.  It brings people together and that is what Buyepongo does best.

    crowd_600.jpgAnd that is what Grand Performances does best – creates magic that enables artists from all genres to bring people together. The gift GP gives to the people of Los Angeles and the State, free of charge, is a safe, exciting place where magicians like Modesto and Buyepongo can transport crowds to an experiential somewhere else. To do this they have been presenting the best in music, dance, and theater at the California Plaza in the heart of Downtown for 30 years. Grand Performances is one of the positive forces that inspires community among the diverse peoples of Los Angeles and reflects the many cultural interests across the region. This why Buyepongo was at home.

    And it why Sidestepper was also at home at Grand Performances.  Having transformed the Colombian music scene and inspired a new generation of young electrobeat geniuses to marry Latino music with cutting edge beats, Sidestepper is now bringing its unique brand of rhythmic joy to the US before heading back to Bogotá.  Eka and her band of musical pioneers are the latest evolution of a project organized three decades ago by producer Richard Blair to mix the hard and heavy emerging London drum and bass sound with Latin sounds and breaks. Today, Blair’s project has become a new genre, melding traditional Caribbean beats to modern sounds and music forms.  All that was on display as  Eka danced and skipped across the GP stage, whirling, rocking and clapping, moving the already energized crowd in California Plaza in a non-stop bailando that brought the characteristically diverse LA crowd of singles, couples, and children together into a single living, dancing creature.  Points to the organizers at GP for combining two bands to create a singular experience.

    That singular experience will continue to October with programs ranging from classical and funky jazz performances of Peter and the Wolf, to a beer tasting party, to modern dance without boundaries featuring Milka Djordjevich, d. Sabela grimes, Amy O'Neal and Micaela Taylor to films and theater. (photo credit: Farah Sosa) 

  • I took a tour of music history - and future today

    sandy._recordsC.jpgSandy Skeeter owner of Sound City Studios, founded n 1967 by her father and home to virtually every legendary rocker you can name. took me on a tour today.  The studio closed 17 years ago, despite walls full of gold and platinum recordings and even a movie b y David Grohl.  It just could not keep up with the changes in the music industry and the move toward DYI recording by young bands.  B ut Sandy has reopened it with new equipment and a new plan to integrate it into DIY, bringing the big studio sound to new bands who are now realizing that 60% of their music is not being recorded in their home studios. As I walked past gold record and accolades from Tom Petty, Fleetwood Mac - which was formed at Sound City - Metallica, Elton John and many many more, Sandy explained her plan to upend the studio industry and chart a new future with better sound to match the quality now coming out of Spotify and SkullKandy .

     

    Live_A_Bechstein_angle.jpg Control_B_Helios_Main.jpg

    wall_skeeter.jpg