Sunday, August 29, 2010

Dry Erase Support

Perhaps you have seen her dramatic resignation...  It made the rounds on the email circuit and was quite popular on the usual suspects of social networks. This beauty's name is Elyse Porterfield, not Jenny... And while her actual resignation has been proven to be a hoax, she has been enjoying the new-found attention and the sudden boost to her acting career.

And apparently, she has also been enjoying The Bigfoot Diaries...

We loves ourselves a good internet hoax here at the Bigfoot Diaries...

Monday, August 16, 2010

Playing Catch Up: A Post of Randoms

I've been a little preoccupied lately and haven't spent much time online, let alone here at the Bigfoot Diaries headquarters.

I was able to spend a tremendous weekend with my daughter, and we took in the Iowa State Fair with Dave Shep and his wonderful family on Saturday, and then my Aunt's farm on Sunday evening for hamburgers and brats on the grill, and fresh Iowa sweet corn. This weekend was the first time in forever that the Disastroids were all together in the same room again.

The Disastroids + 1

In a way it was nice to step offline for awhile... Iowa is a beautiful place in the late summer, and I can't think of way to spend a more perfect weekend in America's heartland. On the other hand I have a handful of stories and interviews half-started that I need to get to at some point and finish them up to get them published for your entertainment...

This post really has no intention except to let me get a few things off of my proverbial chest. I've had the same thoughts echoing through my brain now for serveral days, and I am hoping that by writing them out on "paper", it will serve as a means to an end. And then maybe I can refocus on the other things I have been working on, and get some substance written up and laid out for all it's glory.

First and foremost, have you ever thought you were hungry, and took the time to let the oven warm up and baked an entire meal only to discover at the time it finished cooking that you really are not hungry at all anymore? That just happened... French Fries anyone?

I got an email from Wendy Jacobson a few days back; you might know her better as The Fabulous Miss Wendy and it seems that she is recovering nicely from her recent and sudden departure from the Green Jello tour. 

In her own words:

Things are good here. I'm totally jazzed cause I'm heading into the studio to finish my next record, with Vinny (from the band Sponge) and Tim Patilyn (who just produced the née Taproot record which went to number one on the active rock charts).

I love it when attitude trumps conflict, and it seems that instead of taking the woe is me attitude, Wendy instead chose to take the positive high road in light of her situation, and it seems to be working out for her. Kudos to her! All of us here at the Bigfoot Diaries wish her the best of luck in the future, and look forward to the day when we can conduct a sit-down interview. I would be looking for something from her to surface REAL soon.

In other music related blog news, I am all but finished with two small interviews... One is with Greg from Dangerous Music inc, and the other is with George Cummings, co-founder and lead guitarist for Dr. Hook and the Medicine Show. I am just waiting on pictures for both...

I am going to Des Moines tomorrow night to do something I thought I would never do... I am getting a tattoo on my back right shoulder. My old pal Dante Smith is doing the ink, and I promise to have plenty of pics to show here on the blog.

The tattoo is essentially going to look like this:

I figure that if I am going to have something pernemantly attached to my body, a Bigfoot is as good a thing as any.

Remember several days ago when I played disc golf with Ed Fallon, CVEckian and Jon Krieg, and Jon broke a world record? Well Ed talked about it on his Thursday edition of the Fallon Forum on 98.3 The WOW FM,  and tried to give away a lunch with Jon as a celebrational package. Unfortunately however, nobody called in to claim the prize... Heh.

Here is how Ed tells it:

Well, no one called in. Not one! The previous week's giveaway -- a free oil change at Sargent's Garage -- was immensely more popular than lunch with Krieg. When I first broke the news to him yesterday, he was slightly disappointed for maybe a fleeting second. Then Krieg realized he'd saved money and his demeanor brightened noticeably. Oh well. Jon's glory and triumph live on in the hearts of the absolute few of us who truly give a darn.

Good stuff... I always say that unintended humor is the best. This really makes me wonder what in the world normal people think about those of us who play disc golf... Stay tuned. We are working on putting together our next competetion... Go-Cart Racing.

Finally, a shout out to Five Guys... I have known for awhile that these fellas put together the greatest cheeseburger on the planet, and now it seems that they are finally being recognized nationally for doing just that. I have eaten there twice personally, making a point each time I get out to the DC area. The first time I went was with Haws, who told me to order the small portion... I argued briefly, but he was adamant.

"Trust me!" he said, as he flashed a grin.

He was absolutely right. I got the best burger I have ever had before or since, and the biggest pile of fries I have ever had to tangle with... I can't imagine what the large portion would have looked like, but  I was thankful that was was there to give me that direction.

Now... Where did I put those fries?

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Time Loves a Hero

Richie Hayward, the legendary drummer of Little Feat has died of cancer of the liver at age 64. Becuase he was from our state, his death leaves many of us here in the Iowa with an enhanced sense of dread. First with the floods and their extensive damage to the Iowa State campus, and then this... Ames, Iowa is having a very bad week.

Richie Hayward 1946-2010

"I played Little Feat videos for two hours and cried, so funky. I loved that guy..." said Des Moines musician John Price.

Back in early July I asked my friends on Facebook to list their favorite rock and roll drummers of all time. John was the only one who mentioned Richie Hayward... A damn good pick in amongst the usual suspects of the rock and roll elite. Mr. Hayward might not have had the name recognition of John Bonham or Neil Peart, but you can bet that he garnered just as much respect from his peers and the fans who knew him.

He was diagnosed with liver cancer a year ago and put his career on hiatus in order to fight it. Unfortunately it was too much for him and he lost the battle today. His death is a tremendous loss for Ames, for Iowa and for the world.

With sincere sympathy, our hearts go out to his family and his fans.

Monday, August 9, 2010

He's Gone... 15 Years Ago Today

Five years ago today I wrote a piece about Jerry Garcia and posted it on Gooseneck, a blog I've long since abandoned. Now it is the 15th anniversary of his death, and I thought I would dig it out of the archives and share it with you. It's still seems to fit, five years later.

As time passes some things seem to fade, but not those memories... The links I added to the old post are new, as are the photos I have posted with it. With advancements in technology and the invention of Facebook, it seems to be easier to find people talking about his death here at the 15 year juncture. I remember not hearing much about it five years ago. Jerry Garcia is still larger than life, and perhaps more popular now than he ever was. I know we can't go back in time, but sometimes I wish we could.

I still miss Jerry and his captivating smile. And on my best days I am still listening to his music.

Where Does the Time Go?

Ten years ago today Jerry Garcia died. It's been 10 years. Unbelievable.

I was much younger 10 years ago.

Though my days of following the Grateful Dead were way behind me in 1995... I still kept a certain affinity for the band. And especially Jerry.

He had been there when I really needed someone to be there for me... When I was young and into foolish things, and in real need of some positive guidance. Jerry was able to do what nobody else was able to do... He got to me. It was almost like he picked me up and carried me through my twenties.

But it didn't happen over night. I had been listening to bits and pieces of the Dead since about 1985. At first I was a "sometimes" listener, but then suddenly... WHAM! I was hooked.

I attended my first GD concerts in 1989 at the Alpine Valley Music Theatre. It was three nights of whacked out bliss, especially from the standpoint of an impressionable 21 year old. From there the train just got rollin. I attended over 25 shows in the next three years and traveled all over the country to do so.

In August 1991 I attended a very rare Jerry Garcia Band concert on the banks of the Eel River in Northern California. I was lucky to get in, as tickets were extremely scarce... The only reason I managed to do so was because I had climbed to the top of the surrounding mountain the night before, spent the night under the stars, descended down the other side early the next morning, dropped myself off of a 20 foot cliff into the waters of the Eel, and swam to the shore... To the venue parking lot.

Once I was in the parking lot, I was in the concert itself... There was no separation between the two.

It was like a dream. Once inside I rubbed elbows with the likes of Ken Kesey, Bill Graham and Wavy Gravy... Plus about 500 stoned out naked hippies... Nobody had clothes on in the parking lot, and only a few did in the concert itself.

The show was run entirely on solar power... There was probably no way to get electricity out to this desolate spot that went from one day being genuine Bigfoot country to the next this amazing concert venue.

Jerry on the Eel River 1991

I managed to walk right up to the stage and stare at Jerry, without any pushing or shoving what so ever... And did so until his magical eyes met my gaze. I must have looked happy, because without missing a single note on his guitar lick during his version of Lay Down Sally, he flashed me a smile that still rebounds off of my memory to this day.

That had to be the pinnacle.

By the end of the following summer the crowds started to get out of control. There were fights in the parking lots, huge drug busts due to carelessness and overuse, kids crashing gates to break into shows... The whole scene took on the feeling of a dark cloud. It was like the shadow of Altamont had once again returned, to waggle it's finger at our impending doom.

By the fall of 1992, I quit going to shows. It wasn't about the music anymore, and I was tired of watching the crowd literally consume itself to death.

But... I still had my tapes.. And I still had my friends who were into the old scene... And we kept it going throughout the early 90's...

But it more or less stopped in 1995 after Jerry passed away. He had everything in the world going for him but he just couldn't kick his addictions.

While the scene was certainly still alive in the late 90's, even in Jerry's absence... It has NEVER been close to the same since then, as it was back then... When the music first and foremost brought the people to the band, and the band to the people.

There's never been another band as uniquely creative as the Dead, and Jerry Garcia was the biggest link to the scene. Nobody in the world of music reeked of coolness as he did.

But anyway...

I haven't seen anything on the news channels about Jerry dying ten years ago today. And arrogantly, I'll assume that there aren't too many blogs talking about it either.... But that's okay. Jerry always reigned in the deep crevices of the counter culture. He was an estimated prophet... if not an unwilling one. He brought hope and happiness to thousands of people, and saved more than just a few of us from the edge of madness.

There's no doubt that he had his demons... Just as there is no doubt that he saved me from some of mine. He knows better but I know him.

And for that, I'm grateful.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

World Record Saturday

A while back I contacted Ed Fallon about playing some disc golf.

I didn't know him per say... But I did know who he was. His name is common here in central Iowa, as he ran for Governor in 2006 and then for congress in 2008. Both bids were unsuccessful, but Ed still maintains a strong presence in the political arena. He and his wife co-host a progressive radio show Monday through Thursdays on 98.3 the WOW FM. Ed maintains that his show is the only show on the station's schedule that doesn't bring a paycheck... And in fact he and Lynn are required to pay for the one hour slot that they occupy from 7-8 PM.

(Photo from DM Register archives)

Ed's politics, while leaning hard to the left, are in a sense Iowa's politics. He believes in democracy, something the current gubernatorial process here in Iowa does not, and like his democratic constituents, isn't afraid to go on conservative talk radio shows to discuss his views. He is a relentless worker and a champion for the little guy. He has a strong sense of justice, something he might have picked up from his religious studies degree at Drake University and is a peace activist who who has intently studied the writings of Mahatma Gandhi. He even travelled to India in 1995 to study ways to use peace as an alternative to violence in dealing with contemporary social problems here in the United States. He lives a fruitful life...  A play on words here... In the sense that he is an avid gardener and he and his wife grow most of the food that they eat.

Ed Fallon doesn't mince words, saying that Iowa's current Governor, Chet Culver, once a good friend and also a democrat, is "not bright enough to be governor." (I agree.) Ed pointed out to me that on two occasions during the gubernatorial debate sessions Chet Culver leaned over to him and inquired about the order in which the candidates were to answer the questions. "Am I next?" Culver asked an incredulous Ed Fallon. While our personal politics are in some ways vastly different, I voted for Ed Fallon because of the man that he is, knowing that he wouldn't use the power of government against the people of Iowa for his own personal gain or hide behind the curtain of government when making unpopular choices. As I said, Ed is a champion of the people and Iowa would be a lot better off if a person with Ed's integrity were in office today.

So yeah... I sent Ed Fallon an email and challenged him to a game of disc golf. I thought that it would be great blog fodder for one, but I also wanted to see if my suspicions were indeed correct that Ed Fallon is there for the little guy. My suspicions were confirmed... He accepted my request and yesterday we met at Crivaro Park in Des Moines for a couple of 9 hole rounds.

As it worked out it became a foursome. I invited our tech guy CVEckian to come along, and Ed invited a friend of his, Jon Krieg who writes a blog for the Des Moines Register. We decided that we would pair up, me and CVEckian vs. the Ed and Jon in a game of best shot. Instantly the game was fun. We were all virtual strangers, two vs. two, but we exchanged friendly verbal jabs back and forth and kept a steady flow of banter between us. CVEckian and I took a lead into the last three holes of the first 9, but somehow managed to lose when both of us missed an easy putt on the last hole, and Ed and Jon birdied it to win. It was getting hot and the humidity was high and I expected that would be it... But then they suggested that we go another round.

Jon, CVEckian, Ed and myself

"Absolutely!" we agreed. Little did we know that we were seconds away from making disc golf history and viewing not one but two documented disc golf world records...

After drinking some water under a shade tree and enjoying some conversation, we wandered over to the first tee. "Ok..." Ed said. "We are done messing around. We are bringing our A game!" We all enjoyed a laugh and proceeded to hole one. Little did any of us know how prophetic those words would become.

Now... I do not remember the exact order... But I think CVEckian went first, then I... Then Ed. Ed had a wonderful drive which fell just a few feet from the basket. Then it was Jon's turn. Jon teed off and his drive sailed to the right of the pin, caught some wind and seemed to dip, and then regained momentum and curved left... And fell right into the basket. A hole in one!

Jon's first hole in one

"Holy Crap!" we all jumped around with excitement and exchanged high fives. It was a great moment to be sure... I have only witnessed one other hole in one in my life, which contains about 21 years of playing disc golf. (I started playing in 1989 when I lived in Iowa City.) The mood was jubilant, and Ed and Jon both taunted CVEckian and me with friendly and spirited vernacular. It was a glorious moment, and even though it was our competition who shot it, it was great to see Jon ace the hole. CVEckian and I faltered, and ended up with an even par for the hole putting us two back going to the 2nd tee.

The Dynamic Duo
Again, I do not remember the exact order in which we threw but it doesn't matter. What does matter is what happened when it was Jon's turn to throw. Once again his drive took a long sturdy curved route to the pin and fell in for another hole in one. It was freaking unbelievable! I bet our wails of delight could be heard for miles away, we were all so jubilant. Again high fives all around, and Jon's triumphant declaration, "I'm going to play the lottery!" From that point on, it wasn't even a game. CVEckian and I stopped keeping score without really discussing doing so, as going into the third hole we were already 4 back from Ed and Jon. I was buzzed... and not from chemical alteration or alcohol, but from adrenaline. It was such a surrealistic moment, it wouldn't have been weird to me if suddenly Salvador Dali suddenly emerged from behind a tree and painted our portrait. We all wondered aloud if this feat has ever happened before, and discussed that topic thoroughly throughout the rest of the match. We had seen the impossible... If not the incredibly unlikely. We would find out later that this feat has only been documented once before in the history of the world.

As I said, CVEckian and I stopped keeping score, but Jon and Ed were on fire, with Jon's long drives and Ed picking up the slack with his unorthodox putting style, making putts at will from various distances. They ended up shooting a ten under for the 2nd nine holes, which in itself is an amazing feat. My adrenaline was flowing so much that my game became secondary. It was fun to watch Ed and Jon as they both played what possibly could be the single greatest best shot game in history.

Late last night I got notice from Ed that what happened yesterday was in fact worthy of world wide mention.

I think our competition today may have inspired Krieg to two world records: shortest time in between aces and most consecutive aces... Check it out! 

He sent me a link to the Professional Disc Golf  Association's World Records Page, which seems to confirm what we suspected... That indeed Jon broke two world records. (Well he broke one, the shortest time in between aces and tied the other, most consecutive aces.) CVEckian, being the techie that he is, had digitally recorded the audio of both of our matches and the recordings confirm that only three minutes elapsed between Jon's aces, which shatters the previous record by 12 minutes! One thing that may separate Jon's feat from the person with whom he tied might be the fact that he used two different disks on his consecutive hole in one drives. The other thing worth mentioning again is the combined score that Ed and Jon had for their second game... Par was 27 for the course, and together they shot a 17. That is remarkable, and a pretty rare score even for a doubles best shot game.

Ed Fallon is a champion of the people... And also a champion at disc golf... Even if he did have some help with a history making partner.

*(Photos by CVEckian unless noted)

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Dr. Philgood

Another graphic arts challenge completed by our talented tech guy, CVEckian...

Dr. Philgood
Look real close... That is not Vince Neil's face. Can you tell who it is behind the eye shadow and goatee?

(Sheesh... Who are we foolin'? Even Dr. Phil couldn't help this Motley Crue!)

PS. Got a graphic arts challenge for CVEckian? Lets hear it! (Of course that would require you leaving a comment.)

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Missing Miss Wendy

Essie and I went to the House of Bricks in Des Moines Monday night to see some live music. I had heard of The Fabulous Miss Wendy through several media reports, and I wanted to see for my self what the fuss was about. I secured a couple of press passes for the show and with my trusty photographer in tow, I got to the venue early with the expectation of meeting Miss Wendy and arranging an interview before she played.

In the mind's eye, I was going to video tape it 60 Minutes style... You know, with Essie panning in on my face while I ask a question, and then standing behind me to pan in on Miss Wendy's face as she gave her answer. I thought that this would be a unique way to perform the interview, and I was going to instruct Miss Wendy to fidget while she answered... Like she was put on the spot and uncomfortable... 60 Minutes style...  Even though I wasn't going to ask harsh questions. It would be for effect only, and a unique way to break the ice and make the interview fun for us and Miss Wendy. She is Fabulous after all... Why would I want to keep things normal?

Imagine the scene if you can...

Me (With camera zoomed in on my face): Miss Wendy, in the video you filmed for "Crazy Fucked Up Bitch", you seemed so natural shooting your pseudo-lesbian scene. What was it like making out with actress Karin Anna Cheung?

Miss Wendy (Also with camera panned in close): It was.... (uncomfortable fidget) ...Fucking awesome!

And so on and so on...

The Fabulous Miss Wendy

But it wasn't meant to be. There would be no interviewing the Fabulous Miss Wendy on this night, as she wasn't even at the venue. I asked the lady running the door why Wendy was no longer on the bill, and she told me that there "was an altercation on the bus with Green Jelly and they kicked her off in Lincoln Nebraska." I asked her to elaborate but she said that was all she knew. I asked a few other people, including Aron Wilson, the promoter for the show and he was also oblivious to any information. I asked a few members of the band, and they were mum. Something sinister went down on the bus, but nobody was talking. Green Jelly was acting as it was business as normal.

Alright, I'm going to jump ahead here... After I got home after the show I emailed Miss Wendy and asked her  if she would be willing to tell me what happened, since apparently nobody else was talking. To my surprise I received a very elaborate email back from her describing exactly why she was dumped in Nebraska and what her immediate future was going to bring. The email was long... Not a one sentence answer, which is what I was expecting. It went into great detail about how things went down, and how she was disappointed about missing the show in Des Moines, and how she had a plan and was going to bounce back on her feet. It wasn't written in an angry tone, as one might expect, and it was hard not to feel compassion for her and her situation. I really appreciate her being so genuine and was happy to see a glimpse of optimism in her letter.

This is her response in it's entirety, printed with permission:

Hi Troy,

No one is more heartbroken than me about missing the show. I am still too emotional to speak about how my friend Bill Manspeaker told me to get off his bus and left me stranded in Lincoln Nebraska trying to find a way to get home with my band and all my gear. Des Moines was the best city on the Nashville Pussy tour for me and I was so looking forward to coming back there.

It always sucks when friendships splinter but I am serious about creating the best music and entertainment possible for the fans who spend their hard earned cash in this economy to buy tickets to a show. I am practicing and thinking every day about how to make myself, my band, and everything I do better than the day before. Let me just say that some on the bus are there to party and our work ethics and priorities in life are different which creates conflict after months on a bus together.

Add the fact that I had a young 17 year old drummer with a diagnosed mental condition that I took a chance on who had a nervous breakdown and left in the middle of the tour and you get an environment where somethings got to give. In this case it was me being asked to leave the bus with no financial way to finish the tour with my band or as the lead guitarist of Green Jello.

I will now go back to Detroit to finish an album I'm making with Vin from Sponge and Tim Patalan co-producing. Tim was the guy who produced those great Sponge hits "Molly" and "Plowed" back in the 90's and most recently the new Taproot album that brought them back from the dead and hit #1 at active rock radio. Vin & Tim are playing drums and bass on the record and it embodies the spirit of all that great attitude driven hard rock and punk that spawned out of Michigan. The record will more accurately reflect what people see me do live rather than the poppier sound of my current album which was produced by one of the co-leaders of Devo. The songs are good on both records, the new one will just embody the loud noisy exciting feedback guitar driven rock and roll sound of my live show!

Thanks for your support and I hope Aron at Boulevard (sic) will bring us back on our own sometime soon.


As I said, Green Jelly came in with the attitude of business as usual, replacing Wendy's lead guitar with a kid named Steve-O, and even flew in Jerry Montano (of Danzig fame) to play bass. Had you never seen Green Jelly before, you might have never known that anything was different. Personally, I felt a void... Like an ever glooming shadow of bad karma had settled over the stage. I remember the arrogance of Bill Manspeaker as he cockily paraded around the House of Bricks, and looking back, I do believe Miss Wendy's description of what went down. I think that the fact that she was the only one willing to talk about it says alot.

Green Jelly (SE BREON)
I will say this about Green Jelly. You take away the props and puppets and the goofy cereal signs, and these guys are just another band of inebriates who somehow got a break and are milking a song that incredulously got radio airplay 18 years ago. The opening band, a local group from Leon, Iowa called Controlled Chaos blew Green Jelly away. Sure, it was fun to dance around in a mosh pit wearing a puppet head of Elmo, but musically... Green Jelly does suck, and not in the sense that they would appreciate.

Besides Controlled Chaos, which totally rocked the house, another treat of the night was seeing Sid Wilson's new project  SID. Sid Wilson of course is more famous as the turntablist and keyboard player for Slipknot. SID's in your face hip hop sound was a fresh and welcome break form the metal that had been dominating the stage up to that point, and having  a chance to meet and greet the guys afterwards was cool. Essie got some amazing photographs, and the atmosphere back stage was loose and energetic. Sid, Jamazz, Albie, and Mike are all very cool guys. I definitely would like to see SID again... Perhaps Aron with Metro Concerts Live can arrange a show with Des Moines' other master of the hip hop, $trick 9. (Hint, hint Aron...)

But of course my reason for going to the show was to see The Fabulous Miss Wendy, and as luck would have it, it wasn't meant to be. So, dear readers of the Bigfoot Diaries, (all six of you) you will have to wait for my 60 Minutes style interview with the guitarist that one person dubbed "the female Jimi Hendrix".

Meanwhile it seems as if she has moved on to bigger and better things, which only means that we will have more to talk about when we finally do get together. And don't you worry...  I'm still going to find out what it is like to make out with Karin Anna Cheung.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Five Questions With... Billy Sheehan

When naming the greatest bass players in rock and roll history, several come immediately to mind... Bootsy Collins, Andy Shernoff, Paul McCartney, Steve Harris, Victor Wooten, Stanley Jordan... And of course Billy Sheehan.

When Billy Sheehan plays bass it sounds more like he is playing lead guitar. He doesn't just provide the standard  thump thump thump that you get with the run of the mill bass player. You also get his signature two handed tapping styles and banjo like finger picking... methods usually reserved for virtuosos. He is a pioneer in the way the bass is played, and is very highly revered in the industry as one of the greatest of all time.

From his website:

Billy Sheehan has changed the way bass guitar is played.... Voted the "Best Rock Bass Player" 5 times in Guitar Player magazines Readers Poll, an honor which placed him in their "Gallery of Greats" (alongside Jimi Hendrix, Paul McCartney, Geddy Lee and Eddie Van Halen to name but a few), he has also won readers polls in Germany, Japan, Korea, Italy, and many other countries. On January 27, 1999 Billy's handprints and signature were preserved in cement on the Hollywood Rockwalk at Guitar Center. An honor attributed to those artists who have made a significant contribution to Rock and Roll. In Japan, Billy has won the prestigious "Player Magazine" (Japan's #1 Music mag) Readers Poll for Best Bass Player an unprecedented 14 consecutive times and Burrn! Magazines (Japan's #1 heavy metal mag) Readers Poll 5 times while selling out Budokan arena 3 consecutive nights with his band Mr. Big.

According to, an online men's entertainment site, Mr. Sheehan is ranked #3 on the Top 10 Bass Guitarists in Metal. While this particular site (compare it to Maxim magazine) might not seem like the ultimate authority for all things music, the author, Scott, has actually compiled a "smart" list. Each bass player that he mentions is listed with a long explanation for his particular choice. However, when he comes to mentioning Billy Sheehan, the name seems to speak for itself...

Billy Sheehan- When he played in the band Mr. Big, they were referring to him. Ok, I just made that up, but it’s Billy Sheehan for Christ’s sake! I really don’t think I need to elaborate.

Mr. Sheehan has played with Stevie Vai, David Lee Roth, ZZ Top's Billy Gibbons, Terry Bozzio, Deep Purple's Glenn Hughes, Tony Mac Alpine, Cozy Powell, and Steve Howe, to name a few. You couldn't listen to the radio during the '80s or '90s without hearing Billy Sheehan play bass in one project or another, and when I saw him in Ames, Iowa around 1986 with David Lee Roth on the Eat 'Em and Smile tour, I was just enamored with seeing Billy Sheehan play bass as I was seeing the colorful former frontman of Van Halen. I called it an all star lineup then... With Steve Vai on guitar and Gregg Bissonette beating the drums, it is one of the greatest lineups of any band in rock and roll history.

1. I read that you had reunited with your band mates from Mr. Big last year and toured Japan... Are you currently on tour, and if so is there plans for a sweep across the U.S.? If not, what ARE you doing these days?

We did a huge tour last year--all over Europe, S.E. Asia, Indonesia, India, and Japan. We are working on a brand new record and will tour the USA next year. Also, I'm working on a new Niacin record and several things of my own and other peoples records. It's a busy time! All good. We had a wonderful time on tour-- no troubles at all, and the places were packed with thousands of smiling faces. It doesn't get much better than that! I'm so thankful for the chance to play as Mr. Big again.

2. This is a loaded question... In 1986 you joined forces with guitarist Steve Vai and drummer Gregg Bissonette in support of the David Lee Roth's new solo band. ( I saw the show in Ames that year) First of all, what was touring with DLR like... Was it fun... Was it exhausting... Was David's ego too much to tolerate at times? And secondly, what was the back stage atmosphere like relative to parties, fun and band camaraderie?

Not loaded at all--ha! Well, maybe WE were sometimes. Actually it was utterly fabulous. We got on great w/ Dave. Dave called me in the summer of '85, making this July my 25th year in LA. He had another guitarist in mind originally, but when that didn't work out, I suggested Steve & thankfully, Dave agreed. Steve & I found Greg, and we made a record. The hanging out, story-telling, beer drinking times were beyond amazing. Dave is still my hero & I cherish the time we all were together. I don't think a day goes by without me getting some email or comment-post about that record (Eat 'Em & Smile).

3. Who was your biggest influence as a young bass player, and who do you respect in the business today?

It's a long list, and by no means complete yet. I'm still learning---it never ends (thankfully!) Paul Samwell-Smith (Yardbirds), Tim Bogert (Vanilla Fudge), Paul McCartney, Jack Bruce, John Entwisle--everybody. And other instrumenalist's/musicians as well. Oscar Peterson, Hendrix (of course), Debussy, Sonny Rollins, Zappa--it goes on forever!

4. How did Niacin come about? It's interesting that someone who played radio-friendly rock and roll could wind up in a rock- jazz fusion instrumental group.... And how did vocalist Glenn Hughes (of Deep Purple fame) come on board in 2000?

Glenn sang on one song "Things Ain't Like They Used To Be" and absolutely killed it. On a recent Glenn vocal on an upcoming record of Sinatra songs (I played bass on them), Glenn sang "I've Got You Under My Skin". It is the best vocal performance I've heard in decades. I got on stage w/ him in Germany recently too. Glenn could be the best vocalist around. Period. Anyway, Niacin started as a way to just blast out with music we loved, not worrying about anything but playing. PLUS-- Dennis Chambers is on drums. The opportunity to play with him has changed my life. He's the best musician I know on any instrument. I've played a LONG time, and I've been through many genres & styles of playing. Some folks only know of my stuff in a certain context, but I love a lot of styles from pop, folk, jazz, metal, prog, punk, and just about all else. Niacin is a conglomeration & mutation of a whole bunch of stuff. Playing live with that band is pretty wild!

5. It is no secret that you are involved with The Church of Scientology. As someone who knows virtually nothing about it, what is it's foundation and what how were you drawn to it?

I was looking for a way to get into my past and deal with it in a way that it could no longer negatively influence me. It worked perfectly and helped me immensely. A description of it would require many hours of typing on my part. I'm always trying to make things better--in my life, with my playing, with the people around me. I believe in free thinking, respect for others and their right to voice their opinions (whatever they are), and an honest, open, respectful discourse about anything. It has been an incredible adventure.

(Bonus Question): What was the very first rock and roll record you ever bought?

It was the single "Eight Miles High" by The Byrds. Still love that 12 string tone! I now have several 12's, including a few "baritone" versions (tuned B,E,A,D, F#, B). Also, a little box called "The JangleBox" that I found does a PERFECT job of replicating that tone.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

BFD's New Technical Director: CVEckian

From the great skills set of Charles Van Elsen (aka CVEckian) comes the latest Bigfoot Diaries graphic arts concept. How it works is quite simple... (Usually while I spend my day sitting on a Kubota lawn mower) I come up with a scenario... A play on words... And then send it off to CVEckian as a graphic arts challenge. (Remember Iron Madden?) I am never sure what he will come up with, but I always know that it is going to be of the highest quality. Many times the final product he sends back to me is not quite what I had in mind when I shot him the challenge, but it is always better than what I was thinking, and over the top. CVEckian is extremely picky in his productions and will never present anything that is less than perfect. This time around is no exception.

I give you our latest concept... FIFE CLUB.

click here to see larger view

Because of CVEckian's immense talents, I have secured him here at the Bigfoot Diaries as our official technical director (at undisclosed terms). When I started this blog site I knew I would eventually be in the need for a graphic artist, and I am confident that I have found the best. He is the genius behind the moving Bigfoot header at the top of this site, and will be working on other projects as they are needed. He is proficient in HTML and website design. Plus he is a damn fine photographer as well.

I feel very lucky to have been able to secure his talents.

When I asked him about what we should say in his bio, he just turned to me and shouted, "I eat Wookiees and crap out Ewoks!" and then simply walked away. A talented man, and a strange bird that CVEckian.

Andy Shernoff's Invaluable Lesson

Boy I pulled a Brant Brown big time.

In late September of 1998, playing left field for the Chicago Cubs, Brant Brown made an error that basically put a signature on his career. The Cubs were tied for the NL wild card lead with the New York Mets with just three games remaining on the schedule. Playing in Milwaukee, the Cubs had a 7-5 lead in the bottom of the ninth with two out. One more out and the Cubs would be in the driver's seat of the wild card race, and in a good spot to be in the playoffs for the first time since 1989. Fans were ecstatic... But in typical Cubs fashion they allowed the bases to be loaded. Geoff Jenkins came to the plate and Cubs fans held their breath. The entire Cubs nation was focused on this moment and exhaled as Jenkins hit a long fly ball to left field. It was a routine fly ball that would end the game. The Cubs would take that wild card lead over the Mets and life is good and there would be dancing in the streets of Wrigleyville...

But wait... Oh no! Brant Brown dropped the ball... Are you kidding! Three runs came in to score and the Brewers won the game 8-7.

It is a vivid and horrifying memory in the minds of Cubs fans. The Cubs did mange to edge themselves into the playoffs, but with lost momentum and were swept by the Atlanta Braves in the first round. The Brant Brown play became the signature to the season, even though it was arguably the most exciting Cubs season in history.

I too dropped the ball, and in my own mind it is of equal proportions.

In life we are given few opportunities to actually live the proverbial dream. We go through our daily routines and pretty much take life for granted. We work, play some, spend time with family, grow old, and eventually dehydrate into the ground. As time takes it's toll, the windows of opportunity grow smaller. And in effect, the older we get the further away those dreams appear from a reachable distance. I for one, am not living my dream. Now in my 40's I don't really have a career per say, just a lucky tendency to find a job as I need to. I haven't played professional baseball as I envisioned myself doing while I was a kid. Nor am I writing for a big-time rock magazine as I saw myself doing while I partied my way through two years of community college. You reap what you sow they say, and I guess I am sowing my underachieving oats.

The invention of the Internet and blogging has given me a sense of something... But I am not sure what to call it. It fills that void I have when I need to express myself. It really does not matter who reads these words, just the fact that I have the opportunity to lay them out there is a release for me. With this wonderful invention I am not totally separated from my dream, it does give me a string to grasp on to. The Bigfoot Diaries is that giant step forward for me. At it's inception I decided that I was going to take blogging to a (personal) higher level and go places with it that I never had in the past. I was going to do music reviews, interview rock stars, you know... Live my dream.

(Although in the rough draft of my dream I collect a paycheck.)

I have a few idols that I really would like to connect with. Even though I have grown older, I haven't lost my lust for music and the people who play it. The songs I listen to now are pretty much the same songs I listened to 25 some years ago. The people who play these songs are still rock stars to me, and until this stage in my life, unreachable idols that I never thought that I would get a chance to intervene with.

At the top of this list was the founder of and the bass player for the Dictators, Andy Shernoff. He was my pinnacle...  I had most of the Dictators' albums growing up and would attend (the now obsolete) record show conventions looking for new and different material. I remember sitting in my pal Dave's basement apartment as a teenager spinning one record after another Beavis and Butthead style... Flipping through Cream magazine, and later the more metal geared Circus. I think that Dave even had a copy of or two of Shernoff''s Teenage Wasteland Gazette, a fanzine that  Andy started as a teenager which included the writings of Lester Bangs and Richard Meltzer. It was the true definition of punk rock... Most of the material was made up, or satirical, and generally rejected from the mainstream press. It was brilliant and rare, and it added to the mystique of the Andy Shernoff phenomenon. Meanwhile in the background, songs such as "Cars and Girls", "Pussy and Money", "The Minnesota Strip", and "Who Will Save Rock and Roll" were blaring from Dave's low-fi turntable. It was usually so loud the neighbors would pound on the floors from above or the walls next to us. We never turned it down, and amazingly were never forced to deal with the cops.

I located Mr. Shernoff last winter and asked him to do an interview with me, which he agreed. I was beside myself... It was like I had discovered a vortex to the kingdom of God. I immediately ordered a digital voice recorder off of the Internet, and tried to keep the interview at bay while waiting for it to arrive in the mail. We were eventually able to negotiate a time when Andy would call me, and I was careful to make sure that my brand new voice recorder was hooked up correctly to the telephone line so that I wouldn't miss anything during our conversation. Then, at the time that we had specified, I sat next to the phone and literally stared at it waiting for it to ring. Fifteen minutes later it did... And my adrenaline rush was at car crash levels. It was surrealistic to see Andrew Shernoff come up on the caller ID. I will never forget that.

Mr. Shernoff was extremely gracious, and he didn't treat me as an amateur at all. He was very genuine, and took the time to answer each of my questions with thoughtful and elaborate replies. I remember one part of the conversation when I was asking him about the way he spells his name on the old Dictator albums (Adny, not Andy) and jokingly asked him if I should refer to him as Adny or should I call him Andy... His answer took me by surprise, and actually taught me a valuable lesson. "You can call me Mr. Shernoff," he said.

Wow... The interview was wrapping itself up at about that point, and I felt like a puppy with my tail between my legs. Of course it would be Mr. Shernoff... While I had nothing but heavenly levels of respect for this gentleman, I wasn't showing it by calling him by his first name without permission. That lesson has STUCK WITH ME.

We finished the interview which was all neatly tucked inside the digital voice recorder. My plan was to transcribe it to written form, which I got started on right away. However, I did not understand the intricacies of the device, and each time I paused it, I would have to go back and re-play through everything that was already written down. It became a very long and tiresome process, and eventually I shelved the project figuring that I would pick it up again soon, and finish the transcription. Well, it didn't happen that way. I think in the next 3 weeks I tried twice to retrieve the rest of the recording, each time shelving it again after a short time under the same guise that I would finish it later. It sat on the shelf for several months before it got to a point where I thought that I HAD to get this done, and was going to take the time, exhausting as it may be, and actually finish the transcription of Mr. Shernoff's interview.

I sat down at the computer and picked up my digital voice recorder. I turned it on but nothing happened.

Hmmmm... Must be the batteries, I thought.

I had a new set of batteries which I put into the device, but again nothing. Now... While new technology is a wonderful thing, it kind of screwed me on this one. The old school recorders have a mini cassette tape that captures the sound, and if a device stops working for any reason, you simply pull the tape out and put it into a device that DOES work. With the digital technology, it isn't that simple. For whatever reason my digital voice recorder stopped working, and everything recorded on it has been lost. I even took it to a technician at the local Radio Shack, and he told me I was out of luck. My Holy Grail of interviews was gone forever.

I learned two valuable life lessons from Mr. Shernoff from that experience. One was the respect factor... Of course I should refer to people as "Mister" or "Miss" until given permission to do otherwise. Most people worth interviewing have paid their dues, and they do garner a high level of respect. The other lesson learned has to do with procrastination... Had I taken the time to immediately finish the job, you would be reading a wonderful and insightful interview right now and not this trashy description of what could have been.

I contacted Mr. Shernoff, and he surprised me by being ok with it all. He even took it a step further by telling me that we should do a new interview, because he had so much more to talk about. He was just as gracious to me the second time around as he was the first. I knew he had been doing a European tour with a newer group, the Master Plan, as well as spoken word engagements up and down the East Coast. His kindness and genuine friendship has blown me away.

Unlike Brant Brown, I have been offered a second chance.... All I need to do now is buy a digital voice recorder...