Friday, June 29, 2012

The Susan Olsen Experience

Susan Olsen today
(Used with permission)
Susan Olsen is a very complex person, at least from my standpoint. As a child actress, she played Cindy Brady on the Brady Bunch, so I thought writing an article on her would be an easy task. You know, ask a few questions, gather her answers, and write an easy article based on life as a child actress.

Easy speezy.

But I quickly found out that there's a bit more to Susan Olsen than her playing the part of a childhood icon.

She serves on the Board of Directors for Precious Paws Animal Rescue in Glendale, California. They are a non-profit dog and cat rescue organization that provides hope for companion animals which have been abandoned and/or abused. Ultimately their mission is to provide care and love for these animals and eventually provide them a safe and loving home. It's a daunting process which requires alot of time, patience, and even at times, heartbreak.

Times are pretty tough, especially in California where the economy borders on bankruptcy. People are being displaced from their jobs and homes, and more often than not the family pet suffers collateral damage. Desperate times call for desperate measures and animal shelters are filling up fast. In a financially strapped society, the family pet is often the first sacrifice a family makes in an attempt to regain a stronghold on it's economic situation.

An example of Susan's artwork that she sells to raise
proceeds for Precious Paws Animal Rescue
Susan Olsen is 100 percent committed to making a difference. She personally fosters animals in her home, taking in adolescent pets and weaning them in preparation to be adopted to loving and caring families. She is also an artist who paints vibrant pictures of domestic animals in order to raise proceeds for her organization. She is literally doing all that she can.

From her website:

Every rescue has their own qualities that make them unique and so worthy of a safe place to live and be loved. Every rescue has a story. It is my hope that I capture some of their beautiful spirits in my art.

Susan is also the creator of another line of artwork which she calls "Fluffart." In written word it's hard to explain. She takes an iconic image, recreates it a bit, and injects a jar of Marshmallow Fluff as the artwork's centerpiece.

Yep, I said Marshmallow Fluff.

For example, in this one she recreated Nirvana's Nevermind album cover.

"Fluff in Nirvana"

This is "a parody of one of my favorite albums," she said. "After doing this I became friends with Kurt Cobain’s sister and was rather surprised (happily) that the two of them watched ‘The Brady Bunch’ regularly while growing up.”

It's amusing to me that she is surprised that Curt Cobain and his sister watched the Brady Bunch. In the '70s and even the '80s, every kid in America watched the Brady Bunch. It was as much a part of  childhood as was bedtime and Christmas morning. Even today, my daughter asks to watch the Brady Bunch dvds that we have in our collection. She is 12, and a long ways removed from the lifestyles and simple ways of life in the '70s. The Brady Bunch is a timeless American institution that will forever be recognized as magical example of what can occur when television producers get it right.

Another iconic piece that Susan recreated is the Sgt. Pepper album. The original was a tribute to people that the Beatles deemed influential and worthy of admiration, including Bob Dylan, Lenny Bruce, (original Beatles member) Stuart Sutcliffe, Aldous Huxley, Marlene Dietrich, and Carl Jung to name a few. In Susan Olsen's version, she uses the same concept.

“This parody of the legendary Beatles Album ‘Sgt. Pepper’ contains a crowd of various mascots with online social network profile pictures of some of my friends." she explains. "Among the recognizable faces are: Charles Phoenix, Robbie Rist, Elayne Boosler, Zach Galifianakis, Geri Reischl, Erin Murphy, Gabriel Iglesias and Allee Willis.”

"Sgt. Fluffer"

The image also depicts fictional characters such as the Jolly Green Giant, Little Debby, and of course jars of Fluff.

I contacted one of the people depicted - Robbie Rist (played cousin Oliver on the Brady Bunch, now a musician) - to gather his thoughts.

"Susan is the personification of the term 'bad ass'." He said. "Everything she does, she does well and does it the way she thinks it should be done."

He paused, then added, "And she is wicked funny."

I might add that she is wickedly talented. Look for her to be on the Today Show airing on July 5th.


Whatever happened to the Brady kids' other parents... The boys' real mother, and the girls' real father? Was that ever addressed?

It's been addressed in books but not in the show. The boys' mother was supposed to have died. But Carol was to be the first divorced woman on TV. That was always Sherwood's intention but the network would not allow it. So no mention was ever made of what became of the girls' father. The Schwwartzes had toyed with the idea of having Mr. Brady legally adopt the girls and their Dad showing up to contest that.. They sort of played that out in the sequel movie.

Could you please describe the process from when you auditioned for the part of Cindy Brady up until you were awarded the part?

It was three days after my 7th birthday. My family were in Las Vegas vacationing. We came home early so I could go on this audition. It was important to me because it was for a regular role in a series - something I really wanted, a steady job. Oddly enough they never had us act. The producers just talked to us. They wanted to find interesting kids. I never read a script until I had the part. As I said, I wanted a series and there seemed to be three opportunities converging. It looked like I may be cast as "Prudence" in "Nanny and the Professor" and two episodes of Gunsmoke that I had done looked like I might be added in as a regular character. My Grandmother asked me which one she should pray for me to get and I told her "The Brady Brood " (The word "bunch" came later) because I would have five other kids on the set to play with. That was my first pick and I got it.

As a child actor, were you aware that you were famous, or did it all seem just to be a normal part of your childhood?

It was very weird for me and something I dreaded. I was afraid that I would get recognized and have my private life get weird. I had seen the Beatles and the Monkees having to run from girls chasing them. I worried about what fans did if they caught up to you. Fame has always been something that only separated me from humanity. It often separated me from my peers but not as much as you would think. Most of us Brady kids were very insistent on staying in public school and continuing to have normal lives as much as we could. I have never been real keen on fame, if it was accompanied by fortune I might feel differently.

As one of the youngest members of the Brady Bunch cast, what were some of the obstacles that you had to overcome that maybe some of the orther cast members didn't?

I think for the most part it was easier for Mike and I as the youngest. Young children have a wisdom that goes out the window when you hit puberty. I would think the fame aspect of my experience would have been much harder to deal with as a teenager who is on unstable ground with self identity. I think Mike and I were more able to look at the industry and see a lot of the experience as silly. One difficulty was that I was physically small enough that I could easily be picked up and possibly kidnapped.

Susan Olsen as you most likely remember her.
(From the Brady Bunch Blog.)
Do you have a favorite episode of The Brady Bunch?

I like the one where Peter and Greg go on a double date and Peter's such a dork, he eats his fake mustache off. I think Chris and Barry were genuinely funny in that one and the script was good. The favorites to actually make were the Hawaii episodes for obvious reasons.

With a bunch of kids on the set of The Brady Bunch, I can only guess that shenanigans ensued from time to time. Could you tell me about a couple of times when things got out of hand?

Paramount was a big spooky run down place when we started. (This was before we made them a billion dollars) It was gloriously creepy and since kids were not plentiful, there were few safety precautions. There was an old Commissary (cafeteria) that had been closed down and it wasn't locked. We would go in there and explore. One day we were playing a game of trust where we were locking each other in the meat lockers. I don't know if she instantly panicked or if we maybe sort of forgot about her, but Florence's daughter, Barbara, became very upset and was crying. We brought her back to our set and Florence was not pleased nor were our biological mothers. We were forbidden from playing there any more.

You have become a recognized creative artist... Could you tell me about that?

I've always done art, it was the first thing I knew I could do a little bit better than other people. We all did a lot of creative projects during the Summer months when we had down time on the set. As an adult I thought I had escaped the fickle world of entertainment by becoming a graphic artist. But entertainment opportunities kept coming up and they took me from that more sensible career. Being in entertainment allowed me to pay the mortgage and be at home with my son. As a single mother I was very fortunate to have been able to do that. The desire to make art never left me and I found myself messing around on the computer. I would get an idea and then set out to teach myself how to do it. The Fluffart started as a joke between friends and grew into a shared obsession. The animal art I am now doing is created to help generate funds for Precious Paws. I am on the board of directors for Precious Paws, an animal rescue group that focuses primarily on cats. I became involved in foster parenting through my local animals shelters. I was trained to care for unweaned puppies and kittens in their bottle baby program. The number of homeless kittens dwarfed the number of puppies. Cats are really in crisis. Four years ago, Chris Knight (Peter Brady) introduced me to his friend, Georgyne Lalone who founded Precious Paws. I have been working with them ever since. A percentage of the sales of these prints goes to Precious Paws.

Disclaimer: Images are Copyright Susan Olsen, and may soley be used only in conjuction with your requested interview with Susan Olsen and may not be distributed for any other use or to any third party.


Pertinent Links:

Susan Olsen Official

Susan Olsen's Animal Art

Susan Olsen's Fuffart

Susan Olsen Twitter

Precious Paws


Sunday, June 24, 2012

Steep Canyon Rangers: Des Moines 6/23/12

The Steep Canyon Rangers wasted no time capturing hearts in Des Moines.

Along with comedian and legendary banjo slinger Steve Martin, this band played to a full house tonight, becoming what I imagine is the first bluegrass concert to sell out the Des Moines Civic Center. And they brought the house down.

Two parts music and one part comedy, the entire night was a showcase of talent that literally had to be seen to be completely recognized for what it was - one of the greatest nights of entertainment that Des Moines has seen in years. Forget about Bon Jovi being here last year or Jimmy Buffet just a few week ago. And don't try to tell me that when Journey plays the Iowa State Fair every year that it is something to behold.

Screw all of that.

These bands aren't exactly paving a new direction when it comes playing unique and unsuspecting sets. Instead of bringing something new to the musical stage, they rely on prefabricated oldies that any sub-par band in the country can recreate on any Saturday night at any local tavern. It's hashed and rehashed.

And even smoking hash doesn't provide enough stimulus to make their sound interesting.

Steve Martin and the Steep Canyon Rangers
(Photo by Bigfoot Diaries)
But tonight in Des Moines a little known five-piece bluegrass outfit out of western North Carolina roused a crowd of 2730 to one standing ovation after another, playing an entire 100 minute set without the benefit of a single radio hit.

It was incredible.

Of course it didn't hurt that they were joined onstage by the funniest man in the world, the one and only Steve Martin. He also happens to be freak on the banjo, probably one of the top five to  have ever played the instrument. And while his presence is undeniably the reason so many people bought a ticket to see this show (It sold out the day tix went on sale back in March), every single person in the audience left the concert with the Steep Canyon Rangers on their personal radar. In other words, they were treated to something new, something that they didn't expect, and something that affected them at their very soul.

Aside from the encore, the biggest ovation of the night came after the Rangers played a song by themselves without the accompaniment of Steve Martin. It was an instrumental piece that featured the blazing fingers of Mike Guggino on his mandolin. Following that was an A Capella gospel number called "I Can't Sit Down," a treat that had many in the stunned audience gasping in amazement.

At the conclusion of this song, Martin rejoined his band onstage, the crowd still on it's feet offering thunderous applause. He seemed to soak it up a bit, as if he had everything to do with it. "I tell these guys that they sing that song so well." He said. "I can't wait until they are good enough to play it with instruments!"

Another song highlight was "Best Love," a legitimate love song that Steve Martin had written in honor of his wife. In concert it features Woody Platt on vocals, on the album (Rare Bird Alert), it features Sir Paul McCartney. I say legitimate love song because most of the "ballads" played during the night had more to do with shenanigans and breaking up than actually being in love. "Best Love" does have an element of humor to it, but easily charms itself into the category of a great song. Platt's vocals were flawless, and it's catchy jingle-like lyrics made for a lot of toe-tapping in the audience.

You look in good in fancy dresses
Wish we bought that one that day
I even like your old ex boyfriend
You are my best love

"Go Away, Stop, Turn Around, Come Back," was another classic from the Rare Bird Alert CD that twists together the unlikely pair of bluegrass music and humor. Aside from basically describing the history of my love life to a tee, this song also features a blistering banjo solo from Graham Sharp.

"His name is Graham, like a cracker." Martin explained to the audience. Then he paused and gritted his teeth. "Ooh, this is awkward."  He said.

Sharp is an excellent banjo player in his own right, and for his part, he hangs with Steve Martin quite nicely. I can only imagine that the only thing more difficult than playing the banjo is playing the banjo alongside somebody else. Sharp did this without flaw, playing the right notes and style in perfect accompaniment without imposing too heavily on the styles and notes that Martin was playing. It sounded smooth and not jumbled or crowded, as one might expect.

The Steep Canyon Rangers cuttin' it.
(Photo by Bigfoot Diaries)
Along with Platt on guitar and vox, Sharp on banjo, and Guggino on the mandolin, the Rangers are rounded out by Charles Humphrey on bass, and Nicky Sanders on the violin. Each member plays a vital role in fulfilling the complete sound of the band and maintaining the tightness that they have achieved. They also play well along with Martin, who constantly undermines them with his comedic banter between songs. But it's obvious that he respects the hell out of these guys.

Nicky Sanders' talent became especially apparent during the final song of the night, a number called "Auden's Train." Not only was he able to mimic a train horn identically, he also managed to squeeze parts of about 6 recognizable songs into one long violin solo. There was "Norwegian Wood," William Tell Overture," and "Live an Let Die," plus a Beach Boys song, and a couple of others I recognized but can't place a name for. It was a flurried crescendo  to a great night of music, and the crowd was mesmerized, yearning for every last note they could get.


Pertinent links:

Steep Canyon Rangers Official Site

Steep Canyon Rangers on Facebook

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Forward-Alladins Jr-Pomona,CA-6-7-12

Last minute show since my out of town friend was in town. I'm really glad I ended up going to this. Most of these bands were on tour so I'm glad I caught them all.
 First band was Hordes. One of my favorite local hxc bands. Tho it was still pretty empty when they played they still gave it their all and did a great short set. These guys rule hard and your missing out if you haven't seen em. Download EP here!
 Next local band was a band that rules hard but hardly plays,Condition,which has members of Trash Talk and DNF. Great hxc influenced by Japanese and Scandinavian bands.  Not much to say other than that they ruled hard and the singer was a total madman. I really hope to see more of these guys. Real good hxc.
First touring band was Opposition Rising from Boston. Featuring the singer of Toxic Narcotic and Mouth Sewn Shut. Tho those names were huge they had a dead audience and the kept complaining how they had an insane audience the night before. Me and my buds moshed for em since they did have catch Hardcore/Crust music with a hint of Ska. They played songs about The Rich killing the poor and animal abuse and silly stuff like that. They did a great set.
From bay are we got my favorite band of the night,No Statik. Thrashcore/Fastcore/Powerviolence with members of legendary bands such as Scholastic Deth,What Happens Next?,Destroy,and much more. Their singer stood around us and we all went nuts. Such fast music. She kept pushing us around and we all moshed around her. They played a good long set and I got some free pins. Seriously if you love the stuff I usually post here listen to these guys now.

From Japan we got the legendary Forward(with members of Death Side). They started and we all went nuts. Me and a bunch of of HxC and Punk kids moshed around like crazy and loved their set. They left and came back for more. The singer mentioned something about being from Japan and BOOM they busted to G.I.S.M.(the best band to ever come out of Japan) covers,Endless Blockades For The Pussyfooter and NIH Nightmare. I stage dived and screamed my ass off. They where so good and I hope to come back to USA soon. Japcore for the win. I bought a pin with m loose change. They rule hard.

Nasum-The Black Castle,Los Angeles CA-5/30/12

Nasum was a legendary Swedish  Grindcore band from 1992-2004 that has influenced Grind bands all over the world. In 2004 lead singer Mieszko Talarczyk was tragically killed while on vacation due to a tsunami and that was the end of Nasum. In October 2011 the remaining band member's announced a proper farewell tour in 2012 to celebrate their 20th anniversary. To take over vocal duties was none other than Keijo Niinimaa of Finnish Grindcore band Rotten Sound. They started doing big Fests worldwide but a did a handful of shows in USA including this one which was Nasums first and last show ever in Los Angeles. A show I couldn't miss. Plus the opening acts where badass.
  First opening band was Early Graves. Hardcore from San Francisco who also lost their original singer,Mahk Daniels due to tragic car accident in 08. Last time I saw Early Graves open for Cro-Mags a few months back,I've been a huge fan of them and was excited to see em again. They got on stage and started with one of my favorite songs,Goner. Tho there hardly people there they still gave it their 100% aggression. After a while a kid started a little pit. Tho they had a short set I enjoyed em a lot. I later talk to singer John Strachanand told him how much I enjoyed their set and his other band The Funeral Pyre. Listen to their EPs We:The Guillotine and Goner.
 Up next was LA's Nausea. No not the Crust band from New York,this is Grindcore legends NAUSEA from Los Angeles which has Oscar Garcia on lead vocals who was the original singer of Grindcore pioneers Terrorizer. So to make it clear,this is the Nausea that matters. Nausea hasn't played in a while,this was their 2nd show since there return(First was Maryland Deathfest!). Oscar still has his brutal vocals. They played two Terrorizer songs and the whole place turned to a pit. If Nausea ever comes you gotta see em. Total old skool Grind from one its founding fathers. Check out their album Christ Against Humanity and Terrorizers classic, World Downfall.
 On tour with Nasum's Californian dates was Phoenix Arizona's Female fronted Death Metalheads Landmine Marathon. They're quite known all over the metal world now for a while so seeing them has been on my list for a long time now. Attractive lead singer Grace Perry came on stage all innocent. When the music started she looked like she was possessed by the devil and screamed at us int he most brutal Death Metal/Grind vocals I've ever heard from a female. The audience enjoyed them a lot and a bunch of headbanging was going on. They played a great set but next time I see em I hope its them headlining. Check out their latest album Gallows.
Finally it was time for Nasum. They all got on stage and gave me the most amazing Grindcore set I've seen. 45 minutes of songs from all 4 of their albums: Inhale/Exhale,Human 2.0,Helvete,and Shift. All of us where singing a long and stage diving. The vocals were a perfect substitute and the members looked like they were having the time of their lives. People were pushing to the front just to sing and head bang near em. Its seriously the best Grind show I've been too. I wanna describe more but you had to be there. They gave us an encore and left us for good. Nasum ended their career with a bang. All I can say is Mieszko would've been proud and happy.

                                                           Mieszko Talarczyk RIP
                                                       Makh Daniels RIP

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Grant's Tomb: Marilyn Manson's Born Villian

In this edition of Grant's Tomb, Grant reviews Marilyn Manson's
latest release, Born Villian.
When Marilyn Manson first announced in 2009 that he had been released from his contract with Interscope records, he teased fans by saying “I think people can expect a new record a lot sooner than we [expected].”

A bit of a shocker (no pun intended) that he had first off, left his long time home where one could speculate that it may have been due to lack luster sales of his last album ‘The High End of Low,’ and second that he had already began working on writing for a new record not even a year after his last one had dropped. Maybe the excitement from being released from the confines of major label censorship sparked his creative juices, and Manson indeed echoed these sentiments through numerous interviews between 2009 and now. Before I go any further though, we need to take a step back and reflect on some things here.

In 2003 when he released ‘The Golden Age of Grotesque,’ many of his fans considered it an end of an era. Manson himself intended it to be his farewell album so he could focus on his new foray into painting and art, but something happened to poor Manson. He got divorced, and it spawned a fury in him…that unfortunately didn’t translate so well to his music. In all fairness 2007’s “Eat Me, Drink Me” was a radical departure for the artist who had made his bacon using satanic imagery and criticizing the right-wing witch hunters, and in some respects it was a welcome change. He was just as angry and troubled as before, but instead of just blaspheme and hubris, he took a more controlled stance and the record played out like a maturing Manson was vetting his demons in a more constructive albeit sonically softer way.  If you’ve read my previous entries on this blog you already know my feelings towards his 2009 effort “The High End of Low,” but it is worth mentioning that he trumped this album as a return to form, with the notable inclusion of the return of his long time writing partner Twiggy Ramirez.

Now, in 2012, Manson has returned with his first album, titled “Born Villain,” since the last catastrophe and first released independently of a major label. With statements along the lines of him finding new artistic freedom that Interscope would never have allowed and a curious collaboration with one Shia LaBeouf, people were certainly scratching their heads as to what Marilyn Manson they were going to be hearing on the new record. Would it be the pissed off shock rocker anti-christ his fans grew up loving or would it be the tired Manson we’ve come to know in the last few years. The answer isn’t a simple one, but it certainly is sad.

The album proper starts off with “Hey Cruel World…” with Manson crooning oh so softly into his microphone until the chorus kicks in and he brings it up a notch. What is immediately noticeable is his voice. It quakes and waivers much like an elder Johnny Cash. Clearly the years of alcohol and drug abuse are finally starting to take its toll on his vocals and his inability to hit the high notes he so desperately strives for will leave you cringing, begging for a reprieve. Oddly enough, the music through out most of the disc is extremely reminiscent of his “Mechanical Animals” album that came out over a decade ago. Lead single “No Reflection” leaves something to be desired; it starts with heavy rhythmic breathing that ebbs and flows throughout the track. In press releases, Manson stated that this album would be more “self-abusive” and the lyrics certainly back that up. The third track, “Pistol Whipped,” is easily the most laughable affair on the record (is he doing that heavy breathing thing again? Really?). Even at age 43 he still feels that it is necessary to whisper sweet nothings by way of misogyny.

There’s not much variation here, with the exception of a few songs, Manson and co. seem content with the soft/loud dynamic made famous (and executed much better) by the Foo Fighters. Track six, “The Gardener,” finds Manson channeling his worst post - Black Flag - Henry Rollins with an extremely ridiculous spoken word jam, that on a positive note has the slinkiest bass line this side of “The Dope Show.” One has to seriously wonder if he is running out of ideas here with the entire song seeming like a parody of himself.

Three tracks later on “Disengaged,” he is breathing heavily into the microphone again…maybe this is a concept record about an asthmatic and I just didn’t read the right press release. But wait, there’s more. “Murders Are Getting Prettier Every Day,” sounds like the best Ministry track Al Jorgenson never wrote with horribly canned drums and even includes a ripping guitar solo a la Kerry King (I would say that it was a nice inclusion, but it’s too brief and in reality Tim Skold beat Twiggy to the punch several years earlier). Careful listening to this song in your car, at the beginning of the bridge some very ominous and over done police sirens are thrown in.

The last song that is worth mentioning, although I hesitate, isn’t listed on the actual cd, the last track, a cover a Carly Simons “You’re So Vain” end the album proper. What is notable about this inclusion is that Johnny Depp somehow got suckered into playing guitar and drums on the track. You wouldn’t even really know it unless you read the linear credits, which brings me to my next and last point.

As an avid fan of Marilyn Manson’s earlier work, something that I always looked forward to was the art work. It always felt expansive and added a certain flavor and texture to the music itself, and sometimes was even more controversial than his actual music (see the back side of ‘Antichrist Superstar’). Instead, “Born Villain” is a digipack, that once opened reveals NO artwork, NO lyrics (you have to go to a website), and minimal album credits to boot. Maybe that’s the cost of releasing an album yourself these days, you don’t get all that label money to pump into artwork, or maybe its just a statement on the music industry in general… maybe, just maybe he was aware that most of his fans wouldn’t even bother purchasing the album and instead find a leaked copy off the internet to quell their musical cravings.

Unfortunately, this is a disappointment of an album. If the title of the last (actual) track is any indication of his frame of mind, its safe to say that Marilyn Manson is content to stay “Breaking the Same Old Ground” and refuses to grow up, something that could have easily made up for his more recent releases. Instead, we got a record made by an aging, over weight, heavily medicated, has been.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Shep's Movie Review: Rock of Ages

This image of Tom Cruise says everything you need
to know about Rock of Ages.
Have you been thinking to yourself lately that it would really be great if somebody would make a big Hollywood movie musical that featured the music of a bunch of poser 80's metal bands like Def Leppard, Poison, Warrant, and Foreigner?

Yeah neither have I, but some worthless Tinseltown tally whacker went and did just that. This abomination based on the Broadway musical (which I'm sure sucked as well) has me wondering just what in the hell any of these people involved in this cinematic piece of kaka were thinking. Since this is Hollywood we're talking about; thinking, of course had nothing to do with it.

Okay, it goes without saying that this thing sucks.

The thing seems to be tanking fast at the box office and the only real surprise there is that it came in third place. Last place is too high of a spot for this stinker. What I want to know is just exactly what audience were they going for here. I can't think of anybody who should what to shell out actual money to see this.(Speaking of money, Hey, New Line Cinema I WANT MY MONEY BACK!)

I mean 80's rocker guy who works at the factory with his sleeveless KISS and MOTLEY CRUE t-shirts and plays in his band at the local bar doing shitty covers of faux metal songs that were pretty shitty to begin with ain't gonna like this. I'm guessing that the only people who are gonna like it are the kinda people who like to watch GLEE. And maybe some of the crowd who really get their rocks off watching AMERICAN IDOL for the music.

As far as the plot of the film, well you've seen it all before only done much better. Boy meets girl, they fall in love, they chase their dreams, they split up because of a simple misunderstanding, they become disillusioned over not achieving dreams, then reconnect, rekindle their love and everybody's dreams come true in the end. There are actually a number of plot lines running through the film, such as the mayor's wife, played by Kathrine Zeta Jones, (even she couldn't save this thing for me) who basically wants to shut down the entire Sunset Strip. A nice '80s nod to Tipper Gore and the whole PMRC thing.

So with this film you get terrible story, one dimensional characters, and one of the worst soundtracks ever made. The film does seem to be kind of satirizing the whole '80s thing in a way (which is something I probably could have got behind) but really it plays more like a tribute. Either way it doesn't matter because either way it doesn't work. I don't even think that this film works on any kind of nostalgic level, but that for others to say. Musicals are always a concept of film making that I have trouble wrapping my brain around but you're better off watching ANNIE.

It's certainly closer to the taproot of what rock 'n' roll is. The soundtrack is certainly better.

So I'll sum this up. Not that anyone out there was expecting it would be, but this is not a rock 'n' roll movie. This is what people who don't know what rock 'n' roll is, think that rock 'n' roll is. You know, the people who run the megacorp record companies and commercial communications companies. This is what the producers of the TODAY SHOW think rock 'n' roll is.

If you are of the mind set that rock 'n' roll is, or at least was, some kind of movement, some sort of cultural revolution, well then I'm thinking the wrong side won. The fact that the movie is not raking it in gives some small amount of hope I guess, but we'll see.

"I can't fight this feeling."
You already know not to pay to see this movie. I would say that if someone offers you 50 bucks to see it, just say no. No matter how bad your financial situation, you don't need the money that bad. Seiously. Now you'll excuse me, I'm late for my therapist appointment. I have to get the image of Russell Brand and Alec Baldwin serenading each other with "I Can't Fight This Feeling" out of my brain.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Mickey Hart's Mysterium Tremendum

Perhaps the karmic talisman of the Grateful Dead family, Mickey Hart has spent decades in front of the gong. It was only after he joined The Dead in September of '67 did the band take that inevitable leap from blues rock to something a bit more encapsulating. He was a kick in the pants so to speak - because of the mass quantities of psychedelics that they were taking at the time, the band and their music had become very laid back. When he joined the Dead, Mickey Hart created a spark that initiated an entirely different sound and led the band  on a new direction to follow.

In his book, Living With The Dead, former band manager Rock Skully describes Mickey's infusion into the Grateful Dead as an instantaneous event..

 ...Suddenly in roars a B-52 in the person of Mickey Hart. And Mickey turns out to be the shot in the arm we so desperately need. He has that New York energy, a driving force that lights a fuse under us. He's a "different drummer," all right. It is strange, given the drive differential, that he gets along so swimmingly with the band. Soon Mickey and Billy Kreutzman are the tightest of buddies. Their styles of playing are way different -- Kreutzman's more fluid -- but Kreutzman loves that... He writes.

The two drummers DO have very different styles. Kreutzman has the jazzy - swing elements going while Hart takes a more militaristic approach to his craft. He was already a black belt in karate when he joined the band, and there is a lot of discipline that comes with that. Plus his father was a champion rudimentary drummer, so the lineage was also set. Perhaps only in a band such as the Grateful Dead could these two styles fit together and somehow form one cohesive sound. For whatever reason, it worked from day one, and it's energy has never relented. After sharing decades together on a stage, one can imagine the cosmic lift that these two have experienced.

Mickey isn't anything if he isn't a spiritual person. When he recorded Rolling Thunder in 1972 as a solo album, it was named in homage to a dear friend of the same name. Rolling Thunder was a Shoshone medicine man, a shaman and a teacher who had befriended the Grateful Dead while they lived in the Haight-Ashbury district of San Francisco. He made great impressions on Mickey, not only in how he (Mickey) sees this world, but also the directions of travel he takes in terms of metaphysical sound. While honing his craft as a drummer, Mickey incorporated these taught elements into his style creating not just sonance, but an incorporeal expedition. From his experiences with Rolling Thunder and other spiritual entities throughout his life, he has become a master of his craft in every sense of the word.

His latest album Mysterium Tremendum reflects this perfectly. It's more of a voyage than anything, perhaps, a reflection of years and years of searching for the Earth's rhythm and it's correlation within the universe. He seemingly has found it, and has majestically wrapped it inside a box of song. It's not an easy thing to accomplish, and while listening to Mysterium Tremendum, I began to realize that there was much more happening than what was meeting the ears.

Each track on the album tells two stories, one sonically, and the other in verse. The catchy "Slow Joe Rain" has all the elements we've come to know about Robert Hunter's penned lyrics from the territorial introduction (I'm Slow Joe Rain from Lake Champlain)  to it's catchy hook phrase. It comes around again and again, setting up a lyrical cadence so evident that eventually the human body craves it like salt and sugar. Mickey, realizing this subtle subliminal action, builds his own rhythm around the human cadence, swirling it all together like a rotating galaxy. The music incorporates both rhythms and tightly winds it down  a path of its own.

Simply put, "Slow Joe Rain" and several other songs on the album are written in a style that might lead an unsuspecting ear to not hear exactly what is happening. One won't realize that he is hearing the heartbeat of the Earth, or the sound of solar winds, the orbit of the planets, or the hushed tones of microwave background radiation. As a connoisseur society, we are trained to look at things on the surface only, without giving much thought to an underlining significance. THAT notion is the polar opposite of what Mickey Hart's Mysterium Tremendum represents, and for those who are ready to experience sonic visualisation, it's a helluva place to start.

On Mickey Hart's website he begs the following questions: What is life? Why is life?

He goes on to say that, the answer is in the rhythm in things. The way things move, sound and look together. We are constantly moving from chaos to order and back and forth. We pulse, we spin, we expand, and we contract.

Mysterium Tremendum is a broad example of that.

In the song "Who Stole the Show," we are treated to the lyrics and vocals of  Sikiru Adepoju, a Nigerian master of the Talking Drum. He and Mickey trade off lyrical barbs, Adepoju in his native language, and Mickey corresponding in English. It's an interesting mixture of music from two different sides of the world. Adepoju has worked with Mickey Hart on many of his former projects and it's evident in their communication. Adepoju's accent in contrast to the smooth but torrential music behind it makes for easy listening. It's a nice break from the other tracks on the record. It's something new.

It's a nice touch that Robert Hunter was tabbed for most of the lyrics on this record. His is a prose that needs to be fired and refired. The man is a walking book of stories, and in a cosmopolitan worldly way, his words fit in nicely with the earthy sounds surrounding them. Mysterium Tremendum is world music taken to a higher plane, with incorporations of rock, jazz, psychedelia, and even slivered hints of rap.

The words to "Djinn Djinn" were written by Mickey, and like Hunter's words they seem to work well through the music. It's a bit of surprise that he is capable of writing such formidable lyrics, but that only comes from knowing that he is first a drummer. Maybe it should be no surprise at all in light of the greatness he has surrounded himself with over the years. The song's chorus has a catchy hook to it:

In the shadow of the sun, when the water runs dry
The whole world dances and the desert cries
The whole world dances and the desert cries

Mickey's band consists of a who's who from the world stage. He is joined by Crystal Monee Hall on vocals,  along with singer Tim Hockenberry, Dave Schools of Widespread Panic fame on bass, Gawain Mathews on guitar and effects, Sikiru Adepoju on drums and vocals, another drummer is Ian Herman, and finally there's Ben Yonas who lends his engineering talents and keyboard expertise. The Mickey Hart Band is touring, and will probably be playing a show near you. For those who are local, he will play The Englert Theater in Iowa City on August 22nd.

Inside the Mysterium we are led down a path of tremendous experience. Our natural pulse walks instep with the beat of the universe, glossed in beautiful and unsuspecting meaning. It's subtle, yet steadfast. It's invisible yet bright. It's there for the taking, please help yourself. It's a world of music at your fingertips.

It might even be bigger than that.


Pertinent links:

Mickey Hart Official Website

Mysterium Tremendum

Mickey Hart on Facebook

Mickey Hart on Twitter

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Top Five "Secondary" Acts of Rocklahoma 2012

Cveckian listed his Top Five acts, all of which played the main stage. If I made a list it would very similar to his, so I will list the top acts that played on the secondary stages. Note: It would be impossible to see virtually every single act that played, so obviously there are bands that played that I didn't get to see. If you were there and feel that I made an omission, please use the comments tab to state your case. (Al photos by Troy Church unless stated otherwise)


Volbeat tearing it up. Image taken from Songkick.
Ok, I have a confession. I didn't actually see this band play, but they were the buzz all weekend. All weekend long I asked people what band impressed them the most, and it seemed that Volbeat always got mentioned. I've got to check these cats out and see what the hype is about.

Volbeat on Facebook


Scattered Hamlet on the Jagermeister Stage Saturday night

I had seen the flyers around camp for this band out of Hollywood, and I was mildly interested in checking them out. Then I bumped into Gypyhawk guitarist Erik Kluiber at the camp store on Saturday night, and he told me that he was filling in as the bassist for this band at the Jagermeister Stage later that evening. I knew then that I HAD to see Scattered Hamlet play. I wasn't disappointed, not at all. These fellas know how to fuel a crowd with their ferocious southern style of rock and roll. It's hard rock in a very primitive form, and they seemed to have fun while they played it. I bought three CDs last weekend, and Scattered Hamlet was one of them.

Scattered Hamlet on Reverbnation


Brad Jones and Kelly Koop of Baron Von Swagger

Another CD I bought last weekend was of Baron Von Swagger out of Tulsa. I basically stumbled across these fellas as they were tearing up the Axis Entertainment stage on Thursday night. Very melodic and charismatic, singer Brad Jones kept the crowd hypnotized with his impressive singing style, and the songs they played were original and catchy, without at all being cheesy. The bass player, Kelly Koop, reminded me of John Exall of the Texas Hippie Coalition with his ferocious style. That's not a compliment I'd give to just anybody. These guys deliver the goods, and they came to Rocklahoma on a mission. They turned the Axis stage inside out. I feel lucky for having seen them play. These guys are going places.

Baron Von Swagger on Reverbnation


Scott, Joe and John of Dagger
It was pretty cool camping next to this band all weekend. Still though, had I not known them from being neighbors, I would have still considered Dagger one of the greatest bands I saw perform at Rocklahoma. This band out of Arizona has a style all their own and a stage presence that could be compared to the great acts of the '80s metal era, such as Judas Priest or Alcatrazz. This year marks their 25th playing together, and to say that Dagger is a tight unit would be putting it mildly. When they are not playing together, they are hanging out together... And that coherence makes for a damn good party when they hit the stage.

Howie Macreno
Singer Howie Macreno hits notes that would be hard to reach on a piano, and his style is unlike anybody's in modern rock. Drummer John Harper is ridiculous on the skins beating them with a thunder that is usually reserved for torrential storms out at sea. Bill Mehlhouse and Scott Allan trade guitar riffs back and forth like a game of sonic ping pong, and bassist Joe Mente holds it all together with a foundation so solid that you could build a house on it... These guys are serious about the music they play, and if you haven't seen them play live you are seriously missing out. As Cveckian said, "Why these guys aren't on the radio is beyond me." See these guys as SOON as you can.

Dagger Official Website


Matt Heafy and his band beat the crowd to a pulp
Like Cveckian, I had only heard good things about this band, but had never been so fortunate as to see them live. I'm so glad I finally got fortunate. By far Trivium was the most intense act of Rocklahoma this year, and I still can't understand why they were slotted to play on one of the secondary stages. They didn't cater to the audience, they beat it into a pulp, chewed it up, and spit it back out. They played their set with such a fervor that an earthquake could have occurred and nobody would have realized it. Singer Matt Heafy literally challenged the crowd time and time again to turn the intensity up a notch, and the crowd responded every single time. It was hypnotizing the way he controlled the crowd, and the crowd didn't mind one bit. Trivium could still be playing, and nobody would have left. Including me. I was blown away. Hands down, they have one of the greatest stage shows I have ever seen. And that is saying a lot.

Trivium Official Website


Monday, June 4, 2012

Top 10 Observations about Rocklahoma 2012

10. Tulsa seems to have a helluva local music scene. So does Phoenix.

9. Free beer isn't all that it's cracked up to be when you have to wait in line for at least 20 minutes to get it. The times were several when I opted to pay a vendor 5 bucks a pop for instant gratification.

8. During the day there is a considerable amount of down time where you are just sitting around. The days never really got going until 4 or 5 o'clock.

7. Kudos to Rich of Des Moines for bringing a bottle of whiskey. It made the down time that much more tolerable. And kudos to Scott Allan, the guitarist in Dagger for also sharing his.

Rich and Scott Allan of  Dagger enjoying the bottle backstage

6. It was totally worth the drive into Pryor each morning to eat at the Thomas Restaurant. Though it's not a good destination if you are in a hurry, each morning we ate there we found our breakfast very much worth the wait. It doesn't hurt that it automatically comes with a side of biscuits and gravy.

5. Be prepared to walk. And walk. And walk. And then be prepared to walk some more. The distance to the showers, the camp store, and the secondary stages is quite aways from the campground.

4. Next year bring comfortable shoes and leave the flip flops at home.

3. Trivium should have been playing on the main stage and not one of the side stages.

2. It would also be really cool to see a band like Judas Priest or Iron Maiden on the main stage.

1. You never know who you will run into while you are scurrying about. It was reported that Rob Zombie made a visit to our camp late Saturday night, and that same night I ran into Erik Kluiber, the guitarist for Gypsyhawk in the camp store.

Cveckian's Top Five Acts of Rocklahoma 2012

Cveckian offers his Top Five performances at this year's Rocklahoma Festival in Pryor, Oklahoma. (All photos by Cveckian.)



Dave Mustaine of Megadeth Saturday night
We will start with No. 5, which I thought would be my number one for sure. Unfortunately it wasn't David Mustane's best day (which at the end of long tour, given his age, is perfectly understandable to me).I cannot put my finger on why it happened, only that it did - Mustaine's vocals would often diminish in volume and sometimes drop off altogether. Now this could have been caused by faulty engineering, but the near-flawless audio from the following Zombie set (aside from blowing out a subwoofer near the end) would lead me to think it was more Dave's worn vocal chords at work.

His axe grinding was brilliant of course.

#4 - SLASH

Slash performs at Rocklahoma Friday night
His expertise on the guitar was a treat to watch. I enjoyed taking a trip back to the good old days of raunchy rock with the GnR material (I was one of the privileged ones to catch the original Guns N' Roses group's final show) and loved that he played one of my favorite Velvet Revolver tracks, "Slither."

His lead singer, Myles Kennedy, handled that notable burden with ease and made those songs his own and, in some cases, even better than the originals. Yes... I just said that.


Trivium played the Hard Rock stage on Saturday evening.
I had only heard of this group off and on through small clusters of friends over the past few years, all of them telling me that I absolutely HAD to check them out. After finally getting the opportunity to do so, I can see why - They tore that Hard Rock stage apart! They demanded respect and earned it through precision, style, and hard punches to the face... Which is way better than grammar, logic, and rhetoric any day of my week.


Rob Zombie pulled out all the stops on Saturday night.
Having seen White Zombie on tour shortly after the release of La Sexorcisto, I was well aware of what this man was capable of musically. That being said, as I watched his amazingly complex stage being assembled I knew this wasn't Kansas anymore and something more profound was going to take place. Zombie's stage design often seemed to mimic classic horror pulps from the Golden Age. It was quite stunning actually and the powerful performance/guitar work of John 5 added even more layers of indescribable eeriness.

Saying Rob Zombie is a master of his craft would be putting it lightly...

He owns the craft.


Chickenfoot played to a tired but energized crowd Sunday night.
The first "Super Group" to realize what we, the audience, had been through over the last few days (blistering heat, lack of sleep, lots of partying, plenty of sub-par music, etc.) and instead of chastising us for our initial lackluster response, praised us for hanging through to the end. Guess what happened? Our response got bigger & louder. They jammed straight to our souls, and we all ended the night feeling great about everything. No pomp and circumstance, just good old American rock and roll by a cast of solid veterans!

I hope you took notes, Geoff Tate.*


* It was rumored that Geoff Tate and his bandmates in Queensryche were quarrelling before the show Saturday night (Tate had pulled a knife on a bandmate in Brazil a week or so earlier). Their set was extremely tense and at times awkward, without much interaction with the crowd. Before leaving the stage, Tate chastised the audience saying, "You are a horrible crowd... I mean that. You really suck!" to which he received a chorus of boos. In all the years I have been attending shows, I have never seen anything quite like it. At that point, Cveckian remarked, "We may have just seen Queensryche's last show." I was in total agreement with him. -Troy

Rocklahoma 2012 Part 1: The Arrival

The Des Moines crew consisted of Rich of Des Moines, CVEeckian, and myself. We made the trip from Des Moines to Rocklahoma in Pryor, Okahoma  in a little over six hours, which defies GPS logic. It had the trip tabbed as a 7 and a half hour drive, and that's without stops and traffic issues. We didn't speed. The cruise was set at the allowed speed limit and we stopped liberally, as needed.

It should be noted: there are very few, if any rest areas on Highway 71 through Missouri. Nor much of anything else for that matter. It's a long highway.

Each one of us were on very little-if any-sleep, but somehow managed to keep the wheels rolling without any incidental contact of other vehicles. About the time we crossed from Missouri into Oklahoma, we began to notice that the gun lobby had a very strong presence, as gun advocacy was suddenly the main topic of billboard advertising.

That and the occasional ad stating that "Jesus Saves."

Strange bedfellows? Gun advocacy and Jesus Saves billboards.
With the presence of these billboards, it suddenly became apparent that we had indeed, entered the South. God help us.

My biggest fear was that I'd have to deal with hard-nosed law enforcement - we've all heard the stories - so I was especially conscience of the speed limit around me, and the traffic laws, construction zones, etc. Though I virtually hadn't slept in about 28 hours, I was wide awake.

We pulled into Adair, Oklahoma, which is actually closer to the Rocklahoma event than Pryor is. It's a quiet, dusty town, with not much to offer except a couple of gas stations and a brand new Dollar Store. Thinking it would be a good idea to fill up the tank, we pulled into a local gas station. I pumped gas as Rich and Cveckian went inside.

Next to me I noticed a guy who was right in the middle of his mid-life crisis. He had his sports car which was a convertible. His hair was slicked back, and he looked noticeably different from the farmers and normal kinfolk in the area. As he pumped gas into his car he looked around, as if to see if anybody (perhaps an interested female?) was watching him. He looked at me, saw me looking at him, and he nodded.

I nodded back.

He finished filling up before I did, and he sucked his gut in as he made his way into the gas station entrance, pausing only to flex his bicep at his reflection in the gas station door.. Surely any love-struck female who saw him would fall immediately in love...

I finished filling the tank and wandered inside. Mr. Douchebag was there, eyeballing a teenage girl who was stocking shelves in the canned food aisle. He made a comment to her, which she totally ignored. When he realized that she wasn't going to respond, he shrugged it off and walked into the public bathroom. I looked at Cveckian, and I noticed that he too had noticed this creep. Looking at me, he nodded towards the guy, and rolled his eyes. I laughed. I picked up a bag of spicy peanuts and stood in line to pay.

Not exactly sure of our whereabouts and our proximity to Rocklahoma, I thought it would be a good idea to use the restroom myself. Of course that meant another encounter with Mr. Douchebag, and sure enough, there he was when I walked in, preening himself in front of the mirror.

"Good lord." I said aloud as I approached a urinal.

As I pissed, I could feel this guy continue to watch himself in the mirror, and even afterwards as I washed my own hands in the next sink. We didn't make eye contact again. I grabbed a sheet of paper towel and made my way back out to the car. According to the kid behind the counter, we were just a few short miles away from the Rocklahoma event.

Hellz yeah.

There is a giant billboard greeting us as we entered Rocklahoma. "LIFE, LIBERTY, AND THE PURSUIT OF ROCK," it said. It was a relief of sorts, as so far my Oklahoma experience had been filled with weirdness. It might have been the lack of sleep, or maybe the fact that the South is indeed a strange place, I'm not sure. All I know is that it sure felt good when we found the VIP gate and entered the campground.

Backstage Rocklahoma on Thursday
The stage was still being constructed.
(Pictured: Rich and Taylor. Photo by Bigfoot Diaries)
We were greeted by a friendly lady who seemed to be expecting us. We had been instructed to tell the person at the gate that we were with the "Arizona Group" and that we were looking for (my uncle) Don Church. We did that, and she knew exactly who he was, which was a an unexpected relief. You know how these things go...  Within a moment or two, she had him contacted via walkie-talkie, and she told us that he would be right here to meet us.

I really haven't spent quality time with my Uncle Don since I was a kid. He moved with my grandparents to Arizona when I was still very young, and the times we were able to hang out were premeditated visits we'd take while on vacation, or the rare occurrences when he would come back to Iowa. Either way, it always seemed so planned... And somewhat rushed.

I had memories of being a kid and hanging out with my brother and my uncle's friends in his basement bedroom at my grandparent's house. It was the epitome of a '70s teenager's bedroom, complete with the lava lamp, burning incense, rock and roll posters, and the obligatory '70s strobe light.

It was there I got my first real taste of rock music, as I was pretty much shielded growing up in my parent's home. My brother and I wasn't allowed to own records by KISS, and some of the other popular bands at the time. But my uncle Don had all the KISS albums, and the Queen records, and Rare Earth, and so many others that seemed strange and obscure. Being in my uncle Don's bedroom and listening to the records that he and his friends were playing was like being in a perceptual playground, where I could hear incredible new sounds, and stare at record album covers for hours.

I specifically remember hearing Golden Earring's Moontan album there for the first time and thinking "Radar Love" was the coolest song ever. In fact, every memory I have of my uncle Don involves music... Not only as a child growing up, but even since he and my grandparents moved out to the desert. He has been actively involved in the Arizona music scene since the day he arrived. He is a veteran drummer, and his current band, Return to Custody is widely respected in the rock circles of Arizona. They are also the "house band" of the Phoenix chapter of the Hells Angels, which somehow seems like a good thing. After all, it worked for the Grateful Dead and the Stones.

Here in Oklahoma, I was excited to see Don, and hang out with him for the weekend. He had brought his son Justen along with him (my cousin) so I was excited on two fronts. Justen was now 23, and a long ways away from when I had seen him last, which was a bout 15 years ago. I didn't even recognize him when he and Don pulled up in a golf cart. Eager to get out of the car and get the weekend started, we made our way to our camping site.

The eastern part of Oklahoma is very humid and windy in late May. Because it hadn't rained in awhile, it was also very dusty. It was Thursday afternoon, and the camp ground hadn't really began to fill up yet. We parked the car, and proceeded to meet and greet the others with whom we'd be sharing a camp with for the next 4 days. There was Don and Justen of course, and a kid from Arizona named Taylor. There was (Mark) Gruici, who had also brought his sons, Andrew and Dan, along, also from Arizona. Along the way while passing through Albuquerque they picked up a friend, James.

In the RV next to ours was Dagger, a band from the Phoenix area. Arriving at exactly the same time we did, they were slated to play on the Jagermeister stage later that evening.

As it turns out, I was able to catch Dagger twice during Rocklahoma weekend. Once on the afore-mentioned Jagermeister stage, and again on Saturday afternoon on the Axis Entertainment stage. They're style of rock and roll is right out of the golden age of heavy metal with loud and wicked guitar riffs, earth shattering drum beats and vocals that transcend into other galaxies. It's raw, it's dirty, and it's in your face. There is absolutely nothing that I've heard in Des Moines that sounds quite like Dagger, and for that matter there's not much I've heard from anywhere that does. They take all the ingredients of that incredible '80s metal sound (think Judas Priest and The Scorpions) and twist it into a version that sounds modern to our own day and age. They've been playing together for 25 years, which is evident in their cohesiveness. Unfortunately, one has to wonder that if these fellas haven't been discovered yet, will they ever be? I think it says alot about the current state of modern music. I'd put Dagger and their stage show up against most of what's popular in today's music. And in hindsight, I'd put them ahead of several of the bands that played on the main stage at Rocklahoma last weekend.

John Harper of Dagger. (Photo by Bigfoot Diaries)

We made our introductions and immediately gravitated for the beer cooler. As VIPs were were promised free beer and free food all weekend. Unfortunately, this didn't apply on Thursday as it was still considered to be pre-festival. (Actually, in hindsight, I think we did get a free dinner that evening.) It didn't matter much. We offered to buy beer several times throughout the evening, but each time we were told to help ourselves to the cooler. I'm not exactly sure who's beer it was that I was drinking all night, but whomever you are, thank you! You made the transition from driving all day to sleeping on the ground all night that much more pleasurable.

Yeah. There was some confusion with the RV situation.

From what I could gather, some people in Arizona had cancelled coming, and therefore one RV was cancelled. It just happened to be the one that the three of us were to be sleeping in. This pretty much left us to fend for ourselves. Because of my lack of sleep, and the slight beer buzz I was enduring, I was okay with just sleeping on top of the ground on a blanket. Charles took the passenger side seat in the car, and I have no idea where Rich ended up. Sometime during the night I was woken up and told that Don and Justen had set up a tent with an air mattress in it. I graciously went there and finished my night of sleep. Music from the Jagermeister stage continued to play throughout the night, and I remember sleep being very sporadic. It didn't matter at this point. At least I could do it on my own terms.

I woke up early for the amount of sleep I had gotten in the last couple of days. I found Cveckian in the car, and Rich was nowhere to be found. The toll of driving all the day the day before and not getting a shower had begun to take it's toll on me. Without getting too personal, let's just say that I was in serious need of some baby powder. Each step I took was torture, and I knew from experience that as the day got warmer and more humid, that I was in for a world of trouble if I didn't act fast. I slowly made my way to the car and woke up Cveckian.

"Hey man," I said. "We have a tent now."

"That would have been good to know," Cveckian replied.

"I need a shower, and I don't think I would be able to walk all the way over there. Plus I need to go into town. Sorry to bother you."

Charles woke up, and decided that a shower was indeed a good idea. Afterwards, we drove into Adair to look for a place that sells baby powder, plus a few other essentials that we were lacking. I remembered seeing the Dollar Store, so I drove there. The clock in the car said 8:52, and the sign on the door of the store said that it opened at 9:00. Charles walked next door to the gas station as I waited for the Dollar Store to open.

Finally, at about 9:04 I began to beat on the door. I could see people inside stocking shelves and I figured that they were unaware that we had reached the hour of store operation. Some guy sauntered over to the door and unlocked it. he opened it slightly, leaned out and asked if he could help me.

"Um, yeah. I want to shop in here."

"We are not open." He replied.

"Well, your sign says 9:00 and it's well after..."

"No, sir. We are not open... As in the store ISN'T open."

He pointed to a huge banner that was hung on the building. It said in big block letters" DOLLAR STORE OPENING SOON!.

"Oh, for crying out loud..."

How in the hell had I missed that sign? It was as big as the building itself... And I had been standing outside there for over ten minutes. Cveckian returned at that point, and I told him that I had to go to the gas station that he had just came out of. To my relief, he acted like he hadn't seen the huge banner either.

I bought the baby powder (2 bottles) and as I got back into the car, Cveckian says, "Hey check it out." He pointed to the a guy who was walking into the gas station. It was our friend from the day before, Mr. Douchebag.

"I could tell it was him because of the way he flexed as he approached his reflexion in the glass of the door." said Cveckian.

Sure enough, it was him, convertible and all. The guy must be cursed, I figured, to be suffering through a midlife crisis in such a small town where nobody wants anything to do with him...

With two bottles of baby powder in tow and a bit of breakfast in our stomachs, Cveckian and I made our way back to our Rocklahoma campground. It was to be a weekend that we will likely never forget.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Rocklahoma 2012 Recap Notice

Since I got home from Rocklahoma earlier this week, things have been kinda crazy. I jumped right back into my regular job of course, and had until Thursday to be packed and moved into my new place which meant a lot of extra hustle and bustle. In other words I have been running rampant, without much of an opportunity to write a recap of the rock and roll events that happened last weekend in Pryor.

I hope to get everything caught up within the next few days. Plus we've got some other exciting stuff on deck.

Thanks for reading!