Thursday, December 17, 2009

Old Country Music Pals. . .

People from the Old Country who remember me as Hugh the Rocker keep tracking me down on Facebook. Here's a photograph sent to me by graphic design guy Shelly Howard. He designed The ODD logo which I always thought was very sharp, clean and catchy. The baby-faced guy I'm standing next to, Phil Bimstein, went on to become a Colorado politician! ?

I've also heard from the guy who used to do sound for The Odd, lighting dude Jody Durham and former ODD drummer Brad Canady. It all calls up memories of really cold winters and some super-fun gigs.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Gehry in Las Vegas

Recovering from a wild night and day in Las Vegas courtesy of L.A. Weekly, which sent me there to review CityCenter, a new batch of futuristic hotel towers, and Frank Gehry's new building. Wildness not from gambling -- I brought four whole quarters into the casino only to find out they don't take actual coins -- but from the architecture.

I took this picture of the Gehry building, on behalf of Alzheimers patients a few miles north of the Strip, which was put together via GPS-embedded pieces maseter-minded via computer by engineers in Germany.

Had thanksgiving dinner tonight with cousins at an excellent at a Santa Monica restaurant called Cachettes: turkey, creamed corn, sausage and mushroom stuffing and pumpking pie

Saturday, October 31, 2009

My Former Band Cataloged in The Chicago Music Scene Book

My Vaudeville-meets-rock band Huge Hart gets a little ink in November with the release of The Chicago Music Scene by Dean Milano. They're doing book signings, concerts and stuff back in the Old Country pegged to the book's Nov. 7 release date.

Another of my bands, The ODD, was invited to be part of the You Weren't There documentary covering Chicago's punk scene, except I'm a moron and never got around to sending the filmmakers archival video of the band.

To honor the film's completion, there's going to be a reunion concert November 24 at Chicago's Portage Theater with musicians I used to play clubs with who called themselves Tutu and the Pirates. Lead singer's stage name: Lil' Richie Speck.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

John Mayer, Sherlock Holmes + North Carolina

I did my first video interviews recently. With normal interviews, I blather at length and go off on tangents. Verboten for video interviews. I learned: Don't interrupt the Talent and don't ask questions that can be answered with a "yes" or a "no." Instead, nod your head a lot. The videos, about robots and John Mayer got posted on in September.

I also delivered my first college "lecture," which was tons of fun, at Otis College of Art and Design.

I finished the first go-round on a 16-song musical I'm calling "Fairfax."

And I got on a plane for the first time since 1999 and flew cross country to North Carolina for my mom's birthday.

My lovely sisters were there and I got to bang out a few tunes on the piano at the gi-normous solar-heated house on a hill owned by go-getter couple Candy and Shawn. My mom's friend, a brilliant mathemetician from Argentina named Norberto Kerzman, put me up for a couple of nights. Happy to report he makes a POWERFUL cup of coffee.

Meanwhile, Wired Magazine called me to do a piece on Sherlock Holmes with a fast turn-around so I spent the flight to and fro using one of those tiny little overhead lights as I pored over Arthur Conan Doyle's The Complete Sherlock Holmes, Vol. 1.

I made it through September intact. I don't know if "echinacea" is a bogus placebo or not, but I took a bottle East and survived all that stale airline air, so that's my ambiguous health tip for the day.

Friday, August 28, 2009

10 Giant Trucks Equal One TV Commercial

This oughta be one Helluva TV commercial - - walking the Wonder Dog in Studio City this morning, I came across a massive production-in-progress on one of the shady Leave It To Beaver streets west of Tujunga known as Colfax Meadows.

I counted at least 10 big white trucks parked curbside, production assistants racing around with clipboards and walkie talkies, camera operators. So I asked the off-duty cops doubling as security guards what they were shooting?

Chicken. Perdue's Chicken commercial for TV.

30 seconds on television. I'm keeping an eye out. This should be some damn good looking chickens.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Comic-Con, Amtrak and Rag Dolls

Finally made it down to San Diego for Comic-Con last Friday. I caught the Amtrak in Burbank, lost my wifi connection, but stared out the window and got my wits about me to some extent. My favorite stop: San Juan Capistrano. It looks like something out of a tropical fairy tale.

In San Diego I hopped on the back of a pedicab pedaled by a Serbian refugee with huge calves who took me from the train station to the Convention Center.

Inside, I listened to Robert Downey Jr. and other actors talk about their movies. On the trolley ride back to the station, I saw "Wonder Woman" crowding into the sweaty, crowded car.

Next time: hotel!

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Ex-Bandmate Mark Messing Rocks the Marching Band

I'm happy to see ex bandmate Mark Messing doing innovative music in Chicago. Mark used to play saxophone in my group the Magnificent Seven, and he in fact was pretty magnificent. Wiry, lanky and leftist, wailing Mark took my songs into manic, soulful terrain every time he cranked out a solo.

He now leads his own orchestra Mucca Pazza, which plays thumping, delirious rock, oom-pah and avant garde tunes. It's a marching band with crazy costumes, cheerleaders, tubas, accordians, electric guitars and more.

Here's a radio show which features Mark talks smartly about the concept along with bits from the Mucca repertoire.

Like I used to say from the stage: ladies and gentlemen: Mr. Mark Messing! Now blazing trails in the Old Country.

Friday, May 1, 2009

My New CD How To Be a Millionaire: Done

I finished my ten-song CD How To Be a Millionaire a few days ago. Listened to it through the big ol' car speakers on my drive over to watch Wolverine.

I guess you could call it Americana with a Twist. Me, strumming the acoustic guitar, my upright piano, a batch of harmonicas and the mighty Casio keyboard of ancient vintage.

Tunes were recorded on Garagegand, an awesome program that happily was loaded on to this MacBook I bought.

Subjects include hard times (Hollow of the Hill) broken hearts (Make It Up to You), hobos (Better Beat than Dead) bankruptcy (How To Be a Millionaire) and soul mate seeking (Gold Mine).

You can listen to some of the songs over at MySpace,

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Sign me up for Fairey's 21st Century WPA

I talked to Obama poster man Shepard Fairey about a year ago and came away impressed with his clear thinking, unpretentious manner and fondness for street art stickers.

Reminded me of my Chicago heyday, when I'd tape flyers for my band gigs on Lincoln Avenue lamp posts.

Anyway, Fairey is now on a tear about some kind of WPA style artists initatiative for the Obama administration.

Sign me up!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Wozniak Interview + SXSW Music

Glued to Steve Wozniak's dorky-cool dancing - I interviewed Apple's super friendly geek billionaire co-founder a couple weeks ago for, and have posted a few stories about him and the show.

Also: had a blast editing Scott Thill's coverage of SXSW bands while boss Lewis Wallace blog from ground zero in Austin, Texas.

Valley Moment: amid the soot, the concrete, the rude drivers and stuck-up pedestrians, a glimpse of redemption yesterday: sprouting up from the 1/8-inch ridge framing the back window of my mundane Toyota: a tiny blossom, slender and pale green, reached skyward.

image courtesy

Saturday, February 21, 2009

My Heath Ledger Interview

Posted a story for yesterday about Heath Ledger (see the Twitter link at right). I used audio tape of an interview I did with Ledger back in 2004. Listening to the cassette after all these years: pretty sad, really. I remember after we finished talking at the Four Seasons Hotel in Beverly Hills, an hour or two later, I ran into Ledger at the curb where we were both waiting to get our cars and drive back home - me to Sherman Oaks at the time, him to Silver Lake, where he was living with his then-girlfriend Naomi Watts. We chatted for a minute or two, off the clock as it were. He seemed very low key and whatever the drug issues may have been, Ledger struck me as somebody who wanted to keep a low profile and got into show biz for the acting, pure and simple.

Anyway, Oscars are tomorrow. I'm rooting for Ledger.

Here's the audio clip

Saturday, January 17, 2009

January Round-Up

This must be obnoxious for anybody living in the real world, aka east of Las Vegas, but the mail delivery lady in Studio City wore shorts on her rounds this morning. 85 and sunny. Meanwhile in the Old Country, my Chicago friends bundled up for the 18 degrees below zero Deep Freeze.

No love for Big Love. Rave reviewes induced me to watched HBO's first episode, season three the other night.


Enough with the Mormons already. They've had two seasons already to get across the basics, but season three, they're still pounding away: don't judge us because we're different, we just want to be normal, ooh, the guy's got three wives, blah blah blah. Mediocre dialogue, one-note characters, Bible-driven soap opera . . . no thanks.

Digging American Idol in the early rounds, but the L.A. Times went way over the top in gushing about former runner-up Jason Castro. The guy's brother auditioned in Kansas City, and Castro was hanging out. He was likened to a "God from Mt. Olympus walking among mere mortals" or something to that effect. Really?

Take a sedative!

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Happy new year. All purpose round-up: My former band The ODD (pictured) is being included in a documentary about Chicago's music scene. Details to come.

Another one of my bands, Huge Hart, will be featured in a history of Chicago's music scene being written by Dean Milano. The book, from Arcadia Publishing, is tentatively slated to hit bookstores late 2009.

And on the front, you can link to a year's worth of my blogs covering all things geek including my favorite movie review headline of 2008: The Flesh is Willing but the Spirit is Weak.