Archive for March, 2011

Wizards & Stars Comes To L.A.: Live at Largo, Thursday March 24th, 8pm.

Posted in Uncategorized on March 16, 2011 by pulmyears

Last December, Scott Miller and I shared an evening at the Make Out Room in San Francisco to promote our respective books. Scott’s is Music: What Happened? and mine is A Wizard A True Star: Todd Rundgren In The Studio. The event, arranged by the immensely talented life force known as Alison Faith Levy and Phoenix Books, was called Wizards And Stars. Scott and I both actively performed songs mentioned in the texts of our books, and invited several of our San Francisco musician friends to join us. Graciously, we were blessed to have the participation of Alison herself, John Moremen (of the Orange Peels, and my band-mate in The Paul & John), Chris Von Sneidern, Bye Bye Blackbirds and I Love My Label. The event was a rousing success, we sold some books, heard some spirited Todd Rundgren covers and when it was done we exited into the chilly San Francisco night bathed in a warm pre-holiday glow. Good times.

Scott and I had so much fun in fact that we vowed to do it all over again, this time taking the show south to Los Angeles. I made a few calls and Flanny at Largo immediately gave us a date. Scott and I then made a few calls to our friends in that region and a lineup was arranged. Thus we have Wizards And Stars L.A., A Musical Literary Event at Largo at The Coronet, Thursday March 24th at 8pm (doors open at 7). My old friend Dave Foley (Kids In The Hall, Newsradio) has graciously agreed to be the master of ceremonies for this unforgettable night of musical guest stars and author book signings. Largo’s Thursday night cover is $25 and tickets CAN be purchased in advance.
Quoting from a Press Release I wrote earlier:

Scott Miller (Loud Family, Game Theory) is launching Music: What Happened? (125 Books) a song-by-song critical essay and paean to some of his favorite songs from the last 53 years of popular music. Scott will tell stories and read selections as well as perform choice songs from his work.

Scott Miller (as seen at Make Out Room Dec 18, 2010)

Paul Myers (The Gravelberrys, The Paul & John) has just released A Wizard A True Star: Todd Rundgren In The Studio (Jawbone Press), which chronicles the entire production career of Todd Rundgren, with new interviews from the man himself and every one of his celebrated clients from Patti Smith, Badfinger and the New York Dolls to XTC and Meat Loaf. Invited musical artists (including Miller) will sing a selection of Rundgren songs in tribute.

Paul Myers (at Make Out Room, Dec 18, 2010)

While both books will be on hand for sale and signing by their respective authors, Miller and Myers will bring John Moremen down with them  from San Francisco, where they will be joined by an ace cast of L.A. musical guests including DJ Bonebrake (X), Peter Gilstrap (Ben Vaughn) and a rotating backing unit lead by Rooney guitarist Taylor Locke, with Rooney’s Ned Brower and Louie Stevens, plus Chris Price (Taylor Locke and The Roughs). Subject to change, expect appearances by Mike Viola (Candy Butchers), top soundtrack composer/producer Lyle Workman , The Chapin Sisters, and a few secret surprise “Largo regular” guests.

Largo At The Coronet is located at 366 North La Cienega Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90048

(310) 855-0350 Order Tickets online at http://largo.laughstub.com/show.cfm?id=69290

You can also buy A Wizard A True Star: Todd Rundgren In The Studio at participating venues on Todd Rundgren’s March Todd / Healing Albums Live Tour. Hiding out and can’t be seen in public? Order my book from Amazon here!

Music For (Incredibly Short) Films: My First Attempts With Music And Video

Posted in Uncategorized on March 10, 2011 by pulmyears

Last November, I upgraded to an iPhone 4 with video camera. It’s my first video camera phone. In fact, it’s the first video camera I’ve ever owned. When I was a boy, I begged my parents for a Bell & Howell Super 8  film camera.

Much to my surprise, they gave me one for Christmas. And a little movie light. I filmed my toy soldiers, G.I. Joe doll, (sorry, G.I. Joe ACTION FIGURE) and various model cars and planes. I used vinyl album covers for backdrops, such as the street scene on the cover of Physical Graffiti:

I made in-camera edits where my brother Peter appeared to pop in and out, disappearing and reappearing and playing street hockey with himself,  passing himself the tennis ball. Movie magic. I don’t know where the films are today, my brother Mike also made some and he seems to still have all of his. They, (his AND mine) were crude but inspired attempts to make moving images, finger painted with film, heavy on the clumsy brush strokes but with the unselfconscious abandon that only a child can bring to art.

For various reasons, I put film aside when I pursued music. I never attempted to buy a Sony Handycam when everyone was doing it. So when I got the iPhone 4, I was curious about making some movies, and of course now that Apple’s democratizing software is so easy use, I could edit as well.

But what could I do to test the water? Actually, the answer had a little bit to do with that democratizing Apple software. About five years ago, I had some issues with my ProTools and couldn’t afford to upgrade completely so the whole suite remained unused and unusable for years. But in the meantime, I had discovered Apple’s GarageBand software. I had initially waved this off as “amateur” ware, and I was a serious musician, but as I got deeper into it, I realized that you could do a lot with it. So I have amassed hours of unheard material. A lot of it instrumental electronica, often credited to my electronic band Flam! (just me). Wouldn’t some of that stuff be “soundtrack” material for my new films.? Of course  it would. And like all students, I started with purely image based (i.e. non-narrative) student art film.

Today I wanted to put two of these early experiments up for you on The Pulmyears Music Blog.

The first of these was shot  while driving through Joshua Tree National Park in our two-door Toyota Echo and it’s called, Desert Drive:

For that one, I actually made a rough cut and then wrote music that I thought would fit nicely. For my next test film, I wanted to go another route, taking an existing Flam! instrumental called “A Stringy Thing”, then laying in found images, literally filmed off the screen of my MacBook Pro from YouTube. Editing to taste.

This one was called Violin • Robot • Strings:

Liza made an interesting point the other day. “Why don’t you tell a story with the films?”. That’s a great suggestion, so I’m off to try that. I’ll let you know when I’ve got something to show.

Don’t Forget To Write

Posted in Uncategorized on March 9, 2011 by pulmyears

Portrait of the author as a squinting, confused man.

Ever had Blogger’s Block?

I’m not sure if I have it, because it’s not like I don’t know what to write about or that I’ve lost the ability to write or anything. It’s just the blog is getting, well, neglected a lot of late. Some of you (Gawd bless you) have noticed this and have asked me when am I going to put up another entry. This makes me feel awesome by the way, but it also makes me feel guilty. There was a period, about a year ago, when I was writing something every day. Then, when the Todd book came out, I was doing a lot of excerpting and background stories about that. I really took to thinking of this blog as a magazine, and I would spend half a day or even a whole day putting together coherent thoughts, finding unlicensed photos and YouTube links to show you.

That's me selling my Todd book at the BBC.

I love doing that. So why haven’t I been doing it lately?

I think one of the problems is the nature of freelancing. It’s a weird market out there for writing, people aren’t buying the cows when they can aggregate the milk for free. And I am a cow. Or rather my writing is my cow. Okay, let’s drop the bovine analogy. The bittersweet truth of me doing this blog is that it is the easiest thing in the world, and often gives me the most satisfaction of any writing I do. On the other hand, I sometimes feel that everything I write here for free is one less idea I could be out there getting paid for. AND YET, if no one is buying that stuff, then why not do it here. This little conversation plays in my head for a while, which becomes three days, which become a week. Which becomes a month. So there’s that.

I think another issue that I tend to think that my writing here has to resemble a fully thought out, somewhat polished ‘essay’, you know something that could be, in a pinch, spoken on a lectern as a speech. This is a paralyzing myth. And while I love my mind most of the time, its ability to regenerate paralyzing myths is not one its more attractive features.

At the home studio of legendary San Francisco journalist Joel Selvin.

Then there’s another question: Does this blog even matter?

I think that one of the things I have tried to do here, vis-a-vis that “magazine” analogy, is to make my blog feel like a news source. This is where I have been wrong, Pulmyears Music Blog is never going to compete with Pitchfork or Crawdaddy or Stereogum or ….you name it. But that’s not what this thing is best at anyway. I have noticed that, much to my intellectual chagrin, the blog entries that get the most reaction are the least newsy, and inversely the more personal ones. The death of my friend Mimi. A cherished childhood memory of my dad taking me downtown to get a Beatles album. How humiliation forced me to learn the guitar faster. Where I was the night John Lennon died. I have received tons of pats on the back for these ones, which were actually the least relevant to the news of the day.  So that tells me something. It’s not so important that The Pulmyears Music Blog be good journalism, there’s a heckuva lot of that around already, but it is important that it be from my heart. I think the personal is often universal when you’re dealing humanly with humanity. That’s what my favourite writers have tried to do, Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. comes to mind as a great example. This isn’t Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. – it’s a tiny little writer’s blog about music and musical thoughts. And maybe it doesn’t have to be a big researched presentation every time. Maybe I can just drop some personal stuff down here, whether it’s heavy and profound or just light and amusing.

It’s not like they can fire me.

So there you have it, I am gonna try and remember to write more often. Maybe no one is reading it anyway, which wouldn’t be so strange if you think about it. But if getting to know me through this channel is okay, you are totally welcome to come along for the, um, ride. Such as it is. And please, if I strike a chord with you, do leave comments in the comment slot, unless you are a Russian porn site or peddling some other troubling mishigas.

Oh and you can always find me on Twitter @pulmyears – which is why I’m not here more, to be honest.

Thanks for reading me, please come back again soon.

Paul Myers, Berkeley, CA.

Click here to order my newest book A Wizard A True Star: Todd Rundgren In The Studio (Jawbone Press)

Jimmy Fallon has a copy, do you?

I am also the author of It Ain’t Easy: Long John Baldry And The Birth Of The British Blues of which Cameron Crowe said “Paul Myers’s masterful book is a roller-coaster ride through the era, complete with all its chaos, glory and fortune. Rock on, and turn it up!”

Praised by Cameron Crowe, Andrew Loog Oldham and Randy Bachman!

and I also wrote  Barenaked Ladies: Public Stunts Private Stories the only Authorized book about BNL

Back when there were five...

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