Welshly Arms: Going To Be Legendary

22279547 1555381667834350 1763049354719892859 nOriginally published in the October 2017 issue of No Cover-Ventura.
 
There is a trick people do when they are struggling to describe a band. They go searching through their recent memory for a "box" to put them in that most reminds them of the sound. This "box" is formed by a mental sticky point, the singer's tone of voice, or the particular crash of a cymbal, two chords out of a three-chord hook, along with a general alignment of genre which immediately calls to mind some other band's hit song. Thus pathways in the brain are carved along like associations and the convenient linking of bands by stuffing them into pigeonholes continues for those looking to easily describe new music. For the blues and soul-heavy rock band Welshly Arms this process has linked them to the recent success of The Black Keys over and over.
 
Not bad company, to be sure, but to say The Welshly Arms sounds "like" the hugely popular bluesy electro-pop duo The Black Keys (who sound like The White Stripes; there, I said it) is to ignore their entire catalog of deeply capable American soul and blues tunes which demonstrates a tacit acknowledgment of the band's roots I haven't seen since Lady Gaga sang a duet with Tony Bennett. This is certainly rare in an industry built on convincing music consumers that the current album being sold is the next new thing; everyone forgets they stand on the shoulders of giants. The Welshly Arms' music reaches back to the genesis of their art form plainly demonstrating they appreciate and acknowledge, dare I say worship at the altar of, their musical heroes: Jimi Hendrix, The Temptations, Otis Redding, Howlin' Wolf. Principal songwriter Sam Getz, on lead guitar and vocals, collaborating with the entire band, builds tunes with the solid lumber of blues, country, gospel, and soul translating those influences into contemporary pop music instead of treating the foundational American genres as mere decoration to fill out glossy hits like Kanye dragging around Paul McCartney as a prop.

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9/11-This Is What I Will Never Forget

312b9c15754a9b218a86bd1783be15bfWhen I am asked to never forget 9/11, this is what I will never forget:
 
I will never forget those attacks uncovered a long smoldering fear of foreigners and dark skinned people that broke down the fabric of American society.  
 
I will never forget how transient and fragile our sense of racial harmony really was once America’s majority imagined themselves facing the same threats America's minorities face every day.
 
I’ll never forget that the thousands of people who died on 9/11 were unwitting victims of a backlash against a decades-old American imperial foreign policy in the Middle East, the effect of using tribal divisions to fight proxy wars against Russia since WWII.
 
I will never forget that the solidarity we felt in the days after 9/11 and the trust we placed in our president to do right by us was used to pass the Patriot Act which led to the violation of the rights and privacy of nearly every American. 
 
I will never forget the slippery slope argument of claiming that a 1% chance of attack justifies a 100% response being used to justify everything from the suspension of due process, domestic spying, rampant defense spending, racial profiling, and torture.

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Dave Mason: Alone Together Again

21272394 10155474527686469 91728193239991880 nI wrote this profile on Rock n' Roll Hall of Famer Dave Mason for the September 2017 issue of No Cover Magazine.  Dave Mason is featured to commemorate his induction into the Ventura County Music Hall of Fame, which will take place at the Ventura County Music Awards, September 10, 2017, at Levity Live in Oxnard.  You can pick up a free copy of No Cover at entertainment and retail locations all over Ventura County.
 
One assumes to be a rock star is to get famous by being the biggest outsized personality you can be while playing ostentatious music and hogging the spotlight as often as possible. It's what we expect. The biggest names in rock from Jimi Hendrix, to Paul McCartney, to Michael Jackson to Mamma Cass all seem to have that special something about them that drives them to excellence; but, also, to excess, that special something is the secret ingredient of what transforms a musician into a star. What if, however, the thing that makes someone a star is just being there every day, showing up and doing the very hard work of practice, rehearsal, writing, and performing as much as one can, for as long as one can, and never stopping? If that is what it takes, what rock star could I point to who is the embodiment of this ethic? Well, Mr. Dave Mason.

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When Contemplating Your Doom Becomes Part of Your Daily Routine

TLDR: Today sat in my kid's school parking lot, mentally preparing to get my kids home just in case we were under a nuclear attack because Mr. Orange Julius is an awful leader and I never had to deal with this shit before. So take care of yourselves.
 
I hesitate sharing this because I consider this moment extremely personal and private, but realize so many of us are having anxieties like this and I think we need to acknowledge how much the political climate as of late is running down our batteries, sapping our strength, and triggering really dark moments.
 
Today, I happened to glance at Twitter, at the exact moment when tweets popped up through all the #JoeArpaio and #HurricaneHarvey tweets that claimed North Korea had just launched a missile. The tweets were seconds old. I navigated to the "Latest" tab on Twitter's search feature and typed in "North Korea" and started hitting refresh to see what popped up. At first, it was individual's accounts, then the Defense Ministry of Japan, then a few news smaller news agencies all confirming North Korea had launched "something."

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I've Seen This All Before: Trump is Playing Out the Plot to Nightmare Before Christmas

PhotoGrid 1489694881491Let me make one thing clear; I HATE Nightmare Before Christmas. I stand apart from others in my generation and those that came after in adoring this movie. I've seen it multiple times, as is obligatory for people my age; I know the songs and tried so hard to get into it. I just can't. While this movie enjoys a hallowed spot in the pantheon of animated children's fables, to me, this isn't the story of a well-intentioned knave who accidentally steps too far out of bounds. I see a more ominous tale of what happens when one person, dissatisfied with their situation, strong arms themselves into someone else's lane, appropriates their culture with no deep understanding of the meaning behind it and unleashes all sorts of unintended consequences because of their ill-conceived desire to have more than they already have. It smacks of the moral lesson that America is about to learn, bigly.

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David Frum Knocks Down a Strawman

 
A response to Mike Pesca, who hosted conservative thinker and leader of the conservative anti-Trump movment, David Frum, on his podcast, The Gist on Monday, February 13, 2017
 
While I appreciated David Frum's clear-headed critique of Trump's shortcomings and the appropriate steps everyone needs to take to remove him from office, I feel he missed the mark on recognizing the goals of the Women's March and the anti-Trump resistance at large. I can assure him, women and minorities don't need another white man to tell how them how to protest and where to spend their energies. I'm sure Frum represents a broad swath of conservatives who are principled enough to be embarrassed by Trump and recognize the threat he poses to American institutions but would love to keep the opposition laser-focused on the 45th President and redirect the opposition's cross-hairs off conservatives like himself.

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There's No Time To Explain #29: Kris Simeon


20170201 200948I kick off a new year (Second season, Dan!) with a conversation with songwriter and musician Kris Simeon. Kris has been playing around the Southland for many years and used to play in the rock band Spartacus, a regular booking on my Blackbird shows. Kris has been playing music ever since solo and in various projects around town. We talk about songwriting and how music works cathartically to heal painful wounds. Kris plays a few tunes and lets me jam with him on harmonica. Well, I try. The conversation starts at 11:30. I rant about whether it's cool to punch Nazis. If you like this show, please consider supporting me for $1 per episode on Patreon.com/TNT2E.
 
 
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The One Detail About Trump's Scandals That Is Staring Us In The Face

Whatever the source and however credible, Trump's many scandals always seem to be plausible, episodic, and consistent, and that suggests they might all be true.

trumpshrug

Donald Trump's many scandals seem to spring up like weeds in a garden. The media has been ambling to catalog each new flowering as fast as Trump's team attempts to mow them down. The American public watches this dance with intermittent horror and glee. I like "cutting down weeds" as a metaphor for this tactic because the thing that I observe about the "weeds" of our President-Elect's endless scandals is that no one has gone so far investigating them as to pull them up by the root. Regarding the continued revelations, substantiated or not, about Trump's malfeasance and connections to Russia, at some point, all of the circumstantial, unverified, or quickly dismissed evidence needs to be considered en masse.

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Please join me in supporting Camp Quest West

CampI am making a pledge to raise $3000 for Camp Quest West this year. CQW is a summer camp for the children of Humanist, free-thought, and secular families. It's open to all and inclusive of all children, regardless of religion, gender, identity, and ability. It provides a week-long sleep away camp with an incredible curriculum, created by educators and child development professionals based on critical thinking, reason, tolerance, social justice, and Humanism. And, it has all the swimming, archery, singing, hiking, games, and crafts you'd imagine at a summer camp like this. If you are in position to give, please consider supporting CQW in any amount. Your donation will go to fund financial aid requests for families who are seeking it. Please share.
 
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12 Reasons Why Losing the Electoral College is Good for Trump

Donals-Trump-SpeechDear Donald Trump,
 
You got yourself elected President, fair and square. I'm not a fan of yours, but I have to give you the props you deserve; you surprised the hell out of me. I know it bothers you that you lost the popular vote, but there are reasons as old as our democracy why the popular vote isn't used to elect the president. No one who matters questions the legitimacy of your win. In the end, you did what you set out to do: win the election for the Presidency of the United States of America. 
 
On December 19th, the Electoral College convenes to weigh in, and there are whispers of faithless Republican electors, organizing under the name The Hamilton Electors, who hope to cooperate with Hillary's electors to deny you the presidency. I'm sure this angers you greatly, but before you tap up a tweet storm about it, hear me out. I think being denied the presidency by the Electoral College might actually be in your self-interest:

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