Minisode Two: Is it me? It’s definitely me.

To quote Larry David, “Sometimes you don’t need to do a stop and chat.” I can totally understand that. At the same time, there are people that you would definitely do one with. People you’ve been close to or known for years. Certainly people that you’ve only had positive experiences with.  I had a bizarre run in with somebody that I know on the subway. I decided to do a Minisode about it. Hope that you like it.

 

[audio  https://whatbringsustogether.files.wordpress.com/2013/05/minisode-2-what-is-wrong-with-me_.mp3%5D

The Doors

After hearing about the passing of Ray Manzarek, I started to get a little introspective. The Doors were an important part of my musical upbringing that I don’t often talk about. They were the first band of real substance that I fell into heavily. Before that I was listening to Kiss and a lot of other 80’s hair metal stuff because of what was being played on MTV when MTV was still a channel that played music videos.

In 1991 my parents too me to see Oliver Stone’s movie, “The Doors”, in the theater. What followed was 1-2 years of being completely obsessed with them. Odd for an 11-12 year old boy in the early 90’s? Maybe. I’d heard some of their music throughout my entire life. It didnt resonate with me until I saw the film. Shortly after that, I read Danny Sugarman’s “No One Here Gets Out Alive” which really blew everything open. I bought all of their records and read about them as much as I could. As many people initially listening to the Doors, I was fascinated with Jim Morrison’s persona. What’s not to be fascinated with? Sex, Drugs, arrests, and Wiccan Weddings. It was fascinating to me. I bought his books of poetry and for the first time in my life started to appreciate that medium, and for that I am eternally grateful. Think what you will of what history has made of Jim Morrison, but he was a very interesting deep thinker. Unfortunately over time and with people’s fascination (mine too) with celebrity and excess, people tend to look past that inside that alcohol soaked brain was an artist.

That same year (maybe a few months later) I got to meet John Densmore. He was giving a talk at the Learning Annex in NYC and my stepfather (who has had more to do with my musical upbringing and appreciation than anyone else on earth) too me to see him speak. My stepdad isnt much of a Doors fan. He always gotten behind anything I did, especially musical things. Even if that meant dragging him to see Kiss when I was 8. This was different. A little bit more his speed. Densmore was promoting his new memoir, “Riders on the Storm”. An interesting look at a first hand perspective by someone who lived it. He spoke for a while and then he did a signing. When it was my turn, I was awestruck. He asked me my name and he misheard it as Bryan. He started signing and then I corrected him. He said “Ryan? Oh shit. I’m sorry man” and crossed it out and resigned. I was freaking the fuck out! It was a great moment that I will never forget.

As I got older and moved on to different types of music, I never let the Doors get too far away. It wasnt until my late teens and early 20’s when I started playing more music semi-professionally that I realized how groundbreaking their music actually was. There is no other band that sounds anything like the Doors. There are plenty of incredible bands from the 60’s who have influenced thousands of others, and often you can hear it. How many bands can you think of that sound alarmingly like the Beatles? The Stones? The Dead? Shitloads. How many bands can you think of that sound anything like the Doors? Not fucking many, if any. Everyone always says the Cult, but the Cult sounds nothing like the Doors. Ray Manzarek had a whole lot to do with that. Just think about the instrumentation of the Doors for a moment. Vocals, drums, guitar and a keyboard player who played melodies with his right hand and bass guitar lines with his left. I was always fascinated with watching Ray Manzarek play. He always looked like he was steering the musical ship, probably because he was. He was an innovator, and am integral part of one of the greatest and most important bands that rock and roll has ever produced. When I started playing in bands with keyboard players, he was the benchmark that few people could hit. Like Morrison, he too was extraordinarily expressive. I always loved watching interviews with him, because it always felt like he was living in the moment and had a lot to say about it. He is a person I have and had a tremendous amount of respect for.

Last night I got home and I saw that Ray Manzarek was dead. Today I am sad, but extraordinarily thankful for his influence on my life. Musically and otherwise. Thank you, Ray. You will be missed.

Episode 17: The Crooked Road

Traveling on the Crooked Road is an incredible American experience. Most people outside of the communities within it dont know what it is. For 300 miles in western Virginia, there is a stretch of road that is littered with music venues, luthiers and thousands of people who are dedicated to the preservation of Appalachian music. Bluegrass is one type of music that doesnt need to evolve. It needs to be preserved. Traveling on the Crooked Road is an incredible American experience. If you are a fan of bluegrass music you absolutely must travel the Crooked Road. This is a discussion with my friend Sara who introduced me to it.

[audio  https://whatbringsustogether.files.wordpress.com/2013/05/crooked-road-_01.mp3%5D

Episode 16: Mawwidge

The origin for today’s episode stems back from a few weeks ago when I asked my friends Jody and Mike (both WBUT veterans) to come and see the Meat Puppets with me. They had casually met a few times before. Mike was a few weeks away from getting married and Jody has been married three times. The conversation they had was amazing. I asked them if we could try and get them to talk about it for the podcast, and here it is.

[audio  https://whatbringsustogether.files.wordpress.com/2013/05/mawwige-_01.mp3%5D

Holiday Cheer

With the glorious season of cheer and giving upon us, I’m taking some time to reflect on the past year. There were moments of joy, pain, laughter, lust, but what does it all mean? Last new years eve I had a bit of an epiphany. I was in Denver at what was to become the final live performance of the band Ween.  I had taken, to quote my hero Bill Hicks, a heroic dose of Psilocybic mushrooms. Somewhere about 2 and a half hours into me lopping up the brain candy, I had a moment of clarity. I realized that 2011 was the worst year of my life and most of that was due to me feeling sorry for myself. I had spent virtually the entire year grieving over a failed relationship and the loss of my band that I had spent years dedicating my life to. That’s a tough thing for anyone to deal with because, essentially, I had been dumped twice. The lady was, or so I thought, all that I had ever looked for. Let me state that I don’t throw that shit around all willy-nilly either. This one felt different. The band was exactly what I wanted to be doing musically forever. I had never been prouder of anything I had ever been a part of…but it was gone. So as I sat their and watched a band that had helped me through the entire decade of my 20’s and also had a profound impact on my musical exploration, I finally hit the point of no return. As the psilocybe pony galloped through my temporal lobe, I was overcome with a feeling of joy. This was going to be a transitional year. I needed to stop acting like a fucktard and get my shit together.

I’d always felt an overwhelming sense of togetherness with everyone and everything. I don’t mean that in some patchouli stink crystal wearing witch kind of a way. Everything has always seemed interconnected. The more I have explored the universe, as well as myself via a healthy chemical intake, this feels more and more correct. Now I could have just started another band and tried to get all of this out of myself that way, but I had done that before. I needed something new. When my friend/WBUT producer Eric mentioned podcasting, I’d shrugged it off initially. Who the fuck would want to listen to me trying to work my shit out? However, once it started, I realized that it had little to do with that and everything to do with everyone working their shit out. Which is something that we as a culture, fail to do all to often.

That is how this whole What Brings us Together (I like to call it WBUT) podblogcast came to fruition. It’s taken a year of me doing a healthy amount of soul searching, traveling, brain expansion and masturbating furiously, to get here. I hope that you enjoy it as much as I have. It’s still only in its infancy, but it’s sure to be interesting. I’m going to shut the fuck up now because this is starting to read like a pamphlet on faggotry.