Thursday, November 08, 2007

The Writers' Strike - All You Need To Know

Don't let anyone fool you - the issues on the current strike by the Writers Guild of America are simple. When the studios get paid, the writers get paid. That's it.

The production companies and studios are so clever at figuring out ways to prevent hard-working scribes from getting their share of the action, that it would seem cheaper to just give the writers what they want, rather than paying legions of lawyers to find out ways to avoid doing so.

But for the quickest, funniest breakdown of what's going on, there is no better source than the talented team at "The Office," where the writers are actors, and vice versa.

Friday, November 02, 2007

10 Questions for the Dalai Lama

From Sacred Space Studio:
FILM SCREENING, HopeDance FilLMs Presents:

10 Questions for the Dalai Lama

Saturday, November 3rd , 8:00pm, Sacred Space Studio, 410 Bryant Circle Suite A

Why do the poor often seem happier than the rich? Must a society lose its traditions in order to move into the future? How do you reconcile a commitment to non-violence when faced with violence? These are some of the questions posed to his holiness the Dalai Lama by filmmaker and explorer Rick Ray. Ray examines in this documentary film some of the fundamental questions of our time by weaving together observations from his own journeys throughout India and the Middle East, and the wisdom of an extraordinary spiritual leader.

Suggested donation: $10.00 per person.

Call 646-6761 for more information.

I met Rick earlier this year at the Santa Barbara Film Festival and had a chance to ask him a few questions. The quick interview is posted on Radio Ojai.

Film's Web Site

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Happy Halloween Ms. Winehouse!

I thought it would be fun to dress-up as Amy Winehouse for Halloween, but I ran out of jet-black eyeliner and I just couldn't get my hair to beehive. Oh, and I can't sing a lick.

My friend, Yoga Matt (remember him?), has been going on and on about the British songstress, and since I know you music fans out there are missing Bret's music blogs, I thought I would try to give you something to chew on. Winehouse was on a recent cover of Rolling Stone, and writer Jenny Eliscu referred to her latest album, Back to Black, as, "...a stylized collection of R&B throwbacks that sound like a British hip-hop brat's interpretation of Sixties Motown soul in the best possible way..." Winehouse's problems with addiction are no secret, and though I am more partial to the sultry "Love Is a Losing Game," I'll give you her more popular, albiet defiant, hit "Rehab:"

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Women of Ojai Calendar Release



The Ojai Calendar Project continues to support the arts in Ojai. This year, Attasalina Dews presents the Women of Ojai in “Strength is Beauty” to be released on October 26th at a reception and gallery show at the Ojai Art Center from 6-10pm. The calendar is a limited edition of 750 copies featuring fine art nude photographs of twelve local women. Limited edition, fine art prints will also be available for purchase at the reception. Pre-sales of the calendar are available online at Proceeds of calendar and print sales will benefit local artists, art groups and school art programs. The calendar price is $25.

The response to the 2007 Men of Ojai calendar “Liberation” was overwhelmingly positive and the process of creating and distributing the calendar supported many local artists and art related businesses. Through the calendar effort, Demitri Corbin was elected to serve on the board of the Ojai Arts Commission where he continues as an advocate for the arts in Ojai and Peachtree Theatre Company has been able to continue its community programs.

The Women of Ojai 2008 Calendar has brought on new support in the form of four local sponsors: Color Works Printing, Inc., P3D Marketing & Events, Studio 201 Framing and Valley of Moon Giclees. They have all made this project possible with their generosity and enthusiasm for the work. With their help, this calendar has even greater potential to support local artists and encourage creative freedom in the Ojai Valley.

While a major focus of the Ojai Calendar Project is to raise money for the arts, the other equally important aspect is to raise awareness of how vital the arts are to our community. Art is an integral aspect of human nature. Too often it is marginalized, trivialized or considered only for the elite. The Ojai Calendar invites the community to participate in the artistic process and to share in the experience of creation. Freedom of expression is a tremendous gift that must be valued and nurtured. Our children must learn to challenge people’s perceptions and be encouraged to raise their standard of consciousness. We should all nurture the strength to support each other and to appreciate beauty abundant in its many forms. Because art is life!

Listen to an interview with Salina about the project on Radio Ojai.

Contact information: 798.1440,,

Friday, October 12, 2007

MAVRIC Awards!

Celebrating Ventura County's independent musicians, the Music Awards for Ventura Roots & Independent Creations (MAVRIC) nominees have just been announced! The winners will be selected at the first annual MAVRIC Awards ceremony on Sunday, October 21 at 6:00 p.m. at the Pt. Hueneme Oceanview Pavilion, featuring special performances by several of the winners. Among the nominees are a few familiar faces who have appeared on Radio Ojai, including Champagne Sunday and Fred Schmitt, who is playing tonight at Farmer and the Cook. Check it out and vote for your favorite by Sunday, October 14.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

You Tubing Steve Earle

I can't tell you much about Steve Earle, the hardcore troubadour, other than he's had a really, really hard life, much of it self-inflicted. Is it true he missed signing a record contract in Nashville because he decided instead he needed to get his heroin fix? And I can't really explain why I like his music, other than I'm a sucker for an acoustic guitar and anyone who dare strum it with such wild abandon and sharp biting vocals that delight in telling you how pissed at the world they are. For a better perspective, Bret has a good Steve Earle post here. Here is my current favorite song (that will change by next week I'm sure), "I Feel Alright," and I encourage you to just listen, because he is really too hard to watch in this video! This song is ruining me, it's just so angry and pleasantly righteous and the guitar picking is near perfection, I can't get enough of it!

P.S. Matt and I have a new show on Radio Ojai - he's got a few things to say about local milk prices!

Sunday, September 30, 2007

There's Nothing To Do In Ojai! (Wrong!)

This week, my social calendar is tapped out, thanks to an amazing number of opportunities to get out there offered by incredibly talented people right here in our own little town. From films to comedy to running for a worthy cause, the first weekend in October promises to get us moving, laughing and thinking.

It all starts Thursday night with the Ojai Film Festival’s free opening night film: In the Shadow of the Moon. I just love the magic of the Ojai Film Festival and look forward to the Libbey Park special screening every year.

On Friday night, another group of graduating students from Theater 150’s stand-up comedy class will perform at Giorgio’s. My good friend Sheila Murphy is among the half-dozen performing comics, as is our own Bret Bradigan. Under the direction of professional comedian Cary Odes, last season’s acts were a riot, and this one promises not to disappoint. More info here.

Saturday morning (I’ll have to remember to keep the beer consumption at Giorgio’s down) is the annual October Classic Run. Registration starts at 7:15 a.m., the 10K starts at 8:00 a.m. and the 5K starts at 8:45 a.m. If you pre-register by Wednesday, October 3rd, the fee is $25 for adults and to register the day of the event, it’s $30. My husband, Bill, is running in the 10K and I am working the registration table for those who did not pre-register, so I’ll know if you procrastinate (but I will be delighted to see you supporting a worthy cause)! It doesn’t matter if you walk or run, because all proceeds support our hospital. To register, call (805) 640-2317.

And on Sunday afternoon, I will be screening The Price of Paradise at the Ojai Film Festival. This documentary has had three festival screenings to date, and this is the first time it will be shown in Ojai. There has been a lot of talk in Ojai about affordable housing. What does that mean to you? Who should have it? What should it look like? Where should it be built? The documentary, The Price of Paradise, does not seek to answer these questions, but rather engage a dialog.

Film's synopsis: Santa Barbara County, paradise to some, has seen a dramatic escalation in the cost of housing, thus displacing the community's critical workforce. The experiences of those workers and the impacts to families, community and employers provide insight and an understanding of the need for affordable workforce housing. Interviews, artistic cinematography and a percussionist soundtrack are featured.

Locals Michael Anderson and Austen Collins of Extra Mile Productions worked with me for about 10 months on this project and we are really proud of the film's acceptance into our own hometown’s festival. For more information, related articles and trailers, go to the film’s Web site.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Gorilla Drummer

Tom Ewing, a music critic who writes for Pitchfork Media, my daily stop for a music fix, had an epiphany about an advertisement for a chocolate bar, albeit Cadbury's Dairy Milk. He is referring to the viral youtube video with the gorilla drumming to a Phil Collins' song. It has received millions of hits and spawned a couple of clever knock offs.

"The drum moment in "In the Air Tonight" is, much like a gorilla sitting at a drumkit, incongruous and showy and absurd and powerful and violent and crude and pathetic, all at once. But if you had been a critic, writing about Phil Collins, and had said something like, "He smashes at the drums like an unleashed gorilla," it would not have worked. The reader would only have picked up on one part-- the unleashed-ness or the gorilla-ness (i.e. the power and violence), and ignored the fact that the animal is sitting at a drumkit (i.e. the showiness and absurdity). You could have found words to point out the absurdity, and stressed that it links with the violence rather than detracts from it-- maybe by talking about Collins' usually toxic combination of unpretentiousness and self-importance...but by now you're losing your reader and really, far better to just get someone to dress up as a gorilla and hit a drumkit and then say, "Look! That's what I'm talking about!"

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Punk Rock Pinup Girls

Punk pock, given its anti-glam posturing, has a surprising share of sex symbols - from Chrissi Hynde to poseurs like Suzie Quattro. Now the modern punk revival, going on in various forms at least since the mid-1980s with Mudhoney and Nirvana, has produced Karen O of the Yeah, Yeah Yeahs.

Punk's anti-aesthetic has appealed to me since the first time I heard the Dead Boys play at Dingwall's on the Camden Locks in London in 1983- stripping back the layers of album-oriented rock to the raw, beating heart of rebellion. Of course, it takes only a few years for the rebels to begin their own march to comformity. As Eric Hoffer so eloquently wrote, "When people are free to do whatever they please, they usually end up imitating each other."

Anyway, here is the latest in a series of really cool videos with the Yeah Yeah Yeah's "Gold Lion."

Monday, September 17, 2007

Hot Chip Off The Old Block

Here's some fun for your Monday pleasure ...

British electro-pop sensations Hot Chip haven't been around long - they formed in 2000 and are just now working on their third album, but they have redefined and expanded a rather tired genre.

And their approach to videos is quite inventive and fun. In Over & Over they basically take a green-screen setup and make mockery of all the sci-fi high concept conceits. And the tune is quite catchy.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Free Willie

Willie Nelson, the red-headed stranger, has long been one of my favorite songwriters and performers, ever since I learned back in the 1970s that he wrote Patsy Cline's "Crazy."

He is also a masterful guitar player, for which he gets little credit. His fingerpicking prowess rivals Leo Kottke and Chet Atkins. Herein is embedded a great video from Willie's 60th birthday celebration (1993! for godsake's!) of two legends, Willie and Bobby D, performing one of Townes Van Zandt's classics, the Ballad of Pancho and Lefty.

While this video does not put Willie's great guitar playing front and center, it is still great fun watching two greats at the top of their game.

Friday, September 07, 2007

New Queen of Anti Folk

Regina Spektor has to be one of the most prodigiously talented musical performers on the modern stage. Born in Russia, she learned piano and violin from an early age, moving to America at age 9. Now only 27 years old, she has already written 700 songs, though few have actually been recorded.

Her lyrics are sweet, touching, and often make odd literary allusions to high Greek tragedy, like Oedipus Rex, or F. Scott Fitzgerald or Hemingway, in "Poor Little Rich Boy."

While she has attracted a loyal fan base, including yours truly, she has barely broken out into the mainstream in the way such a rich and descriptive talent deserves. Here's my little Friday offering of viewing and listening pleasure:

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Ojai Valley Market Update

The inventory this month in the Ojai Valley is lower than last month.

There are 205 homes and 25 mobile homes active on the market. 26 homes are in escrow and in the month of August, 26 homes were sold.
The lowest price was $330,000, for a 2 bedroom/1 bath, with 827 square feet, with a the lot size of 3484. This house was on the market for 225 days.
The highest price was $2,620,000, for a 3 bedroom/2.bath, 1200 square feet and a lot size of 51 acres. The house was on the market for 134 days.

Overall, average days on the market was 112, and the median price was set at $851,000

Are you a wine lover? Register at "" to attend monthly wine tastings here in Ojai.
Next one is September 26th, 7pm at Movino's. Meet others to discuss Real Estate and other topics. For more questions you can reach me at (805)-207-5094.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Farmer and the Cook: Great Music AND Pizza!

Full disclosure: this is cross-posted on another blog, so I guess you could say I've syndicated myself. But I promised readers here last week I would come back with a full report on the pizza at Farmer and the Cook.

Last week Bill and I were looking to mix-up our Friday date-night routine and ended up at Farmer and the Cook. We heard their pizza was unparalleled and had noticed the new patio was attracting quite a crowd on the weekends. Maybe it was the beer and wine license kicking in or the addition of musical entertainment. We didn’t need much of a reason to check it out and I’m so glad we did.

When we arrived, looking somewhat bewildered I’m sure at the gathering scene, Nicole caught us with a friendly smile and a couple of menus and escorted us to a table. She asked our names and told us the food was excellent. Simple gestures like that are usually a sure sign we’re going to have a great evening.

We ordered the Samuel Smith organic beer, imported from England. Bill had the lager, I had the ale. He said his was fantastic. Mine was very drinkable, but a little thin for my taste (but then again I’m a Guinness girl with a fondness for beer with the consistency and color of motor oil). For our app, we had the deep fried squash blossoms with a fantastic pesto dip. And since pizza was our mission, we had the “Artichokie,” with garlic, pesto, and mozzarella. The crust was thin, crisp and puffy, just like you would get in Italy. The flavors were fresh and not over-cooked. Conclusion: this is the best pizza I’ve had and I will stand on Boccali’s picnic table and say so.

We also shared a chocolate dipped macaroon and a scoop of vanilla ice cream for dessert. Perfection!

Throughout our evening we were entertained by Jonathan McEuen and a couple of other singer/songwriters toting acoustic guitars and original material (no copycat covers here). The audience of dressed-down comfortable-shoe hippies didn’t seem to match the cars in the parking lot (lots of SUV’s and a giant Mercedes - not a hybrid in sight). The faces were friendly, inviting and enjoying themselves immensely.

Looks like my Friday date-night spot is going to be Farmer and the Cook!

Tomorrow night, I hear local Fred Schmitt will be bringing his guitar around 7:30. He’s got a great interview, a few songs and an intriguing story on Radio Ojai.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Business Time

Among the many who haven't checked out HBO's Flight of the Conchords? Well, what are you waiting for?

The daft Kiwi comedy duo of Bret McKenzie and Jemaine Clement have really put together a wonderful fun and silly show about being undiscovered musicians in New York City with a comically inept manager. They call themselves "Formerly New Zealand's fourth most popular guitar-based digi-bongo acapella-rap-funk-comedy folk duo." Their manager, played by Rhys Darby, really steals the show with his Ricky Gervaisian off-kilter optimism.

This show is slowing building an audience. Want to get in the next big thing? Took years to catch the Seinfeld bug? Here's your chance.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Cool Video For Your Friday Viewing Pleasure

French house and brat pop stars Daft Punk are legendary for their low-tech, high-concept music and videos. This one, Prime Time of Your Life, manages to mock just about everyone in sight - from Britney Spears to Michael Jackson's Thriller video. Maybe, perhaps, they have even managed to slip in a "message" about the ephemeral beauty of life. I'm sure they'd laugh at me for even suggesting such a thing.

midomi - No Lip Syncing Here

Here's an interesting concept! Can't remember the name of that song, but you can't get the tune out of your head? Turn on your mic and hum a few bars, because with the sound of your voice, midomi will find it for you. And then it will connect you with others who share your taste in music (even if it is, say, Air Supply). Or maybe you'll want to channel your inner American Idol with midomi's online recording studio? Check it out!

P.S. A few musical opportunities:
Tonight: Myridian rocks the Athletic Club. Hear "Summer Of My Mind" on Radio Ojai.
Tonight: The Farmer and the Cook has Pizza, Beer and Music every Friday now. Their organic pizzas are allegedly awesome (I'll report back to confirm), and Jonathan McEuen will have live entertainment lined up starting at 6:00 p.m.
Tomorrow: Of course, the Locally Grown Concert.

Monday, August 20, 2007

A Really Big Green Show

Food for Thought's Locally Grown II concert strikes up this Saturday at Libbey Bowl with not one, but two, headlining talents - Brett Dennen and our own Perla Batalla.

The winners of the Battle of the Bands competition from Aug. 4 will also be playing. Look at Lisa Snider's prior blog post for all the details.

Tickets are available online at . For more information go to or call 805-640-5044.

As an appetizer, we have a couple of youtube postings of La Perla singing "Bird on a Wire," at the LA Film Festival's screening of the Leonard Cohen biopic, "I'm Your Man," from 2006, and a Brett Dennen show. Dennen is opening for John Mayer at the moment, taking time out from that tour for a great cause.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Spinner Rates Best Opening Lyrics

Spinner just released this list of best opening lyrics:

10. "Tommy used to work on the docks"--Bon Jovi's 'Livin' on a Prayer'
9. "Jesus died for somebody's sins but not mine"--Patti Smith's 'Gloria'
8. "Well, it's one for the money, two for the show, three to get ready, now go, cat, go!"--Carl Perkins' 'Blue Suede Shoes'
7. "In the time of chimpanzees I was a monkey"--Beck's 'Loser'
6. "Why do birds suddenly appear every time you are near?"--The Carpenters' 'Close to You'
5. "Don't call it a comeback"--LL Cool J's 'Mama Said Knock You Out!'
4. "Well, she was just seventeen -- you know what I mean"--The Beatles' 'I Saw Her Standing There'
3. "Hey, ho, let's go!"--The Ramones' 'Blitzkrieg Bop'
2. "I was born in a cross-fire hurricane"--The Rolling Stones' 'Jumpin' Jack Flash'
1. "She's a very kinky girl"--Rick James' 'Superfreak' 'Scuze me???

Disagree? What's missing?

I think this list is lacking for Nirvana, particularly,
"Load up on guns and bring your friends..." - Smells Like Teen Spirit
Your turn...

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Food For Thought Announces Battle of the Bands Winners!

Four Youth Bands to Open Locally Grown Concert at Libbey Bowl in Ojai

Food For Thought's Battle of the Bands for youth in Ojai and Ventura took place last weekend and resulted in the selection of four stand-outs who will open the Locally Grown fundraising concert on August 25 at Libbey Bowl. Following the winning openers will be featured headliners Brett Dennen - currently touring with John Mayer - and Perla Batalla - Grammy nominated vocalist and Ojai resident. The event is a fundraiser for Food For Thought Ojai, a nonprofit organization that brings nutrition education, garden-based learning and environmental and agricultural awareness to students of Ojai's public schools. The first Locally Grown concert in 2005 featured singer/songwriter Jack Johnson.

The bands who battled their way into the coveted winning slots are: Emy Reynolds, The Philosophy, Avant Garage and The Imaginative Clams. "The kids were tremendous, and it was tough for the judges to decide. But I think our winners will really shine and add a lot to the show," said Marty Fujita of Food for Thought Ojai.

In addition to opening the Locally Grown concert, the winning bands will record one of their songs in a professional sound studio and receive free CD copies of the recording. John Adair of Wild Ox studios is donating his time, his studio and a professional sound engineer for these sessions.

The concert headliners are two local favorites who have risen to international acclaim. Perla Batalla recently appeared in Leonard Cohen's critically acclaimed tribute film I'm Your Man. She has assembled a new band that brings a rich depth showcasing Batalla's powerful voice and soulful, Latin-tinged ballads. Brett Dennen is a young singer-songwriter who has recently been 'discovered' and is skyrocketing to fame on tour with John Mayer and Sheryl Crow. His pure and timeless vocals and joyous lyrics promise great things.

Billed as a green event, Locally Grown 2 will promote a variety of consciousness-raising actions to minimize the human ecological footprint. For example, concert-goers will be encouraged to bicycle or walk to and from the event to decrease fossil fuel use, bring their own refillable water bottles, and visit a "Zero Waste" station at the event. As an incentive, raffle tickets for unique prizes will be awarded for individual 'green' efforts. Sponsorships to help underwrite the cost of the event are available, ranging from $200 for a program listing to $5000 banner sponsorships.

"This is a great way for us to get our message out to the community," Fujita added. Funds raised will go toward programs that promote good childhood nutritional practices, farm-field trips, school garden programs and salad bar lunches that feature locally-produced, seasonal fruits and vegetables.

Ticket prices range from $20 for rear lawn seats to $100 for front row VIP seats and are available online at
More information can be found on the Food For Thought Ojai Web site at or by calling 805-640-5044.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Flower Power 4-Eva

Devendra Banhart, a 26-year-old singer-songwriter from Houston, Texas, of all places, has been making a name for himself since he landed in San Francisco and was discovered by Michael Gira, of Swans.

His music is hard to classify - at various times people have labeled his work indie, psych folk, Naturalismo and now, my personal favorite, New Weird America. NWA was invented just for him. He owns an entire genre!

His great poetry, combined with folky licks and the distinctive quaver in his voice, make a memorable musician, sure to have a long and influential career. Here's a little listen for your pleasure:

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Red in Fang and Claw

Taking a break from the music blogging today, I am posting the horrific, yet ultimately reaffirming video of a pride of lions attacking a Cape buffalo calf at Kruger National Park in South Africa.

The video, shot by a tourist, is a true viral phenomenon, having been seen by nearly 9 million people in just a few weeks.

Before jumping to conclusions about the poor baby buffalo, watch to the end. And enjoy the protective nature of the herd. Therein lie lessons for all of us.

Monday, August 06, 2007

The Bard of Armagh

Tommy Makem died Wednesday at age 74, quietly and without the fanfare he deserved. The Godfather of Irish Music, he etched his way into history with his distinctive baritone, singing richly descriptive folk songs. He came to America in 1955, where he took a job in a mill in Dover, New Hampshire. After an industrial accident left his hand crushed, he came to New York in 1961 to join up with the Clancy Brothers. They were named, along with Joan Baez, as the most promising newcomers at the Newport Folk Festival that same year.

To mark this occasion, the passing of a true bard, here is a photo montage and one of Makem's best known compositions, "Four Green Fields.":

Sunday, August 05, 2007

North, to Alaska!

We just returned from our summer vacation cruising the Inside Passage to Alaska. Bill snapped this photo on our approach to Hubbard Glacier just as part of the glacier calved into Disenchantment Bay. This is one of a handful of glaciers that are advancing, yet chunks of ice the size of a house tend to break off now and then with a cacophonous crash that sounds like thunder. The colors of the ice are so beautiful, revealing a gorgeous blue hue you wouldn't believe exists unless you see it yourself (click on the photo to see what I mean).

Where did your summer vacation take you?

BTW, today at the Matilija Junior High School Auditorium from 10am – 5pm is the final Battle of the Bands, and the winners will perform again at the Locally Grown Concert later this month, check it out!

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Ga Ga Ga Ga (and Ga some more)

Austin, Texas folkie indie rockers Spoon recently (7-11) released their seventh album, "Ga Ga Ga Ga," which debuted at #10 on the Billboard charts, the highest ever debut for this distinctively cultish band. The cult is about to get larger, largely on the strengths of such space-rock anthems like "The Ghost of You Lingers."

This video is a beautiful art film, complete unto itself, about the echoes of a bad breakup.

However, the best song on the album is the catchy, not-yet-but-soon-to-be-released-as-a-single "You Got Yr. Cherry Bomb." It is so incredibly infectious, it's hard to believe that a bunch of arty posers from the capital of arty posers, Austin, could have come up with something that Timbaland or Cee-Lo would have been hard-pressed to duplicate in the danceable pop genre. Wish it was available on youtube, I would have posted it. It is my favorite song so far this summer.

But "Ghost of You" is a beautiful song, nonetheless. The album is named after the onomatopoeic piano chord G being struck repeatedly to open this song.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Live, Local Entertainment!

Theater 150 Comedy Workshop Graduates Perform:
Last night my husband Bill and I saw the graduates of the Theater 150 Comedy Workshop perform at Giorgios. I had written an article about them recently for the VC Reporter (still on newsstands) and became so interested in their story I just had to see the finished product. There were about a half dozen brief bits and no shortage of laughter in the sold-out crowd. There’s one more chance to catch them and I highly recommend you do tonight at 7:00 p.m. Tickets are only ten bucks and if you get there early and order a sandwich, your beer is only a quarter. Order tickets now at

Bodies Unbound, a one-woman play:
Cynthia Waring, Ojai local, author and playwright, will perform her solo theatrical adaptation of her moving memoir, Bodies Unbound, on August 11 at the Ojai Massage School. Cynthia’s book details how, through her work as a healer, she brings out her clients’ powerful stories and identifies them with her own tales of abuse, addiction and ultimately overcoming her demons through touch and writing.

WHAT: “Bodies Unbound,” a solo theatre piece.
WHO: Written, produced and performed by Cynthia Waring and directed by Jill Andre.
AT OJAI: Saturday, August 11, 2007 at 8 p.m. at Ojai School of Massage, 619 W. El Roblar Drive, Ojai, CA 93023. Admission: $15. Phone: (805) 640-9798.
AT SANTA BARBARA: Friday, August 17 and Saturday, August 18 at 8 p.m. at Center Stage Theater, 751 Paseo Nuevo, Santa Barbara, CA 93101. Admission: $20. (805) 963-0408. Online ticketing:

I had the pleasure of interviewing Cynthia recently on Radio Ojai. An excerpt of the first act of her play is also posted.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

What If Thom Yorke married Bjork

Few bands have sustained a fever pitch of artistic genius like Radiohead. The Cambridge, England band, formed in 1986, first hit the pop charts with 1993's Pablo Honey and its slacker anthemic single, "I'm a Creep." Classically trained musicians all, their success meant that music mastered meant music mastered.

OK Computer and The Bends are considered by many, including your humble scribe, to be among the best albums of the 1990s.

Then came 2000's Kid A, which took ambient sounds, weird loops and samples, Thom Yorke's singular vocals and the Greenwood brothers' soaring guitar solos into literally uncharted territory. While it, and the followup album "Amnesiac" were critically acclaimed, they did alienate many fans of their prior more traditional, guitar-based sound. Their sixth album, Hail to the Thief, which came out in 2003, was a turn back to their earlier style of music.

Here's a live taping of "National Anthem," from a concert in Paris.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

The Bob and Johnny Show

By way of blogger Will Divide (motto: I slapped a nun in Reno just to watch her cry), here's two legends in a rare duet of "Girl from the North Country."

Though I have long been a fan of Bobby D., I have even longer been a fan of J.C. My father, a rural mailman, among many other things, would play the local country station incessantly, on which Johnny Cash tunes were a staple. Whenever we had one of our not-infrequent snow days, which I dreaded because it meant that I would have to accompany my dad on his mail route, I would have this great country music etched in my brain. Marty Robbins, Hank Sr., Porter Waggoner, Earl Stanley, Lester Scruggs, even Conway Twitty, I would listen to them all. Not that I had any choice. You could only pry the tuning knob of the radio in that ancient Ford Fairlane from his cold, dead fingers.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

La Buona Tavola/The Art Of Cooking

Merluzzo al forno /Baked cod with garlic and mayonnaise

4 anchovy filets
3 tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
6 tbsp olive oil
4 cod filets, skinned
1/3 cup plain breadcrumbs

Make your own mayonnaise and have some fun.
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 egg yolk
1tsp mustard
3/4 cup vegetable oil
Salt & fresh black pepper

For 4 people:
Make the mayonnaise. First put the garlic in a small bowl. Mash it to a paste. Beat in the egg yolk and mustard. Add the oil in a thin stream while beating vigorously with a small whisk. When the mixture is thick and smooth, season with salt and pepper. Cover the bowl and keep cool.
Preheat the oven to 400f, chop the anchovy fillets with the parsley very finely. Place in a small bowl, and add pepper and 3 tbsp of the oil. Stir to a paste.
Place the cod fillets in one layer in an oiled baking dish. Spread the anchovy paste on the top of the cod fillets. Sprinkle with the breadcrumbs and the remaining oil. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the breadcrumbs are golden. Serve hot with the garlic mayonnaise.

Buon appetito

For more recipes, visit my wesite at

Wednesday, July 11, 2007


Well, I don't know if that one qualifies (maybe in Stephen Colbert's world), but ginormous now officially does!

The new 2007 update of Merriam-Webster's Collegiate® Dictionary, Eleventh Edition is coming this fall, and in addition to ginormous (coined perhaps by Will Ferrell's character in Elf), you'll find crunk, nocebo and chaebol. Interestingly, though their site lists the words, the links appear to go nowhere! Feel free to put your definitions in comments.

In other news, the Battle of the Bands deadline has been extended to 7/20! As you already know from the press releases I have placed on these pages, Food For Thought is sponsoring a local Battle of the Bands for youth ages 13-20 (sorry, Bret, young hipsters only) in Ojai and Ventura. The three winning bands will open the Locally Grown fundraising concert on August 25 at Libbey Bowl featuring headliners Brett Dennen - currently touring with John Mayer - and Perla Batalla – Grammy nominated vocalist and Ojai resident. The event will be the second Locally Grown fundraiser for Food For Thought Ojai; the first concert in 2005 featured singer/songwriter Jack Johnson.

The Battle of the Bands will take place August 4th and 5th at the Matilija Junior High School Auditorium from 10am – 5pm. Bands performing all varieties of music, from straight edge and punk to jazz and acoustic, are encouraged to enter. In addition to opening the Locally Grown 2 concert, the three winning bands will also be able to record their chosen song in a professional sound studio and receive free CD copies of the recording.

Entry forms and a sample recording must be submitted by July 20. Rules and other information can be found on the Food For Thought Ojai Web site.

Speaking of Food for Thought, at the recent screening of The Real Dirt on Farmer John, Lesley Littlefield performed her song, “Oranginess,” which you can now listen to on Radio Ojai.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Ain't No Cure - Or is There?

Withering under the oppressive heat? Me too.

Here's the time-tested cure, "Summertime Blues," by one Mr. Eddie Cochran, of Albert Lea, Minnesota, who died tragically in a car accident in Wiltshire, England at age 21.

An interesting link with English culture is that the Mods (Rockers) and Teds (Quiffs) immortalized in the Who's "Quadrophrenia," took most of their proto-punk influences from Cochran and Gene "Be Bop A Lula" Vincent. In fact, Cochran's hit from 1956, "20 Flight Rock," which was featured in the cult classic, "The Girl Can't Help It," was used by the Rockers during their drag races. The goal was to complete a circuit of the block by the time that 2 minute song was over. As soon as the needle dropped, they were off. They called it record racing.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

A Saturday Night in Ojai

Feast Bistro’s new summer menu is out and it is tasty. We tried the Asian Appetizer with summer rolls, spicy sesame noodles and grilled shrimp – really fresh and flavorful. Chef Susan also created a cioppino, but with an Ojai twist; the orange-saffron broth turns this traditional seafood stew into a local favorite.

After dinner we moseyed on over to Movino, where a local band was playing all original material for the Ojai wine-sipping crowd. Champagne Sunday’s lead singer, Jessi Reems-Terrell, reeled us in with her unbelievable vocals while the other two members of the band kept us there for an entire set with solid harmonies and brilliant hooks. I was so taken I begged them to let me put “Ventura Sky” on Radio Ojai, where it is now playing.

Also on Radio Ojai, Matt gives me his grilling secrets and we talk about Ojai’s quirky 4th of July parade. I don’t know about you, but I’ll be celebrating Independence Day atop one of Joe’s new cushy barstools in front of Pangea!

Lastly, check out the current Ojai Valley Visitors Guide, now on newsstands, for a progressive dining adventure down Ojai Avenue which includes Azu, Movino, Pangea and Feast Bistro.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

la Buona Tavola/The Art Of Cooking

Brasato Al Barolo/Braised Beef With Barolo

This dish is a specialty of Piemonte, (Piedmont), which means "at the foot of the mountain". "Il Piemonte’ is a very interesting region, with French influences, delicious food and great wines, to mention but a few. Barbaresco, Barbera, Gaja and off course "the Prince of the Italian red wine" Barolo.

2lbs. top round beef
2 carrots
2 onions
A few celery stalks
2 cloves of garlic
2 tbs. oil
1 bottle Barolo
Flour for dusting
Salt pepper

Salt pepper and marinate the beef with the vegetables, aromatic herbs spices and wine for 12 24 hours at a cool temperature, but not in the refrigerator.
Drain the meat. Heat the oil in a large pan. Dust the meat with flour and brown it on all sides over a high flame. Add the marinade. Cover and cook gently in the oven at 375 f. for 3-4 hours. Remove the brasato from its cooking juice, set aside and keep warm. Sieve finely the cooking juices with vegetables.
Adjust seasoning. Reduce a bit, slice the brasato, arrange in a pre-heated platter. You can serve it with potatoes gnocchi, soft polenta, or mashed potatoes.

Buon Appetito.

For more recipes, visit my website,

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Food For Thought Brings Locally Grown Concert Back to Libbey Bowl!

Food For Thought Ojai is sponsoring its second Locally Grown fundraising concert on August 25 at Libbey Bowl. The concert will open with winners of the Battle of the Bands which takes place earlier in the month, then follow with headliners Brett Dennen - currently touring with John Mayer - and Perla Batalla – Grammy nominated vocalist and Ojai resident. The event is a fundraiser for Food For Thought Ojai, a nonprofit organization that brings nutrition education, garden-based learning and environmental and agricultural awareness to students of Ojai’s public schools. The first Locally Grown concert in 2005 featured singer/songwriter Jack Johnson.

“This is a great way for us to get our message out to the community,” said Marty Fujita of Food for Thought Ojai. Funds raised will go toward programs that promote good childhood nutritional practices, farm-field trips, school garden programs and salad bar lunches that feature locally-produced, seasonal fruits and vegetables.

This year’s headliners are two local favorites who have risen to international acclaim. Perla Batalla recently appeared in Leonard Cohen’s critically acclaimed tribute film I’m Your Man. She has assembled a new band that brings a rich depth showcasing Batalla’s powerful voice and soulful, Latin-tinged ballads. Brett Dennen is a young singer-songwriter who has recently been ‘discovered’ and is skyrocketing to fame on tour with John Mayer and Sheryl Crow. His pure and timeless vocals and joyous lyrics promise great things.

Billed as a green event, Locally Grown 2 will promote a variety of consciousness-raising actions to minimize the human ecological footprint. For example, concert-goers will be encouraged to bicycle or walk to and from the event to decrease fossil fuel use, bring their own refillable water bottles, and visit a “Zero Waste” station at the event. As an incentive, raffle tickets for unique prizes will be awarded for individual ‘green’ efforts. Sponsorships to help underwrite the cost of the event are available, ranging from $200 for a program listing to $5000 banner sponsorships.

A presale of tickets for the Locally Grown concert will be held at the Sunday Ojai Farmers Market on July 1 and July 8. Ticket prices range from $20 for rear lawn seats to $100 for front row VIP seats. Tickets will be available online beginning July 9 at .

More information can be found on the Food For Thought Ojai web site or by calling 805-640-5044.

Food For Thought is a grassroots, community-driven nonprofit organization, working in partnership with the Ojai Unified School District to bring nutrition education, locally grown foods, and agricultural literacy to the children of the Ojai Unified School District.

Note: Links to Brett and Perla take you to their MySpace pages where you can hear their music!

Monday, June 25, 2007

Whistles Like a Bird

Andrew Bird is one of those guys whose talent is so extragavant you'd have to hate him if you didn't love him.

No one in modern music makes better use of one of the most beautiful musical instruments - the human voice, especially when it is used to whistle. Besides the violin - his first instrument - he also plays guitar and glockenspiel. If you haven't heard of him yet, you will. He is poised for a mainstream breakthrough.

Here he is on Letterman with "Plasticities":

Friday, June 22, 2007

Miles and Miles to Go

Miles Davis was not only one of the greatest jazz musicians of all time, he was a pioneer of avant garde sounds. Listen to "Bitches Brew" from 1969 and tell me this wouldn't sound right at home at the Ojai Music Festival.

This was the very first jazz fusion album, but what exactly it was fusing is hard to tell - everything from bebop to Stravinsky to Delta Blues. Here's part 1 of 6. I encourage you to link through to all of them.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Battle of the Ojai/Ventura Bands!

Food For Thought Sponsors Battle of the Bands! Winners to Play Libbey Bowl

Food For Thought is sponsoring a local Battle of the Bands for youth in Ojai and Ventura. The three winning bands will open the Locally Grown fundraising concert on August 25 at Libbey Bowl featuring headliners Brett Dennen - currently touring with John Mayer - and Perla Batalla – Grammy nominated vocalist and Ojai resident. The event will be the second Locally Grown fundraiser for Food For Thought Ojai; the first concert in 2005 featured singer/songwriter Jack Johnson.

The Battle of the Bands is open to youth ages 13-20 from Ojai and Ventura, and will take place August 4th and 5th at the Matilija Junior High School Auditorium from 10am – 5pm. Bands performing all varieties of music, from straight edge and punk to jazz and acoustic, are encouraged to enter. In addition to opening the Locally Grown 2 concert, the three winning bands will also be able to record their chosen song in a professional sound studio and receive free CD copies of the recording.

Entry forms and a sample recording must be submitted by July 6. Rules and other information can be found on the Food For Thought Ojai website.

Food For Thought is a grassroots, community-driven nonprofit organization, working in partnership with the Ojai Unified School District to bring nutrition education, locally grown foods, and agricultural literacy to the children of the Ojai Unified School District.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Epilectic Triggers

The 2012 Olympic logo supposedly triggers epilectic seizures in certain susceptible people when seen in the short animation promotional trailer. It was hastily pulled at the first sign of trouble.

Despite all the great advances of science, we know next to nothing about the one organ that allows us to know anything about anything, our brain.

How is that flickering images can trigger a short-circuiting reflex in some and not others, for example? Or how is that not every person who watches this Horrors video, "Sheena is a Parasite," does not have a neurological meltdown?

The Horrors have taken the Prodigy based rave and trip hop music and amped it up a few degrees. This video, executing a simple concept very well, shows how videos can make music even more than it would be without the artful presentation of images, even if it floats through your mind at 144 images per second.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Bands on the Run - TV on the Radio

TV on the Radio has been around for about six years and three albums. Each album from this NYC indie hipster outfit is much different than the others. They are constantly refining and reinventing themselves - looking for sounds and songs that amuse themselves, rather than sticking with one style or genre.

That said, they do come out of that lower East Side hipster set that spawned other bands like the Yeah, Yeah Yeahs and Interpol. David Bowie even sings on a few of their tracks, providing that essential validation from a living legend.

What great fun they are having, and providing for those with adventurous ears. Here's one of the coolest videos of the past few years, "Wolf Like Me."

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Farmer John Brings the Real Dirt to the Ojai Playhouse

From a press release submitted by Food for Thought Ojai:

No, it’s not about the sausage company.

The Real Dirt on Farmer John is a movie about Illinois farmer John Petersen and his decades-long struggle to wrest right livelihood from his family’s farm. Winner of over 30 festival awards, this film has it all – life, death, sex, terrorism, art, failure, success. Helped along by the fact that his mom started taking 16 mm movies of the family when John was a child, and by the fact that John is an artist as well as a bred-in-the-bones farmer, this movie reaches far beyond any normal expectations of a documentary about a mid-western farmer.

Presented by Food for Thought Ojai, the Ojai Film Society, and Slow Food Ojai/Ventura. The Real Dirt on Farmer John will show Saturday and Sunday, June 30-July 1, at 4:30 pm at the Ojai Playhouse in downtown Ojai. Tickets are $8 for adults, and $5 for seniors and students at the door.

Farmer John Petersen will be at the Sunday screening for Q & A.

Immediately following the screening, there will be a fixed price dinner reception for Farmer John ($25 per person for three course tasting menu featuring locally grown produce and poultry) at ironpan restaurant located 219 East Matilija Street in Ojai. Please call ironpan for reservations 805-646-3500 by Friday June 29.

View the film’s trailer at

For further information, please call Marty Fujita at 640-5044.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Masters of the Obvious

The annihilation and reconstitution of the music business is one of my favorite subjects. My belief is that it is a good, if not great, time to be a musician. The old gatekeepers are falling by the wayside, and the bigger they are, the harder they fall. People won't pay for recordings, but they will gladly shell out their hard-earned money for concert tickets. The music business, as a whole, has been shrinking for years, but the portion that goes to tickets has been regaining lost ground.

The bottom line remains ever the same: make good music and you will make a good living doing so, provided you can put on a good show.

So it was with great glee that I read the inimitable blogmeister Will Divide's commentary on said meltdown.

"You have to read ten paragraphs into yesterday's Times story about the collapse of CD sales before getting to the heart of the matter, namely the suck-suck-suckiness of Pop music today:

"Even as the industry tries to branch out, though, there is no promise of an answer to a potentially more profound predicament: a creative drought and a corresponding lack of artists who ignite consumers’ interest in buying music. Sales of rap, which had provided the industry with a lifeboat in recent years, fell far more than the overall market last year with a drop of almost 21 percent, according to Nielsen SoundScan.

"Not that the writer spent a lot of time examining this aspect of the decline, because, well, it was a business story. Seems download sales aren't so hot either. How big media enterprises evolved to manage free expression and smother creativity, co-opt and trivialize, and how bright, talented people lent themselves to such activities, for a chance for money and fame, is a story as large and shining as the sun in these parts, has been for years.

"That the mobility is finally growing tired of it (and YES, I am using the collapse of CD sales as indicative of wider concerns) says a lot about our times. The country has been soul starved for years. For me, the true tragedy of America is how little real culture, which is a higher order of social self-knowledge, our affluence has bought us over the last sixty-odd years. Our politics is as bad as our pop music (Nashville, I am looking at you), and both reflect a creative bankruptcy that bleeds into the moral realm."

Here's a blast from the past, from the rightly famed gospel queens, the Davis Sisters:

Friday, June 08, 2007

Dad Rock That's Still Cool

As a dad myself, I have few pretensions left to hipness in any form. While I haven't (yet) devolved into a state of Dockers and socks-with-sandals, I also no longer bother to follow bands my 13-year-old daughter listens to like cute is what we aim for, Cobra Starship or Taking Back Sunday.

There's nothing wrong with Dad Rock in and of itself. Frankly, in the Darwinian world of musical tastes, the fact that bands like the Rolling Stones and The Who stand up so well to the test of time speaks to eternal associations with youthful expression and rebellion. They endure because they are good. And no one on this earth embodies coolness like Keith Richards.

That said, only one band in my listening experience bridges the gap between dinosaurish dad rock and coolness, and that is Wilco. Small wonder that they also bridge gaps between country and rock, between folk and soul, between . Mark my words, 50 years from now, we will still be debating Jeff Tweedy's legacy. He is cool because he tries so hard not to be.

This is the man, after all, who bought up all the rights to Woody Guthrie's unpublished songs, right out from underneath Bod Dylan's nose, and came out with one of the emblematic albums of the 1990s, "Mermaid Avenue" with British belter Billy Bragg.

Here's a Pitchfork interview with Wilco's founder about their newest and sixth album, "Blue Sky Blue":

Here's Jeff Tweedy with his son, proving once and for all that being a dad doesn't exclude us from the clubhouse of cool kids:

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Music + Film = Art

Having been among the lucky 200,000 households in MTV's test market rollout in June 1981, I have nursed more than 25 years of jonesing for great music videos. It is a sublime addiction, feeding all my senses, especially when I would grab my gal and dance to Kim Wilde's "We're the Kids in America."

Everybody lives for the music go-round, indeed. Good times.

The music business has changed dramatically in recent years, however. And among the first casualties of these epochal changes has been the elaborate, expensive, over-the-top videos. Recording artists and record companies are now looking for cool on the cheap. The Hold Steady treadmill video being a perfect example - shot with digital for virtually nothing, it has become a viral phenomenon, lasting nearly a year.

Here's another excellent example - this sleek Swedish import from the Concretes, "The Chosen One." Money can't buy you love, or great art either.

Monday, June 04, 2007

40 Years Ago Today - Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band

Well, sort of. The epochal song-cycle rock opera concept album, from those towering geniuses and cheeky lads from Liverpool, debuted on Friday.

It is hard to overstate the significance of their achievement in moving the artistic goalposts. The New Yorker's current issue has a great profile of Paul (my second-favorite Beatle), in which he talks about the pain of having to sue his bandmates about their poor choice of management (history proved him right to do so), and how he and John patched up their relationship, and went back to the easy tomfoolery and rapport they enjoyed during the late 1950s as teenagers with the Quarrymen and their shared love of American blues and rockabilly.

It is hard to also overstate the cultural wasteland that awaited the Beatles when they arrived in the U.S. in 1964 for their watershed moment on the Ed Sullivan show. To describe that moment, I will defer to one of my favorite bloggers, Digby's Hullabaloo:

"First of all, to you kiddies out there who want to know what all the brouhaha about The Beatles was all about, I strongly suggest you - hell, everyone should have it - grab the four Complete Ed Sullivan Shows with The Beatles . Now here's the thing: you have to watch one a night, all the way through, including Miitzi Gaynor sing what she calls "real music," and Frank Gorshin doing Kirk Douglas impressions. You will learn two things. First of all, that life in mainstream white America in 1964 was bereft of any positive cultural merit whatsoever. And secondly, this is the ideal society your average Republican politician has in mind for America, sans Beatles of course. It truly is hard to believe. You must see these shows in their entirety to understand how much this country has changed."

Here's a rare, archival video of the title song:

Friday, June 01, 2007

la Buona Tavola/The Art Of Cooking

This is strawberries season, and there is no better time than now to make this delicious dessert.

Strawberries Baskets with aceto balsamico/ Cestino di fragole con aceto balsamico

Ingredients for the baskets:
5 oz. of butter
5 oz. of flour
3 eggs whites
1 tbsp. vanilla extract

For the filling:
10 oz. vanilla ice cream
1/2 lb. Strawberries
16 drops aceto balsamico

In a bowl, wisk the butter with the sugar and the vanilla extract until frothy. Slowly, add the egg whites and then the sifted flour. Put this cream in a pastry bag with a smooth nozzle and form four disks on a buttered cookie sheet.
Bake for 10 minutes on a 425 f oven. Remove and while still hot. Place each disk over an upside down glass. The overlapping edges will turn downwards, thus creating a basket.
Let cool and then remove from the glasses.
Clean and dry the strawberries and place them in the baskets.
On each dessert plate, place a spoon of vanilla ice cream and let it melt for a couple minutes until soft. Place a basket next the vanilla ice cream.
Drizzle about four drops of balsamic vinegar over each basket, garnish with strawberry leaves.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Democracy Movement in Music

Austin quartet I Love You But I Chosen Darkness is another example of a favorite theme of mine - how the accelerating death of the record companies is giving an opening to all kinds of great music that would ordinarily have never found an audience.

It is also provided an opening for video producers who can do genius work with little or no budget.

Here's the Pitchfork media blurb:

"Created independently, without the support of a production company, this painstakingly composed piece from 20-year-old Canadian animation student Emmanuel Ho is proof of the increased democratization of the music video market. Showcasing Ho's clean, geometric design style and his laser-sharp eye for movement, "The Owl" squeezes drama out of every tensile guitar part in the Austin quartet's broody instrumental, to the extent that it's hard to imagine a more established director doing more with this source material."

Myridian UPDATE

UPDATE: The Skate Park event was canceled, so look for Myridian at the Athletic Club 6/8.
As published in this week's VC Reporter:

Old man, take a look at your band

Ojai’s Myridian overcome tragedy — and middle age — to release their classic-rock inspired debut Prime Myridian


Old guys rock — and I’m not talking about the Rolling Stones or Aerosmith. Myridian, an Ojai-based fivesome of forty-somethings, proved earlier this year that it’s never too late to start rocking with the release of their first album, Prime Myridian. Working blue-collar day jobs as an electrician, farmer, equipment renter, pool technician and electronics installer, Myridian’s roster includes Scott Smith on keyboards, Richard Metcalfe on guitar, Kalvin Keller on lead vocals, Patrick Duffy on drums and Bud McCanless on bass.

“A young person has the energy,” says Smith, who doubles as the band’s manager. “This is more of a work ethic.”

With a minimum of twice weekly rehearsals in Smith’s garage, Myridian’s work ethic is getting them noticed. Their protest song, “Gunshots,” is now in its seventh week in the top 10 on Neil Young’s Living with War Web site.

Written by Metcalfe, Myridian’s principal songwriter, “Gunshots” was originally about inner city gang wars. “A lot of my songs seem to cross over at the time when I’m writing into other subjects, and I don’t even realize it until later,” he says. “It’s almost prophetic in a way.”

Metcalfe’s lyrics are poetic and relevant: “Lots of faceless names, with increasing toe-tag numbers/ The children have gone off to war, when they step outside their own front door.”
Metcalfe, a pro-skateboarder as a teen who was also scouted by the Yankees before an injury put him out of the game for good, takes his songwriting seriously. “I want to write songs that make people think,” he says.

The past 18 months have been a rollercoaster ride for Myridian. Last February, while competing with 60 other groups in the Ventura Battle of the Bands, Metcalfe’s wife, Kimberly, suffered a massive heart attack. The band went on to win the competition, but Kimberly did not survive.

Devastated, but with the support of his band, Metcalfe found the strength to continue. The next month, Myridian went into the studio to begin recording Prime Myridian, which would be released 11 months later.

“We all have a passion, and we share a love for the Myridian music,” Smith says. “The music is powerful and important.”

Myridian’s style, described by Metcalfe as “classic rock with a pop twist,” could be compared to Genesis and the Fixx. But the feel is more contemporary, and while the music definitely rocks, there is also an element of play. In “Media Lies,” the lyrics “Ashes to ashes/all fall down” bring back playground memories.

“One of our strengths is our vocal harmonies,” Smith says. Driven by lead Keller’s arid vocals, Myridian’s sound is unique. “It is the hallmark of what Myridian is,” Smith says.

Looking ahead, Smith says, “Our hope would be to get discovered. I think that can happen.”

Myridian performs June 8 at the Ojai Valley Athletic Club at 6:30 p.m., public invited for a nominal fee. More info: Listen to the interview and a studio recording of “Gunshots” at

Monday, May 28, 2007

Buried Treasure at the Box Office

Memorial Day is supposed to be a day of reflection and rememberance, but in the movie business, it marks the start of the summer blockbuster season. Today I watched the third installment of the swashbuckling adventures of Captain Jack Sparrow: Pirates of the Carribean, At World's End. Following in the footsteps of the second Pirates, this one is just as dark and the characters equally grotesque. But Johnny Depp is a charmer and seeing Keith Richards in full pirate garb was well worth the 168 minutes I spent glue to my gummy theater seat in downtown Ventura this afternoon.

There are some exciting films in the summer line-up. I can't wait to see:

Shrek the Third
Ocean's 13
Under Dog

Live Free or Die Hard (I know, Yippee Ki Yay)
Evan Almighty
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

And I might pop my head in for The Simpsons Movie.

But I will happily miss Hairspray and Transformers (which gets the coveted 7/4 release date).

What summer movies are you going to see?

Friday, May 25, 2007

Britpop Warbler Pays the Price of Fame

Lily Allen canceled many of her U.S. tour dates for a number of reasons. Drinking too much was one of them, but mostly, I believe, it was the rapid rise to fame and the inability to deal with it. The stresses of fame found an inappropriate outlet and left her unable to fulfill her commitments.

Fame is a maze of twists and turns, especially for artists, who tend to quiver with sensitivity and self-consciousness. Allen, only 19, rose too fast, too far. But her talent, as shown on "Smile" is undeniable. What a great storytelling video approach, and what a lovely, fragile voice, indicative of the personality behind it.

We have surely not heard the last of this lovely British songstress.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Neko Case's DIY Ethic

I admire musicians who write their own rules. Neko Case, with a voice like soft honeyed light, is one such person. She has refused all offers from major record labels, choosing instead to stay with small independents because she retains creative control of her work.

She left home at age 15, and had herself declared an emancipated minor. Now she has emancipated herself from the tyranny of the music business and record labels, very similar to another heroine of mine, Ani DiFranco. Case was a member of the Vancouver-based New Pornographers, one of the greatest supergroups of all time. Many people believe Neko to be the most talented, with good cause, but I have gradually come to admire Daniel Bejar above all others, mainly on his lyrical strengths. Case is no slouch in that department either - not just a pretty face with a pretty voice, but a beautiful mind, as well.

Here's a Letterman clip from her newest, "Fox Confessor Brings the Flood." Enjoy.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Rock and Roll's Avant Garde

Rock music, for all its fuss and fury, and relative newness (barely a half century) is a very traditional art form, borrowing from and leaning heavily on genres like blues (Beatles, Hendrix), but also on country (Elvis, Sun records), roots music (Dylan, folkster), and ragtime.

It is not an easy field for innovation, because of the often hidebound nature of its fan base. We are not talking about Elliot Carter or Harry Partsch devotees here, but the majority of us, who are simple people with simple tastes, who know what they like and want to hear more of it. For every Frank Zappa or Captain Beefheart, there are 10 Journeys or Bad Companies.

But here's a Georgia band, Deerhunter, who is trying to push the envelope on what rock and roll can be - a fluid art form, full of dazzling instrumentation and experimentation. "Strange Lights' is not their best song, but the only one for which a you tube video exists. It will give you some idea of what they are capable of. If you like what you hear, then I highly recommend "Cryptograms," their brand-new album.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

The Eh, B.C.s of Canada

More in an occasional series of postings about our neighbors to El Norte:

The Arcade Fire, known for their fiery live shows and brilliant musicianship and sharp lyrics, are basically a husband-wife team from Montreal that morphed into one of the world's hottest bands. Win Butler, originally from the U.S., and Regine Chassagne, began a mere four years ago, and have produced two of the best recording of the decade in this year's Neon Bible and 2004's Funeral.

Besides the dramatic live shows, Arcade Fire members - usually about eight or ten depending on the lineup - are known for playing multiple instruments, including mouth harp, hurdy gurdy, accordions and xylophones in addition to their trademark guitar and violins.

Here they are live with the Thin White Duke himself, in "Wake Up."

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Coolest Name in Rock 'n' Roll

Clem Snide, the alt-country indie prog rockers from Nashville via New York, have been around for a long time now - released their first record in 1991. How is it that more people aren't aware of them merely illustrates that great talents often go unappreciated in their time.

Clem Snide is an ever-rotating roster of musicians backing up acclaimed singer-songwriter Eef Barzelay, possessor of one of the coolest names I have ever heard. Eef Barzeley! How can you not love someone with a name like that! And Clem Snide is a character in William Burroughs' Naked Lunch. It's like a double-dose of art-geek hipness.

Here's Eef and Clem Snide with "Girls Don't Care.":

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Red State Balladeer

Country music balladeer James McMurtry comes with about as distinguished a pedigree as anyone from Texas could have: he is the son of American novelist laureate Larry McMurtry. His father gave him a guitar at age 5 and he took off from there. What I love about McMurtry (tip of the hat to the musically voracious J.B. White) is that he combines his father's narrative genius with great honky-tonk licks.

He writes about the great shrinking and breaking heartland of America with poignancy and wit.

Check this out:

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Songs for Mother's Day

I couldn't find a top 10 list for Mother's Day, but I did find this on

Radio stations, programmers, and deejays have used The Green Book of Songs By Subject for years.

Each week, The Green Book of Songs By Subject provides a new list of songs for a particular topic exclusively to the Radio site at

This week:
Mother's Day

Song For Mama/Boyz II Men
That Was Your Mother/Paul Simon
You Can't Lose Me/Faith Hill
Mama Tried/Merle Haggard
Mama Told Me Not To Come/Three Dog Night
26 Cents/Wilkinsons
The song that always makes me think of my mom is The Carpenters', "Close To You," because she used to sing it to my sister and I when we were little.

Songs that are in my head right now:
Mamas, Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to be Cowboys
Take Your Mama, Scissor Sisters
And my favorite, Bohemian Rhapsody, by Queen, just because the opening line begins with, "Mama..."
Here is a live version I dug up on YouTube:

Monday, May 07, 2007

Coach Class Roulette

It seems that I made a fatal error in the game of Coach Class Roulette. I chose seats 6A and 6B on Horizon's flight to the Pacific Northwest last weekend. I realize that at 5' 10" I am practically a giant for coach class, but the leg room was so bad on this particular flight that I couldn't even cross my legs without doing some sort of strange contortionist maneuver. My husband got the aisle seat so he was able to stretch out his 6' 2" frame between peanut cart trips.

But that wasn't what did us in.

Behind us was 3-year-old Logan, whose Mommy (traveling alone) incessantly bargained and negotiated and said things like, "That's not an okay choice." And then she started counting. Now I know all too well how this counting game ends. I've got three nephews under 10. It's not pretty. I held my breath as she counted from 1 to 5, and each time Logan hollered, "No!" At 5, you could practically hear a pin drop, then Logan shrieked, "NNNNNNNNNNNooooooOOOO!" and became possessed by the demon, screaming, flailing and kicking my seat so hard I was catapulted forward into seat 5A.

At about the same time, a single mother right across the aisle was juggling her squirming 5-month-old, who was now screaming at full tilt, until she whipped out the boob. The muffled sucking sounds on one side and the little darling behind me who wouldn't put on his seat belt made for an interesting flight.

All considered, Bret, I'll take the chatty woman covered in cat hair you wrote about awhile back any day!

The Grass is Always Bluer

Bill Monroe died just over a decade ago - but his legacy is secure. He invented bluegrass music. And by inventing, I mean it did not exist before he came along. That kind of inventing. Not adapting, not transforming, not weaving together various threads of influence, he created an entire genre of music.

Bluegrass music was named after his band, "The Blue Grass Boys," and his home state of Kentucky.

Of course, mandolins and triple fiddles existed before Monroe, mostly in the Appalachian roots music, but his hard-won virtuosity with mandolin, and his regular appearances on the Grand Ole Opry cemented the new genre's prominence.

Here's a clip of Monroe and the Blue Grass Boys from 1957:

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Bowling in Pairs

Just for fun. No higher meaning or purpose intended. Because sometimes things are just fun to share. Big ups to Gary E. for pointing this out to me:

The Death of Film

Legendary director David Lynch, occasionally seen out and about in Ojai, which gives me some sketchy local connection for this posting, has written a thoughtful and lucid essay in Lost magazine, an excerpt from his book, "Catching the Big Fish," about the myriad benefits of digital cameras versus the enormous 35 mm dinosaurs.

I especially was struck by how digital is changing the relationship between actors and directors, how actors actually get to spend more time acting and less time waiting around on location. Some folks believe that actors enjoy spending their time in their trailers, waiting for cameras to reload, but most of the actors I know would prefer to spend their time acting. Actors love to act! Whoduthunk?

Lynch writes: "And for actors, to get down into a character in the middle of a scene and then suddenly have to stop while we reload the film cameras after ten minutes — often, this breaks the thing. But now you're rolling along; you've got 40 minutes down in there. And you can start talking to the actors, and instead of stopping it you can move in and push it."

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Lennon's Lost Weekend

As many of you know, the late lamented John Lennon (my favorite Beatle) hid out for weeks at a time at friend Harry Nilsson's Ojai home during his infamous "Lost Weekend," which lasted from late 1973 to 1975. That was after Yoko kicked him out of their New York house and set him loose with their personal assistant, May Pang. He took up with Nilsson's crowd, who dubbed themselves the "Hollywood Vampires," and terrorized the city for months.

My favorite story from that year is that Lennon was at a Los Angeles restaurant and was acting out-of-control like the pathological narcissistic hedonist that he could become, prancing about with a salad bowl on his head. A waitress gave him a disapproving glance, and he shot back with that timeless line of d-bags everywhere, "Do you know who I am?" She replied, on beat, "Yes, you're an asshole."

Not always. But he could be. He was a work in progress, one of the greatest talents of this century, or any other for that matter, part of a crew of cheeky lads from Liverpool who blended and blurred and stirred together music from wherever they could find it into one shining stream of sound that will echo throughout the centuries. The Beatles - we will never see their like again.

Imagine what he could have become had he not been felled outside the Dakota Hotel on that dark day in 1980, a victim of his fame. Well, I'll let John speak for himself about what might have been:

Monday, April 30, 2007

One in An Occasional Series on Most Influential Artists in Rock and Roll

Patti Smith, not be confused with another influential artist named Patty Smyth, is considered the "poet laureate of the punk movement." Her 1975 album, "Horses," was the junction pool of many tributaries of art, music and philosophy. The first song on the album, "Gloria," began with "Jesus died for someone's sins, but not mine."

She is another one of those great minds who never achieved commercial success, but whose disciples and acolytes, bands like R.E.M., MC5, Nirvana, sold millions of records. Her life was also her art, having had a long-time romance with the otherwise gay-as-a-goose Robert Mapplethorpe, marrying another musician with the same last name, dropping out of the scene to be a suburban housewife and raise her kids in a Detroit suburb, then being lured back on the road by R.E.M. and Bob Dylan, another fan, where she remains to this day.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Science, Arrogance and Ignorance

Jacob Bronowski's Ascent of Man ran on PBS back in the late 1970s. Rarely has the need for science to overcome our hatred and ignorance been better articulated.

This segment, filmed outside Auschwitz, is as moving a documentary as I have witnessed. Absolute power and absolute ignorance go hand in hand. Science is a human form, a constant questioning and reassessment, the place where assumptions are tested and doubts born. It is what will move us from the muck to the stars.

When you think of the arrogance of anyone's absolute certainty, especially those right-wing religionists whose fundamentalist point of view has infiltrated the highest levels of our government, remember that Oliver Cromwell quote: "I beseech you in the bowels of Jesus. Think it possible, you may be mistaken."

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Making Fun of Your Fears

Spiders freak me out. It is not only the wired evolutionary response to a real threat - spiders can kill. I suffer from a severe case of spider-related trauma. When I was about 8, I was tromping through a field of goldenrods taller than me when I stumbled into a clearing with a tight lattice work of spider webs. As I was flailing about, trying to get the webbing off me, I saw at least a dozen of the huge death-mask meadow spiders scurrying right at me. I got bit at least half a dozen times, raising enormous welts and causing blisters on my ears and hands. The black and yellow argiope is a generally harmless spider, so the main damage was to my fragile ego.

The sight of a spider to this day gives me the willies. But I have learned to live and let live, knowing what a valuable role the arachnids play in insect control.

So my strategy is to laugh at the creepy little predators. Mockery is the sincerest form of disrespect.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Tennis Anyone? The 107th Ojai Tennis Tourney

As published in the Spring issue of the Ojai Visitors Guide, by Lisa Snider:

The 107th Annual Ojai Valley Tennis Tournament, or “The Ojai®” to the more savvy, is the most anticipated event of the season; springtime in Ojai just wouldn’t be the same without it. The smell of sweat and sunscreen commingled with grilled tri-tip and orange blossoms create an air of unmistakable Ojai. Presented April 26-29 by the non-profit Ojai Valley Tennis Club, it’s Ojai’s oldest event and one that carries with it an esteemed reputation rich in history and tradition.

“We have 1500 competitors, we use over 100 courts, we have 500 people working all the various phases of the tournament, but we own no tennis courts and have no paid employees,” said Sam Eaton, public relations chair for The Ojai®.

Home of the annual Pac-10 men's, women's, and doubles individual championship matches, The Ojai® brings tourists and tennis fans to our small town for 4 days of intense competition. Libbey Park, in the heart of Ojai, is the venue for the finals of all divisions, including Div. III West Regionals, Community and Independent Colleges, Junior and CIF events, and the Open.

After 107 years, I couldn’t help but ask if anything new is in the works, any plans to mix it up a bit this year? “Nothing new, just the same wonderful stuff that has kept us going for 107 years. Perhaps that's the beauty of the whole thing,” said Eaton.

I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t know much about the game. I tried, though, having spent two summers during my pre-teen years at tennis camp. I forgot my racquet one year; my mom had to turn around and drive 50 miles back home to get it for me. I never excelled beyond beginner level, nor did I figure out the scoring (love?). I did, however, become quite adept at flinging the racquet out of my hand, tagging my tennis instructor once or twice. Childhood traumas aside, I wouldn’t miss a courtside seat at The Ojai®.

I think as far as collegiate sports go, The Ojai® is to tennis what March Madness is to basketball. The brackets, displayed on several boards at Libbey Park, are dizzying and require careful study, but I can always turn to local legend, Stacy Margolin Potter, who sorts it all out for me. She played on the Professional Women’s Tennis Tour from 1977-1987 and reached a World Ranking of #18. She hails from USC, where she won both the National Collegiate Singles and Team Titles. Her association with The Ojai continues today and you can always find her courtside cheering on her alma mater.

One of the biggest attractions of The Ojai® is the tea tent, where every afternoon tea and cookies are offered complimentary. It’s all very sophisticated and one year I made the shocking faux pas of ordering a Venti Decaf Chai Latte, quickly discovering that the menu here is simple and dignified with a choice of black tea with a lemon wheel or cubed sugar.

Last year’s Tea Tent Vice Chair Peggy Chase, who, in a lovely wide brimmed garden chapeau, shared the magic and mystique of the tea tent with me. There are 1500 real china cups and saucers with The Ojai® logo and perfectly polished silver tea pots. She later wrote me and shared, “As a young girl, I was enchanted by the two glistening silver tea services and the ‘dressed up ladies’ who so elegantly poured the tea and passed cookies to players and spectators. The players, some just off the courts, would stand a bit straighter, speak a bit more softly, and might even crook a little finger as they sipped from china cups.”

Last year at The Ojai®, I landed the big get. Not even the most seasoned sports reporter could get close to this one. I had a sit-down with one of the unsung heroes of tennis: the ball boy. You know him, he’s the one crouched down under the net, waiting patiently to retrieve loose balls and holding sweaty towels for the players. After a match that went to all 3 sets, I got a face-to face with local Sean O’Brien, and he looked tired. He chased down errant balls and got tagged by 100-mile-an-hour serves. Between sets, he juggled tennis balls. And got an admonishment from the judge. Why?

“I bounced the ball,” he confessed. I guess it’s hard to maintain focus after hours in the hot sun.

And then I asked the question of the hour; how does one get chosen to serve with the ball boy elite? “I got assigned,” replied the eye-rolling teen. It seems that his holding court on the local Thacher tennis team brings an automatic appointment to the task. I’m told we might see him again this year, so make sure you give him a shout out!

For more information about The Ojai®, call (805) 646-7241 or visit See you on the courts!

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