• From Filmore East To The Moon: Chats with ABB's Jaimoe, CPD's Steve Perry, POTM's Shear Brothers and Cris Cab...Plus!
    2014 09 02 POTMGenericShareBarnSQv1 Thumb

    A Conversation with Phases Of The Moon's Sam & Barry Shear

    Mike Ragogna: Sam and Barry, what inspired you to form a "Phases Of The Moon" festival? What's the history?

    Sam Shear: I was attending college in Lake Tahoe, Nevada. For my Bachelors of Fine Art, I found myself completely immersed in the art community and always learning about new visual artists. At the same time my school had a class dedicated to going to Burning Man Festival every other year. Although I never took the opportunity to go, I studied some amazing visual artists as well as participating in the class, building my own Geo-Dome, learning about the culture. At the same time, I have always had a passion for music, in particular The Grateful Dead, The Doors, Led Zeppelin, old school rock. After graduating and coming back to Chicago, I wanted to infuse my passions into one. That's when Phases of the Moon was born.

    Barry Shear: When Sam first approached me with the idea of putting together a music festival I was intrigued. We worked together on a business plan and researched successful festivals and felt that there was an opportunity to build and develop a new festival, incorporating and expanding the best elements of other iconic festivals. We held several focus groups to understand what festival goers liked and did not like about their festival experience. We worked hard to use that input as a "road map" in building Phases of the Moon.
    We spent months locating the venue. At Kennekuk County Park in Danville, Illinois we found the right combination. Beautiful venue, centrally located to several large cities and universities and strong community support.

    MR: Not having been in entertainment previously, did you initially find putting on the event a little daunting? What is some of the minutia?

    SS: Although Barry and myself have not been in the entertainment business before; we have an outstanding team working behind us to make Phases of the Moon a reality. From Barry's 30+ years in finance to my love for music and art, I feel we are working to create something really special for everyone attending. Minutia-Logistics!!!

    BS: To put together a large festival together is indeed a daunting task. We have put together a very strong and experienced team, which is key to dealing with all the complicated logistics. Many of the major elements include security, medical staffing, lighting staging, art installations, parking, the list is endless. There is also the minutia of such things as color of wristbands, merchandise design, shirts for volunteers, artist scheduling, etc, etc.

    MR: Who will be performing at the POTM this year and how do you see its future?

    SS: We have tons of amazing musical acts from headliners such as Widespread Panic for 2 nights, The String Cheese Incident for 2 nights, Leon Russell, Tedeschi Trucks Band, Gov't Mule, Jackie Greene, Chris Robinson Brotherhood to some smaller acts like Anders Osborne, Nicki Bluhm & the Gramblers, California Honeydrops, The Revivalists, all the way down to local bands like James Jones trio, Flatland Harmey Experiment even the local state representative Chad Hays and the Boat Drink Caucus will join us for a night. Musical artists are just one facet of many performing acts throughout the 4 day weekend. We also have a slate of Performance Artists such as Quixotic, Tammy Firefly, Astral Gypsies and tons more! There should be something fun and entertaining going on for everyone!!

    BS: We have a stellar line up of music, performing artists and visual arts. As we grow over the next few years we want to continue to bring to POTM exciting and diverse artists.

    MR: What advice do you have for new artists?

    SS: All I could say to an up-and-coming artist or any artist for that matter... I would say continue to be true to their craft and continue to do what it is they do that makes their fans love them so much! From crazy collaborations to out of sight improvisations to amazing stage presence to simply creating that connection with your fans, these are the reasons I became so attached to music.

    BS: My advice to new artist would be to continue to develop their craft and their own personality and try to get exposure at POTM

    MR: Will you now be diving head first into the music business, how will you not want to create a label and management and publishing divisions?

    SS: I think you could say that. Our goal right now is to have a successful first year with Phases of the Moon the hopefully expand our ideas and themes into another event. Maybe county/bluegrass...

    BS: I would say in the foreseeable future we will have our hands full building POTM into a major music and art festival. Our long term goal would be to develop one more annual festival., with no current thoughts of moving into other areas of the music industry.

    2014 09 02 AllmanBrothersJuly29th Thumb

    A Conversation with The Allman Brothers' Jaimoe

    Mike Ragogna: Let's talk about The Allman Brothers' jillion-disc reissue of The 1971 Fillmore East Recordings. I'm guessing you know how big an impact these concerts made on the rock culture of that era. What are your impressions of that?

    Jaimoe: John Coltrane.

    Mike: John Coltrane?

    Jaimoe: Somebody was having a conversation with Duane [Allman] and Butch Trucks was an atheist; right now he can't make up his mind whether he is or not. Duane said, "What we do is like a religion, we're like Jesus Christ, we just play music and He spreads the word." So to say John Coltrane or to say Miles Davis or whatever is not absurd or out of my mind or whatever, because in our circles, we've done as much as Coltrane or Miles did in terms of the contemporary music scene, musically and financially.

    Mike: Let me ask you about that. When those two names come up, improvisation is the first thing you think of. When you think of The Allman Brothers, your jams--which, to me, falls under the "improv" category--are legendary. And so many bands have been influenced by The Allman Brothers. What was that creative spark among you guys that over the years enabled you to improve as smoothly as you have?

    Jaimoe: We're carrying on the lineage. We're just disciples of the music and whatever you prepare yourself for, then you get the information. It doesn't matter what it is, whether it's racing cars, lawyering, doctoring, counting money, whatever. When your mind is physically as up as anything can be on that, you get information that other people don't get because their minds are not there to get it. They're not qualified to get it. I'm not trying to make it sound like it's so simple or anything. It is, but you have to work at it. Anything you can do to be good at, you have to work at it, as an individual, about your instrument. In our case, it's about teamwork more than anything. Two people have to think as one. You can think as Einstein as much as you want, but when you come in contact with another person as a work unit of some kind, you have to think as one. You have to figure out all the things that you've studied and that your mind is telling you and then you have to figure out how to make it work as one or you have a broken down team.

    Mike: What is a rehearsal like with The Allman Brothers?

    Jaimoe: You go in, and it's "Hey man, I've got this song, let's try it here. I heard it on the radio the other day and it goes similar to this." [hums tune] You relate to that like bouncing a ball against the wall. The ball comes back, but it's not going to come straight back at you unless you've figured out how to actively make it come straight back at you. So you're responding to sound. You learn what the map is and you may play it the way that you heard it or you may choose to take out a couple of verses or whatever. But the kind of band rehearsals that I would have in my band, Jaimoe's Jasssz Band, there's a little map. The map tells us how to get from Brooklyn over to Manhattan. From Brooklyn over to Manhattan, a lot of things can happen. That's the improv.

    Mike: You've had your career on the side and done your own things, what it is about The Allman Brothers that keeps you as family after all these years?

    Jaimoe: The music, and the love for each other. People say, "You call that love? They're fighting all the time, this and that." Who's not fighting all the time? It's just normal life within a group of musicians. Whether Keith and Mick speak or not--they don't need to speak, they've been together fifty years. They speak with their instruments. After a while, you're around people. I'm getting ready to go out the door and Lamar [Williams] says to me, "Hey man, would you pick me up a carton of milk on your way back?" I didn't need to say I was going to the store or what. A lot of telepathy.

    Mike: Was that bond always there?

    Jaimoe: Yeah.

    Mike: What do you think of The Allman Brothers' legacy at this point?

    Jaimoe: There are a lot of things that go on with the band, and when you think about it, how do you deal with that? You just do. Once you figure out what it is you're doing and are supposed to be doing, you have to be careful with that because it can get in your way. If you get off in some zone and don't know how to handle it, it can be a dangerous thing. Ask Mike Tyson. When you reach a kind of a level like that, it's a very powerful place to be. To know that and to understand it is well and good. To know that and not understand it and how to deal with a lot of things is pretty dangerous territory.

    Mike: It seems like you guys are handle it well.

    Jaimoe: Yeah, we do. We screw up just like everybody else does. I'm talking about life. The music, going to the grocery store, whatever.

    Mike: What is creating music like for you these days?

    Jaimoe: It's great, because I'm at the edge of getting out of my way and enjoying some of the things that are being allowed to come through us.

    Mike: What is your advice for new artists?

    Jaimoe: Whatever it is you do, practice your art, practice your trade. Learn as much as you can about what it is you're doing and apply that as much as you can, because the application of it is what is going to mostly get you where you think you want to be. And some other places. When you apply yourself there will be things that you will learn and pick up that you didn't hear anyone do or say. That's because you're studying about what it is that you're doing. There are so many things that I learned and I used to wonder, when I'd hear someone else doing something similar, "Boy, that sounds like me." I finally realized through the years and application of that we weren't the only ones who figured out how to build cars. We weren't the only ones that picked up a can, put a piece of string in it and figured out that you could hear the vibration in the distance. When Bell discovered that, there was somebody else who discovered that, too. It's because they applied themselves. They studied a lot of the same things. When you prepare, when the wheel is spinning and it throws off little crumbs and stuff, you get some of them because you're qualified to have it.

    Mike: "Qualified to have it." That's beautiful.

    Jaimoe: It is. That's just a fact. One year, '69 or '70, we were in New York during the December holidays. I think we might have played the Fillmore. We had about a week off or something and we had to be back in New York. We decided, "Let's spend Christmas and New Years in the Big Apple!" So we did, because it didn't make sense to drive to Georgia, turn around, and come back. So we stayed in the city. We went to The Village Vanguard and Rahsaan Roland Kirk was playing there. He's not with us any longer, but he played three or four instruments at one time. We're sitting there listening and Rahsaan says, "Yeah, you show me somebody that can do what I'm about to do here anybody in the world and I'll show you Jesus Christ." And he proceeded to just amaze everyone.

    Well, this one guy was so blown away, Twiggs Lyndon, who was the road manager for our band and a dear, dear, dear friend of mine. I could not believe that a person could do what this man was doing. Twiggs was a genius, he was always coming up with incredible stuff. Twiggs gave Rahsaan his submarine ring--he graduated from submarine school and that's the ring you get--this was a very special ring, more special than that Superbowl ring. They became real tight friends, real tight friends. At the same time, Butch and I are sitting right next to each other and Butch elbows me in my ribs out of nowhere and he says, "Man, that f**king guy sounds just like you!" And I went, "Yeah, tell me about it." I'm sitting here just blown away.

    Alphonse Mouzon was a musician from Charleston, South Carolina. Alphonse Mouzon did a lot of things that I did. He played in the high school band, he played with this rhythm and blues person, that rhythm and blues person, and he loves to play jazz. The information that was thrown out, I got a piece of it, Al got a piece of it, and some more. There are a number of musicians that are in some brotherhood, not through anything other than the application of whatever it is they were doing. Being influenced by a certain kind of people. You say, "Man, you sound just like so and so and so and so and so and so," that reason being that's a very high level of information. It would be surprising if you didn't sound like that. [laughs]

    Mike: That's awesome, I never thought of it like that.

    Jaimoe: That's basically what it is. And who does it belong to? "What them white boys doing playing our music?" Whose music? The music belong to the universe, and we should be happy, very happy that we were chose to have it, and for us to serve you a plate of it. [laughs]

    Mike: Jaimoe, when you listen to the Fillmore concerts now, is there anything revelatory for you? Anything you're just noticing after all this time?

    Jaimoe: I may have "had it." Fifty-fifty the chances are ninety-nine and three quarters to one. The level that you're playing at when you start--as they say, "shedding"--you eventually get smart and get yourself a tape recorder, and when you begin to start rehearsing, you turn the tape recorder on. Now at a certain level, there are very few things where you stop in the middle of it and start trying to analyze it. When you're practicing and you hear what you just played, say we're at bar twenty-one, what you've just heard was in bar twelve, you're thinking in the past because your mind is moving so fast.

    When you're so qualified in whatever it is you do, you go back and you analyze that later on because you do not want to stop the flow of what's going on. That's not the object of the game. Like I said, I got a tape recorder, and when you're practicing, you can go back and listen to that because when you're at that level, there's probably twenty tunes in a matter of eight bars, idea to idea. People improvise differently. It doesn't mean that Stevie Wonder or Bobby Bland or Boy George don't improvise. People do things at different levels. That doesn't make it less intense. [laughs] Don't ever be fooled by that. That don't make it any less intense than what you're doing at your high level.

    Transcribed by Galen Hawthorne

    2014 09 02 CPDSittingatTableStevewithDrinkinHandTromboneontableColorHiRezPhotoCreditRodBlack Thumb
    photo courtesy of Cherry Poppin' Daddies

    A Conversation with Cherry Poppin' Daddies' Steve Perry

    Mike Ragogna: Steve, your wife Yvette has had colorectal cancer and you and she have decided to go public about it. Please can you go over the history or her ordeal and why you decided to share this with the press?

    Steve Perry: Well this all happened quite suddenly over the summer. My wife, who is 41 years old, began feeling like something was wrong with her. I had just had my 1st colorectal screening at 50, and my wife said to me, "I am not sure, but I think I am the one that needs the colonoscopy". Because she is comparatively young we would have had to pay out of pocket for the procedure. She has health insurance thanks to the ACA. She had a "pre-existing condition" in that she has a mild case of asthma, but now thanks to the ACA insurance companies cannot deny her coverage. It was an ordeal getting the doctors to approve a colonoscopy before the suggested age, but we pressed on.

    Sure enough, my wife had not only pre-cancerous polyps, but full blown cancer! Fortunately, the tumor was small, but unfortunately the cancer cells went all the way down to the bottom of the biopsy, so it was impossible to tell what stage her cancer was without an additional excision surgery, which had to be scheduled after she had healed. The two month long waiting period was excruciating on her and the family, and this is when we educated ourselves on colorectal cancer and shot the video for "Fly Me To The Moon."

    The Cherry Poppin' Daddies and our label Space Age Bachelor Pad Records is a family business and Yvette is my business partner. There is a lot of sacrificing that goes on when one partner is busy with composing, recording and touring. Our struggles are one in the same. Yvette and I hope that sharing our story through social media will inspire a few people to get screened for colorectal cancer and educate themselves on the symptoms as well as their own family history of disease.

    MR: This may seem too personal but why wasn't it caught when it was at an earlier stage like as polyps?

    SP: Because the protocol for getting a colonoscopy is to wait until you are 50 years old, unless you have a family history of someone getting it early. My wife is 41. Her doctor advised her to just wait, but my wife, was convinced there was something wrong. Her family doesn't share these things, so she didn't know her history- it required a great deal of coaxing and sleuthing, thankfully, made easier by social media. She found that several members of her family including her father had polyps removed at a young age, and that her great grandmother actually had the disease. It was only because of this history that the GI protocols were met and we were even able to schedule a procedure. Once she was able to prove a family history they allowed her to schedule a colonoscopy. No doubt she unwittingly had polyps for years.

    I'm no expert, but it seems obvious that some government agency has done a cost benefit analysis and determined that the tens of thousands of lives lost by setting the suggested screening age at 50 is acceptable.

    MR: What was Yvette's treatment like?

    SP: Her second surgery was a difficult excision of the tumor that they managed to do with laparoscopic tools. This saved my wife from having a bowel resection, which is considerably more damaging to the organs. The surgeon also burns around the site in an effort to kill any remaining cancer cells. Thankfully, that surgery ended up showing no sign of any more cancer, so when we got the call from the lab, there were tears of relief and celebrating.

    MR: Does it seem like in the US, there isn't enough emphasis on preventative measures and if so, what kinds of changes might you and Yvette suggest?

    SP: I am guessing that the high protein/ high fat diet here in the US can't be all that helpful. My family eats primarily fruits and vegetables, and exercises all the time, just like you are supposed to, but my wife still got cancer. The best preventative measure is to be your own advocate and trust your instincts about your body. Doctors have their protocols but you must understand that to them you are just one of a zillion faces. Researching your family history is one key. Sometimes families don't communicate on colorectal cancer because the booty is taboo, that being said, even though there is a genetic component to colorectal cancer, it is also a random mutagenic event. You can just get it for no reason. The fact that my wife hunted down her family history not only saved her life, it potentially staves off problems that our kids no doubt will inherit. You can learn about symptoms and coping strategies from http://fightcolorectalcancer.org and particularly their very helpful Facebook page.

    MR: You have a new album and its video for "Fly Me To The Moon" features Yvette playing Morticia Addams. How did you react to discovering that Carolyn Jones, the original Morticia Addams from the TV show The Addams Family, died of colorectal cancer?

    SP: That was a strange realization. We chose to do the video for "Fly Me to the Moon" as an Addams Family send up because we really liked the idea of the passionate Gomez (played by me) and Morticia (played by my wife) relationship. Even though the Addams' are a family of creeps, their familial love is strong. It's them against the world. We can relate to that on a family as well as a musical level.

    We started watching the original series to get ideas and in the course of doing the research my wife came across the Wikipedia page of Caroyln Jones- the actress who initially played Morticia. It detailed her struggle and subsequent death by colorectal cancer at age 53. That added a creepy resonance to the proceedings that was in hindsight kind of appropriate. The shoot and editing ended up being very emotional for both Yvette and I. We barely got through it to be honest. All I could think of when I was editing was "please don't let me lose her."

    MR: After this line of discussion, it's hard to bring in questions about the new album but I did want to ask you about it as well. Please Return The Evening pays tribute to The Rat Pack and covers many of their signature songs. What are your personal memories regarding some of the songs on this project?

    SP: In some ways the Rat Pack era, lets call it 1958-1962, is kind of the high water mark of the swing era. It's the Kennedy/Camelot years. It's the can do, confident American century at its cocksure apex. America today is much more uncertain. The swagger is gone. We are kind of grumpy and divided as a nation and unsure about the future. To re-contextualize "Come Fly With Me," and "I'm Gonna Live Before I Die" in an era where many of us sit at home on the internet and grouse all day long behind some carefully curated avatar is funny, like jamming a donkey into an ill fitting suit. Not funny ha-ha, but funny uncanny. You can really feel the loss that has accrued over the past 50 years.

    I have always loved Frank, Sammy and Dean and it was a challenge to our craft to make recordings in our tiny studio with our 8 piece band that had the richness of those early recordings, recordings that were done with huge studio orchestras. We ended up recording mostly live and tried to get as far apart from each other as possible to get that combination of lushness and grit that those 20th century recordings have.

    MR: You realize that this era--and the era Cherry Poppin' Daddies gives a nod to--wasn't exactly known for its health consciousness. After having such a crisis hit home with Yvette's health, does this maybe change the way you look at that period of time? Like if you could go back in time, would you warn these guys to at least slow down a little so they wouldn't be such poster children of smoking, drinking, etc.?

    SP: When I was young and stupid I "lived it up" too. My feeling is that the way to health is moderation, but sometimes you've got to take a flying leap or life is not worth living. Here is the thing though, when you grow up you realize that the best thing in your life is to give to somebody else, not to just get "experiences" for yourself. In fact, you feel sorry for everyone who doesn't realize this yet. I wanted to clean up every phase of my act so that I can be there for my daughters and my wife, when they need me. I'm sure that all those Rat Pack fellas felt the same as they got older

    MR: What is your advice for new artists?

    SP: Work on songwriting. Think about an artful and poetic way to say what you want to say. Say something interesting or that you feel needs to be said. Study the classics, in all genres. Get smarter. Don't get wrapped up in "music scenes" or "being famous." Be a writer because you are into music as an art form. Find out what this means. If you aren't into it because you have to be then please reexamine your life for the good of everybody who will have to listen to your future half assed efforts.

    MR: With Yvette's complete remission and the Cherry Poppin' Daddies having this new album, what are the plans for the future?

    SP: I am beginning work on new music. My plan is to do a Psychobilly/Zappa/American Idiot/R. Crumb type record that paints a picture of the American socio political scene circa 2014. I want to use genres like rockabilly and psychobilly because of the creepy reverb washed echoes into our nations hillbilly past, I'm hoping that will paint the recording with a cartoonish quality. I picture a buffoon burlesque of a record... but hopefully subtle about how ridiculous everything is. But you know fun and danceable too ;-).


    2014 09 02 SmallSkylar Gudasz Image01 Thumb
    Photo by Marie Killen

    According to Skylar Gudasz...

    "When you're on the road you often find yourself alone in some strange new town's venue or theater before the show, trying to get yourself in order after the travelling of the day and before you go out to play. For this video we got to explore the beautiful, old Carolina Theatre and found this ballroom behind the stage with giant windows overlooking the flashing lights of the marquis and the cars going up and down the street. It's all glitz and solitude at the same time.

    "Distance is one of the physical realities of the world we have to live with, no matter how close you want to be to a person. Maybe it's a tragic flaw, the way we so often inevitably miss each other, but it's also so human."

    2014 09 02 CrisCab Thumb

    A Conversation with Cris Cab

    Mike Ragogna: Cris, your new single "Liar Liar" features probably the hottest guest vocalist on the planet, Pharrell Williams. How did you pull this off and just "Happy" are you about that?

    Cris Cab: Hahaa... I see what you did there. Yeah, I'm thrilled to have my friend Pharrell Williams on this song. I've known Pharrell since I was 15 as he was the first guy in the music industry that I met and gave me so much valuable advice right from day one. We started working together a couple of years later so I'm glad that my first single from my debut album has Pharrell attached to it. That fact that he just so happens to be one of the hottest things in music right now certainly doesn't hurt either.

    MR: Your US debut album Where I Belong will be dropping in September on the Island imprint. We need a little history lesson right about now, like who inspired you, what's your international musical history and how and when did you get signed to a label?

    CC: Well, as far as inspiration goes, I've definitely pulled from a lot of the artists I look up to and have been listening to since I was a kid--Bob Marley, Bill Withers, Sting, Pharrell, Wyclef. There are a bunch of them. Once I started doing covers and posting them on Youtube, I wound up getting some buzz which is what lead to me getting singed to a label when I was 18. Since then, I've been releasing music through mix tapes and EPs but I've been holding on to the best songs for my debut album. So I'm pretty fired up that's its finally coming out here in the states. The single "Liar Liar" started exploding over in Europe so I've been spending a lot of time over there and it's really paid off. It's such a bug out to see crowds of 15,000, 20,000 even 25,000 people singing along to my songs. So to say that I've been fortunate to have success overseas is a bit of an understatement. And now I'm looking to make that happen on my home turf.

    MR: Take us on a tour new album, like how the tracks came together both in the writing and recording processes.

    CC: It really depends on who I'm working with as everyone has their own way of working. When I'm in the studio with a guy like Wyclef--he did the song "Ticket." He's the kind of guy who likes to put a whole bunch of sounds together to get what he's looking for. There's a lot of figuring out what works together in sessions like that. Pharrell on the other hand likes to concentrate on just a few sounds and keep it simple. So he'll start on the keys and I'll start on the guitar and we'll just sort of build from there. Some of the songs, I did with just my production partner PJ McGinnis. Those usually start with me writing something on the guitar, I bring it to the studio and PJ starts adding his touch and layering sounds over what I wrote. It really just depends on who I'm working with. But I appreciate the opportunity to work with all of the guys I have because I get to learn a little something different from each of them. They all really helped me shape the sound of this album and I couldn't be more proud of it.

    MR: Are there any songs on the new album that you feel represents Cris Cab the most?

    CC: To be honest, this album has been a work in progress over the course of the last few years. I've been saving the best of the batch for this album, so I think the whole album really represents me. You'll notice that a lot of the lyrics deal with self discovery, coming into your own, the benefits and downfalls of relationships... It's all topics that someone my age could understand because these are things I've actually dealt with in the last few years.

    MR: "Loves Me Not" is another track from the album and it has a new video. How did the video come together?

    CC: Once we saw the success we had with the "Liar Liar" video, we knew we wanted to work with the same guys for "Loves Me Not." They are a production team out of NY called Aggressive. We had them submit a treatment and just like last time, they nailed the vibe we were going for. So we put the logistics together, brought them down to Miami and shot it all in one day.

    MR: You have a lot of contemporaries out there who are battling you for US awareness. What do you think are your strongest musical assets and what do you think separates your music from the pack?

    CC: I'll let everybody else decide what separates me. I don't really worry about everybody else or what they are doing. I just do what I do. One thing that's important to me in all aspects of my career is that my voice and vision come through. I either write or co-write every song I put out. I produce a lot as well. And play a number of instruments. I make sure my videos have the artistic direction I'm going for. The merch I sell at shows have the look I want. Basically, everything I do has my touch on it so I know it all represents me well. As for the music, I'm not looking to follow any trends or copy anyone else. I'm really focused on just creating my own lane so the songs stand the test of time.

    MR: Who are some other artists that you would like to duet with?

    CC: I've been blessed to work with some of my favorite artists already, like Pharrell and Wyclef. But one guy I'd love to collaborate with is Lenny Kravitz. I really respect what he does. The guy plays all kinds of instruments, produces, writes, has a unique voice and on top of it all, is also very conscious about the visual side of his brand as well. His fashion choices, his album artwork, his photo shoots... The guy is just a total artist.

    MR: What advice do you have for new artists?

    CC: The best advice I can give is the same thing Pharrell told me...there's no substitute for hard work. If you really want to make it in this business, you've got to give it all of your time. Its definitely not a part time kind of business. You've really got to make a commitment to it every day. If you're only gonna work half as hard as the next guy, don't expect to get more than half way as far as him.

    MR: What's the best advice that you ever received?

    CC: Pretty sure I just answered that.

    MR: How do envision your future, personally and creatively?

    CC: Personally, I can see getting a house somewhere outside of the US to live part time for a bit. I really enjoy being over in Europe so I could see maybe having some kind of residence out in Italy or something like that. But I'd still be doing what I do now... making music and touring. Creatively speaking, I can see not only focusing on my own career and continuing to build that, but one day producing and writing for some other artists as well. There are times now that I feel like I've got something great but it may not fit in line with what I'm trying to put out there for myself. But for somebody else, it could work well. So I could see that being a part of my career down the road for sure. I'd also love to write a movie at some point and see that come to life.

  • After Reading This, You'll Never Look At The Roosevelts The Same Way Again
    If someone prompted you to name the most famous political figures in U.S. history, chances are that you would bring up the trinity of Roosevelts: Theodore, Franklin and Eleanor. While you may know some of the more obvious facts about these complex figures (New Deal, anyone?), this illustrious family holds some fascinating -- and eyebrow-raising -- secrets.

    Here are some surprising things you didn’t know about America’s favorite political family, created in partnership with PBS presenting the new film The Roosevelts: An Intimate History.

    Check out Ken Burns’ The Roosevelts: An Intimate History, airing for seven consecutive nights on PBS stations starting on Sunday, September 14. The star-studded cast features Meryl Streep as the voice of Eleanor, Paul Giamatti as Theodore, and Edward Herrmann as FDR.

    1. FDR And Eleanor Were A Modern-Day Romeo And Juliet
    Politically speaking, at least. FDR was a Hyde Park Democrat, while Eleanor hailed from the Republicans of Oyster Bay, Long Island. FDR’s mother, Sara Delano, thought her only son was too young to marry (he was 22 and Eleanor was 19 when they got engaged in November, 1903). She also never found Eleanor to be particularly impressive or attractive: Eleanor’s own mother called her “Granny.” Sara asked the couple to keep their engagement secret for a year and even took her son on a foreign vacation hoping that would change his mind. It didn’t.


    Franklin Delano Roosevelt courts Eleanor Roosevelt on Campobello Island, 1904. Image courtesy of Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library.

    2. Eleanor Once Went For An Airplane Spin With Amelia Earhart
    The Roosevelts met the famed aviator at the White House State Dinner in April 1933, and Amelia and the First Lady quickly hit it off. That same night, Amelia offered to take Eleanor on a private flight. The two women, still in evening dresses, commandeered an aircraft and flew from Washington, D.C., to Baltimore.

    Eleanor was so enthralled with flight that she soon obtained a student permit. Although Earhart promised to give the First Lady lessons, it was never meant to be, as her plane disappeared over the Central Pacific Ocean before she could help out her friend.

    3. The Roosevelts Had A Number Of Famous Relatives (Besides Each Other)
    Most people know that FDR and Theodore were fifth cousins, Theodore and Eleanor were uncle and niece and FDR and Eleanor were fifth cousins once removed.

    But did you know about FDR and these other well-known relatives?
    • 11 presidents (John Adams, James Madison, John Quincy Adams, Martin Van Buren, William Henry Harrison, Zachary Taylor, Andrew Johnson, Ulysses S. Grant, Benjamin Harrison, William Howard Taft)

    • Two confederate leaders (Jefferson Davis and Robert E. Lee)

    • A general (Douglas MacArthur)

    • A statesman (Winston Churchill)


    President Theodore Roosevelt with his family, 1903. Photo credit: Theodore Roosevelt Birthplace National Historic Site.

    4. Then-President Uncle Theodore Gave The Bride Away
    The happy couple married in a relative’s parlor on March 17, 1905, 13 days after Theodore’s inauguration. They picked the date specifically because the new president was scheduled to be in New York for the St. Patrick’s Day parade, and his attendance hit all the front pages. This slightly annoyed Eleanor, who felt he was stealing her thunder... and she was right. As Theodore’s own daughter, Alice, once observed: "My father always has to be the bride at every wedding, the corpse at every funeral, and the baby at every christening.”

    5. Theodore Never Got Over His Father’s Lack Of Involvement In The Civil War
    When the Civil War broke out in 1861, Theodore’s mother, Mittie, a Southern belle, didn’t want her husband to fight against her homeland. So Theodore Sr. reluctantly agreed and hired a substitute instead, a regular practice at the time. Theodore Jr. felt that was a giant failure on his father’s part, and he spent his life trying to compensate for it.


    Freshman Theodore Roosevelt at the Harvard Boat House, 1877. Photo credit: Theodore Roosevelt Collection, Houghton Library, Harvard University.

    6. The Roosevelts Suffered Some Heartbreaking Tragedies
    Theodore’s father died soon after Theodore entered Harvard College in the fall of 1876. He later met a classmate’s sister, Alice Lee, and they married on October 27, 1880. Four years later, while Theodore was in the New York State Assembly, Alice died of kidney failure just as his mother died of typhoid fever. The saddest part? Both women passed away in the same house on the same day (Valentine’s Day, 1884).

    FDR’s father, James, died when FDR was a teenager, and Eleanor’s mother and brother both passed away from diphtheria when she was eight. Her alcoholic father died two years later. By age 10, she and her youngest brother, Hall, were orphans.

    7. FDR Had Over 1.2 Million Stamps in His Collection
    An avid philatelist since childhood, FDR was so fond of his stamps -- some of which had been created for him by foreign heads of state -- that he carried them in a special trunk when he traveled. He often met with Postmaster General James A. Farley to review upcoming releases. After he died, the collection sold at auction for three times its estimated value.


    FDR at his home in Hyde Park, circa 1904. Photo credit: Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library.

    8. Theodore’s Daughter, Alice, Was Quite A Character
    Theodore Roosevelt’s older daughter from his first marriage, Alice, was 17 when she moved into the White House. She was known for her vibrant wit; it was Alice who reportedly said, “If you can’t say something good about someone, sit right here by me.” The first daughter chewed gum, smoked in public, carried a snake to parties and ran up debts playing poker and buying clothes. She was so out of control that the president allegedly commented, “I can be president of the United States, or I can attend to Alice. I cannot possibly do both!”

    9. Eleanor Was The First First Lady To Hold A Press Conference
    And she didn't stop at just one. Eleanor held 348 of them between 1938 and 1945. In fact, she was so enamored with journalism that she wrote a daily syndicated column, “My Day,” which lasted until her death in 1962.


    Delegate Eleanor Roosevelt at a meeting of the United Nations, 1947. Photo credit: Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library.

    10. FDR Was Essentially Responsible For Funding The Polio Vaccine
    FDR contracted polio on August 10, 1921, the day he and his family went sailing on his boat, the Vireo. For several years after, he desperately tried to regain the use of his legs. He spent winters in Florida and summers with a Massachusetts doctor who had allegedly devised a set of exercises to treat polio patients. Nothing worked. Finally, FDR went to a run-down resort in Warm Spring, Georgia, which had pools of mineral rich waters. The water was so buoyant he could walk unassisted. He bought the resort in 1927 and converted it to a water therapy treatment center for polio patients. It became the Warm Springs Foundation and treated thousands of polio patients. The Foundation eventually became the March of Dimes, and was responsible for funding the research leading to the polio vaccine.

    11. Theodore Was A Chatterbox
    That Theodore could talk! Even after he was shot in the chest in 1912, he continued on with his speech, talking for over an hour before being rushed to the hospital. (His eyeglass case and stack of notes reportedly shielded him from the bullet.) He apparently asked so many questions in a college natural history class college that his professor, exasperated, exclaimed, “Now look here, Roosevelt, let me talk. I’m running this course!”


    Theodore Roosevelt, 1903. Photo credit: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division

    12. Theodore Almost Died On An Expedition To The Amazon
    During a Brazilian jungle expedition in 1913, Roosevelt, and a group of explorers (including his 24-year-old son, Kermit), traversed the previously uncharted River of Doubt (Rio da Duvida). It was a dangerous journey, with turbulent rapids and dwindling food supplies. Roosevelt and his men eventually were forced to subsist solely on monkey meat. The men also battled fever and insect bites; Roosevelt nearly died from a high fever and leg injury. He told the other men to continue without him, but they refused.

    They reached the end of the River of Doubt, later renamed renamed Roosevelt River by the Brazilian government, on April 27, 1913. Although the trek was a success in terms of scientific samples and analysis, Theodore was exhausted and plagued with recurring malaria for the rest of his life.

    13. FDR Won The Presidency By 7 Million Votes -- The Greatest Democratic Victory In 75 Years
    But what a country he inherited! When FDR was inaugurated in November 1933, banks in 40 of 48 states were closed, the Stock Exchange had suspended trading, nearly half of all American farmers faced foreclosure, and at least 40 million people had no dependable source of income.

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    Congressmen welcome back President Roosevelt after a fishing trip, 1934. Photo credit: Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library.

    14. Theodore May Have Inadvertently Written Ad Copy
    According to legend, a Maxwell House coffee executive asked Roosevelt what he thought of their coffee. "It’s good to the last drop!” he supposedly exclaimed.

    15. Theodore Roosevelt Would Have Been A Favorite In The Guinness Book Of Records
    When he took office on September 14, 1901, Theodore was 42 years old, the youngest president in American history. He was also the first president to go down in a submarine, to be known by his initials, to leave the country while in office, to own a car, to win the Nobel Peace Prize, and to invite an African American to dine with him in the White House.


    Theodore Roosevelt in his new buckskin suit, c. 1885. Photo credit: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division

    16. Eleanor Roosevelt Had Her Own Special Friends
    Eleanor came to rely on, confide in and love many people (both men and women) over the years. Toward the end of her life, she grew close to Dr. David Gurewitsch, a doctor 18 years her junior. When he became engaged to Edna Perkel, it took the two women a little time to adjust. But they worked through it, and eventually Eleanor and the Gurewitsches bought a house together.

    17. Theodore Was A Major Conservationist
    Theodore created 51 bird sanctuaries, four national game refuges and 18 national monuments. He also doubled the number of national parks from five to ten and set aside 280,000 square miles of land under federal protection of one kind or another.

    Conversely, he was a passionate a Big Game hunter and went on exotic hunting trips. After leaving the presidency in 1909, he went on an 11-month, 2,500-mile safari through British East Africa and Anglo-Egyptian Sudan. Although the Smithsonian Institution commissioned it as a scientific expedition, it involved trapping or shooting over 11,000 animals, including everything from insects to the largest of game—elephants, hippos, and white rhinos alike.

    Ken Burns’ The Roosevelts: An Intimate History airs for seven consecutive nights on PBS stations starting on Sunday, September 14.

  • Angelina Jolie's Wedding Dress Revealed On The Cover Of People Magazine
    As if there was ever any doubt, Angelina Jolie makes a beautiful bride.

    The 39-year-old actress graces the covers of both People, and HELLO! magazine, in her wedding dress after tying the knot with Brad Pitt in an intimate ceremony in France on Aug. 23.



    While only 20 friends and family members were invited to take part in the couple's big day, Pitt and Jolie's six children played the largest roles. Eldest sons Maddox (13) and Pax (11) walked their mother down the aisle, while Zahara (9) and Vivienne (6) threw flower petals, and Shiloh (8) and Knox (6) served as ring bearers.

    Meanwhile the children also literally put their mark on their mother's gown. Never one to conform to expectations, Jolie donned an ivory satin Atelier Versace gown adorned with "dozens of designs from her children's drawings into the dress and veil," according to People magazine.

    Jolie's decision to make her kids such a large part of her wedding is hardly surprising since she previously told People that her children would definitely be heavily involved in the planning process.

    "We are discussing it with the children and how they imagine it might be, which is verging on hysterical, how kids envision a wedding," she told the magazine back in May. "They will, in a way, be the wedding planners. It's going to be Disney or paintball – one or the other!"

    For more on Jolie and Pitt's wedding, pick up a copy of People magazine, on sale Sept. 3.

  • Carrie Underwood Announces Pregnancy
    KRISTIN M. HALL, Associated Press

    NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Country star Carrie Underwood and NHL player Mike Fisher chose the Labor Day holiday to announce they are expecting their first child.

    Underwood and Fisher posted the announcement on their social media accounts on Monday. Underwood's publicist confirmed the couple will be expecting their first child in the spring.

    The 31-year-old Underwood shot to fame after winning "American Idol." She has won six Grammys and sold more than 15 million albums worldwide. She was the first woman to twice win the Academy of Country Music's entertainer of the year award.

    She will be co-hosting the upcoming Country Music Association Awards with Brad Paisley this November.

    Fisher, a 34-year-old center for the Nashville Predators, is recovering from a ruptured left Achilles tendon and is expected to miss the start of the season.

  • FBI Addressing Leak Of Nude Celebrity Photos
    ANTHONY McCARTNEY, Associated Press

    LOS ANGELES (AP) — The FBI said Monday it was addressing allegations that online accounts of several celebrities, including Oscar-winner Jennifer Lawrence, had been hacked, leading to the posting of their nude photographs online.

    The agency did not say what actions it was taking to investigate who was responsible for posting naked photos of Lawrence and other stars. Apple said Monday it was looking into whether its online photo-sharing service had been hacked to obtain the intimate images.

    Lawrence, a three-time Oscar nominee who won for her role in "Silver Linings Playbook," contacted authorities after the images began appearing Sunday.

    Naked images purporting to be of other female stars were also posted, although the authenticity of many couldn't be confirmed. The source of the leak was unclear.

    "This is a flagrant violation of privacy," Lawrence's publicist Liz Mahoney wrote in a statement. "The authorities have been contacted and will prosecute anyone who posts the stolen photos of Jennifer Lawrence."

    The FBI said it was "aware of the allegations concerning computer intrusions and the unlawful release of material involving high profile individuals, and is addressing the matter."

    "Any further comment would be inappropriate at this time," spokeswoman Laura Eimiller wrote in a statement.

    Apple Inc. spokeswoman Natalie Kerris said the company was investigating whether any iCloud accounts had been tampered with, but she did not give any further details.

    "We take user privacy very seriously and are actively investigating this report," she said.

    Actress Mary Elizabeth Winstead also confirmed that nude photos of her were posted online.

    "To those of you looking at photos I took with my husband years ago in the privacy of our home, hope you feel great about yourselves," Winstead posted on Twitter. Winstead, who starred in "Final Destination 3" and "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter," wrote that she thought the images had been destroyed.

    "Knowing those photos were deleted long ago, I can only imagine the creepy effort that went into this," Winstead wrote.

    The FBI has investigated previous leaks of nude celebrity images, including leaks involving Scarlett Johansson, Mila Kunis, Christina Aguilera and footage of television sports reporter Erin Andrews in a Tennessee hotel room. Those cases resulted in convictions.

    How widespread the hacking of celebrities photos was is not immediately clear. Some of the images were quickly denounced as fakes.

    Some cybersecurity experts speculated that hackers may have obtained a cache of private celebrity images by exploiting weaknesses in an online image-storing platform.

    "It is important for celebrities and the general public to remember that images and data no longer just reside on the device that captured it," security researcher Ken Westin wrote in a blog post Monday. "Once images and other data are uploaded to the cloud, it becomes much more difficult to control who has access to it, even if we think it is private."

    Private information and images of celebrities are frequent targets for hackers. Last year, a site posted credit reports, Social Security numbers and other financial info on celebrities, including Jay Z and his wife Beyonce, Mel Gibson, Ashton Kutcher and many others.

    Johansson, Kunis and Aguilera were hacked by a Florida man, Christopher Chaney, who used publicly available information to hack into the email accounts of more than 50 people in the entertainment industry.

    "I have been truly humiliated and embarrassed," Johansson said in a tearful videotaped statement played in court at Chaney's sentencing in December 2012.

    "That feeling of security can never be given back and there is no compensation that can restore the feeling one has from such a large invasion of privacy," Aguilera wrote in a statement before Chaney's sentencing.


    Associated Press writers Raphael Satter in London and Mae Anderson in New York contributed to this report.

  • A Visit With Ex Ambrosia Singer David Pack
    2014 09 01 Unknown Thumb

    Q: You are best remembered for the song "Biggest Part of Me." What does that song mean to you?

    A: A simpler time. It means a lot in more ways than I can possibly describe. That song has traveled beyond my wildest dreams. Mostly I love that it connects me to people around the world. Remember back in the day when stars had theme songs? Bob Hope had "Thanks for the Memories" etc. I guess you could say it's my personal theme song. You didn't know I am the love doctor?

    Q: How did you come to write it?

    A: 4th of July 1979, morning...family was packing up car to drive to Malibu for private celebration. Car was running... I went back to my studio guesthouse to shut off the gear, sat at piano for a moment, and the chords appeared under my fingers. I turned on the portable cassette recorder and laid it down in a couple of minutes. Then ran back to the car and we took off. The next day I played it back, and wrote the bridge and lyrics...very quickly. It was early summer. That's key. My favorite feeling of the year. I wanted Ambrosia to have a signature vocal group call and response song. So that had something to do with it as well. My previous hit "How Much I Feel" had that lead vocal and wall of group harmony thing happening. So I was in pursuit of a vocal sonic identity for us. This was back when radio and TV was all that we had. No internet, mobile phone, etc.

    Q: Do you still tour with Ambrosia?

    No. That ended about 14 years ago.

    Q: A number of the artists are lead singers who have left their bands. That is a phenomenon that happens frequently. Has that happened with you? What is that like?

    A: It's not necessarily lead singers that "have left, or abandoned" their bands, it can be growing in different directions. Or it can be a band no longer swimming in the same direction. It can be hard to admit it when a band has run its course. A band is also a complex social microcosm, believe me, and when it's a bunch of single guys making a run for the top, it's one thing; but with marriage, children, maturity, values change, and priorities change. If you are U2, you are one of the rare bands that can weather it all. For me, it was an emotionally difficult transition. Ambrosia had some great years, I'm gonna stick with that memory.

    Q: Which artists are you most looking forward to hearing?

    A: That's a loaded question Mark. ALL of them, and I truly mean it. Because every song marks a place in our lives and in our hearts that we can recall, and I love that younger generations seem to love and really "feel" these songs too. When you hear them by the original artists, writers or singers there's an authenticity that makes it powerful.

    Q: You're identified with a certain sound-the late '70s early '80s West Coast/AOR pop scene. What do you love about that music? Do you see that music ever making a full comeback or do we hear it today?

    A: I'm was and am still very into the art of the West Coast pop scene and it's supreme creators like the genius and beautiful heart of Brian Wilson dreaming up what he calls "pocket symphonies" in songs like "Good Vibrations" and "Surfs Up"... and fully orchestrated pop albums concept albums like Pet Sounds, that inspired the Beatles. I grew up 10 minutes from his house, so there's that local connection too. All music that is great music is what I love in whatever genre or form. You recognize it right away. It has that "thing" you can't explain. Certain artists are starting to hit it in today's generation. Ryan Tedder of One Republic is one of them. He's mixing quite a brew of irresistible elements and the world is rewarding him greatly for it. I'm close to his father Gary, who, by the way, will join me onstage (this is a news flash for Ryan Tedder fans!!) on Sept 7 in Huntington Beach! My friend Robert Coppola Schwartzman, formerly leader of Rooney, is a young man who draws a huge amount of inspiration from 70's and 80's music. I go to his Hollywood studio and he plays me songs I didn't even know from my own era. And then he uses that to infuse his own amazing music. So I have hope that our songs and our generation continues to inspire others.

    Q: You've been working with Rick Warren, pastor of one of America's largest megachurches. How do you collaborate and what has the relationship meant to you?

    A: I searched most of my adult life for a pastor and teacher I could relate to, and almost gave up. Then my wife Stacey and I read Rick's Purpose Driven Life book, while living in Redondo Beach, and just had to attend a service at Saddleback church to meet the man behind the book. Everything changed after that. We canceled our plans to move to Nashville, and 7 1/2 years ago moved to Orange County with our son who's now going on 9. It was the best decision of our lives. I've had the honor of helping Rick whenever and however I can. We've done things where he's asked for my assistance, such as bringing the Jonas Bros. to Angel Stadium for the 30th anniversary of Saddleback--that was amazing; I produced a CD for his PEACE initiative called "The Purpose Of Christmas" that raised almost $500,000 for his missions work; and I sing at the church when asked. I brought James Ingram there a few years ago and we did "Yah Mo B There"; brought Wynonna Judd for our first AIDS conference, etc. I presented him with a custom made "purpose driven" Taylor guitar on that occasion that he says he plays daily, I love that. He never ceases to amaze me especially because he is honest about his own shortcomings and his own physical challenges which are far greater than anybody knows. And as a musician who is 100% deaf in my left ear for 35 years, I relate. You realize there are more miracles going on around here than anyone really knows in this regard.

    Q: Will he be coming to the festival?

    A: I don't know. It is a Sunday and we are in a great new series about how to overcome being "Overwhelmed" so...? While Rick is a total music lover, and will grab a guitar and break into "Doo Wah Diddy" at a moment's notice, I'm not sure he'll have the time on a Sunday to be there. But I know he'll be there in sprit pumping his fist in the air with the best of 'em!

    Q: What do you miss most about the era when you were most active with Ambrosia?

    A: The fact that music WAS the real cultural center of our generation; there was no distractions competing for our attention. We are all overwhelmed by too many choices these days. I miss waiting for the new Beatles album, or Pink Floyd's new one. Genius on that level we may never know again. I miss the way music used to "sound" too. Crappy sounding MP3's, like Neil Young says, that cut out 70% of the sound we worked so hard to achieve is the prevailing sound. To me a lot of digital sounds like the "rrrrzzzzzzz" of an electric shaver, or gritting your teeth all the time. Analog distortion was cool, but digital distortion is real ugly. Digital done wrong and you have aliasing problems and interference with the natural harmonic overtone series, where you can feel something is just "not right" altogether sonically. I'm encouraged that vinyl record sales are up like 400% ...a good sign. I miss the innocence. I miss the friendliness all the artists mostly had for one another. The Doobie Brothers and Ambrosia toured. We had rented a bus. After the 1st couple of shows and hanging out, they said "get rid of the bus, save yourself 10,000 a month, and come on our private plane--the Doobie liner" ...we became a "road family" and best of friends. That spirit is what I miss. But I don't sit around thinking these things. I live in the present and I'm hopeful this generation will figure all this stuff out for themselves! '

    Q: You're producing an event with some of the biggest rock acts in history. Tell me about that.

    A: Huntington Beach Food Art Music Festival--on the beach on Sunday September 7th and I have put together 10 legends of pop/rock music to play their hits, with a supergroup backing them. We go on about 2:15 pm for a 3 1/2 hour beach party with 10 stars performing over 30 of pop music's most iconic hit songs. Artists performing are longtime friends: Al Stewart, Gary Wright, Bill Champlin/ Chicago, Mike Reno/Loverboy, John Elefante/Kansas, Jim Peterik/Survivor, Kelly Keagy/Night Ranger, Bobby Kimball/Toto, Dave Jenkins/Pablo Cruise, and I will perform. This is all under the banner: David Pack's Napa Crossroads Live Presents. Napa Crossroads is more than a CD, it's also a new brand that helps connect people in unique ways, including live events. It's the first time ever, or maybe ever again, these artists will appear on one stage. It's the real deal.

    Q: What was your inspiration for the event?

    A: I just "got the call" from one of my best friends Del Williams, CEO of Right Arm Entertainment and Beacon Audio, asking if I was interested in helping create this once-in-a-lifetime climax segment to a 3 day Food, Art and Music festival in my hometown of Orange County--so Del, myself and concert promoter Jay Freedman/nFuse marketing, just kept growing it from 3 artists to 5, then 6 artists to 8...then 10! My personal inspiration is wanting to have the spirit of "friendship and celebration" between my artist friends, in the tradition of "Mad Dogs and Englishman" type of tours...or Eric Clapton, George Harrison and friends where real artist-friends collaborated and had so much fun, the audience couldn't help but enjoy themselves too. It's the end of summer so it's creating a new memory for the boomers and for the next generation, all generations, too. And it's the beach...that's my turf! I grew up in South Bay of L.A. surfing Redondo, Hermosa, etc. near the Beach Boys hometown, so there are many elements all coming together for this moment.

    Q: Tell Me About your New CD Napa Crossroads?

    A: Five years of my life spent collaborating on songs in collaboration with 5 of Napa Valley's most prestigious wineries and their CEO's. I wrote 2 songs per winery, functioning almost like a song-catcher. Real life stories, a real concept CD, a once-in-a-lifetime project all done in the heavenly Napa Valley. I wrote a song for The Doors' Ray Manzarek who lived there called "Silverado Free" as he lived off of famous Silverado Trail. It turns out to be his last great performance before we lost him last year. Every Doors fan needs to hear this--he was at the top of his game, truly, and even narrated the ending--I remixed it and made it a tribute to him. Guest artist friends like Todd Rundgren participated; Alan Parsons, Bela Fleck, David Benoit, Larry Carlton, Robert Coppola Schwartzman, etc. These are some of the best songs of my entire life. Every song written and recorded in Napa... and yes I was there a week ago for the great earthquake, it was a monster...almost threw me out of bed. And I'm working on a benefit in Napa to help the un-insured as we speak. Napa is my secret place of solace, beauty, prayer, meditation, joy, and so many great friends there. I feel a little closer to heaven when I'm there!

  • A Massive Leak of Risqué and Nude Celebrity Photos Sparks Outrage in Hollywood
    Online hackers have struck again as there appears to have been a massive leak of risqué and nude celebrity pictures, including pictures of Hunger Gamesstar Jennifer Lawrence, Ariana Grande, Victoria Justice and Kate Upton. The leak has taken the Internet and social media world by storm and according to BuzzFeed, the pictures first appeared on message board on the /b/ thread on 4chan. Not all of the pictures' authenticity has been confirmed; however, a spokesperson for Jennifer Lawrence released a statement to BuzzFeed confirming the pictures' authenticity while Grande's camp has denied the photos' authenticity claiming that the photos are completely fake. A master list purporting to be of all of the celebrities who were hacked has made its way across the internet and list dozens of female stars, including Kim Kardashian, Rihanna, and Mary-Kate Olsen. The pictures allegedly were retrieved due to an Apple iCloud leak that allowed celebrities' phones to be hacked, and were posted on 4chan in an attempt to earn bitcoins. Notwithstanding the blatant invasion of privacy at the hand, this breach of security also immediately begs the questions, "Is the Apple iCloud secure?" According to Business Insider, "It is unlikely that someone has broken into Apple's iCloud service. Instead the photos most likely emerged due to a type of hacking known as social engineering."

    Via her publicist, Jennifer Lawrence came out immediately denouncing the conduct and stated the following:

    "This is a flagrant violation of privacy... "The authorities have been contacted and will prosecute anyone who posts the stolen photos of Jennifer Lawrence."

    Digital privacy has become a serious issue in Hollywood. This most recent purported massive celebrity hacking incident comes on the heels of the 2012 sentencing of Christopher Chaney, who was sentenced to 10 years in prison after hacking into Scarlett Johansson's and Mila Kunis's private online accounts and posting their photos online. Clearly the obsession with celebrity culture continues to spiral out of control as the market and money involved with stolen and nude photos and videos of celebrities becomes big business. Following the sentencing of Mr. Chaney in 2012, GQ ran in-depth profile of Christopher Chaney and delved into the "murky territory of the celebrity-skin underworld" detailing that a single photo of an A-list celebrity can bring in as much as $50,000 a day thus providing an incentive for unscrupulous publishers and hackers to take the risk in hopes of a big pay day.

    While the hope of a big payday might provide the motivation to engage in this improper conduct, the law takes this evasion of privacy seriously. Ask Christopher Chaney. Authorities are becoming better equipped to enforce digital privacy laws by identifying and ultimately prosecuting online hackers; therefore, individuals are no longer protected by the anonymity the internet once provided. As evidenced from the prosecution of Christopher Chaney, online hackers can face serious consequences including felony charges for unauthorized computer access and/or wiretapping, amongst other things, and can also be subjected to large fines for restitution and face serious jail time depending on the severity and extent of the privacy intrusion.

  • Action Movies Make You Eat More, New Study Suggests
    Are thrillers making us fat?

    One thing's for certain -- new research shows that the snack bowl sees a lot more action when TV viewers watch action movies than when they watch other kinds of programming.

    For a study just published in the Journal of the American Medical Association: Internal Medicine, researchers at Cornell University had 94 undergraduates munch on M&Ms, cookies, carrots, and grapes while watching 20 minutes of TV. One-third of the students watched the Michael Bay thriller "The Island," one-third watched the talk show "Charlie Rose", and one-third third watched "The Island" without sound.

    The students who watched "The Island" ate 98 percent more than did those who watched the talk show, consuming 354 calories compared to 215 for the "Rose" watchers. Even those who watched "The Island" without sound still ate substantially more calories (314) than those who watched Charlie Rose.

    What explains the different snacking patterns?

    "More stimulating programs that are fast paced, include many camera cuts, really draw you in and distract you from what you are eating," Dr. Aner Tal, a researcher at the university's Food and Brand Lab and the study's lead author, said in a written statement. "They can make you eat more because you're paying less attention to how much you are putting in your mouth."

    To avoid over-indulging on junk during that chase scene, the researchers recommend having healthy snacks more readily available.

    Of course, action movies aren't the only weight-gain enablers. Previous studies showed that cooking shows seem to attract more unhealthy eating than nature programs. And other research suggests that merely watching good television increases the appetite.

    Seems we can't win the weight battle while watching the tube, does it?

  • Apple Fixes iCloud Bug Blamed For Massive Leak Of Nude Celebrity Photos: Report
    Apple appears to have fixed a bug that some have speculated could be the possible source of this weekend's massive online leak of celebrity nude photos.

    The bug, known as "ibrute," appears to have been first noted on the social coding site Github. It allowed hackers to access an individual's iCloud data by exploiting a weakness in Apple's "Find My iPhone" service, according to Engadget.

    The problem was that Apple's service didn't employ so-called "brute force protection," which meant that anyone who wanted to break into a person's iCloud could repeatedly enter a large number of passwords without fear of being locked out, according to The Next Web.

    Late Sunday, one or more anonymous users uploaded what were allegedly nude photos of dozens of celebrities, including Oscar-winning actress Jennifer Lawrence and Sports Illustrated model Kate Upton, to the image-sharing site 4chan. The anonymous user or users claimed the photos were obtained via Apple's iCloud, according to The Independent.

    While the hackers' actual methods have yet to be established, many onlookers have speculated that they may have exploited the Find My iPhone bug to obtain the photos.

    Apple iCloud brute-forcer: https://t.co/KPMflz80W4 - apparently FindMyPhone doesn't have brute force protection... related to celeb hacks?

    -- Ross (@Hypn) September 1, 2014

    It appears Apple has already fixed the "ibrute" security flaw. HackApp, the anonymous coder who claims to have discovered the hack, said Monday that Apple has "patched" the bug for the most part (though it apparently still persists in some regions of the world, according to a separate Reddit thread).

    The end of fun, Apple have just patched FindMyIphone bug. So ibrute is not applicable any more.

    -- HackApp (@hackappcom) September 1, 2014

    To see if Apple really had patched up the bug, The Next Web attempted to exploit the Find My iPhone hack early Monday and was "locked out [...] after five attempts, meaning [...] Apple has patched the hole."

    HackApp has denied playing any part in the leak, tweeting Monday that he or she does not know of any relation between "ibrute" and the mass posting of photos on Sunday.

    I have to repeat once again THERE IS NO any evidences, that #ibrute was involved in this incident. If you have any, I look forward

    -- HackApp (@hackappcom) September 1, 2014

    But before that, in a Twitter conversation with The Next Web's Owen Williams, HackApp did admit "that someone could [theoretically] use this tool" to hack into a celebrity's iCloud and rip photos and videos.

    While we still don't know for certain what caused the hack, this is a good time to activate two-step verification for your device, a safe way to protect yourself from many common hacks. Over at Forbes, there's a nice rundown on how to do so.

    Apple did not respond to a request for comment from The Huffington Post.

    UPDATE, 4:15 p.m. -- Apple spokeswoman Natalie Kerris told Re/code that the company is "actively investigating" the issue.

  • 'Magic Mike XXL' Is Now In Production, And Peter Andrews Is The Cinematographer
    Ladies of Tampa and everyone else who thought 2012's "Magic Mike" was one of the most entertaining dramas of the last half-decade, it's time for round two. Director Steven Soderbergh tweeted a photo from the set of "Magic Mike XXL," the forthcoming sequel to Channing Tatum's breakout film, signaling the start of production.

    "It's ON!" wrote Soderbergh, who isn't the director for part two, but will participate in the film. As GQ revealed in a profile on Tatum earlier this year, Soderbergh is the "Magic Mike XXL" cinematographer, editor and camera operator. (You'll note that "Peter Andrews," Soderbergh's cinematography pseudonym, is listed on the film slate.)

    "I want to be there, but I don't want to be the director," Soderbergh told GQ about "Magic Mike XXL." "I want to be a part of it. I want to be in the band, but I just don't want to be the frontman this time." As such, Gregory Jacobs, Soderbergh's long-time first assistant director, will take over "Magic Mike" duties for the sequel.

    "Magic Mike XXL" is out in theaters on July 1, 2015. It looks like there might be a helicopter involved.

    It's ON! pic.twitter.com/zczZdpqzdt

    — Bitchuation (@Bitchuation) August 31, 2014

  • Beyoncé & Jay Z Looked Really Happy At Made In America
    Beyoncé and Jay Z were spotted looking plenty happy at Made In America in Los Angeles on Sunday. ("Still drunk in love?" reads the Us Weekly story about the photos.) Beyoncé and Jay Z spent the summer on tour (and also dodging rumors of a split), but the pair presented a united front at last month's MTV Video Music Awards, where Beyoncé won the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award.

  • Cary Elwes Talks About <i>The Princess Bride</i> and His New Book
    Once upon a time, a father asked his two daughters what kind of a story they wanted. One said she wanted a story about a princess and the other wanted a story about a bride. That father was Oscar-winning screenwriter William Goldman, and so he wrote a story about a princess bride, a gallant hero, a six-fingered swordsman, Rodents of Unusual Size, the Dread Pirate Roberts, a giant, a deadly poison, and an adorable old couple with a magic potion and kindly good wishes about storming the castle. It had adventure, it had humor, it had true love, and some of the most quotable dialog ever written.

    The Princess Bride became a book and then a movie, directed by Rob Reiner and starring Cary Elwes, Robin Wright, Mandy Patinkin, and Wallace Shawn, and with a gorgeous soundtrack by Mark Knopfler. In honor of the 25th anniversary of the film's original release, Elwes has written a book As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride, coming out next month, filled with inside stories about the making of the film. 2014 08 21 Asyouwish Thumb

    In an interview, Elwes explained that he was in Berlin when he found out he would be auditioning for Reiner, to play what would be his first lead role.

    I was shooting a little independent film called Maschenka, loosely based on a autobiography of Nabokov, and I got a call from my agent saying that Rob Reiner and his producing partner Andy Scheinman wanted to fly to Berlin to meet me to discuss The Princess Bride. I knew the book. I'd read it as a kid, so I was very excited but I'm terrible at auditioning. I'm just terrible. I always feel like it's very strange for me to do reading in auditions because I'm much more comfortable than some of the actors on the set and in the location in the moment but not good just sitting in a room trying to read to get the part. The casting director had seen me in Lady Jane, so Rob watched it and he said he thought I had the right look but didn't know if I had the comic timing.

    I spent a lot of my childhood in America because I have an American stepfather and so I knew a lot about Rob already. I'd seen a lot of American television, so we chatted about SNL and All In The Family and all kinds of stuff before we got around to reading a scene from the movie. And so when he asked me to read my heart sank, I thought, "That's it. I will never get the part." But somehow after I finished reading the conversation came back around to sitcoms and somehow Bill Cosby came up and I don't know why but I found myself doing a Fat Albert impersonation. According to Rob that sealed the deal for him. I said "Hey, hey, hey." He loved it, so that was that. So thank you to Bill Cosby.

    He talked about the challenge of playing a straightforward, true-hearted good guy in the midst of so many colorful characters.

    He's a hero. I wanted to play him as a swashbuckling hero, kind of like a superhero. I watched all the Errol Flynn and Douglas Fairbanks movies. Obviously his costume was very loosely based on Zorro and I really did a lot of research to get that whole classic Hollywood swash-buckling pirate vibe to him. It's all there in the script. That's the thing that Rob told me, he said, "Look, it's all there, you don't have to play out anything. You don't have to tip anything, it's all there in the script." So that actually made it easy. We came up with some comedy together like the whole thing with my floppy head when I wake up from being dead, I came up with that and Rob loved it. So we added some physical comedy and that was it.

    He especially enjoyed hearing stories from the other members of the cast when he interviewed them for the book.

    Mandy [Patinkin] recounted a story that I had completely forgotten when we were shooting the fight sequence on the top of the Cliffs of Insanity. There's a bit of a sequence that wasn't working for the camera. And Rob said, "We can't see it. You guys have it faced the wrong way."

    They were working with legendary fencing coach Bob Anderson, who worked with everyone from Errol Flynn to Darth Vader.

    Mandy said to Bob Anderson, 'We've got to change it," and Bob said, "We can't. We're shooting," and Rob said, "You've got 20 minutes. If you can fix it, great! If you can't, we're moving on." And in twenty minutes we actually re-choreographed part of the fight right there on the set and got it, and did it. It was nice to remember that we could actually come up with something on the spur of the moment and fix it.

    The book includes the story of Elwes' most outrageous request from a fan. A young woman had Westley's line "As you wish" tattooed on the back of her neck. She asked him to add his name underneath so she could get it tattooed as well. After checking with her mother, he signed.

    As Elwes prepares to take on the role of director for the first time, he remembers the most important thing he learned from Rob Reiner. "It's a completely collaborative medium and the director sets the tone. Rob is very easy-going and being an actor I think really helps because he was able to talk to all of us in the way that some directors who haven't acted can't. That was the key; he made it fun. And I think that translates onto the screen. Everyone was focused but it was fun."

    The film was not an immediate success but it is now an acknowledged classic that families share the way the grandfather played by Peter Falk in the film shares his favorite story with his grandson played by Fred Savage. Elwes says he thinks it is "because it was made with a lot of heart. And Bill Goldman wrote this book for his two daughters. So I think it's also the fact that the genesis of the project was out of love. It's about defending and fighting for love and you can't go wrong with that."

  • Ansel Elgort Is Also A DJ Named Ansolo, Okay?
    Ansel Elgort had a pretty great summer, and he capped it off by performing at Electric Zoo. Elgort, who played the male lead in "The Fault in Our Stars," performs under the name Ansolo, and was a last-minute addition to the electronic dance music festival. "DREAMS COMING TRUE!" Elgort wrote on his Facebook page before performing on Saturday. He also tweeted some photos from the event:

    EZOO THAT WAS THE FUCKJG SHIT!!! pic.twitter.com/td5VmSpE8q

    — Ansolo (@Ansolo_Music) August 30, 2014

    Yesterday was so amazing, remember my set will be streamed today at 12pmET on @sxmElectro channel 52 pic.twitter.com/oOOSldvKmq

    — Ansolo (@Ansolo_Music) August 31, 2014

    Elgort's full Electric Zoo set list can be found here. Check out some of Elgort's Ansolo work, via his Soundcloud page, below.

    [h/t USA Today]

  • You Should Have Seen A Movie This Summer, Because They Were Actually Really Good
    Pretty much no one went to the movies this summer. This was the worst May-through-August stretch at the box office since 1997. Ticket sales dropped 15 percent from last year, and the season's top earner -- "Guardians of the Galaxy" -- might wind up as the lowest-grossing summer movie champ since "Shrek" in 2001. To quote Henry Hill in "Goodfellas," this is the bad time. Too bad, though, since the movies might be better than ever.

    That's hyperbole, but despite the flaccid ticket sales, this was one of the most creatively satisfying summer movie seasons I've witnessed in quite a while. The aforementioned "Guardians of the Galaxy" was the summer high point for good reason (it's a great movie), but so many other features delivered as well. "Godzilla" and "Dawn of the Planet of the Apes" were better than "District 9," the surprise Best Picture nominee from 2009 and a benchmark for modern-day science-fiction with an auteur's eye. "Neighbors" and "22 Jump Street" were not only hilarious, but forward thinking within the current comedy landscape: Both provided actresses (Rose Byrne and Jillian Bell, respectively) with the best roles, an unexpected gender shift in the world of bromances. "Edge of Tomorrow" may have had a bad title, but it was Tom Cruise's best movie in almost 20 years, a thrilling, smart, entertaining rush that reminded everyone why Cruise was so famous in the first place.


    Even the also-rans were fun: People hated "The Amazing Spider-Man 2," but I found it enjoyable and goofy, like the best movie I would have ever seen at 11 years old. Marc Webb's superhero sequel definitely included too much world-building, but it hummed along like Becky G's "Shower": "The Amazing Spider-Man 2" is not high art, but the damn thing was just so catchy.

    "Get On Up" and "Jersey Boys" tried to do the musical biopic thing that "Walk Hard" destroyed seven years ago, but both had bright spots. In the case of "Get On Up," it was Chadwick Boseman, who gave the year's best performance that won't receive a smidgen of Oscar buzz. "Jersey Boys," on the other hand, simply relied on its catalog of Frankie Valli hits, but, hey, those are great hits.

    There was the "The Fault in Our Stars," a teen drama about cancer that wrung actual emotions out of its manipulative plot by not being manipulative at all. ("If I Stay," a late summer release in the teen weepy genre, was not as successful in that regard.) Shailene Woodley was a star before "The Fault in Our Stars," but now she's a star. Ansel Elgort, too, was a revelation, but I was most smitten with Laura Dern, playing a grief-stricken mother with a faux-sunny outlook that still makes me tear up even as I write this.


    All of those films, and I didn't even mention "X-Men: Days of Future Past" (solid, silly, let's make James McAvoy star in everything) or the quality independent films that littered the season. May brought Jon Favreau's "Chef," a bro-y comedy about fatherhood and sandwiches that has only grown on me since I first saw it before South By Southwest in March. There's a big heart to Favreau's movie, which is buoyed by lived-in performances from Dustin Hoffman, Bobby Cannavale, Robert Downey Jr. and Sofia Vergara (not to mention Favreau himself).

    "Obvious Child" saved the romantic comedy by turning it indie, and created stars in Jenny Slate and Jake Lacy. Enough has been written about "Boyhood" to fill two Internets, but it was with good reason: The movie, about a specific boy in a specific time of his life, was perfect, heartbreaking, aspirational and a titanic creative achievement. (Richard Linklater's work on "Boyhood" was every bit as brilliant as Alfonso Cuarón's in "Gravity," and Cuarón won an Oscar.) "Snowpiercer" was campy and awesome in the true definition of that word, and probably could have been a huge hit if it weren't so bleak and dark. (But Chris Evans should be in all the movies McAvoy and Chris Pratt can't make.)

    Yes, there were duds: I'm a Michael Bay devotee through and through, but "Transformers: Age of Extinction" was a relentless horror. "Maleficent" was bad, but not as bad as "A Million Ways to Die in the West," one of the year's truly terrible pieces of garbage. "Tammy" stunk too, but at least it tried to do something a little different. It didn't work, but let's applaud Melissa McCarthy for using her clout to produce an indie road movie about accepting oneself, even if it was marketed like a big, stupid studio comedy. (The less written about "Sex Tape" and the aforementioned "If I Stay," meanwhile, the better.)

    But on the whole? It was great stuff. Many celebrated the summer of 1984 this year, a time period that brought us "Ghostbusters," "Karate Kid," "Gremlins," "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom," "Sixteen Candles," "The Natural," "Revenge of the Nerds," "Muppets Take Manhattan," "Red Dawn," "Star Trek III: The Search for Spock," "Bachelor Party" and "Once Upon a Time In America," among others. I don't think the people running the Internet in 30 years will spend as much time on the summer of 2014, but I'd like to think they will. And, just in case, put me down now for the 30th anniversary retrospective on "Edge of Tomorrow." That movie was boss.

  • Jennifer Lawrence Requests Nude Pics Investigation

    LOS ANGELES (AP) — The FBI said Monday it was addressing allegations that online accounts of several celebrities, including Oscar-winner Jennifer Lawrence, had been hacked, leading to the posting of their nude photographs online.

    The agency did not say what actions it was taking to investigate who was responsible for posting naked photos of Lawrence and other stars. Apple said Monday it was looking into whether its online photo-sharing service had been hacked to obtain the intimate images.

    Lawrence, a three-time Oscar nominee who won for her role in "Silver Linings Playbook," contacted authorities after the images began appearing Sunday.

    Naked images purporting to be of other female stars were also posted, although the authenticity of many couldn't be confirmed. The source of the leak was unclear.

    "This is a flagrant violation of privacy," Lawrence's publicist Liz Mahoney wrote in a statement. "The authorities have been contacted and will prosecute anyone who posts the stolen photos of Jennifer Lawrence."

    The FBI said it was "aware of the allegations concerning computer intrusions and the unlawful release of material involving high profile individuals, and is addressing the matter."

    "Any further comment would be inappropriate at this time," spokeswoman Laura Eimiller wrote in a statement.

    Apple Inc. spokeswoman Natalie Kerris said the company was investigating whether any iCloud accounts had been tampered with, but she did not give any further details.

    "We take user privacy very seriously and are actively investigating this report," she said.

    Actress Mary Elizabeth Winstead also confirmed that nude photos of her were posted online.

    "To those of you looking at photos I took with my husband years ago in the privacy of our home, hope you feel great about yourselves," Winstead posted on Twitter. Winstead, who starred in "Final Destination 3" and "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter," wrote that she thought the images had been destroyed.

    "Knowing those photos were deleted long ago, I can only imagine the creepy effort that went into this," Winstead wrote.

    The FBI has investigated previous leaks of nude celebrity images, including leaks involving Scarlett Johansson, Mila Kunis, Christina Aguilera and footage of television sports reporter Erin Andrews in a Tennessee hotel room. Those cases resulted in convictions.

    How widespread the hacking of celebrities photos was is not immediately clear. Some of the images were quickly denounced as fakes.

    Some cybersecurity experts speculated that hackers may have obtained a cache of private celebrity images by exploiting weaknesses in an online image-storing platform.

    "It is important for celebrities and the general public to remember that images and data no longer just reside on the device that captured it," security researcher Ken Westin wrote in a blog post Monday. "Once images and other data are uploaded to the cloud, it becomes much more difficult to control who has access to it, even if we think it is private."

    Private information and images of celebrities are frequent targets for hackers. Last year, a site posted credit reports, Social Security numbers and other financial info on celebrities, including Jay Z and his wife Beyonce, Mel Gibson, Ashton Kutcher and many others.

    Johansson, Kunis and Aguilera were hacked by a Florida man, Christopher Chaney, who used publicly available information to hack into the email accounts of more than 50 people in the entertainment industry.

    "I have been truly humiliated and embarrassed," Johansson said in a tearful videotaped statement played in court at Chaney's sentencing in December 2012.

    "That feeling of security can never be given back and there is no compensation that can restore the feeling one has from such a large invasion of privacy," Aguilera wrote in a statement before Chaney's sentencing.


    Associated Press writers Raphael Satter in London and Mae Anderson in New York contributed to this report.

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