Friday, October 31, 2014

Black Market Charms

"Black Market Charms”

for San Diego’s Catalyst Magazine by Cecil "C Lue" Disharoon

Winning international critical and commercial success with the Mississippi Mudsharks beginning in San Diego in the early 90’s, Scottie Blinn shared stages with Billy (ZZ Top) Gibbons, Willie Nelson, George (P Funk) Clinton, Dick Dale, Buddy Guy and many visiting Blues stars before the band called it a day in 2009.

Determined to return to the road, he and Roxy Coverdale founded Black Market III, a band reflecting those influences, with metal and grease punk alchemy.

At the tail end of their 4 month European tour through Germany, Belgium, Holland, and England, Catalyst’s Cecil “C Lue” Disharoon caught up with them.

C Lue: Along with Coverdale’s “You,” instrumental surf rock (“Psych Ward”), even Neil Young’s venerable tune “Old Man,” I did notice the importance of blues covers to your sets, dating far back in the tradition ("Where Did You Sleep Last Night?", Wayne Walker’s "All I Can Do Is Cry"—also covered by Mike Ness). Do you feel this frees you to invest your energy into creative solos?

Scottie Blinn: I am a Blues musician to the core of my soul, but don't limit myself to just playing straight or traditional Blues. I always keep that root strong though, because from it all later music I love was born. I feel it is important as a musician and artist to not put limits or rules on the music and art.

As far as soloing, within the Blues there is more room for improvisation. Honestly, for years I have spent a lot of time 'writing' guitar solos, especially for the more Rock songs and originals that aren't straight Blues. To me solos are an extension of the vocal and story being told. They are another way to add to the emotion of a song and should be crafted like a well constructed conversation to convey the message of the song.

That's not to say they are contrived. All the ideas and performances come from the heart, soul, and gut...'off the cuff'. At that point the best parts are put together to form a truly emotional and impactful 'statement' that bolsters the vocal, lyrics, and complete song.

The challenge for me every night is to play that solo better than the night before. Also, sometimes new ideas come in to play that in my mind make that solo even better...seem to always evolve. Then there are those songs where I just cut loose and go for total improvisation. That leads to some pretty epic ideas!

C Lue: How did Gavin become the new drummer for Black Market III? You have punk, surf and metal trappings as well as the blues foundation…lots to play with.

Gavin: Actually, we were both in bands, and I was living and drumming out of the NYC and Boston Music scenes, for about 8 years.

I joined this band, while I was on tour in Europe. I was in a town called Lübeck, in Germany, having a miserable time with dudes I'd been touring with for years. I had just gotten a call, stating that I was not selected for the Morrissey gig (after a great audition, btw) and Scottie messaged me, asking what I was going to do after the tour.

So, from that 2012 tour on, my commute to rehearsal went from a 6 hour plane ride to NYC (I had moved back to San Diego by then), to a 10 minute drive.

I like how I can see this band constantly growing, and each individual contributing, and holding themselves to the highest standards.

C Lue: “Hoist the Rag” is one of your best-represented covers on YouTube---a song written by Tom Waits. (His song “Black Market Baby" inspired the band’s name.) How would you describe Tom's influence on San Diego music, you in particular...what about it speaks most to you?

Scottie: Our first CD, 'Songs That Shake The Cage', centered around ties to music from San Diego roots. Tom Waits was the obvious connection for me. I'm completely taken with the stories, imagery, and poetry of his lyrics, and how the music creates the landscape for this.

He digs deep into the Blues as well, choosing to travel down the darker paths and more dangerous back alleys. That is where I have always come from with my music...a very real place from within not always 'bright and happy', yet always positive.

C Lue: I'd love to send a smooth breaking ball question into those superstitions and badass riffs you racked up as "Black Roses," the title track from your newest record. (Blinn edited the video, featuring clips of classic Noseferatu and Dr. Caligari movies.)

What inspired this particular symbols and superstitions? Using "cross roads" is clever considering its place in blues folk lore, and of course, bad luck is the inspiration for many a blues number. Cross of Salem was a symbol used by Aleister Crowley and 33rd degree Freemasons, among others; it's very evocative!

Scottie: I could spend hours talking about the depth of the symbolism in this song. The idea was to make a contemporary 'traditional' Blues song--- thus the references to superstitions, and the twist of mentioning a 'crossroads'. We always stay away from rehashing the same clichés or writing different words to the typical Blues structure, but this topic is timeless.

In doing so, I dug deep to find less obvious superstitions, or one's that have not been overused in hundreds of Blues songs. "Drinking water poured from the moon's reflection"--poetically written with a Tom Waits influence. Same with "You count the cars in a funeral procession", and "Takin' names and writin' 'em in red."

In the bridge, the message of the song comes alive. "Black Roses growin' wild at the crossroads, hear the howlin' on the Hell Hound's Trail"—these reference the Robert Johnson legend, but are also reflective of evil’s constant pursuit of us, pushing us towards the wrong path.

"The Cross of Salem protects me from the inroads"--this is a three barred cross sometimes ceremoniously carried by Catholic Popes, derived from, and related to, earlier crosses. It is representative of the Pope’s responsibilities, and also symbolizes the sign board above Christ's head, the middle for his outstretched arms, and the bottom where his feet were nailed.

Most importantly to the song (and to me), the three bars also represent the Holy Trinity, as well as the virtues of Faith, Hope, and Love.

**(Check out the picture I took at a Baroque Church in Neresheim, Germany just yesterday--Scottie).

You brought up the use of the symbol in various forms to the 33 degree Freemasons and Aleister Crowley. Like many symbols, such as the St. Peter's Cross (inverted, which is how he was crucified so as to not be compared to or imitate Christ) or even the swastika (originally an ancient symbol for good luck, prosperity, life, sun, strength..), the Cross of Salem has also been used by the like to represent their own meanings, or as a symbol of mockery to the Holy Trinity.

"Ring a bell just to keep you away". This is a very old superstition where evil spirits do not like the sound of a ringing bell breaking silence, and also for protection from things in the dark.

Bottom line is, we are faced with, and sometimes bombarded with negativity and evil every day. This is a song about protection from these things.

C Lue: Have your blues travels put you in touch with people who genuinely believe in voodoo, and do you have any lucky hoodoos or superstitions that accompany you on tour?

Scottie: I opened a show in 2004 for New Orleans musician Doctor John. He married Roxy and I in a traditional West African ceremony!

Sorry to disappoint you—no hoodoos or talismans. Roxy and I have complete faith and trust in God…all we need.

C Lue: Are your European tours based around re-visiting old friends and venues? Do you stay with friends or in hotels?

Scottie: I've been touring in Europe for 18 years and have built a great fan base of loyal followers and most importantly, close friends. Show nights are spent in hotels, whereas most off nights we hang with "family".

We typically tour Belgium, Holland, Germany, and England, but also go to Switzerland, France, Spain, and Austria too. I try to balance the established venues with new ones for us, so it's not possible to hit every country on every tour.

C Lue: Any advice for bands wanting to tour Europe?

Scottie: Absolutely! They love American music there, but with the level of over-saturation of bands it had better kick ass! I've been approached by a few people to write a book about it. There will be a ton of great info in there.

As for now, work hard every day, get radio and internet DJ's to spin your songs regularly, make a name for yourself selling CD's in Europe and getting reviews and articles written about your band. Just like home, they won't usually book you if they haven't heard of you.

Scottie also owns and operates Rock Academy of San Diego, which teaches music to children and adults. See their website and add your support.

Cecil “C Lue” Disharoon is a San Diego/ Georgia musician who has also written the Twin Flames/ Southern Gothic Romance novel ‘Anywhere With You’ available on Amazon, and other books and comic books as Integr8d Soul.

(Here you can follow with BM3’s homecoming dates)
Nov. 14th: BNS Brewery, Santee, CA
Nov. 15th Brick by Brick, San Diego, CA
Nov. 22nd Biggs Harley Davidson San Marcos, CA
Nov. 28th Riviera Supper Club, La Mesa, CA

Our Ba-Doom Guy

Here is yo killer/ the North Georgia Thriller/ the real blood spiller/ my rhymin' ain't vanilla/ or every day filler/ but straight cold chillah/ before I hit the pilla / kick a beat like J Dilla/ now I'm gonna treat you to a flow that have fools takin' lesson/ and all the ladies gonna leave them guessin'/ fresh talents like these, are like God's own blessin'/ spend a night with me and you will need confessin'/ better get this while it fresh and out the oven/ can't quit this wit I'm the shit that they be lovin'/ gonna take that love, but I don't need nothin'/ cut a blunt, wrap it up once you crush that big ol' nug in/ smoke it up, get 'em up and get that big ol' hug in/ to a crackly crisp and then we keep on chuggin'/ Ask y'self do you think you can hang with Our Ba-Doom Guy / will you stand out when I give that full room view eye/ better catch me quick if you want to see the sunrise/ catch with your mind and then your boom-boom boom thighs/ if you ain't havin' fun, it's your loss 'cause we all so soon die/ catch a beat with your feet to Our Ba-Doom Guy...Boom Boom, Boom-boom ba-doom...shake the room...and shake your gloom...with our Ba-Doom Guy...boom boom...boom ba-doom...keep your head sly...shake the room...shake y'gloom...with Our Ba-Doom Guy.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Blessed to create culture and come alive --Post 600!

Post 600, catching with a conversation almost two weeks ago, goes out to my buddy Glenn R. Brown. If you like Dark Horse Comics or think you might, look for his artwork in a new comic book from them soon.

Let me say here, you can barely underestimate the importance of being able to write, to every one of us given that precious gift by others who understood it. To write anything, from a grocery list to a text to a Facebook message to a page to a scene to a poem to a series of novels, is to share with potentially anyone who shares the gift to read; you will never truly know all the people who spent time with something born of your private musings, plus hours staring at the ceiling, included free of charge.

He and I were having a conversation about encounters with deeply gifted musicians, when we shared an acknowledgement of how tough it is to go from relative poverty and obscurity to a functioning, bill-paying success who just failed enough times for something to stick anyway.

We also discussed a big pop group's almost-done-deal revival, but that's a surprise for another time. Here's a clue: look up "Deion Estus."

On some level, I feel whatever these people's faults, there's always redemption. Music is such a powerful gift. Yes, everything that was standard thirty years ago is kinda gone.
It is a mind-blowingly horrible time to be a young band, an unestablished song have to be so committed to the power of what your creations do for you, regardless of what they come to mean in the world of Man.
you can't think about how miles it is to've got to think about swimming..and when you're tired, float...but never sink.

He concurs it's maybe the worst time...yet, there's an amazing amount of distribution possibilities for a nominal fee...if you can get it promoted! Glenn referred to it as a digital Pandora's Box.

It also means, potentially, anyone holding a phone could hear or even buy one of my songs; I may find out with a laptop someone wants to read my book, or post a drawing that maybe you remember you said you'd pay me for?

It is quite nearly a Pyrhic sacrfice to be an artist of any stripe...and here I am, soul-devoted to music, writing and art and utterly unable to stop this love affair with any of them, like a man possessed. I know...if you can't score the live shows, you go home hungry. Everyone's tied into some endorsement or they'd all be middle class at best.

Well, I won't even recount the horror stories. And all so one poor soul might find your song hung up in their head, or two people might dance an unforgettable memory. It is to crawl from one crumb to the next, even if you're not spending a dime on booze or weed or anything to make it "easier." It is the most spiritual time to create culture out of the essence of yourself. Yet potentially the most selfless, bravest souls are the ones left to create anything at all. And they, and their devotees, are all that sustains it. It is to live with no surety of one's future. it requires the sweetest gratitude. And yet, I think of all the great minds who came this way to die virtually unheard, because of prejudice, disease, misfortune of every kind...and I realize I'm on the shoulders of giants whose faces I never knew.

I had to admit, one thing that keeps me humbled ever more is the thought of some man or woman or child of any color, working so hard in a field, perhaps even for a harvest that won't save their lives after all. They had all these stories and songs and pictures of art inside them, and they died with no one knowing much what they could do, or even in the case of someone talented, perhaps only getting a chance to sing for dinner even once in a lifetime, who never maybe thought to nor expected a dollar to their name for what they did in the name of enjoying art.

I always credit the understanding of those with whom I'm conversing for the quality of what I imagine to say. Could've only come out talking to one who understands it. It was you, there to listen, that evoked it.

And that is where our gratitude the people whose openness and support evokes the greatest powers of expression to rise within you, within me, so that we might feed undying soul food to the seekers.

And that's what makes the miraculous nature of this age where material sustenance seems elusive for many. Once you reach a certain level of income, however, you're able to take a trip to the beach, or fly to Colorado Springs, or decide you ache at Mount Rushmore and start to wish you were home...or at least back in Colorado Springs. And you can do all this in a matter of days, while a year may have vanished once in the time it'd take to see Wyoming from Georgia, much less actually coming back through New Orleans. When you look at the wonder of it, is it any wonder we are occasionally either floored by the pace of life, or simply at some half-ease with accepting a numbness in your nest after a day of flying with purpose?

We're a moment in an eternal dialogue, the very power that has made human life worthwhile to carry this far down the road. We bear the burden, but are humbled by those with no fame, no comfort, who bore it before us. The idols, yes...but the men and women with lost names who created, as we do, because of the real something that beats our hearts, that ineffable cosmic love that makes man to dream of every inch of Better World we can build. Perhaps it's unique in the universe, and it exists mysteriously, for why would it even be so. Maybe we'll find out one day?

If we can evolve our sense of energetic barter, I'm reasonably certain there's plenty for survival in the foreseeable future. Perhaps we can earn an elevation of our sense of value. But just to come alive and create culture, to make stories, songs, pictures of our moves on a wheel of inspiration!

As for the mystery of what may continue to prove true long after this life is through? Well, as brother Glenn said, that's the reason for this journey. You discover the purposes of many things.

And finally, the purpose of us is to choose creatively. Whatever we do in life.

Please do look up Glenn R. Brown in the upcoming Dark Horse Comics and be amazed for yourself. And thanks for joining me, however long you've been down this road with me. I hope you see the miracle of your life there in your hands, too.