Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Okay, I'm outta here...

So as I've been advertising, moaning, shrieking, I'm going to St. Louis in a couple hours and won't be back until Sunday. I've posted a few pics of where I'll be...I'm sparing you the pics from the RT Convention last year.


But yeah! Today I get to actually hold the print version of Three Days in New York City! And then I even get to sell it and autograph it!

I was talking to my son yesterday and I'm like, Eric, how the hell should I autograph my book? Can you think of anything cool to say?

It took him all of one second.

"There is no such thing as a dirty word".

(Frank Zappa testifying before the Reagan commission)

How fucking perfect is that! Especially for this particular book, but really, for any book. And it's a metaphor for the U.S. today, huh. Where all of our freedoms are slowly dwindling.


Hopefully I'll make it to an internet cafe and post some updates/gossip/suicide notes but if not, behave yourselves and see you next week!

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Project Object with Eric Slick/Part II

Some more photos of my son sitting in with Project Object.

So I feel like I didn't give the band enough justtice in my rushed post yesterday.

One thing I want to mention, and damn it, I don't have any photos, but another Rock School student, a 15 year old violinist from Downingtown Rock School named Katie, was so fucking fantastic I couldn't believe it. She sat in with the band on King Kong.

Anyway, regarding Project Object, I've already talked about Ike and Napoleon ad nauseum in this blog, so here's a little bit about some of the other members who blew me away. This journal is kept by André Cholmondeley, who plays guitar, vocals, samples with the band:

Hello - I write all this pablum. (Right now - stupidly at 3:32am on a tues morning!). I arrived in this body in February 1965. It's been a struggle, but I try to somehow get it "everything" done in less time than possible.. i'm also in two other projects - spacey experimental percussive/electronic stuff with Jfk's Lsd Ufo we've got a new CD out - ALIEN CONCEPTS - check out our show schedule. In the fall of 2000 - I released a new CD " Spirit, Magnetics and Entropy..." - it's a set of weird-ish, ambient guitar centered music.More 'trapped in the basement' insanity. And blatantly ripped off from Fripp, Eno and Summers.. I'm about to do the second run of CDs ! Check out my site. I also manage and run a natural, mostly organic vegetarian foodstore Second Nature.

And Andre's blurb about their totallly awesome guitarist:

Robbie "seahag" Mangano- guitar, vocals, impossible guitar

I met the hagster thru the wonders of the internet - and soon enough he was sitting in, he has even done Project Object gigs on BASS ! In Ancient Tibet, land of legend - there is a saying --"Keep your eye on the Hag". You can surely email him - Seahag is a constant source of amazement and inspiration to the whole band and all of the lucky fans who see him tear up the most bizarre of musical passages , often the ones never intended for the guitar!! He is also in The Great Atomic power - check them a review of their debut CD on our nifty press page. He is also playing gigs in NYC area with singer/songwriter Esme Montgomery, as well as various transcription and studio work.....

And a note about their killer bass player:

Dave Johnsen - bass, vocals, effects

In the words of Robbie "Seahag" Mangano: "When Rick Bartow decided to leave P/O, I was on a mission to find a bassist who could fill into Bartow's monster shoes. I saw Dave play with his band Wavetaster and noticed he had all the chops he needed to play the fast riffs and runs for P/O. When i asked him to play in the band, he thought i was nuts, actually cause he didn't know any of Frank's tunes. The next month we spent hours and hours rehearsing parts in my living room from hours like 12am to 7am about twice a week. Now he is a superchampion of the bass. Killing Everybody. Hear him shred with his awesome band from Bethlehem, PA The Insidious Rays"

And of course, keyboardist extraordinaire Eric Svalgard :

Born in the Bronx, NY in 1955. Berklee College of Music Alumnus. Eric first saw The Mothers of Invention at the Felt Forum in NYC during the Overnight Sensation tour and then followed Frank and Napoleon and the troupe around the greater metropolitan area for two weeks during the Roxy tour. He was out on the west coast playing with a new wave band in the early eighties called Hoopla, and was the keyboard player for Mudboy, a harmonica heavy blues band in Chester County PA for 3 years. In 2002 he began teaching at the Paul Green School of Rock Music in Philadelphia, working with Paul on the Zappa show. It was through his work there, teaching high school age kids to play Frank’s music, that he met Ike, Napoleon and AndrĂ©. He is currently the Music Director/Manager at the Downingtown branch of The Paul Green School of Rock Music."
So yeah, when Project Object goes out on tour again this fall, you really need to check them out.
Got one of the all time great rejections from a magazine I adore yesterday:

"Hope to hear from you again, however, as you are smart and maybe a little nutty, which is just what we like."

As I remarked to my writers' group after receiving it: "At least they got it half right".


So tomorrow I leave for St. Louis for the RT Book Fair. Oh my god, take a look at this thing. Click on some of the links - Jesus Christ, there are even themed costume balls. Kill me now, please. I'm not even packed; and realize that I'm supposed to spend the next five days in "business casual" (snort) or "fancy dress" (double snort). Fancy dress to me means wearing a black blouse tucked into my jeans instead of a black t-shirt. If my daughter wasn't a size six, I'd ransack her closet because she has all kinds of cool dresses from performing on stage, but at the moment, all I have is one sad looking denim skirt.

And no fucking way is anyone getting me into a costume. Though the kids have some monster masks around the house...but yeah, yeah, I know, why bother with the mask when I have my face?


But hey, I have a new roof. So no terror about getting on a plane tomorrow in the pouring rain. Err...except for the plane trip, that is.
So as I remarked yesterday, I am now somewhat even more legitimate, with my book being sold on but maybe wait until next week when the print version is available and I can autograph your copy with something dumb and/or obscene, whatever you'd prefer.
I'll probably swing by for one last post and to say goodbye before I leave at dawn tomorrow...hopefully I will in fact find an internet cafe in St. Louis, but if not you can always amuse yourself by reading the archives.


Monday, April 25, 2005

Project Object featuring Eric Slick!

Okay, major proud mother moment here. Last night, my son sat in on drums with Project Object on stage at World Cafe for the final show of their twenty one day tour. For those who don't know, Project Object is a band dedicated to the music of Frank Zappa, and its members include my pals Ike Willis and Napoleon Murphy Brock, both of whom played with Frank and both of with whom I've spent considerable time on the various Rock School tours. Eric has played with Ike and Napoleon separately many times, and did sit in once before with P.O. but I couldn't make it that evening. Anyway, Ike played with Frank in the days of his friendship with John Lennon, and I don't know if I ever talked about it here, but he told me an incredible story about being on stage with Zappa that horrific Monday night in December, 1980 when they got the news that Lennon had been assassinated. (Better than how I heard it - via Howard Cosell while watching Monday Night Football). Poor Napoleon got to spend 17 days in captivity with me during the infamous Rock School tour this summer - he had the seat behind me on the tour bus and we talked some serious music when I wasn't driving him nuts whining. Ha! God, I wish I had last summer back. I would have gone with such a different mindset.


So above is a pic of my son from last night, and as you can see, both Ike and Napi are pretty much loving him.

Eric played Uncle Remus and Peaches and Regalia and he rocked. If you guys ever get the chance to see Project Object in your city, grab tickets! They are such incredible musicians, mixing jazz and rock and funk and they are so radical politically - they did some anti-Bush stuff that I adored and a whole Michael Jackson rant -- it was awesome. They have a young guitarist who blew me away named Seahag. Man, I could listen to him all night. Ike and Napi were in top form, and so was Andre, who handles a lot of the vocals as well.

Eric Svalgard who runs the Downingtown Branch of rock school and is a Berklee grad is their keyboard player at the moment and his daughter, Maddie, a Rock School graduate prominently featured in the movie Rock School and a sophomore at Berklee herself, came down for the show and did back up vocals with Eric on Uncle Remus and sang Zomby Woof. Both Eric Svalgard and his daughter are awesome!

Here's a few more pics:

I'll post some more tomorrow morning -- I'm on the tail end of my lunch hour at work now.

Fair warning: Tomorrow will be the last post here for a few days unless I find an internet cafe in St. Louis. I leave Wednesday morning for a book fair and won't be home until Sunday night. Though knowing me, I will find said cafe (or public library) and will of course log on to rant and rave and maybe even post a pic of me schmoozing with Fabio.

Don't ask.

Couple other things: My book is now available at; it's now in print but the print version won't be on Amazon until next week but I'll have my author copies in my hot little hand at the book fair on Wednesday as well as copies for sale there...and my publisher just told me there will be a way to arrange autographed copies. Oh, I'm so special. Ha! (Seriously, people have asked me for autographed copies. It's probably cos' my kids are going to be famous)

And I officially have a new roof. My son just called - the roofers have finished, no more leaks, and a new gorgeous skylight. is good. At least today, anyway.

Friday, April 22, 2005

Happy Friday....

So the above best seller notation now appears on my author page at Phaze Books, which completely freaks me out. Also posted is the cover to the new (unfinished...arghhh) sequel:

So weird - my female character's potential love interest in the sequel is named "Rob". This is only because I based him on a neat character I know in the real world named "Ron". But as I write the scenes now...holy shit...I feel like I'm...err...carrying on with myself. "Oh Rob, oh Rob".

Ha ha. Why does that sound so familiar?

(Kidding, kidding. I can just see my son gagging as he reads this. I can even hear his comment: "Mom, I am never reading your blog again. Ever.")

Eric, I am just joking.

So I got a mention this week in Welcome to the Asylum which is brought to you by Henry Dribble, a very cool guy I met on my internet travels via Somewhat Magazine, who have been kind enough to publish a few of my short stories and will be publishing my latest effort on May 4. They have a most excellent links page, and I clicked on Henry's and you know me, I started up an email dialogue with him a few weeks ago and yesterday he wrote to me to let me know I got a mention. I'm stoked, Henry. Thanks!

For any of you Rock School kids, Henry will post your MP3s on his site. Next up: Eric's band, Flamingo.

By the way, Flamingo does have a gig tonight, but I believe it's a small, private affair so no sense me posting any details.

But I will remind you to go see him and the other Rock School kids perform in Jesus Christ Superstar at BB Kings in NYC tomorrow. You will not be disappointed.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Oh my god, one quick note about Zappanale #16

How in the hell did I miss this?

As I've been spouting off, the Rock School All-Stars will make a return visit to Zappanale, a Woodstock like music festival dedicated to the music of Frank Zappa in Bad Doberan, East Germany this summer. I went with them to Zappanale #14 in the summer of 2003; now Julie has graduated and it's Eric's final All-Star road trip. This summer, for Zappanale #16, their dad is going to go instead and guess what, Rock School is the headliner! So I find an article about that which is written in German and translated, so it's all screwy, but they mention the performance I saw in 2003, which, by the way, is the ending scene in Rock School, the movie...and I'll put in bold what they have to say about my daughter, which just fucking blew me away.

I guess "skirt" is the German translation of "rock"? The Paul Green School of Skirt? Oh my god, that's hilarious. Hey, if anyone reading this knows German, would you please copy and paste this into the comments section and translate it the right way? I'm pretty sure I can figure out most of this...but you know...I'm supposed to be working. I am DYING to know what "ausgeflippt" means since they use it to describe Ms. Julie. Hahaha - they do call her a bass monster. I love that. It's going to be my new nickname for her. That, or "ausgeflippt" if I can figure out how to pronounce it.

"Paul Green School OF skirt
The Kids of acres bake!
2003 were Paul Green School OF skirt the hammer on the Zappanale. 2005 comes the young people with esoterischem Zappa and Pink Floyd.

Zappanale 2003. On the stage Zappas title "A Pound For A Brown" runs. Julie Slick, a pretty girl with magnificent curls maltraetiert their bass in such a manner skillfully that even John "Thunderfingers" Entwistle before pleasures would be ausgeflippt. Lauren pole LOCK at the key boards, cathedral Malandro at the Saxofon and larva line Diaz Svalgard, which screws its voice into unbelievable Sopran heights, are inferior to the bass monster hardly. None of them is older than 17.

But that is everything only plays. Because Mr. C.J. Tywoniak appears now: a 13jaehriges (!!!) spackes baby face, hardly more largely than its flamed guitar. Its long slim finger however whirls so artistically over the griffbrett that the public hearing and seeing pass. Minutes long breathless silence over the Zappanalodrom rests. When Tywoniaks finally set flying fingers for landing, the tension unloads itself of the astonished and completely hingerissenen public in frenetischen Ovationen; Old star such as Mike Keneally and Napoleon Murphy break into lean spontaneously and deeply moved before the young artist.

It is one that magic concert moments, on which franc Zappa of the sky smiles and a charm blows by the spectator rows. Moments, which are not predictable, which one can plan nor reproduce neither. Moments in addition, which burn themselves indelibly into the memory and are nostalgically clarified called up whenever alleged superlative as laue Lueftchen verpuffen or the Protagonisten fails because of high repetition expectations.

For the unbekuemmerten and passionate Kids of Paul Green School OF skirt from Philadelphia stands to however hardly fear that they must defend them now because of the measuring pole put extremely highly by them to fail, because nevertheless their call. For their appearance at the Zappanale Friday (05,08.) they selected themselves in addition the "esoterischen Zappa"; on Saturday (06,08.) go they strangely with selected pieces from Pink Floyd.

1998. That 24jaehrige ex Grunge Rocker and classical period fan Paul Green finances itself at that time its philosophy study at the University OF Pennsilvania with guitar instruction and loads regularly pupils in to jammen on evenings and weekends with it. When it notices, how quickly they learn and to improve, he arranges himself first appearances in local coffee Bars and with exhibition openings. And: It scratches 7000 dollar together, around a correct skirt school to opening with sample areas, with genuine equipment, with good instruments.

Two goals are the center of attention for Green thereby: The Kids on the one hand to be helpful to develop and them secondly the chance give its enormous musical potential as far as possible, so often goes on a stage before public playing. The best way there is called for Green: Practice, practice and again practice: From the first day on correctly to the thing, plays each pupil live is, loud and always together with others.

Stubborn direction thinking is verpoent. Who wants to go through in Green, must be open for all currents of the skirt music. And in such a way zeppelin, Black Sabbath, The Who, Pink Floyd or Journey stands likewise trips in the musical universe of franc Zappa (Greens favorite), for the kind skirt cosmos of Yes or into the world of the Punk on the curriculum beside skirt classical authors such as LED.

Who the long, intensive and hard learning phase projects, in the water is finally thrown and in correct skirt concerts on a correct skirt public released. With Lichtshow, nebula machines and all different one that belongs to. In the meantime Greens gave, partly pupils over 350 of such concerts before more than 100,000 spectators in famous skirt arenas and on various music festival. Highly gifted Teens such as Julie Slick or C.J. Tywoniak is in the meantime star.

The response of the 14. Zappanale 2003 was enormous by the way for the School OF skirt in the USA like a clap of thunder. Considerably released by their sensational success in bath Doberan boomt Greens enterprise in the meantime country-wide. From once 18 pupils today 160 became, from the School OF skirt Urzelle in Philadelphia sieves folders issued, among other things in New York town center, San Francisco and Salt Lake town center.

Parallel to the Paramount film "School OF skirt" with Komiker Jack Black in the main role are not by the way by any means coincidental, although expressed involuntary. 2002 turned the transmitter Vh-1 a report in the school. This however was never sent. But later the film came into the cinemas; like Paramount Pictures belongs to front spar 1 to the Viacom Imperium. "Does Black plays Green?", even if the local press inquired interested - the answer is "", one believes Greens pupils from at that time. A Schelm, which thinks bad thereby. Paul Green anyhow feels today - probably not too wrongly - bounced around some Credits until.

Oh yeah....Jon Anderson!

Okay, since it's on his website and I cleared it with Paul, I'm allowed to blab the following:

When I go to Hollywood next month for what will be a private screening of Rock School and a private party afterwards, my kids will be performing Heart of the Sunrise with Jon Anderson doing the vocals.

As Paul remarked to me, "Good thing you are close with the band, eh?"

I'll say.

You have no idea how excited I am. Ever since I first found out, I've been flying.
In other news, and I know no one gives a shit but I'm gonna say it anyway, I heard from the roofer yesterday and my "disaster" is only going to cost $1,600 which includes a brand new skylight. So all I have to do is get through one more weekend of 10 buckets in my bedroom (sigh...horrible rain predicted...anyone want to invite me to spend Saturday and Sunday at their place?) but on Monday, a new roof at last.
I have other stuff to say but I'm at work and feeling guilty for slacking so I should really sign off and at least pretend to be a valuable member of society. My home computer caught a terrible virus late last night which would only let me sign on to AOL when I woke up today; I couldn't open Netscape or Internet Explorer nor could I do anything on AOL like retrieve my email...grrrr...and while my son is fixing it now, I couldn't do the usual early morning post. Crap. I have all kinds of stuff to talk about - everything from my new book, Another Bite of the Apple, which is the sequel to Three Days in New York City, and the cover for which is already on my publisher's website even though I haven't finished writing it -- to a movie I watched last night.

More later...

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

News, blues, etc.

Here's what Alice Cooper had to say about performing with the Rock School All-Stars on the Sony Music Forum Board


Alice Cooper, Billy Idol, and members of Heart, Deep Purple, and Yes join forces with aspiring rock-and-rollers for the soundtrack to the upcoming documentary Rock School. The film, which is due out early this summer, traces the success of Paul Green's School Of Rock Music, which was founded in Philadelphia in 1999 and inspired the Jack Black movie School Of Rock. The Rock School soundtrack, which will be released on May 31st, teams established stars with Green's students for versions of their hits. Green's corps also perform three songs by themselves.

Cooper recorded his hit "School's Out" with the kids, and he told us that they blew him away: "When I got there, they were playing (King Crimson's) '21st Century Schizoid Man' -- and they were 12! My band can't play '21st Century Schizoid Man'! (laughs) So they're all little geniuses, and great kids, too."

Err...the kids aren't 12 years old, I'd say the median age is 16, but yeah, Alice baby, you're right - they are geniuses. And they were taught by a genius, too.
So my son has the kind of weekend coming up for which he lives.
Friday night: He has a gig with his band Flamingo down in Old City;
Saturday afternoon: He has a gig at BB King's in NYC with kids from the Paul Green School of Rock doing an encore performance of Jesus Christ Superstar. Hey, if you are in the New York area, you've got to catch this show. I was its staunchest big mouth objector - I hated the idea of the show, the music, the premise...and then I go to see it and my jaw fucking dropped to the ground. This production is better than anything you'll ever see on Broadway or even at a usual rock concert. Trust me on this. The show starts at 12:30 p.m. and BB Kings is right on 42nd Street.
Sunday: He gets to hang out with his old pals Napoleon Murphy Brock and Ike Willis when they perform with Project Object at the World Cafe Live at 8:30 p.m. Last time Project Object played Philly, Eric joined them on a song and got a warm introduction from Ike and who could happen again...I dunno, it's enough to make me leave my house to go check out in any event.
So how lucky am I. Newmarket Films together with Paul Green are sponsoring a little west coast mini tour in support of the movie's premier and I get to go to Los Angeles from May 23-25 to see a private screening and then watch a performance by the kids. This isn't just any performance. It reunites Rock School graduates Louie Graff and Teddi Tarnoff and Julie Slick with Rock School All-Stars Eric Slick, C.J. Tywoniak, Madison Flego, Larry Allen, and Dom Milandro. Since these are the kids in the movie, it's awesome that they are getting together one final time (heh...I don't believe that for one minute...but that could be my wishful thinking) to blow out the L.A. crowd. I can't wait! There's a lot more I could say about this trip such as give some awesome, exciting details but I'm going to wait until it's closer to May 23 because I don't want to jinx anything.
In other news, I leave next Wednesday for the RT Convention in St. Louis. I wish I could say this excited me but I'm more scared than anything. On the plus side, my book should finally be in print and I'll have something to autograph as opposed to an ebook on a computer screen; on the minus side, I'm not a romance writer and am not exactly gregarious when in situations where I'm socially uncomfortable. Okay, I'm always socially uncomfortable, but I can hide it with vast quantities of alcohol. However, this would probably not be a good idea (getting drunk) under the circumstances. Oy. It also means I miss the New England mini-tour with the Rock School All-Stars...Baltimore, MD April 29, Boston April 30, and Burlington, Vermont May 1. But the Newmarket Films event in Los Angeles in late May should more than make up for that, huh.
Finally, yeah, yeah, I have the blues. Spring fever, and my house needs all of these repairs for which I have neither the time nor inclination. Not to mention the fact that I'm terrified of what I'm going to find, yesterday I heard from a roofer that my roof "is a disaster". I'm still waiting for him to call me back with the estimate. It's not the money that bothers me -- I just don't want to have to deal with mundane every day shit....all I want to do is write all day, go see great live music at night, and continually stuff my face with awesome food and alcohol. In other words, I want to be a child, not an adult. Though there are some people who probably are of the opinion I act like a child and should grow up already, but well, who the fuck cares what they think.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Rock School soundtrack update!

Rock School All-Stars performing Black Magic Woman in Las Vegas, Nevada - August, 2004

Okay, it's all straightened out as far as the official soundtrack songs and order. Click here and you'll see Calvin Records has updated their site accordingly. No Zomby Woof, yes to LA Woman and Don't Stand So Close (which will make my daughter happy because she plays that with Stewart Copeland and said those polyrhythms were hard!). The order of the tracks, in my humble opinion, is a lot better than the way the site had it listed yesterday, too. Having been on the road with these guys for close to three weeks, they almost always started their classic rock sets with Black Magic Woman, so it's good to see that listed as Track #1.

I'm gonna cry every time I hear it.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Rock School Soundtrack On Line!

How exciting is this! Here's the official website for the Rock School soundtrack, where you can hear the first single, School's Out featuring Alice Cooper and the Rock School All-Stars -- my daughter Julie on bass and Allie Hautpman on keyboards; Jeremy Blessing and Cameron Sima on guitars, and Joey Randazzo on drums. I believe Teddi Tarnoff and Dom Milandro are singing back-up and even Julie sings at the end with all the other Rock School kids.

So that's awesome! 1:14 a.m. and I can't sleep and this is what I find on my travels through cyberspace. Ask me how many times I've watched the trailer and listened to this cut within the past half hour! And how kind of them to link said trailer on their site as well. Now. If they'll only list the creds of the Rock School All-Stars who appear on each cut.

I do know the songs my kids are on. Both Julie and Eric play with Ann Wilson on Barracuda and with Jon Anderson on Heart of the Sunrise; Julie plays bass on School's Out, Peace Sells with Dave Mustaine, and (maybe?) Don't Stand So Close with Stewart Copeland; Eric plays drums on Black Magic Woman with Greg Rollie, who was Carlos Santana's original vocalist on the song; he plays on Rebel Yell with Billy Idol and (maybe?) on LA Woman with Dom Milandro on vocals and you won't believe this kid - he's 16 and sounds just like Morrison.

But to my knowledge, the track listing as they have it on the website is the different than the one being advertised everywhere else. Zomby Woof, which I hear is a killer version performed by Teddi on vocals and my son on drums, was supposedly nixed by Gail Zappa, Frank's rather interesting widow and I thought that song has been replaced by Don't Stand So Close To Me. I notice they also don't list LA Woman so I'm not sure what the deal is with that, either.

If anyone from Rock School reads this and knows the answer, please click on the comments section of this post and let me know!
Okay, going back for another listen! Never let it be said that I'm not music obsessed and kid proud...

Friday, April 15, 2005

I was afraid of this Part II - Holy Crap!

My god, even Rolling Stone Magazine got it wrong. Do journalists not fact check anymore?

"KISS' GENE SIMMONS will star in a six-episode reality show, Rock School, inspired by the movie School of Rock. The show will debut on VH1 this summer. The soundtrack -- featuring the School of Rock students performing with BILLY IDOL, ALICE COOPER, HEART'S ANN WILSON and others -- hits stores May 31st."

Okay, when Rolling Stone fucks up and how many millions of people are going to read/think this, it's time to take action!

Now. What the hell should I do?
So my face hurts like hell this morning. And now I'm remembering, two years ago I had a similar incident when some dork was practicing tai chi or however it's spelled in Love Park and swung his arm out and knocked my sunglasses off as I unwittingly came up from behind.

And this is the woman who thought about moving to New York City?


I'm going with the cabin in the woods.
Anyway, I have a bad case of spring fever. The cherry blossom trees are all in bloom, lovers are everywhere, and I'm fucking miserable. I guess sad is the word. I like being alone - I'm not a people lover -- and yet...

I dunno. If I see one more gorgeous, young couple kiss today I think I'm gonna have my third cry of the week.

Or at least have a chocolate covered pretzel.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

I was afraid of this...

From today's Times Dispatch:

"Coming to VH1 this summer is a six-episode reality show, "Rock School," inspired by the Jack Black movie, "School of Rock". The soundtrack lands May 31 and features the students from the show performing with Billy Idol, Alice Cooper and Ann Wilson of Heart"

D'oh. The six episode reality show is a VH1 series for fuckwits starring Gene Simmons. Rock School the documentary -- yes, yes, the original school ripped off by the Jack Black movie School of Rock -- is premiering in June and the soundtrack for THAT is what will be released at the end of May.


So this has not been the best week for me. Over the weekend, my water bed exploded and it was finally the end of an era. I've slept on one since my early twenties and hate traditional mattresses. I'm always miserable in hotels. Okay, not that miserable, but still.

Anyway, this is like the third time in ten years this has happened, even though the mattresses supposedly have 25 year warranties. This particular mattress wasn't even three years old, and when I went to change the sheets, I stuck my hand in three inches of water and wanted to cry. It is the worst fucking mess you can imagine...thousands of gallons of water streaming and there's not a thing I could do about it other than run back and forth to the bathroom with buckets. But going back to my original statement about the warranties, I started thinking that it's not the bed; it's the water. There must be so much acid many chemicals in Philadelphia water...that it causes the waterbed mattress to simply rot away. Cos' that's what happened to me. My hand literally went through the rubber.

Soo...after spending the entire day cleaning and crying, I decided that was it. I had to buy a regular mattress and at least pretend to be a normal woman.

Ahem. I had no idea what that entailed.

Mattress salespeople are worse than used car salesmen and hmm..I'd even put them up there with insurance guys. It was a nightmare, especially for me, because I hate to shop unless it's for something like a cool piece of artwork.

Okay, I won't bore anyone with the details, but yeah, yeah, I ended up buying one; somehow shlepped it up the steps which was another adventure from hell (it's queen sized and I have really narrow stairs)and much to my shock, had the best night sleep I've had in years. I bought what's called a pillow top...oh my god, I never want to leave it in the morning.

So that was the weekend.

Then some other shit happened at work; I won't bore anyone with that, just the usual stuff where I sit in my chair and contemplate jumping out a window or at least flashing my tits at the stockbrokers in the office opposite us because they look so fucking uptight and Republican...but walking home tonight, well, that was the best. I was behind an elderly woman with a cane, and she was kind of weaving back and forth so I couldn't pass her. We were approaching the traffic light at the intersection of 19th and the Parkway and I thought Oh great, I'll cross over to the other side and get the fuck away from her. But before I could do that, for some ungodly reason, she raised her cane up and I was right behind her and she smacked me right in the face. It was a total accident, she didn't even know I was there...I think she either thought a car was going to hit her or something shocked her and she raised her arm and well, there was my face.

I was so stunned...for a minute I thought I was going to fall down because she whacked me really hard. Meanwhile, a crowd suddenly appears out of nowhere, and I was totally mortified and yep, for the second time this week, cried.

But I'm was just embarrassing and hurt for a few minutes and the lady kept apologizing and asking me if I was okay and she was really old and I felt terrible and oh my god, I think I'm gonna go have a beer now and try and forget about it.

And with the beer, I think I'm gonna finally watch those Rock School DVDs Dave Neidorf was awesome enough to send me. Yo, he sent me the spring preview concert filmed by MTV at the TLA last year. I can't wait. So beer and a DVD or two it is.

After which I will collapse happily in my new bed.

Just a little Rock School soundtrack gossip re Ian Gillan

Allen Farmello with Ian Gillan

Allen Farmello, who is Ian Gillan's engineer, keeps a daily blog and here's what he had to say about recording Highway Star for the Rock School soundtrack:

Monday, 2-7-05
Met Ian and his mates at Chameleon West's Studio A to track vocals for "Highway Star" for something related to School of Rock, which I thought was fitting for me, since I feels as if I've enterted a a kind of elite academy of rock myself. Ian laid down his vocals in one inspired take, and the doubles were dead on. My first impression: Holy $&!#, this guy can sing! Had fun running long delays on the killer screams that open the tune.


No, Allen, it's not related to "School of Rock", it's "Rock School", but as I keep saying, the rest of the world will know that soon enough.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

F***them -- ha!

Another pic from the very first Rock School tour, Richardson Texas, June, 2002

In today's Philadelphia Daily News:

Dan Gross | Two schools of rock

'YOU WANT a quote? F--- them."

This is how Paul Green responds to VH1's announcement that the network will bring "Rock School," a series starring Kiss' Gene Simmons, to the United States.

Green, who's been churning out pint-size rockers for about eight years, is the subject of a documentary by local filmmaker Don Argott. It's also called "Rock School," and Argott is concerned about the series' possibly being confused with his film.

Green is believed to be the inspiration for the Jack Black film "School of Rock." Producers of that film have denied that.

Green says he and Argott met with VH1 to pitch the network on the movie, later bought by Newmarket Films.

British production company RDF Media is behind the new series, already airing in England. The six episodes featuring Simmons are due on VH1 by summer.

Argott's film, a hit at the Sundance Film Festival, premieres in New York on June 1, and opens two days later in New York and in L.A., and possibly in Philadelphia. If not, it'll open here on June 10.

Green meanwhile continues to open rock schools nationwide and is moving to New York next month, having already sold his Jenkintown home.

As for Argott, his company 9.14 Productions is about to start filming "Buddy Goldstein Live," a comedy about a singer on tour.

Neither VH1 nor RDF Media returned calls yesterday for comment.

Here's a really cool review of Rock School which was published subsequent to its screening a few weeks ago at South by Southwest in Austin, TX:

Don Argott's "Rock School" played to capacity crowds who generated a vibe more like a concert than a movie. People laughed, hooted, clapped; many flashed the devil sign with raised hands. They were responding to Paul Green, the demanding dean of the School of Rock Music in Philadelphia, where kids ages 5 to 17 learn the notes, moves and collaborative dynamics of playing in a rock band. Green is mean, shouting expletives and slamming doors when a student fails to make her mark. Yet it's this flamboyant, John Belushian passion, at once crude and caring, that spurs his young charges to play their best, nailing even the most byzantine Frank Zappa compositions at a major festival in Germany. With a trajectory of pain and triumph and a compelling cast of hobbit-height headbangers, the film makes an immersive, exhilarating experience that leaves you giddy.

Oh, why did I just have to read this...or...I'm gonna be sick

Heh...Dubya listens to the Knack's My Sharona on his IPod? I wonder if he also sings along with Good Girls Don't? (Also by the Knack, and I've pasted the lyrics below). My guess is he does, with that idiot smirk on his face....

Updated: 07:22 PM EDT
George W. Bush: Rocker-in-Chief
The Presidential Shuffle Is Heavy on Country and Rock


Bush's Playlist

A sampling from President Bush's iPod; some songs were selected by Mark McKinnon, the chief media strategist in the 2004 campaign:

John Fogerty, "Centerfield"
Van Morrison, "New Biography," "Brown Eyed Girl"
John Hiatt, "Circle Back"
Alan Jackson
George Jones
Alejandro Escovedo, "Castanets"
Joni Mitchell, "(You're So Square) Baby, I Don't Care"
The Gourds, "El Paso"
Blackie and the Rodeo Kings, "Swinging From the Chains of Love"
Stevie Ray Vaughan, "The House is Rockin' "
James McMurtry, "Valley Road"
The Thrills, "Say It Ain't So"
The Knack, "My Sharona"
(Source: The New York Times)

WASHINGTON (April 11) - Between his return on Friday from Pope John Paul II's funeral in Rome and his meeting today with Prime Minister Ariel Sharon of Israel, President Bush spent an hour and a half on Saturday on an 18-mile mountain bike ride at his Texas ranch. With him, as usual, was his indispensable new exercise toy: an iPod music player loaded with country and popular rock tunes aimed at getting the presidential heart rate up to a chest-pounding 170 beats per minute.

Which brings up the inevitable question. What, exactly, is on the First iPod? In an era of celebrity playlists - Tom Brady, the New England Patriots quarterback, recently posted his on the iTunes online music store - what does the presidential selection of downloaded songs tell us about Mr. Bush?

First, Mr. Bush's iPod is heavy on traditional country singers like George Jones, Alan Jackson and Kenny Chesney. He has selections by Van Morrison, whose "Brown Eyed Girl" is a Bush favorite, and by John Fogerty, most predictably "Centerfield," which was played at Texas Rangers games when Mr. Bush was an owner and is still played at ballparks all over America. ("Oh, put me in coach, I'm ready to play today.")

The president also has an eclectic mix of songs downloaded into his iPod from Mark McKinnon, a biking buddy and his chief media strategist during the 2004 campaign. Among them are "Circle Back" by John Hiatt, "(You're So Square) Baby, I Don't Care" by Joni Mitchell and "My Sharona," the 1979 song by the Knack that Joe Levy, a deputy managing editor at Rolling Stone in charge of music coverage, cheerfully branded "suggestive if not outright filthy" in an interview last week.

Mr. Bush has had his Apple iPod since July, when he received it from his twin daughters as a birthday gift. He has some 250 songs on it, a paltry number compared to the 10,000 selections it can hold. Mr. Bush, as leader of the free world, does not take the time to download the music himself; that task falls to his personal aide, Blake Gottesman, who buys individual songs and albums, including Mr. Jones's and Mr. Jackson's greatest hits, from the iTunes music store.

Mr. Bush uses his iPod chiefly during bike workouts to help him pump up his heartbeat, which he monitors with a wrist strap. The strap also keeps track of calories expended for the intensely weight-focused president, who has recently lost eight pounds after eating a lot of doughnuts during the 2004 campaign. Mr. Bush burned 1,300 calories on his bike ride on Saturday, Mr. McKinnon reported.

As for an analysis of Mr. Bush's playlist, Mr. Levy of Rolling Stone started out with this: "One thing that's interesting is that the president likes artists who don't like him."

Mr. Levy was referring to Mr. Fogerty, who was part of the anti-Bush "Vote for Change" concert tour across the United States last fall. Mr. McKinnon, who once wrote songs for Kris Kristofferson's music publishing company, responded in an e-mail message that "if any president limited his music selection to pro-establishment musicians, it would be a pretty slim collection."

Nonetheless, Mr. McKinnon said that Mr. Bush had not gone so far as to include on his playlist "Fortunate Son," the angry anti-Vietnam war song about who has to go to war that Mr. Fogerty sang when he was with Creedence Clearwater Revival. ("I ain't no senator's son ... Some folks are born silver spoon in hand.") As the son of a two-term congressman and a United States Senate candidate, Mr. Bush won a coveted spot with the Texas Air National Guard to avoid combat in Vietnam.

Meanwhile, Mr. Levy sized up the rest of the playlist of the 58-year-old president. "What we're talking about is a lot of great artists from the 60's and 70's and more modern artists who sound like great artists from the 60's and 70's," he said. "This is basically boomer rock 'n' roll and more recent music out of Nashville made for boomers. It's safe, it's reliable, it's loving. What I mean to say is, it's feel-good music. The Sex Pistols it's not."

Mr. Jones, Mr. Levy said, was nonetheless an interesting choice. "George Jones is the greatest living singer in country music and a recovering alcoholic who often sings about heartbreak and drinking," he said. "It tells you that the president knows a thing or two about country music and is serious about his love of country music."

The songs by Mr. Jackson indicate that the president "has a little bit of a taste for hard core and honky-tonk," Mr. Levy said, adding that both Mr. Jackson and Mr. Jones "are not about cute and pop, and they're not getting by on their looks." And while Mr. Chesney "is about cute and pop and gets by on his looks," Mr. Levy said, "he's also all about serious country music."

Mr. McKinnon, who has downloaded "Castanets" by Alejandro Escovedo and "Alive 'N' Kickin' " by Kenny Loggins into Mr. Bush's iPod, said that sometimes a presidential playlist is just a playlist, nothing more.

"No one should psychoanalyze the song selection," Mr. McKinnon said. "It's music to get over the next hill."
Music to get over the next hill? Hahahaha - is that a metaphor or what?
Lyrics to Good Girls Don't:
She's your adolescent dream,
Schoolboy stuff, a sticky sweet romance.
And she makes you want to scream,
Wishing you could get inside her pants.
So, you fantasize away.
And while you're squeezing her, you thought you heard her saying...

"Good girls don't,
Good girls don't,
Good girls don't, but I do."

So, you call her on the phone
To talk about the teachers that you hate.
And she says she's all alone,
And her parents won't be coming home til late.
There's a ringing in your brain,
Cause you could've sworn you though you heard her saying...

"Good girls don't,
Good girls don't,
Good girls don't, but I do."

And it's a teenage sadness
Everyone has got to taste.
An in-between age madness
That you know you can't erase
Til she's sitting on your face.

You're alone with her at last,
And you're waiting til you think the time is right.
Cause you've heard she's pretty fast.
And you're hoping that she'll give you some tonight.
So, you start to make your play,
Cause you could've sworn you thought you heard her saying...

"Good girls don't,
Good girls don't,
Good girls don't, but I do."

And it's a teenage sadness
Everyone has got to taste.
An in-between age madness
That you know you can't erase
Til she's sitting on your face.

Good girls don't,
Good girls don't,
Good girls don't, but I do...

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Before there was a Jack Black School of Rock....

Oh my god, I just found all of these old Rock School pictures. This is one from the very first Paul Green School of Rock All-Star road trip, The Wildflower Music Festival in Richardson, Texas, June, 2002. The kids outplayed Colin Hay (Men at Work), Wilson Pickett, and ha ha ha, Doctor Hook.

We had everything during that concert to near hurricane conditions complete with a tornado warning ("We're right in Tornado Alley," a nice man was kind enough to tell me as I held on to a pole for dear life in the wind and rain. "But you know what we say in Texas - if you don't like the weather, it's okay, cos' in five minutes it'll change") to a very pregnant Lisa (Paul's wife), a pool filled with giant bugs, and the total shock of hearing that John Entwistle had died.

Anyway, it was a great time...and who knew what would be happening during those next three years...that Paul would become an international celebrity and the kids...well, it's going to be very, very interesting to see how it all pans out.

Anyway, that's the original four All-Stars - Teddi Tarnoff, Julie Slick, Allie Hauptman, and Eric Slick hamming it up in great headgear for the crowd right after their performance. They wore them on stage, too, and damn if I can remember the's going to drive me crazy now.

I just called Julie. She said it was Pink Floyd's Pigs.

Of course my memory is bad from that evening. Back then, Julie was the only All-Star bassist and Eric the only drummer so they were in every song. Eric ate a corndog that didn't agree with him and he was only 15 so I had to keep running with him back and forth between songs to the porta-potty, positive he had some kind of terrible food poisoning but Eric being Eric insisted on playing every song. It was great. He'd play a song, throw up, play another song, throw up....and so on and so on and so on.


Just saw this - the Rock School kids get a great little blurb regarding their performance last month in Las Vegas....

ShoWest news


Hey, if you're not hip to it already, Blabbermouth is where I get a lot of my rock gossip.

Anyway, how cool of them to provide us with the official order of the tracks on the Rock School CD. Don't be deceived by the creds - obviously the Paul Green Rock School All-Stars are on every track playing along with the classic rock stars, but on LA Woman, for example, well, Jim Morrison couldn't make it to the session. He's busy sipping wine in France har har.

MEGADETH, DEEP PURPLE, ALICE COOPER Rockers Head Back To School - Apr. 8, 2005
The soundtrack to the much-anticipated film "Rock School" will be released on May 31, 2005 through Trillion Records.

The documentary, which will hit theaters early this summer through NewMarket Films, chronicles the inception and success of Paul Green's School Of Rock Music, which was founded in Philadelphia in 1999 to teach young musicians and singers to play and perform classic rock 'n' roll.

Produced by Grammy Award-winning Phil Nicolo (LAURYN HILL, THE ROOTS, TRAIN), the soundtrack to "Rock School" takes a unique approach by featuring the actual students that appeared in the film re-recording hits alongside legends like Alice Cooper, DEEP PURPLE's Ian Gillan, YES' Jon Anderson, THE POLICE's Stewart Copeland, THE RAMONES' Marky Ramone, HEART's Ann Wilson, MEGADETH's Dave Mustaine, and Billy Idol.

The track listing is as follows:

01. "Black Magic Woman" - GREGG ROLIE
03. "School's Out" - ALICE COOPER
04. "Barracuda" - ANN WILSON
05. "Highway Star" - IAN GILLAN
07. "Heart Of The Sunrise" - JON ANDERSON
08. "Rebel Yell" - BILLY IDOL
09. "Don't Stand So Close To Me" - STEWART COPELAND
11. "Peace Sells" - DAVE MUSTAINE

"When the producers asked me to be a part of 'Rock School', I said okay and asked them to send me a track of the kids performing our song. What I heard was a bunch of kids giving it 100 percent, and it sounded great. It was good fun," said Ian Gillan of DEEP PURPLE who performs the band's hit "Highway Star" on the soundtrack.

"Rock School" is the soundtrack to more than just a temporary fantasy camp. It's the beginning of the kids' new way of life.

The movie trailer can now be viewed at an FTP site (in QuickTime, Windows Media and Real Player formats in small, medium and large sizes).

You can view said trailer by clicking on the link on the top right of this page. You can't miss it.

And for those of you who didn't get to see this before, here's Julie with Jon Anderson...before they recorded Heart of the Sunrise together (heh)

Friday, April 08, 2005

Viacom/VH1 Ripping off Paul Green School of Rock Again?

Posted: Thurs., Apr. 7, 2005, 10:00pm PT
'School' is in session for VH1
Cabler in class with Simmons and RDF
VH1 is enrolling in "Rock School."

Cabler has partnered with British reality shop RDF Media ("Wife Swap") for "Rock School," ordering six episodes that take the premise of the Jack Black starrer "School of Rock"to the small screen.

RDF just wrapped production on the series for the U.K.'s Channel 4 -- which has already greenlit two cycles -- with Kiss bass player Gene Simmons educating the classically trained pupils of Christ's Hospital in Horsham, Surrey, on the ways of rock.

VH1 will reformat those episodes for American auds, stocking them with new music and additional Kiss footage from the MTV Networks library in time for a late spring/early summer premiere.

Joe Houlihan, prexy of RDF's U.S. operation, says the series shows a softer side of Simmons, who has recently popped up on primetime in "The Apprentice" and as a guest judge for "American Idol."

"Gene was genuinely interested in transforming the troupe of pre-teens into a rough-round-the-edges rock band," Houlihan said. Simmons was a primary schoolteacher before he formed Kiss in 1972.

"We've been kicking this idea around for a few years," Houlihan continued. "With the Jack Black film becoming a big hit, we feel like the timing couldn't be better."

VH1 is already talking to RDF about possible artists and themes for future editions, but no deals are in place.

Execs were sold on the culture clash at the series' core, said VH1 executive VP Michael Hirschorn.

In the first episode, Simmons pulls up in a limousine -- and the boarding school kids promptly refer to him as "arrogant" and "middle-aged."

"The cultural byplay between this American rock star and these plum English kids is really quite funny," he said.

"It's sort of the trifecta for us," Hirschorn added. "It fits nicely into our Celebreality niche. It's also clearly a music show. And it's got this great multi-generational appeal."


Hmmm...weird stuff, huh.

First VH1 films this so-called series over three years ago based on the Paul Green School of Rock; then disappears, then the Jack Black movie mysteriously appears, blatantly ripping off Paul. Now, with the huge buzz over the REAL Rock School documentary set to premier in June, VH1 decides to announce this and team up with yet another blatant rip-off?

Hahaha - I especially like the line "They've been kicking this idea around for a few years".

You're damn straight they have. Ever since they attended their first Paul Green Rock School concert three years ago, those bastards.

Also...if Gene Simmons is involved, you know it's all about money, because that fucker never made real music, he was the original corporate rock asshole.

I guess the good news is -- Paul has Newmarket Films behind him, now owned by Time Warner and from the rumors I heard, a series based on the documentary is already under negotiations with HBO and/or The Arts and Entertainment Network.

So I'm guessing VH1/Viacom/RDF will be hearing from an attorney or seventeen today.

I'd still love to know what happened to the hours of footage VH1 took at Rock School, my house and of all the kids in concert...

Oh right. That all ended up in the Jack Black movie. Silly me.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Oh man...

Okay, I don't mean to do this, but this is rapidly becoming the dead and dying rock star blog. This getting older stuff, man, it's really sad. All my "people" are dropping like flies.

Reuters: April 7, 2005

Singer/songwriter Gerry Rafferty was undergoing tests and remains in highly critical condition in a London hospital Friday for a suspected drug overdose and a fall down the stairs at home.

Authorities said prescription drugs and evidence of heavy drinking were found at his home in Hampstead, North London, the Mirror reported.

Rafferty, 57, made millions from his hit record "Baker Street," which was later used on the soundtrack of the 1997 movie "Good Will Hunting."

But, the death of his elder brother Joe and problems in his personal life made him shun the limelight. He also was reportedly frustrated with the "one-hit wonder" tag.

Whilst I write...

So while I continue to simultaneously write two books at once, worry about my taxes and my daughter's college financial aid forms, I thought I'd post a very cool article about Ike Willis which mentions his Rock School affiliation.

Also, thanks to Dave Neidorf (again!) for providing me with those fantastic DVDs. We watched the Napoleon Murphy Brock/Rock School DVD from February 29, 2004 and of course I instantly filled up with tears at the first song, City of Tiny Lights, which features now former Rock Star All-Stars Teddi Tarnoff, Louie Graff, Allie Hauptman and Julie Slick. City of Tiny Lights, along with Heart of the Sunrise, are two Rock School songs I can hear 1,000,000 times and never get bored. I cannot wait for the Jon Anderson version on the Rock School movie soundtrack coming out next month, but to be honest, I wish it were Teddi singing instead. She owns that song. Too bad she couldn't have sung it as a duet with him.

But you know, as always, big business rules. I'm still not quite understanding why Alice Cooper's School's Out for The Summer is even associated with the movie or on the soundtrack, especially since the kids never performed it in concert to my knowledge...well, at least not the All-Star students in the movie; it might have been in a beginner show I missed...but I'd better shut up because my daughter plays bass on that song on the soundtrack and rumor has it that's going to be the first MTV video. But ugh, "Alice" is a fucking golf playing Republican and yes, yes, we all know how I feel about that.

Oh yeah, in other news, I think there's a mini west coast tour in connection with the movie's LA premier June 1 but again, at this point, a rumor so I'd better not say anything further in that regard, either.

In writing news, I am happy to announce that the baseball story I've wanted to write for years (i.e., the Phillies winning the World Series for the first time ever right after my mother, a long time suffering Phillies' fan, died of a brain tumor) has been accepted at Somewhat Magazine and will be published May 4. I'll post a link when the time comes. I love the editors at Somewhat. They are so fucking cool, and not just because they dig my stuff. I visited their links page and met the most interesting character the other day via email -- Henry Dribble. We started emailing back and forth; he's going to promote Eric's band on his site; it turns out one of his kids writes for Friends and Will and Grace; the other is a drummer for a rockband in LA...anyway, how cool is that.

Okay, I'll be quiet now. Here's the Ike article:

'Object' of affection
By Ed Symkus
Wednesday, April 6, 2005

There is no shortage of Frank Zappa tribute bands. Although the singer-guitarist-composer-conductor - and founder of his own fan club, the United Mutations - died 12 years ago, his complex pop-rock-jazz music lives on. There's always his catalogue of recordings, both solo and with the Mothers of Invention. But there are also all of those bands: the Muffin Men in England, Central Scrutinizer Band in Brazil, Zappanoia in Portugal, Children of Invention in France, Great Googly Moogly! in Sweden, as well as a plethora of US-based bands, among them Bogus Pomp and Uncle Meat.

One of the longest-running American Zappa tribute bands, Project/Object, plays at the Middle East in Cambridge on Monday, with guest members Ike Willis (guitar and vocals) and Napoleon Murphy Brock (reeds and vocals), both of whom toured with Zappa as members of the Mothers.

"Just before Frank died he said to me, 'Just do what you can to keep my music alive. Play whatever you want, but keep it faithful, if you can,' " recalls Willis, who played with Zappa from 1978 till his death in 1993. "Within a month after he died I got a call from my first Zappa tribute band, the Muffin Men, out of Liverpool. I set the criteria from there: 'Let me hear your material live.' And since then I've made my choices based on how faithful the rendition of the material was live. And the attitude - Frank always told me that attitude was highly important."

About two years later, members of Project/Object, a New York band that only plays Zappa music, and often recreates an entire Zappa or Mothers album onstage, sent a live tape of one of their performances to Willis, who liked it enough to travel from his home in San Francisco to New York, where, after checking out their attitude, he joined the band for a few gigs. And has continued to do so from time to time over the years.

Willis, who currently fronts his own band of original music, the Ike Willis Project, is probably still best known as the deep, rich voice of Joe on Zappa's "Joe's Garage." He remains an ardent Zappa fan.

"I would put him as one of the top two or three most important composers in the second half of the 20th century," says Willis.

"Do they still use the word seminal?" he asks, with a laugh. "And in terms of his guitar playing ability, Frank was just incredibly underrated."

The two met when Willis was a senior at Washington University in St. Louis, and Zappa was playing a concert at the school. Willis helped out "schlepping" some equipment for the gig.

"After sound check, the band and the crew were eating backstage," remembers Willis. "I was sitting by myself, eating and reading, and Frank walked by with a plate full of lasagna. I mentioned something about the bad food there and after a few minutes he called me over to his table. I didn't really want to bother him. The last thing he'd want is to be bothered by some knit hat-wearing, would-be guitar-playing senior in college. But he called me over and we sat and talked about physics and science and history, and hung out."

They also talked about the fact that Willis had already been a professional guitarist for 12 years and actually knew some of Zappa's rather difficult music. Later, as Zappa was getting ready to warm up, he handed him a guitar and asked if he wanted to play it.

"I started playing [Zappa's] 'Carolina [Hard-core Ecstasy]' and Frank joined in and then the rest of the band joined in. But I didn't think of it as an audition or anything. After a while he said he liked the way I played but that he had to go do the show, and asked me for my address and phone number because he had auditions every year. I did, then just moved on, but eight months later he called me in my dorm room. I joined the band the following summer."

He remembers Zappa as a perfectionist who ran strict rehearsals before each concert, often conducting the band with a baton. And he regards his days singing and playing guitar with him as a major challenge and an unforgettably rewarding musical experience.

When he isn't touring with Project/Object or with his own band, he's involved with the Paul Green School of Rock, upon which the film "School of Rock" was very loosely based, and which often has classes and concerts focused on Zappa's music.

"It's an actual rock 'n' roll academy," says Willis. "They start around 10 or 12 and go up to age 18. It's nationwide - we have schools from New York City to San Francisco. I think we're working on one in Boston. I am professor emeritus of guitar and vocals."

When he finds any free time, Willis is often hired for voice-over work and jingles. At one point, while he was still working with Zappa, he also tried his hand at acting, landing a small part as a boxer in the 1983 Gregory Harrison TV movie "The Fighter."

"When I was living in L.A., my next door neighbor was a casting agent," says Willis. "And acting was something I did between tours. Hey, being in movies is nowhere near as difficult as playing with Frank Zappa."

Project/Object, featuring Ike Willis and Napoleon Murphy Brock, performs the music of Frank Zappa at the Middle East in Cambridge on April 11. The show is 18+, doors open at 8 p.m., tickets are $17. Call 617-864-3278, ext. 221.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Odds and Sods - Part 37

So, yesterday brought me all this great stuff in the mail. Dave Neidorf, who is not a professional cinematographer but a doctor who does this for a hobby though you'd never guess he's not a pro in a million years, sent me the February 29, 2004 Rock School All-Stars/Napoleon Murphy Brock DVD as well as DVDs for the fall Scottish Rite Auditorium show in Collingswood and the Project Object show in Downingtown. I can't wait to watch these tonight (last night no one was home) and am especially looking forward to the Napoleon concert because it was one of Julie's last shows before the tour and there's a really nice photo of her boyfriend Matt on the DVD cover.

Anyway, thank you so much, Dave! This was just totally awesome of you.

Also, I'd ordered a bunch of photos from when Eric, Lauren, Dom, C.J., and Mike Connor flew out to Vegas last month for ShoWest, the big theater convention where Penn Jilette was the Master of Ceremonies...and they are awesome! Beautiful 8x10 glossies taken by Image Pro, who does all of the celebrity events. I had to order them on line; they cost a fortune; and are worth every penny! I have a solo shot of Eric on a huge stage with a massive video screen behind him; one of Eric and Dom with a huge shot of Dom on the screen as well; two group shots of the whole band on stage, and an awesome group shot off-stage of all the kids, Paul, and Bob Berney, President of Newmarket Films.

(I'm still smiling over Eric telling me he had dinner at the Palm in Vegas and sat next to Bob Berney and his remark to me was "Mom, I had a $17.00 bowl of spaghetti")

Anyway, I'm not sure what our scanner status is (I don't know if our scanner works with our new computer or not) but trust me, I will find a way to post those pics here somehow. Even if it means a trip to...bleh...Kinkos.

Upcoming Rock School shows: April 23, 2005 at 12:30 p.m. - encore performance of Jesus Christ Superstar at B.B. Kings in NYC; All-Star shows: April 29, 2005 at the Funk Box in Baltimore, Maryland, April 30, 2005 at Harpers Ferry in Boston, MA, and May 1 at Higher Ground in Burlington, Vermont; as well as the whole spring performance schedule including Eric's last Rock School ensemble show - Led Zep; the final Best Of show for the current graduates which is going to be HUGE at the Electric Factory June 5, and the grand finale blow-out All-Star Pink Floyd show at the TLA August 14 a week after the kids get back from Germany. And of course there's the 12 city east coast tour immediately preceding Germany.

Not to mention the premier of Rock School, The Movie on June 3. Still waiting for news regarding a possible red carpet premier/party in Philadelphia.

In other news...

I sent the newly revised first 100 pages of The Tour to my agent yesterday and am a nervous wreck, but you know, that's all part of the writing thing and I'm a nervous wreck anyway...even crossing a busy street these days gives me a fucking heart attack. I thought one of the perks of being adult was confidence and wisdom. Yeah, right. I feel like I'm rapidly sliding in reverse and headed for a playpen. I just hope I don't have to share mine with Charleton Heston...he plays with real guns.

Julie's feeling much better and is back on a baking binge but luckily made me banana nut bread with soy flour and brown rice syrup and it's like the best healthy dessert I've ever had in my life. Of course I kept slicing away at it all night and even diet food stops being dietic when you eat a whole freaking loaf, but there you have it. I really should go to Overeaters Anonymous, but who the hell has the time. Luckily I'm vain and manage to stop the madness once my jeans stop feeling comfortable...i.e., once I have to flatten myself on the bed to zip them. But I've been walking to and from work now that the icy weather is over and I'm no longer afraid of falling on my head. (See what I mean about being a wreck?) That trek is around 4-5 miles and the way home is all up hill so I'm hoping for some damage control.

Anyway, I think that's it for now. Since I'm currently in limbo waiting to hear about the opening to the new version of The Tour before proceeding further, I've returned to the sequel to Three Days in New York and am trying to get that finished in time for the RT Convention at the end of the month. God. If only I could quit my day job and this house would run itself. My daugther gently reminded me I have to do her FAFSA forms for college, but before I can do that, I need to do my 2004 tax return, and oh my god, that's due in like 10 days. Ask me if I even know where my W2 form is. Arghhh.....

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Ack, I had to post again because of Boner, I mean Bono...

DUBLIN (Reuters) - Pope John Paul II was the "best front man" the Roman Catholic Church ever had, U2's own front man Bono says.

Everyone knows how much I hate Boner and U2, so I had just to post his words about the Pope because, well...I don't know, I just hate Boner and he's such an asshole.

Though I do agree that this Pope was a special man.

But you know, there's that little issue of a woman's right to choose...


I'll go back to my novel now.

Oh, and one more thing...

My pal Alicia Gifford won the Story South 2004 Million Writers Award!

Read all about it here!

And thanks to any and all of you who read the story and voted, even though the public vote was eventually thrown out after people actually cheated. It still blows my mind...

Anyway, if you haven't read Alicia's story as well as the other nine finalists, you really should rectify that because there's some really fine writing there.


Sorry about the lapse in posting.

I've been re-writing the book I wrote about the kids' Rock School tour last summer, totally changing the focus and using the tour as merely a backdrop for my baby boomer tumble into middle age kicking and screaming. Names have been changed to protect the innocent. Ha.

Anyway, there's a lot I could say, such as my daughter thought she had malaria last week (don't ask), my son is away for the weekend and as usual, I'm a worried mess; I forgot it was daylight savings time and didn't change the clocks until about a half hour ago and now I'm really pissed because it's later than I thought and I missed an hour of writing time this morning...and well, I'll be back to regular posting as soon as I can.