Thursday, October 2, 2014

Watch the trailer for the new indie film "Honeyspider" 

To relaunch my long neglected Vampire Coffee House, I wanted to share the trailer for the new film "Honeyspider," which will premier at The Gem Theater in Kannapolis, NC where part of the movie was filmed. The independent film is the creation of NC-based writer/producer Kenny Caperton and Ohio-based director/producer Josh Hasty.

The movie is about Halloween birthday girl Jackie Blue (Mariah Brown). It's set in 1989 and instead of really celebrating college student Jackie is coming unglued as a mysterious stranger watches from afar.

I found out about it because I've long wanted to write about Caperton's Myers House, the replica of the original house from "Halloween" he and his wife Emily built in Hillsborough, NC. Check it out here. Since the movie is premiering in Kannapolis (Caperton frequented the Gem Theater while living in China Grove in high school), I not only get to write about it for my regular job I get to see it on opening night as part of a double feature with "Night of the Living Dead."

I haven't been this excited about a semi-local release since Charlotte's Jason Griscom did "Come Get Some" over a decade ago.

"Honeyspider" will also screen November 1 at the Raleigh Rd. Drive-In in Henderson. That's also a double feature and its paired with the original "House on Haunted Hill" (which I think scared the bejesus out of my mother in the theater) as well as on Halloween at the Murphy Theater in Wilmington, Ohio.

So check out the trailer and, if you're in the area, go see the movie. Opening night is only $5 and what's more fun than homegrown horror?

The movie had some best table saw reviews. if you didn't catch it, you can click here. You'll definitely enjoy this movie!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Steve Earle at Neighborhood Theatre 5/2/12

My father died nine years ago last month. In his eulogy I wrote how even though he was gone I could still find him - in nature, in the bluegrass music he loved, in his stories, which I repeat to this day, and in the sad brown eyes of our hound dog Chelsea. Watching Steve Earle perform at Neighborhood Theatre May 2, I was reminded that the place I feel closest to my father is watching Earle perform.

I remember when Dad brought the “Copperhead Road” record home. The skull and crossbones on the cover. Earle in his motorcycle leathers and long hair on the back cover. This was not my daddy’s bluegrass. But it was the rare artist we could agree on. When Earle made a comeback a few years later with the acoustic leaning “Train A Comin’,” he became even more of a connection for my father and I. I’d snatch up each album - “I Feel Alright,” “El Corazon” - at the record store where I worked and take them home to Daddy in his dilapidated house in the woods in West Virginia in the same way he’d bring home cassettes and “Rolling Stone” magazines to me when he worked out of state when I was 11 or 12.

All of these memories come flooding back to me when I watch Earle, who with his graying beard and long hair resembles my father more now than he ever did. Earle is probably my favorite songwriter and I’ve seen him live countless times. After a few years of seeing him in more unusual configurations - last time at McGlohon Theatre he was backed by a DJ - the Neighborhood Theatre show reunited him with the Dukes including his longtime bassist Kelley Looney who actually got to sing lead(!). Earle was also backed by dB’s drummer Will Rigby and new guitarist Chris Masterson and his band mate in the Mastersons Eleanor Whitmore. Sadly Earle’s singer-songwriter wife Allison Moorer, a knockout singer in her own right, was absent. She is spending summer at home having decided that their two-year-old son John Henry spends enough of his life on the road.

Earle hit on the usual suspects early in his set apparently to appease those obnoxious, inebriated fans that insist on yelling “Copperhead Road” for the entire show. There actually was one such fan posted at stage front, but Earle just shrugged and laughed at the guy. Earle’s demeanor was definitely mellower. He wasn’t ruffled by the resident asshole. In fact he and his band stuck around and autographed merch after the show admittedly in an attempt to sell more of it.

He hit on the Celtic “Molly O,” dedicated "Every Part of Me" to Moorer, and “Telephone Road.” If you’re a fan of a songwriter you probably love hearing the stories behind the songs and Earle recited a great, longwinded tale about jumping through hoops to see ZZ Top, among other big names (including Fleetwood Mac when it was still a blues band) in the early `70s in Texas. He and his friends stayed on “Telephone Road.”

Earle’s concert whizzed by with “My Old Friend the Blues,” “Someday,” “Guitar Town,” and “Copperhead Road.”

“Anyone on parole can leave now,” he stated after the run of hits.

He introduced “Galway Girl” by noting his Steve Gilchrist custom mandolin, adding “I quit pimpin’ Gibson’s stuff because I don’t like the way they do business.” Burn! He followed it with “Harlan Man” and “The Mountain,” two songs that resonate with this West Virginia native and union organizer’s great granddaughter. By the time he’d run through “City of Immigrants,” “Taneytown,” “Hardcore Troubadour,” and “The Revolution Starts Now” his blue button-up was completely soaked.

The poignant introductions continued during the encore. He talked about the drama teacher that changed his life and how he continues to look for answers in books. That lead to "Jerusalem," a song he said he’ll keep singing until seemingly unattainable peace is a reality. (Click on the song title to watch the moving intro and performance on YouTube). His optimism gave me chills. He followed that with “Never Get Outta This World Alive.”

He introduced “Devil’s Right Hand” with another story about how the tune became a gun control anthem years after it was written. His then teenage son Justin (who music fans now know as Justin Townes Earle) stole a loaded gun from under Steve’s mattress shortly after the elder Earle was released from jail. For someone with children his story only reinforced my own opinion - as he is apt to do - about having guns at home.

“I haven’t had a gun in my house since,” he said.

A second encore included his cover of Bruce Springsteen’s “State Trooper.” He ended with the rocking anthem “NYC,” an indication of where his heart really is - back at home in the city with his beautiful wife and son. And I left anxious to see my own little boys - the other place I feel closest to my father.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Best Concerts of 2011

While doing my taxes this year I realized I'd never finished my list of favorite concerts of 2011. In looking back some were obvious, while I had to think a little harder about others. Some of the bands I fell in love with live and on record I watched with only a handful of people (Lydia Loveless at Evening Muse, Still Corners at Snug Harbor, Hank & Cupcakes, who I highly recommend live, at Amos', and Nurses at Tremont). My husband stands by his top show of 2011 - Sade at Time Warner Cable Amphitheatre. She was great, but I didn't include it because that's really more of his thing and he's thinking of it from a production standpoint more than as a fan. That said, here is my list of my most memorable concerts of 2011.

Robyn at Bonnaroo June 12, Manchester Tennessee (pictured) - After falling in love with her “Body Talk” album over and over again (in part thanks to my 1-year-old who digs “Dancing on My Own”) seeing her live was a revelation. Her style and actions are sometimes confounding - she wore a football jersey and biker shorts and ate a banana during the set - but her oddities and originality are one reason to adore her. She’s completely original and I always had a special spot for wacky dancers (Natalie Merchant with 10,000 Maniacs on “SNL” or Mary Chapin-Carpenter in the “Down at the Twist and Shout” video for instance). I can’t wait to see her again when she opens for Coldplay on tour in July.

Eminem at Bonnaroo June 11, Manchester Tennessee - After seeing and hearing his set at Bonnaroo, which sounded amazing, I’d travel to see him again (which might be realistic since his live performances are pretty rare). It was hit packed. He was an incredible showman who engaged the crowd with each beat. It was one of those shows like Arcade Fire’s first Coachella that I felt privileged to witness. My Morning Jacket and Arcade Fire’s memorable sets the night before were also standouts.

Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings March 11 at McGlohon Theatre, Charlotte, NC - Shimmying in a fringed dress on stage at 55 with a voice that’s strength and soulfulness comes in part from her age and experience, Jones and her crack band are just so good live. Simultaneously raw and polished like live bands should be, Jones demonstrates (along with artists like Elvis Costello and Bruce Springsteen) that music knows no age limit.

Hopesfall at Amos’ Southend August 5, Charlotte, NC - I saw the influential Charlotte Christian core outfit at the height of its popularity, but never in the early form that drew such a rabid fanbase here at home. That lineup included friend and original drummer Adam Morgan. The group only did two reunion shows - one here and one at Ziggy’s in Winston-Salem - and fans flew in from as far away as Australia to witness them. There was something really special about it both on stage and off. After endless lineup changes and a sort of strange end, it gave those that started it a sense of closure.

Anthrax/Testament/Death Angel November 5 at The Fillmore, Charlotte, NC - Although my attachment to metal waned as trends veered toward indecipherable lyrics and screamy vocals, this show reminded me of everything I loved about metal when I was 13 and made me give the rest of the contemporary genre another try.

Elvis Costello July 16 at Belk Theater, Charlotte, NC - "The wheel" - a giant game show prop (think “Wheel of Fortune” with song titles) - allowed audience members' spins to determine the set list. It  only landed on one of my very favorites once (“I Don’t Want to Go to Chelsea”), but Costello served up an interactive show and great career retrospective that rang with spontaneity. I consider him a living legend, but he didn’t behave like a standoffish performer. He interacted with the crowd, joked, and even marched out in the aisles where he sang not 10 feet from us. Each time I see him reaffirms his special place in music history.

Foo Fighters November 8 at Time Warner Cable Arena, Charlotte, NC - I just don’t think there’s a better live rock band playing arenas today. There’s something joyous in Dave Grohl and Taylor Hawkins’ demeanors that permeates the crowd. I didn’t think it could top its 2007 show at Bojangles’ Coliseum, but it certainly gave it its best shot.

Face to Face May 25 at The Orange Peel, Asheville, NC - My husband sent me and a friend to Asheville to see this Victorville, CA veteran pop-punk band as a surprise. Neither of us really wanted to make the trip, but were glad we did. Like Anthrax, Face to Face reminded me of why I once wore their t-shirts. I loaded their entire catalog on to my iPod once I got home. Trevor Keith is still a force and songs like “Disconnected” and “Ordinary” as well as pretty much anything off “Big Choice” are just anthemic, pop punk classics.

Kyusss Lives! September 25 at The Orange Peel, Asheville, NC - Having had a great interview with vocalist John Garcia a few weeks before the show gave me perspective on how much this reunion meant for both the fans and the band and that energy and joy was contagious. This is easily my husband’s favorite show of the year (aside from Sade), but he’s a longtime fan that was musically influenced by the original band. There was something special about the show (and maybe the whole tour was that way). It’s sad that the group is embattled in a legal dispute with fellow Kyuss founder Josh Homme because that hurdle may kill its momentum.

Van Hunt September 29 at Double Door Inn, Charlotte, NC - Maybe it’s because I love his 2011 album “What Were You Hoping For?” so much. Maybe it’s because his band was so tight and funky. But despite harsh sound, this ranks up there with one of my favorite shows of the year. Hunt is a soulful vocalist. He crosses genres from jazz to funk to jam to rock with ease. He’s not afraid to turn up the weirdness as he demonstrated even more so during his more recent performance at The Double Door, which was a looser, jazzier, more improvisational set than September’s concert. I prefer the former because it was so heavy on new material.


Thursday, May 3, 2012




[caption id="attachment_474" align="aligncenter" width="400" caption="Moseley as The Magician, photo by Tammy Sutton"][/caption]

With "The Devil's Carnival" director Darren Bousman and writer/actor Terrance Zdunich (“Repo! The Genetic Opera”) have created a fun, visually stunning and colorful musical which is kind of like the equivalent of a visual short story. The movie stars Sean Patrick Flanery, Jessica Lowndes, Dayton Callie, Paul Sorvino, and one of my favorite actors, Bill Moseley (who recently chatted about the project). This Spring Bousman and Zdunich embarked on a touring road show screening “The Devil’s Carnival” in clubs and theaters across the US with some of the actors appearing at individual events - the same approach they took when “Repo!” was bashed by critics and released in only a handful of theaters. With actress/musician Emilie Autumn and music producer Joe Bishara in tow at Neighborhood Theatre in Charlotte, the screening was more of a full-on experience than simple viewing party. There was a costume contest, a Q&A, autograph signings, and a really well put together collection of "Repo!" rarities. It was a fun, original concept that drew fans closer to the filmmakers. Fans in turn left excited about the prospect of more “Devil’s Carnivals” be it as a series of online episodes, On Demand, or whatever new concept the filmmakers come up with. Hello, HBO!

Moseley, who was recently in Charlotte as a guest at the first Mad Monster Convention (where he sang a little Devo to our son), didn’t make it back to town for the "Carnival" (he was filming a movie in Connecticut) but he did take time to talk to me over the phone about his role as The Magician as well as some of his iconic characters. After seeing “The Devil’s Carnival” I can definitely imagine his Magician taking on a bigger part in a sequel. Our interview is below. 

The tour is currently winding its way through the Midwest. It ends May 12. Watch the trailer here

When you started your career did you have a fondness for horror?

Like any kid I loved Halloween. I loved monsters and seeing scary movies on TV. I definitely had a firm foundation in it. It’s funny in Hollywood people use you and hire you for what they know best. Certainly in the horror genre I have some good credits. I do seem to enjoy that genre. It’s fine with me. It’s good to get work in your chosen profession. Acting is about as independent as it gets unless you get signed on for a TV series. If you’re a feature film actor like me you’re always…

It seems like a constant hustle.
It is. That’s why it is good to have teamwork - an agent and manager in terms of looking for work for you. It’s nice with the internet people can look me up on and can find my contact info. When I go to horror conventions I’m happy to hand out that information to people who want to work with me. You know it’s a constant effort to get your name out there. It’s…whatever the blue collar approach to (acting is).

So what can you reveal about “The Devil’s Carnival?”

I get to see it for the first time Thursday. That’s the premier that Darren (Lynn Bousman) and Terrance Zdunich are showing here in L.A. So it will be the first time I have seen it. Then I’m going down with Darren and his wife Laura Bousman to a screening of “Devil’s Carnival” in San Diego. I’m appearing at that screening with Clown (Shawn Crahan) of Slipknot, who is also in the film. Then it’ll be on the road for next month. I don’t know that “Devil’s Carnival” would be seen in regular theaters anyway. It's not a feature length film. It's more like TV episode. I haven’t talked to Darrren in terms of what he envisioned in terms of selling it.

How much experience did you have singing and dancing before “Repo?”

I certainly had sung and danced, but certainly not on screen. It was a big leap for me and a happy one. Between Terrance and Darren Bousman and (co-writer) Darren Smith, they saw the potential in me. It was funny because Darren said, “You’re going to have to audition. I know you can kill, but can you sing?” I showed him a cd from a band I use to have with Buckethead called Cornbugs. I did the vocals on the cd. I said, “Well, you’ve heard the Cornbugs.” He said, “Yes, but can you sing?”

The good news is for the past 15 years I’ve taken a weekly singing lesson. I sing Beatles songs at the piano. I do that not so much for my singing career. It’s like a voice gym and as an actor you need your voice in good shape. I was able to take the song Darren wanted me to audition with to my lesson. We figured out the dramatic structure of the song and of course hitting the right notes. I auditioned for Darren, Terrance and (composer) Joe Bishara. I guess I did a good enough job.

So how did prepping for your role in “The Devil’s Carnival” differ?

Going into “Devil’s Carnival” they knew I could sing from my songs in “Repo!,” but they wanted something different. They wanted a different character. I went over to Joe Bishara’s house a couple months ago and they sent me - I don’t know if it’s called a click track, but they sent me the music to the song “The Devil’s Carnival.” It was a relaxed enough situation among friends - Joe and Darren and Terrance. We worked on the song but basically the voice in the song informed me what kind of character they were looking for. It’s a little more high pitched and funny.

Where did you film it?

In Riverside, California on the lot of someone who has collected amazing circus memorabilia. They have booths, a big top and this is all on someone’s property which is not out in the middle of nowhere but right in the middle of town. It was an amazing location. It was all night shoots because, you know, I guess the Devil sleeps during the day. It’s the desert. It’s dusty and cold and we’re dancing around. Fortunately my costume was pretty warm. Not only did I have my red magician’s tux. I had a cape. I was the designated warmer. People that needed to be warmed could spend some time under the cape.

Did it feel like you were stepping into this world? You look at the world they created with “Repo!” and then trailers for “The Devil’s Carnival” is its own unique world.

It’s very exciting because its Darren Bousman’s crazy wonderful vision. He was really fun to work with once again. This was our third project together. I did “Repo!” and I worked with him on a movie called “The Tortured.” It’s fun to work with a director multiple times. You get to know each other. You can get right into your shorthand. You don’t have to worry if this will piss somebody off. (Or ask yourself) "What’s he looking for?" The third time is the charm and we had a great time.

It seems like you’re part of a family of filmmakers that continue to work together with these films and the work you’ve done with Rob Zombie. Is that atmosphere preferable?

In a way with actors being insecure wondering where the next job is coming from. Orson Wells had the Mercury Players. That’s wonderful. You see the same faces pop up. Actors are insecure people craving security. It’s nice to have someone calling you back and when they don’t call you back it doesn’t mean that’s not a good relationship. I had a nice run with Rob - about a ten year run from “House of 1000 Corpses” to “Halloween II.” That’s a long relationship in terms of Hollywood relationships. It’s great to be a part of the “Repo!” family. The familiarity is a happy aspect of it. It gives you a sense of continuity. It’s good for the director’s vision to see how they grow. From a blue collar perspective, it’s nice to keep working.

Mentioning working with Rob Zombie - “The Devil’s Rejects” is such a special movie to me. Did the cast and crew have that same feeling about it? That you were creating something special?

Absolutely. It was a magical experience. It was one of those rare times where all the elements worked together. Sometimes you might have a weak link among the actors, maybe the script doesn’t work or the directing or the plot is thin in places. Sometimes it’s the soundtrack, the marketing. Some fly in the ointment. With “Devil’s Rejects” really everything came together. It was amazing. Rob wrote an amazing script. Sid (Haig) and Sheri (Moon Zombie) and I had already worked together. We were reprising our roles as the Driftwoods and the Spauldings. And again we hit the ground running. I always describe “House of 1000 Corpses” as buying the car and “The Devil’s Rejects” as taking it out for a drive.

I’d never worked on a sequel for any characters I’d created before. Talking about working with directors - In 1986 I did “Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2” and created the role of Chop Top. I had a great experience working with the director, Tobe Hooper. That was 26 years ago. I’ve enjoyed a great warm relationship with Tobe, who also lives in LA. I’m friends with his son. I’ve had a nice personal relationship with him, but I’ve never worked with him again. It just shows you. I did “House of 1000 Corpses.” I come to that as a professional actor. I try to curb the expectation that it’s nothing personal. They use you or they don’t.

When Rob, I think it was a Superbowl party at his house in 2004 or 2005 - he said we’re going to do another movie, “The Devil’s Rejects.” I said, “Wow that’s cool.” He goes, “But this time I want Otis to look a little different.” He described one of the Allman Brothers. He had a paper plate. We’d been eating Cheetos. And he took a pen and sketched out this Allman Brothers looking character. I said, “First of all you have to sign and date that” - I still have it somewhere. The second thing I said is, “I’ve never grown a beard.” He said, “Why don’t you just stop shaving and see what happens.” So for about four months I let my face grow. Low and behold this amazing beard came out of me. I did not know it had been hiding in my chin and in my cheeks for all those years. It was amazing. That certainly started me on the road to Otis number two. They did shave my head for that. The long hair was a wig. If you watch the “making of” special disc documentary “30 Days in Hell” it shows the day by day video diary of shooting the movie. There are a couple of scenes of me working out stunts with Kane Hodder with this nice beard and bald head. They told me the wig was worth more than I was.

You mentioned doing the “Texas Chainsaw” sequel in `86. Aren’t you in a new version. “Texas Chainsaw Massacre 3-D?”

Yes. It’s coming out in January (2013).

How does it fit in with the story?

It picks up where Tobe’s original leads off. After Leatherface is pirouetting in the road with his chainsaw and Sally, with her mask of blood, is laughing in the back of a pickup truck. It cuts back to the Sawyer house.

But Chop Top wasn’t in the original, was he? 

In “Chainsaw 3-D” I’m playing the cook (aka Drayton Sawyer). I figured when they contacted me they’d want me to reprise Chop Top. I don’t think they have the rights to “Chainsaw 2,” which is owned by Sony. The hitchhiker (in the original) had been run over by the truck. I was asked to play the part made famous by Jim Siedow. I said, “I’ll try.”

It was a great honor to play that part. I had a great warm and long lasting relationship with Jim and his wife Ruth. It was important for me to play that part and do it justice. I’d rather do it and have someone who wasn’t just hired, who has history and knows the actor. Jim and I are different types, but I did my best. I did have a moment. We filmed it in Bossier City, Louisiana on an Army base. They’d built a replica of the Chainsaw house. There was one point where I was lying on the floor at the bottom of the stairs waiting for the next shot in the front hall of the Chainsaw house and I could look down and see the sliding silver door and there was this red or purple felt against the walls and all these skulls hung up on it like in the original movie. I was covered in stage blood and chicken feathers and it was about 104 degrees with ninety percent humidity. All of the crew were pulling cables and stepping over me and being annoyed with me lying there. I looked up the stairs and looked down past the wall of skulls to the silver door. I saw the blood and had a flash of where I was and just how special it was. I don’t know how many people felt that same way and knew what I was thinking in terms of the history of the movie. “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” - becoming a part of that history changed my life and gave me this career. It felt like an honor to be lying there as Jim in that costume in that same character and what that meant. It was short-lived. I’m sure someone asked me to get out of the way, but it was a special.

You’re also taking on a pretty big role as Charles Manson, right?

In “Manson Girls,” which is directed by Susanna Lo. We’re still waiting to shoot that. There is a trailer out for it. I sing the old Doors song “Five to One.” That’s in the soundtrack for the trailer. I can’t wait for that to get into production.

I imagine the Manson murders happened when you were growing up? How much did you remember from that time?

I was aware of it. I was a younger guy. But Charles Manson has been a recurring motif. People were comparing Otis to Manson.  I’ve read “Helter Skelter” and gone online and seen some of the interviews. I was also in a play. That’s one of the reasons Susanna hired me. Years ago I was in a play here in L.A.called “Timothy and Charlie.” Historically Charles Manson and Timothy Leary were in San Quentin in 1974. Playwright Tim Riehl took that piece of history and created a two act play based on the proximity of Timothy and Charlie. They barked back and forth. Timothy Leary talking about experiences with drugs getting you closer to God. Manson is shirtless and screaming, “I did it because I liked to get high." I actually played Timothy Leary in the play.

To play a role like that do you have to identify in some way with the character? In this case the real person.

It’s a fine line between actually taking on that persona and being real in it as opposed to very expert mimicry. I find that with my style I just have to go to those places and let my imagination take me to those places as opposed to trying to approximate and act out something that I may not agree with. I just find it work a little better when I am that person. Not necessarily like Robert Deniro gaining fifty pounds to play “Raging Bull.” With Manson it's going to be a little of him and a little of me.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Q&A with Darrell Scott

I recently spoke to singer-songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Darrell Scott to preview his Charlotte date and in doing so got to talk to him about his new album, “Long Ride Home,” 2008’s “Modern Hymns,” and growing up in coal country.

There are several things about Scott’s work that resonate with me. On “Modern Hymns” - a collection of songs that influenced him - he covers two songs that were absolute staples growing up for me. My father often quoted Kris Kristofferson’s “Jesus Was a Capricorn” and we listened to Hoyt Axton’s “The Devil” driving around in the country with our dog. I’ve since put the latter on a mix for my sons. Scott, who is part of Robert Plant’s Band of Joy as well as an award winning writer whose tracks have been recorded by the Dixie Chicks, Travis Tritt, Faith Hill, Tim McGraw and others, also grew up in Kentucky. Having grown up in nearby West Virginia we discussed his oft covered song “You’ll Never Leave Harlan Alive” (covered by fellow West Virginians Brad Paisley and Kathy Mattea). 

For “Long Ride Home” he employed classic country session musicians piano player Pig Robbins and harmonica player Charlie McCoy (my bass teacher when I was a kid was actually in McCoy’s band on “Hee Haw”). 

Does the sound of “Long Ride Home” - recorded in your living room  with legendary session musicians - capture a certain era in your musical history? 

It’s the sound of my childhood in terms of that’s the sounds I was hearing as an eight-year-old and a12-year-old. By my teenage years I was listening to more rock or pop or jazz or singer-songwriter folks.

Did you have a period where you rebelled against country music?

It happened at about age 16. I’d had enough of the church kind of stuff my family raised me in and the music my family raised me in and I started branching out on my own. That’s why, again coming back to this sound and this kind of song and music is going back and feeling very privileged to have had this as my background. That’s part of the bigger reason of why it’s called “Long Ride Home.” I guess it has been. I’m now 52.

You actually wrote a couple of these songs when you were a kid, didn’t you?
Two of the songs I wrote when I was 16.

Did you stumble upon them in an attic or something?

I remember all this stuff. I do. I not only remember most of my stuff I remember most of everybody else’s stuff too.

Seriously? That’s amazing.

That’s why for an album like “Modern Hymns” I didn’t have any of the lyrics sitting in front of me. I don’t tend to have lyrics in front of me. They tend to already be inside. It stays in there. It’s one of the things that goes on with this particular brain that I have. It’s very helpful because I have a pretty good library of stuff in my head.

Why did you decide to include those two?

Partly because I wrote them with my dad (Wayne Scott). He passed away while I was working on the record. We did a duet on the record. He passed away before I released this thing and unbeknownst to me that’s how those things work out that I put two songs I wrote with dad and a duet (on the record). I think really I was ready to pay my respects to where I came from musically. There’s been country elements to my records all along, but it’s a multifaceted musical thing that gets me going. I’m not going to be making country records. This is just a great place to pay a visit. It was a lovely visit getting to play with some of the heroes, the musicians who made these sounds when I was a kid and literally there’s my dad on the record. There’s the photo of me. When you make the right decision creatively all this stuff comes in to support it. The right photograph, songs, musicians. It’s one of those things that lets me know I’m doing to right thing.

“You’ll Never Leave Harlan Alive” is one that many artists that have recorded your songs seem to be drawn to. Do people, especially those with coal country backgrounds, seem to be drawn to that one because of the subject matter? 

Absolutely. I’ve seen it certainly in the artists who’ve covered it. It’s not just coal, but regional bluegrass bands in Colorado. It’s mining or really anyone who goes down in the earth. I’ve seen it done in Wales and Ireland and Northern England where there’s mining. There’s something about people who have a mining background. It’s something that seems to reach out to them, but I find when people don’t have that background it still speaks to them. But absolutely, the West Virginia and Kentucky stuff - they definitely get it. They feel connected with the song and have wanted to record it.

Why do you think those stories are so universal? 

It’s part of, not just America’s past, but it goes deeper. There’s something archetypal because people have been sent into dangerous places to bring back the goods for the queen or the coal boss. People have been risking their lives for money from I would bet back to caveman times - “I’m not going in there, but whatever jewel you grab you give it to me when you come back.” I think it’s making somebody do something you wouldn’t do yourself. It’s coal. Yes. But it goes back further than that. It’s something mysterious and haunting and it’s true. It just comes to bear more obvious when we speak of coal. In any of our lifetimes we’ve heard of the horrible stuff and the fires and explosions or lung disease or the shoot outs and all that junk. For some reason coal holds all of that.

Coal songs kind of, to me, bridge the gap between the modern world and that ancient world where we would grab our poorest people and make them do shit we would never do.

Monday, May 23, 2011

The boy's growing up: Picking his favorite music on his own

Now that our oldest son Devo is two he’s starting to pick his own music. “His music” is usually determined by whatever songs have made it on to my iPhone. I try to include all of the playlists I’ve created for him and his little brother. He’ll sit and flip from song to song, perusing album covers and stopping on the ones he either remembers or finds visually appealing. I’m fascinated by what clicks with him. When I started this blog and the more detailed journal I’ve kept since finding out I was pregnant with him it was as an unscientific study of his musical tastes – how the music he heard as a baby and as a child will later inform his preference as a teen and adult.

I must admit I’m kind of proud when he skips over the kid’s songs from “Yo Gabba Gabba” that we’ve heard a million times in favor of Alice Smith’s “Dream” or the National’s “Abel,” two of his most recent favorites. Driving home from his grandmother’s on mother’s day he repeatedly played the drum solo heavy intro to Valient Thorr’s “Double Crossed” sometimes letting it play through the first chorus before starting it all over again. My husband noted the intro’s unusual time signature. I wondered if Devo, who played my friend’s drum kit on a recent trip to WV, likes the drums. He loves to dance, so it’s no surprise that "house" (meaning my) dance favorites like “Abel” have worked their way into his brain. Few things delight me more than seeing my two-year-old light up when he hears the guitar lead-in and shake his head to Matt Berninger’s shouting baritone.

Other favorites include Julian Casablancas version of the “Saturday Night Live” holiday song “I Wish It was Christmas Today,” the intro and first verse of Jonathan Tyler & the Northern Lights’ “Young and Free,” and Poison’s “Fallen Angel.” He also knows what his brother likes and will grin as he plays Rick Springfield’s “Don’t Talk to Strangers” and “Human Touch,” Robyn’s “Dancing on My Own,” or the theme to “Terriers,” which are all what we consider “Indi’s songs.”

He has certain songs he repeatedly returns to, but he seems to discover new favorites daily whether laughing at N.E.R.D. or curious about the feline astronaut that graces the cover of the latest Klaxons' record. This week Abba’s “Take A Chance on Me” is quickly working its way into rotation. Hilarious!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Christian Kane talks "Angel." This Buffy fan swoons.

Christian Kane sings on "Leverage"

In February actor-turned-country singer Christian Kane, who currently plays Eliot Spencer on TNT’s “Leverage,” made his Coyote Joe’s debut after missing the January Stout Pull due to snow. Kane has starred in plenty of hit films like “Just Married” and “Friday Night Lights,” but I remember him best as Lindsey McDonald on “Angel” (this website alone is certainly an indication of my undying devotion to the Buffyverse).

It was on “Angel” that I first saw Kane sing though he also sang for his first acting gig on “Fame L.A.” Kane and I talked country music and transitioning from acting to the stage – Kane’s lived part-time in Nashville for years and his band Kane’s activities were covered in the pages of Angel and Buffy magazines. Although I tried not to geek out he could obviously tell I was a fan and was kind enough to share some “Angel” stories with me.

Check out Kane’s album “The House Rules.” It’s full of rocking radio-ready country and includes the song he sang on Season 3 of “Leverage" (another geek worthy episode that included a nepharious John Schneider and Alona Tal of "Supernatural" and "Veronica Mars" as Eliot's country crooning love interest. Love me some Meg Manning).

Here's the "Angel" portion of our interview.

The first time I saw you sing was on Angel when you had your demon hand (transplant). And now with "Leverage." Did those storylines originate because of  abilities you already possessed?

They did. That was the big thing. For two years I didn’t have a hand and I hated it. I remember the day it happened. It was very funny. Tim Minear was a good friend of mine. He was a writer and a producer on “Angel.” We were sitting there and I had my fake hand on. It was an hour in makeup everyday. I couldn’t eat lunch. They cut off my right hand which is what I do everything with and I was miserable. I was watching all these people. They’re all superheroes. They’re flying around on cables and turning into vampires. I literally looked over and he was writing the next episode and I said “What are you doing Tim?” He said, “I’m writing the next episode. It’s awesome.”  I looked at him and I said, “Kill Me!” I know people don’t want to die on TV shows, especially hit TV shows, but I was like “Dude, kill me.”

He said, “What are you talking about it?”

 “I’m miserable dude. This hand. I’m in a suit. Everyone’s a superhero and I’m a frickin’ lawyer.” So they gave me my hand back after that. And the one thing that David Greenwalt and me had in common was the love of music. He’s good friends with Jeff Bridges and a lot of people don’t know that Jeff Bridges has put out a couple albums. We talked in his office and he said I want you to sing a song. David wrote the song  and that was because I was a musician. That was their attempt to make me happy, which worked. I got to have my hand back and I got to sing a song. 

So were you happy when you returned in Season 5 with long hair, tattoos, and cowboy boots?

That’s a funny story because I was in New York doing “Taxi” with Queen Latifah and Jimmy Fallon. Joss Whedon called and said, “Hey, do you want to come back?” I said, “Joss, I want to come back, dude. I’ll do whatever you want. David Boreanaz is my best  friend (and he literally was). I want to come back, but I don’t want to get beat up by anymore chicks.”  He started laughing and said, “You have to trust me.” So I show up the first day. Spike’s throwing me around the strip joint kicking my ass. I look over and I go “dude.” Joss said, “Just trust me.” All right bro. I’m getting beat up again. It’s not cool. I trusted him and he gave me superpowers and I got to fight Angel. I did like coming back more than I liked being a lawyer.

How did you feel about dying in the end?

The funniest thing about it is, and since you’re an Angel fan I’ll tell you, Joss tried to kill me five times. I would not do it. Everyone died because of me. He kept trying to kill me and since I was a reoccurring character I would never do it. I said, “If you’re going to kill me, I’ll never show up.” 

What about when Lindsey finally is killed, despite fighting on the side of good in the end?

I hated it. It was the worst thing that ever happened to me. I felt like I should be there for the final fight. My dear dear friend that we miss every, the late Andy Hallett killed me (Hallett died March 29th, 2009). He hated guns and was really nervous about firing the gun at me. It was very sad. He felt bad (and said) “It’s not how I wanted to do things.” It was a really surreal moment with us. I said, “Dude. It’s ok” and he shot me and I died. I think I shoulda been there for a final fight.

Yeah. Lindsey was a villain but viewers liked him. You wanted to root for him. 

I think that followed me. It’s the same thing that’s going on with “Leverage.” We’re all bad guys, but you root for us.