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Monday, June 21, 2010

The Swagger of the Stones

Mick Jagger - (i) inspired by photo by Peter Lindbergh

Jeff Skonieczny writes a blog called He digs music. Good music, with a tendency towards prog rock. His blogger avatar is a photo of John and Yoko holding their "War is Over" poster.

That says it.

Oh, and he's quite opinionated. Not shy about it either.

One thing I never mind doing is bashing the Rolling Stones. In my opinion, the Stones are one of, if not, the most overrated bands in rock. However, today, I'm feeling a change of heart. Instead of focusing on what the Stones lack, I think for once in my life I'm going to acknowledge what the Stones have.

One thing nobody can deny is the Stones' staying power. Somehow they remain in the same conversation as The Beatles, and their tours still to this day gross enough money to alter multiple third world nations.

The Stones are stellar performers. Much like Kiss, their live performances are the heart and soul of the group. Mick Jagger has a stage presence and swagger that none of The Beatles had. There are very few who put out the same kind of energy that Jagger delivers, even at the ripe age of 66. The Stones have enough great songs to get them through a pretty lengthy set. While I don't think their albums hold up all that well, they have some stellar singles, and it's those singles that get them rocking their shows.

So while my feeling towards the Stones isn't necessarily bright, I can't deny what they have earned. There's a reason why they are held in such high esteem, and in my opinion, it has more to do with the bands swagger rather than their songwriting capabilities. The Stones have the kind of energy and bombast that defy just music, they're an institution which all live acts should hope to aspire to.



Sunday, June 20, 2010

Happy Father's Day from Ryan Barton

Ryan Barton is a stand-up guy. So generous with his time and his seemingly ceaseless energy. I'm so glad I get to share this story of his.

Nearly twenty years later, I can still see him.

If I close my eyes, I can see the man, standing in the middle of my childhood living room. His arms are raised above his head, shaking them to the left and right. His head -- tilted back; and his eyes -- closed shut. And now, he dances. And as he dances... almost prancing and jumping around the room... his three children giggle with glee.

What those children didn't know that day, was twenty years later, their father would continue to put any shame or embarrassment to the side and channel his inner Tevye to do the "If I Were a Rich Man" dance upon request. And this time, his grandchildren are in the audience.

My family isn't of Jewish descent. And my father? He looks and sounds nothing like Chaim Topol's Tevye. In fact, if you told the employees at his office that he was dancing and playing with his kids, they'd probably scoff at you in disbelief. It just wasn't like him. The confident, black-and-white business man wouldn't be caught doing such a thing.

Except he did anything for his family. Anything to make them smile. Anything to make them happy.

Every five years or so, Father's Day and my birthday fall on the same Sunday; 2010 is one of those years. And the older I get, the more I reflect and realize that my dad did things the way he did to prepare me for the future. His decisions may not have been the easiest or most fun, but they had a purpose.

He didn't talk down to me, but that made it easy to converse with adults. He taught me "average" wasn't good enough, and that instilled a sense of pride for all that I do. He taught me to check my work twice, as if I was turning it into Jesus, and I still check twice before I press "send" on my emails. He didn't buy me a car when I was 15 like my friends' dads did, and that kept me grounded. He taught me my mom was his best friend, and now I have one of my own.

My wife and I don't have any children yet, but I'm certain that when we do, I'll take thousands of cues from my dad as we grow our family. And I know I'll make decisions that my kids will hate. I can only hope they'll grow-up to realize I made those decisions because I care about them and their future.

Giving my dad Daniel's beautiful painting of the singular image of Topol, gazing upwards with the coy smile, is itself, more than a unique Father's Day gift. To me, it was a gesture of understanding and gratitude for what, why and how my father did what he did.

Happy Father's Day dads...


Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Passion and Purpose

Eddie Vedder and Dave Matthews
Eddie Vedder and Dave Matthews hang on Nate Anderson's wall of music. Nate runs Ear Candy Charity. Passionate guy, his hair flames red as he does his work to provide access to music education for kids.

Tonight is the celebration of the opening of the Cafe at the Bookmans here in Mesa. Its purpose is to celebrate culture, with live music and my art. And commissions available for Vinyl Art with a special price of $175, $50 of which goes to Ear Candy.

You can give and get the same price by mentioning this blog post, as long as my pieces are on display at Bookmans. Find purpose in your passion.


Thursday, June 10, 2010

Phoenix Rising

iri5 loves tearing things up.


Bob Marley in progress
Oscar Wilde
Also film reels, photographs and even baseballs.

Here's why.

I love finding new uses for old things - especially when you can resurrect the dead- like when you find something broken, something that's lain forgotten, covered in dust at the bottom of a junk drawer or in the corner of a damp basement - and make it a brand-new thing again. It's this process of renewal that I find most fascinating. That "ah-ha."

I never wanted to be an artist until I realized how powerfully art could affect people. I think its power lies in its ability to hijack your mood and enter your mind, at-a-glance, and make you think new things or at least feel something. And it's exciting when these breakthroughs happen, and they can happen anywhere, when you least expect it.

When an idea strikes you like lightning, you never forget the feeling. After that, creating the art becomes an act of autonomy. My proudest moments are when I can relate that "ah-ha" as clearly as possible.

And it's amazing to consider how something, broken into pieces, can somehow take on an additional meaning. I always strive to find unity in the division, hoping that the act of destruction is vindicated by the transcendent outcome.


Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Artist Envy

Ken Robert

Ken Robert over at Mildly Creative is a warm-hearted fellow. He shares of his truth, his journey. It's quite inspirational, quietly. My kinda guy.

by Ken Robert

When it comes to musicians, I’ve always had a case of artist envy. The good ones make my jaw drop, and sometimes make my heart stop, and always leave me wondering how they do the things they do.

Having never learned an instrument or to even read music, I see them as strange magicians performing sleight of hand.

Where did they pull that riff from? Where were they hiding that note? How did they reach inside my chest while standing so far away?

I used to pretend I understood, standing in my room on a shag carpet stage, singing along with some new record, and playing my air guitar.

Over and over, I’d lift the arm of the record player and reset the needle on the smooth, black rim that surrounded the glorious grooves. Those were the days of vinyl, when every song was first introduced by the sound of a white-noise hiss.

Then the drums would kick in, or some strings would cry out, and I’d struggle to capture the words. The words meant a lot and they often still do, because, if I can’t grasp the sound, I can at least get a hold on the lyrics.

But some time last year, the words no longer seemed to be enough, so I’ve spent some time trying to learn how a guitar works, and how to work a guitar. I’m really quite terrible, but I hope to be decent someday.

Until then, I’m still that kid, alone in his room with his eyes shut and his door closed and his teenage heart wide open.



Monday, June 7, 2010

On Sharing Freely

Groovy Portraits screenshot - Kurt Cobain

Since I started this blog back whenever it was, I've shared a lot. A lot of my art. A lot of my thoughts. A lot of what's going on.

A lot of me.

I'm not stopping.

I'm proud to announce the release of my new coffee-table eBook called Groovy Portraits. So proud that I've added a link above to a new page for it on my main website.

Groovy Portraits, put together by Ryan Barton, the cat who made my introduction video, shares some favorite paintings of mine along with my thoughts about each musician and links to YouTube videos and Amazon listings for my favorite albums. You can watch and sample what inspired me to create this art, in roughly the chronological order it did so.

It's my musical autobiography.

And it's free.