30 Seconds to Mars release “Ancient” Artifact

20131207-124816.jpg

ARTIFACT (2013)

A film by 30 Seconds to Mars

Review by Rob Watts

Let me preface this review by saying that I am a huge 30 Seconds to Mars fan. I own every album, I find their music to be very moving and I believe they are one of the most significant bands of this generation. So when I heard that their documentary ARTIFACT was finally seeing the light of day, I was eager to view it and review it. With that being said, I’m afraid to say that I’m left scratching my head over this release.

“Artifact” is a documentary about the recording of the band’s 2009 release “This is War”, probably the band’s most prolific album to date. Curiously though, this film documenting a four-year old album sees a major release more than six months after their current album “Love, Lust, Faith and Dreams” has been on the market. But the poor timing is something I can overlook. What I can’t seem to overlook is an hour and forty-five minutes of “Oh Woe is me!” 

“This is War” and the legal fight between the band (led by Lead Vocalist and Hollywood actor Jared Leto) and their record label EMI is, by now, common knowledge throughout the music world, or at least the majority of 30 Seconds to Mars fans. ARTIFACT allows us to relive the struggle once again, along with the band. The problem is, by the half-way point in the film, it’s difficult to sympathize with them. 

Yes, we all love our rock stars and want to see our favorite bands succeed, but in today’s sorry economic climate, it’s a hard sell to feel bad for a hugely popular rock band, with their rock star good looks and award winning albums, recording their new album in the beautiful Hollywood Hills, while bickering back and forth with their managers and record label over whether or not they’ll release it on their own or through EMI. I’m pretty sure that people who are in search of jobs, healthcare and money for their families would happily trade places with them in an instant. 

The film does have a few memorable high points, however. The writing and recording process for “This is War” was well-captured. Even more insightful is the explanation of the royalty (or lack thereof) structure within the recording industry. The doc also features commentary from a varied number of the industries heavyweights, such as Chester Bennington of Linkin Park, Brandon Boyd of Incubus, and Amanda “I’m so fascinating” Palmer. Aside from this, the film falls flat in my opinion. I believe a better wide-release could have been a documentary about the band’s hugely successful “Into the Wild” world tour, where the band played live almost everywhere imaginable on planet Earth for two-years straight. They were recognized by Guinness Book of World Records for being the only band to tour the most amount of concert dates. Knowing this while watching their Pity Party Documentary, and seeing as many people can’t even afford take a vacation these days, it’s very difficult to relate to their crusade against the big bad record giants. We all have our own giants in the world that we fight against everyday. Unfortunately, most of us don’t have Hollywood acting careers to fall back on if our album doesn’t get released.

Agree or Disagree?

Tweet me @bostonauthor
Or
Like me Facebook.com/RobWattsOnline

Advertisements

Melanie C. Jordan

20131017-172009.jpg

Spotlight Interview originally published by Ocean View Press
October, 2006
Author Melanie C. Jordan
by Tabitha Swan

It’s been a while since I’ve done interviews, but when I had the opportunity to talk with this delightful young writer, I jumped at the chance. South Beach based author Melanie C. Jordan is currently promoting her works of poetry titled “Open to the Elements (Breaking the Silence)”. The book opens up a large sum of Melanie’s personal life within the pages of her book and serves to inspire her readers. I can honestly say that I have been inspired by our conversation and hopefully, you will too. Enjoy and thanks for reading.

Tabitha- Hi Melanie, How are you today?

Melanie- Hello, I am fabulous thank you.

Tabitha- So now, how long have you been writing poetry and can you remember the first poem you’ve ever written?

Melanie- I have been writing poetry for many, many years. Yes I remember my first poem it was written about my first crush. I was the pure age of 15 years old. Its funny you asked me that because just the other day I was going crazy looking for it. No luck.

Tabitha- Have you ever taken any creative writing classes?

Melanie- You know everybody that meets me asks me that same question. The answer is no, I am a strong believer that my poetry is a gift from my higher power. I don’t believe that when a person is blessed with such a gift that they should take classes however I guess it would help the grammar but then again isn’t that what editors are for. (laughs) When I moved to Miami Beach I went to college for journalism, which was a turning point for my writing I was trying different venues. I learned a lot from school but school just taught me the basic tools. School didn’t teach me to be a writer or a poet. My higher power gave me the gift of poetry and writing which comes from within something no school or classes can ever teach.

Tabitha- What inspired the name “Soulful Pen?”

Melanie- I’m a big believer that my writing is my gift from God. I believe my writing comes from my soul. I chose SoulfulPen, for I pen my poetry from within.

Tabitha- Where did you grow up and would you say that it had an impact on your writing?

Melanie- I grew up in Brooklyn New York . I write my poetry to write that’s what I do. I share my poetry to help others that can’t see the light ahead. Brooklyn gave me my back bone to release my words. Yes! Growing up in Brooklyn defiantly had an impact in a way that made me bold and unafraid to share my deepest thoughts through poetry. There’s no place like home, Brooklyn people are very forward and blunt we are not afraid to make the next step. Brooklyn is a strong community I have never seen people like this any where else. When the WTC was bombed I think New York really showed how supportive we are and how we all come together when things are rough. I have that in me it’s a huge impact on who I am as a writer. My writing is real from the heart and soul. Just like the Brooklyn girl in me (laughs) I tell it how it is.

Tabitha- Where are you living now?

Melanie- I’m presently living in Miami Beach (South Beach). I’m living in Miami for seven years now. Actually it was Miami that brought out my poetry. I have networked with so many talented writers and poets here that inspired me to bring my poetry to many levels.

Tabitha- Would you say the change in atmosphere has affected your approach to writing? I’m sure that the milder climate and culture change could play a huge part in what someone writes.

Melanie- Oh yes definitely. The beautiful beaches and sunsets had a big effect on me. A writers paradise. I usually take a paper and pen and sit on the beach as the waves roll in and the colors in the sky form multi color. Can’t help but to become inspired with nature’s aura here in Miami. Yes! The culture here in Miami is phenomenal it’s like a bowl of alphabet cereal I never know what I’m going to spoon up next. I have met so many people that have inspired me and I am so grateful for all the inspiration these people have given to me. The Cuban and Spanish culture here in Miami has brought my writing to different levels I always wrote with my soul and heart but Miami culture brought out my visuals. So when someone reads my poetry it’s not just tugging at there heart but they see what I see too. I love it! And I know my fans are enjoying the growth in my words.

Tabitha- Who did you grow up admiring as far as writers?

Melanie- I’m going to answer this question with a little twist. Many people don’t realize that the lyrics written by musicians are poetry. Every time we turn on our radio or put on our favorite Cd it’s the lyrics we fall in love with. With that said I’m going to say growing up my inspiration was Cindy lauper, Cher, oldies but goodies. Oh yes the oldies they really knew how to write lyrics that touched and moved the soul. Lets not forget Eryka Badu, here Is a women that wrote lyrics that had every women reciting her words.
I have grown to love Poets like Maya Angelou, Nikki Giovanni and Robert Frost.
I always admired writers that shook up the soul, writers that weaved words to make a women shed a tear and a grown man fall to his knees that’s poetry. It’s a movement to the human race. Pure ecstasy that awaits our soul and mind. You have to respect these writers.

Tabitha- Do you get the time to read any books at all, or do you put most of your focus into your own writing?

Melanie- I love books. However I haven’t the time to read anything. My focus has been my writing for over five years now. From the moment I wake up to the moment I close my eyes I am networking with other writers and publishers. I am putting together new books. I don’t have time to breathe lately never mind picking up a book. I can’t wait for the day I can sit back put my feet up and lose myself into a good book. I can say when I was younger I loved Anne Rice. I read all of her books.

Tabitha- So talk about your latest book titled “Open to the Elements (Breaking the Silence).” How long did it take you to complete that project from start to finish?

Melanie- (Deep breathe) Coming from an abusive child hood I have had a lot to convey.
My poetry releases all the hurt and drama that my child within needed to release. From being raped by a third grade teacher to a mother’s hurtful words and abusive hands words just began to pour out of me for two years. I was sexually molested by my grandfather and attacked sexually in front of a neighborhood church by a strange man. My poetry exposes all this hurt. I decided to publish my work into a book to help other people. I have a strong will to give other souls the strength and hope to step forward and help them to release their fears. Open to the elements is a book of poetry that is for the people.
A book full of verses that shows strength and motivation. Open to the elements is a book full of poetry that teaches people that there is a light ahead and their not alone.
This world can be cruel but we all have the power within to excel in life. This book took me two years to finish and I am thrilled to share it with the world.

Tabitha- Now it’s 128 pages long. Was there any works of yours that didn’t make it into the book?

Melanie- I have some work that I chose not to place in the book due to the reason I felt it didn’t fit. What I mean is some of the poetry I have written was very feminist like my poem Vulva or Disney escapade (laughs), there was no way I could put that in my first book.
Disney escapade was more of a comical write about Disney characters and Warner brother characters in a sex and drug environment. I didn’t think these poems had a place in my first book at all. However they will be exposed in my third book.

Tabitha- Where does the title “Open to the Elements” come from?

Melanie- Open to the elements means my by gone, my yesterday, my past. Open to the elements is an expression of a child within that blooms into a powerful woman of strength and an inner light. A written scripture of exposure of those that neglected and executed an inner child finally brought to justice as my poetry brings forth a free soul.
Its funny you asked me this question because it took me weeks to come up with the perfect meaning of my poetry. I actually started looking up words on an online dictionary and came across a word with the meaning. “Open to the elements” My eyes shined brightly and shouted to my friend that was near by,” I found it! I found my title” (Laughs) What a great day that was. I’ll never forget that day.

Tabitha- Now, in November, you have a new title coming out. Talk a little about that. Is it another volume of poetry?

Melanie- Oh, that’s Literatim. My second book of poetry which is a continuation of my bygone, yes the second chapter to Open to the elements. This book will be released on November 27, 2006. I am excited about this volume of poetry due to my readers will read my growth and see the visuals that Miami has inspired me to write. No it’s not poetry about Miami (laughs) its poetry about my exposure to a world that handed me stones that I turned into diamonds.
Every single person in this life has struggles. Many are afraid to step up and make the turn towards the light. The poetry in this book exposes that we are not alone. We all have struggles no matter how bad they seem someone out there is feeling that same pain. My poetry brings strength and power, a guiding light to see things for the better. I love playing with words so my reader will see a lot of word play in my book and I love to tug at the heart and soul. It’s a book that will defiantly have my reader’s hair stand up. It touches love, pain, laughter and life.

Tabitha- How long have you worked on the new book?

Melanie- Literatim has 56 pp. It took me a month to pull it all together however I am going with a publisher that calls themselves Publish America. I must say it took them a year to actually finish my book in print. I’m looking for another publisher. I’m tired of having my readers wait forever. My readers are my world and they deserve top quality. I’m working on finding a better Publisher as we speak.

Tabitha- Are you interested in working on novels in the future or will you focus on poetry for the time being?

Melanie- I actually have a novel I started writing two years ago .Yes! I will be finishing up my novel. It’s a book of drama, love and deceit. I’m a big fan of The Godfather written by the Late Mario Puzo. My novel is mafia based and jumps from Miami to New York City. It’s a mixture of fiction and non fiction. As for my poetry I will always be a poet first.

Tabitha- Now on top of your books, you created a network for authors called Looking Within. What inspired you to put that together?

Melanie- I feel everyone deserves a chance to expose their work and bring their writing to the next level. Looking Within is a place for poets to network with each other to give and receive feedback on their Poetry. The most important thing is Looking Within is a place with information that I have researched myself over the year to help poets create their first book and learn the ins and outs of the writing industry. I’m a people person and I feel we all could accomplish anything if we help each other. My inspiration comes from the poets of Looking Within they are all great poets and great souls. I have had the pleasure to speak too many of them on the phone and I couldn’t have asked for a better group of people to be amongst me. They are all inspirational and loving people.

Tabitha- Where can the readers find it?

Melanie- I have a myspace with a banner that my readers can click on to get to the site or you can Google SoulfulPen and it will come up. (see below)

Tabitha- What do you do for enjoyment or relaxation when not writing?

Melanie- I live three blocks from the beach so I enjoy myself in the sun and swim the ocean which is so beautiful and relaxing. I love collecting shells; my house is filled with them. A dear friend of mine, Sarai J. M. Davis who is a fabulous Photographer will take her camera out and have photo shoots with me which I love to do. I am a ham and I love the camera. I live a simple life. I’m a laid back person that loves nature and my friends. I especially enjoy quiet nights with my two best men, my kitty Slugger and my Fiancé.

Tabitha- What would you say right now to someone who wanted to start writing a book but didn’t know how to go about it?

Melanie- Research is the key. Lots of research. I always tell the poets from Looking Within to always be ahead of your competitor. I’m also a big believer in God and I feel God has things laid out in life for us if we were meant to be writers and have books and fame it will be. Just relax enjoy life things will fall into place. You can always go to Looking Within for information.

Tabitha- Any final comments before we finish up?

Melanie- Yes, I want to thank all my readers I wouldn’t be where I am today without all your support and love. Most of all I want to thank God. He has blessed me with a beautiful gift and I am forever humbled.

Tabitha- Well Melanie, it was great fun speaking with you and I hope to do it again soon. Best wishes to you and best of luck. Come back to us soon.

Melanie- Tabitha I couldn’t thank you enough for this exhilarating interview. You are truly a beautiful soul. It was my pleasure to be in your presence. Thank you. God Bless.

Photos by Sarai J. M. Davis

20131017-172020.jpg

Autumn’s Grey Solace 2006 Interview

20131017-171525.jpg

Spotlight Interview
Autumn’s Grey Solace
September, 2006
by Rob Watts

There are so many bands out there today that it’s impossible to listen to them all, let alone enjoy them. Autumn’s Grey Solace is definitely a band to enjoy as well as adore. Their music speaks for itself so there’s not much I could say that their songs can’t say better. Scott Ferrell’s musicianship along with Erin Welton’s crystal clear vocals blend together to create a hybrid of shoegazing melodies textured with ethereal soundscapes. Truly an incredible band. Scott was kind enough to talk to me about the band so here it is. Enjoy.

Rob- So first off, how are you today?

Scott- I’m doing well.

Rob- Great…Can you introduce yourself to the reader?

Scott- I’m Scott Ferrell. Along with my partner, vocalist and lyricist Erin Welton, I compose and perform almost all of the music for the ethereal/shoegaze/dreampop band, Autumn’s Grey Solace.

Rob- Now the band was formed in 2000. At what point did you know that the two of you would be a perfect match musically?

Scott- In the late 90s I was composing various musical pieces. When Erin wrote the vocal melody and lyrics to the first song, I knew her voice complimented the music perfectly.

Rob- Have either of you performed in other bands prior to this one?

Scott- Just me. I have been in several bands but I could never find musicians who had the same musical goals that I had. When I discovered the freedom of multitrack recording, I could take my musical visions to a new level, without the limitations of what could be done with a live band.

Rob- In my opinion, Erin has got one of the most beautiful and powerful voices in music. Has she ever received any formal vocal training in the past to achieve such intense levels in her singing?

Scott- Erin is completely self-trained. She used a keyboard to help develop her voice.

Rob- Now, you perform every instrument on the albums. Guitars, Bass, Drums, Mandolin, etc… How did you come to be such a musical mastermind and how long did it take you to learn all of those instruments?

Scott- I started playing guitar when I was 14. I gradually progressed to all of the other instruments over a period of a few years. I was very introverted, and I spent a lot of time in isolation practicing and creating.

Rob- What would you say is your favorite instrument of all to perform with? Or does it vary…like say, do you have a favorite
to play live and do you have a favorite to record with?

Scott- It definitely varies from time to time. Right now my favorite instrument is an electric guitar fitted entirely with treble
strings, which allows me to obtain unique chord voicings. Other times I have favored a baritone guitar and a 7-string guitar.

Rob- Now in 2000, you began work on what was to become your debut album “Within The Depths of a Darkened Forest”. Was it a difficult task to get comfortable with the recording process or have you had previous experience in a studio?

Scott- In the late 90s I was obsessed with learning to record. I researched and practiced recording for a couple of years before we started working on “Within The Depths Of A Darkened Forest”. So I was comfortable with the recording process when we created that first album.

Rob- How long did it take to complete that album?

Scott- About 18 months.

Rob- Now since then, the two of you have been churning out album after album. In 2004, “Over The Ocean” was released and in 2005, “Riverine” came out. Now you are gearing up for a new album in September. How do you manage to release so many albums so quickly and still maintain that incredible production and quality in the recordings?

Scott- Inspiration and focus. The inspiration is the drive, the need to fulfill the artistic vision. Focus is the funnelling of that
energy into working on the music and dedicating the time needed to complete each project.

Rob- Which album would you say was the easiest to record and which had its most challenges? And why?

Scott- “Riverine” was the easiest to record because we had a very solid connection between what we were trying to express and it was coming out very easily into the music. The new album was the most challenging because it was very experimental, which creates unfamiliar obstacles.

Rob- So talk about the new album that is about to be released. What’s it called and does it keep up with the flow and theme of
the previous works?

Scott- The new album is called “Shades Of Grey”. It does have the ethereal qualities that our previous albums are known for, but this album takes our sound in a lot of new directions.

Rob- That’s awesome, I can’t wait to hear it. Have you and Erin ever considered adding additional musicians to the lineup in the future?

Scott- We have considered it, but only for a potential live band.

Rob- You recorded a holiday song called “Through the Snowy Trees” a couple of years ago for a single. Would you ever think
about recording an entire holiday album someday?

Scott- We enjoyed recording the holiday song, so we would consider recording an entire holiday album someday.

Rob- That would be an incredible album if you did. Are the two of you working on any additional projects at the moment?

Scott- No, we only have time for Autumn’s Grey Solace.

Rob- Will you be out touring to promote this new album?

Scott- Probably not, but this could change.

Rob- Before we say good-bye, did you enjoy our interview?

Scott- Yes, thank you Rob.

Rob- Well, best of luck to you both, I am a big fan of your work and I wish nothing but the best for you and I look forward to
the new CD soon.

Scott- Thank you.

AutumnsGreySolace.com

DJ Melissa Maxx of KLOS Interview

20130923-102439.jpg

*the following interview was originally published in January of 2005 by Ocean View Press and was conducted by Rob Watts.
Spotlight Interview
January 2005
DJ Melissa
by Rob Watts

We are starting the new year off right with a great interview with one of Boston’s beloved. It’s no secret that we are down with a lot of radio stations in the Boston area and one of our favorites is WBCN (104.1). A lot of history indeed and home to many talented DJ’s including one of the coolest female personalities in the city, Melissa. Melissa spent a good part of 8 years on the air in Boston until last month when she couragously packed up and moved to the sunny coast of California to pursue other career avenues. With this interview, we wish Melissa the best of luck and send her off with these final words. We hope to never see you again…(in a good way of course), but if we do, you’ll always be welcome by your friends and fans in Boston.
*2013 Update- Melissa currently is a full-time DJ at Los Angeles’ KLOS. She has recently appeared on various television programs including a high-profile segment on TLC’s LA Ink.

Rob- Before we begin, How are you today?

Melissa- I’m great! Its December 22, and a sunny 70 degrees, what more could I ask for?

Rob- Have you fully relocated to the West coast yet or are you still in the process?

Melissa-I’m here. It took about a month to get fully settled in, but now the cat, my shoe collection, and I am completely comfortable ….well, maybe not the WHOLE shoe collection.

Rob- Can you talk about your new career move? What is it that you’ll be doing now or in the near future?

Melissa- Auditioning and waitressing. Not necessarily in that order. Probably waitressing and auditioning.

Rob- How difficult was it to up and relocate to not only a new job, but to a new coast?

Melissa- I think if I was relocating to a new job, it would have been a lot easier! Its relocating to the world of unemployment which is a bit unsettling. Actually, I was getting too comfortable in Boston…it was time to mix things up a bit, and while my new adventure is a bit scary, its also very exciting.

Rob- Where did you grow up and did you ever think about being on the radio when you were younger?

Melissa- I grew up on Long Island and started volunteering at radio stations when I was in junior high school, I can’t remember a time when I DIDN’T think about being on the radio…

Rob- What was the first concert you went to?

Melissa- Bruce Springsteen in New Jersey, my big brother took me.

Rob- So now, you were on the air at WBCN for almost 9 years if I remember correctly. Is there one air shift that stands out in your mind in regards to being really funny, sad, frustrating, etc…?

Melissa- I think the shift I will always remember was being on the air September 11. I was on the air with Deek (for the first time) and another DJ named Mark. We were on the air from 7pm- roughly 5 am, music free and commercial free. We were flying by the seat of our pants having never done talk radio before, and obviously discussing a tragedy of a magnitude never experienced by my generation. We talked to each other and took listener phone calls the whole night, and tried to comprehend the uncomprehendable. There was nowhere I would rather have been that night. The listeners helped me cope, and gave me faith in people at a time when all of our faith was shaken.

Rob- How did the pairing of you and Deek come about?

Melissa- Our first pairing came about as mentioned in the previous question. We also had back to back shifts and used to do a “cross-over” on air before switching shifts. Someone thought that our chemistry during that 60 seconds at a time, might be stretched for 5 hours a night 5 days a week. Whether they were right or not is still debatable! He however was one of my best friends, and I was truly blessed to get to work with a guy of his character with his sense of humor.

Rob- The two of you were a great pairing not only on radio but on weekend mornings hosting the “I sold my house.com” show on television. Have you caught the on-camera bug from doing those shows and be honest, how much silverware did the two of you leave with while in those homes?

Melissa- We eat with our hands, so silverware wasn’t tempting…I’m just thankful you didn’t ask about jewelry!! I love being on camera, and had done music news for Rage TV in Boston for many years, and also did artist interviews for pay-per-view from Woodstock 99, as well as some acting….I have the bug, and it was a big part of me moving to LA.

Rob- WBCN has always had a knack for hiring the best on-air personalities in Boston. Do you think that this is an important part of staying fresh and innovative?

Melissa- Fresh and innovative? What’s that?

Rob- With the increasing popularity of satellite radio and Howard Stern moving to Sirius next year, there are a lot of doubts on traditional broadcast radio’s survival. What do you think of all the recent hype surrounding Stern’s move and do you think that standard radio will survive this?

Melissa- Well that certainly is the question….the next few years will be interesting as more and more people start getting satellite radio. Howards move will most definately speed up that transformation. There was a time when people couldn’t fathom paying for cable TV, now people get that hooked up before the stuff in their kitchen ..or is that just me?

Rob- Being in radio, you have seen music trends come and go. What are some of the bands out now on the radio that seem to have something special that will give them some staying power?

Melissa- I don’t really have an answer to that, a lot of the new music I’m into is really a recycling of that older “rock” sound…I can’t say that theres a whole lot of really new different stuff being played on mainstream radio right now.

Rob- I know that most Disk Jockeys always have rare and obscure albums in their collections at home. Imports and such. Do you fall into this category and if so, what are some of the bands that you’re into?

Melissa- Does Abbas greatest hits count?…

Rob- If it were up to you, what would be your ideal lineup for a new season of the Surreal Life? We’ve already suggested Snow and Jesse Camp, so those two don’t count.

Melissa- I actually think they should just place a camera crew in a radio station….the drama, tension, antics, would be much more entertaining and surreal than any group of b-level actors ,although it probably wouldn’t be as visually pleasing.

Rob- Have you come up with any new fashion faux pas since being in California?

Melissa- No, my breast implants…new lips and blonde hair seem to be fitting in nicely….

Rob- I used to listen to ATD in Marshfield way back when. Is it true that you were “Siobhan”?

Melissa- I’m sorry…I think my cell phone seems to be cutting out.

Rob– Can you hear me now? Good! Do you have advise for anyone looking to get into radio?

Melissa- RUN IN THE OTHER DIRECTION!!

Rob- Did you enjoy the interview?

Melissa- almost as much as going to the dentist… just kidding NOTHING tops the dentist…

Rob- Ha. Ha. Before we wrap this up, do you have any final words to the readers?

Melissa- Goodbye Boston, I love and miss you…..and next time you see a womans hands holding something on TV… that’s ME!!! it could be for all you know.

20130923-102521.jpg

Rick Wise Interview

20130917-111515.jpg

Spotlight Interview * Originally Published by Ocean View Press
November, 2004
Rick Wise
by Paul Stanish

I had the pleasure of interviewing Rick Wise on Sept. 18th, 2004. Rick Wise played for 5 major league teams in 18 seasons. He won a total of 188 games. He threw a no-hitter in 1971 and in the same game hit 2 home runs. He was the winning pitcher for the Red Sox in the memorable game 6 of the 1975 world series. He was a 2 time all star.

In this interview Rick compliments Red Sox nation, he talks about facing Willie Mays, Hank Aaron and Willie McCovey. He talks about his father, former managers, and he explains why he considers himself a Philadelphia Phillie first.

Paul- When did you start playing baseball?

R.W.: (Laughed for a few seconds) Probably as soon as I could walk and run. When I was 5 or 6 years old, playing catch with my father.

Paul- Were you always a pitcher?

R.W.: I was a shortstop. When I wasn’t pitching I was a shortstop.

Paul- What was the biggest challenge of getting into the majors?

R.W.: Being signed. I mean you gotta be signed before you turn pro. That’s a challenge and I signed out of high school when I was 17.

Paul- Did you have any mentors or heroes growing up in baseball?

R.W.: Not really. I grew up in a town, Portland Oregon, that didn’t have a major league franchise. So I mean we had AAA there and I used to love to go and see the Beavers play, the Portland Beavers, the AAA team. But, I followed Detroit. Only because I was born in Michigan and my dad went to the University of Michigan. I felt allegiance to the state of Michigan and Detroit even though we left there in the late 40’s after the war. My dad took a teaching job in Oregon. So I followed the Detroit teams at that time with Al Kaline. The great rivalry they had at that time was with the New York Yankees. So those were the teams that I followed.

Paul- Who was your favorite manager or coach to play under or play for?

R.W.: I had a number of them, but the one that made the lasting impression on me was my first manager Gene Mauch. Of course I was only 18 years old in 1964, but he was on top of the game. He knew the rules inside/out. He knew strategies. He was tough, determined and I think he always got the most out of the talent given to him. I thought he was a great field manager.
I liked Red Schoendienst too. He was kind of a 180 opposite of Mauch, low key, but let the players play. He was a good players manager. I had a lot of fun with Red in St. Louis in the 2 years there.

Paul- What was the most challenging aspect of being a pitcher?

R.W.: Well, the mental and physical challenge of pitching every 5 days. The strength and endurance it takes to pitch 7,8,9 innings or more, which is the way starting pitchers did back in my era, the 60’s and 70’s. We didn’t have 6 inning pitchers with set-up people and a closer back then. When we started a game we expected to finish it, unless we were knocked out or until the manager came out took the ball from us.

The challenge of pitching at the major league level; I cut my teeth on the likes of Aaron, Mays, McCovey, Banks, Williams, Matthews, just to name a few. Those were the great ones to. I was only 18 years old when I faced those guys. I faced them with a fast ball. I pitched, basically, 95 to 98, 99 miles an hour, but that’s all I had. That’s nothing to a good major league hitter.

You have to be able to locate your stuff. You have to able to throw offspeed pitches. You have to offset their timing and when you get behind you have to be able to throw more than a fast ball over the plate for a strike. That’s the challenge. Facing the best hitters in the world on a daily basis, where basically 6-7 of them in the lineup, hit around or above .300 with a couple of them underneath. Having a good idea of where the strike zone is and how to operate against major league pitching. That’s the challenge of being a major league pitcher. It’s the greatest challenge in the world because that’s what pitching is all about at the highest level.

Paul- What team did you enjoy most playing for and why?

R.W.: I enjoyed playing with all of them. I’m proud of all my teams I played with. I’ll always consider myself a Philadelphia Phillie first, because that’s the team I signed with, that’s the team I played longest with. My rookie season was there. Individually, I probably had my greatest games with the Phillies, including the no-hitter with 2 homeruns. As a matter a fact, on this date, Sept. 18th, it’s the anniversary of the game in which I retired 32 straight Cubs. Then I drove in the winning run in the bottom of the 12th to win the game. That was 2nd only to Harvey Haddix, who retired 36 straight and lost. But I won that game, and I don’t think a lot of people know much about that game that year. But, because I had the no hitter with 2 home runs and I also hit 2 home runs in another game that year tying a National League record. So ’71 was a very special year, my last year with the Phillies, regretfully. But that was baseball, you get traded and your allegiance changes and so you go on in life and you go on with your profession and your professional career.

Paul- What was it like to play in Boston, and what’s the difference playing in Boston compared to other cities you played in?

R.W.: Boston’s passionate and it’s not only Boston it’s New England. They could be the New England Red Sox, just like the New England Patriots. That’s how people are consumed in the New England area, particularly Boston with their beloved Red Sox. I was very fortunate to have played there 4 years and enjoyed my only shot at post-season play and the world series. And to be involved in one the greatest game ever, with Carlton Fisk and Game 6 and to be the winning pitcher in that game and the memorable and dramatic home run in the 12 inning to tie that series. That was a wonderful experience. The passion and love that the people have for baseball in Boston and New England should be experienced by all major leaguers. I know they can’t. It was a great experience and certainly one I’ll never forget.

Anna Vogelzang Interview

20130917-110750.jpg

*The following interview was originally published in 2004 by Ocean View Press and was conducted by Rob Watts.

This summer I had the pleasure of passing a lovely and talented young musician while walking through Harvard Square. Her name was Anna Vogelzang. The sounds of her acoustic guitar and angelic voice were entrancing. I later contacted her about doing this interview and she was more than happy about doing so. So here we go. Check out the interview and her website listed below.

Rob-Before we start, how are you today?

Anna- I’m doing really well, thanks! The sun is out & it’s not too hot, which puts me in the perfect mood.

Rob- You’re currently attending Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. What is your major, and how does Pittsburgh differ from Boston?

Anna- Pittsburgh is a lot smaller than Boston — we have a lot of townships here, cool little places to hang out, which I’m still exploring. In Boston, I know exactly where I’m going. I would say the difference is in me – how well I know the cities & where I feel comfortable. I’m majoring in voice here, with concentrations in musich technology, business management, & creative writing. The curriculum is ridiculously intense, moreso than I was expecting, but it’s a true conservatory setting. Because it’s so rigorous, it leaves little time for going out or exploring the city, but I’m learning so much.

Rob-You grew up in Lexington Mass. What is the thing you miss most about Lexington while away at college?

Anna- Most definetely my family — I have four sisters, ages 23 to 2, wonderful parents, & my extended family at my high school that really pushed me through, in the music, drama, language, English, and history departments. There was such a support system there that I felt almost helpless when I got to Pittsburgh; it felt like I was entering some kind of void. Slowly but surely I found a wonderful supportive network here, too, which has made my school experience that much more meaningful.

Rob- Did you have any other musicians in your family growing up?

Anna- I grew up in church – my dad sang in the choir and my mother was a choir director and elementary school music teacher. On the side, my mother also sang opera with BLO [Boston Lyric Opera] and taught theory to high schoolers at NEC [New England Conservatory]. It was a childhood surrounded by music. I started piano lessons when I was 5 or 6, and my older sister and I would sit at the piano and sing Disney songs and showtunes in our free time. My sister and I really centered our outside of school lives on music, and I went through piano, french horn, and guitar, until I realised that all I wanted to do was sing.

Rob- When we talked the other day, you mentioned that you were a fan of bands and singers like R.E.M., Bob Dylan, Ani DiFranco and The Dresden Dolls. What is it about their music that attracts you to them?

Anna- For me, listening to music so often centers around the voice. My dad used to play R.E.M. all the time, and I adored the really strong, substantial vocals. Dylan has been a huge inspiration in songwriting, as he is for most every musician. As an artist, Ani DiFranco has done what any girl with a guitar hopes to do — made herself & her label something really wonderful, run by a woman in a man’s industry. I think she’s absolutely brilliant. The Dolls are friends of mine, which is why I think I admire them so much — I saw them before they “made it”, and the process they’ve gone through to get where they are. There is something ridiculously visceral about their music that hits me hard and that I admire so much. The vocals, the lyrics, the timing, and the stage presence all make for a really wonderful show, which is such a fun experience to be a part of.

Rob- Are there any other bands that you listen to for inspiration?

Anna- It’s almost always women who sing — Bjork, Billie Holiday, Mirah, Regina Spektor. I also have a lot of friends who perform and write music, who I love listening to, and learn alot from.

Rob- now, a couple of years ago, you were in a band, that I actually remember seeing as well, called Random Robot. Can you talk a little about how the band formed?

Anna- My friend Eric was in my math class, and it was well known that I sang — I did a’cappella, the madrigal choir, and had played a few open mics with just me & my guitar. He asked if I’d want to sing with his band sometime. So I went to a rehearsal one day. The guys had already been playing together for two years, but wanted vocals in the mix. It just worked well together, and we started to write.

Rob- Was that your first band?

Anna- It was! I had done a few things with my crappy acoustic guitar, but it was nothing substantial. It makes it feel much more “real” when other people are also invested in the project.

Rob- Random Robot went on the win the WBCN High School rumble in Boston. What did the band receive for winning this event?

Anna- Actually, we didn’t quite win. We did play finals, though, which was at the House of Blues in Harvard Square — that was a ridiculous show. A whole bunch of our friends came, and it was a stage that so many people we admired had played. We ended up getting some studio time and some gift certificates, and also we all got scholarship to the Berklee 1 Week Summer Program of our choice, which was awesome.

Rob- So at what point did you go solo?

Anna- It wasn’t actually a choice. When I got to school in Pittsburgh, it just kind of had to happen. I had started writing some songs at piano the summer before I went off to college, while I was still with Robot, but they were just little things. When I got to school I felt like I had to keep writing. It started to evolve into something bigger than I had expected, and so I put a show together with all of the new songs I had written. And then everything snowballed, and I haven’t stopped writing.

Rob- If someone is reading about you right now, and has never heard your music before, how would you describe your sound to them?

Anna- My favorite thus far has been “unavoidably soulful”, which a friend of mine said when asked to describe a show I did in New York this summer. I always try to dodge this question, because it’s hard to pinpoint yourself. I’d say jazz-funk-folk-rock. Or something along those lines.

Rob- Now this summer, I caught your act in Harvard Square. Where is your favorite place around Boston to play live? Do you have a favorite club or outdoor spot?

Anna- I love the Zeitgeist Gallery — they’re really so wonderful & supportive of local artists. It’s also a great vibe for a small little show. As for busking outdoors, I played outside of Toscinini’s in Harvard Sq. alot this summer. The spot was nice for me — I don’t use an amp, so it wasn’t too close to any other musicians who would be aural competition. It also had a nice transitional crowd, between Harvard & Central. I’m superstitious — once I find a place that works I tend to stick to it.

Rob- Do you plan on recording anytime soon?

Anna- I do! I’m going to be in the studio here at school for a few days, hopefully around January, to do an actual album. I want to get some studio stuff down so that I can start to distribute that instead of the live bootleg albums I’ve been selling at my shows.

Rob- What do you do for enjoyment when not doing the music, or college thing?

Anna- Well, that’s about all I do, lately. I love taking photographs, and exploring the city. I also drink alot of tea, so finding new spots where I can write or listen to music & have a cup of tea are always good to find.

Rob- Do you have any words of advice for up and coming musicians. Females looking to pick up a guitar?

Anna- To any women looking to play guitar, I’d say get lessons. I just started formal lessons here at school and have realised how much damage I’m already doing. I’m a strong believer in classical training in any instrument, so you know where the roots are that you’re coming from. And to book gigs! It’s so easy, and a great way to network.

Rob- Any final words to the readers before we wrap up?

Anna- There’s free downloads at http://www.theanna.com, if you’re interested in listening. And VOTE if you can! This November is going to be crucial – there’s no reason for young people not to exercize their voices.

Rob- Thanks Anna, for talking and sharing. Best of luck to you in school and with your music!

Anna- Thank you, Rob! Take care.

Jamie Coon Interview

20130917-105950.jpg

*The following interview was originally published in 2004 by Ocean View Press. And was conducted by writer Rob Watts.

Rob- How are you today?

Jamie Coon-Great, hope all is well with you.

Rob-You were raised in Okemah Oklahoma. What were your main influences as far as music growing up? Did you grow up in a musical family or were you influenced by other elements in your community?

Jamie-I listen to a variety of music, but my main
influences are Elton John & Ronnie Milsap. They are
both amazing performers and musicians. I also grew up
in a ‘”singing household” – my Mom and Dad both sang
around the house and I used to sing with them in
church.

Rob-How old were you when you caught the musical bug?

Jamie-I was about 7 years old. I can remember singing
along to Elton John in front of my bedroom mirror. Ah,
to be 7 years old again!

Rob-What instruments do you play or what instruments would you like to learn?

Jamie-I play piano and bit of guitar. I would love to be
a great guitarist someday.

Rob-You possess a very angelic voice. Were you vocally trained at any point or has it just always come natural for you to sing with such a soothing texture?

Jamie-Thank you! I never had any real vocal training
until I attended M.I. – They certainly helped with
technique. I guess you could say it developed through
both training and natural methods.

Rob-In 1998, you moved to Los Angeles to attend The Musicians Institute. What was the first thing you noticed that was different from your hometown of Okemah?

Jamie-Where to start! The amount of activity in general
-I know it’s cliche, but the traffic is something you
have to experience to believe. And the mix of people
is pretty impressive. Considering my high school
graduating class was 80 people it was a lot to take
in. I looked around and thought “Oh my God, I’m going
to be living here!”

Rob-Would you recommend The Musicians Institute to other musicians?

Jamie-On the whole, yes. I thought some of the teachers
were great, some were…not so great. I would
definitely recommend checking it out yourself. Talk to
people who go there.

Rob-You scored a song on the motion picture “Gone But Not Forgotten.” How did that come about?

Jamie-One of my best friends, Matthew Montgomery, was the
lead actor in the film. He passed a demo of mine to
the director, Mike Akers. Mike called me and asked if
they could use the song from the demo (“Waiting”) and
would I like to write another song for a particularly
sexy scene. It was a great experience. And surprising
too, since I had no idea Matt had given him my demo.

Rob-Your forthcoming debut album “Silent Words.” How long did it take you to put it together between getting a band together, writing the songs, etc..?

Jamie-I’ve been working with producer Jarret Michaels for
a year and a half. He put together most of the music
except “Touch Me” and my next single “Waiting”. I am
currently working with a very cool guitarist named
Rafael Barrajas. We are writing new material which may
get added to the CD.

Rob-When will it be released?

Jamie-We had to push back the original release date. It
was supposed to be out at the end of this month. We
have rescheduled the release for December 2004.

Rob-In the meantime, fans can check out the MP3’s of “Touch Me” on your website. What was the inspiration behind that song?

Jamie- I wrote the song with an awesome musician, Byron
Evans. He’s my boyfriend’s brother. We wrote it and my
boyfriend produced and mixed it. It was all recorded
in our living room. Basically, the song is how I feel
about my boyfriend Pat.

Rob-Am I correct in assuming that we will hear some Native American influences as well throughout your debut?

Jamie-There are no overt Native American references on
the album (so far). But because it’s my heritage and I
am proud of it, I guess you could say it’s there
throughout in spirit.

Rob-What bands or musicians are you a fan of these days?

Jamie-Elton & Ronnie of course…In my car right now I’m
listening to Aimee Mann, Lyle Lovett & Maroon Five.

Rob-Are there any other projects that your working on right now, or are you mainly concentrating on your music right now?

Jamie-I’m playing shows in & around Los Angeles, writing
new material and putting the finishing touches on my
album.

Rob-What words of advise or encouragement would you share with a young up and coming musician?

Jamie-Believe in yourself and be proud of who you are.
Don’t let people tell you what you can and can’t do.
Listen to yourself.

Rob-Did you enjoy our interview?

Jamie-Yes I did! This was my first interview. Thank you.

Rob-Anything you care to say to the readers before wrapping up?

Jamie-Check out my website http://www.jamiecoon.com for upcoming
performances and news. Also, please vote for my music
at http://www.myjonesmusic.com. And thank you to everyone who
has supported me so far. You know who you are!