Wednesday, November 30, 2011

"Believe in Me" is debut for Daily Vault Editor

U.S. publisher Wampus Multimedia introduces Believe in Me, a novel about heroes and believers, regret and redemption, fathers and sons, and the healing power of rock and roll. Penned by pop music critic Jason Warburg, it signals a fresh voice in American popular fiction.

Set at the crossroads of music and political activism, Believe in Me follows young campaign operative Tim Green, the grieving son of a recently deceased music writer, and charismatic, politically active rock singer Jordan Lee, leader of the arena-rock juggernaut Stormseye. From their meeting on a jet to a recording session to a sold-out stadium concert, Green and Lee hopscotch through airports and arenas across the United States, pursuing distinct yet similar dreams.

Inspired by the novels of Nick Hornby, Robert B. Parker, and Elmore Leonard, and the crackling dialog of screenwriter Aaron Sorkin, Warburg filters his fable through an encyclopedic knowledge of popular music. Drawing on his background as editor of the music-review site The Daily Vault, he displays an innate understanding of the elements that unify genres. His voice, like Hornby's in High Fidelity, bears the unmistakable signature of the devotee.

“Believe in Me is a story about heroes,” Warburg says, “and how we create and relate to them. In our postmodern world, irony goes hand in hand with a world-weary cynicism, an attitude that suggests heroes have become obsolete.”

Fittingly, Warburg’s heroes populate his pages like iconic inductees into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame: Counting Crows, Bruce Springsteen, R.E.M., Fountains of Wayne, The Who, Neil Young, The Rolling Stones, Van Morrison, and many others. Jordan Lee and Stormseye, riding the crest of a blockbuster reunion tour, call to mind no act so much as Eddie Vedder and Pearl Jam.

Critics as well as musicians are weighing in on Believe in Me:

“Written with authenticity and emotional honesty, Jason Warburg’s Believe in Me thrusts the reader into the combustible world of political activism and arena rock, where cynicism, power trips, and egos live together in unhealthy codependency. Warburg’s first-person tale digs deep and hits all the right notes, finding the humanity that makes activism compelling and music powerful. I believed every word.” –Roger L. Trott, author of Getting in Tune

“A whirlwind ride through the breathless heights of megastardom.” –Jacob Slichter, Semisonic

“Warburg’s writing misses nothing, and his prose sparkles with moments where the beauty of the language shines through the story. As soon as I finished, I wanted to read it again!” –Jean-Paul Vest, singer-songwriter, Last Charge of the Light Horse

“Jason Warburg is an amazing writer who brings his talent to a new level exploring music and its relationship with the real world, co-mingling and driving the issues of the times.” –Billy Sherwood, singer-songwriter-producer, Circa and ex-Yes

Wampus Multimedia is an independent media imprint founded in 2002. Its credo is simple: to introduce the world to bold content rendered by visionary artists. In addition to its publishing arm, Wampus is home to a growing roster of musical artists in the pop, AAA, Americana, alternative, ambient, blues, and folk genres.

Believe in Me is available for the Amazon Kindle, iPad/iPhone, Nook, and Sony Reader.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Magnets and Ghosts review

Written by Donna Mair
Magnets and Ghosts - Mass

Mass, is the inaugural release from Magnets and Ghosts; a collaboration between Collective Soul guitarist and founding member Dean Roland, and musician/producer Ryan Potesta. Where the die hard Collective Soul fans would love to have more CS tunes, this 11 track full cd is nothing like Collective Soul! And for me that’s a wonderful thing.

From opening instrumental track “Reveillon” with its grand sweeping cathedral like notes and great booming drum beats to the closing track “Zealot” (which is sad and deep and heavy without being maudlin), this album is chock full of well written lyrics and well performed instrumentation.

“Light My Flame”, the second track in is electricity going down your spine. The lead vocals are slightly distorted over the heavy constant groove of the same guitar chord over and over into the chorus. The bridge kicks it up a notch with female voice (Christina Starr Wherry) punctuated by a guitar solo that enhances rather than grabbing all the attention.

“Hearts of Everyone” has the band singing a boppy tune that is instantly likeable. Listen to the lyrics closer and it’s not just fluff which is what I love about this entire album. Piano notes bring subtle texture to the song and keep it from being too overtly Pop. One of my favorite spots in this song is the drum solo mid stream by Ryan Hoyle and a guitar solo which doesn’t sound like a guitar.

“Mass” is the title track and is reminiscent of a Gregorian chant but again the lyrics are intriguing in this too short song.

“Hold On” gripped me by the throat from the first listen and hasn’t let go yet. The lead vocal is melodic and dreamy, as is the instrumentation, and the backing vocals in a much deeper pitch add a multidimensional feel to this floating quality. Despite this effervescence, the song is a thinker if you scratch below the surface. There is vulnerability here in the lyrics... one feels that they’re very personal.

“The Sea and the Sound is another catchy tune that will hook you on first listen (no pun intended). Hard to tell who is singing main vocals, but a lone voice ends the song with an accapella of final lyrics in a very raw unpolished voice which just ‘makes’ the song in my opinion.

Gang vocals and hand clapping start “I Want You” on a strong and interesting note and the song keeps building from there. Snappy lyrics and a definite drum and bass groove lend to me wanting to get up and move to the music while singing. I love how this song ends with a squalling guitar note.

“Like a Sunday” is another lighter sounding song similar to “Hearts of Everyone” in that it might be a more radio friendly ‘single’ type of song, but the lyrics are introspective and questioning. There is a definite spiritual quality to this song – perhaps why it’s titled “Like a Sunday”?

“Morning Rails” is perhaps the darkest song on the album. The lead voice is deep and monotone to punctuate brooding lyrics. Get to the bridge however, and the guitar work is reminiscent of U2’s The Edge in Achtung Baby – hard hitting, frantic pace, and flawless. Hoyle’s drums are forefront and center and the mix is balanced to perfection.

“Half Awake” brings thoughts of lying on a bench in a train station waiting, waiting, and dozing off into that not quite asleep state (hence aptly named). Disembodied vocals have an ethereal quality to lend to the dream like state.

Building on that half awake state is the closer, “Zealot”. Listen to the lyrics though, and it’s a sad tale of addiction and yearning/searching. It’s one of my favorite tracks off the album.

This album is a unique, delightful discovery for me. The duo (Potesta and Roland) have worn their hearts on their sleeves and because of that risk taking and vulnerability, have come up with a fantastic debut album. They also did not over produce the album – they let little imperfections and realisms stay on the tracks and that adds to the feeling of realism. The duo wrote, produced and performed nearly every piece of the album themselves (except for bass, trumpet, strings and drums). Zealot was co-written by Shaun Grove who also co-engineered the album with Potesta.

Read more: CD Review: Magnets and Ghosts - Mass | RockStar Weekly

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Steve McQueen: Re-evaluating a Rebel

Jeremy Roberts’ interview with biographer Marshall Terrill

Steve McQueen has been a household name since he first appeared on tv screens in 1958 as the star of the western series Wanted: Dead Or Alive. Iconic film roles soon followed, including The Magnificent Seven (1960), The Great Escape (1963), The Cincinnati Kid (1965), The Sand Pebbles (1966), Bullitt (1968), The Getaway (1972), & Papillon (1973).

As a result, McQueen quickly became one of the top box office stars of the 1960s & 1970s, yet he never received enough recognition from his peers: other than an Oscar nomination for The Sand Pebbles in 1967 & a Golden Globe nomination for 1973's intense Papillon, these were the industry's only concessions.

The actor unfortunately succumbed to mesothelioma, a form of cancer stemming from exposure to asbestos, in November 1980 at the early age of 50. During the past 30 years, his legend has continued to accelerate, and McQueen is rightly seen as the epitome of cool. So, why is this? Well, in real life Steve McQueen was a rebel, a man who lived life on the edge on his terms, a motorcycle & car racer, an aviation aficionado, an antique collector, a guy who disdained Hollywood parties, a loving father, pretty much a small-town kid at heart who donated his time and resources to underprivileged kids. However, most fans only knew McQueen as the actor. When he appeared on the screen, movie-goers believed McQueen was that particular role, whether a seasoned cowboy in 1980's Tom Horn or a cocky, arrogant pilot in 1962's The War Lover. Therein lies the key to a successful film career that transcends generations.

Perhaps the ultimate McQueen expert and fan is his biographer, Marshall Terrill. The writer wrote his first book in 1993, the successful Steve McQueen: Portrait Of An American Rebel. Since then, the influential book has undergone several reprintings as well as a revised edition.

Terrill is no stranger to biographies, having written 14 so far on wide-ranging subjects including Elvis Presley, basketball great Pete Maravich, and boxing champion Ken Norton. Terrill recently collaborated with the late actor's widow, Barbara McQueen, for the 2006 massive coffee-table book entitled Steve McQueen: The Last Mile, profiling the final three years of the actor's life.

This year fans can purchase two new McQueen projects. First, the 384-page, coffee-table Steve McQueen: A Tribute To The King Of Cool came out in March, but only in a special limited edition that is signed (by Terrill & Barbara McQueen), numbered, & includes a cd of a 1978 McQueen college lecture.

This special limited edition is available now at publisher Dalton Watson's website. A hardback, traditional version will hit & bookstores across America later this year. It is a passage book featuring anecdotes from McQueen's friends and peers.

Later this year, a 600-page mammoth bio entitled Steve McQueen: The Life & Legacy of a Hollywood Icon, will be available at all bookstores in October via Triumph Books.

Terrill recently took time to grant an extended interview, focusing on his fascination with the legend that is Steve McQueen.


Why is Steve McQueen still a major pop culture force?

Besides the fact that his look and his talent are timeless, the reason why any artist lives on after they die is because of their cult of personality. When someone sees McQueen’s work, they become fascinated with the man and want to know more about him. When they learn about his life, his painful childhood, his inner struggle to reach the top, his approach to acting and how he put his heart and soul into every project, he becomes much more than just a movie star. His life takes on much more meaning – his movies, the motorcycles, the racing, the aviation, the women, his insecurities, and his hell-bent-for-leather take on life. He was an American original and marched to the beat of his own drummer. How many people can we say that about today? The era of the 1960s and 1970s minted some of the greatest artists of the millennium, and McQueen is definitely in this group.

For the non McQueen fan, what film(s) would you direct them to see?

The Magnificent Seven; The Great Escape; Love with the Proper Stranger; The Cincinnati Kid; The Sand Pebbles; The Thomas Crown Affair; Bullitt; The Reivers; Junior Bonner; The Getaway; Papillon & Tom Horn. This roster of films gives a good sampling of McQueen’s range as an actor & demonstrates why he was so popular with audiences.

What is the most difficult part about undergoing a McQueen project?
(For me personally it’s when to stop. Because I find McQueen so fascinating, I must know everything about him. No stone goes unturned. I originally envisioned Steve McQueen: A Tribute to the King of Cool as maybe 100 passages…it’s about 215 passages, and I could have kept going. )

The editor of Steve McQueen: The Life & Legend of a Hollywood Icon said he wanted a 300-page book – I turned in a manuscript double that length – and thankfully, he didn’t cut a thing. McQueen’s story is epic and to give an abbreviated version of his life would be to cheat readers. That’s something I can proudly say I’ve never been accused of.

Let’s go back to 1993: Steve McQueen: Portrait Of An American Rebel was your first book. What was that experience like?

It was a wonderfully new & exciting process. Today I have written approximately 15 books, &Portrait was my first. It was a grand adventure as I embarked on a new chapter in my life, & going to Hollywood to meet all my favorite actors & people associated with McQueen’s movies was thrilling beyond belief. At that time, McQueen’s legend was just starting to surface and everyone was willing to talk to me. I happened to be in the right place at the right time.

Has Portrait been your most successful book?

“Portrait” is by far the most successful book I’ve written, although I’ve subsequently written two other best-selling books. It was reviewed worldwide, has gone through five printings and was revised in 2005. I’m hoping that Steve McQueen: The Life and Legend of a Hollywood Icon will be even more successful because it is a much better book than Portrait.

Portrait of an American Rebel was your first bestseller, but what were some of the others?

I co-wrote a biography called Maravich with Wayne Federman on the life of basketball legend “Pistol” Pete Maravich. It was released in 2006. That book took seven years to write; two years were strictly devoted to transcribing 300 interviews.

I also did a book with Elvis Presley’s friend & bodyguard, Sonny West, called Elvis: Still Taking Care of Business. It took me four years to write, and it was released in 2007. At that time, I was also working on Steve McQueen: The Last Mile with Barbara McQueen, so I was holding down a full-time job and working on three different book projects at the same time.

What do you think of “Portrait” today?

It’s my first “baby” and I’ll always be proud of the book, but it lacked in certain areas. For example, it’s skimpy on the details regarding his birth in Beech Grove, Indiana; his upbringing in Slater; his 14-month stint at the Boys Republic; his three years in the Marines and his early acting career in New York City. That is mainly due to the fact that not much was known at the time of McQueen’s background, so we were left with whatever McQueen cared to offer up. Since then, open records laws have enabled me access to find more information about McQueen’s early life, and the new bio is so much more detailed regarding these years. It’s also more analytical and has a more mature perspective about his life. In the years after Portrait, I became a reporter and applied a lot of my skills and logic to the McQueen story. I know Portrait set the bar but Hollywood Icon surpasses my previous effort. I can say that with confidence because I really busted my ass.

Were there some folks you wanted to interview but for one reason or another were unavailable?

The two people I really wanted to interview for both books, and are still alive, are attorney Kenneth Ziffren and business manager Bill Maher. They not only turned me down but never replied. These are two guys who worked diligently behind the scenes and are the brains behind McQueen’s power and fortune. They not only protected him legally, but established incentives in his movie contracts that no one else had at the time. I learned in this new offering that McQueen made far more money than the public suspected, especially on The Getaway, Papillon, The Towering Inferno, & The Hunter.

Ziffren and Maher were also the two men who drew up McQueen’s Last Will & Testament, which shows you how much he respected them. McQueen said at the end of his life, “Hire people smart enough to do the work but let you take the credit.” Well, that’s exactly what these two men did, which is why they lasted for so long.

Who were you especially excited to meet?

James Coburn, who was one of my favorite movie stars, and he was just as cool as you might have suspected, and a very nice man. But the one who I have the most affection for is Lord Richard Attenborough. At the time of Portrait I was a recent college graduate who had never had any contact with Hollywood. We met in Washington D.C. where he was being feted at a film perspective. After our interview, he invited me to the event and introduced me to the audience by name. Now, he didn’t have to do that, but that thoughtful gesture will stay with me for the rest of my life, and I will forever sing his praises.

Can you recall the first movie where you saw McQueen & became hooked?

At that time, Bullitt played continuously on Channel 20 in Washington D.C., where I spent a good portion of my youth. But The Getaway was the first motion picture I saw of McQueen’s. I’m a military brat and so when we moved, and my parents were out looking for a home, they’d drop us kids off at the movies and we’d spend the entire day there.

I must have seen Papillon as a kid at least 10 times. When The Towering Inferno debuted in December 1974, a buddy and me went to a midnight showing the day it came out. But here’s the funny part - the 9 p.m. show was sold out, and it was apparent the midnight showing was also going to be a sell-out.

I told my friend there was no way I was going to miss this movie, and so I simply walked up to the front of the line and cut in front of some lady! She must have sensed my determination and didn’t say a word. But boy did she stare daggers at my back the whole three hours I waited for the next showing…that kind of tells you how much I loved McQueen.

Pick & please discuss some of your favorite McQueen roles.

Papillon & The Getaway are my two favorite McQueen movies. For Papillon, it shows McQueen’s depth as an actor. He should have won the Academy Award for his performance. And for some reason, The Getaway, because I’ve always felt that it captures McQueen’s true intensity and personality. In his performances he was always a bit restrained, but in The Getaway, he lets loose, and you get a sense of who McQueen was in his private life.

On the other hand, was there a McQueen film that you don't care for?

Well, there was the whole slew of B-movies in the fifties – The Blob, Never Love a Stranger, The Great St. Louis Bank Robbery. but that’s simply because he had not defined who he was as an actor. In Never So Few, you catch the first real glimpse of the McQueen persona, which he had defined and perfected in the next decade.

When he became popular, Soldier In the Rain, Baby, The Rain Must Fall, & Nevada Smith were my least favorites. And because I’m not a racing fan, I find Le Mans boring and unwatchable. But Le Mans is a testament to McQueen’s star power at the time – how many other major movie stars can get away with carrying an entire picture with a dozen lines of dialogue? I promise you that would never happen in today’s industry.

Is there a McQueen film that you have re-examined & perhaps changed your mind about his performance?

Yes, and it happened most recently. A buddy of mine burned a copy of The Honeymoon Machine for me, and I watched it on a plane on my personal DVD player. I was astonished to discover that McQueen was actually quite funny in the film. I had only really given him credit for being funny in The Reivers, but he’s excellent in The Honeymoon Machine.

Of all the movies Steve passed on doing, which one(s) do you wish he should have picked?

Butch Cassidy & The Sundance Kid as well as Apocalypse Now. He would have brought great intensity to Butch Cassidy & Apocalypse Now would have stretched him as an actor.

Why did McQueen take such a long sabbatical from films after 1974's The Towering Inferno? Did he think this was a mistake upon reflection?

In the new book I discuss this in great detail. I think it was several things – he was burned out from the film industry, he had surpassed his rival Paul Newman, and he finally had the money to take a long break. Also, once you reach the pinnacle of your career, like he did with The Towering Inferno, how do you even attempt to come back because you know the next thing you do will not measure up? Those were, I believe, all the things going through McQueen’s head at the time.

With that said, I don’t think McQueen ever regretted this decision because it’s what his body and head required (in fact, Steve became a devoted & committed Christian in 1979). When your instincts tell you to take a break, you should listen. The break realistically was only for two years, not five. I’m sure no one counted on An Enemy of the People getting shelved, which added to the length of time the public hadn’t seen him.

Let's talk about An Enemy Of The People in more detail. This film certainly had a convoluted production schedule.

An Enemy of the People was a 33-day shoot, which commenced September 28, 1976. After a long and arduous testing period, the movie saw a limited release in about a dozen cities in March 1978. Warner Brothers didn’t know how to market the film because it was McQueen in an Ibsen play.

He chose to go totally against type and rather than try and misrepresent the film, the studio canned it. My personal belief is that he chose the project to sabotage his First Artists (McQueen's production company; Paul Newman, Barbra Streisand, & Sidney Poitier were also partners) deal, but then he fell in love with the picture after its release. McQueen found himself in a real Catch-22. The movie finally came out on DVD in 2009 via Warner Brothers’ website, so if you’re a fan and are curious, you should check it out to see what all the fuss was about.

Off-screen, what was McQueen like as a person?

Let me be clear, I never met Steve McQueen when he was alive, so I can only give you my opinion based on the hundreds of interviews I’ve conducted with friends, family, business associates and those who have had encounters with McQueen, which is really the basis of Steve McQueen: A Tribute to the King of Cool.

McQueen is perhaps the most multi-faceted and complex person I’ve ever researched. He was the epitome of yin and yang – sweet and scary; caring and selfish; cocky and insecure; funny and humorless; generous and thrifty. He was every emotion you could think of, which makes him absolutely fascinating to a biographer.

30 years after McQueen's death [November 7th, 1980], if he were still alive today, what would you see him doing?

I see him as a semi-retired actor, living the good life on a ranch somewhere. McQueen always lived his life out of the spotlight, and I think he would have come out of retirement for a good role (and a hefty paycheck). Look at all of the same people of his era – Newman, Eastwood, Beatty, Redford – they all continued to work, albeit sporadically, and were able to find vehicles to support their ages. McQueen would have easily slid into a leading role or extended cameo. Eastwood is the exception in this group. He doesn't seem to ever want to stop working, and God bless him. He's amazing.

Did McQueen know how many people enjoyed him & his work?

I believe he did, but his vision of his popularity was skewed. He rated his success in terms of box-office receipts. Plus, he lived most of his adult life in Southern California where everyone “loved him.” I think fame scared him to a certain degree, which is why he didn’t hide but mostly ducked the whole Hollywood experience. I think he retained his edge by remaining the Hollywood outsider, which is why he chose to live privately. He said more than once, “To have your obscurity and keep your identity is the ultimate.” For this I completely respect him because it shows he wanted a balance in his life. Living in Hollywood can make any celebrity unbalanced, and McQueen gets major kudos for being his own man.

If you had met McQueen, what would you have said to him?

This is a very interesting question because McQueen didn’t talk much about the art of filmmaking or his movie roles; instead, he preferred talking about his motorcycles and machinery. I know nothing about engines or machinery & have no interest in them whatsoever as long as it gets me from point A to point B. I remember producer David Wolper telling me that he sat in between McQueen and actor Lee Marvin at a benefit dinner, and it was like listening to a pair of mechanics talk shop. He said it was the most boring night of his life! (His passage is in Steve McQueen: A Tribute to the King of Cool).

I thought that was a fascinating insight into McQueen. So to answer your question, I’m not sure what we could have talked about. I’m of the belief that a biographer probably shouldn’t meet his subject. I’d much rather rely on family, friends, and associates to paint his/her portrait. A biographer should be the proverbial fly on the wall and listen, observe, research, and take in all the information before sitting down to write, and make sure to give the full picture of the person.

What do you enjoy doing when not writing a biography or newspaper article?

Lately, I’ve been into mountain biking. Arizona has some of the most gorgeous terrain in the country, and I try to ride at least an hour a day after work. It’s very peaceful and relaxing, and I usually ride off the beaten path with my iPod blaring. I listen to my favorite tunes while I look at mountains, cactus, parks, lakes and critters of the desert.

My wife and I watch a lot of movies & current tv series such as Entourage, Weeds, True Blood, Mad Men, & Breaking Bad. We're huge fans of reality tv including The Real Housewives of New York City, Celebrity Rehab, Sober House, The Hills, and Seinfeld reruns. I also read a lot of books – biographies, autobiographies, memoirs, history, always non-fiction.

One last question: What other projects are you thinking about, or is McQueen still taking up all your time?

After I finished Steve McQueen: The Life and Legend of a Hollywood Icon, which is more than 600 pages, I’m thinking of retiring altogether or taking a very long break. Writing is very stressful because of the amount of concentration and because you’re dealing with facts.

In the beginning it was fun and a new adventure. As I’ve grown older, I’ve become more of a perfectionist, and I place very high standards on my work, and that can be very emotionally and physically draining. You might think the more you do something the easier it gets, but it doesn’t. It gets harder because there’s more expectation of me, and I also expect more of myself. I’ve heard more than one author say what I’m telling you now, and I don’t feel this is an isolated case. So for now, I want to sit back and enjoy my life as opposed to being chained to a computer for 8 to 10 hours a day, which is what I did for this last McQueen book. For the first time in 20 years, I’m not going to actively pursue a book project, and I’m absolutely at peace with the idea.

For even more McQueen magic, visit Jeremy Roberts describes himself as: “a freelance writer who loves reading biographies, watching classic movies, going to concerts, listening to music. Investigating pop culture, including anything from the '30s to the present, is a lifelong passion of mine. Everyone has a story to tell, and if I've been a good listener and asked questions, then I've done my job.”

Monday, November 14, 2011

Laurence Juber Q & A

Grammy-Award winning guitar artist Laurence Juber will make a pair of intimate Southern California appearances this month. Juber will play at 8 p.m. Friday, Nov. 18, 2011, at McCabes Guitar Store, 3101 Pico Blvd., Santa Monica and 8 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 19, 2011, at The Fret House, 309 N. Citrus, Covina.

Often considered most famous for playing lead guitar in Wings from 1978 to 1981, Juber, known as ‘LJ’, has since had a distinguished career as a solo finger-style guitarist.

LJ graciously granted me an interview over the phone from Los Angeles to promote his two SoCal appearances.

Q: Do you enjoy playing in your own backyard?

LJ: I spend much of my time performing outside of Southern California, so it’s a pleasure to do what I consider ‘hometown shows’ in very intimate and close-up acoustic venues.

Q: In between shows, you also do guitar workshops. What are those like?

LJ: They’re definitely more on the technical end of the spectrum of what I do. It’s usually a group lesson between eight and 20 people, showing them tips, tricks and ways to improve their playing. I also explain my process for arranging and playing the solo acoustic guitar, how to get sound, resonance and character from the instrument. I pass on my knowledge and experience on how to create a solid musical experience.

Q: You've played at McCabes and The Fret House before. What are those two venues like?

McCabes is a historic place, which opened in 1958. It's also one of the best acoustic venues in the Los Angeles area and it's a delight to play there. It's a guitar shop and venue. At night they clear out the racks of guitars and put out chairs and it holds about 150 people. It's just a great gig. The list of musicians that have played there and hung out in the store is amazing - Ry Cooder, Bonnie Rait, Jackson Browne, Hoyt Axton, Jeff Buckley, Gene Clark, John Densmore, Steve Earle, Vince Gill, Roger McGuinn, Mick Taylor - all the greats. I'm working on some new arrangements and whenever I play there I always throw in something new into the repertoire.

The Fret House is an annual show I do and this will be my 20th performance there. I've playing there since 1991 right after my first album, Solo Flight, came out. It's a guitar store but they have a separate performance space and it's a very intimate acoustic venue. I've always enjoyed playing there.

Q: At your concerts, you play all styles of music, including a nice sampling of the Beatles. Why are their songs so magical?

LJ: (laughs) Every time I hear a Beatles record I gain a new appreciation. Above and beyond the analytical part of it and creating the arrangements, when I start deconstructing Beatles songs, I find unexpected things. I can never listen to a Beatles record twice and hear exactly the same thing. There’s always something that I’ve missed, or a new discovery where you say, “Wow, what was that little guitar lick?” Or the way in which the backing vocals come in…there’s always something new to discover in their work.

For more information visit

What: Laurence Juber 
Where: McCabes Guitar Shop, 3101 Pico Blvd., Santa Monica 
When: Friday, Nov 18, 8 p.m.
Cost: $20 
Information: 310-828-4497 or 

What: Laurence Juber 
Where: The Fret House 309 N. Citrus, Covina
When: Saturday, Nov. 19, 8 p.m.
Cost: $20 
Information: 626-339-7020 or

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Ronny Cox headlines at the Cave Creek Coffee Co.

Ronny Cox, musician and noted actor, will be joined by South Carolina-born singer-songwriter-guitarist Jack Williams on stage at Cave Creek Coffee Company in Cave Creek on Saturday, Nov. 19. Ronny and Jack have collaborated musically many times in recent years, touring together on the US folk circuit and recording/producing one of Ronny’s CDs. Each will present his own music and stories in two separate sets, with Jack joining Ronny to accompany him on guitar.

While Ronny started out as a musician and has emphasized that side of his career for the past few years, he is still one of the most respected and sought-after character actors in Hollywood. Since his debut as “Drew” in John Boorman's film "Deliverance" - including playing guitar in the famous "dueling banjos" scene - Ronny has appeared in over 50 films including "Beverly Hills Cop (I & II)", "Bound for Glory", "Robo Cop", "Total Recall,” and has played the president of the U.S. at least four times (including “1600 Pennsylvania Avenue”). In his recent recording, “How I Love Them Old Songs: Ronny Cox Sings Mickey Newbury”, produced by Jack Williams, Ronny pays tribute to the music of the legendary Texas songwriter. His additional recordings, “Songs with Repercussions,” "Ronny Cox Live," "Cowboy Savant" and "Acoustic Electricity" showcase Ronny’s home grown style of folk music and the lively story-telling that goes with it. Steadily increasing his following on the U.S. folk music circuit, he has headlined at such venues as the prestigious Old Town School of Folk in Chicago, the New Bedford SummerFest, and the Kerrville Folk Festival, a favorite of Ronny’s held annually in Kerrville, Texas.

Jack Williams is well known in the contemporary U.S. folk community as a Southern singer/ songwriter/storyteller, energetic performer, and unique guitarist. He continues to tour the U.S., as he has for the past 50 years, out of his love of music and performing. Jack books an annual circuit of approximately 100 U.S. festivals, house concerts and major folk venues each year, and has been a featured performer on the stages of the Philadelphia, SummerFest, Kerrville, Boston, and Newport Folk Festivals. In addition to his US audience, Jack has also become a favorite in England, Canada and Europe.

Jack Williams’ music – original Southern-American songwriting and performance at its best - draws deeply from the eclectic well of our musical heritage. Loaded with delightful influences from his career in jazz, classical, rock, blues, country and folk, Jack’s music is an easy, natural fusion of guitar, voice, songs, and stories. His original songs celebrating the characters, attitudes and life in the American South can be found on his DVD and nine CDs released on the Wind River / Folk Era label. His album, “Don’t Let Go”, is a tribute to some of the writers and songs that had the greatest impact on his musical development.


WHEN: Saturday, Nov, 19, 2011, 7:30-10:30pm

WHERE: Cave Creek Coffee Co., 6033 E. Cave Creek Road, Cave Creek

COST: $22 in advance online or $25 at the door

CONTACT: For more information call 480.488.0603 or visit

Monday, November 7, 2011

Q & A with McQueen author Andrew Antoniades

Interviewer: You have just released a new book called “Steve McQueen: The Actor and his Films”. Why is McQueen so popular even today?

Andrew: In essence it is because what Steve McQueen stood for in his lifetime is still as relevant, if not more so, today. He was a no-nonsense person who was essentially an underdog and that story is always appealing. He was a rebel but he could also act, so his films remain relevant and well-loved today. For example, Bullitt is still influencing modern cinema through its cinematography and its car chase. Aside form the films there is McQueen fashion sense and his love of fast cars and motorbikes. So for every person there is nearly always something they can relate to and admire. In an age where cinema really has no tough guys like McQueen, people have to look back and appreciated him for the maverick he was, since there is no one that comes close these days. He died just over 30 years ago but remains as relevant and as big as ever.
Interviewer: How did you come to write a book on Steve McQueen?

Andrew: I had just edited Marshall Terrill’s latest biography Steve McQueen: The Life and Legend of a Hollywood Icon. That was a great experience for me as I had read Marshall’s first biography on McQueen from 1993 when I was just in my late teens. Marshall always felt, having written the definitive biography on McQueen that the story of his films needed to be told. Marshall graciously suggested that I be the one to tell this story and put in contact with his publisher. From there I teamed up with Mike Siegel who has one of Europe’s leading film memorabilia archives with so many great images and film posters. We teamed up with the idea being that I did most of the writing and Mike providing most of the images. In a sense, the book now has the best of both worlds and benefits from two very big McQueen fans to ensure that the text and imagery are of the highest caliber. The partnership worked well and, with Marshall and the publisher’s support, the end product exceeded all our hopes.

Interviewer: Why did you focus on Steve McQueen’s films?

Andrew: McQueen’s life was a miracle in its own way. He was born into poverty and managed to somehow work his way from a teenage delinquent to a Hollywood megastar, defying the odds. His life story is completely interwoven with his films. The reason being two-fold. Firstly, being an actor was his way to a better life, a way of achieving success. Without films he could have easily drifted from job to job, just as he had as a young man. Secondly, McQueen used acting as a means of developing himself. He used all his hardships and life experiences to create some of cinema’s richest and most subtle characterizations.

However, McQueen also managed to do the reverse too, in the latter half of his career, his movies became his confessional of sorts. He would invest in scenes to achieve catharsis and to understand his own personal anxieties and fears. For example, in Junior Bonner there is the scene between McQueen’s character and his father, Ace, in which the two have a very strained relationship, but a deep respect. McQueen himself grew up never knowing his father and this scene allowed McQueen to examine his own feelings of abandonment and being denied a conventional father-son relationship. It is an incredibly poignant scene, but really highlights just how important McQueen’s films are.

Interviewer: Which part of the book are you most proud of?

Andrew: It is hard to pick one. The reason being is the book covers so much in text and in words. This was a conscious decision as we wanted to give fans everything we like ourselves. With the text of the book, I guess I’m most proud of the dissection of McQueen’s acting. I wanted to offer a unique and in-depth insight into McQueen’s technique, his subtleties and his motivations, to really get under his skin. This is something that has never been done in such detail.

Interviewer: Visually, what are the books strengths?

Andrew: We were adamant that the book should look impressive and possess great quality. As a collector myself, I always want things that look good and impress. The book is literally huge; at nearly 500 pages I don’t think there is another book on McQueen of this size. It is presented in hardback too with a wonderful gold embossed logo on the cover, underneath the dust jacket. When I got my own copy of the book I had no idea about this and was blown away. My publisher did a great job and I believe that little touches add to the overall presentation.

With the images, even the biggest McQueen fan will be blown away. With over a 1,000 images there are so many never-before-seen photos. So many books on McQueen have been released that simply repeat the same images. Steve McQueen: The Actor and his Films has something for casual and die-hard fans alike. Whether it’s an unseen image of McQueen taking a nap between takes on The Getaway or a rare Italian poster for Bullitt, there is something new and fresh.

Interviewer: What makes your book so different?

Andrew: The word I would use, and I use it with caution, is “definitive”. I do not say this lightly. I own practically every book published on McQueen over the years. I must say that, as an account of McQueen’s films, it really is definitive. Other books that try to cover his films either are outdated, not richly presented or omit key details. With this book every aspect is dealt with in great detail and new angles discovered. I clearly have a bias, but I believe that there is nothing on the market that comes close.

Interviewer: Thank you Andrew, this book sounds great, I wish you every success. Any closing comments?

Andrew: Yes, thank you too, this has been great. To close I’d just like to say that I am very grateful to have had this opportunity to put together a book on a subject that I am so passionate about. It has really been a labor of love. At the end of the day, I am a McQueen fan so I wanted to put something together that would really do him justice. I hope that I have achieved that.

Q: Tell us something you've never revealed to anyone else?

Andrew: I love Tiny Tim's "Tiptoe Through The Tulips."

Steve McQueen: The Actor and his Films, by Andrew Antoniades and Mike Siegel

Is available from Dalton Watson Fine books

ISBN 978-1-85443-253-7

Hard cover with dust jacket

Publication Date November 2011

Page Size: 300mm x 230mm. 492 pages.

Illustrations: 1,020 illustrations: 790 photos incl. 44 full page photos. 230 artwork reproductions incl. 48 full page poster reproductions & 10 full page lobby card reproductions

Price: US$69/£39

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Steve McQueen: The Actor and His Films

There are few books available that concentrate solely on the films of Steve McQueen. Steve McQueen: The Actor and his Films, is the definitive account of every film that the iconic actor made. This lavishly illustrated book devotes nearly 500 pages to Steve McQueen’s career and tracks his journey from juvenile delinquent, to Marine, to an aspiring actor breaking into Hollywood, until he became a global superstar and the highest-paid actor of his era. Included are numerous behind the scenes tales of events that occurred leading up to and during filming, and fascinating insights into McQueen’s acting techniques and motivations.

Each film is allocated one chapter. The chapters begin with a précis of the particular movie. Then events surrounding its making are described, uncovering new facts and insights. This is followed by an analysis of its success, and finally a significant scene is discussed in detail. Steve McQueen: The Actor and his Films is extensively illustrated with over 1000 color and black & white images, including posters from around the world, lobby cards, memorabilia, many never-before seen candid stills and rare vintage advertising materials.

Andrew Antoniades is a Chartered Accountant and lifelong Steve McQueen fan and expert. He studied English Literature at Southampton University and edited Marshall Terrill's 2010 biography Steve McQueen: Life and Legend of a Hollywood Icon. He has collected Steve McQueen memorabilia for over a decade and his collection includes original vintage film posters and several items personally owned by McQueen. Andrew lives in London.

Mike Siegel is a filmmaker, film historian and the director of more than a dozen documentaries on classic films and directors of the 1960s and 1970s. He is best known for his work regarding American director Sam Peckinpah including his acclaimed film Passion & Poetry – The Ballad of Sam Peckinpah and the accompanying book Passion & Poetry – Sam Peckinpah in Pictures. Over the years he has contributed to countless books and magazines, including the American film magazine Cinema Retro, and produced a number of special-edition DVDs. He started his historical film collection at the age of ten and now owns one of the leading archives in Germany. He resides near Stuttgart, Germany.

For more information, visit or email

Saturday, November 5, 2011

LJ to perform pair of SoCal concerts

Two-time Grammy-Award winning guitar artist Laurence Juber will make a pair of intimate Southern California appearances later this month.

Juber will play at 8 p.m. Friday, Nov. 18, 2011, at McCabes Guitar Store, 3101 Pico Blvd., Santa Monica and 8 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 19, 2011, at The Fret House, 309 N. Citrus, Covina.

“I spend much of my time performing outside of Southern California, so it’s a pleasure to do what I consider ‘hometown shows’ in very intimate and close-up acoustic venues,” Juber said.

Known for playing lead guitar in Wings from 1978 to 1981, Juber, known as ‘LJ’, has since had a distinguished career as a solo finger-style guitarist.A world-class guitar virtuoso solo artist, composer and arranger, LJ fuses folk, jazz, and pop styles and creates a dynamic multi-faceted performance that belies the use of only one instrument. 

Laurence has released 19 acclaimed solo albums since Wings folded. Wooden Horses showcases his compositions for solo guitar, while his celebrated arranging skills are featured on two volumes of LJ Plays The Beatles, the first of which was voted among the all-time top ten acoustic guitar records. 

As a studio musician, he can be heard on recent albums from artists as diverse as Barry Manilow, Al Steward and Dan Hicks & the Hot Licks. He is also featured on the soundtracks to hundreds of TV shows and movies including the Academy Award-winning Good Will Hunting and Dirty Dancing, the James Bond thriller The Spy Who Love Me and the upcoming Muppets movie.

For more information visit:

What: Laurence Juber 
Where: McCabes Guitar Shop, 3101 Pico Blvd., Santa Monica 
When: Friday, Nov 18, 8 p.m.
Cost: $20 
Information: 310-828-4497 or 

What: Laurence Juber 
Where: The Fret House 309 N. Citrus, Covina
When: Saturday, Nov. 19, 8 p.m.
Cost: $20 
Information: 626-339-7020 or

Friday, November 4, 2011

Stage lights up entertainment industry

There is now a highly developed online social platform that gives people involved in the entertainment industry their very own, specialized place to network and collaborate., founded by Curt Blakeney and Richard “RB” Botto, was designed for aspiring and established actors, directors, screenwriters, producers, crew, agents, technical and production support, and other industry members. It is an all-encompassing social network of like-minded individuals who have joined forces to promote creative growth in the film, television and theater industries.

The site fosters and facilitates collaboration between members using tried-and-true social networking concepts in “real time.” It features individual chat rooms, entertainment industry news, member updates in a status feed, private messaging, instant messaging, project listing, jobs listings, and forums. It gives members the ability to upload photos, videos, and projects, and also “follow” other projects to get updates and potentially turn ideas into production reality.

“On the flight back from the American Film Market (AFM) in Los Angeles, RB and I fleshed out the idea for Stage 32,” said Curt Blakeney, co-founder of “In the bar of the Loews Santa Monica Hotel, we witnessed so many projects being discussed and so many filmmakers with completed films begging to be heard. We thought it would be great to create a virtual meeting place so that people could discuss film and theater projects and connect year round, anywhere in the world. Stage 32 is a social network uniquely populated with the most creative people on Earth.”

Unofficially launched on July 23, 2011, the site went through a “proof of concept” phase with early adapters. Within weeks, membership quickly grew to 20,000 members globally in more than 120 countries. With Stage 32, industry personnel have an online place to call home.

“Excelling at your craft is only half the battle,” Botto said. “Networking is just as important, and we’re helping to accelerate that process.”

Whether someone is looking to fund a film, cast talent in a project, join classes, find a director, get advice or discuss key industry issues in the chat area, Stage 32 is designed to connect everyone within the industry. Best of all, Stage 32 is free to join and can easily be linked to an individual’s Facebook account, giving the user easy access to their existing contacts and colleagues.

“Stage 32 has allowed me to present my past and current film projects to a diverse and qualified forum of entertainment professionals,” said Writer/Director/Producer Angelo Bell. “As a result of posting my current film project on Stage 32, I've been contacted by numerous people (talent and crew) who appreciate the concept and are interested in helping me bring it to fruition.”

“With Stage 32, I have an all-access pass to television and movie professionals as well as media members,” said publicist Lynette Carrington of Carrington Entertainment. “I can find great places to book my clients for print, radio and podcast interviews and I can also see what films are currently casting. Stage 32 has been an extraordinarily valuable tool in helping me do my job. Plus, it is always great to meet others that understand this challenging industry.”

Stage 32 can be found online at It can also be accessed via Facebook at or twitter at @stage32online. Relevant for both newcomers and seasoned entertainment professionals, Stage 32 is the no-nonsense, professional place to get serious about taking a dream and making it a reality.