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Lisa Johnson: 108 Rock Star #Guitars @108RSGUITARS by @JMarshallCraig @IndieStardust #Photos #Video #rock #music

By Karen A. Brown and J. Marshall Craig

108 Rock Star Guitars Lisa Johnson

Lisa Johnson is a photographer to be reckoned with. With her groundbreaking vision she traveled the world to photograph the most exquisite guitars of our favorite rock stars! We sat down with Lisa to get details of her incredible journey with her new book 108 Rock Star Guitars.

 

Armed with a macro lens, an incredible eye for detail and a truly ground breaking vision, Lisa Johnson's guitar art, is taking the world of fine art photography on a rock and roll ride. Far from still life, Lisa's work conjures the abstract, yet also possesses a very sensual and ethereal feel that intentionally illustrates the intimate wear and tear details of the instrument. Her unique presentation undoubtedly personifies the musician and captures their true spirit in these wooden extensions of their own iconic flesh.

I’ve enlisted my buddy J.Marshall Craig to assist me with this interview as he has written both Eric Burdon’s autobiography, “Don’t Let me be Misunderstood” and “Between Rock and a Home Place” with Chuck Leavell.

KAB:  Welcome Lisa! Thank you for joining us today. You’ve been touring with 108 Rock Star Guitars. Finally your own tour! How does it feel? Any wild stories from the road to start us off?

LJ: Well this whole past 17 years of creating the book and now launching it has truly been the ride of my life! My first official book launch event was kicked on in NYC on October 8th (10/8) at the infamous “Cutting Room” and I was thrilled to have the current Les Paul Trio perform at the event with Lou Pallo at the helm. We showcased guitarist Porl Thompson, formerly of The Cure, whose guitar is in the book. And it was indeed super wild that my Father got to play two songs with the Trio. It was the thrill of his life and mine too so see him perform so well.

Brian May’s Red Special PHOTO: Lisa Johnson
Brian May’s Red Special
PHOTO: c. Lisa Johnson

JMC: You once worked for Kodak, but not as a photographer, is that correct?

LJ: Yes, I worked as a Technical Sales Representative for Eastman Kodak. My job was to visit professional photographers and the photo labs that serviced them and make sure they were using Kodak products. Most of us at Kodak were also photography buffs and we had to understand our product so we were always testing the films, paper and chemistry we were selling.

JMC: Where did the idea for 108 guitars come from?

LJ: I am a yogi. I teach, practice and study yoga philosophy and the number 108 is a significant number in yoga philosophy. So significant the number 108 has its own page on Wikipedia if you google it! I had traveled to India in 2009 and was staying with my yoga teacher, whose family astrologer came over to give me a reading. I told him I was trying to figure out what I would call my book. I knew I had to be something like “Rock Star Guitars”. He suggested adding the 108 to it and I knew instantly that was it! While I have photographed over 108 guitarists guitars, I thought that was a perfect stopping point and would lend a cosmic element to the book instead of the regular 100 or 101 greatest.

KAB: The angles, the light, the positions you must have placed your body in in order to get the shot you wanted. Tell us about how much of a contortionist you had to be shooting the guitars.

LJ: Yea, well that question brings me back to yoga! It’s true, I have laid on the ground and shot up, and on my stomach and shot across, have crouched in some pretty tight corners to get the shot and definitely used yoga breath, contracted my abs and entire body to get a lot of these shots! I would not say I’m a contortionist, but it has been very helpful to be limber and flexible to get some of these photos.

JMC: Which was the most difficult to photograph ~ and why?

LJ:  Jeff Beck’s guitar shoot was one of the most difficult because of the small space I had to work in. But it was cool because the space was behind a black curtain that flowed perfect with the black background I had laid down. Only problem was that I did not have much room behind me so did not have much leeway to move around at all. I did lay on the floor and shot upwards toward the guitar. It was tough to pull it off quickly and know that I got the shot I wanted that would be creative and interesting, but I ended up being very pleased.

KAB: Which was the most fun to photograph and why?

Roger Waters PHOTO: c. Lisa Johnson
Roger Waters
PHOTO: c. Lisa Johnson

LJ: I absolutely LOVED photographing Roger Waters iconic 1970’s Fender Precision Bass in one of the coolest locations ever… directly underneath The Wall, just moments after sound check. It was in Athens, Greece in one of the Olympic Hall buildings, in which I had been in before because I had staffed the Olympics in Greece for Kodak. Prior to the shoot I got to sit and watch the sound check, in which Roger was completely in charge of on stage, orchestrating the children’s choir with The Wall animated films projected on the Wall. Absolutely fantastic moment in the creation of this book.

JMC: Do the guitars have personalities, just like their owners? Did any take your breath away to be right there, photographing?

LJ: They definitely do. Which is why I never ask for the photographers to be in the shot. My work is all about showing the wear and tear details of the guitar that personify the artist without them being in the photograph. The guitars tell a story in and of themselves about the artist by what they leave behind. You can tell a lot about how the guitar is handled and played and they do take on a personality of their own that also portrays the soul of the guitar and perhaps its owner. When we opened the case to Jimmy Page’s 1968 Gibson EDS 1275 SG double neck, it was pretty breathtaking and a whole lotta love and soul emerged out of that case!

Jimmy Page Gibson SG Doubleneck  PHOT: Lisa Johnson
Jimmy Page Gibson SG Doubleneck PHOTO: c. Lisa Johnson

 

KAB: Your book is stunning. Is the final result everything you had hoped for?

LJ: Yes, I am so pleased with how it turned out. Even I have to pinch myself when I look through the pages and say wow I took that photograph! But aside from the imagery, my design team at SMOG Design in Los Angeles did a superior job. They have a real talent for listening to their clients and they masterminded exactly what I wanted.

JMC: What guitar took the longest to get the approval to photograph?

LJ: Jeff Beck and Rick Nielsen! Both held out on me for a long long time. But both shoots were very much worth the wait! I got Jeff’s Fender Stratocaster that has a 1993 Neck affixed to a 1995 Body, and it has a nice bit of tender wear on it. I got a Fender Tele guitar of Rick Nielsen’s I hadn’t seen before at all called the “Rick of Diamonds”, with uber cool crystal work on it, alongside a vintage Les Paul and a couple of his infamous Hamer guitars.

Robby Krieger’s 1963 Jose Ramirez Flamenco Guitar. PHOTO: Lisa Johnson
Robby Krieger’s 1963 Jose Ramirez Flamenco Guitar.
PHOTO: c. Lisa Johnson

 

KAB: Did any of the guitar owners play an impromptu private show?

LJ: Yes… Robby Krieger came over to my house for the photo session, which was wonderful because I have a great studio here in a controlled environment. As I photographed each guitar, he would play one of the other ones for me. Noteably he started playing Spanish Caravan on his 1963 Jose Ramirez Flamenco Guitar. Michael Wilton of Queensryche also plugged into a little amp after I photographed his skull crushing 2009 ESP MW Custom Signature Model-“Skull Guitar”. Such cool moments in the life of this project!

JMC:  Is there a guitar you didn’t get to photograph that was on your wish list?

LJ:  Many! Angus Young, Mark Knopfler, Pete Townshend, The Edge, Jackson Browne, John Fogherty, and many more were all requested but have not manifested yet.

KAB:  How much traveling did you have to do?

LJ:  I’ve been all over the USA including NYC, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Seattle, Louisiana, Nashville, Dallas, Austin, England, Greece and more. It’s been a fun journey. (see attached fact sheet)

JMC:  What was your favorite ~ and why?

LJ:  One of my favorite shoots was working with Nils Lofgren. He has a beautiful collection of guitars that are all very well worn yet well taken care of and they all have stories behind them. I got to go to Nils home and we spent several hours together photographing his guitars in a huge studio he has made on his property. There is just so much love energy in his presence. His lovely wife, and many dogs and just Nils is a beautiful human being who not only plays for the Boss in the E Street Band, his also has a very impressive catalog of his own solo material. I love the way his guitar images grace the pages of the book, including one acoustic Martin guitar that Neil Young gave to him when he was 17 or 18 years old. Nils has had a wonderful career and I adore him and his music. From what I understand you will see several of the images I took of his guitars on his forthcoming box set that is soon to be released.

JMC:  Les Paul wrote the foreword — tell us about your friendship with Les.

LJ:  When Eastman Kodak transferred me from Memphis, TN to NYC I had already been studying the photographing of guitars for about 6 months or so. When I arrived in NY I knew that I wanted to continue photographing guitars and decided that it may as well be famous ones. I noticed that Les Paul was playing every Monday night at The Iridium Room so I trekked down there by myself with an envelope of prints in my hand to show what I was doing. At the time it was Black and White images that I would hand tint with oils. I sat at the bar at the back of the room and eventually Paul Nowinski, the fiddle bass player in the Les Paul Trio at the time, came over to get a drink. I introduced myself to him and asked if he thought Les would let me photograph his guitar. Paul made it happen and the next thing I knew, I was on the stage photographing Les’s guitar that he had left on the stool he sat on for the shows. The next time I came in, I brought B&W hand tinted prints for Les and I got to personally deliver them to him. The next time he saw me he said “Hey there’s that girl who does that guitar art!” That made me so happy. I would go to Iridium as often as I could while I lived in NY and then after I moved to Las Vegas, I would always make a point to go and see Les when I would return to visit NY. Lou Pallo and Paul Nowinski would always help me out and make sure I got back to see Les. It was always exciting for me to sit and talk with him, and show him my prints of the latest guitars I got. He would encourage me. He told me one time that my images would inspire young people to buy a guitar because of the way my images illustrated how the guitarists would personalize them. He loved to have young people come up on stage and play a song with him. I wish he could see the book now that it is done. I think he would be proud of me. A percentage of the book proceeds will benefit the Les Paul Foundation to help fund music education and the hearing impaired. I had to do that in his honor and especially for being so kind as to write the foreword for the book.

Don-Felder-1959-Gibson-Les-Pau. PHOTO: Lisa Johnson
Don-Felder-1959-Gibson-Les-Pau. PHOTO: c. Lisa Johnson

 

KAB: Is there anyone you were particularly starstruck to meet during the journey?

LJ: Well I didn’t get to meet all the artists in the book, but I did meet a lot of them. I’m not really that star struck kind of person. I was so happy to get to meet Nancy and Ann Wilson and got to present a book to them. They are the coolest women in Rock and their music means so much to me. It was a true honor to meet these women who have inspired me so much.

JMC: Do you play guitar?

I can play a few chords! But am really just learning. I have a great teacher in LA who comes out to my house. I can’t wait to shred one day!

KAB: Did you play any of the guitars you photographed?

LJ: No, I never ask to play them, I have so much respect and reverence for the guitar and the opportunity to have access to photograph them that I would never want to overstep my bounds or timeframe I said I could get the session done in. Maybe when I get good enough I will ask!

JMC: Do you choose subjects according to your own taste as a fan?

LJ: For the most part I do. Sometimes I may not be a regular listener of some of the artists, but I have tremendous respect for the work they do. A couple of the guitars in the book were suggested to me by people that said I just had to get this one or that one, but for the most part I have requested artists that I grew up listening to or are listening to now.

KAB: Were the artists there when you photographed their guitars?

LJ: Some were there and those were some cool shoots. Robby Krieger, Nils Lofgren, Steve Earle, Steve Lukather, Mark Farner, Wayne Kramer, Hutch Hutchinson, Kim Thayil, K. K. Downing, Michael Schenker, Porl Thompson and many more guys where there hanging with me during the shoots. So fun!

Ace Frehley: KISS PHOTO: Lisa Johnson
Ace Frehley: KISS
PHOTO: c. Lisa Johnson

 

JMC: Tell us the Lou Reed story!

LJ: I love the images of Lou’s guitars in the book. I only met him once, after the photo session was done. I got access to his guitars because we had a couple of mutual friends who both went to him and told him what I was doing. So he agreed via communication through them. I went to his house in Manhatten, no one was home, it was just me and his assistant who gave me carte blanche to his guitar room. It was quiet and beautiful with a real art vibe. His was one of the first guitars I ever photographed and I used a very special Color Infrared film that Kodak had made especially for NASA to shoot vegetation from space. It was quite appropriate to use this film on Lou’s guitars. I’m so pleased he got to see the prints before he passed and he posted my favorite image from the set onto his Facebook page just a few days before he passed. Lou’s music and soul was a true gift to the world.
 

KAB: Thank you so much Lisa. And thank you, JMC! Fabulous interview! If our readers would like to order your book, 108 Rock Guitars, they can order here on Amazon.com Lisa Johnson: 108 RockStar Guitars

RSG_BookPage_Slider1

108 Rock Star Guitars Deluxe Hardcover – Deluxe Edition

The rich saturation of color in Lisa Johnson’s ground-breaking photographic vision documents not only some of culture’s most important rock star guitars, but also recounts how the instrument itself has become the essential symbol of rock. Her bold use of unusually low depth-of-field photography visually caresses the instrument in the way a skillful musician might – zeroing in on subtle gradations in a guitar’s patina or hugging the curves of another’s silhouette. Johnson accompanies her images with text cultivated from interviews with the proud guitar owners, revealing the personality of the musician who plays the instrument while her images revere the instrument itself. Johnson provides up-close inspection of guitars, including those of Eric Clapton, Les Paul, Jimmy Page, Billy Gibbons, Rick Nielsen, Brian Setzer, Chrissie Hynde, Ace Frehley, Carlos Santana, Jack White and many others. Here, the guitar is made exotic, sensuous, and evocative – it transforms from an instrument into an artwork.
 
Includes padded-leatherette hardcover book, 16-page booklet describing inspiration behind project, and black guitar pick printed with one of three holographic foil designs. More at  http://108rockstarguitars.com

ALL PHOTOS COPYRIGHT 2013: LISA JOHNSON

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#IRespectMusic Takes Off!! Musicians voices are being heard!

Artists/Musicians/Writers are not getting paid for airplayin The USA and it’s just simply wrong.

The time has come! Please sign the petition at http://www.irespectmusic.org and send your photos to us @IndieStardust on Twitter or on Facebook www.facebook.com/IndieStardust
We will keep building this collage until it is impossible to build.
Cheer us on and watch the process! Sign at http://www.irespectmusic.org

Follow @TheBlakeMorgan

Take Action. Speak Up. Make History.

Irespectmusic indiestardust

Elio Pace: What a Day… Merry Christmas!

by Karen A. Brown @IndieStardust @StardustBlu @StardustBluCEO

Elio PaceI would like to introduce you to Elio Pace, from The UK.  His pure enthusiam, contagious joy and monster piano playing certainly caught my attention. I had a chance to interview him for us, so I took it.

KAB: It’s lovely to have you here with us for Christmas Elio, Thank you! Share with us a bit about your Christmas song “What a Day” I love it!

613V55rNSaL._SY300_Elio: Thank you Karen. I wrote ‘What A Day’ back in 1989… I was 21. The only thing was that I wasn’t comfortable with the lyric that I had written for it which was about a whole different subject and so after recording a demo of it in 1993, I put the song away and forgot about it. Then one night in August 2006, on the way home from a gig, it popped back into my mind and I had this epiphanic moment where I realised that the title ‘What A Day’ lent itself perfectly to being about CHRISTMAS day. So to cut a long story short, a few days later, myself, Helen McNee and Matt Daniel-Baker sat down and rewrote the lyrics to my existing melody. I enlisted a dear old friend of mine and exceptional trombonist and arranger, Adrian Fry to score the horns and by the September we had made the record as you hear it now. I released it that December on my own independent label Rosa Records and I’m so proud to watch its popularity grow year upon year.

KAB: You have had an extraordinary career. I read that when you were 20 you won a talent show similar to what looks like early version of ‘America’s Got Talent’?

Elio: Yes. The program was called ‘Bob Says Opportunity Knocks’, the ‘America’s Got Talent’ of its day and the host was one of my favourite comedians and a British comedy legend, the late Bob Monkhouse. I sang one of my own songs, ‘Take You Home’, which in itself was rare thing to do on a programme of that kind. I won my heat which put me through to the final which was televised live at peak time on a Saturday night on BBC1. Although, I didn’t win the final that whole experience changed my life and career forever.

KAB: I would love to know more about this impromptu jam on Liberace’s piano. How did that happen and who is playing with you? This is a “MUST SEE” in my book!

Elio:  Along with my band, I had been asked to perform at the Dorchester Hotel in London for a children’s charity fundraising night along with one of Britain’s best loved comedians, Bill Bailey and one of Britain’s best-loved pop bands The Feeling. We were all mingling in our green room before the evening kicked off and I think someone mentioned that Liberace‘s piano was just outside in the hall alongside our room. I actually can’t remember exactly how it happened but within a few minutes we were all gathered around the piano and myself, Bill, and the lead singer and main songwriter from The Feeling, Dan Gillespie Sells started jamming a 12-bar blues. We’d really only just met and yet there we were conversing and connecting through music… That’s what’s great about a piano, one of the few instruments you can share in that way.

KAB:  It is truly a unreal moment in time. You’ve shared the stage with so many extarordinary artists on BBC’s “Live on ‘Weekend Wogan’ BBC Radio 2” Which performances stand out in your mind?

Elio:  I was the musical director and featured artist on that live radio show for the whole of 2010… 34 live shows. And in that year I got to meet, arrange for and rehearse with over 70 of the most incredible artists like Glen Campbell, Gilbert O’Sullivan, Don McLean, Leon Russell, Debbie Reynolds, John Legend, Beth Nielsen-Chapman, Neil Sedaka, Norah Jones and Kiki Dee. But if I had to choose my top four highlights they would be: duetting with Raul Malo (from The Mavericks) on ‘O Sole Mio’; duetting with Huey Lewis on ‘Shake, Rattle And Roll’; having guitarist Brian May from Queen join my band for my opening number of the show ‘Gimme Some Lovin’; and performing ‘Country Boy’ with guitar legend, Albert Lee which received the only standing ovation in the whole year and with whom I had had the pleasure of touring with for three years before this performance.

KAB: What is the structure of your band?

Elio: In the last three years and at this moment in my career I have loved touring with my 6-piece band: drums, bass, guitar, two horns and myself on piano and vocals. The music that I write and enjoy performing, unashamedly spans many genres. And so regardless of whether it’s my 10-piece or 6-piece band, the musicians I need have to be able to encompass the many styles that I love to perform. I feel so lucky to have been surrounded by some of the best musicians and singers in the world.

Click on the player below to hear Huey Lewis and Elio Pace Live!

Rehersal with Huey Lewis


KAB: A dream of mine as a little kid was to be able to play every instrument on the stage. How many musical instruments do you play?

Elio: The only instrument that I feel I can play to a professional standard is the piano, but I do also play a little drums, guitar, trumpet, accordion and my party piece is ‘Stranger On The Shore’ on the clarinet!

KAB: Tell us about your Billy Joel Songbook 2014 Tour.. Looks like it will be off the charts!

elioElio: Since the night I became a Billy Joel fan back in 1986 when I heard ‘This Night’ for the first time, I have wanted to do a gig of just his songs. And so to finally get around to actually doing a tour of his music is truly a dream come true for me. This is the first time that anyone in the UK has done a Billy Joel theatre tour and so I feel privileged to be given this opportunity to communicate his incredible musical legacy. This isn’t a tribute act as such because I’m not going out trying to look or be like Billy Joel but instead just be myself, performing his incredible songbook. We kick-off on March 20 and I’m stupidly excited about it.

KAB: What does the future look like for you, Elio and is there anything else you’d like our Indiestardust family to know?

Elio: No matter what else I have done in my career to date, nothing gives me more pleasure and is more gratifying than writing my own songs, recording them, going out and performing them for people and finding that the public enjoy what they hear. So for me it’s all about writing my next album. It took me 21 years to make my very first album of my own material, ‘A Seat At My Table’, of which I am extremely proud but I have a lot more music in me that I look forward to unleashing on the world.

KAB: Thank you for stopping by here with us Elio, continued Success and Merry Christmas!

Elio: Thank you so much Karen. As an unsigned and independent artist, the thought that people in America are being exposed to my music thrills me to the bone and I thank you for giving me this opportunity to connect with you all. So much of the music that has influenced me in my life comes from your great country: Elvis Presley, Stevie Wonder, Jerry Lee Lewis, Billy Joel, Delbert McClinton, Neil Diamond, Aretha Franklin, Tony Joe White, Jimmy Webb, Bobby Darin, Louis Prima, Ray Charles, Louis Jordan… I could go on for hours!!! Anyway, a very Merry Christmastime to you and thank you once again for your support.

BUY Elio’s CD Here on Amazon!               Follow Elio @eliopace 

elio2

Merry Christmas Everyone! May Your Christmas be filled with Stardust! 

City Lights: Mind Blowing Views of Los Angeles as seen through the eyes of Cinematographer Colin Rich

by Karen A. Brown @IndieStardust @StardustBlu @ StardustBluCEO

Colin Rich Vimeo Screen

It’s early Saturday morning and I wasn’t planning to write today, but then, thanks to a friend, I found Colin Rich. He is way up high on the “cool” meter!  I haven’t had a chance to interview him, [I hope to *hint “Colin” if you are reading this*] but couldn’t wait to share his extraordinary gifts with you!

His patience. His perseverence. I picture him sitting alone, in what must be almost a meditatitive state in remote locations for hours to get seconds of footage. He’s probably busy at work with a half dozen people with him. [This is where an interview with Colin would be quite helpful.]
Pop open the video to a large screen to enjoy!

Colin writes on vimeo, that he will be concentrating on narrative and documentary films.
We look forward to more Colin!

Credit: Colin Rich by LA-By-Time-Lapse-Photo
Credit: Colin Rich by LA-By-Time-Lapse-Photo

For more behind the scenes and updates on Colin’s work, you can follow him here:
Facebook: facebook.com/colinrich1
Instagram: instagram.com/heyitsmecolin  Twitter @heyitsmecolin
Web site: deer-dog.com

Colin writes: ” ‘City Lights’ is the final chapter from my “Trilogy of Light” series that began a couple years ago with ‘LA Light’ and then followed up with ‘Nightfall’. It was an nightly adventure that took me to almost every angle of Los Angeles. It was an exercise in patience. A lesson in light. An understanding of what it is to live amongst each other and to understand the system and order of a city, the seemingly complex organics that make it up and the life form that the city truly is. A visualization of sonder. It was a daily jaunt to watch the arterial freeway systems pump car cells through its body and channel them to the capillaric avenues that are our neighborhoods and homes. It was a chance to break away from the 70mph freeway perspective and to observe the sun slip from view and watch the electric dance of nightfall begin. It was challenging. It was frustrating. Definitely dangerous at times. Sometimes it hurt. I was chased. Yelled at. Warned. But the overall context of things learned, people met, things seen, and places discovered over the past three years shaped who I am today. I didn’t always love Los Angeles but I learned to and discovered that this city is much more than temperate weather, palm trees, pretty girls, and beaches; to me the true beauty behind the city lies hidden on the other end of a rusted fire escape to a view no one else has seen.”

And just for some perspective: Colin and The Pop Star team have been literally launching camera’s into space for footage.
Have a look! Although, you may need a dramamine as the camera launches.


Colin writes: “Launched on October 19th 2010, PopStar was a collaboration between Pacific Star and PopTech, hence the name and literal representation of a popstar. Maximum altitude was in excess of 116k feet but the GPS signal failed to record for a number of minutes. PopStar flew a lateral distance of 117 miles and landed by a blueberry field outside of East Machias, ME.” Music by Max Indian

More incredible footage fom Colin Rich at  Deer Dog Productions Copyright © 2013

Word Waterfalls, 49 1/2 Shades of Steve BLUE-stein and The Mom

by Karen A. Brown @StardustBlu @IndieStardust @StardustBluCEO

stevevegas2

Karen A. Brown: Hello again Steve Bluestein.  Lovely to have you back so soon.  So please tell us, how did you manage write an entire new book in 6 weeks?

Steve Bluestein: I take performance enhancing drugs.  You don’t think Lance Armstrong is the only one who pedals fast.

KAB:  Where are these stories coming from?

SB:  My mind is like a computer. It sees things in terms of comedy viability. When something happens in my life I say, “Wouldn’t it be funny if…?” And I’m off. My stories are all true…What makes them funny is my take on them. My side comments. My observations.

49-1-2 shadesKAB: What happens to you when you sit down to write? It must be a waterfall.

SB: It’s interesting. It’s like a waterfall, you’re right. But after two hours the waterfall shuts down like it’s clean up time at Disneyland. I can tell you when it’s been two hours by how my mind is working.  I think I have a tad ADHD… Oh look pretty colors.

KAB: Why 49 1/2 Shades… Why not 39 1/2 or 79 1/2?

"As my book 49 1-2 shades of Blue-stein suggests... I believe in angels and today in Century City there was one right in front of me." SB
“As my book 49 1-2 shades of Blue-stein suggests… I believe in angels and today in Century City there was one right in front of me.” SB

SB: I didn’t want to get sued. I was going to call the book 50 shades of Blue-stein but thought I would get sued. So I called it 49 1/2 Shades.

KAB: Steve, can you give us your take on Christmas? The shopping? The advertising? The parties?

SB:  I hate Christmas, the crowds and commerciality of it all. I had my shopping done in October when I didn’t have to fight sixteen housewives on Starbucks caffeine for a parking space. My gifts were wrapped before Thanksgiving and my cards were done the day after Thanksgiving. And now while you’re all running around looking for an X-Box I’m watching re-runs of I’M DICKENS HE’S FENSTER.


KAB: I saw that you had a recent visit with your mother. How is she doing in Florida?

SB: Well, the joke I told my friends was… It was a wonderful trip. She has Dementia and forgot she hated me.

KAB: Is it ok if I share the clip you took during your visit?

SB:  Ya, sure.

KAB:  Great! Ok, everyone, meet Steve’s mom! This may explain a few things.

KAB:  Now that we all have used a half box of tissues in laughter. Thank you by the way, Steve and Mom and friend Dori Fram for asking the question in the first place.  Now Steve, please share a little with us about the animals in your house.. Dogs, Cats…? Fish? Penguins?

49-1-2 shades
Click to order Steve’s latest Book!

SB:  I’ve had a zoo of animals… all rescues. Maggie the Springer Spaniel for 14 years, Followed by Katy the Dalmatian, followed by Tori Spelling the terrier, followed by Sully the Golden Retriever and finally Louie the Bichon Frise… oh and Kitty Carlisle the worst cat in America… Meanest cat ever!

KAB: Steve you’re a good guy, lovely of you to rescue all of them, especially the mean Kitty Carlisle. So, may I ask what are your plans for 2014?
SB: I would like to have a good bowel movement.

KAB: Wouldn’t we all, Steve… Wouldn’t we all. *hoping you are speaking figuratively.*  

I would love to see you writing for a new comedy show. Anything we should know about?

SB: TV is a young man’s game. I will not be writing TV again in the near future. Not because I don’t want to but because the industry doesn’t hire older writers.

KAB: I think they are making a mistake demographically speaking. There are a lot of old people watching TV. Do you have another book in the works yet?

SB:  I’m thinking of doing a photography book… I have over 4000 photos that need a home.

KAB: That’s an exciting prospect, Steve. Your photographs are wonderful! Thank you again for visiting me here! Steve’s new book will make you laugh, cry and reflect.

Follow Steve @stevebluestein on Twitter!

The photo below is one of the shots Steve says will be in his new book of photographs.

steve vegas

Interview with Julian Lennon on his new release “Someday” feat. Steven Tyler

By Karen A. Brown

On April 8th I wrote, 

“This is what we have been waiting for from Julian.  “Someday” is deeply moving , spiritual and a tribute to many beautiful souls who either passed on or are still here making the world a better place. 

The graphics and animation in the video are wrought with the psychedelic tangibility of a Peter Max meets Woodstock feel, yet, visually stepped into the future.  An ethereal feeling of powerful strings and a doughy eyed chill rises up the back of one’s neck as we listen. “Someday” brings back so much of his father’s purity of reaching for global peace and the innocence of loving one another..

“Someday” features Steven Tyler harmonizing on background vocals.  And we’ve also heard through the grapevine that singer, songwriter, producer, Gregory Darling, is also involved with the project. Indiestardust  will certainly be getting more information for you on this inspiring new project from Mr. Lennon.” 

Well we did!!  Feeling extraordinary gratitude to Julian  for such a quick response to a few burning questions I had about Julian’s new release  “Someday”.  Read on and have a listen!


KAB:  How did you hook up with Steve Tyler for “Someday” ?

JL: We were staying in the same hotel, and as he walked into the hotel bar, I came up on his side, grabbed his elbow and said “Hello Mr Tyler, Mr Lennon here, the ‘Other’ Mr Lennon…
And it was all downhill from there…

KAB: A perfect moment! Sounds like a great time was had by all.  The harmonies in “Someday” are so beautifully layered.  How many tracks of backing vocals are in there?

JL:  Not too many… I think there are 3 harmonies, or there abouts, that come & go… and they’re all probably layered 2-3 times…

KAB: Can you share with us how you came to the message in ” Someday”?

JL:  Well, We were trying to consider a ‘Hopeful’ outlook and realised that, in every way shape & form, we all really felt the same & that ‘Someday’ one way or another, we would all have to come together… whether by our own process/demise, or by natural events… In a Nut shell…

KAB:  The visuals in the video are spiritually moving and psychedelic in nature. Would you share with us a bit about the graphics and animation.

JL:  Well the Lyrics denote a dream like & hopeful quality, so it was a question of bringing together those elements, but also drawing attention to problems we know exist, but again, as I’ve always done, I don’t want to push My thoughts, comments & ideas, down peoples throats… It was about laying a few images in front of the listener/viewer, for them to take away what they will from the video… Also wanting to draw on the Butterfly image too, which features throughout the Album Artwork & of course, represents Change…

KAB: Thank you Julian. ” Someday” is truly special. I know we are all  looking forward to hearing the whole album which we know is going to be released soon. We will certainly keep our readers updated.

John and Paul
John and Paul

“Someday” by Julian Lennon

How does it feel to be one of the beautiful people?
Say a prayer and close your eyes
Someday, someday
Hope and pray we get it right
One day, one day
Everyone’s the same
(Everyone’s the same)
We get lost and we get broken
Isn’t it a shame,
(Isn’t it a shame)
Words unspoken

Chorus:
We’re all in it together
Someday, someday
One love, now and forever
Someday, someday
Wish our dreams could be as one
Someday, someday
Try to fix what we’ve undone
One day, one day

Nothing stays the same
When you’re lost and when you’re broken
All that’s left remains,
(All that’s left remains)
Words unspoken

Chorus:
We’re all in it together
Someday, someday
One love, now and forever
Someday, someday
We’re all in it together
Someday, someday
One love, now and forever
Someday, someday

Well it’s not about right or wrong
Of how far down the road we’ve gone
Oh, oh, it’s just about holding on

How does it feel to be one of the beautiful people?

Chorus:
We’re all in it together
Someday, someday
One love, now and forever
Someday, someday
Say a prayer and close your eyes
If you don’t mind how many tries
It’s not your ship, you think you steer
What you believe just might appear
One love, now and forever
Someday, someday
We’re all in it together
Someday, someday
Say a prayer and close your eyes
If you don’t mind how many tries
How does it feel to be one of the beautiful people?
How does it feel to be one of the beautiful people?
How does it feel to be one of the beautiful people?
How does it feel to be one of the beautiful people?
How does it feel to be one of the beautiful people?

Buy "Someday "on ITunes
Buy “Someday “on ITunes USA
Buy "Someday" here ITunes UK
Buy “Someday” here ITunes UK

Jay Leno leaving ‘Tonight Show,’ Jimmy Fallon will take the helm

by Karen A. Brown

I adore Jimmy Fallon. His adorableness, his creativity, his awareness, his willingness to step outside the stratosphere, his musical and comedic gifts… all Fallon genius. Not always does a major network get it right, this time NBC has a perfect fit! Here’s how exciting this is for television, the ‘Tonight Show’ will return to New York City in 2014 and Lorne Michaels will be executive producer, says NBC.

Lorne Michaels and Jimmy Fallon go way back. Have a look at Fallon’s brilliance right out of the gate in his “Original Saturday Night Live Audition”.

Here’s a quick teaser clip prior to the announcement:

WATCH: Jimmy Fallon & Jay Leno Address “Tonight Show” Rumors with Duet

Jimmy and Jay sing their version of the classic duet “Tonight” from the Broadway musical “West Side Story.”

Kevin Winter/Getty Images
Kevin Winter/Getty Images

Jay Leno (left) and Jimmy Fallon at the Golden Globe Awards in January. Next year, Fallon will be taking Leno’s place on The Tonight Show, NBC says. (Below) Screenshot of Jay Leno at NBC Studios as Jimmy and Jay finish their version of the classic duet “Tonight” from the Broadway musical “West Side Story.” We wish them both the best!

Jay Leno

Karen A. Brown and The StardustBlue team can be found on Twitter @IndieStardust @StardustBluCEO @StardustBlu

Billy Vera on his new album “Big Band Jazz”, Buble “At This Moment”, Ray Charles, a Grammy win and more..

Billy Vera on his new album “Big Band Jazz”, Buble “At This Moment”, Ray Charles, a Grammy win and more.. by Karen A. Brown  Follow @IndieStardust 

I had the honor of speaking with brilliant songwriter, performer and actor, Billy Vera, about his latest album, his Grammy win last month and his musical journey though the years.

KAB: Tell us a bit about your new album, “Billy Vera: Big Band Jazz”. 09-atxl

BV: I’ve wanted to do a big band album for years and the royalties from Michael Buble’s recording of my song “At This Moment” provided the financing.  I procrastinated so long that now everybody seems to be doing a standards album, so I figured I’d better come up with something to make mine stand out from the pack.  Someone said, “What do you know better than anyone else?”  I thought about it and realized that I have a great knowledge of black music and the history of black showbiz.  So I decided the theme would be songs by the great black songwriters of the 1920s, 30s and 40s.

This theme served a second purpose. I wanted to celebrate the successes of these men and women.  I get so tired of seeing blacks portrayed as victims when it would be more productive to instill a pride in the accomplishments of these great composers, like Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Buddy Johnson and others.

We recorded at Capitol’s famed Studio A, where Sinatra, Nat Cole, Dean Martin and Nancy Wilson made their classic recordings and hired 18 of LA’s finest jazz musicians.  We recorded live, no overdubs, just like the old days, to get the proper, authentic feel for the music.

Billy Vera performing, “A Room with a View” from his new album “Big Band Jazz”

KAB: You finally and deservedly earned your first GRAMMY for Best Album Notes for Ray  Charles’ Singular Genius: The Complete ABC Singles at the 55th Annual GRAMMY Awards in February. Tell us how it felt the moment your name was called and a bit about your history with Ray Charles.

BV: This was my fourth nomination, so I knew not to get too excited beforehand.  My last one was for Ray’s 50th anniversary box set.  Since I consider Ray Charles to be the most important musical figure of the second half of the 20th Century, I was surprised not to win that time.  I’ve annotated and/or produced over 200 historical reissues, including eight of Ray’s music.  I even got to record him once, a duet with Lou Rawls. He’s long been my musical hero and greatest influence, although I sing nothing like him.

We arrived late, thanks to my date’s hairdresser, and got there just as the category before mine was being announced.  We hadn’t even gotten seated when they called my name.  She screamed and I ran down the aisle, afraid they might hand it off to one of the models, my date running after me, whooping and shooting photos with her little cell phone.  I kept my speech short and sweet, as I’m not a fan of long-winded acceptances.

KAB: How did your connection with Michael Buble and your journey with “At This Moment” on Michael’s album “Crazy Love” come to be?

BV: I have no idea whose idea it was for Buble to record my song.  Every so often, I check Youtube, to see if there’s any new action on my songs and one day I stumbled across Michael’s live version, so I did a little digging and discovered he’d recorded it.

KAB: How long has it been on the charts now?

BV: It entered the charts at #1 in October, 2009 and remains on the British charts to this day.

KAB: Are you and Michael working on any other projects together or will you be
in the near future?

BV: I’ve never met Michael or anyone from his circle.  I pitched a song to his manager, but was told he co-writes his singles and the rest of his albums contain well-known standards, like “At This Moment.”

 KAB: When you write, does the lyric or the melody come first? Are you usually on guitar or piano?

BV: I mostly write on piano, but occasionally on guitar.  I wrote my first #1 hit, “I Really Got The Feeling,” recorded by Dolly Parton, on guitar.

KAB: The music industry has changed drastically from when you began, what advice would you give to new writers/performers?

BV: I honestly wouldn’t know what to do if I had to start my career today.  There’s far more people competing and fewer people willing to listen to a new person.  Yet, some always manage to find a way.  The best advice I can offer is to find that thing inside you that makes you different and allow that to emerge.  The world doesn’t need copycats.  Originals always have the best chance of making it.

KAB: What’s your perception of the music related reality shows like The Voice,
American Idol etc.

BV: I’m not a big fan of those shows generally.  There seems to be an over-the-top formula for winning that isn’t about originality.

KAB: If you had to choose the top 6 favorite songs you’ve written throughout the
years, which would they be?

That’s a hard question, like asking which of your children is your favorite.  It changes from one day to the next.  But some of my favorites are “Hopeless Romantic,” “Let You Get Away,” “Someone Will School You, Someone Will Cool You,” “Room With A View,” “If I Were A Magician” and “Good Morning Blues.”

KAB: Would you tell us a bit about Lou Rawls and what it was like working with
him?

BV: Lou had one of the unique voices ever, one of the last of a breed, the great black baritones.  He trusted me and never argued over my song choices.  My partner, Michael Cuscuna and I got him after a down period in his career.  Our boss at Blue Note Records, Bruce Lundvall, told us to take him back to the kind of music he became originally famous for: blues and jazz.  We surrounded him with some of the finest musicians of the genre.  The first album, At Last, reached #1 on the jazz charts and the next two made the top five.  A few years later, for Savoy Records, I produced his final album, Rawls Sings Sinatra, which remained on the charts for six months.

KAB: Any other great stories from the past that you can share? A special
recording session? Live show?

BV: My first hit record as an artist was a duet with Judy Clay, who was a member of the veraclaygreat gospel group, The Drinkard Singers, with Cissy Houston (Whitney’s mother) and Dionne and Dee Dee Warwick and their mother, Lee Drinkard.  We were the first interracial duo to sing love songs.  The first time we played the Apollo Theater in Harlem, it was quite a shock, as no one had seen a picture of us, so when I made my entrance, you could hear 1500 people gasp.  I heard people saying, “That’s him?”

They had put us on in the second spot, which is the worst spot in a show, in case we didn’t go over well.  But after the first show, the stage manager came to our dressing room and said, “I’m switching up the show.  You’re going on right before the star, ’cause ain’t nobody gonna be able to follow you two.”  We turned out to be very popular in Harlem and our photo is still on the wall in the lobby, after over 40 years.

billy_vera_recordingKAB: You have a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. How fun was that experience and *smiling* how long did it take to get the cement out of your shoes?

BV: That was Angie Dickinson’s doing.  She nominated me and the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce voted.  To be frank, I was a little uncomfortable, as I feared I wasn’t a big enough “name” to have a star and I was afraid people might write nasty things about me, thinking I didn’t deserve it.  But it turned out fine and people were happy for me.

KAB: How did you step into the acting arena and what are your most memorable roles?

BV: Jon Voight, who’s the brother of my early songwriting mentor, Chip Taylor, came in the club one night with his acting teacher, David Proval and talked me into attending his class. They thought I’d make a good actor. After a while, I was asked to be in plays and eventually a movie, The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai, which became a cult film that people still ask about all these years later.

Most of my roles have been smaller ones, but occasionally I got to play parts that were more well rounded, like the TV show Wise Guy, where I was the central guest part that week. I was also in Oliver Stone’s The Doors and Blind Date, directed by Blake Edwards.

bv.smilingKAB: Thank you, Billy, it’s been an honor, is there anything else you would like
to share with our readers?

BV: I’d like to thank the fans for allowing me to make a living at what I love to do, for all these years.  I feel lucky that I never had to take a real job!

Follow Billy Vera on Twitter @billybeater

Michael Buble singing “At This Moment” by Billy Vera

Ricky Nelson was the first to record one of Billy Vera’s songs. Mean Old World, written by Billy Vera for Ricky Nelson

EXCLUSIVE Interview with Director Kevin Breslin and his New Indie, “Blowtorch” starring William Baldwin, Lois Robbins, Kathy Najimy, Armand Assante, Jared Abrahamson

EXCLUSIVE Interview with Director Kevin Breslin and his New Indie, “Blowtorch” starring William Baldwin, Lois Robbins, Kathy Najimy, Armand Assante, Jared Abrahamson

Blowtorch_Breslin_Director

Let’s shoot a film in the middle of hurricane cleanup:  Director Kevin Breslin’s New Indie, “Blowtorch” stars William Baldwin, Lois Robbins, Kathy Najimy, Armand Assante, Jared Abrahamson 

by Karen A. Brown @StardustBluCEO

On October 29th when Hurricane Sandy hit the The Northeast, Director Kevin Breslin was in pre-production to begin filming “Blowtorch”. Little did Breslin know, he would first have to watch 100 homes burn to the ground in his neighborhood of Rockaway, NY and lose two cars while being forced to weather the storm on the top floor of his home. He has spent  the last two months living in 5 different locations while he’s been filming “Blowtorch” on the streets of Brooklyn. On one night, he had to direct from his car, as the deluge from the sky made it impossible to be out in the street.

BT_DAY_017-03576 (1)With a stellar cast of veteran actors William Baldwin, Lois Robbins, Kathy Najimy, Armand Assante, Paul Ben-Victors and Jared Abrahamson burning up the screen, this drama is sure to be powerful. The story, written by Breslin, is set in Brooklyn. “Blowtorch” tells of a murder of a teen over ‘bathsalts’. (http://www.drugfree.org/drug-guide/bath-salts)

BT_DAY_05-01204I caught up with Breslin to get the inside scoop on “Blowtorch”, which will be released sometime late this year.

What was it like filming on the streets of Brooklyn?

BT_DAY_017-03420Breslin: Brooklyn is the greatest place on earth to film. For “Blowtorch” I tried to relive the naked city and on the waterfront. It still has cobblestone. It has the old crumbling factories and the lonely streets. The piers jut out with NYC in the background. The hard edge of the waterfront in Sunset Park allowed me to show the working class world. The rich and the dreams of greatness always twinkled across the river.

BT_DAY_01-00282You wrote “Blowtorch”, can you share more about the process of creating the script?

Breslin: This is a story out of my mind. I worked in many factories and knew many tough people. I loaded trucks for years at night in Canarsie. I knew about a few different murders in my life and had to get at some fiction. I have made one doc after the next in BT_DAY_01-00205the past few years and knew it was time for me to start working with fiction. It is in my blood.

Your last film, “#whilewewatch” was a raw fast paced doc on the Occupy Wall St Media team, how different was shooting with seasoned actors?

BT_DAY_13-03095 (1)Breslin: I was excited to meet all the actors. I loved them. Billy Baldwin, Armand Assante, Kathy Najimy, Jared Abrahamson, Paul Ben David and Lois Robbins. They were all great. All the characters are New York. The actors gave brilliant performances. This is about a teenager murdered over bathsalts in Brooklyn. I know reality and doc story telling. I trusted my instincts about story and just giving the actors the freedom to work. BT_DAY_01-00054 (1)I loved when they said to me, ‘Hey, I have an idea. Can I try this or that?’ I loved that. They were invested in their characters. I just wanted them to bring the rhythm of their roles to life. Can’t wait to do it again. Actors are smart people.

Any quirky stories during the shoot that you would like to share?

BT_DAY_05-01177Breslin: Yeah, I was homeless because of Hurricane Sandy and have been sleeping all over the BT_DAY_016-03161place till my house is ready. My son Quinn, age 5, thought he was Billy Baldwin’s son. And called himself Jesse. He would run lines with Billy at 3 am. He started asking when was his chance to do a scene. The camera crew put him in makeup and I called action. He stared throwing out some lines. Insanity… (*laughing*)

You are editing now, when will the film be released?

Breslin: This is an indie. It will be out sometime next year. This is an edgy murder story on the waterfront in Brooklyn. A teenager dies over bathsalts. His mother seeks revenge and wants the murderer caught. She becomes inexorable and takes the law into her own hands. Lois Robbins BT_DAY_01-00142is the mom. Billy Baldwin is a detective who is after the killer and has to use all his skills to keep the mother from ruining a murder case.

Is there anything else you would like to share about the writing and/or filming of Blowtorch?

BT_DAY_13-02760Breslin: I was blessed to have a great NY crew. The mayor’s office gave us ‘cart blanche’ and we shot all over the Brooklyn streets. For a film with a small budget I think we will give the streets a big-time look. I look forward to getting the film out for everyone to enjoy. I wanted to a film in the vein of the old NY movies from Lumet…even the edgy look from  Billy Friedkin. I used old lenses from the 60’s to give the film a unique look…. Thank god for cobblestones.
Still Photos: SABRINA LANTOS
Find more on Director Kevin Breslin at http://www.breslinfilms.com Follow on Twitter @KevinBreslin
#whilewewatch on Snagfilms.com 

Blowtorch on IMDb

IMDb-Icon


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