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Aceyalone Lives For His Art As Proven By Last Night's Brooklyn Concert By The LA Hip-Hop Legend

Posted by Billyjam, July 28, 2013 02:45pm | Post a Comment
"I feel like I'm at the Good Life," the clearly happy Aceyalone complimented his audience during last night's fun concert at Brooklyn's Knitting Factory. Despite the fact that most in attendance at the Saturday night Williamsburg show would have been only toddlers or pre-teens when the legendary West Coast emcee and Project Blowed co-founder was putting it down at the short-lived but influential Good Life Cafe in South Central Los Angeles didn't seem to matter one bit. They all obviously understood the reference made by this revered hip-hop lyrical force known for his pivotal role in the early LA underground hip-hop scene, his membership of the hip-hop groups Freestyle Fellowship, Haiku D'Etat and The A-Team, and the prolific artist's impressive solo catalog of recordings including the brand new album Leanin' On Slick (Decon Records on both CD and LP) that he and album producer BIONIK, who backed him on stage last night, included some songs from in their all-too-short but energetic set that featured mostly abbreviated versions of songs.

In addition to the title track of Leanin' On Slick Aceyalone and BIONIK, who drummed live as well as dropping beats and sound effects and providing backing vocals, ran through some other select album tracks from this soulful funky new album including "Workin' Man's Blues" (that features Cee Lo Green) plus a variety of other songs. These included treating the New York audience to a couple of brand new, unreleased, never performed live tracks that were atypical of Ace's work to date: more on the contemporary bass-heavy tip with more simplified lyrics, and complete with trap-style drum patterns and booty-shaking rhythms. Of Leanin' On Slick (the great cover of which above was photographed on a recent trip to Cuba where the video for the title track - below - was filmed) the artist said, "It is a part of a series that I am continuing throughout my career." Aceyalone told me this when I met him the day before the concert at WFMU radio in New Jersey where we chatted both on the air and off about such things as his beginnings in hip-hop in LA at a time when gangsta rap was the predominant flavor of the genre. "Heavy gang culture in the 80's" influenced a lot of the LA rap around the time," he told me of the early days of Freestyle Fellowship and Project Blowed. "But we always tried to keep it artistic with the jazz and reggae influence and of course the funk. That was a part of our focus; to not be so cliche as to be what everyone expects of West Coast - at the time"

As for The Good Life Cafe Aceyalone enthused, "Oh man the intensity there just climaxed from the moment it started all the way up to the top when it kinda exploded." Of the legendary open mic sessions he recalled how, "We started there the first week and it just kinda went on and on and on. It got better and better. The competition got better. And before you knew it record execs started coming down there. Hundreds of people were packing the place. And it only last for three and a half, maybe four years. And if you really want to see a history of it, there's a movie out called This Is The Life" he said recommending the Ava DuVernay directed 2008 documentary.

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Frank Sinatra

Posted by Whitmore, May 14, 2008 07:34pm | Post a Comment

The Chairman of the Board, ol’ Blue Eyes, the Voice, King of the Rat Pack, King of the Bobby-Sockers, The Pope, The Leader, The Swooner-- there are a lot of nicknames for Frank Sinatra, perhaps the greatest pop star of the 20th century. And ten years ago today, Frankie went to the Big Casino in the sky.

Sinatra had quite a philosophy about life and a set of intricate rules that may seem a bit brash, but hey -- it's Sinatra baby! And like his style, he believed that a living big is in the details. Here are some of the great man’s creeds:

Top your martini with not one, but two olives, and give one to a friend. Yes, a very special friend-- even if you don’t know his/her name.

For flavors in your drink to blend sufficiently, let the ice sink to the bottom of your glass and never, ever drink a drink immediately after its poured-- relax, take your time, enjoy the moment.

Never yawn in front of a lady.
 
Make sure your trousers break just above your shoes.

Tip big and tip quietly-- fold the bills three times into small squares and pass them in a handshake. Nothing further is needed, no acknowledgment, no glance, no wink-- you’ve already said it all.

Cock your hat -- angles show attitude.

Don't wear a brown suit at night, dark gray is better, and better than gray, black. And if black tie is optional, you wear black tie. The only exception to this rule; never wear a tuxedo on Sunday.

“Have fun with everything” was one of his mottoes. Live every moment as it if were your last, and remember, too much thinking isn't necessarily a good thing. “You only live once,'' he liked to say, “and the way I live, once is enough.”

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sulla strada, capitolo quattro

Posted by Whitmore, February 1, 2008 02:52pm | Post a Comment
For once we actually arrived at our appointed destination early. This doesn't happen everyday. Actually this has never happened before. I doubt it will ever happen again.

Savona is a beautiful blue-tinged seaside resort town, and a town I'll always remember as the one where we given a police escort to leave. The main drag runs only a few feet from the beach and the quietly breaking Mediterranean waves, the road only pulls away from the shore near the marina where the dry docks are filled with impressive looking yachts sitting on blocks; either waiting for repairs, remodeling or a party. Savona oozes cash, you can smell the euros floating around, wafting from the wallets of elderly tourists dressed in three piece suits and full length mink coats as they wander the cafes, shops, boardwalks and beaches. Above the downtown corridor in the hills you can see the brightly painted stone and brick houses with their masterfully landscaped gardens and patios, and whose inhabitants I presume also dine in these restaurants, shop in these shops - dressed in their finely tailored Italian suits and floor length minks.

Since we were uncharacteristically early, we checked into our hotel, the club Rain Dogs provided for us. We dropped off all our crap, I took a quick shower. Afterward, I tried to dial in something on television. I unexpectedly became transfixed by Italian MTV and a show called Star Wars, tonights episode: Duran Duran vs Depeche Mode. Unfortunately, soundcheck beckoned so I wasn't able to stick around and see who came out on top. I can only imagine it ended in a contractually obligated draw.

Rain Dogs is said to be the nicest club in the area. It's roomy with a nice size stage and with a real piano. The upstairs green room also doubles on occasion as a small screening room, and the walls are decorated in vintage 60's rock posters from the classic shows of the Family Dog and Avalon Ballroom. The owner, I discovered later, is a huge fan of the Grateful Dead. I can safely say he is the first Italian Deadhead I've ever met.

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sulla strada, capitolo tre

Posted by Whitmore, January 29, 2008 10:09am | Post a Comment
Now, let me be your travel guide, speaking to you in my big television Edward R. Murrow announcers voice: "Tuscany is an insanely beautiful land, a weird blend of man's orchestrated genius and  misadventure punctuated by the chaotic beauty of nature. Think of rows of arrow-straight vineyards marching gently up rolling hill sides, surrounded at every mind-blowing vista by natures perfectly sculpted cypress trees calling you into the shade for yet another glass of vino. Every gently winding, narrow road leads to ancient farmhouses, moss covered castles, stone walls, cream colored villas, more stone walls, swimming pools, and the earths finest tableau of golden browns, sienas, burnt umbers and deep rich greens. Add the dizzying effect of too much wine, the visual and sensual overload of too many attractive people, midst the ensuing hangover from the previous nights folly at a Tango Club and you'll understand why Tuscany still enchants us today like that forbidden dance enchanted our touristy-grandparents of yesteryear."

Now back to our Winter 2008 tour of Italy and perhaps I should warn you ...  you should anticipate a terrible, terrible pun. I apologize now, but I had too use it.

Years (decades?) of bad habits, an ever shortening attention span, little actually useful talent, and the never ending need to disrupt and push the limits of wholesome god fearing good taste has taken a toll on my musicianship. There is little precision in what I do, I'm not really a loose cannon, but more like an untethered crate of oranges cracking against the hull of a Listing Ship.

The catastrophic effect of such imprecise methods was really hammered into my heart last year when I mistakenly took a gig playing pieces by Erik Satie in a classical guitar duet. My performance, lets say, was flawed. Flawed like you've never seen flawed before!

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sulla strada, capitolo uno

Posted by Whitmore, January 27, 2008 05:57pm | Post a Comment

Bungled is a great word, its one of those words that even if you're not sure of  the definition, just the sound  -'bungled' - quickly gets you to the gist of  the situation. What Bungled is, is not a great situation.

Right now I'm in Italy on tour with the LA's own Listing Ship, and by no fault of our own... and I swear its wasn't our fault ( though historically there are two essential elements built into any band; incompetence and eventual obsolescences... these truths are perhaps not so written in stone if you play in the Rolling Stones or The Lawrence Welk Orchestra) ...  anyway, somewhere along the line all our luggage disappeared. Somewhere between the sunny palm tree lined dystopia we call home and the airport called the worst in Europe, Rome, all twelve pieces of our luggage vanished off the face of the earth.

Those of us who grew up on the west coast blamed it on our stop-over in New York's JKF airport, those of us who grew up on the east coast blamed it on the airport in Los Angeles ... our Italian friends blamed it on the airport in Rome. Ultimately it appears to have been yet another bungled moment for an airline we'll call "American Err-lines" ... All twelve pieces gone. Poof! We filled out the paperwork and were assured that somehow the heavens will open and our luggage will fall though a worm whole,  magically appearing on the front steps of our Managers apartment in Naples the next morning. But 24 hours later no record of our luggage - bags, guitars, drum gear-  existed anywhere, online or otherwise.

We played our first gig at the Cantina Mediterraneo in Frosinone... with borrowed gear, and I have to say incredibly nice gear! It doesn't get much better than this. Thanks to the excellent opening band, The Mosquitos, based in Naples, we played through gorgeous Fender amps and electric guitarist Lyman
was greeted with a vintage Gold Top Gibson Les Paul to play. When Lyman opened the guitar case a beautiful golden light filled the back wall of the stage, and I swear I heard a litany of cellos quietly filling the air ... and a voice, a deep resonating voice that said something profound in Italian, but I don't understand Italian. I'm not sure what was more inspiring for our first show in Italy, the great gear we were using or the 5 course meal the club provided for us. And the wine... the wine! Like the great river Euphrates, the purest waters from the river flowing from of the garden of Eden, the flowering of civilization, the flowering of sin, wine bringing us back back to life, yeah baby...wine wine wine!!!  we knew everything would be copacetic.

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