August 29th, 2013
Today I want to introduce you to one of the most overlooked and politically important singers from the US – Phil Ochs.
Who the hell is Phil Ochs?
A troubadour, a political activist, a protest singer and a wonderful musician whose music is still relevant 37 years after his tragic death.
What better way to get to know Phil than with a song and oh so relevant as the US is about to invade Syria.
“ Ochs performed at many political events, including anti-Vietnam War and civil rights rallies, student events, and organized labor events over the course of his career, in addition to many concert appearances at such venues as New York City’s Town Hall and Carnegie Hall. Politically, Ochs described himself as a “left social democrat” who became an “early revolutionary” after the protests at the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago led to a police riot, which had a profound effect on his state of mind.
After years of prolific writing in the 1960s, Ochs’s mental stability declined in the 1970s. He eventually succumbed to a number of problems including bipolar disorder and alcoholism, and took his own life in 1976. “
Phil Ochs was all about peace and helping his fellow men and was one of the founders of the Yippee party. You can learn more from the transcript of the Chicago 7 trial where Phil appeared as a witness.
Things really went downhill following a trip to Dar es Salaam
“ While traveling in Dar es Salaam, Phil was mugged, resulting in the loss of the higher end of his vocal range. After returning from that trip, he seemed to go on a downward spiral, suffering from severe depression and anxiety “
And it was after this trip that he also suffered paranoid delusions thinking that the CIA was trying to kill him and alternatively he was really working for the CIA and claiming Phil Ochs was dead and that he was now John Butler Train, CIA operative. Unfortunately drugs and booze played a significant part in his short life and he was never satisfied with his creative achievements. Many years after his death, the FBI revealed that they did in fact have a comprehensive file on Phil for his perceived ant-American activities.
There is a wonderful live album recorded right here in Vancouver of one of Phil’s more intimate performances and if you get a chance-it’s worth a listen.
There and Now: Live in Vancouver 1968
And finally a short clip of Phil singing one of my favorite songs of his.
August 21st, 2013
Way back in 1982, XTC recorded a great song called “Melt the Guns “ which was a call to arms (see what I did there) for society to de –arm and get with the non-violent program. In my mind, that call has fizzled into a whimper since then and perhaps the opposite is now true. So in today’s blog I would like to introduce you to Pedro Reyes. Pedro is a Mexican artist who has turned weapons into art and tools.
In 2008, 1527 weapons were melted down and recast as 1527 shovels to plant 1527 trees. Brilliant!
Most recently, Pedro created an exhibition entitled “ Imagine “ in which guns were converted into playable musical instruments. 6700 guns, rendered unusable, were offered to Pedro after the Mexican government heard about “ palas por pistolas “ in the hope he would create something beautiful from something so ugly once again.
With the help of six musicians the instruments were created in just two weeks.
Photos can be found here…
In his own words from his blog…
“ It’s difficult to explain but the transformation was more than physical. It’s important to consider that many lives were taken with these weapons; as if a sort of exorcism was taking place the music expelled the demons they held, as well as being a requiem for lives lost. This is also a call to action, since we cannot stop the violence only at the place where the weapons are being used, but also where they are made. There is a disparity between visible and invisible violence. The nearly 80,000 deaths by gun-shot that have occurred in Mexico in the last 6 years, or the school shootings in the US are the visible side of violence. The invisible side is that one of gun trade-shows, neglecting assault rifle bans, and shareholder profit from public companies. This is a large industry of death and suffering for which no cultural rejection is expressed.Guns continue to be depicted as something sexy both in Hollywood and in videogames; there may be actors who won’t smoke on the screen, but there has not been one who would reject the role of a trigger-happy hero. “
Watch and listen to the instruments in action here…
August 7th, 2013
It’s hard to believe that we are already well into August. What an odd and exciting year it’s been for me so far. Being part of a crazy mariachi opera that had runs in two different cities. Incredibly fun to work on and the tightest rehearsal schedule ever – from load in to opening night in 72 hours and in both cities.
And then there is the videographer side of my career. I have been getting a lot of gigs this year as a ” do it all ” corporate film maker. Shoot, edit, score and sound design. I just finished a 7 part series of power yoga videos which was a great experience and I know have an even greater respect for visual editors as waiting for a video to render practically drove me mental! Thank goodness, in the audio world, we can bounce in real time!
As you probably have surmised I am veering away from my usual odd audio path today.
I just decided that a review was what I felt like writing today and I’ll get back to the usual next week.
And what about my scriptwriting? I’m so glad you asked.
I’ve been very productive so far this year and three feature film scripts are figuring prominently.
My horror/sci fi feature entitled ” Interface ” is being read in Iceland and the United States. It’s a very odd script and it will take a special production company and director to make it but I believe they are out there. Here’s the logline:
” The young inventor of a revolutionary device that facilitates interspecies and inter-dimensional communication unites with a vengeful ghost and killer whale to defeat the inventor’s psychopathic stepfather who will destroy them all to achieve his black ops agenda. “
Think The Crow meets The 6th Sense!!
I have also just finished a comedy feature which I am really excited about and it’s received some great readers notes so far. And I’m currently about 3/4’s of the way through the first draft of ” Death’s Sweet Call ” a dramatic feature with a few paranormal elements and lots of music.
And last but not least, I have three short films that I have written and want to direct as soon as possible. I have all but exhausted the government funding route and will now be looking at crowd funding and other alternatives. I am chomping at the bit to get these films made and I feel that their completion will propel my career into light speed.
That’s it, you are all updated…segue…and I just updated and overhauled my website. Lot’s of new music and videos to look and listen too.
For those of you who regularly read this blog, I thank you and know you are appreciated.