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by Brian Penick 07.10.2013
Posted In: Local Music, Music News at 02:32 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)
 
 
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Guest Blog: Musicians' Desk Reference Inches Closer to Reality

Editor's Note: Brian Penick of local music promotions company The Counter Rhythm Group is guest blogging for CityBeat monthly to provide a behind-the-scenes look at his journey to release his interactive industry guidebook, Musicians’ Desk Reference.

We are very much in the trenches right now! Keeping afloat amongst a sea of deadlines is a feat in and of itself. And while we typically do not doubt ourselves here at The Counter Rhythm Group, we are quite impressed to bear witness the amount of information being processed within the schedule we have upheld.

This past week I did something that I never thought I would do with Musicians’ Desk Reference — I printed it out! Well, part of it at least. I was simply amazed at the amount of pages and text that printed, so much that I had to refill the printer several times with new reams of paper and even with new ink cartridges.

Through several stages of copy editing and revisions we are finally starting to show how massive this project really is. I knew somewhat early on that it was going to be a wealth of information and documentation (as demonstrated by my inability to stick to the five-page limit set by my high school teachers), but this is far beyond what I imagined.

The interesting thing about all of this — beyond the content — is the fact that the entire workload is customizable to the user. If an artist wants to check every item on a list to recall all potential information, they could be in for several nights’ worth of preparation and work. However, the opposite is also true, as we have built MDR to allow both the beginner and the full-time touring musician to grab a single doc on the go with minimal effort. Maybe I have just been staring at the same set of screens for too long, but it still seems impressive after working on it for over two years!

The rest of the month will see us continually chopping away at content and revisions, plus document sign-offs and content uploads. We are also starting to work out some specifics for the national release and promotional campaigns, which is enough excitement to keep me going like a kid on the night before Christmas morning.

Every day that this project gets closer to release, the potential impact seems to grow exponentially and that is reward enough keep us awake and help pull us through all of these longs days and late nights.

I am going to make this my shortest blog entry yet, because there is still so much work to do. Unfortunately, I have had to remove myself from much of the live music world that I enjoy so very much over the past few months. While this trend will likely continue through most of the summer for me, I hope that you all are able to get out and support the local music scene.

We are very fortunate to live in this city with all of its talent and available venues. While you may not be able to contribute as much to the music industry and independent artists around here as you would like to, a simple start is to go see a show, buy a piece of merch and tell an artist “thank you” for doing what they do. The music industry is not an easy place to find success. We are trying to create a platform that informs and eases the process, but it cannot move forward without the support and contribution from the fans.

Thank you for reading – now go see some live music!

 
 
by Mike Breen 06.24.2013
Posted In: Local Music, Live Music, Music News at 12:35 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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Art/Music Collide Tonight at CAC's 'Scroll Improvisation'

Musician Joe Hedges teams with artist Jiemei Lin for unique performance/music/art piece

Singer/songwriter/musician Joe Hedges — known for work with his band July for Kings, as well as some great solo ventures — is collaborating with visual artist Jiemei Lin tonight at downtown’s Contemporary Arts Center as part of the museum’s series, "The Living Room." (Hedges is also a visual artist, creating paintings, web art and installations.) 

The twosome’s project, “Scroll Improvisation,” features Hedges creating music on the fly with a mix of live and recorded material, while Lin crafts a large “scroll drawing” on the floor. According to the press release, “The piece will investigate the function and history of narrative Chinese scrolls in a contemporary fashion while exploring the idea of the western living room as a venue for improvisational ambient and Folk music.” (Lin is a native of China.)

More from the CAC: "In the west, the living room has long been a venue for intimate performances of music for family and friends using inexpensive hand-held instruments. Traditional Chinese living rooms contain a scroll featuring calligraphy and painting. Both western acoustic music and eastern paper scrolls tell stories, reinforce family identities and values. Scroll Improvisation investigates the relationship of music and art, narrative quality of Chinese scrolls, notation and recording, cultural identity and control."

Monday’s special performance begins at 8 p.m. and is free and open to the public. For more information, visit contemporaryartscenter.org.

 
 
by Mike Breen 06.18.2013
 
 
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Fountain Square Goes Punk Friday

Free MidPoint Indie Summer series presents all-Punk lineup

The free, every-Friday MidPoint Indie Summer (MPIS) series concerts at Downtown’s Fountain Square have featured some eclectic music over the past few years, everything from Bounce and Electro to Roots Rock, World music and Pop. But this Friday, the series goes where it has yet to go, presenting the very first all-Punk MPIS concert.
Though Punk is known for its quick bursts of songs, it’s a mere coincidence that this Friday’s free show features four acts (as opposed to the usual three per show). The quartet of bands playing offers a nice cross-section of Greater Cincinnati’s Punk scene.

The Pop/Punk crew BoyMeetsWorld opens the concert at 8 p.m. After coming out of the gates fast (in just its first year as a band, the group won first place at the popular “battle of the bands” competition presented by Forest Park’s The Underground), the hooks-heavy BMW released its debut EP, Do What’s Best for You, this past April. (The band is performing acoustically at the Microsoft store at Kenwood Mall this Saturday at 4 p.m.)


At 8:45 p.m. The Lockland Brakes take over the MPIS stage. The punchy, melodic band just played its first show and released a three-song EP last month. But they’re far from “green,” with a lineup that includes past/present members of Situation Red, Newport Secret Six and DAAP Girls.


The excellent, raucous trio The Dopamines, which spent a chunk of its spring touring Europe, perform at 9:15 p.m. The hard-touring band has put out several excellent releases, including last year’s stellar Vices, which caused JadedPunk.com to declare, “For a bunch of goddamned drunks, The Dopamines sure can write some catchy hooks.”


Headlining the night at 10 p.m. is Loudmouth, a high-energy local five-piece that mixes power and melody in the vein of Screeching Weasel, NOFX and No Use for a Name. Loudmouth digitally released its latest effort, the eight-track Future Boredom EP, in late March.


For more on the MidPoint Indie Summer concerts — and all of the PNC Summer Music Series concerts — visit myfountainsquare.com.

 
 
by Mike Breen 06.17.2013
Posted In: Music News, Local Music at 02:23 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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Freekbass to Teach Master Class in London

Local bassist first artist announced for 2014 London Bass Guitar Show clinics

Veteran Cincinnati bass wizard Freekbass (of the band Freekbass, as well as Freekbot, the Kelly Richey Band and Headtronics) is the first Master Class leader to be announced for The London Bass Guitar Show 2014. The event (March 1-2 at the Olympia Conference Centre London) will draw some of the world's greatest bassists to London to "promote the art of bass playing to the general public." The show will showcase new bass products and gear, plus feature clinics and master classes throughout the event.

Past London Bass Guitar Show participants include Mark King, Gary Willis, TM Stevens, Paul Turner, Marco Mendoza, Yolanda Charles, Doug Wimbish, Neil Murray and Dave Marks, Peter Hook, Igor Saavedra, Wojtek Pilichowski, Guy Pratt, Andy Irvine, Jonas Hellborg, Grog & Die So Fluid, Malcolm Joseph, Andrew Levy, David Ellefson, Jah Wobble, Lee Rocker, Nate Watts and Phil Mulford.

Here's some footage from last year's event:


The bassist is gearing up for the next album (click here to download Freekbass' album Concentrate for free) from his eponymous band. Freekbass is working on the new album at Lexington's Shangri-La Studios with Duane Lundy, who has done work with My Morning Jacket, Ben Sollee and others. The album will reportedly feature special guests DJ Spooky, Adam Deitch (a producer/drummer who has worked with everyone from John Scofield to 50 Cent) and Steve Molitz (Particle, Headtronics).

This Wednesday, Freekbot (Freebass + DJ/beatmaster/electronicist Tobotius) will perform a recently announced show at Longworth's in Mt. Adams, 9:30 p.m.-midnight.

 
 
by Mike Breen 06.17.2013
Posted In: Live Music, Music News, Local Music at 11:36 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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MOTR Owners Light Up New Woodward Theater Tomorrow

More details about the 100-year-old OTR theater to be revealed at "Turn On" event

In honor of its 100th birthday and its forthcoming plans to renovate it into a music venue/"multi-use events hall," the owners of the Woodward Theater (1404 Main St., Over-the-Rhine) will show off the new space tomorrow at 7 p.m.

The Woodward was purchased by the owners of MOTR Pub, with help from the Cincinnati Development Fund, this past February. A grand opening seems a bit down the road still, but tomorrow's unveiling is a great first step and more information about the opening will be discussed.

"Funding of the planned $750,000 Woodward renovation project is presently being pursued with Hamilton County Development Company," the press release states. "Target opening date, operational details and benefit to the community will be discussed at the Woodward’s 100th birthday June 18 before TUESDAY’S TURN ON of the Woodward Theater’s 52 façade light bulbs at sunset!"

Directly after the "Turn On," the party moves across the street to MOTR, where nationally acclaimed Cincinnati singer/songwriter/producer/mult-instrumentalist Brian Olive will play a free show.

You can keep tabs on the Woodward's progress through its Facebook page here.

 
 
by Mike Breen 06.12.2013
Posted In: Local Music, Festivals, Music News at 10:46 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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PUBLIC Celebrates Debut EP by Giving it Away

Cincy trio makes its "Red" EP available for free download today only

Incredibly impressive young AltRock trio PUBLIC is celebrating the one-year anniversary of its first release, the four-track EP Red, today. In honor of the occasion, the band — one of the “Best New Artist” nominees at the most recent Cincinnati Entertainment Awards — is offering Red as a free download.

Those interested in grabbing all four tracks without paying the usual $5 will have today only to nab it at publictheband.com.

PUBLIC is currently readying a new single, “Honeybee,” which will drop in conjunction with the group’s appearance at the Bunbury Music Festival on the fest’s opening night, July 12.

Give the EP a listen below then go grab your very own copy.


 
 
by Brian Penick 06.11.2013
Posted In: Local Music, Music News, Music Commentary at 09:57 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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Guest Blog: Musicians’ Desk Reference, More Specifically

Editor's Note: Brian Penick of local music promotions company The Counter Rhythm Group is guest blogging for CityBeat monthly to provide a behind-the-scenes look at his journey to release his interactive industry guidebook, Musicians’ Desk Reference.

It has been killing me to remain so broad and vague this entire time about what exactly me and my staff have been working on, and while I will attempt to be slightly more specific this time around, I am afraid that you will inevitably be strung along for yet another 30-day span, inching closer to the release this Fall.

If you have been reading these entries (or know me personally), you know I am a musician, and that I have experience touring and working in the music industry for about half of my life. While I do not necessarily claim to be an expert (I believe it requires an extreme longevity with multiple facets of success and even some failure to be given that label), I can tell you that I have an understanding of how the working elements of this business function, and that I have been able to make a career as both a performer and a servicing agent. That being said, my passion (and I do consider myself a passionate person), has become helping others to succeed in this industry through sharing my experiences and knowledge. While competition certainly has its place and can keep you sharp, ultimately we are all in this together, trying to reach a common goal of finding success. The more we work together the better the potential is for any one of us to achieve these goals.

I truly believe Musicians’ Desk Reference is the next step in the evolutionary process to bind us together as a musical community. My overall intention with this project is to level the playing field as much as possible, everywhere from general theories of advancement to the specified documentation that an artist will actually work with. At the end of the day, we hope to unveil the unknown variables that musicians will face and provide the tools and the understanding and put the focus on what matters most: your music.

How do you know if Musisicans’ Desk Reference is something for you? The eBook encompasses several distinct areas of the music business, ranging from the inner workings of just starting out as a musician, down the necessary paths of recording, promoting, touring and eventually building a team of industry professionals to work for you. These topics are based on my own personal experiences as a musician and with operating The Counter Rhythm Group (my music industry promotions company), in addition to many conversations with musicians over time about what topics they are most curious about. Not surprisingly, many of the requests were in the same categories, so in the end the subject matter was not too difficult to choose from.

It is an exciting time for sure, as we are literally in the last two weeks of content creation, working right along schedule with our team of professionals we have amassed to help make the dream a become a reality. 

Looking ahead into the near future, I am excited to announce that we will be conducting some closed focus groups for the content, eventually leading into beta testing a full working version. All preparation is leading up to the release of the final product this Fall, and while I cannot give out too many specifics (sorry!), I can say that it will be a series of events not to be missed. 

I apologize if the bulk of these blogs seem to relate more to the backstory and the generalities of the book rather than the specific content and the process behind the final product, but that is unfortunately the direction that it must take for now. While I have been hit with a wave of positivity from musicians familiar with the project, it is very clear that more explanation is required as to offer insight as to what we are actually doing over here. The process, as that of many servicing professionals, can often feel like a variety of desk jobs that exist in the world, with the obvious exception of working with fantastic clients and the ability to go to shows, travel and be among others with similar interests that are typically awesome. In all honesty, I sit at a desk and work on several computers, monitors and devices, working with my team to create, verify and edit content, hour after hour. It is nothing but work, work, work around here (especially lately), and I would not have it any other way.

 
 
by Mike Breen 06.10.2013
Posted In: Local Music, Music News at 12:57 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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Tweens Sign to Frenchkiss Records

Local Noise Pop trio inks deal for new album with esteemed indie imprint

Most who’ve heard or seen the widely buzzed-about Cincinnati Indie/Punk/Pop/Rock trio Tweens knew it was only a matter of time before a national label signed the band. It was no shock, then, when it was recently announced that the band — which just played the MidPoint Indie Summer series on Fountain Square and was hand-picked to open a string of high profile dates for The Breeders —  had inked a deal with respected indie label, Frenchkiss Records.

Frenchkiss, which was started in 1999 by Syd Butler of Les Savy Fav, has become known for its consistently high-quality signings and ability to discover bands who’ve taken their acts to the next level, including The Hold Steady and Passion Pit. The label is currently home to acclaimed artists Local Natives, Bloc Party, Crocodiles and The Drums.

According to the label, the threesome — Bridget Battle (vocals, guitar), Peyton Copes (bass) and Jerri Queen (drums/baking vocals) — will be recording its debut album for Frenchkiss this summer. Tweens' next Cincinnati show is July 3, when they’ll perform as part of the outdoor Northside Rock and Roll Carnival.

Read CityBeat's recent interview with Tweens and keep tabs on the group at facebook.com/tweencity.

Here's a recent demo posted by the band for the song "Don't Wait Up."



 
 
by Mike Breen 05.30.2013
Posted In: Local Music, Music News at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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Original Cincinnati Music Show Coming to The Project

'CincyMusic Spotlight' to air Sundays beginning this weekend

Over the years, Greater Cincinnati has been lucky to have at least a few radio stations dedicated to giving original, local music some airtime. While WEBN (yes, that WEBN) strongly supported local music in the ’70s/’80s, most substantial local airplay now comes courtesy of community and/or low-powered stations, plus the occasional, short-lived niche show from a huge corporate radio outlet.

At 88.9 FM (or 89.1 FM in Northern Kentucky), Class X Radio's diverse programming and lineup of shows include the longest-running local music program in the area — Kindred Sanction — which got its start on WAIF over 25 years ago (the station also incorporates local music into its other programming). The community radio station WVQC (Radio Free Queen City) is run through Media Bridges and features numerous shows that spotlight Cincy artists (listen online or at 95.7 FM). And Northern Kentucky's powerhouse public radio channel, WNKU (wnku.org or 89.7 FM) integrates local artist cuts into its normal playlist frequently. 

This past April, 94.5 FM became Cincy Rock 94.5 … for a month. Owners Clear Channel threw a bone to local music after Northern Kentucky resident Josh Fields won a contest to program the channel until its May 1 conversion to a 24-hour FM simulcast of AM superstar, WLW. 

This Sunday, in what will hopefully be a more permanent occupation of some FM airtime for local music, another Clear Channel outlet, The Project (at 100.7 FM and 106.3 FM), will launch what looks to be a great new program, CincyMusic Spotlight.

One of the few conglomo-stations to consistently play "Alternative" music in the city (it also plays the bigger local bands, like Foxy Shazam and Walk the Moon, on a regular basis), The Project will now delve into Greater Cincinnati's music scene head first every Sunday night at midnight. The program will be made available as a podcast at CincyMusic.com, which partnered with The Project for the new show (podcasts will also be available at CincinnatiProject.com). You can subscribe to the podcasts at both sites starting Sunday. 

In a press release, the show is described as "a mix of the region's most talented musicians" and will also feature a "weekly recap of all the local music news from CincyMusic.com."

The program certainly has the right hosts in place. CincyMusic Spotlight will feature two local music/radio veterans — Venomous Valdez (who has done radio in the past, helped keep the MidPoint Music Festival running smoothly last year and currently works with local bands as a manager/road manger) and Joe Long (who helms the music blog Each Note Secure and was a former DJ on the late, great 97X/WOXY). 

Tune in this Sunday night and be vocal in your support of the show so CincyMusic Spotlight stays on the air and proves wrong the seemingly conventional wisdom that there are no ratings or money in "local music."

 
 
by Brian Baker 05.24.2013
 
 
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Ray of Light

How the late Ray Manzarek guided one writer down the path to Rock obsession

Last Monday, while surfing through the various music sites I routinely monitor in the course of a day, a brief notation in a chatbox simultaneously caught my eye and stopped my heart: "Ray Manzarek RIP."

A quick Google search confirmed the terrible news that The Doors keyboardist had passed away on May 20 in Germany while seeking treatment for bile duct cancer.

By virtue of my mid-'50s birth, I am an actual child of the '60s and the parade of my musical heroes joining the choir invisible has seemed to pick up the pace here in the new millennium. So many have fallen, it's difficult to keep track.

My dear friend Rob, a high school bud from my Michigan hometown, has for years sent out emails with the name of a recently deceased musician in the subject line, which has led those of us in our immediate circle to refer to him as The Reaper. A few years back, he sent us an update about a new Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers album and from his simple subject notation I came to the horrifying conclusion that Tom and the boys had gone down like Lynyrd Skynyrd. 

Fortunately, that was not the case.

Rob was in the midst of trying to send us all a message from his phone about Ray's passing when he got my email. He hates it when I scoop him, but this was not a scoop that I could lord over The Reaper. This was as devastating as a death in the family. 

I teared up a few weeks ago when my comedy hero Jonathan Winters died and it was the same when Ray's death became a verifiable fact. Ray Manzarek wasn't simply one of the thousands of musicians who I greatly admire. He was the guy who made me listen to music.

My earliest exposure to Rock came, oddly enough, via The Ed Sullivan Show. For you youngsters, Sullivan was a well-connected entertainment reporter who wound up hosting radio shows in the late '20s and emceeing theater revues in the '30s and '40s which led to one of the first television variety shows, Toast of the Town, in 1948. Eventually renamed after its stiff but brilliantly intuitive host and talent booker, The Ed Sullivan Show occupied the Sunday-at-8 p.m. slot for 23 years.

Sullivan didn't care for Rock & Roll, but he knew teenagers were viewers and would attract advertisers, so he began booking the artists that would become the foundation of Rock in the '60s. I saw The Beatles on the Sullivan show in 1964, when I was 7 years old — I liked the music but I distinctly remember thinking, "I wish those girls would stop screaming so I can hear it." By the following year, The Beatles became a cartoon series and largely stopped being real people in my comic-book-obsessed head. 

Sgt. Pepper changed that in 1967. So much changed in 1967.

The catalyst for all that change was The Doors' appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show in September of that magic year. I didn't know anything about the band beyond its interesting name. I always watched Sullivan for the bands (although I was just as intrigued by the plate spinners, magicians and comics; George Carlin was an early favorite), so I looked forward to it as much as any of the others who had displayed their wares for Sullivan's audience.

Until The Doors' hypnotic vibe came pouring out of the tinny speaker in my grandparents' old black-and-white Zenith, music had been little more than an accessory in my life. I didn't follow music or collect it or pay much attention to it beyond checking it out on the occasional TV program (Sullivan, Hullabaloo, Shindig, sometimes American Bandstand on a rainy Saturday). The bands were fun and interesting to watch — by then I'd seen The Rolling Stones, The Animals, The Dave Clark 5 (whose big beat, roiling Farfisa organ and frenetic guitar hooked me more than most) and many more — but I had not yet been infected with the Rock virus.

That September evening, I camped out in front of the TV to see what Sullivan had in store before The Doors played the final segment. There were the standard array of variety acts that made Sullivan a star in his own right and there was a sweaty, bug-eyed comic who was pretty funny (it turned out to be Rodney Dangerfield, making his TV debut). 

At commercial, I ran into the kitchen, probably for a chocolate chip cookie stack, and when I got back to the living room, there was Ed, arms folded across his chest, ramrod straight as if a stagehand had shoved a mop handle up his ass all the way to the base of his skull. 

"Now, The Doors...here they are with their newest hit record, 'People Are Strange.' "

The insistent lope of the first single from The Doors' sophomore album, Strange Days (which was still a week away from being released), emanated from the television and I stood staring at the set, afraid to sit down for fear of missing something. In two brief minutes, I was galvanized, pulverized and mesmerized, between Robbie Krieger's three note guitar intro, Ray Manzarek's circus organ, John Densmore's shuffling beat and Jim Morrison's trance-like presence. The best was yet to come.

Without a break, The Doors — with dozens of actual doors forming a backdrop — segued straight into their real hit, "Light My Fire," which had come out just after the first of the year. When I heard Ray's masterful intro, I remembered having heard a bit of it on the car radio before my father changed the station, presumably to get away from it. 

For the first time in my life, I got music. 

"Light My Fire" seeped into my DNA and I went through what seemed like an alchemical transformation, touched by the philosopher's stone of The Doors' cryptic groove. It felt like every molecule in my body had changed places with every other molecule in my body. Outwardly, I looked no different. Inwardly, I was not and would never be the same.

Morrison was clearly a compelling figure onstage as he writhed without seeming to move to any great degree — and the emphasis when the word "fire" erupted from his throat was hair-raising — but it was Ray Manzarek who commanded my attention. I kept wanting the camera to get back to Ray so I could watch his hands and see how they corresponded to that transdimensional sound he was creating. Morrison's smoldering role in The Doors' passion play was clearly evident, but Ray's position was so much more subversive and fascinating to me. 

By the time the Doors completed the two-and-a-half minute single version of "Light My Fire," I was paralyzed (the first time I heard the long version, probably a few months after the Sullivan show, my head nearly exploded). It was the first time I can remember thinking, "Play something else. Play that thing over. Play someone else's song. Just do that to me again."

From that moment on, I pursued music. I found the cool radio stations that played Rock and Pop and began paying strict attention. Motown had already been in full swing for a few years and that sound got its hooks into me as well. I kept an eye out for a repeat Sullivan performance by The Doors but it never happened; little did I know at the time that Ed and CBS executives had told the band to change the "girl, we couldn't get much higher" lyric in "Light My Fire" because of its possible drug connotation, which Morrison agreed to do and then either defiantly or nervously forgot. Sullivan was furious and reportedly shouted at the band after the show, "You'll never do the Sullivan show again," to which Morrison allegedly replied, "Hey, we just did the Sullivan show."

Over the next four years, my reverence for The Doors grew exponentially and I continued to be captivated by everything they attempted. I was not deterred by what some critics deemed inferior songs on Waiting for the Sun and The Soft Parade, and the epic tales of Morrison's booze-and-drug consumption merely added to his mythic status. Only his conviction for public indecency was worrisome, from the standpoint that a jail term could have stopped them from recording and touring. 

I was not even dissuaded when I realized that Ray was only four years younger than my father.

After its April 1971 release, L.A. Woman became the soundtrack for the end of my sophomore year in high school and the beginning of my 14th summer. On July 3, 1971, my stepbrother Rick and I were listening to WVIC in Lansing when we heard the news of Morrison's death from a supposed heart attack in Paris, where he had decamped just after the release of L.A. Woman. 

I was devastated, but I thought, "At least it wasn't Ray."

After Rick and I discussed what we thought were the band's possible options for a while, I sat down with pen and paper and wrote a letter to the surviving Doors, imploring them not to quit in the wake of their terrible tragedy. I told them, "You can't quit. It's not what Jim would have wanted, it's not what we want and, if you're honest with yourselves, it's not what you want." 

I found a Doors fan address in one of my Rock mags and mailed the letter off a few days later. (I would send an eerily similar letter to the Allman Brothers four months later, just after the death of Duane Allman; those are the only two fan letters I have ever sent). 

A few weeks later, I received a hand-signed form letter from Danny Sugerman, who was The Doors' second manager, which stated that the band appreciated their fans' concern and best wishes and they were definitely staying together and working on a new album that would be released in the fall.

Other Voices was an amazing album, although critics generally hated it. I looked at as if it were a Ray Manzarek solo album; from that perspective it was great. The following year, they pushed even further into Jazz territory on Full Circle and then decided to officially end The Doors. Ray began his real solo career with The Golden Scarab in 1973, followed by 1974's The Whole Thing Started With Rock and Roll, Now It's Out of Control.

Scarab was magnificent (particularly the unhinged instrumental, "The Moorish Idol," the first song I heard from the album on a college radio station), as it offered up serious musical chops but also something that Morrison found difficult to achieve; whimsy and humor. Out of Control was aptly named as it was slightly chaotic, but it was Ray so I found plenty of ways to love it. I still do.

After that, Ray took a zig-zag approach to his solo career. An Electronic Rock version of Carl Orff's "Carmina Burana," a collaboration with Phillip Glass, was extremely cool, but his work after that was sporadic at best. He did a couple of cool albums in the late '70s with his new band, Nite City, and he produced the first three X albums in the early '80s (their version of "Soul Kitchen" is harrowing). 

As an artist, Ray tended to stick to collaborative situations (although he did release a true solo album in 2006, an instrumental set of originals titled Love Her Madly, presumably the soundtrack to a B-movie he wrote, directed and starred in). In recent years, he had done a couple of albums with slide guitarist Roy Rogers, including the blazingly excellent Translucent Blues in 2011. And of course, he and Krieger famously pissed off John Densmore when they relaunched The Doors, first as Riders on the Storm, then as the 21st Century Doors and then, due to legal acquiescence, as Manzarek/Krieger.

The fact is, with Doors record sales topping 100 million worldwide, Ray could do whatever he wanted to do, for as long as he wanted to do it and he did just that. But it could be equally argued that Ray did exactly what he wanted in The Doors as well, because that gothic Rock sound didn't exist before The Doors' debut album in 1967. While many tried to replicate it in the aftermath of their staggering success, no one could quite master the formula of Morrison's shamanic poetry slam, Densmore's fluid pulse and Krieger's combination of Rock swagger and Jazz swing. 

Most importantly, they could not fathom the incredible musical ability and intuition of Raymond Daniel Manzarek, and without that, there would be no Doors. 

I would have come to Rock in some form or fashion; weeks after seeing The Doors on Sullivan, I heard Jimi Hendrix's "Foxey Lady" and "Purple Haze," yet another subatomic moment, and weeks after that was my first mindbending spin through Sgt. Pepper. 

But it was all teed up because of The Doors and their singular keyboardist, the man who revealed the universe of music to a 10-year-old boy in Michigan and sent him on a pilgrimage to find more of the same, a journey that continues to this day with the same passion and dedication that marked its initial steps over half a century ago. 

I would guess that my marching orders from Ray right now would be similar to those I offered to him and his grieving bandmates in 1971: Keep going, because it's what I want, it's what we want and, if you're honest with yourself, it's what you want.

 
 

 

 

 
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