Soul Sunday with KNAGUI: I’ll Be Thinking of You, Andraé…

KNAGUI

The Ladybug Chronicles - SSwK Andrae CrouchIt was a fall night, my Aunt Marsha decided to take me with her to the Park City Mall in Lancaster, PA. She had a baby blue Pontiac Firebird with an 8-Track cassette player… sweet system!

The Ladybug Chronicles - Andrae Crouch My Tribute 02We arrived at the mall, she did some shopping and before we left, bought me a Rocky Road cone from the ice cream shop. I was in heaven! I wouldn’t eat Rocky Road today, but then it was my favorite. It was all about the marshmallows!!!

The Ladybug Chronicles - Andrae Crouch My Tribute 06Moving from the parking lot she changed the music, a song was in play and in a few minutes faded. Upon hitting 30 to go back to York, it started… DUNT, DUNT…Duh, Duh, Duh…DUNT, DUNT…Duh, Duh, Duh… She turned it up!!! I was in full groove! “Damon, don’t you drop none of that in my car,” she said, never breaking the feel. “I’ve got the best! duh, duh…

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Soul Sunday with KNAGUI: Passing the Torch is in Good Hands…

The Ladybug Chronicles - SSwK Mitchumm 05One of my favorite things to watch when I was a kid was a game show called Wheel of Fortune and on the show from time to time the category would be “Before and After.”  The challenge was to complete two phrases that they’d put together using one word as the segue.  This is what I walked away thinking as I left Mitchumm Industries new flagship store in Como, Italy yesterday.

The Ladybug Chronicles - SSwK Mitchumm 01I had the pleasure of being invited to the one year anniversary event of, what I found to be, an extraordinary brand of mens’ clothing.  But even more intoxicating than the clothes, accessories and the ambiance was the cool powerful personality of the man at the helm, Mr. Alex Mitchumm.

The Ladybug Chronicles - SSwK Mitchumm 13Alex grew up under the creative eye of his father, Daniele Tino, the founder of Mitchumm Industries.  The brand was founded in 1976 on Manhattan Beach near LA, nearly 10 years before Alex was born, but the seeds of fashion and entrepreneurship were fused into his DNA.

The Ladybug Chronicles - SSwK Mitchumm 14With this store Alex has managed to create two separate but equal ambiances.  A tranquil, mature downstairs with hip grown man fashion.  I’m not talking about your daddy’s tailor, but more like the neighbor’s dad who rides to his office job on his Harley.

The Ladybug Chronicles - SSwK Mitchumm 03Then there’s the second level which is the “Keep Out” Animal House frat party floor.  Super macho, but comfortable enough for the ladies to chill with a drink.

The Ladybug Chronicles - SSwK Mitchumm 07This frenetic energy could very well come from his humble beginning.  You see, in the early 2000s he opened his first shop with an interior measuring only 12 meters square (14.35 square yards).  After displaying the clothes and placing some furniture, the space dwindled down to allow only about 4 people in the store at a time.  But the excitement that it created for Alex and the fans he and his designs were generating was nothing less than noteworthy.

I really enjoyed getting to know the brand and talking to both Alex and Daniele.

The Ladybug Chronicles - SSwK Mitchumm 02They have stores in the States up and down the East Coast and many more throughout Europe, Japan and Korea.

The Ladybug Chronicles - SSwK Mitchumm 11I couldn’t help buying this dandy pair of cufflinks and checking out these rings (they only manufacture 30/run).The Ladybug Chronicles - SSwK Mitchumm 09

Check out their digs and if you see something you like, use their online shop. Easy to find at www.mitchumm.com.

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See you “next” Sunday!

Soul Sunday with KNAGUI: Three is the Magic Number

The Ladybug Chronicles - SSwK Aug2014 04

On the eve of The Ladybug Chronicles’ third anniversary, I found myself a bit nostalgic.  So I connected my HD and began to sift through photos I’d taken of the Boss Lady.  I was filled with warm memories and smiles, remembering the conversations that brought this blog to life and the things we’ve both learned on this journey.

While doing this, I realized I’d done something that my beloved Ladybug has done on several occasions: found photos that were intended to be posted that were left dormant in some lost folder.  I’ll share three…
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This first outfit has four pieces.  First the coat, it was a gift that was presented just because I liked it.  We found it at a vintage shop when we visited Milano to search for an apartment.  I didn’t get it that day, but all of us in the store agreed it was made for me.  I mean, look at those details!!!  Inside there’s a stamp signifying it was in service in 1960. It’s a piece from the Orobica division of the Alpina Monterosa which were stationed in South Tyrol west. Later that year I was surprised with it.  I wore it all tour last year and sadly lost one of my stars, but it’s still one of my prized pieces.

Then there are these AMAZING vintage frames which I believe were her first gift to me. I love them so much that I only wear them occasionally.  Under the coat I’m wearing a sweater with an asymmetrical zipper I picked up at Sisley in Sicily in January 2013.  We liked it so much and said, if it fits (because I nearly never find anything that fits me in Italy), I had to buy it. Well, there it is.
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The third piece is this Missoni bow tie. And I topped it off with this vintage cap she got me at Humana Vintage in Milano after passing on one that I really wanted, but couldn’t find again. I think all the pieces fit together so well that day. BTW, these photos were taken by The Ladybug.

The Ladybug Chronicles - SSwK Aug2014 06The second outfit brings in a pair of pants you’ve seen before.  I got them when we went to NYC.  Here, I put them with a shirt we found in a store in Sorrento that I had to add to my collection of T-Shirts; I love the vintage patch on the sleeve.  I added this vintage Dolce & Gabbana denim bag that I picked up at BIVIO in Milano this past winter.  And I just noticed that my sunglasses are also D&G. Funny! …Swatch Watch…The Ladybug Chronicles - SSwK Aug2014 07
Last but certainly not least, I had to take a photo for the 20th anniversary of being a brother in Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc.  My line brothers and I are putting things together to celebrate our crossing the sands on the S.S. Seven Apes of Rage through Theta Alpha Chapter, Fall 1994.  For the photo, I pulled a knit tie that I got from my grandfather’s collection after he passed away.  I took this one and wore it to his funeral.  It was from Montgomery Ward.  It means a lot to me.
The Ladybug Chronicles - SSwK Aug2014 05So there you have it…  I hope you enjoyed it.

Happy Early Anniversary, TLC.  I love being a part of this great entity.

See you “next” Sunday.

 

Soul Sunday with KNAGUI: Gypsy Gems – An Interview with Davina and the Vagabonds

Soul Sunday with KNAGUI - Davina 03This past Spring, I was in Italy doing vocal clinics and Masterclasses. You know about some of the events The Ladybug and I attended together while I was there. And, as usual, I was in heaven chillin’ with my girl, especially since that trip started with us attending a concert featuring my homie, Raul Midon at La Salumeria della Musica in Milano. To put a marvelous musical bookend on the trip was a surprise date in my detoured route home.

Soul Sunday with KNAGUI - Davina 01I stopped in Minneapolis, Minnesota for business and happened to see online that a band I’d been audibly stalking was playing at a spot called Patrick’s Cabaret.  I immediately called the venue to reserve my seat.

Soul Sunday with KNAGUI - Davina 02Normally, here’s where my post would go into talking about the show and telling you about how amazing this venue (honestly, this place and “its” philosophy of paying and supporting artists is MIND BLOWING) is.  But, I’ve got something better… an interview with the incredible front-woman of Davina and the Vagabonds, Ms. Davina Sowers.

Soul Sunday with KNAGUI - Davina 07Ciao Davina, this moment has been a long time coming!  I can’t believe it’s been over 2 years sine I first heard of your artistry on NPR and now I’ve finally gotten a chance to experience you live… I must say, you were worth the wait!

GRINKIE GIRL PHOTOGRAPHY-Christie Williams02Tell me about this crew of yours, the Vagabonds, how long have you been working as this “outfit?”
The band, itself, was formed nine years ago. We’ve had many wonderful musicians through those years. The line up of Vagabonds I have now are:
Dan Eikmeier: Trumpet and Vocals
Ben Link: Trombone and Vocals
Connor McRae: Drums and Vocals
Andrew Burns: Upright Bass and Sousaphone

Soul Sunday with KNAGUI - Davina 08Your sound is quite vintage, not just stylistically, but also sonically.  Why this direction?
It was never a plan. I think it was just my and The Vagabonds love for specific eras. We have what we love in our hearts and it plays out on stage and [through our] recordings.

Soul Sunday with KNAGUI - Davina 16But the direction isn’t pure vintage, I’d say you at times mix vintage with more modern themes and musical landscapes. Many times I picked up deep grooves in your presentation and Pocket (which was the song that introduced me to you and was later used on the blog) that night was dressed around a super hip-hop drum approach. Do you often cross-pollinate your music?
I write in many different genres. Many different feels. I have a vast love for all music. I am sucker for a good solid pop/r&B/hip-hop feel, but I’m also a sucker for a swaying swing. A lot  of my music is based upon what I’m listening to that week, that day… etc. I’m a sponge and try to emulate where my ear is that day.

Soul Sunday with KNAGUI - Davina 13OK, so that gives me a sense of some of some of your musical influences, but what about your influences in fashion and art?
My ultimate influence in everything is “Timelessness.”  I love the touch of a good fabric. I love the sound of good music.
There is a certain freedom in ability to be who you are. I have always been a collector of fashion past. My days as a teenager where spent sorting through my local thrift stores, finding pieces that called my name.  I was the girl people laughed at for wearing vintage bowling shoes and singing old traditional songs in front of my lunch period people. I would never want to change that. It’s just who I am, and who I’ve always been.

Soul Sunday with KNAGUI - Davina 10You are equally amazing on keys and with your vocals: you’re both gritty and a songbird, but your ability to convey a song is what struck me most.  All night you killed vocally, but there was a song, the Etta James record, that vocally was not as “beautiful” as the rest of the set, but you effin ripped my heart out with your convincing performance.  Can you tell me about what that song means to you and where you go when you sing it… if I’m not prying too much?
I’ve been through heartache, you’ve been through heartache, your neighbor, your mother, your father… They have all been through heartache. They deal with it or not deal with it in many ways. I sing about it. It’s the only way to make a layer of my heartache melt away. I hope my honest, gut wrenching storytelling through music helps those who can not deal or haven’t dealt with those things.
I’m a dark sensitive soul at times due to that. That is my only way to sort through the muck. Sing about it honestly and truthfully.

GRINKIE GIRL PHOTOGRAPHY-Christie Williams04I read that you’re from my home state of Pennsylvania.  Tell me about growing up there and what brought you to Minneapolis and were there any stops along the way?
Altoona, PA…[sigh]…, they were not ready for me. I struggled a lot growing up there. Left when I was 15 and never looked back. I could write a novel about what I’ve seen, done, and experienced. Maybe in another interview with you. All-in-all, Minneapolis is where I landed and ended my gypsy living. I travel and experience through the band now, and I call MPLS my home… for time being.

Soul Sunday with KNAGUI - Davina 11What’s next for you and the crew?
Our New Album “Sunshine” will release July 15th!  Europe for the next two months, Monterey Jazz Festival in September. Touring. Writing. Spreading the Vagabond word to as many people as we can.

Soul Sunday with KNAGUI - Davina 12Last thing, the Ladybug would kill me if I didn’t ask these two important TLC questions: 1st, what and where are your favorite vintage or thrift shops?  2nd, what does vintage mean to you?
Vintage means a energy from a  past life. Every vintage dress, hat, piece of jewelry, piece of furniture, book, etc… has a past story and I want to continue to keep that story going. It’s amazing how a lot of these pieces have held on so well. The idea of how they were made so differently than [the way] we make them now. This is just one of the so many reasons why I love my treasures from the past.

lavenir_davina_garrettbornphotography-49-1I have spots in different cities for clothes when I travel. I love this shop called Little Gems and I also cruise the internet. I buy TONS of jewelry and little antique nick-knacks online. I get too nervous buying clothes on the internet… I haven’t had much luck with sizes.

lavenir_davina_garrettbornphotography-22I have tried to quash some of my clothing purchases as of late. I am busting at the seems storage and body wise [she says with candor and a nubile smile]. When I lose some weight in both departments,  I will be packing less just to shop more on my journeys.

Thanks so much for your time and all the best with the next steps you and the band take!

Soul Sunday with KNAGUI - Davina 05To learn more about Davina and the Vagabonds, you can visit their site, http://www.DavinaAndTheVagabonds.com, where you can listen, buy and connect.

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[photo credits: Christie Williams, Garrett Born, Davina & KNAGUI]

Soul Sunday with KNAGUI: Blow My Horn, a Quest to Collect the Music of Shirley Horn

SSwK - Shirley Horn 07I remember the day I was introduced to, in my opinion, the greatest spirit in the world of Jazz Music.  The song was one I’d heard many times over, and at that time, you could hear Chaka Kahn’s voice from the Waiting to Exhale soundtrack trumpeting on any given night from someone’s playlist in the dorm-room to cover their satisfying moans.  But nothing compared to the striking of the opening chord and delicate vocal space used to introduced “My Funny Valentine” like this. Who would dare to carefully construct an arrangement using the first phrases of the bridge to invite you into the only other seat of her auditory love boat… Shirley Horn, that’s who.

SSwK - Shirley Horn 05After my friend and amazing vocalist in her own right, Andrea Wallace, introduced me to Ms. Horn, I’ve spent nearly every day with her.  I purchased my own copy of “I Remember Miles” and then many, many more CDs as I drifted from one CD Warehouse to another.  I devoured her music.  Some times I binge, other times I relish each bite, but every time I’m be moved.  Just the other day I was listening and I wanted desperately to be found on a beach… and I HATE the sand!

SSwK - Shirley Horn 03Wiki has a good bio and chronology of her life and her music.  And last year I found a great documentary (actually promo for the Here’s To Life album) on YouTube, but I think it’s been taken down because I can’t find it.  But alas, I came across this:

Early last year I mentioned to The Ladybug that I wanted to start collecting the vinyl recordings of this monumental musical figure in my life.  You won’t believe the overflow of joy I felt when I received this birthday gift from her months later.  And indeed, this gift was the first of my collection.

SSwK - Shirley Horn 01I’ve been an adventure trying to bring Ms. Horn home.  It’s been a slow and calculating process, but she’s coming.

SSwK - Shirley Horn 04My most beloved LP is the one Boss Lady got me, but my most precious acquisition so far is this mono LP of her first recording, Ember and Ashes.  I LOVE mono mixes!!! Think of standing in the middle of a long street, see what’s close and how small things become as they flow into the distance, this is how your ears hear a great mono mix.  The craftsmanship of a linear perspective mix is something that’s lost in this stereophonic “I got the software, so now I have a studio in my house” era.

SSwK - Shirley Horn 06I’ve lost a few albums on eBay, but I’m not discouraged.  Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither will this collection.

I’ve put together a playlist on 8-Tracks to introduce you to my true musical love.  Be careful very when you listen to “The Island.”

See you “next” Sunday.

Soul Sunday with KNAGUI: Last Night a DJ Saved My Life – A Review of the Musical, The Fortress of Solitude

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For all the stereotypes that come with saying, “I live in Dallas,” there’s equal debunking… or validation, depending on your perspective.  Take for example the NCAA Men’s Final Four College Basketball Tournament held here this weekend: played at the home of (I hate to say/admit this) the most famous American Football team in the world, the Dallas Cowboys’ AT&T Stadium, the event along with the side shows and parties is larger than life.  The entire DFW Metroplex is buzzing.

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Staying true to form, Dallas’ Arts District has become the largest in the United States… again it’s a matter of perspective (13 primary facilities spanning 68 acres of urban property), still it’s beautiful and very active.

Being an artist, I try to support the arts as often as I can, everywhere I go and especially in the city where I currently live.

Today marks the closing of a show that I had the pleasure of seeing the premier of on its premier night: The Fortress of Solitude.

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The musical, conceived by Daniel Aukin and brought to life by the music of Michael Friedman is based on the twin titled novel by Jonathan Lethem.

Most of you know I HATE SPOILERS, so here are some official bits of text about the show:
“Based on the novel of the same name, The Fortress of Solitude follows two boys growing up in the working-class neighborhood of Gowanus in Brooklyn, NY. Dylan, a white kid being raised by an emotionally distant father and Mingus, a bi-racial kid being raised by his African American father who misses his former glory days, forge an unlikely bond over [music and] comic books. As they navigate the absence of their mothers, the racial divide in their neighborhood and the lack of support from their fathers, Dylan and Mingus defy odds with their loyal friendship. But, as they years go by, the boys grow into young men and their friendship begins to show signs of the strain placed on it by their families, friends and society at-large. The differences in their race and the societal implications of it manifest in where they each go to school and in which directions their lives head. When one finds himself in jail, both must face the role race plays in their lives and decide whether or not to bridge the gap that exists between them.

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The phrase “Fortress of Solitude” first appeared in literature in the Doc Savage pulp magazines of the 1930s and 1940s. A precursor to comic books, pulp magazines (or pulps) were inexpensive fiction magazines made out of cheap wood pulp.
In the Doc Savage series, the hero built his Fortress of Solitude in the Arctic and retreated to its isolation to do scientific research and store dangerous technology and secrets.
The Fortress of Solitude next appeared in the D.C. comic book series, Superman. The Fortress’s predecessor, Superman’s “Secret Citadel,” first appeared in Superman #17 where it was said to be built into a mountainside outside of Metropolis. By the May-June 1949 issue (#58) Superman’s hideout was being referred to as the Fortress of Solitude, and took the shape of a freestanding castle in what was described as a “polar waste.” However, when the Fortress reappears in 1958 and for the first time plays an essential role in the story (The Super-Key to Fort Superman, Action Comics #241), it was once again portrayed as an underground complex in a mountainside.
Since its first introduction to the Superman story, the Fortress of Solitude has been reinvented and reinterpreted in various Superman comics. A few examples include its placement undersea and in outer space, and its reinterpretation to be the persona of Clark Kent, Superman’s secret identity.
Fortress3In Jonathan Letham’s novel and the current stage adaptation, Dylan and Mingus have been physically abandoned by their mothers and emotionally abandoned by their fathers. Inspired by the Superman comics and the discovery of a magic ring, the boys talk of flying to their own Fortress of Solitude to take refuge in.” -DTC Study Guide

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Beyond feeling I might have landed one of these roles, “my ear” twitched a bit at the weakness of a couple vocalists (my friends didn’t share my opinion).  But for what those two (Sr. & Jr.) lacked vocally, they more than made up for in their acting and stage presence.

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Kyle Beltran who played Mingus Rude was dope and the stage design was to-die-for!

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Taught to see the spiritual element in everything, the waterworks opened for me during the final exchange between Dylan and Mingus.  This… acknowledgement of a preordained place Mingus had in Dylan’s life within which a reference was made to an overlooked phrase from earlier in the show sent chills through me.

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Andre-de-Shields

The show was a little long in the tooth; I dozed off a couple times. Still, I wanted to see it again, for the love of the show and to see what, if any, edits had been made to streamline it a bit.

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This premier was a raising of the hand to be called on by Broadway the Great and I believe she will call!  Hopefully at one of my two favorite theaters: The Jacobs Theater (formally The Royale Theatre) or The Golden Theater.Cast-of-DTCs-Fortress-of-Solitude-Feb-1-2014See you “next” Sunday.

[photo credit: Anonymous, Dallas Morning News & Karen Almond]

 

Soul Sunday with KNAGUI: Not So Long Ago, In a Museum Not So Far Away…

The Ladybug Chronicles-2331Before starting the tour last December, I arrived in Milan a little early to adjust to the time change so I could be safe and ready to do all that’s required of me while out.  When I arrived at The Ladybug’s pad, she gave me a big welcoming hug and said, “I’m gonna take you to the stars tomorrow night.”  Now if you follow the boss lady’s posts, you’ll know saying something like that could be quite… exciting.  So the following day, I prepared myself for the night of my life.

The Ladybug Chronicles-2418The next day we set pace doing our regular things: filling each other in on life since the last time we saw each other, me photographing her for the blog, etc… Then she announced it was time for my surprise.  We took the tram to an area of Milano I hadn’t visited before.  On the way she told me the story of the via Gluck and a famous musician who grew up there. And then, finally, we had arrived: Fermo Immagine the Film Poster Museum for “Il Mito, da Guerre Stellari a Star Wars.” I was, indeed, excited and felt like a kid about to walk into Hershey Park for the first time.

The Ladybug Chronicles-2299The Ladybug Chronicles-2305The expo was dedicated to showcasing the Star Wars phenomenon in Italy. I noticed, like with most American films that make it into theatres there, they changed the name of the film.  I found it very interesting that Episode IV was called “Guerre Stellari,” but by Episode V- it was Star Wars.

The Ladybug Chronicles-2321There were many things going on the night we visited.  Live action fight scenes, people in “official” costumes and camera crews filming (for what would be shown during the intermissions of my monumental New Year’s Day marathon).

The Ladybug Chronicles-2317During the course of the night, my “date” was mind-tricked and overcome by the Dark Side (at least that’s what I’m still telling myself).

The Ladybug Chronicles-2322I tried to go macho man on his ass, but got choked by the infamous Darth Death Grip.

The Ladybug Chronicles-2277 The Ladybug Chronicles-2363There was so much art around.  There were these pieces by Nerd Art in the library and inside were works that were both serious and funny.

The Ladybug Chronicles-2326I couldn’t help being taken in by all the the pieces of this expo. I envied this passport.  I’d never seen it before.

The Ladybug Chronicles-2297The Ladybug Chronicles-2355There were a lot of Lego models in the house.  And the details were amazing.

The Ladybug Chronicles-2340Do you remember the jams the band played in the club? Did you know there was an album released on RCA Records?  I didn’t!  This is something I want to find for my collection.

The Ladybug Chronicles-2362After the whole “Dark Side Affair,” The Ladybug and I got separated, but I found her chillin’ with her peeps… “Ooh-Tee-Dee!”

The Ladybug Chronicles-2392Just before getting out of there, I came across Boba Fett’s gun.  This piece belonged to one of the guys who was in an official costume.  It was amazing to hold and look at. It was numbered and stamped from the studio.  A-MAZING!!!

guerre stellari a star warsThis expo ran through the beginning of Febuary.  Now that this museum is on my radar, I’m sure I’ll check out what’s on display during my next trip to Italy.

See you “next” Sunday.

Soul Sunday with KNAGUI: Shave and a Haircut, Two Bits!

The Ladybug Chronicles-3292Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: a bald Gui walks into a barbershop hoping to get a kiss from a princess…

The Ladybug Chronicles-3286Believe it or not, this isn’t a joke; well, at least not entirely, anyway.

The Ladybug Chronicles-3325After a great tour and the most awesome New Year’s celebration (spent watching Star Wars Marathon on Sky-TV in Sicily), I found myself back in Milano producing new music and working hard for TLC.

The Ladybug Chronicles-3326One of the evening appointments the Ladybug scheduled brought me to Milan’s man cave of relaxation, I’m talking about the bad ass Bullfrog- found in the motorcycle district.  Now you might have already heard about it briefly on the Bullfrog’s blog or on Icon, but as they say: “there are two sides to every story.”

The Ladybug Chronicles-3302Bullfrog is situated in a very manly and vintage quarter of the city.  It matches well with its surroundings while also maintaining a level of privacy by being tucked away.  The barbershop’s position wasn’t haphazard, but getting this den was coincidental and it’s founder, Romano Brida,  orchestrated his dreams, passion and business savy to give an incredible gift to his “brotherhood.”

The Ladybug Chronicles-3303I enjoyed a ritualistic shave of my head and face: the hot towel, the emulsified shaving cream, the light massage of someone else performing this bi-daily grooming that I do, but with a straight razor and having it closed with a cool towel and cleaning…

The Ladybug Chronicles-3315It took me back to when I was a very young boy sitting in Leon’s Barbershop watching my grandfather and other older gentlemen getting a shave and haircut.  There were more chairs at Leon’s, which at the time was right across the street from the big Plymouth dealership on South George, and the conversations were different, but the laughs, camaraderie and “men only” vibe was the same.

The Ladybug Chronicles-3308With its two chairs and close quarters, Bullfrog feels like a tattoo parlor. Romano and I discussed this along with other details about the history of the Barber, his chicago styled shop and why it’s so important to take this 40 minutes to an hour for yourself.

The Ladybug Chronicles-3324…And like moths to a flame, all the Princesses are attracted because when you step foot out of the door, you look and feel like a King!

You can get the whole story when you check out the two-part interview on TV-TLC.

The Ladybug Chronicles-3295See you “next Sunday.”

Soul Sunday with KNAGUI: Kate Nash Came to Town

The Ladybug Chronicles-2158Well hello, and HAPPY NEW YEAR!

I’m sorry for my absence, but as you know- I am an “artist” and I had to get out on the road and make that bread!  This winter’s tour of the Soul of Gospel Revue was incredibly amazing and actually, The Ladybug is going to tell you more about it.  At any rate, I’m here to pick up where I left off.  This includes my sharing something with you that happened in November just before rehearsals for the tour got underway.

Near the end of October we received an invitation to go to a show to be held at the legendary Trees in Dallas’ historic Deep Ellum District.

The Ladybug Chronicles-2195Deep Ellum is the infamous Entertainment (arts, music & subculture) District of Dallas.  It’s where many artists once demanded to stop while on tour and where many new artists, like Edie Brickell, cut their teeth and honed their craft. And Trees is not without it’s mention in this history, having given stage to many of the most notable artists and bands.  I mean; Pearl Jam played their first show there, C’mon!

So for me the excitement of going out to interview and see Kate Nash bless this stage was uncontainable; especially since the invitation was made to me because of my contributions to TLC!

The Ladybug Chronicles-2178I have to be honest, I knew NOTHING about Kate Nash, but I studied my ass off to get to know her (as presented to the public): her beliefs, her passions, her fashion, her art, her music… I really left no stone unturned because I refused to come off as a dolt. With that said, please don’t take what follows to be written out of any bitterness because it’s not.  I truly believe I’m better having gotten to know more about her and what she stands for.

The Ladybug Chronicles-2169I arrived early and found a place where the parking meter was “missing.”  I don’t know where it was and I can’t say that I didn’t care, but being who I am, I took the chance, parked and took photos of my car and the missing meter just in case I came out and my Rodeo was taken to the rodeo, in other words… towed.

The Ladybug Chronicles-2165Ms. Nash wasn’t feeling well and hadn’t been feeling well over the past week of tour, so she was unavailable for our interview. No biggie; being an artist, I understand resting to give the very best you have to give on stage when you’re on tour and “the show must go on.”  I chilled for a bit and came back closer to show time.

The Ladybug Chronicles-2164When I returned, I got the bright idea to talk with a few people who came to see the show, as to not let the post be a total bust.  I met several interesting people with “Kate Nash stories,” but one I found most interesting was a lady who was there with her daughter. She told me that her ex-husband was a “dick head” through their divorce and Kate helped her through it.  In particular the line from “Foundations” which says, “You said I must eat so many lemons, ’cause I am so bitter.  I said I’d rather be with your friends mate, ’cause they are much fitter. Yes it was childish and you got aggressive and I must admit that I was a bit scared, but it gives me thrills to wind you up.” She also told me that the song titled, “Merry Happy” became her theme song. So here then is another song, because I already knew about “Foundations,” that I was hoping to hear her perform live.

The Ladybug Chronicles-2129The Ladybug Chronicles-2136The opening acts begin to hit the stage and this is when the night began to derail. First Skating Polly, a guitar/bass and drums duo that I had high hopes for when they walked out, but I was offended by their garage rehearsal performance and La Sera didn’t make any sonic improvements to the first course.

The Ladybug Chronicles-2156Finally, Kate Nash was ready to blaze the stage.  The opening video sequence was DOPE! My eyes were bright, there was a smile on my face and then… another crash course in come listen to me practice.  I couldn’t understand a lyric, everything was beyond too loud and as beautiful as the stage was, it was just sad.  I would have liked to blame the missed experience on local techs, but they all (sound, lights, etc…) were the production crew.

Nevertheless, I got some great photos.

See you “next” Sunday!

Soul Sunday with KNAGUI: I’ve Got So Much Trouble On My Mind, Refuse To Lose…

vinatge-poster-v1About a month ago, I shared with you my experience at Austin City Limits. It really was an amazing time of being surrounded by music. While there I had the pleasure of seeing this incredible band called Vintage Trouble; you may remember me mentioning that in the post… but there’s more!  Between their ACL performance and a later show at The Continental Club where they would share the stage with The Dynamics featuring Charles Walker; I was given the privilege to talk with these incredible guys. Please allow me to introduce: vocalist Ty Taylor, guitarist Nalle Colt, drummer Richard Danielson and bassist Rick Barrio Dill, collectively known as Vintage Trouble.

K: Fellas, it’s my genuine pleasure to meet you.  I caught you on Leno a couple months back and had been looking forward to us being in the same place at the same time, so this was quite the treat.

There seemed to be sparks of electricity, like live wires being forged together as you walked on stage. What’s going on backstage before you come up?

RBD: Good question and we wish we could say some sort of overly romantic, spiritual or [animistic] ceremony was taking place just before. We basically walked from the dressing room to the stage, said a couple hellos along the way. Probably stopped for a photo opp, told some jokes, etc…
TT: But there is plenty of romance in live performance and that is enough to get our hearts going. And there is a ton of spirit in live music and we surely are all tapped into that emotion. And being a brethren coming together for a cause in the moment is surely ceremonious. So though there may appear not to be a whole lot of theatrics happening backstage before we go on, we are all internally amped as one unit. We’re glad to hear and know that it registers.

Ty, you’ve gotta have the most penetrating steel pipes I’ve heard in years.  In your voice I heard everyone from Screamin’ Jay Hawkins to David Ruffin to Joe Ligon to Daryl Coley- tell me about your background and influences.

TT: The first singing that really caught me was in church.  I remember a choir director at my church named Gail Freeman had a huge voice that rocked that walls of the building.  I wanted to have as much power as she had.  It was almost like the vibration of sound was actually moving emotion. Then in my home I heard a lot of The Staple Singes and Ike & Tina.  Later on in my life I fell in love with 1950s and early sixties music.  There was something about the combination of Rock ‘n Roll and Rhythm and Blues that really gave singers a freedom. So then I really fell in love with Etta James, Ruth Brown, Chuck Berry, Otis, Sam Cooke and Jackie Wilson.  Recently, I have fallen in love with the voice of Little Willie John.  I’ve been learning a lot from him lately.

And what about the rest of you guys; background, influences, education…

RBD: we all come from slightly different angles maybe on music influences, but we wind up in the same place of appreciation for old soul, Rhythm & Blues and early Rock ‘n Roll.  For VT, we love the place in music [from] the mid ’50s and ’60s that seemed to have so much, without clear definitive lines.  From Ike & Tina Turner to Little Richard to Stax to Led Zeppelin to Northern Soul and so much more, we love it all.   The beautiful thing is as we have grown too, we keep looking further and deeper into these influences influences to discover or re-discover so much more whether it be gospel or raw blues and soul.  Its really a never ending quest.
NC: I was born and raised in Sweden. I got attached to the guitar early on from hearing Beatles and Jimi Hendrix. It felt like a natural way for me to express myself. I, early on, fell in love with blues and rock music. Rory Gallagher, Led Zeppelin, Muddy Waters, Freddie King, so much expression and I love the raw feeling it brought. I moved to Los Angeles in my early 20s to pursue music and I’m still here.

With all these influences, why this artistic direction?

RBD: It really happened pretty organically. We did speak of this time in music that we all love so much, which was basically late ’50s early ’60s soul and rhythm and blues which was fusing with and becoming Rock ‘n Roll. So that was a great starting point and we all just brought our greater influences into the fold from there.
TT: We knew we wanted to cause emotion because that is how we were felling when we played together.
RD: And dance is something else we wanted to cause. But in truth our style developed over a short period of time playing live. We played our first live show after only being together three weeks and have been slammed with gigs ever since.
NC: It was so easy for us to just drop everything and connect to our early influences. A great mix of rhythm & blues, rock, soul.

Where are you from? How did you meet and what brought you together?

RBD: Well, the band hails from Los Angeles. Ty is originally from NJ and Nalle is from Sweden, both of whom played together in various other projects before meeting me (from Florida) and Richard Danielson (a California native). The coming together happened as a timing thing when the rare opportunity of all of us being free from other commitments arose and we were able to try something together, which looking back seemed to be brewing for some time. It only took one day in the studio together and we never looked back.

TLC - KNAGUI-24I picked up your album at the Waterloo Records tent, thanks for signing it by the way, I noticed it was released in 2011.  Were there projects before this one as a band or individually?

NC: We live in Los Angeles and we were lucky to run into each other.
TT: We all have been in many projects before Vintage Trouble.
RD: Luckily being musicians in LA has allowed to be part of groups that have played everything from hard rock to folk to R&B to Punk. The best part of that is that we have all those styles inside of us as a collective. We never try to put our past influences aside, but instead inject it into our music.
RDB: The bomb shelter sessions is our first record together.

What’s been fueling the momentum of this album?

RBD: We were fortunate early on.  We were asked to do this incredible television show in London called “Later with Jools Holland” and our performance there essentially changed our lives before we left the BBC parking lot.   We trended #6 worldwide and it opened up tours with Brian May from Queen, Bon Jovi and Lenny Kravitz.  We were able to hit Europe and things spread really well there. From that, we were able to go to Japan and hit the ground running where our record debuted high on the charts.  We kept relentlessly touring, hitting Australia and back to the UK- where in some cities we have been there 8 or 9 times.  We toured America as much as possible, playing everywhere we could too.   Along the way we picked up an award from Classic Rock Magazine for “Best New Artist” the same time the Who was getting an award for “Quadrophenia”.  Between that and some charity work we did with Roger Daltrys Teenage Cancer Trust in the UK, we were on their radar when it came time to tour and wound up doing 51 dates with The Who across 2 continents.  It really helped keep all the early hard work going and we were able to play for such large audiences in so many cities from that as well as keep doing our own shows.   At this point, we have been touring almost 2 and a half years straight. It really has made all the difference.   We haven’t stopped working.   We just got back from South America playing Rock & Rio and that looks like its another part of the world that we really want to spend time connecting to.  We love to play and affect people and thats at the core.

One of the reasons I sat through Leno the night you guys were on was because of the name of the band. Who chose the name and why?

NC: Ty chose the name based on a conversation he was having with a friend regarding his late father, explaining that he was trouble… vintage trouble. That came up in a lyric in the song Blues Hand Me Down, “I come from vintage trouble look out if I’m the one you found…” and from there we named the band.

As a unit your look on stage is mega-classic and classy, yet each of you are very well represented individually.  Are you guys responsible for your own styling or was/is it a collaborative effort with a stylist?

RBD: No stylists. Our style comes from the the style of music we play and it felt natural to allow the ’50s and ’60s to come through.
TT: There’s something slick and clean about the fashion back then.  Wearing a tight suit gives the feeling of wanting to break out and be released.  Lends to the urgency of the music.
RD: Then we all started really getting into early 1900s movies so we gave our ’50s/’60s look a twist of turn of the century.  I think that’s how the high collars, vintage ties and ascots came around.
NC: And we like to dress up out of respect to our audiences.

What’s the story behind what each of you wear and is there any vintage in your wardrobe?

RDB: I don’t think there are stories behind what each of us wears but I will definitely say that like our instruments, our individual looks has become and amplification of our spirits.

Vintage Trouble • 2013Let’s dig into your recording process.  Even the way you recorded the album was old school… hold up three days in Bomb Shelter Studios.  Was that the plan or did it just happened to be the flow of inspiration?

RBD: It was never really a plan to do anything but sit in a circle, really, and record some songs to sell at shows.   Again, we got fortunate probably in that recording all “full takes” to do the Bomb Shelter Sessions wound up being a blessing as it taught us many things.  We love the honesty of the raw “old school” way of performing together and it helps to not get too “heady” in the studio.   By playing everything down together, we commit as a band and hopefully help each other get out of our own ways.   Now it seems like the basic mantra for all that we do: keep it real and raw.  It really works for us.

What equipment did you use? Tell me about vintage instruments, mics, analog/digital usage, engineer, special touches, some hidden gem or mistake for the listener to tune into on a song, etc…

NC: When we listen to old ’50s and ’60s recordings, it just sounds so much better than most new recordings. So we really wanted to dig into the simplicity of recordings- less microphones, record to analog tape, use great tube amps and pre-amps… Lots of the sounds that the digital era has produced just doesn’t sound very good to me. I miss a lot of the roundness of the analog sound. Playing together is our main key. We can do some vocal, guitar or percussion overdubs, but our main tracks are recorded together. I really think it’s the most important part of our sound.

I’ve been touring and doing clinics in Europe since 2002 and for me, it was something that just happened and took off.  How did you guys gain your European audience and where do you find yourself performing most?

RD: We spent our first year as Vintage Trouble playing shows in Los Angeles. We could not afford to go anywhere else and we really wanted to make a buzz in LA. We got great support from the LA audience . We always had the dream to take our music to Europe and mostly UK. With an offer from Jools Holland (a BBC music TV show) and a 3 week tour with Brian May from Queen. We left and ended up touring UK, Ireland and Scotland for over 3 months. I think the European audience is a little more open to new bands and music. They embraced us and gave us a massive support.
TT: We toured most of the world by now, but we’re still just getting started.

I don’t want to use the word “success” because you all are successful in what you’ve achieved individually in life so far and the crowd’s reaction proves your success as a band; what I’d like to know is what do you site as the determining factor in the difference of your audience awareness in the States and in Europe?

NC: Thank you for saying that. As far as awareness, The States is a lot of ground to cover. We received massive support from great TV Shows here, but it still takes a lot of touring and radio play to gain real success. We could tell when Europe started to really know us, most of our tours were selling out, and this is slowly starting to show here in The States as well.
TT: And European’s might be a little more willing to seek out newer bands based on their history of learning about new music. This is trending here in the States because people are tired of being force fed the same radio rotation so they are using the internet to find out what real people are saying is good music.

In addition to your album, do you have any recommendations of artists our readers should get hip to?

RBD: There is so much out there, the fun part again is the search.  The best thing might be to find out what truly inspires you and then find out what are the influences of those people that influence you.  Discovery opens up discovery and off you go.
NC: We get to meet a lot of great artists while touring and one that sticks out for me is Carolyn Wonderland from Austin TX. She is deep in the blues and her voice combined with her dirty blues guitar playing is a ‘must hear’ thing. Check her out.

When can we anticipate the next Vintage Trouble album?

NC: Early 2014

Groovy!!! Thanks guys, I look forward to seeing you again soon and hearing great things from you.

TLC - KNAGUI-34

See you “next Sunday.”

[photo credit: Liam Carl Design, Lee Cherry]