Radio 418 podcast: Better Days with JOEY MOLLAND  

The Liverpool-bred guitarist, singer and songwriter brought his tough, rock and roll edge when he joined Badfinger in 1969. But that legendary group is only a part of Joey Molland’s story.  He has survived the ups and downs of this business always coming up swinging and smiling, and with a new solo album in the works it was finally time to chat with my frequent tour mate (and a personal musical hero)! 

Click here to support Joey’s new solo album, produced by Mark Hudson!

Radio 418 podcast: Mark Lindsay ON the UMG Warehouse Fire 

The story of a massive 2008 fire that destroyed untold thousands of irreplaceable master tapes owned by Universal Music Group has only fully come to light this year.  As a musician AND a music lover I'm compelled to weigh in on this catastrophic blow to our culture, but not without seeking the counsel of friends and colleagues in the business.  On this episode I'm joined by Mark Lindsay, legendary vocalist from Paul Revere and the Raiders (and my frequent tour mate), who shares his unique perspective on asset management in the recording industry. 

Keep up with Mark at www.marklindsay.com

Do I Have To Do This All Over Again? (RIP Peter Tork)  

The news of Peter Tork’s passing broke yesterday afternoon, and within minutes there were tributes spreading across social media: links to Monkees songs he wrote and/or sang, photos, stories of personal encounters.  The remembrances of his colleagues paint a portrait of a kind, compassionate man with a good heart, a dedicated musician who was deeply committed to the “peace and love” ideals of the 60s. His music with The Monkees will no doubt receive some extra play in the next few days, but it’s my considered opinion that the quintessential Peter Tork moment happened in the band’s surrealistic, satirical 1968 feature film, “Head.” 

A box office bomb in its time, “Head” is now revered as one of the most innovative marriages of rock music and cinema.  The group conspired with series creators Bob Rafelson and Bert Schneider to make a film that would shatter the squeaky-clean “Monkees” image, and in doing so created a stunning visual commentary on pop culture circa 1968.  There are multiple references to the war in Vietnam, mass media, Hollywood and automation, and the cinematic rules of narrative structure are disregarded in favor of a dreamlike series of vignettes that overlap into each other. 

In one memorable sequence the group is in a canteen spouting non-sequitur dialog with a waitress; suddenly the action cuts to a boxing match between Davy Jones and Sonny Liston, followed by a dramatic scene between Davy and Annette Funicello, then more drama at the boxing match, then back to Peter and the waitress in the canteen.  (Don’t ask me to explain; just see the movie.)  After a brief exchange Peter suddenly, and without provocation, jumps up and punches the waitress and knocks her out. She stumbles backward and lands in a chair, and then we hear a voice from off screen yell “Okay, CUT!"  The waitress removes her wig, revealing herself to be a male actor in drag, and the entire sequence having been staged on a film set. 

The POV then shifts to a handheld documentary camera, capturing the chaos as the “crew” surrounds and follows Peter to prepare him for the “next scene” in the film-within-a-film.  In an exchange that seems expertly improvised, Peter confronts producer Rafelson (portraying himself) about the end of the previous scene, with palpable frustration. 

“Hey Bob, that’s not right, man.  I mean, about hitting a woman and everything.  Man, it’s about the image, it’s not right!  Bob, it’s a movie for kids, they’re not gonna dig it, man!  Think of it: the kids aren’t gonna dig it…me hitting a girl.  Especially the way I feel about violence and all that stuff, y’know?” 

As the crew scurries around him, mostly oblivious to his crisis of conscience, Rafelson dismissively tries to placate Peter and assure him that the scene will be taken out “if it doesn’t work.”  Peter snaps at Rafelson reflexively: “Well, you TELL me that, man, and it never happens!” 

This scene knocked me out the first time I saw the film (on VHS in 1988, when I was 16); I thought it was so cool the way they broke the fourth wall, and presented “behind the scenes” Monkees drama (even if it was staged).  But yesterday afternoon I watched that scene again with tears in my eyes.  The depth of the sadness, vulnerability and righteous anger that Peter conveyed in that scene was profoundly moving.  But the sentiment itself - Peter protesting the mere portrayal of violence against a woman - offered a unique window into the soul of this peaceful, principled man.  The “Peter Tork” character in the film seems to be the only one grounded with any sort of moral compass, and there was clearly some truth pervading the “acting” in that scene. 

Whether or not they were assembled by an NBC casting director, the joy and happiness that The Monkees and their music brought to millions of lives worldwide is real, alive and well.  I sincerely hope that Peter, before he left this earthly existence, knew and understood just how deeply his work and his very being touched so many people.  We were born to love one another; this is something we all need.  Thank you Peter Halsten Thorkelson, for leaving this world just a bit nicer than you found it. 

Be well 

JM

New episode of "Breaking It Down With Jeff And John" celebrates Steve Gadd!  

Hello all! 

Just in time for holiday listening, our latest episode of the "Breaking It Down with Jeff and John" podcast is live, celebrating the artistry of drum legend Steve Gadd. 

From his roots in Rochester, NY to studios and concert stages around the globe, Gadd has influenced a generation of drummers and left an indelible mark on the sound of American popular music. On this very special episode Jeff and I are joined by five esteemed drumming colleagues - James Saporito, Steve Murphy, Ray Marchica, Steve Singer and Justin DiCioccio - to examine the evolution of Gadd's musicianship and discuss our favorite Gadd performances.  You do not want to miss this one! 

CLICK HERE TO BREAK IT DOWN WITH JEFF AND JOHN 

Many thanks to all of you for your continued support and enthusiasm, and have a happy and safe Thanksgiving! 

Be well 

JM 

Steve Gadd photo by Steve Singer

 

• James Saporito is a graduate of the Eastman School of Music. He is currently the associate principal percussionist of the New York City Ballet Orchestra. 

• Steve Murphy is currently touring the nation as the drummer with The Hit Men (alongside Jeff Ganz). He has also toured extensively with the Alan Parsons Live Project and the perennial Happy Together tours (alongside John Montagna). 

• Ray Marchica is a graduate of Brooklyn College, where he studied percussion with Morris Lang of the New York Philharmonic Orchestra. He has toured and/or recorded with Roy Buchanan, James Brown, Barbara Streisand and many others, and has been a member of the Ed Palermo Big Band for over 25 years. He is also a veteran of numerous Broadway shows and was the drummer on The Rosie O’Donnell Show. 

• Among Steve Singer’s drumming credits are the Broadway and international touring productions of Chicago and Dreamgirls, including first runs in Tokyo. An accomplished photographer, his photo of Steve Gadd used in this episode has been published around the world. 

• Justin DiCioccio is internationally recognized as one of the foremost jazz educators of our time. Formerly the Associate Dean of the Jazz Arts Programs at Manhattan School of Music and the jazz director at LaGuardia High School of Music and Art, he currently presents jazz clinics and concerts internationally.

Sanborn Sessions: A New Day for “Night Music” 

Photo Credit: David Sanborn by Sam Zhang courtesy of the artist

https://www.culturesonar.com/sanborn-sessions-a-new-day-for-night-music/

Those closest to me know how passionate I am about "Night Music," the revolutionary music series hosted by David Sanborn on NBC from 1988-1990.  So you can imagine how excited I am about "Sanborn Sessions," the new web series that finds Mr. Sanborn reviving the eclectic "Night Music" format for the digital age!  Check out my latest piece for CultureSonar featuring an exclusive interview with Mr. Sanborn about this tremendous new venture (the pilot episode is killin'), and find out how you can get involved! 

Be well

JM
 

New episode of "Breaking It Down With Jeff And John" is live!  

Today's episode is entitled "Yesterday And Today."  Jeff and I re-examine some of our favorite music from our youth to see if it holds up to our modern-day, grown-up scrutiny. Click the photo and listen to find out what happens to old favorites with new ears!

LISTEN TO MUSIC
LISTEN TO MUSIC
LISTEN TO MUSIC
IT'S GOOD FOR YOU! 

Be well
JM

"BREAKING IT DOWN WITH JEFF AND JOHN" is live!!  

http://www.culturesonar.com/breaking-it-down-ep1/

It's been so hard to keep this a secret until now!  My dear friend and fellow bassist Jeff Ganz and I have created "Breaking It Down," a music podcast for CultureSonar.  We will explore the music, players and ideas that inspire us, and hopefully convince you to do the same.  

Today's premiere episode celebrates the musical legacy of Motown bassist James Jamerson (1936-1983).  This is some grade-A music geekery here, so dig in and enjoy! 

Be well

JM

That Was Me.....?

It's the end of an era, but the beginning of a new one!

In 2004, one year after joining the Alan Parsons Live Project, I launched the first version of johnmontagna.com.  This was before the social media explosion; YouTube and Twitter were still a year away, and Facebook had only just launched.  Among my peers, I was "Future Boy" with my fancy website!  I shared photos and audio clips, blogged about my experiences on the road (and at home in NYC), sent out email blasts, and generally enjoyed the ability to "maintain a presence" with an audience beyond the bandstand.

Fast forward 12 years, and the world is a much different place.  We're all connected, all the time, thanks to multiple platforms that mostly co-exist and feed off of one another.  To quote The Guess Who: seasons change, and so did I.  And so it was time to re-boot johnmontagna.com for the times we're in now, versus a decade ago.  I welcome you to the new version of the site, and I hope you enjoy what you find here.  Check out the photos, listen to some music (and make a purchase if you're feeling generous), watch the videos, and keep up with where I'll be performing and when and with whom.

I'm as eager as ever to stay connected to you all as I enter this newest phase of my life and career.  But as I look forward, I also am looking back on the 12 years since I first launched my "online presence" with a mixture of wonder and nostalgia.  Is that really me in Tokyo with Denny Laine?  Or in Atlantic City with Todd Rundgren?  The "WTF With Marc Maron" theme song...that was ME?  

Enjoy, and thank you all for your continued support and enthusiasm.  
Be well
JM 



     
Sept. 22, 2016 TALKING BEATLES: Eight Days A Week - The Touring Years ______________________________________________________________