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New Jim Crow Blues by Al-Vis

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New Jim Crow Blues by Al-Vis

Liner Notes and Lyrics

www.ArtistGroupMusic.com

New Jim Crow Blues Video
All guitars: Al-Vis
All vocals: Al-Vis
Bass guitar: Al-Vis
Percussion: Andrew James Hughes
Written by Al-Vis
Produced and Engineered by Andrew James Hughes
(c)2016 Artist Group Music All rights reserved

Narrative: The song follows a family through three generations, from the Jim Crow South to the current unrest with the Flint Water Crisis, Black Lives Matter movement, voter disenfranchisement, funding for inner city schools and on and on.

After it all, the protagonist asks- is it time to run once again from this New Jim Crow or stay and fight?

My name is Nathan Justice
And I come into this life
Two Score and seven years ago
On a dark Michigan night

And I have been through poverty
And I have been through pain
All the things I fought against
Seems like they’re back again

And I wonder what its coming to can a man ever be free?
When he opens up his eyes without knowing he sees

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Five Myths About Music and the Biz of Music

Five Myths about music that musicians need to get over.

We musicians tend to be a very philosophical and optimistic bunch. “Music can change the world!” “Music is love!” “Music is the breath of life!”

Its been a long time since the 1960s. Trust me, I’ve been around, and been in the biz pretty much the entire time since then.

Mindless pablum was very much in vogue during those crazy, dark, happy faced times. But harmless pablum is not harmless, in fact, it can be detrimental, even fatal (to a fatalist at least).

Here then are five myths about music and the music biz in general that you just have to stop believing.

1) Looks don’t matter. Sure, a great song will trump looks, but face it, many stars would never have made it out of the local scene if they hadn’t had the extra special something, even some physical quirk that made their look memorable. Even though that has nothing to do with music.

2) Musicians whom you support should support you back. Get real. The music biz is a capitalist enterprise. You want people to come to see you make great music. If you like others music that’s great but never ever expect them to return the favor, because it was never a favor to begin with.

3) Music is a universal language. That is the biggest nonsense you and I will ever hear. True nearly everyone likes some kind of music but no one likes all music, not even someone as learned and eclectic as I. Country Music fans might hate rap. Metal Fans might hate Folk. Everyone hates easy listening (maybe because that’s what they use when they are drilling your teeth?). So no its not a universal language.

4) Music artists should be judged on certain standards. More nonsense. The only standard is will people like your music enough to listen to it. Forget about technique (as long as you have enough for your particular genre) forget about stage presence (some of the biggest selling artists are actually quite statuesque when performing), forget about poise and all that. Just make irresistibly great music (and keep developing that part) and you’ll do fine.

5) The music biz will chew you up and spit you out. No it won’t. The music biz is just a biz, like any other biz. A game like any other game. Learn the game and you’ll do fine.

And the number one rule of the game? Stay out of your own way. You know what I mean. Drugs, drinking, irresponsibility, be a jerk to others.

Just be nice, don’t develop bad habits that will get in your way and immerse yourself in your craft.

And remember, even if no one ever shows up at your gigs you will always have at least one fan, so make sure you enjoy yourself and be grateful you have talent to share.

Along with the brains to know reality from mythology.

Five phrases we all can do without in 2017

 

These phrases are either offensive, meaningless or just plain incorrect. Can we make it one of our New Years resolutions to get rid of them?

1) Snowflake

Usually said in regards to Millennials.

Its offensive and not accurate. Millennials are simply the younger generation. They fight our wars, work minimum wage jobs and take on massive debt to put themselves through college, and will be our doctors, lawyers and leaders in a few years if they aren’t already.

Give them some respect.

2) Terrorist

This word is meaningless. Or rather, it means different things to different bigots.

To some it only refers to those of Middle East origin who commit acts of mass murder, kidnapping etc. To others it includes anyone from anywhere who commits these acts. Including white Christians.

Why can’t we just refer to them as who they are? If the are murderers call them that. If they are kidnappers call them that. If they are radical right wingers call them that.

The word terrorist means nothing and only incites more bigotry.

3) Alt-right

Can we just call them right-wing nutcase bigots at this point? What else are they?

4) All lives matter

This is the biggest piece of horse poop I have heard in decades.

If all lives mattered then why are all those bones swinging from swamps in the southern bayous not of white people? What white people were kidnapped and sold like livestock (other than the Irish, but that still does not add up to “All”) for hundreds of years?

What white people struggled for 400 years to be treated as equals in our society?

And I realize other ethnic groups have been treated horribly by this country, from the Indians to Mexicans to the Chinese.

But what does that have to do with the fact that Black lives matter?

There is a reason for the Black Lives Matter movement. If you don’t believe me ask a black person.

5) American Exceptionalism

Unless you mean the exceptionally cruel and criminal way we slaughtered Native Americans and took over their land, brutalized the black and Chinese races, raped and plundered the earth and paved it over as if no other species needed to exist.

And interfered with other countries in other parts of the world to the point to where we now are considered the world’s police force.

The world does not need the United States, who just elected one of the most bigoted, sexist creatures to ever crawl the Earth, to show them how to govern. Now or ever.

Disagree? You are entitled to your own opinion. You are not entitled to your own hate. Please keep it civil if you wish to comment.

A Look at American Life In the 1950s through The Blob

In college my minor was American History.

One of my profs was a scholar of cultural history, Dr. Warren Susman.

I took his course “A Cultural History Of the US through Film”. The main premise being that you could learn much of the history of America in the 20th century by studying how films related to and mirrored the American experience at the time. For example, you could tell a lot about how America was in the 1920s by studying the films of Chaplin and Keaton, or the 1960s by studying films such as The Good The Bad and The Ugly or MASH.

To see how this works lets take a look at the US in the 1950s, through a typical 50s film, 1958’s “The Blob”.

blob-movie-poster

The 2nd world war had been over many years but the menace of communism and nuclear war hung over America’s head.

Soldiers assimilated back into society, only to find, in their dismay, that the children they were raising were rebellious, even criminal at times. The “JD”, or “Juvenile Delinquent” was an iconic representative of youth culture in the 1950s.

annex-brando-marlon-wild-one-the_14

“What are you rebelling against?” “What’dya got?”

And so two of the main threads running through American life during this time were

1) Out of control youth. Explicit comic books, rock and roll, drive-ins, street gangs etc etc were all evidence that somehow America was going wrong, and our future was in doubt.
2) The communist menace, with its threat of nuclear war

Atomic Bomb dropped in Nagasaki

Now lets see how “The Blob” figures into these.
Steve Andrews is your typical 50s teen. Neither a role model or a bad person, he’s a bit of a “Richie Cunningham” type.

He and his friends get into typical troubles that small town 50s kids get into- drag racing, for example.

And his parent, the police and his teachers are frustrated that all these kids think about is making trouble.

Suddenly, a mysterious creature from outer space appears, and starts killing people. AKA “The Blob”.

Since Steve can’t get the police (or any authority figures) to believe him when he sees this blob-like creature murder someone right in front of his eyes, he takes matters into his own hands.

He pokes around the town after hours and comes across this monster finally in a store. Since the police won’t believe him or his friends, he decides to set off sirens and car horns in front of the store, calling on his supposed “JD” friends to help him out.

At this point, the town starts to believe him, and they all come together. The Blob is defeated.

What does this have to do with the 1950s?

Well substitute “The Blob” for the Red Scare and you can see how the country came together, young and old, united against this shared threat.

Note the color of the “The Blob”, red. Note the cop who fought “in the war”. Note the mistrust between the police, the parents and the kids.

The 1950s were a time of intense paranoia, as the world was trying to come to terms not only with the fear of communist domination, but also a nuclear holocaust that we could not possibly survive.

By showing how, no matter how divided a nation we were in the 1950s, we could come together to face a common threat, “The Blob” does an excellent job of identifying the major concerns of the 1950s, and helps us understand how people acted and felt at that time.

And that, my friends, is what Cultural History is.

Warren I. Susman Obit

That Small Strip Of Land

Written after the 32 year reunion of my Neptune Sr High School Class in 2008.

A tribute and remembrance of a great little town to grow up in, through good times and bad.

-Al-Vis October 2016

That Small Strip Of Land

We were born into the age of Sputnik, Kruschev, Leave It To Beaver, “I Like Ike” and the demon of rock and roll who was going to ruin us all, Elvis.
Continue reading

The Story Of JP Gotrock

Every musician has at least one story of when “I could have made it!”

Meaning, at some point early on, there was enough momentum, ambition and the right circumstances for me to REALLY mark a mark on this biz of music. Continue reading

The 5 stages of Diva

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The 5 stages of Diva, evident from booking my “Al-Vis and Friends” show:

1) “Al-Vis I would love to play at your showcase, pls check out my stuff. Thanks!”
2) “Al-Vis thanks so much for having me at your showcase and for all you do!”
3) from Al-Vis: “Hi _____ would you like to perform at my showcase, featured act? We pay! The old gang would love to see you!”
response: “Sorry Al-Vis I’m a little busy, but let me get back to you…”
4)from Al-Vis: “Hi _____ would you like to perform at my showcase, featured act? We pay! The old gang would love to see you!”
response: “(tumbleweeds…)”
5) “Hey Al-Vis, long time! Would love to play at your showcase some time!”

Just Around The Corner-A Prophesy Fulfilled

During the month of January dozens of acts will perform in multiple venues in and around the Asbury Park area.

This is the annual Light Of Day event, for a great cause. Newspapers will report on what a great event it is- people will come from all over to attend.

Acts are chomping at the bit to perform at great rooms like the Stone Pony, Wonder Bar, McCloone’s.

I have a question though.

Whom out of all of these involved in this event gets paid and makes money?

– Security/extra police
– The venue owners
– The venue staff
– The liquor distributors
– The food distributors
– The periodicals that run ads
– Sound men and other stage staff
– The electricians and construction workers who built and maintain the venues
– The city of Asbury Park, through parking fees and taxes
– Utilities such as gas, electric
– Local hotels and motels
– Taxis and Uber drivers

The answer of course is all of them. In most, if not all, cases, full price.

Now who doesn’t get paid (for the most part, excluding any stipends to headliners or national acts)?

– The musicians

“When redevelopment comes, you musicians better be prepared. The powers that be certainly will be. They will be out to take all they can get, and that means from YOU.

If we don’t organize now, and have some way of fighting back, its all going to be about the takers, and all of you will be the taken. These people know how to make money and they’ll do it any way they can, so you better be ready to make sure you are properly compensated.”

– Margaret Potter, President- Society Of Associated Performers 1992

Guitarists????

Jeff Beck in a couple of short years with the Yardbirds and his first few solo albums- Jimmy Page on the first Led Zep album, Hendrix on Are You Experienced? Clapton on everything up to Derek and the Dominos, Duane Allman before his 27th birthday, Wes Montgomery, Charlie Christian, Chet Atkins.

Here is my question. To you guitarists.

What contributions have ANY of you made to the art form that is innovative and new? That people have latched onto and said “Hey I never heard anything like this before!”

And that is my problem with today’s guitarists, especially on a local level. True, I am not of their caliber but I have always tried to be creative, musical and put my heart and soul into it.

Too many of you don’t even do that. You sit there and fluff scales, or just repeat licks we’ve hear a million times. And do it almost robotic-ally, not a hint of passion.

Listen to my solo on “Don’t Stop The Dreamin'” by Big Danny.

Listen to my lead work on my CD Road Construction:

My work with Andrew James Hughes:

You can also hear me on my YouTube channel Alvis1515.

I’m deliberately trying to be creative- and deliberately trying to pull your string, to move you. But again this is not about me. I’m asking YOU.

I’m not trying to build myself by posting this- I am seriously posing this question as someone who loves GREAT guitar playing.

And don’t point me to some fusion player who confuses musical diarrhea with great skill. Steve Cropper uses pretty much the same half dozen notes on his solo on Otis Redding’s “Rock Me” over and over and its a fine solo:

I’ve heard blues harp players, sax players, keyboard players, drummers even who blew me away with their creativity and passion.

Almost never do I hear any of this from guitar players. Very few and far between.

So with such inspiration as I’ve outlined above- what gives?